24 Jan 11 Big Ten Football Preview, Week 5: Big Ten Play Begins

Leon Halip/Getty ImagesIn golf, they call the preseason the "silly season" because the guys really don't practice. They just go to a couple of tournaments, play okay, and cash a few checks.For somecollege football teams, they just finished the silly season. For others, Big Ten play is their only hope of having a successful year.This week starts the second, or real season, for Big Tenschools. I also like it because I don't have to preview 11 different games. So it works out for all of us! Big Ten Game of the Week Wisconsin at Michigan Reebok Washington Redskins #98 ORAKPO Realtree camo Jersey
StateWhen the season began, I would have bet a dollar that thePenn State at Iowa game would be this week's BTGOTW (Big Ten game of the week), but with Mark Dantonio's mild heart attack (isany heart attack mild?) and return to coaching in the press box, and with both teams undefeated, this is clearly the better game.Both are power teams that like to run the ball. Both have good running backs and good non-conference wins (ND and ASU). I think this will be a very close game, and believe it or not, MSU is a home dog, getting two points.I usually sidewitha home team in a close game, but I have a strange feeling that Wisconsin is the better team. Wisconsin 24, MSU21 More Big Ten PlayNorthwestern at MinnesotaThe Golden Gophers really need a win, and Northwestern is quietly undefeated this year. Could Tim Brewster be gone before the end of October? He could if the Golden Gophers don't start playing better football. This is another home dog scenario where Northwestern is giving 5.5 points. It won't be that close.Northwestern 28, Minn 14Reebok Pittsburgh Steelers 43 Troy Polamalu Realtree camo Jersey
Ohio State at IllinoisIllinois has given Ohio State fits in the past, but this team led by Ron Zook doesn't really have much to offer to stop Terrelle Pryor and company. Ohio State always has a Big Ten sleeper game on the road (last year it was Purdue), but not in this game. Guess what? Another home dog game: OSU is favored by 17 points. Seems about right.OSU 31, Illinois 10 Penn State at IowaBoth teams have high hopes for a Big Ten championship. Iowa's schedule sets up nicely for them, being able to hostPSU, MSU, and OSU during Big Ten play. Both teams havealready lost a game on the road in 2010. Penn State got manhandled by No. 1 Alabama, and Iowa got down quickly to Arizona and wasn't able to recover.Penn State's offensewill struggle against Iowa's defense. I see thisgame as a defensive battle with not a lot of points scored. Iowa is favored by seven points.Iowa 17, Penn State 7 Purdue has abye. I will preview the Michigan-IU game on Friday. A Thought to Ponder on a Thursday AfternoonHow big would next Reebok Green Bay Packers 21 Charles Woodson Realtree camo Jersey
week's Michigan-MSU game be if both teams were undefeated? Storylines: Dantonio's heart condition, Rich Rodriguez trying to beat his in-state rival for the first time, two really good running teams, MSU's first time in the new Big House, and I'm sure there will be a little brother reference or two. (Note: MSU does not play OSU this year.)This article is also featured onThe BIG HOUSE Blog


22 Jan 11 Auburn Football Report Card: Grading The Tigers' Win Over Clemson

Eric Smith celebrates with fans after Auburn beat Clemson. (Hal Yeager/Birmingham News)Last night, Auburn trailed Clemson 17-0 after a diving catch by Jamie Harper. A field goal to end the half made it 17-3 in favor of Clemson.If Tommy Tuberville were the coach, there is no way Auburn comes back to win. But this is the Gene Chizik era. Halftime adjustments were made, and the second half belonged to the SEC Tigers. A few penalties and overturned calls later, No. 16 Auburn won in OT, 27-24.Auburn fans have to admit, ClemsonI will have to give multiple grades for some of the units, because the game itself was definitely a tale of two halves.Offense: First Half: D- Second Half: B+In the first half, Auburn had just over 110 yards of total offense, a turnover, and didn't pick up a first downReebok Green Bay Packers #12 Aaron Rodgers Realtree camo Jersey
until there was under nine minutes left in the second quarter. So what keeps it from being an F? Well, Auburn moved the ball quickly late in the half, and a Wes Byrum field goal as time expired put Auburn on the board at last. As it turns out, that field goal could have been the difference between an overtime victory or a regulation defeat.In the second half, Auburn's offense looked completely different, especially in the third quarter. After scoring just three points in the first half, Auburn caught on fire. Auburn moved the ball on the opening drive before a great interception by Clemson. After Auburn held them in check, they got the ball back and Onterio McCalebb scored Auburn's first touchdown of the night. Cam Newton then found Darvin Adams from eight yards out and Terrell Zachery from 78 yards. Auburn picked up over 300 yards of offense after halftime and ended with 424. Auburn's offense came alive in the second half and got Auburn back in the game and, eventually, gave Auburn the lead and the points needed for victory.Defense: First Half: C- Second Half: A-In the first half, Auburn's defense made a few plays, such as stopping Clemson on 4th-and-1,but they for the most part were picked apart. Clemson had 17 first downs in the first half and scored 17 as well. Auburn luckily made halftime adjustments.The second half and overtime were a completely different story. Auburn gave up just seven points and 10 first downs in the second half and overtime combined. Stopping Clemson on 3rd-and-5 inside the Auburn 10-yard line in OT was Reebok Green Bay Packers #52 Clay Matthews Realtree camo Jersey
the biggest play of the season for Auburn's defense, who turned in a pretty solid effort last night.Special Teams: AOutside of a shanked punt by Ryan Shoemaker in the fourth (Auburn's defense would push Clemson backwards anyways), this unit was solid. Demond Washington had some terrific returns. Wes Byrum went 2-for-2 and made the eventual game-winner in OT. Clemson missed their overtime field goal. Clemson never had a big returnon punts or kickoffs. Carr did not even come close to muffing a punt. A great night for the special teams.Coaching: First Half: C- Second Half: AIn the first half, coaching was definitely not a strength on Auburn's "off night." Dabo Swinney outcoached Chizik in the first half, and Auburn trailed 17-3.Now, I don't know what Chizik said to his players at halftime, but it worked. Auburn rebounded to win the game in overtime, and Chizik's ability to make adjustments was a big reason for that.Officiating: D+This ACC crew was not very good at all. They called stupid penalties on Auburn. They came close to calling offsides on Auburn in OT, but one ref saw the illegal snap. I'm not taking anything away from Clemson, they have a great team and the game was exactly what it looked like. But these refs...basically...sucked.Clock Mechanics: First Quarter: F Rest of Reebok Indianapolis Colts 18 Peyton Manning Realtree camo Jersey
Game: A+The clock had some serious issues in the first quarter, but that was eventually cleaned up.Overall: A-Folks, the heart and character of this team is unbelievable. Down 17-0 in the second quarter, Auburn shows heart and bravery and comes all the way back to win a huge game thatis featuredby ESPN's College GameDay. It was a classic matchup between two good teams, but in the end, Auburn wins with the nation watching.


18 Jan 11 Make Or Break Weekend For Alabama and Auburn As Well As Their Opponents

Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesThere is a lot on the line this weekend for all involved in two key SEC match-ups.In Fayetteville Arkansas the winner of the Alabama vs Arkansas match-up will likely go on to win the SEC west.A loss for Alabama could cost the Tide plenty in the BCS polls due out on October 17, as well as the Reebok Washington Redskins #98 ORAKPO Realtree camo Jersey
SEC west race.A loss for Arkansas could throw the Razorbacks into a tail spin because they have placed so much emphasis on this game. In fact, it seems as though their whole season is riding on this one game at least in the minds of their players and fans.Down in Auburn this weekend's game with South Carolina will be pivotal for Auburn's season and will go along way toward legitimizing their team. Auburn has been living on the edge in their last two games and also appears to be living on borrowed time. Auburn won their last two games by the narrowest of margins and unless the Tigers play better this Saturday their season could take a sudden turn for the worst.In South Carolina case the Gamecocks cannot afford to lose this game and have a realistic chance of making to Atlanta in December. I believe South Carolina must Reebok Pittsburgh Steelers 43 Troy Polamalu Realtree camo Jersey
roll into Gainesville undefeated on November 13 in order to have clear shot of winning the SEC's Eastern Division outright. That is unless Florida drops a couple along the way which isn't likely.So, September 25 is a very crucial day for all four of these teams, and will go a long way toward determining who will play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta on December 4, 2010.The winners will be sitting pretty and the losers will be left to pick up the pieces.


15 Jan 11 St. Louis Rams Scott Linehan Torry Holt Marc Bulger Mike Martz

It wasn't that long ago that the St. Louis Rams were known as the 'Greatest Show on Turf.' Kurt Warner was airing it out, Marshall Faulk was running wild, and Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were catching passes and streaking to many a touchdown. Led first by one white-haired guy, Dick Vermeil, and then another, Mike Cincinnati Bengals jersey
Martz, the Rams went to two Super Bowls in three years, winning in 1999 and coming up just short in 2001. Martz was the man behind it, with his innovative offensive schemes taking advantage of all of the talent that he had at his disposal. How quickly things change. Since that Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, the Rams have missed the playoffs in two of the last four seasons (and failed to get past the divisional round when they made the playoffs in '03 and '04), and a number of things have gradually changed. Marc Bulger has since replaced Warner, who was beset by a number of injuries and then ineffectiveness that led him out of St. Louis. Time, age and injury took its toll on Faulk, whose status as the NFL's best all-purpose back dropped with dwindling production. Martz began to gradually wear out his welcome in St. Louis, and a health scare last season gave both he and the Rams the perfect opportunity to make a change. Martz is now in charge of trying to make offensive magic in Detroit, and the new man in charge in the STL is another offensive guru, Scott Linehan, who was offensive coordinator under Nick Saban in Miami last season. It's plainly obvious now that the 'Greatest Show on Turf' is no longer what it once was. And that might not be bad news. It looks like the Ram front office took a little advice from Sheryl Crow, about how good change might be for you. The speedy Faulk has been replaced by the bigger, more physical Steven Jackson, who in his third season has a chance to flourish with Faulk out for the season and possible done for his career with knee problems. Faulk was the perfect back for Martz's offensive scheme; Jackson is the perfect back for Linehan's power-based running attack. Even with the new offensive scheme that will make things far more balanced than they were under Martz, that doesn't mean that the receivers will be neglected, in the least.Remember, Linehan was the man behind Daunte Culpepper's monster 2004 season, and that be nothing but good news for the aerial attack. His last two teams had 552 (2004 Vikings) and 556 (2005 Dolphins) pass attempts, compared to 580 (2004) and 599 (2005) for the last two Ram teams. Before I go too far, you might be wondering why the Rams' new head man is so well-renowned. Looking Cleveland Browns jersey
at the differences in both rushing and passing numbers for the 2004 Vikings and 2005 Dolphins, your perspective on Linehans's skills may be a little skewed, but a) the 2004 Vikings didn't have a capable run game to complement Culpepper (not like he needed much of one with the receivers he had), b) the 2005 Dolphins weren't a passing juggernaut, as judged by the much lower numbers they put up with less attempts than those '04 Vikings. Considering that the Rams have a) a talented quarterback and deep receiving corps and b) a talented running back, then the real potential of Linehan's schemes has a chance to show itself, with the right personnel at his disposal. The one-two punch of Bruce and Holt could see a little change, with the emergence of a new talent in the ranks. The new No. 2 to No. 81 looks like it could be former Utah State Aggie Kevin Curtis, who caught 60 passes last season and should see plenty of balls thrown his way this year. Bruce will still be a productive receiver, but he is 34 and may have more value to the team as a slot or possession receiver than a primary guy. The new gameplan will ensure that the Rams' depth (Holt, Curtis, Bruce, Shaun McDonald and the rookie tight end duo of Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd) is utilized, much in the same way the Colts make use of Harrison, Wayne, Stokley and Clark. While that may mean a slight downturn in individual numbers, there won't be much (if any) drop-off in Holt's production. While the ball is going to be spread around relatively evenly, there won't be any questions about who the number one target will be. The only offensive question mark is about who'll be throwing all those passes this season, and it's not a talent-related issue. Bulger can be a fantasy leaguer's best friend, but that's only when he's healthy, and that's not a certainty. He missed the last six games of 2005 and eight games total due to shoulder problems. While the Rams were known for an extremely high-powered offense, they were also known for having their issues on defense (remember the Super Bowl where they went into prevent mode against the Pats, which allowed Tom Brady to lead the game-winning field-goal drive). The Ram defense was 30th in the league last season, but addressing those issues was a priority in the offseason. They signed defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who's looking to rediscover his All-Pro form that was lost in his time in Dallas. To strengthen their linebacking corps, they signed Will Witherspoon, formerly of the Panthers. Witherspoon is one of Dallas Cowboys jersey
the top young linebackers in the league, and he could be a star in St. Louis. To improve the defensive backfield, the team signed veteran safety Corey Chavous from the Vikings and drafted Clemson cornerback Tye Hill with the 15th overall pick in the draft. To bring out the best in your players, you need the right coach, and Linehan made it happen, bringing in former Saints coach Jim Haslett, who is one of the league's top defensive coaches. The new Ram defense may not hit the top 10 in the league, but getting above the 20s would be a great improvement. They've been replaced by the high-flying Colts as the 'Greatest Show on Turf,' and it may take a little while for them to regain that title, with some growing pains inevitable. But if you're a St. Louis Rams fan, you have to hope that Ms. Crow is right. (0)

15 Jan 11 St. Louis Rams Alex Barron Kyle Turley
内容: After a two-week holdout, St. Louis Rams offensive tackle Alex Barron has inked a five-year deal with the team. Because of the holdout and the time it takes to learn blocking schemes, Rams coach Mike Martz said he doesn't expect Barron to be an opening day starter for the Rams when they begin their regular season on September 11th against the San Francisco 49ers.In recent days, Martz had been highly critical of Barron's agent, Roosevelt Barnes for not getting a deal done so that Alex Barron could get into camp. Towards the end of last season, Martz got into a physical confrontation with the man that Barron is hoping to replace at right tackle, Kyle Turley. Turley missed all of the 2004 season with a back injury, but Martz felt that Turley wasn't really hurt as much as he claimed.Alex Barron was a standout on Denver Broncos jersey
the offensive line at Florida State before he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the 19th overall selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy in his senior season with the Seminoles. He was also a consensus All-American selection, as he average eight knockdowns per game. Scouts say he has great balance for a man his size, but they also noted that he lacks aggressiveness at times. He struggled early on in Rams mini-camp, which played a part in Martz decision to move him down on the depth chart. Grant Williams will begin the regular season where he ended 2004, as starting right tackle. (0)


14 Jan 11 Seattle Seahawks "Still looking around, but it's not September yet"

The Seahawks struck out in their offseason attempts to acquire a veteran guard and had to settle for 35-year-old Marcus Pollard at tight end, but they might get a few more swings at those positions before the season starts.As they showed last year -- when they acquired fullback Josh Parry just before the season and New England Patriots jersey
receiver Deion Branch after Week 1 -- the Seahawks aren't afraid to step up to the plate and make deals to enhance their roster in September. And they've certainly gotten a few pitches to look at recently.As far back as April, the Seahawks were reported to be interested in San Francisco guard Justin Smiley; and, in the last week or so, the team has been rumored to like Chicago defensive end Alex Brown and Detroit guard Damien Woody. The problem with Smiley and Brown is that their teams want second-round draft picks for them. In addition, both would like new contracts. Smiley would have cost the Seahawks about $7 million per year. The Seahawks expressed interest in Smiley in April, but there has been no further talk of a trade since then. And it doesn't look like there will be. The interest in Brown was probably just a result of casual talks between Seahawks president Tim Ruskell and Chicago General Manager Jerry Angelo, who once worked together in Tampa Bay. Brown is a steady player who seems to be a younger version (28) of the Seahawks' Bryce Fisher (30), whose contract is up after the 2008 season. Brown is a good rotational player who plays the run and pass well; he had seven sacks in 2006, when Seattle got a good look at him as it played the Bears twice.Brown asked the Bears if he could seek a trade because he wanted to see if he could find a better contract than the one that is scheduled to pay him $595,000 this year, $550,000 in 2008 and $670,000 in 2009. The Bears prefer not to trade Brown, their fourth-round pick from 2002, which is why they are asking such a high price of any potential suitors."It's not the Bears. They don't want to get rid of me," Brown told reporters last month. "It's just that I want to see what else is out there."But as long as the Bears demand a second-rounder for him, no team "out there" is going to be interested.While the Bears don't want to get rid of Brown, the Lions might end up dumping Woody even if they can't find a trade partner. The Lions allegedly were talking to the Seahawks about sending New Orleans Saints jersey
Woody to Seattle for a seventh-round pick, but the Seahawks don't have such a pick next year because they sent it to Philadelphia for fullback Josh Parry last September. If Seattle did decide to get Woody, it would probably be for a conditional pick or a seventh-rounder in 2009. Woody was a first-round pick by the New England Patriots in 1999, but his performance has not matched the six-year, $31 million deal he signed with the Lions in 2004. In fact, this offseason he checked into Duke University's famed weight-loss center and dropped about 30 pounds. At 347, he is still about 20 pounds heavier than he wants to play at in 2007. And weight is not the only thing he will have to reduce. Whether he stays in Detroit or goes to Seattle, Woody surely will have to rework his contract, which is slated to pay him $4.5 million this year, $4.75 million in 2008 and $5.75 million in 2009.If the Seahawks could get him cheap -- both in compensation to the Lions and in salary -- Woody would be a low-risk gamble to add depth to a line that is currently plagued by injuries and instability.Another guard on the potential trading block is Pittsburgh All-Pro Alan Faneca, who has expressed his displeasure with the Steelers for not extending a deal that will pay about $3.4 million this year and expire after the season. Faneca, a six-time Pro Bowl guard, will command top dollar, which means at least $7 million per year. And the Steelers surely would want a high pick for him as well, which is why he probably is not even a gleam in the eye of the Seahawks. One guy who could be available is Green Bay tight end Bubba Franks, who has been demoted by coach Mike McCarthy in the wake of Franks' worst NFL season (25 catches in 2006). It wouldn't be surprising to see Franks traded or cut, and the Seahawks could use another pass-catching tight end to go with Pollard. Of course, age (29) and salary ($1.4 million) could deter Seattle from considering Franks -- assuming the Seahawks even thought the seven-year veteran could still play. All of the aforementioned New York Giants jersey
players are merely rumors and speculation at this point. But the Seahawks showed last year that they aren't averse to making deals late in the offseason, and even though all of the recent trade rumors don't seem to be going anywhere at the moment ... it's not September yet.Where there's never an offseason for NFL football! Tell your friends about us


13 Jan 11 Oklahoma City Thunder Enjoy Success Away from Home

The Ford Center is home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Each home game, nearly 18,000 fans travel downtown to support the team. From Loud City to the Thunder Girls, attending a Thunder home game is a great experience.But watching them on the road is even better.In the NBA, the success of teams is not Reebok Green Bay Packers #12 Aaron Rodgers Realtree camo Jersey
only measured by how well they play at home, but also by how they fare away from the comfort zone of their local arenas.As of Monday, the Thunder were 11-8 at the Ford Center. But more importantly, they are 10-8 on the road, winning by an average of 9.1 points per game, including five double-digit wins. Four of the eight road losses have been by six points or less, including a three-point loss to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.The team's success on the road has led to a boost in confidence, better performances, and a chance at a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Should they continue their current level of play, the Thunder may earn a lower seed in the playoffs.However, the way they have played on the road this year to date will prove to be beneficial, as they will not have the luxury of Reebok Green Bay Packers #52 Clay Matthews Realtree camo Jersey
playing the majority of playoff games on their home court.You may be saying, "Big deal. 10-8 on the road. Who cares?"Consider this: The Thunder won eight road games all of last year, but they won their eighth road game in 15 tries this year. That's a significant improvement, and half the season hasn't even been played yet.Let's look at the road records of the top eight seeds in the Western Conference to date:Los Angeles: 8-5Dallas: 13-6Denver: 8-11Phoenix: 9-10San Antonio: 6-7Portland: 9-9Houston: 10-13Oklahoma City: 10-8Five of the eight teams have a road record of .500 or less. Last season, four teams from the Western Conference (and five teams from the Eastern Conference) made the playoffs with a road record of .500 or less. This is an alarming trend, considering how crucial it is for an NBA team to Reebok Indianapolis Colts 18 Peyton Manning Realtree camo Jersey
be successful on the road.Although winning in front of your home fans is a great feeling, there is an equal satisfaction of going into someone else's house and beating them on their home court, especially in the postseason.Note to the Western Conference: The Thunder look forward to meeting you in the playoffs.Oh, you say it's at your place? No problem; we'll meet you there.

12 Jan 11 NBA Trade Rumors: How Gilbert Arenas' Suspension Affects Trade Deadline

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesThe jury has spoken, literally, on the fate of Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas. The impact on the team is evident, but with the impending trade deadline, his actions may have opened new avenues for teams to pursue players.The Wizards may have a fire sale on their hands.The decision has yet to be made, as the ownership of the Wizards is still in question, but it is a foregone conclusion that the team will attempt to void Arenas' contract.The move would relieve them of the substantial financial burden his contract has become and allow them to wheel and deal a bit before the deadline on Feb. 11.The availability of Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler changes the direction of trade winds substantially.The biggest names that have been thrown New Orleans Saints jersey
around in trade talks are Amar'e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns, Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets, and even Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers.There are plenty of potential trades on the table, but everyone knows those are just appetizers to see who is willing to part with what for some sort of return.The most prominent teams looking for deals are: the Chicago Bulls, who want to build around point guard Derrick Rose; the Rockets, who are trying to get rid of Tracy McGrady; and a handful of other teams trying to part ways with players who just don't fit in.Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks has been discussed in trade rumors this season because of his recent injury problems and substantial drop-off in production. The versatility and steady play of Shawn Marion makes Howard much more expendable.The Jazz could make a move for Butler and Jamison and dump Boozer in D.C. It may not be the best option for Boozer, but the Jazz have a great point guard and plenty of role-players to be a contender now.The Wizards could finally make a real effort at defense, with Boozer giving some much needed toughness at the power forward position.The potential return for both teams is great.The amount of names being mentioned as potential trade bait is long and illustrious, as usual.Arenas being suspendedand agreeing to extend that suspension for the remainder of the seasonmakes it more likely that the Wizards will entertain offers from anyone in the league for anyone on their roster.The Wizards are far from championship material, but the team is made up of players who could immediately help another, more established team.Cleveland would like to hold on to LeBron James any way possible, and the best way to do that would be to surround him with better players than he has now.He has Mo Williams as his proverbial Scottie Pippen, but doesn't have a consistent enough cast beyond that. It isn't out of the realm of possibility to think the Wizards could package Brendan Haywood with Jamison for odd-man out Shaquille O'Neal and another player.The Wizards get Shaq's expiring contract, and the Cavs get a younger center with good production in Haywood and a great scorer and rebounder in Jamison. Cleveland becomes a much more appealing place for James to stick around, instead of taking the money and running to New York.Butler seems to be the centerpiece of any deal the Wizards could make because he is young and seems to fit in well no matter where he is. He averaged double-digit scoring in both Miami and Los Angeles before settling into his role with the Wizards.The package of Jamison and Butler could net the Wizards' Stoudemire, another player, and maybe a pick.The value of New York Giants jersey
both Butler and Jamison gives Washington the advantage in any trade involving the two of them. They could get Boozer, Bosh, or at the very least McGrady, and a good pick.McGrady seems like the most available player out of everyone.He has been deactivated by the team in hopes that he won't re-injure himself, and maybe teams will remember the two-time league scoring champion and not the increasingly frail star of yesteryear.The Wizards have a ton of young players that no doubt hold some value. Randy Foye has become a good scorer and has shown he can run the offense since Arenas was suspended. JaVale McGee is an explosive athlete who is hungry to prove himself. Nick Young can be a great scorer, but remains inconsistent.But what isn't inconsistent in Washington these days?The potential for three-team deals expands greatly because the Wizards have a wealth of talent up for grabs, but can't be too picky about what they get back.The Nets have shown interest in Stoudemire, and have been rumored to be willing to part with Devin Harris and standout center Brook Lopez. The Wizards could somehow throw Jamison and Butler into the fray and get a young, talented player for the future out of it. The possibilities are endless.To look at things from a different perspective, the Arenas suspension may have closed a few doors for the trade deadline.Many players seek trades or are included in trade talks because they are unhappy or have expiring contracts. Any team that takes on one of those players has to be aware of the risk involved. The Wizards signed Arenas to a huge contract in hopes that he would eventually lead them to a championship in the future.Teams are much less likely to shell out $100 million for a player who shows even the slightest discontent with their situation.That puts players like Stoudemire at risk for long-term deals. He has had major knee surgery in his career, and despite showing no ill effects, it is another excuse not to trade for him and invest too many millions in a future that is less certain every season.An interesting wrinkle in the Arenas situation is the potential for the Wizards to attempt to trade him.Team President Ernie Grunfeld was as vague as possible in a press conference regarding Arenas and Javaris Crittenton's suspensions. Reading between the lines, the Wizards are not going to be in the Arenas business beyond this season, let alone past the trade deadline.There is very little that can be done with Arenas because of his aforementioned contract, but that doesn't mean someone wouldn't be willing to reach for a potential star. Arenas can still play; he is simply a behavioral concern now.But that didn't stop anyone from wanting Ron Artest.Arenas could bring in a slew of young players and expiring contracts, but more importantly, draft picks. He commands so much money that the likelihood of a trade is slim, but that is where three- and four-team deals come into play.Someone has to be interested in Arenas and may be willing to give him a chance to prove he is not the antagonist the New York Jets jersey
media has portrayed since his firearm incident.In a market that will soon be flooded with big names come summertime, there is less need to make the blockbuster trade right now.The trade deadline is always an eventful time in the typical NBA season. This time around, teams may be more discerning buyers and sellers with the lesson hopefully learned from the poor investment the Wizards made in Arenas.


10 Jan 11 2010 and Beyond: Evaluating the Chicago Bulls Trade Deadline Moves

Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesKudos to the Chicago Bulls.As a Bulls fan, I haven't recently been able to say that too often. However, today, I clap for the Chicago Bulls' effort.At the potential risk of hurting playoff chances this year, the Chicago Bulls successfully dealt SG/SF John Salmons and perennial underachiever SF/PF Tyrus Thomas inseparatedeals.The players they received in turn are entirely irrelevant (I will go into more detail later in the article), as general manager Gar Forman and the Bulls achieved what should have been their one and only goal. Cap space in 2010. In acquiring Acie Law, Ronald "Flip" Murray, Joe Alexander, and Hakim Warrick combined with the expiring big money contracts of Brad Miller and Jerome James, Chicago has guaranteed them an opportunity at signing a max free agent this Reebok Indianapolis Colts 18 Peyton Manning Realtree camo Jersey
offseason.Enough blabbering, let's talk about the deals from the Bulls' prospective.John Salmons to Milwaukee for Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick Chicago receives: Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick Milwaukee receives: John Salmons, Chicago 2011 Second Round Draft Pick, Chicago 2012 Second Round Draft Pick, and the right to swap 2010 first round picks with Chicago (top 10 protected)Overall, a great deal for the Bulls. While they do lose Salmons, who will be missed in the immediate (+0.1, 12.9 PER, 12.7 PPG), the long-term ramifications of the deal are nothing but positive.Obviously, Salmons was a definite disappointment for the 2009-2010 Bulls after averaging a little over 18 PPG for the Bulls after being acquired in a deadline deal with the Sacramento Kings.Again, while losing him hurts the team (very slightly) in the short-term, Salmons brought a very big x-factor to the table. A 2010-2011 opt-in clause. The one-year opt-in at $9 million would have made things very difficult for the Bulls this offseason and may have made it impossible for the Bulls to land a max free agent.Losing two second-round picks has no real barring on the Bulls. Second-round picks can bring good value (Milwaukee as an example), but it has not been a strength for the Bulls, especially for a team looking to content going forward.Alexander and Warrick (+2.7, 15.7 PER, 10.2 PPG) do not hurt the Bulls much in the short term. Both are at least serviceable. Alexander has been a giant disappointment and may not even see significant time but Warrick can come off the bench and provide some slight rebounding and scoring. His defensive shortcomings are well documented, but I do not think he'll really hurt our chances of grabbing one of the low seeds.Lastly, Milwaukee acquired the rights to swap 2010 first round picks with the Bulls. This will not mean much as both figure to be relatively close in the standings at the end of the year. The Bulls do have protection if they were to happen to get into the lottery and get a top 10 pick; however, I do not see that occurring. If anything, the Bulls may lose a few spots, but I do not see this being a major problem at all.Grade: B+Again, as I mentioned an overall great trade for the Bulls. While both Alexander and Warrick are not great players, they'll more than fill-in in theinterim. Both give us some more depth in thefrontcourtwhich depending on Joakim Noah's health may be extremely important. More importantly, ridding themselves of the potential of Salmons' opt-in guarantees the chance at a top-tier Reebok Minnesota Vikings 28 Adrian Peterson Realtree camo Jersey
free agent.Tyrus Thomas to Charlotte for Acie Law and Ronald "Flip" MurrayChicagoreceives: Acie Law, Flip Murray, future first round pick Charlottereceives: Tyrus ThomasI cannot express how much I love this deal. You must remember this is Tyrus Thomas. This player was set to have his rights renounced at the end of the season. To be able to get value, no matter how small, for a player that is essentially a two-month rental cannot be praised enough.Thomas, while having stellar peripherals (+5.3, 16.7 PER, 8.8 PPG) was a giant headache for Bulls fans and coaches alike. Between unfulfilled promise and clashes with head coaches, the whole package of Thomas had run its course in Chicago.While this move does not necessarily affect the Bulls salary cap all that much, it is still compensation for a player the Bulls were all but ready to let walk at the conclusion of the year. Earlier in the week, I was content with JUST acquiring a first-round pick for Thomas, however to get a pick and two expiring deals is icing on the cake.Acie Law (-11.5, 7.8 PER, 1.8 PPG) and Flip Murray (-4.9, 11.7 PER 9.9 PPG) are both terrible. No really way to say otherwise. They will provide depth to the Bulls backcourt, but do not significantly upgrade over Jannero Pargo. If anything, it is about a push.The real plus in this deal is the future draft pick. The pick starts at 2012, but has top-10 protection meaning that if Charlotte were to receive a top-10 pick in the year the Bulls select, Charlotte would maintain the rights.Still, I am not too worried; Charlotte has the makings of aperennialmiddle of the road in the East, so I feel we will get a decent value out of the pick (12th-16th).While it won't make up for the lost promise of a top 5 pick and the trading of LaMarcus Aldridge, it goes a long way in making this deal more than worth it from the Bulls standpoint.Grade: B-This was not a slam-dunk only because neither of the players the Bulls received are even nearserviceable. However, to get those players (and their expiring deals) combined with receiving a first round pick makes this deal a definite plus for the Bulls.Now to the future.Because of these two deals, the Chicago Bulls have officially placed themselves in position for one max free agent. Max free agents this offseason include Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, and possibly Yao Ming. The Bulls now have the opportunity to make a push towards one of these players (preferablyJoe Johnson or Chris Bosh).While the Bulls were unable to move Kirk Hinrich Reebok Minnesota Vikings #4 Brett Favre Realtree camo Jersey
or Luol Deng to clear up space for potential two max deals, Forman and the Chicago Bulls have placed themselves in a very favorable spot going into theoff-season.Adding a player like Chris Bosh to an already above-average lineup featuring all star Derrick Rose and elite rebounder Joakim Noah would make again make Chicago contenders in the Eastern Conference. As always, don't forget to check out my radio show 643 Sports LIVE Mondays 7 PM CST/8 PM EST.- Rich Kraetsch


9 Jan 11 Dear Donnie Walsh, ...

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesDear Donnie Walsh,As you already know, this upcoming summer called "The Summer of LeBron" features a lot of high profile NBA players who areeligible to become free agents and sign with the New York Knicks. We have the popular LeBron James, New York's dreamacquisition. Sadly, that is all heHouston Texans jersey
is, a dream acquisition. I find it very hard to leave a basketball team that has the best record in the NBA, plays in their home state, and are favorites to head to the NBA Finals.Next, we have the 2006 NBA Finals MVP in Dwyane Wade. Now even though Wade has more reason to leave his team than LeBron since Wade wants championships and Miami at best is a .500 team. Well as of today, Miami is (.492/29-30) which is one game under .500 and last place in the Eastern Conference. Now this doesn't mean that Miami can't make moves during the summer, but Wade can also go to Chicago (his hometown) and play alongside All-Star Derrick Rose. They also have a good solid core with Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and the captain Kirk Kinrich.Last but not least, we have Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors. Before Bosh was saying how he wanted to come back to the US and leave Toronto, but know he's been saying good things about his team. Miami hasa 31-26 record which is fifth in the NBA, most likely if Toronto continues to play the way they're playing, they'll be in the Indianapolis Colts jersey
playoffs.The point I am trying to make here is that all three of these players are playoff teams. Why would they want to leave their teams to come to New York who hasn't made the playoffs since 2004 and haven't won a playoff game since 2000.Now if (when) these players don't come to New York what are you going to do with all of the money you've saved up for these past couple of years? Are you going to blow all of the money on a player who doesn't deserve a max contract? I hope you've thought about thisscenario because it is a very likely one. These are not the only three players available, their are also other good/great players available this summer such as: Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Carlos Boozer, Amar'e Stoudemire, etc; etc;The Knicks don't even have to worry about 2010, In 2011, Eddy Curry's contract is finally off the books and can go after superstars like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. I honestly believe that Kevin Durant would leave Oklahoma City for New York if New York could give him good players to play with.Well, In conclusion Donnie Walsh, you are Jacksonville Jaguars jersey
a very smart man, I hope you know what you are doing. You've made a lot of risky moves to place yourself in this position and New York's future lies in your hands. I believe in you, and you have what it takes to bring New York back torespectability, don't blow it.Sincerely,Travis Greene


8 Jan 11 The Los Angeles Clippers Are Broken: Here Is The Fix

My mom never said it to me personally, but I still remember growing up aware of the old adage that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Maybe that will help explain my week or so of silent Clippers treatment. It's not for lack of wanting to write about the Clips, but another Blake Griffin and/or LeBron James article seems odd now. Sort of like writing about a possible Beatles reunion in 1975. Sure, it could happen, but chances were slim. Instead, I'm forced to focus on the team. The team that was once so close to reaching . Minnesota Vikings
500, so close to getting its top draft pick on the floor, so close to reaching the Western Conference Finals. The "so-close Clippers" have returned to form sadly and are now, well, pathetic again. Like Marlon Brando's character in "On the Waterfront" who could have been a contender, the Clippers were close.No, really, they were.Now they are hoping that four steps backwards equal one giant leap forward. They still have several attributes that should have free agents at least kicking the tires on the club. A solid core of players, state of the art practice facility, sunny L.A., and enough money to be competitive. On the downside there is a history of loss, the shadow of the other team in L.A., an owner with a shady past, and a team with a shady present. That's the part that really frustrates me about what appears to be the Clippers' grand plan. Mike Dunleavy positioned the Clippers to be buyers this offseason. The club, when it dismissed Dunleavy, made it clear it intends to win now!It's no secret that the Clippers are going to go hard after a free-agent; they have to! That's the plan. So, doesn't it make sense to make themselves as attractive to possible free agents as possible? In an effort to be positive, I present the following plan to make attracting and signing a quality free agent a tad more feasible. Some of the aforementioned negatives the Clippers can't change, but they can present them in a positive light; they can "pretty them up." One negative in particular, however, has to change. The team can't do anything about the lousy history, New England Patriots jersey
but you can explain it away by presenting it as a challenge for the newcomer. Highly-paid basketball players love a challenge. I can't think of a bigger one than to bring the Clippers to respectability. The team likewise can't do anything about the shadow that emanates from its very arena. Again, I wouldn't hide from the fact that the Lakers exist, but I would point out that Kobe Bryant is on the downside of his career. The time is now to prepare to fil the eventual vacancy the superstar will leave behind. In regards to the owner's shady past, well, even Marilyn Monroe had a mole. The team's recent play, however, has to be addressed, and addressed now. It's really the only negative about the club that doesn't have to be prettied up or glossed over. The team can play better and needs to. With that goal in mind I present the team motto starting today: P-cubed. In arithmetic and algebra the cube of a number n is its third power. In Clipper Nation we are cubing the letter PPersistence, Passion, and Placate. P-cubed, get it? Persistence relates to how the team plays. Every player that hits the court wearing the red-white-blue must play with persistence. Push the ball on offense, press the opponent on defense, play with persistence. Failure to do so brings you back to the bench. Passion relates to how the team does everything off the court. Practices are passionate. Bench players are passionate as they root on their team. Interviews with the media are passionate. Make it clear you love being here and love playing the game here. Placate relates to the overall New Orleans Saints jersey
goal of the team, from the players to the person who answers the phone. Let's let LeBron, um, I mean all free agents, know that this is the place to be, recent firings and poor play aside. If the free-agent signing period is Christmas, this is the time to start wrapping the present. I'm confident the they can get it done. If not, I'll return with another article in a few months.