Jerry Jones Has Lost His Goddamned Mind

Never has KSK’s depiction of Jerry Jones as a free-wheeling, insane megalomaniac ever rung more true than today. Look, I understand that the whole Adam Jones getting suspended indefinitely, Felix Jones being out a couple weeks, and Tony Romo’s pinkie injury has the Cowboys, already in bad straits after the last couple of games, desperate for something to keep the team from hitting a really bad losing lull.

But he just traded first, third, and sixth round picks for Lions wide receiver Roy Williams.

Yup, three picks in next year’s draft for a pretty good, if mercurial WR who’s suffered from having to play for an awful franchise, although sometimes he has not helped himself a whole lot. The Cowboys do need some helpa t wide reciever, but Williams doesn’t address the gaping hole in this team with Jones suspended and Terence Newman still banged up: their secondary. Kurt Wanter torched the corners on Sunday. Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston were getting open with regularity to make some really good (and it Fitz’s case, spectacular) grabs.

The cornerback market isn’t great at the trade deadline because most of the teams who would be dealing have awful defensive units. You’re not gonna pluck a gem from there.  But three picks in the 2009 draft for a wideout? Jones simply overpaid; he’s desperate to make something out of this season — Super Bowl or bust — and he showed his hand to the Lions, who just fleeced him. If Detroit gets anyone competent as a GM prior to the draft (and that’s a major stretch to consider), then they just gave themselves a serious opportunity to build the franchise with 2 first-rounders and extra picks.

The only entertainment Dallas fans should get out of this trade is how the equipment manager will put Williams’ name on the jersey with another Roy Williams playing safety. Will there be middle initials, or will they just both be “R. Williams”?

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Lions Fans, You Have Been Liberated

Not from franchise futility or managerial stupidity, but at least you no longer have to deal with the specific futility and stupidity of rightfully embattled president and GM Matt Millen any longer.

It’s not clear whether Millen quit or was fired, but Jay Glazer of Fox Sports confirmed it early this morning, a day after Bill Ford, Jr. made comments that if it were his decision, he would have fired Millen.  It wasn’t just the running through of coaches (Marty Mornhinweg, Steve Mariucci, and Rod Marinelli) or the draft busts alone (Joey Harrington, Mike Williams, Kevin Jones, Charles Rogers), it was the 31-84 record during his tenure, and a refusal to admit that he made mistakes as a first-time GM and was utterly incapable of recognizing them.

The most amazing thing is that this run of sheer incompetence was all self-contained: there was no Al Davis figure trying to meddle in his personnel decisions or his coach’s play-calling; there waas no cash-stingy owner — if anything, William Clay Ford, Sr. was more than willing to let Millen spend the cash necessary to help the team. It was just a case of being completely out of his depth for eight seasons without any ability to recognize that fact.

Minnesota Timberwolves fans are taking notes to see if they can prod someone under Glen Taylor to speak out in a Ford, Jr.-style fashion and get Kevin McHale ousted.

Sympathy For A Raider?

God help me, but I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Lane Kiffin. I shouldn’t, and neither should anyone else, because he accepted Al Davis’ offer to coach the team, probably knew he was a third or fourth choice, and decided to go with it anyway. Now, it’s a week by week speculation-fest about when (not if) the Cryptkeeper will suck up his pride about paying him the rest of his contract and fire him.

These are absolutlely the worst type of job situations: you are working for a boss or bosses who wants you off the staff (whether for personal reasons or looking to save cash), and he’d rather you quit than fire you. So, we’re stuck with a very public spat and stalemate — and even outside incidents like the arrest of defensive end Tommy Kelly for DUI tend to color the whole feeling of chaos surrounding the organization.

Everyone knows Davis has to have control; holds it over the offensive philosophy to a point where there is no truly independent coach in the East Bay — this is why the Raiders’ head job has essentially become kryptonite ever since Jon Gruden had his spat with the Cryptkeeper and made his way to Tampa Bay. Sure, Bill Callahan got them to a Super Bowl — and then got whipped by Gruden, because he’s Bill Callahan. After that, it was NORV! and the gargoyle ways of Art Shell, Version 2.0. Now, Kiffin is in limbo, seemingly content to game plan week to week with the ax over his heead and everyone asking him about his job security.

There are the rumors that he would head to Syracuse to take over when the AD gets enough of a pair to fire the underachieving Greg Robinson. I remember Kiffin flirting with the Arkansas job last year before Bobby Petrino bailed on the Falcons.  All I can think of these rumors is that Kiffin has to be a masochist if he wants to take the biggest resurrection project on after he gets canned.

Not Even Near The Bottom Of The Barrel

If David Stern had his way, the sentencing of referee Tim Donaghy to 15 months in prison today would be the end of the talk surrounding suspicion of every NBA official for damn near the better part of the regular season and all of the playoffs.

Trouble is, that ain’t happening.

From the calls Donaghy admitted making to another referee to the discussion that everyone assumed was about the fifth game of the Lakers-Kings series from 2002, there has been more grist boiling under the surface than Stern (or anyone at ESPN or any other telecast partner) would particularly care to acknowledge. It doesn’t solve the problem of a lack of faith in fair officiating in the NBA — especially after the Spurs-Lakers series. And while that had nothing to with Donaghy, it has everything to do with the lack of public transparency the NBA has regarding its officiating.

It has to do with officiating form the likes of Joe Crawford — someone who got in a tiff with Spurs forward Tim Duncan for what appeared to be no apparent reason, and tossed him out the game, got suspended, and was then allowed to come back and officiate that Lakers-Spurs game. (I actually defended that crucial no-call on the shot Brent Barry took, or at least said that if a foul was called on Derek Fisher, it should have been a two-shot foul, not a three-shot one.)

Donaghy’s sentencing doesn’t solve those problems. Maybe he is a rogue actor, ast he league claims, but even if he is, it doesn’t mean the Associations officiating image is clean. If people are evaluating how refs call games for home and away teams regularly to see how that tips the scales, it’s a major issue.

Donaghy may be out of jail in a year. The NBA’s zebra issues will last long after he’s out of the clink and faded out of the public eye.

Photo: AP/Louis Lanzano

Chasing His Hoop Dreams Overseas

Brandon Jennings going to Italy to play pro ball to avoid the NCAA is one thing. A semi-established player like Josh Childress spurning the Atlanta Hawks and the weird land of restricted free agency to sign a three-year, $32 million deal to play for a Greek team is a whole ‘nother can of worms for the NBA.

Before we go any further, one signing obviously does not a trend make, much like Jennings’ jump won’t be judged until next year at the earliest. However, at this point we can safely say that this is a new route opened for guys who are in the middle tier as far as the NBA goes — not superstars, not considered the elite, but guys who make an impact on the game as the glue guys in the starting line-up or valuable sixth men — these guys now have a chance to get more money for shorter contract terms in the prime of their careers, and thus upset the NBA’s status a bit.

It has to frustrate Hawks fans on a very basic level; despite defensive lapses, management had cited re-signing both Childress and fellow RFA Josh Smith as top priorities, yet they apparently did not consider the option that he would leave the country rather than allow ownership to counter any tender sheet he got from another NBA team.

GM Rick Sund had offered $33 million over five years, but in a world where the euro is outdoing the dollar big time and all of Childress’ salary with Olympiakos will be tax-free as far as Greece goes, that’s even more of an economic incentive for the second tier of NBA players.

It may be as revolutionary as we think it could be down the road; it may just be a blip. Regardless, it’s safe to say that we’ll be watching to see how it goes, whether or not Childress will come scurrying back after one year or finish out the whole contract.

A Disgusting Display Comes To An Ignominious End

So Clay Bennett, for $45 million now and possibly another $30 million down the road, gets to move his NBA team to the relative backwater that is Oklahoma City next season, thanks to a settlement agreed upon with Seattle mayor Greg Nickels just before the judge’s decision in the legal battle between the sides was supposed to be handed down.

Seattle gets to keep the Sonics’ name and history in the hope that a replacement team will be created or become available, but that seems dependent upon the Washington state legislature approving millions of dollars for Key Arena renovations in a horrible slump of an economy. So, my guess is, that is the last of professional basketball that Seattle will see for at least a decade, if not more. Bennett can take his lying ass back to his hometown, but this disgusting end to a franchise in a major American city with basketball history — this epic failure of decency — belongs on the head of David Stern. Sure, part of it should be on the head of Starbucks founder and past owner Howard Schultz (who is still suing Bennett for violating the “good faith” agreement of trying to keep the team in the Emerald City), but the ball of failure, as it stands right now, is all Stern’s.

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At Least He Was Fired During Business Hours

Mariners manager John McLaren got a pink slip yesterday (largely taking the blame for the sins of recently fired GM Bill Bavasi’s lousy track record and signings, mostly, along with players who can’t seem to motivate themselves to hit or pitch well), but at least the interim GM had the decency to do the deed during the day.

McLaren, like Randolph, is paying for the sins of those around him. It’s hard to fathom that the same team that rallied around him after he replaced Mike Hargrove in the middle of last season could just out and out collapse on him like that, but they did, and when this sort of implosion happens, the manager will go, no matter how much he actually is to blame for the mess. I personally don’t think anyone can really fix a situation where Richie Sexson continues to hit below .250 with a gargantuan contract or Jose Vidro is the best candidate to be your designated hitter (this in the city that Edgar Martinez defined the modern conception of the DH, too.) The trade for Erik Bedard was supposed to pay dividends, but the team’s middle relief has coughed up when he’s done well.

The new Mariners’ front office folk have some hard times ahead, because there is dead weight to get rid of if the team would ever care to be a serious contender in the AL West. You can probably keep Ichiro, Felix Hernandez, Bedard, J.J. Putz, and maybe Adrian Beltre on the “untouchables” (and you’d have to be feeling generous to include Beltre), but the rest of it — put it out on the curb and see if someone’s interested in picking it up for cheap.

The interim GM says it was an “emotional” meeting and that McLaren was “an emotional guy.”

No shit, Sherlock. You think?