The Circle of Stupidity is complete: Suns expected to buy out Vince Carter

12 Comments

This is like some crazy train of poor decision making and it just jumps from car to car to car. Let me try and trace this back for you.

Hedo Turkoglu looks awesome in the 2009 NBA playoffs, helping the Orlando Magic make it all the way to the NBA Finals. He rebounds, runs point forward, hits threes, the works. It’s a bright, bright, sun-shiny free agency day for Turkolu when he hits the open market that summer. The Magic decide to let him go by the wayside, instead opting to take on Vince Carter and his ridiculous contract which pays him $16 million in 2009-2010, largely to miss games with minor injuries, miss free throws and not be able to carry a team at all like he did back when he could… in the Mesozoic era.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors get into a bidding war over Turkoglu’s services, despite many intelligent people saying this was a bad idea given Turkoglu’s age and declining abilities. Many of these people aren’t even on the internet. The Blazers think they have their man but dodge a huge bullet when Turkoglu instead opts for Toronto. Toronto pays him a huge sum of money, and he is terrible. Absolutely terrible, worse than even the harshest critics thought. He says he feels “wronged” by Toronto management (the same people that gave his elderly self that ginormous contract) and he’s eventually traded, because the Phoenix Suns lose Amar’e Stoudemire and are desperate for any forward they can get their hands on. They trade their expiring contract of Leandro Barbosa and pieces for Turkoglu, hoping he can rekindle some magic.

He can’t.

Meanwhile, the Magic have gone on and taken a big step backwards with Carter as it becomes apparent that not only is he not the high-flying, dagger-dropping Carter of old, he’s not even a vacant shell of that. He’s incapable of running the pick and roll with Dwight Howard. Let me say that again. He couldn’t figure out how to run the pick and roll with the best center in the league who is an athletic freak of nature and who’s biggest talent offensively is working in the pick and roll. Carter struggles, struggles some more, has a late season breakout game where everyone says he’s back…. and then goes right back to being Vince Carter.

So the Magic get desperate to trade him as they frantically try and hold onto Dwight Howard and prop the championship window open. The Suns meanwhile are looking to liquidate, now wanting expiring contracts, like the Barbosa one they shipped, and the Magic and Suns find themselves talking. Somehow in this process, the Suns let Jason Richardson, the younger, better player who actually contributes go in the deal, along with his $14 million expiring contract, just to get rid of Turkoglu. The Magic are willing to take on Turkoglu in order to get Richardson and because Turkoglu had had such success in Orlando. Also, they’re desperate.

So the Magic now have Turkoglu on the contract they knew they shouldn’t give him, because they opted to go after a player notorious for, well, being Vince Carter and who was aging. The Suns meanwhile, took on two more years of Vince Carter just to get rid of Turkoglu, and managed to nab Marcin Gortat, despite Gortat not being anywhere near the offensive weapon they need and regardless of their long-term prospects with Robin lopez.

The Raptors wind up with cap space. Bryan Colangelo is considered the worst of the three front offices. We haven’t even started to talk about Gilbert Arenas yet.

Anyway, the circle is almost complete as the Arizona Republic’s always reliable Paul Coro reports that the Suns are expected to buy out Vince Carter’s remaining year for $4 million instead of trying to move his final year on some other poor sap. Carter will then be a free agent in a dramatically different NBA free agency landscape following the CBA restructuring, but will inevitably get an offer from someone and probably start on top of it. The Magic will still have Turkoglu for the rest of eternity, and the Suns will pay $4 million to get rid of the player they acquired to get rid of Turkoglu, after the Raptors paid them to take him after they gave him the money the Magic knew they shouldn’t give him in the first place, which they are now paying him.

In unrelated news, NBA ownership meets with the player’s union again next week to continue discussions about how it’s the system which is unsustainable and that their economic troubles have nothing to do with their decision making on the open market.

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
1 Comment

Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.

Amir Johnson on South Beach: 2006 Pistons ‘let the streets beat us’

Eric Espada/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Amir Johnson is a savvy veteran on the young 76ers.

On the 2006 Pistons, he was a scarcely used rookie straight out of high school.

But he was learning lessons he’d apply to his current role.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Philadelphia heeded Johnson’s advice. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Pistons went 0-3 in Miami during the six-game 2006 Eastern Conference finals. There was little shame in losing to those Heat. They pushed Detroit to seven games in the 2005 conference finals and were – with Dwyane Wade transcendent while Shaquille O’Neal remained in his prime – even better the following year.

But too much partying is a major charge and a somewhat surprising one. The Pistons were led by the same veteran core – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace – that made the previous two NBA Finals and won the 2004 title. They’d been around long enough to know better.

Gregg Popovich to miss Spurs-Warriors Game 5

AP Photo/Eric Gay
1 Comment

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has missed Games 3 and 4 of his team’s first-round series against the Warriors following the death of his wife, Erin.

Unsurprisingly, he won’t coach the Spurs as they leave San Antonio for Game 5 tomorrow at Golden State.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Popovich should take all the time he needs. Ettore Messina is capable as acting coach, and Popovich being with his family now is more important anyway.

This will probably be the final game of the series. Up 3-1, the Warriors are the better team and at home.

LeBron James on Lance Stephenson-drawn technical foul: ‘I gave him a little nudge, and he falls to half court. Come on’

5 Comments

LeBron James and Lance Stephenson have met in 23 playoff games.

Stephenson has tried to agitate LeBron throughout all of them.

From the choke sign back when Stephenson was still a benchwarmer to the infamous ear blow to the tapping of LeBron’s face the next game, Stephenson has been relentless. And LeBron has mostly kept his cool.

But not last night.

Midway through the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers’ Game 4 win over the Pacers, Stephenson stuck close to LeBron as LeBron went to the Cleveland bench. LeBron pushed Stephenson away and received a technical foul.

LeBron:

I mean, I should never have gotten a tech in the first place. There’s a timeout called, and this guy’s following me to my bench. I gave him a little nudge, and he falls to half court. Come on. But I should know better. I should know better. I’ve been dealing with this since elementary. It’s like I tell you a joke – I tell you a joke and then you laugh, and you get caught. That’s what happened. Lance told me a joke. I laughed. Teacher caught me. Now, I’ve got to go see the principal. That’s what happened.

Stephenson earned that technical foul. He did just enough to bait LeBron, but too much where Stephenson would get a tech. Then, Stephenson exaggerated the contract.

LeBron got got, and he knows it.

He’s also probably savvy enough to remain on greater alert to Stephenson’s antics the rest of the series and avoid responding again.