The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

The Detroit Pistons Get A 2008-2009 Orlando Magic Makeover

(photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)

The Detroit Pistons have been measurably better this season. They are in contention for the playoffs and had seemingly found an identity with players like point guard Reggie Jackson and big man Andre Drummond. But even with those two, there was no assurances that this team would make it far. And going into the trade deadline, the Pistons were a team that could have been a buyer or a seller. They had some pieces that people were interested in with backup point guard Brandon Jennings and even forward Marcus Morris. But they also had players that they desired that were on the trade market. The onus was on head of basketball operations/head coach Stan Van Gundy to make it happen. Would he help his team get better or would he continue to stay the course with what he had while potentially dumping Jennings for something that would not help this team. Well, the trade deadline has come and gone and the Pistons appeared to be more buyers than sellers. And with that, they now are looking just like a team that Van Gundy coached in his past. The Detroit Pistons are now resembling a team that Van Gundy took to the NBA Finals once before, the 2008-2009 Orlando Magic.

The first move in this makeover that Van Gundy started was to move Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to the Orlando Magic for the services of Tobias Harris. The Pistons gave up a good backup point guard and a stretch forward in Ilyasova, but the move also gave the Pistons something they did not have. Harris was not doing as well in the system that Scott Skiles had in Orlando. But in Van Gundy’s system, he will be likely matched up with forward Marcus Morris in the frontcourt. Both of these guys can handle the basketball, shoot the three and make plays at the rim. But what Harris does better than Morris is make plays. His playmaking skills fit great on this team. What made the Orlando Magic so tough that season was the play of forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was handling the ball and making plays while shooting at an excellent clip from the three-point line. Harris is essentially filling that role on this team and with he and Marcus Morris, they both are the new Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu for Van Gundy. And with Harris handling the ball more, the Pistons just freed up point guard Reggie Jackson even more. But that was not the only move the Pistons made that allowed them to remake themselves.

The next move the Pistons made just made them even more versatile. The Pistons traded away seldom-used big man Joel Anthony to the Houston Rockets along with a top-eight protected first round pick. In return, the Pistons received versatile forward Donatas Montiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton. For a piece that was rarely used, the Pistons received two players that can definitely help Detroit. With Montiejunas, the Pistons get a big man with size that can shoot the three as well. Combine him with forward Anthony Tolliver coming off the bench, you now have two forwards with size and shooting ability that can stretch the floor coming off the bench. But the bonus in this trade has to be guard Marcus Thornton. The veteran guard can get hot at any time. And when he does, he can carry your team for stretches at a time. And he, along with Montiejunas, can spread the floor. Imagine these guys paired with Harris and Jackson at the helm making plays. That could be dangerous.

All these new pieces going along with the old pieces makes this team a dangerous threat because of the style they will be able to play. They now have pieces that can spread the floor and let Drummond have the entire paint to himself, just like Dwight Howard did when they went to the NBA Finals. Drummond will essentially be the new Dwight Howard (in a good way) for Van Gundy. And if someone is to help off their man to help their big against Drummond, then the Pistons can make them pay with the collection of shooters they have now. And also, the pick-and-roll offense is now even more dangerous because not only can they use Jackson and Drummond together, but they now can use Drummond with Harris like that. The onus will now be on the team’s stars to make it happen. But with what they have now, the Pistons are now armed to make a run in the Eastern Conference. And Van Gundy now has a team he thinks can make it happen. Not bad for a guy that inherited a team that was in such disarray when he got there in 2014.

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Derrick Henry Will Not Live Up To The Hype In The NFL

(photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer)

(photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer)

The running back position has been one that has been devalued over time. Instead of many teams picking running backs in the first round, teams are starting to get running backs in the second, third and fourth rounds and even getting good ones as undrafted free agents (Thomas Rawls from Seattle comes to mind there). But every year, there is a top running back that garners enough attention that a first round pick is mentioned next to their name. One of those running backs this year is Alabama running back Derrick Henry. The 6’3”, 242 pound Florida native was the engine behind Alabama’s offense and helped lead them to the National Title this season. And along the way, he scooped up the prestigious Heisman Trophy award in New York City. The size, speed and power of Henry is something that some think will translate well to the NFL. There is no denying that there will be some teams that will see him as being a feature back for them. But unfortunately, his success at the college level may not translate to the NFL. Despite the great measureables and numbers he put up at Alabama this season and over his career, the NFL game is not a place where we will see him succeed.

Plenty speak of Henry and his power when he runs along with his speed. But have many even really watched him play. There is no doubt that he can run, but Henry is a long-strider when he runs. He often is like a runaway train once he gets it going. But the problem at the next level will be getting his speed generated quicker. Many times, Henry will not have the type of time he had when running behind that line at the University of Alabama. And that means he will have to get through the holes quicker and faster. With his long strides, that may be an issues. And because of that, those long runs that we saw him have in college could be few and far between. The difference between him and a guy like Rams rookie sensation Todd Gurley is that Gurley has explosion as soon as he gets the ball. He does not need that much room or that many steps to get his speed going. Henry does need that and he will definitely need a solid like that can afford him that time.

Another issue will be Henry in the passing game. Derrick Henry can catch the ball and that is no issue. Many did not see him get to catch the ball much, but remember this play he made in the 2014 Sugar Bowl versus Oklahoma:

Notice he had time to catch the ball, square his shoulders and generate some speed. In the NFL, it is highly doubtful that a man of his size will standing as wide open as he was in this play. And if he does, then that defense deserves whatever comes their way. But the thing about Henry is he will probably not be a back that can be used on all three downs. His quickness to run the option routes out of the backfield is something that will not scare many teams. Running those options routes requires a shifty back with sudden movements. Henry is not that type of back quite honestly. Screen passes will be something that he will be helpful in doing for the team that drafts him. But he will not be the guy you can look at to make that explosive play outside of a screen pass at all.

Drafting Henry would not be that bad at all if he was drafted in the second or even third round. But because of where he will probably be taken, he may not be able to live up to where he is picked. Henry was excellent in college. But the thing he lacks that backs like Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon from Alabama had was that explosion through the hole along with the quick and shifty feet. And unfortunately, that is something that you cannot develop as much at this stage in the game. Quite honestly, Henry could end up being like another big back that came out of the SEC almost a decade ago. His name was Brandon Jacobs. It would be great to see Henry do well and I wish him nothing but the best. But looking at film of him, he will have some struggles at the next level. And with him being a first round pick more than likely, that could mean he won’t live up to the hype.

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Kirk Cousins And The Interesting Contract Dispute In DC

(photo courtesy of Jeffrey G. Pittenger

(photo courtesy of Jeffrey G. Pittenger

Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III were both drafted by the Washington Redskins in 2012. Griffin III was drafted 2nd overall by Washington after they made a trade with the St. Louis Rams to get that pick. In the 4th round, Cousins was selected as a potential trade piece in the future. And as expected, Griffin III came out and was the star at quarterback for the Redskins in his rookie season. And his explosive play helped lead the Redskins to the playoffs in his rookie year. But after he got hurt at the end of the year and tore up his knee in their lone playoff game, Griffin III has not been the same. And during that time, Cousins has had his times to show he can be the starter. Cousins floundered in his first two tries as the starter of the Redskins in 2013 and 2014. It got so bad in Washington that Cousins was replaced by Colt McCoy after Cousins replaced Griffin III at one point. But this season, he was named the starter from the beginning of the season. And even though he had some rough moments, Cousins was able to lead the Redskins to the playoffs. But now the Redskins have another decision to make. Cousins is a free agent this offseason and could potentially leave the team. Recently, contract negotiations were broke off between Cousins and the Redskins when they could not come to an agreement. But even though the contract negotiations have broken off, there is little to no reason to think that he will not be wearing a Redskins uniform next season.

By March 1st, all teams have to have their franchise tags in place. We all pretty much assume the Broncos will have theirs in place for pass rush supreme Von Miller. But Cousins will be a guy that more than likely will have one placed on him. If Washington places the franchise tag on him, that will give them more time to discuss a long-term contract with Cousins. He and his agent will more than likely come back to the negotiation table after the franchise tag is placed on him. At that point, numbers will be compared and the two will either agree to a new deal or allow him to play through the franchise tag. If they are to pay him and make him the franchise quarterback, then they would be committing to a deal that would have him making at least an average of $20 million per season. That type of money would put him in the class of contracts that Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers are in. And with that type of contract, there would be more expectation on Cousins to lead this team like a franchise quarterback does. That would mean he would have to put up numbers like he did this season (29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) and then some consistently. And considering that he has had chances before and this year was the first time he put up good numbers, can the Redskins really ensure that making Cousins the franchise quarterback is a solid move?

If the Redskins are smart, they would allow Cousins to play out the year on the franchise tag. By doing that, it would give them an even clearer answer on Cousins as the future for Washington at quarterback. By that time, defenses would have adjusted to some of the things he does offensively. The biggest challenge for him will be keeping ahead of the curve and showing that he is just not one that took advantage of defenses that were not familiar with him. If he proves that he can make it happen despite defenses gearing up to stop him, he will have then shown that he may be capable to be their franchise quarterback. If the Redskins make a mistake and sign him based off one year, they could hamstring themselves for years. If Cousins falls back to what he has been before the 2015 season, then you have a team that has no cap space and will be tied into Cousins for at least two years. All the while, they will be watching pieces leave that they may not have the money to keep. Cousins could end up becoming the newest version of Matt Flynn. There is a lot of possibilities out there that last year could have been an overachievement and the Redskins need to think long and hard along with taking an extended look at Cousins. If they are able to get that, then they can get the deal done next season. Of course, Cousins will probably have some leverage over them, but Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has shown over his time there that he is not afraid to open the checkbook for players.

Kirk Cousins and the Redskins have some decisions to make over time. Both have to get back to the negotiation table and the Redskins have to make a decision in franchising Cousins should they not complete a deal before March 1st. And when he gets franchised, that is when the fun will begin. That also is where the hard stance should begin. If they want to be smart, then they will look to see more before paying Cousins top money. If not, then they are not tied up at that position for a while longer.

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The Tobias Harris Trade: What It Means For Orlando And Detroit

(photo courtesy of Brace Hammelgarn/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Brace Hammelgarn/USA Today Sports)

The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching. Many fans are anticipating big moves while others are expecting all talk and no player movement to really speak of. Well, to those that that were expecting something unexpected, it happened on Tuesday. The Orlando Magic traded forward Tobias Harris to Detroit for the services of point guard Brandon Jennings and forward Ersan Ilyasova. The trade of Harris was something that no one really expected, especially since the Magic signed him to a four-year, $64 million dollar contract as a restricted free agent. But nonetheless, the Magic felt it was what they needed to do in moving him. And for the Detroit Pistons, they felt they needed to make one more move to strengthen their team while losing another piece. But what essentially does Harris bring to the Pistons? And what does the combination of Jennings and Ilysova mean for the Magic?

The Pistons have been starting Marcus Morris and Ilysova at the forward spots all season long. And to the credit of both, they have played pretty well. But both are not really considered playmakers at the position. And with both at 26 and 28 respectively, the chances of them both developing into a playmaker is not very high. Tobias is having a bit of a down season this year (averaging his lowest points per game as a member of the Magic at 13.7 points per game). But even with that, he is still shooting better than both of these guys are at the forward position. And in addition to shooting the ball better, Harris is much better playmaker in transition and in the halfcourt offense than Morris and Ilysova. Before the addition of Harris, all the playmaking with the Pistons fell on the shoulders of Reggie Jackson. And although he is having a career year, Jackson will be worn out with the scoring and playmaking duties he has to shoulder each game. Harris alleviates that to an extent and can also allow Jackson to play off the ball some because of Harris’ vision on the court. Another good thing that comes with Harris is the versatility of the frontcourt of the Pistons is still maintained. Harris can play the small and power forward positions and that will allow him to play alongside talented rookie Stanley Johnson at times. The Pistons definitely upgraded their team with this move and also increased their expectations. And with veteran point guard Steve Blake there in Detroit, the Pistons could afford to move Brandon Jennings without fear of a huge dropoff.

In Orlando, it seems that Scott Skiles taking over has had an effect on this team. They are playing harder every night and you can see the improvements. But along with the improvements, you can also see who does and does not fit the system that Skiles wants in Orlando. Harris, unfortunately, just didn’t seem to fit what Skiles wanted despite efficient numbers. With them moving Harris, it now opens up more of a youth movement at the forward position. The Magic drafted Mario Hezonja this past NBA Draft and the rookie has been solid in limited minutes off the bench. The Magic looked like they were going nowhere with their current status quo, so they may as well allow Hezonja to get better and that requires more playing time. With Harris out of the way, look for more lineups with Hezonja and second-year player Aaron Gordon at the forward spots. In acquiring Ilysova and Jennings, the Magic get two veteran players that can be solid for them off the bench. The Magic have been backing up second-year point guard Elfrid Payton with Shabazz Napier. Jennings is an immediate upgrade over Napier and brings along some veteran experience that can help Payton grow on the court. He also is a former player for Skiles in Milwaukee. It should be interesting to see how they get along now. But along with his experience, Jennings also brings along an expiring contract at the end of the year ($8.3 million off the books at the end of the season). If the Magic are able to pull off the rumored trade of backup big man Channing Frye to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lance Stephenson(whom they will reportedly buy out if they acquire him), this is where things could get even more interesting for Orlando. The Frye trade and subsequent cut of Stephenson would give them an additional $9 million more in salary cap freed up going into the summer of 2016. Add that additional $17 million to the cap going up exponentially next year and the Magic will have money, young players and options. One of those options will reportedly be re-signing young guard Evan Fournier, who will be a restricted free agent. But even with that, they will still have money to burn on upgrades to their team. As far as Ilysova, he is there for one reason and one reason along: shooting. He is a former Scott Skiles player from his Milwaukee days (like Jennings) and Skiles knows how to get the best out of him, as Ilysova had two of his best seasons under Skiles. With him coming in off the bench, the Orlando Magic now have more firepower when going to their subs.

Both teams got what they wanted out of this one. The Magic got some cap space, options and a backup point guard. The Pistons got another playmaker and an upgrade at the forward spot. No true winner can be determined in this trade until we see how all players fit (or don’t fit) into their new teams. But on the surface, the Pistons committed highway robbery with this trade.

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Peyton Manning, Selective Memory And Revisionist History

(photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

(photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

The football season is over, but there is still some buzz going on around the football world. While everyone is wondering what Peyton Manning will do, writer Shaun King dropped an article chronicling Peyton Manning’s sexual assault at the University of Tennessee. The incident happened when Manning was at the University of Tennessee and involved a team doctor, Dr. Jamie Naughright. For the full story, including the 74 pages of court documents, check here. Instantly, the document caused a stir on social media. There were those that took the taking down of Dr. Naughright seriously and had a different view of Peyton Manning. And there were others that seemed to brush this incident off. But it is amazing how folks can view some things when they actually like a player.

Peyton has forever been someone that people have seen as classy, hard-working and a great spokesman for the NFL. There is no doubt that he is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. But what some have to understand is that he essentially tormented Dr. Naughright. The funniest part of the whole thing is that some people did not read the story at all. Peyton Manning did not moon someone and Dr. Naughright did not walk in at the wrong time. He actually scooted down while she was examining a potential stress fracture of Manning and put his “man parts” on Dr. Naughright’s head. And secondly, Manning tried to besmirch Dr. Naughright’s character by saying she spoke vulgar and saying that she hung with Black guys all the time. Naughright may have spoken vulgar (which was refuted by every witness that Manning tried to get), but what does her hanging with Black guys have to do with any of this? Sounds to me that Manning was just trying anything to get out of this one and when the case was settled and Gag order placed, that screamed of guilt of Manning. And when he lied again in a book about the incident, he cost himself some more money because he again had to settle with Dr. Naughtwright. All the while he has done long-term damage to her career while not even offering so much as an apology. It is true that this incident happened in the past, when Manning was young. But that does not excuse the incident and the crap he put that woman through for nothing.

Many have also spoken on the length of time it has been since this incident happened. Some think that it is a convenient attempt to tear down Peyton’s legacy before he leaves the game by bringing up his past. Well, what some may want to realize is that this story is older than some of the fans that Peyton has actually. And I have come across many that were not even aware of the reality of this story. So in essence, it was new to a ton of people in that sense. Another thing that is interesting is how some can say they are trying to tear Peyton down or that this happened in the past when they cannot forget others and their past. For example, Cam Newton had success this season. And many were very happy for him and how well he had led the team. But there were some that continued to bring up his incident at the University of Florida. For those that are not aware, Newton stole a laptop and that got him in hot water. He was eventually out at the University of Florida because of it. And it is definitely interesting that some of the same folks will break that out in a minute while telling us to pipe down on the Manning incident. To those I would like to ask, “Why the change up on both Manning and Newton?” There will be some that will ask why I used Cam as an example and I can assure you that it was the first one I thought of. Not downing or supporting Cam and his press conference in this article and that is not the issue at hand anyway. But what is at hand is how some can selectively bring up the past for some and forget it for others. Another example of folks not letting go of the past is the incident Michael Vick had. The veteran quarterback went to jail for animal abuse, but so many still go at him about that as well. But with Peyton we are supposed to forget something that was an ugly situation because he paid them off? Honestly, that ought to concern more people than anything.

In the end, people are going to have their own opinion about Manning and what happened back then. But one thing cannot be disputed in this scenario: people tend to be more forgiving, forgetful and blind to the facts when it is someone they love. Manning is a great quarterback and no one is taking that away from him at all. But this ugly incident is definitely something that was covered up and hushed. With Vick and Newton, they paid consequences for what they did. But Peyton has seemed to avoid that along with any public backlash essentially. Some that keep blowing this story off would not do so if it was their daughter, wife, or family member that this mess happened to. But let them tell it, nothing even happened to begin with. And those folks are blind in broad daylight. If you’re going to bring up the past for one, you have to do it for all. You cannot pick and choose who you drag through the mud. That wreaks of hypocritical talk.

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Michael Crawford, Hampton University And History

(photo courtesy of Rob Ostermaier/Daily Press)

(photo courtesy of Rob Ostermaier/Daily Press)

Lacrosse is a sport that many are not familiar with. It is not seen on television much at all and you can hardly recognize many of the players that play the sport. You could say that it is one that creates a culture of exclusion more than inclusion. Statistics as current as 2013 state that 1.9% of lacrosse players in NCAA lacrosse are Black. That percentage has probably changed at this time, but not that much. But on the thirteenth of February 2016, history was made. The Hampton Pirates became the first Historically Black College or University to field a men’s team at the Division One level. And although they lost 20-3 to Roberts Wesleyan, this moment was a part of history. Coach Lloyd Carter had his kids as prepared as they could have been, but in the end, they came up short on their win. But this game they played and lost in was more than just a game that was being played. It was an opportunity to open up the world of lacrosse to diversity.

Former Hampton student Michael Crawford grew up playing a lot of sports. But ultimately when he was in boarding school, he fell in love with lacrosse. He loved it so much that he created a proposal to bring that sport to Hampton University in 2010, his senior year at Hampton. Being that there really is not very much African-American representation in the sport, many felt that it would be a longshot to happen. The thought of Hampton being a lacrosse school seemed odd to many, but not to Crawford when he created his proposal. And now, we see the benefits of what he started. Unfortunately, Michael was not around to see what he helped created. Crawford passed in December 2010, three days after Christmas, unexpectedly. He had a sudden cardiac arrest caused by an enlarged heart, which there were no symptoms of at the time. And although he is not here to see it, his vision lives on. The Hampton players have MJC on their uniforms in memory of Crawford. They know that without him, the program would cease to exist.

What Crawford may have done in creating this proposal was create an alternate avenue for African-Americans. The percentages of African-Americans in the NFL were at 68% as of 2014. And with the dangers of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, football has become a more dangerous reality some kids and their parents don’t want to subject themselves to. Lacrosse has not been a sports many African-Americans have looked at. But with Hampton starting a team, that could spark some parents to steer their kids in that direction. Hampton could be just the beginning of the movement of more African-American kids playing the sport. Of course the Hampton program is in its infancy right now. But their courageous strike in lacrosse, they could spark more programs to pop up. And if that happens, more African-American kids could become interested in the sport. With that, more diversity will come and the sport will be grow beyond what it currently is right now.

With the historic move that Hampton made to play men’s lacrosse at the Division One level, there will be plenty of eyes on them going forward. Many will watch to see if this program lasts or if it fades into oblivion. But more than that, there will be many watching to see how this team changes the game and alters the reality that some thought they knew of. Salute to the Hampton Pirates for having the courage to start a program. And salute to Michael Crawford for having a vision to start this program. He may not be here now, but Crawford has started something that has never been done before. And for that, he will never be forgotten.

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Dwight Howard To The Boston Celtics Makes Sense

(photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

Dwight Howard had a decision to make back in the summer of 2013. He was traded that previous year to the Los Angeles Lakers from Orlando that previous year and had one year to check it out. That one year was not very good for him out in Los Angeles. He was fighting through an injury the whole time he was there and when he played, it seemed like he was not himself. Mix that with the fact that he and Kobe’s styles did not mesh and it was not a good experiment bringing him in. But yet and still, the Lakers were one of the teams Dwight was looking at going into free agency. The Lakers gave their pitch to him along with other teams like Houston and Dallas. Between those teams, Dwight turned down additional money he would have made with the Lakers to join star shooting guard James Harden in Houston. The pairing was supposed to take Houston to another level with two star players leading the way. But unfortunately, it has not worked out the way Houston has wanted. The Rockets may have gone to the Conference Finals last season, but it was not due to Dwight Howard’s effect on the team. Howard was not as effective last season because he was injured for most of it and that allowed for other guys to step in and make Houston better. And in year three with Dwight in Houston, it seems like things have gotten worse. The Rockets are on the outside looking in of the playoff picture at this point and the chemistry and play of the team just seems to be off. And right in the middle of it is Dwight Howard still speaking on wanting to be more involved in regards to more touches offensively. Well, it seems like the Rockets have had enough of Howard at this point. Houston has reportedly put Howard on the trading block and are actively looking to move him. And being that he can opt out of the four-year, $87.5 million deal he signed in 2013, it will be interesting what they try to get for him. But nonetheless, it seems like one team’s name has been mentioned more than any in acquiring Howard: the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were a surprise team to make the playoffs last year. And this season, they have made it to the third spot in the East as they are currently constructed. But even with that, Danny Ainge has his eye on Howard and what he could bring to his team. And with the assets the Celtics have, they could certainly pull this trade off. The Celtics have a glutton of big men available on their team. One player the Celtics could dangle out there to get Howard would be forward David. The Celtics traded for the veteran big man this offseason hoping that he would be able to add to their team. But unfortunately it has not worked out and he has been sitting on the bench more than actually playing. And with the pricetag he is carrying this season ($15.49 million), they can easily move him and not miss him at all. If the Celtics throw him, a first round pick and maybe another frontcourt player. By adding Howard to the Celtics, that gives them a better defender on the backline than what they currently have. And if you pair him with the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, he would not really have to worry much about the offensive end of the court. But knowing Dwight, he would want to have the basketball in his hands. Even at 30 years old, he still has not got it that he is not a go-to guy offensively. In Boston, he still would not be that guy that he envisions himself being. And if he ends up not being happy, then you essentially traded for a rental player because Howard has the option to opt out of his current deal. But the potential positives in this one outweigh the negatives in this potential trade scenario. But of course that all depends on the thinking of Dwight Howard whether it works or not.

The Celtics would be getting Howard and all that goes with him, but Houston would be getting rid of a player that was doing more harm than good for them. It seemed like the chemistry in Houston just was not ever going to work out, as Howard seemed like the odd man out a lot. The biggest piece in trading Howard is not actually David Lee, but who would be traded with him. If the Houston Rockets are lucky, they get someone that has an expired contract as well. Guys like Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko would be ideal players to add in this trade just for their expiring contracts alone. If one of these two is added like Houston would want, that would allow for them to have enough salary cap room with their current situation to go after a big-name free agent. Everyone knows that Houston has had its eyes on Kevin Durant for some time now. And even as far-fetched as it seems, the Rockets would like to make a run at pairing James Harden with Kevin Durant going into next season. But even if that does not happen, the Rockets would love to change the dynamic of this team going into next season. This all falls in line with them needing a new head coach going into next year as well. If Houston loses and does not make the playoffs while making this trade, it actually will benefit them even more. That would give them two first-round picks (if they don’t make the playoffs, they get to keep their first round pick they would have had to give to Denver because of a previous trade) provided they get one from Boston and cap space. In the NBA, that is definitely a good thing to have as the cap space expands next season. Adding a piece like Atlanta’s Al Horford potentially in free agency and putting him at power forward alongside young big man Clint Capela would be something that would also help this team as well. Horford is a better fit with Harden because he is able to space the floor with his shooting and actually has solid post game. And on the defensive end, he can rebound and actually guard power forwards. That leave Capela playing center and just worrying about blocking shots and defending, which is what he needs to be doing at this point in his career. So the trade of Howard could essentially end the Rockets’ playoff push, but it will help set them up for the future with Harden as their unquestioned leader.

The Dwight Howard experiment in Houston has proven to be a failure at this point. The chemistry never was there between he and Harden and the team never really got to where Houston brass envisioned with Howard and Harden. So to rectify this one and get first round picks and create cap space would be huge for them going forward. For Dwight Howard, he has to realize that the clock is ticking and his opportunities for success are fleeting fast. But the big question will always be around Howard and his role on any team he is on. Everyone who knows anything about basketball realizes that he will not be a viable offensive threat but him. And until he realizes that and quits derailing chemistry, then he will continue to miss out on team success. Boston is taking a chance on Howard with this trade. But the good thing for them is they probably would not be trading much to get him and they also would think that he would want to opt out of his deal should it not work out. Stay tuned folks. Howard could be donning green and white soon.

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Traveling With The NBA

(Photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

(Photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

The NBA All-Star game is traveling to Toronto for the first time. In honor of the NBA crossing the boarding and heading to the North, why not honor some really good travels on the court? The NBA All-Star weekend will be doing their best to entertain us, but what is better than watching NBA players travel worse than youngsters who are just learning the game? Let’s give it up for some of the best travels in the NBA!

Corey Brewer has been around for a while now in the NBA. He is known for being a good defender and knocking down threes. But unfortunately he is also known for confusing basketball with the triple jump on this play:

Corey may have got the basket, but he surely traveled a good way to get it.


Not to be outdone, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s DJ Augustin definitely had a good one. Just watch his feet go:

If you pay attention to his feet, you may miss that he did a pump fake while traveling to. And to boot, the refs seemed to be so mesmerized that they did not call the travel.

DJ Augustin and Mike Conley Jr both must have trained together because he surely took just as many steps as Augustin did right here:

Conley figured he could not beat him to the rim with the dribble, so he may as well run his way to the rim.

Jeremy Lin may be in Charlotte now, but he did some of his best traveling work when in Houston. Just watch how he takes five steps on the way to the rim:

Lin was definitely trying to fly away there. He could have at least made the layup or go to the foul line with how much effort he put into that travel.

Lance Thomas is a relatively unknown player in the NBA. He got his shot as a member of the New York Knicks last year. He has played solid this year. But this uncalled travel against the Charlotte Hornets last season has to be one of the most comical travels ever.

This travel by Thomas reminds me of the kid that just started playing but has not figured out how to dribble and shoot yet. Glad Lance is doing better now, but this one will never go away.


These two were bad, but this one right here has to have people wondering what Kendrick Perkins was thinking. Just take a second and count the steps on this one:

I wonder if Kendrick was practicing his dance routine and forgot he was playing in an NBA game. And if he was practicing, that was a bad version of the Twine.


But Kendrick wasn’t the only dance machine on the basketball floor. Although Dwyane Wade is a great player, he once did a little two-step on the Portland Trailblazers’ home court:

Dwyane Wade has had some injury issues over his career. He even looks like he is in pain doing the two-step here.


Travels this bad aren’t brand new. In fact, they have been going one for a while now. For instance, check out this travel reel from Michael Jordan himself (this one was actually called folks):

Hey. Even the best take a few extra steps every once in a while. But I bet everyone still loves Michael Jordan regardless.

But the guy that many seem to stay on the most about traveling is one of the best players in the NBA. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you LeBron James:

LeBron may be a great player, but he surely traveled the globe on that play. Maybe he thought it was track that day instead of basketball.

Travels have become commonplace in the NBA in this day and age. And we will probably see more of them happen. But these ones right here not only are funny to watch but will make you laugh as well. Which one is the best in your opinion? Or is there a nominee that you would like to add?

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Derek Fisher Is Out. Is Tom Thibodeau The Answer In New York?

(photo courtesy of Derrick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy of Derrick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)

The New York Knicks are in Year Two of their rebuilding project. Derek Fisher was picked to preside over this project last season and it was evident they were trying to be as bad as possible once Carmelo Anthony went down to injury. The team tanked and ended up getting the third pick in the draft, which turned out to be forward Kristaps Porzingis (which many expected to be a project). The addition of Porzingis, the free agents the Knicks added and the return of Carmelo Anthony had some thinking the Knicks could make the playoffs. But the Knicks, even though they have shown improvement, don’t look like they will be making the playoffs again this season either. The Knicks are currently 23-31, good for 12th in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. And after starting 20-20, the team is now 23-31, including losing nine of their last ten games. Needless to say, the organization was not happy with the recent outcomes and the slow starts as well. So with that dissatisfaction, the Knicks made a move. New York fired head coach Derek Fisher on Monday, replacing him with interim head coach Kurt Rambis. And with that move, the Knicks move forward.

Fisher was following in the footsteps of Jason Kidd when he went from playing straight to being a head coach. With Phil as his mentor and the relationship they built when Phil coached Derek, there was some thought that the pairing would work well together. But apparently the relationship was not strong enough to overcome the recent struggles. It seemed like the team got off to a pretty good start and then inexplicably started inconsistent play. The intensity that was there before just was not the same. And it was not just noticeable to the fans of the team, but to the organization. But not only was the play not the same, neither was the coaching. There have been many questionable decisions that Fisher has made in terms of playing time, situational substitutions and timeout management that have made some cringe. Of course, he has never been a coach before at any level, so he is learning on the job. But even in knowing that, Fisher still seemed to not learn from some of the mistakes he was making. And with that, it became increasingly frustrating for some to watch their team consistently not make it happen when given the opportunities to do so. So with that happening, the Knicks had to make a move. The team’s future being led by Fisher was going nowhere fast. And now it seems like he may have been the coach that was sacrificed before any type of success happens for the Knicks again.

Kurt Rambis is the current replacement, but many feel the interim head coach is just holding the position for someone else. There has been one prominent name mentioned after Fisher was fired and that name is former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The long-time assistant coach in the NBA got his big break when becoming the head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2010. Thibs, as he is called by many that played for him, was a solid coach in the NBA and got the most out of his players in the Chicago. But unfortunately, he and management in Chicago could not get along and he was released from his job there this past offseason. Some thought he would have gotten another NBA coaching job just as quick as he got fired, but that was not the case. Instead, Thibodeau took some time off and examined the coaching scene. And with the job opening coming up in New York, there has been some talk that Thibs is interested. There are reports out there that he has always wanted to be the head coach of the New York Knicks. And with who all is available out there, who is more qualified for the job than Thibodeau? He took the Chicago Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year, was the fastest coach in NBA history to 100 victories and also was able to help the Bulls survive the loss of point guard Derrick Rose year after year and still have them be successful. Thibodeau is a tireless worker and has been known to get the best out of his teams. But how does he fit in New York?

Thibodeau has been known as a great defensive coach. He was the mastermind behind the defense in Boston during their resurgence with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back in 2007-2008. If he is hired as the coach of the Knicks, defense is one aspect that will be better. And for Carmelo Anthony, it will probably be the hardest he has been asked to work defensively. The Knicks and their effort on that end will not be compromised and Thibodeau will make sure of that. And with Porzingis there on the team, it will be scary how good a defender he could make the 7’3” rookie forward. But for as much as he could help the defense, Thibodeau would not help them offensively. For his entire time in Chicago, he was criticized time and time again about his offense. Even when he had Derrick Rose, the offense was deemed unimaginative and rudimentary by many. And the lack of diversity in the offense led to the Bulls being one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA for much of his time there in Chicago. With that knowledge being known, the Knicks would be an even uglier mess offensively with Thibodeau there as the head coach. The Knicks currently sit as one of the worst offenses in efficiency and points per game over the last two seasons. With a star player that isn’t exactly the picture of efficiency and Thibs not exactly known to have much movement in his offense, the Knicks would be an eyesore on the offensive end. And in this day and time in the NBA, you have to score to win. The days of Jeff Van Gundy having a physical defensive team win games in New York is over. Bringing Thibs there would be flashing back to that time in Knicks basketball with even less offensive talent.

The Knicks knew they had gone as far as they could with Fisher as the head coach. It was apparent when they lost nine of their last ten and the team looked like they had lost their direction. But in hiring the next head coach, Phil Jackson has to know this could be a job-defining move. If he hired Thibodeau, then he is hiring a fierce competitor as a head coach that will not allow anything but the best effort every night. But on the flipside, Thibs is not the guy to help them be better offensively. He may be a better head coach than Fisher, but he is not the guy to give them what they need. And imagine Thibodeau trying to run the Triangle offense in New York without really knowing it. If he has to do that, then you could really have an offensive mess on your hands.

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Marshawn Lynch: Beast Mode Deactivated

(photo courtesy Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports)

The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last four seasons. They are known for a dominant defense and a physical running game. This year, that formula changed a bit with the loss of running back Marshawn Lynch for half the season due to nagging injuries and sports hernia surgery. The responsibility of the offense fell more on quarterback Russell Wilson to run the show and make it happen. The offense was still successful, but there was no doubt that they could have been even better with a healthy Marshawn Lynch. The veteran running back has been the staple of their offense since their run started in the Great Northwest. Each game, you got used to seeing a physical run happen that would just amaze you. Many players said he was one of the toughest players to tackle in the NFL. But Marshawn has decided he has had enough of the NFL. At the age of 29, Lynch has decided to call it a career. Lynch tweeted out a picture during the Super Bowl that indicated that he was retiring and there were messages from teammates Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman along with Seahawks owner Paul Allen that all but confirmed it. The real confirmation came when Lynch’s agent confirmed it on Monday that Lynch was indeed calling it a career. So Beast Mode will now be leaving the game and headed on to a new chapter of his life.

Many will remember the things that he did on the field and the effect he had there on the Seattle team. One of the most memorable plays of his career had to be the run he had against the New Orleans Saints back in 2011. That run and the cheers led to an actual earthquake happening. And that memory will forever be in the minds of Seattle fans and NFL fans as well. But what will also be in the memory of many is that Marshawn did things his own way. Much was made of him and speaking to the media. When he was in Seattle, media was not something he did at all. If he could have his way, he would avoid it at all costs. But due to threats of being fined, he eventually made some appearances with media. Those appearances, however, were still done on his own terms. He said very little if anything and promptly told media why he was really there. Who can forget him saying that he was at the Super Bowl press conference last year so he does not get fined? Marshawn just was not about the media at all and could care less about talking to them. He was more about playing the game and having fun with his teammates on the field or as he says it “I’m bout that action boss.” And about the action he was with career numbers of 9,112 yards, a 4.3 career average per carry and 83 career touchdowns over nine NFL seasons.

Marshawn Lynch and his exploits on the field will be talked about for a while. And there will be a debate whether he is worthy enough to make the Hall Of Fame in the upcoming years. He put up some good numbers over nine years. But the reality is he has 3,000 less yards than Frank Gore and he also has 29 less career touchdowns than Adrian Peterson. Both Gore and Peterson will more than likely be Hall of Famers. But with the way he handled media, that could affect him getting in. Lynch, though, could probably care less whether he makes the Hall of Fame or not. To him, he got what he wanted out of the NFL and is now able to move to the next step of his life. And reportedly, he has not spent much of his money he made in the NFLl. Lynch can now devote his energy to causes that affect where he is from, Oakland, and things that interest him and create a new life and identity for himself away from the game. And more importantly, Lynch can now be as quiet as he wants to be. Of course he cannot live like a hermit because many know who he is. But he can get away from the spotlight that he really did not like anyway. And that seems to suit him just fine.

Lynch definitely was a guy that struck fear in defenses. And when Seattle began to become the power they are now, he was the face of that movement. But Lynch has made his decision and it is time for him to move on. And who can blame him? He is getting out with his health and a bunch of money to live with. And he more importantly got to go out the way he wanted to go out: on his own terms. Good luch in retirement Marshawn. Enjoy life after football.

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