Moke Hamilton Bids Farewell to SheridanHoops and our Readers

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missjamaicaEven from the iron shores of Montego Bay and the congested streets of Kingston, Jamaica, New York City remains on my mind.

As I journeyed from the West end of the island of Jamaica over to the East, and as I have interacted with members of Jamaica’s basketball community and chatted up fans of the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets—yes, they are down here in Jamaica, too—I look forward to what promises to be an exciting NBA season for the city I have called home for so many years.

And here, at SheridanHoops.com, I have had a great home for the past two.

Covering the Knicks, the NBA Finals, drafts and free agency has been great. For as long as I have known of Chris Sheridan—long before I knew him, personally—I appreciated him.

I appreciated the hard-line stances he took with some of his opinions, no matter how zany I thought they were.

I appreciated his candor and honesty when critiquing the work of a young writer who he thought had potential.

And I certainly appreciated his battling the traffic of the Henry Hudson and Grand Central Parkways, driving from Yonkers, New York down to Kew Gardens to sign me on as a writer for the then-infant SheridanHoops.com.

My first work here was a reflection on Glen Grunwald’s bold move to amnesty Chauncey Billups and sign Tyson Chandler.

At the time, I acknowledged that not saving the amnesty clause for Amar’e Stoudemire may be a decision that comes back to bite the Knicks in the long run.

But those pesky Knicks fans would not and could not allow me—some kid whom they had never heard of—dare douse water on the conflagration of hope that Grunwald’s bold maneuver built.

And that is what I appreciate most of all—even more than Chris, himself.

You.

The readers.

Without the feedback and without the intelligent discourse and dialogue, there is simply no way for a young writer to improve. Our readers make us and our Twitter followers provide an unlimited and ever-present sounding board for random thoughts and observations.

knicks small logobrooklyn nets small logoSo as I look forward to Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace doing battle with Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez… I can’t help but to think back to when I first began here at SheridanHoops.

The Nets were still in Newark and the Knicks hadn’t won a playoff game in too many years to count.

Now, all hell will break loose for the right to be crowned Atlantic Division champions.

And for those Nets fans beating their chests and acting as if the Nets have already clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference, go have a conversation or two with a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Last season’s Lakers debacle taught everyone, including me, that nothing is promised in this league.

Knicks fans, though, would be wise to remember that as well. Last season’s 54-win campaign guarantees nothing for the coming season, especially when one considers that the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers stand to be much better next season.

And while I write this column from sunny Jamaica and ponder the season ahead, I cannot help but to think of what is behind.

Those two great years.

(Moke covered the title-clinching games in 2012 and 2013. Both columns were fantastic. Here is the link to Game 5 of the 2012 Finals, and here is Moke’s column after Game 7 of the 2013 finals-CS).

When Chris initially asked me to write a “farewell” column, it seemed a bit too much. Too dramatic.

As of now, I am a young journalist, ever-seeking the tricks to improve at my craft. I am far from a “big deal,” and my departure probably does not warrant any special emphasis on the site.

Those were my thoughts.

And though I initially opted not to, I realized that the readers of this site deserved a sincere “thank you” from me.

Not on Twitter, but on this site.

A wise friend of mine once told me to follow the breadcrumbs, and Mel, that is what I am doing.

As a professional, and under Chris’ tutelage, that journey began here.

For sure, that is not something I will ever forget.

Thanks Chris. Thanks for taking the courageous step in building this great site, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to interact with a group of readers who represent those that prefer in-depth basketball content.

And thanks to you, the readers, for making this site succeed. And thanks for making me want to.

- Moke

Moke Hamilton has covered the Knicks, NBA Finals, and free agency for SheridanHoops since the 2011-12 season. He is now moving to HOOPSWORLD, a USA Today Sports property, and will serve as an NBA Analyst for SportsNet New York. Follow him on Twitter.

StatBox Breakdown: Why is John Wall getting a max contract?

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It’s a simple, yet complex decision for the Washington Wizards.

John WallJohn Wall is the team’s unquestioned franchise player. It would be incredibly difficult to replace him and build around someone else. From that standpoint, it makes sense that Washington is locking him up for five years and the maximum $80 million it can give the former top overall pick.

The problem? Wall is nowhere near as good as other point guards given max contracts in recent years. He has to sound confident when he gets a contract like that, so it’s logical that he told The Sporting News that “I feel like I am right up there with the best of them” and that “I feel like when I am healthy, I stack right up there with them. I put myself in that category.”

That’s nice, John. But no one else does.

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Mighty Moke’s 25 Best Available NBA Free Agents — July 25 Update

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Manu Ginobili, Argentina

FIBA Americas, Baby!

As the calendar turns to August, international basketball junkies (such as your truly, as well as our Chris Sheridan) have their sights set squarely on the FIBA Americas tournament in Caracas, Venezuela. The tournament tips off on August 30 and will feature a pool loaded with talent.

And while thoughts of international basketball run rampant in the minds of some, many across the NBA are already thinking about July 2014.

Paul George is the latest to be asked questions about potentially signing an offer sheet with the Los Angeles Lakers while some New York Knicks fans are quietly wondering whether or not Carmelo Anthony is worth the maximum five-year, $135 million contract he will be eligible to sign next summer to remain in Gotham.

It is almost as though the Summer of 2013 had ended … only it has not.

Nikola Pekovic

Nikola Pekovic

In years past, by the time August rolled around, the top free agents were off of the market. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, our top two—Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Jennings—are still unsigned. All the while, many of the smaller dominoes around them continue to fall.

One of our personal favorites, Gary Neal of the San Antonio Spurs, will become an unrestricted free agent after the Spurs brass decided to revoke his $1.1 million qualifying offer.

After seeing Nate Robinson agree to take his talents to Denver to play for the new-look Nuggets, we tend to believe that Neal’s market value is somewhere in the same stratosphere as what Robinson signed for in Denver: two-years, $4 million.

And while Kyrie Irving has begun fielding questions and concerns about whether or not he plans to remain a Cleveland Cavalier for the long haul, reader beware: the Cavaliers are amongst this offseason’s biggest winners—having hauled in a catch featuring Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bynum, first overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and Earl Clark.

Clark, it should be remembered, signed with the Cavaliers for two years and $9 million.

Brandan Wright, on the other hand, has agreed to re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks—a team that also made some wholesale changes.

Mark Cuban agreed to pay Wright a guaranteed $10 million over two years, while Wright has the ability to earn an additional $1.1 million in incentives. Wright is actually coming off of a career-best season in which he scored 8.1 points and grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game. He will rejoin the new-look Mavs, who also signed Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert, Gal Mekel, and Wayne Ellington.

Wright did not make the cut in our rankings, but the Mavs had his “early” Bird rights and opted to re-sign him to what amounts to a mid-level exception type deal.

Greg Oden

Greg Oden

Now finally, Greg Oden.

According to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports, Oden has six teams in his mix—the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, and the Mavs.

Oden was enjoying the sights of South Beach back during the NBA Finals, fueling speculation that he would sign with the Heat, but that was before the Pelicans got creative with their salary cap and opened up $3 million for the big guy.

While we wait for resolutions on Pekovic and Jennings and wait for Lamar Odom to determine whether he is playing or not and for a team or two to throw some money at Beno Udrih—Oden’s comeback attempt is as interesting as it is inspiring.

It is there that the free agency focus shall shift for the foreseeable future.

Here are the updated rankings…

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Heisler: Cannon or Popgun, Oden is First Shot in War for LeBron

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250px-MiamimetroareaHeat check: Now that LeBron’s talents are in South Beach, how long will they stay?

July would seem to be either way too late or way too early to suggest the twice-defending NBA champion Heat’s fate is teetering, moreso because of a name from the past like Greg Oden.

Unfortunately, it’s a new, head-hunting age.

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Zagoria: Top 10 Players at the Nike Global Challenge

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WASHINGTON — The 2013 Nike Global Challenge didn’t quite match the 2012 version in terms of overall talent.

There was no future No. 1 draft pick like Andrew Wiggins and no flurry of Kentucky commits headed to arguably the greatest recruiting class in history.

“There’s no Wiggins, there’s no Jabari Parker. There’s some nice kids who have a chance to be good college-level players,” one veteran scout in attendance told SheridanHoops.com. “That being said, there’s always a couple kids who will come on and surprise you.”

A slew of NBA scouts and big-time college coaches attended the three-day event, including Kentucky’s John Calipari, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Kansas’ Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Indiana’s Tom Crean, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Michigan’s John Beilein.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 players at last week’s Nike Global Challenge:

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