Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dwight Howard to the Thunder?

The NBA is back and with it brings about the always fun game of making up trades and trying to get the internet to pick them up and report them as true.  One of my goals with this blog (let’s be serious, my only goal) is to one day see a trade I made up reported on ESPN as a “unnamed source” with me and my keyboard being said source.

Why are fake NBA trades so much better as opposed to baseball, football, or soccer?  Trades in football rarely happen and generally in-season trades have little to no impact on the teams involved.  Baseball trades can be somewhat fun, but they’re diminished a little due to the fact that a single baseball player really isn’t worth all that much (damn you advance statistics), and of course in soccer players are just sold or bought like assets which makes transfer windows about as fun as a visit to the NYSE without getting the ungodly Christmas bonus.  With that said here’s three fake trades that should happen.

1. Kevin Durrant, Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Cole Adlrich, and 1st round pick to Magic fro Dwight Howard, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, and Turkoglu.

For the Thunder: Kevin Durrant is a great player but the Thunder now have two alpha dog scorers and only one ball.  Getting back Howard and being able to surround him and Westbrooke with shooters would make the Thunder a better offensive team and inserting Howard into a lineup with Ibaka, Sefolosha, and company would create a historically great defense.  Harden should be able to replace 75% of the offense on wing that Durrant gives them, and he seems like an after though when he shares the court with Durant and Westbrook now.

JJ Redick and Ryan Anderson would help to give the Thunder an outstanding bench and Redick’s contract expires in two years and by getting rid of Perkins big contract the Thunder might be better equipped to keep Ibaka and Harden to go along with two max contract players in Howard and Westbrook. As is they’ll probably have to choose between Ibaka and Harden in a few years since they’re paying Perkins almost 10 million per. The Thunder could keep Turkoglu this year or amnesty waive him now or next year to get his contract off the books.

After the trade the Thunder should try pursue a sweet shooting swing man like Aaron Affalo or Shane Battie.

PG: Westbrook, Maynor
SG: Harden, Redick
SF: Battie, Safalosha
PF: Ibakia, Anderson
C: Howard, Collison

This team is surely the favorites for the title next year and beyond.  

For the Magic: Howard doesn’t look to be staying and getting back they’re not going to do better than getting back another top five player.  After cutting Gilbert, they should be able to find a contender who needs Perkins and possibly Nelson.  They would then have a tremendous amount of cap room to a FA friendly destination and a top player in Durant signed for another five years after this.

2. Spurs Trades Tony Parker to Boston for Rajon Rondo

For the Celtics: The Celtics want to make a last run before completely rebuilding and they need another player who can create their own shoot to go along with Pierce since Allen and Garnett need most of their offense created for them.  The Celtics would be propping their window open for one more year and with Allen and KG’s contract expiring soon they could potentially trade Pierce and Parker in a few years time and completely rebuild for a new era.

For the Spurs: The Spurs are not going to win any more titles with their current core and Rondo wouldn’t change that but this would be a move that would maintain their playoff status as a team and give them a building block once Duncan and Ginobili retire.  A Rondo, Leonard, Splitter along with a scoring wing could maintain the Spurs long run of making the playoffs.

3. Suns Trade Steve Nash, Marcin Gortat, and Channing Fyre  to Grizzles for Marc Gasol (sign and trade) and a 1st round pick.

For the Grizzles: The Grizzles are going to be hard pressed to be able to pay Randolph, Gay, and Gasol at max or near max salaries to go along with Conley’s 10 million per year contract.  Replacing Gasol, who figures to make 13-15 million per this off-season with the much cheaper Gortat (around 7 million) gives the Grizzles a great low cost alternate.

Nash would improve the offense with his shooting and passing skills and with Conley as a backup Nash could play a friendlier amount of minutes per game in this year’s compressed schedule.  Having both PGs also allows the Grizzles to remain flexible at the trade deadline as they could trade one of the two if needed due to injury.  Channing Frye is a nice 4th big for the Griz and could provide some spacing skills when teams are collapsing the paint.

With Nash’s expiring contract, and the ability to amnesty Fry in a year or two the Griz would be able to keep a competitive core of Gortat, Randolph, Gay, and Conely without over extending themselves financially.

For the Suns: Nash is leaving in a year, and Gortat is an underrated player and a nice piece to have as a contending team, but the Suns won’t be good enough to utilize Gortat’s undervalued contract.

This trade would also do right by one of the franchises most popular players, as not many contending teams have the need or assets to trade for Nash.

Of course the biggest gain for the Suns would be getting back a top five center and a player who might be under used in Memphis. The Suns would also receive salary cap relief by ridding themselves of the Channing Fry contract and then using their amnesty on Josh Childress.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Could Arsenal go Down?

The international break gives us time to pause and reflect on the
Premier League table, so let’s take a look at the often neglected
bottom to see which supporters should start to worry about relegation
and which should relax a bit because while a low position is not
where their favorite club should finish.

Wigan (5pnts -13 G/D) Chances on going down: 95%

Bad team that barely and some might say undeservedly stayed up last
season is again in the thick of the relegation battle.  The least
talented of all premier league sides this club wouldn’t even be
favorites in the Championship.  Wigan’s had a nice run in the top
league, but there time is over and it will take a miracle or several
million pounds in January for this club to stay up.

Blackburn (6pnts -11 G/D) Chances on going down: 85%

While the team has looked better of late they still only have one win
and Arsenal’s top scoring defense is heavily responsible for those
three points. The recent draw with Norwich after leading 3-1 and their
inability to find the back of the net against Chelsea in their most
recent home loss might be the needed four points that would have kept
them up at the end of the season.  Their chances are not helped by
owners who don’t seem to have any idea what they’re doing and admitted
recently that they didn’t know that there was relegation in the
Premier League.   It will take more than Chickens in the winter
transfer window for Rovers to survive.

Bolton (9pnts -9 G/D) Chances on going down: 65%

Looked very poor to start the season, but considering they’ve lost
four of their most important players from last years side (ElManda,
Sturridge, Young, and Holden) it’s not very surprising.  Their recent
5-0 victory over Stoke is promising and Young and Holden should return
eventually to help their midfield.  Cahill’s sell in January will need
to be reinvested wisely if the Wanders hope to stay up.  A few solid
defenders and a replacement for N’Gog will go a long way to keeping
the Wanders in the Premier League next year.

Everton (10pnts -4 G/D) Chances of going down: 50%

The Toffees name alone suggest that 50% is entirely too high to
believe that they’ll actually go down, but this Everton side while
talented doesn’t have enough fire power and the uncertainty of the
clubs ownership and finances are starting to effect the mood around
Goodison Park and may finally be too much for the usually positive
David Moyes.  Moyes recently told reporters that his Everton side
didn’t expect a result of any kind on their trip to Newcastle which
has to be sobering for Toffee fans.  There is no money to spend on
players and all funds from player sales will be used to pay creditors.
It’s 50/50 whether Everton keep the rest of the core players in
January  and have their talented youngsters step up but the future is
grim even if Moyes keeps his side from relegation disaster.

Fullham (11pnts, -1 G/D) Chances of going down: 10%

Anything can happen when you’re a mid to lower table side in the
Premier League but Fullham has too much talent to be serious
contenders for the bottom three.  Fullham is also backed by a well
funded owner who will be willing to spend to cover any major cracks
that develop due to injury over the next few months.

Sunderland (10pnts +1G/D) Chances of going down: 20%

Sunderland seemingly have more talent that some of the teams that
currently sit above them in the table, but they may have the worst
manager in the league.  I don’t know what Bruce does beyond spend
money, change the team every Summer, and seemingly fall out with his
top striker on a once per year basis…oh and not get a result against
Man United too.  Sunderland might rally to a degree once Bruce is let
go and unlike some of the relegation competition they might have some
money left to reinvest to bring in reinforcements.

West Brom (11pnts -7 G/D) Chances of going down: 15%

While probably having less talent than Sunderland their manager is
much better so they get a 5% bonus.  An tough early season schedule
left the Baggies looking up, but Hodgson should be able to get enough
results in the end to keep West Brom comfortable in the end.

Wolves (11pnts -6 G/D) Chances of going down: 40%

Wolves are arguably less talented than most of the teams in the
Premier League, and needed help on the last day of the previous season
to stay up.  Their goal this season is to be clear of relegation
before the last day of the season so they know what they’re ultimately
in for which can be an advantage in a relegation battle, as sometimes
bigger teams with mid-table aspirations unexpectedly find themselves
in a battle to stay up and find it difficult to respond. One of the
bright spots for Wolves is that two clubs seems almost certain to go
down this year which creates a greater chance of staying up.

Stoke (12pnts -11 G/D) Chances of going down: 20%

Stoke started the season as dark horses for a top 6 or 7 finish but
their -11 G/D is tied for second worst in the league and they seem
worryingly unable to cope with life in Europe.  Like Everton, Stoke
doesn’t seem capable of scoring goals, which must drive Toffee 
supporters crazy because Stoke spent 10 million plus pounds for a
striker which Everton was forced to go with a no-name Greek bargin bin
buy.  As a Tottenham fan it’s great that Stoke gave Spurs 18 odd
million for Crouch and Palacios, but so far this deal is looking like
a complete steal for Spurs.  Stoke should be able to muscle their way
into staying up this season but their wasted Summer might set them
back a few years from where they were trying to progress as 18 million
pounds could have gone a long way to mid-table stabilization with the
right buys.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Andy Reid Out in Philadelphia

As the NFL season progresses along, there are a handful of teams that are separating themselves from the pack as the worst in the league.  Whether they entered the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes, or their best efforts are just not good enough to win a single football game in this increasingly mediocre NFL, their poor results reflect heavily on the man in charge.  Whether it's warranted or not, there are at least 5 coaches in trouble after 8 weeks and I'm here to breakdown who's in the hottest water along with some darkhorse hot seat nominees.

Top 5 Coaches Occupying Hot Seats
Jim Caldwell (Indianapolis Colts) - Peyton Manning was obviously a huge part of the Colts' offense and they miss him more with every Curtis Painter interception.  After a 62-7 spanking at the hands of the new Orleans Saints, it was apparent that Peyton manning must have been a huge part of their defense too.  Given the Colts' horrible start to the season, is it unreasonable to assume that Peyton Manning was a huge part of the coaching staff as well?  Well, if that's the case, then what's the use of keeping Jim Caldwell?

Steve Spagnola (St. Louis Rams) - The Rams are finally off the snide after a big win over the new Orleans Saints this past weekend.  Is it a coincidence that this resurgent win comes on the same day that the newly dubbed World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals are occupying the Rams' sidelines?  Does anyone else have a strong suspicion that Tony La Russa actually managed this game?

Tony Sparano (Miami Dolphins) - Aside from the game they conceded 15 points in 2:37 and lost in OT, the Dolphins haven't looked comptitive in a single game this season (even when Henne was healthy).  It would be fun to see the team which boasts the biggest @$$ hole alumni ('72 Dolphins) go 0-16.  I believe, in a karmic sense, they are well overdue.

John Fox (Denver Broncos) - John Fox was put into a lose/lose situation at the beginning of this season, with pressure from the fans and the organization to start Tim Tebow at QB before the season ever started.  At the first sign of trouble with Orton, Fox was forced to pull the trigger prematurely and give the nation what they wanted (even if it's not necessarily what he wanted).  Tebow's first performance featured 58 minutes of horrid QB play which was eventually overshadowed by 2 minutes of decent play that resulted in a Broncos win.  His second game boasted a similar performance, but this time the score wasn't close enough for those last 2 minutes to matter.  Tebow sucks and John Fox will ultimately pay the price.

Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars) - How does this man still have a job?  Since he started coaching the Jags in 2003, Del Rio hasn't led them to a single division title and has won just one playoff game.  For much of this period, he had the "Manning Excuse", but this year he has no excuse.  The division is wide open and the Jags are 2-6.

Dark Horse Hot Seaters
Andy Reid - The Eagles rebounded this week with a strong win against the Dallas Cowboys, following a dismal and shocking 1-4 start to the season, but I wouldn't say Reid is off the hook.  If the Eagles fail to make the playoffs after boasting such a strong lineup heading into the season, it will be time for Reid to go.  He's had a solid tenure, but at a certain point, the powers that be want to see rings and Reid has not been their guy.

Jason Garret (Dallas Cowboys) - This would be an interesting firing.  When the story leaks that Garret mailed in the offense last season to get Wade Phillips fired, coupled with the fact that he's not performing much better than his predecessor, he could be out at the end of the season.  Garret creepily looks like a young Jerry Jones, so that should go in his favor when decision time comes.

Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts) - If he's been coaching the Colts (as I've assumed in this post), he's doing a $hit job of it this year and deserves to be canned!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notre Dame to the Big 12

With all the upheaval in college football lately, and more yet to come, there are two conferences that appear to be the biggest losers of the television money realignment, the Big 12 and Big East Conference.  Rumors are both conferences are trying desperately to cast aside the water on their sinking ships, the Big 12 by possibly luring Louisville or West Virginia, the Big East even more desperately by trying to add Boise State, Army, Navy, and a host of other non-BCS conference schools like UCF and East Carolina.  Both conferences moves look more like temporary bandages on mortal wounds that Nebraska, Colorado, and Missouri leaving the Big 12 and Pittsburgh and Syracuse leaving the already football weak Big East created. The Big 12 and Big East might make it a few more years but eventually they’ll be picked off by the four bigger conferences who will try to compete for the likes of Texas and Oklahoma, Rutgers, and WVU.

Instead of waiting around to fold I say one of the two “walking dead” conferences takes the bold move of becoming the first truly national conference with 24 teams.  The Big 12 has the most leverage since they have national powers Texas and Oklahoma so the chances of the Big 12 creating a national super power are much greater than the Big East’s, as seen by TCU immediate departure from the Big East to the Big 12 once they came calling.

First, this plan doesn’t require Notre Dame, but would be more marketable if the Big 24 could convince the Irish to join the new super conference.  To help convince Notre Dame to join they would be granted a special exemption to keep their NBC TV deal in place, and by joining the conference their division would be the weakest of the four allowing Notre Dame to be the big dog and almost ensure they reach the Big 24 conference playoffs each year.  The three conference playoff games would be sold as part of the big 24 national TV package so an ESPN/ABC or whoever else buys the rights would almost always get at least one Notre Dame game and possibly two games per year.

The goal of the Big 24 is to create a conference with a national presence that would even outstrip the SEC and allow the conference to have a presence in every region in the country and at least one team in the key states of California, Texas, and Florida.  The 24 teams would be BYU, Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Houston, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Army, Navy, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisville, UConn, Rutgers, WVU, South Florida, Cincinnati, and East Carolina. 

This would allow the conference to have a great presence in national top 25 polls with Texas, Oklahoma, WVU, Notre Dame, Boise State, BYU, TCU as regulars in on in the polls in the recent past.  South Florida and San Diego State would provide the conference with a presence in two key states to help with recruiting and TV coverage and the conference would have a several teams with huge national followings such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame and to a lesser extent BYU, WVU, Army, Navy, and Air Force. In addition, the Big 24 conference would have schools in some of biggest TV markets in the nation with Houston, Dallas, and New York covered by Houston, TCU and Rutgers respectively. Plus, San Diego State could potentially tap into the Southern California market, especially as USC goes through some down years in near future.  

In order to make such a large conference work there would need to be four divisions of six teams each.  Each team would play its division once per year, and then play the other division twice, once and, once on a rotating basis. For example if Texas was in division A, it would play it’s division foes every year, equaling five games, then play two division B teams, one division C team, and one division D team.  The next year it would play only one division B team, two division C teams, and one division D team all on a rotating basis so it should play every team in the Super Conference every three years. The conference schedule would be nine games long and allow of the traditional three non-conference games scheduled per year.

The divisions would be set in part on geography and part on past rivalries/conferences.

Western Division

Boise State
Air Force
San Diego State

Southern Division

Texas Tech
Oklahoma State
Iowa State