Friday, August 21, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 6: The Rest of the League

This is part six of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first five parts examined the contenders listed above. Today, we focus on the rest of the league.

Today, I tried something a little different. I was in no mood to write something that would probably exceed 5,000 words to go through the rest of the important stuff of the NBA off-season, so I decided to record an audio thing (because it's not quite a podcast, not quite a radio show) to express my thoughts through sound. I brought in a good friend, David Ofosu, to talk about it with me so you didn't have to hear just me talk for an hour. We touch on a lot of things in this, so go ahead and take a listen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 5: Spurs Very Productive

This is part five of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first four parts examined the Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers and Celtics. Today, we examine the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs apparently got the message after seeing how the last two championships were won. The Lakers and Celtics took advantage of the lowly Grizzlies and Timberwolves respectively (though nothing is as egregious as the Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown trade. That deserves its own stratosphere of idiocy, the NBA’s version of the Randy Moss to New England trade) and rode their acquisitions (Gasol and Kevin Garnett) to the titles. Well the Spurs, being the A+ organization they are did not want the rest of the league to pass them by, so they found a lowly team (the Milwaukee Bucks) and picked up one of the underrated players in the NBA, Richard Jefferson.

This move signified the last hurrah, a final chance for the Duncan-era in San Antonio. Duncan is getting up there in age, 33, and probably has 2 maybe 3 years left as a top notch player. The Spurs apparently weren’t content with being a 5-seed for the last years of Duncan, not willing to have the rest of the league pass them by. With Duncan, Tony Parker and an uncertain Man Ginobili, they didn’t have enough fire power to compete with the Lakers or the big 3 of the Eastern Conference.

That magically changed before the draft when they were able to steal Richard Jefferson for 3 guys who played meaningless minutes last season (Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas). Jefferson is a guy who can really change the direction of the franchise. Though you may not have realized, considering he was in utter irrelevance in Milwaukee, Jefferson is a complete basketball player from the small forward position. He’s got tremendous athleticism, can create off the dribble, can shoot from the midrange and long range and is one of the better defenders in the league. He adds a lot of versatility to the lineup. He can run and finish the break with Tony Parker. He can spot up in the corner and drain a triple off a Duncan double team. He can create at the basket when the inevitable Ginobili injury comes down. He could have a Pau Gasol type impact on the Spurs. When Gasol went to the Lakers, he rejuvenated both the teams and himself. The environment really allowed Gasol to flourish and he stepped his game up just by the fact of playing for a team with a legitimate chance. Going from a deadzone like Milwaukee to an organization like San Antonio instantly makes you happier, and happy cows make great milk. Then getting to play with a great player makes you better, just look at Todd Pinkston’s numbers when he played with Terrell Owens in 2004. Everything about this move screams positive.

However, the Spurs still do have a hole a center. Matt Bonner is conceivably the worst defender in the league, not to mention he’s an Eddy Curry quality rebounder. You can play Duncan at center with draft pick Dejuan Blair at power forward, but Duncan has always been better suited at power forward. They need to pick up a defensive oriented guy who can rebound and block shots just to complete their team. They have a solid bench with George Hill, Ime Udoka, Michael Finley and Roger Mason. They are ready to make a run.

With the Duncan era closing in the near future, the Spurs made the decision to make a final run at the title. Picking up Jefferson gives them four prime-time players. With a good bench and only one hole at the center position, the Spurs are primed for a title run.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 4: Celtics Don't Do Enough

This is part four of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first three parts examined the Lakers, Magic and Cavaliers. Today, we examine 2008 NBA champions, the Boston Celtics.

Many people will tell you that if Kevin Garnett had been healthy, the Celtics may have repeated as NBA champions last year (though I doubt how they could have matched up with the Lakers considering the state of their bench). The main concern for the Celtics going into the offseason is making sure that KG is healthy and none of us have any way of knowing whether he is or not until the season starts. With that in mind, what they needed to do was try to retool their bench, especially behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (both of them were forced to play almost the entire game in the playoffs and by the end of the Orlando series looked like Donovan McNabb in the Tampa heat). Instead, they have a pretty quiet offseason (except for trying to trade Rajon Rondo) and the one substantial move they do make, Rasheed Wallace, is a well-documented nut case who has been known to quit on his team (he hasn’t showed up for Detroit in the last 3 seasons).

But first I want to address the inactivity to address a backup swingman. The only guy that they have behind Allen and Pierce is Tony Allen. Tony Allen has a basketball IQ comparable to a naked mole rat. Under no circumstances should he be trusted in any kind of important situation. And after that, it gets worse with JR Giddens and Bill Walker. I know, they suck. They have yet to find a replacement for James Posey who played such an integral in their championship run. He gave them such versatility with his ability to shoot and defend, and even allowed them to go small at the end of games in the Finals vs. the Lakers. Without a guy like that, it became impossible to match up with the different looks that Orlando threw at them last year. At the very least, you have to be able to bring something off the bench that won’t have down by 30 when your starters return. Especially given the wear and tear on both Pierce and Allen, they need to have moderately capable backups so they can take a breather at least a couple times a game. Boston could have easily used a guy like Anthony Parker, the free-agent pick up for the Cavs, who can score from the perimeter and isn’t the worse defender in the world. All of this coupled with the glaring hole at backup point guard (because Stephon Marbury had to go). They can’t play Eddie House at point guard, he can barely dribble. My favorite extraterrestrial Sam Cassel can’t play anymore. What are they going to do on that front? They have a lot of holes in their backcourt off the bench and made zero attempts to fill any of them.

Where they made their moves was in the front court, where they got Wallace in free agency and resigned Big Baby (but they let Leon Powe go in one of the classless moves that organizations make. Everyone likes to complain about the players when they hold out or demand some roster security from the organizations, pleading that the player be more committed to the team. How about the team be more committed to the players. Leon Powe played his heart out for the Celtics for his entire career, did everything right for them, but the second he gets hurt he is of no use to them. We all demand some loyalty from the players but how about some loyalty from the teams. I digress). I don’t have a problem with the Big Baby signing because the way he developed in the absence of KG and really made some big plays down the stretch, he’s the kind of guy you want to keep around. But bringing in a guy like Rasheed Wallace is the definition of a crap shoot. One night he could drop 30 and 12 boards, the next night he’ll shoot 14 3-pointers and get ejected in the second quarter. Bringing him off the bench limits some of that unpredictability but still, he’s not a guy you can completely count on when you need him. Especially considering the way guys like Big Baby and Kendrick Perkins played and developed in KG’s absence, it’s not necessarily a risk you needed to take. You already had a solid 3 big-man rotation with the return of KG, which is all you really need in the NBA. Sheed can’t be trusted anymore considering how things disintegrated in Detroit, even if he has an increased respect level for the Big 3 and Doc Rivers. The talent with Sheed is there, but considering his past history of quitting on teams and the Celtics not having a dire need for his services, I don’t see the risk matching the reward.

The Celtics off-season was a case study in ignoring needs and trying to fix something that didn’t need fixing. What they needed was competent bench to give Rondo, Allen and Pierce legit backups and also give Doc Rivers some versatility in lineup tinkering. Instead, they pick up Rasheed Wallace, which fills a need that wasn’t there and limits the different styles that they can play. The Celtics off-season was a case study in misattribution of needs and puts them farther away from a championship than they begun with.

Grade: D+

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 3: Cavs Small Money Moves More Effective Than Big Spending

This is part three of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first two parts examined the counterparts in the NBA Finals, the Lakers and Magic. Today, the focus is on Eastern Conference finalist, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs offseason was the toughest to judge from my standpoint. They had their moments of pure brainlessness (signing Anderson Varejao to a 6 year $50 million contract), why are you doing this 6 months after you should have (trading for Shaq when he was available at the trade deadline) and solid, under the radar moves that help to address some of the problems they had last season (Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Leon Powe). GM Danny Ferry has put a lot (of money) into this season, knowing it is the last chance to impress LeBron before the summer of 2010.

The Varejao move, though, does not accomplish that goal. Anderson Varejao, in the most robust of economies, would be worth $25-30 million over six years. In times like these, he’s not worth a dollar more than the $3 million a season Glen “Big Baby” Davis got from Boston. It’s moments like these when I wonder “Is the Billy King virus of bad talent evaluating then spending enormously on the same bad talent (Samuel Dalembert anyone)” spreading? And here I was thinking that the recession was the cure for this awful illness. Its moves like these that have me thinking Kevin Coble has a legit shot at an overinflated NBA contract. Exactly what is it about Varejao’s game that screams lock him up immediately so another contender doesn’t get him: his stunning appearance or his massive contributions on offense? I’m confused because Varejao has no low post game to speak of, his jump shot is nothing to write home about and he can’t defend elite players with any kind success, which can only lead me to assume that 14-year-old girls would jump into the Cuyahoga River if he were to ever leave. He does nothing exceptional, except get routinely beat on the pick and roll by Rashard Lewis. His contributions to the team are easily replaced (energy, above average rebounder) by just as average yet far cheaper alternatives (David Lee).

Where things started to get a little more interesting (and less dumbfounding) was with the move to acquire Shaq, which they could have done at the February trade deadline. It’s a move that purveyed part desperation, part basketball sense. One of the reasons the Cavs lost to Orlando (and there are many reasons but I don’t feel like going into it) is that Big Z and Varejao couldn’t guard Dwight Howard one-on-one, they were forced to do an awkward “half double-team, half stay with the guy who’s about to make this three in my face” thing that they never really stood a chance. As a result, Howard got going and the shooters got going. With Shaq, at least they can have some confidence that Howard won’t completely truck-stick through his defender, dunk with ferocity and take the shot clock with him the process. And offensively, he’s a major upgrade over Big Z and Varejao. He gives the Cavs a legit low post presence, a guy who can score with his back to the basket (this in stark contrast to Big Z floated out to the three point line far too often. That’s exactly what you envision from your 7’2” center). But he doesn’t help with the main reason that the Cavs lost, which was the pick and roll (because Shaq is historically awful defending the pick and roll). That’s why I get some hints of desperation. This move doesn’t make the most basketball sense in the world. Shaq isn’t that athletic anymore, there are still injury concerns, and at this point of his career is inconsistent. It seemed like management said “we have to make a move and Shaq is out there. Let’s just get him so we can say we did something.” It’s not like it’s a bad move but it wasn’t the smartest move.

Where the Cavs needed the most help was getting a swingman who could come off the bench (because, let’s be real, Wally Szczerbiak probably won’t win a sixth man award). They just needed some length and athleticism off their bench so they could play a variation of styles. The small moves they made after all their big spending was done, Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker, really accomplish that. Jamario Moon is an athletic, rangy small forward who defends really well (probably would have been better against Hedo Turkoglu than Delonte West), who can play 3 positions and isn’t a bad shooter from distance (37% with Miami last year). Anthony Parker gives them a true shooting guard (because shooting guards, generally, should be taller than 6’2”) with starting experience who can create for himself, unlike Daniel Gibson and can defend your average 2-guard. Now this gives Mike Brown some more versatility, especially in going small which is becoming a bigger factor in today’s NBA and defending the different elements that other teams can throw at them. And a guy to keep your eye on is Leon Powe. Though Powe probably won’t play until after the all-star break, he has been a key contributor on a championship team (Boston) and has a knack for scoring in the low post and is a good rebounder. He’s under the radar but he is an upgrade over Joe Smith.

The Cavs, after having the best record in the NBA last season, just needed some minor adjustments to their bench to come back stronger this year. The additions of Parker, Moon and Powe, when healthy, really added some versatility some versatility on the bench. The Shaq move also helps, though it is not major help. And Anderson Varejao being paid 50% more than he’s worth is bad no matter how you look at it. Overall, though it was a good offseason, even if it was way more expensive than it had to be.

Grade: B-

Monday, August 17, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 2: Orlando Spends Away Their Advantage

This is part two of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Cavaliers, Celtics and Spurs) and then the rest of the league as a whole. The first part took a look at the NBA champion Lakers. Today, the focus is on NBA runner-up, the Orlando Magic.

Orlando really traversed the line of brilliant and idiotic this offseason. One of their moves, their trade for Vince Carter, really screamed we are for real. It looked as if they wanted to win it immediately and they were willing to pay a good price (up and coming 2-guard Courtney Lee) for it. But then GM Otis Smith went into spend money with no reason mode, kind of like Joe Dumars tried to do this year (more on this later in the week), inking Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass at inflated values, while letting Hedo Turkoglu walk away to Toronto.

Let’s start with the addition of Vince Carter. Vince Carter is not the same guy he was 4 years ago. That said, he still possesses top-flight athleticism and has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. An area where Orlando was exploited last year was that a lot of their guys are most effective as spot up jump shooters (Lee, Mickael Pietrus, Rashard Lewis on most nights) and they needed a guy like Turkoglu or Jameer Nelson (when healthy) to set them up in their preferred spots. A guy like Vince can create his own offense, especially when he’s got the mindset of getting to the basket and not falling in love with the jump shot. Defensively, he’s not the player that Courtney Lee was for Orlando, but it’s possible that with his height and length that they may not lose much on that front (after all, Paul Pierce became a very good defensive player with the Celtics once he stopped having to carry the weight of the offense on his back). Where they really lose in getting Carter and losing Turkoglu is the playmaking ability that Turkoglu brought. In today’s NBA, you cannot have enough guys who can make plays for themselves and others. Carter is not a guy who can create offense for other guys. He mostly creates offense for himself, which is not a problem if they kept Turkoglu, but they didn’t. That leaves them with only one playmaker (Nelson) which isn’t a formula for championships.

Now if they had kept Turkoglu, we would be having a different discussion. A starting five with Nelson, Carter, Turkoglu, Lewis and Dwight Howard with Pietrus off the bench would be the most potent offense in the league because with Carter, their offense would be less reliant on the jump shot. But instead of keeping Turkoglu at $50 million for five years, they combined for $52 million for Brandon Bass ($18 million over four years) and Marcin Gortat ($34 million over five years). Now, choosing to let go of Turkoglu is not necessarily a bad move in itself. At points in the playoffs, especially in the finals, he had a tendency to get lost in the shuffle or come up small in the big moment (like the 3 missed free throws at the tail end of the decisive game four of the finals). Especially with him getting up in age, if they didn’t want to make a five year commitment to a guy who is only going to get worse, that’s fine. Or, if they had made the decision that they just didn’t have the money within the budget to go another $50 million, given the current economic climate, that also would have been fine. But to go out and sign $52 million in backups, especially Gortat makes zero sense. Bringing in Brandon Bass to have another power forward was reasonable because they had traded Tony Battie in the Carter deal. Bass is a productive player who can rebound a little bit and score given some opportunities. An off-season that stops there is productive and keeps Orlando within the NBA’s elite with a legit chance at a championship. But then to go out and match Gortat’s offer sheet to play maybe 15 minutes a game is illogical. You already have Dwight Howard; your fifth highest paid player should not be his backup. If you’re going to run up that much payroll on guys who aren’t going to impact the game that much, you might as well sign Turkoglu and give yourself a solid two year window as a prohibitive favorite for the title.

Instead, they make themselves a worse basketball team than they were last year because now they will be forced to play more conventional. They no longer can illuminate the mismatches a guy like Lewis creates because he’s probably going to play small forward. They could start Pietrus at the 3 and destroy their firepower off the bench and considering today’s NBA (Jason Terry, Manu Ginobili when healthy, Lamar Odom) you got to have firepower off the bench. So their left losing their advantage that really won them the Eastern Conference (Cleveland’s inability to guard an athletic, jump shooting power forward) and didn’t get any better because of it. And they bloated their payroll.

Considering the position that the Magic left themselves in at the end of last season, they looked to be a scoring shooting guard away from being champions. But instead, they unwisely spent their money on low impact guys and let a potential championship get away in the process.

Grade: C-

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NBA Offseason Review Part 1: Lakers Show Uneven Direction

This is part one of a six part series reviewing the NBA offseason, taking an individual look at all the title contenders (Lakers, Magic, Spurs, Celtic and Cavaliers) and then the rest of the league as a whole. Because they won the championship, we start with the Los Angeles Lakers.

All the talk surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers following their championship season was whether they could keep two important cogs to their championship formula: free agents Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom.

What was most surprising is not that they chose to only keep one, but who they chose to keep and who they got to replace the departing. They chose to keep Lamar Odom instead of Ariza (who departed to Houston) and replace Ariza with the colorful Ron Artest (departing Houston).

Here’s where the decision-making looks to be uneven. If you want to choose Lamar Odom over Ariza, I get it. The financials of today’s NBA, especially with the salary cap shrinking like David Ortiz’s power numbers, just make it really difficult to keep all your guys and take a huge luxury tax hit. On the court, though I have never been the biggest of Odom fans, his length and comparative athleticism paired with Pau Gasol on the frontline, not to forget the potential frontline of Odom, Gasol and Andrew Bynum is scary to say the least. It’s very difficult to defend, especially with the offensive polish Gasol and Odom both have. They can create their own shot and be playmakers for others. And though Odom is six years older than Ariza, he was always the barometer of whether the Lakers would win or not. His ability to dominate the glass at times, particularly at the offensive end and the three point shot he discovered at some point in the playoffs really helped to drive the Lakers to the title. And while he isn’t as athletic as Ariza, play as good defense or have the signature playoff moments that Ariza did (though I still and will always blame George Karl for this. How can you, in the Western Conference Finals, be beat by two of the simplest plays in basketball by not having an adequate inbounds play and having Kenyon Martin and Anthony Carter pass it in, especially when you have a good passer and true playmaker in Chauncey Billups. There was plenty of time on the clock, you didn’t need to pass it in and have Chauncey shoot it, so he could have easily passed it in and got it back and run a play. Absolutely bewildering but I digress.), his ability to play and defend multiple positions make his upside to the Lakers winning another championship in the near future more likely. When he’s on, his impact on the game is more than Ariza’s probably could be.

Where it gets confusing is why they would trade Trevor Ariza, who is on the upswing of his career for Ron Artest, who is on the downswing. Contrary to popular belief, Artest is not the defensive player he once was. He’s lost a lot of athleticism and cannot stay in front of anyone with any kind of quickness. He can body up bigger, slower guys like Paul Pierce but other than that, he will struggle. When the Rockets played the Lakers in the Western Semis last year, Shane Battier did the best job anyone has done on Kobe. Kobe was forced to take contested jumper after contested jumper and while he is Kobe, and going to make that more often than a Dwight Howard free-throw, it is all you can ask him to do. When Battier needed a break, Artest would take over and Kobe would go to the rim over and over and over again. Meanwhile, Ariza was defending dynamic scorers like Carmelo and if you watched game 5 and 6 of the Nuggets-Lakers series, you would see that he does that pretty well.

Offensively though is where the trade loses me. In the playoffs last year, Ariza developed into tremendous 3-point shooter, where he shot 47% from three. In the playoffs last year, Artest developed into the ultimate me-first guy, Houston’s version of Monta Ellis, becoming a virtual black hole on offense: if the ball touched his hand, it was never going to be seen again. He jacked up bad shot after bad shot, fading from three, turning it over, anything he could to be a detriment to his team. In game 7, 80% of the time he was the worst player on the floor, disrupting any kind of flow on offense, floating to the three-point line at every opportunity and refusing to get down low and post up Luke Walton (why did I just describe Rasheed Wallace circa 2007). Not only that, I don’t know how he’ll fit into a supplementary role. Kobe, Gasol, Odom and maybe Bynum are all guys who will get offense before him. That’s never happened to him. How will he react to almost never having plays run for him? Ariza was fine with this because he never needed to dominate the ball to be effective on offense. You could swing it to him off a Gasol double team and he could drain the angle three with lethal effectiveness. And with his athleticism, he could finish a fast break than Artest can at his stage of his career.

Then there’s that knucklehead factor that just can’t be ignored. Though I know Kobe and Phil Jackson is a strong pair, Artest just seems like a different breed of human. He may be a good teammate and good guy to be around, I don’t know because I’ve never been around, but it seems like time and again, he just does crazy stuff. Just all around, there’s a lot of risk and not a lot of reward for the same money that they could have gotten Ariza for.

Other than that, it was a pretty quiet offseason for the Lakers. They kept Shannon Brown, which is a good move. He’s athletic, has developed a nice jumper and defends well (now if they could only play him instead of Sasha Vujacic who has been mistake prone and ineffective since this). I would have liked to see them try to get a point guard of the future because even though Derek Fisher made the two biggest shots of the playoffs, there were many points in the playoffs where he didn’t look like he should be a starting point guard for much longer. They do have Jordan Farmar and I like him as a player but I don’t know if you can win a championship with him or not. But considering point guards weren’t out there to be had (you can’t win a championship with Ramon Sessions) there’s no need to bash them there.

With the moves that they made, the Lakers didn’t seem to have a real direction. While Odom keeps them in that top tier because the potential impact he can have on games, trading Ariza for Artest brings them back to the pack a little bit, especially considering some of the moves other teams made.

Grade: C+

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eagles Make Right Decision on Two Fronts

It has been a long, turbulent road for Michael Vick’s NFL career. We last saw him in an NFL uniform New Year’s Eve 2006 in Philadelphia, playing (and losing) to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. And while he didn’t have his best game ever that winter evening (8-14, 81 yards, 1 TD, 3 carries, 17 yards in the 24-17 loss) apparently, Andy Reid and the Eagles saw something that they liked.

With the announcement midway through the second quarter during Thursday's preseason opener that the Philadelphia Eagles had signed Michael Vick to a one year deal with an option for a second season, a long, ferocious circle had finally been completed. Michael Vick would finally be back to doing what he should be doing.

But before we can delve into the football implications, the mostly negative reaction by Philadelphia fans must be addressed. Flipping through the local news stations Thursday night and watching them get the average fan reaction as they walked out of Lincoln Financial Field, I can't say I was too surprised by the average fan reaction. One woman was near tears as she described her love for dogs and her utter disappointment in her Philadelphia Eagles that she might give up season tickets (unlikely considering it’s easier to get yellow cake uranium than Eagles season tickets). Another man was so angry about the signing, he would have been better suited yelling at his local congressman about health care reform (and let’s not forget the classy headline the Daily News had Friday).

That leaves us in the very rare situation where someone’s fame has completely worked against him. His public stature has put a face, his, on something faceless, something that was never at the forefront of many minds outside of those fervently involved with animal rights. Therefore, he has little chance of regaining a lot of peoples trust because they can’t forgive him, no matter what he does. He has created an undeniable link between Mike Vick and dog drowning and those are the moments that will stand out in a lot of fans minds. That is what has made it so difficult for Vick as opposed to other crimes. Murder doesn’t shock us this much. Drunk driving obviously doesn’t shock us as much considering we all do it at least once (I’m looking at you Bronson Arroyo). Individuals receiving insider tips to beat the stock market, bending the rules at the expense of the average American, we as a people barely blink an eye (cough Martha Stewart). So when Martha gets her daytime talk show back on and it’s like she was never in jail. I guess it’s the benefits of following Enron.

So Vick gets the distinguished honor of facing all of the negative fervor because he is the only guy you and I know who’s been involved in dogfighting. And that is not fair. Vick should not have his second chance rejected because of the novelty that is a dogfighting offender. No person deserves to have their entire life marginalized through a single period of time where they were not making their best decisions. He hasn’t been a guy who has time and again gotten into trouble with a girlfriend or hung out with “Pacman” Jones at the strip club. He’s not even like Christopher Columbus, who is celebrated with his own day by the way for "discovering" a land that already existed with inhabitants, despite the fact he forced labor and intentionally gave smallpox to those inhabitants of the New World. I just think we should be fair here.

That’s not saying that Vick should just be given free reign or anything remotely like that. Accountability needs to be a major aspect of this. He’s got a tremendous opportunity and if he continues to do the things that he has been going since May, namely listening to the Humane Society and Tony Dungy, he deserves the second chance. And I’m perfectly ok with the Eagles giving him one.

Now, to the football side of things, where it becomes, at least to me, more interesting than some second baseman’s wife not endorsing the signing.

First, Andy Reid said that they didn’t work out Vick which is interesting to me. I would think that you would work the guy out first but that’s neither here nor there. So just for a point of reference, let’s say he’s 70% of what he was in 2006. The amount of possibilities for things to do on offense could be mindboggling.

70% of 2006 Michael Vick is still faster, quicker, more agile that 97% of NFL players. Consider putting Vick and McNabb in the backfield at the same time and all the trick plays you could run. The kinds of things Kordell Stewart did as the original slash or Antwaan Randal-El did as the second slash in Pittsburgh are all things Vick can do, only better.

He can give you a little bit of slot receiver, maybe some tailback and the overused (but mandatory for anything concerning Vick) excuse of the Wildcat. But what would make me most excited would be McNabb in the shotgun, flanked with Vick and Brian Westbrook on each side with Desean Jackson lined up on the outside. Can you spell speed?

But even in my excitement there is cause for concern because he was in jail for almost two years (insert jail soap joke here) and since Reid hasn’t worked him out, I can’t say that Reid worked him out so he’s got to have something. It’s a real possibility that he comes back average and makes minimal to no impact considering he’s not going to take meaningful snaps at quarterback.

But, that’s ok. It’s the kind of calculated risk that won’t cost much if it fails but could make a magnificent impact if it succeeds. Considering what else this move is doing (someone’s getting a second chance at life), I’d call it a win-win.