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Gerald Wallace

Seeing is believing, as the Lakers take an unreal victory in Brooklyn

(A MAMBINO live report from Brooklyn for the Nets-Lakers game last night)
 
“Unreal. Just…unreal.”
 
I slumped back in my seat time after time, stunned at the game that was taking place in front of me. Quarter after quarter, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers continued to shake convention in a contest that couldn’t be any less believable. Still, I whispered in amazement for 48 minutes, sometimes with a smile on my face and others with a bewildered scowl, hands atop my head.
 
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Brooklyn Nets in their first visit to the Barclays Center last night, 92-83, in a game the Lakers had to have, Brooklyn couldn’t have tried harder to give away and ultimately, Pau Gasol would love to have back.
 
The Barclays Center is merely a 30-minute train ride away from my apartment. This gigantic iron behemoth is brilliantly located in the middle of New York’s second most heralded borough, crossing almost a dozen subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. It stands out from the surrounding environ of a typical urban center, as if Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum lost the war on July 4th and a spaceship landed in the middle of the BK. The Barclays Center is convenient, marvelous, and most importantly, thanks to its NBA tenants, cheap.
 
Despite a move out of the swamp in New Jersey to a brilliant, shining, $1 billion dollar arena, the now Brooklyn Nets are struggling to find their place in NYC. Attendance is up to 16th this season, a solid upward trend from finishing no better than 25th in crowd support since 2009. However, like with any expansion or relocation franchise, it’s been difficult to find a fervent, dedicated fan base when a team has little tradition, few marketable stars, and generations of followers tied to another organization. New Yorkers are still very dedicated to their beloved Knicks, and the ticket price to see the now contending Bockers is sky high. For the playoff-bound Nets? There’s a far smaller mortgage to be paid for attending a game in Brooklyn. Knowing all of this before showing up to Barclays tonight, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the swath of Lakers fans in front of me.
 
Still, even high fives from strangers clad in Lakers hats and headbands couldn’t distract me from the task at hand–defeating the then 28-19 Brooklyn Nets. LA came into the game short-staffed, with Dwight Howard missing his second consecutive game due to a re-aggravated shoulder injury and Metta World Peace due to a bogus suspension for “punching” Brandon Knight during Sunday’s Pistons game. Chief amongst my concerns were how anyone would be able to check the 6’7″ Joe Johnson, if Reggie Evans would now gobble up 25 boards instead of 16 now that Dwight was ruled out and if Steves Nash and Blake would just spot Deron Williams the 20 he would eventually score.
 
Amazingly–unreal-ly–this never came to pass.
 
(Read the rest at Silver Screen and Roll after the jump)… Read more...

NBA Free Agency Day One Round-up: Kevin Garnett and Gerald Wallace re-sign

It’s been 36 hours since NBA free agency began, and we’ve already seen enough evidence that the lockout didn’t make teams smarten up in terms of managing their funds. When Roy Hibbert, whose career highlights involve two guest appearances – one on the 2012 All-Star roster, and the other on Parks and Recreation – gets offered the same type of money that NBA Champion and incumbent Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler gets, there’s definitely something wrong with the way teams are balancing their cap.

But that deal’s not done yet. Let’s talk about the ones that have been offered, accepted and will be signed as soon as the moratorium ends on July 11th.

Kevin Garnett re-signs with the Boston Celtics, for a reported 3 years, $36 million

There are a few things that this deal is, and a few things that this deal isn’t.

First and foremost, this is a good deal for the Celtics. Even at age 36, KG made 2nd Team All-NBA Defense, manned the center position for over half the season and was the second-best player on Boston’s roster. His trademark intensity hasn’t abated at all in his 17th season, and though he can’t operate in the low post as effectively as he used to, his mid-range game and post defense rank as some of the best in the league. At the very least, the Celtics will get $12 million worth of value for next season, perhaps a little less the season after that, and at age 39 and in his 20th season, all bets are off for the third year of the deal. Obviously offering a 3-year pact was the tipping point for getting KG to agree so early in free agency, as other suitors would have come calling for either a higher annual salary or perhaps a bigger role on the team.

Garnett is the leader of the team, regardless of if Rajon Rondo is their franchise player and Paul Pierce is their fourth quarter go-to guy. He led the way in the defensive transformation of the C’s five seasons ago, as well as keeping a fiery intimidation that shrinks almost any team in the league in their wake. More than anything else with such a relatively long-term deal, KG, along with coach Doc Rivers, needs to be around to sustain the culture of this team.

What this deal isn’t is a “discount” of any type for the Celtics. The team re-signed a 36 year-old with bad knees whose going into his 18th season. Yes, he was healthy for the majority of last season, but what about the two before that? When Boston meekly submitted to Miami one year ago in a five game series (that they would have lost even if Rondo didn’t get hurt early – book that), “washed up” and “Kevin Garnett” were two synonymous words. I applaud KG for limping back, working on his body and remaking himself into the all-world defensive player he’s always been, but to suggest that he’ll stay this healthy for the next three years is foolish. The Celtics paid full price for Garnett’s services the next three years. No other team would have offered him that long of a deal, and though a two-year pact of an higher annual value would have been possible, it certainly wouldn’t have been for $36 million. If anything, they overpaid.

On KG’s part is this a move that codifies his desire to “win”? Surely. The Celtics will still be a contender in the East next year. He wanted to stay a Celtic, play for this coach, these fans and this team. However, this deal blew away everything that anyone else could have offered. Sure, this was a move geared specifically towards “winning”… Read more...