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.