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Summer League Fun and the Minny/Memphis Bond

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For all of the marketing that the NBA likes to run with, you'd think they would have figured out a way to get a Love v. Mayo matchup during this week's festivities.  Maybe if the 2 players would have already been signed to the same shoe company there would have been a bit of a push behind that idea, but...

The Wolves schedule this week is as follows (all times are CST):

  • Monday @ 9:30 vs. Dallas
  • Wednesday @ 7:30 vs. LAL
  • Thursday @ 9:00 vs. Portland
  • Saturday @ 7:30 vs. Milwaukee
  • Sunday @ 3:00 vs. New York

This is kind of a rotten draw for the Wolves as far as seeing exciting young players goes.  Instead of the Lakers, and Mavs, it would have been nice to get a peak at the Clips and Memphis.  Joe Alexander, Jerryd Bayless, and Danilo Gallinari will be the main draws in the last 3 games, but Dallas and the Lakers?  Please. 

For all the talk about Portland being the young team of the future (I don't think they will be, but that's the subject of another post), the Grizz are the Wolves' biggest and most direct competition and it would have been nice to see the two teams square off after the trade. 

Speaking of Memphis, I just got back from a visit to one of my favorite cities in the world and the general feeling about the trade is one of excitement.  After talking to a few friends who live there, there are two main reasons for this feeling: first, say what you will about Mayo, but the hype was large enough to draw interest from casual fans.  Second, Memphis is a predominantly black city and fans in the wonderful southern city on the river will have as relatively an easy time relating to Mr. Mayo as fans in the wonderful northern city on the river will have to Mr. Love.  I obviously don't think this is why the trade was made, but it is a fortunate demographic byproduct as far as marketing and fan interest is concerned.  Unfortunately, there are certain elements at work in the wonderful northern city on the river that like to associate words like "character" and "JR Rider" with the deal between 2 franchises in 2 highly underrated cities that involved 2 highly professional young players (there are probably just as many of these feelings in Memphis: "we don't need another soft white guy" was a position taken by a few of my cohorts).  Actually, this sort of transformation goes deeper than Love and Mayo; Minny and Memphis did a 2 for 2 on draft night: Miller and Love for Mayo and Arthur.  From this very narrow perspective, and leaving basketball talent completely aside, both franchises won a marketing victory on draft night. 

I suppose there is something cosmically wrong and sad with finding positives in the fact that a white player is more marketable in Minny and a black one in Memphis (and vice versa), but without the Rodney King can't-we-all-just-get-along kumbaya campfire philosophy, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the admission that it is easier to relate to the man in the mirror than the one you only see on TV or from afar.  Will there be a segment of this demographic that harbors feelings of racial ill-will in their attachment to Mayo and/or Love?  Of course.  Some of it will be overt and some of it...well, feelings about race are so ingrained in each and every one of us that we may not even know (or are capable of processing) what is going on in our heads when it comes to certain matters involving black and white.  A tumor is a tumor even if it's benign. 

I'd like to say that the trade and its fallout could be viewed simply in terms of performance on the court, but as anyone who has ever played a game in the park can tell you, basketball is one of the few places where race is out in the open.  You can't separate the two...nor should you.

Anywho, I think the Love/Mayo trade is a fascinating one on many levels.  I've already been very clear with my thoughts regarding the pure on-court aspect of the deal (it's highway robbery), and I will continue to follow whatever memes continue to spin out of its wake.  Getting back to the Summer League, let me close with a few thoughts from the games I have been able to catch:

  • Eric Gordon is going to have a tough time making it in this league.  He's a perimeter player who needs iso-plays to get his j off.  He's not a point and he's not really that good in small spaces.  Maybe it's just me, but I don't see it at all. 
  • Anthony Randolph is skinny. 
  • OJ Mayo got the buzz on Friday night, but Crittendon and Conley were very composed.  I don't think Memphis is going to move Lowry.  They can run a Conley, Mayo, Gay, Crittendon, Lowry rotation at the 1/2/3 (Crittendon seems big enough to help at the 3) and put a lot of pressure on opposing perimeter defenses while Arthur (draft-day steal) and Gasol patrol the interior. 
  • Why are the Lakers and Mavs playing in this league? 

Well, that's about it for now.  Until later.