Friday, January 30, 2009

Weak in Review: Roy makes All-Star, shamockery avoided

To the surprise of absolutely no one Brandon Roy has been named by the coaches as a reserve for the upcoming All-Star Game. They obviously don't care about who the "fans" want to see. At least be thankful that there will be no Shamockery in Rip City this season. Onward!

- The Roy Gap, also known as reason number 5,679 of why the national media blows.

- ESPN on Brandon Jennings, also known as reason number 5,680 of why the national media blows.

- Petteri Koponen had a rough two weeks, then bounced back in a big way. Jubilant celebration in Finland!

- When Oden figures out how to stay aggressive defensively and not foul he will stay in the game longer. That will be a very good thing.

I wanted to hit you with some of this to get your weekend started off right, but that can't happen. (Seriously, with the disabled embedding, why?!?)

Instead I leave you with a little Rod Benson funniness and hope you find it entertaining. And if blogspot is still having trouble with the youtube embeds, I recommend you find a friend and entertain each other with some good old fashioned LARPing.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When Greg Oden plays 30 minutes or more...

Last night while the Blazers were pummeling the Bobcats the Portland broadcast crew showed an interesting line of statistics. It detailed the achievements of one Greg Oden when he played thirty minutes or more in a game, and it was pretty impressive. It was so very spectacular I figured I needed to explore what happens when Greg gets his thirty.

Oden averages 23 minutes a game. When he plays over 30 minutes in a contest, one would naturally expect an increase across the board in non-percentage stats just from the extra opportunities. Greg's increases are still impressive. He averages 4.3 more rebounds (including nearly 2 more offensive rebounds) and 5.3 more points per game. His over 30 minutes averages of 14 points and nearly 12 rebounds make me giddy. And I have to reiterate, in these games, Greg averages nearly five offensive rebounds. Look out people.

Perhaps because he gets more in a rhythm (by both more minutes and more continuous play as he usually is not in foul trouble), Oden also shoots a noticeably higher percentage from the field in his over 30 games: 59% compared with 54% on the season.

That increase makes it even more interesting that Oden shoots a lower percentage from the line with his extended burn: 60% compared with 64% on the season. Is this nothing more than statistical noise? Can we attribute it to Greg still getting his lungs and legs?

Another observation is that Greg is not blocking many more shots with his extra minutes: 1.2 compared with 1.1. This is the most enlightening of all these stats in that it shows what could be the key to Oden staying in the game for extended minutes. We all know that when Greg is not playing 30 minutes it is likely because he is in foul trouble. This stat could support the belief that he is still learning how to challenge shots without fouling. It could be that when Greg stays away from blocking as many shots, he stays in the game longer. Of course, nobody wants Oden to stop challenging, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on this as he continues to develop.

But how does Greg impact the overall team statistics? Not much. The Blazers score 2.5 less points per game when Oden gets over 30, but their opponents see a similar decrease. Field-goal percentages for the Blazers and their opponents are pretty much unchanged.

Most importantly, how are Portland's wins and losses influenced? Oden has played 30 or more minutes nine times this season and the Blazers have won six of those games. Winning at 67% is very nice, and even better when you consider that Portland is 22-14 (.61%) when Oden does not play thirty.

As Oden continues to learn how to be that aggressive defender without picking up as many fouls, we will see a rise in his minutes. I hope that he is dedicated to maintaining aggressive D, because right now it appears that when he goes for less blocks he stays in games longer and both the team and himself are rewarded. But in the long-term, an Oden that has figured out how to contend a high volume of shots without fouling will be of greatest value to the team. Go Blazers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oden & Fernandez named to All-Star rookie challenge

Rudy Fernandez will have himself a busy All-Star weekend in Phoenix. In addition to competing participating in the Dunk Contest, Rudy has been named to the Rookie squad that will take on the sophomores. The improving Greg Oden will join him.

Looking at that Rookie team roster really shows how deep the talent of the newest NBA cohort goes. Usually this team ends up with a couple garbage throw-ins to fill things out, but this year there are actually more good rookies than roster spots. The sophomore team is solid as well. Could this game turn out to be *gasp* watchable?

Petteri Koponen Watch: Coach is on to something Edition

I try not to post back-to-back Petteri Koponen entries, but there are times that call for it. After a deflating stretch of play the Blazers draftee has bounced back with his best game of the season. H.T., as always, fills us in...

It seems that Petteri Koponen didn't let two mediocre performances in Serie A linger in his head for too long. This Tuesday Virtus Bologna travelled to Istanbul to meet local team Galatasaray in the additional round of FIBA EuroChallenge Cup. Koponen overcame the difficulties of past weeks and finished with his best stat line as a professional so far: 17 points (fg 6/8), 4 assists, 4 steals and one rebound (to go with zero turnovers) in 32 minutes of play. Virtus Bologna used a 20-0 run in third and fourth quarters to run away from Galatasaray and won the game 91-104 (55-50).

For Bologna, Sharrod Ford had 17 points and five rebounds, Earl Boykins finished with 14, 7 and 8 assists and Guilherme Giovannoni had 16. Leading scorers for Galatasaray were center Huseyin Besok (27) and small forward Antonio Graves (25).

And here's Bologna coach Matteo Bonicinolli's comment about the game, courtesy of "The energy of the team to believe we can win this game was given by our younger player Koponen who is improving day-by-day and who gave the team an example of how to play this kind of game, with energy and enthusiasm."

Bologna continue their Serie A campaign this Sunday against Armani Jeans Milano at home. Next Tuesday Bologna continue FIBA EuroChallenge Cup at home against German Bundesleague team EWE Baskets Oldenburg (featuring Rickey Paulding, Jason Gardner and former Blazer Ruben Boumtje Boumtje). Oldenburg lost their first game of EuroChallenge Cup additional round at home against Ukrainian team BC Kyiv.

-The Omnipotent H.T.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Don't Watch Edition

Thanks to Finnish Superstar H.T. we have been able to keep up on Petteri Koponen's Italian experiences. There have been highs and lows for the second youngest player in Lega Serie A. The roller coaster continues...

Two weeks have passed by and things aren't looking too good for Petteri Koponen and his Italian Serie A team Virtus Bologna. A week ago, Benetton Treviso made mincemeat of their Bolognese rivals, jumping to a quick 23-11 start after first quarter and maintaining the lead until end numbers of 81-65.

Petteri Koponen played the second-highest minute amount of his team (31), but registered only 4 points (fg 1/2) to go with 2 steals and 4 turnovers. Keith Langford had 17 points and 7 rebounds, but the rest of Virtus was somewhere between mediocre and miserable, with Earl Boykins scoring 5 points (fg 1/6) and turning the ball over six times. Team shot only 26,7 % from behind the arc and 48,1 % from the free throw line while turning the ball over 21 times and losing the rebounding battle 42-33. In Petteri Koponen's defence, it has to be said that during his time on the court, Bologna only lost by five points. Gary Neal lead Treviso with 21/7 and Bobby Dixon responded with 18 points, 5 assists and 6 steals.

Last night was even worse for Bologna. Angelico Biella, one of the below average teams in Serie A, steamrolled in the second quarter and never gave up the lead, defeating Bologna in their home court 93-84 (53-41). Petteri came off the bench and played only eight minutes, finishing with 3 points (fg 1/3), one rebound and one turnover and not playing a single minute in the whole second half. Boykins was back to his normal form, scoring 18 (fg 7/11) and Guilherme Giovannoni tuned in for 16, but something is definitely going wrong for Virtus Bologna at the moment. They have dropped down to 6th spot of Serie A with nine wins in 16 games.

Reece Gaines lead Biella with 17 points. Swedish national team forward Jonas Jerebko had 16 points and 10 rebounds and James Gist finished with 16 points as well.

This Sunday, Bologna tries to snap the losing streak at home against league-eighth Armani Jeans Milano and their elite players Pape Sow, David Hawkins and newest acquisition Hollis Price.

And after a two week break, Bologna heads back to FIBA EuroChallenge Cup. The team travels to Turkey's Galatasaray to play the opening game of qualification to Elite Eight this Tuesday. Galatasaray sports a very intriguing roster, with American guards Rashid Atkins and Antonio Graves carrying most of the scoring load alongside Serbian power forward Milan Gurovic, who was voted the MVP of Polish finals last year. Another player worth mentioning is Turkish 7-1" behemoth Hüseyin Besok.

-The Notorious H.T.

Monday, January 26, 2009

ESPN reports on Brandon Jennings as if they have some sort of interest in keeping others from following his path

Which of course can't be true, because those folks are all about objective journalism.

This begins with the recent Brandon Jennings quote ESPN has been running lately about how terrible things are going for him in Italy:
“I’ve gotten paid on time once this year… They treat me like I’m a little kid. They don’t see me as a man. If you get on a good team, you might not play a lot. Some nights you’ll play a lot; some nights you won’t play at all. That’s just how it is… I don’t see too many kids doing it. It’s tough man, I’ll tell you that. It can break you.”
Here is one message you can take away from that quote:

You hear that talented high-school kids? Think you can skip out on attending an American College and earn money and professional experience while waiting until you are old enough for the NBA Draft? Ha! You won't get to play, and you probably will have trouble getting paid. Look at Jennings! Stick with the system!

At least, that is how the quote struck me. If you actually bother to read the article or report other assertions of the article (hi ESPN), you will see that it hasn't all been bad for Jennings. In that same column Jennings also states that his experiences have helped him mature. There was also this:
An N.B.A. assistant coach who has been to Europe and has watched Jennings play said his potential draft standing had not been harmed. “I think it is good for him. He was getting a defensive component that he needed. If I was a scout and I needed a point guard, I would be extremely impressed with what he has done over there.”
Oh. That. It looked shady that ESPN only reported the quote about how horrible it has been for Jennings. After all, they make a lot of money showing college basketball and logically would not want the top young talents of the country skipping that route. They need stars. They need ratings.

But as Ryan Jones at Slam Online pointed out, ESPN took some other reporting measures that may have taken their reporting from possibly questionable to nefarious:
Then came Saturday night, when I sat in the press room before the Penn State-Iowa game and saw ESPN scrolling the Jennings’ “warning” as some sort of breaking news along their bottom-line feed. This was during the broadcast of a college basketball game (Wisconsin-Illinois, I think) so it made such beautiful sense for the network of universal coach apologists like Dickie V (who I mostly like, honest) and Big Monday and everything else to run snippets of Jennings’ quotes. If you didn’t actually read the Times story, and only saw the ticker (or read the follow-up gloating of some national columnists), you’d think Jennings was on the next boat home, a miserable, apologetic prodigal son.
I was happy when Brandon Jennings first chose his post-high school path. The actions of ESPN have pushed me to be even more in favor of other American players following in his footsteps. I love college basketball too, but I love fairness even more.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Roy Gap: Will national media ever close it?

Rip City is well aware that this is Brandon Roy's team. He is the best player and leader the franchise has had in years. This is why, when he has a nice game and the Blazers win, local media coverage rightly focuses on his accomplishments.

It is important to notice that this only the local media. For all the national attention Roy has gotten this season it is hard not to notice that the major news outlets still cling to their belief that this is somehow Oden's team. Take the reporting of last night's win over the Wizards as an example. Roy had an amazing line: 22 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 turnover, and 10 friggin' steals. Oden caused some impressive destruction of his own: 18 points, 14 rebounds (a whopping 9 offensive) and 2 steals.

It was a great night for both players and the team. But while Oden's night was impressive, I think we can all readily admit that Roy's line was one of the best we've seen in the League this season. How often does a shooting-guard get 10 steals? How often does anyone?

The local coverage was in step with the specialness of Roybot. The first 11 blocks of text focus on the rarity of a player putting up such a line and the impact it had on the team. The recap then turns to the rest of the team, including Oden and how his performance is indicative of another positive step in his development.

The AP recap sees the importance of these things differently. The first nine blocks of text focus on Oden's performance. Then Brandon Roy gets two sentences of coverage, his only two sentences of coverage.

Will people outside of Portland ever figure this out? Let me make it easy: Greg Oden is important, Brandon Roy is Everything. It seems like the national media has decided who the star of this team is, all evidence to the contrary be damned. This issue may not be of critical importance, the Blazers will likely continue growing and winning no matter how the AP covers them, but it is nonetheless irksome. It kind of makes Roy finishing tenth in All-Star voting amongst Western Conference Guards make sense.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That was quite a game, Mr. Roy

I have to admit that I didn't watch the Blazers rock the Wizards tonight. I would have, but my alma mater was giving away bobble heads at their game and I am a sucker for free useless items. Go Vikings!

Anywho, it looks like I missed quite a performance by Mr. RoyBot:

Impressive, Sir. Impressive indeed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Taurean Green vs. Joel Freeland Round 1 was kind of lame

Taurean Green's team playing against Joel Freeland's team could never have really lived up to the hype that I had built up in my own mind. I understand that. Still, I was hoping this battle of the (DeceptivelyQuick) titans would have been a little more...battle-ish.

Green played 13 minutes, had three points (all free-throws, he missed his only field goal attempt) and 1 assist. Freeland played 13 minutes, had 6 points (2/2 FG, 2/2 FT), and 3 rebounds. Here is the box score. I hope we can agree to never speak of this again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Taurean Green vs. Joel Freeland, will DeceptivelyQuick explode?

Being that Blazers draftee Joel Freeland and former Blazer Taurean Green both play in Spain's ACB League, it was only a matter of time before these DeceptivelyQuick favorites faced each other. That day is nearly upon us.

Thanks to a heads up from international blogger comrade Rodman, I was alerted that on January 22nd Green's CAI Zarazoga will take on Freeland's Kalisa Gran Canaria. Joel Freeland should be back from the injury that caused him to sit out one game and start another. (Seriously.) I mean, Freeland should be ready to play. But when it comes to European basketball, I am wrong more often than not. Send positive thoughts his way, because this match up needs to happen.

Green is currently putting up 11.9 points (52% from two, 40% from three, and 79% free throws) and 2.5 assists in 26 minutes per game in his first ACB season. His numbers have been more consistent lately and he is now wreaking the sort of havoc we all knew he was capable of on a regular basis.

After rarely playing in his first ACB season, Joel Freeland has become an important contributor off the bench. He is currently averaging 10.3 points (63% FG, 68% FT) and 4.2 rebounds in just 17 minutes per game. His contract with Gran Canaria is also up this season, hint hint.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rodman for coming through with yet another happy tip, Joel Freeland will most likely play. Here is some auto-translated roughness:
The pivot of the Gran Canaria Kalisa, Joel Freeland, who was low since last December 18 by an injury in his right foot and then by suffering a sprained his left ankle when he reappeared before the Pamesa Valencia, has been returned to the working sessions of all Salva Maldonado and unless unforeseen last minute, will be before the CAI Zaragoza on Thursday, 22, from 20.00 hours in Hall canaria Príncpe Felipe de Zaragoza.

More importantly, the Gran Canaria Kalis has been unable to have all its troops in the past six disputed commitments in CBA League and Eurocup:

Lietuvos Rytas - Kalise Gran Canaria: No Joel Freeland.

TAU Cerámica - Kalise Gran Canaria: No Joel Freeland.

Kalise Gran Canaria - BC Azovmash: No Joel Freeland and Jim Moran.

Kalise Gran Canaria - CB Murcia: No Joel Freeland and Jim Moran.

Pamesa Valencia - Kalise Gran Canaria: No Joel Freeland and Melvin Sanders.
Freeland had to withdraw in the first minutes of the meeting by a sprained his left ankle.

Kalisa Gran Canaria - Bilbao iurbentia: No Joel Freeland and Melvin Sanders
Get excited.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Blazers at Midseason

Halfway through last season the Blazers had the same record they do halfway through this season, 25 wins and 16 losses. Last season Portland stumbled to a 41-41 finish and missed the playoffs. The lackluster finish could be attributed to a young team cooling off and veteran squads gearing up their play down the stretch.

This year's team is still young, the second youngest in the League. The second half of the season will also see a lot of contenders out West step up their game, just like last year. So will we see a repeat of last season? Will we see the young Blazers sputter once again and miss out on the playoffs? Maybe.

But there is reason for hope. This is not the same team as last season. This team's record is not inflated by a surprising thirteen-game winning streak. These Blazers are much more consistent and have already shown they can push through adversity. The beginning of the season couldn't have been much worse, losing Oden to injury and getting blown out by the Lakers on national television. Even now, the Blazers are finding ways to win while key players are injured. When things don't go their way, this team will have the confidence of knowing that they have turned things around in the past.

Another factor working in favor of this team is their schedule. Portland had the hardest early schedule in the NBA, and now will start to enjoy the benefits of that front-loaded difficulty. They played 22 games on the road in the first half, so get 22 at home in the second. Four of Portland's second half games will be against Oklahoma City, a team currently with a 19% winning percentage. And check out this stretch of opponents February 6 through the 22nd: Oklahoma City, New York, Oklahoma City, Golden State, Memphis, Atlanta, and the Clippers. Portland's five game road trip March 15 through the 21st is similarly reassuring: Atlanta, Memphis, Indiana, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Consider also that this team is more talented than last season's group. Rookie Rudy Fernandez is one of the best in the League off the bench. The too often hated on Greg Oden leads all rookies with 12 double doubles. Along with talented newcomers, players from last season are a year closer to their primes. Brandon Roy is no longer looking like a player that will be elite eventually, he has undeniably set himself among the NBA's best two-guards. If he shakes some of his nagging injuries in the second half, look out for Portland.

So on Barack Obama's inauguration day (I'm topical!), Rip City fans have a lot to be hopeful about. Nothing is certain about the second half of the season, there is a long ways to go. But one can easily see that certain things seem to be lining up for the Blazers. All they have to do now is win.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rudy Fernandez wins dunk contest entry, will be crushed in competition

We all saw this coming, but word is out that Rudy Fernandez won the vote and will be competing in the NBA dunk contest. I am now trying to decide between two theories on the motivations of the people who actually voted for Rudy:

1) They are such big fans that they are delusional about his chances in this competition.


2) A significant amount of people want to see Rudy get embarrassed and so have voted him into a contest that he does not belong in as a joke. (This isn't what happened, but would be hilarious, shout-out to China!)

While I cringe thinking about what Rudy's dunks will look like when compared with those of Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson, and Rudy Gay, I am happy this will all be over soon. I could not handle any more of Rudy "rapping."

At this time I would like to refer you to my original Don't Vote Rudy post:
I know that you are excited by the idea of a Blazer in the dunk contest. I am on record agreeing with you on that. But I beg you, do not vote for Rudy to be included in this event. Unless he has some sort of hidden ability we are not aware of, the man does not belong. Yes, I know he finishes a lot of alley oops. Yes, I know he did this to Dwight Howard. I am not putting forth the argument that the man is not athletic. I'm just saying that he is probably not NBA Dunk Contest athletic.

Have you honestly ever seen Rudy reach a level of elevation on a dunk that is not achievable by the average NBA shooting guard? This is a League where a player shorter than Fernandez, who has had knee surgery, can make this look pedestrian. And that guy will never be in a dunk contest.
Yeah. Thanks for listening. And to the cheerleader blazer blogs that encouraged this, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Von Wafer Watch: Does it all have to end here edition

I have been dragging you all through my Von Wafer-thing quite a bit lately. It makes no sense really, the guy was a Trailblazer for a total of 64 minutes of his NBA game career. The justification I gave for writing so much about him was that on his player page he still wore a Blazers jersey. After all, if an illiterate (who has memorized NBA jerseys) came across that page, this individual would assume Wafer was still a member of the Portland Trailblazers. Don't think about it too much and it makes perfect sense.

The Von Wafer Watch was born, as was the Waferd List. By the way, he had another good night Saturday; although cold from three he still finished with 17 points and contributed 6 rebounds. But when checking up on my latest obsession, I came across an unfortunate discovery:

Wafer has been on such a tear that has done the unthinkable and updated his player photo. I'm happy to see Wafer getting a little respect, but regret that this means that the Wafer Watch must be dissolved. Expect an anamnesis.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Darius plays his tenth game, Miles-gate turns into Miles Missle Crisis

So that happened. Now, will the Blazers call on the firm Ha, Ha, & Ha and actually file a lawsuit? I personally think that the franchise's image has taken enough of a hit from this ordeal already, so am hoping not. Then again I do love a circus. ("Circus" meaning big embarrassing legal battles played out in front of the media, not an actual circus. Those are terrifying.) Also, there are no funny pictures of Blazers President Larry Miller on the internet.

UPDATE: If you are interested in how the Miles Missle Crisis has impacted perceptions of Kevin Pritchard, check out this article by Adrian Wojnarowski. Ouch.

Will Memphis end the Miles saga tonight?

The Memphis Grizzlies host the Utah Jazz tonight. I tell you this because A) you may live in a cave and B) if you do, you might not be aware that it could be Darius Miles' tenth game of the season, meaning that Big Pun's salary will go back on the Blazer's books.

Many people seem to be thinking Miles will enter the game tonight, the Blazers salary cap flexibility will be impacted, and we can all move on from there. That is the most likely scenario, and while it sucks, at least we could all get on with our lives.

But if other GM's hate Kevin Pritchard as much as reported, I would find it bad-funny if Memphis sat Miles tonight just to prolong the agony. It would twist the knife a bit, keep the story in the news and on our minds, keep us watching, maybe even until the season is nearly over. It would also be another opportunity for one of the many Type A personality GM's to show everyone who is really in control.

And again, as I will add to every Miles-gate post from now on, this is all the fault of your Portland Trailblazers. I ask you to accept this if you have not already.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: The Finns rule the cold

THE H.T. graces us with another updated on how our man Petteri Koponen is doing with his Italian club...
After five straight victories in FIBA EuroChallenge Cup, Virtus Bologna clinched their spot in EuroChallenge Top 16 and decided to give a breather to key players Earl Boykins, Jamie Arnold and Brett Blizzard in team's last EuroChallenge regular season game in Russia. Bologna was leading the game by ten points with less than seven minute remaining, but Marque Perry forced CSK-VVS Samara back in the game. Bologna managed to grab the lead back and with just two minutes remaining, they lead the game 64-68. The next eight points, however, were scored by Samara. Samara won the game 72-68 (34-34) and dropped Bologna to 5-1.

Petteri Koponen got to play over 28 minutes against Samara and once again was the starting point guard of his team. Petteri finished with 7 points (with 3-6 FG shooting), 8 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one turnover and two personal fouls. He played the last five minutes of the game but only attempted to shoot once during that period. Roberto Chiacig led Bologna with 22 and 7, while Keith Langford answered with 17 and 6. Marque Perry was the player of the night, scoring 25 to go with five rebounds and three assists. Philadelphia 76er draft pick ('02) Sam Clancy had four points, six rebounds and a game-clinching block for Samara. EuroChallenge Top 16 tips off January 27th and the top two teams of each four additional groups make it to the quarterfinals.

Quite cold in Samara, by the way.

In six games of international competition in EuroChallenge Cup, Petteri Koponen averaged:

Minutes 18,5
Points 5,5
Rebounds 2,3
Assists 1,0
Steals 0,7
Turnovers 1,5
Fouls 2,0
Free throws 100%
2pt field goals 38,9%
3pt field goals 36,4%

This Saturday, Bologna will play a road game against Benetton Treviso. Treviso is lead by pg Bobby Dixon, sg Gary Neal and big guys Sandro Nicevic (Croatia) and Radoslav Rancik (Slovakia).

-The H.T.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Portland off the hook for Miles-gate e-mail

The League is saying that they won't fine the Blazers for that ridiculous e-mail:
"We don't plan to do anything to the Blazers," NBA president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin told Tuesday after it was revealed that the league office had foiled an attempt by Portland to claim Miles off waivers with the intent of stashing him on their inactive roster for the rest of the season.
I guess the humiliation is enough. I hope the Grizz play Miles soon so this can be put to rest. Then again, if they really want to stick it to the Blazers, it would be sort of hilarious if they didn't play Big Pun until the final minutes of the final game of the season.

Von Wafer Watch: Mamba gets Waferd!

You may have caught that Wafer had another great line in a losing effort against the Lakers: 23 points (10-14 FG, 3-4 from 3), 1 assists, and 2 steals. More importantly, we may have the highest profile Waferd to date:

No one is safe.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another Darius Miles Update, unfortunately

I suppose you have heard by now, but I feel some obligation to mention the latest on Miles-gate:

Before the Portland Trail Blazers resorted to a threatening email to frighten rival NBA teams from signing Darius Miles, team officials late last week made a brazen bid to claim the forward off waivers only to be stopped by the league, multiple front-office sources told Yahoo! Sports.

So how fine is the line between a crafty, confident front office and one that feels it can bend and break rules to get what it wants? The League Office could have the final say on which side the Blazers fall on this particular series of unfortunate events.

(Assist Blaze of Love.)

Joel Freeland Update: DNP, ankle

Joel Freeland and his bum ankle sat out Gran Canaria's last game, or "match" as they probably call it. Not really interesting or surprising, I know. But being that he got his first ACB League start after his initial injury, I figured I'd keep you posted.

Freeland is averaging 10.3 points (63% FG) and 4.5 rebounds in 17 minutes coming off the bench this season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Who says. Rudy Fernandez. Can't Jump? Please make this stop.

As you hopefully know, I am actively campaigning against the inclusion of Rudy Fernandez in the dunk contest. I understand that my effort is likely only a symbolic gesture, Rudy's international celebrity puts him in the driver's seat to win the vote over his more qualified competitors. This is All Star weekend after all, not a stupid meritocracy. Once he wins the vote his fans will be totally excited to watch him painfully outclassed in an event he clearly does not belong in, I guess. I hope you feel good about yourself.

But none of this is enough. The NBA just can't leave it alone, and now they are forcing this man into what they call "rapping." Dear God. Make it stop.

Petteri Koponen Watch: I have nothing else to add edition

H.T. checks in from Finland with updates on our man Petteri Koponen in Italy. Feel the international flavor...

Meanwhile, in Petteri Koponen's secret hideout in Italy...

After last week's ugly loss to Serie A leading Montepaschi Siena, Virtus Bologna is back on track, this time defeating league-sixth Premiata Montegranaro 79-67 (41-35) at home and improving to 9 wins in 14 games. Petteri Koponen was held scoreless in only 14 minutes of play, but Petteri managed to dish out four assists to go with one steal and one block. Keith Langford was Saturday night's MVP for Virtus with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks while Earl Boykins had 12 points and five turnovers. Brandon Hunter had 21/11 and Ricky Minard 17/7 for Montegranaro.

Next Saturday, Bologna will play against league-fifth Benetton Treviso on the road. Treviso's notable players include American guards Gary Neal and Bobby Dixon. Bologna will also play the final game of FIBA EuroChallenge Cup regular season next Tuesday in Russia against CSK-VVS Samara. Bologna has won all its five games in the EuroChallenge Cup.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Darius Miles Update, can't stop won't stop

The latest tid bits on Miles-gate can be found over at the Weekend Dime:
Most teams I've spoken to expect the Blazers to face some sort of heavy fine from the league office -- in addition to whatever legal problems they might have created for themselves -- for what was widely perceived to be a threatening (and unprecedented) e-mail to 29 teams about staying away from signing Darius Miles. But I'm not so sure.

It also didn't surprise anyone who knows Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley that Memphis re-signed Miles to a 10-day contract soon after he cleared waivers and barely 24 hours after the Blazers raised the possibility of legal action against any team that employs him.

"Heisley is the not the kind of guy who's going to be bullied," one GM said.

Uh huh. This could very well turn into the first Oopsie of the golden Blazer's front office. How's that aura of infallibility doin?

Von Wafer Watch! Yeah, this is happening.

Lots of people have been getting Waferd lately: Mo Evans, The Celtics, the Roundball Mining Mining Company. Joining that list soon could be the most impressive Waferd to date, the month of January.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Grizz re-sign Darius Miles, naturally

The Memphis Grizzlies were so scared of Portland's e-mail threats they up and signed Big Pun pretty much immediately.

Many people who run sports teams are Type A personalities. When you tell somebody like that they can't do something, chances are they will just to prove that you don't control them. If Memphis didn't sign Miles, I'm sure somebody else would have. Maybe that wouldn't have happened if the e-mail didn't go out.

Miles will likely play the required two games and his salary will go back on Portland's books. It will make things a little tighter, but Portland already has the talent. In all this, don't forget it was Portland's fault. Hang the blame on Paul Allen for craving Miles in the first place and giving him the contract. And put it on the front office for pulling a shady move declaring Miles medically unable to play when he clearly can.

(Assist to Blaze of Love.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Darius Miles Update: Blazers now taking legal counsel from Ha Seung Jin, to remain totally awesome

You know those people that say the Blazers would be totally cool with other teams signing Darius Miles because they have so much young talent and front office skills? I don't think the Blazers are among those people:

“The Portland Trail Blazers are aware that certain teams may be contemplating signing Darius Miles to a contract for the purpose of adversely impacting the Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap and tax positions,” Blazers president Larry Miller wrote in the email to representatives of every NBA team. “Such conduct by a team would violate its fiduciary duty as an NBA joint venturer. In addition, persons or entities involved in such conduct may be individually liable to the Portland Trail Blazers for tortuously interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers contract rights and perspective economic opportunities.

“Please be aware that if a team engages in such conduct, the Portland Trail Blazers will take all necessary steps to safeguard its rights, including, without limitation, litigation.”
Threatening e-mails? Really? Yeah, that always works. I'm a bit surprised, it appears that this new ultra-brilliant-fantastic front office has a bit of a crazy streak in them after all. I have also not necessarily heard that they have hired the law firm Ha, Ha & Ha to represent them on this matter. Jokes!

"Ha, who took a good punch in the face from Ned, was screaming, 'I’ll sue! I’ll sue!'"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Roundball Mining Company declares war on DeceptivelyQuick

You know how I feel about Von Wafer; I want this blog to be your premier source for all Von Wafer related news and gossip. (And as always, I remind you that this is relevant because I consider him a Blazer until updates his player page.)

When you find yourself wondering, "Who got Waferd?" I want you to direct your interweb machine to this very site. Its called the Wafer niche, and you can look it up in a blogging book if you don't know. Wafer!

But it isn't all good times. It has become clear to me that an anti-Wafer movement is slowly gathering strength. Official link buddy Roundball Mining Company has pointed out our man's recent dunk mishap:

Von Wafer not cleared for takeoff

You may have seen this clip by now, but in case you missed it here is former Von Wafer’s attempt to throw down on the Celtics.

The worst part of the whole thing, other than the embarrassment, is the fact the Celtics hit a three in transition on the other end.

We respect our colleague's work greatly, but the Roundball Mining Company is clearly underestimating Wafer's power in this instance. We do not dispute the missed dunk, but point to evidence that it was all in Wafer's master plan. You see, by missing that dunk, the Celtics perceived him to suck. Players that suck are no threat. With this seed planted in their minds, the Celtics figured there was no need to guard Wafer in the waning seconds of the close game. Then this happened:

Wafer's missed dunk-game winning three is the basketball equivalent of Ali's rope-a-dope. So great is his mastery that even a steady sports blog fell for it. Boston Celtics and Roundball Mining Company, you have been Waferd!

Suns waive Brown, totally should have signed Damon

From the Stories Only I Care About Department, I present to you the news that the Suns have waived Dee Brown. I have come to grips with the cold reality that Damon Stoudamire will never return to the Leauge, but knowing that this was apparently a temp position makes me feel a little better about Brown beating him out for the spot.

Darius Miles waived by Memphis, team continues to sign players just for fun

As you have probably heard, Darius Miles has been waived by the Grizzlies. While Memphis cut him before his contract would become guaranteed, the experience wasn't a total loss for Miles. His brief Memphis career was long enough for him to serve his 10 game diet pills suspension, so if another team signs him he will be available to play immediately. Of course, if he couldn't cut it on Memphis I'm not sure teams are beating down his door.

The moved initially seemed to be done to make room for Shaun Livingston, who the Heat traded to Memphis for a second round pick. Then the Grizz waived Livingston. They would have just wasted the pick anyways.

Petteri Koponen Watch: Boykins free addition

H.T. providing us with the latest on the Italian adventures of Finnish Superstar and Blazers draftee Petteri Koponen...

Virtus Bologna seem to have recovered from that 26 point blowout at Montepaschi Siena faster than expected. FIBA EuroChallenge Cup action tipped off after Christmas break again this Tuesday at FuturShow Station in Bologna, when Estonian team Tartu Rock came to town trying to avenge their 73-75 loss against Bologna a month earlier.

Even though Virtus' leading scorer Earl Boykins didn't play because of FIBA sanctions, Virtus had no difficulties taking the 95-85 (53-46) victory and improving to 5-0, clinching the top spot in their group. Six players scored double figures for Bologna, lead by Keith Langford (25pts) and Ntousan Tsalikis-Vouktsevits (14p). Shooting guard Gert Kullamäe lead Tarto with 27 points.

I'm also glad to announce that Petteri Koponen maintained to double his total point saldo in EuroChallenge Cup against Tarto. In 27 minutes, Petteri scored 13 points (FG 4-9 FT 3-3) to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover and 4 personal fouls. In four games of EuroChallenge Cup action, Koponen is averaging 5,2 points, 1,2 rebounds and 0,8 assists in 16,4 minutes a game.

Virtus play their last EuroChallenge Cup regular season game Tuesday 13th of January on the road against Russian team CSK-VVS Samara (lead by Marque Perry). After the regular season is over, two best teams of each group proceed to 16-team advance round.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On Von Wafer's recent blowuptuation

It isn't a secret that this blog jumps off the Blazer tracks and screeches into topical obscurity from time to time. And why not? A big advantage of a no cost/no profit blog is that you have nothing to lose by indulging your flights of fancy. But DeceptivelyQuick was never intended to be esoteric. It sort of is supposed to feel like a Blazers blog. But where is the line? I don't know exactly, but I am starting to sense its nearness. All brought on by Mr. Von Wafer. Of course.

On January 2nd he blew up in his twelve mostly garbage minutes. That performance and Houston's roster depletion due to injury have resulted in Von Wafer starting. As a bit of a Waferphile, I was ecstatic. And although I consider the man a Blazer until updates his player page, I decided nobody but me and the Wafer family really cared.

Apparently I was wrong; over the course of Wafer's last three games I have received Wafer related text messages from three people that know me and three e-mails from people who don't. This is what blogger books call the "Wafer niche," and while it is small, I assure you that it is very real. Don't be surprised to see a new Von Wafer Watch feature. It is on my friend, welcome to your new premier source for Von Wafer news and gossip.

Just what has our man done in his last three games to get all seven of us so pumped? He's averaged over 16 a game while only taking 11 shots in just 26 minutes per. Yes, you can say that his team has lost all of those games. But nobody likes you and your cynicism, so don't. Get Waferd!

Man, all that publicity is really working

Remember way back when the first All Star ballot returns were released? Brandon Roy was 10th amongst Western Conference guards. Ha!

But that was before he dropped 52. Before a bus driver in Alabama kind of knew who he was. Clearly, it was before we entered the Age of Reason.

Which is why I was interested to see the latest ballot results:

Of course. But how long can he hold off Chauncey Billups?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Petteri Koponen Watch: Second Banana Edition

H.T. checks in with the latest from the ongoing Petteri Koponen in Italy saga. Don't know what I'm talking about? Get up to speed. So archive-y!

26 points. That is the difference of No. 1 team and No. 2 team in Italian Serie A. Montepaschi Siena secured their whopping 13th win in a row destroying Virtus Bologna 107-81 (53-35) at home court this Sunday. Siena was leading by ten in the end of the first quarter and went on full throttle before giving their substitutes some precious time on the court in the final quarter.

Earl Boykins had returned to Virtus Bologna line-up after leaving back to States for Christmas without the permission of the team. Boykins' presence didn't help Bologna much, because he ended up with lukewarm six points in 18 minutes. Petteri Koponen didn't do much better; he had three points (FG 1-4), three turnovers, one assist and one steal in 13 minutes.

While Bologna struggled, Siena showed why they are championship contenders in the Euroleague as well as Serie A. Romain Sato ended up with 37 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in just 31 minutes, while Ksistof Lavrinovic had 20 points, Henry Domercant 17 points and Terrell McIntyre 11 points, 7 steals and 6 assists. Guilherme Giovannoni led Bologna with 23 points.

Bologna's Serie A campaign continues Saturday, January 10th at home against Premiara Montegranaro, featuring notables such as Kiwane Garris, Ricky Minard and Brandon Hunter. Bologna stands second in Serie A with 8w-5l record. This Tuesday, Bologna tries to improve to 5-0 in FIBA EuroChallenge Cup at home against Tanoka Beard's Tartu Rock.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Satellite Post: Holiday eatingness recap

Posting will be a bit slow this week as I'm outside of the cozy confines of Rip City doing things that would bore you. Being that I'm in a region that is so low on basketball love, I am proud to report that a random local person gushed about the greatness of Brandon Roy upon learning of my residence. They pronounced his name all Frenchy, "Brandon Wah," but its still an undeniable indicator of the Blazers growing national profile.

Now that the holiday season is over and you are all back to your wonderful jobs, I thought I'd catch you up on what you missed while you were getting drunk and uncomfortable around family members:

-For the love of God, DO NOT VOTE RUDY

-Joel Freeland got injured, a genius career move as he immediately earned his first start

- Earl Boykins got kicked of the team, except not really. Do you know how hard it is to put champagne back into the bottle?

- I'm still so proud to own this shirt

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hornets at Portland, Pre-pregame

The Hornets are in town tonight. There seems to always be a sense of unease when these two teams play, which I hope is the seeds of a future rivalry. Then again, it could just be from Przybilla and Chandler desperately wanting to punch each other in the face. Either way the winner is the fans. Hooray fans! Roy will be out, so that could suck. Or be awesome. I'll be at the game tonight wearing what may be the greatest t-shirt of all time, so I will see you in the funky 300 level.

Other people's words!

- 15 Thoughts at Blaze of Love
- Sheed's Shakedown at Bust a Bucket
- Game 33 Preview at Blazers Edge

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Joel Freeland gets his first start, Euro basketball still crazy

Joel Freeland was putting together an impressive season off the bench for Gran Canaria, then he got injured. I figured the bum ankle would be a small setback; Freeland would sit out and rehab until healthy and then be eased back into his reserve role. That is how these things work.

Once again, it is clear that I do not understand European basketball. Joel Freeland, the injured Joel Freeland, just got the first start of his ACB Career. He played less than two minutes, I assume because he was, um, injured. He scored two points and nabbed one rebound if you're curious. But yeah, good stuff, I guess.

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