Where Damon Stoudamire gets his pot.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So much has been made about the 2010 free agency pool. And for good measure.

The list of players - Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, etc. - has some of the game's biggest superstars. If you're a struggling team looking to spend some money and buy the Rock of Gibraltar upon which to build a team around for the next decade, then this is your best shot at legitimate talent (AKA it's not a year when a Ricky Davis or Anderson Varajao has you pondering a desperation signing).

After his game tonight against the Knicks, Lebron James was asked some questions about the 2010 free agency pool. He tried to keep everything cool, but there were more than enough hints about a move to New York, and I'm not just talking about his hobnobbing with Jay-Z. Okay, it has something to do with Jay-Z.

To start, he left all his answers very open-ended, as if he had no say in the matter. In Lebron's world, or the one he likes to depict for the media, anything can happen in this free agency class. Well it won't. A select group of teams will have a serious chance at Lebron and I would wager he has an idea which ones they are. Good luck putting together an offer that Lebron and his buddies wouldn't kill themselves laughing at if you're Oklahoma City or Memphis.

But later, when asked about his free agency speculation, he started using New York and Brooklyn as potential locations to go to. Here's another layer! Looks like only a few have a chance, indeed! So you don't include Cleveland in that category. Really, Lebron? The team you're playing with for the next year-and-a-half? Your best line-up ever that will allow you to seriously contend this season - you won't mention them in the argument?

Something about the Brooklyn talk makes it seem like Lebron thinks their move is a foregone conclusion. For Christ's sake Lebron is already calling them the Brooklyn Nets! Which is another bad sign for Cleveland fans.

I think we all know that Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets and that him and Lebron pretend they're brothers in a weird protege-scholar relationship. When you have Jay-Z on your speed-dial I'll make the assumption that he's giving you a bunch of advice, most of which would incense Cavs fans.

ESPN also showed the debut of some Lebron-endorsed Nike kicks. Gee, do you think Nike isn't in his ear about how much they'll give him in endorsement cash if he could only move to New York? They're debuting new shoes when he plays in the Big Apple!

I think Lebron needs to tell the media to stop asking these questions, especially for his sake. The guy has tried to be suave in the face of questioning, but way too much evidence stacks up which supports his departure of Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Doves Cry

Jermaine O'Neal. Rebound Specialist.

Things are a little hectic on my end right now, so I'll keep it brief.

Here is my latest column in the Martlet. This one is about the Toronto Raptors, mainly about how they're incapable of competing in a stronger Eastern Conference unless GM Bryan Colangelo pulls the trigger and gives them some depth.

So the column came out this evening, a Wednesday. The column was submitted on Saturday. In the span of a few days the Raptors have gone 2-1 and addressed many of the key issues I outlined in the article. For instance, they've outrebounded the competition behind some monstrous efforts from Jermaine O'Neal. Jamario Moon was yanked from the starting line-up (thank goodness) in favour of Bargnani, who, this evening, notched 25 points on some highly efficient shooting.

This is one reason why I love the immediacy of the internet. Because it doesn't make me look like a bit of a jackass in the time it takes for my words to reach print. The issue is out for the next week. Meaning the Raptors get the next seven days to screw everything up and make me look better.

To close, here is a link (via Pitchfork) about Prince magically appearing for some guitar jamming during a Q-Tip show, while the latter broke into his backpacker bling escapist hit "Vivrant Thing." Scroll to the bottom for a rundown. Completely bizarre and very Prince.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Watch Me Dancing

The NBA season thrives on award season speculation.

Last season Kobe Bryant took home his first MVP award under a newfound media-friendly rubric, much to the dismay of Chris Paul supporters (myself included). Since the awards are announced early in the playoff season, the outcome can often propel cheated players to higher levels of excellence, particularly against those awarded ahead of them. (I think we all remember what Michael Jordan did to Karl Malone in the NBA Finals after Malone was crowned the league MVP.)

Look, I love award season. It provides NBA writers with some of the game's finest debates. But it's way too early to make predictions when the regular season just entered double-digit game totals. The Rookie of the Year has at least five or six legitimate candidates thus far. The MVP has no clear front-runner and won't have any legitimate candidates until a third into the season.

But the Most Improved Player has kicked off to a nice start and it's not too early to speculate. Here are some players who will most definitely garner some votes:

Devin Harris has posted multiple 30-point-plus games and surpassed Vince Carter as the de facto scorer in New Jersey. Could the Mavericks have made a worse move last spring to bring a mid-30s Jason Kidd back to Dallas? Kidd has a decade on Harris, considerably less foot speed, and a crazy (ex-)wife. In 40 minutes of play today, against the Knicks no less, Kidd tallied 3 points on 1 of 7 shooting. Last evening, in fewer minutes, and against the upstart Hawks, Harris racked up 33 points and 10 assists on 9 of 15 shooting. Most impressive was that Harris took 14 free throw shots. Something tells me the Kidd deal might have murdered the Mavs franchise for the considerable future. Looks like Devean George almost did Dallas a favour.

I love the moves Bryan Colangelo makes and I'll always worship the throne of the NBA's foremost metrosexual general manager, but how did he pass up on Danny Granger in favour of Joey Graham a few drafts ago? Granger has developed into a go-to scorer in Indiana, averaging well over 20 points per game and filling up the score sheet in other ways. Not only that, but his tooth loss accident, and the fact that he came back to play looking like a much taller Dougie Gilmour, would have the Raps faithful smelling a deep playoff run.

I don't play fantasy basketball, but whoever nabbed Andris Biedrins in their drafts is counting their lucky stars. Just check his stats: 16.8 ppg, 14.9 rpg, 52.8 FG%, 1.5 bpg. Overnight the young Warriors centre has become the preeminent league-wide rebounder alongside Dwight Howard. Must be the ludicrous amount of hair gel.

This one feels a bit weird, yet Nate Robinson definitely deserves a couple votes. Every bench needs a gunner to throw in when the starting line-up gets a little stagnant. And Robinson has filled that role well with over 14 points per. Not only that, but he's averaging over 2 steals per game and up to 4 rebounds and assists.

A couple others deserve credit, including Jeff Green, Nick Young, Mickael Pietrus, and Aaron Brooks. Let the speculation begin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Players I Shouldn't Like: Part I

For those of you who have tried to comment on any posts but couldn't because you didn't have a Blogger ID, I just turned that off. Anyone can now comment. Thus, comment away!

There's a lot of talk about playing the 'right' way.

Whether mentioned by commentators, coaches, or players, the 'right' way to play is an admittedly vague way of putting things. The best professional basketball players are aware of this vague set of rules but cause the unidentified framework of proper play to bend within their skill-set.

In other words: You can't break the rules unless you know them.

Lebron barrels through the lane like a reckless animal and tucks the ball in his side like a running back penetrating the defensive line. Kobe calls his own number with time running out, often passing up the opportunity of passing to an open teammate. I'm not sure where either of these fall under the 'right' way, but the game concedes to style.

For most professional players they'd get yanked if they pulled half the shenanigans of a Kobe or Amare. Think back to high school: most of us were benched for taking an ill-advised three, whereas the top couple players had free reign of the court. Granted these top-tier guys make unbelievable plays, but on the flipside they're given the opportunity to test the boundaries of the spectacular. Most aren't.

This will be an ongoing series for those other players.

Lebron scored 41 last night. His execution is a lesson in monotony. Give me an unbridled Al Thornton or a trigger-happy Nate Robinson any day of the week.

First up is Ricky Davis, or what I'll dub Player With Nice Stats But Always Plays on Shitty Teams.

You know a guy is not playing the 'right' way when his most memorable professional moment came from shooting on his own net and retrieving the rebound for the purpose of notching his first career triple-double. (Jerry Sloan was one anger management class away from sprinting on the court and clothes-lining Ricky.)

But I follow Davis for other reasons.

He is the only NBA player to dunk after putting the ball through his legs, during an NBA game. (Lebron did it in high school, Josh Smith in international competition, but only Davis possessed the testicular fortitude to pull such a stunt in-game.) The tales of Davis's clubbing history should be published by Random House, or at the very least influence some Penthouse Forum letters. Plus, the dude can flat-out score with the best of them.

For a long time I've been attracted to players who can catch fire, who for a five minute stretch reach levels of offensive excellence unparalleled at that very moment. And Ricky Davis, throughout his career, has proved that he can get hot.

He does not play the 'right' way. He may not even care about winning. But he's part of a small group of basketball players on the planet who could notch 40 on a whim and infuriate his coach at the same time.

Truth is, Davis' game is not nearly as selfish as it seems (or maybe he's matured) and far more well-rounded than that of your typical gunner (ahem, Ben Gordon).

But, without fail, Davis finds himself on yet another underachieving team (the Los Angeles Clippers) where he'll pick up stats, inevitably partake in the club scene, and launch into summer break around the same time as college kids. In his own way he makes consistency pretty damn exciting.

And, of course, there is this video, which adds to the Davis lore:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dance on Glass

I had to post something about this Garnett/Calderon dust-up in Boston.

After watching it a few times I think it's safe to say that Garnett got a little too fired up and started acting like a dick. Sure, part of Garnett's shtick is that he's a really intense dude, but what other player in the league doesn't get a technical foul for that level of taunting? He was waving his finger in Jose's face Dikembo-style.

Taunting fouls are always a point of contention with me. You can show a little emotion, maybe look at a defender in the wrong manner, hang on the rim a little too long - all of which could book you for a T on a bogus call. We've seen them before. Those are the moments when a ref can get in the spotlight over a bad call. Very little is definitive about what 'constitutes' a taunting foul when outside of the extreme (ie. OJ Mayo dunking and heaving the ball in the crowd).

But that Garnett play crossed the line. I don't mind the guy playing a little D on Calderon, but being an ass while going about it brings down the class of such a likable athlete. (Good on Calderon to get back in his face, and also dish out to Kapono for a three-point make. Carmelo Anthony would've slapped him and run away.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dead Ringer

Just spent the weekend in Vancouver with some friends, hence a slow start to the week for The Cold Draft. Alas, here are some links and thoughts for a Monday afternoon.

For those of you literary folk out there, I stumbled across this article about Milan Kundera's recent political struggles. After just having read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting I find it astonishing that political turmoil has continued to follow him nearly thirty years after the book's release.

A line from a recent post on Inside the Clippers: "Marcus [Camby] has taken a liking to the underwater treadmill the team has at its new facility." The same post also mentions Tim Thomas and Al Thornton doing yoga. The Clippers have a better shot at releasing a workout video in time for Christmas than a berth in the postseason. If anyone knows what an underwater treadmill is like, please share. I wonder if the Knicks accidentally rig one up that electrocutes Stephon Marbury.

Plenty of talk on the internet today about the Raps looking to the Warriors and Bobcats for perimeter help. The two obvious choices are Al Harrington and Gerald Wallace, both of whom are being shopped around by their respective teams.

Personally I think the Raps should make a move for Kelenna Azubuike. Against the Raps earlier this season he penetrated their D with ease, especially late in the shot clock. Unfortunately this move wouldn't help their rebounding woes, but would help the fact their perimeter players have been severely outscored in the past three games.

So who's on the chopping block in Raptor land? Moon? Humphries? Bargnani? Colangelo won't dangle AB in a deal, but I can't find many other guys on that roster (Bosh and Calderon excluded) who would pique interest from another GM.

I watched this new video from Q-Tip over the weekend and started mulling it around with people as to whether Tip was the trailblazer for Andre 3000. Maybe Dre 2000? Or does his raccoon hat/cadet blazer look only follow a gauntlet thrown down by Andre Benjamin when his eccentricities became widely accepted? Regardless, this is nice form from Q-Tip, chock full of his hypothetical raps in female persuasion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Welfare Bread

A more official NBA preview has gone up on The Martlet right here.

I think we're all familiar with the old adage that NBA players do well with the ladies. Here's a Flickr site of professional ball players with women. Most of these women are, uh, not so attractive. But the site does feature cameos from Luke Jackson, JJ Redick, and various other bums (ie. Martynas Andriuskevicius). Worth checking out if, like me, you enjoy candid photos of awkwardly tall men next to drunk chicks in the club.

Three key acquisitions in the off-season: Roger Mason, Mickael Pietrus, and Matt Barnes. I can't stress how important these additions were for each of their playoff-calibre teams.

Pietrus rounds out a starting line-up with athleticism. Mason, on a bad Spurs team, has shown the ability to slash and drain buckets from the outside. Barnes could possibly the greatest addition of them all. He can give the Suns starter's minutes and contribute point totals in the double-digits. Plus, he makes that bench longer. There's no pressure on Grant Hill to force a predictable mid- or late-season injury. And the guy has heart. Check the Warriors from a couple seasons back.

(PS. Tony Parker with 55 points, 10 assists, and 7 boards in a 2OT win against the TWolves. Good lord. What's his previous season-high? I'm guessing 40.)

We talkin' bout practice.

I couldn't resist posting video of Iverson being unveiled to the Detroit media by Joe Dumars. For those of you who have seen the original, you'll find this pretty funny.

And the original:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guest Post: James Kot

Today we have the first guest post in The Cold Draft's short history from James Kot, most recently of Canadian war epic, Passchendaele. If you haven't checked out the film, go to the theatres. Unless you're from the States, in which case you should try to download it illegally. James offers some thoughts on the upcoming NBA season.

Originally, I was set up to write a more comical piece that centered around Darius Miles on the Boston Celtics. I had plans for an over/under on Garnett-Miles stare downs, possible conversations with Ray Allen about his art collection, and the generally strange fact that Darius has worked with both the newly married Ryan and Scarlett…in films. (IMDB Darius Miles; seriously, I dare you.) But that idea got thrown in the crapper faster than young Darius’ career after he tested positive for drugs before the season even began. Instead, I did some random and quite possibly idiotic NBA hypothesizing three games into the season.

Here are some of my predictions.

Allen Iverson will get traded to Detroit for Billups, McDyess and a guy I’ve never heard.

MVP. Lebron. The more I think about it, the more I realize CP3 got robbed last year. Kobe wasn’t the MVP until Pau dropped in Los Angeles. New Orleans is a .500 team without Chris Paul instead of the two seed. I still think Kobe is the most talented player in the NBA but Lebron is a monster every night. The NBA gets it right this year and shows King James some love.

Rookie of the Year. Rudy Fernandez. The second half of the Olympic gold medal game signified this decision for me. If you can throw down on Dwight Howard, and not think twice about getting in Kobe’s face on the world stage, you’re destined for great things. Beasley will be a close second. Mayo gets the bronze on a stinker in the dirty south.

Biggest Disappointment. Artest in Houston. I think Ron-Ron will play fine for them, but the idea that he makes them a contender baffles me. The expectations are way too high. If I were the GM of that team, I would rest Yao until the last ten games of the season. There’s no way Yao plays 75 games this year.

Not as Bad as You Think. The Knicks. They are going to surprise people. They win ten more than last year and will be surprisingly exciting as David Lee’s set to break out with more playing time. I love that D’Antoni kicked Marbury to the curb too. I’m so sick and tired of hearing about that guy for any reason other than his affordable sneakers.

Comeback. If the Olympics were any sign of what’s to come, Dwyane Wade could be considered an MVP Candidate if the Heat win 45. His health being worth 30 more wins could be a real case for Wade.

Kevin “My Uncle was in the Beach Boys” Love will have an average year but will be my guy to watch in Rookies-Sophmores game at the All-Star Break. That kid is more competitive than “Pet Sounds” in Top 10 Lists and will want to make a statement on the big stage.

Philly will make the playoffs only to last four or five games. The Elton Brand signing was a mistake. Enjoy the World Series and the Flyers making a run.

I feel bad for Baron Davis. That team is going to be terrible and it’s not his fault. Luckily, my friend Rachel doesn’t work in the Clippers PR department anymore. It’s going to be tough trying to spin eleven wins.

Dwight Howard will have five 20- 20 games. God, I wonder what the odds are like on that in Vegas!

There will be an Atlanta Hawks-Boston Celtics brawl this year. The Atlanta Hawks seem like a disgruntled franchise that has WAY more confidence than they should. The aggressive nature of that first round series last year - plus, the Boston Celtics taking being the Champs quite seriously this year and Kevin Garnett taking being Kevin Garnett extremely seriously - should be the perfect recipe a good dust-up. I dare Zaza Pachulia to get in Garnett’s face like he did last year. I bet Garnett does a Gatorade Fierce commercial at some point during the proceedings.

Less technicals for Rasheed Wallace this year. A.I. gets his share in Motown. Maxiell is also a beast this year and earns his contract. I like him as darkhorse for sixth man of the year if he can get the minutes.

I love the Suns but I think the dream is over for the Steve Nash era out in Arizona. A half court Phoenix Suns team makes me want to cry. I don’t think it will work. I hope that I’m wrong. And I’m melancholic that I honestly believe the chances of Steve Nash winning a championship in Phoenix are slimmer than they are if he concludes his career north of the border with the Raptors.

The Jermaine O’Neal deal works out surprisingly well. As Calderon finishes only behind Chris Paul in assists and Chris Bosh has a tidy 24 points, 10 rebound season, O’Neal can have a twelve and ten season and be an impact defensive player this year. Raps win a playoff series in the postseason.

The Final. We’re going to have a repeat of the Celtics-Lakers final. I think the Lakers take it this year with much more depth in their line-up and a much missed James Posey no longer on the Boston sideline. Kobe wins the finals MVP with more weapons in his arsenal.

But you never know what’s going to happen. I haven’t ruled out a Detroit-New Orleans final as a possibility…

In closing, I’ve written this. A bit of rant trying to explain why we should embrace and not fear the globalization of the NBA.

The NBA is becoming an increasingly global league with basketball’s popularity soaring world wide following the success of the Olympics and subsequent growth in European markets. Josh Childress opting out of sitting on the bench in Hotlanta to make double his quote in Greece and Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings going pro in Rome (in order to forgo the mandated collegiate year) signifies to me that basketball is bigger than the house it’s been given. While some purists gasp at the idea of US born players leaving home turf, (and the excitement that comes with playing a road game in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night or the constant exploitation of the NCAA) I’m not one of them.

I see it differently. I see the NBA as a jump off point for the Champion’s League of Basketball. A global league with teams in Europe, North America and the Middle East will leave no doubt who the greatest players are and where they play. They will be in this league.

But we’re not there yet.

For now: the best are still in the NBA, The Slam Dunk Competition will garner another party at my house, and March Madness will still be the most exciting time of year.

It's great to be an arm-chair athlete this year.