The Fundamentals

» August 25, 2009 10:49 AM | By Brandon Hoffman

Dave George of the Palm Beach Post:  “Remember when the burning question with Michael Beasley was whether he should play power forward or small forward for the Miami Heat? On Monday the ongoing debate over the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft ramped up several troubling notches with the news that Beasley is getting treatment for depression and other issues at a Texas rehab facility. Suddenly it’s a question of whether this talented young scorer remains a foundational piece for everything that’s supposed to be keeping Dwyane Wade in Miami beyond this season or if he’s turning into more of a trap door. Or, on a more personal level, is Beasley any closer to getting a grip on his life and his responsibilities at the age of 20 than he was in his early teens, when a journey through half a dozen different high schools and a world of headline-grabbing changes first began? ‘I’m young,’ Beasley said last month during off-season workouts in Miami. ‘I don’t understand why people keep talking maturity. I just don’t understand how mature I’m supposed to be.’”

Greg Cote of the Miami Herald:  “Dolphins running back Ricky Williams was informed of the Beasley development following that team’s preseason football practice Monday, and nodded as only someone who has been there can. Williams overcame a marijuana dependence that threatened to ruin his career. And, with the help of therapy, medication and yoga, corralled a social anxiety disorder that once left him uncomfortable even removing his helmet during interviews, and that threatened to put a stranglehold on his life. ‘I think understanding is what Mike needs most right now,” he said. ‘You have to appreciate the courage it took for him to be so young but to recognize he needed get ahold of himself. It shows a beginning of maturity.’ There were warning signs of a lack of that, and those were partly why Riley leaned toward drafting O.J. Mayo first in ‘08 but was convinced to bet on the greater overall talent of Beasley. Beasley attended five high schools before his one season at Kansas State, and arrived in the NBA dogged by maturity questions and a rep for youthful clownery. The league fined him $50,000 following last summer’s rookie symposium when he was determined to have been in a hotel room in which marijuana was being smoked. The Heat was so concerned about Beasley’s maturity that it paid for a ‘live-in personal adviser’ to be a constant mentor.”

J.A. Adande of  “College improves you, but it doesn’t eliminate your problems. And it can actually create problems for the school, as we’ve seen from Memphis’ asterisked run to the 2008 Final Four led by Derrick Rose, he of the voided SAT score. Ultimately, the NBA’s wait-a-year rule doesn’t do much good for anybody except the NBA scouts who don’t have to spend as much time driving to high school gyms. The solution to shaky high school stars was always a simple one: Don’t draft them. But NBA teams have been too seduced by talent to resist players with questionable backgrounds, and that proved true for the Heat in the 2008 draft. After the Chicago Bulls selected Rose with the first pick, the feeling was the Heat had to take Beasley (a 20 and 10 guy in the making, some GMs believed) at No. 2. So they did, even though they had sent out all kinds of signals that they had deep concerns about him. Maybe Beasley will turn over a new leaf. Maybe he’ll recognize that he was veering out of control by posting online pictures with what appear to be ‘doob-ious’ substances in the background and by posting suicidal-sounding updates on Twitter and will save his career. Or he could turn out to be a mistake that costs the Heat $9 million, at least, and Dwyane Wade, at most. There’s a lesson to be learned here for the whole league. Instead of trending toward statistical analysis, teams ought to be trending toward psychoanalysis.”

John Schuhmann of  “At a time when it isn’t easy to make moves in the NBA, due to the restrictions that both the collective bargaining agreement and the economy bring, Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo has almost completely turned over his roster. Even he’s surprised at how extensive a makeover it is. Nine of his 15 players were not in Toronto when the season ended in April, and that number could increase if a reported deal of Marcus Banks to Dallas for Matt Carroll comes to fruition. The only current Raptors who were on the roster when last season began are Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon. Colangelo and the rest of the Raptors’ brain trust came up with a list of team needs. Considering they lost 49 games last season, the second straight year of underachievement in Toronto, the list was long. ‘More than anything, we talked about toughness,’ Colangelo told ‘I think it was very apparent that we were just too soft.’ Other needs included athleticism, defense, playmaking, a more reliable back-up point guard and overall depth. … What effect the changes will have remains to be seen. The Raptors ranked 22nd in both offensive and defensive efficiency in 2008-09, and while Turkoglu will clearly help put more points on the board, defense will determine how far the Raptors go this season.”

Scott Howard-Cooper of  “There’s this arena. Or at least there’s supposed to be this arena. The land has been secured in Brooklyn, the plan to cross the Hudson River into Knicks territory has been declared, the timeline for the grand opening has been announced and the architectural designs have been drawn and redrawn. But, no arena. The Nets’ long-planned, much-hyped bid to crash New York City has tumbled into a pit of lawsuits and economic meltdown. Look closer, though. Beyond the artist’s renderings and through the mounting fees that have led to more scaling back at the site than building, the Nets have continued to grow something, and something with potential at that. The Vince Carter trade brought another starter who has shown he can be part of the long-term solution. The draft delivered a prospect who can make a major impact without scoring. The big-picture priority of cap space next summer is still in place and probably, depending on later decisions, in a better place than before. We have construction! The Nets have turned into an intriguing team heading into the opening of training camp in about five weeks. Barring a surprise, it won’t be reflected in the standings; they finished 34-48 in 2008-09 and 20th in the league in scoring, and then traded Carter (20.8 points), so there will be discouraging moments ahead. But there is promising youth and a noticeable turn for defense and envious cap space and the steady hand of the front office, and welcome to real possibilities.”

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Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune:  “George Shinn said the disappointment in the way last season ended, an ignominious five-game, first-round playoff elimination that included a record-setting 58-point home loss in Game 4 to the Denver Nuggets, triggered philosophical modifications in the way younger players will be dealt with. ‘It’s a situation where it seemed like it made us relook at ourselves and our organization and make some changes, ‘ Shinn said. ‘And the changes were more inside than anything else. We worked with our basketball people. I’ve gotten my son (Chad) more involved so he can communicate back to us. In the past, the basketball was like in another area. And the business end of the operation didn’t oversee it as much as we’re going to now. We feel like a lot of our young people have not been developed properly. We feel there are other mistakes that have been made from the basketball end. We’ve totally changed, and we’ll hold people accountable. We’re holding coaches, and not just Byron Scott, but our assistants accountable. We’re holding (General Manager) Jeff Bower accountable. We expect to get better and develop our young people. When we moved Rasual Butler, the idea is with the young people we have at that position (including rookies Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton and ex-No. 1 pick Julian Wright) we want to develop these guys.’ Shinn pointed to the way former Hornets second-round draft pick Brandon Bass has blossomed since he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a scenario the Hornets do not want to repeat.”

Ricky O’Donnell of the Chicago Sun-Times:  “‘Go Big or Go Home’ may sound like an X-Games mantra, but it’s also the path the Bulls have chosen to turn themselves into a member of the NBA’s elite. In case you need a refresher, here are some of the players that will be free agents in 2010. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer Manu Ginobili. Make no mistake, the Bulls will be going after one of those first four guys. I did the math for you: assuming they decline their team option on Tyrus Thomas (and they have to if they want to have enough dough) and John Salmons decides not to opt out of his contract, the Bulls will have $37.5 million committed after this season. The salary cap this year is set at $57.7 million. It’s expected to drop some for the second consecutive season after 2009-2010, but it shouldn’t drop much. Basically, the Bulls are going to have about $18-20 million in cap space. If they have it their way, $16-$17 million will go to one of the first four players listed above. … Chris Bosh is perhaps the best fit for the Bulls. He’s a well-rounded 6′10 power forward. Bosh is a better rebounded and defender than Stoudemire. Bosh is probably just as good on offensive, too. He doesn’t turn 26 years old until March, meaning he’s the youngest of the three. So that’s it for the Bulls. Get one of those guys or bust. If it pays off, the Bulls will have two legit superstars. You know what happens when you have two legit superstars? You challenge for NBA championships.”

Casey Holdahl of  “The Portland Trail Blazers don’t disclose contract terms, so there’s no legitimate way to know how much Dante Cunningham is going to make over the life of his newly signed rookie contract. But the NBA does have a minimum salary, so we know that, if nothing else, Cunningham is doing all right for himself. Material possessions can now be stockpiled. Cars, clothes, jewelry, all within reach. But Dante doesn’t have his mind on shopping after officially becoming a Trail Blazer on Friday. He just wants to get to work. ‘I really don’t want much,’ said Cunningham. ‘I just really, really want to play ball. I’m going to bring out my old truck from college out here. I live in a townhouse so I really don’t need much here. It’s kind of a laid back kind of place. You really don’t need to be flashy or anything like that out here.’ True enough, which is why many expect the No. 33rd pick in the 2009 Draft to be a hit with Trail Blazers fans. Cunningham’s no-nonsense, workman like approach to the game is just what this city and team are looking for out of their players, which is one of the reasons he was signed to a multi-year deal last week. It’s that desire to get down to business that has prompted Cunningham to move to Portland more than a month before the start of training camp.”

Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic:  “Heads up, LeBron James. Your new teammate doesn’t really care about you. He doesn’t really care about the good folk of Cleveland, most of whom are starving for a championship and too blinded by stardust to see what’s coming. Beware. Shaquille O’Neal is no longer Superman. He’s a guy riding on someone else’s cape, stealing someone else’s idea, taking someone else’s credit. Along the way, he’s playing the country for a bunch of fools. Of course. Why not? Shaq’s a funny guy, mirthful, full of charisma. He knows when to turn it on, and when to shut it down. Whenever he gets into trouble, he acts like an overinflated cartoon character, and everyone forgets why they’re mad. He rarely gets called out the way he should. Seriously. The guy verbally assaulted Kobe Bryant in a disgusting, petty rap song. He took needless shots at Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who merely dominated his position for an entire era. He was accused of stalking a female rapper in Atlanta. He made fun of Stan Van Gundy and Chris Bosh, both upstanding members of the NBA. … He started complaining about his touches. He danced with the JabbaWockeeZ at the start of the 2009 All-Star Game, and in a staged production, won the game’s co-MVP award. He became the face of Twitter, drawing more than 2 million followers. And then he broke a bond with the most important player on the Suns. The sudden renovation of his image trumped the team he played for.”

One Response to “The Fundamentals”

  1. Tsunami Says:

    No one in Cleveland expects Shaq to dominate competition. No one expects him to put his ego aside.

    What we expect is him to be over 300 lbs, and when he gets the ball near the rim, he puts it in around 60% of the time.

    If he does that, the Cavs are an improved team.

    Also, we didn’t give up Shawn Marion for him, just Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic