San Diego Sports Guy
Commentary about the San Diego sports scene & other stuff too
Shawn Kemp's Kids

Bolts Beat The Eagles But Butt Wipes Are Grabbing The Spotlight This Week

Hey Nick, you're completely clean now so hike the damn ball

Philip Rivers probably played his best game as a professional football player on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. If it wasn't his finest overall performance then it was definitely in the top five.

Put simply, Rivers was sensational for all four quarters. Something that hasn't happened in at least three years.

However, now 48 hours have passed since the Chargers disposed of Philly by the score of 33-30 and moistened toilet paper for men is getting nearly as much attention. Say what?

Well, evidently Nick Hardwick is one of four NFL centers that will be starring in adds for men's toilet wipes later this month. The marketing blitz entitled Clean Snap will soon be coming to a television near you.

Be honest, you are giddy with excitement at this news aren't you?  

Attention Whore Jason Whitlock Is Heading Back To ESPN

Jason Whitlock is hard to stomach (pun semi-intended).

Is the artist formerly known as Big Sexy funny, articulate and provocative? Yes, without a doubt.

Is he also a deep thinker, an intellectual and someone who deserves a Pulitzer Prize? Please. Last time I checked Pulitzers aren't handed out to attention whores and/or race-baiters.

While all of Whitlock's columns don't deal with race, an overwhelming percentage (probably close to 50-60%) of them do. When Jason's mug is on television this percentage increases to about 90%. If he's brought in as a talking head then it's almost a certainty that race is the topic. 

Whitlock left ESPN about seven years ago and since then has been highly critical of many of the network's internal policies/decisions (the Bernie Fine fiasco being Exhibit A) and writers/on-air "personalities" (Scoop Jackson, Screamin' Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless etc.). Because of this harsh criticism it was somewhat surprising that ESPN head honcho John Skipper opted to bring him back for a second tour of duty.

Although upon further review, perhaps Skipper is really trying to elevate the level of discourse on the network with the hiring of Nate Silver and re-hiring of former golden boy turned pariah Keith Olbermann (assuming he sticks to sports and keeps his partisan political opinions to himself). Whitlock isn't as bright as these two guys but he is definitely shrewd.

Somehow he has been able to burn bridge after bridge yet still find employers willing to pay him millions of dollars a year to be primarily a one trick pony. From Serena to Tiger to Jay-Z to insert black athlete or entertainer here, Whitlock has been able to cut/paste his against the grain/cookie cutter columns together mere hours after a major controversy or story comes to light. 

Even if the push for a Pulitzer earlier this year was partially satirical, it was nevertheless yet another way for Whitlock to bring attention onto himself. Perhaps Whitlock 2.0 at ESPN will be a much more well rounded (again, pun only semi-intended) journalist who evolves into a five or six trick pony that is willing to tackle substantive issues other than race.

We shall see what transpires in the coming months, but don't be shocked if things eventually end badly once again between ESPN and Whitlock. Despite the best of intentions, a leopard still can't change its spots.

Get The Buck Out: Brandon Jennings Headed To Pistons

Bucks GM John Hammond decided to call his old boss Joe Dumars to work out a trade for disgruntled point guard Brandon Jennings. 

As predicted in a 7/15/13 post, the Bucks and Pistons have now agreed to swap point guards. Milwaukee also received wing Khris Middleton and center (yes another one!?!) Slava Kratsov in the deal. 

Jennings had to go and this trade should work out reasonably well for both teams. Knight is a solid combo guard and is better from three point territory than Brandon The Chucker. 

Will the Bucks eke out a playoff berth because of this deal? Probably not, but they should finish right around .500 and be in the mix for a 7 or 8 seed. 

Bucks fans...whadaya think?

NBA Western Conference Offseason Report Card

"Ain't nobody takin' us down this year. We are the team to beat." - Matt Barnes

Clippers:       A      Redick, Dudley, Collison and Mullens were all quality additions. Bringing in Doc Rivers to coach the team and re-signing the inimitable Barnes were just icing on the cake

Lakers:         D+      Loss of Howard obviously hurts. Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar won't increase win total substantially. LA's other team will likely be on the outside of the playoffs looking in 

Golden State:   B+    Adding Iggy was a real coup but losing super sub Jarrett Jack is going to hurt. Speights, Douglas and O'Neal signings will likely have minimal impact

Portland:          A-     No big splashes but the Blazers have had one of the best offseasons of  any team in the league. Excellent draft followed by key acquisitions of Robin Lopez, Dorrell Wright and the much maligned Thomas Robinson 

    C-     Mbah A Moute and Landry are solid citizens but they won't significantly improve the team on the court. A lot of young talent but the Kings are still a long way from being a playoff contender in the West

Phoenix:            B-     Eric Bledsoe will bring much needed excitement back to the Valley of the Sun

         B       D12 makes the Rockets a lock for a #5 seed. Daryl Morey deserves credit for reeling in the big fish

Denver:             C-     Lil' N8 is small doses. Hickson, Arthur and Foye are all average at best. Nuggets face a real challenge replicating last season's win total

Dallas:               B-      A lot of activity down in Big D but the Mavs haven't been able to land any first tier free agents

Utah:                  D-      Let Millsap and Jefferson walk away for nothing in return. Starting five will be very young and very intriguing. Also...very bad. I'd be shocked if the Jazz don't finish with one of the worst records in the league

Minnesota:        B-      Kevin Martin should help cure the team's shooting woes and inking Pek to a deal within the next week would raise the grade to a B+

Memphis:          D+     Shooting is still desperately needed. Gary Neal and Mike Miller would both be ideal acquisitions for new VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger

San Antonio:      C       Re-signing Splitter was a must but Belinelli and Pendegraph hardly make the Spurs significantly better

New Orleans:     B      Solid B for boldness. Holiday and Evans moves may not propel the Pelicans into the playoffs but at least Dell Demps is swinging for the fences

Oklahoma City:  D-    We were never big fans of Sam Presti and now the rest of the world is starting to agree with us. Kevin Martin left and veteran firepower off the bench is desperately needed  

NBA Eastern Conference Offseason Report Card

Transactions are slowing to a trickle so let's take a quick peek at how the teams are doing so far:

Brooklyn:     A    Roster is a bit old in the tooth but stacked on paper. Getting Kirilenko for $3.1 milion was quite a coup.

Boston:        C-     Ainge hit the reset button and it will be a long year in Beantown. Will Rondo be dealt too?

New York:   C    Hinges on the Bargnani deal. If Andrea stays healthy then the Knicks could be sleepers

Philadelphia:  D   One of the few teams that are definitely tanking for a top pick in the 2014 draft

Washington:  B-    Under the radar but Maynor and Webster solidify a decent bench. Likely playoff bound this season

Toronto:       B      Psycho-T in the house!!  Getting a #1 plus Novak for Bargnani elevates grade from a C to a solid B.

Indiana:        C+    Bringing back David West was a must and upgrading to C.J. Watson as a backup point guard was very prudent

Chicago:       C-    Relatively quiet but Dunleavy and rookie Tony Snell should provide quality wing minutes

Detroit:          B      Finally heading in the right direction. Josh Smith signing likely to propel the Pistons back to the playoffs

Milwaukee:   INC   Jennings situation needs to be determined. If he signs qualifying offer or Bucks get short end of a sign and trade then it's going to be a D- for Hammond

Cleveland:     B        Bynum obviously the key. If he can play 50+ games look out

Atlanta:         A-      Hawks are getting ready to soar. Love their draft picks and getting Millsap for only $9.5 million a year was a steal

Miami:          D        Not much going on down in Miami. Birdman back for another year and it's no longer Miller Time

Orlando:       F        Ronnie Price and Jason Maxiell? Yikes. Team's record will be better than Philly but not by much

Charlotte:      B       Cody Zeller is going to play a lot and Al Jefferson gives the team a much needed low post option. Call me crazy but the Bobcats/Hornets are going to be in the playoff conversation


Bucks Getting Band Back Together Is A Bad Idea

Ridnour...Delfino...Pachulia...who will GM John Hammond be bringing back next? How about Sam Cassell?

Hell, why not. Now that the Hawks matched the Jeff Teague offer sheet, the Milwaukee Bucks need a starting caliber point guard. Ridnour (decent back up but not a worthy starter anymore) and Ish Smith (the ideal #3 to have on a roster) simply don't cut it. 

As long as Hammond is collecting former Bucks, he should ask the happy-go-lucky Wizards assistant coach if he wants to play for Milwaukee this season. Barring that somewhat unlikely development, the team could turn once again to the disgruntled Brandon Jennings.

If Jennings signs the qualifying offer that would pay him less than $5 million for the entire season (less than what Pachulia will be making for playing 5-10 minutes a game!?!) there is sure to be a lot of drama and turmoil.

How about a sign and trade with the Pistons? Unless Detroit can pry Rajon Rondo away from Boston they currently need a quality starting point guard too. What about the following deal: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko for Jennings (at 3 years and $30 million) and Ekpe Udoh?

Hammond will probably also want to try to somehow include Charlie Villanueva but three former players is enough for now. Who says no to the aforementioned five player trade?

The NBA Playoff Race Will Be A Bloodbath Next Season

NBA teams are still reshuffling their rosters in preparation for the 2013-14 season. However, the picture has started to become very clear about which teams will be contenders and those that will merely be pretenders.

As it stands right now, it looks like there will only be a handful of teams that have absolutely no chance of contending for a #7 or #8 seed in both the Eastern and Western conferences. Those teams include Philadelphia, Utah (gutted roster of quality vets without getting anything in return), Orlando (too young but heading in the right direction), Boston (hitting the reset button), Phoenix (too many mismatched pieces) and Sacramento (still another year or two away). 

I see six playoff certainties in each conference with another twelve teams that will be battling it out for the final four spots. Don't laugh, but one of the dozen contenders will be the...gulp...hapless Charlotte Bobcats. Here are my predictions as it stands right now:

Western Conference

1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Golden State Warriors
5. Houston Rockets
6. Memphis Grizzlies
7. New Orleans Pelicans
8. Minnesota Timberwolves

* Followed closely by Portland, Denver, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers; In fact all four of these teams should have more than 45 wins

Eastern Conference

1. Chicago Bulls - Vengeance..look out for Derrick Rose and the Bulls!
2. Miami Heat
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Brooklyn Nets
5. New York Knicks
6. Detroit Pistons - Led by assistant coach Sheed Wallace!
7. Washington Wizards
8. Cleveland Cavaliers

* First four teams will all have 50+ wins; Next four will be in the 40-45 range and the final four teams (Atlanta, Toronto, Milwaukee and Charlotte) will finish with 35-40 wins)

My beloved Bucks on the outside looking in? Blasphemy you say? I say poppycock. The Mayo signing was a shrewd one and I like Jeff Teague (assuming the Hawks don't match). However, the remaining moves made by GM John Hammond have been head scratchers. Larry Drew? Please. $15 million over 3 years for ZaZa? Huh?

Any Milwaukee fans out there who think the Bucks have a shot at the playoffs?


Extra Mayo Needed In Milwaukee Or Bucks Will Be Putrid

Bucks fans better hope the rumors are true and O.J. Mayo will be coming to town. If not, the future will continue to be bleak.

Aside from making a couple decent 1st round picks I have not liked much of anything John Hammond has done as GM during the past few years.

This off-season has been an absolute disaster to date: Monta Ellis opted out of the final year of his contract, Hammond hired mediocre retread Larry Drew as the head coach and yesterday's three-team deal effectively turned Tobias Harris, Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb into two 2nds and Gustavo Ayon.

Out of desperation, Hammond will likely throw $45-$48 million at Jennings over four years ... and that is about $15 million more than BJ the Chucker deserves. At least inking Mayo at about $8 million a year would stop the bleeding and give the Bucks fans some hope.

Come on Johnny...get a deal done.


Close But No Cigar: Pacers Bow Out Meekly In Game 7

Well, last night certainly proved that the Indiana Pacers aren't ready for prime time yet.

Paul George wasn't up to the challenge and Indy's anemic bench sealed the team's fate with a disastrous stretch at the start of the 2nd quarter in which they were outscored 11-2. Why Frank Vogel decided to even go to his overmatched bench in the first place is a mystery. However, the Heat were the better team last night on both ends of the court. 

Bottom line: LeBron is too good and he simply would not let Miami lose. The San Antonio Spurs will not be an easy foe but they don't have any answers for James. Look for Miami to win the series in 5 or 6 games. 


Even If They Lose Tonight The Pacers Are The Better Team

Can Indy beat the Heat tonight? Definitely

Will they beat the Heat? That depends on a number of different factors.

Will Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh show up? Can the Pacers starters stay out of foul trouble? Will the referees be a prominent factor? Will there be a huge disparity in the number of free thows? These are just a few of the pivotal questions heading into what should be a memorable seventh game of the Eastern Conference Championship series between two very evenly matched teams.

Miami should win the game. LeBron is clearly the best player and the Heat have home court advantage. However, Paul George is unquestionably the 2nd best player and Roy Hibbert is easily number three. After that I'd take David West and George Hill over Wade & Bosh. Only having one of the top five players in the series doesn't bode well for Miami.

Depending upon where you look, the betting line is currently 6, 6.5 or 7 points. For some reason, Miami is the clear favorite and I'm not sure why. In my mind, the line should be closer to 2.5 or 3. Even if they don't win, right now Indy is bigger and better. Take the Pacers, the points and thank me tomorrow morning.

Barring a major injury or some tom foolery with the officiating (which is certainly a distinct possibility), this game will be won or lost in the last two minutes. When it's all said and done look for Indy to come out on top 88-85.  Sorry King James, but you are about to be dethroned by Paul George & Co.