On with the links…
· ESPN’s Henry Abbot a.k.a. TrueHoop went boldly where no blogger had ever gone before: an actual event. He was behind-the-scenes at the lottery and just so happened to change the course of history for his beloved Blazers. Speaking of blogs, Bethlehem Shoals at Free Darko wrote this piece for the AOL Sports Fanhouse. With everyone complaining about Oden and Durant’s exile to the Northwest, he argues that this draft in itself will rejuvenate the league because there are finally some prospects with name recognition.
As we get into
reactions from around the league, the first logical stop is the sullen emotional
wasteland that is Boston right now. The Distraught Celtics Fan poster boy is
ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who writes this
entertaining but certainly melodramatic column the day after the lottery. He
rightly points out that looking back, since the Celtics didn’t get in the top
two, the tanking was a disgrace to the game rather than a viable strategy to
improve. As for the organization, the Boston Herald chronicled the Celtics front
office’s half-hearted attempt at the Put on a Happy Face game. The co-owner says
the draft is deep. The GM says they could
explore a trade (hopefully one that goes better than the Telfair deal last
year). And the
captain of the sinking ship coach just
seems mostly confused. Oh and the local columnist, Tony Massarotti,
is pissed at the NBA, the lottery and probably the sport of Ping Pong in
· After taking time to bask in the glory that is another Celtics disappointment, let’s take on the significantly less fun task of feeling happy for the winners. Look no further for unbridled enthusiasm than the Blazers own GM Kevin Pritchard (amongst my favorite people of this draft already), who was downright giddy after the lottery. If not because of Greg Oden, then because this means he will be employed in the near future. John Canzano writes an excellent piece about how the pick will change the franchise not from a bottom line perspective, but from the perspective of the true fans that have stood by the team during all the turmoil. By the way, in regards to the idiotic notion spewed by the ESPN analysts about Portland being a playoff contender next year do me a favor. Look at the eight teams in the Western Conference playoffs this year and tell me who the Blazers could be better than next year. Thank you.
· The Seattle Times caught up with the Sonics newest “chucker” as Doug Gottlieb called him Tuesday. If anything, this article just further cements the fact that Kevin Durant is going to be a freaking superstar. From his game to his outlook on the NBA, it’s a sure thing, mark it down. Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes the obvious, that the Sonics now have a legitimate chance to stay in Seattle because of some silly Ping Pong balls. Gotta love the NBA.
· Perhaps lost in the shuffle is Atlanta, which keeps its pick and now have No. 3 and No. 11. Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be angry if they don’t pick Mike Conley. To which I say, “What the f***?” Mike Conley is a good point guard, he is NOT the third pick of the NBA Draft. Just because the Hawks, in their glorious ineptitude, passed on Deron Williams and Chris Paul, doesn’t mean they should compound the mistake by reaching for Conley. Of all the teams that stunk last year, they actually have a chance to become good because of this draft. They should try to trade down and get Conley and a big man, but they will screw it up because they are the Hawks.
· Everyone knows this already but Hibbert is going back and Green is going pro. Hibbert would’ve been a bust of a top ten pick but he still would’ve been in the top ten. Good for him to realize he’s not ready but all that does is save the job of the GM who would’ve wasted their pick on him. It’s bittersweet I suppose.
· In other news, Minnesota has an NBA franchise and Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune uses this opportunity to declare he is none too pleased with it. If you are wondering how the Wolves will use their pick, Reusse has an answer: poorly.
· Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times writes this meandering critique of the lottery process itself. Somewhere in there he hits an interesting point. If the NBA runs the lottery to avoid tanking, then they are essentially awarding franchises a savior based on blind luck. If they change it, tanking prevails. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I think we’ve reached a low point in sports when one of the important topics is how to draw Ping Pong balls out of a big wheel. John Jackson, also of the Sun-Times, points out that if Eddy Curry didn’t beat the Bulls with a tip-in on the last day of the season, the Bulls (via the Knicks), would’ve had the same odds as Portland to win the lottery. If they find a way to get Horford or Brandan Wright they still might be the Eastern Conference favorites next year anyway.
· Stephen A. Smith departs from his usual medium of analysis — screaming — for this Philadelphia Inquirer column on the Sixers gloomy outlook sitting at No. 12. For some reason, Philadelphia is being touted as all that is right amongst the NBA’s losers for not tanking games and ending up at No. 12. I do not share the same feeling. They won three more games than Portland. The Blazers are getting Greg Oden, we are getting Spencer Hawes. It wouldn’t have hurt to lose a few down the stretch there. Pride doesn’t always get you to the playoffs, luck does.
· Oh, and no one in Memphis really cares about NBA basketball.