NBA Salary Cap Analysis, Part 1: Free Agents Over The Next Three Years

Let's quickly review how free agents and the NBA salary cap works... starting with this post by Cosellout, entitled "The Salary Cap Myth". How many premier free agents switch teams via free agency? According to Cosellout, less than one per season over the last decades. In fact, here's the entire list:

Allan Houston (NYK)
Shaquille O'Neal (LAL)
Steve Nash (Pho)
Tracy McGrady (Orl)
Dikembe Mutumbo (Atl)
Vlade Divac (Sac)
Carlos Boozer (Utah)
Gilbert Arenas (Wash)
Mehmet Okur (Utah)
Chauncey Billups (Det)
Rashard Lewis (Orl)

The most shocking thing, looking at that list? One, that Atlanta actually was once able to land a free agent... actually, twice, if you count the Joe Johnson sign and trade (notable only because it almost cost them Boris Diaw and their #1 draft pick last year).

But what does that list illustrate? One, to get another team's free agent, you have to realize that in almost all cases you have little chance. If that player is any good, then his team will almost certainly pony up the money to re-sign him. You can't outbid that team's current franchise. Understand that.

To clarify: You can't offer more money to another team's free agent than they can... they might choose not to top offer or even match your offer, but you can't "out-bid" them, in theory.

Now look at those free agents. They fall into one of two categories:

I. The Premier Franchise Guy. That's Shaq. That's it. That's a situation in which a premier franchise spent years planning their salary cap so they could offer him a maximum deal when he became a free agent, and lure him with the intangible, in this case the Los Angeles scene (that was Shaq in his "movie star/rapper" days, not in his "sheriff/undercover cop" days). This might happen again with LeBron James (and to a smaller degree Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh), which is to say that everyone is saving up space for their big free agent year (2010), with the hopes of "luring" them away from Cleveland and Toronto to a big market.

Again, the team bidding on LeBron or whoever (let's call them "the Nets") can't truly top Cleveland's max contract offer, but they can match it (or come close enough) and offer the appeal of... Brooklyn. Or MSG. Or "not Toronto". Especially now when getting paid in US money in Canada is a bad thing....

II. The Given Up Player: In almost every free agent circumstance above, the situation is that basically the player's team "gave up" on that player, making him a true free agent of sorts. For example, if the Magic this past offseason really wanted to keep Darko Mlilic, they could have. But they didn't feel he was worth the money, and salary cap room, especially when they were in the process of overpaying for Rashard Lewis (a good decision, but none the less they still overpaid).

Take a look at some of the situations: Gilbert Arenas and Carlos Boozer were both second-round picks that got unrestricted free agency earlier than most players drafted. They had both shown that they could be very productive players, but both franchises (the Kings and Cavs) were unconvinced that they were truly worth the money. Let's not forget that both franchises acquired them on the cheap, in the second round of the draft. So once they hit the open market, both got offers that exceed what the Kings/Cavs wanted to pay for them. And, in the Cavs case, there was some bad blood. So the Wizards and Jazz rolled the dice, and won.

Steve Nash was a 30-year with a bad back. Dallas was willing to match the money, but not the length of the contract. Especially not when they could spend the same money to sign a younger free agent point, namely Jason Terry. Phoenix rolled the dice, and won.

Free agents that aren't "worth it" to the original teams... they aren't always Jerome James, or Kenyon Martin. Sometimes they are Chauncey Billups.

Also in this category: The very rare, once a decade, "We're giving up talent because we're starting from scratch, and our fans don't care if we suck for three years because we're leaving town anyway", as in the Rashard Lewis situation. The Tracy McGrady signing falls around this category, too... the Raptors had to "choose" between Vince Carter and T-Mac as their franchise guys (they didn't want to go at it together), and they chose Carter (hence, the bidding for McGrady did not include "the home team", so to speak). Glad that worked out for them.

The larger point: Very rarely will you see a free agent get away for nothing, unless the original team doesn't believe in them, doesn't want them (and can't/won't sign and trade them, as in the Joe Johnson deal), or just can't match the "appeal" of the signing team (i.e. the Shaq situation, or the LeBron in 2010 situation).

With that in mind, here are your free agent classes for the next three years:

2008 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs (note: if you see player option, followed by... "50/50": that means we figure the odds at 50/50; if you see "unlikely", that means that the player is unlikely to opt-out, meaning the next season is too much money for them to turn down; if you see "likely", that means the money isn't enough, and they are likely to opt-out):

Baron Davis (player option, 50/50)
Corey Maggette (player option, possible)
Elton Brand (player option, unlikely)
Shawn Marion (player option, likely)
Ron Artest (player option for 08/09, 50/50)
Antawn Jamison
Gilbert Arenas (player option for 08/09, 50/50)

The Restricted Expiring Rookie Contracts (note: very unlikely to sign somewhere else, because they often sign an extension before their rookie contract totally expires; in 2008, though, several teams have failed to sign their rookies to extension, making for some very interesting dealings this off-season):

Josh Smith (restricted)
Josh Childress (restricted)
Emeka Okafor (restricted)
Ben Gordon (restricted)
Luol Deng (restricted)
JR Smith (restricted)
Andris Biedrins (restricted)
Shaun Livingston (restricted)
Stromile Swift (restricted)
Sebastian Telfair (restricted)
Nenad Krstic (restricted)
Trevor Ariza (restricted)
Andre Iguodala (restricted)
Kevin Martin (restricted, extension on way)

Young Filler Material, with some potential (The Chauncey Billups Grouping):

Matt Carroll
Andres Nocioni
Chris Duhon
Daniel Gibson
Eduardo Najera
Mickael Pietrus
Matt Barnes
Monta Ellis
Bonzi Wells
Kwame Brown
Jason Williams
Ricky Davis
Boki Nachbar
Antoine Wright
Beno Udrih
Fabricio Oberto

The "They're Still Around?" Group (a.k.a. The Detroit Pistons Bench):
Antonio McDyess
Lindsay Hunter
Ronald Murray
Joe Smith
Michael Finley
Sam Cassell
Alonzo Mourning
Penny Hardaway
Theo Ratliff
Jamaal Magliore
Chris Webber
Aaron McKie
Kevin Ollie
Steve Blake
Mikki Moore
Brent Barry
Robert Horry
Michael Finley
Kurt Thomas
Andray Blatche

2009 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs:
Drew Gooden
Allen Iverson (almost certain to re-sign with Denver)
Rasheed Wallace
Baron Davis (if he does not exercise the opt out in 2008)
Elton Brand
Lamar Odom
Kobe Bryant (option)
Jason Kidd
Stephon Marbury
Jamal Crawford (player option for 09/10 and 10/11 - 50/50)
Eddy Curry (player option for 09/10, 10/11 - 50/50)
Hedo Turkoglu (player option for 09/10, unlikely)
Andre Miller
Steve Nash (player option, unlikely)
Grant Hill
Steve Francis
Ron Artest (can opt out in '08)
Mike Bibby
Carlos Boozer (player option for 09/10 unlikely)
Mehmet Okur (player option for 09/10 unlikely)

The Rookie Contracts:
Marvin Williams (restricted)
Raymond Felton (restricted)
Jason Maxiell (restricted)
Luther Head (restricted)
Danny Granger (restricted)
Andrew Bynum (restricted)
Hakim Warrick (restricted)
Andrew Bogut (restricted)
Charlie Villanueva (restricted)
Rashard McCants (restricted)
Chris Paul (restricted)
Nate Robinson (restricted)
David Lee (restricted)
Channing Frye (restricted)
Jarrett Jack (restricted)
Francisco "Paco" Garcia (restricted)
Deron Williams (restricted)

Young Filler Material, Given Up, With Potential:
Marquis Daniels (team option, unlikely to be picked up)
Desmond Mason
Chris Wilcox

They Still Living?
Eric Snow
Brevin Knight
Damon Stoudemire
Smush Parker
Juwan Howard
Antoine Walker (player option for 09/10, 10/11 - likely)
Jason Collins
Bobby Jackson
Malik Rose
Raef LaFrentz
Wally Szczerbiak

2010 Free Agents:

The Big Dawgs:
Joe Johnson
Ray Allen
Ben Wallace
LeBron James (player option, likely)
Dirk Nowitzki (player option, unlikely)
Josh Howard (player option, likely)
Marcus Camby
Rip Hamilton
Stephen Jackson
Tracy McGrady
Shaquille O'Neal
Dwyane Wade (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Michael Redd (player option for 10/11, likely)
Tyson Chandler (player option for 10/11 - 50/50)
Eddy Curry (player option for 10/11 - 50/50)
Amare Stoudemire (player option for 10/11, unlikely)
Brad Miller
Manu Ginobili
Chris Bosh (player option for 10/11, unlikely)

The Rookie Contracts:
Shelden WIlliams (restricted)
Rajon Rondo (restricted)
Adam Morrison (brah ha ha)
Tyrus Thomas (restricted)
Rudy Gay (restricted)
Kyle Lowry (restricted)
Randy Foye (restricted)
Marcus Williams (restricted)
Josh Boone (restricted)
Renaldo Balkman (restricted)
Mardy Collins (restricted)
Brandon Roy (restricted)
Sergio Rodriguez (restricted)
LaMarcus Aldridge (restricted)
Quincy Douby (restricted)
Ronnie Brewer (restricted)
Andrea Bargnani (restricted)

Young Filler Material:
Amir Johnson
Al Harrington
Cuttino Mobley
Tim Thomas
Derek Fisher
Mike Miller
Darko Mlicic
Brian Cardinal
Udonis Haslim
Quentin Richardson
Raja Bell
TJ Ford (player option for 10/11, unlikely)

Won't Be In The League Much Longer:
Mark Blount
Bobby Simmons
Troy Hudson
Jerome James
Darius Miles
Travis Outlaw
Kenny Thomas
Shareef Abdul-Rahim
Bruce Bowen
Matt Bonner
Luke Ridnour
Earl Watson
Damien Wilkens
Matt Harpring
Etan Thomas
Antonio Davis
Brendon Haywood

Non-rookie contracts that are past 2010:

Good Contracts, ValueWise (won't get traded, because the contract is too good):
Carmelo Anthony 10/11 $17.1
Chauncey Billups 10/11 $13.15 11/12 $14.2
Yao Ming 10/11 $17.7
Dwight Howard 10/11 $15.78 11/12 $17.15 12/13 $18.52 (player option, unlikely)
Tim Duncan 10/11 $18.7, 11/12 $21.3
Tony Parker 10/11 $13.5
Leandrinho Barbosa 10/11 $7.1, 11/12 $7.6 (player option, unlikely)
Caron Butler 10/11 $10.56

Bad Contracts, LengthWise (Pretty untradeable, other than as salary dump):

Kendrick Perkins 10/11 $4.4
Jason Richardson 10/11 $14.4
Kirk Hinrich 10/11 $9.0 11/12 $8.0 (good contract value wise, though)
Eric Dampier 10/11 $13.0
Kenyon Martin 10/11 $16.55
Nene 10/11 $11.36 11/12 $11.6
Nazr Mohammad 10/11 $6.88
Shane Battier 10/11 $7.35
Troy Murphy 10/11 $11.97
Mike Dunleavy 10/11 $10.56
Jamaal Tinsley 10/11 $7.5
Vladimir Radmanovic 10/11 $6.88 (player option)
Luke Walton 10/11 $5.26, 11/12 $5.68, 12/13 $6.10 (good value, but too long)
Dan Gudzuric 10/11 $7.24
Charlie Bell 10/11 $3.84, 11/12 $4.092
Antoine Walker 10/11 $10.87
Marko Jaric 10/11 $7.63
Richard Jefferson 10/11 $15.0
Peja Stojakovic 10/11 $15.34
Mo Peterson 10/11 $6.64
Zach Randolph 10/11 $17.33
Jamal Crawford 10/11 $10.08 (player option)
Jared Jeffries 10/11 $6.88 (player option)
Rashard Lewis 10/11 $20.514 11/12 $22.15 12/13 $23.8
Jameer Nelson 10/11 $6.72, 11/12 $7.31 12/13 $7.889
Samuel Dalembert 10/11 $12.2
Kyle Korver 10/11 $5.54
Reggie Evans 10/11 $5.08
Willie Green 10/11 $3.98
Boris Diaw 10/11 $9.0, 11/12 $9.0 (player option, likely)
Marcus Banks 10/11 $4.75
Joel Przybilla 10/11 $7.41 (player option, likely)
John Salmons 10/11 $5.81
Nick Collison 10/11 $6.75
Andrei Kirilenko 10/11 $17.82
DeShawn Stevenson 10/11 $4.15

Just The Right Length and Amount:

Kevin Garnett: 10/11, $18.8, 11/12, $21.2
Paul Pierce 10/11 $21.5
Gerald Wallace 10/11 $9.8, 11/12 $10.65, 12/13: 11.44 (player option)
Jason Terry 10/11 $10.65 11/12 $11.44
Chris Kaman 10/11 $11.30 11/12 $12.2
Pau Gasol 10/11 $17.82
Mo Williams 10/11 $9.30, 11/12 $8.5, 12/13 $8.5 (player option) (a little long, but good value)
Al Jefferson 10/11 $13.0, 11/12 $14.0 12/13 $15.0 (tough call, but could become a sweet deal)
Vince Carter 10/11 $17.3, 11/12 $18.0 (player option)
David West 10/11 $8.288 11/12 $7.525 (player option)
Tyson Chandler 10/11 $12.75 (player option)
Eddy Curry 10/11 $11.28 (player option)
Tayshaun Prince 10/11 $11.15

Okay, in Part 2 (coming on Monday), we'll look at the first 15 teams in the league alphabetically, and evaluate their franchises salary cap prospects for the next three to five years.

Gunning For That #1 Spot, Review

And I'm back from my Fourth of July weekend. I hope everyone had a good one. As always, expect shoddy writing as I get back into the flow of posting (regularly, hopefully) again.

Yesterday I shelled out about $24 so that The GF and I could see "Gunning For That #1 Spot", the documentary by Adam Yauch (one of the Beastie Boys) on eight high school basketball players competing in the Elite 24 Game at Rucker's Park in Harlem. It's a great premise.

Unfortunately, I have to say that the movie failed to live up to my expectations. It struck me more as a 30-minute special on MSG that was dragged out into a 90-minute documentary, mostly thanks to a hyper-indulgence of slo-mo replays and unnecessary (but artistic) transitions between scenes that serve no purpose. I did enjoy the two minutes of helicopter footage taken through a fish lens camera of NYC from above, from Coney Island all the way uptown. And I did enjoy the four (or more?) Jay-Z tracks on the soundtrack.

But this is not Spellbound. The movie fails badly to present any personal stories of interest. The eight players (Donte Green, Jerryd Bayless, Kevin Love, Brandon Jennings, Kyle Singler, Michael Beasley, Tyreke Evans, and Lance Stevenson) are, after a long filler segments on several other subjects, presented quickly (about 2-4 minutes per) and with little depth.

Let's take a step back quickly, and fill in the gaps. There is a filler segment that delves, briefly, into the history of Rucker Park, and what it means in terms of basketball history. It's a nice five minute segment, but like most of the movie, it doesn't get into depth. It skims the subject. "On Hallowed Ground", a documentary from 2000, does a much better job of capturing the once and present glory of Rucker. And, in fact, it was more timely, coming right at the start of the latest wave of Rucker's glory, when the EBC league had started to get lots of attention. Going back a few years prior, to maybe 1997, I would say, is when the NBA most heralded rookies started paying homage to Rucker's history by making a trek there to play in some games against the street ball legends - marquee players like Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson. The post-Jordan generation kicked off this new tradition, and it continues through this present day.

The movie skimmed over the backstory of how this particular annual event came to be. You see, the sneaker competition (which was covered in the movie, briefly) doesn't allow for competitions like this, where Adidas guys face off against Nike guys and/or Reebok guys.

What made this sort of sneaker truce happen? NYC. The appeal of playing in the world famous Rucker Park, along with other "cultural outings" (the first year featured a private screening of the MTV Music Awards at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club for the young players). The movie skimmed the subject of the sneaker biz, and how important they are at this stage (the high school stage), without delving too much into it.

And the movie skimmed the subject of "player rankings". Despite the title of the movie, though, not much discussion is seen or heard, at least from players, about their rankings. There is a discussion of how much importance the ranking services play into the future of these kids. It sort of hints at a shady world - Is it like radio? Does payola, perhaps from sneaker companies, play a part in making certain players higher ranked? - but there is no in-depth discussion.

So finally in the second half hour, we get to meet the players. Let's go through them one by one:

Donte Greene - raised in Baltimore. I'm not sure if he's poor or not? It's a weird dynamic. The producers of the movie seemed to want to really sell you on the "poor kid from inner city" aspect, but half-heartedly. Here's what we get: pictures of inner Baltimore (the infamous row houses), but Greene is living at his grandparent's place, in what looks like a more suburban environment (real houses). We hear that his mother passed away, so he (and his younger brother) lives with his grandfolks, supported by his grandpa's janitor salary. Also keep in mind that Donte was born in Germany.

As for his game: well, the footage doesn't outstand much, not as compared to the other 7 players. He's compared often to Carmelo Anthony, mainly because of the height (6'8) and background (Baltimore-raised, attended Syracuse University for a season). More than any other player, Donte Greene may be that kid who benefited the most from his rankings. He never really seems to show much, either in the footage, or in the actual game. Somehow he was considered a top high school player, and based on that was able to go into the NBA after only one season at Syracuse. He went 28th in this year's draft. Perhaps he will end up a marginal NBAer, and not a star or elite player like the rest.

Jerryd Bayless - was born and raised in Arizona, and is presented as an affluent, pretty, focused young man. Bayless seems to be a perfect Arizona fit, actually. He seems very Richard Jefferson - very respectful, dutiful, polite. He seemed to lack a sense of humor, as we'll see when we get down to Michael Beasley.

As for his game: he really relies on his lift, and his ups. He always seems like the smallest guy on the court. I like his jumper, and when the Knicks were picking this year, I thought he was the only other player they could have reasonably taken at #6 other than Danilo Gallinari. Watching his serious demeanor, and his dependence on lift to get off his jumper... I'm sorta glad the Knicks picked Danilo. Bayless will probably take a half-year to adjust to the NBA, and he might have a few good seasons before his knees fail him. Then his jumper, and skills, will be diminished. He might end up like another Arizona product - Mike Bibby. Really good, very focused player, until his body fails him.

Kevin Love - very affluent. Not enough Stan Love in the movie. I wanted to really get to know more about the role his father (supposedly very overbearing) plays in his life.

Kyle Singler - Another kid from Oregon. Struck me as that really tall kid who beat everyone else in sports growing up. All the footage of him shows him crushing lesser foes (the only other tall kid in Oregon his age is Kevin Love, apparently) in many, many sports - football, basketball, hockey, baseball... this kid has probably been playing sports all year round. Chances are he hasn't worked as much at basketball as the other kids in the movie, which might explain why he is still at Duke this year as a sophomore, when all seven other players are (or will be) one-and-done in college.

Michael Beasley - Throughout the movie, friends and family interviews provide most of the background as the kids rarely got to say much to the camera. Except for chatty, animated Beasley.

Bayless seems to have little patience for Beasley's humor: "Is he on my team?" Bayless says to someone after Beasley pulls down Bayless's shorts in front of everyone. "If so, then I'm freezing him out during the game".

Beasley, it is revealed, was kicked out of the first grade for mooning the teacher. And for cutting some little girl's ponytail off. This is why he supposedly scared so many teams. Of course, he's still the most talented player in this year's draft, and should have been the number one pick.

Oh, and he talks endless trash to an unresponsive Kevin Love during the actual game.

Brandon Jennings is from Compton, CA. He doesn't get much of a chance to shine, but when you see him in the game footage, he is a sick player. He has the illest handle of any of the players in this movie, and is a better pure point guard, in my opinion, than anyone from this year's draft (better than Rose or Mayo).

Tyreke Evans is from Chester, PA. I didn't know much about Chester, but it appears to be economically depressed. Tyreke was raised by his three older brothers, all of whom schooled him in basketball. The Evans clan of Chester is very similar to the Marbury clan of Coney Island.

And speaking of Coney Island... Lance Stevenson. The next great player out of Coney Island, following the footsteps of Marbury and Sebastian Telfair, is not a real point guard. He's a shooting guard, and his skill set is impressive. Indeed, I couldn't help noticing how many open teammates he didn't see, in the video footage of his high school games. Still, he's a lights out shooter with a great knack for penetration, and a stellar handle.

Let's talk about the actual game footage now, which represents the last thirty minutes of the movie: Kyle Singler - the movie made him look mad nice. So nice he got three nicknames from Bobbito Garcia. In reality, he scored only 13 points in the game. This movie probably showed all 13 points.

Similarly, Kevin Love got a lot of footage, when he had only 13 points and 7 rebounds. Still, he was one of the most interesting subplots of the flick - how would Love adapt to playing a pure streetball game? He handled himself well.

Stevenson didn't get much burn in this game, but he dropped 15 points. Don't worry about him... the next year (2007), he dropped 38 points (on 17-22 shooting) in the Elite 24 game at Rucker.

Tyreke Evans also showed up in 2007. He dropped 26 points, and broke Stephenson down a few times with his moves. Stephenson may have hit for 38 points, but he had two critical airballs on threes that could have tied the game with less than 30 seconds to go.

Brandon Jennings really had the illest handle. He was actually the biggest fan fave, in fact. He had 12 points and 15 assists that game, most to JJ Hickson. He was named co-MVP, along with Hickson, for his team.

OJ Mayo and Bill Walker were missing from the Elite 24 game. They were on the roster, but declined to show up. Same goes for Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon. The documentary did not give any background info on JJ Hickson (who had a monster game - 34 points, 10 rebounds), DeAndre Jordan, or Cole Play (Cole Aldrich of Kansas).

Bayless also had 15 points, like Stephenson. The non-featured Jordan had 11 points, 8 rebs, and 3 blocks.

In the 2008 NBA Draft, Beasley went 2nd, Love went 5th, Bayless 11th. Greene went 28th, to Memphis (Mayo's team).

Brandon Jennings is slated to go Arizona if he can score high enough on the SAT. If not, Europe is a possibility. Tyreke Evans is going to Memphis.

Brandon Jennings would drop 19 points and 23 assists in 2007's game, with a new nickname: "The Takeover"

What did I take the most from this movie? That these "kids" are very professional and business-like for their age. They have been playing ball against people much older than them for most of their lives, to this point. They been around (adult age) handlers for a long time. They aren't kids like everyone else.

At one point early in the movie, a cameraman asks Kyle Singler about going to NY. Singler replies that he has never been to a city before.

"Have you ever seen a subway before?", he is asked.

The reality is that, with the kids having been moved around in tour buses during their time in NYC, Singler probably still has yet to see a subway. The price of being a professional star does often cost your childhood.

Why Bissinger Had A Point.

I come not to bury Bissinger, nor to praise him. I come to say, however, that he did have a point.

(at this time I'd like to make it fully clear that this is Canadian DJM, not SML. angry letters should go this way.)

Bissinger made it rather difficult to excavate, because his tiny nugget of point was buried deep, deep in a mountain of slouchy, blowhard bullshit. As Leitch said, he immolated. There is no denying this. He was swinging wildly, like an angry child. Which is a shame, because if Costas Now had booked an actual grownup instead of an angry four-year-old, a necessary and overdue conversation might have taken place. We could have had our Jon Stewart on Crossfire moment, only this time we're the asshat in the bowtie.

Bissinger's mistakes are legion, and we could spend a day attempting to list them all without coming close to completion. Here's an abridgment: he was profane and juvenile while accusing someone else of being profane and juvenile, he acted like a fucking idiot, and he had no idea what he was talking about. I think that's a fairly succinct summary. Normally, at this point, I'd say "what a tool" and move on, but I happen to agree with the point he was trying so, so, so poorly to make, so I'm gonna give a shot at making it better.

Blaming blogs for being mean-spirited is like blaming port-a-potties for being full of shit. Like: sure, but you're reversing cause and effect, here. Blogs aren't the reason there's negativity in the world, negativity is the reason *some* blogs exist. Hell, this site's moniker is an imperative against a writer, you know?

Bissinger also made the mistake of arguing that all blogs are equal, vile, and equally vile. As long as Free Darko exists, anybody who claims that "all sports blogs are _________" is lying or ignorant.

And somehow expecting Leitch to speak for all bloggers is ludicrous, unfair, and just... stunning in its lack of understanding. The people attacking "bloggers" have not yet realized that a synonym for "bloggers" is "people." We're not some underclass coming out of hiding in the caves or, Lord help us, our mothers' basements. My mother doesn't even have a basement.

Enough covering my own ass, though. Let's get to it: Leitch isn't exactly blameless here, either.

I mostly enjoy Deadspin. I read it everyday. I have it on my RSS feed. I comment over there, from time to time. But I'm also not going to pretend that it's above reproach. It's not a watchdog site, or a news site; it is an opinion site and it *is* a gossip site. I think mocking Deadspin for posting pictures of Matt Leinart drinking from a beer bong is totally, completely, 100% warranted. That's some childish bullshit, and Leitch is smart enough to know that it's childish bullshit. His defense of it was fourfold, and each of the defenses he offered is ridiculous.

1. "It's funny!"
Why is it funny? Seriously, why is it funny? It's only funny because it's embarrassing. Leitch knows this. He's not posting pictures of Leinart working for charity, or playing with his kids, or going to the library. Leinart gets his picture posted when he's doing embarrassing shit. It's only funny because his image is being captured in moments when he'd probably prefer not to be photographed. Which brings us to Number 2:

2. They post them on their Facebook pages.
Oh, Will. We want to agree with you. We really do, but you have to know that this is horseshit. Perhaps some of the embarrassing pictures you post are from the offender's own Facebook pages, but the Leinart pictures, which were the ones under discussion, were from TheDirty.com. You either know this or really ought to know this, because your site made a follow-up post which was entirely about where you got the pictures. You're posting pictures from paparazzi sites designed to embarrass. Man up and admit this.

3. They're real people!
The fuck is this, US Weekly? Of course they're real people. NOBODY is debating this. I don't even know what this argument is supposed to mean. It's OK to publicly embarrass athletes because it would be OK to publicly embarrass anybody? What?

4. Braylon Edwards, so by extension all athletes, have no complaints, because they are not hounded by photographers like Hollywood stars.
Man, this is a preposterous argument to make. The ends are the same regardless of the means. I can't even tell what the argument is here. Is it "You only have a right to complain about being publicly embarrassed if photographers make it difficult for you to go outside"? Is that it? Because humiliating shit is humiliating shit regardless of the source.

And Leitch's disingenuous claims that he's not encouraging paparazzi or that he wouldn't go through somebody's garbage are riding a razor thin line of believability. Sure, Will's not running out to snap photographs of athletes at parties: but posting those pictures makes him just as bad.

Sure, Bissinger and Costas and pretty much everybody else makes the horrible mistake of conflating what's in posts with what's in comments. But Will pretending that he's blameless for the comments is absurd. He's an editor. You know what they do? They edit. The reason that vitriol is present in the Deadspin comments is not because Will doesn't have any say in what goes on in there (which is the attitude he sort of takes) but that the vitriolic comments are Deadspin's biggest draw. There's money in that hate. He should be honest about this.

And his implication that the problems with Deadspin are *only* in the comments is at best a glaring example of sophistry. Are the comments over there mean? Yes. Are they funny? Yes. Was it in *posts* that we got humiliating pictures of athletes, humiliating video tape of Berman, humiliating uncorroborated stories of Berman's pickup attempts, humiliating answering machine messages left by SportsCenter anchors, and on and on and on? Oh, absolutely. Part of Deadspin's game -- a large part -- is public embarrassment.

I'm not even asking him to apologize for that aspect of his blog. I don't care for it, but whatever. My problem here is Leitch seems to think that spreading that shit makes him different from the people who capture it or report it in the first place. I, for one, wholeheartedly disagree, but I think it's a debate worth having. Unlike the one we got the other night.

So here's my hope: the next time somebody asks Leitch to defend blogs, he say something like "I don't speak for all blogs. I speak for my blog, which is often juvenile and deals with certain aspects of public humiliation because I think they're funny, newsworthy, and our business." Or something. And then we can have the debate over whether pictures of quarterbacks at birthday parties or at clubs are funny, newsworthy, and any of our goddamn business.

Bissinger is a total idiot. He's also not totally wrong.

Isiah Thomas Thinks Dan Dickau Is Still Around?

I saw this interview with Knicks Isiah Thomas yesterday (October 15th) after practice over at MSG.com. Keep in mind that aside from the date, the fact that Isiah is at practice signifies that this is pretty recent, as the Knicks started practicing just a couple of weeks ago.

Here's a question and answer that kind of caught my attention:

When the trade was made, it looked like Fred and Dan Dickau were just salary cap throw-ins. When you made that trade, how did that discussion go?

Thomas: Both of those guys fit our team. I think Dickau is going to be a good player on our team when he's healthy. With Fred, you can't consider either of those guys throw-ins.

Hmm, interesting response by Isiah. Dickau was released before the Knicks started practicing, back on September 30th. In fact, he's already signed with the LA Clippers, and is fighting Brevin Knight for the backup point guard position (which he won't win - Knight should be a starter somewhere).
Not Dan Dickau, but also an alliteration..
It's possible that he's mistaking Dan Dickau with Jared Jordan, a similar 3rd string point guard acquired around the time Dickau was released. Still, it's a little embarrassing (you know the local papers are going to have a ball with this, if they get a hold of it) for the GM and coach of the Knicks to be unaware that he's speaking about a player he's already released, and never even got to see practice in a Knick uniform!

Is this team not entertaining?

Know The Prospect: Danilo Gallinari

Like we always do at this time... last year our long-time blog buddy Seth from Posting and Toasting and I split up the possible available draft options for the Knicks. I don't remember who got Wilson Chandler in the end, though I do remember both of us being strongly in favor of Sean Williams (who unfortunately was not available when the Knicks finally picked). This year we are once again splitting up the prospects. Who will the Knicks pick at #6?

We decided to start off by looking at the top two candidate: Seth has already done his OJ Mayo preview post, so check it out. And I'm now given you the goods on the other most-mentioned candidate, Danilo Gallinari.

Danilo "Gallo" Gallinari is a 19-year old, 6'9 208 SF from Italy (he can also play SG and/or PF). He plays for Olimpia (Armani Jeans) Milano.

Milano has a long history of success in Italy. Former NBAers like Bob McAdoo, and former Knicks Bill Bradley, Rolando Blackman, Lee Nailon, Antonio Davis and DeMarco Johnson have all played for the franchise. So the franchise does seem to have a connection with the Knicks, in that they seem to have a habit of picking up former players. Perhaps this time it will be the other way around, for once.

The leading scorer in Olimpia Milano history, and the biggest star in franchise history? The Knicks new head coach Mike D'Antoni. He led Olimpia Milano to 5 Italian League titles, 2 Euroleague titles, two Cups of Italy (one point guard, two cups), one Korac Cup, and one Intercontinental Cup. F*ck, that's a lot of cups.

It was playing for Milano where D'Antonio got his nickname - Arsene Lupin (the french version of Sherlock Holmes was a master thief in the French series of detective books). What's the Italian word for "cupboard"?

Danilo is considered the top foreign player in the draft, and one of the top small forwards available. Danilo's dad (and agent) Vittorio was an Italian basketball star, too. He played on the Italian National Team during the 80's. Oddly enough, he was more known for his supreme defensive prowess - he was a lock down defender - and dirty play (the Bruce Bowen of Italy) than any offensive skills (he rarely topped a handful of points a game). He played for many years in the leagues, including nine seasons on Milano as a teammate of... Mike D'Antoni. You get the feeling yet that D'Antoni might be familiar with Gallinari?

Danilo's nickname is "gallo", (Italian/Spanish for "rooster". Or "cock"). He's already signed a deal with Reebok. He played point guard through most of his teenage years, which is why he is credited with having good court vision for a forward.

Stats: He shot 50.6% (90-178) during the 06-07 season on two-pointers, 40.5% (53-131) on three-pointers, and hit 85.5% (161 of 188) FTs. Note that he took more FTAs than FGAs, which generally means he gets to the basket pretty well. In 07-08 he hit 52.6% (121-230) on twos, 40.0% (64-160) on threes, and 86.0 (190-221) on FTs.
He is a poor rebounder (3.8 rpg in 06-07, up to 5.9 in 07-08), but has a good handle and can pass exceptionally well for a SF. He's 6'9, but still has a few more years, so 6'10 or 6'11 isn't out of the question (SML himself went from 6'0 to 6'2 after turning 19).

Past Injuries: He had a knee strain in January 2008, and a few years back had to sit out three months with a "growth problem" that has since been fixed. He draws a lot of fouls partial because he likes to finish strong (lots of dunks), though that aggressiveness may not carry over to the NBA. Peep video of an Italian Robin Leach talking about Danilo highlights:

Big Warning: The other Italians in the NBA are Andrea Bargnani (not living up to #1 pick status) and Marco Belinelli (did not have much of an impact in GS during his rookie season, where most thought he would be an ideal fit). Danilo's ability to draw fouls, which is a key part of his Italian success, might not work for him in the NBA. He might shy away from contact, and become strictly a three-point shooter (as is the case with Bargnani a lot). He lacks the lateral quickness to be a good defender or re-bounder, though both can be improved on by sheer determination. Perhaps his dad can instill some of his work ethic on that end into his son?

I would say that he seems a bit of a project at #6 - he's only 19 years old, and needs to work on his strength, speed, and defense. He's a great shooter with height, and while that translates pretty easily in the NBA, that doesn't necessarily mean he's Dirk just yet. Bargnani, a good comparison, has taken more than two seasons without yet reaching the next level. NYC isn't about patience when it comes to guys with potential (see Phil Hughes).

On the other hand, he's certainly a solid player with upside, which is realistically the best you can do with a #6 pick. He's young enough to still grow physically, and he will get more strength. With patience, he could be a very key player in the core of this team. He's comfort level and family familiarity with Mike D'Antoni makes the Knicks the perfect team for him in the NBA. And the Knicks need an upgrade at SF as much as they need anything. If the Knicks draft him, they should make sure to make it clear to fans that Danilo, even if he starts, is three years away from reaching whatever his potential is. Which, from what I've read, is anywhere from Detler Schmephf to Peja Stojakovic to Toni Kukoc. Lazy Euro-comparisons aside (though, given his leadership and touch from all over at a young age, he is comparable to Dirk), he might best be compared to a potential Rashard Lewis.

The biggest question in determining Danilo's possible success in the NBA, besides his effort and comfort/aggression level, is his footspeed. Every video I've seen of Danilo (there are plenty on YouTube) shows him either finishing with a dunk, via alley oop or wide open lane, or it shows him hitting a wildly improbably layup/drive. The latter will not translate to the NBA, as they are too out of control and crazy to succeed. He resembles the worst of Manu Ginobili at those moments. You have to wonder if he has the right speed to resemble the best of Manu, too. The good news (for a team that drafts him) is that he creates the contact and spacing on his drives not because of his speed, but because of his above average ballhandling skills and odd angles that he shoots from. Check out this six minute clip from a Italian League game for the best overall presentation of Danilo's whole skill set, both good and bad:

And, of course, if you want the opinion of someone who knows little about basketball, but plenty about dick jokes, you can always check out Deadspin's post on this very topic.

Conclusion: If anyone knows whether Danilo Gallinari can play in the NBA, and what he can do, it's gotta be Mike D'Antoni and the Knicks. They have assigned Isiah Thomas to scout him already in Europe; D'Antoni knows his family pretty well, and I'm sure D'Antoni still has lots of connections to the Milano franchise (if not, it would be like Karl Malone not knowing anything about what's going on with the Jazz). So if the Knicks draft him at #6, then you know they feel pretty comfortable with Danilo's long term capabilities. And, if the Knicks pass up on him at #6, or trade down if he's available - well, that would be pretty telling. That would not bode well for Danilo's potential in the NBA.

Seth will be up next with another draft prospect. Also, check out this interesting post from Joey at Straight Bangin' about Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis.