Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Artest to Houston

Well, what to make of the Artest trade? My first thought is that he's more trouble than he's worth and a known ball-stopper, so why bother?

But the more I thought about it, the more I'm convinced that Houston is the perfect place for him. Consider the following:

- Artest seems to really like Rick Adelman.
- Donte Green was literally never going to play behind Tracy McGrady
- The future first round pick will likely be mid to late 20's (teams don't even want this pick anymore because of the cap hold; they'd rather have an early second rounder to play with)
- Battier and Artest form one of the best defensive forward tandems in recent NBA history
- Artest can operate on the block, freeing Yao at the high post and T-Mac on the perimeter
- He has the kind of mixed bag persona that could ruin the Rockets ... or take to them to the next level, and at this point, you take the risk

Of course, Artest is coming off an injury -plagued season and now joins McGrady and Yao to form the most brittle trio in the league. And Houston now has three guys who play best at the same position (small forward, although all are versatile enough to fill out positions 2-through-4, certainly). But at Artest's salary and with his skill set ... why not?

Let's just hope he and Rafer Alston don't kill each other.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bayless = Monta Ellis?

So, we just had a baby girl which is very exciting, but also why the blog has dried up for the past week (and will remain so for another week, I would venture). But between changing diapers and swaddling blankets, I wanted to note that my Blazers are looking very smart indeed for their draft day moves that brought Jerryd Bayless to the Rose City. Of course, everyone pretty much assumed that anyway since Pritchard is a draft witch and I pretty much assumed it since I had Bayless #3 on my list of available prospects in this year's draft ... but it's nice to see some proof. Bayless is destroying the Vegas Summer League right now and looking like Monta Ellis with better defensive awareness and effort. He has the same limited "pure point guard" instincts, but I'm just not concerned about that with Brandon Roy (and Rudy Fernandez) on the floor. I mean, if Portland could have snagged Ellis this summer and paid up the rate of the #11 pick in the draft, how do you think the rest of the league would have felt? I suspect we might be about to find out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Chalmers Report, Vol. 4

I don't want to break tradition here, so I'm whipping up another Chalmers Report for the final day of the Orlando Summer League.

Super Mario strugged with his shot a bit today in a 73-69 loss to the Magic, as he went just 3-for-9 and 1-for-4 from three. The said, he still got to the line with shocking ease (he shot like 60 free throws in the five games) and finished with 15 points while completely overwhelming Orlando's Cliff Hammonds on defense. Not his best game of the week, but it was still another solid performance.

Grade: B

(By the way, Courtney Lee was fantastic in this one, going for 30 and 5 and displaying a very nice midrange game. With him and Pietrus, the Magic made some dramatic and needed upgrades from Bogans, Evans, and Dooling. I stand by my prediction that they will be in the Finals next year.)

Chalmers Report, Vol. 3

An interesting Chalmers Report tonight. Thursday's action featured a pretty exciting matchup between Super Mario and Russell Westbrook, who has been terrific (other than a 2-for-13 outing yesterday) in Orlando as well. The outcome was a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, Chalmers played fewer minutes than in any other contest (due to the fact that the game became a blowout), but still finished with 11-4-4 on his best shooting performance to date. And the Heat destroyed the, um, No Names from OKC 101-71.

On the other hand, Westbrook really gave Chalmers trouble with his size and strength and reiterated what I've long assumed - that Mario is going to be much more effective on smaller, quicker players, where his effort and speed allows him to stay in front, while his length and quick hands force the turnovers. Like Rondo, Chalmers will probably have a hard time against the Westbrooks. But hey, that's what D Wade is for.

Besides, there is no need to dwell on the 19 points that Westbrook tallied when more praise for Chalmers was pouring in.

Lawrence Frank called him one of the three best players (if not the best) in the Orlando Summer League. Larry Bird said that he was the steal of the draft. Miami GM Randy Pfund proudly stated that they gave up a lot to get Chalmers. And Vinny Del Negro acknowledged that summer league results are hard to rely on but that Mario is one of those guys that "stick out."

As Adam Sandler once said on one of his comedy CD's, "Looking good out there. We're all looking good."

Grade: A-

Prediction: Josh Smith in L.A.

Despite the fact that the Clippers are the Clippers and the Hawks have the opportunity to match any offer sheet that Josh Smih signs, I just have the sneaking suspicion that the athletic lefty is going to La-La Land. I can already imagine Baron Davis throwing him lobs.

It would certainly take the sting away from the Elton Brand defection and I have to say, at this point, the cursed Clips deserve him more than the disfunctional Hawks.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Chalmers Report, Vol. 2

Good news, Heat fans. Your team just signed Our Guy Chalmers. Terms were not disclosed, but this was as Anne as the nose on plain's face (to quote Arrested Development. The Chalmers love fest rolls on ...

As for the action on the court, Chalmers struggled a bit with his jumper (2-for-8) and his handle (7 turnovers), but still went for 23 and 6 and went a ridiculous 17-for-17 from the line.

Grade: B+

Chalmers Report, Vol. 1

I'm going all in. Mario Chalmers is my new favorite player and to honor that, I'm launching the Chalmers Report, which I hope will be a regular feature on this space.

Volume 1 is devoted to Super Mario's second professional game, which took place in the Orlando Summer League earlier today. As I expressed in a previous post, I am a skeptic when it comes to summer leagues, but I still think it has some value as an additional lens through which we can view players. And the summer league lens continues to make Chalmers look good.

His Heat team went to 2-0 with a 90-81 victory over the Nets today and this time, there was no doubt about the primary factor in the win. Unlike the first contest, which saw Beasley dominate, this one was all Chalmers. In fact, Beasley was just as brutal this time as he was brilliant yesterday as he went 1-for-13 from the floor with 7 fouls and 5 turnovers. (Yikes.)

Our guy Chalmers (I'm calling him "our" guy instead of just "my" guy after the outpouring of positivity for M.C. in yesterday's comments sections), on the other hand, was terrific again, going for 19 and 9 with 3 steals. Plus, he hounded ballhandlers all over the court yet again and is looking like a holy terror in the making on the defensive end of the floor.

Grade: A

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mario Chalmers' Press Man, At Your Service

Just wanted to drop a note to boast about my boy Chalmers.

Everyone is talking about the 28 that Beasley thew up today - and for good reason - but Super Mario quietly showed why I've been so excited about his pro prospects. I managed to watch a good portion of the game on TiVo and filled in any gaps with some fantastic scouting from my boy Josh Stump.

The verdict: Chalmers is going to be a huge factor for the Heat next year. He showed better playmaking skills than even I expected, his jumper still looked quiet and consistent (as always), and his D was just tremendous. He was physical and quick and doing all the Rondo kinds of things that Seattle spent the #4 pick hoping to get from Russell Westbrook. In fact, his defense was so stifling that it left everyone unsure of how to comment on Derrick Rose's performance. The Bulls' new franchise point guard had a rough outing, going just 3-for-8 with five turnovers. So ... bad showing, right? Not so fast. I think he was just having a tough time with the "straight jacket!" (Kevin Harlen voice) that Chalmers had him in. I think we have to wait and see on Rose. (And that's assuming we care at all about summer league results. See: Banks, Marcus. See: Belinelli, Marco.)

But I don't think we have to wait and see on Chalmers. He has been removed from the college courts where he served as the undersized shooting guard on a loaded Kansas team and transplanted in a bigger, faster setting, where he himself looks bigger and faster, and, well, better.

I'm very excited, to say the least.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

B Diddy Runs the City

Baron Davis is coming home.

The L.A. native just agreed to a five year, $65 million deal to play with the Clippers. This comes amid speculation that Elton Brand will take a slight pay cut and re-up with the Clips as well in an attempt to pull a "Mini Celtics" and take the franchise from zeroes to heroes overnight.

Will it work? That remains to be seen, but I'm not going to be among the many doubters who will point to things like a thin bench, limited leftover cap space, and a lack of winning pedigree among the star players. That's because people were saying the same exact things about Boston last year, and, as we saw in Beantown, the hunger for a title can transform a whole lot of things.

I expect L.A. to make a run at a few Posey/P.J. types such as Ruben Patterson (had a brief sting for the Clippers last year) and Alonzo Mourning. Heck, maybe they will even go after Posey and P.J. The bottom line is that the new vogue in the NBA is not to glom on to an established contender ala Michael Finley to the Spurs or Malone/Payton to the Lakers, but rather to get a bunch of vets together and go rejuvenate a dreadful franchise. So I'd be shocked - shocked - if people don't follow Baron and Brand to the Staples Center.

Throw in the fact that they have Chris Kaman at center, Al Thornton at small forward, and the Mobley/Gordon duo at shooting guard and you could argue that they have the pieces to finish in the top four in the West and then make a run at a title.

I know it seems crazy that the idea of adding one oft-injured, shot-mongering point guard would be enough to warrant title aspirations, but I'm telling you, this is the new way to go about buying up these O'Brien trophies.