Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oh Jason, Where Out Thou?

Alright. Let’s get this straight. I think the Mavericks overpaid to get Jason Kidd. But, I was very excited about seeing this plot play out. I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of Kidd’s debut with the Mavericks, wondering if it might look like a different team…free of moping, and general feeling sorry for themselves. And perhaps with Kidd, the eye of the tiger puts this team right back in the title mix.

And then, Devean Freaking George steps in.

He, and his 0-11 shooting night, made for one of the craziest nights in recent memory by demanding a trade 2 weeks ago, and blocking a blockbuster last night.

Many of you are praising him for saving the Mavericks from making a stupid trade. You may recall that once upon a time Matt Geiger blocked a trade that kept Allen Iverson from being a Piston.

Where are we in sports that a guy who signs a one year deal gets a variation of a no-trade clause? Have we come this far? I understand Kobe and Lebron having a chance to direct their destiny, but George?

As for the “giving up on Devin Harris” rants, allow me a chance. I, obviously, share some Wisconsin ties with the young man, so you might expect me to jump off a bridge today. But a couple things; 1) I think he is a talented kid, but some things really bother me – he has a lower basketball IQ than I would like in my point guard. How many times have you seen him take a senseless foul that puts his rear square on the bench? 2) I think he plays at a pace that puts his body in constant jeopardy of injury. If this team falls apart this badly when he is hurt, you might need someone a bit more durable. And 3) haven’t you wondered why he was being built so highly in the press by Mavericks brass? It now looks like nothing more than talking up a stock right before you sell it to try to maximize its value. Cuban wasn’t born yesterday.

Look, there is no doubt that this is very risky. I also question how much it really helps the basketball aspect of this thing. The Mavericks are trading for guts, leadership, courage, and spine. Kind of sad that they need to do it, but let’s not kid ourselves. Jerry Stackhouse is the guy with the biggest cajones around here, and this team doesn’t look up for a street fight much anymore.

They are gambling the present for the future. But, they also know Devin Harris better than any of us. On the other hand, they knew Steve Nash better than any of us, and they really screwed that one up. Come to think of it, they also knew Jason Kidd better than any of us, and that didn’t work out so well, either.

When it comes to point guards around here, what makes us think this organization knows any more than you?

Anyway, I still think a variation of the trade goes down today. Let’s see.


Jeff Caplan on the case

If the Mavericks are going to bring Jason Kidd back to where his NBA career started, Devean George will have to change his mind.

As strange as it might seem, the reserve swingman holds the key to the Mavs and New Jersey Nets completing the blockbuster deal.

Before Wednesday's game against Portland, just as it seemed the deal was set to be completed, George exercised his right to block the mega-deal that would have sent Mavs starting point guard Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse, DeSagana Diop, George, plus cash and draft picks to New Jersey.

George, who replaced the injured Josh Howard in coach Avery Johnson's starting lineup Wednesday and went 0-for-11 in the 96-76 victory, has a clause in his one-year, $2.4 million deal that stipulates he must agree to any trade.

George forfeits his early Bird rights in a trade which, theoretically, could cost him a larger salary when he seeks his next deal after he becomes a free agent July. 1.

"This thing might not even go through," an NBA source said. "It comes down to him."
Johnson said the odds of completing the deal are, "Right now, zero." However, George, who said he planned to speak to his agent, Mark Bartelstein, when the team arrived in Phoenix early this morning to be briefed on the full ramifications of a trade, did not rule it out before the Feb. 21 deadline.

If the deal doesn't happen today, it likely won't be completed until Monday after the All-Star break.

"I don't think the trade is going anywhere, it's right there," George said. "But it's kind of messed up how all fingers are pointing at me. I'm the bad guy now holding things up, but I'll be that."

George dismissed speculation that he refused the deal because he doesn't want to play for the struggling Nets.

"You never know what is going to happen, but he likes Dallas," Bartelstein said. "He's on a championship contender. To leave that and give up his Bird rights is a big deal."

By all accounts, the deal was in the late stages of completion Wednesday evening. Kidd, dressed in street clothes as the Nets played at Toronto, spoke to reporters about the Nets in the past tense, but he acknowledged the deal, at least temporarily, had frayed.

"Hopefully I'll be a piece of the puzzle to help [the Mavs] win," Kidd said. "That's all I can do. Until it's official, until I hear from [Mavs owner Mark] Cuban or an official from the Mavericks, I'm a Net until otherwise told."

Cuban seemed agitated just before the start of the Mavs' game when asked if the deal was going through. He quickly said, "I don't think so," before heading into his courtside suite.

"In reality both sides try to do what's best for them," George said. "I try to do what's best for me. My agent looks out for me and the Mavericks obviously want to look out for their organization."

Two weeks ago, George complained about his lack of playing time and said he'd prefer to be traded if he was not going to be a part of Johnson's rotation.

Since then, George has logged about 20 minutes a game and produced while Stackhouse has been out with a hamstring injury. He played 33 minutes against Portland and was praised by Johnson as being a true professional.

"Two weeks ago, he was open to it [a trade]," the league source said. "Now, for whatever reason, he's not. The chance to showcase himself is all there for him in New Jersey. I think he just needs time to digest everything.

"The unfortunate part," the source said, "is it's holding everything up. Hopefully, cooler heads prevail."

Chris Broussard agrees with my premise

Dallas is not going to reach the Finals as currently constructed. Now, if the Kidd trade goes through, the Mavs will be as formidable as anyone. One of the greatest benefits of getting Kidd would be the mental toughness he'd bring to the Mavs. Let's just be honest here: The Mavs have not won a title the past two seasons because they have been mentally soft.

The collapse against Miami. The shocker at the hands of the Warriors.

Those were heart issues, not basketball issues.

Now, all that could change. Kidd is as tough as they come on the hoop court,
prevailing as much because of his mental toughness as his physical gifts. If Dallas gets beat with Kidd on its roster, it would happen because the other team is better. Not because the Mavs got punked.

Would this trade make the Mavs the leading contender in the West? No. But it would
put them on equal footing with the other Western powers, which couldn't be said yesterday.

Andy Pettitte is the key to thinking Roger Clemens is believable or not

Andy Pettitte is scheduled to report to the New York Yankees' spring training camp no later than Monday. He will do so as a man who either answered to his own conscience and to the god he prays to, or as a man who suffers from profound memory loss as it relates to conversations with Clemens.

Friend against friend. Teammate against teammate. That was the essence of what happened during Wednesday's historic, sometimes inane and occasionally extraordianary hearing conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Distill those four hours and 40 minutes of time into its purest form and you're left with a single shotglass of truth:

Pettitte, in absentia, called Clemens, in so many words, a liar. In return, Clemens politely called Pettitte, in so many words, a nitwit who was mistaken about past conversations between them regarding performance-enhancing substances.

As major league ballplayers make their way to spring training camps this week, they would be wise to remember the lasting image of that confrontation. There was Clemens, struggling to reconcile the testimony not only of his former friend and personal trainer, McNamee, but of the testimony of Pettitte, a man whom Clemens says was his friend before, during and now after these most recent congressional proceedings.

In many ways Pettitte became the tipping point of these hearings. We didn't hear his voice or see his face (he was, for reasons still not entirely logical, excused from having to appear Wednesday), but we learned through his 103-page deposition that maybe it's Clemens who is suffering acute memory loss.

Pettitte said that Clemens told him he had used HGH. He also said that McNamee had told him that Clemens had used steroids.

"He misheard ... misremembers," said Clemens.

What did we learn yesterday?

Did the hearing produce any evidence that could cause problems for Roger Clemens?

Yes. Clemens and his team of lawyers and crisis management experts should worry about two developments in the hearing.

First, Clemens had no solid answer for the devastating testimony and written statement from Andy Pettitte. Not only did Pettitte corroborate McNamee's testimony about Pettitte's use of HGH, he also established a chronology on Clemens' statements about HGH that could lead to a perjury charge. Responding to Pettitte's assertion that Clemens told him he used HGH, Clemens insisted on several occasions during Wednesday's hearing that Pettitte had "misunderstood" him. He suggested that the subject of the Pettitte-Clemens conversation was the use of HGH by Clemens' wife. Clemens even tried to interrupt committee chairman Henry Waxman to repeat his claim at the end of the hearing, and Waxman gaveled him into angry silence. The problem for Clemens is that Debbie Clemens' use of HGH came two years after Clemens' conversation with Pettitte. And, as Waxman explained, that means Clemens "made untrue statements in his deposition [sworn testimony to the committee last week]."

Second, Clemens and his legal team blundered into the possibility of a charge of tampering with a witness. The potential charge could stem from their handling of a committee request for information about a woman who once served as a Clemens family nanny. (The committee staff requested the woman's contact information last week.) The committee wanted to ask her about a barbecue luncheon at Jose Canseco's house in Miami in June 1998, and whether Clemens attended the party. The protocol for producing a witness requires that a lawyer, or an investigator for the lawyer, contact a witness and send their information to the committee. Instead of following the protocol, Clemens called the former nanny personally and invited her to his home for a meeting on Sunday. We do not yet have the entire content of their conversation, but it is clear that he discussed the inquiry with her. Waxman was clearly angry that Clemens talked with the nanny before the committee's staff interviewed her and said, "At the very least, it has the appearance of impropriety."

Did the hearing produce any evidence that will cause problems for Brian McNamee?

No. Although he was attacked viciously by a few Republican members of the committee and called a "liar" and "drug dealer," McNamee performed surprisingly well. He admitted that he had been less than truthful with federal agents and the Mitchell committee. He said he withheld some of his information -- and his box of syringes, vials and gauze pads -- in an effort to "downplay the use of these drugs" and protect players. But in the course of interviews with five groups of investigators, including Clemens' detectives, he gradually revealed the information he knew and the physical evidence that he had accumulated. McNamee's statements have been corroborated by Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch. Mitchell and his staff have endorsed his veracity on numerous occasions. It is unlikely that the committee will recommend charges against McNamee and equally unlikely that the FBI or the IRS will investigate him.

The partisan politics made it tough to take the whole thing seriously

And so it went in Room 2154, where Clemens, defiant when allowed to ramble, flummoxed and evasive when committee members pushed back, played every emotional card he could. Above all, he cast himself as the great American success story and patriot, who proudly wore the uniform of Team U.S.A. in the World Baseball Classic, who dutifully spoke to the troops in Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan, who did everything but liberate Kabul from the Taliban.

But who, in the final apolitical analysis, didn’t have anything resembling a convincing argument for why anyone should believe that McNamee had invented a great fiction about Clemens after telling the truth about Chuck Knoblauch, Pettitte and, yes, himself.

Hours into the hearing came a memorable sound bite, from Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, who said he had determined Pettitte to be the absentee voice that tipped the scale in favor of McNamee, and in effect made Clemens the person most risking a potential perjury charge.

“It’s hard to believe you, sir,” Cummings said. “I hate to say that. You’re one of my heroes, but it’s hard to believe you.”

In effect, Clemens’s argument came down to McNamee being a troubled man out to destroy him. But when the tape of their telephone conversation recorded by Clemens was played weeks ago, didn’t McNamee sound more distraught over having to give Clemens up?

Why, almost all of the committee Republicans asked, should the word of a drug dealer, as McNamee was characterized in one exchange with Christopher Shays of Connecticut, stand up against the pitcher considered the best of his generation and perhaps ever?

Attacks on McNamee’s placing Clemens at a party at José Canseco’s house in 1998 that Clemens and others denied were earnest and relentless — until Waxman not only dropped the bomb that the Clemens family nanny had supported McNamee’s claim, but made it sound as if the Clemens camp had tried to coach her before she talked to the committee.

Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, tried to portray McNamee as incapable of telling the truth because he had admittedly lied for years about his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Lost, apparently, on Burton was McNamee’s stated and obvious purpose for lying, to protect Clemens, until he was trapped into the truth by the Mitchell investigation.

Was a hearing on baseball and steroids that turned into “Hannity & Colmes” a
reflection of a culture that is depressingly polarized? A better question for voters to answer in November, but where the case of Clemens versus McNamee goes from here — to the court of public opinion or on to the Department of Justice — may depend on which party has control of this committee or even the White House next year.

Buried in all the Clemens stuff, is Spygate

Senator Arlen Specter finally met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday to discuss the league's handling of its investigation into "Spygate," and according to Specter, he was told the Patriots' taping of opposing teams' signals had been going on since 2000, when Bill Belichick took over as coach.

"There was confirmation that there has been taping since 2000, when Coach Belichick took over," said Specter, who met with Goodell in his office in Washington for 1 hour 40 minutes.

Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had written the league requesting a meeting with Goodell to discuss why the league destroyed the tapes - Goodell has said there were six - and notes, which date to 2002, that were turned over by the Patriots. That came after the team was caught videotaping the defensive signals of the Jets during its 38-14 victory at Giants Stadium Sept. 9.
Specter, who represents Pennsylvania and is an admitted fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the team the Patriots defeated in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, has questioned the quality of the NFL's investigation into the Patriots' conduct and has raised the possibility of congressional hearings if he wasn't satisfied with Goodell's answers.
Specter has compared the NFL's destruction of the tapes to the CIA destroying evidence and raised the threat of Congress canceling the NFL's antitrust exemption. He reiterated that threat in the meeting with Goodell.

However, Goodell stood his ground, maintaining the league handled the case and the evidence it seized from the Patriots properly.

"I think it was the right thing to do," said Goodell yesterday about the tapes' destruction. He added, "I have nothing to hide."

Specter's request for a meeting became public in a New York Times story Feb. 1, two days prior to the Patriots' 17-14 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, and reignited the furor over the signal-stealing imbroglio, which resulted in the franchise being fined $250,000 and stripped of a first-round draft choice and Belichick being fined $500,000, the maximum allowable under the NFL constitution and bylaws.

The NFL has stated that the penalties were for the totality of the Patriots' actions, not just those during the Jets game.

Goodell said yesterday that Belichick told him he believed the taping was legal, implying he's been doing it since he has been coach.

"He said that's always been his interpretation since he's been the head coach," said the commissioner. "We are going to agree to disagree on the facts."

Dealing no trade clauses in the NHL

The more things change, The more they stay the same for Kelvin Sampson

The big question all along has been whether the NCAA would deem the violations committed by Sampson and his staff to be "major" or "secondary," and now we know that the NCAA is in fact alleging that five major violations took place. If the NCAA does indeed rule that way in June, it would be the second time in three years Sampson (the former NABC president) has been nabbed for major violations -- and the first time for the entire Indiana athletic program since 1960.

Just 23 months ago, in his first Indiana press conference, Sampson promised the mistakes his staff made at Oklahoma -- 577 improper phone calls --wouldn't happen again. According to the NCAA, not only has it happened again, but the NCAA is alleging Sampson repeatedly lied to investigators representing both Indiana and the NCAA. In the NCAA's letter to Indiana obtained by the Indianapolis Star, the enforcement staff writes:

"Concerning Sampson's provision of false or misleading information, Sampson repeatedly provided the institution [Indiana] and the [NCAA] enforcement staff false information regarding his involvement in violations of the Committee on Infractions' recruiting restrictions. [NCAA Bylaw 10.1-(d)]."

If Sampson is ruled to have committed major (and not just secondary) violations, I can't imagine a scenario in which he would keep his job.

The question now becomes: How does Indiana respond? The No. 13 Hoosiers are 20-3 and a serious contender to reach the Final Four. Does the university want to take any action now -- like firing Sampson or ruling itself ineligible for this season's NCAA tournament -- in an effort to head off potentially more severe punishments by the NCAA? Or should Indiana wait until it's required to respond to the NCAA allegations after the season is over?

Keep in mind, it's a virtual certainty that Indiana's two best players -- senior D.J. White and freshman guard Eric Gordon, a surefire NBA lottery pick -- won't be back in Bloomington next year. The short-term play would be for IU to go for glory this season, even though the negative media publicity surrounding Sampson could be a huge distraction for the team.

On Wednesday morning, Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan issued a statement saying that he was "extremely disappointed" in the allegations, which he called "a grave concern," but he stopped short of taking any further action.

Whatever Greenspan ends up deciding, I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes right now. Or Sampson's, for that matter.

World’s Fastest Drinker

Will Jason Kidd have to sell his crib? Pretty sure this is old since he still seems to like his wife here…


arthur said...

i hope Devean George catches the worst case of VD in the history of mankind. i'm talking green-puss, genital warts, blood blisters on his junk; the whole sha-bang.

eff him and his mamma.

arthur said...


Jay said...

According to Norm this deal's going through. To say this is a controversial move is the understatement of the day. How does Skin feel ab all this?

From a fascination standpoint this should be exciting to watch but it could be a train wreck. I hope more moves are on the way. I think losing Diop is maybe a footnote on this deal but could have a big negative impact going forward.

C said...

Ferengi +1


Jay Beerley said...

I totally agree about losing Diop. And it really bothers me with the age discrepancy thing. And do we really feel like we're the front runners with this trade? What about all the pieces we're giving up? Josh Howard was a late first. Does this mean more Juan Howard??? That can't be good.

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