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The Jump…His Airness

Nov 19, 2009, 6:24 PM | Updated: Jan 14, 2011, 4:27 pm

My plan going into this edition of The Jump was to rip Michael Jordan for being a clueless executive (always fun to kill MJ when you get the chance – he ruined my dreams as a Knicks fan countless times). Unfortunately, after doing some research and seeing how the team is set up for the future, I couldn’t do it even though I really wanted to.

Before I looked at the numbers I thought the Raja Bell-Vladimir Radmanovic for
Stephen Jackson-Acie Law swap was going to destroy the Bobcats cap situation in the future because I knew Bell was a free agent after the year and Jackson was signed through 2012-13. I figured out this assumption was completely false. Charlotte actually saves two million dollars this year, next year they will be hovering right around what the cap will be depending on what it is set at, and will have enough cap space in two off seasons to sign two max level free agents (that being said pretty much the entire league will have cap space going into the 2011-12 season In the next edition of The Jump I will be discussing that). In addition to the cap space Jordan has created, the players he has signed are essentially the core of the team today; Boris Diaw, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, D.J Augustin, DeSagna Diop, Gerald Henderson, and Alexis Ajinca. If you can get another upper level talent to go with Diaw, Jackson, Wallace, and Augustin we are talking about a team that can do some damage. The key for Jordan is going to be the recruiting process of getting someone to come play in Charlotte.

Lift Off

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the San Antonio Spurs in overtime Wednesday night. Even with that this game had another example of what makes Tim Duncan the best big man of his era.

First example: San Antonio is down two with 14 seconds left in regulation. They get the ball to Duncan in the post and for some reason Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle thought it was a good idea to leave an all-time great one-on-one with Kris Humphries. Timmy D works him over and ties the game with a little two-foot jump hook. On the defensive end, off the inbounds play after a Mavs timeout, Duncan comes out of nowhere to block what would have been a wide open Jason Terry 15-footer.

The Portland Trailblazers losing Travis Outlaw for three-five months due to a stress fracture in his left foot was a tough loss for head coach Nate McMillan. Outlaw is Portland’s most versatile perimeter defender; he has the ability to guard every position besides the center and had even hit a couple of game winning shots in crunch time last season. Back up guard Rudy Fernandez will be asked to pick up the slack in Outlaw’s absence. In the two games Travis has missed Rudy played 32 and 28 minutes, up from his 21.8 minutes per game average on the season.

Tuesday night I was switching back and forth between a bunch of different games, but the two I concentrated on the most were the Oklahoma City Thunder-Miami Heat game on the Fox Sports station that shows the Thunder games and the Phoenix Suns-Houston Rockets game on My9. Let me preface this by saying I am picky with how I want a basketball game shown. I don’t need a whole bunch of fancy camera angles and jumping back and forth. I like things simple. On replays I have no problem using whatever angle you want, but during the game I don’t want anything to happen that causes me to miss any of the action.

Now that I got that out of the way. During the Thunder-Heat game they were on the standard camera shot, but the camera man neglected to have the basket in the picture. This happened for a couple of possessions and it was driving me nuts. A point of reference for all future NBA camera men; it is key to have the basket in the picture.

Complaint #2 comes from the Suns-Rockets game. There were numerous times when the Suns went to Amare Stoudemire in the post and My9 would cut to a camera that was placed on the baseline and gave us an up close and personal view of STAT. The only problem, if Amare did not shoot and especially if he made a quick pass to a cutter (which happened) it is impossible to follow what happens. I beg you producers of NBA television games, please just leave the basic camera shot, it is all we need.

Complaint #3 and this happens on almost every channel I watch basketball on. After a made basket stop showing fans in the stands! It is even worse when you do this when there are teams like the Suns who push the ball up the court even on made baskets. I want to see the play develop, no one cares about slobs in the stands (if the camera man decides to keep the shot on two hot girls between every basket that is an exception to the rule).

I drafted Anthony Randolph for two of my three fantasy basketball teams. When Brandan Wright went down with a serious injury during training camp I figured Warriors head coach Donnie Walsh would be forced to give him significant minutes coming off a fantastic summer league and flashes of brilliance at the end of last season. I was wrong and I had been directing my anger at Don Nelson for not playing him and giving minutes to Ronny Turiaf, Corey Maggette, and Mikki Moore. Mr. Nelson I apologize for cursing you in the privacy of my own home, I have refocused my anger towards Anthony Randolph. He is still a young kid (20-years-old, they drafted him after his freshman year at LSU) so it is way too early to give up on him, but he is completely lost on the basketball court. Randolph day dreams on defense, does not know his defensive rotations, and takes bad shots which lead to his sub-par field goal percentage. Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo drove to the basket, got fouled and threw the ball off the backboard – the shot had no chance at going in. Anthony decided it was a good idea to fly in, swat the ball after it hit the board and get called for goaltending. Those are the types of mental lapses you can not have.

The New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets have one win total between the two teams. For the good of the NBA I propose that the New Jersey Nets cease operation immediately and because of the proximity of the Knicks and Nets Donnie Walsh gets to pluck any player off the Nets roster he wants, which isn’t many (Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, and Terrence Williams). With the addition of those players David Stern should allow the Knicks to wipe four players off their roster without any salary cap ramifications (Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, and Chris Duhon…there is only three players because Eddy Curry counts as two).

Suns Spot

The Suns continue to cruise along in the 2009-10 season with the NBA’s best record (tied with the Atlanta Hawks at 10-2). Great win on the road against the Rockets Tuesday night. They fought back from a big first half deficit, held Houston’s high octane offense in check during the fourth quarter, and continued to win while getting virtually nothing from Leandro Barbosa. The other bonus of this game is that no matter what happens the rest of the season Steve Kerr has gotten his money’s worth for Jarron Collins. Collins had a momentum changing offensive rebound and put back midway through the 4th quarter that put the Suns up 92-90. Collins put the exclamation point on the game with his lay up that increased Phoenix’s lead to six with less than two minutes to play.

Suns fans get used to Phoenix racking up the wins because their schedule is favorable until they play at the Lakers and at Mavericks on December 6th and 8th. In the next eight games they only play one winning team (@ Cleveland December 2nd), play six teams with losing records, and the Sacramento Kings, who are 5-5, but will have a losing record shortly. Worst case scenario the Suns are 17-3, best case scenario they are 18-2. I said from the beginning the Suns would beat up on bad teams and I am sticking it to it.

Simmons Says

I am about 100 pages (it is 700 pages) into “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons and it is a great book. If you are a die hard NBA fan this is a must read. I haven’t really figured out my strategy yet on how I am going to read it. Simmons has a ton of footnotes that are all must read and I can’t figure out whether it is better to stop, read the footnote immediately, wait until the end of the sentence, or read them all at once after the page. The book is classic Simmons, it is a very easy read, but it will take you awhile to get through because of the style. Since this is a basketball article, in case some of you do not have time to sit through 700 pages, I will bring you a quote I like from it every week.

Here is one of the footnotes…”Note to anyone reading in 2075: Bayless (Skip Bayless ESPN 1st and 10 analyst this quotation was not a part of the quote) was a TV personality who took extreme positions until he was fired in the summer of 2010 after LeBron dumped Cleveland to sign with the Knicks and a frothing-at-the-mouth Bayless, in his rush to excoriate LeBron for stabbing Cavaliers fans in the back, briefly morphed into a fire-breathing, eight-foot dragon and killed all 17 people in the studio. You can find the clip on YouTube-just search “Bayless” + dragon.”

Rookie Watch

Last week I tooted my own horn because I predicted that Byron Scott would be the first NBA head coach fired, this week I get the honor of kicking myself right back off my pedestal that I built for myself. Going into the draft I did not think Tyreke Evans out of Memphis was going to be a good NBA player and then when he got drafted by the Sacramento Kings I thought he was bound to be a bust with them force feeding him the point guard position. Wow was I wrong. Evans outside of Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee has been the most impressive rookie player. He is the main reason they Kings are 5-5 even though star player Kevin Martin has missed the last five games. Since Martin’s departure Evans has over 20 points in every game (a high of 32) and averaged over 30 minutes a game including four 40 minutes efforts. Sacramento was 4-1 with impressive wins at Utah and home against Houston.

Eye Openers

Thank you to NBA.com and YouTube.com for the videos.

I was hoping to show you two eye openers in this highlight. At the 30-second mark LeBron James has one of his patented ‘I’m bigger and faster than you so I’m going to chase you down the court and slam your shot’ blocks on Monta Ellis. Unfortunately they neglected to put James doing his best Kareem Abdul Jabbar impression of a sky hook. It really was an incredible shot, but it’s more important to show LeBron shooting 16 foot jumpers, that is more exciting.

Dwayne Wade destroying Anderson Varajao

At the 1:30 point of the Timberwolves-Rockets highlight T’Wolves swing man Corey Brewer plants one on Aaron Brooks head.

This last one is for the NBA Draft junkies. Here is a high school highlight tape of freshman Kentucky PG John Wall. If he leaves he will be the first pick in the draft. He will join Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo as the next generation of great NBA point guards.

The Top 10

1. Los Angeles Lakers 9-3…Pau Gasol is supposed to return Thursday night giving the Lakers a full compliment of players for the first time this season.

2. Phoenix Suns 10-2…Won’t find out much about the Suns until we get into December with the easy schedule.

3. Atlanta Hawks 10-2…Best record in the East with two wins over Portland, @ Boston, Denver, and Miami. They even have a winning record on the road at 4-2.

4. Boston Celtics 9-3…Ray Allen hasn’t hit his stride and KG does not look like the same player.

5. Denver Nuggets 9-3…Should be higher, but they struggled to a 3-3 record on a road trip they should have been 5-1 on.

6. Dallas Mavericks 9-3…Dirk having an MVP like season, but will be hurt in the long run with Josh Howard’s injury.

7. Orlando Magic 9-3…Right when you think they are starting to get healthy they lose point guard Jameer Nelson for 4-6 weeks. A lot to ask of Jason Williams, who did not play in the NBA last season, to assume the starting role.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers 8-4…This team is clearly better without Shaquille O’Neal.

9. Portland Trailblazers 9-4…Are struggling to put the ball in the hoop.

10. Milwaukee Bucks 6-3…The surprise in the NBA led by rookie PG Brandon Jennings. Head coach Scott Skiles is the early front runner for NBA Coach of the Year honors.

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The Jump…His Airness