A True “What the F” Move: The James Harden Trade

For the second time this off-season a super star has been traded.  James Harden’s move however was much more surprising in how quickly it played out; unlike, of course, Dwight Howard who for his sins should have been sent to the Bobcats.

OKC was a Championship Team last year that ran into the best player of the last twenty years at his absolute peak.  There is no way the team should have been broken up – absolutely none.  The people who are saying “thanks!” today are the LA Lakers who have seen their biggest competitor break up completely uneccessarily.  Was Harden going to sign less than a max deal?  The signs seem to point to the fact that he would not have – that does not mean OKC had to trade him right away, they could have run through the rest of the league this season and then re-evaluated after the playoffs were over (Harden would have been a restricted free agent and they could have traded him or matched any offer he recieved).

Instead the team chose to deal with him right now and after being unable to convince him to take a pay cut, they traded him away.  This deserves a genuine Saul Berenson (from Homeland) quote “What the f–k are you doing?” 

Harden gave OKC ridiculous depth off the bench, and a perimeter scorer who could handle the ball.  When he was on the floor, OKC could run and spread out and had three guys who could handle the ball.  Against the Lakers, he was a wildcard, a guy who they could not afford to focus on – basically he was going to have free reign.  Pair him with Westbrook and Durant and you had a ridiculous young core (without throwing in Serge Ibaka who has a high ceiling of his own).

Now they have traded it all away which should tell us a few things:

Firstly, they are terrified of Dwight Howard and do not plan to amnesty the otherwise useless Kendrick Perkins.  Instead of paying a top 20 guy (who could rise to top 10 and is probably the third best shooting guard in the league) they are going to pay Perkins for his contributions against one team.  Hope OKC enjoys watching Perkins get roasted by the rest of the league!

Secondly, they believe in Serge Ibaka.  Ibaka has a high ceiling and he can protect the rim and block shots.  His offense is improving and he will eventually be a very good player.  However, he could not even start on the Spanish national team.  Harden has the potential to be a superstar…Ibaka has a chance to be a premier defensive player, obviously not an easy choice but hopefully OKC made the right one.

Finally, this is Durant and Westbrook’s team.  Going forward they will have some good scoring off the bench from Kevin Martin, but they have lost Harden’s ball handling abilities.  Very, very interesting going forward, but Westbrook and Durant will have even more pressure on them to carry this team going forward and carry them past the mighty Lakers.

As for Harden, he must be devestated.  For a guy who just wants to win, going from a sure contender to a rebuilding team where your best teammate is Linsanity is going to be a tough adjustment.  Additionally, as Bill Simmons wrote, Harden is more than happy not carrying the load: now he has to.

The big winners in this whole trade.  Without question the Lakers.  Game on.

 

Two Word NBA Previews 2012 / 2013

The Cover Corner has decided to do something a little bit different for our NBA Coverage this year (which given there is no hockey will be rather extensive this year…) but more on that later on.  First, with the season about to begin it is time to give some predictions – instead of long, drawn out writings though, we decided to simplify it all, with just two words about each team.

We begin in the East, with last year’s champs:

Miami Heat – Heat Repeat

Atlanta Hawks – Weird Lineup

Orlando Magic – Lottery Team

Washington Wizards – Wall’s leap?

Charlotte Bobcats – Less Bad

Milwaukee Bucks – Two Gunners (BONUS TWO WORDS) One Ball

Chicago Bulls – No Rose

Cleveland Cavaliers – Playoff Darkhorse

Indiana Pacers – NuAtlanta Hawks

Detroit Pistons – Solid Core

Philadephia 76ers – Bynum Worthy?

Boston Celtics – Slightly Older

New York Knicks – All Melo

Brooklyn Nets – NYC’s Best

Toronto Raptors – No Chance

Now, we can move on to the West where there are only 8 Playoff spots and eleven real contenders…

Utah Jazz – Slightly Better

Denver Nuggets – Highly Entertaining

Minnesota Timberwolves – Playoff Lock (BONUS TWO WORDS) Love MVP

Portland Trailblazers – Not Great

OKC Thunder – Title Contender

LA Clippers – West #3

Sacramento Kings – Another Lottery (BONUS TWO WORDS) Cousins All-star

Phoenix Suns – Actually Decent

Golden State Warriors – Shaky Ankles

LA Lakers – Epic Fail?

Memphis Grizzlies – Playoff Lock

New Orleans Hornets – Way Better

Dallas Mavericks – Lottery Bound

Houston Rockets – Linsanity Explodes

San Antonio Spurs – Still Great

And now you have some idea of how the NBA Season will go…more to come soon.

 

 

 

NFL Quick Hits – Oct 23, 2012

With Week 7 finished on the NFL calendar, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of what parity looks like:

Hello Texans – Just when the Texans stumbled, they managed to come back and smack the Ravens brutally.  They looked bad, downright bad and Joe Flacco looked terrible.  How can he expect a huge payday when his play is night and day.  This team has lived and died with its defensive identity but giving up 43 points essentially kills that dying myth.

A-Rodg and the Pack are back – After the horrible, horrible start, the team has made a genuine comeback.  No quarterback has played better the past two weeks than Rodgers.  He has 9 touchdowns…ridiculous.  Welcome back.

Cards cool off – The red hot Zona Cards have now fallen off and a loss to the Vikes does not help.  Fantastic win though for Minnesota and the seemingly indestructible Adrian Peterson (153 yards rushing) who are atop their division.

One score games – Almost every single game this week came down to one score; two went to OT and another had a last second winner.  Incredible.  The league continues to increase the competition.

The NFL’s Best Team is…- The Texans.  Their defense is great, their offense is multi-dimensional and they play in a weak division.  The road to the Super Bowl is clear.

The Super Bowl will be…49ers v. Texans

 

 

NFL Quick Hits – October 14, 2012

Another surprising week of NFL action is almost in the books, here is what went down:

The Falcons remain undefeated – Despite Matt Ryan doing everything he could to throw the game away (3 picks) the Falcons hung on and came back to win over the Raiders.  They are the class of the NFC for better or worse given what the 49ers went and did today.

The 49ers had a shot at revenge and blew it – Everyone picked the 9ers.  Everyone.  They were the lock of the week without question and they ended up blowing it big time.  They let the Giants come out to a big lead and never got back into the game.  Overall a terrible performance by the supposed best team in the NFL.

Cleveland takes the battle of Ohio – The Browns came out firing and put away Dalton and the Bengals with a big time td pass from Brandon Weeden.  Could they finally be making a move, at the right time with the Bengals and Steelers regressing?

The Steelers gave away a win – The Steelers had a chance to win the game Thursday with a 54 yard field goal and blew it.  Should they have taken another couple of shots down the field?  Probably, but they handed this one to Matt Hasselback and the Titans.

Mike Vick should have had a win – Vick played better (but still turned the ball over twice) but lost to Detroit in overtime.  Good win for the Lions who were getting increasingly desperate for a big victory.  They gutted one out and in this league, that counts for a whole lot.

The Chiefs may have more problems than just QB – Brady Quinn stepped in this week and they got absolutely smoked by Tampa Bay.  Some major work is needed.

NFL Quick Hits – Oct 8, 2012

Another week is finished in the NFL calendar and what an enlightening and record setting evening weekend it was:

Drew Brees gives Saints fans something to cheer for – In this tumultous season for Brees and the Saints, it was very important that he lead by example.  Setting a new record for consecutive games with a td pass is a nice start.  Congrats to Brees and nice for him to do so with Sean Payton there in the house.

Can the Niners beat up on another conference for awhile? – After easily dispatching the Jets, the 9ers destroyed the Bills.  Impressive, but more so when you realize the Niners ran for 300 yards and Alex Smith passed for 300.  The team is known for defense but in the past couple of weeks its offense has been on par especially with Colin Kapernick adding another dimenson out of the wildcat.

Eli Manning…again – Manning managed to pull out another one after a tough start.  Way to go Giants.  Looking forward to them getting smoked next week.

Philly almost wins another – Despite two lost fumbles, Mike Vick had the Eagles in position to win when the Steelers drove down and pulled it out.  Say what you will about Vick but he has given Philly every chance to win.

Cam Newton fails again – For the second straight week a Newton fumble dooms the Panthers.  He needs to hold on to the ball and keep the heroics to a minimum.

Quote of the Year – Jimmy Johnson on the FOX pregame show after a video of him and Terry Bradshaw dancing to “Gangam Style”: “I used to be feared.”  Then a head shake.  Priceless.

Being Liverpool – A Chelsea Fans Review

Being Liverpool is three weeks into its run and already it feels like watching the training video for Hindenburg pilots given how the season has started for one of the most legendary clubs in the world.

As a Chelsea fan, I have been enjoying the propaganda going on – given that we only seem to see good aspects of this whole process and not the usual back and forth you would anticipate happening on the pitch at a major club.

Then there was last night: during a seven minute (approximately) Luis Suarez section, in which he signed his new contract and hung out with teammates, no mention whatsoever was made of the fact he missed eight games last season for racially abusing Patrice Evra.  Nor was any mention made of the brawl he started against Man United by refusing to shake Evra’s hand.  Hate to say it, but this is a major sticking point for the club going forward.  I understand they may want to attempt to move past it, but this “all access” thing Fox soccer allegedly has seems to be much less than “all” at this point.

As a Chelsea fan I understand sometimes wanting to move past ugly incidents from the past season.  I mean what can you say about John Terry other than he is a leader, a legend, and a man who learns auditorially (or through repeating things he allegedly said…) but for Being Liverpool to blatently ignore Suarez’s past crimes is completely inexcusable and reveals the show for exactly what it is: propaganda.

This is a carefully put together and expertly crafted show which gives virtually no explanation as to the team’s struggles to get back to the top.  Rather it simply shows a monotonous series of training which seems to yield no solutions to the team’s previous season struggles, nor any reasons for hope for this current campaign (aside from a new manager and random series of new transfers).

And yet, here I am hoping I will get the chance to sit through Being: Chelsea.