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Daily Rounds 12/14/2011

Today’s daily rounds start with Jamal Crawford, Nene signing, and the possibility that a CP3 deal is back in play.  Also, is Dwight seriously considering resigning with the Magic?  We’ll also talk some Mets baseball and my suggestions about what to do moving forward.

Another day another embarrassment for that other team in New York.  A day after it was revealed that the Mets borrowed $40 million in a “bridge loan” from Bank of America, word now comes that Johan Santana may not be ready for Opening Day.  For Met fans, Christmas may not come at all writes Kevin Kiernan of the New York Post.  John Harper of the New York Daily News says that the pressure may come from the Wilpons best “Bud(s)” at MLB.  

One can only begin to hope that the information being presented before us gives us Met fans a real hope at starting anew.  The Mets have been a laughable mess as the Coupon family have constantly tried to reassure a fan base that have looked at him with looks of curiosity.  I’ve almost waited with baited breath about what they will say next expecting them to have us believe that pigs will fly and eventually every player on their team will turn into some version of the ’27 Yankees.

In fact that bit of drug induced optimism has affected the guarded optimism of Sandy Alderson who also has had to endure the criminal treatment of its own front office.  When asked about sales of shares Sandy acted as surprised as you or me and maintained that it had not affected the bottom line of their moves.  Then explain to us Met fans why you wouldn’t even budge to make Jose Reyes, the best player on the team, an offer to suffice Met fans.  No doubt the price was way too high but I always felt it was a convenient bullet dodging.  Had the Marlins signed Reyes for 5 years at $90 million, surely the Mets would’ve been roasted and nary an eyelash would’ve been shed in the process and the Mets would be singing the same song and dance about Christmas baskets not being worth that much.

Alas, Met fans now have to wait longer for our $25 million ace who will take his time coming off shoulder surgery and let’s remember that surgeries like the one Johan Santana got, don’t ever see good results as most of the pitchers have faded into Bolivia as Mike Tyson used to say.  Though Venezuela would be Johan’s likely retirement spot.  Rumblings of trades have also begun to start to surface.

Let’s say that the Mets decide that its time to pack up shop and trust me, there are signs that if the new lowered and moved in fences don’t help adjust batting averages and influence double digit home run responses from the middle of the order thumpers, the Mets will surely go into fire sale and there will only be kids and Jason Bay by the time September rolls around.  And I’m fine with that.

Frankly, the Mets have run its course with this group and while I had wished they took any offer the Rays gave them in July when they were interested in Jose Reyes, I hope they view that it is time to take advantage of a shoddy free agent pitching market and use assets like Jon Niese to try and get some kind of value back.  The fact is, the Mets need to strengthen their cheap options if they are indeed looking at reducing payroll for most likely the next two years.  The new game plan is to get as many cheap, young arms and everyday players that can make a difference and be taught the game in the right way.

I think having a Wally Backman and a Terry Collins in tow mean that the message will be shouted from the mountain tops and rain upon every level in the organization and a complete changing of the guard needs to take place and its beginning to take shape and take form.  Lucas Duda, Captain Kirk (Niuewenheis), Zach Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, all come without the stain of Met failures.  This is the new class of Met hopeful superstardom that will have to carry the once proud flag of this franchise.

Hopefully it will be done in the crowd of new owners who will NOT feed us some hair brained ideas that they are financially solvent when its clear from several well placed sources and from very plain and clear moves like cutting payroll by $40 million and publicly claiming $70 million losses that they are not.  The fact is, MLB’s lack of involvement speaks to Bud’s ever deepening vows of friendship with the Coupons to never allow them to go under until there is a messy end like every dumb idea Bud Selig has ever had.  Remember the time he decided to look the other way as the steroid issue got way out of hand and then had to get his biggest stars in front of Congress and had several of them lie?

Ok maybe he didn’t make them lie but to put his sport in that spot should’ve gotten him in such gravy that his turkey should’ve been goosed….or however that saying goes.  He shouldn’t have lasted under the clause of not upholding the sanctity of the game which is explicitly stated in every single Commissioner’s starting kit handed out everytime a new one takes office.  Trust me, David Stern is right now rummaging through that to protect him from the eventual lawsuit headed his way if this Chris Paul thing doesn’t get resolved.

MLB’s involvement or not, if those investors the Mets claim will infuse the team with cash does not come together the Mets will be hardpressed to find MLB OR banks willing to give them any more money to save their sorry asses.  They allowed David Einhorn to walk from a prospective deal once they realized they weren’t going to get hit with a $1 billion lawsuit and thought they had escaped, however this economy has been unforgiving to the Wilpons and soon their credibility with lenders and their biggest supporters is expected to dry up like raisins.

If this is indeed the fate of its owners you can expect that fewer dollars will be given to shore up weaknesses this club has so its likely that by July, David Wright will HAVE to be shipped for a cavalcade of prospects.  They would love to trade Mike Pelfrey and the hope here is that he jumps out of the gate with a very fast start and shows life on his fastball and commands his sinker and uses it to get ground balls.  With his size, and his relatively young age he can command a pretty nice grouping of young cost-controlled players.  Its clear that the addition of Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez was meant to inflate their  value to ship them out come July in order to get more prospects.  Jon Niese also will unfortunately have to be sacrificed to the waiting arms of some team including the Jays who have offered top catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud according to reports.  If true, the Mets should jump at the chance at getting a top flight catcher who can call games and also provide offense especially considering the pipeline of top young pitching coming its way.  It may be the only way to field a respectable team.  Given Sandy’s clearly team (drug) induced statement of positivity this year don’t buy it.  Its something meant to lull the fan base into buy more ticket sales.  Several reports leaked yesterday that cold calling for prospective season ticket buyers had become “desperate” and the Mets face probably their lowest opening day revenue in quite some time.  Its a financial crunch they face and it all began with the Coupons.  They are like that guy at the roulette table that doesn’t know when to quit.  Quit Coupon family.  Let someone else place their money down on the Mets and take their chances.  You’ve clearly shown you’re incapable of playing well.

Nene Hilario signed a contract extension with the Denver Nuggets.  Which either means he got tired of waiting or the dominoes are about to start falling in the world of trades.  The Nets were the Nuggets biggest competition for the Brazilian big man so either they have a Dwight Howard trade ready and in place OR they will be forced to sign another big man. Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop talks leverage in terms of the Clippers, and CP3.  Speaking of which, the Lakers are now back in on CP3 talks.  Remember that talk of Mitch Kupchak about multiple big deals?  Yeah this is what he was talking about.  Bill Simmons in his daily days of Christmas column for Grantland.com writes about the Clippers and this CP3 hostage crisis.  CP3 may be forced to explore his legal options if his trade isn’t consummated at some point according to Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News.   Gabe Feldman, the Sports law guy looks at possible David Stern defenses if indeed this trial goes to court.
Mike Vaccaro writes that Mike Woodson recalls his days on a Knicks roster made him appreciate this city and its love for basketball.   Frank Isola says that the Knicks will need santa to help them out for a deep playoff run.  And finally, for your daily rumor mill item of the day, Yahoo Sports is reporting that the framework of a four team deal that would send Dwight Howard to the Nets is in place and could be completed by the end of the week.  

Remember that time David Stern insisted that this free agency period would be among the craziest in the history of the NBA?  Well he wasn’t kidding.  But he forgot to mention that the crazy part would actually be in HOW it all played out.  In how invested Stern was in the Hornets, the league owned franchise.  In how fervent Stern was in maintaining control over where star players went and how serious he was in invoking prima nocta on Chris Paul.

Ok, so that’s a bit much but let’s understand one thing before Chris Paul begins crying to the ghost of Johnny Cochran: the league runs the Hornets.  As morally unethical as it is, the law won’t hear cases of morality.  To prove collusion, that Stern purposefully blocked any meaningful trades, you would have to prove that David Stern acted as a force of nature and abused his power to ensure that his memo of star players not being able to move to other (read: big market) teams would be heeded.

Listen, I know Stern is probably not long for this job anymore.  His time is waning but the guy is no idiot and he would NOT have stopped this deal without knowing the possible legal ramification.  This is a former defense attorney, he is smart and he is probably the most intelligent of all commissioners by a long shot.  He would not imperil himself JUST to puff out his chest and beat it on top of the Empire State building.  He’s not an animal.

But he has come awfully close and his dic(k)-tatorial moves have made some want Stern to step aside much sooner than he would like.  This may reinvigorate the 69 year old who hinted that at the end of this final term he would be done.  Who knows?  Who knows if the Board of Governors even elect him again for the post?  Like the Sports Law guy said, if he wanted to restrict player movement he could’ve insisted on a hard salary cap OR a franchise tag like in football.  He did neither.  He only made it LESS FAVORABLE for teams to go above the salary cap and less favorable terms for stars to sign elsewhere.  He gave the players a yellow light instead of insisting upon a red which may come back to haunt him if he tries for another term as commissioner.

But the fact remains that this offseason did more to damage his reputation than any other.  He now faces the wrath of several teams who have been left in the wind wondering exactly HOW much control he has over ALL teams.

Meanwhile in Gotham, the Knicks have a new assistant head coach and the worst kept secret is that he’s there to improve the defensive side of the ball.  In Mike Vacarro’s article he lists some of his impressive feats including helping to align Iverson’s focus which landed him in the Finals and that one iconic game where he singlehandedly beat that powerhouse Lakers team (the only defeat during their entire playoff run).  Also his time learning under the tutelage of Bobby knight and Red Holzman helped some and now he’s entrusted with spreading some of that magic fairy defense dust on ALL the players not just Tyson Chandler who can’t shutup about it since he got here.

The Knicks WILL HAVE to rely on those three players staying healthy throughout the season and being the force that we all expect them to be.  Here’s the thing: if they all play average seasons out the Knicks will coast into the playoffs and past the first round.  IF THIS TEAM faced the Celtics last year, I have no doubt they would’ve competed much harder and even beat them.  The Knicks no doubt need to shore up this team.  Yesterday I asked some Knick fans who they’d rather have in a vacuum void of salary and trade, Shawn Williams or Jamal Crawford.  The response was mixed and it shows how many holes the Knicks have after their front line.  The Knicks don’t have a legit point guard as Frank Isola points out.  Their bench is weak and need more guys coming off giving defense and scoring.  That might by why Shawn Williams, with his size, would be the better fit.

My problem is even if we have a deep bench, its all for naught as D’Antoni is a man stuck in short rotation cycles.  He likes certain players and will give them big minutes.  The problem with that is this season is truncated and so he will have to learn to spread his minutes around a bit more.  This is where coach Woodson will come in handy, he having been in this situation as a head coach before.  He also was the coach of Jamal Crawford which also helps.  Crawford rejected a 2 year/$10 million offer from the Pacers where he could’ve been a free agent after this upcoming season.  Crawford is trying for one last pay day and he may be best served playing on a team that gives him the best chance to win.  Are the Knicks that team?  Probably more so than the other two teams looking to sign him: the Trailblazers and the Kings.  The Blazers appear to be the Knicks only competition as he’d certainly see more minutes with them and possibly as a starting two guard.  He’s won the sixth man of the year award previously with the Hawks where Woodson coached and he’s best served coming off the bench for this Knick team helping to handle ball handling and scoring duties.  The second team offense would run through him while also keeping a viable second option on offense on the floor while either Melo or Amar’e rests.  He’s also best friends with Brandon Roy and the problem becomes that in order to afford him the Blazers would have to waive his best friend.  The knicks hope he makes a decision by today as Shawn Williams agent Happy Walters has admitted his client wants to come to the Knicks but won’t wait around too much longer.

The Nets meanwhile have said they are willing to wait to make a deal for Howard but they had better not.  The longer they wait, the more impatient other teams may get and Otis Smith may just make a deal with LA.  If the Nets wait and hang in the wings, the Magic can always use them as leverage on LA to put both Gasol AND Bynum AND those draft picks they seem to be accumulating to make the deal.  Meanwhile Dallas traded both Rudy Fernandez AND Corey Brewer to the Nuggets for more draft picks meaning they are clearing up space for a run at free agency.  In the short term it doesn’t bode well for the Mavs but they have a solid core capable of easily making it to the playoffs and pleasing the fan base.  But next season they could be in store for a HUGE upgrade as its almost a near certainty that Deron Williams will look to come to the Mavs as a free agent unless that Howard deal gets consummated and the Nets convince Deron that they are building something special in New Jersey.

Either way its a huge gamble, but on the short term look at that Nuggets team.  With Nene resigning that team has an exciting core of young players and playmakers.  They will need to find a constant scoring threat but in George Karl’s high tempo system they could be surprise contenders and make a run during a shortened season.  Remember, this season will be good for youthful teams who can survive the grunt of a shortened season.  The Nuggets may be a team, with the re-signing of Aaron Affalo, that can do that.

I’m sure more will come as the day progresses.  Stay tuned.

 

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Daily Rounds 12/6/2011

We’ve got Jose Reyes reaction, and some NBA and a brand new title for the daily blog posting, here goes:

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Like any morning after something major happens people begin reflecting and beginning the phase of rebuildi  patching up what’s left.  That’s what Met fans are left to do and mostly what Sandy Alderson and co. will be left with as they face a new era minus Jose Reyes.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the time is right to deal David Wright.   Meanwhile John Harper and Andy Martino of the Daily News say that money issues have put Sandy Alderson in a tough position to find results while being limited in what the front office can spend.  Ken Davidoff of Newsday wants to cut a deal with Mets management: if the Mets aren’t contending by July, start selling off assets like a rockstar in bankruptcy court.   Then there’s Mike Vacarro of the New York Post that asks the question that I’ve been asking Why believe anything the Wilpons are pushing Sandy Alderson to say?

There isn’t a good way to spin this Jose Reyes deal.  In fact, Sandy Alderson said ALL the right things because they were the only things to say.  In New York, like it or not, the word rebuilding can NOT appear anywhere close to the vicinity of your team otherwise its like a black mark that won’t go away.  The Mets have been going down this road for the last few years so it was no surprise that Jose Reyes was sent out with nothing, not even an offer because well, the fact is that the Mets didn’t have the money to give him that offer.  You can even say that if this was the plan all along, to just wait for the market to play itself out for Reyes and hope against hope that there wouldn’t be some hard pressed fool willing to give Jose Reyes the Carl Crawford money, it was a stupid plan.  In fact, it hurt the franchise more than anything.  Sandy Alderson played the market wrong just like the Wilpons have done for so long.  And you know what?  Not for a minute do I believe Sandy was that dumb.

Last season prior to the trade deadline rumors circulated that the Tampa Bay Rays contacted the Mets about Jose Reyes.  They would’ve had to offer them some kind of gravy boat offer, much better than Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir anyway, that would’ve netted the Mets something in the vicinity of decent prospects to work with.  But the Mets held on because there was some faint hope of a playoff run.  Then they got this deal for Carlos Beltran for a top prospect that the front office drooled over and pulled the trigger.  The Mets may have never gotten such an offer for Reyes, but you have to believe that the Wilpons put a kibosh on any Reyes trade talk because they hoped the Mets would make a run deep into September that would’ve given them a few extra dollars.  You know.  To pocket for the long term.  Because every single article pertaining to the Wilpon finances are right.  The Coupons are facing a cash crunch and moves like allowing your homegrown player to leave without nary a call to check in leave you wondering exactly HOW these guys are even running a New York franchise.

I would appeal to Bud Selig to put an end to this reign but Selig is the Coupon’s biggest enablers.  The Coupons have been milking Selig’s favor into interest free loans that by the way they STILL haven’t paid Major League Baseball back on.  They have pending litigation in the Madoff trial that will force them to pay some kind of settlement but not in the hundreds of millions that Met fans had hoped that would’ve left them in no other financial position except to sell.

The Mets are a profitable team if run the right way.  In fact, if the Coupons sold the franchise today to someone say the reputation of Mark Cuban the gates would be pouring in with new customers and a revived fan base; confident that ridding the Wilpons would be the equivalent of getting a star franchise player.  Yesterday I woke up resigned to the fact that Reyes was gone, today I woke up angry.  Angry that the franchise I love is run by a bunch of ass clowns that hold on stubbornly to a team they should’ve let go of a few years ago.  A whole family of morons who blindly invested in a guy that gave them hand written statements but only when they asked for it because they thought he was good for it.  A family of idiots who built a shrine, not for the team they own, but for a team that left 50 years ago and relocated to Los Angeles.  That is if the Coupons even recognize the existence of the LA Dodgers.

Somehow baseball ran off Dodgers former owners the McCourts rather quickly citing concerns that he was using moneys gained from the baseball operation to fund his own wild lifestyle.  But here the Coupons are, still plowing forward selling us on an impossible dream.  Ready?  The Mets think that Ike Davis and Johan Santana won’t regress following their surgeries and won’t see any DL time.  They believe that Jason Bay and David Wright will hit 25-30 home runs each now that the walls have been brought in closer.  They believe that Mike Pelfrey will get better in basically his last chance in a Met uniform.  They believe that with $15 million to spend virtually they can fix the bullpen, get two quality back end of rotation starters and then some bench support including back up catcher.

I’m not kidding.  That’s the Mets plans.  Those are the lofty dreams that the Mets front office is pitching to Met fans.  This may be coming from a place of anger.  But don’t bother sending me offers to buy packages this season.  I’m done.  If you win, then I’ll come and partake but don’t bother selling Met fans on something that has NEVER happened.  Is there a remote possibility that this all can play out?  Sure.  But these are the Mets.  We know how this story will play out.  The Coupons are playing us for fools.  I won’t be played.  I can’t be.  I say after the third inning, Met fans stage a walk out of every single home game.  That is, whoever still decides to support the franchise.  Nobody believes for a second that whatever team occupies Citi Field next season will have any real hope of doing anything closely resembling productive.

I am in agreement with Sherman and Davidoff.  I say start trading guys left and right.  Screw it.  You’ve given up on the season already.   Don’t sell your fans hope that isn’t there.  Don’t insult them with talk about optimism that isn’t there.  I could understand if this were a team in Wichita, Kansas or Duluth, Mississippi.  But it isn’t.  This is a New York team.  Unfortunately no matter where this franchise would be, I wouldn’t believe the Coupons to lead it.

As NBA free agency sure to heat up, the Knicks are still in on Grant Hill according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.  Also within that report, Kurt Thomas and the Knicks (namely Assistant GM Allan Houston, his former teammate) talked and the game that was supposed to bring Carmelo back to Denver was not rescheduled within the context of this new 66 game schedule set to be released by today.  Nets PG Deron Williams said he would guarantee a contract extension if the Nets were to trade for Dwight Howard according to Stefan Bondy.  Zack Lowe of SI writes about how players will test the new CBA in many ways. In Bill Simmons second post to his twelve days of Christmas series of articles, he looks at the list of available free agents and who is destined to be overpaid.  Then there’s Adrian Woj’s  Yahoo Sports column about two GM’s making a race to trade for Chris Paul AND Dwight Howard.   As reported in the Newsday blog Knick Fix, Alan Hahn says the Knicks are undeterred by reports that New Orleans will do no deals with New York because of their lack of assets believing they can pull off a trade to land CP3 and complete the trifecta that CP3 toasted about at Carmelo’s wedding prior to last season.   Finally, a story that may interest only me, but the amnesty clause will NOT be used on Brandon Roy, one of my favorite non-Knick players according to Jason Quick of the Oregonian.  

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Rights Reserved to SI.comRights Reserved to Yahoo Sports

Here’s the thing, I don’t think a Chris Paul trade to the Knicks is going to happen.  I give it a less than 5% shot of actually occurring.  Why?  Because it doesn’t make sense.  The Knicks have NOBODY to give up outside of trading the rest of their team for Paul which would leave them with 3 players making roughly all of their cap.  Remember two players, by themselves will take up 40 million and if you’re reading this right, CP3 will probably opt out as a token thing just to reup with the Knicks for the max 5  year 100 million contract that Deron Williams was alluding to when he said he was definitely opting out.  So you have three guys making 60 million and oh by the way, the cap will remain set at $58 million next season with the luxury threshold being at $70 million much like this season.  So where exactly are the Knicks going to fill in the rest of the roster spots?  No, the Knicks and its fanbase have to be patient and I for one am willing to do that.  We can not throw all our money at three players as great as that sounds.

But I’ll give you another reason why a trade to the Knicks or a super team forming in Los Angeles isn’t realistic.  Its not good business.  If the labor deal pushed to prevent big market teams hoarding small market teams for talent then you have to understand that a Knick trade for pennies on the dollar OR the Lakers getting BOTH Dwight Howard and CP3 will not look good in any way.  What makes it worse is that the NBA owns the Hornets and you can believe that every small owner will NOT push for EITHER trade to EITHER coast which ultimately leaves the Hornets in a no-win position.  I think you allow CP3 to make it to free agency and no matter what kind of influence CAA has over the process and getting Paul traded the fact is, I believe CP3 will not sour on the Hornets and he will play his hardest and play out his time with the Hornets and give an honest effort.  He’s been class his entire time in the league and will not allow trade rumors to negatively deflect from his purpose which is to win a championship.

With that being said, the Knicks pursuit of Grant Hill?  I love it.  I’ve been a fan of his for quite some time since his days on the Pistons when I thought he was going to become Scottie Pippen 2.0.  Hill’s injury history are no doubt a part of his legacy but this second life in Phoenix has been revelatory.  Now if the Knicks can somehow get the Phoenix training staff along with Hill in that deal, it would be fantastic.  As far as the trade rumors go, it makes for good business but the fact is until December 9th, anything and everything in a fan’s mind is fair game including Dwight Howard and Deron Williams in NJ or Dwight Howard and CP3 in LA alongside Kobe OR alongside Blake.

Last note before I go, like I said, one of my favorite players will not be amnestied.  Brandon Roy will be a Blazer this upcoming season.  Makes sense, given that they don’t know how his legs will react and one would argue that this shortened season could be worse on his legs given the back to back to back that the Blazers will likely have to sit him in atleast one game and then rest him up in two of those games for extended periods of time.  Tis a shame since I wanted to see him on the Knicks.  Ahh well, dream another dream a different time.

More news coming later in the day as I give you a daily double dose today with some NFL notes and thoughts regarding week 13 and some important fantasy news.  Stay tuned sports fans.

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