Saturday, July 4, 2009

Free Kicks: Abbreviated July 4th Edition

Well, Happy July 4th everyone! After (almost) finishing Free Kicks on Thursday, I had to catch a flight to Baltimore and missed posting yesterday. However, this seems even more appropriate. Not only is this the anniversary of our nation’s independence, but it is the 1st anniversary of the Around the Harbor blog. In that time, we have had 391 posts, better than one a day (though I know we miss a day here and there), and have gone through moving out of state, graduations, new jobs, and the struggle to find new ones. Thanks for reading, that is what makes this thing worth it to us. Now, let’s line up for the kick…

Who Says This is a Bad NBA Free Agent Class?
In any given year, there are usually one or two superstars and a host of mid-level players available in NBA free agency. However, with the economy being as poor as it is and most teams holding onto cap space for the all-important “Summer of LeBron” next year, this was thought to be a rather boring year with only a few complimentary pieces moving around the league. It is so funny that teams are planning so many years ahead in a “win now” league, especially when only 2 or 3 stars (LeBron and Chris Bosh particularly, as I expect Dwayne Wade to resign with the Heat) on the market, but that is another story. Additionally, with Carlos Boozer seeing the writing on the wall and staying with Utah and Kobe Bryant expecting to agree to a 3-year extension with the Lakers, those superstars are lacking from this year’s class. But I would argue that this class has a host of great young players who could be acquired at a bargain rate and decide who wins a title not just this year, but even after 2010.

After making foolish decisions for the last year, Detroit acquired Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in free agency, both young athletes (25 and 26 years old, respectively) who can inject energy into the Pistons’ rebuild-on-the-run strategy of Joe Dumars. Both excelled on teams where they had to be the star; it will be interesting to see where they fit when they don’t have to be the focal point (particularly if Avery Johnson is hired as the coach). Ramon Sessions is a talented guard who is still developing at the position, Paul Millsap is a solid defender and if he is not resigned could demand quite a paycheck, and Marvin Williams’ rebounding and perimeter shooting have shown improvement every season. This is not the best class, but give me a starting five in this free agent class and I could go to the playoffs in the East. Championships will be won with the players in the 2009 class; let’s not think too far ahead to 2010.

So Close and Yet so Favre
Before you gouge your eyes out upon seeing that name, it’s still worth mentioning, if only once. So, reports indicate that Brett Favre is close to buying a condo in Minnesota, and we can now officially start watching Brett Favre in the Twin Cities. It isn’t that I am opposed to players coming out of retirement (even multiple times), because that happens in every other sport without a blink of an eye. Boxers are almost expected to come out of retirement at least once for “one final bout.” Michael Jordan did it without any major repercussions from the fans (they might not have liked it, but they accepted it). The reason this bothers me is Tavaris Jackson. Here is a guy who needed this season to prove himself before the Vikings went a different route to fix their long-term quarterback question. Last year they brought in Gus Frerotte and yanked Jackson early in the season, only to watch him come back late in the season and pull them to the playoffs. They are treating their project quarterback like an O’s pitching prospect in the early 2000’s- sending him out there before he is ready (like they did in Jackson’s rookie year), and then sending him up and down until he fails and his confidence is shaken. Brett Favre is a good addition if you want to win now. But to do so, Minnesota has sold any chance of Tavaris Jackson becoming the quarterback of the future.

Enjoy the weekend!

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