Since I’ve been gone a bit, here are some links from elsewhere during the past week:
Last night’s showcase of Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon at the Thomas & Mack Center should have been the halcyon moment in the Clippers’ rebirth as a franchise. With the Clippers’ brass beaming on the sideline, the team’s featured 20-year-old offensive stars ran a clinic, establishing themselves as one of the league’s most potent big-small duos.
The end of the article also features all his thoughts on the possible Iverson signing, but since there’s been no talk about it recently (&the Clips just got a backup PG), I think we can assume that it ain’t gonna happen at this point.
-This is a better more in-depth analysis by Arnovitz from TrueHoop. Most articles have mentioned Blake’s points and rebounds, but I’m impressed by these lesser-heralded qualities that Arnovitz points out:
Griffin repeatedly laid out hard screens for Gordon and Taylor, precisely the sort of grunt work that the Clippers sorely missed last season at the power forward spot. Twice when he got doubled in the right post, Griffin whipped sharp interior passes to open teammates.
After ZBo, it’s odd to read about a PF who actually passes the ball out when he’s double-teamed. Plus I was excited by this too:
On defense, Griffin was the most vocal presence on the floor for the Clippers, playing traffic cop on every defensive set. He let his guards know when screens were coming, and called out defensive assignments in transition.
-This isn’t about the Clips, but it tells you about the insane incentives that NBA players have in their contracts like:
Nick Collison of the Thunder — nice player, probably worthy of anybody’s power rotation. He gets $100,000 if he wins — wait for it — MVP. [...] Adonal Foyle gets $500,000 if he wins MVP, and another $500K if he wins MVP of the NBA Finals. [...] Luke Ridnour would merit an extra $1.5 million for winning Defensive Player of the Year.
Those are insane! If someone knows how to get access to NBA players’ contracts, I’d love to check ‘em out myself. I mean Ridnour’s known for his awful defense, so if has a defensive player of the year clause in his contract, does that mean he must have incentives for every possible thing in the world? Is his contract ten pages long? And honestly, if any of those players actually achieved those accomplishments, shouldn’t they get a ton more money? Like if your Foyle’s agent, why not ask for $20 million if he wins MVP? And if I’m the exec signing him, I’d say sure. I mean if Foyle wins MVP when I’m expecting him to be my 12th best player, then we’re gonna have a pretty amazing season and likely win it all, no?
-No, I’m not joking, this is a real article, and even from NBA.com, that says they think The Clippers will come in 2nd in the Pacific division, only behind the Lakers. Sure besides the Lakes the division looks a little weak with no other team clearly destined to make the playoffs, but it’ll still be a nice jump if the Clippers end up having a better season than both the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns.
-Steve Perrin over at Clips Nation talks about Al Thornton, and as in my analysis of Thornton in my discussion of the Q Richardson/Telfair/Craig Smith/Madsen trade, he comes to the obvious answer that Thornton would best be served as instant offense off the bench.
-An article from ESPN about how Blake Griffin can rank among the best No.1 picks ever if he turns the Clips around. Really?? If he has one of the best impacts ever, he’ll be considered one of the best ever? Not in the article: if Blake Griffin also brings about world peace he can be the first No.1 pick to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
-How quickly do teams turn around after having a sub-twenty win season? According to this article, since 1980, it has taken about 4 years just to reach an average level (meaning a record somewhere between 38-44 and 44-38). Seems only one team in that time improved to a winning record the following season (last year’s Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade’s return to health). In fact, the average jump after winning less than 20 games is only up to 26.9 wins. That still sucks. Maybe I’ve been wearing rose-colored glasses, but I hope the Clips improve more than that. I mean we’ll have BDiddy returning to health like Wade did, and even though Wade’s a definite step above Diddy, we also picked up #1 Blake Griffin — surely that should enable us to be the second team to have a big improvement in just one season? Oh, and Kaman was injured a bunch of last year, so if he returns to form too, plus we have a young player like Eric Gordon who should be better (& Miami had no one like him), so if my math is correct, it’s not out of the range of reason that we could win 76 games next year. Hey, lemme dream in oblivious peace.
-Steve Nash signs 2-year extension with Suns for $22 million. That’s in addition to the year he has left on his current contract, which means the Suns will be paying him, what, $12 million in three years when he turns 38? Yikes. I have a feeling that by then they’ll be regretting the contract. Of course, the Mavs (& others) felt like the Suns overpaid for Nash when he was 30 since he had a bad back and was supposedly heading for the “downside” of his career. The dude must be drinking from Dick Clark’s Fountain O’ Youth. It’s too much $ for him to have turned it down, but if the Suns just let Amare go (or trade him for 60 cents on the dollar) Nash may end up regretting that he didn’t keep his options open for the big upcoming 2010 free agent bonanza and a chance to sign with a potential contender for one more shot at a ring (‘cuz even if he don’t decline and the Suns keep Amare, the Suns will only be playoff regulars, but not contendahs).
-In the latest of a string of under-the-radar but great key signings, the Magic are on the verge of signing Matt Barnes. Last year they did a similar thing with their unheralded acquisition of Mickael Pietrus, who was huge for them in the playoffs with his ability to defend and hit threes. He was a big linchpin, ala Trevor Ariza with the Lakers. Now every team is after talented multi-purpose no-nonsense effective swingmen. The Cavs recently got some great depth by acquiring Anthony Parker who’d been doing yeomen’s work in Toronto and is a huge upgrade over the Cavs previous backup 3s of Sasha Pavlovic and Wally “The Gimp” Szcazxzcaavbiak. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Parker took over as starter at the 2 instead of undersized Delonte West. They also signed Jamario Moon to an offer sheet, so if the Heat don’t match, those 2 moves might actually end up having a bigger impact than the acquisition of Shaq (after all the reason Big Z had trouble dealing with Dwight Howard wasn’t due to lack of bulk, but because of lack of mobility — something The Big Trade Chip no longer really has). Finally, completing the Big East Trifecta, the Celts are on the verge of getting Marquis Daniels. That has to be a huge relief to Celtic-Faithful who collectively have heart attacks every time Tony Allen comes in off the bench in the swing position.
-Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, wrote a nice tribute to his dad who’s retiring from his job as a school superintendent. Nothing to do with sports, but I love his writing, and it’s sweet to hear him moon over his dad (P.S. Dad, don’t expect the same from me).