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Monday, 30 June 2008

Danilo Gallinari : unlikely to be tired by Euro Qualifiers

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The Knicks got their man. In a fine New York tradition of Italians, new coach Mike D'Antoni will be linked with the son of an Italian that he used to play with. Danilo Gallinari is a lanky, multi-skilled forward who should have a lot of eyeballs focussed on him as he starts his Knicks career.

One concern posed by many, including Marc Berman of the NY Post in this article, is that European players are often tired out by their International team commitments.

"Gallinari also revealed he'll be playing for the Italian national team from Aug. 20th to sept. 20th in European qualifiers, just 10 days before training camp. That puts him in danger of hitting the usual rookie wall sooner than most."

Whilst in many cases this may be true, the Italian press has revealled in this Alice Sport (Italian) article that Gallinari will not be physically taxed by the Italian coach during the European Championship Qualifiers. The Italian team's qualification is academic and the coach will leave him to rest, "with a view to the New York training camp."

New Jersey Nets : from the outside looking in

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The New Jersey Nets have been a little busy of late. As an outsider looking in, here is a viewpoint on how they stand. Nets fans with passionate views, feel free to add your one-fiftieth of a dollar to the discussion.

SUMMARY: They've made all the right moves to prepare themselves for their reincarnation in Brooklyn. They're young (most guys are 24 and under -- and when you discount dead contracts Armstrong and KVH and veteran leader Carter no one over 30). They're low on salary (except for Vince and the two "contracts" listed above) so they're well prepared for their shot at LeBron in Summer 2010. And they're deep with talent and promise at quite a few positions. I like their PGs -- Harris and Williams are two very nice prospects on the rise. Vince can handle the scoring in the interim until they hopefully get their hands on LBJ. CDR is a very nice pickup where they got him in the draft... he slipped a lot due to refusing to workout for a lot of teams like Detroit but has a solid college pedigree and ability. Jefferson may be gone, but they have three very different looks at SF in Yi (tall, versatile and athletic), Simmons (scoring) and Hassell (defensive stopper). Their big men department is stacked with young talent of all shapes and sizes (plus Stromile Swift.....). This just in: this analysis could have been very different, with the ironic revelation that Vinsanity almost joined LeBron in Cleveland, if you believe this story.

PG Devin Harris / Marcus Williams
SG Vince Carter / Boston Snackbar / Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF Yi Jianlian / Bobby Simmons / Trenton Hassell
PF Sean Williams / Josh Boone / Ryan Anderson
C Brook Lopez / Nenad Kristic / DeSagana Diop

2008-09 Roster
13 Maurice Ager F-G 6-5 202 02/09/1984 Michigan State 2
Ryan Anderson ** F 6-10 240 05/06/1988 CaliforniaR
10 Darrell Armstrong G 6-1 180 06/22/1968 Fayetteville State 14
2 Josh Boone C 6-10 237 11/21/1984 Connecticut 2
15 Vince Carter G 6-6 220 01/26/1977 North Carolina 10
14 DeSagana Diop C 7-0 280 01/30/1982 Oak Hill Academy HS (VA) 7
Chris Douglas-Roberts ** G 6-720001/08/1987 Memphis R
34 Devin Harris G 6-3 185 02/27/1983 Wisconsin 4
44 Trenton Hassell F 6-5 233 03/04/1979 Austin Peay 7
12 Nenad Krstic F-C 7-0 240 07/25/1983 Serbia & Montenegro 4
Brook Lopez ** C 7-0 260 04/01/1988 Stanford R
7 Bostjan Nachbar F 6-9 221 07/03/1980 Slovenia 6
Bobby Simmons F 6-6 230 06/02/1980 DePaul 6
6 Stromile Swift F-C 6-10 220 11/21/1979 Louisiana State 8
22 Keith Van Horn F 6-10 245 10/23/1975 Utah 9
1 Marcus Williams G 6-3 205 12/03/1985 Connecticut 2
51 Sean Williams F-C 6-10 235 09/13/1986 Boston College 1
Yi Jianlian F 7-0 238 10/27/1987 1
** unsigned rookie
(Roster per NBA.com as at today, 30 June 2008)

Monday, 23 June 2008

Brooklyn gets another green light for the Nets

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Bruce Ratner's syndicate pushes on, in a bid to develop a new arena for the 'Brooklyn Nets' (working title). They received good news today, as "the Supreme Court has turned down property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena in Brooklyn."

With the ultimate plan of the both the Nets and the Knicks seemingly to snag LeBron when he comes off contract, we may well see LBJ in the New York area. James' connection to rapper Jay-Z (right) is said to hold some sway for him turning towards the Nets when/if he leaves the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Nets are reportedly in talks (along with the Detroit Pistons) to trade for Denver Nuggets small forward and LBJ rival, Carmelo Anthony.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Navarro heading back to Spain -- leaves the Grizzlies

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Is this a sign of things to come for the future of international basketball?

Juan Carlos Navarro has left the Memphis Grizzlies behind and returned to the comforts of home in Spain. After making $538k last year in the NBA, he'll sign for a deal worth more than $20m over 4 years with FC Barcelona.

The standard of Spanish basketball is remarkable and is arguably the top league outside of the NBA. With such a strong Spanish contingent in the NBA over the last few years and the addition of Rudy Fernandez to those ranks this season, it is no wonder that the USA is having bigger problems in international competition.

Team USA is having to take their Beijing Olympic preparations seriously, with players such as Kobe Bryant delaying surgery, to ensure that they are available for the tournament where the USA tries to reassert its dominance over world basketball.

Players such as Navarro question the need to play in the NBA, when they can often command more money in Europe, whilst enjoying a lifestyle that they prefer and being closer to their families. As the standard of leagues outside of the USA continues to improve, it will be no surprise to see this type of situation continuing to occur.

No wonder David Stern is so zealously pursuing the NBA's expansion to Europe, with potential plans to set up permanent teams in the continent, following on from the successful NBA Live Europe tour, which continues this year.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

NBA : Today's warnings : 17 June 2008

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  • "Game after game, Celtics fans across Boston face the same, painful decision: basketball or bedtime?" This is the question asked by fans on the East coast who struggle to stay awake for West coast games which push past the midnight barrier. The NBA's response is that the kids know how to use The Internets and that they will find a way to watch it, even if they do have to go to sleep, through YouTube and nba.com. All I can say is, they should try watching from London, England, where start times are usually 1:50am.
  • Apparently still-President G W Bush is no Obama when it comes to basketball, as he proved in a visit to a Northern Ireland school on his European "don't-call-it-a-farewell-tour."
  • The Seattle Supersonics trial has kicked off and it all sounds pertty messy and thus far, inconclusive. Gary Payton and Xavier McDaniel have been right behind the Save Our Sonics cause.
  • Apparently the NBA Finals are up 11% in TV ratings on the last time the Finals went to five games -- the 2006 Dallas v Miami series -- which isn't really earth-shattering news given the teams involved.
  • Buy yourself a sweaty Finals-worn jersey from your friends at NBA.com.
  • UNC is certainly looking good for next season.
  • Are you about to lose your house? Well Superman will save the day!! That's right, Shaq Diesel has offered to help out the many homeowners tied up with mortgages that may make them homeless. "Last week, an attorney working with O'Neal said the Phoenix Suns center wants to buy the mortgages of people whose homes are in foreclosure, then give the homeowner a new mortgage with better terms. Homeowners would stay in their homes with more affordable payments, and O'Neal would turn a small profit."

Celtic Airways

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The Boston Celtics' private jet has reportedly encountered difficulties and they have been severely delayed in their flight back to Boston to gear up for Game 6.

Rajon Rondo knew it was going to be a long flight, as he said on his blog, but I don't think he was predicting this.

Given the adversities the Celtics are already having to overcome with injuries (Perkins, Rondo and Pierce) and the Ray Allen's family problems (reportedly a medical issue for his daughter), the C's will have to dig deep to win this next one. But as the cliché goes, sometimes these things bring the group together as a team.

And doesn't Kevin Garnett just love fighting an uphill battle?

NBA Draft : Early Entry Pull-Outs

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The list is still developing as we speak, but it appears that up to a third of the pool of early-entry candidates have tested the waters and are pulling out of consideration for the 2008 NBA Draft. Keep checking here at Draft Express for updates.

One key withdrawal is Jeremy Pargo (brother of Janero). Chris Douglas-Roberts, CJ Giles and Italian wunderkind Danilo Gallinari are staying in the Draft.

Friday, 13 June 2008

NBA : Where Inexperienced Coaches Winning Happens

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Much has been made of Vinny Del Negro's appointment as Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls. And understandably so. The Bulls went through a lengthy, arduous and apparently detailed process to select Vinny D, which surprised many fans all the more that they settled on a guy who had no prior coaching experience -- full stop. Given some of the candidates that were on the market (D'Antoni, Johnson), we will have to assume that Paxson knew something about the former Spurs guard that noone else does. And if he did, he will look like a complete genius. If not, he will be tarred and stoned by already disappointed Bulls fans.

All of that to one side, this heated debate over the hiring of an inexperienced coach got me to wondering; do inexperienced coaches have a good record of winning in this league?

So as a quick-and-nasty analysis of things, I thought I would analyse what every team aspires to: getting to the NBA Finals. The Bulls are certainly a team that have expected to get out of the East in the last few seasons.

So, which NBA head coaches in their first two full seasons have made it to the Finals since 1990?

Since 1990, there have been 19 seasons of NBA Finals action. In that period there have been 18 different head coaches leading their teams (props to the 'Zen Master' Phil Jackson for taking out so many of those appearances).

Of those 18 head coaches, 7 of them were in their first or second full season in the league with the head gig. That is a pretty impressive record for newcomers.

Rick Adelman -
In his first full season as head coach he took the Trail Blazers to the 1990 Finals where they ultimately lost against Chuck Daley's Pistons in 5 games.

Mike Dunleavy Snr
- As a first year coach with the Lakers, Dunleavy took Magic Johnson and Co on to become MJ's first Finals victims in 1991.

Paul Westphal -
Another first year coach, another victim for Number 23. The 1993 Suns lost in 6 games to the Bulls.

Rudy Tomjanovich -
Rudy T took the Rockets to the Midwest Division title in his first season (1992-93), followed by back-to-back titles the next two seasons.

Byron Scott -
The former Laker star was in his second season as head coach in 2002 when he took the Nets to the first of two straight Finals defeats.

Avery Johnson
- After being groomed as Don Nelson's successor for some time, Johnson took the Mavs to the 2006 Finals in his first full season.

Mike Brown -
The Cleveland mentor was in his second season when he rode the LeBron train to the Finals in 2007.

Clearly being a former player assists the cause of young coaches and it should be noted that all of the above served their time as assistants before falling into the head gig.

What can we take from all of this? Sometimes a change at the coaching reigns is just what a team needs to take the next step and head to the Finals. Perhaps this is what the Bulls need and Vinny D will be just the answer. However, the key difference in this case is that Del Negro has no previous experience at any level and this is likely the key source of criticism from Bulls fans. The other point worth noting is that none of the above newcomers, apart from Tomjanovich, took out the title in their initial trips to the Finals and none of them have since.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Professional gambler's view on Donaghy

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A great piece on Truehoop today, interviewing a professional gambler about the likelihood that Donaghy was fixing games.

Reading this, a few things struck me. Firstly, "Voulgaris estimates there may be as few as four or five whose main source of income is betting on the NBA." Wow. What does this tell us? Is betting on the NBA that hard to get right? Are there that few a number of people that think they can successfully gamble and make a profit on NBA gambling OR are there actually hundreds more who try and fail, making significant losses every year?

Secondly, does this guy not have one of the best "jobs" in the world? I would absolutely love to earn my primary source of income through NBA betting, but a small amount of experience in the field tells me that it's not a very easy route to take.

Lastly, if he has that extensive a database on games and has that refined a system of predicting match outcomes, there should be no way that NBA GMs are not knocking on his door to hire him to their scouting staff. A guy who can predict NBA results can give the edge to a coaching staff on what they need to change to in fact them the favourite... well, it seems to me anyway.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

NBA : Today's warnings : 11 June 2008

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  • One of many fans outraged at the alleged "malleable" result of the 2002 Western Conference Finals has put together a nice little montage of one call in question. I wish more fans would come out with great substantive evidence like this, rather than usless ranting... hey, don't look at us!
  • You really do have to feel sorry for Chris Webber though, if this whole thing is true as Donaghy claims...
  • Spanish basketball fans may be happy to see the arrival of Rudy Fernandez to the Blazers, but it seems it's a one-in-one-out policy on Spaniards, with talk that the Raptors are about to buy out the injured Jorge Garbajosa. It will be disappointing for the big man, who has already been disallowed by the Raptors from playing in the Olympics over the Summer.
  • Some Blazer fans really don't want local boy Kevin Love joining the team, it would seem.
  • While the Lakers and Celtics play on, Grizzlies fans talk to Heat fans about who gets Michael Beasley. I can see how Pat Riley doesn't want a player like Beasley on his team, but I just don't envisage how the Grizzlies can give up something the Heat wants, whilst still being beneficial to their building project. Rudy Gay has to be retained. Does the Heat really want Mike Miller?
  • Does everyone remember at the start of the season when the sudden breaking news that Kevin Garnett was traded to Boston took the heat off the Tim Donaghy scandal? Now it seems Donaghy is back, taking a bit of the shine off KG's big moment. If only the NBA could have done something to push that trial out a bit further.

Donaghy saga : Gary Payton

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As the side-circus to the NBA Finals continues, so that non-Laker and Celtic fans can have some entertainment, Tim Donaghy has released some potentially juicy details.

The first (and most hotly discussed) topic is that which concerns the Lakers v Kings 2002 playoff series. Donaghy claims that our very own Mr Stern wanted the Lakers to progress and thus instructed his referees to call Game Six in the Lakers' favour, leading to a win and subsequent series-clinching Game Seven victory. Check out BallHype for 10,000 different opinions on that, ranging from "Da Lakers Will Have An Asterisk Next To Da Title" to "We Won, It Doesn't Matter."

Meanwhile, the other less discussed allegation, was as follows:

"Donaghy also claimed that a supervising referee told refs than an unidentified NBA executive did not want them to call technical fouls on star players or boot them from the game.

Donaghy told the feds the league reprimanded a ref who disobeyed that edict in January 2000 by ejecting an unnamed star player from a game in the first quarter."

A little investigation on the archives would indicate that the player in question was Gary Payton, in his prime with the Sonics. On January 25, 2000, Payton was booted in the first quarter as he blew up at referee Ted Bernhardt.

However it makes for small-time news alongside the other match-fixing allegations. It will be interesting to see what else comes out as Donaghy tries to bargain his way to leniency in sentencing.