NBA > Successful Pizza Chain Owner & Developer To Purchase Atlanta Hawks

~ The Atlanta Hawks apparently can begin to start focusing on basketball again as it now appears they have handled their unstable ownership situation. The Hawks reportedly will be sold to California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Meruelo. The deal also includes Phillips Arena as well. No offical announcement has been made yet and the NBA still must approve the deal.

 Who is Alex Meruelo? A very successful owner of a pizza chain and a California based developer. Meruelo would become the first Hispanic majority owner in the NBA which is very encouraging as far as increasing diversity in the ownership in the league. The Hawks previous ownership group have already sold the Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL. The Thrashers are relocating to Winnipeg. However, the Hawks will remain in Atlanta despite Meruelo’s business investments mostly based on the west coast.

The Hawks fall in that category of a team that’s in desperate need of stability. The contract they gave Joe Johnson was questionable at best. They’ve been good enough to make the playoffs and that’s as far as they have been able to get. The fan support lately seems to come and go and that’s going to be one of Meruelo’s 1st goals, to find a way to fill up the Phillips Arena.

The Detroit Pistons Need A Coach & Lawrence Frank Is The Right Choice

~ The word at the rumor mill is that the Detroit Pistons are very close to naming Lawrence Frank as their next head coach. If this is indeed the case, the Pistons can then close the revolving door that has become their head coaching position. Frank would bring the one thing that has been missing from Detroit since their playoff-team days and that is stability.

Frank is coming off a successful one year stop in Boston as Doc Rivers lead assistant coach. I’ve followed Frank’s progression since his time in New Jersey as Byron Scott’s assistant and eventual successor as head coach when Scott was fired. Frank isn’t a high profile name, that isn’t what has secured him the respect of his coaching peers. What Frank brings to the table is a work ethic that would fit right in with the blue collar mentality of the city of Detroit. He is a defense-first coach who pays very close attention to detail.

 When the Pistons won the 2004 NBA Championship, they were a scrappy team that played as a unit. They worked hard for everything they accomplished on the court. The Pistons were about defense, work ethic, and team chemistry. Joe Dumars has struggled since then as general manager to maintain the formula that helped Detroit be a dominate team in the Eastern Conference.

 The Pistons went from Larry Brown to Flip Sanders and then from Michael Curry to John Kuester in hopes of keeping their team in the winning direction. However the idenity of the team was lost and now that the team is in a rebuilding phase, it strongly needs a coach who can provide stability on the court and in the locker room. Frank can be that guy.

 The New Jersey Nets didn’t win big with Frank as their head coach. His consistent work ethic was well respected by his players and the fans. Frank didn’t inherit the Jason Kidd who led the Nets to back to back Finals appearances under Scott. Kidd was banged up and had one foot out the door by the time Frank took over the job.

 Frank pulled the most he could out of a Nets team that much like the Pistons after their championship season in 04′, struggled to maintain a consistent roster.

 Yes, the Nets did go 0-16 in Frank’s final stretch with the Nets. The Nets by then though were not really any good and were barely watchable on television. Frank was the fall guy for that record and it should actually be viewed as a favor by the team for letting him get away from that mess.

How many coaches would go from being fired from a team that opened a season with 16 straight losses to eventually a lead assistant coach spot on a big time team like the Celtics?  It only goes to show the respect that Frank has gained throughout the league. He deserves another coaching spot to prove himself.

 The Pistons are in need of a coach that help them take the next step back to respectability. They tried the new face route with Curry and then tried to give a chance to Kuester that almost imploded their team. Lawrence Frank is not going to lose the locker room.

 Detroit also will have a revamped roster heading into their next season. They have 5 free agents and it’s safe to assume that 4 of them most likely will be elsewhere. Dumars will have to decide what to do with the 5th free agent, Tayshawn Prince. Rip Hamilton is still a prime canidate to be moved. Hamilton and Prince are the last remaining pieces from that 04′ championship team along with Ben Wallace who is on the backend of his career.

 It’s a great deal of decisions that need to be made and the Pistons have to start with the head coach. They must avoid a repeat of what happened with Kuester. Hiring Lawrence Frank would be a step in the right direction.

NBA 2K12 To Feature Three Legends On Their Cover

 ~ The NBA is coming off one of their more exciting seasons in recent history. Derrick Rose had a sensational year for the Chicago Bulls that ended up being an MVP year for him. Dirk Nowitzki erased any doubt that he is a big time NBA star when he led the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA championship. The season mainly featured the year-long storyline in Miami with Lebron James and Chris Bosh teaming up with Dywane Wade. Those are all valid choices to put on the cover of the upcoming NBA 2K12 video game. Well, the makers of the game decided to take the Hall of Fame route for the 2nd year in a row.

 Michael Jordan will return for the 2nd consecutive year to the cover of NBA 2K12 and this time he will not be alone. Fellow all-time greats Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird will also get their own covers on the video game.

 The three stars will each have his own cover with the Bird and Magic covers being made available in limited quantity at launch. Jordan will once again be the primary cover star.

 NBA2K12 is expected to be released on October 4th and just like last year it won’t have any competition from EA Sports, their next basketball game will not be out until 2012.

Shaquille O’Neal Refers To Miami As “The Big 2”

~ Shaquille O’Neal isn’t wasting anytime getting adjusted to his new career as an NBA analyst. O’Neal is going to be expected to do very in his new role for Turner Sports because he’s not afraid to tell it how he sees it. So how does Shaq see The Big 3 of the Miami Heat?

 According to O’Neal, we all might want to subtract 1 from that equation and call it The Big 2. The recently retired NBA center with four championships was on NBA-TV and while he had good things to say about Dywane Wade and LeBron James, O’Neal made no mention of Chris Bosh.

 Can we really conclude that O’Neal was wrong in his assessment of the Heat? Not really.

 Bosh came in last season with James to form the Big 3 with Wade and it didn’t take very long to figure out that the Heat were going to go as far as Wade and James took them. Bosh was quickly shifted into the role as the best 3rd option in the league and most likely that will be his role on that team going forward.

 Bosh was never apart of the post game press conferences with Wade and James which was possibly the most revealing of his role on the team.

 While O’Neal laughed off any notion that he was trying to start trouble with those comments, he was accurate in his analysis of Miami heading into next season. The thought of him and Charles Barkley in the Turner Studio at the same time commenting on games in their normally blunt manner is going to be must-see television.

 As for Miami, the bottom line will be determined by what Wade and James do on the court. Bosh will be a key to their success, just not in the high profile role of the “Big 2”.

NBA > NJ Nets Deron Williams Could Play Overseas If Lockout Continues

 ~ The NBA lockout of 2011 is full of sub-plots that could eventually steer the league towards a conclusion sooner or much later than the players, owners, and fans anticipate. Recently the option for the players to take their talents overseas during this lockout has come to the front of the line. Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets is reportedly very close to a deal to play in Turkey if a settlement has not been reached in the NBA Lockout by this fall.

 The option to go overseas to play should now begin to be looked as a serious threat now for both the owners and the union of the players. The possibility of this move could put pressure on the owners to reach a deal sooner than they want to. The league is already apparently losing major amounts of money as it is.

 As for the players, this could also work against them as well. It’s kind of hard to justify a united front at the bargaining table when some of the players are picking to go play (and get paid) elsewhere until it’s alright for them to resume making their money here.

 Williams isn’t the only player strongly considering the move. Kobe Bryant has been reported to be considering a similar move to play overseas.

This wouldn’t be a permanent relocation. Williams would almost certainly have a clause in his reported 1 year $5 million dollar contract to have an opt out as soon as the lockout ends.

 The risk Williams or any other NBA player would take with them is the chance of getting injured. Williams has guranteed money coming his way from New Jersey that would not be protected if he is injured overseas. In the case of Williams, he is headed into a potential contract year due to him being able to opt out of his deal in the summer of 2012. He’s also coming off a wrist injury that shut down his 2011 season.

 The bottom line out of all of this is that the players are looking to make sure they have cash flow coming in this fall in case the season does not start on time. At the end of the day, money talks. This could be the beginning of a whole new topic that impacts just how quickly this lockout finds a resolution.

Media > Kemba Walker Signs With Under Armour

~ Kemba Walker isn’t letting the NBA Lockout get in the way of his business off the court. The 1st round draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats recently took a major step forward towards establishing his brand by signing with Under Armour, according to CNBC. Walker becomes the first player in this year’s draft class to sign with a shoe company.

 I know what you’re thinking … why Under Armour? It would be logical to assume that Walker would be a great fit for Nike. The owner of the Bobcats happens to be Michael Jordan, Mr. Nike himself.

 Under Armour is an emerging brand though that is looking to make an impact in the basketball shoe market that is dominated by Nike. Walker’s star has been on the rise since leading the University of Connecticuit men’s basketball team to a national championship. If Walker makes a big impact early on his career, it could turn out to be a great move for him and Under Armour.

 Walker definitely joins pretty good company. Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, NFL top draft pick Cam Newton, and Mets shortstop Jose Reyes are all currently signed to promote with Under Armour.

NBA > Indiana Pacers To Offically Name Frank Vogel Head Coach & Brian Shaw as Head Assistant

 ~Interim Head Coach of the Indiana Pacers Frank Vogel will reportedly be named offically as the head coach by the team. Vogel would also receive a three-year extension on his contract. 

This move should’ve been done right after the Pacers bowed out of the playoffs this year to the Bulls in 5 games. The team played top seeded Chicago better than anyone could have expected. I can understand a team  needing to do it’s proper due dillegence before making a permanent move such as this. However,Vogel looked as if he had the pulse of the team and the uncertainty brought on by the NBA Lockout made it all the more important for a young team like Indiana to get as stable as they can right away.

 The Pacers are also going to add to Vogel’s staff by adding on Brian Shaw according to multiple sources. Shaw was the long-term head assistant to Phil Jackson with the Lakers. He was expected by many (myself included) to be their next head coach. The Lakers went in another direction entirely by bringing in former Cav’s coach Mike Brown. How that works out remains to be seen, for Shaw though Indiana would be a pretty good landing spot for him.

 If the Pacers struggle to the point where they have to make a coaching move, it could open the door to Shaw that he had closed on him in Los Angeles.

The NBA Lockout: A Price To Play … At What Cost?

~ The NBA scene has taken a turn for the expected worst. The league offically is in a lockout phase as a result of the owners and players being unable to come to a mutual agreement on what matters most in professional sports, the money.

Paying attention to what’s been going on in the NFL with their lockout (currently over 100 days and counting), the writing is clearly on the wall for NBA fans to prepare themselves to be without basketball for a long time to come.

 It was optimistic to think that the NFL lockout would be over by summertime. Optimism only gets you so far in this world before reality takes over. In this case, optimism has me believing the NBA will start it’s new season on time in the fall. Reality is looking at me with one hell of a side-eye right now.

 The theme to lock in on is the same as with the NFL, there is money on the table that needs to be divided up a lot better than it has been lately. Small-market teams need to be able to compete financially with the big-market teams in order to keep pace on the basketball court.

 While the NFL team owners have been making money, the owners in the NBA are claiming major financial losses. Reportedly, 22 of the 30 teams in the league lost money this past season. As for the players, they want a bigger piece of the revenue pie. Clearly, the system that was in place is not beneficial to either side right now.

 The fans are only left to wonder now how long this will take to get resolved. That’s not what the NBA wants to happen following one of their most exciting seasons in recent history. One thing that is evident is that the NBA can’t continue to lose a reported $300 million dollars. As long as that is the case, the owners are going to draw just as hard a line in the sand as the players have. This is going to last awhile.

 The end result will eventually be a reality check paid to both sides as we get closer to the start of the season. The threat of lost games is a major card that’s played in negotiations. It does not get played until the very end in most scenarios. It’s like the Joker or Ace of Spades card that we hold onto until we absolutely have to play them to win a hand in a Spades card game.

 Eventually, both sides will be forced to play their cards. It’s either that or jeopardize the momentum that has pulled in fan support. The NBA is coming off a very strong season with captivating storylines. The longer this drags on, the greater the risk of alienating the fans. The fans that pay for tickets to their favorite NBA team’s games, purchases their favorite team’s merchandise, and logs on to their favorite team’s website.

This league is global now and it’s expected that every few years, money and entitlement is going to become an issue of division. However it’s also expected that with everyday spent fighting over that money, the growing fear of losing even more money changes optimism into reality.

 It’s not a matter of will we see the NBA season start on time, it’s at what price will see it start on time.

NBA Draft > They Are Who We Thought They Were … Right? (Draft Recap)

~ I’m not really sure what to make of how the 2011 NBA Draft panned out for all of the teams. Overall, this is going to be a very tough draft class to grade over the next couple of seasons. There was no clear-cut no brainers for selections. The case can be made that the number 1 pick could have been someone different.

 The draft board held up to form for the first 3 picks and then it became a matter of who’s the best available and what trades can be made. A handful of teams drafted pretty well, just not who many expected.

 The Top 3

 Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, and Enes Kanter were the top 3 on the board and respectively went in that order. Cleveland gets their point guard of the future in Irving. Minnesota gets a talented scorer to pair with Ricky Rubio, and Utah gets the top big man on the board in Kanter.

 Any one of these 3 could have went number 1 in the draft so the Cav’s, T-Wolves, and Jazz should feel good about their choices.

 Kanter was the wild card on the board, his stock rose leading up to the draft. Once he was selected, that’s when the complexion of the draft began to change.

 Cleveland not only had the number 1 pick, they had the number 4 pick as well. Two picks in the top 5 normally has a pretty good outcome. However this was not a strong draft class and that made for slim pickings, even at the top of the board.

 The Cav’s took Tristan Thompson at 4 and that was a bit of a surprise and maybe even a reach. I would’ve liked to have seen the Cav’s make a strong push to use their 4th pick to move up 1 or 2 more spots to grab Kanter or Williams to go along with Irving. That by far would’ve made for a great draft night. However, Irving is still a great pick at 1 and will be marketed big time by the team.

 Minnesota took Derrick Williams at 2 and then the rest of their picks (mostly foreign players who may or may not make it to the league) left plenty of room for criticism. The Timberwolves need a lot of work and it’s safe to say that they may need more than Cleveland at this point. (at least the Cav’s have stability at their head coaching spot) Focus on the good though … Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio are in place, now we get to see if Minnesota can properly build around them.

 Utah had a pretty good draft, addressing needs in the backcourt and frontcourt. Kanter was a great pick for them, and Alec Burks at number 12 will help with depth at the guard position.

 All 3 of these teams addressed needs they had and took advantage of their positioning.

 Kemba, Jimmer, and … Brandon Knight

 Once the top 3 were off the board, there really wasn’t much juice left in this draft with the exception of where Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were going to end up. It took for Brandon Knight to be taken by Detroit to help set the wheels in motion.

 The talk on the board was that if Knight slipped out of the top 5, it would push both Walker and Fredette down as well. Knight ended up slipping and Detroit was smart to take him. He’s a solid point guard that will help trigger the Pistons rebuilding job. There is a logjam in their backcourt with Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, and Rip Hamilton. Two of those three are most likely going to be moved.

Walker ends up in Charlotte and he’ll get his chance to be the man there. Michael Jordan’s executive moves have always been up for debate, this year he drafted pretty well. Walker has floor general written all over him.

Jimmer Time goes to Sacramento and I think that’s the perfect landing spot for Fredette. The Kings are offensive team that is going to put points up. It’s also the only way they are going to draw attendance next season at a time where they are trying to keep from relocating the franchise. Fredette does not have to focus on being a full time point guard there. He’ll need to defend more than he ever did in college. However let’s be clear here, Fredette will be on the court to shoot the ball and score. Anything else that comes along with that is a huge bonus for Sacramento.

 

TO CHECK OUT THE ENTIRE DRAFT BOARD, CLICK HERE 

Trade Central 

The trade rumors had as strong a buzz as the draft prospects, arguably stronger. Indiana and San Antonio used the draft to trade for opposite reasons. The Spurs picked up prospects that may help with their pending rebuilding project. Tony Parker is currently still a Spur. However, George Hill is on his way to Indiana. The Pacers were a playoff team last season, so this move made more sense for them.

Jimmer and Kemba were acquired through the help of draft day trades. Charlotte picked up Walker and Big Man project Bismack Biyombo (coolest name in draft). It cost them Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston, who now head to Milwaukee. The same deal also involved Sacramento which helped them land Jimmer and reacquire John Salmons from the Bucks.

The trade I liked the most involved the new world champion Dallas Mavericks in a 3 team deal with Portland and Denver. The Mav’s came away with point guard Rudy Fernandez from Portland. He’s a great fit for a team that is built to win more in the short term. Portland also swapped Andre Miller to Denver for Raymond Felton. All 3 teams also came away with potential players from the draft as well.

Overall, this draft class is not expected to be one of the more memorable ones. However, that’s the beauty of sports. Projections and Predictions at the end of the day are just exactly that.

Welcome To The 2011 NBA Draft: The REAL NBA Trade Deadline

 ~ This year’s NBA Draft does not have the potential star power of the 1996 class that brought in Iverson, Kobe, Marbury, and Allen. There is no LeBron, Melo or D. Wade coming out of this class. It’s low on star power, lower on overall potential talent and despite all of that, the 2011 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing drafts of recent memory.

 The reasoning behind all of that may have to do with the legal troubles surrounding the NBA which could eventually lead to a lockout. A work stoppage is the last thing the league wants. However much like the NFL lockout, it’s looking inevitable.

 With a pending lockout overshadowing the league, this year’s draft has become more of a spotlight for NBA players who could be put on the market to be traded. The teams need to get their salary cap situations under control now as much as they can before a lockout happens.

 Operating under that kind of thought process has opened the door to enough trade rumors to almost drown out any buzz surrounding this year’s draft.

 Look at some of the names that potentially could be relocating:

* Tony Parker was reportedly on the trade market in 2010 and he’s back on it now apparently. Toronto and Sacramento have both inquired about his availability. They also have the numbers 5 and 7 picks respectively. 

 The Spurs are clearly in a position now where they have to rebuild an aging team. Parker is the one out of their core 3 that has the most trade value. San Antonio is said to be looking to get a top 10 draft pick in return. Perhaps to get a shot at Washington State’s sharpshooter guard Klay Thompson.

 

* Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, and Monta Ellis have all been thrown into the mix as players who could be on the move. Their respective teams have all been preparing trade scenarios that include picks from this year’s draft.

 

This past season reflected a transition in the league. Oklahoma City and Chicago took big steps forward and even though Miami came up two games short of a NBA title, they’ll be back next season perhaps even stronger. This year teams are not only looking to get into a better position financially with this draft, they are also looking to get younger and more athletic.

 

 

 The draft this year does have potential storylines that involve the players who are eligible.

 Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are expected to go numbers 1 and 2. Minnesota has been apparently listening to trade offers for the number 2 pick and while Cleveland is expected to take Irving at number 1, what they do with their number 4 pick is just as much a mystery and could impact their decision to take Irving.

 The true drama (if there is any) starts at the number 3 spot with the Utah Jazz. If they take the top big man Enes Kanter or point guard Brandon Knight. Teams are trying to get high enough in the draft through trades to perhaps grab Kanter. Once he comes off the board, it could open the door to an array of trades and surprise picks.

 

What started out as a draft class projected to be one of the weaker ones in recent history has now turned into must see television all of a sudden.

 One thing is for certain is that with a lockout about to happen that could put off free agency over the summer, teams are going the trade route to help shape their rosters. What better platform is left than the NBA Draft to serve as the newest trade deadline.

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