Cold! Some statistical analysis showing that the Hornets ought to improve merely by getting rid of Jannero Pargo.
Mike Dougherty of The Journal News: "The part-time movie producer [Elton Brand] is kind of relishing the possibility of playing the bad guy when Philadelphia visits the Clippers on New Year's Eve. ... And what kind of response does he expect? 'Oh, there's no question,' Brand said. 'I know I'm getting booed.'"
Yahoo's Kelly Dwyer on Ben Gordon's dreadful lack of leverage in his negotiations with the Bulls: "I don't blame Ben. He's been told things, and his showing off ('It's safe to say ...') is pretty atypical for him. But he doesn't have a lot of options. Or any, really, save for going international, or sitting out the season and making absolutely no money. Or, he could take the QO, and deal with the same frustrations next year, when even fewer teams have cap flexibility to give him what he thinks he's earned. Or, he could take a six-year, 59 million dollar deal that seems about right. This doesn't mean the Bulls aren't being cheap by not going into luxury tax territory. They are. But in this case, these lucky so-and-sos have made it so the absolute maximum offered under the tax is right in line with what a player like Ben should be making. I'm their biggest critic, but they're right. And Ben? He's just stuck. And flailing."
Remember Reunion Arena in Dallas? I remember when Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackmon used to own that place. Now you can. Really. You can purchase pieces of it and take them home with you.
How cool is Danilo Gallinari's birthday? 8-8-88.
Joey Litman of StraightBangin does a guest post at FreeDarko, and describes life as a citizen of the NBA (a little PG-13). You should read the whole thing, but here's how it concludes: "Seeing Dwyane Wade throw off-balance alley-oops to Kobe, or watching LeBron conquer a gauntlet of defenders for a layup, or looking on as Chris Paul has made it impossible to put the ball on the floor near him has exclusively appealed to my pride as an NBA citizen. Unlike my national ambivalence, I experience no pangs of loathing or deep resentment when I consider the NBA. Instead, I have affectionately looked on as the only team comprised solely of NBA personnel has dominated by playing the NBA brand of basketball, our brand. For a league that has often endured reputational punishments that exceed the severity of its crimes-with international basketball often serving as a catalyst for the excessive consternation-this has, thus far, been sweet vindication. To be an NBA citizen and watch this team is to share in the swelling joy. Team USA's run has validated a deep-seeded part of my identity, as riding with the NBA again seems cool and worthwhile, just as it would be personally fulfilling for the United States to use its defining characteristics in a manner that bred success. In that regard, having committed to the Lig and having been counted among its citizens for some time, Team USA's success is directly connected to my own happiness and pride. It legitimizes all the hours spent watching the games, defending the Association, championing its code and culture. It has uplifted its citizens."
Monta Ellis is not sitting around and getting fat after signing his first really big contract.
Jason Quick of the Oregonian writes about Steve Blake, and several interesting things happen. For one, General Manager Kevin Pritchard sort of inadvertantly talks about the Blazers winning 46-50 games this season. Then we learn that Blake does the regular ball-handling drills, but he does them with his eyes closed. But most interestingly, we learn about the scrappy side of Steve Blake: "He is constantly planning his next workout, whether it be at a high-tech sports complex to work on his vertical leap, or in a blue-collar Southeast Portland gym where he practices Jujitsu with Nate Quarry, an Ultimate Fighting Championship brawler. Blake says the Jujitsu workouts and the UFC-style training -- which sometimes includes strapping on boxing gloves -- are a way to make himself 'tougher,' and it complements his edgy, yet hidden personality. To those who have played with Blake, he is known as a scrapper, once going as far as to engage in fisticuffs with Nene, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound teammate, during a practice when both played for Denver. And in Portland, Blake has kicked so many benches, thrown so many chairs, and tipped over so many baskets of balls, that assistant coach Monty Williams forecasts the storm of Blake by announcing 'Lieutenant Dan' is arriving, playing off the pugnacious character in the movie 'Forrest Gump.'" (Lieutenant Dan video.) UPDATE: Video of Blake dribbling with closed eyes, grappling with some dude on the floor, and running his basketball camp.
Former player and head of the retired players association, and current attorney Len Elmore talking to SLAM: "... this idea of leaving high school and going to Europe. If we are going to take it to that extreme, if we have forces that are battling my philosophy (the American college route) then I think the NBA and the union would be better served to legislate just three years, period. I think the high school baseball rule as it pertains to basketball is a huge mistake. The reason is because, disproportionately, we are talking about the impact on young kids of color, and I think we need some paternalism because that's what many of them lack. There are so many guys that haven't developed enough skills on a foundational base upon which to build to be successful in the NBA. There are so many guys coming in after a year and they play and then they languish. Yeah, they make some money, there is no denying that. But, have they maximized their potential? And that to me is the operative phrase, 'Maximize your potential.' I believe now that they should just go to three years (minimum) or leave after high school and go to Europe like Sonny Vacarro is beckoning all these kids to do."
Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "At least one Wizard will be sporting a new look when the season begins. Guard DeShawn Stevenson, who played all of last season with a beard, recently shaved it off after winning a bet with former Orlando teammate and good friend Drew Gooden, who now plays for the Chicago Bulls. Last summer, Gooden bet Stevenson that he could go longer without shaving and S
tevenson was willing to wait him out. Stevenson, who wore dreadlocks during his first season as a Wizard in 2006-2007, is now wearing a flattop style, which was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. 'I went old school,' said Stevenson, before a recent workout at Verizon Center. 'I even have the part and everything.'"