A very pleasant Saturday to the masses. I hope those of you on the east coast have successfully dug out of the massive amounts of snow that have come the last few days. Frankly, I’m tired of it and can’t wait for warm weather.
Anyway, there have been lots of little nuggets from around the sports world that have caught my attention and are certainly worth mentioning, so lets get to it.
- New York Yankees team president Randy Levine ripped Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg for his public comments that the Rangers late push for Cliff Lee might have been what ultimately led Lee to sign with the Phillies. According to the Daily News, Levine called Greenberg “delusional” and said he would be impressed if Greenberg could get the Rangers off “welfare,” a reference to Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing. To be honest, I didn’t take Greenberg’s statement as any sort of boast or as a slam against the Yankees — he seemed to be saying that the Rangers made one last attempt to keep themselves in the mix and accidentally gave the Phillies time to swoop in —it’s hard to argue with Levine when he says Greenberg should “let Cliff Lee speak for himself.” Also, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Greenberg made some negative comments about Yankee fans during the playoffs.
- The Cardinals are not seriously exploring the possibility of trading first baseman Albert Pujols because the superstar slugger, who has full no-trade protection, would veto any swap, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- On the basketball court, the Washington Wizards lost last night in OKC in double overtime and have fallen to a dreadful 0-22 on the road this season. After trading Gilbert Arenas earlier this season, it appeared that the Wiz have rid themselves of the headaches. So much for that. After getting “blown up” by head coach Flip Saunders after a poor game, Andray Blatche was critical of Wizards fans and called in to a local radio show to defend himself.
- The Miami Heat have been a popular source for controversey this season and for good reason. It started with LeBron’s comments on Twitter in which he educated us all on karma and then came out the next night and injured his ankle (Thanks again, LeBron). Now, the other two of the ‘big three’ are banged up and have missed time. After barely getting away with a win last night, Chris Perkins of FOX Sports Florida wonders if injuries will end up getting the best of the Heat.
- KU’s Thomas Robinson lost his mother to an apparent heart attack. Thomas Robinson’s 7-year-old sister Jayla Robinson called him about 11 p.m. Friday. In a three-week span, Jayla and Thomas, a sophomore forward for the sixth-ranked Jayhawks, lost their grandmother, grandfather and mother. The entire KU men’s basketball team attended the funeral in Washington DC.
You may recall, at the time of Arenas’ suspension last season I was rather blunt with my opinion on the man who was once referred to as ‘Agent 0′ when I said that he was “far from a hero” and the Wizards “had no choice but to move on from Arenas and look forward”. Perhaps yesterday was a significant step in doing so when the Wizards traded Arenas to the Orlando Magic who were busy overhauling it’s own roster by making a flurry of moves in addition to acquiring Arenas.
According to Wizards guard Nick Young, it was around 2:00 this [Saturday] afternoon when Gilbert Arenas knocked on his door. “He knocked on my door and said, ‘I’m gone,’” Young told reporters prior to the game against the Miami Heat at the Verizon Center. “I thought he was just talking about going to the store or something.”
In fact, Arenas meant going somewhere much further Orlando, where he had just been traded. The main decision-makers in the Wizards organization framed the deal, which netted the Wizards Rashard Lewis, as another step — albeit a somewhat more difficult one — in the organization’s long trek back to respectability that also gave the loyal servant, Arenas, a chance to get a long-awaited championship ring.
“I think you have to look at the total situation, which is, we’re in a rebuild, We’re in a total rebuild.” – Wizards coach Flip Saunders
“It was time for a change, This is a good opportunity for Gilbert to go to Orlando and revitalize his career.” - Wizards General Manager Ernie Grunfeld
In many respects, the move represents the final dismantling of the tumultuous team of last season that saw Arenas and Javaris Crittenton get suspended for the rest of the season for foolishly bringing guns into the locker room, a violation of NBA rules and D.C. laws. As Grunfeld pointed out during his press conference, the only players currently on the roster who were on the roster at this time last year are Young, Andray Blatche, and JaVale McGee.
Initially, it seems difficult to see how the 31-year-old Rashard Lewis, who has a similar contract to Arenas with $40 million due to him over the next two years and $10 million guaranteed the year after that, fits in with the rebuilding movement. When Grunfeld was asked that very question, he responded: “Look, you can’t have every player be young. You need some veterans.He can help our front court with his experience. He’s a career 39% three-point shooter, and when you have a point guard like John [Wall] who likes to drive and kick, you need someone who can spread the floor. He’s versatile — we can play him at the three with JaVale and Andray if we go big, or we can go small with him at the four and somebody like Josh [Howard] or Andray at the five.”
For all the potential on and off-court benefits that Lewis might bring to the Wizards, perhaps the defining effect of the trade was articulated by Saunders, who was asked how the trade would affect rookie point guard John Wall, who will miss his third straight game with right knee tendinitis tonight.
“Well, no one’s gonna ask whose team it is.” -Wizards coach Flip Saunders
Randy Moss is in Tennesee and Shawn Merriman is in Buffalo. Meanwhile, in DC, Donnovan McNabb is once again not feeling the love and affection he hoped for. That might be a surprise in DC but I’ll tell you what isn’t, John Wall.
Since the NBA tipped off last weekend, John Wall hasn’t wasted any time making his presence felt.
A little less than six months ago there was a “bit” of a debate as to whether the Wizards should select John Wall, Evan Turner or possibly DeMarcus Cousins with the number 1 pick. The truth is that none of us can predict the final outcome of these three or any of the other rookies. What we do know after one week is that the Wizards made the perfect pick, particularly based upon their specific needs, both on and off the court. Here is one glaring example as reported by Michael Lee of the Post:
Wall has quickly joined some elite company. He became just the fourth player in NBA history to have at least 20 points and 10 assists in his home debut, joining Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas and Oscar Robertson and former NBA champion Norm Nixon.
And through his first three NBA games, Wall has 71 points and 31 assists, which makes him the only player besides Robertson to have at least 70 points and 30 assists through three games (Robertson had 72 and 30 as a rookie for the Cincinnati Royals in 1960-61).
We know that John Wall’s first week has only been matched by players who ultimately went on to the Hall of Fame. While I am not ready to predict that he will be a Hall of Famer, after one week (3 games), I am saying that he had an incredible first week in the NBA. A week that hasn’t been seen in a very long time. And for a franchise that has not had a great deal to celebrate over the last couple of seasons, that accomplishment however small, should be appreciated.
We also know that John Wall’s primary motivation is to win and that he does not give up on plays. After the Sixers game, Flip Saunders said:
“He’s [Wall] got an unbelievable will to win. I mean he wills the team.”
This will to win is the type of attitude transplant that this team has needed for quite some time. A “will to win” can’t be measured on a stat sheet, but it can have a tangible impact on changing the culture of a franchise.
Kevin Palmer #8 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Day three of the NBA Summer League this past July.
Congratulations are in order for yet another one of my high school classmates. Kevin “Boo Boo” Palmer is now a member of the Washington Wizards! Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Kevin was a standout Guard/Forward for Texas A&M Corpus Christi and as a Junior he was one of two players to start all 33 games. He was named the 2008-09 Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and to the NABC District 23 All-District first team after leading the league in scoring with 18.2 points a game and finishing 11th in the nation with 2.6 steals a game including nine games with at least four. Kevin set a single-season school record with 86 steals…netted 599 points which is the second-highest single-season mark in school history and is already fifth all-time with 13 games with 20-or-more points. He was the top scorer for the Islanders in 25 games topping 30 points on three occasions and 20-or-more on 10 others.
Originally a transfer from Cecil Community College, where he was named first team all-conference and all-region as a sophomore and led team in scoring with 18.7 points a game as the team finished 31-1 overall and 16-0 in the Maryland Junior College Conference…also grabbed six rebounds, swiped two steals and dished out three assists a contest to earn third team All-America honors.
In high school Palmer lead the team to a 17-7 won-loss record as senior…averaged 21 points, four assists and five rebounds in his final campaign and was named the Knights’ Most Valuable Player as a senior and played in the City vs. Country All-Star Game and the Charm City All-Star Game.
Now Palmer embarks on the next journey in the NBA. Best of luck to Kevin and his Washington Wizards teammates this season.
These sources contributed to the content of this post:
The Wizards figure to make John Wall the center of their rebuilding efforts.
In my mind, the choice here really is simple. Evan Turner is a very nice player, but in today’s NBA, point guards are much more valuable than wings. This is something for a longer post, but I really do believe Turner and Wall’s college numbers are deceiving. Turner was placed on a team where his teammates weren’t good and asked to handle the ball and do everything. There were no other ball-handlers, no other rebounders, no other slashers, etc. It was Turner and a bunch of shooters. Not to say that Turner’s stats are meaningless, but it’s not all that surprising to me that he put up amazing numbers. Wall, on the other hand, played with so many great teammates that he was able to take a backseat. His numbers all suffered, but that doesn’t mean he disappointed. In fact, it speaks volumes, to me, about his ability to defer for the good of the team.
So Wall has to be the pick. And once he is, there inevitably will be all these questions about how he’ll coexist with Gilbert Arenas. I personally think they’ll work great, at least offensively, and that argument is one for another day and time. However, Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo saysthe Wizards will still try to trade Arenas, and that Wall’s face will soon be hanging on the side of Verizon Center But offensively and fundamentally speaking, the Wizards shouldn’t even be thinking that way right now. This league is about talent, and you can’t pass up talent or trade away talent right at the beginning of a rebuilding project until you see how it all comes together. Trading away talent will only set you back as you start on the path back to respectability. This isn’t to say all three of Wall, Arenas and Andray Blatche will be here in 2012, but it is to say that we don’t have enough information to tell right now.
A rough sports year will sometimes mean grabbing little victories wherever you can get them. Still, there are definitely some legitimate bounces that will help restore faith that things will indeed get better. Last night was just one of those nights for the Washington Wizards, beating the odds and four other teams with higher probabilities to secure the #1 pick in the 2010 draft. The Wiz may have had the worst of it of any team – controversy around its biggest star and the unfortunate loss of its owner, Abe Pollin – so this was definitely a needed break in their favor.
Smart money suggests that management – which now includes Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis – will likely grab John Wall, the freshmen phenom who spent one year in college before declaring earlier this spring. Aaron Morrissey definitely won the headline war this morning over at DCist (“Great Wall of Chinatown” – well done, sir), but there are many more reasons for Wizards fans to be ecstatic beyond the likely pick of the Kentucky point guard.
Ultimately, when June 24th rolls around, whether it’s John Wall or another top prospect, the Wizards will be adding a third leg to complete DC’s “Big Three” of pro sports. The young, top-pick talent of this pick, Alexander Ovechkin and Stephen Strasburg will hopefully be something sports fans around the District can get excited about for many years to come.
Despite his team just coming off a nice victory over the Bulls, Flip Saunders was blunt when responding to the first query of Monday night’s post-game press conference.
After the win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night when Wizard coach Flip Saunders stood at the podium andwas greeted with the million dollar question:
“Josh Howard update?,” began a voice from the media corps.
“Knee. Know more tomorrow,” he followed. “I’m sure he’ll be out for a little bit,” the coach trailed off as he surveyed the room for the next question.
It’s hard to tell what Saunders really knew about what had been called a sprained left knee at that exact moment, judgment is usually withheld until an MRI is procured. But his demeanor regarding the subject spoke of a grim outlook, as if the worst was expected, as if the post-game diagnosis divulged a strong possibility that it was more than a sprain.
The injury turned out to be much worse than a sprain. As you probably know by now, Howard will be out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Wizards Insider reports that Saunders found out the final and official verdict about a half-hour into this morning’s practice.
When I first heard the news via Twitter, I was shocked … in a state of disbelief.
Did this really just happen to the Wizards, much less to a guy essentially playing for an NBA contract?
Flip Saunders said, “I’m numb to everything at this point.”
Numbness only comes after jumping into a tub of ice and staying there for a while. It’s not like I’m constantly sitting sub-zero water. If that were case, I’d be long dead by now. No, my Washington Wizards fandom keeps being doused with freezing water just when I think I’m close to being able to dry off.
This makes me think back to what Flip Saunders said in late Dec.:
“Don’t ever think it can’t get any worse, because it can.””
Yeah, so you know the ‘Things Could Always Be Worse’ motto … ?(something I’ve often lived by in life.)
So, when one of the newest Wizards, who happens to be one of the team’s three best players, goes out for the season, you gotta say, “Well, at least the Wizards aren’t dealing with ….”
Aw screw it. I’m not going to say.
And so it begins…
Did you hear that? That was the sound of the Washington Wizards blowing up. It started tonight with Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood being traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
In all, it was a 7 player swap. The big catch for Washington was Forward Josh Howard.
Get all of the details and a breakdown of the deal here
Washington Wizards troubled point guard Gilbert Arenas has a lot of time on his hands these days. Arenas was suspended indefinitely on January 6 for bringing hand guns in to his locker at the Verizon Center stemming from an altercation with teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt. This isn't the first bout the Wizards or the law had with Arenas. Back in 2003 Arenas pleaded no contest to gun possession charges that could influence his sentencing in March for his current charges. The Wizards have had issues with Arenas and his inability to stay on the court due to injuries. At times Arenas refused doctors advice and questioned the motives of both the medical staff and his team. Some would say the Wizard's medical staff had a lot of work to do for treating the coaches for headaches led on by Arenas' antics.
No one is doubting Arenas' basketball ability but more so his character. The man known as "Agent 0" was always a high energy charismatic guy with his sense of humor and "hibachi" shot calling. However, in the midst of legal troubles his light-hearted apology and calling himself a goof got him nowhere and in my mind was a crushing blow to his character. OK, so he has a gun, I can live with that. To point it at a teammate? Come on now. He's a public figure who is looked as a role model to kids. To me, Arenas should consider himself very fortunate that his suspension wasn't a lifetime ban because that is exactly what I would have done. A man who was once a top player in the NBA and idolized by kids is anything but. It's been a complete fall from grace for Arenas. Once visible all over the Verizon Center has found himself edited out of the pre-game video, his merchandise removed from the team store and even his banner taken from the front of the arena. Sorry folks, "Agent 0" is far from a hero.
The Wizards have done all they can to move past these distractions. Some of that has already taken place with the suspension of Arenas and Crittenton but it won't be fully behind them until they can contractually separated from Arenas. The next step is coming in March when the man formally known as "Agent 0" faces judgement.