Of Agent Zero, Ettore Messina and some other stuff
How good does that $111-million Agent Zero contract look now?
Yup, a little cleaning job on his knee and he’s likely out for the first month or two of the regular season. Somewhere, I can imagine Wizards owner Abe Pollin is a tad irked. That’s a lot of cash for a guy who’s been hurt more often than not for the last two seasons and, seemingly, things still aren’t right in his knee.
Of course, some of us thought, and still think, the Wizards are a better team without Arenas and that they should have save the cash they gave him after re-upping Antawn Jamison.
What’s it do to the East?
Nothing, really. I don’t think anyone thought the Wizards were legitimate contenders and perhaps the only thing it does is leave them scrambling to make the playoffs rather than a solid fifth or sixth.
Oh, and tell me how much they'll miss Roger Mason now
Here’s a report from Reporting Central.
Had a quick chat with Sam Mitchell yesterday and he says things are progressing just fine at the informal workouts over at the ACC and there’s a big crowd in already.
Some scrimmages, some shooting drills, some defensive drills, some conditioning work are all part of a routine day for the six or seven guys who are already here.
And he says Jermaine O’Neal’s expected in Saturday, Bosh and Calderon and their Olympic medals arrive Sunday and next week should be a de-facto extra week of training camp.
Of course, I’m not surprised he said he’s happy with the way things are going – the next time a coach starts killing his players this early will be the first time – but there did seem to be a greater sense of optimism in the conversation than I can remember in any other September.
Okay, here’s the thing for all you who’ve been asking about “First teams” and “Second teams” and wondering where the scoring or the defence or whatever will come from on each.
If, as we all expect, they go with an eight- or nine-man rotation most nights – the variable being foul trouble and injuries, of course – there won’t be any time, let alone extended minutes, when there are five backups on the court at the same time.
And even if there were – and I presume it’ll happen every now and then when one of the bigs gets into early foul trouble – someone will always find a way to score. Or, for that matter, make defensive plays. It might be Moon and Bargnani one night, it might be Hump (when he plays) and Ukic or Solomon another night.
It’s a worry that people shouldn’t worry about.
First mail of the day:
Q: Hey Doug, I got a quick question for you. Which are your two darkhorse teams from each conference for the upcoming season? I like Toronto and Portland, respectively.
Mike S, Toronto
A: Hey, Mike, I’ve got a quick answer for you.
If you mean darkhorse to win the conference, I’ve got to go with Houston (which hasn’t won even a playoff series in the McGrady Era) and maybe Orlando (although that’s a pretty easy one).
If you mean a darkhorse to make a big move in the regular season, I’ll give you Portland and maybe take Milwaukee in the East. Still not sold on Scott Skiles (I think his act wears out very, very quickly) but I like what John Hammond has done.
Still not coming back, by the way.
Anyway, Andrew over in the comments section reminded me yesterday:
Has anyone in recent memory fallen as precipitously as he has? From perennial leader in All-Star voting to not even a sniff at the ballot box. From the best dunker in history to an mediocre jump shooter. I was interested in your opinion on Carter's sudden absence from the limelight.
He was an athletic supernova who never really put as much work into the game as he should have. There is no questioning his breath-taking abilities to jump and dunk and explode; there were often questions about how long he could sustain it because he always seemed to be getting by on raw talent rather than hard work.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that he was, at times early in his tenure in Toronto, an absolute joy to watch. He could do things no one else could.
But it struck me near the end that he never really took responsibility for his greatness, never really pushed himself as hard as he could. Oh, he’d respond every now and then (if Oak challenged him, good things seemed to happened; when Butch challenged him, he could rise to the occasion) but those were too infrequent.
This has nothing to do with basketball but I cannot think of a greater team name than Joe Public FC.
That’s the club team playing Montreal in whatever soccer thing that’s going on that isn’t the Champions League.
Great, great name.
One more from the mail and a quick check of the in-box makes it look like a long, long day at the computer answering questions is ahead:
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog.
Did the Raps make a move on Richard Jefferson before he went to the Bucks? He seems like the perfect fit for Toronto, slashing g/f with no ego and ridiculous athleticism.
Chris A, Bowmanville
A: A move? Well, they did have some interest and there may have been a call made but there was really nothing the Raptors had that the Nets wanted or needed at the time.
Perhaps some of you have noticed that I think one of the most important things that has to be done to improve the overall calibre of basketball in the country is to improve coaching at every level.
Well, the good people at Ontario Basketball (or Basketball Ontario if you wish) are trying to do something about it.
The iconic Ettore Messina is coming to coach CSKA Moscow against the Raptors in the pre-season and if you click here, you’ll see he’s also doing a clinic that’s got to be a don’t-miss proposition for all of you.
Sign up quickly because I know this will fill up in a hurry. Or at least it better.
And, in what might be the best part of the whole thing, the fee is going to a great, great charity. That’s just icing on the cake, isn’t it?
Remember way back in the spring when Josh Howard was in the news with the dope stuff and there were a zillion or two of you who figured he was exactly what the Raptors needed and surely he would be cheap to get in a trade.
Well, what do you think his value is after this stunt?
And do you still think teams will take a flier on him? How toxic is he now?
Sometimes, the best moves are the ones not made.