Tag Archives: Los Angeles Clippers

A recent history of kicks to the face

In case you missed it, Chris Paul got a shin sandwich from Tony Allen last night:  

Searching through YouTube (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you view it) led to only a few more instances where this has happened. What I found though showed different variations of how a face becomes full of sneakers.

The Ninja Closeout 

Bruce Bowen kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the face is arguably the most popular of them all, which is pretty impressive since it happened in 2002. There was no YouTube or Twitter, but 24-hour coverage of sports existed. That’s all it took for Bowen’s reputation as a chippy defender to take off.  

The “Big Boot 

Tyson Chandler gives a big boot to Damion James in a 2011 pre-season game: 

With the running start, this had to be just as painful as Bowen’s or Allen’s, not to mention Chandler’s shoes are probably a few sizes larger than a perimeter defender’s.

Accidentally On Purpose Whoopsy Daisy

Tony Parker gives Shane Battier a little extra after drawing a blocking foul: 

Whether it was on purpose or not, Parker acting dazed after the kick brought me back to the days of my freshman dorm, where my roommate’s alarm went off every five minutes for an hour straight. This happened every morning before class at 8 a.m., that is until one day I couldn’t take it any more and flung a pen at him. I still remember the “thunk” it made when it ricocheted off his head, making it sound way more painful that I intended. Regardless, I proceeded to act like I was asleep. It was terrific. I never heard his alarm go off more than once ever again. Good times, good times.

Honorable mentions: Mike Miller getting a face full of Danny Greens shoe during a loose ball in the same Finals, and Kevin Love stepping on Luis Scola‘s face.)

The Helpless Prop

This happened way too often in college, where a player after a pickup basketball game would be so overconfident in his leaping ability that he’d try and dunk over someone. 99 percent of the time it led to the prop getting a face full of crotch, a knee to the midsection, or a foot dangling in the wrong place in mid-air.

Matt Bonner was a victim of the latter during a slam dunk contest, though at least he was prepared for it:  

Which variation will be created next?

Tracy McGrady, the Hall of Fame and other thoughts on recent news

If you’re coming from Basketball-Reference, I apologize. This is two months old and just a test of the Player Linker tool. For my most recent postings, check out the RSS feed on the right. If you still want to read this one, you have a place in my heart. Probably.

Tracy McGrady calls it a career

Here’s my favorite commercial of Tracy McGrady:

If only the same forces kept me away from the ice cream in my freezer.

The Twitterverse has been buzzing about Tracy McGrady’s retirement and, most interestingly to me, whether or not one of the best shooting guards of the post-millennium NBA is a Hall of Famer.

The standards for what is and isn’t a Hall of Fame-caliber player can be confusing. We could be living in a world where Manu Ginobili, surely one of the best players during the Spurs’ championship squads from 2003, 2005, and 2007 while also known for his international success, makes the Hall of Fame despite being the overwhelming underdog when deciding between him and McGrady on who to start a franchise with.

But that’s what the Hall of Fame is. It doesn’t reward just excellence in the NBA, but also takes into account college basketball accolades, international ones too, and those who innovated or changed the game in some way.

It’s possible that Tyler Hansbrough, in some way or another, could get into the Hall of Fame before, with, or instead of Tracy McGrady. Picture this (half-sarcastic) career path from Hansbrough:

  • Averages a 20 points and 10 rebounds for three years on a Seattle expansion team that goes a combined 46-200. That, or he rocks Michael Jordan‘s world and goes for 20 and 10 for continuously awful Charlotte Bobcat squads.

That may or may not be enough production to balance out Hansbrough’s pro career with his storied four years at North Carolina. Ralph Sampson, for example, produced at a high level for five years before injuries derailed his career, but he played on Rockets squads that once made the Finals and were playoff-caliber for all but his rookie season.

Still, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012 to the surprise of a few.

Another thing Hansbrough could do:

  • Sign with Toronto at some point or another, get dual citizenship with Canada and help a surging basketball country medal in either the Olympics or the World Cup, whichever event is a bigger deal from 2016 to 2022.

Like mentioned before, innovators have a place in the Hall of Fame too. Enter another Hansbrough scenario where he could take advantage of the Hall’s standards:

  • Mainstream underhand free throw shooting.

Who knows, though. Hansbrough might have done enough at North Carolina to warrant himself a place in the Hall of Fame, but it shouldn’t carry the same weight as McGrady’s 16,000 points in the NBA from the 1999-00 season to 2007-08 (nine years total). It’s unfortunate those years account for 86 percent of McGrady’s total points. An extra 2,546 points happen to be spread across six other seasons (seven if you count his playoff run with San Antonio that started four months ago) where he played just 300 more games.

Antawn Jamison signs with the Clippers

Jamison reportedly signed with the Los Angeles team with jerseys that remind me of Dairy Queen for the veteran minimum.

I believe his days as a key cog off the bench are behind him. He was overused last season because of injuries to Jordan Hill and occasionally Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. However, Jamison will be a great locker room and behind the scenes presence. While I’m not basing this off a ton of material, he also seems like someone to conduct a great interview with. Bonus points for the media!

Would Jamison have been a better fit somewhere else? The Grizzlies and Rockets could’ve used a stretch four. The Pistons could’ve used Jamison as well, but they signed Josh Harrelson instead.

It makes Jamison a confusing signing for the Clips. He does nothing to fix the interior defense that haunted the Clippers in the last two postseasons, which puts even more pressure on DeAndre Jordan to plug the middle. Maybe the Clippers can get away with that weakness with a freakishly good offense, but I highly doubt it.

Whatever the reason for the signing, it’s nice to see Jamison on another team in contention out West. He’s produced too much for too long not to have one more shot at a title.

The Clippers round out their lineup, the Suns acquire a rebuilding piece and the Bucks continue their nosedive

trade

Not exactly the assets I’ll be talking about.

2014 was supposed to be the summer of sheer excitement and terror for teams looking to either rebuild or hang on to their superstars, but 2013 hasn’t failed to keep fans tuned in (at least for the first week or so). Key signings and trades are flying around left and right. The Pacers even gave Tyler Hansbrough a qualifying offer worth $4.2 million, then rescinded it and made him a free agent. Life is weird.

Basically, I’m afraid to take a nap after work in fear of Twitter exploding about the most recent transaction, most likely reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. I’m almost sure he’s a robot. 

Unfortunately for me, one trade went through while I really was dreaming (about eating at an all-you-can-eat cheesecake buffet, no less). It involved one of the most intriguing players in Eric Bledsoe, but also two of my favorite role players in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. The former was acquired by the Phoenix Suns (along with Caron Butler), the latter was gobbled up (om nom nom) by the Los Angeles Clippers.

One more team had to join in which, because of Redick’s involvement, was the Milwaukee Bucks. All they could squeeze out (I guess) were two second round draft picks. I’d rather avoid talking about that and focus more on the Clippers’ and Suns’ side of things:

Now that Chris Paul signed a max contract worth $107 million over five years, losing Eric Bledsoe wasn’t as big of a blow for the Clippers. They had to get something in return before his rookie contract expired next summer, as well as Caron Butler’s contract. They landed two excellent role players in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick. I’m especially excited for Dudley, who’s been a roleplayer on a lottery-bound team for three straight years and one of my favorite Twitter handles to follow.

Both players give the Clippers maximum stretch at the wing positions, though Redick’s one of the finest shooters in the league. Steve Kerr tweeted Redick would be used under Doc similar to Ray Allen in Boston. I both nodded and disagreed with that tweet. I agree that he could be used like Allen to make for a more fluid offense, but I find it hard to believe that Paul will pound the ball like Rondo did near half court for 10 to 15 seconds at a time, waiting for Redick to come around screens. It sure seemed like Rondo disagreed with those plays. For Chris Paul, who’s an old 28 years of age, he’ll probably be more open to it.

The Clippers were already an elite offensive squad last year, even with the troubles that came with a stagnant, predictable offense. With the upgrade of Redick at the 2 instead of Willie Green while also starting Jared Dudley at the 3, the Clippers should once again be in fine shape on offense (at least in the regular season). Whether it carries over into the playoffs remains to be seen, but unfortunately that’s still over nine months away. Shucks.

The Clippers have needed a lockdown perimeter defender for the last two years. There was a small chance Grant Hill could fill that role last season, though injuries prevented him from ever gaining traction in Vinny Del Negro’s 27-man rotation. Unless the Clippers find a way to get Matt Barnes (or some other defense-first player, which is becoming more of a scarcity by the hour) back in a Clippers uniform, the role of defending the team’s best perimeter scorer will be up to Dudley.

I’m not sure why this is the case, but NBA.com only goes ~60 games into the season when looking at advanced stats regarding team vs. players. Maybe that’s just my laptop, who knows. According to the site though, the Suns allowed four less points per 100 possessions when Dudley was on the court, from 107.1 to 102.8 and the former being in the middle of the NBA defensive efficiency across the league. The latter would’ve been third-worst.

Here’s Zach Lowe’s comments on both Redick and Dudley’s defense from his Deal Report:

Redick is a solid team defender, but he’s not up for that, and Dudley’s reputation as a stopper is wildly overblown. He’s solid on the right nights, but he’s slow and prone to ball-watching; look for those back-door cuts next season, Clippers fans.

So yeah, the Clippers should dive into the pool of defense-first wings while it still has some H2O.

Dudley and Redick don’t exactly contribute to the ‘Lob City’ nickname the Clippers have been given for the last two years. Neither are all-stars or even that athletic, but they give the Clippers their best shot ever at advancing through the playoffs. At the cost of a few highlights here and there, I’m sure Clippers fans will take that sacrifice. Hopefully.

As for Phoenix, they did what every rebuilding team should do: acquire assets. Whether Bledsoe turns into the all-star every team seemingly wanted to trade for or not, it’s worth taking a gamble on a player when they’ll be one of the five worst teams next year no matter what.

Though the Clippers’ defense was better with Bledsoe on the floor, their offense sputtered both according NBA.com and 82games.com when looking at on/off floor statistics and top lineups. The Clips allowed five less points per 100 possessions when Bledsoe was on the floor for a defensive rating of 97.4, per NBA.com, which was the same rating the Memphis Grizzlies had this season. This is quite amazing when Bledsoe logged over 700 minutes in lineups with both himself and Jamal Crawford on the floor. Matt Barnes was on the floor for a similar amount of time, but so was Lamar Odom.

The offense was a different story, dropping eight points when Bledsoe was on the floor, from 110.6 points per 100 possessions to 102.1. The former number would’ve led the league in efficiency while the latter would’ve been a middle-of-the-road type.

Neither mean Bledsoe is a terrific lockdown defender or a horrible offensive player. He’s prone to both gambling on passes and falling asleep when playing off the ball. With his athleticism though, he makes some breathtaking blocks and gets into the passing lanes quite often. It also helps that he’s aided by a 6’7”½ wingspan. Bledsoe averaged 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes last season, which is a half-block more than the next guard in the NBA,Tony Allen. He was second in steals per 36 minutes at 2.5. The leader in that category was former-teammate Chris Paul with 2.6.

The tools are there for Bledsoe to be one of the best lockdown defenders in the league. Offensively, he has a ways to go. He shot nearly 40 percent from 3, but only took one attempt per game and was just 29 percent from 16-to-30 feet, according to Basketball-Reference. His form isn’t the most fluid, sometimes kicking his right foot out even while given wide open jump shots. That’s a bad habit that should only be spotted at the worst of pickup basketball games. It has to change.

Rounding out his game, or at least showing signs of improvement from outside the paint, will help Bledsoe get a hefty raise in his contract for the Phoenix Suns.

But Eric Bledsoe isn’t the only player the Suns acquired in the three-team trade. They also took on the expiring contract of Caron Butler. Even though Butler’s versatility has declined to where he’s become the most ripped spot shooter in the NBA, playing with someone with a defined role like his over the likes of Michael Beasley should be considered an upgrade.

But now the four best players on the Suns are at point guard and center with Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Alex Len, and Marcin Gortat. Dragic’s contract is moveable at $7.5 million over the next three years and he’s only 26. Arron Afflalo of Orlando comes to mind when looking at potential trade partners for Dragic because the Suns could use another wing while Orlando is in search of a point guard, but the Magic are considering experimenting with Oladipo at that position next season. Basically, the trade makes too much sense since both teams are scrapping for a top five pick next year.

Marcin ‘Tater Tot’ Gortat (going to try my best to get that nickname trending) will also be on the trading block. Gortat’s mobility or lack thereof keeps him from playing power forward, but with Phoenix going nowhere anytime soon they could experiment with Len at the 4 alongside Gortat at the 5. It just might be bad enough to give them the most lottery balls possible.

Dragic could also continue to start games, this time at shooting guard alongside Bledsoe. Having two guards who can create off the dribble is never a bad thing, though Bledsoe’s improvement with his jump shot should be mandatory for Phoenix to make the best—at least on the offensive side—out of playing two point guards at once.

It’s not like it would be the first time a team has experimented with that kind of lineup before and it could be useful in order to make the most out of Dragic’s productivity when either shopping him or looking for a reason to play out his contract. That contract is 100 percent guaranteed and takebacks. Ouchies.

Both the Suns and Clippers got what they wanted in the trade. I can’t say the same for the Bucks, who have had one of the biggest head-scratching off-seasons in recent memory. Some of it isn’t their fault, thanks to Monta Ellis not re-signing for a more expensive price than the free agent market can offer him.

But if we’re counting at home as far as trades involving the Bucks and Redick, Milwaukee traded Tobias Harris for Redick in a six-player trade February 21 and then flipped Redick for just two second round picks 19 weeks later. Also, they’re supposedly going to match any amount of money a team offers at Brandon Jennings and are finalizing a deal with O.J. Mayo. Life is weird.

The Bucks will likely see a rise in my Tankapalooza Power Rankings, whenever I decide to come out with the second version of it. It probably won’t be for a while because the silly season of the NBA has been more hectic than I expected. In fact, another three-team trade went down yesterday, involving the Kings, Blazers, and Pelicans. As much as I’d like to tackle it, I’ll cut my losses. In the 24-hour news cycle we live in, I might as well post this (and other couple-days-late postings) next summer.

It seems like the Bucks are in a similar boat as I. We’re both a little behind the curve this summer. For them, they’d be advised to throw in the towel until next year’s draft. I can’t say I’m allowed to do the same.

Edit: Though I probably should.

What was the NBA like when Golden State last won in San Antonio?

As a basketball fan in Minnesota, I hear a lot about the Lakers’ 22-game winning streak against the local  Timberwolves. There’s hope next year, but I’ve been saying that since 2006.

It’s been even longer for Golden State and their struggles at San Antonio. Their last win came on Valentine’s Day in 1997.

What were those teams like 16 years ago?

  • Three coaches in 2013 played for the Spurs in ’97: Vinny Del Negro, Monty Williams, and Avery Johnson. Avery Johnson was fired from the Brooklyn Nets this year and replaced by P.J. Carlesimo, who was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors in 1997.
  • Dominique Wilkins was also a Spur.
  • The game was played at the Alamodome.
  • Latrell Sprewell was a member of the Warriors. We were still nine months away from his choking incident with Carlesimo.
  • Other notable Warriors: Chris Mullin, Mark Price, and Felton Spencer.
  • San Antonio was in the tank for some dude named Tim Duncan. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves were about to make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. Hmm.

Here were the logos of each team back then:

Golden State's logo back in 1997. It would change a year later.

Golden State’s logo back in 1997. It would change a year later. They still sucked.

The Spurs' logo from 1989 to 2002.

San Antonio Spurs’ logo from 1989 to 2002. Green, pink and orange. Let that sink in.

Since the last Warriors victory in San Antonio, four teams have relocated (Vancouver, Charlotte, Seattle, and New Jersey). One team has been added (Charlotte Bobcats), and there’s been about a kagillion uniform changes.

Here were some notable jerseys that made their debut during the ’97 season:

real97    jazz98         97

What else was the NBA like back in 1997?

  • Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury were Minnesota Timberwolves, Chris Webber was a Washington Bullet, Damon Stoudemire was a Toronto Raptor, and Jalen Rose was playing his first season as an Indiana Pacer.
  • The rookie class consisted of Allen Iverson, Jermaine O’Neal, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Kobe Bryant.
  • Kevin Garnett wasn’t even old enough to drink yet, but made his first All-Star Game. Anthony Davis was only three years old and Dikembe Mutombo was only 56.
  • The awesomeness of NBA Live 97 was born.
  • The Clippers (36-46) won more games in 1997 than the Celtics and the Spurs combined.

Other notables in late ’96, early ’97:

  • Bill Clinton was inaugurated for his second term on January 20.
  • Filling up gas didn’t feel like as much of a chore.
  • The Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. I was rooting for the Packers.
  • The Yankees won the ’96 World Series with youngsters Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte.
  • Roger Clemens was a Red Sock, Curt Schilling was a Philly, and Alex Rodriguez enjoyed his first full season as a Seattle Mariner. It’s also worth noting that A-Rod wasn’t really that hated back then.

I would go into a novel about how awesome life was back in the ’90s, but there’s some basketball to watch. Speaking of television, here are some quick hits on some TV shows back in ’97:

  • King of the Hill premiered on January 12. Recess premiered on ABC nearly eight months later.
  • Fox’s first Super Bowl telecast. Still five years from dealing with Joe Buck.
  • We were still six months from South Park airing on Comedy Central.

Notable films in ’97:

  • Titanic
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Men in Black
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
  • Liar Liar

Unfortunately, all of them debuted after the Warriors’ last victory in San Antonio.

And now, a potential 30 for 30 about the Warriors’ 16-year drought at San Antonio. Will it continue to 17?

Grant Hill: Ageless wonder

He looks the same now…

…as he did back in 1994. 1994!

For the sake of Hill, I hope the Clippers win a title in the next two years. He was an incredible player in his prime (a better version of Scottie Pippen) and still a key piece to any contender. Also, if Ralph Sampson can get into the Hall of Fame, so can he.

Now if Christian Laettner gets in, we got a problem.

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