Friday, February 27, 2015

1 comments Bleacher Report's Provides Insight on the Dos and Don'ts of NFL Free Agency By Stating the Obvious

Bleacher Report has gotten their shit together mostly (or more than they used to have their shit together) and now they are spawning copycat sites, which is always terrible news. These other sites probably think they can use the same "hot takes which provide pageviews" formula that ended up making Bleacher Report successful. These other sites just need to find enough unpaid writers willing to do a lot of the work and then grab some real, paid sportswriters a few years down the road. Bleacher Report still has crap on the site though. Today, we will learn the Dos and Don'ts of the 2015 Free Agent Market. By "learn" I mean that you might say, "Well yes, I knew that. What's the purpose of this column again?" after reading the column slideshow. As always, the last slide of this slideshow is really the first slide to the next slideshow. It's such a devious little trick used to pump up pageviews.

Let's start the slideshow!

For the 30 teams not participating in Sunday's big game, however, planning for the 2015 season has already begun.

Thank God this slideshow is being published just in time to properly prepare these teams for the offseason. What a favor the author has done these NFL teams!

Since free agency—which begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 10—is less than a month-and-a-half away, now is definitely the time for NFL organizations to start weighing their options.

It's not the time for NFL organizations to start weighing their options, it's DEFINITELY the time for NFL organizations to start weighing their options.

What follows is a quick rundown of what teams should and shouldn't do during the 2015 free-agent period in order to kick-off a successful offseason. 

Pay attention! Deep insights will follow! None of these insights are so shockingly obvious that they shouldn't have been written. Not at all.

Don't Be Afraid to Spend Money

Definitely don't be afraid to spend money. I mean, just go spend it, and victories will come. Every year a few teams spend money on free agents and those teams ALWAYS end up in the Super Bowl.

Last year, the base salary cap for NFL teams was $133 million. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the NFL has informed teams that the 2015 salary cap will be somewhere between $138.6 million and $141.8 million.

This is a large sum for teams to play with, even considering the league's rising salaries.

The CBA also put a rookie wage scale into place, which means teams no longer have to set aside astronomical sums in order to negotiate with high draft picks.

And none of those players under the rookie wage scale are looking for a contract extension since they have been in the league for four years now. None! Go spend that money, the rookie wage scale will save you.

This means that teams in need of immediate help or looking to get over the playoff hump can and should eschew frugality during the free-agency period, provided they haven't already gone overboard in terms of salary.

So teams should spend money, unless they don't have money to spend. In that case, DO NOT spend money. Got it.

There is simply too much proven talent to be had and, as always, plenty of questions surrounding the incoming draft class.

More great advice. At this point, no one has been able to accurately predict how every draft pick will perform. So go with the proven talent over building through the draft.

Do Look to Fill Holes

DO look to improve the team. Great. 

Does your team struggle to protect the quarterback, move the ball through the air or defend against the run? If so, your best bet is to bolster the area of weakness in free agency.

Wait, so if my team struggles to rush the passer then they should look to improve that area of the defense? What if my team struggles to run the football, DO they go try to find a running back in free agency? After all, no one can predict how the incoming draft class will perform, so it's probably best to find a free agent running back like Ben Tate or Toby Gerhart. It will be worth the expense.

This doesn't mean that every team needs to go out and overspend in order to plug a hole. However, it makes perfect sense to seek out a starting-caliber player or solid depth option.

Oh, so DON'T go out and waste money? I think I understand.

Even the most promising rookie prospects are unproven and each team is limited by the number of draft picks it possesses.

Because rookie prospects are so much less certain than those free agents. History has proven that to be correct. Sure, rookies are cheaper, but who cares. DO spend money. DON'T trust your scouting department. I'm also vexed by each team being limited by the number of draft picks it possesses. So that means my favorite team can't select 10-12 players in the first round?

Filling holes allows for more flexibility on draft day.

Okay, so try to improve the team through free agency before trying to improve the team through the draft. I'm not sure why NFL teams haven't thought of doing this before. This may be why free agency starts before the draft occurs. Probably not. It's just a coincidence.

Even if a team only finds one or two starters in free agency, that's one or two picks it can potentially package to trade up for a prospect it really wants

Yeah, but why would an NFL team do that when rookie prospects are so unproven and there are questions around a draft class? Plus, history has definitely shown the best bet to improve an area of weakness is to use free agency. Just look at how the Seahawks built their team.

Don't Expect to Find a Star Quarterback 

WHAT? There aren't star quarterbacks just lying around on the free agent market? This is definitely news to me.

The 2015 draft class isn't particularly deep at the quarterback position and the free-agent pool might be even more lackluster.

How could the free-agent pool be more lackluster than the draft? The draft class is totally unproven and nobody knows what those rookies may do.

The quarterback group is headlined by the likes of Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker and Brian Hoyer. These are guys that might hold down the job for a season or help mentor a rookie or developmental quarterback, but they probably aren't going to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

I'm not arguing the point, but umm..., Mark Sanchez has twice led his team to within one win of the Super Bowl. So, it has almost happened before.

Other experienced quarterbacks expected to hit the open market include Michael Vick, Jason Campbell and Matt Moore. There's nothing wrong with grabbing a guy to provide backup presence or add to a quarterback competition, but don't go looking for a long-term solution to your team's quarterback woes.

I'm still shocked there isn't a star quarterback just hanging out there on the free agent market.

Do Target a Wide Receiver

As teams move to re-sign their own, the list of available receivers is sure to shrink. However, proven veterans like Miles Austin, Eddie Royal, Nate Washington and Hakeem Nicks may still be available to strengthen your receiving corps.

I'm assuming this is a joke. The only thing "proven" about these wide receivers is they are good, but not good enough to not be replaced.

Don't Plan to Count on Guys with an Injury History 

cc: Jeff Fisher

I hate to repeat myself again, but....WHAT???? You mean it's a bad idea to count on a guy with an injury history to sign a new contract and then immediately stay healthy? I never knew this. Boy, these NFL teams are very fortunate this author is around to provide this type of advice.

It's definitely a going-after-a-receiver year in free agency, but guys like Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne should be avoided.

This is as opposed to "proven" veterans like Miles Austin, who has appeared in more than 12 games once since 2010? Welker and Wayne appeared in 14 and 15 games last year respectively. Obviously they are older, but I don't get why Miles Austin is "proven" and Welker and Wayne are injury risks. I would imagine these two receivers could come very cheap, so other than that I'm not advocating for them necessarily. It's just the obviousness of not counting on guys with an injury history to stay healthy has blown my mind and I can barely type right now.

Welker has suffered three concussions over the past two years and Wayne has missed 10 games in that span due to injury. At this point, Welker should seriously consider retirement and Wayne only really makes sense if he's returning to the Indianapolis Colts for a final act.

Or if he would be going to whatever team Peyton Manning plays for next season. That would make sense too.

Do Look for Pass-Rushing Help

So if a great pass-rusher is available, then DON'T ignore him? Make him an offer? What if he has an injury history? What if your team has very little money to spend?

Fortunately for teams currently without a dominant pass rush, there are plenty of younger players scheduled to hit free agency who can bring pressure on opposing signal-callers.

The list is headlined by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (36.0 sacks in five seasons),

Oh, he should come cheap.

defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (42.0 sacks in five seasons)

Pierre-Paul missed five games in 2013. Wouldn't that mean he has an injury history? I guess when a player has an injury history the author wants to ignore then that injury history doesn't matter.

Promising players like linebacker Jabaal Sheard (23 sacks in four seasons), Jason Worilds (20.5 sacks over the past three years) and defensive end Jerry Hughes (20.0 sacks over past two seasons) are also scheduled to become available.

Not that it means much, but Sheard's sack numbers have steadily declined since his rookie season. Also, Jason Worilds is probably a good fit in a 3-4 defense where he can rush the passer, because he's labeled as an OLB and not a DE.

So to make the list of quality pass-rushers available in free agency, does a player have to have a first name that begins with a "J"?

Don't Ignore Special Teams

Gregg Easterbrook would argue that special teams are not as important as offense or defense. It's probably good advice to not completely ignore special teams in free agency. I'm betting most NFL teams haven't thought about improving their special teams through free agency.

Do Consider Adding a Fullback 

This obviously only applies if your offense regularly depends on having a fullback in the backfield.

Yes, obviously. If an NFL team doesn't use a fullback then DON'T sign a fullback. This is probably good advice that some NFL teams had not thought of. DON'T sign a player at a position your team doesn't use.

(Trent Baalke) "There are some really good centers that are going to hit the free agent market this upcoming summer. We'll look at them."

(Jim Tomsula) "Well, gee boss! That's a great idea! I thought we were set at center though. But I like the way you think? Can I go to the bathroom now?"

(Trent Baalke) "No, you are not allowed to go to the bathroom and you've drank enough water for the day, so give me your sippie cup. I'm thinking of signing a guy like DeAndre Jordan or maybe a power forward like Kevin Love. What do you think?"

(Jim Tomsula reaches for his sippie cup of water and gets his hand slapped back by Baalke) "Aren't those basketball players? I read a Bleacher Report article about the dos and don'ts of free agency and it said not to sign any players who won't actually have a position on your team. I think that goes for the center and power forward position. This isn't basketball, so we may just be wasting salary cap space by signing them. I think it's time to change me, I went to the bathroom without permission."

(Trent Baalke begins to change Tomsula's diaper) "That's a good point. We may not need a power forward since we are a football team. You read this on Bleacher Report? Thank God that articl---"

(Jim Tomsula) "It was a slideshow, not an article."

(Trent Baalke) "You know what I mean, now stay still so I can put your pants back on you. If it weren't for that article, I totally would have tried to sign Kevin Love to a 5 year $120 million contract. I guess since we won't have a fullback in the new offense then we shouldn't sign one of those either."

(Jim Tomsula sits up and spits up his lunch)

(Trent Baalke) "Dammit, I'm going to have to put a bib on you, aren't I?"

If your offense relies heavily on the fullback, however, you want to have a good one.

Heady, important advice. NFL teams may want to write that one down. If your offense requires a fullback, try to find as good of a fullback as possible. Without this slideshow, so many teams would try to find a shitty fullback when there are plenty of good fullbacks available.

I'm not sure why this free agent class is different from other free agent classes and these dos and don'ts needed to be written. Many of them seemed rather obvious to me. Try to find good players in free agency, try to improve your team in free agency, and you will have to pay a lot for good players so spend money if you think the player is worth it and you have enough money, but don't pay a lot for good players if you don't have enough salary cap room. Also, nothing is known about the players coming out of the draft, so there are no guarantees there, AND a team's draft picks are limited.

All of these things are definitely obvious, but I'm not sure why the author seems to think building through free agency (which is really an inefficient market that can be spoiled by one team overpaying a player) is a more proven way to succeed than building through the draft.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 comments In a Shocking Twist of Events Sportswriter Who Hates Everything About Alex Rodriguez Hates His Apology Too

Mike Lupica is a self-important asshole who has singlehandedly disproved the theory that it pays off to be nice to people and that those who treat others like they want to be treated will be rewarded. You wouldn't have to search far to hear stories of how Mike Lupica believes himself to be superior to his fellow co-workers, his neighbors or any other human being walking on Earth or in Heaven/Hell. So A-Rod apologizes for using steroids and his other crimes of ego and vanity. It was either going to be enough for some or not enough for others and the decision was probably made which way this would go well before A-Rod actually wrote the apology. People hate everything A-Rod does or they don't. They believe him or they don't. Mike Lupica is on his high horse and can't just write, "I don't like Alex Rodriguez so I choose not to believe him." No, Lupica has to think of horseshit excuses WHY he knows that the apology doesn't ring true among fans, though Lupica is about as in touch with sports fans as Tony Bennett is with the latest dance craze. The last time Lupica watched a game with real sports fans was the one time he got locked out of the press box and had to watch the third quarter of a Knicks game in the last row of Madison Square Garden. Even then he probably forced anyone who he had to sit beside out of their seat so he wouldn't feel crowded as he leaned forward in his chair with his toes barely touching the ground. A-Rod is an asshole and a liar. I'm not sure there's any doubt about that, but Mike Lupica mocking A-Rod and trying to pretend he knows anything about what the real sports fan thinks is the real assholery and lie in this situation.

To the end with Alex Rodriguez you wouldn’t believe the guy if he told you water was wet, even if he wrote that out in the schoolboy cursive handwriting he used on Tuesday when he apologized to the fans for being a very bad boy.

(Mike Lupica if A-Rod didn't apologize): "The least A-Rod could do is set aside his mountainous ego and tell the truth for once, even if it isn't the truth. Just write a letter or make a statement saying you are sorry. Is that too much to ask?"

(Mike Lupica when A-Rod does apologize): "A-Rod apologized. He didn't mean it. This is just another lie to add to the rolodex of lies that A-Rod seems to be keeping around in a feeble effort to get back in the good graces of fans."

See, when someone hates another person, then NOTHING the other person will do can stop the other person from hating him. At a certain point, the person doing the hating gets tuned out or ignored. So I expect nothing from Lupica but hate towards A-Rod and his take on A-Rod's letter will never convince me of Lupica's point of view.

Most fans reading it probably wanted to write one back: Shut up and get out.

Mike Lupica has absolutely zero idea what fans wanted to write back. The big lie here is any time Mike Lupica claims to even be 1% in touch with modern sports fans and their feelings. It's hard to mingle with the people when you won't leave your pedestal.

So this is the way Rodriguez decides to play it, deciding not to hold some kind of press conference before spring training, opting out of the visual of his lawyer sitting next to him and telling him which questions he could answer, and which ones would require him to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights, so as not to face self-incrimination.

Quite a scene that Lupica has set up here. Obviously A-Rod was opting out of creating a circus around himself for his own benefit and the media will never have a chance to speak with A-Rod ever again during the 2015 season. Such a sneaky fellow to permanently escape the questions of the media as he has.

But then DEA informants — it is exactly what Rodriguez is — rarely want to tell their stories in public.

Snitches get stitches! Mike Lupica don't like it much when snitches start telling stories to the DEA. That's the right way to end up on the wrong side of Lupica's glock.

And yes, Mike Lupica is now criticizing Alex Rodriguez for helping to put a drug dealer behind bars. Because while it's not honorable necessarily, it's also not something that merits any form of criticism.

Now he tries to control his own cockeyed narrative about his drug use — is he really going to try to convince us once again that he didn’t know what he was buying from Bosch and using? — with a written apology that is like a nuanced legal brief, one in which the only thing he really admits is that he did an historic amount of time.

It never ends. The amount of blood required from A-Rod to make up for his previous transgressions will never be enough. Andy Pettitte is seen as fully honest in saying, "I used PED's, but I didn't use them to enhance my performance so fuck you for thinking that's why I did it." He gets a rub-and-tug from the New York media while the Yankees retire his jersey. Alex Rodriguez admits he cheated and apologizes, but he gets criticized by Mike Lupica for not giving up more information with which he can be criticized. Perhaps A-Rod would have been better off claiming he never took PED's to enhance his performance.

It is one thing to tell his story to a writer or to the new commissioner, Rob Manfred, behind closed doors. Or to do the same thing, again behind closed doors to Hal Steinbrenner of the Yankees and his team president, Randy Levine, and his general manager, Brian Cashman. It would have been quite another thing for Rodriguez to have answered questions out in the open without a lawyer present.

A-Rod told his story and was honest with the commissioner and nearly every important decision-maker with the Yankees team, but because Mike Lupica didn't get to hear A-Rod's story then obviously he hasn't come completely clean. The sense of entitlement from Lupica is astounding. A-Rod told his story to anyone who matters, but because he wasn't honest with a person who hates him, then that means A-Rod hasn't totally done his penance quite yet. I'd love to see if Mike Lupica would hold himself to this same standard. Of course he wouldn't. There are separate rules for athletes and Mike Lupica. Mike Lupica hasn't ever had to explain himself to anyone. No, he is the type of person who has others explain themselves TO HIM. He's an insecure bully who can't see past his own ego.

And that really wasn’t the visual he wanted, taking questions from the New York media and the national media, then having to stop for whispered conversations with his current attorney, Jim Sharp, before he might say something contradictory to what he has already told the feds;

And obviously A-Rod might say something contradictory to what he has told the feds, because he is a snitch and a liar. I bet Mike Lupica thinks that A-Rod took PED's given to him by Anthony Bosch, while also lying and framing Bosch for being a drug dealer. I wouldn't doubt that Lupica could hold those two separate, contradictory opinions. It hurts Lupica's little feelings that A-Rod may not owe him an explanation. Because if Lupica is not owed an explanation then that means he isn't as important as he believes himself to be. So like any child who doesn't get his way when he REALLY REALLY wants his way, Lupica throws a fit and accuses Rodriguez of dodging the truth, when in reality Rodriguez doesn't care to tell the media the truth. Mike Lupica doesn't want to be out of the loop or feel like he's less than his ego tells him he is. So naturally, he calls out A-Rod for only telling his story to those people that really matter and not to the media.

“I served the longest suspension in the history of the League for PED use,” he writes.

Which he did and it was cut down from an even longer sentence.

Notice the language here. Rodriguez never uses the word steroids, the way he never used that word back in 2009 when he begged everybody for his first second chance.

Yes, notice how Rodriguez doesn't admit to using the steroids that he didn't use. He used HGH and other PED's as defined by MLB, but not steroids. So yes, I did notice how A-Rod never actually admitted to taking the steroids that he wasn't suspended for taking.

He doesn’t say “my” PED use. Just PED use.

And given the fact he was writing an apology letter for using PED's, it was pretty fucking obvious to only the most thick-headed person that A-Rod was referring to his PED use. In fact, using the word "my" in this sentence would be somewhat redundant. By starting the sentence with "I" then it is clear A-Rod is referring to himself when talking about the suspension for PED use. If you are going to hate on A-Rod at least be good at it and don't sound so desperate. Rodriguez certainly isn't writing an apology letter on someone else's behalf while using the first person.

“I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything I say at this point,” he writes. “I understand and that’s on me.”

There you have it, Rodriguez’s own weird version of accountability.

That really is his accountability. He's taking responsibility for his actions and saying he doesn't blame a person for not believing him. What else would Lupica have A-Rod say? This won't be revealed because Lupica has no idea what his expectations for A-Rod are. He just doesn't like A-Rod and stretches to rip him whenever possible.

Even as he asks the fans to believe how sorry he is for everything he’s done, he admits that the same fans to whom he is speaking probably don’t believe he’s really sorry.

Would Lupica have preferred if A-Rod has written, "You will believe my apology, I am sure of it"? Is that more preferable? Again, we won't ever find out because Mike Lupica has no idea what he wants A-Rod to say. He just doesn't want A-Rod to say what he just said.

It will come out in the ESPN piece written by J.R. Moehringer that Alex is in therapy these days. Of course he is. It is about time, and better late than never, for somebody who really could be the buffet at a psychiatrist’s convention.

Mental health. Always a hilarious topic for a good laugh to break up the seriousness of a grown-ass sportswriter throwing a fit that he wasn't included as a stop on an apology tour. I'm sure Lupica would enjoy a few good hearty jokes at the expense of his family having to deal with his egomania.

"I hear Mike Lupica's daughter is in therapy for anorexia. It's about time, after all the bullshit she's had to eat from her dad's mouth all these years she's bound to just throw up as much as possible."

See? It's all in good fun to make a few jokes about mental health. It's not at all an asshole and mean thing to do.

But nobody gets Rodriguez’s Oprah moment now in some big room or hall or under some circus tent somewhere, with a roomful of Oprah Winfreys firing questions at him the way Oprah fired them at Alex’s patron saint, Lance Armstrong.

Yes, nobody gets the big media event that Alex Rodriguez so obviously owes the world. He wrote a letter stating he was wrong and is trying to move on with his life after serving his suspension in order to cut down on as much of the distractions as possible in order to prepare for the upcoming season. It's a very selfish move. Most players would be lauded for publicly apologizing and then trying to make sure they are as small of a distraction as possible, but for Mike Lupica this is just another strike against A-Rod. He owes the world a circus and it's a mark against his character he won't provide one on demand.

Most of the fans to whom Rodriguez spoke on Tuesday — and from the heart! — are probably wishing that there was some way for Stoudemire to take Alex Rodriguez back to Texas with him.

Snark is fun. I still would love to know what Mike Lupica wanted A-Rod to do. Other than hold a press conference and answer all of the questions that the media isn't entitled to have answered to their own satisfaction of course. A-Rod has told his story to those people who matter, he apologized in cutesy form, and now he has stated he wants to move on. Hate it or love it, doesn't matter.

He writes an open letter the way Ray Rice wrote an open letter in the Baltimore Sun. Rice did it because he needs a job. Rodriguez has one, a real good one with the New York Yankees, at least $61 million still coming to him over the next few years.

So A-Rod didn't have to write the letter, but he did anyway. This is clearly another mark against A-Rod's character that he at least pretended to give a shit. Maybe if Lupica pretended to give a shit about his writing then he wouldn't be seen as the egomaniac bully that he's seen by many in the media as being.

Bosch, his drug dealer? He goes to jail now for 48 months, three months shy of the maximum sentence he could have gotten for operating the kind of drug ring he was operating.

I can't believe this drug dealer got close to the maximum sentence for his crime. Why isn't the court system easier on drug dealers?

The star of that ring, still batting cleanup there, still a big name at Biogenesis, was Alex Rodriguez. He doesn’t go to jail. He goes to spring training. Is this a great country or what?

Apparently Mike Lupica advocates for the drug user to go to jail, while the drug dealer roams free? What a great country this is! A-Rod uses the drugs, but he gets off scot free while the poor innocent guy who dealt the drugs had the book thrown at him. Why can't Mike Lupica live in a world where the authorities ignore cartels and go after the real people who create the drug problem, which is the drug user? Obviously the reason there is a drug problem in the United States is that law enforcement has been going after the people who deal the drugs when they should be going after the people who use the drugs.

Mike Lupica is really working hard to make A-Rod seem like a bad guy. He's taking the side of and advocating for a drug dealer now.

Even after he admitted to being a drug user, he managed to have his best baseball October and lead the Yankees to a World Series. Judge me on what I do going forward, he said back in 2009. That is exactly what everybody has done.

And absolutely judge A-Rod on what he's done since then, which includes his second PED-related offense. He's been judged and punished. He apologized and either accept it and shut up or don't accept it and tell everyone what A-Rod should have done instead of apologize. Oh, and call A-Rod a snitch for ratting on a drug dealer, as if this shows another moral fallacy in his genetic code.

Now he is back, panhandling for redemption and another second chance,

He's making $61 million and doesn't need redemption or a second chance because he's getting one simply because he's making $61 million. That's another point that Lupica misses. A-Rod doesn't need his forgiveness. He doesn't want to be hated, but he isn't Ray Rice trying to get back into the sport. A-Rod is a Yankee because they owe him too much money otherwise. So he doesn't have to apologize and he doesn't have to talk to Mike Lupica about his "story."

trying to make one last first impression, the richest drug informant in all of baseball history.

Boy, Mike Lupica is riding this whole "A-Rod told on a drug dealer" thing hard isn't he? I'm not sure calling A-Rod a snitch will have the effect he wants it to have.

One more record for Alex Rodriguez.

You are a petty, sad man who has mocked A-Rod for apologizing, seeking mental health assistance and think a drug dealer should go to jail for a shorter span of time than a drug user. No one likes A-Rod, but we are stuck with him. No one likes you. Go away. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

6 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Sets the Trade Market for Sam Bradford Edition

Peter King was shocked by the random and irrational violence of murderers in last week's MMQB. He also previewed the combine, mentioned how many of THE MMQB writers would be at the combine and then seemed confused as to why some people are so combine-nutty. It's almost like the media's focus on the combine has something to do with it. This week Peter talks about the Buccaneers choice at #1 overall, calls Jameis Winston "the most scrutinized draft pick of all-time" which is absolutely ridiculous, tries to drum up a trade market for Sam Bradford (and talks to Jeff Fisher, which is a coincidence both these happen in the same MMQB of course), and finally sheds light on those Duke fans who camp out in line for tickets to basketball games. Why don't these students ever get mentioned by ESPN or any other major sports outlets?

The Most Scrutinized Draft Pick of All Time was on the phone Sunday, a day after the poking and prodding of the NFL combine here, and I asked The Most Scrutinized Draft Pick of All Time if he was ready for the private detectives from multiple teams and intrusive questions and the 30 hours of one-on-one time with one team alone (Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht’s estimate) that he faces in the next 66 days, between now and the first round of the NFL draft.

A couple of things here:

1. Jameis Winston is NOT the most scrutinized draft pick of all-time. Nearly every year there is a draft pick who gets this label. It was Johnny Manziel last year, Tyrann Mathieu and Tim Tebow before him. Even if Peter is joking, it's not funny, because I don't believe Peter is capable of being this self-aware.

2. When asking this question, does Peter think there is any chance that Winston will say, "Nope, I'm not ready at all for all of these questions. Hey Peter, mind if I do some cocaine off a hooker's ass in the back seat of a stolen car?"

“I love it,” Jameis Winston said. “I welcome it. They’re really going to find out the type of person I am. Character is not about what you do when you’re around people. Character is what you show when no one is looking.

Right, so don't judge Winston on stealing crab legs or screaming "Fuck her right in the pussy" while standing on a table, because that was done around other people. That's not what his character is about. His character is about all the shit he does in private when no one is looking. So judge his character on the things you don't know about him because he does them in private and therefore you have absolutely no way of judging his character based on these things.

I'm pretty sure it's "character is what you do when you think no one is looking," but then again, I'm not very good with words. More importantly, those things Winston did that everyone knows about, don't judge him on that. And someone was looking when he was accused of rape, so don't include that either when judging his character. Focus on the things you don't know about Winston in order to judge his character.

I believe if they do a hard, hard investigation into Jameis the person, they will find out that I’m a good guy.”

I already love Jameis Winston by the way. He switches from third person to first person in the same sentence. Bengoodfella loves it when people talk in this type of way. It makes him feel good and that's why I like Jameis Winston.

The answer came back thusly from I’d say about 80 percent of the NFL cognoscenti who had an opinion or some insight on the subject: Tampa’s taking Jameis. 

It’s too early to be so definitive, of course. And I don’t believe the Bucs have a final answer,

It's the very end of February and there have been zero personal workouts or Pro Days for the draft that is two-and-a-half months away. So Peter King is reporting the Buccaneers HAVEN'T decided who they will be drafting in May? I just don't believe it.

But a Saturday breakfast with the formerly invisible Licht, the most influential football man in the league for the next two months, didn’t do anything to disabuse me of the idea.

At breakfast, Licht ate crab legs and made constant jokes about why there wasn't any duck on the menu because, "We all know ducks are assholes in a fight and you never want a duck on your team." Also, Licht wore an Indian headdress and did the Tomahawk Chop when the waiter brought him a new ice water. The signs that the Buccaneers are taking Winston are there, you just have to pay attention to them really hard.

But last week coach Lovie Smith spoke positively of Winston. And at one point Saturday morning Licht mused about the two possibilities of Winston the person. “Bad guy or immaturity?” Licht said. “I’m leaning toward the latter.”

And by the way, as far as being a quarterback in the NFL goes, being immature is nearly as big of a strike as just being a bad guy is. Immaturity can submarine a quarterback's career just as much as being an asshole can.

You can deal with some immaturity. But seven months of off-field mayhem and bitter consequences for the NFL have put an even bigger spotlight on the risks of taking players with pockmarked résumés.

Some immaturity can be dealt with. The problem is that, and I don't dislike Jameis Winston or hold his college stuff against him, things like shoplifting, accusations of rape, and screaming obscenities in a public place aren't all just typical immature things. They are and they aren't. If these were things that ALL happened 2-3 years ago then maybe it's less of an issue.

Just how bad has it been at quarterback for the Bucs? In their 39 seasons, they’ve never had a quarterback last longer than five seasons as the team’s leading passer. Doug Williams, Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer all spent five years as the starter. Amazing to think the Bucs have never had a true, long-term franchise quarterback in four decades.

Tampa Bay has traditionally not been a very good team. They had three winning seasons from 1976-1997 and nine winning seasons since then. That's 12 winning seasons out of 39 seasons. So it's amazing they haven't had a steady quarterback, but it also makes sense seeing how bad they traditionally have been.

Licht said he has scouted Mariota four times over the past two seasons. Ditto Winston. He said he has seen every college game of each player on tape now. I asked Licht if he could pick out a play from both players that he felt typifies them. He said he couldn’t think of just one for Mariota, because there were many that highlighted his athleticism and passing ability. But then he pulled out his smart phone and said, “If I see a good play I want to keep, I put it on my phone,” he said. “Look at this one from Jameis. I was actually at this game.”

I don't think the Buccaneers have made up their mind yet, (since it's two-and-a-half months before the actual draft occurs) but they are totally leaning towards taking Winston. When Licht can't think of one thing that sticks out about Mariota, that's not necessarily a good sign for him as the #1 overall pick.

“I’ve been lucky in this league in my 20 years. I’ve seen some great ones. I was in Miami starting out when Dan Marino was there. I worked for New England and watched Tom Brady grow. And I’ve been around Donovan McNabb and Kurt Warner. 

One of these things are not like the others.

A year ago Johnny Manziel came to the combine and was quite well-rehearsed. He had off-field issues—nightlife stuff mostly, and being sent home ignominiously from the Manning Passing Academy. Manziel had all the answers down pat, explaining how he was a good person and had reasons (maturity ones) for his mess-ups.

And at the time I made sarcastic comments about how Manziel was changed, because immaturity issues and things like that don't just magically go away once an athlete has the opportunity to get paid to play his sport. These issues temporarily go away in order to achieve a short-term goal, but it takes more than the chance to be drafted to relieve a player of his immaturity.

He didn’t try to hide his confidence. As he told the press on Friday: “This is no competition between just me and Mariota, because one thing about me, I plan on winning the Super Bowl next year so it’s going to be me versus Peyton Manning and Jameis versus Tom Brady. I want to be viewed like that.”

This third person talk is just wonderful. It makes Bengoodfella love Jameis that much more. 

There could be one other sticky thing Winston will have to address with teams. He also was Florida State’s baseball closer, and his two agents, Greg Genske and Kenny Felder, primarily represent baseball players. Genske repped Manny Ramirez for five years. While Winston said often over the weekend he is now a full-time football player, he did equivocate when we spoke Sunday. “Right now I am focusing on football,” Winston said.

Asked if he would ever want to play both sports as a pro, he said: “I can’t speak on that. It always has been my dream, but I’m just playing football right now.”

Oh. Doesn't Jameis know that baseball is dying? Baseball is dying Jameis, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!

I see a couple of problems that would preclude this. Tampa Bay is not taking Winston number one if he says, “I’d like to play baseball for three months every year.” Or one month, because of the training time it would take away from football.

Russell Wilson joined the Rangers for spring training last year and plans on doing it again this year. Winston could easily do the same thing.

Deion Sanders did it because he was a cornerback, not a quarterback. It’s just too hard to stay on top of being an NFL quarterback to think he could double-dip. Secondly: What team would go down the baseball road—even a team in need of a 95-mph-throwing closer—if the player had to leave the team every year just as the pennant races were heating up?

I don't think this would happen with Winston and it seems like a non-issue. He just said he wanted to play both sports as a dream, but that doesn't mean he plans on doing it right now.

But I don’t see it. Not saying it’s impossible, but I am saying it’s highly unlikely he could, or would, try to play both sports at the same time.

The Rangers drafted Winston in the 15th round coming out of high school. Maybe he and Russell Wilson could attend spring training together and that means zero football writers would care what Winston did because he's with Russell, so what could go wrong?

They’ve left the starting gate, and Winston’s got a couple of lengths on Mariota. Winston got used to playing from behind last year at Florida State. Now he’s got to handle prosperity—and be sure the private eyes don’t find anything.

Jameis, the private eyes are watching you. They do know your every move. Maybe they will judge your character on what they don't see, instead of what they do see.

The announcement that the Raiders and Chargers have bonded to fact-find about a new stadium project in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson is odd enough. But it is driven by the fact that there is a very dangerous game of musical chairs playing in L.A. right now. Three teams for two spots, max. And because the independently wealthy owner of the Rams, Stan Kroenke, already has his own stadium planned in nearby Inglewood, there was pressure on the Chargers and the Raiders to get in the L.A. game, and get in fast.

Extremely wealthy people threatening to move their team only holds my interest in that I feel bad for the fans of the city that may lose their NFL team. Otherwise, wealthy people are going to do what wealthy people are going to do.

But there’s one other question that had a lot of people at the combine buzzing. And that’s the question about two teams from one division partnering on a stadium project—and everything that goes along with that. Three notes on this:

1. If the Raiders and Chargers join forces on this stadium, there would have to be a realignment involving at least two teams. Because Los Angeles is America’s No. 2 television market, it would be impossible for both L.A. teams to be in the same conference. One of these teams would have to move to the NFC so that both Fox and CBS could each have an L.A. franchise in its lineup.

Well, if the Rams move to L.A. then it would make sense for them to just stay where they are in the NFC West. If the Raiders and Chargers move, and the Rams stay where they are, then the NFL should move the Cardinals to the AFC West and either the Raiders or Chargers to the NFC West. Fixed.

2. So who would move? This is all speculation, but I could see Oakland staying in the AFC West and San Diego moving to the NFC West to join a more geographically aligned division. It would be easy for the St. Louis Rams to move to the AFC West because it would mean the Rams and Chiefs would be able to form the kind of cross-state rivalry that could be excellent for both teams, and especially the occasionally attendance-strapped Rams.

Or that could happen. Either way, I feel bad for whichever fan base may lose their NFL team, especially if it ends up being the St. Louis Rams. They would have dealt with mediocrity over the last decade and then get kicked in the balls for not supporting the team enough while Rams' management jerks around without a sense of urgency.

And now, Peter King tries to drum up a trade market for Sam Bradford (who plays for the Rams, who have a connection to Peter in that the son of Peter's agent is the COO of the Rams and Peter shares an agent with Jeff Fisher) in the same way he tried to drum up a free agent market for Alex Mack (who shares an agent with Peter). It's a rumor that came out Friday or Saturday, but how often does Peter address rumors like this in MMQB, especially when neither side has confirmed the rumor?

Could the Rams actually trade star-crossed quarterback Sam Bradford to the desperate Browns? It’s unlikely, and the biggest reason is that Cleveland would almost certainly not want to trade something significant for a quarterback, pay him $14 million in the last year of his rookie contract, and face the prospect of him being a free agent after just one season.

I can't imagine what a team would offer for Bradford that would be enough for the Rams to part ways with him. I think the Rams absolutely need to bring in another starting quarterback option (this was true two years ago also), but would a 5th round pick really be enough to trade Bradford if I'm the Rams? Absolutely not and why would a team give up a 3rd round pick for one season of an injury-prone quarterback making $14 million? I don't see the trade market unless a team gets crazy and dangles a 1st or 2nd round pick. The combination of Bradford being expensive and a starting option for the Rams with the fact he's a free agent after this year makes me think there isn't a market for his services. Of course, that won't stop Peter from trying.

But everything besides that in this story does make sense.

Does it though? Really, does it? It seems like a situation where Bradford is more valuable to the Rams than another team who would try Bradford out for a season and give up a draft pick to do so. Of course, it's not a good draft for quarterbacks. So that probably plays a part too.

The trade could look something like this: The Browns send St. Louis a 2016 draft choice or choices that would be based on how durable Bradford is or how well he plays in 2015, or both.

Much like what happened in the Alex Mack situation where Peter laid out specifically that Marvin Demoff had a way for the Browns to not match any offer sheet a team signed Alex Mack to, this is the part where Peter relays the information from the Rams organization on what it would require to acquire Sam Bradford. If you haven't noticed, I'm very jaded and believe Peter is being used to set the market for Bradford's services.

For example, the Browns could trade a third-round pick that would become a second-round pick if Bradford had 14 starts or more, and would become a first-round pick if Bradford reached certain performance benchmarks. The Rams are almost certainly taking a quarterback high in this draft anyway and could be looking at the last year of Bradford as a Ram.

So, NFL teams, here is the outline of what the Rams would want for Sam Bradford. Straight from Peter King, which came straight from the Rams organization if my cynical mind is correct. 

Given all that, however, Bradford does represent St. Louis’ best chance to win in 2015, so Cleveland would have to pony up a very serious offer for the Rams to even think of it.

This is fucking laughable. Really, Peter is setting the market for Bradford in a way that I don't know he does often for athletes that aren't connected to him in some third-party way. Peter is making it clear the Rams DO NOT want to trade Sam Bradford, so come at them with your highest possible offer and they will think about it. Again, I can't help but think Peter is being used as a mouthpiece to set the market once again. He's communicating to NFL teams on behalf of a player or other NFL team through his MMQB column. That's how it seems to me.

But I can tell you that the Rams would listen if the Browns were serious.

Peter can tell you this because the Rams said to him, "We are serious if other teams want to make offers" while dictating the terms they wanted Peter to get out in the open. Peter has discussed the trade market for other football players in MMQB, but I can't think of another time he has not only:

1. Discussed the trade market with a specific player going to a specific team as a response to an unconfirmed rumor that team may be interested in the player.

2. Set out the specific terms required to acquire said player.

3. Indicated that player's current team doesn't want to trade the player, while indicating the offer must be serious.

4. Then stating that player's current team would listen to the trade offer if it were serious.

Peter is, again, doing leg work for a player or organization has ties to his agent. It's absolutely shameless. It seems this way to me.

I just don’t think the Browns would be unless they had some assurance about Bradford being in Cleveland well into the future if he does play well in 2015.

Which is absolutely the reason they would not do this trade necessarily. It's a rumor and I would be surprised Peter addressed it in this way, but given the overall circumstances it shouldn't surprise me. He's done this shit before. 

The most interesting development recently concerning the 2015 free-agency class is the acknowledgment in Denver that there’s a legitimate chance the Broncos don’t want to pay tight end Julius Thomas fair market value for his services. Thomas’ agent, veteran contract negotiator Frank Bauer, told the Denver Post on Friday that he felt the Broncos were “pushing him away” after Thomas declined the team’s offer of five years and $40 million. I’m not eager to defend or attack the offer, but want to address the effect of what this will mean if the Broncos choose to let Thomas walk.

It means the Broncos may realize that Peyton Manning can make another tight end who doesn't have Thomas' skill look good?

Peyton Manning loves Julius Thomas. I thought that Thomas’ high-ankle sprain midway through the season really helped doom the Denver offensive attack because it took away Manning’s most significant weapon in the intermediate part of the field. Thomas had 24 touchdown catches over the past two seasons. Losing that kind of security blanket for a quarterback, especially one with an arm showing signs of decline, would be a huge blow.

Here's the issue that was discussed a little bit in last week's MMQB regarding Manning taking a pay cut...the Broncos have to do what is right for the Broncos' organization next year and five years from now. Allowing Peyton Manning to dictate which players they keep and don't keep is not a smart policy because Manning may not be in Denver next year or the year after that. Life goes on in Denver after Manning retires. Contracts don't just get ripped up.

Just think: Two of the most important people over Manning’s past two prolific seasons have been offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Julius Thomas. Now both could be gone. Manning hates change. And if Julius Thomas does not return, I can tell you Manning is going to hate that.

Yes, it would suck if the Broncos don't get to re-sign Julius Thomas because they are too busy paying up for one of Manning's other favorite targets, Demaryius Thomas. The issue is really that the Broncos have done a great job surrounding Manning with great offensive weapons and the reality is they can't just keep these players around forever simply because Manning may put on a sad face that he has to work with new players. The Broncos can't pay for Pro Bowl talent at every offensive skill position simply so Peyton Manning doesn't have to deal with a little change.

The Broncos have been very quiet about whatever negotiations are happening to try to convince Manning to take a little less than the $19 million he is scheduled to earn in 2015. I wonder if part of Elway’s sales pitch to Manning will be that if Manning took a little less, then Elway could offer Julius Thomas a little more.

That would be the main point of my sales pitch if I were John Elway. Manning doesn't want change? Make it easier for the Broncos to affect less change.

Three questions with a coach.
Jeff Fisher of the Rams is the co-chairman of the league’s competition committee, which has several major rules issues to take up this winter.

Ah yes, my boy. I would like three questions with Jeff Fisher and I'm sure he wouldn't like the three questions I had to ask him.

What is the best argument against coaches being able to use replay on every type of play, as some coaches, including Bill Belichick, have suggested?
Fisher: “Well, we have a lot of work to do to evaluate that. For the whole game?

HEY! Peter will be the one asking the questions here, buddy. Shut up and just answer the questions. Here's a question Peter has, what do you want Peter to say about Bradford's injury? He needs to add something about Bradford making "good time with his rehab" or something like that if he's going to pump up the trade market for Bradford.


Fisher: “So if someone throws a touchdown pass against us to win the game, I’m going to throw the challenge flag. Somebody [committed a holding penalty] out there. Somebody did something. You start there and then go … I mean, I don’t know.

It seems Fisher has a firm grasp over what Peter means, but "I mean, I don't know" isn't exactly a great answer so far to the question. I mean, you know?

Replay was designed to overturn obvious errors. It was never designed to include penalties. could be designed to include penalties. That's the point of the question Peter is asking. The rules can be changed, or at least consideration to changing the rules can happen, especially from someone with the title "co-chairman of the league's competition committee."

The game is hard to officiate. We’re making strides in that area. If I challenged a holding call and a false start in the first half, I’ve used all my challenges.”

Oh, so every penalty shouldn't be open to being challenged because the officials miss so many damn calls that the head coaches would run out of challenges? Great, that makes sense then.

And more importantly, a head coach would have to strategically consider what calls he wants to challenge as opposed to just blindly challenging every call he thinks is wrong. So "I've used all my challenges in the first half" isn't a good reason to not consider every call as having the opportunity to be challenged.

So the co-chair of the rules committee sounds like he thinks it will be tough to make a change in what everyone was screaming about after the Dez Bryant non-catch in the playoffs. I asked Fisher about the chance of calling a catch a catch as soon as the player possesses the ball with two feet on the ground—without the so-called “making a football move” to finish the process of a catch. “Then,” he said, “you’d be eliminating the defenseless player aspect of the whole thing.”

What? That explanation doesn't make sense to me. What does making a football move have to do with the defenseless player aspect of the whole thing? Defensive players can still tackle opposing offensive players without tackling them by their neck or head.

Jameis Winston was a better quarterback in the second half of games than the first in 2014 at Florida State. You knew that. But although he told me Sunday, “All my interceptions came in the first half of games,” (he was exaggerating, but you get his point) it’s not quite as stark as I’d thought.

Yards Pct. Yards/att. TD-Int
2014: First and Second Quarters 1,926 .628 7.7 14-13
2014: After Halftime 1,981 .682 9.1 11-5

The problem is that in the NFL Winston won't be on a team that has superior talent to nearly every other NFL team, so if he throws all of his interceptions in the first half then he won't have a chance to lead a comeback, because his team will be losing by too many points. Obviously ever throwing an interception isn't ideal, but throwing interceptions in the first half can put his team in a hole.

This Week’s Sign That The Footballpocalypse Is Upon Us:

The number of media members covering the combine has risen 5,300% in the past 15 years.
The math: Approximately 15 to 20 reporters covered the combine in 2000. This weekend, the NFL credentialed 1,071 media members—and turned away quite a few (mostly college media people, who formerly were credentialed) because of space restrictions. Meaning this: For every one reporter who covered the combine in 2000, there were 53 this year.

I still don't understand Peter's fascination with reporting about how popular the combine is when he is the head of a football site that sends nearly their entire staff to the combine and he writes his MMQB about players and how they performed at the combine. Perhaps the combine is more popular in 2015 than it was in 2000 because more media organizations are sending more reporters to cover the combine, so therefore the general public pays more attention to it. It's weird to me that Peter refers to the number of media members covering the combine as the "Footballpocalypse" when he sent most of the MMQB staff to cover the combine. 

My friend Jack Bowers had a bout with the same cancer that killed Stuart Scott, cancer of the appendix, a few years back. After several surgeries, Jack is in a good place and on track to live a long time. But a byproduct of having a brush with a very serious illness was he stopped putting off things he loved to do. He just started doing them. I have been a partner in crime with Jack for a couple of them, including a World Series trip to San Francisco, and he told me a few months ago he wanted to go back to Duke, where he attended school in the ’70s, and see this year’s Duke-North Carolina basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

It was snowing hard as I walked through Krzyzewskiville, the tent city outside Cameron where students camp out for the privilege of going to this game.

Finally, someone has the guts to discuss Krzyzewskiville and the students who camp out prior to important games in order to attend that game. Why hasn't any other media organization focused on these students? At no point during any telecast of a Duke game does the crowd at Cameron get mentioned, nor does anyone mention the tent city that is Krzyzewskiville. Thank goodness Peter is here to shine a light on a heretofore undocumented group of college students. 

There are byzantine rules about how many people need to stay in the tent, and for how long, and for how many overnights, to keep one’s place in line, and for all 10 people in Tent Three to qualify to get into the game. Suffice to say Fuchs had to sleep outside for 15 overnights in order to get a good standing-room position for a two-hour basketball game.

I talked to Fuchs after the game. He and his friends, upon being admitted to the arena an hour or so before tipoff, chose the front row of the student section across from the North Carolina bench.

The part that doesn't always get talked about is how anyone in the way of students trying to get a place to stand during the game could be bowled over in the mad dash the students make to get in the door and then find the perfect place to watch the game. It's nerve-wracking to watch and I feel like there could be more order to this part of the process.

“Does it bother you at all that you might have done better on these tests if you’d been in the library those nights you were sleeping outside?” I asked.
His answer was perfect, I thought.
Said Fuchs: “It doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it would have if being in the library would have made me miss the game.”

Thank goodness someone has focused on the Cameron Crazies. God knows ESPN certainly didn't do enough of this.

The national baseball reporter, on the hand-written Alex Rodriguez apology for his PED use. Which, it seems, no one was buying. 

Nobody has to buy the apology. If A-Rod didn't make the apology then writers like Jon Heyman would have called for A-Rod to AT LEAST apologize for his actions.

Thank you, Michael. Thank you.

And yet, though 40-yard dash times are overrated Peter still sends his employees to the combine to watch the 40-yard dash times.

On the flip side of this Tweet, the five slowest wide receivers at last year's combine were Christopher Boyd, Jarvis Landry, Josh Stewart, Cody Hoffman, and Ryan Grant.

The five fastest wide receivers at last year's combine were Brandon Cooks, John Brown, Donte Moncrief, Paul Richardson, and Martavis Bryant.

Notice that four of those receivers contributed to their team in their rookie year, but only Jarvis Landy contributed to his team in his rookie year from the slow class. Speed isn't everything, but to continuously throw Anquan Boldin out as the reason why the 40-yard dash is overrated ignores other information that there is some semblance of correlation between a receiver running a faster 40-yard dash and contributing in the NFL. I wouldn't say this correlation is true every year. Still, Kelvin Benjamin and Allen Robinson are the only receivers in the bottom-10 of 40-yard dash times from last year that contributed to their team. Odell Beckham and Sammy Watkins were in the top-10 of 40-yard dash times as well during last year's combine. So a receiver showing speed in the 40-yard dash does have some meaning.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the most important workout on the horizon is an early one. Marcus Mariota’s pro day is March 12 in Eugene, and I talked to a couple of teams at the combine who will be watching to see how he does the kind of mundane things he didn’t do much in college. 

Mundane things like doing dishes, fixing his own dinner and paying bills?

Notably, dropping back, staying in the pocket and throwing from a stationary position. One of the other things Mariota’s been working on is the simple calling of plays in the huddle. In college Mariota didn’t huddle much, didn’t take the snap under center much and didn’t have a lot of power to change things at the line. All that is about to change, and how quickly he adapts will be vital to his early success as a pro.

Quite a few college quarterbacks are coming out of college not having a lot of experience doing these things. It doesn't mean they can't learn, but taking a snap under center and huddling are two really important parts of being an NFL quarterback.

4. I think teams that pick after six in the first round but like Mariota could finally give Washington a lucky personnel break. Washington, of course, traded half the western world to move up four spots in 2011 to get Robert Griffin III,

And this trade is the one that, of course, propelled the Rams to the heights that team is now seeing.

But now Washington picks five, and if Mariota generates the kind of interest he should, maybe St. Louis (picking 10th), Cleveland (12th) or even Chip Kelly’s Eagles (20th) would move up for him. God knows Kelly would want the quarterback he recruited to Oregon. If Washington could recoup an extra first-round pick, or a high two at least, new GM Scot McCloughan would be smart to consider moving down five spots or so.

Yes, I guess he would be smart to do that. I don't know if Peter is trying to set up the compensation the Rams would offer to move up and get Mariota by stating it would require an extra first or second round pick to move up five spots (which is what the Rams would have to do), but I definitely think it would require more than that to get the Redskins to move back 15 spots in order to allow Chip Kelly the chance to get Mariota. It would take more than another first round pick to get me to move back 15 spots personally.

5. I think the Pro Football Hall of Fame is not inclined to rewrite its bylaws to include a morals clause, which could get some attention this year with Darren Sharper (accused of being a serial rapist) being eligible for the Hall for the first time. As I suspected, the Hall thinks the slope is too slippery to begin judging players on acts that happened off the field, and after their careers ended.

I do agree that the slope is a little slippery and there should be a Pro Football Hall of Fame vote system based solely on a player's production on the field. Still, Peter's "I'm going to quit voting if Darren Sharper isn't considered" stance seems very, very strong to me regardless of what Peter thinks the Hall of Fame is or is not inclined to do. I'm still not over the way he caped up for Sharper like that. The rules are the rules, but to say he would quit? That seems drastic to me.

8. I think I love Dorial Green-Beckham or Todd Gurley to Seattle at number 31 in the first round. Green-Beckham’s the receiver who got kicked off Missouri’s team for marijuana violations, and Gurley is coming back from the ACL tear. Seattle can afford to take chances because of the bedrock of talent on the roster.

Me from last week's MMQB: 

Also, I think the Seahawks will probably be linked to Green-Beckham too, because after all (says the media) they dealt with Marshawn Lynch so Green-Beckham wouldn't be so hard to deal with. Pete Carroll is a player's coach, he'll get through to Green-Beckham.

The predictability of the media, specifically Peter King in this case, is absolutely laughable. They link "problem players" to teams that are successful because those teams have so much talent and such a strong coaching staff. Because a guy like Percy Harvin worked so well in Seattle, I can see how Dorial Green-Beckham would work out as well. I can't wait for Peter to link Green-Beckham to possibly the Cardinals, Ravens (though he would be surprised if they had interest since they just got done with the Ray Rice issue), Patriots and Colts. Those teams can handle a talent like Green-Beckham, because they are successful and success cures everything.

Peter is so predictable.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

b. Tremendous job by Academy Award winner Julianne Moore (as the victim) and Kristen Stewart (as her wiseass daughter and, ultimately, savior) in “Still Alice,” the movie about a brilliant college professor and early-onset Alzheimer’s patient...I never saw any of those vampire movies that Stewart was in, but she is one great performer.

They were called "Twilight" and it would have taken five seconds to look this up as opposed to referring to them as "those vampire movies that Stewart was in." For a guy who tells his readers to "Google that" from time-to-time when discussing something he doesn't think his readers will understand, Peter sure doesn't like to take his own advice. Speaking of not taking his own advice...

And I haven’t seen enough of the nominated movies to know if Moore deserved the Oscar for best actress,

Which means Peter King is about to make a comment indicating that Julianne Moore deserved the Oscar for best actress. Once Peter says he doesn't know if he can do something, rest assured the next thing he will do is that something he said that he wasn't sure he could do.

but if someone beats her it’ll have to be with the acting job of a lifetime.

There we go. And by the way, usually when someone gets an Oscar nomination then they are getting that nomination for the acting job of a lifetime. So if someone had beaten Moore, then winning the Oscar over Moore would have been a victory indicating that actress had performed the acting job of a lifetime.

c. Coffeenerdness: Too many Starbucks are careless with the milk in the Flat White, I’m finding. It’s whole milk, not 2 percent.

God, you are the worst. I wish Peter King had to work as a barista for a month just to see what a pain in the ass it is to deal with people like himself. Yes, "getting careless with the milk" as if using whole milk and not 2% milk is a mistake that will result in the death of thousands. By the way, the guy who accuses baristas of getting careless with the milk is someone who used a source this past summer that was 100% wrong about what happened in the room when Goodell interviewed Ray Rice about his domestic violence incident. Peter apologized and moved on, but I find it interesting that Peter is going to accuse anyone of being careless in their job for the next 10 years.

Only a true coffeenerd would understand the difference.

Only a true coffeenerd haughty, self-important dipshit would understand the difference. There, it's fixed.

d. Beernerdness: While in Durham, we dined at a local place with only one beer: Torch Pilsner, of Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem. What a terrific beer. Much more bite and flavor than a usual pilsner. Highly recommended.

(Bengoodfella checks the rating he gave this beer on Untapped...dammit, we agree!)

f. Haven’t been as cold as I was Friday and Saturday mornings at the combine. It was so cold that you didn’t stop and talk to anyone on the street. Just exchanged quick hellos.

Only in New York. Wait, this didn't happen in New York, but happened in Indianapolis? Peter's world is spinning.

g. Stopped in the Nike Suite at the combine. Big companies that serve players and agents and coaches have these big areas with food and drink and perks for Combinees. Now here’s something I never saw before: The Nike Suite had two barbers cutting hair (not mine) and pampering people. That was cool.

Peter has never seen barbers cutting hair and pampering people? Doesn't Peter visit Sports Clips? I feel like he was the target market when they invented the MVP Experience.

Adieu Haiku
Combine ends today. Indy’s pub owners are sad.
Football folks can drink.

Well done! This haiku is amazingly less interesting and even more pointless than the one Peter created last week. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

1 comments Grantland Writers Talk about the NBA Trade Deadline While Bill Simmons Cracks Pop Culture Jokes

Bill Simmons did a NBA trade deadline diary with Zach Lowe last year. Since apparently Lowe's wife has produced a human baby then that means Lowe is not participating in this year's NBA trade deadline diary, which apparently means Bill will use a lot of the other writers at Grantland to do a running diary of the NBA trade deadline. Bill essentially only has two gimmicks in his writing these days. The running diary (or it's cousin, the retro-diary) and the mailbag. Again, he doesn't have a huge interest in writing anymore it seems. I just wish he would stop writing if that's the case. Maybe once his contract runs out with ESPN he will go somewhere and transition away from writing into being the media personality he so desperately wants to permanently be. So here is the 2015 NBA trade deadline running diary and we'll see if Bill manages to keep up better with the Grantland writers than he was able to keep up with Zach Lowe last year.

At 2:01 p.m. ET, the Grantland staff began an email thread about NBA trade deadline day. Ninety minutes later, the landscape of the league had changed and 100 emails had been exchanged. Here is that thread, condensed and edited for clarity and sanity, even though there was nothing sane about what happened today.


(Okay, so this year's trade deadline was fairly crazy but announcing this year's deadline/NFL season/draft as the craziest ever is still an old journalistic standby)

Bill Simmons: Yes or no, would you believe this tweet?

@WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed because of Phil Jackson’s spotty cell phone service in St. Bart’s.

No. Because I'm sure St. Bart's has good cell service. I don't begrudge Bill his success. He has a talent and a good vision for what he wants to do, but he constantly reminds me of a person trying just a little too hard to be clever. I've claimed he always has to be the most clever guy in the room and I still think it's true. He's the guy in class who is always cracking jokes and everyone really likes because he's funny and creative. But he's also the guy who is trying really, really hard to be funny and creative to where it becomes slightly more desperate as time goes on.

(Note there are a lot of pictures and embedded Tweets in this running diary that I may end up leaving out. If it's not YouTube videos, it's other media that gets thrown in to increase the length of a Bill Simmons column)

Jason Concepcion: No, simply because St. Barts is the kind of place Roman Abramovic and Lorne Michaels go to hang out, and people that rich would never go anywhere with spotty cell service.

See? Bill was trying SO HARD to be funny and creative that it comes off as desperate sometimes. Why would St. Bart's have spotty cell service? Because it's not America?

To me, it’s more like: @WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed due to the continuing radioactive fallout from the Bargnani deal.

Not terribly more funny, but it makes more sense.

Trade: Denver sends Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland for Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Victor Claver, and a 2016 lottery-protected first-round pick

Trade: Denver sends JaVale McGee, the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick to the Sixers for the rights to Cenk Akyol

Simmons: I liked the Afflalo deal for Portland, but thought they blew it by not offering the same package for Jeff Green last month.

Wait, so you mean the Trail Blazers had a really good idea that Bill believes he can improve upon because only he is the person allowed to have the best idea? You don't say. Readers of Bill's mailbags know this trick very well. A reader writes in with a great idea and Bill has to better it by 10%, because of the whole "most clever guy in the room" thing. The best part is that Bill is assuming the Trail Blazers would have offered that same deal for Jeff Green and the Celtics would have agreed to it. A lot of Bill's ideas are dependent on GM's just saying "yes" to whatever he proposes. It's one of the reasons I would have loved to see him be an NBA GM.

Green would have allowed them to play small ball, with Aldridge at the 5.

They could still do that with Batum at the 4 if they really wanted to. He's only 10 pounds lighter than Green.

Is it weird that I’m pissed Boston didn’t trump Philly’s offer of “Absolutely nothing for JaVale McGee and OKC’s protected pick”? Why didn’t the Celts offer “Nothing” or even “99 percent of nothing”? Sam Hinkie totally outwitted us.

Why would the Celtics want JaVale McGee for this season when he has been a locker room issue in Denver and is owed $12 million next year? Danny Ainge is famous for saying that picks can be traded but players can't. Obviously Sam Hinkie feels differently and the Sixers are absolutely not going to keep McGee all the way through until the end of next season.

Concepcion: Fair point, but the thing about acquiring JaVale is that you then have him. Underrated drawback. ​I think it’s very important that the Sixers do everything in their power to make sure JaVale can’t speak, text, see, or in any way contact or influence Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

Exactly. Bill really wants McGee hanging out in the locker room with some of the Celtics' young players? The Sixers don't care because most of their roster will be out of the league in two years.

Simmons: If Pat Riley gets Dragic for a bunch of spare parts and a couple of picks in the 20s, I’m gonna be vehemently pissed off. I’m just warning you now. Is Dragic-Wade-Bosh-Deng-Whiteside kind of terrifying or am I crazy?

No Bill, they are LEGITIMATELY terrifying. What's funny is prior to the trade deadline Bill was making fun of Heat fans on Twitter by Tweeting out:

Then he got all defensive when a trade not too far different happened and acted like the other draft pick thrown in for the year 2021 is completely different from the trade proposed.

Yet in this trade deadline diary, he is pissed off the Heat got Dragic for spare parts and two first round picks. So the Heat didn't get Dragic with one first round pick, but they didn't give up Chalmers (ugh, either way) and the 2nd first round pick is in the year 2021 when robots controlled by humans will be playing in the NBA. So Bill looks a little dumb, couldn't really admit he looked sort of dumb and acted like the 2021 first round pick the Heat gave up is completely different from the trade he proposed. It's a rollercoaster trying to avoid being wrong.

Sharp: If the Knicks, Celtics, or Lakers had pulled off a Dragic deal, I was fully prepared to spend the rest of the week mocking them for talking themselves into Dragic as a franchise cornerstone.

Why would these teams have convinced themselves Dragic is a franchise cornerstone simply because they traded for him? It could just mean they want to try and re-sign Dragic as part of their rebuilding plan. Even so, how would the Heat not be talking themselves into Dragic as a franchise cornerstone? He'd be the 2nd/3rd highest player on the team if he was re-signed for the max.

But Dragic in Miami with Bosh, Whiteside, and maybe a healthy Wade by the playoffs? That’s fantastic.

And so why aren't the Heat talking themselves into Dragic being a franchise cornerstone? If they re-sign Dragic to a max deal then he and Bosh would be taking up about $45 million of the Heat's cap in 2016 with fewer draft picks to replenish the roster. Isn't that seeing Dragic as a franchise cornerstone as well?

Simmons: I am making this point for the second time this week: Dragic was the fourth-best guard in basketball last season. I voted him second-team All-NBA.

This is Bill subtly waving his dick around trying to remind us he has an All-NBA vote. So basically, Dragic was the fourth-best point guard in the NBA last year because Bill says so. His opinion equals fact.

Miami becomes a title contender if it can get him without touching its top four … at least until we remember that Dwyane Wade couldn’t play 38 MPG for four straight rounds even if Anthony Bosch, Brian McNamee and Ivan Drago’s trainer were training him. But we won’t remember that until, like, late April, right?

So...the Heat aren't title contenders then? And also who is this "we" person? You mean "you"?

A few months from now Bill will point to this first sentence to show he said the Heat were a title contender or point to the other sentence in the paragraph to show he knew Wade and the Heat would falter down the stretch.

Concepcion: In retrospect, shouldn’t we now view a team acquiring a core player’s non-twin brother, in order to make that core player feel more comfortable, as a red flag? Zoran is this generation’s Chris Smith.

Oh, now Dragic is a core player to a franchise. One guy at Grantland thinks he isn't, another does, and Bill Simmons is going to go with whatever ends up happening in two years.

Simmons: I wish I had an undeserving black-sheep brother who I could ram down everyone’s throats at Grantland. Oh wait, I have Joe House. 

Well and there are also your column ideas (running diaries, ranking players by tradeability), Chuck Klosterman, and any article that tries to determine the proper ratedness of an athlete, movie star, television show, album, band, or any other entertainment entity.

Simmons: What would happen if The Players’ Tribune hired Isaiah Thomas to write a piece for them? Would half of their staff just quit?

So Bill is bashing Isaiah Thomas again. Look for Thomas to take offense and then Bill will back down  Gus Johnson will broker a peace between them, even though Bill's bashing of Thomas was based totally on his opinion along with facts he provided about how bad Thomas was, so I'm not sure how that peace being brokered worked. Bill either thinks Thomas sucks or he doesn't. Bill bashed Thomas publicly in his columns and then never really retracted what he said, so maybe they just agreed to disagree.

By the way, I keep picturing the Dragic brothers hitting South Beach dressed like Martin and Aykroyd in the famous “Wild and Crazy Guys” sketch. Can’t we Photoshop the heads of the Dragic brothers on them for a GIF with South Beach behind them? Or would a straightforward Miami Vice Photoshop make more sense?

Pretty low hanging fruit joke there. Two white guys who are also foreigners hanging out at clubs. I'm surprised Bill didn't make a "A Night at the Roxbury" joke as well.

Trade: Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young

I can't figure out why the Timberwolves would give up a first round pick for Thaddeus Young only to later trade him for an old guy who is running out of gas very quickly and is a pending free agent. But hey, maybe I'm not supposed to figure out what the Timberwolves are doing and that's the genius of it all.

Goldsberry: Man. Anthony Bennett is going to hate practice all of a sudden.

Bennett is either going to end up being an All-Star (which I still think he can be...I'm still riding this train) or he's going to just quit basketball for good in late March of this year.

Simmons: How sad is it that the greatest Timberwolves moment in 11 years — seriously, 11 years — is bringing an ancient KG back home to play his final two months on a terrible basketball team? And yet, I love it!

It's crazy that your opinion the greatest Timberwolves moment in 11 years also coincides with your opinion that you like this move. It's almost like, because the world revolves around you and your opinion, Kevin Garnett going back to the Timberwolves has more meaning.

Simmons: Remember in Rounders

(Bengoodfella rolls his eyes and makes a wanking motion with his hand)

when they all ended up at the same Atlantic City poker table and Mike McD said, “Welcome to the Chesterfield South”? Then they all stayed at the table, played together and stole the money of every overmatched tourist that sat down at the table? That’s how like 20 NBA GMs feel about Billy King. He’s the overmatched tourist who keeps sitting down at the table as they all sneak smiles at each other. Welcome to the Chesterfield South again, Billy!

As usual, in order to make himself seem very clever and waste space Bill has used six sentences to simply say, "Billy King is overmatched once again." This is what I mean about having to be the most clever guy in the room. He can't just say something, he has to use an analogy to pop culture that strings out what he wants to say.

Bill could even write, "Billy King is overmatched like the Atlantic City tourists playing against Mike McD in 'Rounders'." But he doesn't, because if the pop culture analogy is more elaborate and longer then it just feels more clever to him. He mistakes quantity for quality and throwing more words on to the page as being more creative in using those words.



  1. Goran Dragic
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Luol Deng
  4. Chris Bosh
  5. Hassan Whiteside
Coach: Erik Spoelstra


  1. Kyrie Irving
  2. J.R. Smith
  3. LeBron
  4. Love
  5. Mozgov
Coach: David Blatt

Since I'm covering a Bill Simmons-related column and he likes to point out when he is right, I want to point out I thought Hassan Whiteside could turn into the type of player he is becoming. Prior to the 2010 draft.

I don't say this just because he comes from my hometown, but Hassan Whiteside may end up being the type of player Hasheem Thabeet will never be. I think he could turn pro, but I also think learning a little bit more in college about how to play the center position would be a great idea. I see him staying pro, especially since his stock is up and he will go in the lottery, but I am afraid the NBA may eat him up a little bit. He needs to be taught how to be a center and if he gets with the wrong team in the NBA that probably won't happen to the extent it should. Otherwise, he plays great defense and could be a valuable player in the NBA.

I mention this because Whiteside sort of Amelia Bedelia'd his way into becoming a really good player for the Heat. I was afraid he was so raw that he wouldn't get the chance to learn and show what he can do. I even thought the Raptors should have taken him at #13 in that 2010 draft. I was worried when he was drafted by the Kings in the same draft as DeMarcus Cousins that Whiteside wouldn't get a chance. That happened. He played two minutes that entire season. And yes, feel free to read the rest of my thoughts and picks. Some are good, some are bad, and mock me accordingly. I do not mind. Some of these guys come out of college and just aren't ready to contribute in the NBA, so they get eaten up. I'm glad it didn't happen to Whiteside...eventually.

Trade: Oklahoma City sends Reggie Jackson to Detroit and Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, and the rights to Tibor Pleiss to Utah, Utah sends Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City, Detroit sends Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin to Oklahoma City, Utah sends Steve Novak to OKC. Utah receives a first-round and a second-round draft pick. OKC receives a second-round pick. 
Simmons: My “Pistons over 36 wins” bet loves this trade!

Glad Bill's first thought was how this trade affected his own opinion of the Pistons. The world revolves around Bill and his first thought is usually, "How does this affect me?"

I can’t decide if Reggie is overrated or underrated.

It really doesn't fucking matter if Reggie Jackson is overrated, underrated or properly rated, but okay. It's all an opinion anyway. Bill has made a career out of trying to quantify his own opinion and what his opinion means for the career of these athletes, so I probably shouldn't criticize him for doing what comes naturally.

He was fucking awesome in that season-saving Grizzlies game last spring when KD and Russ were melting down. Do you think he’s on his life raft staring back at Waiters Island and pumping his fist or crying tears of joy?

I think Reggie Jackson works well for what he was in Oklahoma City and needed to embrace that role. He has a chance to get overpaid now and that's good for him. He was great for Boston College, but in the NBA I would have liked to see him embrace the role of the scorer off the bench who plays crunch time minutes and is essentially a starter.


This is the point where every other writer on this running diary just reacted like a normal person would to the flurry of trades, but Bill takes the chance to say, "HEY LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY FUNNY COMMENT! HERE'S A POP CULTURE REFERENCE! I NEED ATTENTION!"

Ryan: Oh holy shit.

Concepcion: I just blacked out. I don’t even know what’s happening. Also, the SUNS WERE LIKE FUCK THIS ISAIAH THOMAS NONSENSE ANYWAY?!?! WHAT?!?!

Chau: Pray for Zach Lowe.

Ryan: Thomas to Boston!?!?

Normal reactions, but like Robin Williams when he couldn't stop playing for laughs, Bill has to play for cleverness.

Simmons: Bob Sarver just reenacted the christening scene in The Godfather. Steve Nash is about to get shot in the eyeglasses during a massage.

And this isn't a terrible joke and it endears him to many people, but I am not as amused by others trying to be clever all the time. Turn down the schtick and forced pop culture references. It's just typical Bill and an example of how his writing has turned from well-timed cleverness into forced cleverness by beating the same jokes into the ground.

Ryan: I don’t know which players play for which basketball team anymore.

Concepcion: [Weeps uncontrollably.] This is for the best.

Ryan: Hinkie is John Wick?

And here he is...

Simmons: Woj and Steiny Mo are going head-to-head right now in The Challenge. We’re about to find out who is CT and who is Johnny Bananas.

I don't even know one person who watches "The Challenge." Zero people. I tend to believe it is Bill Simmons and maybe some drunk college kids who watch "The Challenge," and even then the college kids don't remember they watched it. Though there is a good parallel between washed-up reality stars trying to hold on to their few minutes of fame by turning back the clock to stay relevant and Bill as a mid-40's writer who is trying to stay relevant by turning back the clock and writing like he is still in his mid-20's. Perhaps Bill can identify with the struggle of these washed-up reality stars.

But again, the other Grantland writers have normal reactions and Bill makes a two sentence comparison to pop culture.

(One other issue, these are supposedly emails sent back and forth. How heavily edited are these emails to flow like they do? Did "Ryan" really just write "Hinkie is John Wick?" or were there 50 other words just edited out? Also, how many of Bill's jokes you think would have gotten edited out if he weren't the Editor-in-Chief of Grantland? 50%? 60%?)

Concepcion: Remember when the consensus was that this was going to be a quiet trade deadline? Related: Nobody knows anything.

"We" didn't know it would be this exciting!


Simmons: Don’t sleep on Dork Elvis somehow swiping K.J. McDaniels from Sam Hinkie. That was a total “look, you fucking owe me and I am cashing in” trade. Daryl just cashed in his Money in the Bank suitcase with Sam.

I thought trading McDaniels was a dumb move for the 76ers. The only justification I can think of is that McDaniels only wanted to sign a one year deal as a second round pick, so he's looking to cash in after the season is over and the 76ers weren't keeping him at his salary request. Otherwise, he seemed like a good bench player for them to have.

This will lead to a whole new round of sucking Daryl Morey off, where his reputation will once again exceed the achievement of his Rockets team.

Simmons: Zach just emailed me:

At this moment, my day-old baby is sleeping, Woj just tweeted “good lord,” and it’s unclear what team Isaiah Thomas plays for. Or I might just be hallucinating all this.
Sharp: If Zach was missing an NBA trade deadline, there was a 100 percent chance it was going to be one of the craziest deadlines ever. We should have warned people about this.

No one knew the trade deadline would be this crazy or because Zach Lowe was out on paternity leave then it should have been known the deadline would be crazy? WHICH IS IT? You know, either way. I think at this point these guys are just writing without an actual purpose if there isn't a trade to be discussed.

Simmons: Forgot to mention: Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley grew up in Tacoma together.

Bill forgot to mention this little fact because he probably didn't know this little fact until someone else wrote it and Bill thought, "Since it's the Celtics being discussed then I'll just pretend I knew this fact prior to just learning it."

They’re best friends.

And this is the proof. They are not best friends. They grew up in the same area together, but didn't even cross paths in high school. Bradley and Thomas grew up together in Tacoma in the same way I grew up with anyone who lived in the same city I lived in as a child. So this is proof that Bill just found this information and spit it out as fast as he could in order to pass it off like he knew it prior to just learning it.

Sharp: I made fun of it at first, but isn’t adding Kanter a much smarter version of adding Lopez? Neither one changes things that much, but at least Kanter isn’t making $30 million over the next two years, and he won’t command a ton of touches in the playoffs. And he’s not Perk! OKC quietly got itself in much better shape this afternoon. Now it’s time to go pass out.

Yes, yes, yes. Here is another thing that annoys me. The Thunder have had some major injuries that have affected their ability to win games in the playoffs. Whether it is Westbrook or Ibaka being injured, they have suffered big injuries that have held them back. So I don't entirely get how there seems to be pressure on them to "finally" win an NBA Title. The last time the Thunder had their best three players all healthy in the playoffs they made the NBA Finals.

Chau: I’ve had an unhealthy, irrational grudge against the trade deadline, dating back to 2003, when Ray Allen and Gary Payton were traded in a deadline deal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. 

I'm not sure you can have an irrational grudge against something that is intangible and only exists in the way that a trade deadline exists.

I think I’m finally ready to call that off. Today, narrative arcs were completed, teams were blown up from the inside out, and the Nets got embarrassed on a sweet pump fake from the Thunder.


2. Does Oklahoma City have a much better bench now?

Remember last  year when the Thunder lost to the Spurs in part because guys like Derek Fisher were playing big minutes in big games? Remember when they had no bench? Yesterday’s maneuvers might have fixed that.

Usually when Derek Fisher isn't playing big minutes in a big games anymore then that means the bench is much better. I'm not sure it matters who replaced Fisher on the bench.

4. Is Amar’e the sneaky big addition?

Considering prior to even being bought out by the Knicks there was talk all over ESPN about how Stoudemire would help the Mavericks, then no, this wasn't a sneaky big addition at all. It was telegraphed and discussed prior to Amar'e even joining the Mavericks.

Concepcion: Sam Hinkie throwing double middle fingers at the world and going super tank. I think he was secretly threatened by how bad the Knicks are. MCW, K.J. McDaniels, and K.J. McDaniels’s mom are out. JaVale McGee and various draft picks are in. I like imagining Hinkie seeing K.J. sky for a dunk early in the season, then quietly deciding to trade him.

I've defended the Sixers' long term plan here and here. I'm starting to wonder if I'm crazy though. I don't think MCW or K.J. McDaniels are by any stretch franchise players, but at what point will Sam Hinkie stop hitting the "reset" button and getting rid of talented players in favor of draft picks? I'm wavering, but still on the bandwagon. Maybe Hinkie is getting rid of all the talent that he doesn't think will be a starter on a championship team. I don't know, but at some point Hinkie has to take the talent on his roster and keep it for a year or two. Maybe K.J. McDaniels would be overpaid after this year and maybe MCW isn't a great shooter, but the Sixers are going to have players with faults or have to pay players at some point. The worst part is many of the best players in this year's draft are big guys and the Sixers already have Noel and Embiid. You can't have too many big men, but if the Sixers got Okafor or Towns then I would start to wonder if that adage is true. That's three good young big men who all want good minutes and all can play the center position. Of course, drafting Mudiay is a different story I guess. He is a better point guard than MCW, or should be. At a certain point, they have to keep players on the team and work around their faults. That's my point.

Tangential Takeaways

Zach Lowe sneaking into the bathroom and away from his newborn child and wife so he can tweet about deadline day.

Because women are such bitches they won't allow their husband just a few minutes to Tweet while their baby sleeps.

Isaiah Thomas has gone from good player to low-key cancer faster than anyone ever. DeMarcus and Dragic don’t want to play with him; then the Suns trade him away even though Dragic is leaving, acquiring Brandon Knight, who is a looming restricted free agent.

But Thomas is going to the Celtics and I'm sure there is some ubuntu left over from the Doc Rivers era. As we have heard dozens of times from Bill, I'm sure the Boston crowd rising as one and cheering on the Celtics as if they KNOW they are about to see something special will motivate Isaiah Thomas to hide any cancerous habits he might have.

Simmons: What an astounding turn of events for Chris Bosh. Remember when we believed that Bosh willingly passed up four years of contending Rockets teams for an extra $30 million and two more months off a year in Miami?

"We" believed this. Bill was wrong, so everyone else was wrong too.

Now he’s playing with Dragic, Wade, Deng and an emerging 7-foot center who’s routinely throwing up 20-20s.

Regarding Whiteside, considering he is a restricted free agent after this year there is a small chance his play could just be one of those weird contract years that allows centers to become overpaid in free agency and later have the words "expiring contract" or "cap-killing contract" attached to his name.

Other winners: every feature about Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas being best friends who grew up together;

Except they are not best friends. They are from the same city and grew up playing against each other. They competed against each but aren't besties or anything like that. Of course, it doesn't mean the media won't portray it that way, but prior to Thomas playing for the Celtics, he and Bradley were two guys from the same area who played the same sport, so they knew each other. Next thing you know, Bill Simmons has them getting matching butterfly tattoos and double dating on the weekends.

Flip Saunders for turning a first-round pick into 50 games of Thad Young and KG’s retirement tour (but being unable to be fired because he’s his own boss); 

Bill Simmons would have been a much better GM for the Timberwolves. He would have proposed a bunch of trades to other GM's and ended every proposal with "Who says 'no' to that?" while smiling smugly.

and, of course, Wade, Riley, Spo and Arison because hot damn, that was a fantastic trade.

Well, the most clever guy in the room got the first and the last word of this trade deadline diary. I can't wait for Bill's next mailbag full of YouTube videos with questions from his overly-dedicated followers which is disguised as a column.