Tag Archives: Kwame Brown

My 2014 Dream Team — after a couple restrictions

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Some dreams are more realistic and (somewhat) thoughtful than others. Introducing, my dream team within the confines of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement! Yeah, take that, everyone else who dreams of becoming an owner like Mikhail Prokhorov!

The NBA’s salary cap, for the most part, has become an invisible GM as far as determining which players to keep, sign, and trade every year. Only Mikhail Prokhorov and a few other owners could absorb the luxury tax of a dream team-ish lineup like Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson though I doubt anyone dreams of having the last player mentioned.

For everyone else, a roster of their favorite players just isn’t possible without sweating profusely over the financial ramifications from going over the luxury tax level, which is at about $71 million. The salary cap itself is set at $58,679,000. It’s a soft one but for the sake of this post I won’t go over it, making it near-impossible to let Kobe Bryant soak up half my cap space and field a contender at the same time.

I also removed the option to throw darts at players still on rookie contracts. For the most part, they’re more cap-friendly compared to veterans with similar playing styles. That’s great, but it’s unrealistic to group a bunch of them together to form a star-studded under-25 squad.

And besides, why would I choose roster spots with darts when I’m so inaccurate I’d land 12 Bismack Biyombos? Maybe that’s how the Bobcats decide who they draft each year, but that’s a blog post for another time. This post involves a 12-man squad that may not be possible to assemble in real life, but it’s cap-friendly enough to build via a fantasy draft in NBA 2k14. Hopefully.

Let’s begin. All salaries are from Basketball-Reference:

Utility Player

LeBron James ($19,067,500)

If there wasn’t a salary cap, getting everything LeBron does for $19 million would be a steal. Well, except for the paranoia he triggers whenever he nears free agency.

I know I’m getting his excellent production from four positions though, maybe even five depending on how taxing it would be to play him at center. It would certainly be easier to hide LeBron on someone like Byron Mullens versus sticking him on Nikola Pekovic. I’ll start him at power forward but his versatility allows me to tinker with the rest of the starting lineup.

Small Forward

Andrei Kirilenko ($3,183,000)

Even in his low 30s, Kirilenko can still sometimes carry the burden of guarding the opposing team’s best wing. He’s also a master at doing things not seen in box scores: Perfectly timed cuts, having a personality that also makes him one of the friendliest for the media to talk to and possessing a Kermit voice that, if I ever played pickup ball against him, would take me out of my zone and send me into a world of confusion. It’s the opposite voice of a stereotypical Russian’s, like Mikhail Prokhorov’sWe need a video of Kirilenko and Prokhorov having a conversation together just to see how different each of their voices really are, though I can’t find one through a YouTube search. Both are great in their own ways.

If not for Kirilenko’s friendly contract, I would’ve went with Paul Millsap, whose contract at $19 million for two years is baffling when DeAndre Jordan and Al Jefferson make one to four million more than him. Both Millsap and Kirilenko have the potential to make for some interesting small ball and big lineups, but the $3 million contract makes Kirilenko a no-brainer. He allows me to pick a player or two on the rest of the roster who might otherwise be too pricey for a team I need to keep under the cap.

Starting Backcourt  

Stephen Curry ($9,887,642)

Stephen Curry’s molded himself into a point guard over the years, but he could do his fair share of spot shooting if LeBron were to handle point guard duties. Like Ray Allen, for example, Curry also forces the defense to attach to him without the ball, which often makes for 4-on-4 basketball. The less defenders to clutter the paint against LeBron, the better.

It should also be mentioned that Curry can single-handedly carry a team’s offense on his own, going on absurd streaks of scoring:

That can buy LeBron a few extra minutes on the bench, something that he would benefit from in the long run and especially through the postseason.

Also, that contract. What a bargain if Curry plays 70 games and every one in the playoffs.

Honorable mention: Mike Conley Jr. ($8,200,001—and that ‘1’ isn’t a typo), who has a better right hand—his off-hand—than half the NBA. Probably.

Danny Green ($3,762,500)

A cheap “3-and-D” guy, Danny Green could take the burden of guarding the team’s best guard and give Curry, LeBron, and/or Kirilenko extra rest on the defensive end. He’s also another player who will provide a ton of spacing for LeBron on offense, except he’s limited to spot-up threes. 95.7 percent of Green’s threes were assisted, but that’s fine since he knows his limitations. Green’s benefited from a second go-around with the Spurs and it would be interesting to see just how good of a role player he would be with LeBron as a teammate.

Center

Tim Duncan ($10,361,466)

There were a lot of players to pick and choose from at the center position. Joakim Noah ($11,100,000) was the toughest to leave off because he can log absurd minutes, brings a tenacity to every single game and continues to improve on the offensive end. Also receiving consideration was Al Horford ($12,000,000).

Tim Duncan’s at least $1 million cheaper and also happens to have mastered the game for some time now. That made is so unbelievable when he missed two bunnies that clinched the title for the Miami Heat. Everything else about the Finals felt like vintage Duncan. He performed like he did for the last 16 years.

You can also guarantee Duncan averages 20 points and 10 rebounds per-36 minutes, though he’d really only play 25-30 minutes every game. Who cares though. It’s my dream team and I want LeBron and Duncan on the same squad (as long it doesn’t involve the Olympics embarrassment of 2004).

Starting lineup payroll: $46,262,108

Bench

Ray Allen ($3,229,050)

At this stage of his career, there’s not much use for Allen outside of splendid three-point shooting—preferably in the corners where he shot 45 percent—and icing games with free throws. The damage he does on that end of the court makes him worthwhile, even if saying he’s a liability on defense is an understatement.

Al Harrington ($1,399,507)

Harrington supposedly lost 27 pounds this summer, but didn’t do a lot of running. Hmm.

But at 33 years old, he’s the cheap stretch-four the team needs around a guy like LeBron. He’s also a solid defensive rebounder, ranking in the top-40 in defensive rebounding percentage in 2012, his last healthy season. At 34th in the league in that ranking, he’s sandwiched between the likes of David Lee and Kevin Durant. Not bad.

If Harrington can put in a healthy 16th season at his veteran’s minimum salary, that’s great. If not, there’s an ‘energy’ player off the bench in…

Dante Cunningham ($2,000,000)

Cunningham put up the highest usage rate of his career last season, mostly thanks to the injury barrage that plagued the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2013 season and saw his production drop as a result. There just isn’t much a difference when he logs minutes in the 30s each game and in the 20s.

Regardless, he showed an improved mid-range jumper after his lackluster 2012 outing where he made only about a third of his attempts from ten feet to the arc. That number jumped to 40 percent last season and it would be expected to take another spike while playing with the likes of LeBron and Duncan. Hopefully his mid-range game forces my backup center to plant his ass on the block and stay there.

Defensively, Cunningham’s pretty versatile. He’s athletic enough to guard a few wings, but his height may plague him in the post. Still, I’d take him over LeBron’s real-life aging power forward off the bench in Udonis Haslem.

Devin Harris ($1,272,279)

Devin Harris had an unusual summer as he initially agreed to a $9 million, three-year contract for Dallas. But then he suffered a toe injury, followed by resigning with the Mavs again for $1.3 million. Rarely will a single toe be worth that much.

What Harris should give Dallas though is about as much as I’d want him to give my team: a viable backup point guard who can just, you know, run an offense. Hopefully. I’m not so confident about that. Good thing I can pick up another guy to run an offense from time to time in…

Kwame Brown ($2,945,901)

Just kidding.

Beno Udrih ($1,272,279)

Udrih’s another point guard who’s signed for the minimum (he’s a Knick now). He had a successful stint with Orlando, at least statistically, with 13.4 points and eight assists per-36-minutes. His assist percentage was in the top 25 in the league last season, ranking just ahead of Andre Miller and behind Steve Nash.

That didn’t necessarily net him a big payday, but the Knicks couldn’t offer much more than the minimum salary. Unfortunately, neither can I. In my dream team, though, he’s my second or third string point guard (depending on the mood I’m in while dreaming).

Ronnie Brewer ($1,186,459)

What happened to Brewer anyway? He seemed like a useful player heading into last season even though he had arthroscopic knee surgery last September. Then he was traded from New York halfway through the season and only played in 14 games for OKC. Now, he’s in Houston and only $100k of his contract is guaranteed.

Did I mention he’s only 28?

But he can’t shoot and if he can’t defend either then he’s useless. It wouldn’t kill my team if Brewer was ineffective. Green, James, Kirilenko, and at times Cunningham can be solid defenders on the perimeter, but Brewer’s absence might tax Green, my starting shooting guard, which could trickle down to the bigs defending the paint. Those bigs are Tim Duncan and…

Andray Blatche ($1,375,604)

!!!!!!

Blatche is still a mystery on what he really is as a player (he’s kind of a weirdo in general). He showed signs of life last season with Brooklyn, posting a PER of 21.9 but is on a super friendly contract thanks to his resentment towards the Wizards front office. He also gets an unusual amount of steals (two per-36-minutes), though that doesn’t mean we can assign him to lock up the opposition’s best perimeter player just yet or ever.

Blatche is the only center coming off the bench though, so he’ll have a lot of pressure to anchor the defense when Duncan is off the floor. It’s scary giving him that much responsibility. Hopefully the risk pays off in NBA 2K14.

Lineup: $46,262,108

Bench: $11,637,078

Total payroll: $57,899,186

Amount under the cap: $779,814

Killing time on a Friday night constructing a fake NBA team: Priceless (and possibly hopeless)

We’ll see if this roster changes by All-Star Weekend.

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Life when the Spurs last made the NBA Finals

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Geoff Livingston | Flickr

Before finishing the sweep of Memphis last night, 2007 was the last time the San Antonio Spurs made an NBA Finals appearance. That feels like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. For someone now approaching their mid-20s (really depressing admitting that), 2007 to 2013 were times of major change that happened way too quick. Most of my best friends back in 2007, both in high school and college, are ones I haven’t spoken to in years.

But there’s more to 2007 than just depressing memories, and that’s what the NBA is for! Here’s how I looked at the NBA and other aspects of life back then:

NBA

If I have a soft spot for anything in 2007, it’s that Kevin Garnett was traded that off-season to a contending team. Trading Garnett is all I ever wanted after Minnesota imploded in 2005 followed by the likes of Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, and Marko Jaric playing at the Target Center the next two years. I don’t know how Garnett put up with it, but I’m glad 2008 happened. That’s all at another post for another time, specifically when Garnett retires.

Back to 2007.

Dirk Nowitzki being awarded as the 2007 MVP got awkward really fast, right? I remember the feeling of doom for the Mavs as they were being overtaken by Baron Davis and the Warriors. It was like they would never be the same and Dirk was going to be the next Karl Malone. That’s before he was even named MVP. It was similar with the Miami Heat last year after losing Game 5 versus Boston, but both the Mavericks and Heat bounced back. It took Dirk and Dallas four years while LeBron and Miami only needed two days.

But back in 2007, both Dirk and LeBron were at a weird stage in their careers. Dirk had an unfair Karl Malone tag on him while LeBron put in one of the greatest playoff performances ever in Game 5 at Detroit. The expectations of LeBron being the next Michael Jordan went from ridiculous to still ridiculous to believable, but still a bit ridiculous for many reasons. Now both players have their own places among the NBA’s best ever. Six years ago, there was a chance they would’ve been remembered differently.

Also having its place in history is this highlight from the 2007 playoffs:

What else was the NBA like in 2007?

  • Brandon Roy was Rookie of the Year. Sigh.
  • Caron Butler made the All Star Game along with Josh Howard, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. Only the last two were injury replacements. Really.
  • Walter Herrmann made the All-Rookie 2nd Team. So did Adam Morrison.
  • The Hornets/Pelicans played their final season in Oklahoma City.
  • Did I mention Kevin Garnett was still a Minnesota Timberwolf? Pau Gasol was also a Grizzly.
  • The Toronto Raptors won more games than the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics combined.

Actually, look at the records of the top eight Eastern Conference teams that year. Only three were in the playoffs this season:

1. Detroit Pistons 59-23
2. Cleveland Cavaliers 50-32
3. Toronto Raptors 47-35
4. Miami Heat 44-38
5. Chicago Bulls 49-33
6. New Jersey Nets 41-41
7. Washington Wizards 41-41
8. Orlando Magic 40-42

The West wasn’t as different as it is now. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk remain on the same teams though Phoenix was still chasing a title at 61-21, Utah won 51 games, and the Lakers were just 42-40. Wait, that’s like this year’s Lakers. The Spurs were just being the Spurs: winning in not-so flashy ways all the way up to their championship. Like ESPN, I kind of buried them in this post even though they were the champs of 2007. I’ll never understand why ESPN treats the Spurs like they’re in the NHL.

Also, Miami’s title defense in 2007 was a joke. They suffered a sweep to Chicago and started their season with a 42-point loss against them. Dallas performed a similar crappy title defense five years later, though their roster went through major changes. 2007 Miami was probably what a few people continue to expect from San Antonio each year: For age to kick in.

Last but not least, here are some notable players who retired following the 2007 season:

It was also Chris Webber’s last relevant year. He only played nine games in 2008 for Golden State.

Overall, 2007 was the last of what felt like a three-year NBA grace period, in my casual-fan opinion. The end of the Lakers’ Kobe-Shaq era in 2004 started it and the Celtics’ Big Three era ended it. Just look at the Finals matchups from 2005 to 2007. Three of the possible six teams were the ’05 and ’07 Spurs and the ’05 Pistons. They weren’t exactly must-see TV for the casual fan. The other three: the ’06 Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks and the ’07 Cavaliers, and it was inevitable that the Spurs would sweep Cleveland in 2007. But that summer was David Stern’s wet dream. Basketball in Boston came back. Eventually, the Lakers would turn into a contender too.

Freaking Kwame Brown.

Other notable sporting events in 2007

  • Joakim Noah, Al Horford, and the rest of the Florida Gators repeated as NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball champions. Kevin Durant and Greg Oden were freshmen in college.
  • Candice Parker was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
  • The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.
  • Track and field star Marion Jones surrenders the five Olympic medals she won in the 2000 Sydney Games after admitting to doping.

Notable video games

  • Guitar Hero II
  • Mario Party 8
  • Halo 3
  • Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Need for Speed: ProStreet
  • Rock Band

Notable albums

  • Graduation, by Kanye West
  • Taylor Swift, by Taylor Swift
  • Minutes to Midnight, by Linkin Park
  • Konvicted, by Akon

Notable hits that radio may or may not have killed

  • “Ayo Technology” – 50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake and Timbaland
  • “A Bay Bay” – Hurricane Chris
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” – Mims

Notable films

  • Spider-Man 3
  • Transformers: the very first one!
  • 300
  • Freedom Writers
  • Blades of Glory
  • Knocked Up
  • SuperBad
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Saw 97 Saw IV
  • Juno
  • Charlie Wilson’s War

2007 in television

  • Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right for the final time in June. Drew Carey announced as the new host in July.
  • The Big Ten Network launches, with the first game featuring Appalachian State upsetting Michigan 34-32 at Ann Arbor.
  • The Writers Guild of America commences a strike against production studios.
  • Poker After Dark debuts on NBC.
  • Mad Men debuts on AMC.
  • The Big Bang Theory debuts on CBS. Bazinga is born.

Notable shows and their awesome titles that either ended or were cancelled in 2007

  • Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks
  • Catscratch
  • The (White) Rapper Show

    • Um…
  • Acceptable TV

    • How ironic.
  • Anchorwoman

    • Hey, real original.
  • Slacker Cats

    • How could this not be exciting?

It’s astounding how many shows are cancelled in their first season. They’re like newly hatched turtles trying to make it out to the ocean. Only a few will survive, even fewer will survive predators such as big-ass birds (or in this case, studio execs?), but after that it’s totally tubular and whatever else the turtles on Finding Nemo said.

Myspace

Can you put me in your Top 8?

Put me in your Top 8!

Myspace in 2007 was today’s Twitter and Facebook in terms of popularity. You could customize your profile, take quizzes that show what kind of person you are, choose your own theme music, and a couple other cool things I’ll go into detail. Basically, Myspace was a dream for a high school student, which was perfect since that’s who I was until graduating in 2007.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s profile was always #1 on my Top 8. It was likely one of the reasons why my girlfriends during the Myspace years dumped me. Well, that and “Hypnotize” by Young Jeezy was my profile music through most of 2007. What in the world…

You know how unfriending someone on Facebook can legitimately destroy friendships? The same could’ve been said when ranking someone too low on one’s Myspace Top Friends list, better known as the Top 8. Ranking them too high quite possibly could’ve had a similar effect, like whoever did that would come off as clingy instead of nice.

Along with the Top 8, everyone–yes, everyone–posted self-fulfilling surveys on the bulletin board, and Myspace’s versions of subtweets. (This happened on Facebook too.) I took way too many hours out of each day to read surveys from girls I liked, hoping when they answered a question that involved naming their crush that it would be me. It never happened, at least until I was in a relationship. Then it had the opposite feeling I hoped for when I was single. Typical high school dramas.

Coincidentally, the site declined as soon as I went off to college. Since then, a sense of creepiness became associated with Myspace. I can’t explain this any better way than a brief conversation a year ago with a blonde lady similar to my age at a college bar called The Press. She was tall, sounded intelligent, and best of all I didn’t have to do anything to get her attention. She just walked right up to me. We talked about photography, which was cool since I had to take a photojournalism class in the fall and it gets tiring always talking about the shitty music played at the bar. I kept thinking to myself why she even came up to me until she asked if I had a Myspace, because that’s where her modeling pictures were. It explained everything, I thought. She had nowhere else to go but to me. It happened more often than I’d like.

Nobody I knew went on Myspace past 2009. Since then, all the news I heard associated with the site had to do with sex offenders. (Seriously, check out that link.) The fact that this girl I met at the bar was on Myspace in 2012 gave me the feeling she was bad news. I was probably going to be abducted that night, either by her or some middle-aged creep she probably knew, who knows.

I left and went to Jimmy John’s.

slocum ap

Yeah, I compared Gilbert Arenas’ career to Myspace. I went there and I’m never coming back. (Slocum/AP)

Myspace had an arc similar to the career of Gilbert Arenas. When Arenas was on his game he was one of the most prolific scorers in the mid-2000s, just like how Myspace was one of my favorite websites during the same time frame. Arenas became more of a problem though after 2007, only instead of a Myspace-like creepiness he was involved in a gun-related incident with teammate Javaris Crittenton.

Orlando traded for him later the same year. Why they would want anything to do with him? It was just like when I asked myself why Myspace Girl, as I now call her, ever talked to me.

YouTube

Like Facebook, YouTube was just starting to catch on in 2007. My friends and I spent way too much time in our college dorms talking about all the cool videos we watched. Basically, it was our alternative to talking about the best porn videos. I soon became an aspiring vlogger, only I didn’t have a camera of my own. When I came home on the weekends I took my dad’s video camera and recorded my acne-ridden face over films my dad taped from the 80s. This really happened. I vented about my roommate and the shitty job I worked at over the past summer, but nothing ever happened with those videos. Five years later, I’m very thankful for that.

Instead, I have this: A blog where I try to write about what life was like back when the Spurs last made it to the NBA Finals. The core of their team back then is the same as it is now, making their last title feel like it was only yesterday. When they meet LeBron James with the Heat or Paul George and the Pacers, it will feel like forever ago.

Also, I’ve gained like 30 pounds since then.

For a shorter, similar post related to 1997, check this out.

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