December 17, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Mack Brown Resigns – Crazy week in Texas with football coach Mack Brown stepping down from his post with the Longhorns. Brown’s resignation has been the subject of speculation for a few years now as many fans haven’t been pleased with the team’s record lately. After nine consecutive seasons with at least ten wins, Texas hasn’t achieved that mark in the past four years. Brown hasn’t been terrible, mind you, guiding the Longhorns to three winning seasons in those four years. But the team hasn’t competed for a national championship in some time and the program hasn’t been as good as it was last decade under him. Alabama’s Nick Saban seemed to be a potential replacement for Brown, but he recently announced he’s staying put with the Crimson Tide.

Kobe Bryant Struggles in Return – The Los Angeles Lakers got their star back this week as Kobe Bryant returned from his Achilles injury sustained last season – but things haven’t gone quite as they hoped. The team got off to a 1-3 start since Bryant’s return with their only win a three-point victory over the Charlotte Bobcats under their belts. The Mamba isn’t helping things, either. In the four games he’s played, Bryant is scoring only 13.5 points a game. Helping to fill the point guard role in Steve Nash’s absence, the good news is that he is averaging a career-high seven assists per contest. But Bryant is also averaging a career-worst 6.3 turnovers and is clearly still dealing with a high amount of rust.

Jamaal Charles has Record Day … as a Receiver – Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles had some kind of day in the team’s 56-31 win over the rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Charles is one of the league’s best rushers, but he did his damage on Sunday through the air, racking up 195 receiving yards on eight catches. He added five big touchdowns and had 220 total yards on the day. According to ESPN, he had the third biggest receiving day for a running back since the 1970 merger and his five scores tied a franchise record. Needless to say, Charles surely won leagues for many of his fantasy football owners that reached their league’s championship games.

Roy Halladay Retires – Former All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay retired last week at the age of 36. Halladay, as recently as two seasons ago, was still one of baseball’s best pitchers. In his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, the pitcher had perhaps his best season ever with a 19-6 record and career-bests with 220 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.35. The past two seasons for Halladay, though, have been forgettable and last year, he suffered one of his worst professional seasons going 4-5 with a whopping 6.82 ERA. The next question will inevitably be if he will get into the Hall of Fame. His credentials are reasonable with a career 3.38 ERA and more than 2,100 strikeouts, but his relatively low total of 203 wins will hurt him. That’s unfortunate because playing for some pretty bad Toronto Blue Jays teams for the bulk of his career, Halladay would certainly have had more wins with a better franchise. Still, that number will be difficult to overcome since most of the other starters currently in the Hall have more victories.

Snowball Fight Ends with Oregon Player Suspended – The Oregon Ducks’ football team apparently organized a snowball fight with fans and, well, things got out of control. A player was even suspended for the team’s upcoming bowl game. Well, then.

RGIII Benched … Redskins Lose Anyway – The Washington Redskins benched their star quarterback Robert Griffin III after he’s been inconsistent all year long following his recovery from his ACL injury. Kirk Cousins got the start for Washington on Sunday, but the team still lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 27-26. The team was competitive and Cousins did some good things in throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but he also struggled a little with two interceptions and failed to convert a potential game-winning two-point conversion near the end of the contest. Cousins is an interesting quarterback who has a future in this league, but the team is still better off with Griffin if he can return to the form he showed in 2012. Benching him was the right move and if the Skins are wise, they’ll do the same for the rest of the season and allow him to get healthy for next year.

Jameis Winston wins Heisman – In the long and storied history of the Heisman trophy, a freshman didn’t win the award until last season when Johnny Manziel took home the prize. That opened the door for others and for the second consecutive season, a first-year player has won the honor. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been nothing short of spectacular for the Seminoles and he clearly deserved to win it, leading Florida State to an undefeated season as they head into the national championship game next month.

Skiing … Not Just for the MountainsSkiers are taking over Detroit’s abandoned buildings. No, really.

February 21, 2013

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NBA Trade Deadline Deals

By: Joe Williams

It happens every year in the NBA. There are a lot of discussions, a lot of rumors, a lot of hype, and not very many deals. At least not the deals that have been getting the headlines for the last few weeks.

Dwight Howard is not going anywhere. Pau Gasol is not going anywhere. Kevin Garnett is not going anywhere. Neither is Josh Smith. Ok, Smith is the one guy who may get moved.

Should the Celtics trade Rondo before the Trade Deadline?

But if it was up to me, just about all of these guys would be changing zip codes. The question is – where should they go?

The Lakers will be taking a huge risk when they don’t trade Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. Without an injured Gasol, the Lakers are poised to miss the playoffs this season and have no guarantee that Howard will stay in L.A. next year. And even if they convince the big man to re-sign, there is no evidence that he can play nice with Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol. And even if they do all come together…they will all be another year older and didn’t Kobe make headlines already this year saying the team is too old? They need to trade Gasol and go all-in this season or trade Howard and re-load for next season.

If it is all about winning a title, the Atlanta Hawks should give Josh Smith what he wants to stay and then use him to recruit Dwight Howard in the summer.

Howard may not like playing with Kobe, but one would think he would enjoy playing in his hometown of Atlanta with one of his best friends in Smith.

Several teams are after Smith and if he ends up with the Nets, they could challenge Miami in the East.

With Rajon Rondo out for the year, Boston needs to do something. We all thought they were done without Rondo, but the team has gotten hot without him and will give anybody in the East a tough time in the playoffs. Since Kevin Garnett has made it clear he isn’t going to accept a trade, they need to get him some help this year. How many more times can Boston give it one more run with Paul Pierce and Garnett? That’s why I would try to trade Rondo. The Celtics could get help now and future picks for the injured all-star.

Everybody knows the Orlando Magic are looking to unload J.J. Redick. And if the reports on Derrick Rose looking good in practice and being ready to go sometime soon, the Bulls should do this deal. Chicago tried to get him a couple years back and couldn’t. But now they can and if they can add a great shooter and a healthy Rose to a team that is only 2.5 games out of the No. 2 seed in the East, they are legitimate contender.

Other deals:

The Clippers should keep Eric Bledsoe until Chris Paul has re-signed.

The Jazz should keep Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.

The Raptors should trade Andrea Bargnani.

The Bobcats should trade Ben Gordon.

The Heat should trade for anyone who can rebound.

February 22, 2011

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NBA Second Half Forecast

By: Joe Williams

Now that the NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, it’s time to focus on the second half of the season. There are a lot of questions to be answered in the coming weeks. How will Carmelo Anthony change the Knicks? Can the Lakers reach a fourth straight NBA Finals? Who is going to come out of the Eastern Conference? What will Blake Griffin do next?

The one thing I do know is that I shouldn’t have eaten that last eggroll. While I try to recover, let’s take a look into the crystal ball and see what the NBA has in store for the rest of the season.

Feb. 23

As the trade deadline approaches sources say talks heat up for a major trade involving the Toronto Raptors. When the deadline passes with no deal made, word comes out that the United States and Canada were close to a Toronto Raptors for Nashville Predators trade. Sources say both sides will continue trade talks in the offseason.

Feb. 24

With the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York already a done deal, no major deals are expected at the trade deadline. The biggest trade of the day is a deal between the Lakers and Nets. The Lakers send Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian to New Jersey in exchange for Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian.

March 11

Looking for a spark, the Lakers turn to their past and sign Mark Madsen for the rest of the season. Madsen was part of the Lakers championship teams in 2001 and 2002 and was known for his celebratory actions from the end of the bench. “Nobody supports a teammate better than Madsen,” said Kobe Bryant. “He is always the first to give me a high-five when I do something great.”

April 13

Denver goes into the final day of the regular season tied with Utah for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets win on a buzzer-beater by Timofey Mozgov (the rookie center who was nearly a deal-breaker in the Carmelo Anthony trade).

Playoff teams in the East: Boston, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Charlotte.

Playoff teams in the West: San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Denver.

May 17

The Cleveland Cavaliers pick up their biggest win of the season and come away with the first pick in the NBA draft lottery.

June 2

The NBA Finals begin in Boston as the Celtics host the Dallas Mavericks.

June 16

Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks celebrate winning the NBA Championship in Boston with a 95-89 Game 7 win.

June 20

With the end of the NBA season and the threat of a work stoppage looming, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban purchases a Dairy Queen. “Who knows when we will play
basketball again?” Cuban says. “I care about my players. These guys have families. If they can’t work for me as a Dallas Maverick, they can work for me at Dairy Queen.”

There we have it. The second half of the season should be exciting and full of surprises. We better enjoy it while we can. My Magic 8 Ball says the outlook for basketball next season does not look good.

February 14, 2011

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Five Players Who Could Be Moved Before the NBA Trade Deadline

By: Anson Whaley

The NBA trade deadline is just around the corner, and while some teams will be merely trying to dump salary, others will be legitimately trying to make themselves better for the playoffs. This is always one of the most frustrating times for fans hoping their team will make a big deal, but the fact is that blockbuster trades are always extremely difficult to put together due to salary considerations. Still, here are some stars that might have new homes come February 19th.

Carmelo Anthony

Melo is the biggest fish out there and for good reason. Though Anthony is an eight-year NBA vet, he’s only 26 and in the prime of his career. This season, he’s averaging just under 25 points and eight rebounds per game and is one of the league’s premier forwards. Carmelo’s goal, if we can believe the rumors, may be to play in New York – potentially setting up another ‘Big Three’ along with Amar’e Stoudemire and, later, Chris Paul. But the Nuggets reportedly don’t like what the Knicks have been offering and may not send him there.

As recently as last week, Anthony’s name has also surfaced in potential trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to earlier rumors, Carmelo may only want to be traded to New York, but the thought of playing for the two-time defending champions could change his mind. He would have to take a back seat to Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, but playing for the Lakers might be his best chance to win a ring. The Lakers likely wouldn’t trade for Anthony unless he committed to a long-term deal with the team, so that may be a sticking point in any deal.

Antawn Jamison

It hasn’t been a particularly good year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland set the all-time record for consecutive losses in all of major professional sports with 26 last week, and things have been dismal with the departure of some key players, including LeBron James. With that kind of ‘success’, the team could be in a position to move some of its more expensive players. At the top of that list would be Antawn Jamison, who is scheduled to make about $15,000,000 next season.

At 34, Jamison is still a productive player in the league, averaging more than 17 points and six rebounds per game and would be a real help to nearly any title contender. Jamison is also in the final year of his deal next season and can offer prospective teams the always-desirable expiring contract. The only problem is that his salary for next year may be more than some teams are willing to take on. Still, the Cavs could be looking to trade him and may be willing to take on quite a bit of his salary in return.

Andrew Bynum

The Lakers’ center is normally not the type of player that would get traded. He’s a young, emerging big man that has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to reach his full potential. At only 23, it’s conceivable that he could have ten more years of his best play still ahead of him if he can remain injury free. Unfortunately for him, he’s rarely been fully healthy in any given season and has had various injury issues throughout his career. Still, he could become one of the league’s best centers and is a desirable trading chip. The Lakers may be willing to part with him in order to land Carmelo Anthony or another established star who might be able to help them right away. And with Pau Gasol able to man the center position, the Lakers may be able to manage without him.

Monta Ellis

Realistically, I don’t expect Ellis to be dealt. He’s one of the best young shooting guards in the league and averaging more than 25 points and five assists per game, is having possibly his best season as a pro. But the Warriors are not performing as well as they envisioned and are under .500 on the season. Management could be forced to make a move, and Ellis is the team’s best chip. If he is indeed traded, Golden State will almost assuredly need to get another shooting guard in return as the team would be thin in that area without him.

Jamal Crawford

Crawford isn’t the best guard in the league, but he can provide instant offense for a team off the bench, as evidenced by his 15 points per game. He struggles at times with his shot and is only a career 41% shooter from the field, but Crawford can be a good fit for a contender looking for a quality backup off the bench. With Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks have a great starting backcourt. But Jamal is their best guard off the bench, and if they aren’t able to get a guard in return, trading him could leave a huge void. Since the Hawks are still one of the East’s better teams and will expect to compete in the playoffs, it will probably take an overwhelming offer for them to move Crawford.

Gerald Wallace

The Bobcats had high hopes for the season but are struggling through another tough year. The team lost its head coach, Larry Brown, in December, and may be looking to start over. Gerald Wallace is the team’s best player, but he’s having one of his worst seasons in recent memory. His numbers (15.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game) are down from previous years and, after shooting nearly 50% over the past two seasons, he’s making only 43% of his shots from the field this year. Wallace, however, is still a young player at 28 and may benefit from a change of scenery. If the Bobcats decide to start over and go into full rebuilding mode, he could be the first to go.