Sunday, July 29, 2012

Take Your Pick: NBA Free Agents Still on the Market

Every off-season teams get to address their long shopping list via free agency and the draft. The major pieces fall first, setting the market for the lower-tier free agents, or guys that are seen as contributors rather than stars.

This year was no different as NBA fans saw guys like Deron Williams, Roy Hibbert, and Eric Gordon set the scene for the reaming transactions in the league.

But another thing can be said about every off season-a few players somehow always manage to fall through the cracks. So here's a look at the top free agents still available:

Perhaps the best thing about Landry is his motor-it never stops. Landry is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds for his career, but exceeded those numbers in 2009-10 when he played with the Kings. In Sacramento he was able to put up 18 points and six rebounds while averaging a steal per game as well. Any team in the league could use Landry, so don't expect him to be on the market for too much longer.

Not too long after my post, Landry signed a two-year deal worth $8 million with the Golden State Warriors. He'll play behind David Lee, and give the second unit some life. 

Barbosa is one of those guys who can do a lot in a little amount of time. A guard of all trades, he can find different ways to contribute.  Although Barbosa can shoot, defend , rebound, and pass, the drawback remains that he does everything about average, and nothing great. Still, there is always a need for a guard who can do all of the above, and he'll have his pick of teams rather than just settling.

Reports say Pietrus is "moving on" from Boston, and league should take notice. Pietrus is a guy who has not only played on championship caliber teams, but big games as well. A guy not afraid to take the big shot, Pietrus has been rumored to be looking for more than the vet-min, but his best bet may be to take a one-year deal and hope for the best next season.

Martin missed half of last year because of his overseas commitment to China, where he played with another former NBA player Quincy Douby.

After signing with the Clippers, Martin saw a drop in his offensive career numbers, but showed he could still defend with the best of em' inside. Teams can roll the dice on the former number one pick, as he showed he's still got some left in the tank.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Former LA Lakers Forward Irving Thomas Finds the Most Rewarding Assist Is the One Off the Court

In every sport players come and go, some faster than others. Whether it be graciously or ugly, every athlete has to hang em' up and face the reality they can no longer play the kids game anymore.

Some athletes go on to become coaches or scouts, others tackle the media world and become broadcasters, but the majority of players are faced with adapting to a whole new world. 

Former NBA player and current LA Lakers scout Irving Thomas knows the feeling all too well, as he was faced with a similar situation when he decided to take off his jersey for the last time. 

"It took me three years to really find something after my basketball career was over," Thomas told talkinhoopz. That's just really too long for guys to transition into what we call the real world."

But Thomas isn't just a scout, he's also the president of the South Florida chapter for the National Basketball Retired Players Association,  an organization designed to assist members transition from the playing court into life after basketball.

Having dealt with those "real world" issues firsthand, Thomas can appreciate the struggle players go through once their career is behind them, and that's why he has signed on to help his fellow hardwood heroes. 

"It's not uncommon for guys to struggle after your career is over," Thomas said.  There are some stories out there that are really terrible, so I just wanted to help with that and do what I can to make sure that guys are successful in life after basketball."

For Thomas, the ultimate assist comes from helping not only former players, but future ones as well. 

In addition to his work with the NBRPA,  the former forward hosts his own basketball camp in the City of Miami Gardens-but it's not all just three man weaves and lay up lines at the Thomas camp: 

"We had a seminar last year where the kids actually got up and learned how to speak in front of the camera and be able to talk and express themselves.  If you're going to be involved in sports, you're going to be in front of the camera." 

With all the people Thomas gets involved with he should have considered being a point guard in the NBA, and while his playing career may be over, his role in the league is certainly in its prime. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yankees Land Ichiro

In a surprising move the New York Yankees have landed Ichiro Suzuki in exchange for right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.

Ichiro, now 38, is set to become a free agent at the end of this season, and was expected to finish out his career with the Seattle Mariners. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said recently he expected Ichiro to resign with the club-but so goes life in the major leagues.

Hitting .261 thus far, well off his career numbers, Ichiro brings some stability to a mismatched outfield comprised of DeWayne Wise, Andrew Jones, Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees had been rumored to be in the market for another outfielder as Brett Gardner is expected to not make it back onto the field this year. 

The Yankees didn't give up much for this low risk high reward move, and will now continue to dominate the American League. They are expected to make one or two more moves, most likely adding a pitcher in an attempt to bolster the rotation. 

Whatever moves the Yankees end up making from now until the trade deadline will be hard to compete with the on and off the field significance Ichiro will bring to the Bronx. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Quincy Douby Focused on an NBA Return

Former Rutgers standout Quincy Douby has been out of the league since the 2008-09 season, when he last played with Toronto.  Douby struggled to translate his strong collegiate play to the pro level, forcing him to go overseas and improve his game.

Douby is now playing ball in China trying to develop his game through the point guard position. An undersized two-guard by NBA standards forced teams like the Kings and Raptors to play him at the one spot, something he was not used to doing. 

On Tuesday, Douby admitted to that his brief stint in the league was mostly caused to "bad situations". Those bad situations forced him out of the league and into a Xinjiang Tigers uniform in China.

Now entering his final year with the squad, Douby feels he is confident to make his return to the NBA.

"I've been using overseas to perfect my point guard ability, so when I do go back to the NBA I'll be able to play the point guard position at a high level",  Douby said.

A scorer by nature, Douby's new skill set will be interesting to see on the pro level, as he looks to make his return next year. Although the former first round pick is just looking for another shot, he does hope to catch on with a contender.

"My agent is talking to three teams right now that are very very interested" Douby said.  "The Lakers, Hawks and Mavs are interested."

If Douby could link up with Kobe in LA or Dirk in Dallas, there's no doubt he'll not only be back, but fulfilling his dream of playing for a contender.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Linsane Off Season for the Knicks Ends with a Bang

This off season has been anything but normal for the New York Knicks.

After winning the "Bird Rights" hearing on Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak, the Knicks gained an inside advantage on resigning their top pickups from last year. Lin, a breakout star, and Novak, the best shooter in the NBA, were poised to make their return to the garden.

But things rarely go according to the script in New York.

As the Knicks pursued, and eventually struck out on Steve Nash, their attention seemed to be constantly fixated on the next best available point guard, with names like Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, and Jameer Nelson popping up in the rumor mill.

For all the rumors and speculation surrounding Lin's next mentor, there was little doubt the undrafted stud would actually leave NY, even though he was a free agent.

As the of weeks free agency dragged on, the Knicks added new (and some old) pieces to the puzzle in hopes of finally escaping the first round of the playoffs.

Steve Novak and J.R. Smith were resigned, and Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby made their returns to the tri-state area.

There is no question that the Knicks greatly improved not only their second unit, but roster as a whole.

Both Camby and Kidd bring veteran leadership and defense to a vastly depleted Knicks squad. New York was down to nearly their last point guard towards the end of last season, and Jared Jeffries served as Tyson Chandler's backup.

But throughout all the success the Knicks have enjoyed this off season, their main prize had yet to be claimed, as reports of an unhappy Lin swirled, and a Houston Rockets offer sheet surfaced.

With a 39-year old point guard at the helm, the Knicks were almost a lock to retain Lin-that was until the Rockets decided to up the ante and raise the stakes of Lin's offer sheet.

The Rockets original offer was  four years, $28.9 million, with $19 million in guaranteed money. However, after the Knicks repeatedly and publicly proclaimed they would match the offer for Lin, the Rockets upped the deal to $25 million guaranteed over three years.

This new offer, should the Knicks match, would put a death grip James Dolans' pockets, causing the franchise to be almost $17 million over the luxury tax in 2014-15. New York could match still match the offer and then trade Lin down the road before the 2014-15 season and save themselves some serious cash.

Lin has tremendous value around the league right now, and could be used as a trade chip near the deadline.

With all this in mind, the Knicks still opted for plan B, or perhaps plan Z, and acquired Felton, along with Kurt Thomas, in a sign-and-trade with the Portland Trailblazers. The deal with Felton is reportedly worth $10 million over three years.

The Knicks also declined to match Toronto's offer Saturday night with Landry Fields as expected.

With Lin possibly headed for the exit, the Knicks can start over with a new backcourt, and a new lease on life, even if the expiration date on this team seems to be right around the corner.

The Knicks have brought in enough talent to secure them the deepest team in the league.
Felton, Smith, Novak, Thomas, and Camby will just flat out play harder than any other bench in the NBA.

There is enough talent and expierience there to beat some starting units in the league. (Bobcats, Kings)

For all the drama, for all the "Linsanity", and for all the non sense that surrounded this team over the past year, New York has finally weathered the storm.

The Knicks may be looking at only a two-year window to win with this team-but hey, it will be a glorious two years as New Yorkers don't know how to live any other way.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Couple of Old-Timers Look To Give Knicks a Fresh Start


The New York Knicks will win the 2006 NBA Finals.

Seriously though, the team they have now would have been more useful back then, but that doesn't mean this squad can't compete for a title next season.

With the additions of Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby, the Knicks have added some tough veteran experience that they lacked last year. 

Kidd is one of the most respected players in the league, not to mention accomplished, and will provide more assists off the court than on. While the Knicks haven't resigned Jeremy Lin as of yet, they are expected to, and the veteran point guard will be there to mentor the rising star every step of the way.

Lin struggled against teams who keyed in on him, and his turnover woes are a serious issue. With Baron Davis often injured, and Toney Douglas non existent, the burden proved to be too heavy for Lin to lift alone last season, and saw his breakout year cut short due to injury.

Kidd will not only show Lin the ropes, like he did with J.J. Barea in Dallas, but help shoulder the load. While Kidd may be growing a white beard by the end of the year, father time hasn't gotten his grips on the new Knicks guard just yet.

Camby on the other hand will do what Jared Jeffries could not last year-anchor the second unit.
No knock to Jeffries, as every Knicks fan knows his worth, but how many times did we see him out there?

Knee issues held him to 39 games last season, which added to the workload of Chandler and Amare Stoudemire. If the Knicks are going to go deep in the post-season, they need their superstars to be fresh late in the season, and Camby will provide that.

A menace to opposing teams, and a shot blocking wizard, Camby will be a true backup to Chandler, and give the Knicks a defensive presence when their star center is out. With the addition of Camby, the Knicks will be a force defensively, as they already have two of the best defenders at their positions in Iman Shumpert and Chandler.

If the Knicks can find some solidarity, and figure out a way to make the parts work, they could be a serious contender by the end of this year, but then again, that's a big IF.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The New Look Knicks Shoot For The Stars-But Can They Grab Any?

The New York Knicks have been linked to numerous names this off-season as they search for a team to surround their superstars.

The collective efforts of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler were only good enough for a first round exit from the playoffs last season, and if New York wants to be seen as a serious contender, they have to make some roster moves to bolster the team.

The addition of Jason Kidd is a welcomed one, but not enough.

The veteran point guard will give the Knicks a solid presence on the court and in the locker room, and can alleviate some of the burden on Jeremy Lin-should New York retain him.

While Kidd will most likely use up the mid-level exception (a three-year $9.3 million package) , any offer Lin receives can be matched by the Knicks thanks to the newest "Bird Rights" ruling that allows New York to resign the guard without going over the cap.

With money tight, and few option available, the Knicks will need to move fast if they ever want to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
Veteran free agent Marcus Camby would be a welcomed addition to his former club, as the two sides will meet in Houston today.

The 2007 defensive player of the year is said to be interested in reuniting with New York, and the feeling is mutual.  Tyson Chandler cannot continue to log heavy minutes, and the Knicks need a defensive presence in the second unit now more than ever with Iman Shumpert recovering from a torn ACL.  If the Knicks can convince Camby to join the cause, then New York would most likely need to work out a sign-and-trade with Houston to secure Camby a more lucrative offer.

Another possibility for the Knicks could be Randy Foye.

Foye was an unsung hero throughout the LA Clippers season last year, and has also expressed interest in throwing on a blue and orange jersey.  The veteran two-guard averaged 11 points per game last year, but exploded on April 25 when he dropped 28 against the Knicks in a 99-93 loss at the Garden.

But Foye shouldn't be the only side interested, as the Knicks are not expected to match Toronto's 3-year $20 million offer to Landry Fields, thus leaving an hole at the shooting guard spot. With J.R. Smith recently opting out, the Knicks have no healthy shooting guards on their roster.

Other names linked to Knicks have been O.J. Mayo Rashard Lewis, Pablo Prigioni, and Raymond Felton. J.R. Smith and Steve Novak may also return, but how the Knicks acquire Kidd (via sign-and trade or using the mid-level) will shed much more clarity on what kind of room the Knicks will be working with moving forward.

Time is ticking quicker than a New York minute in the city that never sleeps, and the Knicks are on the clock.