Fear The Beard No More

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

There I was, standing in the student section on the 40 yard line of the Notre Dame-OU game, when I received a text message telling me the news. James Harden traded to Houston. 

Naturally, I began to ignore the great game and missed the Man’ti Teo game clinching interception so that I could check Twitter to find out if my favorite player had been traded. 

You know the rest the story. It was true. This trade was OKC’s ‘welcome to the NBA moment.’ I felt the NBA commercials should say “Where Business Happens.” 

A couple quick thoughts on the actual trade…

  • Houston is getting a top 20 player in the league. Unfortunately for Houston, they are getting a great player in a position (SG) that wasn’t terrible on their team last year. They still lack veteran leadership and a scoring post threat. They should be able to compete for the 8th seed in the Western Conference should Dallas and Minnesota stumble as expected with Dirk and Love out for a few weeks. 
  • This trade marks the first time in NBA history where a team that was on the cusp of a championship blew itself up and got arguably worse. Never has a key member been traded like this. 
  • OKC FANS: DO NOT BLAME HARDEN OR CALL HIM GREEDY. Harden’s market value blew off the roof during the San Antonio series and in the Olympics. When he is already one of the top 5 shooting guards in the league (Only Kobe, Wade clearly ahead), that pumps up his market value even more. Simple supply and demand. There is a high demand for a 23 year old shooting guard who got snubbed from the All Star team and was on the 2012 Olympic team. 
  • Imagine how Harden felt these past 3 years. First, he is drafted high with the third pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Look at the other guys from his draft, Tyreke Evans was a prominent player who won Rookie of the Year. Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry are the “Franchise Players” for their teams. Harden also barely made the teams for the Freshman/Sophomore games at All Star Weekend. These other guys have been in the spotlight for their franchises for 3 years, while Harden has served as third banana in OKC. 
  • Everyone talks about how Harden should have sacrificed…He already did. He came off the bench for the last 3 years. How many top 5 first rounds picks are willing to do that? 
  • This was the only time in Harden’s career that he would have leverage at his contract negotiations arguably. 
  • And yes, Harden did mention sacrificing money because this was a dynasty budding, as well as his family. I have no idea what to comment about that. Just proves that the NBA is a business…bottom line. 
  • OKC had enough money to get the max that Harden wanted. They made $30-35 million in a lockout shortened season. That’s at least $45 Million in a normal season. Money should not be an issue when you have the chance to win championships. The chance to win on this grand stage is extremely rare in the NBA..if you’re Sam Presti, you have to pony up and beg Clay Bennett for the money to pay ‘The Bearded One.’

With all those points in mind, the blame should be pointed to OKC for panicking when Harden and his agent didn’t take their best offer. OKC should have said ok we’ll keep you for one more year and come back to this issue next summer. Who knows maybe by then, OKC will have won a championship with this core? Sam Presti couldn’t wait and risk letting Harden go without getting anything in return. 

 

A reliable source that I read online said that Presti offered this contract and said if you do not accept this then you are going to Houston. I bet that Harden and his agent felt like this was a bluff. Just another part of the negotiations. And that’s why Harden was so shocked when he came to Houston in those first interviews…you could see it in his face. 

So should OKC fans be upset with management that they did not just give Harden the contract he wanted? No. The Thunder got a great return on Harden and got as much for him as the Magic did for Dwight Howard arguably. 

 

Here’s a couple of key points that I have found online in the aftermath of the trade. 

  • Darnell Mayberry: “I contend that the Thunder was overvaluing Harden to begin with. He was a nice player, an important player. But he was third banana, a banana benefiting by playing mostly against subs while succeeding at other times while flanked by Kevin freaking Durant and Russell doggone Westbrook! Yet he wanted to be paid like a No. 1 option. Again, so it’s not misunderstood, Harden was valuable. But he wasn’t that valuable. OKC, however, flirted with paying him as though he is. The Thunder did more than flirt, actually. I’d call what the Thunder did making it to third base. And if OKC would have slide into home risking that type of money it undoubtedly would have been the biggest blunder we’ve seen yet.” 
  • Darnell Mayberry: “Not piling on to Harden here but just offering more perspective. Harden immediately will go from playing in front of 18,000 fans a night to 14,000. He just went from being featured on national television a league maximum 25 times to just two. He probably just lost his spot on the 2016 Olympic team (excluding rookie Anthony Davis, Deron Williams and Kevin Love were the only 2012 Olympians on Team USA from non-playoff teams. In 2008, Michael Redd and Dwyane Wade were the only Team USA members coming off non-playoff seasons). His enjoyable Foot Locker commercials are in jeopardy. And his future chances of making the All-Star team just took a huge hit (he was never going to be voted a starter by the fans, and coaches historically reward winning when deciding on the reserves). That’s a tough potential fall from grace.” 
  • Adrean Wojnarowski: 

    “After turning down a $52 million extension several days ago, Harden’s agent, Rob Pelinka, flew from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City on Friday for a final sit-down with Presti. He wanted a max contract of four years, $60 million for his client, and had come to Oklahoma City to push management as far as it would go on an offer.

    Before sitting down a final time with Pelinka, Presti became more serious in his discussions with Morey. Houston wanted Harden badly, believed he would evolve into a transcendent franchise star for a championship-caliber team and planned to award him a five-year maximum contract worth nearly $80 million. So, Presti laid out what he wanted for Harden and the original price was steep: Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lamb and three first-round picks, including Houston’s own in 2013.

    Across 72 hours and culminating on Friday night, the deal became this: Martin, Lamb and two first-round picks, including a guaranteed plumb lottery pick via Toronto. Before Presti sat down with Pelinka on Saturday morning to make his final offer of $54 million over four years, the Rockets were made to understand: If Harden turns it down, your long-awaited star is on his way to Texas.”

     

There’s a lot to figure out about the Peyton Manning situation. So let’s start from the very beginning.

After the Indianapolis Colts earned the number 1 pick in the NFL draft this spring, they decided to clear house and give the keys to Andrew Luck, QB from Stanford. Luck is the most polished quarterback since Peyton Manning going into a draft. I understand how Indianapolis moved away from Manning and decided to look to the future rather than the past. It’s just very ironic that Luck pushed out Manning….who pushed out Tim Tebow (more to come on that later in this post).

Before we get started, remember not blame Peyton, Peyton is a team player and will do whatever it takes for the team to win. (Sounds like what Tebow wants?) Manning said “I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is, what an awesome year it was. If Tim Tebow is here, I’m going to be the best teammate. If other opportunities are presented to him, I’m going to wish him the best.” Peyton also elaborated that he will be the best teammate and will do whatever it takes to win, and would do so in any capacity he could help in. Total Pro.

Image

I wasn’t surprised that Denver decided to pursue Manning. He’s a Future Hall of Famer and a total professional. He is what every franchise hopes their quarterback can become.

I was just a little bit surprised that John Elway, Vice President of Operations for the Denver Broncos, decided that he would blow off Tim Tebow like he did. I always knew that Elway was not a fan of Tebow. He never embraced Tebow-mania. He sat in the suites at the playoff game against Pittsburgh and cheered for Tebow begrudgingly. Elway always wanted Tebow out because he wasn’t hand picked by him.

Tebow was the former Broncos head coach’s pick (Josh McDaniels). McDaniels was the one who supported Tebow and drafted him in the first round. YET even McDaniels gave up on Tebow. McDaniels never felt comfortable starting Tebow and is showed. After Tebow’s rookie season where he showed lots of potential and won a few games to end the season & McDaniels was fired, the new Broncos coach, John Fox,  decided last summer that he was the team’s third best quarterback (behind Brady Quinn & Kyle Orton). He felt that Tebow had awful fundamentals and was not worthy of being the team’s starter.

Yet midway through the season, the Broncos looked dead in the water. They played unmotivated and were not winning. The fans spoke and called for Tebow. Fox put Tebow in the game and although the  team lost to the Chargers, he pumped some energy into the team. Tebow brought the passion back into a dead franchise. Although he plays an unconventional game, although his stats are awful, although his PER is among the worst in the league, Tebow is a winner. He brought the Denver Broncos back from the dead. He pumped passion into the team, the fan base and NFL. Tebow deserves to be the Denver Broncos starting quarterback. Tebow saved John Fox’s job and pushed Elway into a corner to support him as the franchise’s long term answer to the quarterback position. Elway always weaseled his way out of the corner. As great as Peyton is, Tebow is the future. Tebow had the fan base and the team on his side. Denver may have Peyton for 3 years, but they could have had Tebow for 15. Tebow is a transcendent athlete that is a once in a decade.

Elway never gave Tebow his props. Elway said that “Tebow provided a spark in the franchise and will work hard in the offseason to try to be our quarterback of the future.” What more must a quarterback do, John? Win a playoff game? Lead the team back from the dead? Be better than you at one point in your career, John? Why not give the young quarterback a chance to grow? As the Broncos once did with you, Mr. Elway.

Image

Apparently that is not enough.

Nevertheless, Tebow is out in Denver. Peyton is In.

When Tebow was told that Peyton was going to be the starting quarterback and they were signing for him, Tebow said “That’s Great. We have to sign him, it’s Peyton Manning.”

Who says that? Tebow should have said ‘You guys never trusted me. You guys never wanted me to be the Broncos quarterback. You guys never wanted me to do well. You guys never supported me. And now you replace me with a 36 year old quarterback who may never be the same again after his neck injury.”

Yet Tebow smiled and said “Denver has to sign Peyton.”

What a complete and total pro. He understands that Denver was never going to be a proper home for him because Elway would never give Tebow a nod of confidence. Tebow smiled and just rolled with the punches like he always does. He just does what he thinks is the right thing to do. He says the right thing and praises God in the meantime. I can’t knock him for that. I respect him for standing up in what he believes in while being a professional.

Image

Overall, this move is the best for everyone.

Peyton has the chance to be Elway’s buddy and finish off one of the greatest careers ever with another Super Bowl win(s).

John Elway gets rid of Tebow, a quarterback that he despised and never wanted to do well.

Tebow gets to be traded to a team that really WANTS HIM AS THEIR STARTING QUARTERBACK.

Overall, as much as I wanted Tebow to win long term in Denver, this is the best move for everybody.

It’s a win-win-win.

Shut Up Nick

Image

I’m just Tebowing in my living room, hoping Tebow makes it to the right home for him to flourish as a NFL quarterback.

Welcome one and welcome all!
Let me educate you on the NBA and update you on how some teams look from around the league. I’ll attack the Western Conference first then hit up the eastern.

Western Conference Initial Thoughts

-Oklahoma City Thunder are good. REAL good. Kendrick Perkins looks like a whole new man. Of course, KD and Russ are studs. I look to see James Harden to score close to 19 points per game this season. The turnover bug has been a huge problem for Westbrook in their first two games..Thing is, it’s just his game. His style of basketball is and always will be turnover filled. He will turn the ball over and then make a great play in the lane. It’s just what he does. Look for the Thunder to Make the Finals this year and win 50 games. 50 Games is incredible in a 66 game season by the way.

-The mavs need help. I do not know what is wrong with them….oh wait, it’s the roster. Brendan Haywood is a backup in this league and so is Vince Carter. Carter is over the hill and looks like he has nothing left in the tank. He is well known for being one of the biggest wastes of talent of all time. He doesn’t practice hard and never developed his game when he was young and one the the brightest stars in the NBA. Bad habits die hard. Now he’s old and doesn’t like to practice. He will be waived by February. The Mavs need to sign one of the NBA players stuck in China such as JR Smith or Kenyon Martin. I Expect Lamar to fit in nicely with Jet and Dirk.

-LA Lakers. Need depth. Who is their fourth best player? Josh McRoberts? Metta World Peace? Any team with them as your fourth best player will not win a lot of games. I expect the Lakers to pull a desperation trade in an attempt to please Kobe Bryant. If I am Mitch Kupchak, I trade for Brandon Jennings. He is a talented young point gaurd who needs a larger market.

-LA Clippers. Looked impressive in opener. Should win a lot of games this year and go deep in the playoffs. THe battle for LA should be on.

-San Antonio Spurs. Pop knows how to coach in a lock out season. After the last lock out shortened season, the Spurs won their first championship to kickstart their mini dynasty.

-Memphis Grizzlies. I expect them to be a top 5 team in the west. Their only issue is figuring out what to do with Rudy Gay. Trade him or try to work in him as a complimentary piece?

-New Orleans Hornets. The trade with LA Lakers will scar this franchise for a long time. It will be remembered forever. They took the better trade with the Clippers and should be a fairly awful team this season. They have a nice trade piece in Chris Kaman and his cap friendly expiring contract. Should finish with 20 wins. if they are lucky.

-Portland Trailblazers. This franchise looks to enter a new era, post-Brandon Roy. They had the offseason pick up of the year in my opinion in Jamal Crawford for 2 years $10 million. Such a nice steal. Gerald Wallace will have a great season along side last year’s all star snub in Aldrich.

-Houston Rockets. Still mad that they didn’t get Pau Gasol in the LA-NO trade. Would have been perfect for the deepest team of mediocre talent in the league. They are a full 15 deep team. Being in the middle of the league is the worst a franchise can do. You either want to have the high draft picks and be awful or be really good and a championship contender. Otherwise might as well blow it up…That’s what I suggest if Trades cannot be made by Houston.

-Denver Nuggets. Have a great 10 man deep team. I look for them to surprise a lot of people this season and maybe push George Karl to be Coach of the Year.

- Sacramento Kings. They have a lot of nice young pieces. I am curious to see if Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette can work together. Will there be enough shots to go around with the two of them and DeMarcus Cousins? We’ll see…

-Golden State. New coach. Same Players. No Defensive Players. Coach Wants Defense. No one currently fits the coach’s coaching philosophy. Not a lot of wins for Curry and Ellis this season.

-Phoenix Suns. They have Steve Nash and nothing else. No young talent besides Brook Lopez. Might as well trade Nash and get fifty cents on the dollar. Will Struggle this season and will end up in the bottom third of the rankings.

-Minnesota Timberwolves. Coach Adelman will have this team working hard every night this season. He is known to get the most out of very mediocre talent. He will install lots of cuts to the basket that will get easy points for this team. Adelman has some interesting talent to deal with. Between Rubio and Derrick Williams, I think this team is easily the most interesting in the league after the Clippers. Prediction: Rubio Will be a Knick once his contract is over in Minnesota. You heard it from me first!

-Utah Jazz. Not a lot going for them. Enes Kanter is going to be a nice talent in the league. Dark horse for rookie of the year. Otherwise…it’s a bad situation in Utah. They’ll regret not trading up to draft Jimmer.

Playoff Prediction: 

1. Oklahoma City

2. LA Clippers

3. Memphis

4. Dallas

5. Denver

6. Portland

7. LA Lakers

8. Minnesota

As every sports fan knows, the NBA is locked out until who knows when. Some players are taking their talents overseas (Deron Williams, Nenad Kristic, Jordan Farmar, Timofew Mozgov, Sasha Vujacic, Nicholas Batum) while others are considering it (Kobe). Yet some have resisted the urge to go overseas just to cash in the large paycheck….well at least thus far, who knows if they’ll give in and go play when the actual season is being canceled. Kevin Durant, the next face of the NBA, has taken his talents home to Washington DC to play with some local legends, fellow NBA players (Michael Beasley, John Lucas III), and D-1 college players. He has played 3 games, highlighted by his 66 point explosion at Rucker Park. Rucker Park is well known as the most famous street court in the world and is the crown jewel of street courts. This park brings out all the local DC fans to watch some great talent on the court play, talk smack, and show off their skills. One thing I noticed in this video is that their is the token white guy on the sidelines, other than that it’s your idea of a typical black street basketball game. Pretty sick stuff in my opinion. I wish I could play there. Without further ado, here is Durant at Rucker park.

 

It’s been a while since I have posted and I just have a couple of thoughts on this tonight’s draft. It’s sad because this is the last real sporting event at least in terms of NBA for more than likely a long time. SO enjoy it basketball fans.

What will Cleveland do?
They have to take Kyrie Irving at number one to start the rebuilding process that was created after “The Decision” and “LeCoward James aka The Frozen One.” This leaves Minnesota and David Kahn with the number two pick. They should take Derrick Williams with the number two pick, but they already have a ton of players who can play the 4 position including Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic. It’s gonna be a stockpiling of players at a position and a fight for playing time. Minnesota needs to trade out of this position. David Kahn, Minnesota GM, needs to pull the trigger on the trade.
A couple of ideas are to either LA Lakers for Lamar Odom, Phoenix for Steve Nash (your mentor to Ricky Rubio, whom I think is WAY overrated), or San Antonio for Tony Parker (who is only leaving because he cheated on his wife with Brent Barry’s and that isn’t the “Spurs way”).

3. Utah has to take Jimmer Fredette. He has to be in a Utah Jazz uniform or I will be incredibly sad. Although, I don’t want to have him on the Jazz if I am a Thunder fan (which I am), I can’t live in a world where Jimmer isn’t on the Jazz playing alongside of Gordon Hayward. I just can’t.

Cleveland should trade around the number four pick or just take Enes Kanter. Kanter is a great practice player who reminds many people of (brace for it) Darko Milicic. He works hard in practice and looks amazing until he steps on the court, which hasn’t happened often considering he was ineligible at Kentucky and only has played 2 real games since high school. He’s a huge gamble and is a high risk, high reward player. Cleveland needs slam dunk prospects which is why I think they have to trade this pick to the highest offer. Regardless, I have no doubts Dan Gilbert will make the right decision. He’s one of the best owners in the league and will prove it. Mark my words.

Let’s skip down to the Thunder. I think they take an international prospect and ship him out for a couple of years like they did with Serge Ibaka. Rumor has it that Sam Presti is shopping around backup point gaurd, Eric Maynor. I don’t believe that Maynor is someone you want to trade. He’s a great backup guard who changes the pace from Westbrook and he brings different elements to the game. Presti apparently wants to get a lottery pick, which doesn’t make sense considering that this is a really really weak draft. This may be the weakest draft since 2000 where Kenyon Martin was taken first overall. I look for Presti to keep his pick or just ship it off entirely for future draft picks. If Presti does keep it, look for him to draft Tyler Honeycutt or Nikola Mirotic or Serbia. Write it down and Shut Up Nick!

What’s good Shut Up Nick Readers!?

Let’s take a look at the Ohio State debacle.

Jim Tressell knew that several of his players, including star quarterback Terrell Pryor, was selling autographed memorabilia to a booster. This all happened during the course of the team’s season which cultivated in their winning the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. I’m not going to go into much detail about what happened since we all know the story by now. If you don’t, feel free to check it out on espn.com….which is the wal mart of the sports world by the way

Anyhow, Tressel lied about knowing that his players were inelligable, yet decided to play them anyway instead of punishing them and informing the NCAA. Yes, Tressell has been suspended for 5games and fined over $250,000. In the grand scheme of things, how much is 250 k when you make 3.5 million per year? Almost nothing..

By Tressel admitting to the fact that he cheated after the NCAA caught him for having his band in the cookie jar, he deserves to be smacked by the NCAA with a big time punshiment. Ohio State deserves to have their wins vacated from last season including their thrilling bowl victory.

The most equal comparison to the Tressel scenario is the one in Tennessee with former men’s basketball head coach, Bruce Pearl. Pearl had lied to NCAA investigators when they came knocking at his door. It’s eerily similar to what Tressel has done. Pearl had great success at Tennessee, reviving the program to elite status and helped it emerge out of the shadow of Pat Summit’s women’s team. Tressell will not get fired at the Ohio State University, but he should get severely punished since his equal, Bruce Pearl was fired.

Look at former Oklahoma State standout wide receiver, Dez Bryant. He lied to the NCAA about having a lunch with Oklahoma State Heisman trophy winner, Barry Sanders. His punishment? He was suspended for an entire season.

Tressel should not get off easy. He deserves a similar punishment from the NCAA and should not get treated better because he’s one of the best coaches in the college game. My opinion will never be the same of Tressel. He wasn’t just a coach to many people, but a role model. He wrote a book titled “The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life,” where he wrote about about the fundamentals for success and how to do it the right way. What irony! I think the NCAA should punish Tressel for an entire football season to send a message that lying will not be tolerated no matter what your title is in college athletics. The NCAA should send similar punishments to it’s players like Dez Bryant as it should to legendary coaches like Jim Tressel.

Well, ok, maybe that’s an over exaggeration, but tonight’s win was huge for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 101-94 in Denver. This was a little preview of what the matchup between these two teams will be with this four and five seed playoff matchup.

This is why we traded for him.The Nuggets were red hot going into tonight’s game and were 15-4 since trading perennial All Star and whinny baby, Carmelo Anthony. Did anyone anticipate that? I certainly did not. The Nuggets were also 9-0 at home without Melo. Shut up Nick, they were playing easy home games. Since when were games against the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies easy games? Not this year. They have proven that they don’t need a star to win and will continue to impress every NBA fan. Meanwhile, Melo is struggling in New York and still plays the worst defense in the NBA. The Knickerbockers are a mere 11-12 since acquiring Carmelo Anthony. Forget About it New York. You won’t do well in the playoffs this season. Tell D’Antoni to learn how to coach defense and I’ll give this team a shot at winning in the playoffs. The Nuggets are the winners of this trade thus far and it’s not even close. They will be a scary out for the OKC THunder, but I expect the Thunder to win in 6 games.

Kendrick Perkins will dominate the paint and Kevin Durant will be too much for the Nuggets to defend. They have nobody on their roster that can stop him. Tonight’s win actually was Kevin Durant’s first win in Denver. This was the first time the Thunder have ever won a game in Denver technically. The last time the Thunder won a game in Denver, they were still known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The only member left over from that team that won in Denver? Nick Collison. This was a huge step tonight for the Thunder and it will give them loads of confidence since they will know that they can win in Denver.

As always, thanks for reading Shut Up Nick! for analysis on games and current events in the NBA, MLB, NFL, NCAA sports, etc.

Feel Free to share with friends.

-Nick D.