Bobby Simmons: Back in August of 2005, fresh off a breakout season in which he was honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player, Simmons signed a five-year, $47 million dollar contract with Milwaukee, and everybody in the Bucks organization was flipping their lids. General Manager Larry Harris said, "Bobby is an extremely versatile player and adds depth to our roster at a number of positions. He can score from anywhere on the court, he's a very tough defender and he wants to win. He had a great year last season and we're excited to add him to our team." Then-coach Terry Stotts said, "We're pleased to add a player of Bobby's quality and character to our team. I’m very impressed with how he has continued to improve so far throughout his career. It speaks to his dedication to the game." Little did the Bucks know, Simmons' improvement as a professional basketball player had ended before the ink on his new contract had even dried. Two years later, Simmons is still the Bucks second-highest paid player, but by the numbers -- 6.7 PPG (on 42 percent shooting), 2.3 RPG, and 0.9 APG in about 19 minutes per game -- he's only their seventh best player. So even though the Bucks scored their first road win of the season last night, a 111-107 victory over the Cavaliers, Simmons was barely part of it: 2 points (1-6), 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 21 minutes of action.
Fun fact: Lebron James was 1-7 from three-point range last night.
Jermaine O'Neal: Remember how last summer Larry Bird tried to demand both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum from the Lakers in exchange for O'Neal? The Lakers said, "Uh, thanks, but no thanks," and that's one decision that Jim Buss won't be taking heat for anytime soon. O'Neal hasn't been playing like an All-Star this season -- 13.2 PPG (on 38 percent shooting), 7.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG -- and last night was no exception. In what was supposed to be his audition for a potential trade to the Lakers, O'Neal shot 4-13, grabbed 3 rebounds, and blocked zero shots while the Lakers were obliterating the Pacers 134-114. Bynum, on the other hand, scored 17 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Odom chipped in 10 points (2-4), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Fun fact: In the 1978 NBA Draft, the Pacers selected Rick Robey with the third overall pick -- despite the fact that he was the best college player in the country and an Indiana native -- because they weren't willing to wait a year for Larry Bird to graduate from college. So in a way, bad personnel decisions are like a Pacers' legacy.
Wizards / Sixers: How badly did Philly get beaten down last night? Well, they had to outscore the Wizards 33-18 in the fourth quarter just to get the final deficit down to 15. The only reason to watch this game last night would have been to see Gilbert Arenas being Gilbert Arenas. Unfortunately, Agent Zero didn't play. Oh well. At least Andray Blatche hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter, and the G-Man did some cool dunks.
Fun fact: The Sixers are 3-7 after 10 games. Last year, with Allen Iverson in the lineup, they were 4-6 after 10 games. So you can see how much they miss him.
Solomon Jones: There wasn't much to get excited about in the Spurs' 95-83 win over the Hawks, unless of course you have Tony Parker (31 points, 13-20, 2 rebounds, 9 assists) on your fantasy team. However, according to the box score, Jones notched what may be the season's first one trillion: In other words, he played one minute without without recording any other statistic (so his stat line is a one followed by a bunch of zeroes). Congratulations, Solomon!
Fun fact: Did you know that Dr. J once played for the Atlanta Hawks? Seriously.
New York Knicks: The Knicks lost their seventh game in a row, and they did it in pathetic fashion, losing 108-82 at home to the Golden State Warriors. The MSG boo birds were out in full force, railing against their awful team, and -- amazingly -- Isiah Thomas agreed with them: "When you're watching a game like we played tonight, the venom that comes out, you deserve it. The booing, 'Get rid of this guy, get rid of me, get rid of him,' that's how the fans react. It comes with the territory we have and the place that we live in. That's how it is, that's how it goes." That may well be the closest Isiah has ever come to accepting some blame for the mess he's made in New York. Anyway, the Knicks stunk last night. They shot 39 percent and committed 27 turnovers. Nate Robinson was 0-5. Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry combined for 2 assists, 10 turnovers, and no blocked shots. Oh, and guard Quentin Richardson outrebounded Eddy Curry 10-3.
Fun facts: The Knicks average 17.7 assists per game...and 17.5 turnovers per game.
Chicago Bulls: Okay, this is getting painful. It's not the slow start; we've seen that before: 0-9 to begin the 2004-05 season, 3-9 last year. It's the fact that the Bulls seems content to just roll over and die any time they're challenged. They might have started off slowly last season, but at least they showed flashes. Nobody's playing well right now (although Joakim Noah looked great last night). Offensively, they're the third worst team in the league, ahead of only the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets. Defensively, they're smack dab in the middle of the pack -- sandwiched between the Washington Wizards and Milwuakee Bucks -- after having been the fifth best overall defensive team in the league last season. And the scary thing is, we haven't seen a single sign that things are going to get any better any time soon. Disturbing. Also, who's Thomas Gardner, and why'd he lead the Bulls with 16 shot attempts last night?
Fun fact: At this time last season, Kirk Hinrich was shooting 47 percent, Ben Gordon was shooting 43 percent, Luol Deng was shooting 55 percent, and Ben Wallace was averaging 10.2 RPG and 2.5 BPG. This season, the players' respective averages are 34 percent, 37 percent, 45 percent, and 7.2 RPG and 1.4 BPG.
Phoenix Suns: In the NBA, any road win is big, but the Suns won ugly last night. Their "defense" allowed a lousy Kings team to rally from an 17-point deficit and tie the game at 94-all with three minutes to go. Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire did their best to give the game away, missing two freethrows apiece in the final minute. But as a Suns fan, the most disturbing aspect of the game was the team's complete lack of ball movement. Sure, Steve Nash had his typical 12 assists, but Marion, Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, and Grant Hill combined for one lonely assist. To put that in perspective, Eric Piatkowski out-assisted all four of those guys with two. That's sad.
Fun fact: Ron Artest is very quietly having himself an All-Star-type season: 23.5 PPG -- on 55 percent shooting, including 58 percent from three-point range -- 6.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.3 SPG. And we haven't heard a peep out of him. Of course, he's only actually played four games so far, which means there's plenty of time left for him to start sucking and/or do something crazy.
Special Extra -- Hilarious Headlines: The always charming LooseChange brought this to my attention yesterday. Check out the last headline: