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Saying Goodbye to David Stern

Before we get into the legacy of David Stern, the man who has presided over the NBA since before I was born, I have to level with you: I wanted this to be a straight hit piece.
As the “Goodbye Mr. Stern” pieces have been published on the interwebs this week, I have been taken aback at how overwhelmingly positive each has been. There’s no question that Stern has been successful at creating a global marketing juggernaut, but isn’t this the same man who ripped out Seattle’s heart and forced fans to endure multiple lockouts? At the very least, I expected pundits to paint a complicated picture of a man who had presided over some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the NBA’s storied history.
Despite the NBA being a lifelong obsession, I have a strong personal distaste for the man and his decisions as commissioner. When you look around the sports world, there’s plenty of incompetence to go around: Bettman has driven hockey into the ground multiple times, Selig mishandled steroids in baseball about as poorly as one could, and Goodell’s dictatorship makes Stern look collaborative in comparison. So what’s my beef with Stern?
I’m no conspiracy theorist – I don’t believe he rigged the lottery with a frozen envelope or controlled outcomes for ratings (would he have let that Cleveland-San Antonio series happen?). I think he’s been an egotistical autocrat who’s ruthlessly bullied everyone in his path, a path focused on personal glory and serving owners over fans. He’s the definition of smug and makes intimidating and embarrassing his enemies a sport, even when it’s completely unnecessary. Who else would proclaim he knew where the bodies were buried, because he’s the one who buried them? As we say goodbye to the Commish, let’ start at the beginning.… Read more...

What is the future of the Los Angeles Lakers?

KOBEshigawa: The Lakers just signed Kobe Bryant to a two year, $48 million dollar contract extension. The deal will make the Black Mamba the NBA’s highest paid player for, more than likely, the remainder of his career.
Let’s tackle the issue at hand first: what was your first reaction to the contract? And before we take a turn to negativity-town, how could you possibly justify giving Bean that deal before he’s even played a minute this season?
The CDP: Outside of what my random friend from high school had for dinner last night, this was the first piece of major news I’ve ever learned from Instagram. While eating breakfast, I flipped open my phone to see the Mamba at a signing. My first reaction? Honestly, I was confused and totally surprised – I hadn’t even considered the fact that the Lakers could think about extending him. Before he had played a minute this season? Before they saw this summer’s free agent possibilities? It wasn’t even on my radar. At that point, I managed to read the Mamba’s artful hashtagging – “What an HONOR #laker4life #lakers #bussfamily #thankyou #extended.” There was a moment of pride that washed over me.
Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the greatest players of all time, was going to be a Laker for his entire career. Maybe there was the possibility that Black Sheep Buss had gotten one right. After watching Kobe play night in and night out since I was a teenager, there was significant sentimental value in locking the Mamba up. We’ve had our ups and downs – but Kobe will always be an all-time favorite. No question. At that point, my basketball brain started to take over and I wondered about the gory details. “How much? HOW MUCH?!” After several frustrating Google searches, I gave up. It took me a few hours to find out the terms and I spent the rest of the day obsessing about the implications for our squad.
How about you? What was your first reaction? And how was it changed since?… Read more...

Can They Do It Again? Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview

Tony Allen knows no mercy.

Starting Five: PG Mike Conley Jr., SG Tony Allen, SF Tayshaun Prince, PF Zach Randolph, C Marc Gasol
Key Bench Players: SF Mike Miller, SG Jerryd Bayless, SF Quincy Pondexter, C Ed Davis, C Kosta Koufos, SG Nick Calathes, F Jamal Franklin
Notable offseason additions: SF Mike Miller, C Kosta Koufos, F Jamal Franklin (#41 overall in the NBA draft), Coach Dave Joerger
Notable offseason subtractions: PF Darrell Arthur, F Austen Daye, G Keyon Dooling, Coach Lionel Hollins
FACT OR FICTION: The Grizzlies will take a step forward in a crowded Western Conference.
FACT. The Grizzlies have their work cut out for them in a loaded Western Conference playoff picture. Although Denver did everyone a favor with their timed implosion, the Grizz will have to contend with the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, and even Warriors for playoff position in 2013-14. So why am I confident that they can do it?
The Grizz are coming off of their best season in franchise history, winning 56 games (just 4 short of the #1 seeded Thunder) while making it to the Western Conference Finals. To get there, they had to beat a very good Clippers team and take down a hobbled Thunder squad. Although the Grizz have changed head coaches, their pecking order and identity as a defense juggernaut haven’t changed a bit.… Read more...

Uncle Drew’s World: Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Cleveland’s great hope for the future.

Starting Five: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Dion Waiters, SF Earl Clark, PF Tristan Thompson, C Andrew Bynum
Key Bench Players: SF Anthony Bennett, PG Jarrett Jack, PF Anderson Varejao, G-F CJ Miles, F Tyler Zeller, G-F Alonzo Gee
Notable offseason additions: Coach Potato Head (Mike Brown), C Andrew Bynum, PF Anthony Bennett (#1 overall pick), PG Jarrett Jack, SF Earl Clark, G-F Sergey Karasev (#19 overall pick), G-F Carrick Felix (#33 overall pick)
Notable offseason subtractions: SG Wayne Ellington, G-F Omri Casspi, G Daniel Gibson, F Luke Walton, PG Shaun Livingston, G Chris Quinn, PF Kevin Jones
FACT OR FICTION: The Cleveland Cavaliers are a playoff team in 2013-2014.
FACT. Following the implosion of both Boston and Milwaukee this off-season, there looks to be a four team race for the seven and eight seeds. The usual suspects (Heat, Pacers, Bulls, Knicks, Nets, and probably Hawks) appear safe, but the Cavaliers, Wizards, Pistons, and Raptors (?!) are in the running for the next up and comer in the East. While each fanbase has lots of reasons for optimism, I really like where Cleveland is sitting right now and think they’ll take the 7/8.

Even if Anthony Bennett is a stretch at #1, they had a promising core already with Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and Varejao, a group that will only get better and is now complemented by some stellar off-season signings. Jarrett Jack was an absolute ROCK for Golden State and will bring the kind of moxie in the clutch that can bail out Cleveland in big moments. Earl Clark was a great signing who will provide a lot of depth, defense, and versatility. The Cavs managed to get both for just $11M next season, which is perfectly reasonable.… Read more...

Tanking for the Future: Utah Jazz Season Preview

The future is now in Utah… it just isn’t very good yet

Starting five: PG Trey Burke, SG Alec Burks, SF Gordon Hayward, PF Enes Kanter, C Derick Favors
Key bench players: SG Brandon Rush, SF Marvin Williams, SF Jeremy Evans, C Andris Biedrins, PG John Lucas III
Offseason additions: PG Trey Burke (#4 overall pick), SF Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins, SG Brandon Rush, PG John Lucas III, C Rudy Gobert (#18 overall pick), PG Jerel McNeal, PG Ian Clark
Offseason subtractions: PF Paul Millsap, C Al Jefferson, PG Mo Williams, SG Randy Foye, PG Jamaal Tinsley, SG Kevin Murphy, PG Earl Watson, SF DeMarre Carroll
FACT OR FICTION: The Utah Jazz should be lauded for completely tanking 2013-2014.
FACT. In general, I think the presiding sentiment of tank or compete is overrated in the NBA. The 76ers are currently receiving accolades for sending out All-Star Jrue Holiday for another chance at Wiggins, but – if you look at the teams in the playoffs last year – only one contender (The Thunder) really tanked to get where they are today. Most of the other up and coming teams, like Houston, Memphis, and the Clippers either accumulated mid-level assets to swing trades, signed pivotal free agents, or  got lucky like the Bulls.
That said, the Jazz made the right call to mail in this season. They have quality, young players to develop across the board. Burke, Burks, Hayward, Kanter, and Favors are all going to get plenty of minutes this year, but in a situation without pressure to make the playoffs. The future in Utah starts now – and they have a promising core that will see more first round additions next summer. If all goes right, this team could be a real force in the West in a few seasons.… Read more...

MAMBINO Roundtable: Best/Worst of the NBA Offseason

With the NBA offseason tied up with a little bow and training camp still weeks away, we decided to sate our NBA appetites by wrapping up a crazy couple months. I threw out and e-mail and polled a couple of our brilliant young minds, and this is what we came up with:

Best offseason move: Houston Rockets sign Dwight Howard to a four year, $88 million dollar contract
After years of hoarding cap room and trade assets, the Rockets’ master plan has finally came to fruition in just 9 short months. The first part of this signing actually came at the end of October, when GM Daryl Morey got James Harden for three guys named Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams. In thirty years, will anyone recognize any player there besides Harden?
If Howard is healthy, which I don’t have any reason to suspect he isn’t, the Rockets got a complete game changer that will change the complexion of one of the league’s most porous defenses last year. Towards the end of the season, Dwight showed that when active and engaged he’s still capable of dragging a team of athletically impaired old men to being a respectable defensive squad. Even before we look at his offensive contributions as a devastating finisher at the rim, Howard is already the season’s most valuable signing.… Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Metta World Peace to the New York Knicks

New York Knicks get: SF Metta World Peace (two years, $3 million)
(The following was a MAMBINO e-mail chain started off by renegade blogger, friend of the blog and all-around degenerate Jimbo Shingles. What followed was an Instant Trade Analysis of Metta World Peace signing with the New York Knickerbockers)
Jimbo Shingles: What do we think about this?
Where are are the Knicks missing depth? What can they do to win the whole thing?
The CDP: Regarding Metta, he fell off the second half of the year a bit, but he was on fire and reinvigorated entering the year. He was in great shape, and an absolute bull dog on defense. His speed has been leaving him for years (he’s 33!), so he can’t guard the fastest guys in the league anymore, but he still has incredibly quick, strong hands and he has great instincts on the ball. Plus, he uses his size well to body up bigs and not give an inch.

Offensively he’s not the same beast–Metta has always needed a lot of volume to be even remotely efficient–but he’s definitely serviceable enough in the right positions (open threes, in the post) to keep defenses honest. … Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Mock Draft, Part 2

Yesterday, we hit you with the first part of our 2013 NBA Mock Draft, going through and selecting on behalf of the lottery teams. Today in part 2, we’ll mock the rest of the first round. Onward!
With the 15th pick, the Milwaukee Bucks would be thrilled to select Shabazz Muhammad, forward from UCLA. 
AO: The Bucks are in NBA no mans land, just good enough to make the playoffs and be swept. That’s not where you want to be.  There are lots of rumblings about the potential re-signings, or non signings, of the overrated back court of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.  Assuming one of those two will be back (max), and the hilarious offensive-ineptitude of their frontcourt, the Bucks have a strong need for scoring across the board.  Shabazz is a guy who was rated #1 in this draft for a long period.  His quick one year tenure at UCLA was forgettable, but no one doubts this is one of the most skilled guys in the draft.  He can score, handle and shoot.  Passing and defense are another issue, but at #15, the Bucks would be lucky to grab someone who could potentially lead their team in scoring.… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Mock Draft, Part 1

With an epic NBA Finals in the books and new legacies defined, the most exciting part of the season continues on with the 2013 NBA Draft.


Most prognosticators have called this weakest draft since Kenyon Martin, Darius Miles and the other dregs of the NBA sewer system bogged up our beloved L in 2000. However, what I’m seeing is a talent pool that might not have a definite superstar in it’s upper echelons, but rather a sizeable amount of solid role players and borderline All-Stars. Not too shabby.


To sate our endless appetite for anything smelling like the NBA, us hoophead junkies assembled like Voltron this week to do our annual mock draft. We all were assigned teams and told to get into the minds of each team’s GM, and pick not only along talent, but also need. The MAMBINO crew will be there in person this Thursday to see what we got right, what we got terribly wrong and yes, if we can boo David Stern as lustily with the 1st pick as we do the 30th. It’s the Commissioner’s last draft before his retirement, so we’ll make sure to emerge from Barclays Center with our vocal chords raw. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for some in-arena perspective @TheGreatMambino. Today we’ll cover the lottery picks in part 1, and tomorrow we’ll do the rest of the first round in part 2.


Without further ado….let’s go!


With the number 1 pick, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett, forward from UNLV


AO: Obviously, lots of rumors surrounding this pick.  Looking at it from a pure “need” standpoint, Bennett is the right mix of safe + potential.  Sure, Cleveland doesn’t have a foundation in the middle, although Anderson Varajeo and Tyler Zeller are both competent, the former being a borderline All-Star when healthy.  But I’m not sold on the bigs in this draft.


Noel and Len have both been rumored to be the target for CLE, but they are both projects, not ready to come in and contribute right away.  CLE is set at the 1 and 2 with Mr. Irving and Mr. Waiters.  The front court is mostly unproven and young.  Why would you want more of that?  Why assume that risk of drafting a bust, especially when everyone agrees the ceilings are pretty low w/ Noel and Len.  Instead, I’d take a guy in Bennett who can play the 3 and leverage his size at that position.  He’s a good enough shooter to be a legit 3, but will also be capable of playing the stretch 4 for at least some minutes.  Lastly, I think Dan Gilbert and co like to play things close to the vest (except when the best player in the NBA leaves his team on national TV, then, yea, he gets a bit “public”).  No one saw Waiters coming last year.  Who knows what Tricky Dan has behind his bowtie?


With the 2nd pick, the Orlando Magic select Nerlens Noel, center from the University of Kentucky.

KOBEsh: A debatable number 1 pick, Noel (if healthy) could be an absolute defensive destroyer for any NBA team. Orlando has found a hidden gem in Nikola Vucevic, whose rebounding is certainly underrated, but can’t be depended upon as shot blocking intimidation in the paint. Pairing him with Noel could make for a formidable Magic frontline, with Nerlens serving as the Tyson Chandler (the best case scenario, by far for Noel) to Vucevic’s offensive capabilities. By drafting the center, Orlando is essentially punting next season (as Noel is still recovering from a torn ACL), and setting themselves up for another lottery pick in the STACKED 2014 Draft. Not a bad … Read more...

Los Angeles Lakers Summer 2013 Moves Preview

KOBEsh: In my mind, there’s three big issues heading into the Lakers offseason. In no particular order….

  1. Is Dwight Howard going to re-up for five years, $118 million?
  2. Is Mike D’Antoni going to be the coach next season?
  3. Is Pau Gasol going to be on the team next season?

Those questions–not a silly Kobe amnesty conversation–are what’s taking up my mindspace after a devastating end to the regular season.
CDP, what’s the biggest storyline in your mind?
The CDP: I have to think, I have to assume that Dwight is re-upping. I was really hoping that he would play better without Kobe and win a game or two against the Spurs. It turns out that the Laker injury bug kept taking depth and Dwight may have had the worst supporting cast he’s ever seen during that series. Dwight was frustrated, imploded, and left the 2013 playoffs with a mouthful of unbelievable sour grapes. I have to think that the money, market, and potential to own LA after Kobe leaves will still be enough. I don’t really think he’d rather be in Dallas, Atlanta, Utah, or Houston. If he does leave, he never had the cajones to make it in LA anyway, and they’ll have $60M+ in cap room next off-season.
Your other two questions are much more interesting to me, especially since Cleveland re-hiring Mike Brown got the Lakers off the hook for his albatross of a contract. I guess the primary question is: what kind of mood are the Lakers in? Will there be pressure to reduce expenses, as there was inexplicably during the lockout – cutting long-time assistants, equipment managers, and valuable scouts? Or will the Lakers defiantly pay the $85M tax bill coming their way – neglecting to use the nuclear amnesty option.  At the moment, the Lakers owe D’Antoni 2 years and $8M and Pau Gasol another year with nearly $20M in salary cap commitments.… Read more...