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Stephon Marbury cannot stay out of the spotlight. Once again he his making news off the court as he rants about the state of the Knicks, Lebron James’ future, and how he compares his time away from basketball this year to that of Michael Jordan, retiring for a year to build his empire and expand his endorsement deals. The delusional former All Star has made more news off the court rather than on it over the past few months while clowning himself in his live show on Justin.tv where he has gotten into a car accident, cries while listening to Kirk Franklin’s “Lean on Me”, danced like a gay pirate to Michael Jackson, and even ate Vaseline for a sore throat.
This time around, Marbury did an interview for the New York Post in which he attempted to rationalize why he isn’t playing in the NBA this season. Steph claimed that it was he, who decided to take a year off to rest and “be like Michael Jordan and do all of the things he hasn’t been able to do, and build his empire.” He also claimed to have made a prudent business decision, “not to go to Boston for that money,” insinuating that he was worth much more than the 1.3 million that the Celtics had offered him. Talk about a WTF moment. He averaged a mear 4 points and 3 assists while playing only 18 minutes for Boston last season. Granted, he has career averages of 19.3 points and 7.6 assists, but he is now 32 years old and hasn’t come close to sniffing that type of production since his rookie ’04-’05 season in New York…….Hopefully he fired his financial advisor. Last that anyone heard, Boston was the only team offering anything. His empire consists of his “Starbury” line of cheaply priced shoes and clothing, which he recently had to take to selling exclusively online since the Steve and Barry’s Stores, where they were sold, have closed due to bankruptcy. What a better way to advertise the Starbury brand than to be on the court, sporting his shoes, with that large Starbury brand log tatoo on his head…………………That would be a great business decision!
Steph then delved into commenting on the current state of his former team, the NY Knicks. Marbury asked out loud,”As a fan, why would I give you my money to watch them?” He also commented after watching a few recent preseason games where the Knicks launched an alarming 72 three point shots and stated that, “The coaching is horrible. What kind of coaching is this? Guys coming down the court, just raising 3 pointers from anywhere! New Yorkers deserve better decisions from the front office!” I guess the native New Yorker wont be getting a call for his services from GM Donnie Walsh anytime soon.
He also chimed in on the possibility of Lebron James coming to the Big Apple once his contract is up next Summer. He commented,”Why would he come to a rebuilding team? It makes no sense. Is this franchise built to win championships or make money?” I actually may have to agree with Steph on this one.
When pondering his future, one has to wonder, what is he thinking? He was forced to sit out this season because virtually no other NBA franchise wanted him. It has been a tough market for players with baggage this offseason. I definitely would rate Marbury a few notches below Allen Iverson, and it took all Summer for the A.I. show to land a gig in Memphis. If he is seriously considering a return to the league, he should have accepted the Boston deal, proving himself, and earning another lucrative free agent deal next Summer. He isn’t ancient in NBA standards, but he would then be 33 years old and will have played only 47 games over the past 3 seasons, if he attempts a comeback in 2010. Then a team would have to weigh his on court production against his ability to be a cancer in the locker room, one which I feel would be a losing proposition to any club. Marbury’s final comments from the interview speak volumes about his state of mind,”A year from now, you don’t know what I’m going to be like. I’m from the gutter. I can go anywhere.”………………………..Don’t count on it Steph!
Check out some youtube footage of Marbury in his prime:
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Trying to find playing time for every player on the bench is a sometimes daunting task for even some of the NBA’s best coaches. When teams are in a losing streak, sometimes coaches try and shake things up by alternating which players start and come off of the bench. Even on some rare occasions, management may decide to bring a star player back from injuries a little slow and limit their minutes by also bringing them from the bench. When the latter occurs, their is usually a backlash from the star player which sometimes creates irreparable harm to team chemistry and the player/coach relationship. For an example look no further than last season’s A.I./ Detroit Pistons fiasco.
Coach Stan Van Gundy, of the Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic has no such problem. He actually has a few players who prefer to ride the pine and be injected for instant offense or as a late game defensive specialist. I read recently that forward Mickael Pietrus, who was spectacular in the Magic’s postseason run, has told his head coach that he wants to come off the bench in games. Pietrus and newly acquired Matt Barnes were in a battle through training camp to decide who would be the starting small forward. It appears that Pietrus, who averaged 9.4 points in 24+ minutes mostly as a reserve last season, has stepped aside and made Van Gundy’s decision for him. Matt Barnes, who is entering his first season in Orlando, had been mostly a journeyman NBA player having been on 7 teams in his 6 seasons, before having perhaps his best season averaging double figures in scoring with Golden State last season. Known primarily for his defense, Barnes apparently found his offensive stroke by averaging 10.2 points while starting 40 games for the Warriors and seemed to flourish under coach Don Nelson’s system. Both Barnes and Pietrus are known to play excellent defense with Pietrus regularly getting the unenviable assignment of guarding the other team’s best player, like during the postseason when he did his best to contain Lebron and Kobe.
Of course for the team’s first 10 games, all bets are off since Rashard Lewis who usually plays the PF spot, will not be available because of his steroid suspension and consequently will cause some roster shuffling. One would assume that Brandon Bass would take over the starting PF spot alongside Barnes or Pietrus at the 3 spot. Van Gundy may decide to go with a smaller lineup during those first ten games depending on the opponent and have Vince Carter play at SF with Jameer Nelson at SG, allowing Jason Williams some time at the point. Van Gundy definitely has some options with such deep team.
It is just refreshing to actually here a player comply with a coach’s wishes or volunteer to come off of the bench to achieve the team’s goal of winning a championship and not behave badly like Iverson’s multiple tirades(twice – he did it in Philly too when Chris Ford was coach) of taking offense at not starting. Detroit may be in for the same situation all over again with Rip Hamilton and new free agent Ben Gordon. Hamilton made it known that he also wasn’t kosher with a bench role along with A.I. last season. Gordon, I’m sure, came to Motown to start rather than be a reserve. If not, he is being handsomely paid for sitting on the bench. I speculate that Detroit isn’t big enough for the both of them and Hamilton will be traded before the season is up.
Which NBA Players have taken their careers for granted, and not given their team 100% effort? Which high draft picks must either step up their game or consider retirement? What NBA veterans, because of a change in coach, team, or their team’s style of play will be forced to take on a different role than they have been used to throughout their career? Which players have suffered numerous injuries and are possibly being given their last chance to be a valuable player for their team? All are important questions which will undoubtedly be played out and answered during the upcoming NBA season. Here is my list of players who must change their game or find themselves riding the pine or at the unemployment line.
Darko Milicic(NYK) – When the Knicks traded Q-Rich to Memphis for the rights to Darko, everyone in NY figured that the move was made for 2010 salary space. After 6 disappointing seasons of 5.5 ppg and 4 rebs , Darko will be given one more chance to prove he is a NBA player or forever be placed on NBA Draft Bust lists(if he isn’t already). The ’03 draft is remembered as one of the best in recent memory but not because of (#2) Milicic.
Sam Dalembert(PHI) – Since receiving a huge contract for averaging 11.6 ppg and 12.8 rebs in a first round playoff loss to the Pistons in ’05, Slammin’ Sammy has regressed, seeing his scoring(6.4 ppg), minutes(24.8), and Blocks(1.7) drop to their lowest last year, since his rookie campaign. He has had issues with giving effort and staying out of foul trouble. With Elton Brand and Jason Smith back from injuries and 2nd year player Maurice Speights pushing for playing time, I don’t see where he fits in new coach Eddie Jordan’s rotation.
Andrew Bynum(LAL) – Andrew Bynum is the definition of talented but prone to injury. After multiple knee injuries, Bynum is expected once again to be at or near 100% for the upcoming season. Although he averaged 14.3 ppg and 8 rebs in 50 games and is signed through 2012, Bynum will be given the opportunity as a major contributor. If he succumbs to another major injury, he could drift into draft bust territory as a former(’05) lottery pick.
Eddy Curry(NYK) – For Curry’s sake, he should be motivated to be in shape and contribute on a bad Knick team who is already looking forward to the 2010 free agency sweepstakes. Since averaging a career high 19.5 ppg in ’07, Curry has played in only 62 games and his scoring dipped to 13.2 and dismal 1.7 ppg. Even though it is doubtful he will remain on the Knicks roster past the trade deadline, he needs to show something if he hopes to remain on any team’s roster past next season. His recent injury won’t help matters.
Allen Iverson(MEM) – Although A.I. can still play at a high level, the future HOFer is no longer among the league’s elite players and it appears that he is having some trouble accepting that fact. After refusing to come off of the bench last season in Detroit, the team actually paid him to stay away. Hopefully the humbling experience of not receiving any long term offers this Summer. and accepting a 1 year deal in Memphis, will give him a sense of reality and finally become a team player………….lol.
Andrew Bogut(MIL) – It’s tough to live up to being a #1 overall draft pick. Bogut has been good, but not great. He has shown flashes of potential and has has career highs of 14.3 ppg in ’08 and 10.3 rebs in ’09 and is still one of the pieces the the Bucks look to build around. One could argue that he has been hindered by a lack of a talented point guard to play with, but that will change this season with the addition of Brandon Jennings, meaning that there will be no more excuses.
Baron Davis(LAC) – Davis is coming off of his worst season in years. The 2 time All Star and 17 ppg career scorer who was once considered one of the league’s fiercest competitors saw his scoring(14.9ppg) dip to it’s lowest in the past 9 seasons. At age 30, has the toll of more than 700 NBA games taken their toll on his surgically repaired knees or did he just have a bad year. The Clippers have surrounded him in LA with some outstanding talent to return to star status. Or will Baron be overtaken by the Clipper curse?
Michael Beasley(MIA) – Can a player be at a career crossroads after just one season? Beasley will answer just that after admitting or not to having a substance abuse problem and going into rehab. Obviously Beasley is still a young(20) man who likes to have fun and not follow the rules but he needs to mature very quickly since he has already had a few offcourt incidents which may or may not have affected his play. Most players would kill for rookie stats of 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds but they don’t live up to the standards for a player of Beasley’s caliber. He has already been involved in trade talks as bait in bringing Utah’s Carlos Boozer to Miami.
Vince Carter(ORL) – At age 32, Vinsanity is entering new territory in his career. Carter has amazed all of us with his ability to take over games as the go to guy in both Toronto and New Jersey. He now must become one of the best role players in the NBA since the Orlando Magic are already stacked with talent and have one of the league’s best go to guys in Dwight Howard. The knock on Carter has always been his penchant for jacking up 3 pt shots, sometimes too often and at inopportune times. How Carter adjusts to playing within coach Van Gundy’s system and becoming a complimentary player may be the Magic’s biggest question going into the season.
Tie, Gilbert Arenas(WAS), Tracy McGrady(HOU), Amare Stoudemire(PHO), and Elton Brand(PHI) – It’s hard to put players on this list because of injuries but each of these players have missed significant time in their careers due to injury. Arenas and McGrady are probably at the biggest crossroads since they have suffered the worst injuries. Both are supposedly almost at full strength but are returning to different situations. Arenas has a good supporting cast waiting for him on a good team while T-Mac will return to a Houston squad in rebuilding mode. Brand has missed almost two full seasons due to Achilles and shoulder issues. His outlook appears good since he is on a rising young team in Philly with plenty of talent around him and is implementing an offense which favors multi-talented big men(see Antawn Jamison and Chris Webber). Stoudemire is not so lucky to be on a young team like Brand, but is on an aging team on the way down. All Summer long there have been rumors of his departure to another NBA city.
Mark Cuban and the Mavs brain-trust had an off season plan to improve through free agency. They had thoughts on signing more than one player to solidify play from their frontcourt alongside Dirk Nowitzki, which along with their annual problem of possessing one of the worst defenses in the league, is arguably their weak spot on the roster.
The Mavs decided to look for help since their 5 year incumbent at center, Eric Dampier’s numbers have dipped(5.7 ppg, 7.1 rebs, 1.2 blk), while his age continues to climb(33). Also while Dirk is still one of the most potent offensive players in the league, his age(31) will soon start catching up to him. He could use some help to help shoulder the load of carrying the team as he gets older.. They targeted Dwight Howard’s backup in Orlando, Marcin Gortat and were set resign PF Brandon Bass, who at age 23, many consider is ready to have a breakout season. Then the Orlando Magic came in under the radar and signed both players. “The Polish Hammer” would have given the team great size and could help the team transition away from the older and slower Dampier.
Cuban had to go to his backup plan and bring Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas into the fold. While the two are a bit shorter and a tad older, they now have a more versatile frontcourt with interchangeable parts, and thinking of the bottom line, a whole lot cheaper. Add “The Matrix” Shawn Marion, Nowitzki, and SF Josh Howard, and the Mavericks have terrific depth in the frontcourt. Questions surround Thomas’ recent injury while at home on how long it will keep him out of action.
I’m sure that Dallas will try to play small at times since the West does not have an abundance of talented big men. The Lakers have the talented but oft injured Andrew Bynum and the Blazers have the enigmatic Greg Oden, who last year still came off of the bench. Only the Spurs with Tim Duncan have a truly great center. Dallas’ flexibility is amazing since Gooden can at times defend the paint when Nowitzki plays the 5 to stretch the defense. Marion has proven to be more than capable scorer and rebounder at either forward spot and even Howard can play some 2 guard along with getting instant offense from Jason Terry. They can use Jason Kidd at the point or slide him to shooting guard when Jose Barea enters the game. Kidd can go back to the point when they need a backcourt defensive presence from Quinton Ross, off the bench.
The only downfall is that most of their best players are past the 30 years old age barrier. Although their talent goes 8-10 players deep, the rest of the bench is mostly dead weight and they lack any players heading towards the future. And even though Mark Cuban has plenty of money, the team as presently constructed in almost $20 over the cap. I’m sure Cuban is hoping that Rick Carlisle gets the most that he possibly can out of this roster next season.
It looks good for the Mavericks to extend their streak of 9 straight seasons of making the postseason, but have only one Finals appearance in that time. They have also won 50 or more games in those 9 years as well. Although on paper it doesn’t look like the Mavericks are true title contenders, remember that NBA Championships aren’t won in September. With a little luck, they might slide into the top 4 seeds out West, getting a home court advantage, win a few rounds, and challenge the Spurs, Lakers, or Trailblazers for another Western Conference crown, just like 2006.
Here is a link to a video of the Dallas Mavericks top plays last season:
Even though the Washington Wizards suffered through one of their worst seasons in franchise history last season with only 19 wins, forward Antawn Jamison is thinking NBA Championship. Recently, Jamison spoke out with confidence that if healthy(lol), the Wizards are just as good or better than last season’s elite teams, especially Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando in the Eastern Conference.
Jamison was at Jefferson Junior High in D.C. as a spokesman for the NBA, to help launch the HP Digital Assist, which is a nationwide program that gives more than 5,000 students in various cities a chance to win more than $80,000 in Hewlett Packard products for their school. After promoting the educational program, he fielded questions about the Wizards chances this season.
In a story first reported by the Washington Post, Jamison spoke out about his squad’s chances of finally bringing a championship to Washington D.C., after playing 11 seasons in the NBA. He thinks the additions of Randy Foye, Mike Miller, Fabricio Oberto, along with the return of “the Hibatchi” Gil Arenas, Brendan Haywood, and Deshawn Stevenson from injuries bolsters the Wizards roster enough to be considered contenders for the NBA’s Championship trophy. When asked why he thought that way, Jamison responded emphatically, “Why not?” “I’ve been around here for six years and championship talk wasn’t a norm around our locker room. That’s all we’re talking about now.”
Jamison has quitely been one of the league’s best under the radar players over his 11 NBA seasons. He has averaged 19.9 ppg and 8.0 rebounds for the Warriors, Mavericks, and most recently, the Washington Wizards. Antawn has averaged over 20 ppg five times with a high of 24.9 ppg in ’00-’01 with Golden State. Rebounding has been one of his best skills by averaging over 6+ rebs/game every season of his career, with a high of 10.2 rebs in ’07-’08. He is entering his 6th season in Washington, one in which he missed the postseason after making it to the playoffs 5 straight years.
The pairing of Jamison, and Caron”Tough Juice” Butler, both 2 time All-Stars, with a healthy Arenas, who is a 3 time All-Star, gives Washington a tremendously talented trio which should be very good, but is it good enough to get the better of Boston, with Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and Sheed, Cleveland with Lebron and Shaq, or Orlando, with Howard, Carter, Lewis, and Nelson?
Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, and UpperDeckblog.com.
Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
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