- Ian Thomsen opines that David Stern will make an example of Gilbert Arenas: “For years, Stern has worried aloud about the players’ reliance on guns for self-protection, but there has been little he could do legally to stop them from packing licensed weapons. In this case, however, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from carrying firearms on team property. Arenas has acknowledged moving three unloaded guns into his locker at the Verizon Center last month because he didn’t feel safe keeping them at home after the birth of his third child. Instead of reaching out for assistance in storing the weapons, he not only moved them into the team’s facility but also then allegedly chose to reveal them in the middle of a heated argument. The players are fooling themselves if they think Stern won’t make an example of them as he did of Artest. Imagine if Stern was light in his punishment, only to watch in horror a year or two later as another incident among NBA players led to actual gunfire and injury. Then Stern would bear grave responsibility for not doing everything he could have in the case of Arenas to limit, once and for all, the use of guns by players.”
- Michael McCann, a legal analyst for SI, says the situation could spur changes in league policies that implicate player privacy: “For instance, might the NBA demand greater freedom to search players’ lockers, either randomly or with cause? The league may already enjoy that right since Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures do not apply to searches conducted by private parties — such as an NBA team or league officials — who are not acting as agents of the government. Some states’ privacy laws, however, might protect NBA players, though not if the NBA and players’ association agreed to protocols for searches. More dramatically, the NBA could seek to collectively bargain changes to the Uniform Player Contract that would stringently limit or outright prohibit player possession of guns, including during the offseason.”
- In case you missed it, Thunder chairman Clay Bennett officially saved $30 million when the clock struck midnight last Thursday. As part of the deal allowing the team formerly known as the Sonics to move to Oklahoma City, Bennett agreed to pay the city of Seattle $30 million if the state legislature approved $75 million in KeyArena upgrades by the end of 2009. I just watched Sonicsgate, and I must say: Bennett played this one beautifully. I don’t agree with his tactics, of course, or the end result, but you’ve got to give the man credit for being smart enough to know that Washington lawmakers would never approve the KeyArena financing.
- John Krolik responds: “When Shaq shoots the ball 10 or more times, the Cavs are 5-6. That makes them 22-3 in games where Shaq does not shoot 10 or more times. In fact, the Cavs’ first six losses were all games that Shaq either shot 10 times in or did not play in at all. The Cavs have lost three times when Shaq has shot less than 10 times. The first two of these losses came in December on the road against Dallas and Houston. As Shaq shot a combined 3-15 in those two losses, I would say that the problem in those games was something other than Shaq not getting enough touches.”
- Good Jonny Flynn quote on playing in the triangle offense, via NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner: “The biggest difference for me is, you don’t have the ball in your hands a lot. You bring it up, you pass, you cut, you go to the corner. Then you might cut and come to the top, and you still might not get the ball. There might be five possessions where you might not touch the ball. That’s definitely tough, me being a point guard who came into college dominating the ball.”You’re not in a position to make [traditional] decisions. A lot of things in this offense are dictated by reads, people slipping to get open, people coming off screens. There’s not a lot that’s dictated by the point guard knowing who to say yes or no to.”
- The key to Dwight Howard’s super-human strength: skittles.
- Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus pinpoints a few key adjustments made by Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. A highlight: “The coach once known for his ‘:07 Seconds or Less’ philosophy is now practicing something more akin to ‘:15 Seconds or Less.’ Through the end of November, New York was playing at the league’s third-fastest pace. Since then, the Knicks have been more deliberate than the average team, playing old-fashioned track meets only against running teams like Indiana and Phoenix. D’Antoni slowed things down when the Suns traded for Shaquille O’Neal, but even that adjustment was nowhere near this extreme.”
- Red94 is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs. In part 2 of “Discerning Morey’s Philosophy,” Rahat Huq writes: “If we’re delving into basketball existentialism, then now would probably be an appropriate time to ask what exactly is a ‘shooting guard.’ No other general manager would start both Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier in tandem at the wings. The two are unequivocally the worst ball-handling swingman duo in the league. Daryl Morey knows this. Does this decision illustrate contempt for the traditional basketball roles? Might there be a belief that what is typically expected to come from one particular source can simply be replaced in the aggregate from other avenues? Perhaps Ariza and Battier’s combined defensive
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impact was projected to offset the sacrificed expected output of an average conventional ball-handling wing? This line of reasoning would render the traditional basketball role obsolete.”
- Lamar Odom cites statistical plus-minus when discussing the the dropoff in the quality of his play from last season to now.
- Tim MacMahon’s retrospective on Mark Cuban’s decade as owner of the Dallas Mavericks begins this way: “The waitress at the trendy new club approached Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash with a pair of drinks and pointed to the gentleman across the room who had paid for them. The basketball-playing buddies, who had yet to reach celebrity status, didn’t intend to drink that night. But they had less interest in engaging in a conversation with the man they recognized as a courtside season-ticket holder known for his rants, so they waved politely, sipped on their drinks and tried to avoid eye contact before departing. A few weeks later, the Dallas Mavericks were informed that the team had been sold. Oh, and the new owner had mentioned something about buying drinks recently for Nash and Nowitzki. ‘I’m thinking, ‘Ohhhh, no! That dude!’‘ Nowitzki recalled a decade later. ‘I knew right away who it was: the guy from the front row who is always killing Steve when he was subbing in and always had words for the bench. He was like a really involved fan, so I thought, ‘This is going to be an experience.’‘”