And by "this" I mean this.
Even if you are a sports-drugs absolutist, even if you believe that Alex Rodriguez did everything MLB seems to be claiming he did, and that he gets graded on a different curve for the same actions (like buying evidence), and that he can be nailed for one, two, even three violations at the same time, it is not possible to believe that Rodriguez did more to harm the game of baseball than the man who repeatedly violated federal law on his way to orchestrating the cancellation of a World Series.
The single most destructive act towards baseball in my lifetime isn't a player cheating, isn't Pete Rose betting, isn't a team snorting coke and it isn't baseball teams colluding. It's 1994, and 1994 happened because Bud Selig called a play that a Supreme Court Justice saw right through. Alex Rodriguez could kidnap the NL Central, the Texas League and the Southeastern Conference, shoot them up with heroin and drop them off a barge and not violate XII.B to the extent that Selig has. $1.2 billion, multiple violations of labor law and a cancelled World Series; materially detrimental to the best interests of baseball in violation of federal law, indeed.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
And by "this" I mean this.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
As the whole world of sports loses its damn mind over PEDS IN BASEBALL ZOMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN, blissfully ignoring the fact that at least half the NFL is on horse steroids, I lurch towards the end of this pathetic Simmons article so as to free up the rest of the week to laugh at idiotic articles about how Fish Fillet-Rod should be thrown in jail for life. Simmons wrote a new godfrigginawful article as well, so I'll get around to that eventually too. Eventually. We're right in the long, slow lazy days of summer here at FireJay, when I post just as infrequently as I do during any other time of the year.
9. Delay Kobe's return for as long as possible.
I'm not gonna lie — this is the shakiest part of my rehab plan.
Such self-awareness! This is like someone telling you their plan to rob Fort Knox, and then admitting that the part where their escape depends on the use of a magic teleporter that hasn't yet been invented is pretty shaky.
Too many people have said publicly that (a) Kobe can't return in less than 10 months from that torn Achilles, and (b) even if he DOES come back, he'll never be the same. He's one of the 10 most competitive people alive. He's not going down like this. He's just not.
I like how over the years Bill has been forced to admit that Kobe is actually good at basketball. He even begrudgingly says things like "He's very competitive" and "I suppose he's a top 50 all time player" and "If I played him one on one, he'd beat me like 11-4."
I'd believe anything about Kobe's summer rehab process. He's sleeping in a hyperbaric healing chamber underneath a pile of broken deer antlers?
HE'S TOTALLY ON STEROIDS HE WENT TO GERMANY LOLOLOL 6 FOR 24
Absolutely. He's on a beach right now running wind sprints against Carl Weathers? Sure. He figured out a way to steal hemoglobin from his daughters, then have that hemoglobin injected right into his healing Achilles, but this procedure is only legal in Austria so he's been flying there twice a week? You can't rule it out.
Seems like a good time to remind MLB sample collectors across the country that my promise to donate $1,000 to the Red Cross if Jeter fails a steroid test by October is still on the table.
Kobe cares about two things right now: Ring No. 6, and Kareem's record. In that order.
More very reluctant praise: "I SUPPOSE it's possible that he puts his team's accomplishments ahead of his selfish desire to hold an important individual record. MAYBE."
We could talk him into playing for a historically lousy Lakers team for one season if Ring No. 6 (and maybe LeBron) was the carrot dangling on the other end. But giving up a chance at Kareem's record? That's a tougher ask.
What the fuck? "A sixth ring is the most important goal to him, ahead of breaking the scoring record. He just might be persuaded to not rush back if staying out helped ensure that he gets that ring. However, asking him to sit out and miss all those games is going to be very hard, because it's going to be really tough to convince him that a shot at the sixth ring is more important than the scoring title."
Our all-time scoring leaders right now …
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 38,387 points
Karl Malone: 36,928 points
Michael Jordan: 32,292 points
Kobe Bryant: 31,617 points
Fun trivia: who is number 5 on that list? Trick question, there is no fifth all time leading scorer in NBA history, that spot in the record books is forever reserved for Len Bias. NEVER FORGET
So he's 6,770 points away. To put that in perspective, he scored 2,133 points in 78 games last season before his Achilles ripped. This is doable … you know, assuming he recovers from that devastating leg injury. I bet we see him sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Noted.
Please stop having conversations with yourself, negotiating trades against yourself and writing fake mailbag letters to yourself.
10. When Kobe comes back, allow him to hog the ball to alarming degrees.
NOT THAT THAT WILL BE DIFFICULT, HE'S THE MOST SELFISH SELFER TO EVER SELF, WHAT WITH HIS CAREER 4.8 APG.
Wait until he's fully healed. And when he comes back (to what you're hoping will be a 0-12 team), here's what you tell him …
Kobe, remember your ball-hogging binge in 2006 when you averaged 27.2 field goal attempts and 10.2 free throws a game because we didn't have anything else? Now we REALLY don't have anything else. We just gutted our team. Other than watching Bieber lapse in and out of consciousness in Jack's seat, Sasha and Jordan high-fiving, and Big Shot Rob cramming himself into a Lakers jersey, your scoring binges will be the only thing that keeps this godforsaken season even remotely interesting. Go for the scoring title. Play 70 games to qualify for the scoring title, then try to average 37 a game. Only Wilt and MJ have ever done it. More importantly, that's about 2,200 points in the bank. You'll pass MJ and move within 4,600 of Kareem. Shoot every time. We don't care.
You know what? I don't have any snark for that. If the Lakers actually did trade Gasol and Nash, Kobe would probably demand a trade of his own. But if they refused to give it to him and he eventually backed down and agreed to play out the season, you could tell him that and that's probably exactly what he'd do. It actually makes sense. And hopefully he would fail miserably and embarrass himself on a regular basis throughout the season, because let's face it, as much as I like the idea of Kobe pissing off Bill, fuck Kobe Bryant, he's an asshole.
You know what the best part of that plan is? Kobe's quest to score 40 every night will inadvertently become one of the more entertaining subplots of the 2013-14 season.
You obviously don't know what "inadvertently" means. You also obviously don't have a brain, if you think "Kobe trying to score 40 every night" is something that would be an under-the-radar story. ESPN would flip its shit, they'd buy broadcast rights to every single Lakers game from Time Warner or whoever has them now.
I'd flip over to every Lakers game just to see how many points he had. So would you.
WHOA HE'S TOTALLY RIGHT, HE KNOWS ME BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF, I SHOULD WRITE HIM A MAILBAG EMAIL AND TELL HIM THAT
And after the regular season ended and Kobe won another scoring title, Lakers fans could spend May and June rooting against Miami, sweating out the lottery and watching DraftExpress YouTube clips. Of course, they'd still be hoping that Jimmy Buss hired the right coach, made the right lottery pick, lured LeBron, kept Kobe and spent $60 million in cap space in the best possible way … while deep down fearing that this moment might be coming.
[Tommy Boy clip goes here, because it's hilarious to compare sports executives from 2013 with movie characters from 1995]
Removing all the hypotheticals, what will the Lakers ACTUALLY do? Nothing I just laid out — that's why I didn't mind laying it out.
THE VP OF CAWMAWN SENSE HAS SPOKEN! IF THE LAKAHS DON'T WANT TO ENACT MY PLAN OF RIDICULOUS BULLSHIT, THAT'S THEY-AH MISTAKE!
See, you need a strong owner or a front-office voice to execute a long-term plan — like what Miami had with Pat Riley and Micky Arison four years ago. These Lakers don't have that voice. Kobe will convince them to compete next season because he's nearing the end of his career, and he wants to shove it in Dwight Howard's face, and he probably believes that he and Pau can still battle anyone on any given night. That's what makes him Kobe. And that's why I didn't mind trying to "save" the Lakers. I know they won't do the right thing.
Oh Jesus Lord in heaven, he's still talking about it like this is a real plan that could actually be used by a real life NBA team.
You know who they SHOULD be emulating, actually?
I teased this more than a week ago, so no apology needed if you forgot, but what do you think he's going to say?
My beloved Celtics.
Yeah, I didn't need to put in those line breaks. You already knew what was coming. And may they never win another game so long as they exist. May their fans all catch hepatitis.
In the span of five weeks, Boston mortally wounded next year's team by dealing Garnett and Pierce (improving their Riggin' for Wiggins chances);
Any time you have the chance to get 25% odds of drafting a guy who might be the next LeBron or might be the next Kwame Brown, you have to take it.
turned the roster over to Brad Stevens (the perfect guy for a rebuild);
After losing one of the best coaches in the NBA, just turn your team over to a young NCAA coach, then plan the parade route.
stockpiled nine first-rounders over the next five years (along with the right to swap first-rounders with Brooklyn in 2017);
Next year they have the Hawks' (maybe near the end of the lottery) and Nets' (somewhere in the 20s) picks. In 2015 they have the Clippers' pick (somewhere in the 20s). In 2016 and 2018 they again have the Nets' pick (the Nets might actually suck by then, so yeah, they could have a shot at a kid who is currently a sophomore in high school). GET EXCITED, C'S FANS.
and set themselves up to flagrantly stink (with the inevitable Rondo trade being the final piece).
Rondo is a piece of shit--whatever he could do that would give the Celtics the least return on him, I hope he does it.
That's a team that knows who it is, and where it is, and where it needs to be.
OW-UH TEAM'S HALF-ASSED PLAN TO BE GOOD IN 2017 IS BETTAH THAN YO-AH TEAM'S HALF-ASSED PLAN TO BE GOOD IN 2017!
Can you say the same about the Lakers? My gut feeling is no … and that in April, we'll be watching Kobe and Pau fighting for a no. 8 seed. Just know that this sounds great to me.
What an asshole. I'll start on his latest some time over the weekend.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
But no matter how much you hate him and are happy to see him take one right to the face from MLB, if you are a person with a brain, you will agree that this:
It would be a good move for Braun to reach out to ARI players who were on the team he hammered in the '11 postseason. Some feel cheated.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 22, 2013
Is the stupidest fucking thing ever written in the English language.
That is all I have to say about this, other than WHEN IS MANNY RAMIREZ GOING TO REACH OUT AND APOLOGIZE TO THE 2004 CARDINALS?????????????????????
Monday, July 22, 2013
When we last left Wolf Pope Simmons, he was again negotiating a brilliant trade against himself, one which would leave the Bulls (as pointed out by commenter ivn) in a position where they would be playing Mike Dunleavy Jr. during crunch time. THE TRADE MACHINE SAYS IT WILL WORK! THEREFORE IT WOULD WORK! What's next?
5. Don't amnesty Metta World Peace unless you absolutely have to.
Oops. The fact that the Lakers did this in real life is a sign that they intend to compete next year, which 1) makes plenty of sense, for the 150 reasons I've already given in this series and 2) kind of disappoints me, because it would be really fun to see them go into full-fledged rebuilding mode without doing any of the things Simmons insists they should do. Imagine the self-aggrandizing things he would Tweet about how dumb they were being! Pure entertainment. Would really warm my cold, black heart.
I hate losing Metta when he's the Kendrick Perkins of small forwards.
Apparently all cross-positional references have to involve current or former Celtics. Who is currently the Tony Allen of centers? (Easy: JaVale McGee.) Who is the Rajon Rondo of power forwards? Your answers in the comments.
Ideally, we'd need him playing 35 minutes a game, missing 60 percent of his shots, throwing passes into the third row, getting dumb technicals, and letting faster small forwards blow by him for six solid months.
I'd like to take this opportunity to point out how crucial MWP was in the 6FOR24!!111111 game: 20 points, including a huge 3 to put the Lakers up 6 with a minute to play.
He's a big part of Riggin' for Wiggins. So if the Bulls won't flip Deng and Hinrich for Gasol,
But you said it best yourself: they'd HAVE to say yes!
you make the Cleveland deal, save $30 million in luxury tax and keep Metta around.
As both commenter Adam and I have already pointed out, why would the Cavs give away a 1st round pick in a loaded draft to "upgrade" from Gasol to Varejao? If Varejao stays healthy, he's a marginally worse player than Gasol and the Cavs make the playoffs. If Varejao gets hurt, the Cavs go to the lottery.
6. Since you're sucking anyway, bring back as many popular former Lakers as possible.
Although it is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, this is one of the stupidest things I have ever read and Simmons should be punched in the kidneys for having typed it out.
I'm convinced that the Lakers bugged my house because, ever since I started working on this column on Monday, they signed Jordan Farmar (someone Lakers fans irrationally loved because he's a UCLA guy) and they're courting Sasha Vujacic (another guy the Lakers have irrationally loved, while the rest of America irrationally hated him).
The "irrationally [loved/hated/whatever] thing he rolls out all the time is a nice little variant on Klosterman's SECRETLY UNDEROVERUNDERPROPERLYRATED twatfuckery. It's also a nice little SUPER SMART BASKETBALL NERD angle: listen, non-Lakers fans, I know you think Sasha Vujacic is a whiny little piece of shit who flops every chance he gets, but your hatred of him is SO IRRATIONAL.
I'd go further than that — I'd also bring back beloved veterans Derek Fisher
Speaking of guys who whine and flop a lot
and Luke Walton
I hate it when people say shit like this, but I'm going to anyways. Did you know Luke Walton is 33? Holy shit, I feel old.
for the veteran's minimum, then keep my 15th roster spot open and spend the season signing old Lakers favorites (Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Michael Cooper, Sam Perkins, etc.) to a series of 10-day contracts.
Again, punches to the kidneys.
Important note: Lakers fans would LOVE this. Shit, they'd even enjoy 10 days of Slava Medvedenko. As long as Kwame Brown and Smush Parker aren't involved in 10-day roulette, we're good.
Lakers fans, why did you IRRATIONALLY hate Kwame Brown so much?
7. Tell Jack Nicholson to stay away for the entire season.
We don't want Jack sitting there and enduring a willfully bad Lakers team. It might kill him.
Check out the totally subtle starfuckerism. "Let me tell you about Jack! Jack and I, we go way back. I know how much the Lakers mean to him, that's how close we are." You know what, I deleted the rest of this section, because it was too depressing to make fun of. Suffice it to say, he managed to make a Weekend at Bernie's "joke" and more importantly, post the picture of Justin Bieber with the Stanley Cup you've already seen on 25 different blogs. ZOMG celebs!!!!
8. Keep Mike D'Antoni for the entire year.
When I was going over my tentative "Save the Lakers" plan last night with my friend Lewis (a Lakers nut who's onboard with everything you just read),
A fellow BASKETBALL NERD who understands subtle things that could make or break a team, like signing LeBron and drafting Andrew Wiggins.
I jokingly asked him, "OK, what would you do with D'Antoni?"
Trade him to the Magic for their 2014 first rounder (top three protected--they're not just going to give it away!). WHOOOOOO SAYYYYS NOOOOOO
"Are you kidding?" Lewis yelped. "YOU KEEP HIM! YOU KEEP HIM THE WHOLE SEASON! WE WANT THE WORST COACH POSSIBLE!!!!! WHY WOULD YOU EVER FIRE D'ANTONI!"
Like I said, clearly Lewis is someone who is in the rarefied air as Bill in terms of sophisticated basketball knowledge.
(Ladies and gentlemen, the Mike D'Antoni era!)
Jokes in that format were pretty fresh in 1997.
We wrap things up next post, including the line:
You know who they SHOULD be emulating, actually? [_____].
You get three guesses as to what goes in the blank, and the first two don't count.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
To briefly recap, step 1 to saving the Lakers is to be bad next season, win the draft lottery and get Andrew Wiggins. Step 2 is to clear cap space and sign LeBron. Are you with Bill so far? It's a bit complicated (only an NBA NERD with SOPHISTICATED KNOWLEDGE of the salary cap and which players are good and which players are not could possibly have hatched this plan) so he'll excuse you if you're a little behind.
3. Trade Steve Nash to Toronto.
Steve Nash turns 40 in February. He's perhaps the worst defensive player in the league at this point. He just came off a season in which he only played 50 games and showed heavy statistical regression. Meanwhile, the Raptors sort of kind of showed some life late throughout the spring and maybe kind of contended for a playoff spot for the first time in five years. They would have been trounced by the Heat in the first round had they made it, but hey, the point is, they're on the upswing, trying to build around a respectable young core. They already have the "Hey, he's somewhat competent" Kyle Lowry manning the point. There is zero reason for them to do the Lakers the favor of taking Nash's crappy contract.
Admittedly, Nash doesn't have much market value right now. He's 39 years old, his body is breaking down in a variety of ways, he seemed a step and a half slow last season, he's a turnstile defensively, and he's making $9.3 million in 2014 and $9.7 million in 2015. Other than that, he's pretty enticing.
Careful, NERD ALERT ahead.
But you know where he's still a hero? CANADA! What would be better than Nash finishing his career on Canada's only NBA team?
You know what would be better for Toronto's coaching staff and front office? Not bringing on a sentimental favorite who can barely play anymore, solely for the sake of helping the second most hated team in the NBA clear cap space for a run at LeBron.
Now here's where you say, Wait a second, the Raptors just hired Masai Ujiri from Denver.
/Nuggets fan Larry B grinds teeth
That dude is a shrewd mf'er — he'd never trade for Nash. Au contraire! Thanks to Rudy Gay's onerously onerous deal, DeMar DeRozan's extension, the cap-clogging quartet of Landry Fields, Marcus Camby, Tyler Hansbrough and Steve Novak (nearly $20 million combined in 2014-15) and a few other commitments, Toronto can't become a free-agent player until the summer of 2015 ... right as Nash's deal is expiring. So why not bring him aboard as their feel-good Canadian basketball ambassador?
Hey, fuck it, the guy basically has no knees left, he just registered his worst season in ten years, he can't play defense... but the Raptors aren't going to go after free agents during the summer of 2014, SO WHY NOT PAY HIM $10 MILLION A YEAR TO PROBABLY CONTRIBUTE NEXT TO NOTHING? WHO SAYS NO?????
Do you realize trading for Nash would immediately become one of Canada's five greatest NBA moments ever?
FOUR AND ONLY FOUR MOMENTS HAVE BEEN BETTER
Since Toronto and Vancouver were added as expansion teams in 1995, here's that list right now:
Highlight No. 1: Vince Carter wins the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.
Highlight No. 2: The Raptors come within a missed Vince jumper of advancing to the 2001 Eastern finals.
Highlight No. 3: Kobe scores 81 points against the Raptors. Hey, at least they were part of history.
Highlight No. 4: The Grizzlies move to Memphis (so Vancouver doesn't have to watch them anymore).
That would have been a sweet joke in 2004.
Highlight No. 5: Actually, we're done. You want to know what the greatest running Canadian NBA moment is? Every time Vince comes back to Toronto, they boo him lustily for four quarters. It's the only real Canadian basketball tradition they have. I'd say they need to rent a basketball ambassador. Call me crazy.
You're not crazy, you're just stupid, unfunny, a bad writer, and maybe 1/4th as smart as you think you are.
Anyway, here's my offer: Nash for Linas Kleiza's expiring contract and Aaron Gray's expiring contract. I can't do better than that. I'M GIVING YOU CANADIAN BASKETBALL HERO STEVE NASH FOR TWO SCRUBS!!!!!! Take him! I'm putting a ribbon on him, including a Labatt hat and everything! Just call this trade into the commissioner's office already.
(By the way, I just downgraded the Lakers' 2014-15 salary cap to $0.00.)
If he were more self-aware and less prone to being a self-important little shit, I would think he meant the tone there to be jokingly cocky. Like if you do something totally trivial, like successfully shoot a balled up piece of paper into a trash can from ten feet away, and then shout "I AM THE GREATEST ATHLETE OF ALL TIME." But no, I'm pretty sure he's being actually, legitimately, cocky there; sincerely celebrating the nonsensical trade he negotiated against himself. In case you weren't aware, Bill Simmons is a piece of shit.
4. Trade Pau Gasol.
You know who's not helping us Riggin' for Wiggins? A future Hall of Famer playing for a new contract. I don't need Pau dropping 23 and 11 every night. No thanks. That leaves two possible trade destinations for him.
To the extent we're taking this seriously (and that extent should be: not at all, not even one little bit, but let's do it just this one time for just this one little part of the article), if they traded Nash and Gasol, Kobe would demand to be traded and threaten to retire if they didn't do so. And while I said a couple posts ago that Laker fans could get over the idea of not getting LeBron (if the team makes some moves this offseason to improve their chances in 2014 while also ruining their cap room), I can promise you they would never, ever, ever, ever, ever get over Kobe leaving the team on bad terms and finishing his career in a different jersey. And thus, those trades would happen: never. To be honest, I am a little surprised at how well Kobe took the amnestying of MWP. But I would imagine that if they go any further in cutting salary/scuttling next year's team, they're going to have one irate Kobe on their hands.
Whew. My head hurts.
• Destination No. 1: Hey, Cleveland, why roll the dice on Andrew Bynum's fusilli knee ligaments when you can rent Pau in a contract year? You know he'll be motivated. You know he's one of the league's best 25 players when healthy — a superior low-post player, a proven playoff guy and a perennial staple on the NBA's "Most Fun Guys to Play Basketball With" All-Stars.
And on the "Guys Who Play for the Lakers but Who Boston Fans Would Allow to Date Their Sistahs" All-Stars.
Why not use your excess cap space to upgrade from Anderson Varejao ($9.8 million expiring) to Gasol ($19.3 million) and flip the Lakers your 2014 no. 1 pick for their trouble? The Lakers save $30 million in luxury tax money, add a first-rounder and willingly worsen their team. Cleveland becomes a pseudo-contender while preserving their cap space to get their hearts broken by LeBron again next summer. Everyone wins!
Clearly the Lakers would not do this. It's too bad Varejao is made out of glass, because if he were a good bet to play 70+ games next year, I could argue that the Cavs wouldn't do it either. A healthy Varejao is one of the best rebounders and defenders in the NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION. He also runs the pick and roll just fine (Gasol may be better, but whatever), meaning he's not exactly dragging their offense down. I don't think they'd give up their first in a loaded draft to get the offensive upgrade and defensive downgrade Gasol would represent.
Even better — this trade gives the Lakers a low-post combo of Chris Kaman (always gets hurt) and Varejao (always gets hurt). They could be the Twin Owww-ers. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
Better than your Thanksgiving dinner of bad basketball joke from last post.
You're not getting more than 75 games combined from Kaman and Varejao next season unless they're borrowing copious amounts of PEDs from the Seattle Seahawks defense.
A cross-sport reference! What happened to the Real World/Road Rules Challenge reference I requested? Is he saving it for later?
And even then, you're probably not getting there. Who's ready for a little Robert Sacre next season! Check that — who's ready for A LOT OF ROBERT SACRE next season!
Probably not your franchise cornerstone/most popular player. You know what, fuck it, I need to stop taking his analysis seriously like I promised I would.
• Destination No. 2: Flip Gasol's expiring contract to Chicago for Luol Deng's and Kirk Hinrich's expiring contracts. Just a fascinating trade.
"I'm so glad I thought of it, aren't you?"
The Bulls know Jimmy Butler can replace Deng's minutes, and that a crunch-time five of Gasol, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Butler and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (to spread the floor) would be more potent than Noah, Carlos Boozer, Deng, Butler and Rose. They'd have to say yes.
WHO DOESN'T SAY YES???
For the Lakers, they'd keep Deng for a couple of months before rerouting him to a contender for expiring deals and a pick. (You don't need Deng in a contract year making you slightly better than you need to be.) But here's the crucial part …
The Lakers can't sign LeBron after he wins his third straight NBA title for the simple reason that, in the history of basketball, the best player on a championship team has NEVER subsequently ditched that team. Shit, even Wilt wouldn't have done that. LeBron would get crucified for turning his back on a chance to win four straight.
Good point! He would never do something like that! When has LeBron ever made a decision that involved turning his back on something, and then gotten crucified for it, and come out ahead in the long run?
No competitive person would ever, in a million years, do something like that.
Unless a certain VP of NERDERY on their new team talked them into it!
That's why the Lakers need to improve the Bulls — they can't get LeBron unless Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Indiana or Golden State beats the Heat. And Chicago's the best bet of them all.
(Wolf Pope Simmons's recommendation: Make the Deng-Gasol trade.)
Larry B's recommendation: stop reading this blog, and any other blog or website that might bring you into contact with Bill's writing. You're getting stupider every time his ideas enter your brain.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Right now, these Lakers have three, and only three, inherent advantages.
OK, so they have two
Second, the Lakers have a six-decade history of luring available basketball stars (ranging from all-timers like Wilt, Kareem and Shaq to in-demand-at-the-time free agents like Sam Perkins, Steve Nash and Mitch Kupchak) and keeping their stars nearly 100 percent of the time, with two notable exceptions: a celibate A.C. Green and a decidedly uncelibate Dwight Howard. Famous basketball players gravitate to the Lakers because of their storied history, and because Los Angeles remains the easiest American city for any wealthy celebrity to live in.
See, people rarely bother celebrities in Los Angeles.
As recently as three years ago, had you told any fan of the other 29 teams, "In 2014, the Lakers will have $50 million in cap space during a loaded summer for free agents," their reaction would have been, "We're all screwed."
Making matters worse, the Lakers lost their L.A. basketball monopoly. Lately, the lowly Clippers — a team
So if we ever needed a "Save the Lakers" plan, it's right now. Here's how Wolf Pope Simmons would hypothetically save the Lakers in 10 hypothetical steps.
1. Don't be afraid to suck all kinds of suck for one season.
Two facts about the 2014 draft. First, if you were ranking the Can't-Miss NBA Prospects of the 21st Century, Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins would rank behind LeBron, but would probably land right on that second tier with Durant, Oden and Carmelo.
Second, it's the rare NBA draft that's deep AND top-heavy. On Tuesday's B.S. Report, ESPN draft guru and former The O.C. star Chad Ford pointed out that, in 2013, he broke the draft down by tiers — with Tier 1 being "potential franchise players," Tier 2 being "potential All-Stars," Tier 3 being "potential starters," and so on — and there wasn't a single 2013 draft prospect in Tier 1 or Tier 2. In 2014? Right now, we have eight guys in those top two tiers, and that's without factoring in the possibility of one or two more breakout stars. There's also a chance that Kentucky power forward Julius Randle might turn "Wiggins vs. Randle" into a "Durant vs. Oden"–type debate, and that Duke's Jabari Parker might be looming as a Carmelo-like sleeper.
If there was ever a season for hopeless or semi-hopeless NBA teams to throw away like a half-eaten banana, it's this one. Going 42-40 makes no sense. Why not take your lumps, Jimmy? Your fan base is more sophisticated than anyone realizes.
2. Clear every dollar off your 2014-15 cap. Get to zero, or close.
The goal: replicating what Pat Riley achieved four seasons ago, when he talked Dwyane Wade into playing with expiring contracts just so Miami could become a free-agent player in the summer of 2010 (with South Beach as the carrot).
Whether that was a calculated risk or a nefarious plan hatched during the summer of 2008 — you know, when LeBron, Wade and Bosh played on Team USA and befriended team ball boy Nick Arison (son of Miami owner Micky Arison),
On paper, the 2013-14 Lakers could take the 2009-10 Heat's game plan to another level by jettisoning every contract while also landing a top-five lottery pick. But they have to worsen this year's roster. Which means ...
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Stand back, folks. Genius at work.
I know a Celtics fan should never try to help the Lakers.
But here's the problem …
As you already know, the problem is that he's such a fucking genius that he can't possibly hide his talents under a bushel basket.
I love making fake NBA trades, figuring out blueprints for franchises and determining the fastest, most efficient ways to save them.
In the NBA, you want to be either really good or really bad. You never want to land between those two "reallys" for long. You don't want to be squeezed into the no. 8 seed or keep finishing 12th or 13th in every lottery. Basically, you don't want to be the Milwaukee Bucks. (Cut to every Bucks fan nodding vigorously.) If you can't compete for the title, why not bottom out in the most flagrantly offensive way possible?
Of course, that's something the Lakers have never, ever done. They picked first in the 1979 and 1982 drafts (Magic and Worthy) by fleecing laughingstock franchises of their draft picks — not by being the laughingstock franchise. They miraculously turned Vlade Divac, three cartons of Marlboro Reds and a pound of phlegm into a raw high schooler named Kobe Bryant.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. Their best player is hitting Year 18 and rehabbing from the worst sports injury an older player can have.
Fact: This year's Lakers team will be undeniably worse than last year's Lakers team … a team that didn't make the playoffs until Game 82.
Fact: This is bleak. Really, really bleak.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Does that make me dumb by extension if I bitch about the people bitching about the rosters? Probably. But there are always going to be fifty worthless "HERE IS MY LIST OF ALL-STAR SNUBS" articles written in the days after the rosters get announced, and I have to post about something. So here goes. Lead us off, Scott Miller.
First base: Chris Davis, Orioles
My pick: Davis
Talk about getting out the vote. The Orioles did it better than MTV ever dreamed of.
My pick: Jason Kipnis, Indians
Yes, this is coin-flip territory. But Kipnis is having one Rock and Roll Hall of Fame summer,
Oh dear Lord.
Third base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
My pick: Cabrera
Fire up the cognitive dissonance tornado siren!
No question here it's Cabrera,
Was Angel Hernandez in charge of choosing the reserves?
It's hard to screw up an Angel Hernandez joke, but I think you just did.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins
My pick: Mauer
No other choice here. The Royals' Salvador Perez, the Indians' Carlos Santana, the Astros Jason Castro, the Orioles' Matt Wieters and the Blue Jays' J.P. Arencibia all are having nice seasons, but nobody is more deserving than Mauer (even if Target Field has stripped him of much of his power).
Second base: Brandon Phillips, Reds
My pick: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
Nobody is a bigger fan of Phillips than me, and he totally got screwed a year ago by not even making the team. That said, Carpenter's OPS is 144 points higher than Phillips' and the kid is having a knockout season.
The A’s, after all, are the defending AL West champions.
And they get one stinking All-Star?
Ah, there are reasons. There always are reasons.
Righty Bartolo Colon, the Athletics’ only selection, is scheduled to start next Sunday, two days before the All-Star Game. That alone could open a spot for Balfour, according to the “Sunday Pitcher Rule” in the collective-bargaining agreement.
The rule gives pitchers who start the Sunday before the ASG the option of participating or not participating. If they participate, they cannot pitch more than one inning. If they elect not to participate, they are replaced on the roster but treated in the same manner as other All-Stars, and encouraged to attend and be announced at the game.
So, Colon can take one for the team, creating an opening for Balfour.
Leyland, of course, will take the hit for the Great Oakland Snub,
The players elected righties Mariano Rivera of the Yankees and Joe Nathan of the Rangers, overlooking Balfour. Leyland added lefties Glen Perkins of the Twins and Brett Cecil of the Blue Jays, both of whom have been brilliant.
Balfour has excelled against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .571 OPS, but Perkins has been even better (.526) and Cecil downright absurd (.293).
The other Oakland snubs — shortstop Jed Lowrie,
The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, naturally, is the fans’ elected starter at third base, while the Orioles’ Manny Machado was the players’ selection.
But the manager also bypassed Evan Longoria at third, instead picking Ben Zobrist, who offers versatility as a switch-hitter and multi-position player, as his only Ray.
All that is understandable.
Leyland instead chose five setup relievers — the Jays’ Steve Delabar, Yankees’ David Robertson, Red Sox’s Koji Uehara, Rangers’ Tanner Scheppers and Tigers’Joaquin Benoit. It’s nice to see such pitchers get recognition. But at the expense of worthy position players? Please.
NL manager Bruce Bochy put together a much more representative and intriguing final-man ballot — the Nationals’ Ian Desmond, Braves’ Freddie Freeman, Giants’ Hunter Pence and Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez.