His career as an insufferable college player aside, Danny Ferry’s lasting contribution to the basketball world is represented with the photo on this blog post. In 2005, in his first season as Cleveland Cavaliers GM, Ferry was tasked with building a champion around LeBron James. Donyell Marshall, who had shot 42 percent on 3s the previous year, was supposed to be the type of outside threat needed on a team with the play-making James. Larry Hughes was supposed to be James’s Pippen — a long wing defender who could supplement LeBron’s offense when called upon. We all know the rest. It ends with LeBron rapping at a Miami club in his own animal-face T-shirt and Dan Gilbert crying somewhere in all caps.
Whether it’s fair or not, to this point Ferry’s legacy in management is tied to James, and that makes the timing of Monday’s news all the more interesting. Four days after LeBron lifted his championship trophy in Miami, the Atlanta Hawks announced Ferry would be taking over as the team’s GM, his first stint at the helm of an organization since being fired by Cleveland two years ago. Ferry spent those two seasons back in San Antonio, where he’d started his personnel career after retiring as a player with the Spurs in 2003. That the league’s best-run team would be so willing to welcome him back is as good an endorsement as any, and when the Hawks parted ways with Rick Sund earlier this month, Ferry was their first and only call.
When Ferry took over in Cleveland, the instruction manual came with the office. As long as James was there, winning the lottery in 2003 would be the biggest personnel move the Cavs would ever have to make. Decisions that are considered failures now still led to 60-win seasons. This time around, Ferry is looking at some new problems (well, at least three):
With the 2012 season winding down, the list of NBA free agents is here, and, well, it sure isn’t 2010 anymore. With enough Diet Coke and backroom talks to fill a lifetime, the biggest prize of this year’s free agent crop elected to stay at Disney World for another year. What’s left is a class that, while lacking superstars, is full of impact pieces for the right team. We sifted through the list so you don’t have to, and below are five types of free agents we think teams will be looking for this summer.
The Foundation (Deron Williams/Eric Gordon)
In a class that’s thick around the middle and light at the top, Deron Williams and Eric Gordon figure to be two of the major gets this summer. When Dwight Howard lost his mind earlier this spring, it left Williams as the top guy in the class. A superstar point guard who can both score and be an excellent facilitator, Williams will completely reshape any team that lands him. Dallas spent much of this past offseason working its way into some cap room to bring the local guy home, and the understanding is that Mark Cuban is ready to back the truck up. The problem is there’s a Russian guy in Brooklyn with a lot more money. My guess is that Mikhail Prokhorov isn’t too interested in showcasing his new $1 billion arena with Johan Petro and @blackboipachino, and the Nets will be throwing plenty of cash D-Will’s way. If Dallas does manage to coax Williams to Texas, it’ll be a great way to properly use the last few years of Dirk Nowitzki’s career. Williams isn’t the best player on a championship team, but paired with another star, he’s a major part of one.
My favorite NFL draft memory is from my freshman year of college. It has nothing to do with who my Chicago Bears took that year (Greg Olsen, 31st overall), or which colossal bust made his way into the top 10 (JaMarcus Russell). No, that year was about testing the durability of a miniature hockey stick when slammed against a dorm room furnace, which is how a friend reacted when his Packers ended up with Justin Harrell at no. 16 instead of Marshawn Lynch, who went to the Bills at no. 12. The stick lost.
The reason I always go back to that one has less to do with what happened than it does how many of us were there to see it. For some of my friends, the draft is better than Christmas morning, and for one of us (my Rams-loving former roommate), the only day every season where hope doesn’t seem so ridiculous.
This year is no different. When it was clear Jay Cutler’s broken thumb would keep the Bears from the playoffs, I immediately started doing two things: (1) becoming embarrassed at my inability to figure out the draft order, and (2) hoping Michael Floyd had just enough alcohol-related run-ins with the law to fall to no. 19. The second one doesn’t look like it’s going to work out, but I do have three more draft-obsessed observations that I think should.
In the past two weeks, the Miami Heat have looked like the team that many have thought (and feared) they might become since LeBron James announced the intention to take his talents to South Beach. Miami has won each of its past seven games by double digits, and it has filled those wins with enough highlights to last an entire season. The Heat have been so dominant that after a Tuesday-night game in which they scored 120 points and won by 12, coach Erik Spoelstra felt the need to apologize for their performance. They have looked like nothing if not the best team in basketball, and for most of this run, maybe the best team in years. On Thursday night, still armed with two of the five best players in the world, that team is set to face the Knicks in the most anticipated game of this season. And somehow, among all the Linsanity, the Heat are an afterthought.
The headlines say the Linsanity beat went on Tuesday night. New York’s final two possessions in its 90-87 win over the Raptors — in which Lin tied the game on a driving and-one and won it with a fearless 3-pointer with half a second remaining — will dominate the highlights for the next day or so, and conversations about Lin’s improbable run will accompany them.
The focus will again be on those gaudy final numbers, this time 27 points (for a record total of 136 through five starts) and 11 assists. But for Knicks fans, it should all pale in comparison to the real excitement of Tuesday night’s win. With Lin’s emergence, Amar’e Stoudemire’s return, and Carmelo Anthony still on the way, it was a partial glimpse of a Knicks team they could never have imagined before the season began.
It's January 18, a little less than half an hour before the Clippers are set to tip off against Dallas at Staples Center. From each corner of the downtown L.A. arena, smoke machines funnel into small fans. There’s a faint cloud hovering over the court. It feels like a low-budget rock concert before the lights have gone down.
At game’s end, the announced attendance will be 19,252 — another sellout — but as both teams go through pregame warm-ups, the lower bowl is lined with stretches of unfilled seats. The first row behind the baseline is empty, and throughout the section, pieces of paper have been taped to seat backs: Next time, pay a much lower price for these great seats. Season ticket packages for 2012-2013 now available.
Last week, Justin Kubatko made an announcement that, on the first reading, didn’t make much sense. Kubatko, of Basketball-Reference.com, wrote that the site now had the box scores for every game in NBA history — from Wilt’s 100-point game, to when Havlicek stole the ball, to everything in between. Visitors to the site could search for every game from 1946-47 to the present day through its database.
When Kwame Brown signed his one-year, $7 million deal with the Warriors on Tuesday, we got to thinking: Has anyone in the league made more by doing less? The Golden State deal pushed Kwame’s career earnings to a cool $58.4 million. No, seriously.
In honor of Kwame’s latest payday, we decided to roll out the “No, really, that dude has made $___ million” All Stars:
The result has been speculation about Peyton’s status with the franchise and questions about whether Luck and his own father (a former NFL quarterback himself) would consider a similar play to the one the Mannings orchestrated in 2004. I spoke with Archie Manning about the future of the Colts quarterback situation, the marriage potential of his youngest son, and his role in selecting the newest coach at his alma mater.
The Grantland staff was watching football a few weeks ago, and Bill Simmons, our editor-in-chief, asked one of our editors, Sarah Larimer, if she could marry one NFL quarterback, who would it be? And she said Eli.
Is that right?
It is. And in terms of what you know about your son, does that surprise you at all?
That’s not the first time I’ve heard that. That came up somewhere else not long ago. Eli kind of favors his mother, so he’s a nice-looking guy. He doesn’t have a big ego, and he knows how to behave himself. He’s a gentleman. Although, he is spoken for.
I was watching football at a bar near San Francisco last weekend when the man on the adjacent stool noticed my Bears hat.
"You from Chicago?" he asked
"Northwest suburbs," I said.
Standard chatter followed. He had family a few towns over from where I grew up. He visits every once in a while. We weren't a minute into the conversation when he asked the question so many seem to when they learn where I’m from and what team I root for:
Do you know who owns the Texas Rangers? Seriously, we’re really asking. Because so far, this is all we've got:
a) George W. Bush was involved (at some point there)
b) but not Mark Cuban (not ever)
c) and now it's not just Nolan Ryan (This probably comes as a surprise to anyone who has spent the 2011 World Series carefully tracking the Frowns of Nolan Ryan.)
It turns out the Rangers ownership is a complex and complicated saga. After about 198 hours of research, here's what we've figured out:
Wednesday night marked the first installment of this year’s Fall Classic. The 2011 World Series features a counted-out bunch of pro’s pros squaring off against the league’s most explosive and exciting lineup. Chris Carpenter’s masterful work on the mound led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers while capturing the hearts and minds of, well, more people than the ones who watched Criminal Minds.