Speed Read: Dwyane Wade Pecks at Your Entrails

The Atlanta Hawks’ animal mascot (as opposed to its mall & car dealership mascot) couldn’t get settled for Wednesday night’s Game 2 against the Miami Heat. Before each home game, Spirit the Hawk usually swoops across the arena and land with its handler.

Instead, the (Del?) Harris hawk became confused last night and wandered Philips Arena, landing in the stands, above center court, and on a stanchion.

Spirit the Hawk of the Atlanta Hawks

For reasons unclear, they started the game while Spirit stayed loose. However, the game came to a screeching halt a few minutes in when Spirit landed on the backboard camera and Josh Smith excused himself due to winged predators in the field of play. Eventually, Spirit returned to his handler and play continued.

The rest of the Hawks followed suit in avoiding airborne objects for the remainder of the game, allowing Dwyane Wade to divebomb them with 33 points (including six three-pointers) in a 108-93 win to pull even with the Hawks at a game apiece in the seven-game series.

After the game, Hawks management offered Spirit the scorekeeper job; at least he knows where to look for the ball.

In other NBA games last night, Philadelphia lost to Orlando 96-87, New Orleans lost to Denver 108-93, and the Detroit Pistons lost their ability to care.

A flyby of the NBA may be all that underclassmen college basketball players will get next season when they wish to dip their toe in the NBA Draft. The NCAA has taken steps to limit the time non-seniors can even bat an eyelash in the NBA’s direction by declaring for the draft to the length of an eye blink.

A pensive Stephen Curry

Instead of getting approximately six weeks to consult with NBA teams, speak to trusted advisors, and draw out the decision into key segments of the news cycle, players would get around a week’s time, usually during finals. The NCAA wants to protect their franchisees by encouraging the players to stick around longer to increase their marketing value.

Therefore, no one should show surprise when a young man chooses to skip the NCAA for Europe as Brandon Jennings did. Perhaps we should also not feign indignance when the best high school junior in the country, Jeremy Tyler, packs his extra-long jammies (for his 6′11″ frame) and heads to Europe before his senior year of high school.

Jeremy Tyler

Long-time watchers of tall young men will recognize the puppeteer behind this latest stress test on the basketball pipeline. Sonny Vaccaro has his hand in this year’s Atlantic leap, just as he did for Jennings last year. Tyler turns 18 in June and will be eligible for the 2011 NBA draft.

We have a suggestion for Tyler to consider when he selects an NBA agent:

David Falk

The Bird of Prey himself, of course.

And now the hail of bullet points that you successfully survive thanks to your bra

Who’s now the most likely to be upset in round one?

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NBA Agent: League Could Shut Down For 2 Years

As NBA insiders go, few are as well-versed in the league’s goings-on at every level from the top down than David Falk, hero to bald men nationwide and an agent in the league for more than 35 years. At his agency’s height in the mid-’90s, he was representing Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo, among many others. So suffice it to say that if he’s got an opinion on the business side of the NBA, you should be paying very close attention.

David Falk is bald
(Why yes, he IS selling a book right now! What about the alarmist statements gave that away, aside from EVERYTHING?)

What Falk does have to say is not very good. At all. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, there’s a storm brewing when the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2011: the players already don’t like the deal, and the owners are going to want to trim way back as their franchises hemorrage money. The result: EXTREME KAYAKING STANDOFF! Read more…

Brog: Dunleavy Goes Ballistic, Brands Falk a Liar

Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy went on a rampage today on KSPN-AM in L.A., calling David Falk a liar in the way the agent has represented the negotiations between Elton Brand and his team.

Brand Falk Dunleavy

At dispute: Dunleavy claims Falk knew that Brand told the Clippers he would commit if they signed Baron Davis and offered him a contract worth $75M. Falk denies he knew of any dealings Brand had with Dunleavy personally until “the 11th hour” - after Brand’s new deal with Philly was done.

In an exasperated tone on 710am, Dunleavy said he knew otherwise, citing among other things, text messages he saw from Brand to Clippers players. The coach also intimated that Falk had “poisoned” Brand. Of course, a source close the situation told SbB all this was going to happen last Friday.

Coincidentally today, both Falk and Dunleavy were interviewed separately by Steve Mason and John Ireland on the ESPN radio outlet, and Falk first told the pair that he knew of no pre-emptive deal (verbal or otherwise) between Brand and the club that was predicated on a commitment from Davis (audio): “I never had a discussion with the Clippers about a different deal, I can’t say whether they had discussions with Elton. I never had one discussion with them about trying to package the thing up (with Davis and Brand).

I learned at the 11th hour that Elton had hoped that Baron could be the mystery player, he likes Baron Davis, and they (Clippers) need a point guard, but no … with me, if there had been a deal, Elton would be in L.A. right now.

The Dunleavy interview followed the Falk visit, and the Clippers coach emptied both barrels on Falk and Brand with some astonishingly candid comments. Read more…

Report: Brand Has Verbal Agreement With 76ers

Adrian Wojnarowski of YAHOO SPORTS reported earlier today that, “In an improbable turn, Elton Brand is leaning toward accepting a five-year, approximately $80 million contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, multiple league sources said Tuesday afternoon.

Baron Davis LA Times Articles Was Confident He'd Play With Elton Brand

(Oops! - hat tip to Farker Peaceboy)

Now the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS is reporting, via Phil Jasner,The Sixers have reached a verbal agreement with Los Angeles Clippers free-agent center Elton Brand.” Read more…

Falk’s Fault If Elton’s Gone; ESPN’s Favre Fakeout

Last week I listened to an interview of Elton Brand here in Los Angeles on local KLAC-AM. This was well before the L.A. Clippers’ blindside Baron Davis sign. During the visit, Brand said pretty much everything but that he would take less in contractual obligations to remain with the Clips. He went on and on about his devotion to his teammates and even referred fondly to some of the team’s trainers by name - as he sold the prospect of his return

David Falk Elton Brand

Fast forward to today, which has Brand and his agent, David Falk, huddling in Washington D.C., as they mull a more lucrative offer from the Golden State Warriors - and, according to the LOS ANGELES TIMES, the darkhorse Philadelphia 76ers.

Most around here, of course, will tell you that Brand is a man of his word and will indeed eventually re-sign with the Clippers. So what then is taking so damn long?

It’s clear that Brand’s agent Falk is no doubt pushing his client (and rightly so) to closely examine the ramifications of turning down $90M+ offers from Golden State and Philly. And in keeping with that, perhaps force the Clippers into additional, while small, contractual concessions.

One source close to the situation told me today that he thinks Falk is deliberately bottlenecking Brand’s re-signing with the club in order to let the Clippers (and their fans) know just how important his client is to the team. And of course, how he took less money to stay.

Not to mention waiting for din from the Baron buzz to dissipate - so Brand can reclaim center stage in announcing his agreement. In other words, don’t blame Brand for the delay, but his oft-cantankerous counsel Falk.

And if Brand does depart, most close to the situation believe that it will be because of Falk’s influence, who clearly has no allegiance to Elgin & Co.
In the end, the decision will be all Brand’s, and if he chooses to turn down the Clippers’ $70M offer after the club scared Baron out of the Bay Area, I wouldn’t want to be at his next Hollywood pitch session.

More Clippers news: Chris Kaman will be play for Germany in the summer Olympics.

Video of the Padres’ Michael Barrett fouling a ball off his face last night in Colorado:

Michael Barrett

Rays manager Joe Maddon to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES on someone illegally using his debit card to fill a car in New York: “With the price of gas these days, I would have preferred they’d gone to Tiffany’s.”

Maddon is also most notably a sharer of Baron Davis’ eyewear:

Joe Maddon Baron Davis Eyewear

Think I would’ve drummed up that quote and comparison if the Rays weren’t in first and coming off a sweep of the Bosox?

Mike Florio of PRO FOOTBALL TALK plainly shows how ESPN trumped up the Brett Favre comeback story by cutting off a quote he gave to the BILOXI SUN-HERALD.

I, like you, watched SportsCenter last night as Favre’s “it’s all rumor” quote was touted over and over. One problem though, Favre finished the quote by saying, “there’s no reason for it.” ESPN conveniently left out the second part of the comment, which makes the story just a smidge less compelling.

Read more…