Top 10 most underrated story lines for the 2012-2013 NBA season

As usual, the mainstream media is missing many, if not all, of the key questions going into the upcoming NBA season. I’m here to help fill that void.

  1. How long will Andrew Bynum let his afro grow? It’s an injustice to narrowly define that thing on the enigmatic center’s head as just an afro. In the evolution of bad haircuts, the dead animal nestling on his skull is a game-changer. It’s like the mutant love-child of Robert Griffin’s freshmen haircut and the worst (best?) Michael Beasley shave ever. Now that he’s out of the L.A. limelight, the newfound freedom of living in a city nobody cares about must be a rejuvenating experience for big Andy. Plus, he knows there isn’t a center in the Eastern Conference capable of stopping him in the post, so who cares what he does with his hair? Let the man do his thing and embrace his new city and new life. Man, I can’t wait for when he busts out the midseason hi-top fade. Don’t pretend like that’s not happening.
  2. Does Andre Kirilenko still have that deal with his wife, and if so, how will Minnesota men cope? There were roughly 20 million reason$ Kirilenko signed with the Wolves, but you can’t discount the allure of the Adelman’s coaching style, the international flavor of the roster, the crippling cold winters, and of course, the Scandinavian ladies. Living half a world away from his native land, Kirilenko will look for reminders of home wherever he can find them. If that means pretending the blonde, pale, and round-faced ladies of the “great white north” are of Russian descent, so be it. They will no doubt be much obliged to provide that comfort. Whether their men will share this enthusiasm for the playboy’s promiscuous tendencies is another story.
  3. Just how racist is David Kahn? Speaking of Minnesota, let’s hope they don’t get in any brawls this season. It would probably give off the (accurate) impression of 1960’s-style race riot. With the acquisitions of white guy all-stars Greg Stiemsma, Robby Hummel, Chase Budinger and Co., the Timberwolves general manager has blown the lid off of his confederate-level prejudices. Will he bring back Mad-Dog? Will he channel his inner-Adolph Rupp and accuse every other team of stirring the pot too much with all these multi-racial rosters? Will he trade Derrick Williams and Brandon Roy away for 3 copies of Birth of a Nation and some  Civil War relics? With a wild card like D-Kahn, the sky is the limit.
  4. Will Vinny Del Negro finally earn his long overdue Coach of the Year award? Thankfully Vinny doesn’t worry about such trivial matters, probably because he’s well aware of his unique coaching style, i.e., his tendency to undermine the efforts of his players with half-baked game plans and a complete disdain for “real plays.” The Clippers have a stacked roster that could go 11-deep this season, which means Vinny is going to have a blast mismanaging playing time and throwing out arbitrary lineups.
  5. Is Amare Stoudemire secretly 43 years-old? I love that the Knicks and Nets are “relavent” again. And by relevant, I mean doomed to never make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs in the next 5 years. Who knows, maybe Amare’s knees will suddenly improve and Carmelo will learn to broaden his game outside of jacking up 30 shots a game and taking naps on defense. Or not.
  6. When will we hear our first ‘Royce White anxiety’ story of the season? Oh, what’s that? Already? Wow, that was quick.
  7. Is this the season Hasheem Thabeet finally “gets it?” You say Hasheem, I say Hakeem. There’s a storm about to hit the U.S., and it isn’t Sandy: Hasheem Thabeet is about to blow away the critics. Just listen to his new perspective in OKC: “I was bobbling the ball a lot the past few years,” Thabeet said. “But getting better every day, that’s my goal. Every time I step out there I want to get better at something that I wasn’t able to do…” In other words, Hasheem is excited to finally learn more about this game “basketball” everyone is always talking about.
  8. Do people in Orlando enjoy being pooped on, or did the Magic misjudge the situation? I suppose we’ll find out the answer to this question if crowds at Magic games ever surpass 5,000 fans. You can’t really blame Orlandoites (Orlanoans? Orlandoers? Orlando Blooms?) for only being luke warm on a starting five of Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, Aaron Afflalo, Glen Davis, and Gustavo Ayon. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard is playing for an all-star team in L.A. Yes, this roster is the equivalent of a simmering Fourth of July-esque crap. And no, I will never watch this team play.
  9. Will someone pull a “Delonte West” on LeBron again, and is it the only way anyone is beating the Heat? First of all, there is nobody I trust more than Calvin Murphy. If he says Delonte had sex with Mrs. James, it happened. I mean, how could you not trust a guy “who was once accused of sexually abusing five of his 14 daughters (who were fathered with nine different women, only one of whom he married)?” Outside of causing LeBron to have an emotional and psychological breakdown due to his mother’s sexual exploits, there is basically nothing stopping him from remaining on the throne of NBA dominance. Even with Dwight on the Lakers and a reloaded Thunder squad, LeBron is basically the most ridiculous athlete the game has ever seen. The only thing capable of stopping the Heat is injuries. Besides Delonte West, of course.
  10. Are we ready to call Meyers Leonard the next Jeremy Lin? We’ve been hearing it all preseason: “Leonard-sanity,” “Meyers-fever,” “Meyers-tastic” — people just can’t seem to get enough of the Portland rookie. The parallels are certainly there. Jeremy Lin: an inspiration to Asian-Americans, NBA fans everywhere and the people of his ancestral Taiwan; revitalized a New York team on the brink of collapse; had the greatest first stretch of play for any NBA player in history; generated millions in revenue for his team. Meyers Leonard: an inspiration to tall white guys everywhere; Honorable Mention All Big-10 last season; legend of central Illinois; presumed starting center on a mediocre Portland team. Could it be any more obvious? If Meyers doesn’t win Rookie of the Year, single-handedly lead Portland to the playoffs, inspire a country, and redefine our expectations for the game of basketball by the end of the season, I would be incredibly surprised. Brace yourselves for “the season of Meyers,” it’s going to be quite a ride.
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Week 16: The Battle for NY

The playoff picture is blurrier than an y year in recent memory as teams battle it out for the wild cards in both leagues. But nothing is a messy as the NFC East. Everything can be wrapped up this week with a Dallas win and a Giants loss. But with both the Jets and Giants in need of a win it is clear that the game of the week is being played in NY.

(Home teams in CAPS)

Houston -6 over INDIANAPOLIS

The Colts got their one win last week, and I do not see them putting the number one overall pick in jeopardy with a win here.

Oakland +1.5 over KANSAS CITY

Neither team is out of the playoffs yet, but the loser will likely be out. The Chiefs laid it all out there last week to beat the Pack, and I do not expect a repeat performance against their long time, bitter rivals.

Denver -2.5 over BUFFALO

It seems the magic of Tebow was gone last week, but on the day before Christmas there is no way he falters again. This is only loosely related, but worth the 3 minutes to say the least…

Jacksonville +7.5 over TENNESSEE

The Titans get gashed on the ground ranking in the top ten in most yards rushing allowed per game. MJD will get the ball all game and wear down the Titans poor defense.

CINCINNATI -4 over Arizona

The Bengals need to keep on winning to have any hope of making the playoffs. Arizona has been playing tough, but as long as AJ Green is healthy the Bengals should be able to pull it out.

NEW ENGLAND -9.5 over Miami

The Pats can take a huge step to getting home field advantage with a win thanks to the stumbles by all the other AFC powers in week 15. I expect the Pats to come out chucking it and build a big lead early.

Cleveland +13 over BALTIMORE

This could be one of those games the Ravens just plain don’t show up until the second half. I expect the Ravens to win, but it will be much closer than people think.

NY JETS -3 over NY Giants

Two desperate teams. Two teams playing in their home stadiums. Two beat downs at the hands’ of lesser opponents last week. This will be the most entertaining game of the week, and as the Giants are prone to do, they will continue their late season slide.

Minnesota +6.5 over WASHINGTON

This will be the worst game of the week. Two awful teams battling it out for a better draft pick. I could see this one coming down to a field goal late either way.

CAROLINA -7.5 over Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers are a terrible team. The Panthers have a strong offense and should be able to put up a lot of points in this one.

St. Louis +15.5 over PITTSBURGH

Huge spreads have been very difficult to cover in the past three weeks. This could be a game the Steelers rest players like Big Ben in order to get healthy for the playoffs. The Steelers should win, but it will be a close game.

San Diego +2.5 over DETROIT

The Chargers need a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Lions have been prone to giving up points early, and against a Chargers offense that has been clicking of late, I think the Lions will dig too deep a hole to come back from this time.

San Francisco -2.5 over SEATTLE

The Seahawks have been great running the ball recently, but the 49ers have not allowed a rushing TD all year. Do not look for a lot of points in this one, but the 49ers will win to keep alive the hope of getting a bye.

Philadelphia +2 over DALLAS

Call me a sucker, but I have been completely roped back in by the team formally known as the Dream Team.

GREEN BAY +13 over Chicago

Josh McCown. Aaron Rodgers. You do the math.

NEW ORLEANS -6.5 over Atlanta

The Saints offense is much better at home on the fast turf. The falcons are going to need to score 30+ points to be close, and I do not think they will be able to do that. The Saints will win by at least a touchdown.

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 57-50-1

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Week 15: Tales of the 4th Quarter

The last few weeks have been filled with 4th quarter comebacks, and as a fan it does not seem to matter what the score is, it only matters who is at the helm. With Tebow anything is possible and it does not matter how bad he looked, you just feel like he will find a way to pull it out. Tony Romo on the other hand just leaves you feeling like no matter what, he will find a way to lose if it is close. There is nothing more exciting than watching a magical (or sad depending on how you look at it) 4th quarter miracle.

Here is to hoping we get several more in Week 15…

(Home team in CAPS)

Jacksonville +11 over ATLANTA

The last time the Falcons beat a team by more than 10 points was way back on the first week in November and that was over the very, very lowly Colts. MJD has been carrying the whole city of Jacksonville on his back the last few weeks, I expect the Jags to hang around and make a game of this one.

Dallas -6 over TAMPA BAY

Two heartbreaking losses in a row for Dallas, no way they lose another one with the season hanging in the balance.

NY GIANTS -6.5 over Washington

Coming off an emotional win in Big D, this is the perfect game to have an Eli letdown. That being said, Eli looks like he might be turning a corner so I think he’ll pull this one out and maybe bring the Giants to the playoffs.

Green Bay -14 over KANSAS CITY

The Packers offense is a well oiled machine at this point in the year, and losing their best receiver will make very little difference this week. As long as they have not wrapped up home field advantage I expect them to continue playing hard and continue to beat down bad teams.

New Orleans -7 over MINNESOTA

The Saints are a very different team on grass, as evident by the last three weeks (40 PPG on turf and just 22 on grass), but this week they play the Vikes, who play in a dome. Expect the Saints to score early and often against an awful Vikings secondary.

Seattle +3.5 over CHICAGO

Marshawn Lynch is on a Skittles eating rampage and after a crushing defeat at the hands of the Tebow, the Bears defense will play like the season is over… which at this point it is.

Miami +1 over BUFFALO

Miami had been playing extremely well up until last week, and I expect a bounce back performance against a Bills team they beat by 27 just a month ago. The Bills are tanking, and after losing 6 in a row what is one more going to do?

HOUSTON -6.5 over Carolina

The Texans just find a way to win. The Panthers defense is atrocious, and for all the stats Cam has put up, he finds ways to blow big leads and give away points. Arian Foster will run wild and the Texans will cruise in this one.

Tennessee -6.5 over INDIANAPOLIS

It does not matter who they are playing, the Colts wouldn’t beat a turtle in a race at this point.

Cincinnati -6.5 over ST. LOUIS

The Rams are the saddest team in the league (other than the Colts, who barely belong in the NFL). It is sad watching them waste the talent of Steven Jackson as his prime slips away. On the other side the Bengals roll bad teams, so this should be a cakewalk.

Detroit -1 over Oakland

Carson, Carson, Carson. 13 picks in 7 games was not what the Raiders had in mind when they gave up a couple of valuable picks to get you. The Lions have a very opportunistic defense, as evident by the 6 turnovers they forced last week. The Lions will force Carson into several mistakes and pull this one out on the road.

DENVER +6 over New England

I am completely crazy for Tebow. Yes, the Pats are better and they should win this by 30 on paper. But I can’t help but take Tebow. Where there is a will, there is a way, and he always has the will.

PHILADELPHIA -2.5 over NY Jets

Call me a sucker, but until the Eagles are out of the playoffs I will choose to get roped in. The Eagles have shown signs that the defense can play, and against the Sanchize I think the defense will carry this team to a close victory.

ARIZONA -6.5 over Cleveland

There is very little public appeal in this game. Colt McCoy will struggle for what seems to be the millionth game in a row, and the Cardinals will continue to play well at home.

Baltimore -2.5 over SAN DIEGO

The Ravens are too strong and too mean to only be giving 2.5 against a Chargers team that can look flatter than week old beer. Rivers has looked better the past two weeks against lesser defenses, and I can easily see him reverting to Week 7 Rivers and laying an egg at home.

Pittsburgh -1.5 over SAN FRANCISCO

The first good Monday Night Football game in a while will serve as another physical test for the 49ers this week at home. They lost a bruising battle back on Thanksgiving against the Ravens, and I think the same thing will happen in this one. Big Ben will play, because he is the toughest athlete in the game, and the Steelers will pull out a very physical battle that will leave even the fans looking for ice packs after all is said and done.

Good luck with the picks, and as always, gamble responsibly.

Last Week: 7-9

Season: 51-40-1

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Free CP3

This has gone on long enough. Two times the New Orleans Hornets have tried to trade Chris Paul, and both times the NBA has prevented the trade from occurring.

He can't believe it either

So what gives? The original trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers. The Hornets would have gotten Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and two draft picks. Houston would have ended up with Pau Gasol. Reasonable, right? Well in the end, that’s up for debate, but David Stern and the NBA didn’t think that was enough for the Hornets to let go of Paul.

Fast forward a few days, and the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to make a deal for CP3. The Clippers were willing to give up the Timberwolves’ unprotected first round pick (let’s be honest, thats a high lottery pick), Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Eric Bledsoe. Again, not so bad. Decent center for the departed David West, and two up and coming prospects, in addition to what will likely be a high first round draft pick, all for an all-star point guard who will be unlikely to resign with the team when his contract expires at the end of this season.

In the end, the NBA has the right to veto any of these trades. The NBA owns the Hornets, and so they can stop any trade in the same way that any owner can stop any GM. However, in this case, David Stern and the NBA seem to be highly misguided.

Clearly, the NBA has a goal of preserving as much value in the Hornets franchise as possible. This is the easiest way to flip the team to some super-mega-rich potential owner. However, the NBA is going about this in the wrong way. Chris Paul clearly does not want to be a part of the Hornets anymore. Thinking that keeping a disgruntled star in New Orleans will help preserve the value of the team is short sighted and detrimental to all people involved. Paul is pissed at the NBA. Does anyone really think he’s going to go out and give it his all this season? The NBA and David Stern look like blundering idiots in the way they have handled this issue since news of the Lakers trade first broke. Let’s not forget the fans of the Hornets who have to deal with the soap opera of a drama involving their team’s best player. If the NBA thinks anyone is more likely to sink major money into this team under this current situation is foolish.

An owner is much more likely to purchase a team that has a clear direction. Right now, the Hornets are floating in a Chris Paul-limbo that is bad for the franchise. If David Stern and the NBA were smart, they would let the Hornets trade Paul for the best available offer. The Clippers’ offer seems like a perfectly acceptable deal. Instead, the NBA wanted more for the Hornets, and in the process have probably scared off any other potential suitors for Paul.

Long story short, the Hornets need to be allowed to trade Chris Paul. Now. Get what you can out of a deal and move on. Rebuild around the pieces you can get. If they don’t do this, the Hornets are in for a tumoltuous seasons that will only scare potential buys away, while alienating one of the league’s best and most exciting players.

Free CP3

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Cam Newton: The Lion and His Record

Who is the Carolina Panthers best goal line runner? Is it Deangelo Williams? Can’t be, he has less goal line carries than the four other Williams’s in the league, one of which is a wide receiver. The man is too small, he’s a speedy one, could maybe be useful with some goal line tosses off tackle, but why risk the negative yardage? Jonathan Stewart? He’s consistently knocking defenders on their ass game after game; this guy rarely goes down at first contact. Stewart is a wide running back who’s built low to the ground and can pound the ball right up the middle, but no, he is not the Panthers best goal line runner. We basically don’t have a fullback, most of the time if you see someone in that position it’s one of our tight ends, Greg Olsen or Jeremy Shockey. Fans, the Panther’s best goal line runner is their quarterback!

This past weekend, Cam Newton broke Steve Grogan’s record of 12 touchdowns by a quarterback in a season. Cam broke it with a magnificent trail of fire, taking the ball in 3 times for the day, the last one being the record breaker, number 13. With a halfback lead, Cam Newton fell forward past the goal line, he then popped up onto his feet and performed a classic Superman celebration, but then, as if not realizing he just broke the record, or just a selfless act of a true fans’ man, he runs over to the stands and hands the record breaking ball off to 16-year-old Katie Brown. Brown, who was sporting a homemade “Mrs. Newton” shirt, immediately started to sport a giddy teenage girl kind of fit as well. Of course, later on Panthers assistant equipment manager Don Toner was forced to request Katie to return the ball (obviously in exchange for a handful of other souvenirs), as it is destined to hold a spot in Canton forever.

Katie Brown will always remember that day, that moment, the feel of the ball, as Katie became a fan of Newton while he was at Auburn, pledging that whatever team drafts him, that is the team she will root for. Katie can go to Canton many years from now, and look at that ball, remembering Cam running over to her, pointing at her, smiling that huge grin of his, making her the luckiest fan in the NFL that Sunday.

Now the Panthers organization finally let Cam out of his media muzzle this week to do his first national interview as a Carolina Panther, and I have to say, I loved it. The man has more haters than Obama, and he hasn’t been allowed to retaliate or stand up for himself in person, but what was weird is that he still didn’t say anything. For the past three months, his retaliation has been being a spectacular football player, and that is the way he wants to keep it. “Just sit back and watch the show, man. I can’t worry about what they do, I’m the type of person that, you know, a person might say ‘look at that mountain right there, you can’t do it!’ I’m the type of person to say you wait right here, I’m gonna run up this mountain and get to the top and be like ‘Oh, What’d you say?!’”

Don’t get me wrong, I find some things Cam talks about frightening. Newton compared getting used to losing to trying to train a wild safari animal to be a house animal. “The house that I’m in, is somewhat of a tarnished house where losing is accepted! But I’m trying to change that whether I’m gonna have to turn that house into a safari or I’m just gonna have to get out of that house.” That line scares the living s*** out of me. It’s not that I don’t agree with him, I totally agree. I mean he talks about seeing people just saying “Oh we’ll get it right the next play”, but play goes by and play goes by and the game’s over. I can’t stand that. I just hope Jerry Richardson sees eye to eye with me, Cam Newton, and undoubtedly many others in Panther Nation. I think we’ll be fine though, I think as opposed to pulling a LeBron James, Cam pulls an MJ and with a bit of help, creates the team around him, that he sees to it that HIS team has that same mentality about losing. Furthermore, I think that with a supporting cast including the likes of Steve Smith, Jon Beason, Jeremy Shockey, and Jonathan Stewart, along with young promising players on the team now and that are added to the team in the future who have that drive, this team can do big things. They have that extra push that you see on every down that proves to everyone that no one can stop them from making an impact, from moving their team that much closer to the W.

It starts near the top with our young, success driven head coach named Ron Rivera, who shares that “losing is unacceptable” mentality with Cam. Rob Chudzinski is an innovative offensive coordinator that consistently shows that his combination of well thought out schemes with that so-crazy-that-it-might-just-work spark to it, is the right fit for our explosive quarterback that is Cam Newton. Finally we have our Jim Johnson graduate out of Philly, a young defensive coordinator by the name of Sean McDermott who rolls with the punches and just wont lay down, and who I believe, with a fairly healthy defense and time to grasp the system, will establish a once again feared Panther defense.

As long as Jerry Richardson stays smart, and stays on the path he’s on now, and Panther Nation creates a fan base that a winning team can be proud of, I think we’ll be just fine. Being a Panther fan, I truly feel part of a family, I wish so bad to attend our first home game in what feels like forever (I have finals…) this weekend against a Falcons team that whooped us earlier this year on their turf. The only time I am ever certain that a fight will break out in the stands or on the field is when these scoundrels come to town. So this is it Panther Nation, no more “it’s okay he’s a rookie”, “we’re in a rebuilding year”, “new coach”, “at least we get a high draft pick”; no more excuses. I don’t want to hear those gah damn analysts on the TV, I want to hear you, Panther Nation! Get behind your team, make me proud, make your team proud, and make every single Panther in a uniform, whether it’s some scrub or Cam Newton, never ever want to take off that uniform! It’s time for the December stretch ladies and gents, it’s time for this Panthers team to show what a one year out of 2-14 team can do with SuperCam, the new King of the Queen City at it’s helm!

Yes We Cam!

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Occupy LA: Chris Paul to the Lakers

This article needs a short preface. I wrote this once the three team deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers became almost a sure thing. I finished it right around the time this tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA writer for Yahoo! Sports, blew everyone’s mind. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste, so I left it up so we can all hypothesize about an alternative universe where Chris Paul dons the purple and gold on Christmas Day. Enjoy.

This morning I woke up and found about the Pujols deal. I started thinking of what I wanted to write and then C.J. Wilson joined Prince Albert in LA and I had to start thinking again. Then Chris Paul got traded to the Lakers and I wanted to write about that. Then my head started spinning and after I picked myself up off the floor I decided to go with CP3. Sorry, Albert.

Not too long ago a trade was proposed to send Chris Paul to the Lakers in return for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Wow. The Hornets are expected to flip Gasol to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and two draft picks. Wow. Apparently to make the deal work money-wise another player needs to be sent to the Lakers liiike, maybe Emeka Okafor. Wow. Now that the Lakers have Paul they will try to send Andrew Bynum, and maybe nothing else, to Orlando for Dwight Howard. Wo – you get it. Here are some thoughts on everything.

First of all, the Hornets. They just got Odom, Martin, Scola, Dragic, and picks for Paul and probably someone else, such as Okafor or, if they’re very luck, Trevor Ariza. That’s more than they could have ever hoped to get for CP3, and now they have the pieces to move on. David West is looking to get paid and wont be sticking around, but that still leaves them with a pretty solid new squad. The other players the Hornets have under contract right now are Patrick Ewing Jr., Jarrett Jack, Quincy Pondexter, and Okafor/Ariza. A starting lineup featuring Jack/Dragic, Martin, Ewing/Ariza, Scola, and Odom/Okafor is nothing to shrug your shoulders at. Lamar Odom is a superb player who can literally play any position. He will bring veteran guidance and tons of experience to this team. I would just be worried that whichever Kardashian he’s married to isn’t happy about leaving LA and stirs up trouble. Martin now doesn’t have to worry about Chase Budinger taking any of his shots, so he’ll be putting up around 25 a game. Scola is a proven big man who is a solid contributor on both ends of the floor. If the Hornets can ditch Ariza (we stopped pretending he’s good right?) then they look fairly set in the post-Paul era, but they do play in the West so the playoffs are out of the question.

Next, the Rockets. I’m actually not a big fan of this deal for them. Gasol is obviously a stud and will be great to have around young players like Kyle Lowry and Budinger. However, you lose Scola and Martin, and they are probably going to lose Chuck Hayes (to the Timberwolves?!) as well. Also, shipping Dragic out means Jonny Flynn is now their backup point guard. Yikes. We’re talking about a 6th overall pick who averages 3.4 assists a game. The Rockets absolutely have to hang on to Courtney Lee now so they don’t subject themselves to 20+ minutes a night of this. The Rockets can salvage this move if they achieve their overall goal, signing Nene. Can you imagine a low post tandem of Gasol and Nene? Your team will automatically shoot over 50% a game. As of this morning four other teams were competing for Nene, but this move might bump Houston to the top of that list. Houston was just coming together at the end of last season, and had one of the best benches in the league. I hope for their sake that everything falls into place. I feel like I’m forgetting something…hmm…oh, right. Houston’s new coach is none other than Kevin “I’M THE BIGGEST IDIOT-WASTE-OF-AIR-MORONIC-DUMBASS-EXECUTIVE IN THE HISTORY OF EVER” McHale. Forget everything I said, Houston is screwed.

Speaking of screwed, let’s talk about the big “winners” of this trade. Don’t start making those championship rings just yet, LA. Yes, the Lakers landed Chris Paul, one of the most talented players and point guards in the league. However, you have no power forwards! And don’t try to tell me Derrick Caracter is a basketball player. If the Lakers don’t get Dwight Howard, and I pray they don’t, then all it takes is one earthquake in California to take out Bryant, Paul, and Bynum’s knees and they’re done. Their best case scenario (pretending they don’t get Howard) is signing David West. Now I admit to not knowing a lot about the financial side of the NBA, but I feel safe in saying they can’t afford West, and I do know that he isn’t looking to take a pay cut. So that leaves them chasing someone like Carl Landry. Paul, Bryant, Metta World Peace, Kobe’s ego, Bynum, and you still have Luke Walton on your team? Yeah, good luck with that. The Heat just added Shane Battier and could get Steve Nash. Meanwhile, the Lakers traded their 2nd and 3rd best players. I don’t like their chances.




OK! (Reluctantly) We’ll talk about Dwight Howard. Are the Magic willing to trade Dwight to the Lakers? Of course. For just Bynum? Quite possibly. It is Otis Smith after all. This is the guy who turned Rashard Lewis’ abysmal contract into Gilbert Arenas’ abysmal contract, and he didn’t even start. He also traded away Marcin Gortat (keep an eye on this guy, he’s going to be good this year) for Jason Richardson’s corpse. And in that same trade where he unloaded Vince Carter, he was the one giving up a pick and cash. I’m surprised that in the time it took me to write that Howard wasn’t traded for Steve Blake. In all likelihood Dwight will end up a Laker. It’s what he wants and the Magic can’t afford to let him leave as a free agent. Of course, they still think they can keep him, so all bets are off here. The Lakers will have limited depth if they land Howard, but if the Heat made it to the Finals with 3 and 1/2 players, so can Kobe, Paul, and Dwight. I would be more excited to see Paul and Dwight play together than any Kobe scenario. Let’s remember that the last time Kobe wasn’t in the spotlight, things didn’t end so well. What I really want to see is the Clippers offering DeAndre Jordan and newly signed Caron Butler for Howard. Having CP3 and Dwight end up in LA on different teams would be awesome, and the Clippers are definitely the better team in that situation.

Now we just have to wait and see how this all plays out. All I can say is I’m so glad we had a lockout to stop players from grouping together and heading to the coasts. Go Wolves (sigh).

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Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Day 2

10 out of 12 teams in the Big Ten are going to bowl games. It’s looking like the college basketball season will be dominated by the Big Ten as well. Last week the Big Ten went 4-2 on the second day of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge to win the 13th annual Challenge 8-4, their third straight win. The ACC looked overmatched and out-hustled in the second day, which featured a number of close games. The night was highlighted by a battle of behemoths as #9 Wisconsin faced off against #5 UNC in a game that came down to the wire. The Big Ten wrapped up another year of bragging rights and proved it has teams that can make noise at the national level.

The night started with three competitive, scrappy basketball games. Indiana and North Carolina State traded blows the entire first half and much of the second until Indiana pulled away late. Both teams had runs of impressive play and poor play. There were a number of forced jump shots and bad transition defense that led didn’t allow either team to take advantage of the other’s mistakes. The Hoosiers finally put NC State away after the Wolfpack closed the deficit to 76-75 with 2:03 left in the game. Jordan Hulls, who led the team with 20 points, hit a three pointer at the end of the shot clock and the Hoosiers held the Wolfpack without a basket for the rest of the game for an 86-75 win. The Hoosiers got a strong performance from much heralded freshman Cody Zeller. The big man had 19 points and 7 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks. He helped key a 20-7 run that helped erase a late NC State lead. Victor Oladipo put the exclamation point on this impressive win with a steal and a magnificent dunk in the closing seconds.

Tim Frazier came up big for Penn State in their 62-54 win against Boston College in the next game of the night. He scored 20 points in the second half after going just 1-4 in the first half. Each team overcame deficits and failed to extend their leads throughout the game. Penn State went ahead for good on a Frazier three pointer with 6:59 left. The Eagles got within two points twice down the stretch, but could never jump ahead. BC was lead by 15 points from Matt Humphrey and 10 from Gabe Moton. Jermaine Marshall kicked in 22 points for the Nittany Lions, who bounced back from a rough loss to Saint Joseph’s.

Michigan State and Florida State teed off in another game that was close for most of the time. The first half featured sluggish and messy play by both teams. At one point there were three straight possessions that ended in violations. MSU opened up a 30-18 lead in the first half before going scoreless for the last four minutes of the half and giving up an 8-0 run. The second half was neck and neck until MSU went on a 10-2 run to lead 51-42. From there they coasted to a 65-49 win, helped along the way by Keith Appling’s 24 points. After facing UNC and Duke in their first two games of the season, this Spartans team looks focused and ready to play. Appling is doing a stellar job leading this team and is getting solid contributions from Draymond Green and Brandon Wood. Tom Izzo is working his magic again.

Minnesota 58 Virginia Tech 55. Pretty boring game for one that came down to a shot at the buzzer. I’ll let ESPN tell you about this one. In another uninteresting game that came down to the wire, Wake Forest beat Nebraska 55-53. With four seconds left Nebraska was so surprised to find themselves still in the game that they let C.J. Harris drive to the basket for an uncontested layup and the win.

The headliner of the night was a face off of Top Ten teams as #9 Wisconsin played at #5 UNC. UNC was coming off its first lost to a lowly UNLV team, while Wisconsin had been taking care of business, winning its first six games by an average of 34 points. These two behemoths put on a show as they traded baskets for the majority of the game. The Heels got a solid performance from Harrison Barnes, who scored 10 of his 20 points in a run during the second half that put UNC up for good. However, the real MVP of the game was Dexter Strickland. He hit a key bucket late, but more importantly his defense shut down Jordan Taylor for most of the game. For Wisconsin, Taylor had 18 points and 4 assists, but the real story was Jared Berggren with 14 points, 3 steals, and more hustle than anyone on the court. UNC put the game away late, barely, but Wisconsin made it an exciting one (especially with Ben Brust’s circus shots)to wrap up the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. For more information on the game check out my running diary here, or watch the whole thing as someone was kind enough to upload the entire game to YouTube.

If you missed it check out the Day 1 recap.

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