Coach Shipp: Man, on a Mission

By Kim Dunning 

Coach Shipp is a great man who has a single mission in life: to better our youths’ lives. Who is Coach Reginald Shipp? The answer is more complex than you might imagine.  

Coach Shipp is a father of five. Two of his daughters attend college at Shaw University and Mountain View Stat Junior College. His other two daughters are in high school and he has one son, who is four. He is married to a wonderful woman who is his best friend and support network. She understands that what he does for others takes him away from his family, and has a purpose. This is the man behind the scenes.

What is amazing about Coach Shipp is that he is a humble person who doesn’t like to talk about himself. If you ask him questions about his mentoring he will talk your ear off, as mentoring today’s youth is his main focus. Coach Shipp is a mentor to young men who do not necessarily come from the best situations in life. These young men have been dealt a bad hand in life and Coach is there to help them find a way, even with adversity, to become better men. This is a cause that is near and dear to his heart.

Coach Shipp did not come from the best of backgrounds. He grew up in two rough neighborhoods and he fought every day to survive. His mother was a drug addict and his father did not come into his life until he was older.

When he was six-years old, he met another young man by the name of Ellery Lundy. Mr. Lundy is a big reason why Coach Shipp could make his life better. He attributes his life to him. Ellery introduced Coach Shipp to football.  

Football became his saving grace and now he is paying that forward to the young men he coaches and mentors.  

Mr. Lundy now has a foundation called Broken Men’s Foundation, which helps men build resumes and community service skills, among other opportunities.  

According to Coach Shipp, if it wasn’t for Mr. Lundy, he may have ended up as just another statistic in the streets.

As a result of his background, he is a huge advocate of getting young men off the streets by getting them involved in football. This is Arena football and he is now the owner of the Capital City Reapers. Through the Reapers, he helps his players’ transition from outdoor football to indoor football.

Coach Shipp has an extensive resume. He has not only owned a team but he has played semi-pro football. He considers himself the Charles Woodson of his time. He played many positions: from wide receiver, defensive back, running back and quarterback. When asked, he said his bread and butter positions were running back and defensive back. He retired from playing at age 37 and became a community man. While he was invited to different camps, he never got any further than that. He did play in the European League.  

On his coaching resume, he became a full-time coach in 2010. He has coached the York Capitals to a 2015 undefeated season that ended with a Championship win. The Capitals are out of York, Pennsylvania. More recently, besides coaching for the Reapers, he is the Defensive Assistant and Defensive Backs coach for the Virginia Titans semi-pro team, along with his friend Terry Haynes. The Titans, owned by Lavar Matthews, another great friend of Coach Shipps’. Mr. Matthews provides men with the same opportunities as the Reapers but they are an outdoor football team.    

Earlier in his coaching career, he met a young woman by the name of Elle Locust out of Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania. As a result of working with her, he became an advocate for women in sports. Coach Shipp was impressed with Ms. Locusts’ knowledge and the way she handled the players. He has written her letters of recommendation for an internship with the NFL.

Most recently, Coach Shipp put out a call, on Facebook, for female coaches. This is a call Sports Elites’ own Tay Holloway answered.  

Coach Shipp coaches young men from the ages of 19 to 27. His oldest player has indoor football experience, but had an injury and now plays with the Reapers to sharpen his skills to move back up into the next level. None of his players receive compensation. He has also coached a developmental team.  

Out of the 30 players he had on his developmental team, eight of them went on to get paid positions and the team was able to send three of the young men to school.

Coach Shipp mentors men of all ages. He is involved with the We Care Organization, which was founded by Mr. C. J. Richardson. We care teaches life skills and teaches young men how to be humble no matter what their experience. We Care is also involved with helping out the homeless and sending kids to camp. Most recently, they had a block party to teach the children that all police officers aren’t bad and that there are bad seeds that happen to get the media attention.

When not coaching, playing or mentoring; Coach Shipp enjoys watching football, basketball, baseball and boxing. He is an avid Dallas Cowboys fan from back in the day when Danny White and Too Tall Jones played for them. He is a Lakers fan and a Washington Nationals fan. He loved boxing, but said it has become boring since Mayweather retired.

Coach Shipp is the humblest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. I asked him if he had one person that he has mentored or coached that he was proud of. His response was, all of them. His goal is to mentor young men to become better men so they can be better to their wives, girlfriends and eventually their children. He is all about the pay-it-forward motto.

His goal in life is quite simple and something we should all live by. If you can improve someone’s life, then you have lived your life with a purpose.  

Coach Shipp is an incredible man who has fulfilled and saved many young men from the streets. He is a man on a mission and has worked hard to continue to better not only his life, but everyone’s life he has touched.  

 

 

 

Inside the numbers

For the Knicks last nights game was so much more then a regularimage season win. The passion in the garden was so evident that even Derrick Rose had to acknowledge it. Their was a playoff atmosphere in the air, and the Knicks didn’t disappoint. Let’s take a deeper look inside the numbers.

Their are a few numbers I want to take a look at and the first is 30. The Knicks held the Blazers under 30 points per quarter, expect for the first quarter where Portland put up 33 points. After the first quarter the Knicks clamped down on defense and held the Blazers to 25, 23, and 22 points per quarter the rest of the game. With such a tight game ( their were 20 lead changes) the Knicks needed to defend in order to win. The club also held the Blazers to 27% from three (6/22). The Blazers average 108 per game but were held to 103. So the numbers show the Knicks put up a very impressive defensive effort.

Now let’s take a look at the offense, the Knicks have to move the ball in order to score. With 26 assist ( only 13 turnovers) on 45 made shots they did just that. Jennings doing his best Mark Jackson impersonation had 11 assist off the bench. All this ball movement led the Knicks to a 46% shooting clip. From the three point line they shot a respectable 31%. The offense primary ran thru KP as he put up his second 30 point game of the season. Porzingis used an offensive array of moves to power his way to 31 points. Step back 3s check, Cuts to the basket check, Alley oops check, fade away shots check, post up moves check. KP was firing on all cylinders last night.

However when it came down to the 4th quarter Derrick too charge. It was his pose and composure that allowed the Knicks to hold the lead. Derrick took charge of the game and dictated the offense. Rose sealed the win with a step back jumper with 3:15 left on the clock. Rose had this to say about his performance

”I’m not here to bust or brag but I’m used to being in positions where I have the ball in my hand, playing in Chicago,” Rose said. ”I’ve really played like that my entire life, through grammar school, high school, college and here.” – D.Rose

The Knicks used a group effort to pull this one out with six players scoring 7 or more points. All in all the club looks to have come together after holding a team meeting a few days ago. Since that netting the Knicks have won two in a row and climbed back to 500. The Knicks are currently in the 7th seed and look to continue to climb up the standing.

The Knicks hope to create a winning culture after three consecutive years of missing the playoffs. If this club continues to build on their chemistry they can become a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.

49ers Training Camp 2017: Players to watch

NFL: San Franciso 49ers-Rookie Minicamp

By Niner Faithful

Training camp is almost here the team reports Thursday with the first practice taking place Friday. There has been so much roster turnover this year (52 new players) everyone will be exciting to watch. Here are just a few that I wanted to highlight in this week’s blog.

George Kittle: The rookie tight end (5th round 146 overall) impressed both head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch during this year’s offseason program. He has great hands only dropping one ball on his 48 receptions during his 4 years at Iowa. He has the size (6’4 247 lbs.) to be a red zone threat one on one something the team has been lacking. Where he’s value is going to be though is he blocking. Iowa is a running team and George Kittle was their best blocker and loves doing that being quoted saying “he takes pride in it” and “moving a man point a to point b ageist his will is the greatest feeling you’ll ever feel”. During the teams off season he got the loins share of reps with the ones showing that the coaching staff thinks highly of him. Now it’s time for him to do it with the pads on and I can’t wait to see it.

Trent Taylor: Trent Taylor was Kyle Shanahan’s draft crush. The 5’8 wide receiver may not be the biggest player, but has the separation skills and play making ability in space to play in the slot he can catch the football and was moved all over the field during OTA’s. He’s a smart receiver and has the ability to read defenses fast. He has shown that he can produce at least in college (136 receptions 1,803 receiving yards and 26 touchdowns in 2016) and did a little bit of return duty as well (482 yards on 58 returns). He probably won’t start over Jeremy Kerley this year but has too much upside to risk losing him to try and put him on the practice squad and his punt returner potential make him someone I’m dying to see during camp and the preseason.

Arik Armstead: In camp last year he was pointed out by Joe Staley as someone who could have a brake out year. His shoulder injury ultimately put him on the IR and we never really got to see if that was true. This year he’s slimed down to better fit the “Leo” position he’ll be playing in our new defensive scheme. He will no longer have being a first round pick status to keep him on the roster with their being a new GM and Coaching staff he will have to go out and earn it. He isn’t the Idea size for a “Leo” but his athleticism and unique size make his an intriguing player to watch in training camp this year I can’t wait.

NaVorro Bowman: The Mon5t3r is the heat and soul the defense. We all know the story of his injures in 14’ and then last year and what his absence did to the defense. There are questions about whether or not he can comeback from another devastating injury and return to his former Pro Bowl self or even a NFL starter. The Niners themselves have to have some concern about his ability to come back going out and signing Malcolm Smith and drafting Reuben Foster. From all accounts he’s healing just fine and will be full go for training camp and the Pre-Season but that was before pads went on so well see how it holds up. I have faith that the Mon5t3r will be back to his old self sooner than latter especially with Foster and Smith pushing him for his spot. They say pressure makes diamonds and I can’t wait to see him shine in training camp this year.

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Kirk Cousins: Is he worth what it will take to get him

kirk-cousins-112016-getty-ftr-usjpg_18lb9v64c7nvr1rxwgob83qkmzBy Niner Faithful

Monday at 1pm PST was the deadline for Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins to come to terms on a long-term deal. That deadline has come and gone so he’ll play out the 2017 season under the franchise tag and make $23.9 million doing so.

Now what about next year? Well Washington could use the franchise tag again for the third year in a row, but is Washington going to pay him the $34,478,784 doing so would cost? They could use the transition tag that would only cost $28,732,320. Unlike the exclusive franchise tag Cousins could negotiate with other teams but Washington would have 7 days to match any offer from any team and then could keep him at the term the other team negotiated with Cousins. If they refuse the offer then Kirk Cousins would become a free agent and Washington gets nothing for him (unlike the nonexclusive franchise tag where the team that signs him would have to give up 2 first round picks).

They could trade him either before this season or after, but the problem with that is Washington has no leverage teams know that Washington won’t pay use the franchise tag again so, they can just wait to see if Washington uses the transition tag or if Washington just lets him walk next year. And that brings his trade value down. Both sides have said they are both open to a long-term deal but it has been 3 years and they are still so far apart and Cousins has come out and said he wants to reunite with Kyle Shanahan. But is he worth what it would cost to get him to play in red and gold?

Kirk Cousins is entering his 6th season and has been Washington’s full time starter for the last two seasons posting a 17-14-1 record and a 0-1 record in the playoffs. He’s completed 785 out of 1149 passes (68.3 completion percentage) for 9083 yards, 54 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Not bad numbers I think Niner fans would take those numbers over what we got the last 2 years.

The story with Kirk Cousins goes beyond the numbers Washington was underperformed the last 2 seasons. Football is a team came but franchise quarterbacks (at least ours) overcome that and find a way to get it done. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t be a welcomed improvement, but if you look at what we would have to pay him (look at Derek Carr’s contract) that’s a lot of money for a quarterback that has only made it to the playoffs once despite having loads of offensive talent on his team.

I’m the type of person that judges a quarterback on when it counts the most and you have the ball in your hands with a chance to win the game do you come through.  He does not he seems to shrink in the big light most of the time. I’d like to see what he does this year with far less talent and the pressure of knowing that he might be show casing for a new team. With all the Niners have to get him. They have given Kyle Shanahan a 6-year contract. They are invested in the long-term future of the team has a lot to do with him. He believes in Kirk Cousins he wants him so like Bill got Joe and Steve you must give Kyle Shanahan he guy.

The Niners are in a good position they have Brain Hoyer under contract for this year and next year plenty of draft picks in next year’s draft and plenty of cap space. They were smart not to give away the farm to get him this year. Not when they can play Hoyer this year draft someone next year and try and get him next year with no draft compensation attached. My guess is the Niners Sign him to a contract next year Washington decides that it’s not worth the headache anymore and let him walk because he has little trade value. Or worse case Washington matches the offer Hoyer is our quarterback one more year and he becomes a Niner in 2019 but I don’t see that happening. I just hope Kyle Shanahan is right. How he’s looked on as a Niners coach will depend on it.

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Knicks Summer ’17: The Longest New York Minute Ever.

carmeloamareBy: Will Stevenson

“The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian.”
… “it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy.”

The New York Knicks have been abysmal by every stretch of the imagination for more than a decade. They went from a franchise that was neck and neck with he Chicago Bulls of the 90s, to a team that has done nothing but suffer through coaches, players and upper management since their loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the finals of the ’99 lockout season. The New York Franchise has been waiting for that one star, or stars to save them from their demise on the court, and have been searching for the right front office moves to rescue them from the incompetence of their owner, Jim Dolan. For the fanbase of the Knicks, they have been conditioned to look towards the future, and once that future arrives, they again condition themselves to look towards the future again.

So here we are, the Summer of ’17, and the Knicks have done it again. After another season of consistent disappointment and landing in the lottery, the Knicks had a golden, well golden’ish opportunity to actually get it right. Spoiler Alert: They didn’t.

  1. Get rid of Phil Jackson as soon as the season ended
  2. Trade Melo
  3. Don’t shell out money for Derrick Rose
  4. Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard
  5. Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space
  6. Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market
  7. Do not move any future first round picks
  8. Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

Get rid of Phil Jackson:

The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but they waited until Phil had his turn in taking down the Knicks one last time. Not only did he devalue Carmelo once again, he put Kristaps Porzingis on the trade block right before the draft. He allegedly fell asleep during draft workouts, and continued to drill the notion of the Triangle as the offense for the upcoming season. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to draft Ntilikina as an 18 year project instead of Dennis Smith Jr who has caught the eye of every GM during Summer League. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to opt in for the final two years of his deal. Just a reminder: The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson.

Trade Melo

Melo is older, less explosive and still the focal point of the Knicks offense. Some want him to go, while others want him to stay. The Knicks brass has been trying to get rid of Melo for almost three years now, but nothing has come to fruition. You may notice Anthony has a NTC (no trade clause), given to him during his extension he signed. So, the Knicks decided to resign him, knowing he was aging, give him a NTC while knowing they wanted to get rid of him: Got it. The rumor mill has had Melo going to the Rockets for about a week now, but nobody wants Ryan Anderson. This is very similar to nobody wanting Kevin Love around draft night: See something similar here? None of these teams want an aging stretch-four that cannot guard his position, or any other positions to say the least. As of now it is Saturday, July 15th, and the Knicks have pulled back on their fervor to trade Melo. Go Knicks.

Don’t Shell Out Money For Derrick Rose

They didn’t, but they have done some Knickery in Free Agency.

Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard

The Knicks could have traded up, but that would have cost them Prozingis or Hernangomez, to big men that have blossomed last season. The draft went as expected, but there were players on the board that seemed to give the Knicks a more immediate boost than Frank Ntilikina, notably Dennis Smith Jr. Look, we booed Phil when he drafted Porzingis, and even though he lucked into that decision, it has turned for the better. Maybe, just maybe this draft choice will be the same, in the future.

Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space

They almost made it, almost. We watched the Kings shell out money for veterans, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nuggets and Clippers make sign and trades for 28 and over players, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nets sign restricted free agents so other teams would bite, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Miami Heat resign their own free agents to multi-year deals, the Knicks held tight. Even as the Knicks did not have a President of Operations during Free Agency, nor could they wash their front office for David Griffin to bring in his own guys, the Knicks the did not do any Knickery as they did last offseason. The Knicks signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4yr 71 million offer sheet. A player they once drafted, then traded, then traded the guy they traded for him. That’s right, Knickery. They didn’t shell out money for Derrick Rose, they didn’t give long-term deals to JJ Reddick, Shabazz Muhammed, Gallinari, or make another Noah deal. The Knicks were doing it right for a week at the least. As usual, it did not last long. The Hawks did not match, of course, and now the Knicks are back to Knickery, again.

Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market

They didn’t. They resigned Ron Baker.

Do not move any future first round picks

They haven’t, yet. There is still time with this possible Melo trade, or if they want to get rid of the Noah contract, or the Courtney Lee contract.

Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian. Not only was Scott Perry part of the Sacramento Kings, he was only there for a few months. He was with the Orlando Magic before he joined the Kings. Perry goes from the Magic, a lottery team in disarray, to the Kings, a lottery team in disarray, to the Knicks, a lottery team in disarray. We already know the things that you can’t turn into a housewife, and it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy. Now that Perry has arrived, the Melo trade talks have been put on pause, but that’s because Perry has a great track record of getting deals done. For the culture, Perry will report to Steve Mills who is in charge of the Tim Hardaway Jr. signing, so don’t anything to change.

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Off Season Not Kind to the Pittsburgh Penguins

636328197460293960-USP-NHL--Stanley-Cup-Final-Pittsburgh-Penguins-at.2By Kim Dunning

The NHL off-season has not been kind to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It wasn’t unexpected that the Pens would lose players during the off-season. The Pens had quite a few free agents unlike last season. Losing key players and the reason the club managed to win back to back cups, hurts.

With the Vegas expansion draft, the Pens knew they were going to lose at least one member of its team. That player was lifelong Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury. Fans expected Fleury to be the player to go to Vegas. With a younger talent Matt Murray, he was cheaper and logical to keep. When the expansion draft happened and the reality of losing Fleury set in, it was emotional. This is a decision that could come back to haunt the Penguins for the upcoming season.

Why will losing Fleury come back to haunt the Pens? If you did not watch the Penguins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, you missed a lot. Fleury was an intricate part of the Penguins success. He managed to keep a struggling non-productive first period team in games. Letting one or two goals in at the most and making incredible saves. Fleury stood on his head so that the Pens high-powered offense woke up.

Watching the Pens offense in this playoffs was like watching your favorite old car. It was slow to start but once they started going, they were unbeatable.

Without Fleury, there wouldn’t have been back-to-back Cups. Matt Murray sustained an injury that kept him out of the first two rounds. Few teams could lose a starting goaltender and have the proven backup the Pens did this season. Fleury became the hero of the Washington Capitals series with his shut out in Game 7. Many Pens fans believe that without Fleury, Pittsburgh would not have made it out of the Columbus series. More believe that the Capitals would have had a better chance to win in the second round.

The Pens have also lost what most considered to be their strength down the middle. The Pens have lost their third line center, Nick Bonino to Nashville. Fourth line center, Matt Cullen, is still deciding between retirement and another season. Cullen is interesting. As the fourth line center and 40-years old, Cullen was still playing at a very high level. Credible sources have Cullen going back home to Minnesota to finish his career.

Pittsburgh’s ability to dominate down the middle of the ice is now compromised. They had incredible depth at center on all four lines. Now, as the off-season turns, the Pens aren’t so intimidating and deep on all four lines. This is a big part of how they were able to win back to back Cups.

Then there is Chris Kunitz. The winger who scored the goal on Crosby’s 1000th point. A good friend, teammate and the hero of the Game 7 double overtime game-winning goal. A veteran presence both on the ice and in the locker room. Kunitz is the only active player with four Stanley Cups. This is a veteran presence that is already missed, both in the locker room and on the ice.

Losing players is part of the salary cap era of the NHL. Loyalty is few and far between now and money talks. Great teams overcome obstacles.  This upcoming season will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh can once again rise and defeat the obstacles or if this is the year it finally gets to the team.

 

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Niners training camp competitions: Iron sharpens iron

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By Niner Faithful

 

Competition it’s a word being thrown around Niners headquarters these days. Both Head coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch have said there is competition at every spot on the roster no one is going to be handed anything. So, as we get ready for training camp later this month I thought I would break down some of the key position battles that I think are worth keeping an eye on in training camp.

Tight End: Probably one of the spots that has the most Competition is tight end. The Niners went out and sign veteran Logan Paulsen drafted Gorge Kettle signed undrafted free agent Cole Hikutini and still have Blake Bell, Garrett Celek and Vance McDonald from last year’s team. Gorge Kittle has been a name that has been getting a lot of attention in the Niners OTAs and different minicamps. He was singled out both by GM John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and some point this offseason. John Lynch saying on an interview on KNBR last week that the rookie “really flashed” and that he “catches the ball extremely well.” (I believe that was a shot at Vance McDonald) and said he could possibility be a “play maker near the red zone” something that the team didn’t have till he was drafted. It’s hard for this position to get worse so I expect improvement from last year in my opinion.

Defensive Line: Pass rush was a big problem for the Niners last year they tied for 19th in the league with 33 sacks. The Niners have spent the last three drafts on the D-Line they drafted Solomon Thomas with the 3rdoverall pick this year to go along with Deforest Buckner (7th overall last year), and Arik Armstead (17th overall in 2015). Returning from last year’s team are Aaron Lynch, Ronald Blair, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Chris Jones.  We signed Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, and Noble Nwachukwu in free agency while drafting D.J. Jones, and Pita Taumoepenu to go along with Thomas. They say that the biggest jump a player makes is from year one to year two so, with Buckner entering his second year and Armstead basically playing his second year I expect the picks we have spent on the D-Line to start paying off. Add that to the fact that it’s a contract year for Lynch and Carradine. We have a staff that understands 1008 snaps for Buckner is too much and Dumervil has a lot to prove after a subpar year last year I expect the pass rush to make great strides over last year.

Linebackers: Last year the season turned when NaVorro Bowman went down in week 4 he is our best defensive player and looked to fully recovered from his devastating knee injury in 2014. Besides losing Bow we lost Ray Ray Armstrong (IR week 3) and Shane Skov (IR week 12) which forced players who shouldn’t have been starters to start. This was one of the positions in need of an upgrade the most.  Besides NaVorro Bowman the Niners have brought back Ray Ray Armstrong, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, and Aaron Lynch (although he’s moving to the D line). We signed Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle, And Dekoda Watson in free agency. We Drafted Reuben Foster (I believe the steal of the draft) with the 31st pick overall along with Pita Taumoepenu (although he is also going to move to the D line). We also signed undrafted rookies Donavin Newsom, and Jimmie Gilbert. It’s clear that John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan saw this as a position of need and addressed it. As with most of the team I fill this is a position that can only improve over 2016. And Thank God that got rid of Nick when my friend Mary can see you suck it’s time for you to go. You can’t keep 10 linebackers so the competition for spots on the 53 is going to be intense with a big factor with must players being can they play special team. These are just a few of the battles that will be going on in training camp this year and it’s going to be fun to watch.

 

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NBA Offseason 2017 – Eastern Conference: It’s going to be a while.

NBA-Eastern-ConferencePLAYOFF TEAMS

Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors
Washington Wizards
Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls

LOTTERY TEAMS

Miami Heat
Detroit Pistons
Charlotte Hornets
New York Knicks
Orlando Magic
Brooklyn Nets
Philadelphia 76ers

Listed above are last season’s Eastern Conference playoff teams and the lottery teams that did not make the playoffs. If you have been paying attention to this year’s offseason moves, you’d notice that none of these teams has made a move to improve upon last year’s team. It’s only Day 3, I get it, but if any of these teams are looking to challenge the Warriors, and to a lesser extent the Cavaliers, then Top-Tier talent is needed to finally keep us interested. To no fault of their own, other than the Celtics, some of these East teams had All-Stars that were coming up on free agency. If we’ve learned anything from Lebron James leaving in 2010, a team cannot let th at prize walk away for nothing, even if it means becoming irrelevant for the next couple of years. But who would’ve thought those East All-Stars would be going West, and two of them would be traded to the West?

Look at those Markets!

As the “destination market” has dwindled over the past decade, more and more players are going to where the players are, not where the destination is, excluding the Miami Heat of 2010, and even then there was a sense of organizational structure. While Lebron was going back and forth between Cleveland and Miami, and then back to Cleveland, many of these East teams hovered around relevance, racking up on awful free agent signing, rookie extensions and Front Office mularkey. Anybody looking to play in Detroit, Philly, Charlotte, Orlando or Brooklyn? Pew. Even places like Toronto, Atlanta and Indiana aren’t even destinations, although the local fanbases of said teams are committed.

Front Office Turntables

As most NBA fans know, the best way to build is through the draft, developing those players on cheap contracts and then extending them so they don’t leave via free agency. As we look at these lottery teams, many of them have traded away their assets, or haven’t built up any equity in the player development category. With coaches and general managers switching teams like an Eyes Wide Shut reboot, the talent and front office both seem ordinary due to unrest in each organization. The Pistons once looked like they would climb up the East standings, but with little cap room, a Josh Smith signing that was a complete disaster, injuries, and players such as Andre Drummond and Stanley Johnson plateauing in today’s “Pace and Space” NBA. With Stan Van Gundy as coach and president, the Pistons are already pressing luxury-tax land and haven’t even signed Kentavious-Caldwell Pope yet and have used up most of their Mid-Level Exception (no apologies for the nerd talk). The Orlando Magic are in reboot mode, again. Who would’ve thought Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis, both drafted by the Magic and traded to the Thunder would net Paul George? So the same two players that brought in Serge Ibaka, also brought back Paul George for the Thunder? Then they traded Ibaka to the Raptors for Terrence Ross and a draft pick that was then traded to the 76ers for a future pick? No wonder the Magic are bad at this. The Magic are on another coach, another GM, and another lottery season with free agent money wrapped up in guys that are borderline starters. The Charlotte Hornets are in the predicament the Magic are looking at now: Having to extend average/roll players, while not having enough money to sign a free agent. The most the Hornets could net is a player the caliber of Nicolas Batum, which even in the East is not consistently good enough. They have the coach, an All-Star caliber player, and even in the East it’s good enough to make the playoffs every so often, but not enough to acquire more than a Dwight Howard. The Brooklyn Nets have become the Sacramento Kings of the East: A terribly run team with cap space, but only enough to get restricted free agents paid for other teams. The Knicks are, the Knicks. I’ve done enough with the Knicks this year. Even the Pacers and Hawks have let go of their contending days. Those two teams, along with the Bulls have made some questionable front office moves that have pushed away their All-Star players. So that leaves the Miami Heat and the 76ers, two teams that have revamped their image in less than a year. The 76ers now have Jerry Colangelo at the helm, and the Heat of course have Riley, so both, even in losing have the cache to bring in a free agent or two. The 76ers have drafted high, it’s the drafted well part that is yet to be seen. The Heat have made lemonade out of fallen rain: Developing 2nd round talent, D-League talent, and fringe players on one year deals.

Some Teams said, “No more”

We’ve all watched Lebron and company go to the Finals every single year. While it’s been a constant, it’s more impressive for all the teams that have given up chase in his pursuit of greatness. We watched the last piece of Chicago go to Minnesota, Paul George is in Oklahoma City, leaving Lance Stephenson in command, and Atlanta is turning into the pre-Joe Johnson era (Shoutout to Josh Childress and Salim Stoudemire). That’s three playoff teams seemingly falling into rebuilding mode, while having All-Star talent under contract just a week ago. While those have given up, the Raptors have dug in deeper this offseason. They brought back both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, even though neither showed face in the playoffs, and their offensive philosophy once again mimicked the 1990s. Unlike the Raptors, the Bucks and Wizards are a bit younger at their core positions, but like the Raptors, don’t have enough cap space to sign anybody knew of importance. That leaves the Celtics, a winning team, with draft picks and cap space.

The Celtics are in a horrible game of double-dutch

The Celtics are a NBA 2k17 match made in heaven. Like the Trailblazers of 2015, they over-achieved to skyrocket to the top of the East. Not only were they a one seed, they also capture the first pick in the 2017 draft via the Nets, and all was well with the Boston world. Funny thing happened, Isaiah Thomas got injured, they lost to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and everybody forgot about the Celtics prowess. Let’s just go in order. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are free agents in 2018, and Boston has the first pick of the draft which happens to have 2! point guards. They take neither, trade down for more assets, and take Jason Tatum, OK! (in my best “Story of OJ” voice). Jimmy Butler is available, and sources say the price is too high, but he goes to Minnesota for a pick swap, Kris Dunn and an injured-extension ready Zach Lavine: OK! Paul George was available, and sources say the price was to high, but he went to OKC for Oladipo and Sabonis plus no picks: OK! Now, planning for the future is fine by me, especially in the NBA when you’re only an injury or free agent departure from moving up the rankings. The Celtics have Cavalier potential, (I’m stretching, but there’s nobody else to compare them to) with the 76ers draft stock and cap space to boot. I really hope they don’t screw this up, but if Gordon Hayward does not sign, the Celtics fanbase will watch the same team next year while they compete and rebuild on the fly.

What is next for the East?

So the East is filling with young talent, mid-level players with big/un-tradeable contracts, and destinations in which no player wants to go, other than Miami and Boston. So what can they do? For now, nothing because they can’t. They’ve already invested into their rosters, as well as their coaching staff, and with the on-court game changing, they have to roll with what they have, or attach a future 1st rounder a contract and ship that player way. These East teams must rely on player development, draft picks and consistency in the front office as well as their coaching staffs. Injuries, player surges, coaching vacancies, and player busts happen all the time in the NBA, but for the near future, the East must become precise in their efforts to regain relevancy.

NBA Free Agency 2017: So your team acquired an All-Star, I thought you hated that sort of thing.

nba-free-agency-692x360By: Will Stevenson

I would first like to start off by saying I’m sorry. I must give my most sincere apologies to the Golden State Warriors for their formation of a “SuperTeam”. I thought their swift dominance of the Regular Season and Playoffs was a terrible thing for the league, rendering all other teams useless and unwatchable. Even with the Salary Cap higher over the past few years than before, I figured most teams would stand pat and look to get younger and wait out the Warriors dominance, especially when we figured Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant would resign. I figured there was no reason to add minor pieces, knowing the end result would be a loss to the Warriors in 5 games, or 4 if you’re lucky. In my mind, I thought the Spurs would make a run for CP3, the Celtics would make a run for Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and/or Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap would sign to an irrelevant team, and Blake Griffin would take the Clippers money. Well, I was wrong. We all were wrong, and we should all apologize to the Warriors.

So: A Show of hands of all those still mad about SuperTeams? I’ll wait…

The Warriors brought something out of the rest of the GMs and owners that I thought was not possible in this day and age. We see it with players, as they don’t want to tank the season, and even win games late in the season when they should be losing. With these Front Offices, they saw the opportunity to not be embarrassed and looked as a bunch of stepping-stones by the Golden State Warriors. I always thought the luxury tax penalties and the thought of renting high-quality talent would scare off teams from going for the title, especially when a team like the Warriors would be standing in the way. I was wrong, once again. The Rockets, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Thunder are a few teams that will not go into next year begging fans to watch the same old product, but rather re-energizing their fanbase with new additions. Other teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks, who have lost two all-stars the last two years via free agency, are rebuilding on the run. We haven’t seen the Celtics make a move of any significance as of yet, and with the talent and money pool beginning to dry up, it seems as though a few Eastern Conference teams, and the Spurs may be running out of 2nd tier options (It’s 5:41pm on Monday, Gordon Hayward has yet to make a decision).

Without the Warriors running through the NBA, maybe the Rockets, Wolves, and Thunder don’t have the opportunity to make those moves. Maybe those Eastern Conference teams decide to hold on for one more year to fall to Lebron and company again. But with the rush to either get something for an All-Star, or watch him leave for free in the offseason so apparent, teams decided to sell to teams who were looking to buy.

As it stands, the Lakers, Kings, and Suns look to be in rebuilding mode while the rest of the Western Conference has launched itself into contention for NBA relevancy. I would count the Trailblazers, but they were struck by last year’s free agency-salary cap-spike swindelage. When it looked like the Warriors would yet again cruise to another title ad water-down the league, they actually built the league back up in a watchable sense. Next year’s Christmas Day games should be one to watch. Those Saturday and Sunday showcase games will be all the rage, and even the TNT games will be worth the watch. The Eastern Conference won’t be much to scream about, with the Raptors doing what the Raptors said they wouldn’t do, the Wizards being capped out, and the Celtics still trying to re-create the Celtics-Nets trade from years ago.

The teams are more marketable, more exciting, and aren’t conceding to the Warriors as champions next season. I like it this way, and whether we like it or not, acquiring all-stars isn’t so bad after all.

Now would anyone else like to join me in this apology? There’s room for many more, all are welcome.

 

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