Friday, July 13, 2007

Feels like a quiet day

Not much happening on the free agency front to report. I've been skimming various NBA related websites all day, and there just doesn't seem to be that much to talk about--certainly not Sixers related.

But if you feel the need to read something, there's been some talk about Memphis' new look and the somewhat puzzling trade made by the Spurs--a current NBA player and the rights to the best player in Europe (Luis Scola) for a European player who says he is definitely going back to Europe, a second round pick, and cash.

At that discount rate, maybe the Sixers could pick up Tim Duncan for Samuel Dalembert and a first round pick...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It is HOT!

Well, truthfully, it isn't too absurdly hot here in Boston (about 85 degrees today), but it sure felt like it was while I was playing basketball at the gym today. We played for about two hours, and by the last game I felt like I was moving in molasses.

I blame my sluggishness on growing old(er). Growing up, I'd play five hours of sports every day at overnight camp, and then most days we might even decide to also play a game of pick-up basketball under the lights. Even a few years later, high school varsity soccer practice was 2.5 hours every day of the week. Now, I play for two hours on just one hot day and I feel completely exhausted.

The one bright spot is that as tired as I was, I still had more energy left at the end of the day than the people I was playing with--most of whom are almost five years younger than I am. I guess I'm not a complete greybeard yet, but today it sure felt like I was well on my way!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer League Update

I haven't had a chance to watch any more of the Sixers' summer league games so far, but Marc Narducci has a brief summary of the action in the Philly Inquirer this morning.

The highlights? Louis Williams has been playing very well, although he still is committing too many turnovers, and Rodney Carney has picked up his game after starting slowly in summer league play. The article isn't long, so just go read the whole thing.


An article the other day reported that the Sixers were chatting with Darko Milicic about the possibility of signing him to a free agent contract. I'm all in favor of pursuing Darko--he's still young, he's shown some promising flashes--but I'd be very hesitant to give him anywhere near the size contract that he's reportedly seeking ($10 million/year).

Pursuing Milicic puts me in mind of the old children's game "Marco Polo." It's the game where one person is "it," they shut their eyes, call out "Marco," and all the other players yell out "Polo." The player who is "it" then tries to chase them down by following the voices. (I always played this game in the water, but I assume you could also play it on land.) The point is, you were always groping ahead pretty blindly. Sure, you had some idea of what you might find based on the shouts of "polo," but there was no guarantee that anyone would still be there when you arrived.

With Milicic, the flashes of talent he's shown in the past (his shouts of "polo") give you a hint of what you might be getting, but there's also no guarantee that those flashes of talent will actually come out once you sign him. He's been in the league four years already, so the next year or two will probably tell the story on whether or not he'll ever move beyond being a tantalizing prospect. If I was the Sixers, I'd try and sign him for close to the mid-level exception ($5.4 million). If there's no way to get him for that amount, then it might be worthwhile paying closer to the $10 M he's asking for, but only for a one or two year contract with team options for extra years. That way the Sixers have him if he pans out, and they aren't bogged down with a bad contract if he doesn't.

Free agents can start signing with teams today. If Milicic signs right away, then it means he found someone to take his (too high) asking price. The longer he goes without being signed, the better the Sixers' chances are to get him at a more reasonable price. Let's hope!

[Update: First, I've changed the time stamp on this post to reflect when I actually posted it, not when I first started a draft (it now shows a Wednesday time stamp rather than Tuesday). Second, according to reports in Thursday's papers, Milicic has agreed to a 3-year, $21 million contract with the Grizzlies--pretty close to the sort of contract I was arguing for in the original post. Can I be an NBA GM now?]

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sixers: The longest of long-shots (almost)

With so much of the NBA currently congregating in Vegas, I guess it's only appropriate that Marty Burns at decided to share the current odds for winning the 2008 NBA title. At 100-1, the Sixers aren't last (the Hawks and Grizzlies are both 150-1), but they sure are close.

My initial reaction upon seeing how poor the Sixers' odds were was to think that Vegas must have been vastly overrating some teams. I just didn't believe that the Sixers could really be the third worse team in the NBA. But I started to look at the teams listed ahead of the Sixers to pick out the ones that were ranked too high, and I came to the sad realization that Vegas is probably correct.

The Sixers didn't really pick up anyone this off-season that is going to make an immediate impact (at least so far they haven't, nor are there any indications that they are going to). On the other hand, the teams Vegas oddsmakers listed immediately ahead of the Sixers (Knicks, Bobcats, Celtics, Timberwolves) all made acquisitions that are projected to pay immediate dividends. The Knicks picked up Zach Randolph, the Bobcats acquired Jason Richardson, the Celtics traded for Ray Allen, and the Timberwolves drafted Corey Brewer.

As the season gets closer and opening day rosters become more settled I'll take a closer look and make some predictions, so it's very possible that I'll end up being more positive about the Sixers' chances than I am at the moment, but for now it looks like this coming season is going to be a very long one.

There's nothing I hate more in pick-up basketball...

...then having a guy on your team who starts barking directions at everyone else on the team when he doesn't have any idea what he's talking about.

I had one of them on my team yesterday (I warned you that I'd be talking about my pick-up basketball games), and it wasn't particularly pretty. Four of us had played together a decent amount before, so I was rubbed the wrong way from the very beginning when on the first play he starts giving us all directions without any concept of what each player's relative strengths were.

The low point was definitely reached when Mr. X had the ball at the top of the key. Two of us were on the right wing, and somehow in the confusion of transition all five defenders had shifted over to guard the three of us. That left two of our players wide open on the left-hand side of the court, but Mr. X just continued staring to our side of the floor, completely oblivious to what was going on (as a side note: the two wide open players were the two women on our team, but I don't think that had anything to do with his decision not to pass to them. They were both good jump shooters, and I really think he was just oblivious to where people were on the floor.). Finally, I yelled at him, "Swing the ball! They're wide open!" He stared at me, then finally passed the ball to one of the open people--by which time, of course, the defense had adjusted. He then yelled at me "That's unbelievable," to which I yelled back, "It is unbelievable! There are two wide open people and you won't pass them the ball!"

Now, it might not have been the smoothest move to yell at him like that considering how poorly I had been playing (my defense, especially, had been atrocious), but in the grand scheme of pick-up basketball arguments I don't think this one really qualified as particularly harsh or memorable. Apparently Mr. X viewed it a little differently, because after the game he refused to slap my hand when I gave him the customary "good game." Oh well, such are the trials and tribulations of playing pick-up basketball.

I know you're all sitting there thinking, "Wow, Sam. Thanks for sharing such an interesting anecdote." Okay, I know that's not what you're really thinking, but too bad--(cue music) it's my party (basketball blog), and I'll cry (complain) if I want to...