Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Can The LeBrons Get Some Help?

Ben Wallace is a Bull. Know what that means? The Pistons are dead. That's it. I hope they enjoyed it while it lasted, but its over now.

The Pistons were succesful because of the way they played defense and the way they played together. Two people personified that in the Pistons' "hey day" and they're both gone now. First Larry Brown, and now Big Ben. They seem to think they can outscore their opponent, which is absurd, because they really can't. None of thoes guys - with the exception of maybe 'Sheed - is at his best when he's going one-on-one. At least they still have that smug, "we don't have to try hard because we have 4 All-Stars" thing going for them. God, I'm going to love watching the demise of the Pistons. I'll set the over/under at Christmas for the first Sports Center feature called "Pistons: No Longer a Well-Oiled Machine."

Anyways, that's not really the point: the point is now that the East is wide open. The Heat have a Shaq that is one year older and is going to try to play himself into shape during the season again. I can't believe that worked last year, it certainly won't work this year. Plus all those role players are content - and so is Riles. That's no good. The Pistons lost their glue and the face of their team, plus they think they are the greastest thing to happen to hoops since Naismith when they are really just a good team. New Jersey will contend again, but J Kidd is another year older, and they rely on Vince Carter in crunch time. And what happens when all the computers go missing from the film room? The Bulls are much better defensively and more athletic, but they still don't have a No. 1 guy on offense. Those are kind of important. The Zards couldn't stop St. Mary's School for the Blind, let alone a regular NBA offense, even they they are explosive offensively.

Which brings us to the Cavs.

I'm convinced that you can put almost any 4 players in the NBA with LeBron James, and he can get them to the Eastern Cnonference Finals, and probably the NBA Finals.

Think about the talent he had around him last year. Eric Snow, who asides from having the biggest head in the L (and I don't mean he's arrogant or thinks he's better than he is; his head is literally and physically massive - his bobble head is actually made to scale), doesn't do anything accept not turn it over. He's the Trent Dilfer of the NBA. He dribbles down court, passes it, and then vanishes so the Cavs can play four on five. And how nervous is everyone whenever Larry Hughes has the ball? What exactly is he trying to do? Is he a scorer? A slasher? Shooter? Finisher? I don't think anyone has any idea. Z gets his play at the beginning of every quarter, and that's it. And if Gooden isn't busting his ass, he's just another player with a bad beard. Hell, they were better when they had 3 bench players on the floor: Flip, Anderson Varajo and Donyell Marshall.

And Bron Bron took them to within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavs roster is filled with guys who make you say, "Hmm, yea...he's not bad...I'd like to have him." But you can't have an entire roster of those guys. You need some role players and some specialists. Some energy guys and some flat-out scorers.

So why aren't the Cavs doing anything in the free agent market? According to ESPN's Insider (which is a big freakin' ripoff, but we'll get to that later) here's what the Cavs are up to this off-season:
Cavs Contact Free Agents
Jul 3 - The Willoughby News-Herald reports Cavaliers spoke to the agents for Portland center Joel Przybilla, Memphis forward/center Lorenzen Wright and Mark Bartelstein about Los Angeles Lakers swingman Devean George.
Um...that's it? What is the thought process there? Isn't Przybilla just a younger Z without a ridiculous hook shot? Does Z fit in at all with LeBron? Lorenzen Wright and Devean George? What year was this written, 2001?

I realize this is a crappy free agent class, but there are some pieces worth going after. They need a PG and a shooter. They really have no one that makes you pay for doubling LeBron. And you know who would fill all those holes?

Mike James.

Asides from giving me the freedom to scream "Mike James!" like "Mike Jones!", signing the Toronto PG would be a God send for Cleveland. Think about it:

What's the penalty for doubling LeBron? Unless James makes a gorgeous play and finds some one for a layup (which he actually does pretty regualrly, the fact that his team misses 53%* of those layups doesn't seem to phase him), you're getting a jumper from some shaky shooter. Only Marshall regularly knocks down those corner threes. Mike James would amke teams pay: either by knocking down the shot, or blowing by the recovering defenders and either scoring himself or finding someone else for a lay up.

Shouldn't Cleveland be playing a little more up tempo? I know LeBron is great and all, but the half court set where he tries to score on four people is not only pretty boring to watch, but its not good basketball. That's exhausting. So get out on the break. Bron Bron is a freight train in the open court; he's virtually impossible to stop in the open court. Plus you put Hughes in a positio where he can be successful too. One problem: Eric Snow's huge head doesn't let him go very fast, plus once he looks to the right, it is really hard for him to turn that boulder on his shoulder to the left. That's not good for fast breaks. Mike James has no such problem.

He's a perfect fit. He can play the way the Cavs play now, or he can play the way the Cavs should play (Cripes, sign Speedy Claxton for all I care - just get a good, fast point guard).

The point is, the time is now. Who knows what other teams will do in the next few years. The East is ripe for the taking right now. (OK, let's be honest: the East looks weak again for years to come. But you never know.)

Signing Mike James basically puts the LeBrons in the Eastern Conference Finals, if not the Finals. C'mon! Its Mike Jones! I mean...Mike James!

Read the Rest After the Jump...

If I Could, I'd Ruin the MLB All Star Game. Even Worse Than Selig Already Has, Believe It Or Not.

Two thoughts here:

1) What, exactly, is the point of an All-Star game?
2) If I was managing an All-Star game, I would absolutely ruin it. I'd butcher it. Fans would hate me. But I'd get home field advantage in the World Series. Please believe, believe me please.

As to the first question, I'm just curious, because I think you have to figure out what the point of the game is before you can decide how to select the players.

If the game is purely an exhibition with no consequences designed entirely to entertain fans, then you let the fans decide who plays. If the game has consequences - of any kind - then I think you have to eliminate the fan vote. Either way is fine, but you just have to pick one. It says so in my rule book.

I'm convinced MLB thought that one out backwards, or didn't think it out at all. Because their All Star game is a mixture of both. And that's no good.

Setting aside the fact that an All Star game deciding home field advantage in the World Series is probably the most inane thing in sports...wait, nevermind. You can't set that aside. I know its been beat into the ground, but just think about that for a second. What was the thought process there? Were they trying to jack up ratings? Did they want to assure themselves a spot on the Stupidest Things In Sports list, counted down by Summer Sanders? What's so hard about giving the team with the better record home field? That takes, what...no thought process?And if they are tied, you go to their inter-league record or their in-league record or something. Just pick something. Cripes.

Anyway, my point was...oh right - since the game is important, you can't let fans decide. Think how important this game is. Home field. In the World Series. Fans shouldn't decide that. If they are going to decide home field, why stop there? Let them decide everything. Let them decide every day line ups, batting order, when to hit and run. These things eventually decide home field advantage...why aren't they voting on them too?

(And besides, All Star appearances are used in Hall of Fame criteria. So now fans are deciding the HoF, too. Brilliant.)

Let's face it: fans are morons. Not all of them, but most of them. They don't use criteria in deciding who to pick, they pick guys from their favorite team (as evidenced by the entire AL roster being comprised of BoSox and Yanks).

Back to me ruining to the All-Star Game:

In an All-Star game, you want to see everyone play (that is why MLB mandates a player from every franchise on the roster, no?). But if you were a manager of an All Star team, you have a very real shot at going to the World Series. Wouldn't you take that seriously? I'd throw my best pitchers all game, play my best fielders and hitters, and screw everyone else. I'd bust my balls trying to win this game. I'd take it just as seriously as a regualr season game. HOME FIELD IN THE WORLD SERIES? Are you kidding me? I'd ruin this game for that opportunity. Do you have any idea how important that is?

Every other manager in my league would hate me - if they had good players, that is. I'd keep them in all game. If Jose Contrares is still throwing a shut out in the 7th, he's going back out for the 8th. Screw this 2 innings and done crap. And if Derek Jeter is still able to walk, he's playing all nine innings. And those cute little guys from Kansas City and Pittsburgh sitting at the end of the bench? I hope they're comfy, because they aren't getting up anytime soon. I'm not screwing around. And if a manager doesn't do it this way, what does that say about his competitiveness? He really doesn't have a choice, does he?

If I was a real reporter, I'd ask both managers about this after the game. "Um, sir? Yea..I was wondering why you didn't try as hard as possible to win? Is it because you don't think you are going to the World Series? Don't you want that advantage? Isn't that kind of important?"

Honestly, what's he going to say? I'd love to hear that explanation.

Read the Rest After the Jump...