"We call it the Sundance of basketball. People from top to bottom in the industry will be in Las Vegas. It’s one of the few times besides the All-Star Game when lots of people and decision-makers are looking to make an impression or move relationships further along."
"It's Quincy Acy's world, we're all just livin' in it. And it's 110 degrees outside and I've been at UNLV for three days, and oh God what time is it even?"
— From my notebook on Saturday afternoon
NBA summer league in Las Vegas wasn't this big of a deal a few years ago. When it started, it drew six teams with mismatched uniforms and overmatched players, and nobody really noticed it was happening. Somehow that event has transformed over the past decade into Basketball Sundance, where basically everyone — from coaches to scouts to bloggers to agents to players — gathers for a weeklong hoops summit on the UNLV campus. This is where everyone binges on basketball for one last time before taking a break for a few months. Summer league even has its own groupies. It's great.
It's also pretty horrible compared to regular basketball, let's be honest. But it feels like a good way to end the NBA year. As the quote above suggests, summer league is kind of like baseball's winter meetings, full of insider gossip, networking, and everything else you'd expect from a giant industry convention. Except in between, there are endless amounts of basketball. And for fans, this is a healthy purge.
Let’s not mince words here — the Lakers are boring. Sure, they’re a flaming train wreck from which we can’t avert our eyes, but their actual on-court product (and even some of the drama off it) is far from enjoyable, in the traditional sense. If you stripped away the star power and franchise mystique, all you’d be left with is a basketball team that’s losing far more than it wins, and there’s not much fun about that. (Again, in the traditional sense.)
But given there isn’t any way to not talk about the Lakers, I went to the ESPN Trade Machine (at least in part) and tried to figure out a deal that, in an alternate reality, would make the team more palatable. The trade I came up with is both realistic (based on some real rumors I’ve heard/read and players’ fair market value in mind) and totally effing bananas (five-team, 15-player trades and unicorns tend have a lot in common). I’d still like to think at least some parts dabble in the vicinity of the plausible.
In the end, I came up with a Lakers team (as well as a Cleveland one) that I would actually enjoy watching on a nightly basis. Of course, it’s built along the lines of my own personal views — fit over star power and great offense over any type of defense — but I think it would make the struggling L.A. team, as well as a couple of the others involved, more interesting.
Either way, there’s enough in there to get people yelling at each other (or at me), which is easily the best part of fake trades anyway. So here ya go:
In their eight years of existence, the Charlotte Bobcats have drafted three players from UNC, one from Duke, and one from Boston College, a school that plays up to seven games a year in the state of North Carolina. They have drafted one player from Texas, a Naismith runner-up from Gonzaga, and two UConn greats. Outside of trading for Alexis Ajinca’s draft rights in 2008, the Bobcats have found nearly every undersized or questionably athletic college star in the country. Some, like Jared Dudley, turn out to be valuable players on other teams. Others, like Sean May, quickly confirm that college post moves sometimes don’t translate to the NBA. The Bobcats haven’t fully developed a player since their inception in 2004. They handcuffed Raymond Felton, they didn’t tell the managers of all Charlotte-area Waffle Houses to stop serving May, they turned Gerald Henderson into the worst version of Kobe Bryant in the history of versions of Kobe Bryant.
Of all the positions in the NBA, maybe the toughest one to project is the point guard spot. The pro game is very demanding on point guards, constituting a real leap from college, especially in terms of the defense the players face. The most interesting point guard prospects in this draft class — Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall, and Austin Rivers — will have to perform right away.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Tim Tebow is officially a New York Jet. The Broncos traded their former quarterback to New York, along with a seventh-round pick, for two earlier picks in this April's draft. As longtime readers of this post will know, Tim Tebow and Rex Ryan are prominent figures in the About Last Night canon. The fact that they're now teamed up is just insane news for me, and I've decided to commemorate it with a spiritual sonnet called "The Glutton Tempts the Son."
The Glutton Tempts the Son
The Son has heard the Jet's seductive roar
The Glutton licks the bone and sips the wine
Of Jersey fair the Son recalls the shore
But not the Glutton's castle made of swine
"Come here my friend, it's past the chocolate oak!"
Cries the Glutton, reaching out his hand.
The Son resists — a frown — "is this a joke?
"God's heaven is the only charm'd land!"
"Philistine," the Glutton stops to mutter,
"Profane ye not my palaces of cheer.
Breaded streets proceed to lakes of butter:
Adipose Rex, I'm called, and we are here!"
"Such wonders!" cries the Son, "unhand thy fork. It truly is a castle made of pork!"
—March 22, 2012
(I don't even know, guys. I don't even know what's up right now. All I can say is that Tebow and Rex are on the same team, and one way or another a sonnet had to go down.)
This week on the Jalen Rose Show, we touched on those hot topics, but also dove deep into the Miami Heat, Kobe’s tough night against the Jazz, and discussed why a rapper would spend thousands of dollars in one night at a strip club. Yes, after listening to this podcast, a rapper spending $8,000 in one night at a jiggle joint will make perfect sense. Enjoy.
It was a drab Thursday and Friday at the ACC tournament, but the drama of the weekend atoned in a big way. First, you had Carolina riding a wave of favorable calls to a close win over NC State, then a brutal FSU win against a game but under-talented Duke team, and finally the explosive championship, with the Noles holding off Carolina (sans John Henson) for a three-point win. The weekend games were good enough to make this the best Power 6 conference tournament of 2012.
But what stuck out to me, more than the results and more than the close finishes, was the excellent pressure play of three players — Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall, and Michael Snaer.
There are two options here. One: I can talk about them and leave it at that. Two: I can start you off with two great referee stories from Saturday. Pick your poison.