Monthly Archives: February 2009

Why Mike D’Antoni And Donnie Walsh Deserve A Standing Ovation For Standing Up To Stephon Marbury

To start, I quote the New York Times. From NOVEMBER, 2008. You know, back when the Rockets were title contenders and Terry Porter was employed.

“The Knicks provided the outline of a potential buyout of the $21.9 million contract — with a pay cut in the $3 million to $5 million range — several weeks ago, according to a person who was briefed on the matter. Marbury refused, telling associates that he would not accept $19 million in exchange for free agency. There have been periodic talks between Marbury and Walsh throughout the process, but Thursday’s meeting was the first extensive face-to-face discussion.”

And from the New York Post, same week.

“Marbury has said repeatedly he wants “every penny” of his $21.9 million salary.”

Here’s where D’Antoni and Walsh entered the picture. You have a locker room cancer. Who no-shows games. The guys on your team hate him. He’s a malcontent. He doesn’t fit into your system. And oh yeah, he’s holding you ransom for a contract you never signed him to for $21 million.  Think about how much money that is.

Now, you don’t care about this season. Neither of you do. You have a plan. And it features three words. LeBron James 2o10. Everything else is just getting excitement in the city, and putting an okay team together. You’re going to be competitive, and if you have to do it with Jamal Crawford (for a while), David Lee, and Nate Robinson? That’s what you’re going to do.  And you have more important things to do in preparing this team for the future than catering to the whims of Stephon Marbury.

Here’s where it gets interesting. They know that they’re going to have to pay Marbury. The question is how much. You have to make him unhappy enough to want to leave, but also desperate enough to take less money. So you decide on a plan. It’s old, and cliche, but hey, why not? Good cop. Bad cop. D’Antoni freezes him. Makes him miserable. Keeps him out of the team. Jerks him around. Walsh is the understanding one, the supportive one. He manages the negotiations.

Marbury, because he’s Marbury, won’t budge.

So now you have two options. Yeah, you can pay him the money, get him out the door. And you’re right, the money’s not that important. You have the biggest revenue source in the league. $21 million? That’s a drop in the well. So why not pay him the money?

Because to hell with him, that’s why.

And not out of arrogance or pride, but simply because he doesn’t matter. Let me say that again. Stephon Mabury made absolutely no impact on the 2008-2009 New York Knickerbockers. Last year this team finished with 23 wins. Twenty three. They have 24 right now, with over a month and a half left to play. They’ve also traded their leading scorer and second best “big man” for Al Harrington and Tim Thomas, then traded Thomas for Larry freaking Hughes. And D’Antoni still has them within range of an unlikely playoff berth. In one season. Yeah, Marbury was really holding this team back… please.

That’s why they didn’t negotiate with Marbury over the summer. They had better things to do. And they knew Marbury wouldn’t budge. So they waited, and initiated talks in November when it was clear he was going to be the same loser he’s been. And what did Marbury do? He said he wanted “every penny.” Because Marbury thought he had position.

Walsh and D’Antoni already had their minds made up at that point. Marbury had two options. Take the $19 million, or sit.  It’s still about… oh, $19 million more than he deserved, but they’re reasonable men. So they messed with him. They ask him to play. They bring him in and then tell him he can’t play. They bar him from the facilities. And they let him be Marbury. Away from the locker room. Meanwhile, they play a little better ball, put some more butts in the seats and carry on with clearing cap space in 2010, which has NOTHING to do with Marbury. He has nothing to give them in that situation.

They wait until the trade deadline. After all, if someone gets desperate enough to want him for sure before a buyout, better to get … nothing for nothing. The deadline passes.

And here’s where certain people’s reactions have made me livid.

The economy’s in the toilet. Everyone’s losing money. EVERYONE. Everyone you know is having to be more fiscally responsible, measuring money in every way they can think of.  And this team which has, over the past five years, blown money in a reprehensible manner on terrible contracts to players like Stephon Mabury,is actually trying to do something fiscally responsible. Even saving $2 million clears $4 million off the cap. It’s $4 million they don’t have to spend on a wasted asset. That’s not penny pinching, people. That’s fiscal responsibility. Treating the $2 million in this economy like it’s no big deal? That’s reprehensible. That’s irresponsible. That’s Isiah Thomas. That’s what got them into this mess. Treating the money like it didn’t matter. People should be proud of the Knicks. They were in an imposible position, facing losing $20 million without any leverage, and they created $2 million! Out of thin air! It’s unfortunate that they had to pay $19, but that $2 million is money they can spend on anything else. Or not. Hey, let Dolan keep it. Because at least Dolan is smart enough to change, to hire smart people to run his business.  That’s not their job as members of a business. Their responsibility in this situation is to save the most money possible, any money possible. And they did that.

So while Marbury goes out and teases Celtics fans with visions of his legitimate contributions in a game in late February versus a Granger-less Pacers squad, the Knicks have gotten rid of him. And in doing so, they stood their ground. In November, they said $19. In February, they said $19.

He got $19.

So while everyone else is upset they didn’t just pay the malcontent his money in July, I say stand up, and be proud of an organization for executing resolve in dealing with an overpaid malcontent.

And shudder for the Celtics. 6 points or not.

Walsh and D’Antoni should have gotten that standing ovation tonight. Maybe in 2010, they’ll get one for all the hard work they’ve put in, and all the pain the backside they’ve had to endur from mistakes of a previous administration.

Sound familiar?

15 Footer: 2.27.09- “Back From The Dead” Edition

15 Footer’s been absent lately for a number of reasons, but with th unGodly number of games on tonight, I wanted to point out some of the interesting elements at play in the A this evening.

“I Don’t Trust Anything That Bleeds For Seven Days And Doesn’t Die.” : Say hello to Pistons v. Orlando.  Orlando has been Detroit’s slave for the majority of the previous meetings. If Orlando can’t get past them at this point, with the Pistons exploding like an apple in a microwave and their team riding high on Rafer ‘Whatever! I Do What I Want!’ Alston, they’re never going to. Which means that if the Pistons end up meeting them in the first round, Orlando could get bounced. And that would just be embarrassing. It’s time for Dwight Howard to grow up and dominate a team that knows how to stop him. He’s got to hit hook shots, he’s got to grab boards, and he’s got to stay out of foul trouble. The Pistons are a wounded animal, but they’re bringing AI off the bench and starting Rip, which could put them back into good chemistry land. And hey, worst case scenario we get to watch Sheed go completely nuts again. Good times!

All The Presidents’ Men: Chicago at Washington. Obama at an NBA game. Right on. This will be even funnier when it ends up with Kirk Hinrich versus Pecherov in crunch time.

Hey, This Was Fun, Let’s Do it Again In Two Months: Miami at Atlanta. Two teams that can’t beat anyone else right now meet in a preview of the first round series to decide who gets the crap kicked out of them by the Cavs in the semis. Wade versus Johnson is hotness if Joe Nova comes back, and Beasley versus Marvin Williams should be entertaining. J-Smoove’s gonna get punked by Jermaine O’Neal/Jermaine O’Neal is gonna get punked by J-Smoove. Take your pick.

You Can’t Get To 40 In Seven Seconds Right Now: Philly at New York. D’Antoni wants the Knicks to get 40 wins. I want a Ferrari and a lifetime supply of Klondike Bars. Insert Stones song here. Are the Sixers in any way different from last year? Scrappy low seed who will get bounced in the first round? Only this time, instead of a pleasant surprise, it’ll just be disappointing? I like David Lee to go off tonight, but not be enough versus Iggy.

Starbury Fields Forever: Indiana at Boston. If the Celtics lose this game, don’t you have to waive Starbury? His signing has just cost them multiple wins. If they somehow drop to the Pacers, who are flaming out rather sadly, you have to break the glass on the axe case, right? Right? Somebody? By the way, consider that Mikki Moore and Stephon Starbury both have a better than fair chance of winning a title. TOGETHER. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.

This Might Be Awkward.

Kevin McHale: So your superstar big man is out, huh?

Kevin Pritchard: Yeah. So’s yours, huh?

KM: Yeah.

KP: Don’t you just hate them? Always getting hurt, never playing through it, injuries constantly costing your genius conception sweet victories by not reaching their full potential as an unstoppable behemoth?

KM: Um… no. Al’s was kind of a freak accident and we weren’t winning games even when he was here. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure how I have a job. But he’ll be fine next season.

KP: Shut up, Kevin.

You Want To Talk About Injuries?: The fact that I look at Hornets-Bucks and actually go “You know? Milwaukee’s got a shot here!” says a lot about both teams. Charlie V is like some sort of weird occupant of a space that the Hornets don’t have, and will cause nightmares for the Buzz on the defensive end. Then again, Dan Gadzuric is their go-to big man and Tyson Chandler’s decided to take his sadness out on the world. Have fun with that. THIS should be the game of the night.

NEEDS MORE SCROTUM TEARING: This is what the Dallas-Oklahoma City games need more of. That’s healthy.

Kill, Birdman, Kill!: The only way the Nuggs are hanging with this Lakers squad without Nene is if Chris Anderson flocks to Pau Gasol’s girl-beard and drives him out of the arena like a supermodel with a raven in her hair.

Run, Gun, Sun, Fun, DONE: Welcome back Shawn Marion!  You’ve traded places twice. We’ve… gone nowhere. At least they have that whole not going to the playoffs thing in common. Bargnani vs. Shaq should be entertaining.

Three words or less for the rest of the games.

CLE-SAS: AGONY

LAC-SAC- MORE AGONY

CHA-GS: GLORIOUSNESSOROCITY*

*not actually a word. Well, Nellie might think so.

Someday You Guys Are Gonna Learn To Listen To Me


(Thise title is a lie. I actually love to say “I Told You So.” But whatevs.)

Been so sleep deprived/over worked (yeah yeah yeah, I know this is the same as most people) that I forgot to see this last night.

1. Celtics lost to the Clippers (It’s true. The link says so.)
2. Paul Pierce dislocates thumb twice
3. Gabe Pruitt arrested for DUI

How weird that all of this would have happened just yesterday. Must have just been a coincidence. OR NOT!
Must have just been Marbury.

Keep it up Ainge and purgatory will look like a blessing. I assure you.

Morning Bell – 2.26.2009

Thing That Might Cause My Divorce

I’ve been married for exactly two months today.  As I’ve mentioned before, my wife is a big Devin Harris fan.  They’ve hugged.  So last night, we were watching the Bulls/Nets game and she says, “my allegiance is torn.  Do I root for my school?  Or my hometown team?”  Then she giggled and said, “I’m rooting for Devin, DUH.”  So that was fun.

Diametrically opposed to my own wife for two hours, I was pretty happy with the Bulls taking a lead in to the fourth quarter.  Then Devin Harris decided to test the strength of my marriage.  What a jerk.  19 in the final frame and 42 for the game.  He’s seriously a great player, probably the best point guard in the East.

Of course, the Nets ended up winning, pulling even with the Bulls in the fight for the 8th seed in the East.  And my wife was happy that her other boyfriend had such a great game.  I was generally just confused at how I could go away from the game for five minutes to print some return address labels and come back to the Bulls being down by 10. 

We’re still married, but I’m worried Devin Harris might come steal her away in the fourth quarter.

PLAYOFFSYSM

More on the Bulls/Nets?  Okay!

What a terrible time to lose for the Bulls (alternate version: Great time to get a win for the Nets.).  With Milwaukee and Detroit both losing last night, the Bulls could have tied the Bucks for the 8th seed, while distancing themselves from the Nets and Knicks (also losers last night).  Instead, I had to fear for my livelihood.  You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Thing I Don’t Know About

The Celtics lost to the Clippers?  That really happened?  I didn’t see the game, so it’s kinda hard to believe; but according to every source I’ve seen the Clippers scored more points than the Celtics.  This seems dubious.

Morning Bell – 2.25.2009

Thing That’s Been Bugging Me

I’m not sure where I read it, because I thought it was in that Michael Lewis article but it wasn’t, but somewhere I read (or heard) that when there is 6 minutes or less in a game, if a team is leading by 6 or more, they win 80% of the time.  Holy run-on sentence, but I promise you I heard that somewhere.  And I’ve been watching games through that lens, which is a little frustrating.

Because watching games, the team that leads down the stretch, they usually win.  That can take a lot of fun out of the end of games, if you’re thinking that the team making the late comeback is doomed to lose.  It makes a guy cynical.  Like, “yeah, it’s awesome that they’re coming back, but they only have a one in five chance in actually pulling it off.  Sad face.” 

But here’s the kicker:  I had assumed it was in that Lewis article, so I went to check today and it’s not there.   So now I’m wondering if I just made that stat up.  Does anyone else know if this is true?  If not, I might have just made a startling discovery.

PAROXYSM PLAYOFF

HUGE win for the Bulls last night.  Not only was it over the Magic (huge), but it also put the Bulls in ninth by themselves (huge).  I’ve devised a simple formula for assessing its hugeness:

huge + huge = HUGE

It’s simple math, but it proves that not only was the win little-h huge in two areas, but when you combine those it becomes all capitals HUGE, which is definitely better. 

Of course now there’s the possibility that we have to count the Pistons in this race as they’ve lost seven straight games to drop to seventh in the East, just a game ahead of the Bucks.  Surely the Pistons will figure out something, they’ve got too many proud guys to drop out of the playoffs entirely, but they’re struggling and there’s definitely a chance that one of these teams battling for the playoffs could sneak in to the seven spot.  Or the sixth, since Philly isn’t doing great either.  Fantastic.

IT HAS BEGUN

I’ve been waiting for so long, and the day is finally here.  IT’S TIME TO ROCK MARDI GRAS STARBURY STYLE, Y’ALL.

Maybe Donnie Walsh watched “Me and Stephon” and found a soft spot in his heart for the guy, or maybe Marbury himself gave up a nice chunk of change in order to reach a buyout.  Either way, the dark cloud hanging above the association’s head has gone lickety split: Stephon Marbury will be playing NBA basketball this season, and the favorite for his services are none other than the Boston Celtics.  Delicious!

The Celtics are among the few teams with a strong enough culture and veteran presence to fully accommodate Marbury’s…specific needs.  He can be a weapon if you can control him, and Kevin Garnett might be just the guy to do it.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Marbury in the long-term, though.  Supposing he latches on with the Celtics and does a respectable job, what kind of contract would he deserve this summer?  The midlevel?  Less?  Every dollar that some EuroLeague owner has?  It’s a situation that’s entirely dependent on random, chaotic circumstances, and I’m not putting my money down on any particular outcome.  Matt called Rafer Alston a ‘wild card’ for the Magic, and to an extent he is, but is there a bigger question mark in this league than Stephon Marbury?  He could potentially score 20 points off the bench for you in a big game, or he could mire your team in an unvanquishable funk with his bizarre sense of self-righteousness.  Starbury’s been a one-man show in his own theater for a long time, but the intermission is over and it’s just getting to the good part.

Let’s focus on the here and now, shall we?  Until pen touches paper, I’m worried.  As a Mavs fan myself, a team with an owner who won’t hesitate to bust out his wallet and make a ballsy move if he deems it in the team’s best interest, I’m sweating just a tad.  The headlines and the stories read “Boston, Boston, Boston,” but I’ve recently seen a team actually willingly acquire Larry Hughes, a trade be untraded, Mikki Moore be described as a savior, and John Salmons and “blockbuster” in the same sentence.  Consider my horizons broadened and ready to accept any possibility.

So I, Rob Mahoney, formally extend the following invitation:

These are hard times for fans of any team but the Lakers or Cavs.  We have our own team worries to concern ourselves with, and wondering if Hot Potato Marbury is going to explode in our locker room isn’t something we should have to deal with.  It’s not that I wish ill will on Marbury.  I thought he deserved to be freed from New York, and the whole situation with him and the Knicks was a bit amateur hour.  I want him to join a team for the stretch run…just not my team.  Marbury’s getting plenty of mulah from the Knicks, meaning it’s possible that he could join up with any playoff squad for the minimum salary, even if they are over the cap.  So join me, bloggers, readers, and NBA fans of all kinds, in channeling our collective hopes towards the protection of our favorite teams!

From the Eyes and Ears of the Association

Hardwood Paroxysm, the worldwide leader in behind-the-scenes (read: on the internet) NBA gossip.  If you want to be in the know on the latest trends in the league, start here.  What is everybody talking about?  Who’s in?  Who’s out?  Here’s the scoop, Upper East-Siders:

HOT – The Oklahoma City Thunder
SO Five Minutes Ago – The Atlanta Hawks
NOT -The Houston Rockets

HOT – Practicing your french kissing skills on your Devin Harris Fathead.
SO Five Minutes Ago – Practicing your french kissing skills on your  Mo Williams Fathead.
NOT – Practicing your french kissing skills on your homemade Chris Mihm Fathead.

HOT – Bragging that you said the Blazers should have taken Kevin Durant in 2007.
SO Five Minutes Ago – Saying “Kevin Durant sucks.”
NOT – www.firekevindurant.com

HOT – The Jazz are a SLEEPING GIANT. (Moore says this is false.)
SO Five Minutes Ago – Claiming the Spurs are ‘done.’ (Moore also says this is false.)
NOT – Making fun of the Rockets’ injuries…wait, that might still be hot.

If Mikki Moore Is the Belle of the Ball, You Probably Shouldn’t Go

One of the greatest things about following the NBA (or anything, for that matter) in detail is the absurdity and triviality of minutiae.  The other greatest thing about following the NBA is when people are actually fighting with each other over who gets to sign Mikki Moore.

Tom Ziller, Mikki Moore’s BFF, may have said it best:

Moore has an amazing story, with a one-in-a-million work ethic and a heart of solid gold. I’m a huge fan of Moore, The Man. So if a team like Boston wants to had him in order to help the youngsters stay motivated, to add 2.3 guttural screams per game, to boost the dreadlock/frightening tattoo quotient … by all means, do it. But don’t think Mikki will come in and be another P.J. Brown. That is not this dude.

Too true.  Mikki Moore, by all indications, sounds like an incredible man.  But as we all know, men don’t play basketball.  Playas do.  Ya dig?  I remember a day when it was cool to make fun of the fact that Mikki Moore could only make dunks.  I remember a day when Mikki Moore vowed to become Jason Kidd’s bodyguard for life because he made him millions of dollars.  And I foresee a day when we, brothers and sisters of the basketball world, join hands in giggling whenever Moore’s name is mentioned as a vital cog of the Celtic bench.

Great in the locker room, great in the psyches of younger players, and not so great in the paint.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is Mikki Moore, savior of the Boston Celtics.