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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What's Next for McGrady?

There's a long list of players that have the reputation - usually earned - of being injury-prone. Marcus Camby. Jermaine O'Neal. Yao Ming. T.J. Ford.

Some of the guys in my home league call 'em "lepers." (Not me, of course. That would be inappropriate and wrong.)

The number one guy on the list is almost certainly Tracy McGrady. No one has ever questioned McGrady's transcendent talent… but fully 95 percent of all preseason outlooks on McGrady include the phrase "if he can stay heathy…" or words to that effect.

But lately, we're hearing a new gripe about McGrady. The biggest questions raised by Rockets observers are questioning his effort, not his health. According to various reports, the Rockets wanted to sit McGrady for an extended period to rest his sore knees. McGrady refused, preferring to play as much as possible… but the pain has limited his minutes - he's expected to sit at least one game of the Rockets' next few back-to-backs - and his production when on the floor has been spotty at best.

McGrady is obviously a huge key to the Rockets' success - as their "point forward," he makes their offense go. But Houston is also a tremendously deep team this season - one could certainly make the case that the team would be better off in the short term giving extended minutes to the likes of Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry and Luther Head, and letting McGrady get as healthy… well, as healthy as he ever gets.

Expect this situation to come to a head soon… and grab any Houston bench players that are available in your league in the meantime.

Read the entire column -- and get this week's waiver wire suggestions -- on

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

NBA Strength of Schedule

Basketball being an indoor sport, we don’t often consider the weather as a factor in NBA games. But Mother Nature can have a significant impact on travel schedules – especially this time of year – and especially for teams playing back-to-backs in places like Chicago, Minneapolis and New York.

For example: the Rockets will play in Philly on Tuesday and in Boston on Wednesday. Bad weather on Tuesday night and a late arrival into Massachusetts could make Kevin Garnett and company even more daunting. That same night, the Hornets will be flying into Salt Lake, the Thunder into Minnesota, and the Sixers into Wisconsin.

The Pistons have a real Rocky Mountain High later in the week, spending Friday in Denver and Saturday in Salt Lake. Perhaps Allen Iverson and company can get in some skiing after the morning shootarounds.

Or maybe not.

Read the entire Strength of Schedule article every week at Yahoo! Fantasy Sports.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bad Chemistry

Subject: Give and Go
Date: December 29, 2008 7:06 PM PDT

Hope you had a good holiday, Chris. Santa bring you anything good? My favorite present: a pair of tickets for me and my son to go see Xavier vs. Fordham at the Rose Hill Gym. The Rams are terrible this year, and Xavier is in the top 25 – which means my alma mater is probably going to get squashed … but hearing the little guy chant DE- FENSE makes it all worth it.

Following up on last week’s plea for more competitive balance …

The Lakers and Celtics entered their Christmas Day game with a combined record of 50-8. The Thunder and Wizards entered Saturday’s game with a combined record of 7-50. I’m not sure what that means, but I liked the symmetry of it.

Not as much as I enjoyed the “Steve Francis gets traded to the Grizzlies” symmetry … but I liked it.

Read all of Give and Go on Yahoo! Sports

Friday, August 01, 2008

Galactus can BALL, yo

Maybe there is a bright side to this whole ugly "Oklahoma City" business. It means author and ex-Sonics fan Sherman Alexie can, in good conscience, trade in his Seattle fandom for stock in an up-and-coming team in Portland.

Switching to the Lakers, though, was out of the question:

From BlazersEdge via Truehoop:

I would root for a team composed of Jack the Ripper at the 3, Lee Harvey Oswald at the 2, Saddam Hussein at the 4, Galactus at the 5, and Lizzie Borden at 1 over the Lakers.
Sorry, Sherman, I can't be with that. Oswald would be way too much of a freelancer to fit into a team concept... and Saddam is way too small to play the four. He's 'tweener.

But the choice of Galactus in the middle is inspired. Heck, he can devour entire worlds... imagine what he'd do to a weak layup attempt.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Run Like the Wind, Kevin Durant

Well the unofficial list of potential names for the Oklahoma City NBA franchise are public, and for the most part, they are hideous.

Let's break 'em down:

The Wind
First off, I stand opposed to any and all singular words as team names (with the exception of soccer clubs, because "United" just sounds cool).

As if that wasn't enough... know what else is called "The Wind?" The album Warren Zevon wrote and recorded while he was dying of cancer. And farts. Neither is a great association for a basketball team.

And isn't Oklahoma City right in the middle of "Tornado Alley?" Why remind fans of weather conditions that are -- at minimum -- really unpleasant and at maximum can kill you? That'd be like naming a New York Team "The Humidity" or a New Orleans Team "The Flood" or a Miami team "The Hurricanes."

Wait. Forget that last one.

All most of my objections to "Wind" apply here as well. Plus, "Thunder" was the name of the incredibly lame St. John's horse mascot.

Animal nicknames are usually pretty good... and I believe "Bison" is technically both singular and plural. But people might have a hard time getting past the "Ted Turner's restaurant chain" connotation.

Ye gods... the worst of the bunch, by a fair piece. Where do I begin?

It's a singular name, which is just awkward.

It's not something that can be represented easily in a logo... which opens the door for really horrible uniforms and such.

It's tailor-made for a stunning variety of punny headlines whenever the team loses. Just off the top of my head,

"Energy Displays None in Listless Loss to..."
"Power Outage"
"Energy Futures Take a Beating"
"Energy: Enron-Esque"
Perhaps worst of all, it really sounds like the name of a WNBA team.

Henry Abbott at True Hoop has reported that the trademark application on this one is very specific with the alternate-but-still-acceptable "one l" spelling. I can get behind that... alternate spellings are OK. Purposeful mis-spellings for branding purposes (i.e., Starzz) are not.

Aside from that, you could do far worse than to use cowboy imagery for your team.

A lot to like with this one. It plays up the regional oil industry history, without being yet another team called "The Oilers." And "Barons" as a team name has a pretty rich history in and of itself, going back to the Birmingham Black Barons of baseball's Negro Leagues.

Potential negatives: a whole lot of "There Will Be Blood" references in game stories... and a subtle-yet-constant reminder of Snoopy as World War I flying ace.

Despite all that, put my vote in the "Barons" column.

Not that I get a vote.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Better Get Maaco...

ESPN's John Hollinger is reporting that Renaldo Balkman is headed to the Nuggets for a future second-rounder and some spare parts that will get cut before they ever see the inside of the Knicks' practice facility...

Two observations:

1) While I'm sad to see Renaldo go, let's not go crazy over this. He's a terrible fit for a D'Antoni team... can't shoot from outside of 5" or so, and was going to be buried on a Knick team that is just lousy with threes and swingmen.

2) Let's also not make Renaldo into the second coming of Michael Cooper. Was he the Knicks' best defender for the last couple of years? Yes, probably. But only because he was the only guy on the team (outside of David Lee) who consistently worked hard on both ends of the floor. "Best defender on the Knicks" is sort of like "least annoying Mr. Bean movie" -- a distinction that ultimately proves little.

On the other hand, we're disappointed that Balkman will apparently need to update this sweet ride:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 Draft Preview

Ordinarily, I’m not to keen on rookies as fantasy options. Too often, players come into the NBA needing to learn new positions. Or put on some bulk. Or how to succeed when they can’t get by on size or athleticism alone.

That’s especially true of high lottery picks – who often need to adjust to the fact that they’ll lose more games as rookies than they did in their entire college and high school careers.

But a funny thing happened on the way to this year’s lottery. The top two teams just aren’t that bad.

Look at some of the players on the Chicago and Miami rosters: Dwyane Wade. Shawn Marion. Kirk Hinrich. Ben Gordon. Luol Deng. These are not the teammates lottery picks usually get. A wide variety of factors put the Bulls and Heat on top of the lottery – injuries, internal turmoil, trades and coaching changes – but both teams seem well-positioned for a quick turnaround. And that means the prohibitive favorites to be chosen first and second – Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose – won’t be toiling for terrible teams. The won’t be forced into leadership roles while they’re still getting their feet wet at the next level.

And that could mean the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a long time.

Here’s my projection for the lottery. We’ll take another look after the June 26 draft.

Stay Classy, Flushing

Note to Omar Minaya:

There's this thing called the Internet now. Also... there's television. ESPN -- perhaps you've heard of it?

I mention this because you seem to think that the shameful, cowardly move of firing your manager at 3:15 AM Eastern -- keeping the news out of the morning editions of the News, Post and Times -- is somehow going to minimize the negative attention you'll receive as a result.

Ain't gonna happen, Omar.

But because I'm a generous guy, I'll say this... when the Wilpons fire you at the end of this season -- a firing you richly deserve, for spending more cash than anyone in the NL while assembling a roster of guys well past their collective prime -- I hope they'll do you the courtesy of making the move during business hours.

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