The strange case of Dan Snyder’s lawsuit

It is nearly impossible to live in or around Washington, DC and not be aware of Dan Snyder’s $2 million libel lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. In the suit, he alleges that the paper has an “ongoing campaign” to “smear his business and personal reputation.” Snyder and his attorney’s suggest that, while it has built up over time, the situation finally became unbearable with the publication of Dave McKenna’s article on November 19, 2010 entitled, “The Cranky Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder.”

What has some scratching their heads is the target of the lawsuit. Mike Madden, Managing Editor of the Washington City Paper wrote, “Snyder sued the investment partnership that owns City Paper’s parent company, alleging that our November cover story defamed him.” The lawsuit was filed against the parent company of WCP’s parent company, Atalaya Capital.

The WCP’s Editor, Michael Shaffer described the situation in his article, “Bully pulpit: Why a sports owner’s lawsuit matters.”  He wrote:

“Still, when Snyder’s legal threats became public, it was at least partly a relief. We’d first learned about his displeasure back in November via a letter from Redskins General Counsel David Donovan. The missive wasn’t directed to our editors, who most people would contact with complaints. Instead, it was sent to the investment company that controls the media firm that owns City Paper. It included this doozy of a statement: ‘We presume that defending such litigation would not be a rational strategy for an investment fund such as yours. Indeed, the cost of the litigation would presumably quickly outstrip the asset value of the Washington City Paper.’”

David Carr, a former editor of the WCP and currently with the New York Times described the situation this way:

“Neither Mr. Snyder nor his executives ever got in touch with the newspaper or its editors, preferring to try to exercise leverage on the hedge fund that owned it. The effort to cut out the middleman and apply direct pressure on the ownership reflects a level of aggression that would have come in handy on the field during yet another hapless Redskins season.”

Click here to read the full article.

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Washington Post reports Arenas agrees to accept less

Ivan Carter reported on the Wizards Insider that Gil has agreed to accept in the neighborhood of $111 M over 6 years, which is approximately $16 M less than what the Wizards had offered. Assuming this plays out as reported, this is a great move for Gil Arenas and the team. The Wizards were able to lock up Gilbert for six years at a reasonable figure, and create some space for them to sign a player or two, now. I have to admit that I am a fan of Roger Mason, Jr. and would like to see him re-sign with the Wizards, but the team’s most pressing needs are for a back up big man, and a veteran small forward who can take some load off of Caron Butler. After his play in the playoffs, James Posey appears to be a perfect player to target, but half the league is also currently targeting Posey.

In a previous post, I pointed out some potential inexpensive big men. Hopefully, by Gil accepting less it will allow the Wizards to sign a bargain center and possibly spend at or around the mid-level exception on a small forward. Once the dust settles on this agreement, we will be able to see exactly how much money the Wiz can spend on free agents, and which direction they go.

P.S. I wonder if Gil feels even better that he did not have to pay an agent 10% to negotiate his deal with the Wizards? In hindsight, given what he said about staying with the team, it doesn’t seem like he would have needed an agent for this transaction. I am sure he paid some legal fees for his attorney to review the language, but it would appear that his decision saved him approximately $11 M.

Wizards sign Jamison

Ivan Carter reported on the Wizard’s Insider that the Wizards and Antawn Jamison have agreed on a new contract. I am thrilled that Antawn has gotten resigned. Prior to Jamison joining the Wiz, the team was a wreck. Jamison and Gil, and now Caron, have lead this team back to respectability and a genuine team guy like Jamison should be rewarded for his hard work. When I have read people’s comments online and/or listened to them on local sports radio – I am struck by how quickly people forget the Wizards recent past. A little over 4 years ago, this team was a laughing stock. And while they need to improve to move beyond the first or second round, they have a team, when healthy, that should be able to do this. And while there are fans that would like to see some combination of players get traded for a stud in the middle, which is not going to happen without parting ways with major portions of the team.

Jamison is a consistent 20-10 guy, when there aren’t that many that do it on a consistent basis. He is part of a trio, when healthy, which averages 20+ points per night – the highest scoring trio in the league. In an environment that does not have dominant big men falling from the sky, the Wiz are best served finding another experienced big man who will grab rebounds, block a few shots, and can score a few points when t he ball is passed to him. Given that there isn’t someone like the Timberwolves (or Memphis) that is looking to give their franchise player away for a bunch of scraps, the best the Wiz can do is pick up a veteran that will bang and grab rebounds. There appears to be a few of these players available. While not the sexy choices, these type of role players could be exactly what the Wiz need.

Close call at DeShawn’s house

I’ve been reading Ivan Carter’s and Tim Lemke’s versions of the shooting in front of DeShawn’s house.  First, let me point out that it is good that no one got injured – with the exception of the person who, reportedly, started all of the drama.  Depending on which version you believe there is some doubt between whether DeShawn was sleep when the shots began at his house.  The reality is who cares whether he was sleep or not.  The fact so far is that he is not being accused of doing anything illegal.  The reality is no one involved is talking – at least not on record.  If he was up at 4 AM and returning from a nightclub, with a bunch of women, instead of being at home sleep… again who cares?  The last I checked he is a 26 year old man who is capable of coming home in the off-season whenever he feels like coming home.  Unless he is being accused of or being charged with something criminal – which he his not – I could care less.

 

What I do have a problem with is the fact that Tim Lemke felt it was necessary to point out a misdemeanor statutory rape charge from DeShawn’s past.  One in which he served the punishment that the courts handed down, and to the best of our knowledge has never repeated.  More importantly what does that situation from 5 years ago have to do with this incident?  In a word…nothing.  I would understand if DeShawn had gun charges in his past, then that might be relevant to point out.  It would have been relevant if the ladies that were reportedly at his house were underage, then that fact would have been relevant.  But as the facts currently stand, that information did not contribute at all to his story.  I would love to hear what Tim expected the reader to gain from that fact?

 

What this story clearly points out is that as a celebrity, you need to be extremely careful.  Even when it appears that you did nothing wrong, a story like this can take on a life of its own.  From the facts that we know a man (Curtis Ruff) with a criminal past (and present) gained illegal access into DeShawn’s gated community.  He then began arguing with a woman who was in the company of DeShawn and/or his friends.  That man, who again was on the property illegally, then reportedly fired his weapon damaging private property.  Finally, the man who reportedly conducted all of these crimes was the only person to sustain an injury.  While I am not a newspaper reporter like Tim Lemke, it appears to be fairly easy to point out the facts without linking someone’s past to the present – especially when there does not appear to be a good reason to do so.

 

 Can we go back to focusing on basketball now?

Wizards finalize trade with Memphis

As you know the trade sending Juan Carlos Navarro to the Grizzlies is final. In return the Wizards get a protected first round pick or worst case scenario a second round pick and cash considerations by 2013, only if they haven’t received a 1st round pick by then. When you look at this trade in a vacuum, it is easy to be a little disappointed. JCN is widely regarded as one of the premiere Euro league players at a time when a number of European players are All-Stars or playing near that level. The assumption that most make is that if he is the best Euro league player, then surely he will be a very talented player in the NBA. And if you subscribe to that line of reasoning, it is easy to understand why you would be disappointed with this trade. You would undoubtedly believe that Ernie Grunfeld gave JCN up for virtually nothing in return.

I don’t believe that is the case. First, we have to consider that every player entering the NBA is unique, a player’s success is based on many factors, not the least of which is the players surrounding him, the coaching style (and whether the player truly matches what the coach likes to do), distractions off the court (positive and negative), work ethic, talent (does your game translate well to the NBA), etc, etc, etc. With that said very few players are guaranteed to be successful in the NBA. So for a moment let’s consider that he is just as, if not more, talented than Tony Parker, there is still a number of other factors that can determine his ultimate success or failure in the league.

When you look at JCN’s stats in the Euro league, you realize that they look surprisingly similar to Dan Dickau’s stats at Gonzaga. It is true that this is not an apple to apple comparison because JCN was playing in a professional league, while Dan Dickau was playing “amateur” college athletics. It could be argued that the talent level in Men’s D1 basketball is pretty close to the talent level in the EL. The point is that prior to entering the NBA, both players had very similar stat lines and both were great shooters in their respective “leagues.” But, as we have seen with Dickau’s NBA career thus far, that does not mean it will instantly translate into a successful NBA career. All rookies, including international players, have an adjustment that they need to make to the NBA game which easily take 2 – 3 years. But, again there is no guarantee of success.

Given that JCN could be Dan Dickau 2.0, I am comfortable with the trade to Memphis. I like the fact that the Wiz are most likely getting a 1st round pick for a 2nd round selection. As Ivan Carter of the Post pointed out, that gives them an asset that they could package together in another transaction that could help address some more pressing needs. (For example, could Indiana be enticed to trade Jermaine O’Neal for a combination of players and two 1st round picks?) I like the fact that they did not potentially make an Eastern Conference team better by trading him to the West. I would be even happier if the 1st round pick that the Wiz received was not protected, or at least only lottery protected.

Now, if I had a crystal ball and could see that JCN would be a future All-Star-type player would I still like this trade? Given the current make up of the team, I still believe that trading JCN’s rights is the right move. Ultimately this trade can only be judged once all the facts are in, and the facts most likely won’t be in for a few more years. There are still too many questions that will need to be answered before a final evaluation can be made. How well does JCN adjust to the NBA? Does he become anything more than a shooter off the bench? Do the Wiz get a 1st round pick or a 2nd with cash considerations? Do they draft a player with that pick? If so, how does that player help the team? Does this pick help them pull off a trade in the near-term that benefits the team? Or do they trade the pick at some point in the future? Unfortunately, only with time can we answer these, and other, questions.

Side note:

With the Andray Blatche contract now signed – terms undisclosed – and the roster nearly set, what if anything happens with some of the names on the team that have been linked to possible trades? At various points this summer we have heard about possible trades involving Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Antonio Daniels. More so than Daniels, I would like to see the Wiz move both Etan and Brendan. While I like the effort and the energy that Etan brings, I would like to see the Wiz get out from under his contract and possibly bring in a less expensive veteran who could provide you with his same stats and energy. Brendan on the other hand, I would like to see moved because of his much to inconsistent play and the fact that he tends to sulk when not in the game. Plus, the way he finished last season, I would not bring him back to play for my team – if I were calling the shots. His behavior burned that bridge and then buried the ashes.

McGuire deal done

Yesterday, Ivan Carter reported that the Wizards were able to get a contract done with Dominic McGuire.  This is great news.  This young guy provides tools that not many of the other Wizards provide.  And while cash is getting tight for the Wiz, I for one am glad they were able to sign him.  I still can’t believe that they were able to pick him up in the second round.  Now let’s just hope that in a few years he doesn’t bounce to a new team like Gilbert, who also was a second round steal, did from Golden State to the Wiz.

Ok so Blatche, who has not yet signed a new agreement, was arrested allegedly on solicitation charges.  My issue with this situation is not the typical prostitution is illegal mumbo jumbo, but rather:

  • Can’t you lay low for a few more days or weeks until you sign your new agreement?  Any “trouble,” however small or large will only cause you money

  • You are a NBA player and many young ladies (and not so young) will gladly “hang out with you”

  • If you want some no-strings, non-gold digger action, can’t you open up a phone book, sports section, hell a web directory for that matter to find a “short-term date?”

 

Everyone needs a little loving from time to time, but don’t be foolish and cause yourself money.  If I was a professional athlete, which clearly I am not, I can not imagine that I would ever attempt to pick up a working girl during a time when my agent is attempting to get me a new contract.

Andray, I don’t care who you are with behind closed doors.  That is your business.  I would strongly recommend that you avoid high risk situations – situations that are highly likely to cause you a great deal of embarrassment and grief.

Blatche first then McGuire

Well according to Ivan Carter it appears that the talks with Andray Blatche are creeping closer to a close.  I for one am very happy.  My personal belief is that Andray is an important part of the new Wizards nucleus – which should position them to have success in the short-term but also position them well for continued success in the future.  In virtually every sport, the most successful franchises find ways to keep their young talented players and grow them within the organization.  Andray is one of those players for the Wiz.  And while $11M over 3 years is not a monster contract in NBA terms, he is young enough that he will be able to earn a much bigger payday in the not too distant future.

 

Just as importantly, getting this deal done, cost effectively, should make it easier for the Wiz to sign my new favorite “youngin”… Dominic McGuire.  I was one of the freaks who watched every moment of the Wiz summer league games (thank you Tivo!) and I was very surprised and impressed by McGuire.  (Disclaimer – I fully understand that these were SL games and not NBA pre-season or regular season games)  During the SL, McGuire appeared to be the type of player that they need – one that was able to block shots, defend multiple positions, handle the ball, hit jumpers, and just do the dirty work.   While he finished as one of their leading scorers in the SL, he was able to make an impact on the game in nearly every facet of the game.  I look forward to the preseason and seeing him with the big boys.  Ernie easily found a first round talent in the second round.  It was wonderful to see the Wiz SL team with the equivalent of 3 first rounders on the floor.