Archive for June, 2010

Basketball: The Summer of 2010

It is finally here. NBA and general sports fans alike have looked forward to this year’s free agency because of all of the big-name players that will be available. In 2006 some players intentionally signed contract extensions that would end at the same time to leave open the possibility of playing with one another on a new team. Knowing the likes of who would be available, some teams – including the New York Knicks – sacrificed their team and made sure to make moves that would free space under the salary cap for this summer. The justification: “We may suck now, but just wait until we get LeBron or (insert prominent name here).” LeBron James is the prize everyone wants, and his decision will dictate where other players end up. With free agency beginning July 1 at midnight and players being able to sign contracts on July 8, rumors are flying. And the latest speculation is very intriguing.

Due to the Miami Heat’s recent moves, they have the most money to spend this summer (approximately $43 million), and can afford to re-sign Dwyane Wade while adding both LeBron and Chris Bosh. The three 2003 draftees would have to take less than a maximum contract to play together, but they are all friends and reportedly would be willing to forfeit money to compete as teammates. There is no guarantee that this scenario will happen, but it would be unlike anything the NBA has seen.

Some people may say that this already happened three years ago in Boston, but these people would be wrong. When Paul Pierce was united with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett via separate trades, all three were closer to the twilight of their respective careers. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all in their prime – and who knows what exactly they could do playing together. It would certainly be entertaining to see three true individual center-of-the-franchise stars play together for 82 regular season games and the playoffs. Even the best defensive opponents probably could not afford to double anyone on the floor out of fear of leaving someone open. Time will only tell how the NBA landscape will change, but here are my thoughts on a few players:

LeBron: He is very loyal, but I think he is leaving Cleveland. The surrounding parts aren’t good enough for him there. The best existing fit for him – despite being in the more competitive Western Conference – is with the Los Angeles Clippers; because of the talent of the other four starters that would be paired with him, however, I can’t see him going there, due to the franchise’s owner and corresponding history. Dallas is out, because he would have to do a sign-and-trade to get there, and I do not think that he is dying to play with Dirk Nowitzki, who has yet to win anything, and Jason Kidd is getting old fast. New York would be a huge stage that he would relish but the roster is weak compared to other possibilities. At this point, I would not be surprised to see him land with the New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat, or Chicago Bulls. All three have positives and negatives that could determine LeBron’s decision. I believe that his final choice will be the Bulls, with their young core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng vs. the Heat and Dwyane Wade. Ultimately, I do not think that LeBron wants to play in a city where he will never escape Michael Jordan’s shadow, and since he is leaving Cleveland, he is going to want to maximize the opportunity of starting over. What better way to do that than to play with a close friend and one of the league’s best in Wade?

Wade: He’s staying in Miami. He is comfortable there, likes Pat Riley, and the franchise can offer him the money he wants, along with one or two big-name teammates. Chicago is home for Wade, but the Heat have more money to spend than the Bulls, and if he can get LeBron and Bosh to want to play with him, they will be teammates in Miami.

Bosh: He has been the focal point of the Toronto Raptors since he was drafted. LeBron completely dictates where he will end up. I think he prefers to play with LeBron over any other player and could make more money doing so in Chicago than in Miami playing with only Wade (which is a possible scenario). However, if LeBron goes to the Heat, Bosh will surely take what he can get and follow.

Amare Stoudemire: He has played his entire career with the Phoenix Suns and now he wants a maximum deal. But given his lack of defense and


inconsistent rebounding, management in Phoenix has not tried to extend him under a max contract. If Stoudemire really does put an emphasis on comfort, familiarity, and winning now, he will take less money and stay with the Suns. If he just wants to be “the man” down low with a max deal, I think he will go play for his previous coach, Mike D’Antoni, and the New York Knicks. I could also see him in Miami if Bosh or Carlos Boozer do not sign there.

Dirk Nowitzki: Traded to the Dallas Mavericks on the night of the 1998 draft and has played his entire career with the team. His loyalty to owner Marc Cuban is strong and I can not see him leaving unless he believes he can’t win the big one in Dallas, and thus leaves to play with another superstar perhaps in Chicago.

Joe Johnson: I think he leaves the Atlanta Hawks and ends up with his former coach Mike D’Antoni in New York, but I would not rule out the New Jersey Nets. And if LeBron does not go to Chicago, I could see Johnson going there.

Carlos Boozer: He started in Cleveland and ended up with the Utah Jazz. He could fit well with Wade, LeBron or Joe Johnson, but if Bosh doesn’t go to Chicago, I think that is where Boozer will go. If Bosh does go to the Bulls, I think Boozer will go play with Wade in Miami.

– Gaither Jones

LeBron Watch

For my first blog for Blue & White, I’m going to talk about a story that many people will be focusing their attention on this summer.

If you are an NBA fan, basketball fan, or just a sports fan, you know that a big topic of interest this summer – possibly the biggest in sports – is where LeBron James will sign. ESPN will undoubtedly try to stay on top of the story, even if that means broadcasting small details across its “BottomLine.”

I recently saw that LeBron told CNN’s Larry King that Cleveland has “an edge” in signing him when NBA free agency begins in July. While LeBron did say this during a time period when he has not said much to the media about his impending free agency, I do not think it is wise to put too much stock in his statement. LeBron knows what the Cavs can offer him under the salary cap rules. He knows that they will give him a max deal if he wants it, and he knows that Cleveland can offer him a bigger deal due to the extra year (six v. five) that teams can offer their own free agents. He knows the city and the roster and how everyone fits in around him and the corresponding success. And he most likely has an idea of where the younger players, who do not see much playing time in the regular season – such as UNC alum Danny Green – are in their development because he sees them in practice and pick-up games. Basically, he has an idea for the potential of the roster and what talent may have developed in a few years. LeBron may even know what players will not be around in the future or who is being targeted in free agency. I’m sure management is and will continue to keep LeBron in the loop, as their top priority is to get him to stay a Cavalier.

Given all of this, it just makes sense that Cleveland would have “an edge” right now.

However, I think it is important to note that LeBron has not visited other teams and been wined and dined yet. He knows what teams will have the cap space to make him a substantial offer, but he does not know their plan for him. He does not know how he would click in another roster or what other free agents the team could get to pair with him. Thus the edge that Cleveland has could easily be lost due to greener pastures that LeBron is unaware of or do not yet exist.

Perhaps LeBron will tip his hat as to wear he will end up. Perhaps he already has, with the paperwork he filed to change his jersey from No. 23 to No. 6. Who knows? I do think though that LeBron will allow himself to hear a few pitches from teams beginning July 1 – such as the New York Knicks – before he signs his name on the dotted line of a new deal. I do not think that he will indicate where he is going before free agency begins, and thus anything he says before then will have little value.

– Gaither Jones

While perusing the shelves of current paperbacks at Bull’s Head Bookshop, I saw a very slim book that had a very interesting cover design.  I know, I know, don’t judge a book by a cover, but it’s my MO for picking which books I’m going to read if I have no previous recommendations.  Light Boxes is less than 150 pages long and easily can be finished in a matter of hours.  By the end of the first chapter (which comprised of a single sentence in giant font), I was intrigued by this book.  It’s a little post-modern and uses techniques such as point-of-view changes and different fonts and font sizes to tell the story, but it is still a very interesting read.

The story revolves around Thaddeus and the rest of the citizens of a little town which has been experiencing the season of February for almost two-hundred days.  They blame February, personified into a creator god figure, for all of their sadness and the kidnapping of many local children, and eventually plot to start a war against him.  I can’t say much more without revealing the interesting plot twists (and this book certainly has a lot of them for being so short), but the revelation is one that you don’t see coming and is one of the more interesting plot twists I’ve read in a very long, long time.  It’s a great read if you want something to pass the time with quickly.

Overall rating:  A.

Put this on your summer reading list, for sure.

– Samantha Ryan

Getting Back to the Quiet

Project 365 is a year-long blog series about being a senior at Carolina, going through the senior bucket list, job search, applying to graduate school and just life in general, told in countdown form.

So, I grew up in the mountains, where quiet is the norm.  Coming to Carolina was a big change from that and I loved the excitement and activity of living in a town like Chapel Hill.  However, after a few years I have begun to realize that I miss the quiet.  I miss being able to not hear trucks or cars (or my neighbors upstairs… having a Rock Band game does NOT make you a real band), so I decided to find a way to turn off the noise and get back to the quiet.

Twenty minutes up the road is the Eno River State Park, a beautiful place to spend a day and get away from the noise of Chapel Hill.  Now, the brochure advertises 24 miles of hiking trails, and this got me excited because one of the things I miss most about the mountains is the ability to go hiking at the drop of the hat (really, if you want to go hiking at my house, you go outside and just start walking in any direction…within minutes you’ll be hiking).  However, when I got there, I realized that my definition of hiking was drastically different than central North Carolina’s definition of hiking, but they are still nice nature walking trails and you do have to cross a few wide streams along the way, so you get the general sense that you are hiking.  Along with hiking, there is a spot for swimming in the river near Few’s Ford as well as fishing; both are popular sites in the summer months to cool off.

Word of caution: you will get dirty and muddy and wet.  Also, be sure to bring your bug spray and wear the long pants/long sleeves ensemble to keep the mosquitoes and ticks off of you, and of course, bring a water bottle or two depending on how long you plan on being out there.

So, seniors, if you have a spare Saturday with no plans, check out Eno River State Park.  Located at 6101 Cole Mill Road, Durham, NC.

Enjoy the summer, Class of 2011!

– Samantha Ryan