Tom Haberstroh of Hardwood Paroxysm looks at which players produced the least amount of value relative to their salaries last season: "The cases of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Michael Redd illustrate the devastating effects that a serious injury can have on a team’s books. The Rockets were set to receive nearly nothing for their $40 million investments in Yao and McGrady but a midseason deal with the Knicks handed McGrady’s albatross over to Jim Dolan in exchange for long-term cap relief. In general, $40 million equates to about 18 wins above replacement so the Rockets 42-win season becomes even more remarkable considering what they lost due to injury."
Team USA will play Lithuania on Saturday, then Spain on Sunday in a couple of exhibition matches. Jay Aych of The Painted Area on the matchup with Spain: "Spain might not want to show its full arsenal to Team USA in an exhibition game. Team USA could be planning the same thing, so we might not be able to glean much from this matchup." The idea of a team not showing its entire hand is something we occasionally hear in pro football, when two teams who are likely to face each other in the playoffs have a less consequential late-season meeting. But we it's not something normally seen in basketball, which tells how much anticipation there is for a U.S.-Spain contest in the FIBA Championships next month.
In an American player's psyche, how important is it that he and Team USA play well over the next month? Patrick James of Daily Thunder says it's more important than you might think, particularly for Kevin Durant: "[F]or anyone who cares either way if Durant vaults into the highest echelon of NBA stars, the most compelling reason to put importance on the World Championship is the knowledge that Durant himself cares deeply."
Over the past 12 months, Durant has seen his name (and face) recognition skyrocket. He tweets from Madrid: "Is it rude for people to ask for pictures while ur eating?"
Tom Ziller of AOL Fanhouse breaks down the individual performances in yesterday's Greece-Serbia brawl. Ziller on Sofoklis Schortsanitis: "But Greek Shaq's most gully episode comes in the chase of Krstic, best seen at the 35-second mark. You can tell how feared someone is by how fast their enemies retreat. Krstic can't get away fast enough. When Krstic throws the chair at Sofo (47-second mark; listen for the crowd reaction), Schortsanitis doesn't even blink. Swag-ger."
Using FastDraw, Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game diagrams a gorgeous misdirection set the Mavs ran last season for Jason Kidd and Rodrigue Beaubois.
Filp Saunders once said that "defensively, the team always takes the personality of their players." John Townsend of Truth About It looks at the implications of that theory for the 2010-11 Washington Wizards.
Lou Williams has gradually become a pretty efficient basketball player. Jordan Sams of Liberty Ballers contrasts the Sixers guard with Aaron Brooks, a point guard with a much higher Q Rating -- but maybe a lesser game.
At Basketball Reference Blog, Neil Paine develops a method to measure which players have played for the best offenses over the course of their careers. Hint: a roster spot on the 2005-10 Phoenix Suns helps a guy's ranking tremendously.
The Trail Blazers' play at a slow pace, which can lead the less careful observer to conclude Portland has a pretty good defense. In reality, the Trail Blazers haven't been very efficient on the defensive end of the floor. Dave of Blazers Edge senses that Portland has the ingredients to become a top-flight defensive squad, but still has some fundamental issues to solve before it gets there.
Via WEEI's Green Street, Paul Pierce tells CSNNE he wants to finish his career in Europe.
Ben Steele of Order of the Court digs into Scottie Pippen's infamous decision to stay on the bench for the final 1.8 seconds of Game 3 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals.
It's hard to find a coach who has had a more fascinating quarter century than Nolan Richardson.
Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company and Rahat Huq of Red94 have a dialogue about Carmelo Anthony. Wagner on Anthony: "There are few players who can score in as many was as Carmelo can, yet instead of exploiting the advantages the team earns due to the attention he receives from the opposition Melo frequently forces his way into the teeth of the defense in an attempt to prove he can do it. Carmelo has never made that leap from I can do it, to we can do it and as a result makes things more difficult on himself than it needs to be which leads directly to the surprising void between his talent and his lack of efficiency."
At Philadunkia, a full examination of the Ed Stefanski era in Philadelphia.
Manu Ginobili to George Hill over Twitter: "Get that corner three ready, man!"
Stephen Curry tweets: "my pops came out to Spain to watch his boy play. Dang that means a lot!"