Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3/14: The First NBA Trade, NFL Free Agency, etc.

Greetings... Tuesday suddenly became a huge day of sports news, so we have a lot to cover...

We have an NBA Trade! And it's not even a small one! Let's break it down...

- Milwaukee Bucks get: G Monta Ellis, F/C Ekpe Udoh, and C Kwame Brown
- Golden State Warriors get: C Andrew Bogut (injured), and G/F Stephen Jackson
  • For Milwaukee, we'll go positives first. They save at least $7 million for next season (could be more), get out from under 2 more years of Andrew Bogut's non-health, bring in a young rim protector in Udoh (even with his below-average rebounding rate, cough, Ryan) and rid themselves of the walking cancer that is Stephen Jackson when he wants out or wants a new contract. Sounds great, right? Well, I don't think it's that easy. I'm not at all high on Ellis, and while his numbers look great, Golden State has been better without Ellis on the court for the past FOUR full seasons. That's not a small sample size anymore. Add that to the fact that they've now paired Ellis and Jennings together, which I believe could be a disaster when you consider that neither is taller than 6'1 and neither is a distributor, and this could be bad. John Hollinger pointed out (in a column last night) that Jennings and Ellis could actually be a better fit than most think because Jennings is a good defender, and because Milwaukee's backup guards (Shaun Livingston and Beno Udrih) are actually perfect compliments to Ellis because of their size, but I still don't like it much.
  • For Golden State, I'm so confused. They do rid themselves of the Curry/Ellis backcourt that never really gained steam, which seemed to be high on the priority list, but I'm not sure this was the way to do it. Let me say this, Andrew Bogut is a top-5 center in this league when he's healthy (13 points, 9 boards, nearly 2 blocks career). The problem? His track record of health isn't exactly spotless. He hasn't reached 70 games since 2007-2008, and is currently out for the season (at least likely to be) this year. Also, he makes more money than Ellis, and they've been forced to take on Stephen Jackson's malcontent-ness (not a word I know) in the process. On paper? I kind of like a Bogut-Lee-Jackson-Thompson/Wright-Curry lineup, but the issue is going to be health going forward. There seem to be some rumblings that this deal for GSW was, in part, to punt the 2012 season in order to avoid giving away their first-round pick (top-7 protected) to Utah, and without Bogut, they would in theory be worse. Anyway, I'm not a fan for either team really, but there are positives on each.

You knew I'd break that down in-depth... let's go elsewhere...

  • The "Opening Round" games of the NCAA tournament were crazy last night. Iona scored 55 points in the first-half and prompted me to remove the game from my consciousness to the point where I was utterly stunned to find out they had blown a 25-point lead in the second half to lose to BYU. 55 points in the 1st half, 17 in the 2nd half. Wow. At any rate, this was the "biggest comeback in tournament history" which deserves an asterisk since it's not really part of the tournament as we know it, but at any rate, that's crazy. And in the 16-seed play-in, Western Kentucky squeaked out a 1-point win after a big 2nd half comeback, and earned the right to get destroyed by Kentucky. Congrats.
  • Brandon Marshall is all over the news this morning. Firstly, he was traded to the Chicago Bears for two 3rd-round picks in a move that would reunite him with Jay Cutler to provide that prolific tandem from their Denver days. I love, love, love this move for the Bears in that they haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since Marty Booker in 2002 (wow), and he'd really help that offense. So, of course, later in the day, it was reported that Marshall had allegedly hit a woman in a nightclub on Sunday night and that he was being investigated. Marshall's ability on the field has never been in question, but his off-field record is spotty at best, and this won't help, even if it's proven to be not true.
  • Elsewhere in NFL Free Agency - Vincent Jackson is headed to Tampa Bay with a $55 million contract to give Josh Freeman the best receiver he's ever had. This looks like a pure money grab for Jackson, but to each his own. Courtland Finnegan is going to St. Louis for $50 million, and while he's a nice player, that seems like a lot. Reggie Wayne to stay in Indy? That's one report, and I don't understand that one unless the money is nice. And on a Falcons note, Harry Douglas reportedly inked a 4-year deal to stay around last night, which I kind of like in the new screen-heavy offense, and while I hate the idea of Curtis Lofton walking away for nothing, maybe there's a plan in place.
  • Syracuse center Fab Melo is ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. It's hard to figure out if this loss is being overrated or underrated nationally, but I'll spell it out in plain terms. He's the best shot-blocker and rebounder on that team, and while that's a very, very deep roster, the team is already woeful in rebounding (near the bottom of D-1), and this loss will be felt to the point where I'm positive they wouldn't be a #1 seed if the committee could take this into account.
  • What was the over/under on the date when there would be a report of the Knicks "tuning out" Mike D'Antoni? Well, it happened on March 13th.
  • NBA Check - The Hawks dropped a gut-wrenching loss in Denver last night 118-117 in overtime. Larry Drew actually designed (gasp) a nice play on the final possession that got Zaza Pachulia a lay-up, but he failed to convert and that was that. Joe Johnson (34 points), Josh Smith (33 pts, 13 reb, 7 asst), and Kirk Hinrich (22 points on just 8 FGA) had big games for the Hawks, but they allowed Denver to shoot 52% and lost the battle on the glass to take the loss. Andrew Bynum had one of the best games of his career with 37 points and 16 boards to lead LA to a 2-OT win in Memphis. Kobe added 34 points, but the story was Bynum shooting 15 of 18 from the field. Good gracious. Portland got the doors blown off in Indiana last night to fall to 6-15 on the road for the season. Craziest stat of the night? Ray Felton led Portland in assists... with two. Two! Orlando got 24 points and 25 rebounds from Dwight Howard with 25 points from Jameer Nelson (somehow still alive) to surprisingly knock off Miami in overtime. There's not a more Jekyll/Hyde team than the Magic. And finally, Houston steals a game in OKC 104-103 after coming back from 11 down late in the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant had 28 and 12 for the Zombies, but Houston gutted out a win with just an 8-man rotation without the services of Kevin Martin thanks to 21 points each from Chandler Parsons and Courtney Lee. That's the recipe, apparently.

What to watch for on Wednesday...

  • NBA - Sixers @ Pacers - 7:00 ESPN - This is a likely 4/5 East playoff matchup in a series that will entertain NBA fans, and make anyone casual want to kill themselves. Good times!
  • NBA - Heat @ Bulls - 9:30 ESPN - Premier matchup in the East, if not the entire league. Can't ask for a better game.
  • NBA - Hawks @ Clippers - 10:30 SportSouth - No one will watch this until the Heat/Bulls game ends, but when it does, the Chris Paul show rolls on.
  • "Opening Round" Games - Vermont vs. Lamar (16 seed play-in) at 6:40 on Tru TV, and South Florida vs. Cal (12 seed play-in) at 9:00. I actually think Cal or USF has a good chance of winning their opener against Temple, so that might be a game to tune in for.



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