This week in Around the Dorm Signal nation & world editor James Queally returns to the lineup as the referee. The usual faces – Signal sports editor Brandon Lee, Signal managing editor Lauren Kohout and Signal sports assistant Justin Jez – battle over the Carolina quarterbacks, the NBA playoffs and NBA teams tanking the end of the season for Durant and Oden.
1) David Carr has moved on to the backup QB position for the Carolina Panthers, riding the bench behind Jake Delhomme. Is this move career suicide for Carr, or will he go on to surpass Delhomme as the starter? If he wins the starting job, how long will it take?
BL: Carolina’s offense isn’t as explosive as it used to be. It no longer has that strong rushing attack that kept Delhomme from doing everything himself. This is a great move for Carr. Now, all the pressure is taken off him and put on Delhomme. Carr can learn from Delhomme and actually has a decent line to protect him. I believe he’ll eventually be the starter in Carolina to provide a jolt for the offense if it continues to sputter by midseason. Carr can still salvage his career with this move.
LK: I think about halfway through the year Carr will be the starting quarterback for the Panthers. Delhomme isn’t where he used to be. He stunk last year; he’ll stink this year. Not to mention he keeps getting hurt and is a liability on the field. He is just past his prime. Carr is a good solid quarterback; he just didn’t have a good team around him in Houston. He should do much better with the Panthers.
JJ: Carr’s career is far from over. However, moving from a starting to a backup position is not an upgrade. Right now, Carr is ecstatic to shed the dismal Texans for a team who has the potential to have a winning record, even if he does not start. He passed up the opportunity to play for teams for which he would have started. Delhomme is Carolina’s man. He knows the offense, he took them to a Super Bowl and he has been throwing passes to Steve Smith for years. Even if Carr has an excellent preseason he will not start. There is always a chance that the immobile Delhomme will get injured and Carr will be called upon. But I do not see Carr starting as long as Delhomme is there and not playing atrociously.
JQ: 3 points to Brandon for pointing out that Carr can use the move to his advantage without replacing Delhomme and for stating the often ignored fact that Carr would be twice the quarterback he has been if he can escape Houston’s atrocious offensive line. 2 points to Kohout for actually giving Carr a shot as a starter, but a lack of information to back it up prevents me from giving her 3 points. Delhomme has been a mediocre QB for the past two seasons. He’s going to need to do a lot more than “not play atrocious” to keep his starting job – 1 point for Jez.
2) With the NBA season winding down, who is your pick to win the Eastern and Western conferences? Who will take home the Larry O’Brien trophy this year?
BL: The Detroit Pistons will win the East and the Dallas Mavericks will win the West. Even though the Pistons aren’t as strong as they were with Ben Wallace on the team, they are still the most rounded and have the most playoff experience. The Mavericks will win the West because Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Avery Johnson will carry the team. Nowitzki is primed for an MVP this year, while Howard is an all-star and Johnson is one of the best coaches in the league because he got the run-and-gun Mavs to play defense. In the end, the Mavericks will win the championship. The Pistons are getting older and slowing down, while the Mavericks can do just about everything, which even includes Nowitzki posting up and playing some defense. The Mavs have a deeper bench than the Pistons, which has helped them during the season to keep the starters from breaking down. This will be the deciding factor in the playoffs.
LK: I think the Spurs are the dark horse in the West. Everybody is looking at the Suns and the Mavs, but they forget that the Spurs have great team scoring and defense in Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Robert Horry. The Spurs are clutch, the Mavs choke and the Suns don’t play defense. When it comes to the Eastern Conference, it’s a toss-up. There is no clear-cut team. Half of the teams from the East wouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs if they were in the West. They just don’t play good basketball and can’t score. You can take your pick in the East; anyone has a shot. So I’ll just go with the Cavaliers and say it’s Lebron’s year. No matter what, the Eastern Conference team will get their asses handed to them in the championship. Poor East.
JJ: The East is between the Pistons and Heat. Shaq is dominating, which is good since Dwayne Wade has limited movement in his left shoulder and may not be 100 percent until next season. Adding Chris Webber, someone who can facilitate the offense, and boasting the most complete team in the conference, the Pistons are my pick to go to the Finals. In the West, it will come down to the Mavs and the Spurs. Every year the Spurs fly under the radar during the regular season and then emerge as a contender in the playoffs. As of Friday, they are 11-1 in their last 12 games – the hottest team since the All-Star break. They have been decimating teams with their defense and we all know that “defense wins championships.” The Mavs are the other candidate to reach the Finals, but I think unless Dirk has four stellar games against the balanced Spurs, they will lose in seven games. The Spurs will wear down the Pistons in the Finals in a slow, defense-oriented series. They have been to the Finals more than the Pistons and will exploit the paint that was vacated by Wallace last year.
JQ: Jez grabs the 3 points this round with an excellent breakdown of all of this year’s contenders. The Spurs don’t get enough respect and they definitely have a legit shot to win it all this year for the reasons you mentioned. Despite going with the favorites, Brandon still gets 2 points for stating the alarming fact that Dallas has the defense to back up its disgustingly high-powered offense. Kohout, you get 1 point for not giving a reason why you chose the Cavs to win the East.
3) After last week’s stinker between the Bucks and Celtics, do you think lower-tier teams should be penalized for essentially shaving points and throwing games to better their lottery stature?
BL: The level of competition needs to be evened out. Most of the lower-tier teams are in the East and are absolutely horrible. Those teams are in desperate need of a pick-me-up because of bad ownership, horrible player management and shoddy coaching. Too bad the Knicks couldn’t tank games. There is a certain honor and pride of not tanking games, but if you’re desperate enough, shame on you. However, teams should not be penalized for this because they would still be horrible anyway. The Sixers at one point looked like they should tank games, but have gelled together and have a solid foundation for next year.
LK: Yeah it sucks, but how is anyone ever going to prove it? That game was a 98-89 win for the Celtics. Earl Boykins scored 32 points. Sounds like trying to me. Maybe they were missing easy shots or bogus passes, but there’s no way anyone can prove that it was on purpose; the players would just deny it. Not to mention these guys are working for a contract. Nobody wants to get traded or released, so why would they suck on purpose or admit to it? These guys still want to win deep down no matter what lottery pick they may get. I’d love to see a penalty for sucking, on purpose or by accident, but it’s not gonna happen.
JJ: I do not think they should be penalized. It is very hard to accuse an organization of trying to lose games on purpose. Obviously not playing any of your healthy starters would be an indication, but teams like the Celtics, Bucks and Timberwolves all have superstars who are legitimately hurt. Draft picks aside, I know I would not encourage my franchise player to play through injuries if my team was eliminated from the playoffs. Plus these “garbage games” are a good time to develop younger talent against teams who are gearing up for the playoffs. They are trying to show management what they can do in hopes of getting more minutes next season. If organizations do not play healthy players, then the league should consider installing a rule that would result in loss of draft picks or something of that nature. But I do not think any team would do that and any accusation would be hard to support with concrete evidence.
JQ: Jez gets 3 points for drawing a line between tanking games intentionally and resting your starters when playing them would serve no purpose. Kohout gets 2 points for challenging the validity of my question and forcing me to realize that it would be difficult to prove that teams like the Celtics are really throwing games. Brandon, the level of competition does need to be evened out, but you need more information to support your answer – 1 point.
With a score of 7-6-5, Jez squeaks out this week’s title.