Posted on: March 8, 2012 9:12 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 2:12 pm
By Matt Moore and Ben Golliver
Wednesday night was one of those nights in the NBA. Multiple game winners, so many that we decided we need to break them down, power rankings style.
1. Rose does MJ: Derrick Rose's game winner had to be the best of the night for pure elegance. It had everything we look for from a winner: at the buzzer, walk off, isolation, high degree of difficulty, total calm, nothing but net. So much was going on in this one. He read the defense patiently, unleashed some crippling dribble moves, created and took the exact shot he wanted and even had large swaths of a road crowd cheering for him. Watch that thing and try not to think Michael Jordan.
2. Kyrie Irving's end-to-end. Irving's dash to the rim for what would be the game winner wasn't 94 feet of basketball brilliance, but it was as close as you want it to be. The fact that Byron Scott had the confidence in Irving to navigate all that space and the tactical knowledge to know the Nuggets wouldn't expect Irving to just get a running start and barrel to the basket deserves some points, while Irving's approach to switch hands on approach shows off his handle. That kid is something special.
3. Isaiah Thomas read-and-react. Thomas, at his best, is the type of undersized guard that just makes you marvel. That he was the 2011 NBA Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" just makes the story that much better. Thomas was at his best on Wednesday night, intercepting an idiotic entry pass at full stretch and with perfect timing. Thomas' game is all action/reaction/action and he made an incredibly heady play to move the ball forward to a streaking John Salmons, hitting him in stride. No second-guessing, no covering the ball to allow the defense to react. Just pure open court instinct in a very unusual game situation. The only downside is that it wasn't a walk off winner, or the Power Balance Pavilion might have stormed the court. Thomas' growing reputation for putting smiles on faces continues to grow.
4. DWill trusts Farmar. What? Why aren't people flipping out over Deron Williams passing up the crucial shot in the Nets' win over the Clippers like they did with LeBron James? Regardless, Williams made a great play and Farmar didn't get too excited or go hero-mode. He just lined up and knocked down the open jumper. You know, the right basketball play. On the opposite end of the spectrum,CP3 was never going to take that pass, and gambling on it meant he couldn't run Farmar off. Big mistake as Farmar's been en fuego from the outside this year.
5. Nick Young has daggers on daggers. If this was later in the game, it would be a top-three candidate. After all, Young did rise and fear to knock off the master of rise and fire. But alas, we had more free throws and missed Kobe Bryant threes to get through before it was said and done. But make no mistake, Nick Young's dagger to punch the Lakers' comeback attempt was the game winner in the Wizards' stunner over L.A..
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:19 am
By Matt Moore
Ty Lawson is stepping up and becoming a regular clutch machine. After hitting a game winner just days ago, Lawson stepped up in overtime and helped the Nuggets overcome a 5 point deficit with 15 seconds to go in a win over the Kings.
The Nuggets are starting to find that they have two closers, Arron Afflalo and Lawson. Both players played huge roles in the comeback Monday night, and both have the ability to score out of the ISO set, the preferred NBA offensive set. With big shots against Houston and Portland in the last week, the Nuggets are recovering their momentum they lost due to injuries.
It's nice to see Lawson taking the next step.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 2:24 pm
The Kings have taken a significant step towards remaining in Sacramento for the foreseeable future, with team and city agreeing to the "framework" of a stadium financing proposal, according to multiple reports.
SI.com and NBA.com reported that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the Maloof family, who owns the Kings, told reporters in Orlando that stadium funding is on track.
"It's game over, so our community should be really excited," Johnson said, according to SI.com. "I want to jump up and down."
Johnson added, according to NBA.com: "I’m very excited. It’s a new day for Sacramento. We’ve all been working around the clock to get to this point."
Negotiations that involved the NBA league office, the City of Sacramento and the Maloofs took place throughout All-Star Weekend.
During his annual All-Star Weekend address on Saturday, NBA commissioner David Stern said that a deal was close but that money still separated the two sides and that "several remaining [deal] points" need to be hammered out.
"Life is a negotiation," Stern said on Saturday. ""The City would like the Maloofs to make the largest ‑‑ both have come up with very substantial contributions. It's really getting there. It's just not there yet. And we're looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap ... It's coming down to money after all of this? Yeah."
SI.com reports that the Maloof family will put up $73 million towards the $387 million expected price tag and an additional $60 million could follow in future years.
SacTownRoyalty.com reports the next steps in the arena funding process include a City Council vote and approval of a plan to create stadium funding from parking structures.
The Maloofs attempted to relocate to Anaheim last season but the NBA actively encouraged the family to reconsider and give Sacramento another year. Johnson has been pushing hard to keep the Kings throughout the process. The city of Seattle has also been interested in landing a team.
Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:15 am
By Matt Moore
Sacramento has passed another marker on the path to keeping the Kings in Sacramento. The Sacrmento city council voted Tuesday night to allow city representatives to enter into discussions with local firms seeking to lease downtown parking. The money made from those agreements is necessary for efforts to build a new arena in Sacramento, which in turn is requisite to keeping the Kings in town as part of Mayor Kevin Johnson's proposal to the NBA.
Once the leases are in place to provide up to half of the $387 million necessary for funding the new arena, the Sacramento Bee outlines the rest of the process in their post on the vote Tuesday:
City staff is in tense negotiations with representatives from the National Basketball Association, the Kings, arena operator AEG and the arena development team to round out the facility's financing plan. Those talks are expected to continue for at least another two weeks, as the city works to create a financing "term sheet" for the arena by the end of the month.via Council votes to enter talks with 11 firms seeking to lease downtown parking - Sacramento Sports - Kings, 49ers, Raiders, High School Sports | Sacramento Bee.
It's a small step, a tiny one, but it is a significant junction of money made available if the agreements can be met with the local firms. Kings fans aren't out of the woods yet, but they do have momentum.
Last year, Kings ownership attempted to move the team to Anaheim, California, but was blocked by a vote from the NBA Board of Governors after a weak proposal from the Maloofs and a strong presentation from Mayor Johnson.
Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:03 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
By Matt Moore
You know, when you think romance, you think DeMarcus Cousins.
The surly, rambunctious, often-called bratty Cousins is not really as mean as he's made out to be, by all accounts. He may pout, sulk, and snarl on the court, but he's also known to be a bit of a goofball in the locker room, even if his immaturity rubs his teammates the wrong way at times. Also, pretty funny guy it turns out. A writer asked Cousins about what he would do for the perfect Valentine's Day date. Hilarity ensues:
Moonlight walks on the beach, Brian McKnight, hugs and kisses.
DMC, you big ol' softie.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:39 am
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:48 am
Posted by Royce Young
Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:09 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 1:42 pm
By Matt Moore
Oh, no, there's (insert problem in the NBA)! Quick, let's contract some teams!
That's pretty much the standard fare from a lot of mainstream basketball scribes. Their proximity to large cities, usually coastal, is something you should try and not look at too closely. It's like one of those 3-D images. Yes, it's a schooner, which is a sailboat, and you still have a headache.
The answer always seems to pop up. "Oh, we don't have enough stars!" Contract! "There's a lockout and the owners want more money!" Contract! "We're out of sandwiches in the media room!" Contract!
There's about a billion reasons why contraction won't be happening. David Stern won't allow it on his watch. Losing games, twice in 12 years? Sure. Losing teams? No way. One thing hurts your fans. The other hurts your business.
But let's say it did, because there are more fans of big market teams than small market teams, and big market teams love the idea, because they get a talent influx. Who goes on the chopping block? Here are teams that would be up for contraction, if we're going to go ahead and kill off sections of fans.
(Franchise valuation data courtesy of Forbes, attendance via ESPN.)
1. New Orleans Hornets: Trying to avoid this conclusion is something I spent a solid hour on. Surely there's a way around this. But there just isn't. The Hornets staged a massive ticket sales promotion in order to try and boost their attendance profile for a potential buyer as well as to satisfy various city and state requirements regarding their lease. The result? They're 26th this season. With Chris Paul having gone to the Clippers, things are going to get worse before they get better. If we absolutely have to chop off a team, you have to start with the Hornets, as much as it pains me.
There are a lot of factors here, but George Shinn's horrific ownership should not be overlooked, nor should two natural disasters in the span of five years. But it's never been a strong market, and if we have to make cuts with our minds and not hearts, the Hornets have to be silenced.
Biggest argument against: Have you no soul? Honestly?
2. Memphis Grizzlies: Such a great playoffs run. But here are the facts. It's one of the newest franchises, with little in the way of successful history (as in, none outside of last season). It's been evaluated as 29th in overall worth by Forbes. Despite making the playoffs last season and being expected to contend for the West this year, they are 21st in attendance, Z-Bo or no Z-Bo.
The Grizzlies are trying to build a new culture of passion and success in Memphis. But if we have to make the cut today, they have to be on the block. If you need me I'll be in the corner gurgling arsenic.
Biggest argument against: Memphis' playoff run shows what can happen if that fanbase is engaged.
3. Charlotte Bobcats: Terrible team. The newest in the league. No success to speak of. Poor ownership. A fanbase damaged by George Shinn's tenure in Charlotte (hey, look, a theme!). The overriding influence of college basketball and its permeating stench throughout any sports discussion. The reasons go on and on. I mean, just look at their attendance.
They're... 14th this season?
That's up from 21st, which really isn't that horrible. And that's why they manage to slide to three. If you took the way the Bobcats have been run and put them in Memphis, New Orleans, or Sacramento, they're toast, first out the door. But Carolina gets basketball. So they slide to third. So... uh... good for them?
Biggest argument against: Decent attendance, run by the sport's biggest icon, awesome mascot.
4. Milwaukee Bucks: We're going to kill off the first team Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, ever played for? The 1971 champs?
Yeah. We are. Milwaukee is rated last in the league by Forbes in overall value. Despite some promising drafts, they have yet to put together a contending core. Their arena situation is not dire, but it's going to get there in the next five years, and Milwaukee voters are unlikely to come streaming to the polls to help the team out. Killing off a franchise with this much history is pretty horrific, but at some point the dollars and cents have to matter.
Biggest argument against: Championship team, history, good ownership, active fanbase.
5. Sacramento Kings: No one has fought harder to keep their team than Kings fans have. They have staved off their owners feeding vultures from Anaheim. They have scrapped up enough support for a new arena plan coming to vote this month during a recession. They have chanted and made documentaries and brought signs and banners and petitions.
And it still might not be enough.
This may be the best example of why contraction is flawed. Ten years ago, even six years ago, this would be incomprehensible. The Kings were on the verge, the doorstep, had their foot jammed into the entryway of the Finals. The biggest problem with contraction is that we look at it through the lens of the present. "Oh, the Bobcats/Kings/Bucks are terrible." But in five years, those teams could be San Antonio. Or OKC. Or Orlando. Winning will change your bottom line, and losing will change it just the same. But considering the arena situation at present time, the financial situation of the club, and their ongoing attendance issues, it's impossible to leave them out.
Biggest argument against: Here we stay.
6. Atlanta Hawks: You want to talk about history, this one's like chopping off a limb. But the Hawks are 28th in value, have been unable to put together legitimate success, and feature one of the most lackluster fanbases in the league. Atlanta may simply be oversaturated for the NBA.
Biggest argument against: It's called the Highlight Factory, for crying out loud.
7. Philadelphia 76ers: You can already hear the sounds of those coastal writers crying out in agony. Start talking about an East Coast team that won a title within the past 30 years and it's a whole different story. But the 76ers come in at 22nd in value, just had the team sold, no real success even if you count the Iverson years that victimized a terrible, terrible Eastern conference, and continually have horrible attendance. They're bottom ten this season, and their team is a handful of games out of first in the conference.
Biggest argument against: Erasing what Moses Malone and Julius Erving did should be a federal crime.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves: 27th in value, 24th in attendance despite all the excitement. The only reason this team gets put so high is out of practical considerations. Basically, despite killing Kevin Garnett's prime and bobbling the next All-Star they landed in Kevin Love, their owner is close friends with David Stern and one of the heads of the Board of Governors. You see that guy getting his team lopped off any time soon?
Biggest argument against: Rubio? Rubio.
9. New Jersey Nets: Is there enough room in New York for two teams? Of course. Is there room for two fairly terrible teams? Additionally, if they can't get Dwight Howard, they should just pack up and go home, anyway.
Biggest argument against: They will always make money because they will play in New York now, and Prokhorov may come after you.
10. Indiana Pacers: No NBA championships (3 ABA). They are 25th in value and dead last in attendance, despite being a top five team in the East. The Pacers have simply been unable to capture the city's attention since The Brawl. Maybe that just did too much damage, combined with the emergence of the Colts. Yes, it's a historic team, but without any championships since the ABA. And with the Fieldhouse eventually needing a new home and all the money the city has spent on sports and event facilities, hard to see it coming through.
Biggest argument against: 8 points. 9 seconds.
In the end, any of these teams could become the Spurs in the next ten years. Or the Blazers. Or the Jazz. Or the Magic. It takes ownership, a little luck, and the subsequent success. Get that, and you're good to go. But we never see that when we talk about contraction. We only see the benefits for the Bulls, the Lakers, the Knicks. And we forget that while there are more fans in cities than towns, having an NBA nation makes the game that much stronger. But if we have to do the deed, those are the teams that should get the axe.
Posted on: February 7, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 11:43 pm
There are basically five standards necessary to land an NBA team: a market with demonstrated interest in basketball, a super rich person willing to cut checks, a working relationship with commissioner David Stern, a building to play in, and an available franchise to poach. Absent any one of those five key features, and it becomes significantly more difficult -- if not impossible -- for a city to land itself one of the 30 NBA franchises.
The good news for Seattle: they apparently have secured three of those five.
Step one: the fanbase has never been in question, thanks to a long history of supporting the SuperSonics. Step two: the Seattle Times reported this weekend that Christopher Hansen, a hedge fund manager with beaucoup Bucks and ties to the Seattle region, is interested in landing a franchise.
And, now, step three: Stern told the Salt Lake Tribune that he has met with Hansen and that Seattle is now officially back on the NBA's radar for a possible franchise relocation.
Of course, the key quote there is: "If they have a building." That was one of the key deciding factors in the SuperSonics leaving for Oklahoma City to rebrand as the Thunder prior to the 2008-2009 season. KeyArena simply isn't up to the usual NBA standard, and numerous arena plans in Seattle have been floated in recent years with no firm plans emerging and a reluctance from taxpayers to foot the bill.The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that Hansen is already at work on the arena issue, stockpiling land near Safeco Field, home of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners, and communicating in detail with Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn.
Hansen, who has built a fortune in the private investment world, has acquired property south of Safeco Field's parking garage, between South Massachusetts and South Holgate streets east of First Avenue South, records show.All of that leaves just the one, final remaining standard: Which team would move to the city? The obvious answer would be the Kings, who tried and failed to move to Anaheim after the 2010-2011 season and are now working through an effort to build a new arena so that they can remain in Sacramento long-term. Stern told the Tribune that the Kings had been taking "very positive" steps to remain in Sacramento.
What does all of this mean for the future of professional basketball in Seattle? Nothing definitely, but being back on the map is important. A motivated, patient and hard-working Clay Bennett eventually succeded in landing the Thunder in Oklahoma City. The process took years to play out, but his relationship with Stern was a key factor in getting it done.
If there's a will, three hundred million dollars, and an arena, there's generally a way in Stern's NBA.