Holly MacKenzie

Holly Mackenzie

Holly MacKenzie is a lover of all things basketball, especially rookies and underdogs. She also enjoys the games, stories and triumphs of Stephen Jackson and Shaun Livingston. Getting her start interning for SLAM, the basketball Bible, her grandmother still has an issue of the magazine sitting on the mantle because it was the first time her granddaughter's name appeared in the masthead. The draft class of '96 holds a special place in her heart and she is currently wondering why she is writing in the third-person. For this slip-up, Holly is blaming the influence of LeBron James and The Decision and is wondering if this will result in James putting her on his list of haters. If so, she'll use this opportunity to say that it's all love over here, LBJ.

Recent Posts

we won't be seeing this next season

A few days after the news first broke on Twitter, Sonny Weems has signed his deal with Zalgiris Kaunas of Lithuania. The deal will keep him there for the duration of the season, regardless of what’s going on with the NBA. Yup, even if there is a season, he’ll be balling in Lithuania. While the news of Deron Williams going to Turkey dominated the NBA headlines yesterday, Weems was the first NBA player to agree to a deal without the option to opt out and return to North America if the lockout ends in time for a season.

To be honest, I’m sad about this news. Happy for Weems, but sad because it shows how real this lockout business is. Players are recognizing just how far apart the two sides are and they’re also aware that there might not be a season next year. We’ve known this for awhile, but with players making the decision to go overseas, it really makes it hit home.

While the financial terms of the deal were not revealed, this is a great choice for a restricted free agent like Weems. He’ll play basketball, make money and stay in shape. Unlike a lottery pick who is more equipped to lose out on a year’s salary (not that anyone wants to give up money, of course), Weems made $854,389, the minimum for a player who has been in the league for two seasons. To lose a full year’s salary wasn’t a viable option for Weems, so he made the leap, took a chance and ensured he’ll be making money to hoop next season.

With the news of Weems and Williams going overseas, expect more players to do the same. With a limit on how many American players each team can have on their rosters, Weems was smart to make the move now. Still, it’s got to be deflating to know you won’t be playing in the league you have worked so hard to make it to if the lockout is resolved in time for there to be a 2011-2012 NBA season.

I was unsuccessful at tracking down Weems for some quotes from the source himself, but this could be because he turned 25 on Friday and is sure to be spending his weekend celebrating rather than fielding calls from media, however his agent, Roger Montgomery spoke with the associated press earlier this afternoon saying,“Sonny will be able to go in and make a true impact…There’s no way I’m going sit by idly and wait for David Stern to decide if he wants to be fair,” Montgomery said.

In the meantime, this means that DeMar DeRozan will be without his best friend for the first time in his professional career, unless he elects to join Weems in Lithuania. Unlikely, but at this point, who knows where these guys will end up. I did send a couple of texts after I saw Weems tweet that he and DeRozan would be “teammates for life” but was told that there wasn’t anything to take from that tweet, at least at this point in time.

We’ll be monitoring the overseas news all summer as Twitter will have us looking for deeper meanings in 140-character messages daily. Who else is psyched?! Yeah, me neither.

Whether we get a season or not, best wishes to Weems who proved he is an NBA player during his tenure as a Raptor. Equal parts intriguing and infuriating on the floor (so athletic, but such a misguided shot selection at times), Weems was once thought to be as big of a piece of the Raptors’ future as DeRozan. Remember those days? Regardless of whether Weems is ever in a Raptors jersey again, his stop in Toronto will remain as the most important in his professional career thus far.

You may recall a post from a few months ago where Kevin Pelton had written that the Raptors were last in the league in payroll efficiency. Basically, they didn’t have very many wins in comparison to the total number of dollars on their payroll. Today, we have a post from Arturo Galletti over at Wages of Wins, that shall infuriate you a little more.

According to Galletti, Andrea Bargnani is the second most overpaid player in the league. Nestled between Michael Redd and Yao Ming, Bargnani’s wins produced value is -6 according to the study, worst in the NBA. The next worse  wins produced value is Darko Milicic’s at -2.8. What’s more? Each of the top seven players on the overpaid list outside of Bargnani were seriously injured or traded during the season.

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Jonas Valanciunas

It’s amazing what a week and change can do. A little perspective, and the time to dig deeper and do some more research can make a world of difference. I’m talking, of course, about my thoughts on the Toronto Raptors selecting Jonas Valanciunas with the 5th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

While the pick wasn’t a shock once I took a moment to consider that the team hadn’t expected him to fall past Cleveland’s fourth selection, in the moment it was announced, it was everything I wasn’t expecting. With lots of talk about Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard and Bismack Biyombo, I thought the team would be taking a player I had researched thoroughly, interviewed or had spoken to scouts about. Instead, I got a 19 year-old whose only takeaway from the media session held the day before the draft was how skinny he was. Awesome, right?

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You might remember an in-depth Q&A I did with Julian Wright shortly before the season began last September. One thing he mentioned in the interview was his passion for singing, writing and recording music. While it was a whirlwind season for Wright and the Raptors, now that we’ve got the dreaded lockout upon us, Wright has some extra time to devote to his other passion and has also taken to Tumblr to share it with the world.

While I’ve heard a few of Wright’s tracks and can confirm he indeed has a voice made for singing, his Tumblr is pretty interesting, if only to be reminded that we try to box athletes in way too often. They’re people with varied interests and abilities just like the rest of us. Let’s allow them to enjoy more than just basketball, yeah?

If you want to check out Wright’s thoughts, you can find them here.

A piece that stuck out for me:

I hope we (especially us Americans) aren’t too naive to think that most successful people don’t or haven’t dibbled and dabbled into many things and interests. For all of the up and coming high schoolers, college students, and even parents, we are living in a world where it has been the most competitive ever (check how we stack up against other nations when it comes to education..) so I advise everyone to not limit themselves and be multi-talented and multi-skilled because it just might be the thing that will set you apart from another person. Most politicians (their most famous job title) are actually businessmen/businesswomen and do other things. Rappers and singer are now also getting their feet wet with acting. Let’s not even talk about entrepreneurs who have many “SIDE HUSTLE” so that is what we must do and get out of the mindset of just excelling at one thing. Yes, work hard and have a backbone, but keep that zest for acquiring knowledge on your own and not because of a textbook that you had to haul down the hallway or carry up a hill for class. You only have one life to live.. Why not conquer any and everything that you may have set out to do at some point(s) in your life?!

Wherever Wright will be next season –whenever next season begins <insert loud sigh here>– I enjoyed getting to know him this past season because he challenged the stereotypes that befell professional athletes everywhere.

Jonas Valanciunas

We’re a few days removed from the NBA Draft and the night that the Raptors selected Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth overall pick and I’ve spoken to a couple of scouts about the newest Raptor to see what they had to say. I had to do something, because the set up of the draft in Newark was not at all conducive to getting any real information about Jonas. If you’re unaware of how the draft works, it goes something like this:

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