Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday 06/27 (Rubio) Quickie

Just a couple of the things that make this Ricky Rubio situation a huge snafu, as rumors swirl that the Knicks are trying to pry him from the clueless T'wolves:

*As for Rubio to the Knicks, can someone explain to me what a team with sights on LeBron James needs with a pass-first/can't-shoot point guard? How does THAT make sense? And why would Rubio want to play with a guy who needs the ball in HIS hands to be dominating?

*I know the Knicks didn't know Rubio could be had at 5, but why didn't they trade Wilson Chandler to the Wizards for the 5th pick, which was an easy deal to make?

*If the Knicks want Rubio, why would they balk at giving the T'wolves WHOEVER -- let's say Chandler? (Would the T'wolves really want David Lee? Hope not: He plays the same position as Love/Jefferson -- and 2/3 of the rest of the T'wolves roster.)

*One more time: How stupid is T'wolves GM David Kahn? The truly ridiculous part is that even without Jonny Flynn, you get the sense that Rubio wouldn't play for Minnesota. Nice scouting!

(The no-show at the T'wolves rookie press conference was simply the insult added to injury.)

*No, the Wizards did NOT "screw up" by "missing out" on Rubio -- they have a 2 or 3 year window to compete for a title; Rubio would not help that as much as Foye and Miller. (Please see my "Two NBAs" post from a few days ago.)

-- D.S.

UPDATE: Saw a rumor that the Rockets are pursuing Rubio -- which makes a lot more sense; unlike the Knicks with LeBron, the Rockets can use a traditional pass-first point guard. They could also offer a compelling package of Aaron Brooks (scoring off the bench), Shane Battier (who fits perfectly as a veteran "glue-guy" SF for Minnesota) and I would add Carl Landry...if the T'wolves didn't already have 10 power forwards.

Friday, June 26, 2009

On Michael Jackson

I have mostly steered clear of Michael Jackson coverage, particularly on TV -- last night, I watched the NBA Draft instead. I already mentioned that the first concert I ever went to was "Victory."

I was 9 when the "Thriller" album came out, and I probably don't fully grasp the way it ingrained on my cultural DNA, except to note that really really really big things that happen when you are 9 or 10 or 11 tend to leave an impact.

Is it the greatest album ever? Maybe. I'm biased because of who/where/when I was when it came out. Is Jackson the greatest pop star of all time? Maybe. It is impossible to personally remember the mid-80s and reconcile that with what Jackson had become over the last 20 years.

I don't have a point, except that I found this post by Joe Posnanski and this post by Andrew Sullivan -- which couldn't be more different, by the way -- to be among the best analysis out there.

-- D.S.

The Future Head Coach of the Patriots,
Urban Meyer on the Spread in the NFL

A very very good, detailed interview with Urban Meyer about the spread of the spread offense into the NFL. (And here's a sidebar with more on the spread in the NFL.)

BTW: Read between the lines, friends! Does nothing but support my exclusive theory that Meyer is the next head coach of the New England Patriots, whenever Belichick decides he wants to retire.

-- D.S.

Friday 06/26 A.M. Quickie:
Draft Hangover, Rubio, Blair, Carter, More

As everyone else is doing it: The first ever concert I went to? Jackson 5 "Victory" tour.

Tons in today's SN column, with some final analysis from last night's NBA Draft. I'll pick up some highlights here:

*What were the T'wolves thinking? Ricky Rubio doesn't want to play for them. Maybe they're thinking trade, which is the only reason they would then draft Jonny Flynn.

(Here's the thing -- what could the Knicks possibly offer the T'wolves that would return anything approaching the value of Rubio? David Lee: Another power forward? Nate Robinson? They just got Jonny Flynn. Wilson Chandler? Hardly a fair deal. I think Minnesota is stuck.)

*Jonny Flynn will be the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year. He will start from Day 1, with tons of minutes and shots, plus assists to Love/Jefferson. The T'wolves should have gone Flynn/Curry.

*DeJuan Blair: If you followed the Twitter feed last night, you know that I was flabbergasted by Blair's drop into the 2nd round (past my Wiz, damn). The Spurs made the best pick of the draft.

*I think James Harden was the most solid pick -- the best pick -- for the Thunder, who can pair him with Westbrook in a long, active backcourt. Harden can't shoot the 3? So what: Durant can.

*I am not a Knicks fan, but I was bummed Stephen Curry didn't end up in New York. Golden State or Phoenix, it's just not the same as if he had played in the Garden.

*Terrence Williams is in an intriguing situation: Vince Carter is gone, so about 20 shots and starter's minutes are available to split with Courtney Lee. Williams-Harris in the backcourt is kind of awesome to think about.

*Here's a sleeper: Toney Douglas, who will thrive in Mike D'Antoni's system -- I thought of him as Arenas-Lite, but maybe he plays the Barbosa role for the Knicks. Or the Nate Robinson role, actually -- New York can let Robinson go, now.

*Don't cry for Jrue Holiday -- the last guy left in the Green Room. He goes to a young playoff team that has a need for precisely his skills.

*That Tyler Hansbrough would get jeered by the Garden crowd was inevitable. It wouldn't be so inviting if he hadn't spend Draft season promoting his inferiority complex about the NBA.

(By the way, UNC ruled: 3 1st-rounders and a 2nd. And that doesn't even count Ed Davis, who will be a Top 5 pick next year, and Deon Thompson, who will be a 1st-rounder, too. That's 6 NBA draftees off last year's title team; well, no duh they won it all. Perhaps I should have considered that.)

*Brandon Jennings was a douche to skip the Green Room because he was worried he would be the last guy there -- that's more of a red flag than anything else I have seen/heard/read about him. But he has a sense of showmanship by showing up at the Garden for his handshake. As the first prep-to-Euro, he HAD to do that.

(By the way, so much for Jennings being punished for going to Europe -- he wouldn't have gone higher than 10th if he had played for Arizona a year ago. If anything, his stock would have dipped.)

If you missed all my Twitter rantings, you can find them here.

Complete column here, with more on the draft. More on Vince Carter. More on Michael Jackson.

If you didn't see my newest unifying theory of the NBA, it's in the post directly below.

-- D.S.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shanoff's Draft Fashion Report
Draft's Best In Show, Through The Years

My annual NBA Draft Fashion Report was always one of my favorite columns for's Page 2. A couple years, it got picked up by's then-partner and it got a TON of page views. Talk about finding/filling a niche.... Through the years:

2001 (Best in Show: Tony Parker)
2002 (Jay Williams)
2003 (LeBron James)
2004 (Shaun Livingston)
2005 (Marvin Williams)
2006 (Tyrus Thomas)
2007 (HCIC guest-blog here!)
2008 (OJ Mayo, mention in SN column)

-- D.S.

Last Pre-Draft Thought: The Two NBAs

I wanted to give this more considered thought -- and I will -- and I especially hate putting up a post after 5, but this Vince Carter/Magic trade inspired me to get something out now, and it's something I've talked about before:

There are two NBAs.

In one NBA, there are teams playing for a championship THIS COMING SEASON. The list isn't very long. I count 9 teams that play in this NBA: Lakers, Spurs, Rockets, Mavs, Nuggets, Magic, Celtics, Cavs, Wizards.

In the other NBA, there is everyone else -- with basically zero interest in competing for a championship THIS coming season. Maybe a few years down the line. But not now. Right now, they couldn't care less whether they win 70 games or lose 70 games, make or miss the playoffs. That league has 21 teams in it.

For those teams, tonight is a big night, because it is the night they get to affirm that they are TRYING to get better -- but, please, don't have any real expectations just yet. Maybe a year from now. Maybe 5 years from now. But not next season. Patience.

I am not assigning a judgment to either: Frankly, the Knicks' biggest mistake all those years was thinking that their fans would actually mind a few rebuilding years in the service of the Long-Term. There is something oddly comforting about Rebuilding: It's hope.

Those 9 teams competing for a championship RIGHT NOW put a lot more on the line -- anything less than a title is a failure. That's some high-stakes action right there.

For the 21 teams playing intramurals, the title is an abstraction -- something they are, never fear, Building Towards. Wins, losses: These things don't really matter.

In trading for Shaq, the Cavs are trying to Win Now. In trading for Vince Carter, the Magic are trying to Win Now. In trading the 5th pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye, the Wizards are trying to Win Now. In trading away their 1st-round pick for cash, the Lakers are trying to Win Now.

The gap between these two groups is far more stark than most people recognize. It is, literally, like there are two different leagues -- yet they intermingle, both sides with diametrically different motivations.

Big trades aside, tonight is about the Other NBA -- the one where competing in the upcoming season isn't in the Plan at all.

Enjoy the draft! I'll be pinging away on Twitter all night.

-- D.S.

Looking Ahead to the 2010 Draft

Consider that the Thunder owns Phoenix's 2010 1st-round pick, unconditionally. Now consider that both Oklahoma City and the Suns will be high-lottery teams.

So in addition to Durant, Green and Westbrook -- plus the guard of their choice (Rubio, Curry, Evans, Harden) that they grab tonight -- they get what will likely be TWO Top 10 picks in 2010:

John Wall and Ed Davis? Willie Warren and Derrick Favors? Oklahoma City is not only the linchpin of the 2009 Draft, but also the power-players next year, too.

It's good to be Sam Presti.

-- D.S.

Dan Shanoff 2009 NBA Mock Draft

1. Clippers: Blake Griffin
Solid, but -- honestly -- anyone care?
2. Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet
Shouldn't have wasted pick on Conley.
3. Thunder: Ricky Rubio
Unless they trade Rubio to the Knicks for David Lee.
4. Kings: Tyreke Evans Jonny Flynn
Terrific new face of the franchise.
5. T'wolves: Stephen Curry
Unique: Safe talent, yet huge cachet.
6. T'wolves: Tyreke Evans
Great pairing with Curry.
7. Warriors: DeMar DeRozan James Harden
Ellis-Harden makes for terrific young backcourt.
8. Knicks: Jonny Flynn Jordan Hill
Size to replace inevitably departing Lee.
9. Raptors: Jordan Hill DeMar DeRozan
High upside to offset inevitable departure of Bosh.
10. Bucks: Brandon Jennings Jrue Holiday
Remade team could use the sizzle.
11. Nets: Terrence Williams Tyler Hansbrough
I don't see it, but college hoops TV analysts will love.
12. Bobcats: James Johnson
Saw him up close at Wake Forest.
13. Pacers: Jrue Holiday Ty Lawson
Lawson over Jennings: Ooh, the symbolism.
14. Suns: Sam Young Terrence Williams
Versatile and athletic.
15. Pistons: BJ Mullens
With Amir Johnson out, a new young big.
16. Bulls: Gerald Henderson DeJuan Blair
Beef to complement skinny Noah and Thomas up front.
17. Sixers: DeJuan Blair Gerald Henderson
Can't resist Philly star, despite overlap with Iguodala.
18. T'wolves: Tyler Hansbrough Sam Young
Sleeper stud of the draft.
19. Hawks: Earl Clark
Another positionless forward? Why not!
20. Jazz: Eric Maynor
Sloan loves the old-school winners.
21. Hornets: Wayne Ellington
CP3 drives...and dishes here for 3.
22. Blazers: Omri Casspi
Per Ziller, stolen from Sacto?
23. Kings: Austin Daye
Needs time to develop; Kings have it.
24. Mavs (from Blazers): Brandon Jennings
Can't believe he dropped this far.
25. Thunder: Nick Calathes
Stats, size, plus he can develop for a year in Europe.
26. Bulls: Jeff Teague
Sort of like a poor man's Hinrich.
27. Grizzlies: Jonas Jerebko
"Wait: We want a Euro, too!"
28. T'wolves: Chase Budinger
No good, but will be fan favorite for hops.
29. Lakers: Darren Collison
Love their PGs from UCLA.
30. Cavs: Taj Gibson
6 more fouls on Dwight Howard

2012 Is The New 2010:
Kevin Durant Is New LeBron
Oklahoma City Is The New Cleveland

Everyone is so focused on the Shaq-Cavs deal -- for good reason: The Cavs have one year left to make a run at the title before LeBron bolts for New York.

(Don't think that the Cavs "investing" in the team through Shaq will keep LeBron around after next season -- like Shaq will be useful after a title run next year?)

Anyway, it strikes me as strange that we started talking about "LeBron 2010" at least 2 years ago. It will peak roughly one year from today.

So doesn't it seem about time to start talking about the next great transcendent Free Agent of the Century move -- Kevin Durant's free agency in 2012? (Sorry, Thunder fans: You're up next.)

As a Wizards fan, I would like to see the team take three cracks at competing for a title over the next three years, then clear the cap room for 2012 to rebuild around Durant, a D.C. native.

What: Too early?

-- D.S.

Thursday 06/25 A.M. Quickie:
Draft, Rubio, Shaq, US Soccer, More

My Mock Draft -- which had to be tweaked a few times overnight -- will be up at noon.

It can be a down draft year, but I still think the day of the NBA Draft is one of my favorite sports days of the year. Misdirection, right up 'til the end.

I lead today's SN column with the Top 5 draft storylines:

(1) Where does Rubio go? Oklahoma City: Really? (Or the Knicks, in a sign-n-trade for Lee?)

(2) How far does Brandon Jennings fall -- and how much schadenfreude from the ESPN analysts?

(3) How high does Tyler Hansbrough go? Maybe even to New Jersey at No. 11?

(4) What does Minnesota's new backcourt look like tomorrow: Curry-Harden? Curry-Evans?

(5) Who will win my coveted "Best Dressed" award?

Meanwhile, what does Shaq's trade to the Cavs mean? It means the LeBron marketing juggernaut just got bigger. It means that the Cavs are going for broke next year. It means that the two biggest stars in the league are on one team. But it does NOT mean the Cavs beat the Magic. Dwight Howard will embarrass Shaq, and the Cavs still have no one to stop Lewis.

(Shaq heard about his trade to Cleveland through Twitter. Funny: So did I.)

USA Soccer: Amazing. Seriously, one of the most amazing results for a US national team -- in any sport -- ever. I discount it only slightly because it did not happen in a World Cup. But beating the No. 1 team in the world is no joke.

Congrats to LSU baseball.

Honestly, I am too excited about the draft to post more right now. Check out the complete column here. More later, almost all about the draft.

Probably no live-blog tonight, but certainly running comments on Twitter, which should be exploding tonight during the Draft.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More on Nick Calathes via Pelton

"Calathes looks like a steal anywhere after the Lottery." -- I'm a huge Kevin Pelton fan, and I know he just reports where the data takes him (an approach I value and appreciate).

But I just don't see Calathes's NBA productivity as he lays it out. And, remember, I'm a huge Florida hoops fan. I would, by nature, usually see their players in the most positive light possible.

(My track record is somewhat spotty: I thought David Lee would be a great pro. I thought Marreese Speights would not. I thought Horford would be great -- Noah and Brewer, too.)

I love these comps, by the way. They certainly have more analytical rigor than the vaguely racist "eyeball" comparison that most fans/media engage in.

-- D.S.

2009 NBA Draft Studs and Busts (and Mehs)

We all watch a lot of college hoops. We are pretty versed in NBA team needs -- plus the situation a rookie would come into (complementing talent, system, etc). And we have all read the scuttlebutt from draft season -- the mocks, the workout gossip, the misdirection. The result?

A completely not-quite-baseless evaluation of which 1st-round-ish NBA Draft prospects will succeed in the NBA, which will bust and which simply don't inspire much of anything, roughly listed in order of their consensus draft placement...

Tyreke Evans: Best combo of "ready now" + "upside"
Stephen Curry: Top 10 NBA shooter, already.
Jonny Flynn: Speedy and athletic, with personality
Brandon Jennings: Best experience in draft of any US player
Terrence Williams: Weird, versatile, valuable
Eric Maynor: This year's Mario Chalmers
Sam Young: THE hot sleeper
DeJuan Blair
: Better Paul Millsap
Omri Casspi: Move over, Jordan Farmar
Toney Douglas: Single-handedly burnt UNC; Arenas-lite?
DaJuan Summers: 2nd-round steal

Hasheem Thabeet: OK, so he blocks shots...and?
James Harden: Shooting guard who can't shoot
Jordan Hill: Still-developing big? Sign me up!
BJ Mullens: Kosta Koufos 2.0
Jeff Teague: Poor man's Mike James. Not a compliment.
Ty Lawson: So NBA-worthy, couldn't make it a year ago.
Chase Budinger: Wasn't good last year, not good now
Austin Daye: Prototype length, but weaker than me
Nick Calathes: Too big to guard 1s, too slow to guard 2s.

Blake Griffin: Stuck on Clips. Can't shoot. (And can't play D.)
Ricky Rubio: Not strong enough. Can't shoot.
DeMar DeRozan: Gerald Green or T-Mac? Does it matter?
Jrue Holiday: Needs right fit. Can't shoot.
Tyler Hansbrough: But a better NBA career than Lawson!
James Johnson: Lost among higher-profile PFs
Gerald Henderson: Hey, aren't you Wayne Ellington?
Wayne Ellington: Hey, aren't you Gerald Henderson?
Earl Clark: Only one L'ville positionless wonder will thrive.

Add your own prospects you think will Thrive, Bust or Uninspire.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 06/24 A.M. Quickie:
T'wolves, Wizards, Favre, Manny, Spain

So I sort of feel like the T'wolves-Wizards trade officially started the NBA Draft. Perhaps that's because the Wizards are my NBA team, so I inflate anything that happens with them.

As a Wiz fan, I have a few thoughts:

(1) Yes, I'm disappointed to give up the 5 pick, because I was excited to have either Stephen Curry or Tyreke Evans -- either better than Randy Foye (and Curry an even better shooter than Mike Miller).

(2) But I am enthusiastic about unloading some bad contracts, including Etan Thomas. A little bummed about losing Songaila, but that guy's back problems made him half a player.

(3) I like Foye's ability as a combo guard off the bench, either playing off Arenas or off Miller. Not sure what it means for Crittenton (or Mike James, who will hopefull be unloaded).

(4) Obviously, I am happy to have Mike Miller -- even though his time as a Gator preceded my fandom by two years.

(5) I think Ernie Grunfeld has earned the cred to believe in the benefit of the deal for the Wiz.

(6) I love this deal for the T'wolves, as I lead in today's SN column, who can now parlay the 5/6 picks into either (a) the No. 2 pick (don't do it), or (b) a brand-new backcourt of, say, Curry and Evans, which would be sick.

(And if new GM David Kahn wants to make a splash, he would pick both at the same time, having them come up to the podium together, as the new faces of the franchise.)

It also signals that the heavy trading action that everyone is expecting is likely to continue. (How about that rumor that the Celtics were shopping Rondo for Gay/Conley from Memphis? I think the Celtics realize that Rondo will bolt in 2010, because so many teams will have massive cap room to over-spend on him when they inevitably don't get LeBron/Wade/Bosh.)

Otherwise, it's a pretty packed column today:

*Favre's return confirmed? How many media outlets will follow Florio and PFT's lead? You would think they would be racing to jump on this, but it's almost like they are not, just to spite PFT.

*A triple-jump of MLB PED stories:

(1) Manny cheered in return (once more: fans don't care about PEDs like the sensationalizing media.

(2) Speaking of which, the Chicago BBWAA posse is going to talk about how to handle Steroid Era players -- oh, THAT won't be a clusterf--- or anything. Wonder if they will open the discussion to the public?

(3) Ryne Sandberg doesn't think Sammy Sosa is HOF-worthy. Now, Sandberg is probably my favorite baseball player ever -- he was my favorite player growing up, certainly. I appreciate his POV, but it is ridiculous to try to draw lines here, especially when every modern player in the Hall took enough now-banned amphetamines (or amphetamine-like substances) to make the whole thing way too hazy.

Complete column here, with lots more. More coming later today, including my list of 2009 NBA Draftees who will rule, who will be busts and who simply make me say "meh."

-- D.S.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday 06/23 A.M. Quickie:
Linking Brett Favre to Jon & Kate Plus 8

Jon & Kate Gosselin are like America's royalty. That was painful to consider, let alone write.

Their TV show attracts insane volumes of viewers. Their presence on covers sells magazines like no celebrity out there. Their names dominate Google searches. This is simply the reality.

And, so, with last night's "big announcement" (divorce), there was no way I wasn't going to find a way to link Jon & Kate to sports in today's SN column.

Good thing Brett Favre makes it so easy: Because he is the Jon & Kate of sports -- you loathe them for the media whoredom, yet you can't look away. Non-news becomes news.

And just as the divorce was obvious, so is Favre's return to the NFL with the Vikings.

There you have it: Who's the PV-monger now, Brett/Jon/Kate? This guy.

More in today's column:
*Snooziest. US Open champ. Ever.
*Loving Pitt's Sam Young as NBA Draft gem.
*Ahh, if only anyone actually liked college baseball.
*Yes, Manny Being Minors, but how about the Rox?
*Know the Name: Aaron Shutway.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, June 22, 2009 Adds Huffington Post

I think there was talk about this a month or so ago, but ESPN formalized its relationship with Huffington Post for their Chicago coverage. Gives HuffPo some quality sports coverage for their Chicago site, and gives more distribution/awareness for their content. Sounds like HuffPo Chicago will get content on, too. Win-win.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: I was thinking too locally, perhaps. The much bigger announcement is that ESPN got the rights to broadcast The Premiership (in the UK, no less) and La Liga.

Tyler Hansbrough: Top 10 Pick? (Really?)

I have never been particularly high on Tyler Hansbrough's NBA potential. At best, I saw him as an "energy" guy, off the bench. The next coming of Paul Millsap, if he's lucky. That's not a terrible role, by the way -- see Millsap's pending fat new contract. And, if Shane Battier and the new world of statistics in the NBA are any indicator, seemingly weak "glue guys" can be very valuable.

Then you read about this workout he had for the Hawks, which left the Hawks glowing -- or, at least, saying they were glowing. You have to take this with a grain -- if a team that likes Hansbrough is picking behind Atlanta and thinks the Hawks might take him, they might be willing/forced to deal for the ability to get him earlier. I don't think anyone likes Psycho-T THAT much...

More than that, I have really not particularly liked the comparisons between Tyler Hansbrough and Tim Tebow, although -- sigh -- they are kind of appropriate. And if I keep saying that Tim Tebow will have a perfectly fine NFL career based on his absurdly strong work ethic (plus his physical tools), why shouldn't I be willing to say the same thing about Hansbrough?

Again: I think Hansbrough WILL have a fine NBA career -- perhaps not a star, but a decade in the league. He is more Millsap than Madsen, though nowhere near Carlos Boozer.

Worth a Top 10 pick? I guess it depends on your needs. Atlanta has a terrific starting post player in Al Horford -- but what playoff aspirant can't use a little energy and rebounding off the bench?

-- D.S.

Not A Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be

I am announcing the launch of my new ongoing feature "Not a Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be."

Nothing brings out the misinformation, disinformation and just plain wrong information like draft season.

Here's the thing: What's wrong with rumors? Regardless of where they come from, they are -- wait for it -- fun. Fun for fans. Fodder for sports media.

And, let's not forget, team execs and player agents traffic in rumors as their freaking job -- planting most of what's out there as a way to manipulate things to their advantage.

I loved this piece by the NYT's Howard Beck about the NBA Mock Draft scene -- it features Chad Ford (one of my favorite people in all of sports media) and Jonathan Givony (another great guy, and founder of the top NBA-draft-specific site on the Web).

The best part was the way that the draftniks totally acknowledge that mock drafts are -- wait for it -- for fun. (Imagine any of the NFL mock-drafters acknowledging anything remotely close to that -- and it diminishes the NFL draftnik's credibility to NOT admit mocks are a mockery.)

Ford and Givony's actual news-breaking (and, yes, rumor/information-spreading) is what matters. It is -- and this is not meant pejoratively at all -- fertilizer for a great draft experience for everyone.

But mock drafts are great, even vital. To consider them gospel is insane. But they have their important role in the pre-draft process. And they give us a baseline to talk about the draft.

In the end, to use a single mock draft is insane. And to combine draft positions is totally useless -- it's not a fantasy draft; each team has specific needs that aren't reflected in the uber-mocks.

No, the way to go is to read through all of the information, misinformation and disinformation, then try to tease out what is being said betwen the lines. (It would help if we knew who was feeding the draftniks their info -- is it the GM, the freelance scout, the agent, who?)

Mark Cuban had this ludicrous idea that ESPN should blacklist any blogs that traffic in faulty rumors. First of all, teams and agents do more to undermine the rumor mill than any media outlet. And the blogs are fed by the -- yes -- mainstream media, whose closer ties to the team front-office execs and agents make them more susceptible to print WHATEVER. After all, they got it "on the record." (Even if the source is unnamed.) So bloggers are hardly the problem. And even if a blogger is going to make up a rumor, isn't it the NBA reporter's DAY JOB to understand what is worth pursuing and what isn't? If they're following bad info, that's their own problem -- and their editor's. But no one ever got fired for generating page views following sketchy intel.

Anyway, back to my new feature: Not A Baseless Rumor Yet, But Should Be.

I keep reading how T'wolves GM David Kahn wants to make this big splash in the draft. I even heard he wants to try to grab the Wizards' No. 5 pick and package it with the No. 6 to move up to the Grizzlies' No. 2 spot. Now, nevermind that the 5/6 is probably better for a struggling team than the No. 2 player this year (whoever that might be), but the T'wolves want to do something dramatic. So here's a scenario (and yes, baseless!):

The T'wolves trade Kevin Love to the Wizards for the No. 5 pick -- and whatever salaries need to be moved to make it work. The T'wolves get the 5/6 combo to trade up with the Grizzlies, where they take Hasheem Thabeet. Al Jefferson gets to go back to playing PF, where he was overlapping with Kevin Love anyway. The T'wolves get their "splash."

The Wizards get a player who, among sophomores, is among the most ready to contribute to an NBA playoff contender right now. And the Wizards could use the help in the post. Oh, yeah, and Love throws the best NBA outlet pass since... well, since DC's own Wes Unseld.

With the 5th and 6th pick, the Grizzlies could take Jordan Hill -- a big active PF to pair next to Marc Gasol -- and then their pick of PGs, perhaps even Stephen Curry, who would look fantastic next to OJ Mayo (and even Mike Conley). Or Memphis could continue to trade down with teams obsessed with Hill (Dallas) or Curry (New York).

Again: Not A Baseless Rumor Yet...But Should Be!

How can you NOT love the rumor-mongering, mock-drafting, disinformation-disseminating that goes on this week?

-- D.S.

Monday 06/22 A.M. Quickie:
Barnes, Pujols, Favre, NBA Draft, More

MJD on Twitter and me in today's SN column had the same thought: There is something uniquely awesome about the weekday mid-day major sporting event -- NCAA Tournament. World Cup. Today's US Open final round. (Tennis early-rounds don't have the same cachet.)

When Tiger isn't a factor in a golf major, it really takes some special circumstances to make folks care. A weekday mid-day finish helps. So does a guy in the lead who has assumed the persona of "Hipster Golfer" -- Ricky Barnes.

Why to follow today? To see if Barnes completes his ooh-sooo-close finish. No, not to see where David Duval ends up. That guy remains unlikeable, even a decade after he last mattered.

It's a packed column today:

*Favre has ALREADY signed with the Vikings? Intriguing, if true. But does it matter, one way or the other? Everyone knows he's going to sign with them. I could "break" that story now (or next week, or last week, or last month) -- it's just a question of when I would be right.

*Albert Pujols is just so freaking spectacular. I long claimed that Manny was the best hitter of this generation, but given that he's a decade older than Pujols, maybe we need to separate them -- because if we put them head-to-head, I'll take Albert. So now it's a question of figuring out who the last player to be a better hitter than Pujols was... I'm hard-pressed to think of somone in the "modern" (post-ESPN) era. You could say A-Rod, but A-Rod juiced and -- for now -- there is no evidence that Pujols has done anything but be naturally awesome. (Oh, and don't try to wring me with that "for now" comment; that's the world we live in.)

*NBA Draft: With or without a bum shoulder, Hasheem Thabeet is at the top of my list of overrated NBA draftees. On the plus side, he has at least one NBA-valuable skill -- shot-blocking. But I'm so underwhelmed by the rest of his game. DeJuan Blair owned him, and Blair is like 6-foot-5 with an NBA-quality rump. I wouldn't make him the No. 2 pick, and I certainly wouldn't trade up to get him, no matter what my team needs were. (The bum shoulder is only a very scary sub-plot.) I guess the T'wolves could use shot-blocking, but this seems like a mistake.

By the way, it sounds like everyone is quickly getting very high on Tyreke Evans. Yesterday in my "moment-of-clarity" mock, I had him rising into the Top 5 and going to the Wizards. Now, I think he could go higher than that. Maybe No. 3 to the Thunder or No. 4 to the Kings. The Clippers won't take him and the Grizzlies don't need him. Everyone after that could use him. I might even make him my No. 1 prospect on the board, even higher than Griffin. Plus: Barack Obama loves him. How could Evans go wrong? (And I say that as someone who used to think Evans had "classic bust" written all over him. I hate the former AAU uber-stars.)

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday 06/21 (Father's Day) Quickie

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

More rain in New York today for the U.S. Open? Go figure!

Ricky Barnes: Like a parting gift on a game show, they can't take away your 36-hold Open record no matter how you finish -- presumably, he won't finish as sizzling as his start.

Kevin O'Neill to coach USC: Northwestern fans know -- O'Neill is a tireless recruiter, but sort of a Bizarro Pete Carroll -- all cursing and dourness. Get ready for defense-first basketball, too.

MLB: Weaver-vs-Weaver? Dud... I would like to nominate Ben Zobrist for the AL All-Star Team (he has been my fantasy FA pick-up of the year)... Reconstructed shoulder and all, is Josh Johnson the best pitcher in the NL this season? Maybe not better than Johan, but Top 3... If you want to see a circus, follow "Manny Being Minors"... Break up the Rockies!

NBA Draft: It came to me in a vision last night -- (1) Griffin to Clippers; (2) Rubio to Kings (via trade with Memphis); (3) Curry to Thunder; (4) Thabeet to Grizzlies (via Sacto); (5) Evans to Wizards.

(Read a rumor about the T'wolves trying to get the Wiz's 5th pick to go with Minnesota's 6th pick, so they can trade up with Memphis to No. 2. Sorry: Neither Rubio nor Thabeet are so good that they wouldn't be better than what you could get at No. 5 and No. 6 combined.)

-- D.S.