NBA General

Around the Rim: Midseason Movements

1. Trade Hate
If you’re getting sick of all the constant trade rumors about Pau Gasol, Corey Maggette, Vince Carter and others, then there is finally some relief in sight. That’s because the NBA’s trade deadline is just a mere two weeks away. At last, we should begin to see some serious movement with some of the bigger names in the league. If the GM’s decide to pull the trigger on some of these deals then we could end the season with a vastly different league than originally existed. In addition to aforementioned players, guys like Ray Allen, Andrei Kirilenko, Ben Gordon and Kevin Garnett are some of the other names being tossed around.

2. Buyers Remorse

In a heartwarming tale of a boy and his dog; Ron Artest has been accused of animal cruelty. Neighbors in his Loomis California gated community complained about a malnourished Great Dane that Artest had locked up within a fenced area. Artest was issued “pre-seizure” notice stating that the dog would be taken if the care did not improve. On Monday, an underfed “Socks” was removed from the property and Artest now has 10 days to schedule a trial. Apparently, the dog was being feed off the profits from Ron’s rap career.

3. Special Treat
Who would have guessed that Dennis Rodman’s foolish antics would be imitated by player’s years after his retirement from the league? On occasion, Rodman would remove his jersey after a game and throw it into the crowd. Nowadays, Gilbert Arenas carries on the tradition by tossing his top into the crowd after every home game. But we know that NBA ballers love top one another, so J.R. Smith took Arenas’ idea and improved by 100 percent. Not only does Smith toss away his home white jersey after games, but he also remains generous and gives the opposing team’s fans a souvenir after every game as well. Let’s just hope that nobody ever attempts to carry out the Worm’s unaccomplished desire to run off the court naked after the last game of his career.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Memphis 37 min, 38 pts (FG: 14-20, 3FG: 2-2, FT: 8-9), 10 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl, 4 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (30-19) @ Detroit (29-18) The Lakers have been one of the most surprising teams in the league over the past two seasons. Despite losing Shaq to the Heat, Kobe has done an impressive job of not only carrying the Lakers, but carrying the Lakers to unexpected victories. But L.A. has struggled on the road, which could lead to trouble in Detroit where the Pistons are 14-9. Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton have led the Pistons offensively as they have ripped off a streak of eight wins in their last 10 games.

Buzzer Beater: Kevin Garnett might not be called “The Kid” anymore, but he showed why he’s stilled referred to as “The Big Ticket” last night. Garnett put up the 17th triple-double of his career last night with 17 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists against Golden State. K.G. is one of the freakiest athletes to ever enter the NBA and it’s so unfortunate that he might never get the chance to realistically compete for a championship. At least Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton and Patrick Ewing got to play in a Finals series.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Latrell Sprewell is in good form

1. Grocery Budget
Latrell Sprewell is back on the court; no wait, sorry. Latrell Sprewell is back in court as his babies’ momma is filing a $200 million lawsuit accusing Spree of breaking a long-term cohabitation deal and then roughing her up last month in their home. Allegedly, Sprewell slapped a phone out of Candace Cabbil’s hands as she attempted to dial 911 and then he dragged her down a flight of stairs by her feet. Spree has not played in the NBA since leaving Minnesota in 2004-05 after turning down a three-year extension because he was insulted by the paltry pay. Apparently, Latrell’s right; $21 million isn’t enough to feed his family. It’s more like $200 million.

2. Suns Set
It took a monumental effort from Kevin Garnett to overcome the monumental effort from Steve Nash, but the Phoenix Suns have finally fallen. After 17 consecutive wins that spanned a period of one lossless month, the Timberwolves were able to capitalize on a rare poor shooting fourth quarter by the Suns; 44 points, including 15 in the final period, from The Big Ticket didn’t hurt either. With a win, Phoenix could have tied the 1969 Knicks, 1982 Celtics and the 1996 Bulls with the fourth longest win streak in league history. Instead, the Suns will begin from scratch as they attempt to build up a third streak of 15+ consecutive wins.

3. Time to Move On
Despite having one of the best seasons of his career, it appears that New Jersey is determined to shop Vince Carter before the trade deadline passes. Carter’s name has been floated around all over the league but it seems that the main contenders in the Vinsanity sweepstakes are Memphis, Utah and Seattle. Pau Gasol, Andrei Kirilenko and Ray Allen are the main possibilities to replace Carter in Jersey. The Nets just can’t seem to move ahead in the depleted Atlantic Division; it would be irresponsible of the front office to be content with a sub .500 record and it’s become painfully obvious their talent pool is not going to gel. Gasol could become an excellent compliment to Jason Kidd if he can remain healthy.

4. Skills Showdown
The NBA might have a hard time getting the big name superstars to compete in the slam dunk competition, but the league’s elite appear to be lining up to get a crack at the skills challenge. Dwyane Wade, the winner of last year’s event, will return to defend his crown against some of the best ball handlers in the game. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and LeBron James will be dribbling, passing and shooting it out with Wade on All-Star Saturday. Nash is the only other player with experience in the event, after he won the challenge in 2005. In addition to being the only participant without a ring or MVP award, King James will be the only non-guard competing in the event.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Kevin Garnett vs. Phoenix 39 min, 44 pts (FG: 18-29, 3FG: 0-1, FT: 8-10), 11 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (25-17) @ Washington (26-17) Washington has only lost four games at home this year behind Gilbert Arenas’ MVP level of play. The Wizards currently have the best record in the Eastern Conference and before being blown out by Phoenix last week, the last time the Wizards had dropped a home game was back on December 9. Detroit, on the other hand, has done a majority of their damage on the road. The Pistons are only half a game behind Washington as they continue to work Chris Webber into the game plan. This will already be the fourth time these two teams have hooked up with Detroit winning two of the previous games, including one win in Washington.

Buzzer Beater: When looking at the NBA spectrum, you have two polar opposites serving as the bookends for the league. On the winning side of things, there’s Phoenix who has won 17 of their last 18. And then you have the Celtics, losers of 11 in a row and 18 of their last 20. Clearly, Boston is one of the more pathetic franchises in recent history and with Paul Pierce out for at least another week; it’s not going to get any prettier for Bean Town. At this point, the only thing that can save the Celtics’ season would be a number one pick in the upcoming draft.

NBA General

Around the Rim: They’re all picking on me!

1. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo
Dikembe Mutombo has always been a defensive stopper on the court, but now he has become defensive about something off the court. The ongoing joke for the talking heads covering Houston this season has surrounded the age of Mutombo and the implication that he might be older than what he says. The 40 year old Mutombo has been in the league for 16 seasons and says that the teasing is disturbing to his wife and daughter and that he plans to talk with commissioner David Stern about putting an end to the media’s mockery. Mount Mutombo seems to be exploding over nothing here. I mean being called old has to be better than being called a “monkey”, right?

2. 3rd Times a Charm
The Spurs Brent Barry wants a chance to make history at the All-Star game in February. The sharpshooter could become the first player to win both the three-point shootout and the slam dunk contest. In 1996, as a rookie, Barry proved that white men can jump when he made a dunk from the free-throw line while wearing his warm-up jacket during the All-Star festivities in San Antonio. B.B. is currently third in the league in three-point field goal accuracy as he is hitting 48 percent (62-130) of his long bombs. Should Barry receive his opportunity, it would be his third chance to win the three-point trophy. In 2003, he advanced to the second round before falling to Peja Stojakovic who would go on to win the crown, and in 2004 he was forced to decline an invitation after breaking his right hand.

3. Excuse Me, You Dropped a Dime
Kevin Garnett could join some of the greatest names in the history of the game tonight when the Detroit Pistons travel to Minnesota. The Big Ticket is five assists away from reaching 4,000 for his career. When Garnett dishes out assist number 4,000 he will have become only the fifth player to amass 18,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists; joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley. And at only 30 years old, K.G. still has lots of game left in his 6-11 body. Of course, the feat would be much easier for Garnett to obtain if he had players around him who could consistently hit their shots.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Dwyane Wade vs. Indiana 37 min, 33 pts (FG: 13-24, FT: 7-9), 6 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Friday’s Game to Watch: Washington (22-16) @ Orlando (22-17) This game sports two of the best young players in the league with Gilbert Arenas and Dwight Howard. Arenas has been dazzling fans and foes alike all season, while Howard is the best big man to enter the league straight out of high school since Kevin Garnett made the leap in 1995. Washington currently leads Orlando for first place in the Southeast Division by ½ game, but that ½ game makes a huge difference for these two teams in the playoff standings. The Magic could leap from their sixth spot up to as high as the second spot in the East with a win.

Buzzer Beater: Shaquille O’Neal will be sidelined for at least two more games as he recovers from knee surgery. Shaq says that he’s not going to rush back until he’s “1000 percent.” Last month, two more games without the Diesel would have been pretty discouraging news for the Heat, but Miami is currently handling their business without O’Neal as they have won five of their last six behind a hot Dwyane Wade. But even when Shaq comes back, he still won’t be at full capacity until he gets at least two weeks of game time under his very large belt.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Greg O-Done?

1. With the First Selection

A lot of the draft talk has been about Greg Oden, and deservedly so. Oden will be an immediate blessing to any team that is coming off a lottery level season. But before anyone starts dropping games in order to pick up ping-pong balls for Oden’s rights, they should be willing to be flexible because there’s a kid at Texas who just might change the way the draft plays out. Longhorn guard/forward Kevin Durant is dropping jaws across the nation with his dominance and versatility as a freshman. In 15 games, Durant has averaged 23.4 points (49% FG, 39% 3FG, 85% FT), 10.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while blocking 1.9 shots and snatching 1.5 steals per game. Durant torched Colorado for 37 on Saturday and followed that up by picking up his fourth straight double-double with 34 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Missouri last night. Durant’s performances should have teams like the Sixers, Hawks, Celtics and Bobcats reconsidering exactly what all this losing is for.

2. Kings of Comedy
Mike Bibby is trying to get his teammates to rally together and focus on winning, but pointing fingers might not be the way to approach it. Bibby said, “Try to win a game instead of trying to see how many points you can score or how many shots you can get up.” The hot-headed Ron Artest has never been one to take criticism lightly which could lead to problems down the road if he feels Bibby is placing blame on him. But it’s hard for Bibby to accuse others of taking too many shots when he leads the team in shots per game, yet he has one of the worst field goal percentages on his team. The frustrations for the Kings continue to pile up as Sacramento sits at the bottom of their division after losing three in a row and 12 of the last 18 games.

3. Webber Can Come, Garnett’s Got To Go
Chris Webber is a free man and now he’s searching for a team that will bring him a ring. Most rumors are focusing on joining Webber with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. K.G. has said that he would love to bring Webber aboard, but the move couldn’t possibly bring the Timberwolves any closer to a championship ring than a move for Allen Iverson would have. It’s going to take a lot more than an old Webber who can’t stay healthy to get Garnett into the Finals. Once A.I. was sent to Denver, it became painfully obvious that Minnesota is going to remain a one man show. Perhaps, the time for a K.G. trade is upon us. If Minnesota won’t bring a superstar to Garnett then there are multiple teams who would love to bring Garnett to their superstar.

Wednesday’ Player of the Day: Dwight Howard @ Golden State 45 min, 30 pts (FG: 11-18, FT: 8-15), 25 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (22-12) @ Phoenix (26-8) The Suns have been tough to beat this season, but an opponent’s chances are greatly diminished when they must travel to Phoenix where the home team is 15-3. The Cavs are undefeated in 2007 and own the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference with five in a row, but despite their recent success, Cleveland is only 7-9 on the road. It’s going to be difficult for the Cavaliers to keep up defensively in the transition as Phoenix will try to beat the Cavs down the court on every possession. Cleveland has proven they can produce on offense but Zydrunas Ilgauskus’ abilities on defense could be negated in the up and down game.

Buzzer Beater: You’ve gotta love a short, stocky basketball coach. At least Memphis seems to like theirs. The Grizzlies are 3-3 under their version of Rick Magerus, interim coach Tony Barone. Now, 3-3 might not sound like much, but when you start a season off by going 6-24, a six game stint of 3-3 becomes a big deal. Can Barone keep it up? It depends on if Pau Gasol can remain healthy. Gasol has strung together four consecutive games of 24 or more points and he continues to improve his efforts on the glass. If only Stan Van Gundy were around, he’d be so proud.

San Francisco 49ers

Odds and Ends (07.17.06): Didn’t Jerry Rice retire already?

We could’ve sworn that Jerry Rice retired last year when he finally figured out that he couldn’t play when he couldn’t even break into the lineup for the Denver Broncos. But now, Jerry says he wants to sign a one day contract to retire as a Niner. We think it’s always a classy move when a player of longstanding tradition goes back to the ball club he started with to retire. However, Jerry Rice should have retired as a Niner about 6 years ago before he tarnished his legacy. Of all modern football players hanging on to glory too long, Jerry Rice might have been the saddest of our generation.

In other news…

[BBC]: Wayne Rooney can only sleep with something sucking or blowing on

[Reuters]: Garnett is proselytizing in India

[Newsday]: Dallas Stars sign Eric Lindros

[Kukla’s Korner]: Hockey isn’t doing too well in LA

[Yahoo ]: Doctor who supplied several Panthers with steroids gets 1 year in jail