The End of the Bench

Basketball blog with takes on basketball and anything related to basketball . . . as well as a haven for jingoists everywhere - in America.

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Monday, November 29, 2004
ESPN Insider - Yay or Nay

I received an email from reader and fellow blogger Kareem asking me my opinions on ESPN Insider. Kareem works for the "Worldwide Leader" and since I'm not a subscriber wanted to know the following:

"If you are not an Insider, why not? Do we need to do a better job of showing you what Insider offers? Or, is there not enough that has compelled you to buy? What content or tools would be worth it to become an Insider?"

It comes down to two things for me, both of which have been gone over in the comments on Kareem's site.

1) I'm hesitant to pay for something when I'm not really sure what it is I'm getting for my money. Currently, I feel that doesn't do a good enough job of illustrating what you are getting by subscribing to Insider.

2) Why pay for what I can get for free? I can read newspapers, magazines and fan sites from around the world for free, so why pay for it when it isn't needed? Now this ties to #1 above because maybe Insider does provide things I can't get anywhere else and I don't know it.

What do the rest of you think? Leave your opinions in the ocmments here, or at Kareem's site. You can also email me or Kareem. Any emails sent to me will be forwarded so Kareem can see him. Thanks folks.

Official Excuse Post

The fates conspired against me in my attempts to update this blog. First I had some health issues (still ongoing, but as the doctors have said, "nothing that will kill me imminently"). Then, our DSL modem died. We had a short term replacement, a one room setup, but my room wasn't the one room. So I had to wait til today when the new multi-room dsl modem/router arrived. Regardless, I'm back and I've posted about the events that I missed posting on as they occurred. Enjoy.

Official Excuse Post

The fates conspired against me in my attempts to update this blog. First I had some health issues (still ongoing, but as the doctors have said, "nothing that will kill me imminently"). Then, our DSL modem died. We had a short term replacement, a one room setup, but my room wasn't the one room. So I had to wait til today when the new multi-room dsl modem/router arrived. Regardless, I'm back and I've posted about the events that I missed posting on as they occurred. Enjoy.

Official Excuse Post

The fates conspired against me in my attempts to update this blog. First I had some health issues (still ongoing, but as the doctors have said, "nothing that will kill me imminently"). Then, our DSL modem died. We had a short term replacement, a one room setup, but my room wasn't the one room. So I had to wait til today when the new multi-room dsl modem/router arrived. Regardless, I'm back and I've posted about the events that I missed posting on as they occurred. Enjoy.

Jazz might lose Kirilenko for a month

Why the fantasy basketball gods are attacking all my teams at once I don't know. As if it weren't bad enought that my EotB fantasy league team had both Jermaine O'Neal AND Ron Artest, now comes the news that Andrei Kirilenko will miss a month. Skeletor was my first round pick in one of my leagues (Yes I took him ahead of Dirk Nowitzki and no I don't want to talk about it). Hopefully it will only be the 7-10 days initially reported, but I doubt it.

Insubordination played roll in Brown retirement (reg. reqd.)

Exactly four days after I heard his yelling from the upper deck of the The Arena in Oakland, Hubie Brown retired as coach of the Grizzlies for "health reasons." According the Memphis Commercial Appeal however, that's only true if fed up with work environment is a health reason. Well it's sort of true. The work environment was leading to the health reasons.

In the article dated 11/28/04, Ronald Tillery states that stress caused by player insubordination and lack of management support was leading to health issues for Brown, which included recurring chest pain. Tillery names Bonzi Wells and Jason Williams as the main player problems. For fun here are some quotes from the article that epitomize the larger issues:

"Sure, West hired Brown two years ago. But there were whispers that West also sat in a FedExForum suite openly second-guessing Brown's 10-man rotation -- particularly as it relates to Williams's playing time."

"A situation that angered Brown involved his growing distrust of Yusuf Boyd, the assistant trainer/equipment manager. Brown believed Boyd sat on his bench operating as the eyes and ears for management. Boyd denies he was an informant.

Brown would insist that he had nothing to hide, but he perceived disloyalty and deceitful behavior in a setting that coaches and players consider sacred. Brown confronted Boyd and then demanded that West terminate Boyd.

When West refused to even remove Boyd from the bench, Brown seethed and his wonderment about the organization's oneness grew."

"When Williams blew up at assistant coach Brendan Brown, the team's offensive play-caller, Hubie Brown demonstratively reminded Williams that the same system won 50 games. The Griz took a day off following that Nov. 6 episode at Dallas.

When they returned to practice Nov. 8 and before any basketballs kissed the court, Brown gathered his troops and vehemently reminded them who was in charge.

At least one player described the situation as a little mutiny in which Williams didn't act alone. While Williams and Wells both played well following the incident, Brown never believed he regained their full commitment.

Just last Monday, an interesting scene played out on the bench. Williams normally re-enters games at around the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter. With the clock winding down below six minutes and Earl Watson on the floor against San Antonio, Williams politely got Brendan Brown's attention.

Williams wanted the younger Brown to remind the elder Brown that it was his time. The request fell on deaf ears because Watson was defending Tony Parker better, and Brown wanted more of what he thought would win the game.

Williams got back in the game two minutes later than usual."

Now don't get me wrong, I think we all saw this coming. However, I think Hubie was right. The 10 man rotation was the way to get the mos tout of that team. There's a fair amount of talent there, but it is spread over many players. Pau Gasol is the closest thing to a star, but he isn't gonna carry a team and lord knows Jason Williams can't. It's hard to carry a team when you routinely throw 2-3 passes a game into the stands. Hubie helped Williams game a ton, but Williams obviously either a) didn't realize it or b) didn't appreciate it.

There is talk that the guy I've been toting now for three years, Mike Fratello, is pretty much the entire list of replacements. He fits the Hubie mold, but if the team is bristling at the discipline of Brown they probably won't like Fratello much. Although from the sound of the story, it may only take a rotation change to appease most of them. Those 1-2 guys who now grow roots on the bench may be pissed, but I doubt Fratello will care. And of course if they win, no one will rock the boat.

Indy's Artest suspended for season after brawl

I know I'm incredibly late to the party on this one, but the fate's conspired to keep me from accessing Blogger. Now that the suspensions have come down, it is blatantly obvious to me that the person who got off the easiest was Stephen Jackson. Now I know Ron Artest went into the stands and proceeded to attack the wrong guy and that having a beer thrown at you shouldn't be enough to get you to launch into the stands hell bent for a fight (especially after Ben Wallace went pseudo Latrell Sprewell on you and you simply laid down on the scorer's table), but Artest also got the entire season.

Stephen Jackson on the other hand wasn't provoked at all, yet went into the stands and started throwing haymakers and managed only to get 30 games. This seem odd to anyone but me?

As for it's effects on the Pacers season, I first thought it would be crippling. I mean, come on, they lost their three top scorers. However, they have played very well since the incident. Personally I question how long this will hold up. Can they really last 25 games starting Scott Pollard and Austin Croshere? I think no, but I've been wrong before.

On a semi-related note, I thought ESPN's coverage on Sportscenter afterwards was pretty good. They did a good job of pointing out and highlighting key points in the melee. Normally I avoid ESPN except for live events, but this was an instance that made me glad I watched.

Monday, November 15, 2004
Them is crazy numbers

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been dealing with some medical issues as of late and haven't really had the time to watch nor post. As the ER doc told me Saturday, I don't know what it is, but it isn't something imminently dangerous. Anyways, saw this Eric Neel article today and thought some of you would also enjoy it. He points out some absolutely ridiculous numbers that certain guys are putting up. Now grantedm we aren't even a month into the season, but a lot of these numbers are ridiculous despite the limited number of games they represent. Give it a read.

Thursday, November 11, 2004
Artest asked Carlisle for time off

Wow. I don't even know where to start with this. So Ron Artest asked to take as much as a month off because he's physically and mentally tired and of course, his rap album is coming out and he has to promote it. What exactly is he physically and mentally tired from. Lord knows it isn't basketball since he didn't do anything this summer and we're only about 5 games into the season.

My favorite quote in the article is this one:

"I've been doing a little bit too much music, just needed the rest," Artest said. "I've still got my album coming out Nov. 23. After the album comes out I'm going to make sure all of my time is focused on winning a championship."

So let me get this straight. The Pacers are paying you millions upon millions to play basketball and win championships. So of course, you put that on the backburner in order to promote a rap album that is probably gonna be an utter failure given the track record of past athlete's musical endeavors. I can't even begin to understand this.

Apparently Chad Ford thinks the Pacers and Kings should do a trade with Peja Stojakovic and Ron Artest. That's great Chad. And the Kings would want to do this because . . . they like headcases? Chad! Quit stealing Sam Smith's trade rumors!

Nets' Mercer (knee surgery) could miss 6 weeks

But don't worry Nets fans, I'm sure Rodney Buford can shoot 36% too. It'll be like Ron Mercer is still there.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
It's a Goldmine!!!!!!!

Holy crap. I thought it would be a good day when I saw Bill Simmons had part 1 of his NBA "Preview" up (excellent as always), but little did I know how good. It turns out Foxsports also has a column by your favorite curmudgeon and mine, Charley Rosen. He analyzes Yao Ming's and Tracy McGrady's play together last night. Here are a few highlights from the article.

"Meanwhile, the big fellow seemed hesitant. Sure, he was suffering from a slightly torn ligament in his left elbow and was wearing a brace. BUT ... injuries are indeed part of the game. By Christmas, virtually everybody in the league will be playing with bruised, strained, sprained, and/or contused body parts anyway."

To which my response is this: Is he seriously trying to compare partially torn ligaments to bruises and strains? Apples and oranges my friend, apples and oranges.

"In the endgame, Houston's primary strategy was to have McGrady carry the ball into the attack zone, look for another brush pick, and let him create something (usually for himself).
Hey, it seems like we've all seen this movie before — an all too familiar and all too dismal re-run of how McGrady was used last season in Orlando! "

While OC (old curmudgeon) spends the whole article crucifying McGrady for not getting Yao the ball enough, he conveniently forgets to mention how bad Yao looked. He wasn't shooting well at all (was anyone in that game?), and he wasn't even rebounding well. It was obvious that his elbow was significantly hindering him. And while TMac wasn't exactly going well last night, he certainly was looking better than Yao. So why would you want to rely on a guy who wasn't close to 100%. As for why TMac kept the ball himself most times, well would you want to give it up to Dikembe Mutumbo or Tyronn Lue? Let's be honest, the Rockets are pretty thin after Yao and TMac. Mo Taylor and Juwan Howard can play, but they are limited players. So in conclusion, OC needs to settle down, go drink some Ovaltine and quit his bitching.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Opening Night Notebook

Since I'm watching the Pistons and Rockets on TNT, I thought I keep a log of the random thoughts I ahve when watching a game. So away we go.

-- On the Rockets first possession, Charlie Ward overthrows Yao Ming in a halfcourt set. The guy is 7-5, how do you overthrow him?

-- On the ensuing Pistons possession, Ben Wallace drops a turnaround jumper on Mo Taylor and swishes it. Someone has been working on their shooting over the summer. Next time down Ben gets three the hard way.

-- Rasheed Wallace's first shot is of course a three that rebounds long off the back iron. I still don't understand why he won't stay under the basket where he could dominate.

-- Tracy McGrady, happy to be out of Orlando, just blew by Tayshaun Prince like he was standing still.

-- 12-4 with 6:21 left in the first and Jeff Van Gundy needs a timeout. The Rockets aren't going so well right now. 2-10 shooting and Mo Taylor has as many shots as Yao.

-- Steve Kerr just used the word incestuous . . . and no you don't want to know.

-- 4:21 left in quarter number 1 and McGrady has his second foul. This doesn't bode well for the Rockets.

-- Mike Fratello is talking about how big a loss Bobby Sura is. Only when your back up is Charlie Ward is Bob Sura a big loss.

-- We have a Cookie Monster sighting!!!! Dekembe Mutumbo came in with 2:59 left in the first and scored three points in the 3 minutes he played. He and Bostjan Nachbar's 3 from the wing helped the Rockets make it 19-18 at the end of 1

-- Brrrrrrrr . . . is the shooting getting cold in here or is it just me? 3:30 into the second quarter, the only made shot I've seen is a follow-up dunk by Cookie Monster.

-- Antonio McDyess, not realizing that this is a basketball game, booted the ball into the stands and earned himself an early trip to the showers. The funny part is that initially after he got called for the foul he dropped the ball and pulled his leg back like he was gonna punt it, but didn't. But after the ball bounced 2-3 times he had a change of heart and into the stands it went. In other news, McDyess received a call in the locker room from the Jets and Vikings vying for his services.

-- With 5:50 left in the half, the teams are putting on a shooting exhibition . . . just kidding. They're 18-57 combined. However Deke and Bostjan Nachbar haven't missed yet.

-- Uh oh, McGrady picks up his 3rd foul and then Yao gets called for one on the offensive end as well, his 2nd.

-- Of course the second I post the part about the poor shooting the teams rattle off a 4-4 stretch including two long jumpers from Ben Wallace.

-- 1:41 left and Yao picks up his 3rd as he slides under an airborn Ben Wallace.

-- Wow. Ben Wallace just stuffed the Cookie Monster big time. Cook barely got the ball over his head as Wallace pushed it back at him.

-- HALFTIME. Your first half summary can be narrowed down to a few stats.
1) Rockets Leading Scorer: Bostjan Nachbar
2) 29 fouls, 19 of which were on the Rockets (McGrady and Yao with 3 each).
3) 27-72 (.375) from the field combined (Rockets 40%, Pistons 34.4%)
So basically neither team can shoot at this point. The fouls tell us that Houston is taking petty much nothing but jumpers and Detroit is going inside and not making much, but at least is getting to the line (which is the reason they are actually still in the game and leading even).

-- And the teams are off and running in the second half . . . sort of. The teams have scored 12 (DET) and 8 points (HOU) about 6 minutes into the 3rd.

-- I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden the two teams are exchanging threes; McGrady, then Sheed, then Ward as the shot clock expired and then Billups.

-- Something I forgot to mention earlier, Jar Jar Hamilton is wearing his Zorro mask. Didn't he break that bone about 6 months ago? Are you telling me it still hasn't healed?

-- So my notebook got interrupted by dinner and I missed most of the fourth quarter. I came back to the game with about 5 minutes left and the Pistons were up ten. For the Rockets, the good news was that Tracy McGrady remembered he was Tracy McGrady and finished with 18. He still didn't shoot very well, but at least he scored some in the second half. The bad news for Rocket fans is that Yao was a mess and it seems that elbow is bothering him more than he was trying to let on. As for the Pistons fans, they gotta like what they saw from Ben Wallace (15/7/4/3/3 pts/reb/ast/stl/blk). That was Kirilenko-esque. And Sheed couldn't miss down the stretch. The bad news was that Rip Hamilton missed some shots - 66% of them actually. At least he made his free throws. As for the teams as a whole, the Pistons played well in the second half raising their shooting percentage from 38% at the half to 44% by the end of the game. As for the Rockets, there was simply way too much jump shooting going on and that, combined with Yao hurting meant they had nothing going on near the basket.

Monday, November 01, 2004
Warriors Reach Terms with Richardson, Murphy

Here's the reported details:
Jason Richardson gets 70M/6 and Troy Murphy gets 60M/6.

Richardson MIGHT be worth that money, and if Murphy is healthy he MIGHT be worth that money. Personally I think these are gonna end up like the Antawn Jamison contract. A lot of money for guys who aren't g0nna carry a team. Although it could be worse, the Warriors could have given Adonal Foyle 8M a year for 5 years. What is that you say? They DID give Foyle 8M per?

McGrady gets Extension

"McGrady, who has three years and $47.1 million left on his current deal, has been extended for an additional four years that are worth $85.7 million, ESPN Insider Chad Ford reports. McGrady will make $14.4 million this season; his salary in the last year of his contract, the 2010-11 season, is $24.1 million."

If Yao gets a big extension as well, do the Rockets end up in a situation similar to what the Lakers ended up with where two guys make most of the money and your team is two stars and spare parts? I doubt the Rockets could mismanage the midlevel and low level signings like the Lakers did, but Tracy McGrady getting 24.1M in that final year . . . If the revenue levels stayed leveled off like they have the last few years, the cap would be about the same as it is now and that McGrady salary would be more than 40% of the cap. That's Jordan money and I'm not sure McGrady will be worth that in 2010 (or at any point in his career).