At the behest of those who enjoy watching beautiful people doing beautiful things, Ben Wallace has announced he will retire at the end of this season. One of the hungriest underdogs to ever play basketball, Wallace hammered himself into a niche with unprecedented brute force, becoming known for much, much more than a scraggly afro.
He was respected, beloved, and, to some degree, feared. Wallace was a rare breed: SO good as a rebounding defensive presence and SO bad as an offensive threat. In his honor, I’ve decided to rank all the modern day one-dimensional players, with Ben Wallace in mind as the Godfather of them all. The league has very few players who’re equally effective on offense as they are on defense, but one doesn’t have to overshadow the other (for example, the 2008 Kevin Garnett tilted the entire league with his defensive intensity—it became apart of his identity as he forced the Celtics to keep up on their way to a championship—but it wasn’t like he struggled on offense); this list highlights 14 guys who excel on one end of the floor while leaving much to be desired on the other. Read more…
In my last post I was a bit harsh on several parties—Von Wafer and the Washington Wizards organization in particular—but it pales in comparison to the embarrassing act of false machismo Carlos Boozer put on display last night in New York City. Defensive statistics can’t possibly capture a sequence as atrocious as this, where a man is in terrible position, choosing neither to foul nor move his feet, presiding as the lone reason his team surrenders two points.
Looking at Carlos Boozer’s numbers and coming to the conclusion that he’s made strides on the defensive end would be like saying Amil could flow because Jay signed her to Roc-A-Fella. Surrounded by tremendous defenders both on the wings and in the front court, Boozer is able to hide within Thibodeau’s system; masquerading as a legitimate presence. It’s fraudulent activity at its finest.
Boozer’s a power forward, so to be fair he isn’t necessarily paid to take on ball handlers from the perimeter in one on one situations. But when you play both sides of the fence, this particular ball handler is taller than him and has been known to log minutes at the center position during his career. In summation, boo to you Boozer. Boo to you.
First things first. It’s absolutely fantastic to have the NBA back in our lives. Today’s game at Madison Square Garden between the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks paints a beautiful, gritty picture explaining why. Heading in, both teams had major questions to answer, and both—one would assume—are poised for a bloody battle over the Atlantic Division’s crown. In what will be a new feature coming to Shaky Ankles this season, here are some quick hit points of interest delivered in the always awesome, easily readable bullet point format. Merry Christmas! Read more…
In the grand scheme of what’s altruistically important in life, I believe it’s fair to suggest all teachers, doctors, surgeons, and members of the armed forces should be given financial compensation of equal or greater value to that of which is awarded professional athletes. Their actual impact on human life is indisputably greater, more important, and further reaching. Of course, they don’t (and never will) because the businesses they’re in don’t create the billions upon billions of dollars in gross revenue that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL produce on an annual basis. They also have an uncountable number of members in their labor force, making each worker’s slice of pie much smaller than that of the athlete. Call it sad. Call it unfair. Call it horribly disproportionate. Call it the real world. Read more…
Here’s Part IV of Shaky Ankles’ analysis into the league’s worst contracts—team by team. Read more…
Couldn’t be any more positive that had Andrea Bargnani pulled this move on just about any other player in the league it would be emphatically denied, but so it goes, Amar’e Stoudemire is the mark. Still, to pull off a nimble between the legs blow by as a seven footer is a beautiful thing to watch. Not to pick on Stoudemire too bad, he probably went for 54 that night.
UPDATE: Bargnani has indeed put his between the legs crossover on display more than once. Granted it wasn’t done in as impressive a fashion, but the ball goes through the basket. So yea, its worked here and here.
The Celtics have been in dire need of a reliable backup point guard’s services for what now seems like a decade. They’ve made several attempts in that time to patch up a rather important position with torn and tattered cloth; players who were either too young and inexperienced (Avery Bradley, Gabe Pruitt), too old (Stephon Marbury, Gary Payton), too incapable (Sam Cassell, Marquis Daniels, Tony Allen, Nate Robinson), or too hurt (Delonte West) to make a meaningful impact.
In the time between the team announcing they signed Carlos Arroyo and his first minutes as a Celtic, I would’ve placed him in both the too old and too incapable categories. Arroyo looked to be nothing more than a spot up shooter in Miami and through age had devolved into a point guard no longer adept in running a contender’s offense. So far with Boston (in 53 minutes of play) Arroyo’s turnover percentage is about double what it was in Miami (26.4 to 14.5%), but so is his assist percentage (26.9 to 15.4%). Weird. Sometimes he looks older than 31, and sometimes he looks three or four years younger. There’s a good/definite chance he’ll never look like he did in this clip ever again, but that isn’t what Boston needs. The big question is this: Did Arroyo pack more in his bag than a jump shot?
As you are likely well aware, the New York Knicks now have Carmelo Anthony in their possession. In bigger and more meaningful news, Isiah Thomas is once again their general manager. What does this all mean? For the Knicks? For the league? For Donnie Walsh’s health insurance?
Let’s start with the obvious: New York received one of the 10 best players in the league. How much they gave up in order to get him has unflatteringly been compared to Minnesota’s Herschel Walker deal. While that may be a slight exaggeration, the Knicks decision to give up two quality NBA players, a 22-year-old wild card who could someday be an All-Star, three draft picks, Anthony Randolph, three million dollars, and Timofey Mozgov (I guess we’ll throw in Eddy Curry’s expiring contract/dead body for technical reasons) for Carmelo, Corey Brewer, a one-legged Chauncey Billups, and three dead bodies is damn near highway robbery.
What else do we know? That whole thing about no team in recent memory winning a title with their best two players masquerading as defensive underachievers should ring a bell. While I personally don’t believe Carmelo deserves the amount of slack he receives for his lack of defensive ability and effort, Amar’e Stoudemire is a completely different beast. When you factor in his knees being one unlucky landing away from certain death, the Knicks aren’t quite ready to battle for a championship. And without Chris Paul or Deron Williams, it isn’t likely they could ever get past Miami, Chicago, or Boston in the next five years. See, the CBA’s future is a tricky thing. Right now nobody knows if there will be franchise tags (think angry NFL stars), the mid-level exception (the general manager’s best friend), if the salary cap could turn hard or how low it’ll drop. Isiah might think he has it figured out, but he doesn’t. As Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward points out, working Carmelo, Amar’e, and a top three point guard into New York could be a financial impossibility:
With about $40 million tied up annually in just two players (Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire), the Knicks have taken themselves out of the Howard/Paul/Williams 2012 free-agent derby.
Perhaps that’s true. We don’t know what the salary cap will be in 2012 (though it figures to be lower), and we don’t know what the sign-and-trade possibilities will be for New York in July 2012 — or whether trade rules will be broadened so that incoming and outgoing salaries won’t have to match quite as closely. The Knicks have certainly made the pursuit of those players more difficult today, but who knows what the CBA will look like in a year or whether any of those players will want to come to New York.
More input on the Knicks getting hosed and their tragic managerial situation, by way of New York Magazine’s Will Leitch:
But the Knicks never needed to trade Gallinari, or Mozgov. If the Knicks would have held their ground, would Chandler/Felton/first-rounder/Curry for Carmelo/Billups worked? (With some salary cap flotsam here or there.) At first blush, you’d say, “Oh, the Nuggets wouldn’t go for that,” but why? What choice did they have? The only reason the Knicks offer looked uncompetitive was because the Nets—knowing Anthony likely would never agree to an extension to make the trade happen—could “offer” to give away Derrick Favors and Devin Harris and four (four!) first-round picks for Carmelo. The Knicks’ side of the trade only looks meager compared to the Nets’ imaginary scenarios. Compared to what teams usually get when their backs are against the wall, when they have to trade a superstar or risk receiving nothing at all, that initial Knicks haul seems low, but not shockingly so. Maybe Walsh blinks and gives up Mozgov then, as a final “Okay, let’s make it happen.” But Gallinari was never supposed to be in this in the first place. It wasn’t Walsh who made Gallinari a part of this: It was Dolan. When you don’t know how to negotiate, you lose ground you never realized you were ceding. When you toss out Gallinari when you absolutely do not have to, it’s just a tiny step to, “Well, you’re not gonna let Mozgov stand in the way of this trade, are you?” At that point, you’ve already lost.
And on the other end of the spectrum, the Denver Nuggets are the ones who find themselves with fixed financial flexibility and optimism: Chris Broussard recently tweeted this about some possible Gallinari movement, and Raymond Felton’s arrival in Denver looks to be a mysterious one, but they got something for nothing; that’s what matters. This from “All Things Nuggets”, The Denver Post’s NBA blog:
In mid-January, Nuggets coach George Karl opened up about Lawson’s growth: “Ty is doing a good job, but Ty’s got to mature too. He has a laid-back mentality that drives me a little crazy at times. My big belief and approach to leadership is that you lead by example, you lead by attitude and you lead by approach. You don’t lead by words. And his laid-back attitude probably stops him from being the leader I’d personally like him to be right now. But I think we can change that.”
And privately, Karl is pretty excited about his point guard situation. Karl is a proud North Carolina alum – he even went back to Chapel Hill during the all-star break – and both Lawson and Felton are Tar Heel point guards. In fact, both won the national title.
“Ray was my tour guide when I visited there,” Lawson said. “He took me around the city, showed me a good time. It will be a little weird being on the same NBA team.”
The ripples of this deal will be known in hindsight, but based on snap judgments, New York remains slightly above average and still won’t get past the first round, and the Nuggets are bunkering down into a smart rebuilding strategy. Time will tell how this one turns out. Maybe, in an ultimate turn of irony, Deron Williams chooses Denver and Chris Paul goes to Phoenix. Wouldn’t that be something.