Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A Short Calm

Finally, after a few weeks of incredible action, it appears this morning is a morning to actually collect our thoughts a bit, and scan the net for some reading. The 3rd round of the NHL Playoffs begin on Thursday, and until then, let’s see what we got here:

Mark Cuban blogs about his team

So back to the trade deadline. We went back and forth about whether or not we should trade Devin. We knew he was a good point guard, with the potential to be amazing.

What we didn't know was how long that would take. On one hand, we didn't have enough confidence in him to let him call his own plays, but on the other, he is a one man fast break, his shooting was improving by the minute, he is a good defender and his potential was undeniable. In Jason Kidd, we felt we would get a player that would make ti easier for Dirk, Josh, Jet to get open shots. That Avery would no longer have to scream to push the ball, that JK was the best in the business at pushing the ball in the open court. Plus, our rebounding had suffered this year vs last, JKidd is a great rebounder and the presses that had caused us problems, would no longer be a problem.

None of the other guys in the initial versions of trade were playing much at the time, other than Stack.

It wasn't an easy call. Between AJ, Donnie and I, we would change our minds by the minute. I don't think there is any doubt that the pressure and closeness of the Western Conference race had something to do with our decision making process. In my mind, this season was becoming analogous to the most agonizing season I had been through, the 04-05 season. We were having the same home vs road record delta, multiple players asking to be traded and even more internal tension about our lack of consistent performance than we had in 04-05.

But the current year wasn't really my personal deciding factor. Looking at our future cap structure was. In doing a deal for JKidd, we created a situation where Devin, Mo Ager, Hass and what we would have paid Ghana would no longer be on our cap. Which put us in a position for the future that I looked at as follows:

2008-9 We have a full training camp with a very motivated JKidd, the rest of our starters back, an improving Nasty Bassty (had to get that in there :), plus anyone we can add. We all thought (and still do), we would have a very strong nucleus to build around. We would also have a 1st round pick.

2009-10 Depending on how the previous season went, we would have several last year contracts available, the option of potentially having some cap room, and other options to improve the team. With the much lower potential salaries, not only could we use cap room if we went that direction to enable roster flexibility, we could also buy a pick. (there are almost always teams willing to sell a pick in the 20s for 3mm dollars)

2010-11 In this year we only have 2 fully guaranteed contracts and in 2011-12 We dint have any fully guaranteed contracts. So the options are endless in both years. Plus , its in one of these years that the new CBA comes up. With so little committed, depending on how hard a line the owners take, things could get very, very inter sting. Having so little contractually committed could be a great place to be when other teams look to dump salaries to avoid the risks of a lockout.

So with the changes, while we lost a great player in Devin, we felt like we were picking up someone who could spark the team and add energy on the court. At best, we re energized, at worst, it doesn't help, but we have improved the roster flexibility for the future and improved our opportunity to re invent ourselves, just as we had after the 04 05 season. And as far as the draft picks, there is no question there is risk there, but in the NBA, there is always the option to buy low first round draft picks, so we weren't as concerned there.

So from my my viewpoint, we accelerated salaries, which wasn't cheap, and in exchange, got a player that our basketball people thought could energize and help us.

Mavs look at options for this summer

The Mavericks must decide if there is a reasonable market for players such as Josh Howard, Jason Terry and/or Jerry Stackhouse. Those are trade chips of varying value. But it's about all the Mavericks have to dangle unless they want to make a serious change in philosophy and trade Dirk Nowitzki or admit the Jason Kidd trade was a mistake and deal him. Kidd enters the final year of his contract, worth $21 million.
The Mavericks also will have Reyshawn Terry and Renaldas Seibutis, two former second-round picks, in summer league. Both are being given a decent chance of making next season's roster.

Meanwhile, some of the prominent names around the league who could be on the trading block are the LA Clippers' Corey Maggette, Sacramento's Ron Artest and Charlotte's Gerald Wallace or Jason Richardson.

Beyond trade scenarios, the remaining free agents who might intrigue the Mavericks include Chicago's Chris Duhon, Denver's Eduardo Najera, Golden State's Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus, Miami's Earl Barron and Utah's C.J. Miles.

I have always been interested in Corey Maggette. All the guy does is drive the lane and get to the line. I am sure he has some flaws in his game, but he continues to intrigue me….

Revo on the possible hiring of Avery Jr ….

Meanwhile, D.BKNspurs.hornets.gamer2.d1d41684.html> are the Hornets just that good?

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili entertained questions from the gathered media for about three minutes Monday night. He could have conveyed the same message in about three seconds.

There was little left to be said in the aftermath of a 102-84 loss to New Orleans in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals that seemed a whole lot like the Spurs’ Game 1 debacle.

“If you replay my answers from Game 1, it’s the same answers tonight,” Ginobili said.

The Spurs, meanwhile, are searching for answers as the series returns to San Antonio.

Chris Paul had 30 points and 12 assists to help stake the Hornets to a stunning 2-0 series lead at New Orleans Arena, a two-game gap built on the back of back-to-back blowout victories.

Heading into Game 3 on Thursday, New Orleans finds two victories away from the first conference finals in team history.

“I think these are some of the best moments of my life I’m experiencing right now,” Paul said.

The Spurs, meanwhile, head home to experience something almost as foreign.
In order to remain in the running for their first repeat NBA championship, they must do something else they’ve never done — recover from an 0-2 series deficit.

The last time the Spurs were behind 2-0 in a series, in the 2001 conference finals against the Lakers, they wound up getting swept.

“It’s always a worry when you’re down two,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. “The obvious goal is to get four games, and they’re a lot closer to that than we are.”

For the second game in a row, the Spurs watched Paul — New Orleans’ Pied Piper of a point guard — direct a parade of alley-oops, daring drives and other means of razzle-dazzle.
It was the second double-double of the series for Paul, who has totaled 47 points and 25 rebounds in two games.

“He’s an MVP candidate,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “MVP candidates have an impact on the game, big time.”

For the second game in a row, things got away from the Spurs in the third quarter Monday.

New Orleans outscored the Spurs 36-18 in the third quarter, transforming what had been a one-point deficit at the end of the second quarter into a 17-point lead heading into the fourth.

A game after scorching the Spurs for 30 points, New Orleans forward David West made just two field goals and scored just 10 in Game 2.

Instead, gunner Peja Stojakovic served as Paul’s running mate.

Stojakovic made 5 of 7 3-pointers on his way to 25 points, as the Hornets pulled away in the third quarter for the second game in a row.

“We’ve got a bunch of young guys that are very, very hungry,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “They are playing for respect right now.”

Duncan followed a five-point outing in Game 1 with a team-high 18 points, but he didn’t get much help elsewhere.

Ginobili (13 points) and Tony Parker (11) combined to shoot 9 of 24 from the field. Unable to take advantage of New Orleans’ decision to double Duncan, the Spurs made just 8 of 27 3-pointers.

Now, on to sweet hockey:
At the Hockey News, Turco has believers

Never again let it be suggested Marty Turco is not a dependable playoff goaltender.

Not after Sunday’s (and technically Monday’s) miraculous individual performance. No, those days are gone. Long gone.

Even after last year’s sterling three-shutouts-in-one-round performance, there were still doubts about his ability to carry a team because the Stars were defeated in the first round. In other words, numbers don’t count; wins do.

And win Turco did.

With his teammates clearly running out of gas, Turco stood tall. There were times during the game when I wondered if they expected him to snag the puck, carry it up the ice and score the winner himself. My guess is, Turco wondered the same thing. In any event, Stars captain Brenden Morrow ended the marathon about two hours before the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto (sorry about the local reference) re-opened (my pathway home, if you will). For the record, Morrow is my new hero.

Anyway, Turco wins and he immediately becomes the answer to our next trivia question: Can he lead the Stars past the Wings? Given his play through two rounds, the answer is a resounding yes! Until the games start, naturally.

Looking ahead, the Red Wings will be huge favorites in the Western Conference final. The Stars looked dead in the water through most of overtime Sunday, so how can anybody expect them to beat the best team in the league?

The answer is Turco. Muddle through poor play, long stretches of non-scoring chances and questionable defensive protection. Turco will save the day.

Imagine going from being a playoff question mark to a Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Two rounds to go, but I’d put my money on Turco.

Rejoice! Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page is now free!

Great Red Wings Blog

James Mirtle breaks down the Final 8 on Nationality …The Red Wings are extremely Euro…

By nationality
Team Can USA Europe
Phi 60.9% 13.0% 26.1%
Col 48.0% 28.0% 24.0%
SJ 48.0% 24.0% 28.0%
Dal 45.5% 18.2% 36.4%
Pit 45.0% 30.0% 25.0%
Mon 43.5% 17.4% 39.1%
Det 36.4% 13.6% 50.0%
NYR 36.4% 27.3% 36.4%

Autopsy on the Sharks

Keep in mind, too, that Wilson has won all of those games with a team payroll that resides in the bottom third of the league. That's not mentioned much in hockey, because the NHL has had a salary cap since 2006. But the Sharks' front office has never spent up to the cap limit. Dallas' payroll is about $8 million larger than the Sharks' estimated $41.7 million. Might the coach want to go looking for a team with a bigger wallet? Might it not be better for all parties to part ways? Just thinking out loud here.

After last season's playoff exit, Wilson was asked to compose a detailed plan of how to avoid what went wrong in 2006 and 2007, to create an action plan that was a quasi-checklist, to make sure there was improvement in certain areas during the regular season. Presumably, the checklist worked. The Sharks had their best month of March in history.

And then the brick wall. Oh, that isn't to diminish how the Sharks came from behind to beat Calgary in the first round and then fought back from the 3-0 deficit against Dallas. Dave Tippett, the Stars' coach, more or less conceded late Sunday that the Sharks probably would have won Game 7 in San Jose if there had been one. This time around, the Sharks' elimination was gallant and impressive, unlike previous years when they just seemed to fade away.

"We have nothing to hang our heads about," Wilson said in his postgame remarks.
Not Sunday night, no. Watching those five-plus hours of Game 6 was like watching an Indiana Jones triple feature, with everyone being chased by thieves on horseback for three-plus overtime periods.

The game told us this much: Wilson still has the ability to prepare his team for a crucial game. The common wisdom about coaches is that the best way to tell when a team has stopped listening to them is by the way it plays defense. And the Sharks were all over the ice Sunday night, blocking shots, digging out pucks, giving the Stars little room to breathe.

But see, here's the conundrum: Why didn't that happen more in the first few games of the series, when the Sharks blew every lead? That's when they really lost the series, not Sunday night. Also, why did the penalty kill that was good in the regular season fall apart so often in the playoffs? Shouldn't the coach bear some responsibility for that, too?

General Manager Doug Wilson believes in his players more than any other executive I have met in any sport. He also believes they play for one another more than they play for any given coach. But does Doug Wilson want to go another lap around the league with this formula and expect the result will be different? I don't think so. The general manager will examine his options thoroughly over the next few weeks, because he always does. But he knows the deal.

Thornton has a contract that locks him up through 2010-11, as does Jonathan Cheechoo. Nabokov and Marleau are signed through 2010. That gives the Sharks a two- to three-year window to build a Cup winner. Right now, team executives like to think of their team being in the same NHL class as Ottawa or Pittsburgh or Dallas or Detroit, teams with both talent and a solid organizational philosophy.

That's a stretch. In truth, the Sharks have more in common with Atlanta, Phoenix, Columbus and Nashville. Those hockey cities and franchises - along with San Jose - are the only ones that have never reached the Stanley Cup finals. You can throw in Minnesota, too, with an asterisk. The Wild has never made the finals, but the Minnesota North Stars did before moving to Dallas.

Meanwhile, four expansion teams that came into the league after the Sharks have reached the Cup finals - Florida, Ottawa, Anaheim and Tampa Bay. The latter two won the trophy.

The paying customers at HP Pavilion have the perfect right to wonder why those teams have reached the championship round, while the Sharks never have. The formula has to change. The coach might be the first ingredient to go.

HBO and the Cowboys again

The Dallas Cowboys are not only going back to California for training camp, they are expected to once again invite HBO to broadcast their every move.

A deal is "imminent" that will allow NFL Films to film five to six weeks of training camp in Oxnard, Calif. and air it on the HBO show Hard Knocks, according to a source.

Training camp opens in late July. Last season, the Cowboys held training camp in San Antonio.

The last time the Cowboys were on Hard Knocks was 2002, when they finished 5-11. It was Dave Campo's last season as coach.

HBO has aired Hard Knocks three times.

In 2001, the then-Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were the first team to allow NFL Films to film every meeting and practice as well as show how players spent time away from the field. The Kansas City Chiefs appeared last season.

Cowboys officials couldn't be reached for comment.

But Ross Greenburg, president of HBO sports, said there is "nothing to report" regarding a deal with the Cowboys.

Oh yeah, and the Rangers have the worst record in the American League

Making his eighth start, Millwood was ineffective for the first time in a 7-3 loss to Seattle that once again saddled the Rangers with sole possession of the AL's worst record (13-20).

The lineup, on the other hand, continued a trend of struggling against left-handed starters. Jarrod Washburn held the Rangers to one hit through six innings. His calf tightened up in the seventh and the Rangers strung together three hits before Washburn left the game.

When it was over, the Rangers had lost for the sixth time in seven outings against a left-handed starter. It should be pointed out that they led in five of those games at the time the lefty departed, but it wasn't because the starter was ineffective. The Rangers had slim leads in low-scoring games and those leads couldn't stand up to mistakes.

"I don't have any concern about our approaches against lefties," manager Ron Washington said. "Jarrod Washburn is a pretty good pitcher. Sometimes, you get lefties, sometimes you don't."

For the most part, the Rangers haven't gotten them.

The Rangers, who have the fewest wins in the majors against lefties this season, are hitting .245 against them, 10th in the AL. They have averaged three runs in those seven games.

The Rangers tried to put the most right-handers possible in the lineup Monday, using both catchers as starters – Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the DH. Every right-handed hitter on the roster was in the starting lineup.

And still it mounted to nothing.

The Rangers face another lefty Wednesday in Erik Bedard, who beat them 2-1 on opening day. They face lefty Greg Smith on Saturday in Arlington.

While the Rangers foundered against Washburn, the Mariners were beating up on Millwood. He allowed three hits in his first eight pitches, and everything seemed to be hit hard.

Millwood allowed three more hits, all singles, to account for another Seattle run. In the third, the hits got louder. Richie Sexson hit a one-out homer. Rookie Wladimir Balentien hit a two-out, three-run homer.

It was Millwood's 10th consecutive road loss in a stretch of 13 starts, dating to June 28. It set a club record for road futility, eclipsing the mark of nine Millwood had shared with Don Stanhouse (1972-73) and Jamie Moyer (1989-90).

Below, I found two stories (actually many of you did) on the NHL Replay process and room in Toronto…

NHL War Room

CBC War Room

And now,
Morrow winner and handshake

All Kinds of Time


C said...

Good stuff, Bob.

The Morrow/Handshake Clip is going into the "Gives me chills" sports folder.

F Detoilet

P-Cat said...

Good stuff as always. And hey, the Rangers have a long way to go before they are back on top of the league. But at least i think they may be headed in the right direction.

MK said...

uh, no.

Poncenomics said...

Uh, yes. The Rangers appear to be moving in the proper direction. Having watched this team since 1974, and having seen them either rush their prospects (David Clyde) to the bigs or trade them away for over-hyped veterans (a laundry list of players - Sparky Lyle, Lee Mazzili, Harold Baines...yada, yada), I am pleased to see them playing some younger players, win or lose. These guys don't look lost, they don't look overwhelmed, they just look young. Better to go 0-162 with a young, up-and-coming lineup than 81-81 with a bunch of has-beens (Sammy Sosa in '07) and never-weres (Frank Catalanotto in '08).

There is hope, although that's not specifically the strategy.

As for the Mavs, my faith in Mark Cuban is at least a little restored. The man sees a bigger picture than the casual fan does, and it's good to see that he was at least looking down the road with the Kidd trade. He might be just grasping at straws, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.

Andy D. said...

if ive said it once, ill say it again... the Rangers are an embarrassment to sports in general and in particular the DFW area.

Only white trash people in the surrounding suburbs of Arlington are interested in the Rangers. eff off dude.