When LeBron James talks about the great things that happened for him in the Chicago of his youth (going to Tim Grover's gym, meeting Michael Jordan and Jay-Z), that's a shoutout to William Wesley without saying the words "William Wesley," which William Wesley would not like.
Players who can shoot have so many advantages. John Hollinger (Insider) talks about the incredible gifts of Rodney Stuckey who is big, strong, and an "and-one machine." But then ... this: "Stuckey is good at backing down small guards for short turnarounds, which is also where he drew a lot of his fouls, but it's not like he's Magic Johnson down there; although he drew a ton of fouls, Stuckey's 56.1 percent shooting in the basket area was actually below the league average for point guards. That's still better than having him shoot from outside. Stuckey made 26 3-pointers the entire season and shot 36.6 percent on 2s beyond 10 feet. Opponents routinely conceded the shot to play him for the drive. The good news is his high free throw rate and solid stroke at the line (86.1 percent) still gave him a strong true shooting percentage. However, he'll be a difficult player to use off the ball until or unless his shooting improves."
Remember when the union disclaimed itself? During that period, the NBA had only limited ability to control owners, and one or more of them could have experimented with running around signing up players to their teams. Technically every player was a free agent. It would have been incredibly high risk, but on the Freakonomics blog Ian Ayres explains it may have paid dividends. It's a credit to David Stern's powers that no owner went rogue.
The Suns love Zabian Dowdell, but they don't love his painful right knee and waived him.
The Nuggets struck out in pursuit of defensive stopper Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who'll stay with the Bucks. Denver has lost Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith to China and still need some more players. (Plenty of teams still need to fill roster spots cheaply. Evidently Orien Greene's ongoing campaign to prove he has turned over a new leaf has not gone well. Everyone knows he can play, but he's in nobody's camp.)
Ethan Sherwood Strauss on the messy appearance of things in the league office: "I suspect Prokhorov is running for Russian president because it seems like a lark compared to navigating the cryptosocialist NBA snake pit."
Richard Hamilton would not help the Bulls, according to the Wages of Wins analysis. Important in discussing the Bulls is that especially Ronnie Brewer, but also Keith Bogans, were essential to the NBA's best defense. Brewer was literally a Defensive Player of the Year type player. Benching him for a more talented offensive player would provide some nice relief for Derrick Rose on offense. But it does not necessarily equal team improvement. And Hamilton doesn't shoot like he used to.
SI.com's Zach Lowe on DeAndre Jordan, who is now making Joakim Noah-like money: "Jordan has averaged a double-double per 36 minutes in each of his three seasons in the league, but he has never played more than 25 minutes per game, his shooting range extends only as long as his arms, he turns the ball over a lot, he records assists just a bit more often than you or I, and he might be the league’s worst free-throw shooter outside of Andris Biedrins. But he is young, tall and insanely bouncy, and so the Clippers are betting heavily that Blake Griffin’s close friend will turn into something like Tyson Chandler."
The Blazers have a year to make big decisions or blow it up. Dave from BlazersEdge: "In a year, plenty of contracts will expire: Marcus Camby, Nicolas Batum, Raymond Felton, Greg Oden, and perhaps Gerald Wallace if he chooses to opt out of the final year of his current deal. Provided Roy's medical retirement is both approved and the last word on his financials, his contract will come off the books then as well. This should provide the Blazers plenty of opportunity to reset." (Related: Brandon Roy's ghosts of Christmas past.)
On Grantland, Wesley Morris notes the cultural implications of NBA players' off-court dress, which has become, well, far "nerdier" than ever, which is huge, in a way. It lets kids dress in a broad array of ways that were once considered not manly enough. "When David Stern imposed the league's reductive dress code six years ago, all this role-playing, reinvention, and experimentation didn't seem a likely outcome. We all feared Today's Man. But the players -- and the stylists -- were being challenged to think creatively about dismantling Stern's black-male stereotyping. The upside of all this intentionality is that these guys are trying stuff out to see what works. Which can be exciting. No sport has undergone such a radical shift of self-expression and self-understanding, wearing the clothes of both the boys it once mocked and the men it desires to be. It's not a complete transformation. Being Carlton wasn't just code for nerd, it was code for gay, and the homophobia these clothes provoked still persists, even from their wearers. Once last year, Dwight Howard, of the Orlando Magic, wore a blue-and-black cardigan over a whitish tie and pink shirt to a press conference. When a male reporter told him it was a good color on him, instead of asking the reporter 'Which color?,' Howard spent many seconds performing disgusted disbelief: Whoa, whoa. A moment like that demonstrated how hopelessly superficial all this style can be. The sport can change its clothes, but, even with Dan Savage looking over its shoulder, will it ever change its attitude? If Howard thinks compliments about his cardigan are gay, he probably shouldn't wear one."
In a post that ended up being about the Clippers, Zach Harper breaks down musicals: "They seem completely illogical to me. I’ve never thought of singing out an argument with my friends. I’ve never decided to join a gang so I can crouch over and snap my fingers as we approach a rival syndicate."
European players in the NCAA, a video roundup.
How's the new regime in Philadelphia? Philadunkia's Nabeel Ahmadieh is reading the tea leaves and is underwhelmed: "Signing [Tony] Battie and overpaying for [Thaddeus Young] is not a great start to the season. It’s not like these moves are devastating to our roster and a potential postseason slot, however, they’re neither encouraging. Battie is limited offensively with little upside as a player at the age of 35. Young had no offers around the league and likely could have been signed for 10 million dollars and a year less. And don’t get me started on the Hawes signing. Simply questionable moves on the president’s part."
John Wall has a simple message for tired JaVale McGee on this scrimmage video: "Just run." McGee has explained recently that he has an alter-ego, "Pierre." Maybe that's the guy Wall should be yelling at.