Thursday, February 23, 2006

Knickerbocker Debacle, Jets Crash and More...
By Ben Valentine

Okay, since I got my temptation to laugh at the joke the Knicks are while commenting on David’s post, I thought I’d add something to it. As some have speculated, I feel this is the precursor to the end of Stephon Marbury’s days in New York.

It goes without saying Marbury and Steve Francis are very similar players. And you really can’t get by having your best two players being shooting guards in a point guards bodies. Now, Knicks fans have been screaming about this since Jamal Crawford was brought in, but Isiah, for all his faults, can’t be this stupid. If Crawford and Marbury can’t co-exist, then how on earth is an even more shoot first player like Francis going to work here? And how exactly are they going to guard anyone? Which one of them is taking Vince Carter? Or Richard Jefferson? Paul Pierce? Dwayne Wade? Not that the other one is exactly a shut down defender against point guards either.

No, this trade can’t be looked at in a vacuum. Something else is coming. And I feel that something will eventually be Kenyon Martin.

A possible deal could be Marbury to Denver for Martin and Andre Miller. The trade does in fact work out cap wise. (For those who don't believe me, head over to Real GM and punch in the players. It does work) Now the question is incentive; why would either team do it?


For Denver, Marbury only has 3 years left on his contract, compared to the five left on Martin’s. The Nuggets are anxious to get out from under that deal and probably could survive with Marbury playing as a point/shooting guard hybrid, since they have Earl Watson and Earl Boykins who can soak up minutes at the point. Denver admittedly loses size up front, but the rumored three team deal earlier this week had Denver getting Francis and Penny Hardaway back, neither of whom could replace Martin at the four. Maybe that’s why that deal didn’t get done, however it also means there is a chance Denver just wants out from Martin’s deal.

From the Knicks point of view, they get an actual point guard in Andre Miller. He’s a poor shooter, but with Francis, Crawford and Jalen Rose, he won’t be seeing the ball anyway. The Knicks gain some much needed size to go along with Channing Frye up front in Martin, who will be a better player back in the smaller Eastern Conference. He’s also a very good defender, something Larry Brown no doubt covets. Martin is certainly not worth the contract he’s got, but at this point money is no object to the Knicks since they can only realistically talk about blowing it up two or three years from now. With Frye, Martin, Rose, Francis and Miller, the Knicks might just approach respectability. It wouldn’t be championship caliber, but it makes the best of a bad situation. Since the Knicks losing this season only helps the Bulls anyway (Chicago gets the Knicks’ draft pick this year), why not roll the dice with this trade?

Will this deal happen? No clue. Real GM says the Knicks want to see how Marbury and Francis play together first. But realistically, I can’t see the Knicks being able to deal Jamal Crawford. Marbury is only player with a big contract the Knicks can really trade. Realizing that, I think that this deal or something like it, with Marbury and Martin being the principles, will go down eventually, if not by this week’s deadline then during the off season.

The End has Begun

For the New York Jets that is.

Now that September is almost six months away and those Super Dreams are a distant nightmare, the Jets have begun cleaning house by giving seven players their walking papers. The most notables from this group: Ty Law, Jason Fabini, Jerald Sowell and Jay Fiedler. No shocks there.

Law getting cut was the worst kept secret in the NFL. I compared him to Steve Atwater’s acquisition before the 99’ disaster and I now feel the analogy is complete, though I expect Law will not fade away out of existence like Atwater did. That being said, Law is not nearly the difference maker he believes himself to be. While ever the opportunistic defender with his double digit interceptions this year, his problems with illegal contact and mediocre corner play at times lead me to believe he’s on the decline. He could still make a difference, but I’d be shocked if anyone gave him more than a two year deal at this point.

Fabini, whom Zach nicknamed “the Human False Start” had a solid career in New York. However he has been on the decline for the last couple of years and many suspect was one of the players who called out for Chad Pennington to be cut last week. With the injury bug catching up to him and his salary, he was clearly a player who was on his way out. Add that up with the possibility the Jets take D’Brickashaw Ferguson with the fourth pick, and it would have been a colossal surprise had Fabini not gotten cut.

Fielder is also no surprise. Coming off shoulder surgery, it made no sense for the Jets to keep him at his salary. As for Sowell, he was a solid pass catching full back and a decent blocker. But on a team that is facing cap issues, and with a similar younger player in BJ Askew on roster, that's the business of the NFL.


Also of note today was the restructuring of Curtis Martin’s contract, thus ending all speculation he was finished with the team. Martin will compete for the starting tailback spot, but expect him to end up splitting carries with whatever rookie the Jets end up drafting. I doubt Cedric Houston impressed the new coaching staff enough for them not to look to draft a running back come April.

And finally, the Jets franchised John Abraham. This has been seen as a precursor to a trade. I can hope it isn’t, because Abraham is the only real difference maker on either side of the ball on roster. However, in the likely scenario the Jets end up dealing him, I would be shocked if they don't come back with multiple picks or an outright first rounder. If he were to hit the free agent market, Abraham would be a top five player in it, right up there with Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. That's worth something.

Stay tuned. The next two weeks should tell us a lot with this team, as Chad Pennington is due a roster bonus on March 3rd. If he’s still on roster after that, I don’t think he’ll be released this off season.

The Olympics… Just Because I Haven’t Said Much About Them Yet

-A couple of Olympic points: First, can anyone please tell me how figure skating is judged? Outside of when people fall down, I have a no idea how the heck they derive the scoring. One program looks pretty much like the others to me. And now that I think about it, wasn’t there a Chinese pair that DID fall, had to stop their program, start over and still got the gold?

This is why I can’t take figure skating seriously. If no one in the NFL can tell what holding is or figure out if a football crossed a goal line on slow motion replay, how the hell can a bunch of judges tell the intricacies of a triple toe loop from twenty or thirty feet away? Someone, anyone, who enjoys the sport, please give me an answer. I’d love to know.

-I’ve come close to writing a post about the Shani Davis/Chad Hedrick feud a couple of times. But I always ended up stopping myself. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of Davis; the international speed skaters who he’s interacting with at the games seem to get along with him just fine. In fact they seem to get a long better with him than they do with Hedrick or the other Americans. I understand the resentment towards his opting out, but also realize that speed skating is an individual event and that team pursuit is just not on the same level as the individual races. In the end, him becoming the first African American to win gold at the winter games does far more for the sport in this country than him being part of the team pusuit. On the other hand he doesn’t seem the most personable guy in interviews, though again, that may be because of his resentment towards the US program more than anything else.

As for Hedrick, I’m pretty much convinced the guy is an egoistical blow hard. For a guy who talks about team, everything always is about him. He gets on Davis for not racing in the pursuit, then excuses his third place finish in the 1,500 by saying the Italian who won, Enrico Fabris, hadn’t raced as many races in the last two weeks as he had. I just love a hypocrite, don’t you? He also called himself the team captain of the US speed skating team… wait, when did this sport become like baseball, hockey… or any other TEAM sport? Last time I checked there’s only one man out there racing. Davis’, Joey Cheek or anyone else’s success at the games this far has absolutely nothing to do with Hedrick, so the idea that anyone owes him something is absolutely ludicrous.

But at the very least, both Hedrick and Davis have gold medals at these games, which is not something most of “America’s Greatest Team” can say.

-Speaking of an American Team that is only great in quotes, how about hockey? With guys like Doug Weight, Mike Modano, Bill Guerin and Chris Chelios, one can honestly say this team was great… four years ago. Outside of Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Rick DiPietro (What they couldn’t drag Mike Richter out of retirement?), the Americans had no youth on this team. And it showed. They looked like a bunch of guys who were past their prime. Can these guys still contribute to an NHL team? Sure. But to ask them to go out and compete in a wide open style of play with European players who are usually not only younger but far more used to this style, was asking for disaster. And that’s what happened. On the bright side, should the NHL decide to allow participation in the 2010 games in Vancouver, it can be safely assumed there will be some fresh blood on this team.

Thankfully the Olympics are winding down. When they finally end Sunday, we can stop worrying about tape delays, judges, obscure niche sports, drunken skiers and get back to things that really matter, like spring training. The games may not count, but at least I know who’s winning them.

And of course, I’ll finally be able to watch Scrubs again on NBC. That alone makes me wish these games were already long gone.

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