Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Quick Hits


Elmo is three footballs tall. Good job, Drew.

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It's official. Chris Paul is going to be a Clipper next year. New Orleans sent their all star point guard to Los Angeles in exchange for guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, forward Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota's unprotected 2012 first-round pick. The Clippers now head into the season with Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler and they suddenly look like contenders just a year after finishing 32-50. The Hornets meanwhile must now move on as for the first time since the 2004-2005 season Chris Paul won't be their starting point guard. They do all right in the trade though bringing in a legitimate scorer in the 23 year old Gordon (22.3 ppg last year), adding good size with the 7 foot Kaman, and getting another good big man in the 21 year old Aminu who appeared in 81 games as a rookie last year. The real prize though might be the draft pick because if the Wolves are anything like what they were last year, that could bring in a franchise player. The Hornets open up the 2011-2012 season at Phoenix the day after Christmas. 

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Clint Dempsey scored for the third time in this year's Europa League, but Fulham blew a 2-0 lead against Odense BK (Sweden) dropping into third place in their group and out of the tournament. Substitute Baye Djiby Fall scored on a header 3 minutes into stoppage time for the equalizer and that, coupled with a win by Wisla Krakow (Poland), means the Cottagers are eliminated. Dempsey wasn't the only American to score in Europa League play today as midfielder Sacha Kljestan scored for Anderlecht (Belgium) in their 5-3 win over Lokomotiv Moscow. Anderlecht finished group play 6-0 outscoring their opponents 18-5. Kljestan joined the Belgian side last summer after 5 seasons in Major League Soccer with Chivas USA.

More bad news for Fulham as starting goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will be out 4-6 weeks after sustaining a compression injury to his thoracic spine this past weekend. 21 year old Neil Etheridge started in goal in his place marking the first time he'd ever been in net with Fulham's first team. Fulham hosts Bolton Wanderers in Premier League action on Saturday.

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More shakeups in the NL Central this week as Aramis Ramirez has signed a 3 year deal worth $36M with the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee, who may lose Prince Fielder to free agency and Ryan Braun to a 50 game suspension following a positive test for PEDs, gets a solid right handed bat who should be an upgrade over last year's third baseman Casey McGehee. McGehee hit just .223 last season and was essentially benched in favor of Jerry Hairston Jr. during the postseason. Both Hairston (Dodgers) and McGehee (Pirates) are no longer on the Brewers roster forcing Milwaukee to make a move. Ramirez hit .306 with 26 home runs last year for the Cubs.

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The Bulls finally made a move to bring in a legitimate scorer at shooting guard signing 33 year old Rip Hamilton to a 2 year $10M deal with a team option for a third year. The Bulls, who started Keith Bogans (4.4 ppg) all 82 games last season in addition to all 16 of Chicago's postseason games, were in dire need of an upgrade. Chicago still has Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, but what Hamilton adds is a proven scorer to a team that struggled to find a second option late in games. If Hamilton can stay healthy - he has missed 77 games over the past 3 years - he should be able to take some pressure off of Derrick Rose. Hamilton averaged at least 17 points per game for 10 straight years before dropping down to 14.1 points a game with the Pistons last year.

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