by Lang Whitaker

My grandfather, the son of Swedish immigrants, was born in the attic above a general store in tiny Robertsdale, AL. From there he went on to serve in the US military during WWII and then raise a family and see the world, traveling everywhere from Hawaii to China, from South America to India. When I was a kid, he and my grandmother took me all over the U.S., literally from sea to shining sea. I’m pretty sure that’s where my love of travel comes from, and his example of having a lifelong curiosity for other cultures is why I’m determined to see as much of the world as possible.

To that end, Wifey and I always try to make our vacations count. We not only love to get away from NYC and spend time unplugged and off the grid, but we try to get to places we otherwise might never get to visit.

This is why I spent the last 10 days in Africa. In Kenya, to be more exact. Half of the time, Wifey and I were up north, near Loisaba, and the other the half we were near the Tanzainian border, on the Masaai Mara. I saw and experienced amazing things, incredible things. I watched the sun set surrounded by Samburu warriors, and sitting a couple of feet away from about two dozen sleeping lions. I’ve got tons of video and pictures to post in the next few days, but right now I’m still trying to get over the jetlag and a case of sunstroke that kinda turned me inside-out for a day. For now, here’s a pic of those sleeping lions. Shh…

lions

And while I was gone, a lot of NBA ish went down, enough to keep us talking all week, methinks. Let’s start here…

• Boston’s window may be closing, but they appear to be trying to keep it ajar for a few more months at least…by propping it open with a cane.

The Celtics agreeing to sign Rasheed Wallace as a replacement for Glen Davis is puzzling to me. I get that he’s a vet, that he knows the game, that he’s versatile. But how often the last few months did we see Big Baby cutting to the hoop for layups or to draw fouls? The last time Sheed drove to the rim he was at UNC. Boston was already a perimeter team, but now they’re even more reliant on the jump shot. KG returning could at least alter that, assuming he returns healthy. But adding Sheed and, if the rumors are true, Grant Hill, doesn’t seem to do much to secure your overall team health.

(And if Big Baby ends up in San Antonio, imagine a Big Baby/DeJuan Blair tandem. All You Can Eat buffet operators in cities around the League must be quivering.)

• When the T-Wolves hired David Kahn to be their new GM, I tried to go into it with an open mind. These were my L-Wolves, after all, the team that spent over a decade making consistently bad decisions and making my job as a hoops pundit remarkably simpler. Kahn came in and immediately cut ties with Kevin McHale, which might not have been a popular decision but, to me, seemed like the smart thing to do — you have to clear the decks to get a fresh start.

Then Kahn started doing things that I didn’t understand. First, he traded for all of Washington’s mediocre big men and gave up his best perimeter players. Weird, sure, but he got a lottery pick in return. But then he drafted two point guards, including one kid, Ricky Rubio, who appears to have zero interest in ever playing for your franchise. Draft night was the first time I can remember a guy getting picked in the lottery and being in the green room, then having his family announce before the first round was even over that he’d rather play in Europe than play for your team.

And then there was Jonny Flynn, who is quick and fun to watch but had problems finishing even at the college level. (As DraftExpress noted, “Flynn’s ability to finish at the basket should become even more of a problem, given his lack of great size and that he already has troubles finishing at the rim. According to SST, Flynn converts only 54% of his finishes at the basket, which would rank him in the 26th percentile of NCAA players, and that’s only going against college frontlines.”)

Kahn did interviews following the draft in which he proclaimed that the Wolves were planning on playing Rubio and Flynn together, which must have had other backcourts around the League salivating. I’m all for thinking outside the box, but sometimes the box is there for a reason.

Picking Ricky and using him as trade bait could be a smart move, but by waiting this long and failing to control the situation (e.g. letting the Rubios announce they’re not coming to Minnesota) effectively reduces whatever leverage is/was there.

My gut feeling, a completely uninformed opinion, is that Ricky will still probably play in the NBA this season. He went through a lot just to enter the Draft, and you don’t enter into all of that if you don’t intend to follow through on the decision to leave Spain and the ACB. Right now there’s a lot of posturing back and forth, but the only way the L-Wolves make this right is if they move Ricky’s rights and get someone to help them now. Playing pollo with the best point guard in the Draft is a dangerous game, especially when your team needs all the help they can get.

Also, the L-Wolves still don’t have a coach. Hey, Sarah Palin is available. She needs a job. And she knows the game.