Monthly Archives: October 2011

Have a Seat

Fans have a voice, too. Right? Right?

Image via KidKameleon on Flickr

J.D. Hastings, in a blog post last week, pointed out that in this two-party negotiation, there are actually 5 important stakeholders: 1) The players; 2) The owners; 3) The media, who cover, disseminate, speculate, leak, and analyze; 4) The agents, who lobby for the players so they can make sure they keep their slice of player salaries; and 5) The fans. Regarding the fans, Hastings points out that although they are “the basis upon which every other level of this economic industry is built [they are] regularly described as helpless bystanders in the entire process.”

Thanks to more interactive forms of media in 2011 (sup twitter!), fans have been far from silent during the lockout negotiations. But it’s not like they (we?) have a seat at the negotiating table. Both the owners and players may claim to speak for the fans, but it’s clear that neither of them do (at least not fully). If they (we!) did have a seat at the table, what would their (our) interests be?

Avoiding the cancellation of games, I’d assume, would be the number one priority; but that ship has sailed. What else do fans want?

Maybe some fans want to make sure their players don’t run away from their small market town, leaving them in the lurches of championship-lessness for another four decades. Maybe other fans want to make sure that their town and their passion can be a target for players that have their sights set on bigger and better (or at least sunnier and income-tax-free) things.

Do fans want respect? Maybe they don’t want a fight over millions and billions of dollars rubbed in their faces when 9% of them across the country are trying to nail down a job.

How about something as simple as “being entertained?” A quality product put out for them on a regular basis, to which people can turn to help them escape their lives for a little while, giving them relate to something bigger than themselves.

As a fan, and a season ticket holder (so what if it’s the Wizards; I love basketball, ok?!), this is what I want:

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F_zRBsC5BY w=640 h=360]

If I had 2 minutes at that negotiating table, I’d show the parties this video, and tell them that’s what I wanted before they kicked me out. If you had a seat at the table, what would you ask for? Leave your thoughts, requests, and demands in the comments.

The Amnesty Clause, Brandon Roy, and Fate.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jDkuG3dMS8

The possibility of an amnesty clause in the new CBA has brought much debate among fans over which player their respective team should choose to cut. For some franchises, this is a fairly simple question (i.e. Gilbert Arenas in Orlando), but for others it remains much more ambiguous.

As a life long Blazers fan, my mind immediately went to the one-time franchise cornerstone turned hobbled superstar, Brandon Roy. Let me first start by saying I am firmly in the “ If there’s an amnesty clause Portland absolutely has to use it on Brandon Roy’s contract” camp. Brandon has no meniscus in either knee and if he remains ineffective (which seems likely), his contract becomes a real contender for the worst in the league. Furthermore, injured or aging star players are often the most difficult egos to manage. Roy was already beginning to show difficulties dealing with his ever shrinking role within in the offense last season, and the situation stands to get worse. The Blazers also have LaMarcus Aldridge, who was able to fill the void left by Roy last year, and appears on his way to becoming a franchise player. While the rationale behind cutting Roy remains sound, I can’t help but feel dirty, uncomfortable, and extremely sad for being so willing to kick the man who saved this franchise to the curb.

Before Brandon Roy, The Portland TrailBlazers were struggling through an extremely tumultuous period. After nearly beating the Lakers in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, Bob Whitsitt proceeded to slowly decimate the roster, making ill-advised trade after ill-advised trade (leading to the often forgotten but simultaneously idiotic and awesome incident that was a fan getting kicked out of the arena for bringing a “Trade Whitsitt sign”).  What had once been one of the most loyal and passionate fan bases had become disgusted and disinterested with both management and players. The “Jail Blazers” moniker had re-emerged and the perceived lack of effort and interest only further aggravated everyone associated with the team.

Enter Brandon Roy. During his rookie season, Roy averaged 16.8 point per game, while also netting 4 assists and rebounds per contest. The Blazers still finished with a fairly disappointing record, but Roy had brought some life back to Portland; there was an electricity present in the Rose Garden that had previously been missing. Fans finally had something to get excited about, someone who gave us hope. It truly felt like we had found our hardwood savior.

The next few years served to confirm our first impressions. In his second season, Roy led the Blazers to a .500 record in an extremely competitive Western Conference. Then came that magical third season, the year in which nearly everyone considered Roy to be the third-best shooting guard in the league and possibly even a top-10 player in the NBA. Roy didn’t dominate games in a conventional fashion. There was nothing physically awe-inspiring about him. His jump shot wasn’t breathtakingly gorgeous, and his slow, methodical style wasn’t as captivating as the torrid, slicing style of, say, Chris Paul.

What Roy did have was an incredible savvy for getting to the rim. His body control and dexterity were unmatched. More importantly, Roy never resigned himself to defeat. Even if he had been shut down for 3 quarters, Roy always figured out a way to put his imprint on the game. In Portland, fans developed this weird sense of inevitability, that in the fourth quarter of every close game, Roy would find a way to win.

I remember being at the now-famous Blazers-Rockets game early in the 2008-2009 season. Roy hadn’t played well all game; Artest hounding him on every step, every cut, every dribble drive. After Yao Ming nailed an and-one jumper with 0.8 sec on the clock, a Houston victory seemed imminent. I was sitting at center court, a few rows back, probably no more than 20 or so feet from where the ball was being inbounded, I saw Roy break free, catch the ball and turn and shoot in one motion. As the ball left his hand and hung in the air I thought to myself “OH DEAR GOD, HE DID IT AGAIN. THAT IS GOING IN.” Sure enough, the ball dropped. The entire Rose Garden, myself included, lost our collective s**t. We all felt the same thing, like we were witnessing the beginning of a momentous shift. That after years toiling away in irrelevancy, Brandon Roy was going to turn this franchise into a formidable force.

With Roy, Aldridge, and Greg Oden, the Blazers looked to become a preeminent power in the Western Conference. Of course, for a few years it was Oden who served as the black sheep of the group. But ultimately, the same cruel fate that struck the promising center found a way to latch itself on to Roy. However, for Brandon, there seems to be a unique, perverse form of torture he endures. While Oden remains somewhat of an enigma, a giant, physically intimidating mass of unrealized potential, Roy was and is a known commodity. We saw him go toe to toe with the best in the league and triumph. We heard Ron Artest call him “the most difficult player to guard in the league.” Roy was able to taste success, drink from fountain of NBA superstardom, and then almost immediately, before he could even fully actualize his accomplishments, it all vanished.

Roy’s career captures the same emotions and sentiments (at least from myself) as the careers of Tracy McGrady and Penny Hardaway. As children, and even as adults, (though some of us would be ashamed to admit it), we view these athletes as superhuman, as individuals who wield physical gifts and powers not bestowed upon us mere mortals. It’s not that they defy the laws of physics or possibility, they altogether seem unaware of their existence, as if they were born without any conception of limitations. In many ways they embody the boundless potential of the individual we value so dearly. Thus, when injury strikes down these once dominant powers, and forces them to walk around on planet earth with the rest of human kind, our beautiful fantasy is shattered. Reality creeps in to painfully remind us that sometimes, fate, circumstance, luck, god whatever you’d like to call it, has a larger say then we choose to recognize.

I think ultimately, this is what makes my willingness to cut Brandon Roy so difficult. It lacks any kind of empathy or compassion. Yes, I know it’s a business. I know the Blazers would be foolish not to get rid of his contract. Still, I can’t help but feel everyone, Roy especially, deserves a lot better than this.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvnTRhJKkuQ

Podcast Paroxysm, Part 1: Zach Harper

In the first episode of this weekly podcast hosted by myself and Connor Huchton (name and theme song pending), we talk to Zach Harper about competitive balance, his Timberwolves, Jamal Crawford, his status as the go-to bacon expert on Twitter, and more.

Part 2 of this podcast, featuring Matt Moore, will be up tomorrow.

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Stay in School

Staredown

Image via shafik on Flickr

One of my favorite courses I took in grad school was a weekend course called “Negotiation Skills.” I figured it would be a pretty easy class: get in groups, schmooze with your classmates, make some deals that don’t actually have any bearing on your real life, get an A, go home, and eat some pizza.

Well, most of that was true (no pizza, though, frownyface). But the class sure wasn’t easy, and if you were participating correctly, you couldn’t help caring about the deals you were making. There we were swapping squares of paper, and suddenly pride got involved somehow. We wanted what we thought we deserved. The problem with that was that we ALL wanted what we deserved in a zero-sum game. More for me = less for you.

The most interesting part of the course for me was when we learned the difference between Positional Negotiation and Principled Negotiation. I never realized there was more than one kind, so that fact in itself was informative (there are many more kinds that I won’t get into here). Positional negotiation refers to (and I’m paraphrasing my prof here) bargaining to put yourself in a better position relative to your adversary. Normally, one sees this type of negotiation when parties don’t have to repeatedly work together and have a strong cooperative relationship (think: buying a car). However, this seems to be a lot of what we’re seeing publicly in the NBA and NBPA press conferences: blame-shifting, accusations of greed, the digging-in of heels. It’s hostile, it sucks to watch, and it seems counterproductive to the longevity of the partnership between the league and its players.

We spent most of our course discussing Principled Negotiation. It sets itself apart from the previous type of negotiation by concentrating on four tenets:

  1. Get an objective standard and try to match the results to that.
  2. Make sure you don’t confuse the people and the problem.
  3. Think outside the box on issues that may be important but aren’t discussed.
  4. Most importantly: focus on the interests of each party and not their positions.

Since every pro sports league in the country seems to have a different way of doing business, Tenet 1 is difficult to follow in this situation. There are multiple objective baselines for the league to follow.

But maybe we could avoid stepping all over Tenet 2 by trying to keep the more inflammatory members (*ahem SternKesslerAllenGilbertGarnett) out of the room. Although, admittedly it may be difficult to get things done without Stern in the room. (Though maybe he should cool his tone before his dreams of expanding basketball internationally take players out of his league for good.)

Tenet 4 is the most important, but it doesn’t seem like either side is being 100% forthright. Hey owners: is the structure of the league really untenable? Then why did you essentially renew CBA in 2004? If it’s really about covering the losses over the past few years, then say it. There’s no shame in that. The players also have an interest in keeping the league viable. They want to play and they want to make money, too. Why not flip the percentage distribution so that you can recoup losses over the first few years of the CBA, then flip it back in the players’ favor over the last few years once you’re afloat (and I use that word loosely, since they’re all afloat and will be for ∞ years). I’m by no means a negotiation expert. Last I checked, one of the top negotiation experts in the country thought these meetings were a lost cause. But at least it looks like I’m trying to use Tenet 3 once in a while, guys.

Maybe to league and players, they’re just swapping squares of paper back and forth. Billions and billions or squares of paper. Maybe there’s too much pride on each side to come to an amicable agreement. Maybe there’s not enough pride on each side to respect each other at the podium.  Maybe percentage-wise it’s a zero-sum game. But building from the momentum of a great season promises to make the stack of paper bigger, ensuring everyone gets more anyway.

If you’d also like to become an armchair negotiation aficionado, I’d highly recommend checking out this site and reading their book.

Feeling Like a Kid Again

talking to no one

Image via bionicteaching on flickr

Anyone who watched basketball during the 1990s is sure to have some nostalgic images seared into their brains. About 90% of them are of Michael Jordan dismantling an opponent. That other 10% are probably of Michael Jordan dismantling your home team. Growing up in Cleveland during the 1990s (oh hey, that other 10%), my cousins and I loved watching the NBA. We watched Cavs games. We bought NBA gear. I still have my Mark Price home jersey. My older cousin was DEVASTATED when he lost one of his Latrell Sprewell high tops during family car trip to Florida; it was the worst Spring Break of his life. Almost as devastated as I was when my family moved into a new house, and I somehow lost 2 David Robinson cards (from the “David’s Best” series) and two Alonzo Mourning rookie cards.

Oh you better believe we collected basketball cards. The three of us got a whole set one year for Christmas, and we divvied it up in a card draft (Not unrelated: if anyone happens to want 26 Calbert Cheaney rookie cards, hit me up). Why we needed three separate subscriptions to Beckett Basketball Monthly, I’ll still never understand. But we scoured those pages every month when those issues came in the mail, and every month we’d make fun of George Mikan’s glasses. Posters of Larry Johnson (as himself and GrandMama) adorned our walls. We tore pictures of players out of magazines (sports or otherwise) and taped them everywhere. My favorite was my height comparison chart of Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley (Did you know the shortest adult in the world in the mid-90s was 18 inches tall and lived in rural India?).

In 1998, I took down my magazine pages, boxed up my cards, ended my Beckett subscription, rolled up GrandMama, and put them all in the back of my closet. Of all these pictures and mementos and keepsakes I had of the NBA around me at all times, the lasting picture I have of the NBA in the 1990s is Patrick Ewing, in a big brown suit, hulking over a microphone, telling me that he wanted more money, and he wasn’t going to play until he got it.

That may not be what he said, but it’s what I heard. Had I known then what I know now, I don’t think I would have been able to comprehend the complexities of labor disputes, salary caps, free agency, and why billionaires and millionaires fight. To be honest, I still don’t. But I was just entering my teen years, and these rich guys were taking something away from me that I’d enjoyed during my childhood. I didn’t get it, but I blamed who I could see: the players. Why didn’t they want to play? Why did they need more money? Whatever the answer to these questions (and dozens of other more educated ones I never thought to ask), the damage was done. The NBA lost me as a fan. It helped that the marginally competent Cleveland Indians were there to salve my fan-wounds, but it wasn’t the same. The characters were different. The personalities were different. The pace was very different. I was different.

Since then, the players have gotten a bit better at controlling their message, or at least the owners have gotten just as bad at making themselves look bad. Maybe it’s a sign of the times: labor disputes and anti-billionaire sentiments aren’t exactly rare these days. It’s not like both sides don’t have legitimacy to their causes; they just don’t need to look like jerks. Their federally-appointed mediator threw up his hands and walked out, saying that there was nothing he could do: the lockout was terminal. November’s games are gone, and those might just be the first. In 98-99, the NBA had a shortened season. A pretty poor one from what I recall (though I didn’t watch much of it). Apparently it’s worth forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars lost because both sides are too stubborn to make it work. Will dwindling fanbases be worth it too?

The Lowdown: Kermit Washington

via Los Angeles Times

“Is that Kermit Washington? Oh my God, it’s Kermit Washington!”

Via Nathan Dolezal, wide-eyed basketball fan, former co-host of Ain’t it Funky Now!

Years Active: 1974 – 1982; 1988

Career Stats: 9.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 0.8 spg, 52.6% FG, 65.6% FT

Accolades: 1980 NBA All-Star, 2x NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team (1980-81)

So, there I was exiting American University’s radio station after another funky good time on Ain’t it Funky Now! with my good friend and c0-host Nathan Dolezal. As we’re strolling down the hallway, a gargantuan man with a friend of his own is walking a little aimlessly, clearly a bit lost. Instantly, we recognize this as legendary American University Eagle, Kermit Washington. He spots us and very politely asks where the student television station is. We point him in the right direction and he leave us with a simple, soft-spoken “thanks fellas.”

Now, if you know anything about Kermit Washington it’s most likely the punch he threw in December 1977. So let’s go ahead and get that out of the way. It was a terrible act that nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich and turned Kermit into a villainous figure. Context, however, is golden. Admittedly, contextualizing a brutal act of violence is difficult, but then again the 70s NBA was a brutal place. If you think Charles Oakley was tough, and he was, then you would soil your Depends with the likes of Maurice Lucas and Bob Lanier prowling the court.

For their menacing behavior, these men were lauded, praised and adored as “enforcers”. It wasn’t just the enforcers who engaged in fisticuffs though. Physical, dirty play and fights were not beyond the pale. In fact, Kermit’s teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand punching Kent Benson (who cheaply caught Jabbar with an elbow) in a swing that was far more pre-mediated and meant to do harm than Kermit’s punch on Rudy T. For further priming on the nastiness of the 70s NBA, here’s an excerpt from the Kermit Washington documentary, Redemption:

In that rough and tumble environment, Kermit Washington exemplified himself as a prototype for tough, rugged power forwards. Not nasty or malicious. But stout and firm. During his playing days for American University, Kermit would become an AP All-American and averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds for his collegiate career. My research has only turned up Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Elgin Baylor and Paul Silas as the other players to accomplish that. It was a testament to Washington’s will to substitute hard work and desire for the natural talent and skill he lacked. Incessantly, he would lift weights to increase his strength and undergo drills to augment his speed and agility. This same attitude also propelled Kermit to Academic All-American status.

Drafted 5th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1973, Washington would languish on the bench for his first 3 seasons. Averaging just 4 points and 5 rebounds in 13.5 minutes a night during his rookie season, Kermit’s will was tested and he was clearly disenchanted with the situation:

“It’s really seemed like a waste of a year out of my life. I had certain goals when I came into the NBA and I haven’t fulfilled them. I’ve always been able to achieve what I set out to do in the past and this year has really hurt.

“My dream wasn’t to become a millionaire, it was to become successful on the basketball court. Not in the bank. I’m very competitive person and I like to do well at anything I do. I’m happiest when I’m doing well in the game.”

Happiness would come in the 1976-77 season. As veteran forwards like Connie Hawkins and Bill Bridges retired, the opportunity for playing time revealed itself. Furthermore, Kermit worked during the off-season with Pete Newell to improve his game. The final strike in Kermit’s favor was Jerry West replacing Bill Sharman as Lakers coach, since West was more amenable to playing younger players than Sharman. In the season’s first 53 games, Washington averaged 9.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in 25 minutes as the front court complement to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, Kermit would miss out on the team’s playoff run when he tore a patellar tendon midway through the season.

Returning in 1977-78, Washington continued the improvement with 11 rebounds and 11.5 points and his typical defensive prowess. However, that December came the aforementioned punch on Rudy T. and it would be Kermit’s last game as a Laker. During the 60-day suspension he received, Kermit was traded to the Boston Celtics.

Amazingly, Kermit actually played better upon his return. In 32 games with Boston, Washington averaged 12 points and 10.5 rebounds along with 1.3 blocks while shooting 52% FG and 75% FT. It was an excellent fit for Kermit:

His coach calls him inspiring and the fickle Boston fans love him… Washington Wednesday scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds as the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 105-99.

[...]

On defense and off the backboards, it was all Washington; ten of his rebounds were from the offensive boards. “Kermit was inspiring. Not only did he inspire the fans, but he inspired us. He was outstanding off the boards. His style gives a lift to all of us,” [Coach Tom] Sanders said.

Despite the good situation, Washington was abruptly traded that off-season to the San Diego Clippers in a three-way trade so that Boston could  acquire Tiny Archibald. He performed well for the Clippers, playing all 82 games for the only time in his career and averaging 11 points, 9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The Clippers had a very un-Clipper 43-win season which wasn’t good enough for the playoffs, but signaled a team on the rise.

Again, despite seemingly finding an on-court home, Washington was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers as compensation for San Diego signing Bill Walton. It was disastrous for the Clippers. Walton was the better player, but getting all of Kermit was better than the small doses of Bill they would receive due to injury.

Although approaching the final years of his career, Kermit would enjoy his best seasons in Portland. 1980 was his finest season in the pros: 13 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks on 55% shooting. Finally, Washington would receive notice and league-wide praise for his on-court abilities. When Kansas City Kings forward Scott Wedman went down injured, Washington was selected to replace him in that year’s all-star game. Kermit would also be named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team.

The next season, 1981, Washington again made the Defensive 2nd Team. The frontcourt of Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompson and Washington led Portland to the playoffs in 1981. During that postseason, Washington was magnificent in the face of an upset by the KC Kings. In the 3-game series, he averaged 9 points, 17 rebounds and 2.7 steals. However, the grizzled 30-year old called it quits midway through the 1982 season, citing back, hip and knee pain.

Physically, Kermit was strong as an ox, impossible to move out of position on the boards and, likewise, he could move you with impunity.Mentally, that determination pervades him still. The day I ran into Kermit Washington was really no coincidence. He had set up a camper on the campus quad to raise awareness, money and materiel for Project Contact Africa, a group he was working with to feed and clothe destitute Africans. He has also worked with NBA rookies on managing their money in a responsible manner:

Contrary to prevailing wisdom, he’s a real sweetheart, that Kermit.

Markets Over Owners

Photo by lakpuratravels via Flickr

“We are asking you to embrace this issue because the hard truth is that our current economic system works only for larger-market teams and a few teams that have extraordinary success on the court and for the latter group of teams, only when they experience extraordinary success. The rest of us are looking at significant and unacceptable annual financial losses.”

Via “How ‘small market’ owners took control” by Brian Windhorst

That’s a mere snippet of an outstanding article by Windhorst detailing the genesis of the current lockout. Small-market owners were squirming back in 2006 for a chance to right the system and prevent any further economic detriment to their teams. And that was during relatively good economic times. Then came the Great Recession and the small-timers buttressed their resolve and were joined by new allies (Robert Sarver and Dan Gilbert, prominently).

For months now, I’ve been racking my mind on a way to really get a feel for what makes a market large or small and what gives it potential for profit. Finally, I’ve come up with something to put my mind at ease for the time being, but it’s by no means the end-all-be-all of a complex subject.

Continue reading

Lockout Jamz: Why Do You Build Me Up?

Photo by xenia_k via Flickr

After approximately six hours of discussions, the sides again failed to reach agreement on several key issues, most notably the division of basketball-related income (BRI). Shortly after talks ceased, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that NBA games scheduled through Nov. 30 would be canceled, and that losing the full month of November meant the end of any hope that the league would play a full 82-game slate.

Via “NBA cancels remaining November games, will not play a full 82-game season” by Dan Devine

The rollercoaster ride of negotiations once again tracked upward this past week. A ridiculous marathon session of 15 hours was conducted on Wednesday and into the wee hours of Thursday morning. Talks resumed late Thursday morning and broke that evening with hopes soaring high like a plastic grocery bag caught in an updraft.

The press conferences Thursday night were a scene of controlled joy and happiness. Both sides described that progress, a word that’s become vacuous in this charade, had been made on system issues. David Stern smiled from ear to ear like the cat from Alice in Wonderland. Billy Hunter giggled as he caught Stern’s eye from across the room. Love was in the air.

Continue reading

NBL Canada Debuts

Photo courtesy National Basketball League of Canada / Chuck Miller

The hometown Quebec Kebs kicked off the inaugural season of the National Basketball League of Canada with a 102-97 historic victory over the Moncton Miracles.

Quebec Kebs Ralphy Holmes scored the first two points in league history with a pair of free-throws as the hometown team jumped out to an early 17-10 lead.

Via Kebs Historic Victory Over Miracles Kicks Off Inaugural NBL Canada Season from Basketball Buzz

Rejoice North Americans! There is still professional basketball to be had in the midst of the NBA lockout. The National Basketball League of Canada commenced its maiden season in Quebec City as the Quebec Kebs hosted the Moncton Miracles . Admittedly, the action, skill and flow of the game isn’t up to par with that of the nearly 70-year old NBA. It’s quality was that of a your typical NCAA game, which will only get better with time and refinement.

I was only able to witness the 1st half of the game, but as Joshua Priemski noted to me on Twitter, there were serious defensive lapses by Quebec as Jazzmar Ferguson for Moncton came around screens and buried 3 shots from downtown in addition to a pull-up three in transition he nailed in the 1st quarter. For Quebec the star in the 1st half was Dontell Jefferson, who’s enjoyed a brief stint with the Charlotte Bobcats and lengthy stay in the NBA’s D-League. Alas, I was unable to see the outcome of the inaugural match, but there will be plenty of action to catch up on in the coming months.

The league’s 7 teams play a 36-game schedule with the top 4 advancing to the playoffs. Speaking of the 7 teams, let’s have a run down, shall we?

  • Halifax Rainmen – Located in Nova Scotia and have the notoriety of signing former NBA players Rodney Buford and Eddie Robinson.
  • London Lightning – Located in Ontario; NBA legend Michael Ray Richardson is the head coach.
  • Moncton Miracles – Located in New Brunswick; one of the many alliterative teams in the NBL.
  • Oshawa Power – Located in Ontario; was looking forward to watching Denham Brown but he has bailed for Argentina. Not cool man.
  • Quebec Kebs – Located in Quebec; home of my favorite NBL player so far, Dontell Jefferson.
  • St. John Mill Rats – Located in New Brunswick; definitely the most interesting professional sports name around
  • Summerside Storm – Located in Prince Edward Island; their home stadium (Consolidated Credit Union Place) is as corporately hackneyed as your typical American arena.

Here’s hoping that next season the league balances itself with 8 teams by adding an expansion in Ottawa. Until then enjoy the streamable games online. The league’s official Twitter account (@NBLCanada) is excellent at presenting the latest link.

PS – This is a good time to remember that the NBA’s first game was played in Canada. Go Huskies!

Amnesty Tango: Central Division

Photo by prayitno via Flickr

This is the 6th and final installment of the Amnesty Tango series, where I allow one player per team to wiggle out of his underpaying contract. 

Previous Tangos: Northwest Division – Pacific Division – Southwest Division – Southeast DivisionAtlantic Division

(Note: All salary information provided by Hoops Hype. Furthermore, it will be assumed all player and team options are in full effect.)

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls only have three contracts of extraordinary note. Luol Deng is a really good small forward, but he is overpaid since he’ll average $13 million a year over the next three seasons. Carlos Boozer is really overpaid.Well, never mind. When you have a chance to shell out $60 million over the next four years for a PF who can really yell, thump his chest and vanish in the playoffs, you go for it! In a perfect world, Derrick Rose would be able to swap contracts with Boozer immediately. The MVP is due $7 million next year and has a qualifying offer of $9 million for the summer of 2013. $9 million. That’s about what Boozer’s worth.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Sure Antawn Jamison is overpaid at $15 million next year, but bless his heart he’s a consummate professional and comes to play every night. Baron Davis makes $14 million next year and has a player option for $15 million in 2012. Let’s just say when he picks up that option it’ll be the first thing he’s exercised in years. Moving along, the Cavaliers are actually bereft of any underpaid talent. The rest of the deal’s are fairly cheap and in-line with the contracted player’s ability. Good showing, Cavs Dan! The Cavs are really in a good spot to rebuild.

Detroit Pistons

Oh, Detroit basketball. Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell will make a combined $36 million next year. I’m so sorry. Gordon clearly had an off year and should be better but his contract is still too high. Frankly, I’d hesitate on giving any of the seemingly underpaid players a chance at renegotiation because I’m not sold on any of them. I’m not convinced just yet of the power of Greg Monroe. He had awesome showings late last season, but let’s see if he duplicates it his sophomore season.  I guess Rodney Stuckey needs a slight pay bump, but I’d be scared giving him more than $6 million a year, at the moment.

Indiana Pacers

After an eternity, the Pacers finally find themselves out of the financial wilderness. Danny Granger has not exactly proven he’s worth the $13 million a year he’s due from here on out, but Darren Collison, George Hill, and Roy Hibbert are all underpaid by my estimation. Not horribly so, but nonetheless they each deserve a slight incrrease in salary. With my magic wand I’ll set Hibbert free to get those extra millions. As a legit center who has the ability to alter games defensively and offensively, Hibbert is a rarity.

He’s not the next coming of Hakeem Olajuwon, but he’s still going to be good.

[flash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GCyU0sKxqI w=400 h=240]

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Andrew Bogut is the big money maker in Milwaukee (3yrs/$39million) and I have no problem with that if he stays healthy. Elsewhere, though, we got problems. Drew Gooden, Beno Udrih (although not as much as you’d first think), and Captain Jack are all overpaid. It could be worse, though. Corey Maggette and John Salmons could still be around. As for the underpaid players, Luc Mbah a Moute should surely receive more than his qualifying offer of $1.1 million. He’s a nasty defender. Just filthy. He’s got some Bobby Jones in him.

[flash www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWAnKNUg9gU w=400 h=240]