Peyton Manning and the Tim Tebow Mess

Peyton Manning is a Bronco. Tim Tebow might be a Jet. In other words, how’s the rock you’ve been living under?

Manning picked Denver over other options such as the Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and Dark Horse X.

Tebow meanwhile has solidified himself as an asset for Denver. Before the Manning arrival, Tebow was their QB. Everyone had Tebowmania. (That was all the rage until something called Linsanity showed up, which has also faded into the rear view mirror it seems.) He was more of an asset in the sense that he not only sold tickets, but also played well in the fourth quarter.

Now he has moved on to “trade asset”, and it seems that the Broncos leaped at, what they felt, was the best offer: a trade of the former Gator and a seventh rounder to the Jets for a fourth and sixth rounder.

Or at least that’s the word on the street.

The word on the street has shifted to something that reads like this- “Jet-Broncos swap hits something of a snag.”

After presumably being displaced by Manning, where then is Tebow a good fit?

In the past, Tebow thrived at Florida in a 2 QB offense, as well as an offense that was tailored to him and his style of play. The same tailoring happened in Denver.

Tebow is a good fit somewhere where the team will commit to him and run an offense designed for him.

Would anyone make that big of a commitment?

Here are the teams in the offseason who, according to media outlets, looked into quarterbacks. Or teams who in fact signed one-

Seattle Seahawks

Arizona Cardinals

Tennessee Titans

Denver Broncos

Washington Redskins

Indianapolis Colts

San Francisco 49ers

Miami Dolphins

Now, let’s re-examine the list again. Seattle signed Matt Flynn to compete with Tavaris Jackson. Arizona made a substantial financial commitment to Kevin Kolb. Tennessee wouldn’t go from the present-future duo of Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker to Tebow. Denver picked up Manning. Some combination of RG3 and Andrew Luck will go to Indianapolis and our nation’s capitol. The 49ers re-upped Alex Smith’s contract.

And then there’s Miami. Tim Tebow back in Florida? Tebow in the same town as LeBron James?

Now  throw all that out. From a purely football standpoint, it might make sense for the Dolphins.

The current situation at signal caller for Miami is, pending any moves, Matt Moore, David Garrard, JP Losman and Pat Devlin.

(Read- Tebow is an obvious choice.)

Miami’s previous “future” QB was one Chad Henne, who stayed in Florida after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Which is my corny transition to… the Jaguars.

There were rumors about the Jags trading to get him on draft night when he was a rookie. Obviously that didn’t happen, and the Broncos (under previous leadership) moved up to get him.

The Jaguars currently have recent-lottery-pick Blaine Gabbert at QB as well as established backup Luke McCown.

The Gabbert-Tebow conundrum would certainly be an interesting one. But either way, should the situation come to pass, a recent first-round pick is going to be kicked to the curb.

Now to address the Jets rumors/failed deal. Tebow in New York would certainly be a coo from an advertisement/branding standpoint, but from a football standpoint, it’s a mess.

Tebow isn’t starting in the Big Apple. The Jets wiped out any long-term issues they had with current QB Mark Sanchez by dropping a 40 million contract in his lap. So because of that, the Jets aren’t going to have a QB controversy/competition. Maybe if Sanchez was playing on a cheaper contract, then maybe it’s a battle between the two, but that’s not the case.

NBA Trade Deadline Grades that Pay

(Corny title, I know.)

The deadline is upon us as I write this. It probably isn’t the magnitude that the baseball trade deadline is, but it’s close, at least on a higher level than the NFL.

Deals will happen. They always happen at the deadline and will continue to do so in the NBA’s existence.

Let’s start with the Lakers, who have glaring needs at forward and the point. Here’s what they have done so far-

  • The Lakers Acquired Ramon Sessions to stabilize the point guard spot while also picking up young forward Christian Eyenga. The cost to acquire those two was and is wings Jason Kapono, Luke Walton and a top 14 protected 2012 first-round pick.

Sessions was expendable from the sense that the Cavs already have Kyrie Irving on payroll and the fact that Irving is the future.

The Lakers give up what is probably a pick somewhere in the 20s if they make a playoff run.

That might be the only huge loss here for LA. They get out of the rest of Walton’s contract as well as Kapono’s. They also get a youth infusion in the front court with Eyenga.

This leaves the Lakers with Sessions, Steve Blake and Derek Fisher on payroll. Which leads us to this…

  • The Houston Rockets Acquire PG Derek Fisher from the LA Lakers for Jordan Hill and the Mavericks first-round pick.

The Lakers have now moved both of the first-round picks that they owned in this year’s draft. But on the flipside, the Lakers have unloaded both Fisher and Walton, who are under contract next year, replacing them with players who might not be under contract next season.

Hill gives the Lakers more youth in the frontcourt as well as depth, which is another thing that they probably could have used to help their championship aspirations.

The Rockets pick up another first-round pick to add to their hull while also picking up a stop gap point guard to fill in for Kyle Lowry while he recovers from injury. The Rockets could also buy out Fisher following the return of Lowry, or keep him for a stretch run.

Hill was movable in a sense because of another trade…

  • The Houston Rockets acquired Marcus Camby from the Portland Trailblazers for former lottery picks Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a second-round pick that originated with the T-Wolves.

The Rockets picked up a presence in the frontcourt after going down swinging in the original Chris Paul trade. Thabeet and Flynn were almost dead weight in Houston and should benefit from a change of scenery. The Blazers might be in a bit of a rebuilding or retooling stretch, whichever lights your fire after moving this key cog to an Eastern Conference team…

  • The New Jersey Nets Acquire F Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trailblazers for frontcourt depth in Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur and a top three projected 2012 first-round pick.

The Nets are attempting to keep Deron Williams for next season just as Dwight Howard has now chosen to stay in Orlando for next season. A starting five and core of Wallace, Williams, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks isn’t too bad.

This is curious for Portland, who after dealing Camby and Crash, they have also reportedly fired Mr. Sonic himself, Nate McMillian. This is truly sad news, as the Blazers are supposedly starting to rebuild or retool. Again, whichever lights your fire. Williams has a player option for next year, which will likely be exercised as well as Okur’s expiring deal, which totals almost 11 million dollars. This should set up Portland to go after a big free agent while also getting a potentially high pick in a very good draft.

Moving on with no transition, we see a very surprising trade from George’ Karl’s Denver Nuggets-

  • We move on to more former Sonic news as George Karl’s Nuggets have moved their big free agent resigning- Nene Hilario- to the Washington Wizards for JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf. This trade also involves the Los Angeles Clippers as Nick Young will head to LA to help the Clippers’ two guard needs. The Wizards will get forward Brian Cook and a future second-round pick in return.

This moved shocked me to be honest with you. The Nuggets dealt their starting center in Nene for another one in McGee as well as another good bench player in Ronny Turiaf. The Nuggets will certainly be fine because of their exceptional depth, but the Wizards clearly won from a talent perspective now. Nene might just be a better fit with John Wall than McGee was, and he gives a young Washington squad a veteran presence.

The Nuggets might have benefited long term more so than the Wizards because they got to unload Nene’s contract. This frees up money not only for the future, but also money for restricted free agent Wilson Chandler. Chandler, who is fresh off a stint in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), would give the Nuggets a boost on the wing.

The Clippers are the under the radar team here as they pick up a shooting guard to replace the long-injured Chauncey Billups. This really helps the Clips in terms of a missing piece and needed scoring punch.

New we really don’t have any transition as the Indiana Pacers get some backcourt depth with Leandro Barbosa.

  • The Pacers picked up Barbosa for a second-round pick and cash considerations from the Toronto Raptors.

The Pacers didn’t need to put any outgoing players in the deal because of their vast salary cap room. Not exactly vast mind you, but under these circumstances, that’s a lot. Good deal for Indy.

  • Golden State acquires Richard Jefferson and a first-round pick from the San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors did a brilliant job of turning Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown into Andrew Bogut, Jefferson and a first-round pick. That’s a nice little roster turnaround for Golden State. Jefferson might be bought out, nobody knows. Nice swap for the Spurs as well as Jackson gives the Spurs a little bit more of a scoring touch compared to Jefferson.

  • In the last move, or first chronologically — whichever way you want to look at it, the Philadelphia 76ers picked up athletic wing Sam Young from Memphis for the rights to former second-round pick Ricky Sanchez.

So there are your trades everybody. Some other notes of prominence-

  • The Raptors have released point guard Anthony Carter, who was originally believed to be part of the Barbosa trade.
  • The Magic didn’t trade Dwight Howard, as he will presumably come back next season.
  • The Celtics kept the Big 3 intact for at least this season.
  • Steve Nash stayed put in Phoenix.
  • Michael Beasley is staying in the Twin Cities.
  • And Deron Williams is still a Net.

How the Monta Ellis Swap Affects Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard has supposedly made it clear to the Magic that he wants some kind of supporting star player. One of those supposed players was Monta Ellis. Ellis is now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks after being traded along with Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown for former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut as well as former Warrior slasher Stephen Jackson.

This probably takes Ellis off the market as well as taking the Warriors out of the running for Howard via trade or free agency.

The Warriors have been searching for a center for quite some time. Head Coach Marc Jackson has toyed with Udoh and incumbent Andres Biendris at the center spot after sacrificing Jeremy Lin in order to sign DeAndre Jordan to an offer sheet. They struck out on Jordan and lost Lin in the process. It doesn’t look so bad at this point seeing as they have added Bogut to pair with David Lee in the frontcourt. A nucleus of Bogut, Lee, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson sounds pretty good if I were a Warrior fan. Not to mention the fact that Jackson adds a scoring element to their wing that they probably needed at least an upgrade at.

The Magic’s chances at getting the best return have probably diminished. The Warriors were considered one of the four or five contenders for Howard along with the Nets and Lakers. Long shots and dark horses include the Mavericks and Knicks.

Other teams will recognize the Magic’s decreasing number of suitors and offer less knowing that the Magic could be desperate to move him.

Ellis really affects Howard from the standpoint that the pool of players the reigning Defensive POY would want to play with is dwindling. Not only that, but the number of those players that would be attainable is an even smaller group and shrinking still.

All in all, it’s going to get a lot messier for Dwight Howard and the Magic.

NCAA Tournament Picks to Clicks

March Madness is back. Christmas has come back early in March. None the less, the Madness is here again.

Here’s what you need to know when you fill out the brackets:

  1. Curious seeding to look out for. Some teams are grossly (for lack of a better term) under or over seeded. The unders include Detroit, Long Beach State, and Creighton. The overs include the likes of Notre Dame, West Virginia and Virginia. (If you’ll notice, my under-seeded teams are all Mid-Majors and all my over-seeded teams are High-Majors. Just a thought.)
  2. The 8-9 is almost a coin flip. The two seeds that are closest to each other are generally the most difficult to pick.
  3. Never pick 16 seeds. A 16 seed has never, never beat a 1.
  4. 2s are a little tougher story. We’ve seen close 2-15 games in the past a la Robert Morris-Villanova. Don’t expect any upsets this year, but Detroit might give Kansas some problems.
  5. Vanderbilt could lose to Harvard. Yes, frankly any team could lose, but Vandy has lost as a 4 or 5 seed in the past couple tourneys. The Commodores could lose, but after nipping Kentucky in the SEC title game, they likely will win here.
  6. Some teams should be overly happy to be in the tournament. These squads would be BYU, Virginia and West Virginia.
  7. Upset Alert:  Watch out this year for double digit squads such as Cal, Montana, New Mexico State, Iona and Long Beach State as potential bracket busters.
  8. Potential third round trip ups- (I had “second round stumbles” written in, but with the new play in games and everything it doesn’t make sense. There goes my over-thought-out alliteration. ) Anyways, UConn, or frankly Iowa State, could give Kentucky a lot of problems in the round of 32. Jim Calhoun’s team has a lot of size up front to combat national POY candidate Anthony Davis and the Wildcats. Florida, providing they take care of Virginia, has the potential to upset Missouri in the next round. Missouri supposedly has the easiest path to New Orleans because they don’t have a lot of teams in their bracket with a lot of size. That being said, Florida can easily fight fire with fire and beat the Tigers at their own game with a Sweet Sixteen birth on the line. Gonzaga’s size has the potential to really worry Ohio State in Pittsburgh should the matchup present itself. Physically, the Zags have size to deal with Jared Sullinger and the Buckeye frontline while they have the guard play to match up with OSU’s talented back court.
  9. Cinderella? VCU, George Mason, Butler, Gonzaga. Almost every tournament has a Cinderella. This year’s potential Cinderella’s include the aforementioned Zags, Montana, Memphis, Long Beach State, Detroit and Belmont.

 

Here is my first round, and rest of tournament picks to click:

In the first round I have Western Kentucky prevailing over Mississippi Valley State, Lamar over Vermont, Cal over the Bulls of South Florida and Iona over BYU.

South-

(I try to stay away from all chalk. Emphasize try.) Here are the picks:

1 Kentucky over 16 WKU

  • Just too much for WKU. Kentucky in a rout.

8 Iowa State over 9 UConn

  • Royce White will give the defending champs all kinds of matchup nightmares. ISU’s three-point barrage could bury the Huskies.

5 Wichita State over 12 VCU

  • Last year’s Cinderella team will have trouble against a very complete Wichita State squad.

4 Indiana over 13 NMSU

  • Cody Zeller and Wendell McKines will be quiet a battle down low. Expect Zeller and the Hoosiers to come out on top, but don’t be surprised if the Aggies move on to the round of 32.

6 UNLV over 11 Colorado

  • Las Vegas is very complete and has the potential to go far in the tournament on the back of Mike Moser. Expect a UNLV win.

3 Baylor over 14 South Dakota State

  • Nate Wolters has the chance to go bananas, and he probably will, but Baylor has too much size and talent across the board to lose.

10 Xavier over 7 Notre Dame

  • Kenny Frease could have a big game against more of a perimeter-relying Notre Dame team. X will win.

2 Duke over 15 Lehigh

  • The Blue Devils have too much talent everywhere you look. Get ready Xavier.

West-

Moving down to the West, there’s more chalk. Sadly.

1 Michigan State over 16 LIU

  • LIU will come to play, but Draymond Green, and the Spartans are too much.

8 Memphis over 9 Saint Louis

  • Expect to see a lot of Joe Jackson and the Tigers talented wing players in a win over the Bilikins.

5 New Mexico over 12 LBSTU

  • Dan Monson’s team will put up a fight, expect a close one, but in the end Drew Gordon and New Mexico will prevail.

4 Louisville over 13 Davidson

  • Davidson has beaten Kansas and played Duke tough, but Seattle native Peyton Siva and Co. will win in a close-ish one.

6 Murray State over 11 Colorado State

  • The Racers kill teams with their three pointers. Making almost 41 percent of them (40.6), which incidentally is what Colorado State is most vulnerable to.

3 Marquette over 14 Iona

  • Iona gets here after their excellent guards presumably tear up the Cougars, who have struggled against top notch guards (see Kevin Pangos’s 30 points against BYU). The Golden Eagles are susceptible to Iona’s tendency to force turnovers, but expect a Marquette win.

7 Florida over 10 Virginia

  • The Gators attack lead by Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal will probably struggle early against Tony Bennett’s tenacious-like D, but Florida will hit their groove eventually and win.

2 Missouri over 15 Norfolk State

  • Ricardo Ratliffe might struggle against 6”10 defensive presence Kyle O’Quinn, but Kim English and all of Mizzou’s perimeter threats will overwhelm Norfolk State.

East-

I deviate from the all-chalk field in the slightest here.

1 Syracuse over 16 UNC Ashville

  • UNC Ashville will play Syracuse tight. They will lose, but not by any 50 points.

8 Kansas State over 9 Southern Miss

  • A balanced Southern Miss team will have its hands full with an intense Frank Martin squad. Expect KSU to win by somewhere in the neighborhood of 13.

5 Vanderbilt over 12 Harvard

  • Vandy has lost to Richmond, Murray State and Sienna in their last 3 tourneys as 4 or 5 seeds. Might be a trap game, or Vandy will win in comfortable fashion.  Vanderbilt wins. That’s the underlying theme.

13 Montana over 4 Wisconsin

  • One word describes the Badgers offense. Stagnant. And that’s just how it will play out with Montana getting to the round of 32.

6 Cincy over 11 Texas

  • Cincinnati is peaking at the right time. Expect a comfortable win for Mick Cronin’s team.

3 Florida State over 14 St. Bonaventure

  • St. Bonaventure will give the Seminoles all they can, but in the end, future pro Andrew Nicholson and the Bonnies won’t have enough.

7 Gonzaga over 10 West Virginia

  • The Zags have the defensive stalwarts (read Gary Bell Jr and Rob Sacre) to stop the Mountaineers two-man show of Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant.

2 Ohio State over 15 Loyola MD

  • Loyola will try, but in the end they won’t be able to match up with Ohio State’s size and perimeter threats.

Midwest-

A lot less chalk to put it plainly.

1 UNC over Lamar

  • The worst group of Seniors Pat Knight has ever seen will end their college careers with a loss to the Tar Heels.

8 Creighton over 9 Alabama

  • Doug McDermott and Grant Gibbs will power the Blue Jays to a win over a struggling offensive Alabama squad.

12 Cal over 5 Temple

  • Jorge Gutierrez and the other Golden Bears are too good for USF and will prevail against Temple as well.

4 Michigan over 13 Ohio

  • Ohio will have a chance if they can make Michigan die by the three. However, if Michigan lives by the three. Ehhh. No gratitude for Ohio from Ohio State for losing to the Wolverines

11 NC State over 6 San Diego State

  • NC State’s talent will show out as CJ Leslie will have a huge game in the classic 11-6 upset. If Leslie doesn’t show up, watch out, SDST might win.

14 Belmont over 3 Georgetown

  • Belmont lost to Duke by one. Surely the Hoyas don’t scare them. Belmont’s three pointers will absolutely sink Georgetown if the buckets are falling. If not, the Bears might be in for a long day on the glass.

7 St. Mary’s over 10 Purdue

  • Mathew Dellavadova is good enough to propel the Gaels to a win, but the Gaels might have trouble with a bigger team in the future (read Kansas). As an aside, does anyone else notice that Dellavadova’s mouth guard looks like a block of mozzarella cheese? Just thought I’d point that out.

2 Kansas over 15 Detroit

  • Ray McCallum and friends will play Kansas very tough, but expect to see the Jayhawks win it.

So, to recap, my round of 32 looks like this in each region:

South-

1 Kentucky vs 8 Iowa State

5 Wichita State vs 4 Indiana

6 UNLV vs 3 Baylor

10 Xavier vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 8 Memphis

5 New Mexico vs 4 Louisville

6 Murray State vs 3 Marquette

7 Florida vs 2 Missouri

East-

1 Syracuse vs 8 Kansas State

5 Vanderbilt vs 13 Montana

6 Cincy vs 3 Florida State

7 Gonzaga vs 2 Ohio State

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 8 Creighton

12 Cal vs 4 Michigan

11 NCST vs 14 Belmont

7 St. Mary’s vs 2 Kansas

 

Now to whittle it down to the Sweet Sixteen

South-

1 Kentucky over 8 Iowa State

  • Royce White will probably go off, but it won’t likely be enough. If the Cyclones can hit 3s, watch out. Upset brewing.

5 Wichita State over 4 Indiana

  • Tyler Zeller again does battle with another quality post as he checks Garret Stultz. Expect a close one, but in the end the experienced Shockers will win.

3 Baylor over 6 UNLV

  • Mike Moser will be big, but Baylor’s athleticism will win out in a comfortable victory for the Bears.

2 Duke over 10 Xavier

  • X will be a tough out for the Blue Devils, but expect Coach K’s young guards to get a hold on Tu Holloway as Duke gets the win.

West- 

1 Michigan State over 8 Memphis

  • The Tiger’s athleticism and ability will help them, but only so far against Draymond Green and the Spartans. Spoiler alert- don’t be surprised if Green pulls a Jimmer or Stephen Curry on us and carries the Spartans deep in the tourney on his back.

5 New Mexico over 4 Louisville

  • Drew Gordon and friends will face a challenge with the Cardinals D, but New Mexico will rally.

3 Marquette over 6 Murray State

  • This Cinderella story ends for Murray State. The Golden Eagles are too talented, possibly Elite Eight talented.

2 Missouri over 7 Florida

  • Expect a tight one. Florida will play Missouri like Missouri. In other words, expect two similar teams battling it out. Don’t be overly shocked if Billy Donovan’s team pulls it off.

East-

1 Syracuse over 8 Kansas State

  • I may be contradicting upset special here, but the Wildcats might be prone to an ugly one.

5 Vanderbilt over 13 Montana

  • Montana will play hard, but Vandy’s experience will oust the Grizzlies.

3 Florida State over 6 Cincy

  • The Bearcats are victims to a streaking Florida State team that will clamp down anyone with their defense.

7 Gonzaga over 2 Ohio State

  • To quote Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it.” The Zags have the size and talent to match up with most teams in the country. If freshmen backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr are on, “then it’s gonna be an upset special BABY!” (Dicke V voice)

Midwest-

1 UNC over 8 Creighton

  • Everyone is going to see high school teammates and star players go at it as Doug McDermott takes on Harrison Barnes. Expect the latter team to prevail.

4 Michigan over 12 Cal

  • The Wolverines are still living off the three as it is. Cal won’t go quietly either.

11 NCST over 14 Belmont

  • Belmont’s magic just runs out versus the Wolf Pack.

2 Kansas over 7 St. Mary’s

  • The Jayhawks are too good to lose. At least not yet.

And now, here is the all-important, hypothetical Sweet Sixteen! (cue corny trumpets in the backround)

South-

1 Kentucky vs 5 Wichita State

2 Duke vs 3 Baylor

West-

1 Michigan State vs 5 New Mexico

2 Missouri vs 3 Marquette

East-

1 Syracuse vs 5 Vanderbilt

3 Florida State vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 4 Michigan

2 Kansas vs 11 NCST

 

We’ll start in the South where Kentucky has a tough draw with Wichita State.

South-

1 Kentucky over 5 Wichita State

  • This one could also be an upset special, but the Wildcats’ top rung talent will prevail in a hard-fought, close game.

2 Duke over 3 Baylor

  • I really like Duke for some reason. I know they will get a challenge with the Bears’ athleticism, but Duke is too balanced and too talented not to pull away. It will be close. I wouldn’t be overly surprised if this one went into OT or if Baylor won.

In the tradition of starting in the top left-hand corner, and moving down, here is the West.

West-

1 Michigan State over 5 New Mexico

  • The Spartans are still riding the Draymond Green factor. Expect a gritty game.

3 Marquette over 2 Missouri

  • Jae Crowder and the Golden Eagles will give Missouri some issues that they haven’t faced before, mainly a size problem.

Syracuse is probably the most vulnerable 1 seed in the Sweet Sixteen. Goliaths beware.

East-

5 Vanderbilt over 1 Syracuse

  • The Commodores have all the intangibles to upset a previously-stated vulnerable Cuse team.

7 Gonzaga over 3 Florida State

  • Even if Gonzaga doesn’t win, the winner of this game is my Final Four pick out of this region. The Noles could be riding high. Time to get knocked off their high horse.

The last region before the Elite Eight!!! (more corny trumpet noises….)

 

Midwest-

1 UNC over 4 Michigan

  • With John Henson back, the Tar Heels roll on.

2 Kansas over 11 NCST

  • The Wolf Pack will go down fighting to the last man, but KU wins.

That leaves us with the round of eight. More commonly capitalized and call Elite Eight.

South-

1 Kentucky vs 2 Duke

West-

1 Michigan State vs 3 Marquette

East-

5 Vanderbilt vs 7 Gonzaga

Midwest-

1 UNC vs 2 Kansas

 

South-

1 Kentucky over 2 Duke

  • The Blue Devils were able to deal with Baylor’s athletes. They won’t be able to handle Coach Cal’s. KU comfortably.

West-

1 Michigan State over 3 Marquette

  • Marquette will be too small of a team to matchup with Sparty. Yet another Final Four for Tom Izzo.

South-

7 Gonzaga over 5 Vanderbilt

  • Writing was on the wall. Or the last couple paragraphs, whatever sounds more eerie. The Original Cinderella finally gets its first Final Four.

Midwest-

1 UNC over 2 Kansas

  • Both could have been Number 1 seeds, but here we sit. T-Rob and the Jayhawks will battle, but UNC is far more talented across the board.

Now we get to the Final Four. One of the most cherished events in all of sports. (Unless of course your school got knocked out in the Elite Eight), this year’s event is in the Big Easy, and this will be anything but that.

South vs West

1 Kentucky vs 1 Michigan State

East vs Midwest

1 UNC vs 7 Gonzaga

The Predictions:

South vs West

1 Michigan State over 1 Kentucky

  • Coach Cal’s first title is going to have to wait. The Spartans will get a potential shot at revenge against UNC, for, you know that one tournament game a couple years back.

East vs Midwest

1 UNC over 7 Gonzaga

  • The Bulldogs bandwagon sadly stops here. The Tar Heels are much too talented. They will get their shot at MSU. Gonzaga misses a potential rematch against the Spartans, who they only lost by 7 to and could have easily won the game.

Title Game

1 Michigan State vs 1 UNC

Prediction:

1 Michigan State over 1 UNC

  • The Spartans get some payback for the aforementioned game as well as putting Draymond Green’s name in the same sentence as Jimmer, Curry and Farokmanesh.

So there you have it. Michigan State in a rematch. Unless someone else picks the exact same thing, then I’ll leave a final score prediction of 73-69 as a tie breaker of sorts.

Happy Bracket Scribbling Everyone!

What Ricky Rubio’s Injury Means for the Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio has torn his ACL and is lost for the campaign, thus ending a highlight filled season for the rookie. Rubio will certainly be missed this season in the Twin Cities for the year. (I make it sound like he got traded to some pro-am team in Winnipeg, but he didn’t. He’s just injured).

Anyways, the T-Wolves as the kids like to say, aren’t in a terrible position because of this. Yes, they lost their starting point guard, but the annual trade deadline is fast approaching, which means the Timberwolves will have time to make a move if they choose to do so.

The Timberwolves also aren’t without viable assets. Michael Beasley is somewhat of a prime trade piece. He’s been “discussed” (which means that there are more rumors than you can shake a stick at about Beasley) in deals to Boston, LA and Orlando. While dealing Beasley might derail Minnesota’s chances at a possible Pau Gasol acquisition  (he might not actually be available), it could also net them a solid replacement point guard, if they need it.

Minnesota currently has Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea on payroll. Those are two very solid options at the one spot. The immediate need might not be there, and the Timberwolves might wait to add a bought out point guard later in the season if the need persists.

Ridnour has not necessarily been used as a shooting guard, but in more of a two point guard set with Rubio. Moving him back to the point could shift Minny’s focus to a shooting guard a la Jamal Crawford or Ray Allen.

The real question that I have been skirting around with trade fodder is what Rubio’s injury really means for the Timberwolves. It means that Minnesota’s playoff chances take a hit. Whether we’re talking big hits a la casualties of the Saints bounty system (You had to think I’d mention it at some point) or whatever hilarity ensuing comment you can think of about a light hit. It’s a hit none the less. Minnesota currently trails Houston in the race for the NBA’s eight seed and would probably welcome a boost.

The injury might derail Minnesota’s season in the sense that they get into a funk afterwards and can’t recover. Or they could rally around the injury and run the gauntlet. All in all the injury will make or break the team this season.

Best Fits for Pau Gasol

This could be complete junk by the time you read this. Pau Gasol could be on a team that is not the mighty purple and gold Lakers (note the heavy sarcasm). He might be first fiddle. He might be second fiddle. Who really knows? But if Gasol is traded, certain situations and teams are probably better fits for the seven-footer. What we have heard from various media outlets and insiders in various cities and counties is that Houston and Minnesota are two teams who are interested in Gasol.

Houston’s interest in Gasol is natural seeing as they would have acquired him in the much-ballyhooed trade that was vetoed by the point-man behind the Hornets… David Stern. Houston would have surrendered Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a first round pick to the Hornets while receiving Gasol. And Houston is probably still interested in Gasol. The kicker is that Chris Paul is off the board, so there won’t be any three-team swap with the assets going to the Hornets. In any deal for Gasol, the Lakers would probably like a point guard in return, because of the whole Chris Paul thing. Houston, incidentally has a very good one named Kyle Lowry. Now, whether the Rockets want to include Lowry in any deal remains to be seen. If they wanted to include him, he’d probably be a Laker and Gasol would be a Rocket. Here is the thing with Houston, Gasol would be a good fit, but at what cost?

Houston would probably have to surrender not only Lowry, but also Scola. If this is a two-for-one, LA comes away with a seven-win improvement and Houston takes a four-game hit. All per ESPN’s trade machine. This serves up the first point, does this make Houston better? Does it? Do we, or Houston for that matter, want a reincarnation of Memphis with Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of the team? Gasol is easily one of the better 20 or 30 players in the league, but I can’t see him being a team-centerpiece at this point. Houston also sacrifices their starting point guard and power forward. I know Houston is deep with youth almost everywhere, but is sacrificing Lowry worth it? As it stands Houston would be in the playoffs if they started today. So maybe they don’t need to do anything. I just think this whole thing is a bad idea. Houston is set as it is, and they don’t need a whole lot to make noise in the playoffs. They have maybe the most valuable thing in the NBA that isn’t LeBron James: a deep bench with young, fresh legs. That might be all that Houston needs.

Minnesota has also reportedly expressed interest. This one actually makes a lot of sense. A Gasol-Love post paring seems pretty formidable. Who plays the five would be up in the air, but that’s a very good duo to dump the ball into. Both can also stretch the floor with jumpers and hurt you on the low block. If you can’t tell, I’m already jumping on the imaginary bandwagon. The other pairing that would be formidable would be Gasol with his countryman Ricky Rubio, those two along with Love and Nikola Pekovic is a very good nucleus. Throw in JJ Barea and you have, as stated, a very good team. The other key with Minnesota is that the assets LA would want from Minnesota would be some combo of Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, a pick(s) and some other smaller pieces. Beasley will probably be traded in one way or another, so why not ship him to LA in a Gasol deal? Williams also goes to the Lakers with the Timberwolves not losing as much as other teams would be for dealing the number two overall pick from the previous year.

Minnesota doesn’t lose a whole lot, but would have to send salaries like Brad Miller’s and Anthony Randolph’s to Los Angeles to even it out.  The picks going to LA will be … well I’m not sure. These things tend to work themselves out. Maybe a future first rounder? Honestly I have no idea.

Teams who loaded up on assets to go after Dwight Howard might find Gasol a viable alternative, though I can’t see any one of the teams possibly interested in Howard (New Jersey, Golden State, etc.) making a run at Gasol.

So if I’m Minnesota, I make the call to LA and get the Gasol thing done if the Lakers are willing to do it.

Trade Rajon Rondo?

Rajon Rondo has evolved from a spare part to key cog in Boston. Rajon Rondo might also be the key to any success the Celtics wish to have in the future.

The question now shifts to, “Do you trade Rondo or keep Rondo and Build around him?”

This branches off into multiple questions. One being, “If they do trade Rondo, what would they get back?”

And another being, “Should we trade the Big 3 for younger pieces to build around Rondo?”

If the Celtics do in fact choose to trade Rondo, then the return has to be substantial, if not an offer that blows them out of the water. The Celtics need a torch bearer, a star or center piece to lead them into the next phase of Celtics basketball. Rondo could be that player, and currently is that player at the present time. If he is traded, then the return has to be a player almost exactly like him. Not so much in a playing sense, but one who can be the center of a team, but also one who is young.

Because if the Celtics do trade Rondo for lesser pieces, so to speak, then they will be left with those supporting players in three to five years and will be nowhere near the level they were a couple years ago.

It’s a long road back to a championship level. The Pistons are on that long road, the Lakers where making that trek before some guy named Gasol showed up.

But probably the one constant is that it’s hard to blow everything up and compete at the same level the next season. If the Celtics are going to move Rondo it needs to be a player on the same level as Rondo coming back. The problem with that is that players of the stature in the league are entrenched in playoff runs. These would be guys like Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. There isn’t a chance any of those teams makes those moves with the exception of maybe Orlando with Howard, but then the reoccurring question comes up for Orlando, can you build around Rondo? (This is assuming Rondo goes to Orlando in a Howard deal.)

The answer is … to be determined. If the Celtics jettison their vets for youth and keep Rondo, then we will see if you can build around him.

If the Celtics chose to build around their young point guard they need to, as stated, move their vets.

I’ve run through some potential situations and it makes the most sense to move KG and Ray Allen. Paul Pierce’s contract is probably one that the Celtics wouldn’t mind paying at a reduced rate, but Pierce retiring wearing another team’s jersey? Come on. Allen, Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal lead a horde of expiring contracts that dot the roster. The C’s will have a lot of cap room in the offseason. What they might choose to do with it is their decision. On the flipside, the expiring deals could be a draw for contenders and cellar dwellers alike to clear money. O’Neal’s contract is particularly interesting seeing as it is upwards of six million. Meaning the Celtics could move it for a sizable return and not be limited by the restrictions of a high-ish dollar value returning. Names like Michael Beasley, Tyrus Thomas and JJ Hickson are all potential targets for Boston. All three are young and have upside, and wouldn’t be a bad paring with Rondo.

Another thing that the Celtics should consider is Jeff Green, who they retain the rights to seeing as he is missing the year due to injury. Green paired with Rondo down the road suddenly doesn’t seem as bad as just Rondo. Still it’s nowhere near an elite nucleus the Celtics would like. Now if they get Thomas and pair him with Green, Rondo and maybe Avery Bradley, then maybe you get somewhere, but to be clear, Boston needs to make something happen.

One last name to consider is Josh Smith of the Hawks. His salary certainly isn’t obnoxious given his play, but it isn’t necessarily a bargain either. I’m not completely sure that Atlanta would move him to Boston for Ray Allen just to clear cap space.

Kevin Garnett could help a lot of squads. Squads who feel they are on the cusp of being legitimate contenders. Squads who feel they are that one veteran guy away from doing big things. If team X is out there, then they better have some monetary assets to move because KG makes north of 21 million this year. It’s not going to be a straight up swap to get him, and it might allow Boston to do something like this-

Boston offers KG to Dallas for Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom. Then makes Dallas throw in Dominique Jones and Rodrique Beabois, because the Celtics are taking Marion’s contract off of Boston’s hands, hence allowing Dallas to pursue the inevitable Deron Williams and Dwight Howard paring in free agency.

All of a sudden you have a team of Rondo, Pierce, Marion, Green, Beabois, Bradley, Brandon Bass, JaJuan Johnson, E’twaun Moore, potentially Odom and free agent signings X and Y. That’s not too terrible, seeing as X and Y are probably big guys because that team would be a bit back court/wing heavy.

That scenario isn’t too bad. It actually seems a bit desirable. I would certainly take it over their current roster.

Here is another involving former Sonics great Ray Allen.

First off, Ray Allen would be an obvious fit in a lot of places, some of those being Oklahoma City and the Clippers. There is no way the Thunder can finagle Allen from the Celtics. Yes Allen is a great, if not perfect acquisition for Clay Bennett’s Raiders. But the return for Boston would probably be some mix up of Cole Aldrich, Nazr Mohammed, Thabo Sefalosha, Royal Ivey and Daequan Cook. There is no shot the Celtics take that. It also deprives the Thunder of most of their bench.

Back to trades- Minnesota has been linked to players like Jamal Crawford. Allen certainly isn’t the same player, but would give the Timberwolves a nice shooting touch at the two. The Celtics would get forwards Michael Beasley and Anthony Tolliver in return. Allen is probably a little difficult to replace for Boston, but the potential that Beasley provides for the future probably out-weighs the Celtics need of Allen this season. Tolliver provides the Celtics with another body up front seeing as their current bigs are KG, Bass, O’Neal and Wilcox, not exactly an elite front line. Not a bad one either, but still not elite. There is more upside to this than just Beasley. If he doesn’t work out then the Celtics can let him walk in free agency after the season. No skin off their teeth, same with Tolliver. Point is that they maintain their free agency flexibility.

Now back to trading Rondo. They aren’t going to get a full return on him. If the previous situations play out, the Celtics might look like an athletic, wing-dominated team a la the 76ers. You could have that or you could trade Rondo to say Utah for Paul Millsap (makes a lot of sense now that I think about it, at least from a Utah standpoint) and let’s also say that KG and Allen walk via free agency. So would you lose the Big 3 not named Pierce as well as Rondo, have Millsap to show for it and a ton of cap space? So there’s Pierce, Millsap (or frankly anyone like that that the Celtics would get in return) and cap space and even more cap space. Or the sure thing in a potentially dangerous team for an extended amount of time. Just something to ponder.

 

 

The Peyton Manning-To-Seattle Proposition

I’m probably not the first to write about this, nor will I be the last, because to put it plainly, Peyton Manning is a free agent. PEYTON FREAKING MANNING IS A FREE AGENT.

As noted, everyone is writing about this. From teams who need a quarterback like the New York Jets or Arizona Cardinals, or teams who don’t and would like to see him as a backup so their team doesn’t have to play against him (cough New England cough).

Maybe this is a pipe dream at best, and Peyton Manning might be considering only AFC teams or whatever the case may be. But the underlying theme here is that he would be a good fit in Seattle.

For that matter any of the NFC West teams with Manning probably jump to division favorites. (With the exception of maybe St. Louis, sorry Rams fans.) That being said, it would seem like the NFC West would make sense in the fact that Peyton could probably win right away, where as in a place like Miami, there could be issues with facing Tom Brady as well as the Jets defense a combined four times a year.

But Seattle looks like the best fit, at least from my position. The Seahawks have some promising bullet points for Manning to consider:

  • One, the Seahawks have a running game that Peyton didn’t have recently in Indianapolis. (Not that Peyton Manning needs a running game to lean on. He’s Peyton FREAKING Manning.)
  • Two, the Seahawks defense is a piece (read pass rusher) away from being a top-10 and/or elite defense.
  • Three, and this may surprise people, but the weapons are there in Seattle. The receiving core is an underrated one. Sydney Rice thrived with Brett Favre and even Tavaris Jackson before he was hit with injuries. Think of the potential with Peyton throwing to him. Doug Baldwin was quietly one of the better rookie receivers in the league last season. Zach Miller will look to be more of a pass catching threat after spending bulks of playing time helping the pass protection area. Mike Williams also thrived with a good QB (read Matt Hasselbeck) and could regain that form if Peyton comes to Seattle. John Carlson will be back from injury if the team chooses to re-sign him (they should look into it.) Leon Washington is a game changer, plain and simple.
  • Four, the offensive line. The Seahawks have a really good young offensive line. The whole line, with the exception of Robert Gallery, has less than four years of experience in the league. While that may be a downside to some, it’s a plus here. The Hawks line is going to be good for a long time. The other key to the QB’s protection here is that the O-Line is surprisingly deep. Breno Giocamini, Paul McQuistain and Lemuel Jeanpierre provided and still provide Pete Carroll with invaluable depth up front.
  • Lastly, win now. The Seahawks, despite the 7­-9 mark, are going to compete. The aforementioned defense is there. So is the running game. So are the receivers. Look, San Francisco isn’t going to go 13-3 again. (If they do, jokes on me.)  Things are going to be more level this year. Even more so than last year. Now obviously Peyton Manning makes just about every team a winner, but to have a team that’s on the cusp of being a very good team, and add one of the best QBs ever. It makes for a very nice dilemma to have.

By process of elimination to get to Seattle, here are places where Peyton isn’t a good fit:

  • Miami- Lack of established running game could make for iffy situation. Then again he succeeded in Indy.
  • New York Jets- Media circus and uncertainty with team might be disastrous. Also lack of weapons and locker room questions.
  • Washington- Redskins don’t have much in the offensive weapons department outside of Santana Moss, Jabar Gaffney and Chris Cooley. Also an equally tough division to play in.
  • Arizona- Larry Fitzgerald and a closed arena. There are the only draws in Zona. Good luck selling it outside of that.

So there you have it, Seattle and Peyton Manning, makes a lot of sense.

Can Justin Verlander Repeat?

A Cy Young and an MVP award in the same season is no small feat. You won’t find it on many resumes anywhere. But can it be done again? Surely you would think no, but it’s not as obscene as you might think.

There are a of couple contributing factors to this. One is named Prince Fielder. Of Verlander’s five losses, two were by two runs or less. I’m not saying Prince Fielder will change that, but he will surely help in the run department category.

The big thing though is that the division might have gotten worse. Yes, Kansas City will get better, but everyone from Jacoby Ellsbury and Adam Jones to So Taguchi and Joey Gathright struggle against the reigning MVP.

Minnesota might still be in the same rut they were in last season. Cleveland will contend, but doesn’t seem to figure into the big picture. Same with Chicago, who might have gotten worse by trading off Carlos Quentin among others.

Which brings us to our next point, Carlos Quentin is gone. I’m not going to say that this will drastically impact Verlander’s season, but in one of his many losses (read five with a heavy dose of sarcasm) he lost 8-2 to the White Sox. In that game one certain Quentin went 3 for 5 and drove in three runs while scoring another. Also is the fact that only Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Victor Martinez have hit more homeruns off of the reigning MVP than Quentin. It should be noted that Quentin is now playing on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as Verlander, on a west coast NL team (read San Diego).

(As a quick aside, Dye isn’t in the league, Thome is in a reduced role in Philly and Martinez is with Detroit and out for the year with a torn ACL).

(Another quick aside is that the 8-2 loss was Verlander’s last of the year. And it was in mid-to-early July. Yowza!).

As far as repeats go, back-to-back Cy Young’s certainly isn’t obnoxious. Most of his stiffest competition in the past (see Zack Grienke, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay) have all gone over to the NL. The real challengers that are left are mainly Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Jered Weaver. This list can probably be lowered down to three with Hernandez’s exclusion. He is certainly worthy, but is backed by a shaky offense. But you never know. Funnier things have happened. As for the other three, they will be in it. But look for Verlander to come back strong in this year’s Cy Young voting.

The MVP repeat is a little more tricky. Of past AL MVP winners, only Hal Newhouser and Frank Thomas have repeated. Incidentally, Newhouser was a pitcher who pitched for, you guessed it, Detroit. It’s not that small of a club, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks and Joe Morgan have all done it in the Senior Circuit. OK maybe it is a small club, but the point is that it’s tricky. Especially for a pitcher such as Verlander. The only other pitcher to repeat was Newhouser, who was a Tiger. So maybe it could happen again.

The fact of the matter is Justin Verlander and the Tigers are going to be extremely dangerous come playoff time. Heck, they’ll be extremely dangerous in the middle of a cross country road trip in Seattle.