There’s a reason that the ESPY’s are in the middle of July. The middle of summer comes just after the end of the the year in sports. The NFL is getting close to beginning training camps, the NBA and NHL have recently finished their championships, and Major League Baseball is finishing its bookend of the year (baseball playoffs are the first major event in the new season of sports, the All-Star game sort of ends the year in sports). Heck, even tennis hits a lull as Wimbledon ends and the U.S Open does not start for weeks.
This is all to say that in a year that does not have the World Cup or Summer Olympics, July and August can be a little lackluster when it comes to sporting events. Thankfully the X Games add some fireworks to more than just one weekend a year now, and the English Premier League, which will begin in about a month, will be on television much more with NBC’s wonderful new deal.
However, our sports culture makes this time of year plenty interesting despite the fact that the majority of highlights on SportsCenter come from baseball games and summer league basketball games (yes, I am that much a basketball nerd that I would watch summer league games if I had NBA TV). This time of year when three out of the four major sports (actually, let’s say four out of the five, as soccer is in the midst of the transfer window as well) are all in the off-season has become an interesting time in sports with excess speculation, little action, and major intrigue. It turns out the off-season intrigues fans because everyone likes to play GM. And I’ll admit, that’s one of my favorite parts of franchise modes in Madden and NBA 2k. It’s fun to imagine yourself making the moves to build a contender. So let’s talk about what actually has happened (which is kind of what I do. I can speculate, but it’s kind of a waste of time considering that no one really cares what I think might happen).
5 Good Moves in NBA Free Agency
1. Warriors acquire Andre Iguodala – Between the time that one of my favorite players in the league opted out of his contract in Denver and the time he joined the Super Splash Bros in Golden State, I wavered in my GM opinion on Iggy. I waffled from I’d give a max contract to him in a second. What’s not to love about a hard-working, elite defender who can score and is a great teammate? and He’s a star who might want superstar money. Hasn’t won anything. Isn’t a go-to scorer. As it turns out, the Warriors got him for the right price. I’m not sure how he fits in with Curry, Thompson, and Barnes, but with Bogut in the middle maybe they can afford to go small with Landry gone (but then, what do they do with David Lee?). Either way, his defensive toughness and offensive explosiveness give the Warriors something they needed. When teams wear down their shooters, they will need a guy who can attack the basket. Golden State will be even more dangerous next season. I also think I know what my next jersey will be.
2. Rockets sign Dwight Howard – Duh. If Dwight is healthy and motivated, he will thrive in Houston with instruction from Hakeem and Kevin McHale. Again, as long as Dwight stays healthy, Houston could be a contender for a decade.
3. Cavaliers sign Andrew Bynum – Low risk, potential for high reward. And you can’t tell me that, if Bynum stays healthy and the rest of the improving Cavaliers progress in the way they should, that Cleveland hasn’t made itself a frontrunner for LeBron in 2014. We’ll revisit this then, but if LeBron leaves Miami (which, by the way, I don’t think he will unless Dwyane Wade has some sort of catastrophic knee injury) I don’t think anyplace is more likely than Cleveland to land LeBron.
4. Nets trading for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (and Jason Terry) – Brooklyn was already in “win now” mode. It just turned out that the team they had put together clearly wasn’t good enough. Now they have a one, maybe two year window where they could legitimately make a run for a championship. And if they win this year and KG and Paul Pierce retire and Joe Johnson fades into an old guy with a big contract and the Nets have to start over again, so what? A championship would make it worth while. And the future isn’t that doomed for them anyway despite the loss of draft picks, as freeing themselves of Wallace gives them cap room (as does the imminent end of the careers of the Celtics they acquired). Brooklyn has a shot.
5. Bucks drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo – I can’t spell or pronounce his freaking name but that doesn’t matter. Thus far the off-season for Milwaukee has been pretty bad, but taking Bo with a mid first round pick in a weak draft class was a great move. Forget everything else wrong with the Bucks: best case scenario is a guy who turns into a poor-man’s Kevin Durant. Worse case scenario? There isn’t one. Oh, what, they missed out on a chance to draft Nemanja Nedovic?
5 Questionable Moves in NBA Free Agency
1. Rockets balk at trading Omer Asik – I thought it was a foregone conclusion that the Rockets would complete their rise to power by trading Asik and filling out their bench with what they get in return. Guess not. If I was sure that Asik would give 100% in whatever capacity the Rockets wanted to use him, and if you could guarantee me that the Rockets would come up with an effective way to use him, then I would say keep him. Teams with two big men have made it work in the NBA. I just don’t think these two guys can play together, especially if Asik is reluctant. I also don’t think you can bring Asik off the bench because he’s too good to be a bench player in the NBA. I also don’t understand why we’re suddenly hearing people say “Well Dwight’s not really a center he’s only like 6-9. He needs to play with a big man.” Um, what? Dwight has always been regarded as a center. Always. Don’t tell me he needs a big man now.
2. Cavaliers draft Anthony Bennett – I’m not really of the school of thought that says “draft the best guy available rather than drafting to meet team needs”. I get that Bennett could be really good, but I just don’t get how he fits with the Cavaliers. Offensively they could pose problems for teams, but how are they going to defend if he plays the 3 and Tristan Thompson is at the 4? If they wanted a small forward, why didn’t they draft one of the few sure things in the draft, Otto Porter? I guess we’ll see.
3. Celtics possibly staying too good – If the Celtics have a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Jared Sullinger, with Gerald Wallace and Kelly Olynk on the bench, they won’t get Andrew Wiggins. Or Jabari Parker. Or maybe a lottery pick at all. They might be too good. I love Rajon Rondo, but I think trading him, along with Gerald Wallace and his contract, would be the best bet for a franchise that is clearly gearing up for the long term with young talent and oodles of draft picks.
4. Whatever the Lakers do – They will manage to mess up the potential that they have to be really good post-Kobe by trying to be good now. They might also bank on acquiring LeBron next summer, which is a waste of time, and they might try to get Melo, which would be an even bigger waste of time. They’re in trouble.
5. Bobcats sign Al Jefferson – Honestly, what would one more year of being terrible have meant? With lottery pick after lottery pick, the Bobcats have acquired a number of young talents in the past few years who could become future stars. Additionally, those players have gotten playing time right away and the chance to improve. AND, they have the luxury, with this many years of badness, to weed out the guys who won’t make it and keep the guys who can help them win. THEN, in 2014, they draft one of the can’t-miss guys in a loaded draft class. That guy, along with the guys that they determined have a bright NBA future, form a strong core of young players. And then the final move: they use the cap space they have cleared up over the years by letting go the young players that don’t work out, losing any bad contracts, and not signing guys like Al Jefferson to sign a guy like Al Jefferson (or even better!). Then a starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Andrew Wiggins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, and Chris Bosh/Andrew Bogut/DeMarcus Cousins plays together, improves, adds more depth, makes good trades, and becomes a relevant franchise! But now they’re going to win too many games and Michael Jordan will mess up whatever draft pick they do get because all the can’t miss guys are gone.
And another thing…. I’m first in line to sign Greg Oden if I’m the Miami Heat. Whatever resources I have left would be used to do so.
Good Times at Goodison
I’m really (really) excited about this upcoming season in the English Premier League. My first year of Everton fandom was a great experience, and although I was disappointed to see David Moyes take the Manchester United job, I’m optimistic about Roberto Martinez. During the July transfer window he has brought in a number of additions, including players he coached at FA Cup-winning Wigan (how that happened we’ll never know) and a fledgling striker from Barcelona (anyone good enough to be a part of that organization has to be worth having). Thankfully Martinez and Bill Kenwright have resisted offers for star defender Leighton Baines, and I hope that they remain strong and deny Moyes a reunion with his world-class player. If Marouane Fellaini, the Toffies only other legitimate star, leaves in a transfer I think Everton will be just fine. With Mirallas healthy, the newest arrivals, and a return to form from Nikita Jelavic, the (slightly) overrated Belgian goal-scorer will be replaced. Thank you NBC for bringing the EPL to my television.
Changes in the SneakGoodSportsWorld?
So I haven’t done a Saturday List all summer. Well I did one ridiculous article that was the equivalent of like 10 Saturday Lists, so give me a pass. However I will work on trying to be more consistent with the lists. Even though I felt like I would write more this summer, it turns out that this has been, in a way, an off-season of my own. This school year, besides writing for my school newspaper, I plan on having a weekly radio show on the school radio network. This can be streamed online. So the blog and the show will work together in a SneakyGoodSymbiosis. AND I’m going to start a new weekly feature. And I’m not going to tell you what that is yet. And now this post will abruptly end.
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Soli Deo Gloria