The Daily Roundup â€“ Weekend Edition
Its always wise to watch the professionals and try to learn a thing or two. This weekend, with 4 days between games, the team on the road, and little to no news to write about I get some good ideas from the Seattle Timesâ€™ Percy Allen who features a piece about the NBAâ€™s new dress code.
This article could pretty easily have been written in late September when the dress code was put in place but it makes sense on a day like today when anything about the Sonics is going to be playing third fiddle behind the atrocious Washington Huskies and the Seahawks division game. Its entertaining and Iâ€™ll put together a few like that as the season goes on, but not worth discussion.
I was hoping that there would be practice on Saturday to load up on interviews about the win and generate some articles for the coming week. Unfortunately the Sonics PR department continued a weekend trend of notifying us that practice is going on when in fact Coach Weiss had given the team the day off. I showed up at the Furtado Center and was locked out. There were several cars in the lot and I can confirm that Rashard Lewis, Damien Wilkens, Ray Allen, and assistant coach Ralph Lewis were all in the house. Itâ€™s a pretty safe assumption that they were joined by Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison, and others. This team has a great work ethic and its notable that on Saturday at noon all these guys were in the building presumably working on their games.
More interesting to me is Percyâ€™s weekly Power Rankings in which he lists the Sonics #16, just above the recently dispatched Minnesota Timberwolves.
There are a number of rankings that are worthy of comment:
#6 Houston â€“ Before I go anywhere let me give the blanket disclaimer that you canâ€™t read too much into two games. That said those two games are all we have so they should have at least some relevance. Houston lost to New Orleans last night and thereâ€™s not excuse for a team that loses to the Hornets being ranked in the top 10. If you factor in that Tracy McGrady is hurt and big addition Stromile Swift is averaging 6 & 4 with 5 fouls in 20mpg Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb and say that Percy is still operating on his preseason rankings.
#9 Cleveland â€“ Yes LeBron is amazing. His play in the first couple have games has blown me away and I think heâ€™s almost assured the MVP. Donyell Marshall also has looked great in their first 3 games, but they are 1-2 coming off two straight losses. I can see this ranking based on their off-season acquisitions but hope that by week two some of the teams are ranked based on actual performance. But Walker wanted more money than the Celtics were willing to pay and the team felt it had to give Springfield-bound Al Jefferson some room to breathe.
#11 Utah â€“ Utah finished WAY, WAY behind Seattle in the division last year and to date has not had either an offseason acquisition or an amazing win to demonstrate why they should catapult above them. Iâ€™m a big believer that in head to head division rivalries that youâ€™re on top until proven otherwise. I can see putting Denver ahead of Seattle based on their record in the second half of last season. I canâ€™t justify Utah being 5 games ahead with very little cause.
#12 Sacramento, #13 Milwaukee, #14 Memphis â€“ Basically the same argument we have for Utah. What have these guys done to jump ahead of a defending division champion? Milwaukee and Sacramento at least made some offseason acquisitions(although I simply hate the Kings additions of Wells and Abdur-Rahim) Memphis was a team that finished well behind Seattle last year, lost significant players from the roster, and added Damon Stoudamire. I just donâ€™t see it. If youâ€™re going to bump Houston up to #6 because of the acquisition of Stromile Swift at least have the decency to drop Memphis back a few spaces for losing him. Câ€™mon.
As is becoming usual Frank Hughes article brings the most meat to the table. His Sunday piece features Vladimir Radmonovichâ€™s growing frustration at his lack of role on the team this year. The piece is great but Vladiâ€™s position is simply pathetic. He has played terribly this year and the team is simply dying for him to step up and do better. If he in any way wants to imply that his poor performance is a result of the team using him incorrectly then heâ€™s just out of line. The guy needs to look in the mirror and make some shots.
The Sonics this year chose to play a game of chicken with several free agents and wound up with three guys, Radmonovich, Reggie Evans, and Flip Murray all turning down pretty generous offers to take a one year â€œqualifying offerâ€ at a sizable reduction in cost. Two games in those decisions are all looking just fine for the franchise as Radmonovich has struggled, Murray may have lost his spot in the rotation, and Evans is remaining extremely limited on the offensive end. Those guys need to demonstrate that they are worth more than they were offered ON THE COURT instead of talking about it in the papers. Vladi turned down $42 million from the Sonics and at this point is feeling the pressure.
Around the League:
Jerome James continues to show why the Sonics let him go with a 3 minute, 3 foul performance during the Knicks Friday loss to Boston. This morning it was reported that James was involved in an altercation with popular rookie Nate Robinson at practice. JJ just doesnâ€™t get it. Heâ€™ll be on the bench for the entire 5 years of his contract.
The Boston Papers continue to amaze me. This morning the Boston Globe talks about the decision to send Antoine Walker to Miami:
But Walker wanted more money than the Celtics were willing to pay and the team felt it had to give Springfield-bound Al Jefferson some room to breathe.
Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb here and say that they are jumping the gun a bit by declaring their 6 point, 4 rebound, 3 foul a game 2nd year player a hall of famer. Jefferson seems to be a nice player for the #17 pick but a little reality would be nice here. The also fail to mention the fact that Antoine Walker is simply horrible.
Iâ€™m confused by Desmond Masonâ€™s slow start in New Orleans. Heâ€™s a quality player and seeing him average only 5 & 3 over the first couple of games makes me think heâ€™s just in the wrong situation. Weâ€™ll give it some time but remember that the Hornets traded an all-star center for Mason. I have a feeling patience will be short amongst the teams few fans.
Injuries are already taking a toll in the Western Conference with Tracy McGrady out with a sore back and the Nuggets Nene lost for the season. A big part of Seattleâ€™s success last year was the fact that they stayed healthy early and were able to jump out to a big lead in the standings. They need to do the same thing right now while these Western Conference rivals are trying to regroup.