Sounding Off with San Dova: FOURscore
Super Cool Beas needs a hug, and Melo-for-JJ would’ve been perfect.
Sometimes, I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on some happenings that have occurred in the world of the NBA, but many times, I don’t have the conviction to write 700 words on every singular subject of interest — but I may have a bunch of short bits to communicate en masse, on occasion. And so I’ll be Sounding Off on occasion. Holler.
I find it hilariously stupid of the Atlanta Hawks that they signed up Joe Johnson so quickly for so much money, and now Carmelo Anthony wants to leave the Denver Nuggets and is amenable to a future trade going to Georgia, and that Hawks guard Jamal Crawford (the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in ‘09-10) wants out of the A because management won’t lock him up with a contract extension.
All of this would’ve been taken care of had the Hawks let JJ leave Atlanta, something he was prepared to do the season before. I understand that they wanted to keep him, but in doing so, they gave him a deal that makes Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis’ Allan Houston-esque contract only slightly more egregious. Imagine if the Hawks would’ve just signed Johnson up for a contract that was comparable to what LeBron James and Chris Bosh got from the Miami Heat, just to set up his ceiling–then, the Hawks could have just sat out for the right deal to come along to acquire a superior player, and then have extended Crawford, someone who is easily to pay and probably a better overall value when it comes to production pairing with payroll. But no, Atlanta gave JJ the “dyn-o-mite” and now may have blown up their ability to move assets that don’t involve Josh Smith or Al Horford. The whole situation seems unconscionable.
Why do American coaches always want to force players into positions where their skills don’t match up? As I watch the FIBA World Championships, I see Yi Jianlian playing as a combo forward for China with great results, I see Sun Yue (Yi’s teammate on China and former ’09 L.A. Laker) play point guard with relative ease, and though Hidayet Turkoglu is not in great shape (*rolling eyes*), he’s moving right along at guard (the position Rick Adelman had him playing much of the time with the Sacramento Kings). A prime example is when former Toronto Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell basically forced 2006 No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani to play center when it was clear that Bargnani was a combo forward. Since then, Bargnani has continued to play center with subtle improvement, but outside of former Raptor Chris Bosh getting most of the burn at power forward, Bargnani was a four as well. I don’t really understand that, and it’s because of that antiquated thinking that I understand why many players of the past lied about their height, because it was obvious that the coaches were going to place them in spots that they were ill-suited to play at.
(Kevin McHale was listed at 6-10 and played mostly power forward, but he was actually 7-1; Scottie Pippen, according to Doug Collins [who is 6-7], is actually three inches taller than Collins, making him about 6-10 as a point guard/small forward; Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were both 6-10 as well [although it didn't hurt Magic positionally] and Bird probably could’ve been a shooting guard had he have been given a choice. It continues today with Kevin Garnett having long been dubbed “6-13″ as an early career small forward, and even Dirk Nowitzki is 7-1 1/2 playing his best rendition of “power forward,” despite being listed officially at “7-0.”)
I guess my point is that it’s great to help bring players into places, skill-wise, where they can use their height to aid in adapting to more conventional methods of playing the game, but many times, it hurts those very players when coaches insist on a player’s height to determine where they are best suited to play, even when they do well with their “unorthodox” skill set. We can only imagine what it would’ve been like to see Ralph Sampson play small forward, where his perimeter skills and length could have really confused some teams and kept him away from the physical play that his body clearly couldn’t take once he reached the NBA. Let’s hope that the New York Knicks don’t stifle Anthony Randolph in the same way.
For all the negative press that Michael Beasley has gotten in the mere two years that he’s been in the League, it’s unfair to say that he’s a true disappointment. Comparing him to his friend Kevin Durant and then looking at his time in Miami, no one can say that he’s really shown his true colors. Think about it — Miami never really wanted him. All throughout the 2008 Draft, the Heat were looking for any reason to take someone else, and it seems as if the Heat treated him as the class dunce. Mind you, Beas erred with his occasional marijuana usage, but if anyone needed a hug instead a hard stance, it was Beasley. He needed the teaching and discipline that Pat Riley was staunch about, but he also needed the “royal jelly” that trainer/coach David Thorpe speaks of — he needed the encouragement to flourish and the confidence from his coaches and front office to really be at his best. I have no problem with the Heat making Beas earn his playing time, but for as versatile and talented as he is, locking him up in finite places on the court could have hurt his prowess as a scorer and rebounder and overall confident player.
If Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn has done anything, it’s showing that he at least believes in his young players, and I’m confident that because Super Cool Beas knows the organization has his back, he’ll do well. I have a hunch that one day sooner rather than later, Riley & Co. are going to regret sending Beas away so early, because history may also show that they were too hard on the young man just trying to figure out how to get comfortable with the new lifestyle. The Heat are as responsible for Beasley’s “disappointing” time in the League as he is.