Ben Gordon finally commits to Great Britain national basketball team
May 8th, 2010

Excellent news. The only way you would not know that I am British is if you: a) have never been to this website before today, b) have been here before but understandably don’t read any of the words I write, or c) know so little about vexillology that you didn’t even realise that the site’s logo had a flag in it. Because of my nationality – English rather than British, but we’ll worry about that later – it is inevitable and sensible that the state of British basketball will get some coverage here. And with the news of Ben Gordon’s commitment to the national team still moist astride our lips, today is no different. There follows a lengthy breakdown. Basketball in Britain is still so fledgling that even the term ‘fledgling’ sells it short. The standard of the British Basketball League is so far below its European peers that almost any Division I NCAA starter could get a starting spot there. Worse still, the league damn nearly went bankrupt at the turn of the century, which isn’t something top tier leagues should be doing (although it has happened elsewhere on the lower rungs). Beyond the professional game, basketball itself is not fairing much better. While the sport is played in many schools these days, it’s not played in all of them; we didn’t play it in mine, for example, and as a result I’ve never played a game of basketball. To say that basketball trails behind many other sports in this country is an understatement on a par with calling the Vietnam conflict ‘feisty;’ it just doesn’t do it justice. (The local council did eventually install a hoop in my childhood village after much petitioning, but when I say they “installed a hoop,” I actually mean that they put a […]

Posted by at 12:18 AM

Kirk Hinrich’s Singing Voice
April 14th, 2009

od invented the internet so that we could feel more closely acquainted to professional athletes. It’s the reason they have online chats, it’s the reason they have their own websites, it’s the reason we try and become their Facebook friends, and it’s the reason that their team contractually obligates them to humiliate themselves for the sake of a few YouTube videos. For this, we must give our eternal thanks, because God never fails to satisfy us. And nor does Joakim Noah. During a Bulls game last week, a halftime segment aired that showed Noah, Derrick Rose, Tyrus Thomas and Luol Deng participating in a ‘Name That Tune’ style challenge. The four players paired up, and one player had to sing whatever tune was playing in his headphones, with the other player charged with guessing which song it was that they were butchering. The girl’s job was to guess which team won. The whole debacle was caught on camera. A closer inspection reveals that this isn’t the first Bulls players karaoke segment of the season. Three other officially licensed videos exist, showing the same players (as well as Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Gray, and the now-departed Drew Gooden and Thabo Sefolosha) taking part in a singalong to various TV theme tunes. The tunes range from seminal to forgettable, yet they are, to a man, bludgeoned. If anyone emerges from this with any pride, it might be Drew Gooden. Gooden – whom we already know to be always up for a tinkle – demonstrates, if nothing else, a semblance of a sense of rhythm, humility and personality, although he does appear to struggle with the difference between a saxophone and a piccolo. Hinrich continues his galvanising makeover from the shy and retiring elfin-like creature of his rookie year to the matured and forthcoming […]

Posted by at 10:11 AM

Preview Sort Of Thing: Chicago Bulls
October 23rd, 2008

The Bulls are, quite possibly, the hardest team in the league to gauge right now. Every one of their significant players is a question mark. Other than predicting Larry Hughes will shoot a pull-up 18 footer on 85% of the fast breaks that he’s involved in, there’s nothing that you can say with any conviction about this current Bulls roster. It’s a poser. Theoretically, they could be great. This is still, essentially, the same 49-win second round team of the 2006/07 season, with only a few changes. The corpse of P.J. Brown has been replaced by Joakim Noah. The corpse of Ben Wallace has been replaced by Drew Gooden. And Chris Duhon has been replaced by Derrick Rose, which may or may not be an upgrade. (Sarcasm!) So, with those three upgrades, along with the return of Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich, plus the overdue-but-genuinely-forthcoming breakout of Tyrus Thomas, the Bulls should easily be able to usurp that 2007 team. Shouldn’t they? Well, no. The other change between then and now is the entire coaching staff. As outlined in the Milwaukee Bucks preview, Scott Skiles’s coaching jobs seem to always have a shelf-life, but until it goes wrong, he can make teams overachieve. The Bulls achieved what they did in 2007 despite having only the NBA’s 20th-best offence, purely because they had the best defence in the league. Skiles was directly responsible for that. However, after he lost the team last year – and after his replacement Jim Boylan proved to be about as much use as a surfboard with handlebars – the Bulls defence regressed to being middle of the road, and the offence was no better. It’s not known what new coach Vinny Del Negro will try to do, and it’s futile to guess. […]

Posted by at 6:29 AM

2008 NBA Offseason Preview: Chicago Bulls
April 17th, 2008

The first in a new series of posts detailing teams financial outlooks for the upcoming free agency period, what cap room they have, what exceptions, what draft slots, etc. Should be fascinatingly fascinating, if you’re easily pleased. No information is 100% guaranteed accurate, but unless you’re privy to hitherto unknown information, or just better at this than I am (highly possible), then it’s probably more accurate than you’ve seen before.. To be completed in an order best described as “Random”.   ¬†¬†Chicago Bulls   Currently Committed Salary, 2008/09: Larry Hughes – $12,827,676* Kirk Hinrich – $10,250,000* Andres Nocioni – $8,000,000 Drew Gooden – $7,151,183 Tyrus Thomas – $3,749,880 Joakim Noah – $2,295,480 Thabo Sefolosha – $1,931,160 Cedric Simmons – $1,742,760 Aaron Gray – $711,517 JamesOn Curry – $711,517 (not fully guaranteed) Total: $49,371,173 (* = has incentives. Hughes’s salary listed WITHOUT incentives, that are dependent on win totals, and thus won’t be considered likely. Hinrich’s salary listed WITH incentives, which probably won’t be considered likely either.)   Unrestricted Free Agents: Shannon Brown (cap hold – $1,116,960) Chris Duhon (cap hold – $6,496,000)   Restricted Free Agents: Ben Gordon (qualifying offer – $6,404,749, cap hold – $14,645,007) Luol Deng (qualifying offer – $4,452,574, cap hold – $9,961,017) Demtris Nichols (qualifying offer – $886,517, cap hold – $512,596)   Draft picks: First round: 9th pick, subject to lottery results. (Cap hold – $1,840,800) Second round: 39th pick (no cap hold)   Cap room/exceptions: Nada room, MLE, BAE, and a $5,205,000 trade exception.   Mario Austin: Is brilliant.   Depth chart if you take all the free agents away: PG – Hinrich, Curry SG – Hughes, Sefolosha SF – Nocioni, Sefolosha PF – Gooden, Thomas, Simmons C – Noah, Gray   Sensible things to do: Let Chris Duhon go. Gas Larry Hughes. Don’t […]

Posted by at 3:30 AM

Do NBA Players Ever Actually Accept Their Qualifying Offers?
April 16th, 2008

If your team didn’t agree to an extension with its starlet young player this past offseason – such as is the case with the Atlanta duo of Josh Childress and Josh Smith, the Chicago duo of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon, amongst others – then you’ve probably experienced a modicum of conversation as to whether that player will take the one-year qualifying offer this offseason rather than the security of a long-term deal, leaving the distinct possibility that your team will lose a key player and important asset, for nothing in return. Talk of this possibility happening is particularly widespread in the case of Gordon, who hasn’t done much to deny it. Let me try and set your mind at rest – it’s really not that likely. Or rather, it should be really unlikely. It might happen, but history suggests that it shouldn’t. This is a list of all the rookie scale players to have accepted the fifth-year qualifying offer in recent times, and how that went for them.   Melvin Ely Season before free agency: 9.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 51% shooting Season spent on Qualifying Offer: 3.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, 36% shooting Season after that: 3.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, 47% shooting Melvin Ely has had one year of average NBA production in seven attempts. That one season was, conveniently, the final one of his rookie contract. Never justifying his draft position, that one year gave Ely the chance to make a bit of money, especially given that it was probably his only other chance at a multi-year contract. (Ely was 28 at the time, after joining the league at age 24. Ely took Charlotte’s one year QO of $3,308,615 (which may or may not have been the only contract that they offered) in preference to taking Phoenix’s multi-year offer, […]

Posted by at 3:45 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Chicago Bulls
September 23rd, 2007

Chicago Bulls   Players acquired via free agency or trade: Joe Smith (two years, $10 million)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Joakim Noah (9th overall) Second round: Aaron Gray (49th overall), JamesOn Curry (51st overall)   Players retained: Andres Nocioni (re-signed, six years, $45 million)   Players departed: Malik Allen (signed with New Jersey), Michael Sweetney (left unrestricted, unsigned), P.J. Brown (unsigned), Andre Barrett (made restricted, unsigned, may yet return), Martynas Andriuskevicius (left unrestricted, signed in Spain)   Some words: (The following entry may well be written with a small hint of bias. Or, alternately, it may be written with huge seething dollops of it. I’m a Bulls fan, just so’s you know.) Has anybody ever told you that you need a dominant post scorer to win a title? If not, then you’re not a Bulls fan. Since the dawn of time (or since the Eddy Curry trade, whichever), this edict has been hurled at Bulls fans and management alike by people of all backgrounds and IQ levels, and never more so than in the immediate aftermath of the Pau Gasol trade-that-never-was at the last trade deadline. Forget the fact that Detroit managed this supposedly impossible feat just three years ago: these people remain steadfast in their opinion. And why shouldn’t they? People say it on the TV, after all, so it must be true. After General Manager John Paxson did not pull the trigger on a deal for Gasol due to the excessive demands of Grizzlies GM Jerry West and the continued breakout of Luol Deng, talk of the Bulls’ need for a ‘dominant’ post scorer continued. “Experts” then shifted their attention to Kevin Garnett, ignoring for a moment the fact that such a move was never realistically possible due to the Bulls salary cap position. After […]

Posted by at 12:45 AM