Monday, February 6, 2012

An old Tiger Woods piece I thought I'd throw up here

The world of sports is full of long, lonely walks. From the centre circle to the penalty spot, the backcourt to the free-throw line, the bullpen to the mound in the bottom of the ninth. In these moments, the athlete is alone in a crowd of thousands. The whole world slows almost to a stop, then everything rushes back into focus, and then…The great ones revel in these moments, when every eye is on them, waiting to see what comes next.

For Tiger Woods, every step he takes on the course must feel just as lonely, just as surreal. Except, for him, the long, lonely walk never ends. Every swing counts. Every moment on the course is scrutinized and analyzed. There is no teammate to relieve the pressure with a joke, no loving wife waiting at home to console him if he fails, no one to offer him the unconditional support of a parent. He plays for no badge but his own. Tiger Woods is truly all alone. He used to relish in it, when he stood alone on the summit of professional golf, the only player anyone wanted to see. They still want to see him, but the eyes aren’t as friendly now.

It is the nature of the sport of golf which has contributed most to Tiger Woods’ astonishing freefall (78th, 28th, 12th, and 11th in his last 4 tournaments). It has been suggested that what Tiger needs is just to get out on the course, that he will escape his problems by playing golf, which will lead to him playing better golf. I don’t see it. Tiger Woods will not play his best golf until he has moved on from this scandal. Golf won’t help him. The mental must be sorted out before the sport; it won’t come the other way around.

Sports like basketball, soccer, football and the rest can be a haven for the troubled mind. There’s no time to think, only to react, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the game. Take the recently presented example of Wayne Rooney, England’s premier soccer star. Just days after a scandal, similar to Tiger’s and involving prostitutes and pregnant wives left in the dark, broke, Rooney was able to conjure up two vintage performances for England, seeing off Bulgaria and Switzerland in the European Championship qualification campaign. Rooney’s young family is in jeopardy, yet he was able to escape between the lines, at least for a little while. Golf is not like soccer, and it is not like other sports. The moments of athletic escape are few and far between. While other athletes only have moments to collect their thoughts, golfers only have moments to escape theirs. That’s fine if all you’re thinking about is the next shot, but how could that be all Tiger thinks about when he takes his long walks.

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Tiger Woods’ inclusion in the American Ryder Cup team could not have come at a better time for him, personally and, therefore, professionally. The tournament, which will be played at Wales’ Celtic Manor Resort, from Oct. 1-3, will give Tiger the opportunity to be in the public eye under the protection of something bigger than himself, the American flag. When he steps up to the tee-box, people won’t just see Tiger Woods, adulterer, but Tiger Woods, American golfer. The value of this cannot be overstated. To be able to play knowing that the people watching him care about more than just salacious tabloid gossip, but want to see him succeed or fail based on the colours he represents, will be a tremendous relief for Tiger. For the first time in what seems like a long time, there will be people around him that genuinely want him to do well. The team environment is a cure for many ills, and I expect the same to be true in October. Furthermore, the more respectful nature of British golf fans should provide the perfect platform for Tiger’s continued rehabilitation. I fully expect Tiger Woods’ game to improve markedly during and after the Ryder Cup. Will he be amazing as soon as he puts on the American jersey? I think that it would be unrealistic to expect that, but certainly not outside the realm of possibility for the most talented golfer of his, or perhaps any, generation.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Early Impressions of the NBA

My Dad gave me money and told me to get a job, my Mother gave me a hug and told me to get a girlfriend, but on Christmas Day, the NBA gave me the best gift, one that keeps on giving; professional basketball is back, and not a moment too soon. The last two weeks have been predictably packed with intrigue for NBA fans and now feels like a good time to reflect and take stock of the new season, so for those of you with jobs and girlfriends, let me catch you up on what's been going on.

Before I talk about anything else, there’s something I have to get off my chest right away. I’m not a New Yorker, or even particularly a Knicks fan, but what is going on in New York right now cannot be allowed to continue for even a moment. Watch the Knicks play defense, rebound the basketball…watch how they work without the ball. Then look at the reaction from the head coach…nothing. A man that can watch that and not react does not deserve to be allowed to continue as the head coach of basketball in the Mecca of Basketball. It’s an insult to all of us, straight up. Stephen A.? Can I get an amen?

But I don’t want this to be about hate…we’ve got great games every day and there’s too much to love to get caught up with criticisms. What do I really know about the inner workings of the Knicks anyway? Maybe D’Antoni’s preaching defense all day, every day, and the players just won’t respond. Anyway…on to the love.

KAAAAAAAHN!!! RUBIOOOOOO!!! LOOOOOOVE THE TIMBERWOLVES!!! There’s a theme developing in the NBA and it’s the redemption of franchises that have too long been in basketball purgatory. It took the Wolves all of about 10 seconds of Rubio time to cement themselves as the League Pass Champ of this season. Kevin Love is becoming a legitimate superstar, Rubio’s got that European soccer vision in an NBA body, Derek Williams still gives Duke fans the cold sweats from time to time and Rick Adelman is, without doubt, one of the best coaches in the league. If you haven’t already, get on this’s a lot of fun.

PS. Dear Minnesota PA Guy: The Big Bad Wolf by Duck Sauce…you’re welcome.

Rubio is probably the most hyped rookie in the league, but he’s far from the only causing a buzz in NBA stadiums with his early exploits. I have a theory about these guys, who seem to be doing a great job, across the board, of doing what they were drafted to do, but staying in their lane at the same time. Consider: the modern generation of player has grown up with round the clock coverage and analysis of everything to do with the NBA. On the court, off the court…everything is way more accessible than it used to be. It makes sense that the modern player is more aware than ever before of how to go about his business. Information that used to come with experience: how to prepare, how to carry yourself, even how to play the game is all there to be learned by anyone who pays attention. Thus, we have more rookies who are better prepared to start their career on the right track than ever before.

One guy who caught my eye immediately is Marshon Brooks in New Jersey (20-1 to win ROY last time I checked). To me, this guy looks like Kobe with a conscience. I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Kobe as in, 5 titles, one of the greatest ever, etc., but he’s got the same kind of game as Kobe, he's not afraid to take on the responsibility of scoring. And we’ve seen over the years, a guy who has good length at the guard spot and is a threat to shoot and get in the paint and finish at the rim is a very, very valuable commodity in the NBA.

Finally, how about a note on the Toronto Raptors? I’m Canadian and if we don’t talk about the Raptors, who will? Nobody, that’s who…unless it’s to make some smartass comment. Don’t worry though, Raptors fans, there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel in the shape of Dwane Casey. All due respect to Jay Triano, but you’re not going anywhere if you don’t have a real coach and the signs are there that Raptors might have found one. Casey is a respected figure in the league, coming off a title run as an assistant with the Mavericks, who has the Raptors, right in the conversation for least talented team in the league, playing hard on both ends of the floor and punching above their weight. Andrea Bargnani is being put in a position to succeed with what is an effective, but limited, skill set. Jose Calderon is more aggressive on offense, which he needs to be on this team and everyone is playing hard on both ends of the court. It’ll take some time, but this is a team heading in the right direction. There’s a man in New York City who should be taking notes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Problem with Mike Conley

Mike Conley! I'm calling you out! How did you ever get that shiny new contract? I mean, you only shot 44% from the field this season. Tony Parker shot can you look in the mirror shooting under .500? So not everyone's a lights out shooter, but what do you do? Ok, your points and assists per game have improved marginally every year in the league. This is your fourth season, why aren't you a superstar already? Rondo's a superstar, so is Westbrook and Derek Rose. This is the age of the point guard...where are you? You're slacking man!

You were picked fourth owe me, and everyone else, more than you're giving. Yes, you run the Grizzlies offense beautifully, spreading the ball around to all your weapons, finding the hot-hand and rarely making a bad decision or taking a bad shot. You think that's enough to make you a good player? You think that makes you worth $5 million a year? You got another thing coming man. I never see you on Sportcenter and you've never done something I haven't seen before. I could care less that you're the primary ball-handler on a Grizzlies team that has the #1 ranked Spurs one game from elimination.

I know what all you irrational Conley fans are thinking. "But Mike's got more assists and rebounds than the great Tony Parker...he's more than holding his own against one of the best point-guards in the NBA!" Get real. We all know there's only one stat gets you paid and that's points, where TP is outscoring Conley by 2 points per game. Are you fools even watching these games? Watch TP score in the paint over and over with his spins and floaters and tell me he's getting outplayed. All Mike Conley does is move the ball on to the next. Anyone can pass a ball. Putting the ball in the right guy's hands on point and on time is not that hard. I mean, even Mike Conley can do it all day.

I don’t watch basketball to see guys who are thinking the game and keep it simple. I’m trying to see someone jump out of the damn gym, someone who the camera can’t even keep up with. The NBA is where amazing happens. You do not amaze me, Mike Conley. That’s fine if you’re a tough guy or a hustler, but you’re a point-guard! You are supposed to thrill me. You never thrill me. Your handle is good, not great. You can shoot alright. You're just the guy passing to the guy. So you’re in the top-10 in steals…so what? You never dunk 'em anyway.

There's a reason you get no respect, and why your new contract was widely ridiculed as yet another piece of bone-headed Grizzlies’ business. Even so, I thought it was important to point out to people just how unspectacular you are...$5 million? Really? The Grizzlies’ must be idiots with no basketball sense to give you that contract. Either that…or I’m an idiot with no basketball sense and you know that's not true.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NBA Playoff Preview

I’m not excited when I turn on a basketball game anymore. Don’t worry; this isn’t a misguided plea for more teamwork and passing in the NBA, with a shorter 3-point line. This is a plea for the playoff season to start already! I’m at the point of the season where I’ve seen all the teams. I’ve seen every permutation of every possible matchup and dissected what every result meant.

What I need now is a game that really means something. The playoff teams are all but set, barring the late scrabble to be a sacrificial 8th seed. There are only three weeks left in the season, but I’m part of the microwave generation and I can’t wait that long. With that in mind, here is my Probably-Two-Weeks-Premature NBA Playoff Preview.

Consulting with a certified basketball genius who will remain nameless, I have projected the results of the remaining games to come up with a playoff seeding.

1. Spurs (64-18)
2. Lakers (59-23)
3. Mavericks (57-25)
4. Thunder (49-33)
5. Nuggets (48-34)
6. Blazers (48-34)
7. Hornets (46-36)
8. Grizzlies (45-37)

1. Bulls (60-22)
2. Celtics (59-23)
3. Heat (58-24)
4. Magic (55-26)
5. Hawks (44-38)
6. 76ers (43-39)
7. Knicks (41-41)
8. Pacers (37-45)

Over the next few days, I’ll be posting previews and predictions for every series, ending with my prediction for the 2011 NBA Champions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NBA Power Rankings


1. Spurs .815

It must be hard for a Texas team to be heard above the din of New York and LA. How else can you explain the anonymity of a team that’s five and a half games up on everyone else?

2. Lakers .697

Phil Jackson has never coached a championship team that had a four-game losing streak before. But it’s Kobe.

3. Mavs .723

Just like the Spurs, they don’t get a lot of respect. Tough at home, tough on the road...they’ll make some noise.

4. Celtics .730

A shock trade has left the Celtics clinging to bona-fide contender status. Can the Big 3 get back to the finals again?


5. Bulls .719

The Bulls have made people stand up and take notice in the playoffs before. No one wants to see the MVP standing in their way.

6. Heat .677

Has there ever been a more dramatic team in history? Wild swings of emotion seem to carry the Heat’s season from explosive highs and desperate lows.


7. Magic .621

They probably think that they belong at the top table. They’ll need to show it in the playoffs to get there.

8. Thunder .641

They’re a very good, but still very young team.


9. Blazers .569

How good would the Blazers be if they could keep everyone healthy? They’re pretty good anyway and no one wants to see the Blazers in the first round.

10. Nuggets .585

It’s hard to know what the Nuggets are so soon after a big trade. What they look like is a well coached team that is legitimately 11-deep and has all the swagger with none of the ego.

11. Hawks .569

I don’t really like having the Hawks this high, since it doesn’t really seem like they’re going anywhere. They might never be great, but they’re still good and we’ve seen them stand up to a bully in the playoffs before.

12. Knicks .531

They might be a year or two away from being where they want to be, the NBA Finals, but STAT and Melo have shown more chemistry in 3 weeks than Miami’s mustered in an entire season.

13. Grizzlies .545

I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that the Grizzlies are just the new Hawks.

14. Hornets .567

I can’t help but feel like the fact that the Hornets are so high is a testament to how good Chris Paul is. That does a disservice to David West and Emeka Okafor, but despite injuries, Paul has this team punching above its weight.


15. 76ers .523

They may have started out slowly, but have steadily improved to get back into the playoffs. I don’t think we really know how good they are yet, they might not either.

16. Suns .524

The Sun may be setting on this Phoenix team. It’s a veteran team and this could be their last chance to make something happen together.

17. Jazz .515

They lost their coach of 20+ years and their franchise player in the same week. Anything this reeling club does will be done on guts.

18. Rockets .500

This team always feels like they’re playing uphill, but they play well.


19. Warriors .446

Nelly’s gone, but they can still score. They can’t do a lot else, but they can sure put some points up and look good doing it.

20. Pacers .415

Larry Bird has a little something cooking in Indiana. They have a lot of under the radar guys just waiting to break out.

21. Clippers .379

There’s nothing under the radar about the Clippers, thanks to Blake Griffin. There’s some substance behind the style too and it seems the Clippers won’t be bad forever after all.


22. Bobcats .415

They just traded away their best player in Gerald Wallace. Even before that I didn’t see a lot of point in watching a Bobcats game.

23. Bucks .397

At this time last year, Bucks fans were wondering if Brandon Jennings was the next Iverson. This time this year, I’m wondering if we’ll ever care what the Bucks are doing.


24. Nets .328

They have Deron, they’re moving to Brooklyn, they have a Russian billionaire owner. That’s a lot of good things; are they good now; no…will they be good soon? Why wouldn’t they be?

25. Pistons .348

Detroit…Basketball…is kinda weak right now. They have a few guys who can play, but they need to figure out what’s going on with the old guard before they move forward.


26. Timberwolves .254

Love’s a beast. The Wolves need to do a lot of work to convince him to he’s not wasting time in Minnesota.

27. Raptors .277

The Raptors have half a great team. Unfortunately, it’s the bottom half.

29. Kings .238

DeMarcus Cousins might turn out to be the best player in his draft class and is already the best player on the Kings. No one’s told Tyreke yet though.

28. Wizards .254

If it wasn’t for Blake Griffin, we might care more about the Wizards, if only to watch John Wall play for Rookie of the Year. But Blake Griffin exists, so the Wizards might as well not.

30. Cavs .188

Historically bad…what else is there to say?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

State of the Nick-Nation

What happened to all the cool nicknames in basketball? I feel like we’re in the middle of a nickname drought right now. I mean, people have nicknames, but it’s not like Magic Johnson, where he was his nickname. The old nicknames just sounded so great: Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwan, “Air” Jordan and so on. What are we calling these guys now? Most of the stars in the NBA are just going by some combination of their name and number. CP3, DWill, DRose, D12, CB4 (back when Bosh was in Toronto)…those aren’t nicknames! Nicknames are supposed to be colourful and cool, not sound like a barcode. Has the human race’s creative spark been so blunted by technology that this is what we’re reduced to?

No doubt we have to step up our name-game, that’s the fans and the media, cause you can’t give yourself a nickname…that’s elementary nickname etiquette. Did you ever just kind of sidle up to someone at school and say, real casual, “So…people are calling me T-Bone now, you hear about this? It’s stupid…but…yeah you can call me T-Bone I guess.” No you didn’t. Because if you did that, your friends and everyone else would be well within their rights to give you any nickname they wanted; punishment for a blatant nickname foul.

Speaking of nickname fouls, how did we let Dwight Howard get away with calling himself Superman? Not only did he give himself that name, he did it while there was still another Superman running around the schoolyard. He’s lucky we’re not calling him Princess right now.

But there are a few good nicknames kicking around the NBA, all is not lost. I love the Black Mamba for Kobe because that’s what he is on the court: a deadly assassin. Ray Allen is Jesus, Glen Davis is Big Baby, Sasha Vujacic is Machine (not, “the Machine”, just, “Machine”), AK47 is just a name and number, but the fact that Andrei Kirilinko is Russian and looks like an AK47 toting bad-guy from central casting helps, LeBron James is the King.

Just a side note for those of you thinking, “How is LeBron the King? What has he done for the crown?” Don’t be so quick to think that being called the King is such a great thing. That nickname, like so many things associated with LeBron these days, is a poisoned chalice. It could very quickly take on a mocking tone if his career doesn’t go the way he wants it to. If I was him, I’d way rather go by L-Train, which is what the Cavs colour guy used to call him. Nevertheless, I think the name fits him…King James sounds right and he has the bearing and confidence (arrogance?) to pull it off.

It’s easy to criticize, but I feel like I should at least attempt to make a contribution to this supposed dearth of good nicknames that I’m claiming. It’s tough, because obviously the best nicknames come from really knowing someone and their idiosyncrasies, but I’ll give it a shot.

First of all, it’s really too bad that Chris Bosh left the Raptors, not because he was their key to success, but because he looks exactly a dinosaur. To be more specific, he looks exactly like Littlefoot from the Land Before Time movies. Google it. Even better, his

girlfriend, I don’t know if they’re still together but the girlfriend he had in Toronto, the one that heckled LeBron, looks exactly like Sara, the triceratops from Land Before Time. Google that too. But Chris left Toronto, robbing us of the nicknaming material of dreams, so I won’t even try to think of a dinosaur name for him. It’ll just make me sad that it doesn’t apply anymore. Velocabosh. What a waste. What a waste.

Another one I’ve been thinking about lately doesn’t really sound that great, but it has some potential, I think. I saw this picture of Rondo guarding LeBron and it really brought home something I’ve kind of thought all along. That Rajon Rando looks like a goblin. He’s short (relatively) and he’s got the long arms and his face is just…gobliny. Rajon Rondo is The Green Goblin. He’s throwing pumpkin bomb dimes on the regular. The ball is orange and everything. At the end of the day, I really just want to hear Marv Albert say, “Oh my goodness! There’s a goblin in the garden!”

Who is the Green Goblin’s arch nemesis? It’s Spiderman and for the sake of symmetry I will now force that nickname down some players’ throat. Spiderman as a basketball player has to be able to hang around in the air, weave around people and he should probably be wearing a red suit. Don’t Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo have kind of a strained relationship, a little bit of a rivalry? Beautiful, because Derrick Rose is Spiderman. Boom. We got a little momentum going now. Dwight Howard can be Mary Jane.

I got a couple more to run by you:

Dwight “Disney” Howard – Because he plays in Orlando and he has cartoon muscles and a huge smile.

Delonte “Rambo” West/Delonte “Wild” West – The man was pulled over on a three-wheeled motorcycle with a pump action shotgun, a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver. Something like that needs to be commemorated. Other options could include “The Matrix”, or any reference to someone who would conceivably roll in on a three wheeled bike packing a shotgun.

Kevin “The Ant” Durant – Because he looks weak but he can carry a lot on his back. Pretty weak but it rhymes.

Sonny “Money” Weems – A favourite of mine, both the name and the player.

That’s all I got. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start. Can you think of a good one?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Under Review: NBA Trade Deadline

Some trade deadlines arrive with a ton of hype and coverage, but rarely a trade that’s actually interesting, *cough* NHL *cough*. The NBA trade deadline is not one of those deadlines, and 2011 was no different. In fact, 2011 gave NBA fans one of the craziest trade deadlines in recent memory, with 14 trades, involving 17 draft picks and 49 players, ranging from the Carmelo’s and Deron’s of the world all the way down to the Luke Harangody’s.

There were the blockbusters, one expected, one not, which completely removed all the star-power from Mountain Time…other than Gordon Hayward, obviously. Other deals may have involved lesser lights, but their impact on where the trophy ends up in June for the next few years could be huge. Finally, on the Timberwolves end of the spectrum, there were a number of trades which could have only served to depress fans worldwide as they acquainted, or reacquainted, themselves with the reality that their team is hopelessly irrelevant and, perhaps, will be for quite some time.

Let’s begin at the top. After all the Melodrama, the New York Knicks finally got their man, acquiring F Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, along with G Chauncey Billups, F Renaldo Balkman, G Anthony Carter and C Shelden Williams from the Nuggets, along with F Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves. In return, the Nuggets got F Wilson Chandler, G Raymond Felton, F Danilo Galinari, C Timofey Mozgov, C Kostas Koufas, the Knicks’ 2014 1st round pick, 2nd round picks in 2012 and 2013, both originally belonging to the Warriors, and 3 million dollars cash. As part of the deal, the Timberwolves picked up C Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and F Anthony Randolph from the Knicks, the Nuggets’ 2015 2nd round pick and 3 million dollars.

So after wading through the details of that monster deal, what does it all mean? What it means is that the Knicks will be starting two of the best players in the league, in their prime, for at least the next 5 years or so. I read a lot of articles from various sports media outlets leading up to and after this trade about how Carmelo wasn’t worth the price, how he was just a volume shooter who couldn’t, and wouldn’t, play defence. That’s bogus. That opinion is, as the kids say, an epic fail. Carmelo Anthony is not, “the best scorer in the league.” Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Amar’e Stoudemire and Dwyane Wade are all averaging more points per game and all shoot a higher percentage from the field. What Carmelo Anthony is, is the most versatile scorer in the league. Carmelo Anthony is faster than you and if he’s not, then he’s stronger than you. He might be stronger, taller and faster than you. He can play with his back to the basket and he can kill you from the outside. He can get to the line, where he shoots better than 80%. When you need a bucket, say…I don’t know, sometime in May or June, Carmelo can get it for you any way you want it. That kind of skill-set is rare and invaluable. If you can get Carmelo Anthony, you do it. Throw in the fact that he’s a New Yorker who wants to play in the Garden more than anything and it’s a slam dunk. Yes, the price was steep, but it was absolutely worth it, and let’s not forget that Carmelo didn’t arrive in the Big Apple alone. Flying in with him, somehow under the radar, is a former Finals MVP, Chauncey Billups, who is a definite upgrade at the point-guard position over Raymond Felton. And don’t sleep on Corey Brewer, who joins the Knicks from Minnesota. He is definitely capable of filling in some holes on the stat-sheet and he can give you defence, athleticism and effort, attributes that are always welcome.

It’s not all doom and gloom in Denver either and I think, given the circumstances, the Nuggets came out of this in pretty good shape too. They avoided getting Leboned, Boshed, whatever you want to call it, by getting the most they could for their want-away superstar. Along with draft picks, the Nuggets got a couple of nice young players in Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler, a promising big man in Timofey Mozgov and either a really good backup guard, or a good trade chip in Raymond Felton. They’ll have to make a decision on whether to resign Chandler after this season, but the rest are signed for at least next season. Remember, these guys made up the majority of a starting line-up that had already begun New York’s resurgence and they’ve already started well in Denver, beating the Celtics in the home-opener of the new-look Nuggets before losing by one, on the road in Portland, the very next night. Pretty good start. Nuggets fans should feel good about where they’re at right now. Kenyon Martin’s $16 million salary comes off the books after this season, meaning they should be able to resign anyone they want to keep among their list of expiring contracts (Martin, J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler, Aaron Afflalo) AND, as part of the Anthony deal, they have a $17 million trade exception they can use to sign a marquee free agent if and when they choose.

The Timberwolves got what they got out of the deal and, to be honest, no one really cares, although it’s kinda funny that one team now has Eddy Curry, Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley. Unfortunately, Minnesota is one of those teams I mentioned in the intro: hopelessly irrelevant, their fans can only count the days until Kevin Love inevitably leaves, without even the comfort of knowing that Clippers fans understand their pain. They do, or they once did, but now they have Blake Griffin, so they don’t care anymore.

The big question during the Carmelo trade saga was would Carmelo go to the Knicks, or become a part of the Nets (eventual) Brooklyn revolution. He went to the Knicks and the Nets missed out on the first big splash of the Prokhorov era…or so we thought. In what was maybe the biggest surprise of deadline day, the Utah Jazz sent All-Star point guard Deron Williams to New Jersey for F Derrick Favors, G Devin Harris, the Nets’ 2011 1st round pick, a 2012 1st round pick originally belonging to the Warriors and cash considerations.

The immediate reaction to this deal was that, if you’re going to have to settle on a consolation prize, Deron Williams is a really good consolation prize. That is absolutely true, but this deal marks a huge risk for the Nets organization, and here’s why. Deron Williams, who unlike Carmelo Anthony did not sign an extension after being traded, will be a free agent after the 2012 season. The Nets basically have the rest of this season and next to convince Deron that New Jersey/Brooklyn is the place to be, and I think they could have a hard time convincing him of that. As a Net, Deron Williams will get to play with Brook Lopez and…that’s it. The Nets are one of the least talented teams in the league and the 2011 free agent class is hardly sparkling, so it’ll take some creative wheeling and dealing to make that roster attractive. Yes, Deron is a superstar point-guard, the kind of player other stars want to play with, but teams aren’t giving away players for free, unless you’re the Lakers and you’re offering Javaris Crittenton, and the Nets don’t have a single attractive trade chip. Ultimately, I think Deron only resigns with the Nets because A) they can offer him the most money, B) there’s nowhere better he can go, or C) he’s a huge Beyonce fan. In the meantime, there are going to be a ton of teams plotting a way to sign Deron away from the Nets and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if one of them manages it.

There were a couple of moves made at the deadline that made sense, I can see the logic and they could very well work out spectacularly, but they don’t sit well with me. First, G Baron Davis was sent to Cleveland, along with the Clippers’ 2011 1st round pick, for G Mo Williams and F Jamario Moon. I can see why the Clippers did it. Mo Williams is going to give you, pretty much, what Baron gave you, but for $3 million less. Plus, he never showed up for work completely out of shape. But, Baron had been reinvigorated by Blake Griffin, he was motivated again, motivated Baron is awesome, he was sveltening by the day. The Clippers just had a lot of feel good energy going this season and, as a fan, I can tell you that this trade kind of killed the momentum a little bit. Everything else aside, this trade has to go down as one of the worst ever from a player’s point of view. Baron was fat and unhappy and then Blake Griffin came along and basketball was fun again, Baron got in shape and the Clippers started winning. Baron went from the moon roof of a car in his hometown of LA, throwing a lob to his teammate, the most exciting player in the league, who was about to win the dunk contest, to Cleveland and a historically bad team, in a matter of days…that sucks.

Another trade that just kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the Celtics sending C Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for F Jeff Green, C Nenad Krstic and a future 1st round draft pick. Again, I get it. The Celtics need to start thinking about life after the Big 3 in the long term and they needed to be deeper at the forward spot to deal with the Carmelo’s and Lebron’s in the short term. This deal will help them do both. The Thunder didn’t really need Jeff Green, but they needed a big guy to deal with Bynum, Duncan and Chandler out West, this deal did that for them. What I don’t like about this deal is on the Celtics end. Kendrick Perkins was a big part of their title winning formula, a formula that had yet to fail when all the players were healthy. Perkins was drafted by the Celtics, who watched him grow and develop into the player he is. Where’s the loyalty? The reality is that it’s professional sports and there isn’t any loyalty, but that doesn’t make it sting any less for Perkins, who reportedly cried all day when he found out he’d been traded. On a side note, I’m really tired of teams, fans and the media trying to label want away stars as selfish. It’s such a double standard. Carmelo’s somehow ruining the NBA by going to New York, but the Celtics are just making a smart move. Come on.

Really quickly, some of the other notable deals and their ramifications:

F Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trailblazers

The perpetually rebuilding Bobcats sent Wallace to Portland for Joel Pryzbilla, a couple of 1st rounders and a couple of scrubs. I love this deal for the Trailblazers. They weren’t getting a lot of Pryzbilla and in Wallace they get a high energy guy who’s a great rebounder at his position. The Blazers can roll out Wallace, Marcus Camby and Lamarcus Aldridge and have three guys who could all average 10 rebounds a game. If Brandon Roy can get right and he’s showing signs that he can, this Blazers team is going to be a really tough out in the playoffs. As for the ramifications for the Bobcats, there’s no time…see above re: the Timberwolves, etc.

G Aaron Brooks to the Phoenix Suns

The Suns swapped point guards with the Rockets, sending Goran Dragic and a 1st rounder to Houston for Aaron Brooks. Both of these guys have regressed a little bit this year and they will both need to be resigned after the season. I think Phoenix got the better player in the deal, but how much these two end up costing with their new contracts will give us a better picture of how this shakes out. For now, the Suns have a talented scoring guard who will take pressure and minutes away from Steve Nash’s aging legs and the Rockets probably save some money and get a pretty good point guard prospect.