Is Childress The Beginning?

8 08 2008
Get your money, J-Chill.

Get your money, J-Chill.

Somewhere, David Stern is smiling.

The ink from Josh Childress’ deal with the Grecian basketball team, Olympiakos, has yet to dry and there are already clamorings of “why, Josh?  Why?”

Reports have claimed Olympiakos have signed him to a three-year contract for roughly $32 million.  That’s definitely not chump change, especially with a strong Euro.

So why is David Stern smiling?

Because he has no idea how momentous this summer has been.  I’m not talking about Baron Davis to the Clippers or Elton Brand to the Sixers.   What’s happening now is more powerful than the Tim Donaghy scandal because it clearly and directly affects the on-court product.

Basketball players are going against the grain and are choosing not to play in the NBA.

Carlos Arroyo, Earl Boykins, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Delfino, Primoz Brezec have joined Childress as legitimate, rotational NBA players who have signed with European clubs.

David Stern is smiling because LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade haven’t skipped across the sea.

Dave, stop smiling! You crazy, crazy guy!

The “poaching” of lower-to-mid level NBA players is alarming.  It is not alarming only because of the financial implications of enlarging the field of possible basketball employers, it is alarming because of what it may continue to do to NBA benches.

I talked to my dad about the differences between NBA basketball in the 1980’s and basketball of what was then the late 1990’s.  He talked about a deterioration of the NBA bench.

The wood of an NBA bench rots as it ages.  And this wood is in no way pertifying anytime soon. 

The players in the 6-12 positions have changed. 

Some place blame on league expansion.  Having 30-something teams in a league won’t dilute the talent pool but it will dilute the on-court talent.

Others point to the loss of “fundamentals” amongst American youth.  The three point line has destroyed the intricacies of the game, they say.  Everyone’s too concerned with either dunking or shooting a long-range bomb.  This is understandable.  Most only work enough to get rewarded, right?  The All-Star game has always featured a three-point competition and a slam dunk competition.  I guess that can go without saying…

A few are pointing at the commodity of youth and how that plays into bench selection.

What’s too often overlooked is how an American basketball exodus will affect the NBA bench.  Some say that this will dilute the field of talent.  More quality players will have more options so the NBA will invariably end up will less quality players. 

But will it necessarily dilute the on-court product?

Does each action have an opposite an equal reaction?  Will American players invading European clubs force more quality European players into the States?  Is there going to be a give-and-go play, of sorts?

It’s clearly too early to say but it’s very interesting to speculate.


Nightmare On Madison Street

6 04 2008

The Chicago Bulls are one loss or one Atlanta Hawks win away from eliminating themselves from the NBA playoffs.

The Hawks have the Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, Magic and Heat left on the schedule. The Bulls have the Heat, Magic (twice), Cavaliers, Bucks and Raptors up in that same span. So if the Bulls slip or if the Hawks take care of business, Chicago will hope the lottery gods smile upon them.

With all of this in my mind, I’ve been stirring a lot in my sleep. The nightmare I had last night will not help alleviate any of my latent fears.

Elton Brand is back from an injury and playing for his Clippers squad. His revival makes the Clippers front court as follows: Elton Brand, the near All-Star Chris Kaman and the devastatingly skilled Al Thornton.

That is a stacked front-court. I would be psyched if I were a Clips fan. It would be like if a fat kid not only stole a Klondike bar while the attendant wasn’t looking, it’s as if the fat kid hijacked the damn ice cream truck.

With Corey Maggette making plays out on the wing, the Hunchback Franchise of the Staples Center is just screaming for a talented, young mid-level point guard to join their ranks.

The Clippers can’t count on someone on their current roster to fill that need. Shaun Livingston’s status is still cloudy after that horrific injury. Brevin Knight is about ready to collect social security from his baby-boomer children. Dan Dickau is solid but the Clippers probably won’t be able to lean on him to run the offense.

In my nightmare, Chris Duhon spurned any of the Bulls’ advances and peace offerings. Duhon signed with the Clippers. He and fellow Dukie and former Bull Elton Brand help revive Clipper Nation, leading them to their first playoffs since Sam Cassell. What’s worse is that Chris Duhon’s career path followed Chauncey Billups in that both players peaked much later than the normal curve.

In the vein of Brand, Tyson Chandler, Bruce Bowen and Corey Benjamin, Duhon became another former Bull that found success after leaving the Windy City.

I have never been a fan of Chris Duhon but please, Chris, keep partying and hanging out at Duke. Don’t make a name for yourself because I won’t know what I’ll do. Actually, I do. I’ll probably pull a “Doug Heffernan” and spend my 403b savings on an ice cream truck.

Downtown ATL

19 03 2008


Joe Johnson’s 3-point percentage in the last nine games.  This man is becoming a steady lock for the All-Star game each year even though he plays in the ATL.  He’s got a career 3-point clip of 37.8%.   Joe Johnny hasn’t shot this well since he left the Suns.  I’d be happy to eat breakfast 53.4% of the time, much less drain longballs.