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Wizards Win 2010 NBA Lottery, Gilbert Arenas to be Phased Out by John Wall?

The Washington Wizards had a 10.3% chance to win the 2010 NBA lottery and they did just that, jumping ahead of the Nets, Timberwolves, Kings, and Warriors. Kentucky point guard John Wall is considered the consensus number one pick in the draft and I can’t disagree with that selection. Wall needs to improve his man-to-man defense and his outside shot, but his ability to create offensive opportunities for his teammates is unquestionable. He would be a huge asset to the Washington Wizards should they choose to keep the pick.

The Wizards decided to break up their team this season by dealing core pieces Antawn Jamison (to the Cavs) and Caron Butler (to the Mavericks). The only star player remaining on their roster is Gilbert Arenas, but he missed most of the season for bringing a gun into the locker room. Arenas has four years and almost $80 million left on his monster contract with the team and there’s little chance they’ll be able to move him. Even with Gil coming back, I have a feeling the Wizards will take Wall and slowly begin the process of making the Wizards Wall’s team.

Gilbert was never a point guard in high school or college and he has not been a true point in the NBA. When the Wizards signed him, they made him their top ball handler but he usually served the role of team scorer rather than facilitator. Arenas tried to change his game this season (prior to the gun suspension) and become more of a passer, but he always had a poor assist-to-turnover ratio. Simply put, Arenas is more of a scorer than actual point guard, so if the Wizards choose to keep both, Gilbert will probably slide over to the two spot. This can actually work out well for the Wizards as long as Gilbert accepts his new role. John Wall would be a major asset for the Wizards and they should seize the opportunity to select him and make him their leader. They needed a new face to their franchise and they now will have one.

New Nets Owner Means Business

The 2009-2010 New Jersey Nets were easily one of the worst NBA teams of all time.  They finished the season a mere three losses away from matching the ’72-’73 Philadelphia 76ers for the worst season in NBA history, with a final record of 12-70.  Last week, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov — the 39th richest man in the world according to Forbes Magazinepurchased an 80 percent share of the Nets for $200 million.  Prokhorov isn’t being shy about making predictions for his new team.  Not only does he expect the Nets to make the playoffs next season — he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing a championship to New Jersey right away.  Check out the video of new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov addressing Nets fans and making his predictions for the team’s future, courtesy of Staten Island Live.

I actually respect Prokhorov’s effort in making this video.  Are his predictions a bit far-fetched at this point?  Probably.  Signing LeBron James and obtaining the first overall pick in the Draft Lottery would certainly be a start.  Whether the Nets are capable of making the playoffs next season and winning an NBA title in the next five years or not, you have to applaud Prokhorov for coming out and directly addressing the fans right away instead of hiding like a lot of owners.  Many owners buy a team and then are never seen or heard from, so it takes a lot of guts to come right out and address the concerns of fans whose team only managed 10 wins.  Is it wrong that I can’t watch this video without thinking of Ivan Drago’s “I cannot be defeated, I will defeat all man” speech in Rocky IV?

Sources:
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov address fans via internet video [SILive.com]
Done Deal: Mikhail Prokhorov owns the New Jersey Nets [NJ.com]

Clippers Fans Making Pitch for LeBron

Fans need to come to the realization that begging a superstar to play for their team doesn’t work.  Not only that — it couldn’t be more unoriginal.  As millions of basketball fans sit back and wonder what uniform LeBron will wear next season, I find myself growing extremely tired of listening to writers and fans beg The King to sign with their team.  LeBron James is probably the best basketball player on the planet.  What do fans do when their team signs the best basketball player on the planet?  They cheer — loudly.

LeBron’s going to go wherever the money is (to a certain degree since he might have to leave money on the table if he leaves Cleveland) and wherever his agent, his family, and his “people” decide he should go — and the city he settles in will give him as warm a welcome as any of the others on his list of possible destinations would have.  Rest assured, he’s aware of that.  He’s not going to be wearing the colors of the team whose fans stayed on their knees and begged for the longest amount of time.  Apparently the fan base of one of the NBA’s perennial bottom-feeders — the LA Clippers — would disagree with my opinion.  They’ve decided to join the writers and fans of cities like New York and Chicago in pleading with King James to help bring their team to the Promised Land.

According to Arash Markazi’s twitter feed, via Sports by Brooks, Clippers fans have scheduled a LeBron Parade that will take place at 3PM on May 27th across from the Staples Center, before Game 5 of the Lakers-Suns series.  I wonder if they’ll reschedule in the event of a sweep or just accept that it’s not meant to be.  We’ll see.

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Steve Nash Responds to Phil: Gregg Popovich Is Best Coach in NBA

Lakers coach Phil Jackson fired a preemptive strike at the Suns on Friday, saying their point guard Steve Nash illegally carries the ball while dribbling. The Suns weren’t going to sit back and let Phil get the best of them, so they responded on Saturday. Steve Nash got in a shot on Phil Jackson and coach Alvin Gentry called out the Lakers’ dirty tactics:

Nash: “I’ve never heard anyone accuse me of carrying it. I mean, the best coach in the league Gregg Popovich (of San Antonio) didn’t have a problem with it last week.”

Gentry: “We spent the day ducking elbows on post-ups, to see if we could duck elbows on post-ups, So it all works out, it all works out.”

That certainly was a good way for Nash to get back at Jackson who is considered by many to be the best coach in the league and possibly the best all-time. Alvin Gentry actually said the same thing prior to the Suns/Spurs series, so you have to wonder if that’s the consensus sentiment around the Phoenix locker room. As far as Gentry’s criticism, I believe the tone was more casual and joking than Nash’s and unfortunately it won’t garner the same attention from the refs as Jackson’s comments will. The anticipation for this series just picked up quite a bit.

Sources:
Suns smirk at Jackson’s accusation of ‘traveling’ by Phoenix’s Nash [AP/SI]

Genius Phil Jackson Tries to Get in Steve Nash’s Head

David Stern may have threatened to suspend coaches who influence the referees but that didn’t stop Lakers coach Phil Jackson from letting loose Friday. The creative Zen Master delivered two knockouts with one punch and there probably isn’t a whole lot Stern can do about it. Much like when Phil got inside Kevin Durant’s head prior to the Thunder series saying KD was getting calls like a superstar, Jackson took a jab at Suns point guard Steve Nash on Friday and primed the officials at the same time:

Jackson praised Nash this week for pushing the Suns past San Antonio despite playing with a comically swollen right eye, but he wasn’t as flattering when asked whether it was tough for the Lakers to simulate the perennial All-Star during their practices this week.

“Yeah, because you can’t carry the ball like he does in practice,” Jackson said. “Can’t pick that ball up and run with it.”

You see how he does that? Now he has Nash self-conscious about carrying the ball, and the referees subconsciously will be thinking about this as well. Whether Nash or the officials will be impacted by the comments remains to be seen but there’s no question that Jackson’s set the agenda. And what possible penalty can David Stern impose? How do you contend with genius? You just have to let it go and chalk up another victory for the X-man.

Sources:
Lakers take time to rest and zing Suns’ Steve Nash [LA Times]

LeBron: Where Does He Go Now?

After losing to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night and getting knocked out of the NBA playoffs, the main question on NBA fans’ minds now is where does LeBron James go in free agency? LeBron’s Cavs failed to reach the NBA Finals for the second straight year but the two time MVP will have his choice of suitors.

There are several teams in the league that need a player and a leader like King James. Right now, the focus from the media is on the New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls as options for LeBron’s new home. Chicago cleared its payroll during the regular season so it would have the means to obtain a superstar like LeBron or Dwyane Wade. Chicago has talent that may prove to work well with the King. They offer rising stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and they will be getting a new head coach that will hopefully develop this talent even further.

On the other hand, you can’t a bigger stage than playing in New York. And if the King was able to make people watch Cavs games, imagine what he could do in the Big Apple.  On top of that, the Knicks have the means to give him the money he wants. The people of New York have written LeBron a love letter telling him how much they want him too. They’re not alone — Chicago would love to have him as well.

As much as we talk about free agency, LeBron could always just stay in Cleveland. The Cavs, the fans, and the city of Cleveland wants him to stay. Plus, LeBron grew up in Akron, Ohio, so if he chooses another team he’ll be leaving behind his family and the place where he grew up. Additionally, Cleveland’s economy pretty much rests on his shoulders — if he leaves they lose a lot of money. I’m not a mind reader so I can’t tell you what’s going his head. But I do know that he said he wants to win and the team he’s a part of now isn’t going to be much different next season. You do the math.

Sources:
Tell LeBron James you want him to Stay [Cleveland.com]
New York City is fit for a King with 8 million loyal fans [NY Daily News]

Cavs Quit, Were Too Cool and Cocky to Try Hard at End

The Celtics beat the Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals 94-85 to win the series. Although it was hard to believe because the Cavs had the best record in the league and the Celtics went 17-17 to finish the season as the four seed in the Eastern Conference, Boston proved to have the better team. Rajon Rondo ate up Mo Williams, Kevin Garnett swallowed Antawn Jamison, and Tony Allen turned out to be better than anyone the Cavs had coming off the bench. The suffocating Celtics defense forced LeBron James into a near quadruple double with nine turnovers and they spooked Anderson Varejao so badly that he couldn’t make a four footer. As surprising and difficult it is to say because 82 games told us otherwise, the Celtics were superior to the Cavaliers. Unfortunately for the Cavs they weren’t used to losing and it showed in their disinterested, heartless play at the end.

With time ticking down and the team down by nine points with around a minute left, the Cavs were content to let the Celtics dribble out the clock rather than foul to see if they could pull off a miracle. By not trying, the Cavs were guaranteeing themselves a loss. By trying to win, they maybe had a .01% chance of winning, but at least it was a better chance than what they gave themselves by not fouling. For as much of a basketball historian as LeBron claims to be, I guess he hasn’t seen the video of Reggie Miller scoring eight points in 11 seconds. With their season coming to an absolute end, how would it hurt them to foul Kendrick Perkins, go for steals, and try to bomb threes to come close? The only place it would hurt them was in their egos.

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