The New Orleans Pelicans Are An Emerging Power In The West

New Orleans Pelicans CheerleadersEver heard of a team named New Orleans Pelicans? Yes, they are the team that was formerly named Hornets, the team that was formerly NBA-owned. Almost one year after Tom Benson bought the team and made promises for better years to come; the team has already found its way to build a strong ensemble.

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’12 Olympic team would beat ’92 ‘Dream Team’

2012 US Men's basketball team

Kobe Bryant sparked a huge debate a few weeks ago when he said that the 2012 Men’s Olympic Basketball team could beat the 1992 “Dream Team”Michael Jordan laughed, “Dream Team” said the ‘Dream Team’ would win by 25, and Charles Barkley called people “knuckleheads”.

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Hornets re-sign SG Eric Gordon to 4-year, $58 million deal

eric gordon hornets

Damn… Max money for Eric Gordon is some serious coin.  The Suns agreed to an offer sheet with Gordon and he apparently wanted to sign with the Suns but the Hornets quickly matched the offer. New Orleans is obviously in re-building mode but having drafted Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, Gordon does at least give them a “veteran” presence and proven scorer who can help be the face of the franchise along with their first round picks.

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My “beef” with NBA contracts: Part I – Bad Contracts

Money and the NBA

I love to get paid just as much as the next guy. But when it comes to figuring out a budget and where to spend your money, I think some GM’s are lost. The absurdity of big-dollar contracts in the NBA has made me think a lot since last offseason. With another off-season just around the corner, I would like to dive into last year’s contracts that were handed out, what players did and didn’t deserve them, and then I would like to focus on this year’s contracts and who should and shouldn’t get a big deal. This might turn into a three or four-part series. Here is Part I today.  [Read more…]

Bradley Beal: The Next Ray Allen?

Bradley Beal

NBA prospect Bradley Beal is earning some high praise, and he hasn’t even done anything to deserve it, yet. Beal is considered, by most NBA scouts and draft analysts, to be a top five pick in this year’s NBA draft.

The highly rated shooting guard from the University of Florida has drawn comparisons to current NBA players, most notably: Eric Gordon and Ray Allen. [Read more…]

Chris Paul Traded to L.A. Clippers for Gordon, Kaman, Aminu and Draft Pick

Chris-Paul

The NBA has reached an agreement, in principle, to end the Chris Paul drama. Just ten days and change to the start of the season and CP3 didn’t even know what team he was going to be on. Yes, the Los Angeles Clippers will get to keep Blake Griffin, and still have one of the best point guards in the league.

According to the sources of Yahoo! Sports:

The league-owned New Orleans Hornets will receive guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ unprotected 2012 first-round pick in return for Paul.

As part of the deal, Paul has agreed to not opt out of his contract after this season – allowing the Clippers to keep him at least through the 2012-13 season.

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How Clippers Could Get Chris Paul AND Dwight Howard

chris paul dwight howard

The following is a result of me being bored at 2:30 a.m. and playing around on ESPN’s Trade MachineBill Simmons may be the Picasso of the Trade Machine, but I am the Michaelangelo.  Before you light me up in the comment box below, let me just clarify: I am not saying this trade idea will happen, should happen, or ever could happen, but it at least got me thinking, “Hmmmm…”

In the new-found era of super-teams in the NBA, I cannot help but think that the next duo of players to follow the Miami Heat, LeBron/Wade/Bosh blueprint and join forces for one franchise will be Chris Paul and Dwight Howard who both could become free agents in the summer of 2012.  Here is a crazy, wild, insane, probably never going to happen brainstorm; what if the Los Angeles Clippers made a push to acquire CP3 and Howard, and team them up with Blake Griffin to form a megapower?

By: David Kay

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Blame for Disappointing Illini Season Goes Well Beyond Senior Class

bruce weber demetri mccamey

In the bracket of non-existent, 2009-2011 Illini basketball leadership has got to be a #1 seed.

And I’m not singling out Coach Bruce Weber, or point guard/star player Demetri McCamey. I’m talking about the total team’s overall tendency to just NOT get things done together as a team. If Notre Dame is Gestalt, and a cohesive unit playing well beyond the sum of their parts, then Illinois is a bunch of underachieving square pegs in round holes.

Handling success instead of fearing of it, winning the close games, not being mental midgets in the face of adversity: these qualities have been missing the past two years. And ever since the Illini started dropping games to teams that are half as talented as they are, we media members started getting extremely critical of both Weber and the seniors.

No wonder Weber described the internet as a “mean place.” But let’s say he’s right.

Let’s say the criticism of the seniors is unwarranted and undeserved. Where else can you point the finger?

By Paul M. Banks

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Team USA Basketball Mini-Camp Preview

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By Paul M. Banks

Twenty-three of the top young NBA talents will congregate Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the July 23-25 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp.

The mini-camp consists of practice sessions on July 23 and 24th at Valley High School, with the mini-camp’s highlight, the “USA Basketball Showcase,” a Blue-White intra-squad game taking place on Saturday, July 25th, 8 p.m. Pacific at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Today, Team USA announced that 2009 NBA All-Rookie second team selection Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers / Indiana) and Warriors forward Anthony Randolph (Golden State Warriors / LSU) had been added to the Men’s National Team mini-camp roster.  Additionally, it was announced that Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers / New Mexico) and David Lee  (New York Knicks / Florida) will attend, but will not actively participate. Also, previously announced participants LaMarcus Aldridge, Trevor Ariza, Glen Davis and Brandon Roy will now not attend the mini-camp.

Remaining List of mini-camp attendees
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-D.J. Augustin (Charlotte Bobcats / Texas)
-Jerryd Bayless (Portland Trail Blazers / Arizona)
-Ronnie Brewer (Utah Jazz / Arkansas)
-Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder / Texas)
-Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies / Connecticut)
-Jeff Green (Oklahoma City Thunder / Georgetown)
-Blake Griffin (University of Oklahoma)
-Devin Harris (New Jersey Nets / Wisconsin)
-Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers / Arizona)
-Kyle Korver  (Utah Jazz / Creighton)
-Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets / Stanford)
-Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves / UCLA)
-O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies / USC)
-Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz / Louisiana Tech)
-Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers / Ohio State)
-Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls / Memphis)
-Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks / Oak Hill Academy, Va.)
-Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder / UCLA)
-Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia 76ers / Georgia Tech)

Mini Camp Staff:

-Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano team-america-world-police-posters
-Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin
-Detroit Pistons assistant Dave Cowens
-former New Orleans Hornets assistant Kenny Gattison
-Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Jerry Sichting

“While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA National Team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously.   Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program.  As was the case in 2005-08, the roster for the national team program will be fluid in 2010-2012 and we will make adjustments to the roster each year to help insure we have the strongest program and the strongest teams possible,” said USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.

Twenty of the expected mini-camp participants have played for the Red, White, and Blue before including: Aldridge, Bayless, Durant, Green, Harris, Iguodala, Lee, Mayo, Rose and Russell.

All were members of the ‘07 or ‘08 USA Basketball Select Team that trained with and scrimmaged against the 2008 USA National Team in Vegas.
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The mini-camp list features a lot 2008-09 NBA award winners. Chicago Bulls rookie guard Rose was selected the recipient of the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year award, while Mayo, Lopez, Westbrook, Gordon and Love ranked second through sixth in the award voting in 2009. Durant won the award in 2008. Claiming 2009 NBA All-Rookie first team honors were Rose, Mayo, Westbrook and Lopez, second team distinction went to Gordon, Love and Augustin, and Oden also received votes for All-Rookie team honors.

Granger was named the NBA Most Improved Player for 2008-09, while Harris, Durant, and Millsap finished second through fourth in the voting, and Lee (7th) and Young (9th) ranked among the top 10 vote getters. In the NBA Sixth Man Award voting, Millsap received votes for the honor.

Douchebracket Banks Regional

Welcome to the d-bag bracket, a tournament deciding the most insufferable douchebags in all of sports. Please feel free to comment as much as possible, because your feedback will help determine who advances to the Final Four.

This is the bracket compiled by site founder Paul M. Banks

1. Bobby Knight-
Where do you start with this asshole? My heart goes out to his players and his children. Pat Knight is both, so he must have the highest pain tolerance of any human being alive.

2. Roger Clemens-
Quite possibly the worst liar in all history, Clemens’ used artificially enhanced brute strength to dumb down and destroy the intellectual element of strategy and finesse essential to the art of pitching. Great role model for kids too!

3. Notre Dame fans w/ no connection to the school-
Imagine if your school had the power to recruit fans based on ethnicity and religion. Then whenever you attended a game/alumni event featuring your alma mater, you could be surrounded by ignorant front-runner bandwagon jumping douchebags.

4. Over-commercialization & self-promotion of Sportscenter-
Remember when you were 14 and you stayed home from school and watched the replay of SC over and over again in the morning? It was easy to do then because the show was actually about stats, highlights and numbers- not promoting a cultural product of Disney or a crappy domestic beer

5. Eric “Basketball Judas” Gordon-
Indiana’s pathetic season has helped drop his seed down, but he still stabbed Illination in the back, just so he could ally himself with the biggest scumbag of college basketball

6. People who think Chris Berman is funny-
Unless you’re 9 years old or a huge fan of 70s rock, how can you find this bloated bloviating Bristol blowhole amusing? Are Bachman-Turner-Overdrive jokes about Eagles fullbacks that important in your life?

7. Peyton Manning’s incessant commercials-
He really does have a face for radio. Some of his ads are well-written, but they lose all their humor after the 4th or 5th showing. After the 3,456th showing, someone needs to be shot.

8. Pro-Chief Illiniwek zealots-
In a world with a climate crisis, an employment crisis, economic crisis, a healthcare crisis, the U.S. stuck in two unwinnable wars and whole host of other pressing issues, your pet cause is gonna be…perceived oppression by the p.c. police against a frat boy dancing for 5 minutes at halftime? GET A LIFE!

9. Anti-Chief Illiniwek zealots-
It’s not like there’s a shortage of causes in the world. With all our problems, we need grassroots involvement to show our corporate and government (perhaps I’m being redundant there) leaders that the people want to see results in things that matter. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM!

10. People who think Barry Bonds didn’t use ‘roids-
There are tons of people who think Saddam was responsible for 9/11, there are people who think Bush, Cheney et al did not deliberately lie us into the Iraq war. Likewise there are millions of idiots who think Barry is being oppressed by a racist witch hunt. I’d don’t want to sound old and crotchety, but in my day we believed in simple facts. Basic truths are not optional to believe in.

11. ESPN’s Tim Tebow coverage-
That’s wonderful that he embraces his faith so openly; and goes on service missions that exhibit/fulfill his devotion. But you know what? I don’t give a shit! I don’t care what this overrated athlete does in his spare time away from the limelight- which will stop shinning on him after next football season. I can’t wait until he plays in a low level arena league, and there’s no more sycophantic coverage of this dbag.

12. Chase Daniel-
Would have been a bubble selection or NIT until the Alamo Bowl, when ESPN felt the need to show close-ups of the 5’9” QB’s family for the final 20 minutes! Outside of the Daniel family, WHO CARES!!?

13. U of Michigan grads, fans-
There’s a reason Wolverine fans are despised by fans of EVERY other school in the Big Ten. Yes, your school has some great graduate programs, but you didn’t go to medical school there! Yes, when the auto industry was rich and powerful, so was this school, but today Detroit is ready to entirely collapse, UM is a safety school for our nation’s smartest kids and you probably live in a Ypsilanti double-wide. And yes, your football team has a lot of proud moments- they all occurred decades before you were born.


14. Tyler Hansbrough-
Not even the best player on his team, let along the conference or the nation. But don’t tell that to Dickie V. and the Eastern Seaboard Programming Network.

15. Illini fans who incessantly bitch about bad calls- They’ll probably blame Dr. Chester Frazier’s injury on the refs too

16. Drunken, baseball illiterate Cub fans edges out Indiana ‘s circus clown warm-up pants in the play-in game.

I don’t hate the Cubs or their fans. I’m also totally fine with the fact that the local media slurps Cubbie Blue and gives much less attention to the White Sox. What I cannot tolerate though, are the LP Trixies and Trixymales that drink themselves retarded (ok, they’re more than halfway there sober), think Mark Grace is still on the team, and puke on the sidewalks in my neighborhood.

Bubble Burst

-The chick in the Progressive Insurance advertisements

-Former Iowa coaches (Bruce Pearl, Steve Alford etc.)

-The sight of Charlie Weiss

Illini-Northwestern Sort of a Rivalry

Paul M. Banks

If there’s one game that Northwestern circles on the schedule each year, it’s Illinois. The Illini directly compete with them within the city of Chicago on all levels: for coveted recruits, building a dedicated fan base, and the publicity of coverage from the nation’s third largest media market. While NU fans utterly despise Illinois, Illini Nation abhors Indiana, the only Big 10 program with more tournament appearances and wins than Illinois, the most. Eric Gordon certainly turned that up a notch!

It may not be Duke/North Carolina, but it’s unfortunate that this season sees our in-state rivals meet just once: Thu 8PM at Welsh-Ryan Arena, ESPN2.

Illinois-Northwestern is an exciting rivalry in football, but in basketball it’s EXCEEDINGLY one-sided. UI leads the all-time series 125-34, with a 60-21 advantage in Evanston. Illini Nation also carry a nine-game series winning streak into Thursday’s game.

However, nothing is certain for opponents game-planning against the Wildcats’ unique style on both ends of the court (Princeton set on offense, 1-3-1 zone on defense) Despite the recent records overwhelmingly in Illinois’ favor, Illini senior point guard Chester Frazier expressed caution towards the Wildcats, who enter the game with an 11-2 home record and the nation’s 20th ranked scoring defense. “That’s gonna be one of the roughest games of the year in my opinion. Their style of play is very different, very unorthodox. With the 1-3-1 they cause a lot of turnovers and create a lot of havoc, so we gotta take care of the ball and be ready to play every possession,” Frazier said.

Northwestern senior two-guard Craig Moore is NU’s emotional and scoring leader. He’s also second nationally in 3pt field goal percentage. Moore discussed the Illini’s upcoming visit to the North Shore. “It’s a good rivalry, they’ve handled us a bit the past couple times we’ve played them,” NU’s all-time three point scorer said. Even though Illinois has looked uglier than Michael Phelps’ recent PR on the road, I predict they’ll win 61-59. They have an impressive RPI of 15, according to all 3 (Real Time, ESPN Inside, and Jerry Palm) ratings percentage indices. The Illini slaughtered the Wildcats 70-37 in their only meeting last year and Cats coach Bill Carmody is just 1-14 against the Orange and Blue.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank