Thursday Bullets

  • Caron Butler is Tuff Juice. In some places, writes the DC Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg, Tuff Juice is also a shot of Bacardi 151 mixed with sports drink and grapefruit juice. As Butler maniacally chews on the things, I'm thinking this might be the one shot correctly sucked through a straw.

  • Celtic fans, now officially freaking out.

  • A thought I had watching Marco Belinelli last night: The NBA can be hard on multi-talented young players. Here's what I mean: Belinelli, as a delight of Summer League a couple of years ago, was a guy who could score a dozen different ways. But over time, against NBA defense, I think we have learned that maybe nine or ten of those ways are low enough percentage, against regular season defense, that you'd just about never pick that among the other options on the floor. (A Belinelli virtuoso drive is cool if a summer-leaguer like Nate Funk is plan B. But in the NBA, Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford, and Andris Biedrins await touches.) When you get to the NBA, you unpack all of your tools. You figure out which are truly quality compared to other NBA players. The other ones? You put them way, throw them away, or replace them through hard work.

  • So, it turns out that Darius Miles' pre-season games with Boston count towards the ten he has to play to get back on Portland's cap. Which means he reportedly only has to play two more games before that happens. (People in Portland are all bent out shape about this, but my feeling is: If you don't want that contract on your books, don't offer it to the player. Just about every team is paying for bad contracts of the past. It would have been nice to be free of it, but if that doesn't happen, so be it.) It also turns out that Portland can re-apply to get his salary off the cap, if it is appropriate at some point in the future. From the CBA: "... if after a player's Salary is excluded from Team Salary in accordance with this Section 4(h), the player plays in ten (10) NBA games in any Season, the excluded Salary for the Salary Cap Year covering such Season and each subsequent Salary Cap Year shall thereupon be included in Team Salary (and if the tenth game played is a playoff game, then the excluded Salary shall be included in Salary retroactively as of the start of the Team's last Regular Season game). After a player's Salary for one (1) or more Salary Cap Years has been included in Team Salary in accordance with this Section 4(h)(4), the player's Team shall be permitted at the appropriate time to re-apply to have the player's Salary (for each Salary Cap Year remaining at the time of the re-application) excluded from Team Salary in accordance with the rules set forth in this Section 4(h)."

  • Politico.com's Leonard Steinhorn writes about how playing basketball might inform Barack Obama's political appointments. Really. The idea is that in pickup basketball, you work side -by-side with all different kinds of people, and that's OK. "On the court, we're all equals. In our group, we have some high fliers -- one owns a professional sports team -- yet we all play hard and defer to no one. I've played on courts where CEOs guard inner-city hotshots and members of Congress face office workers, and all that matters is how hard everyone plays and what each person contributes. During breaks, when we all chatter about the game, no one cares how much money you make, how much power you have or what your status is. In basketball, you can't lose your head or throw a tantrum -- the game moves too quickly, and your team will suffer. Cool is the operative word and discipline the successful approach, because a great shot will mean nothing if you don't rush back to cover your guy on defense. You also can't take it personally when someone fouls you hard -- it's a physical game and you just have to get over it. We may be rivals on the court, but we give each other high-fives and don't let it carry over afterward. And who do you want on your side? The smart and selfless players, the hustlers, the ones who study the game, know all the tricks, and understand their opponents' and teammates' strengths and weaknesses. Pure shooters always get your respect, but so do the wise players who never fall for a head fake, always see the open man and know how to get inside the other team's head. It didn't surprise me that the president-elect chose political tough guy Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. If politics were basketball, Emanuel is exactly the type of player you'd want on your team. He's the guy who dives to the floor for a loose ball, challenges the big guys as he drives to the basket, stands his ground and takes a charge for the good of the team. Yet he always plays fair. Every winning team has a Rahm Emanuel. We hear all the chatter about Obama's creating a team of rivals, much like Abraham Lincoln did. But basketball provides a better context for his choice of strong characters and former competitors. He's simply not threatened by talent or old rivalries, and as a team leader, he wants the best and smartest players on his side. Accustomed to playing on teams, Obama is confident he can mold them into a unit."

  • TrueHoop reader Eric has noticed that LeBron James gets the blessing of sitting for chunks of many fourth quarters while his team coasts to easy victories. And he's wondering ... anyone out there have a good way to compare how much various stars (from this season and previous) have been able to sit out in blowout victories?

  • Brent Barry wrote a poem about the Sonics which is on SI.com. That, in and of itself, is something. ("Like a ferry ride to Bremerton or fresh salmon from old Pike Place/A cup of joe while on the go, crossing bridges at a snails pace/But this season there is silence, a reason not to cheer/The balls have all stopped bouncing and the Sonics are not here.") But what really caught my eye was a comment from user colb_osu: "As an Oklahoman, it hurts to see a city full of great fans in pain, such as Seattle. Yes, we wanted an NBA team, but ask just about anyone from Oklahoma City ... we didn't want a team at the expense of Sonic fans. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like if our college teams just took off. There's nothing that us Okies can do to ease your suffering. However, just remember this: Don't hate the general public of Oklahoma. We did not do this to your great city. We do understand you have a right to be upset. It is justified. But please, please, PLEASE, do not direct that hate and anger towards the fans of the Thunder. Direct it towards the ownership groups (current and former), as well as the elected officials in Seattle. We love the Thunder/Sonics. We promise, we'll take good care of them. Best of luck Seattle. I hope you get an NBA team again soon."

  • TrueHoop reader Ken has a question. I think he's serious. "Everyone who has played basketball knows that the quality of the pass you receive affects the probability of making a set shot. Presumably, some refs are better passers than others, so the quality of free throw shooting within a given game might be a function of the refs who are working that game. Hence the question: which refs induce the best foul shooting? the worst?" I assume there is nothing to this --
    every referee pass is an uncontested bunny, and players do ten or fifteen seconds of routine between catch and shot -- but I'd be thrilled to find out I was wholly wrong.

  • NBA players seldom admit to being starstruck by other NBA players. But then there's Jerryd Bayless, who was a magnificently furious addition to Portland's win over the Pistons last night. Ben from BlazersEdge: "Postgame, he admitted that he was taken aback just being on the same court as Allen Iverson, struggling for words to describe facing off against someone he's been watching play professional basketball for more than half of his life. 'It's unbelievable ... you know ... it's just ... when you go against these guys you've been watching your whole life, and you're finally on the court, it's kind of tough not to get like... 'damn, that's AI right there.' 'It's Rasheed on the bench over there.' I mean, you can see him right there!' What was Bayless thinking about while he helped shift the momentum during the third quarter, 'I'm stealing the ball from AI, I was trying not to smile,' laughing at the memory of himself. Still in disbelief after talking about it for a few minutes, he shook his head and repeated himself, 'I mean, that's AI right there.' His wide, giggly smile broadcast his satisfaction."

  • Aussie trash talk, and a guy who can make as many free throws as Steve Nash in a minute.

  • The WNBA announces that Candace Parker is pregnant with her first child (with husband/King Shelden Williams). Parker is the best thing to happen to the WNBA in five years. So, it's worth noting that the news includes this all-important line, from the league's point of view: "Parker will continue to work out in preparation to participate in the 2009 WNBA season."

  • Britt Robson, of Secrets of the City, has some things to say about the Thunder: "Having covered this Minnesota franchise for nearly 20 years, I know disease and dysfunction when I see it, and Oklahoma City is rife with defender's rot, listless with late-stage anemia, comatose from the boomerang bad karma emanating from their wretched ju ju in Seattle, and, flat-out, a ballclub without pride. I love Russell Westbrook, would now take him second (behind Rose and ahead of Mayo) in this current rookie class, but Kevin Durant is almost comically overrated (a poor and thin man's Melo Anthony), Jeff Green is a nasty tease as a negative 'tweener, and coach Scottie Brooks is in way over his head, dyed hair and all."

  • Is Sidney Moncrief leaving the Warriors' bench to coach in China?

  • Durant, by the way, is one of several players -- Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, Al Jefferson -- who have to be considered All-Star candidates this year. I'm getting lots of e-mails about these kinds of players, people saying it'll be a travesty of justice if X doesn't make it. My recommendation: Make up your entire roster before saying that. Because the truth is there are more players who are All-Star quality than can be All-Stars. In other words, there will be travesties.

  • UPDATE: More evidence of money-saving paper-shuffles. Waived not three days ago by L.A., Fred Jones is a Clipper once again. The team just announced he has been signed to a 10-day contract.