Tag Archives: Mark Cuban

The Jason Kidd deal- and what this means for the Knicks

This afternoon, Marc Stein reported that Jason Kidd had reached a tentative agreement to join the New York Knicks on what is reported to be a 3 year $9 million deal.  The Mavericks were rumored to be the favorites but just like in the Steve Nash sweepstakes, a dark horse team swooped in aggressively and signed a veteran point guard from underneath the favorites.  So naturally, there’s a huge buzz amongst New York fans as to what this means and of course, its not that simple.

First of all, we don’t know what the parameters of this deal is.  They say its for 3 years and that commitment may have gotten him to New York over staying in Dallas for a shorter term, but this may have an out for the third year; either being a non guaranteed third year OR having a buyout included in the third year.  I can’t see the Knicks being that desperate where they would offer the third year just to lock up the services of a future Hall of Fame point guard.  Details of the offer will only leak over the next few days but it won’t be made public until after the moratorium is lifted after July 11th.

Kidd is not being signed to play major minutes, but that doesn’t mean his role won’t be huge.  The obvious need for a back up point guard for Jeremy Lin is beyond clear.  When Mike Bibby could no longer be hidden in a reserve role thanks to injuries to Lin and Baron Davis it became apparent that a much sturdier point guard would be necessary.  Naturally the Knicks were in on two future Hall of Fame point guards, both of whom will collect Social Security soon.  The reason they went that route is obvious to most but it bodes repeating: IF the Knicks expect to have Lin for the foreseeable future they will need someone to groom him to be the point guard they want him to be.  SO, that means bringing in a point guard who can help Lin in his development.

The most meaningful discussion seems to center around whether this is a good decision.  In one word yes.  But there is a caveat to that.  IF the Knicks are in a win now mode, the addition of Jason Kidd is NOT an aggressive move in that direction.  The Steve Nash move? Yes.  The Jason Kidd move? No.  The best move to satisfy both would have been to get Steve Nash, and yes, even at the cost of young defensive SG Iman Shumpert.  Nash would’ve been an excellent pick up both for competitive reasons and for Lin’s development because THAT is Lin’s true upside: a facilitator with a very good jump shot and capable of creating his own offense.  Let me repeat: Nash’s last three years would be the ceiling on Lin’s development.

So what does Kidd offer?  Kidd makes Jeremy Lin the focal point.  The Knicks aggressively went after Nash and he would’ve immediately been penciled in as the starter relegating Lin to a back up role- something he experienced enough.  I don’t know how well Lin would’ve taken to back up status after he got a taste of being the man in a big city like New York.  Lin, will be the starter at the position one would assume and Kidd’s signing does nothing to change that.  Kidd is a consummate pro and will be more than happy to impart wisdom to Lin on the finer points of point guard-ing.  So while the competitive aspect of the Knicks is compromised by the Kidd over Nash signing- they both bring very little defensively relying on help defense to cover quick point guards, they will be aided by his ability to mentor and tutor Lin who he already has a relationship with and whom he has gone on record as saying he likes.

The kicker here is Lin.  Lin is now entertaining offers from Houston and may even get a call from Mark Cuban who may look to go on the offensive after the state of New York blew up his point guard situation.  Remember, the state of Texas is where Lin got his first two opportunities last season before winding up with the Knicks and beginning the Linsanity era.  He played in a summer league for the Mavs and was signed by Lin before being released because of a cluttered back court situation and a failed trade for another point guard- Chris Paul.  You may have heard about that already.  It bears watching what the clever Darryl Morey may do.  IF Morey tries to give Lin a poison pill contract, it could give pause to the Knicks about matching and may lead to some contentious contract discussions.

Look, is Lin worth an eight figure salary?  Its impossible to know.  Was a two month stretch enough to convince any team to invest that kind of salary on Lin?  Probably NOT except one thing- Lin makes economic sense to any team that brings him in, especially Houston.  Houston already has an established line to China thanks to their old friend Yao Ming- who Lin counts as a friend and mentor.  How much better would it be to bring Lin “home”?  Its worth remembering that Morey has publicly went on record as admitting his mistake and noting that Lin being placed on waivers was NOT due to basketball reasons but due to a numbers game.  Basically he was trying to massage the situation by saying he liked his game, he just couldn’t give him his chance so he allowed him to get it in New York by placing him on waivers for any and every team to pick him up.

Cuban doesn’t have that kind of link to Lin but may get involved just to throw a monkey wrench into the Knicks plans.  Cuban is no idiot and realizes the potential that Lin has both on the court and off and after news that Mickey Arison lost money this year on his championship team the Miami Heat, most teams may look at the financial solvency of any deal.  Lin offers any team that kind of financial windfall but he may not be as marketable anywhere aside from Golden State (where they will move to a much less Asian-friendly market so take them out), Houston or New York so its doubtful that Cuban foregoes his senses and offers Lin the kind of contract that could hamstring his plans for the future.  Here’s the other thing about Cuban that he may not be letting people in on: his push may have been for Deron Williams but just in case this Dwight Howard to Brooklyn thing doesn’t work out and Dwight plays out the season in a Magic uni, he and Chris Paul could become free agents next summer and Cuban can make that team relevant in a hurry.  Of course that won’t help this season, but I think Cuban won’t make a play for Lin.

So that leaves Houston and New York.  Lin has an offer on the table for a reported $30 million over three years which if you have been following Houston’s recent dealings could be backloaded heavy.  While it may stun you Knick fans to hear me say this- he is worth that money.  Lin has the right to NOT sign the offer sheet and negotiate with the Knicks on a three year extension but his agent wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t explore his other options and try to maximize a frenzied two month stretch into financial security for the long term.  So yes, I expect Lin to sign an offer sheet from the Rockets just so the Knicks will be forced to match and say bye bye to any kind of cap flexibility next year for say, a Chris Paul- however unlikely that scenario was in the first place ANYWAY.

So now with Lin and Kidd, what can we expect?  I think Woodson will play both together but not for long stretches and in that scenario would require a completely offensive line up with Chandler at center and Lin at SG.  That would be an atrocious defensive team which Woodson won’t go to but it will be interesting to see when he plays them together.  Early on  you may see them experiment with that line up and measure its offensive efficiency but don’t look for that line up to play major crunch time minutes from the jump.  Rather expect Lin to start with Kidd coming off the bench and there being stretches where both are on the bench so that Kidd and Lin can talk through situations and what the defense is throwing at Lin.  Which is why a third PG may be beneficial which is why a deal for Toney Douglass may now be out of the question and the Knicks will bring back the mercurial defensive first point guard.  Of course they could trade for Felton in a sign and trade as well but I can’t see that happening for the Knicks but it bears wondering if that move wouldn’t be a prudent move to shore up any weakness.  The Knicks will play very heavy rotation of Amar’e, and Melo, so it will require a good point guard out there at all times and we’ve seen time and time again that Toney Douglass doesn’t have the instincts to be that.  So perhaps the Knicks are not done here on the point guard front.

Overall, I’m in favor of this deal because of what it promises.  It promises the development of Jeremy Lin.  It also promises the Knicks a competent back up point guard who you know for sure will bring you a certain level of play.  While that statement may be generalizing Jason Kidd, the uncertainty of Baron Davis’ back and overall demeanor heading into his stint with the Knicks and whether Mike Bibby was actually a real human being and not a mummified basketball player the Knicks will be helped by Kidd’s arrival.  The deal as its being reported will also help the Knicks financially more so than what the Knicks would’ve had to pay for Steve Nash.  Neither put the Knicks over the top as a contender and help them against the Heat but it does place them in the top 5 of the East as opposed to being a seven seed or eight seed forced to play an upper echelon team from the East in the first round.  A three year $30 million deal for a 26 year old point guard possibly on the rise makes more sense than the same for a 38 year old point guard who, while playing at an elite level still, would not have put the Knicks in championship contender status.  Getting a hall of fame PG to groom your would-be future PG is a much better and smarter play for the Knicks who for a time would’ve done anything to make that Nash move.  Again, let’s wait for contract details to leak and see who’s signing for what before we make any snap judgements about the worthiness of a 3 year contract to a 40 year old point guard.


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the Inevitability of the NBA Finals

I dont know if Dirk Nowitzki knows this or not, but he’s the last line of defense.  He’s the last thing that stands in the way of Lebron James and inevitability.  The last stand against the great army that marches from the beaches in the South.  This aint Normandy but its imperative that Dirk and Co. storm that bleep.

History may say different, but for me personally and everyone my age, there has NEVER been anything like this.  In fact, let’s go one step further: there has NEVER been anything like this.  Imagine the best player in the sport holding it hostage over a year period prior to his free agency and then well into the summer until finally announcing his decision on a nationally televised “fundraiser”?  You can’t.  It has never happened.

Even Lebron can admit somewhere that the “Decision” was a misguided endeavor put together by friends and people who advised him to do this.  People who have constantly given him this sense of entitlement that rules don’t apply to him.  What else could be the cause of a human being putting on such a show?  It doesn’t make any sense.

The fact is, the Lebron James Summer culminates in these Finals.  I don’t expect anything less than a raucuous atmosphere in both American Airlines arenas.  I watched the game at Tonic last Thursday and the waves the fans were riding with each Lebron shot in the Fourth Quarter, in which he destroyed the league MVP in much the same way Michael Jordan did to Karl Malone when Malone won in 1997, was incredible.

We constantly compare Michael to Lebron but criticize Lebron for taking a much different path.  Michael didn’t let down an entire city because before he had to make a “Decision” the Bulls had drafted Scottie Pippen and had assembled the necessary pieces to make a run.  Michael had his shoe deal and hype coming out of college.  Lebron had his starting at age 13.  Michael went to North Carolina to learn his craft, Lebron played in front of a very demanding home town crowd who expected nothing but great things out of the kid from Akron.  Michael scored, and scored and scored but Lebron has had to score for his team, set up the offense and grab rebounds.

Consider the stat that STILL blows me away about Lebron James: he’s led his team in points, assists and rebounds, all three categories in the same game 19 times.  19!!!!  Nobody in NBA HISTORY has done it more than 3.  Let that sink in before you start cursing out Lebron.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still hate the prick for choosing to take his talents to South Beach over coming to the big city and taking on a real challenge but think about the even bigger challenge he created.

He brought this incredible weight and pressure on himself.  He chose to do go through with the Decision.  He chose to dis Cleveland as their owner said in his dis letter of record to Lebron.  He decided to join his friend Dwayne Wade in Miami and throw a big championship parade prior to the season and declare his intent of winning “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six…..”  He’s the one that made everyone pissed off at him to the point that we laughed at every failure.

I remember a sense of unbelievable pride when the Knicks came back and beat the Heat.  Suddenly I fooled myself into thinking that this regular season game was bigger than what it was.  I remember believing the Knicks were better than the Heat.  That’s what Lebron did for the game of basketball.  He made EVERY single game matter.  Every loss was vindication for Heat haters.  Every win was greeted with cynicism; “only won by 15 eh?  WEAK!”

The Jordan comparison got to be ridiculous.  Jordan would’ve NEVER done this, never done that.  Jordan would’ve made that game winning shot.  Jordan would’ve passed there.  All this because we hated Lebron and those of us who had seen Jordan at his apex remember what a dominant figure he was capable of winning games by himself.  “Lebron can’t win by himself.  Look, he ran to Wade to get help.  He’ll never be number one.”

But after the last two rounds of these playoffs you tell me who’s team the Miami Heat is?  Who’s carried the Heat down the stretch hitting clutch shot after clutch shot?  The Heat trailed the Bulls in the last two games of that series and yet there was Lebron bringing them back.  I clenched my fist and held my tongue.  Finally, we were witnessing.  Finally, with a decent supporting cast, Lebron James was providing us with the magic that we were all promised from the moment he arrived in the public consciousness.

I won’t forget watching the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 where Lebron scored 25 points down the stretch of the fourth quarter to will his team over a still formidable Pistons team.  Lebron James went on a rampage and could not be contained and THAT moment convinced me that he was special.  He was better than any player.  Nobody could stop him.

Throughout this entire playoffs I’ve been a third hating him, a third marveling at him, and the final third just being mad that he wasn’t taking over.  He’s had this ability all his life and he didn’t seem to understand how to harness it.  It came and went and when it wasn’t there he looked like a guy who didn’t care and as an NBA fan when you see a guy that big, that strong, that fast not able to post up Muggsy Bogues you’d be mad too.

I’ve always seen Lebron as a guy who could be, can be, and should be.  He isn’t.  Yet.  The scary part is, if he figures it out, he could go on a Jordan like run.  A run which the NBA hasn’t seen the likes of since Jordan himself.  There’s that name again.  A few days ago Scottie Pippen drew the ire of every basketball fan when he dared to suggest that Lebron James could be better than Michael Jordan.

Physically, its possible.  Mentally is what separated Jordan from the pack and even there I think Lebron has a feel for the game that very few have.  By NO MEANS am I a Lebron fan.  I want the Mavs to win because I think Mark Cuban being handed the Larry O’Brien trophy by a pissed off David Stern is must see t.v..  Because I think Jason Kidd deserves to win a championship and because I think Dirk Nowitzki will NEVER be appreciated if he doesn’t win one here.  Because the 2006 Finals were such a complete and utter disgrace officiating wise that karma MUST reward the Mavs with a title over this star laden team.

But if Lebron does win, I’ll be happy as an NBA Fan.  Amazed that one man put himself in such a hole and in such a bad way and can somehow still come away with a victory with a majority of the NBA fan base so violently rooting against him.  Against the inevitable.


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“The Ten Year Rule” and how it affects the Jets.

I don’t like to broadcast my lack of access to a lot of the players I write about.  The lack of access, to most, means lack of credibility and to those who say that, I’d understand where you’re coming from.*  But in some matters you don’t need high level access to see when something is just fundamentally wrong.

*= after you walked away, I’d probably say something about you and your momma though.

This was originally intended to be a “hey Jets, don’t be stupid, pay Revis” kind of article.  The garden variety of which you probably don’t need to read another one of.  But I thought I’d use this space to attack an even bigger enemy threatening all of us sports fans: bad ownership.

Which of course brings me back to the lack of access.  I don’t need access to know bad ownership when I see it.  In fact, two teams I root for are owned by two of the biggest dolts when it comes to owners that its easy to see why their teams are where they are.

Bad owners can ruin sports for fans in so many ways.  They can tank seasons.  They can not care to pay anyone and allow good talent go to other teams.  They can sit back and collect gate profits while you suffer through another dreadful season.  Bad owners, worst of all, can make sports bad and that is the worst crime of all.

Watching sports is a hobby, I get that and those who tell me to pipe down at games probably are doing so to offer me a dose of perspective I need.  But I do know this.  There are plenty of people like me who live and die with every play.  Recently I was asked a question: why am I a Met fan?  I answered by saying that I chose my fate when I decided to go to a Met game in 1992 against the Cubs (Which they won) as opposed to waiting a day to go to the Stadium to watch the Indians (which the Yankees lost).  At that point I had no historical idea of who the Yankees were and what they meant to the sport sport.  I thought Babe Ruth was a candy bar.  But after going to the Met game and having the rules of fandom explained to me by others, I decided to stubbornly stick to my pick.  That other team has won 5 titles in the last 18 years and my team has seen the World Series once.  The world series they lost to that other team.

Needless to say through it all, I stuck with the Mets.  But why the dramatic response to such a simple question?  Because its that serious for me.  I love the Mets.  People who don’t like baseball wonder how I can sit through a 3 hour baseball game that ends 1-0.  I, in return, ask them how they can sit through whatever it is they enjoy doing?  Its a simple analogy.  We love it, so we sit through it.

My feeling is, the owners don’t have that same love.  Some do.  Don’t get me wrong.  The late George Steinbrenner had that zeal and passion for the Yankees, despite the fact that he wanted to own the Cleveland Indians first.*  Mark Cuban has that same love for his team.  You just know that some do, but the truth is, MOST don’t.

*= I’m sorry to anyone from Cleveland who has to be reminded again of how bad their city has it.

Owners for the most part are billionaires.  Part of an exclusive membership of society that 99% of the world will never achieve.  Its just fact.  So its tough for them to associate with us common folk who have this zealot like love for their home teams.  They look at owning a sports franchise as another goal, another victory, another win for them.  Its a trophy that they put on the shelf.  Many collect dust, some come out and clean it once in a while but most don’t.

Two of New York’s teams are run by idiots such as these.  Fred and Jeff Wilpon and James Dolan own the Mets and Knicks respectively.  Their businesses and their daddy’s money, have given them the opportunity to run two of the most wealthiest clubs in all of sports and yet they’ve done nothing to enhance its value.  Fred and Jeff continue to deny that after being swindled for a still undisclosed sum of money (but many believe it to be around $300-$500 million), that it won’t affect how they conduct their business despite roster moves that say the opposite.  Then there’s James Dolan who recently brought back a guy who disgraced the organization publically with a sex scandal all while destroying any chance of it being a competitive unit by taking on horrendous deals for washed up/overrated veterans.*

*= I’m not going to sit here and bash the guy completely because all his moves weren’t terrible, but the ones he made that were completely overshadow any good move he did make so it makes sense to go overboard.

So I sat back and thought how could we possibly do something about this?  I came up with an idea that I believe all four major sports should implement immediately.  Its called the “Ten Year Rule.”*  The “Ten Year Rule” is simple, it gives owners ten years to get the organization going in the right direction.  In ten years, it will come to a vote, and this is the best part, all season ticket holders will get a vote.  They will have a say as to whether the owners get to keep the organization or they have to immediately put it for sale to another owner who would be willing to buy the franchise at whatever value it is up to that point.  If the team stinks, then the value will go down and some rich guy can come in and swoop a franchise out of the doldrums and get a bargain.  Teams with new stadiums, ten years down the road will hit a brick wall like the Mets are eventually going to do.  They had the biggest drop off in attendance and this is only year two of their new stadium.  If they continue to see a drop off in attendance, the Wilpons, with their burgeoning debt will be forced to relinquish the franchise in a few years.

*= notice the business like, get-right-to-the-point nature of the name.  I didn’t want it to be flashy because I didn’t want anyone to confuse it and no other 10 year rule that I saw really came close to being as important.  Also, I couldn’t come up with anything clever so I figured, let’s keep it simple stupid.

A question some of you may have is, how do you know another owner will pop up and buy a team?  Because that’s what they do.  They love bragging about this kind of stuff.  Its a status symbol.  Owning a sports team is the dream of alot of these yucks.  They will jump at the opportunity to make pay in the franchise.  Now imagine a team like the Royals who continue to be in rebuilding mode or the Peter Angelos run Baltimore Orioles, could in ten years get new ownership?  Imagine how much the fans would be rejuvenated by that idea?  Also, think about it this way: imagine what it would do for season ticket holders.  Those who may want to have a say will buy season tickets and want to be one of those on the voting panel when time comes to make a change.  Its the greatest form of democracy in sports that I see.  This will give the owners that they send packing a little extra pocket change.

The other thing it does is, is it brings accountability to these owners.  Imagine them not being able to hang their hats on just owning a franchise.  Imagine them having to actually run it.  To be competitive.  To be smart.  Imagine them having to put some time in at the office instead of just showing up at the owners box.  It would be different and it would certainly make some owners wake up to the harsh reality that their team sucks and its because no one was held accountable.  Perhaps teams like the Mets would have owners who cared to spend because they were afraid that their team would be taken away from them.  Imagine the absolute humiliation a billionaire would face having a franchise taken from them?  This rule has to happen.

Now, I know it can’t happen and will NEVER get passed as long as owners are voting on this, but if a rule was made in Arizona to harass every single Hispanic resident there without any warning or any real evidence, I don’t see why someone would be crazy enough to pass this in the Supreme Court?*

*= I know I sounded like a twelve year old bringing in the Supreme Court, but I don’t know where else we could go with this?

Which of course, finally brings me to Woody Johnson.  Who apparently wants to join the list of jokers we have in New York sports ownership with his latest comments on the Darrelle Revis contract negotiations.  Woody thinks there’s a distinct possibility that Revis won’t play a down in this upcoming season.

For the record, I think this is just posturing by the Jets and not allowing Rex Ryan’s mouth to do any more damage for their side.  After all it was Rex who called Revis the best player in the game.  Not the best corner, the best player.  But the Jets can not afford to go into the season with Revis holding out.  In weeks one through five they face the Ravens, Pats, Dolphins, Bills and Vikings.  Two of those five (Pats and Vikings) were in the top 5 in offense last year and the Ravens and Pats just made trades to get big time WR’s who will be able to stretch the field.  So if in fact there is some truth to Woody’s comments, the Jets will be put to the test early and teams will gun for their secondary early and often which  will leave them severely shorthanded without a shut down corner like Revis.  If contract negotiations go into the season, which in my opinion they can’t let that happen, either Revis or the Jets will have the advantage based on how they play.

The Jets have legit Super Bowl chances this year and are in jeopardy of putting all that to waste by allowing Revis to stay on the sideline.  Revis has three years left on his contract and obviously doesn’t have much but his pride to stand on at this point and the Jets realize this.  It will come down to who blinks first.  The August 10th deadline came and went, which was the deadline for a player to report to camp to be able to accrue this upcoming season as one for free agency purposes and with the new upcoming labor talks a lot of the rules will change.  So Revis has sent a clear message to the Jets that he is willing to let it play out until the Jets come to their senses and sign him.

The Jets have a new stadium opening up.  They have the super bowl hype, the Hard Knock cameras following them and all the build up that they themselves created and are now facing a potentially embarrassing situation with their star player, and the world watching.  The Jets can NOT let this drag on and must do whatever they can to give Revis what he craves because at the end of the day, a Super Bowl, bragging rights and more importantly Woody’s reputation as owner will be on the line here.  If Woody can’t pay the man cash (which he’ll eventually have to), the Jets will be forced to deal with the fact that at age 27, Revis will certainly pack up and take his services elsewhere and imagine the possibility of Bill Belichiek waiting by Revis’ door at 12:01 waiting to sign him and send another blow to the Jets?

I know it sounds dramatic but I’m a fan.  That’s what we do.  Woody, do the right thing.  Pay him.  Do what it takes.  Just pay him, or else, you may end up on the cutting block yourself if the “Ten Year rule” ever takes effect.

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