Monday, July 16, 2012

Knicks trying to win by getting older

Why do the Knicks want to get older? Well, because coach Mike Woodson said that older teams have more success in the playoffs than younger teams.  Just look at the Heat this year, with an average age of around 29, beating up on the Thunder who have an average age of 25.  And Boston has done well these past 5 seasons with old dudes.  In the Larry O'Brien Championship Series, aka "The Finals", the older team wins about 70% of the time.

* Note: Jason Kidd just crashed his car at 2:00 AM in the Hamptons and received a DWI.  Age = smarts.

So with their infinite wisdumb the Knicks (who must think they can compete for a Conference Championship) have taken a very strange route to getting older: by acquiring 3 of the 4 oldest players in the NBA in just a couple of days.  They signed Marcus Camby (39), Jason Kidd (39) and traded for Kurt Thomas (40).

Raymond Felton was the apple of the Knicks trade with Portland which netted Thomas.  Felton is 28 and could be their youngest starter.  A'mare likes Felton because Felton was able to run the show and present him as an MVP candidate (before A'mare got hurt) two seasons ago when they played together. Don't get me started on how fat Raymond Felton is and how much of a solid defender Jared Jefferies (who they traded for Felton) is.

The Knicks are passing on Lin, who's 23, because Carmelo said that the three year, $25 million dollar deal that Houston offered him was "ridiculous".  James Dolan, put down the sexy saxaphone. One thing you definitely want to do is to listen to Carmelo Anthony analyze the value of contracts.  Methinks that Carmelo is protecting his "points = $" ego with that statement.  'Melo did average just 16 points with Lin and 28 without.

The Knicks are totally messed up.  Dolan is probably still consulting Isiah Thomas on a daily basis which all bubbles together to create the best terrible reality show in The Association.  At least Knicks fans can defect and become Brooklyn Nets fans now.

And Jeremy Lin, quit being so hurt by the Knicks not matching the heavily backloaded Rockets offer sheet and having to play in Houston.  Sure, Houston isn't New York and doesn't compare to the NYC lifestyle but just know that your GM is one of the best in the league, your coach loves to let the PG do his thang and run the show (think: Kyle Lowry last season), the Chinese love Houston because of Yao Ming, and you may be throwing lobs to Dwight Howard come November.  Isn't the point of playing basketball to make as much money as you can and win a lot?  You can check both of those boxes in Houston.

Tulloch says Jennings should worry his own team

The Detroit Lions have had some well documented problems regarding their on and off field discipline. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings touched upon it during a segment on NFL Total Access last Thursday.

Knowing the Lions pose a threat to their NFC North supremacy, Jennings wondered if the Lions could keep their composure when the heat is on.

"Can they maintain their composure, both on the field and off the field?" Jennings asked. "They're a very talented team, but they have struggles on the field containing their composure, and definitely, the things we've heard of, them being in the media with off-the-field problems and off-the-field issues. Can they maintain their composure? Can they be a professional ball club for 16, 17, 18 solid weeks throughout the regular season?"

Certainly a legitimate assessment if you ask me. I've seen the Lions too much to know they commit too many dumb penalties at the most inopportune time. So Jennings isn't making up a tall tale when he said that.

The Lions' Stephen Tulloch took offense to Jennings comments. Tulloch took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Jennings.

"Who is Greg Jennings to talk about the Lions? The guy should worry about his own team...."

True, maybe Jennings should worry about his own team, but after being pasted the last two games to close out their season, they should take it to heart and rectify the problem.


Smoltz suggests that Strasburg should fake injuries

The Washington Nationals are sticking by their stance on the number of innings that pitcher Stephen Strasburg will pitch this season. Pennant race or not the Nationals are not going to let Strasburg overwork himself.

Now I necessarily don't agree with that philosophy. I say go with your best and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe that's why I only manage teams on video games. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher, John Smoltz, chipped in on what he would do to shave some innings and save himself for the September stretch.

“Honestly, I know this is gonna sound . . . well, I’m a little bit different anyways,” Smoltz began. “I’d create my own little gap. I’d have a blister one day, maybe a hangnail the next start. You know, I think there’s ways to do it. And I get it — their statement is every game counts. Well, it does, but it doesn’t count as much as in September.

Sounds like something he has first hand experience in doing. I don't find anything wrong with it, it's not like he's going down with a fake knee injury or anything like that. It's something that Strasburg might want to think about since he might miss some critical starts down the stretch due to his team's insistence that he pitch a certain number of innings.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Greg Monroe isn't happy with USA Basketball

Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe didn't expect to make the 2012 Olympic basketball team. At the very least he expected USA Basketball to pick him for the select team. You know, the team that practices against the national team. After taking a look at the roster and who's on the team, it left Monroe a little steamed that he wasn't selected by USA Basketball and will use that slight as motivation for the upcoming season.

The select team features the likes of the New Orleans Hornets Lance Thomas, Boston Celtics center Greg Stiemsma and San Antonio's DeJuan Blair. All players that Monroe sees himself better than.

"No disrespect to those guys, looking at the Select Team roster, I felt like I should've been on there," Monroe said. "That's just the confidence I have in myself."

"I am just a little bit disappointed," Monroe said. "I think, (although) some people don't think so, I should've at least been invited. All of those guys deserved it."

Monroe has played on a worse team than some of the players on the roster which overshadows his on court production. His career is trending upward and he is one of the building blocks on a young Pistons team. But the fact that he does play for the Pistons has clouded the selection process.

Monroe says he isn't bothered by the slight but says he won't forget this and plans to help improve his team.

"But I'm past that, I'm happy to be here with my teammates," Monroe said of the Pistons. "I'm not dwelling on it. We have things to do here (in Detroit)."

"Always," Monroe said. "It always will. I don't forget anything. Anything. I remember what people said in high school. It's always motivation."

Hopefully the Pistons can be the beneficiaries of Monroe's added motivation.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thabeet and Thunder agree to two year deal

To say Hasheem Thabeet has had a disappointing start to his NBA career would be generous. He's been an absolute bust, but you don't give up on a seven foot three center who was once the number two pick in the NBA draft.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are taking a flyer on the former Big East defensive player of the year and have agreed to a two year deal with the University of Connecticut product.

The deal cannot officially be signed until the league's free agent moratorium period is lifted on July 11. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately known, but the contract, which will be fully guaranteed for both seasons, is believed to be a minimal salary, or roughly $880,000 in the first year of the contract.

Thabeet will be playing for his fourth team in four years. He was picked one spot ahead of current Thunder guard James Harden. It is a minimal investment for the Thunder and could turn out to be a bargain if Thabeet realizes his potential. If not, cut him loose and move on. What could work in Thabeet's favor is that he won't be looked upon as a savior and can just play basketball.

“Playing in that environment is positive,” said Thabeet's agent, Bill Duffy. “Sam Presti has done a great job of not only building a winning organization but a culture that's conditioned to developing and nurturing. So we think it's a really good fit. So now the onus is on Hasheem to buy into that and to develop and to reach his potential.”

It would seem to be the perfect landing spot for him, but I'll just wait and see.

Toomer says Romo is better than Eli

Despite winning his second Super Bowl, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning still has his detractors. If you ask some fans, they would call Manning the equivalent of a hot goalie.

Former Giants receiver, Amani Toomer, might have said a few things that might serve as motivation for Manning this upcoming season. On the Sirius XM NFL show, Movin' the Chains, which Toomer co-hosts, he said that he prefers Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Tony Romo, over Manning.        

“Tony Romo is probably, if you look at it statistically, he’s probably the best quarterback in the NFC East,” Toomer said.  “You look at Eli Manning and what he does in the fourth quarter, but you talk about consistency, talking about 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions, that guy can play.”

“For me, if I wanted a guy that is going to throw less interceptions, (be) more productive, higher completion percentage, I'm going to go with Tony Romo. At crunch time, he's not as good as Eli, but every other time, he's pretty darn good.”

You can have this debate with quartebacks of years past. Stabler/Fouts, Marino/Montana, Bradshaw/Staubach. I think Manning can put up the same kind of numbers if called upon, but the Giants have always relied on a solid ground game to balance their offense. The Cowboys put more on Romo's shoulders than the Giants do Manning.

Manning is also a better crunch time performer, and that's why he has two Super Bowl rings in four years and Romo is still looking to get a playoff win under his belt. Romo may have the glitzier stats, but Manning has what really matters. The bling.

Vitali Klitschko gets teargassed at a Russian protest

WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko, is well known for his skills in the boxing ring. He also has his hat in the political arena in Russia as well. Klitschko is running for mayor of Kiev and is also the head of the UDAR, a Ukranian political party.

Klitschko attended a rally in Kiev Wednesday, staged by Ukranians, to protest a Russian language bill passed by parliament, making Russian, not Ukrainian, the official language in some formal settings in the former Soviet republic.

What was supposed to be a peaceful protest quickly turned violent. Klitschko managed to avoid serious injury as authorities used batons and tear gas to control the crowd. Klitschko suffered a cut on his left hand but he still plans on defending his title on September 8 against Manuel Charr.      

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DeMarcus Ware agrees with Jerry Jones about the Cowboys' window of opportunity

With every passing year a team that doesn't win a championship sees their window of opportunity start to slam shut. Back in May, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that the Dallas Cowboys' window is starting to close and said that the team needed to win now.

Count defensive end DeMarcus Ware as one who is on board with Jones' assessment.

“I feel like from my standpoint, we’re a better team than we were last year, and it’s going to show on the field,” Ware said. “Jerry saying that the window’s closing, I’m with Jerry. The window can be closing. It closes every year. It just depends on if you’re going to walk through that door or not. I’m with Jerry on that.”

With the players the Cowboys have on the roster they should have the urgency to win it all now. The problem is that the stars never align right for them and they fall short of the Super Bowl aspirations.

Carlos Lee dealt to the Miami Marlins

Earlier this week Houston Astros first baseman/outfielder, Carlos Lee, nixed a deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now according to reports Lee will be traded to the Miami Marlins.

Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reported that Lee was removed from the Astros' 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh inning and his locker was cleared out.

Buster Olney of ESPN says that the deal is done and reports the Marlins are trading Matt Dominguez and pitcher Rob Rasmussen for Carlos Lee.

Dominguez, 22, was the Baseball America’s No. 4 prospect in the Miami organization entering the year. An excellent defensive third baseman who got a brief stint in the majors last year, he’s struggled with the bat for Triple-A New Orleans hitting .234 with a .647 OPS.

Rasmussen, 23, has a 3.90 ERA in 17 starts at high Class A and was rated No. 7 in the organization by Baseball America.

The Astros could potentially make out in the deal, but the downside is that they may have to pay a big chunk of Lee's remaining salary. This probably won't be the end of the Astros' selling of assets before the trade deadline.

Parise and Suter sign with the Minnesota Wild

Minnesota hockey fans will be going wild over the NHL team's reported signings. According to multiple reports, coveted free agents Zach Parise and Gary Suter will be signing with the Minnesota Wild. This will send teams that had Parise and Suter as the top two options on their free agent wish list scrambling for a plan b.

Parise, a forward who is a Minnesota native, and Suter, a defenseman, each received 13-year, $98 million deals according to people familiar with the terms.

In a deal that reminds many of the LeBron/Wade/Bosh signings, this was reported to be a package deal before all of the off-season wheeling and dealing. The signings won't guarantee the Wild a Stanley Cup or being an instant contender, but it will give them some credibility.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Detroit Pistons to sign Ukranian big man Vyacheslav Kravtsov

Outside of Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe, the Detroit Pistons have been devoid of quality big men the past two seasons. Team president Joe Dumars is out to change that. The Pistons are stocked at the guard and small forward positions and want to improve their depth at the center and power forward positions.

While the moves haven't been major and the players are unproven Dumars is set on improving the depth along the front line. With Monroe already on the roster, the Pistons drafted University of Connecticut big man, Andre Drummond with the number 9 pick in the draft. Even though there were questions surrounding Drummond it could prove to be a solid pick. The Pistons were lucky to have what was considered a top five talent fall into their laps for the third straight year.

Looking to add more younger, cheaper talent the Pistons signed Ukranian seven footer Vyacheslav Kravtsov.

Kravtsov, an athletic seven-footer, averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game last season for BC Donetsk in the Ukrainian league.

Kravtsov, 25, was undrafted in 2009 and played for the Celtics' summer-league team in 2010. He's known as a defensive presence, and the Pistons have been familiar with him for some time. Pistons assistant coach Brian Hill was an assistant on the Ukrainian national team last summer.

His scouting report lists him as a "phenomenal shot blocker who likes nothing more than contesting absolutely anything on its way up" and that he's "athletic, strong and can explode in and around the hoop on offense although he's still trying to find consistency with anything from range."

Word is that he did have some dominant games against Jonas Valanciunas and Enes Kanter, both of whom were top five lottery picks in 2011. Any basketball fan knows that doesn't mean a whole lot.

Hopefully this can turn out to be more Mehmet Okur than Darko Milicic.

NFL easing up on blackouts

Good news for Jacksonville Jaguars fans that can't watch the games on television since they had a hard time selling out.

According to a report at, the NFL will be relaxing the blackout rules. The league will no longer require that home games are sold out to be televised on local television. I don't care what the suits say, this idea makes perfect sense.

This season, games can be televised locally even when just 85% of tickets are sold. The Wall Street Journal reports that teams will be able to set their own "seat-sales benchmark" -- as long as its at least 85% of total capacity -- and when that benchmark is met games can be televised. "To discourage teams from setting easy benchmarks," says WSJ, "teams will be forced to share more of the (ticket) revenue when they exceed it."   

The relaxed blackout rules also make it easier for fans to view the games at home since a majority of hardcore NFL fans can't afford the tickets to go to a game in today's economy.

Daunte Culpepper knows it's the end for him

There was a point when it looked like Daunte Culpepper would be one of the best NFL quarterbacks that would ever play. Once a debilitating knee injury hit him he wasn't the same player. He lost it just as fast as Jake Delhomme and Steve Blass.

But I'll give Culpepper credit. He's not trying to hang on. His last game action came with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL in 2010. His last NFL action was with the Detroit Lions in 2009. At a camp at his alma mater, Central Florida, Culpepper resigned himself to the fact that his career is over.

"As far as me playing, I think I am done,'' said Culpepper, 35. "That part of my book is closed. The next chapter is, I have kids and I will be coaching them.

"I will be part of athletics and a part of sports, hopefully my whole life. It makes me feel good. I love to compete. Now I'll be competing in men's leagues, in basketball and softball and stuff.''

"I am retired, obviously, and I am raising my kids and living in South Florida,'' said Culpepper, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. "That's a full-time job.''    

Culpepper's only hope of landing an NFL contract would have been as a reserve role, but at age 35 with no game experience the past two seasons, there was nearly no chance of that happening. Culpepper was a three-time Pro Bowler in the NFL. He passed for 4,717 yards, rushed for 406 yards and totaled 41 touchdowns and 11 interceptions during the 2004 campaign, but a serious knee injury the next season all but ended his career as an NFL starter.