A Fate Worse Than Death: Scottie Pippen’s Merry Band of NBA Retirees Takes Manila

Gang Green Forecast

Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images Jeremy Lin

Losing Lin, the Rick Nash Trade, and Delicious, Delicious Buttercream Frosting

All that and more in this week's Bake Shop mailbag!

You can always send your questions, hopes, fears, dreams, concerns, one-act screenplays, or hit lists to katiebakeshop@gmail.com. The hours and the quality of the food may be unpredictable, and the girl behind the counter might sometimes be kind of a jerk, but hey, isn’t that part of the charm? Let’s begin.

On a scale of 1-10 on the New York Travesty scale, 1 being the Mets losing a playoff game and 10 being events like the 1994 NBA Finals and the 2004 ALCS (for the record this year’s Rangers loss to the Devils is an 8 or 9 for me) where do you rank the letting go of Jeremy Lin? For this Die-hard Knicks fan, it’s 11. Still watching every Knicks game next year, but it hurt bad when I heard.

— Connor O.

I summarized most of my own feelings here, but have a few things to add. Our scales are calibrated differently: While I mostly agree with your definition of 1, there are occasions (like Carlos Beltran going down looking in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS) that were more of a 7.5 for me. I’d put Lin somewhere around there, maybe a notch lower? I mean, I was really upset about that Mets game. That was their year! The Endy Chavez catch was totally spoiled!

The other thing, and this is a dark secret but I feel like I can tell you, is that you have to bake in a little bit of a jealousy discount when you ask me to rate something involving Lin. The problem is, Linsanity all happened a few months after I moved out of New York, and to be honest it kind of felt a little bit like when you change schools and your friends all instantly become besties with some new kid and it’s like they don’t even call you anymore or invite you to things? Oh god, I may have revealed way too much.

Lets cut right to the chase and forget about all that sports nonsense. This is the Bake Shop, so I need to know your favorite baked goods. Please note that you have to have chocolate chip muffins in there.

— Steve F.

Chocolate chip muffins are cool by me. But if I’m in a bake shop, my weaknesses are, in no particular order, croissants, anything maple-y, anything gingery, and anything with buttercream frosting. And I hate blueberries, so don’t even try.

Can you please explain the enigma that is Glen Sather? Did he sell his soul to the devil after signing Gomez & Drury, allowing him to now make these ridiculous trades? Who would’ve thought that Gomez would turn into McD-machine and Dubi/Artie (gonna miss them) Erixon/1st would equal Rick Nash?

— Jimmy L.

On a scale from 1 to epic how much of a steal is this NASH trade for the New York Rangers?? And how smart does Glen Sather look for not bowing to the pressure at the trade deadline? The Rangers only give up Dubinsky (the fans had already turned on him), Erixon (the upside guy but def not the NYR’s best prospect) Anisimov (this one hurts a little because I like the guy, but def doesn’t kill the NYR to trade him) and a 1st rounder. Also how soon til Howson’s fired???

— Stacy D.

Congrats on acquiring Rick Nash. It’s a sad day for this Blue Jackets fan. I knew this was coming all summer. Following the Jackets Twitter account, checking the website often, they’d definitely distanced themselves from Nash, hardly ever mentioning him. So why is my heart down by my lower intestine? What do I have to look forward to this year, and in years to come? Do the Jackets have any chance of making the playoffs when our biggest stars are RJ Umberger and Jack Johnson?

— Brian M.

I call the above work of art: “Buy the Rumor, Sell the News: A Triptych. (Printer Ink, 2012)”

The way this trade played out in real time revealed so much about the expectations surrounding it. TSN’s Darren Dreger broke the news that Rick Nash had been traded to the Rangers, “details to follow.” Oh, the infinite time that passed then, as everyone wondered which of the two GMs had most deeply reverted to his own worst habits. How bad would the deal be for the floundering Scott Howson, known for making two or three boneheaded decisions for every marginally good one? How many quality assets would Glen Sather — perhaps worrying that the rival Flyers might be close to obtaining Shea Weber — toss Columbus’s way?

Dreger revealed information in dribs and drabs. The league was soon to approve. Derek Stepan: not involved. Dreger tweeted that “s pieces” were being sent over by the Rangers. Did the “s” really mean “5,” ’cause they kinda look the same? No, someone figured out, on a BlackBerry the “S” key is the same as the “4.” We had solved the riddle. Four pieces, none of them Derek Stepan, once the NHL signed off. We waited.

When the full transaction (Nash and a few throw-ins for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and next year’s first-rounder) finally came to light, my first thought was: ” … and?” And when there was no “and,” it automatically felt like a steal, particularly because Sather had reportedly offered a similar package at the trade deadline and been turned down by the Blue Jackets, who didn’t want to deal Nash, their franchise player, for anything less than a home run.

The more I think about it, though, I don’t really think you can characterize this as a “steal.” Howson was constrained by the rigid parameters of Nash’s no-trade clause, which included a small list of approved destinations from which, as Aaron Portzline reported, Nash was unwilling to budge. “Told Rick Nash was asked to expand his list over the weekend,” he tweeted. “Not for a specific deal, but to ease the process for [Columbus]. He declined.” The possibility that guys like Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan might be on the market made Nash seem old by comparison — and expensive. His contract has six years remaining at a $7.8 million cap hit — a lot for a player whose offensive production has declined of late. (Ryan has three left at $5.1 million.)

The Rangers may have by many measures “won” by not yielding on the players they had identified as untouchables — like Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh — but that doesn’t mean they gave up nothing at all. Both Dubinsky, who had a subpar season a year after being a fan favorite, and Anisimov, who always seemed unfairly maligned by John Tortorella, were actually very effective players for the Rangers this season, as shown by these Player Usage Charts. (“It’s almost laughable how some Ranger fans believe that the team could be better off without Dubinsky, who in reality was one of the best NYR forwards despite his poor shooting luck,” wrote Rob Luker in his analysis.) Trading these two, both of whom were drafted and developed by New York as part of an impressive young core, felt like the end of one stage and the start of the next. At some point, you have to make the leap and make some trades. After all, things might start to look mighty different at the end of the 2013-14 season. (Click that link at your own risk.)

The player who will really end up determining, years down the road, which side “won” this deal is young defenseman Tim Erixon (who asked to be traded out of Calgary last year only to have ended up in Columbus — whoopsies!) Erixon was one of the Rangers’ most highly regarded prospects, and projects to be a potential top-pairing blueliner eventually. He was said to have been added to the deal last week, which is one reason why Howson may have finally made the move.

To Brian the Blue Jackets fan: If you want to feel better, I recommend reading this piece about where the Blue Jackets go from here. It’s … oddly inspiring? Maybe I’m just a sucker for fans shaking their heads in earnest and stoically deciding to move forward, but by the time I got to the bottom I was borderline fired up. Just take good care of dear Arty, will ya?

So, David Remnick just wrote a bajillion-word profile of Bruce Springsteen, and of course it’s amazing because A.) Remnick! and B.) Springsteen! White middle-age suburban New Jersey person fantasy. This got me thinking … If you could pair a writer with one (1) subject, give them as many words as they want, assume he/she has access, but not that the subject will necessarily be in a mood to reflect … Who?

— Izzy C.

In a lot of fashion and lifestyle magazines they always have these “What’s in YOUR bag?” features where they get a celebrity to empty her purse (the contents of which have no doubt been swept and vetted by a coterie of stylists and PR interns) for a photo spread, usually with handy captions telling you where you can buy the Kiehl’s foot balm that Kate Upton totes around at all times.

These features terrify me. I have anxiety dreams in which an adorable and with-it Lucky editor empties my rucksack du jour upside-down as a disappointed photographer sifts through the wreckage.

“It’s all hotel room pens and … small bits of paper.”

“Those are receipts!”

” … and a few back issues of Cooking Light. And this clump of spare change at the bottom seems to be all stuck together by — is this gum?”

“It’s not used gum! It hasn’t been chewed! It just came loose from the wrapper!”

I say all this because this is the kind of question where one true answer sprung into my head instantly with near-epiphanic clarity, and I feel like it’s only fair and honest to give you that look into my mind-purse, but it’s also a little absurd: Jennifer Egan on Nikki Finke. I blame Bret Easton Ellis for being the one to get the reclusive Hollywood insider dragon lady into my head. I could have gone with something so much better. John McPhee on Martha Stewart! Richard Ben Cramer on Pat Riley! Amy Sohn on Amy Sohn!

Strange circuitous side note: The description of the Remnick-on-Springsteen article as being “like Salinger on Lennon” made me think of another parallel: David Foster Wallace on Roger Federer. Which in turn led me to John Jeremiah Sullivan (himself a master profile writer) on Wallace, in which JJS correctly asserts that it was a different DFW tennis profile that was really his best, and then also adds the crazy nugget that the Federer piece had been assigned to him! (He couldn’t do it due to a contract issue.) “I got to feel, for a woozy instant, exactly how Wallace’s brain would handle a subject I’d held in my own,” Sullivan says about reading the finished piece, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that line since I read it.

I wanted to ask you if you think the NHL would survive another lockout? I read an article saying that the NHL and the NHLPA were in disagreement again. What are your thoughts on survival and the chances of another lockout happening.

— Brian N.

Am I missing something? How can the people who run the NHL and NHLPA even think that a lockout is an option? After what happened to the NHL before and what almost happened to the NBA last season it is inconceivable that the owners and players would allow this to happen. Right? Maybe I’m just being naive. They do realize that thousands of fans they gained, including your illustrious leader and his daughter, would probably not be sticking around for a second lockout. I’m starting to lose my mind over this, it would seem that any semi-educated hockey fan knows that a deal must be hammered out before the season starts. Or I am going crazy?

Please say something to make me feel better.

— Taylor H.

It’s true that, after seven years, the collective bargaining agreement over which the NHL lost an entire season in 2004-05 has reached its end. Several weeks ago, the league and its players’ association — which is led by Don Fehr, of MLB strike fame — began preliminary meetings to hash out the issues. And on Friday the 13th, the owners submitted their first offer, which ruffled many feathers with some of its aggressive line items.

The most attention-grabbing takeaway was the owners’ wish to reduce the players’ share of the league’s over $3 billion in revenues from 57 percent, the current percentage, down to 46 percent — a large jump, to be sure. But this is a starting point; no doubt the players’ association will counter-offer with something similarly outlandish. The halfway point of the current and proposed figures is 51.5 percent; last season, the NFL and NBA settled on giving their players slightly less than that, so that number is probably much closer to the right ballpark.

In general, I’m somewhat optimistic. Do I think there’s a chance the NHL misses some games, maybe starts six weeks or two months late? For sure. The current CBA doesn’t even technically expire until September 15, so if that’s going to be any sort of pressure point it won’t happen for some time. One major NHL prospect preseason tournament has already been canceled, and another is TBD. And the league, which for the last five years has kicked off the season by sending four teams to compete throughout Europe, announced that this year the trip would not be taking place.

But I also know that the league has some important dates in the first half of the season. The first nationally televised showcase game on NBC is meant to happen the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. More important, the Winter Classic — one of the league’s biggest cash cows, and this year set to be bigger than ever — is slated for New Year’s Day, and the HBO documentary filming that precedes it usually goes on for at least the whole month of December. I’d be surprised if any sort of work stoppage dragged on that long.

Hopefully, though, there won’t be much of a work stoppage at all. A column by an anonymous NHL player gave a glimpse into what we can expect the NHLPA to come back with; they’d rather try to push for revenue-sharing reforms than see a salary rollback, for one thing. It also explains how I feel about the labor negotiations: “To state the obvious: The players don’t want a lockout,” he writes. “I believe, perhaps unlike last time, the owners don’t want one either. It feels like too soon to fight again.”

In the Fabolous song “You Be Killin’ Em,” which is the superior line: Give you that iPhone 4 / FaceTime or Camera in the mirror / BBM pose?

— Haydt G.

Great question, tough call. I love that song — You what’s up, girl / ain’t gotta ask it is the best pickup line ever — and it will always remind me of some of the good times I’ve had with the Knicks. Who can forget when Fabolous chilled at Amar’e’s place with STAT’s personal chef and the founder of Spanx?

My initial instinct is that the second lyric is superior just because what he’s describing is so evocative — can’t you just hear the fake “click” sound as some blustering family values-y politician or out-of-work actor or insecure high school girl snaps his or her very own self-portrait right now?

As for iPhone versus BlackBerry, I turn to no less an authority than Busta Rhymes. While doing a rap verse for a cover of “Little Drummer Boy” on Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe album, Busta says the following, as astutely observed by David Cho:

At the table with the family, havin dinner
BlackBerry on our hip and then it gave a little flicker
Then I took a look to see before it activates the ringer
Came to realize my homie Bieber hit me on the Twitter
Then I hit him back despite I had some food up on my finger

That last line’s a little TMI, no? Still, I think BlackBerry wins this round. (By the way, was there any bygone club more obsessed with itself for one brief shining moment than BBM fiends? You all either knew or perhaps were the types who forever clung to the glorified text message system, saying bizarre things by way of explanation — “It’s the best! You can see whether they’ve read your text and ignored it!” — and refusing to get an iPhone but then always needing your iPhone because the GPS on the BlackBerry totally sucked.

This is a two part question in which only one part will be answered depending on the results of Wednesday at 11:59PM. All depends on Mr. Shea Weber. If his deal isn’t matched, is the Flyers/Rangers rivalry thrown to the forefront as the #1 rivalry next season? Or if the deal is matched, are these next two days the most difficult for the Flyers since the 1997 “choking situation” sweep by Detroit?

— Alex K.

Sadly, we didn’t have to wait quite until the eleventh hour on Wednesday night, as much as I had been looking forward to this thing dragging itself out to the very last minute. The Nashville Predators announced just a few minutes ago that they would indeed be matching the terms of the 14-year, $110 million offer sheet that restricted free agent Shea Weber signed with the Philadelphia Flyers last week. (Cue the “SHEA OF PIGS INVASION,” pals at NHL.com!) It ended nearly a week of speculation and discussion that revolved around the true star of the deal: no, not Weber, but the actual offer sheet itself.

While being endlessly entertained two weekends ago by reports of the poor Vegas courier tasked by the Houston Rockets with trying to deliver Jeremy Lin’s offer sheet to the dodgy Knicks, I wished that NHL GMs would actually use their offer sheet powers more. They tend to hate it: Only seven offers have been made since the lockout, and only one has been successful in poaching a player. (That one, which involved Friend of Grantland Dustin Penner, nearly led to the rental of a Lake Placid barn by then-Ducks GM Brian Burke in order to fight Oilers GM Kevin Lowe.)

Some GMs, like Dean Lombardi, openly deplore the tactic, threatening tit for tat: “Go ahead and make our day,” Lombardi warned the league via Craig Custance in 2008. “If you sign our guy, we’re coming back with both barrels firing.” Others, like Steve Yzerman, don’t like the way offer sheets almost by definition inflate the salaries of players across the league.

“The only way a team doesn’t match the offer is if you grossly overpay the player,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s why I don’t like it. If you do a contract for the right value of a player, chances are the other team is just going to match it.” (Yzerman avoided having to make this sort of appraisal on his crown jewel Steven Stamkos last year, when the noticeable lack of attempts to lure Stamkos led several columnists to cry collusion.)

Still, while I realize that rampant offer-sheeting — which kind of sounds like something parents have to worry about when they send their kids to college — has the potential to jack up salaries, drive a stake between the haves and the have-nots in the league, and cause the litany of problems so pragmatically and presciently outlined by New York’s Joe DeLessio a few weeks ago, I still kinda wish there were more of them! I want outrageous offer-sheet driven scenarios to come to pass in each and every offseason; I want bad blood and heel turns and Dream Teams and contracts that will age as well as stomach tattoos. (Actually, this summer has quietly delivered on a bunch of these wishes.)

And so I salute Paul Holmgren for trying. Holmgren’s offer sheet to Shea Weber was a thing of beauty, really: crisply presented (the press release was particularly sharp), deviously conceived, designed to say both “Put up or shut up” and “Go ahead, sleep on it, we can wait.” To bastardize Jerry Seinfeld, it managed to be both quick-acting and long-lasting. And it gave the Predators a pretty clear choice.

Had Nashville not matched, it would have been going against what had essentially been the team’s mantra, its whole thing, all season long: that the franchise was no longer going to act like a small-market one, losing players to bigger and spendier cities; that it had the money, and the commitment from ownership, to do/spend what it took to retain its best talent. It was disappointing, if not wholly unexpected, when Ryan Suter opted to go to Minnesota. But to lose Weber, too, when the option was right there to match would have really been a blow, not just to the team but to management’s credibility.

Philly made it hard, though, front-loading the offer sheet with bonus money such that the Predators will owe Weber $27 million in cash in the next calendar year alone. (The Predators’ ticket sale revenue last year was $26 million.) For a while, the conventional wisdom was that the Preds would try to arrange a sidebar trade in which they’d agree not to match Weber and get a return of both players and picks. Clearly, they decided they’d rather keep Weber, whatever the initial cost.

Judging by the words of Weber’s agent, who has been passive-aggressively mouthing off on his surprise that the Predators matched, there remain issues to smooth out between Nashville and Weber, who apparently is “surprised” that he’s still a Predator (if that’s the case, perhaps he should have signed a one-year, not 14-year, offer sheet) and who “doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild.”

But whatever happens in Nashville going forward, if you’re a Flyers fan, you should be happy that Holmgren was willing to do what most other NHL GMs are not. It seems like he very nearly pulled the damn thing off.

I was doing what many red-blooded guys do and surfing [adult] sites late one night, when my jaw dropped: there was one of my good friends from college, with her now-ex-husband, both naked and looking at a mirror, posing for a self-picture that the guy is taking. And it was on one of those sites that jaded exes post stuff to. I have no clue if she knows, but given that he cheated on her and she divorced him and gets quite a healthy alimony check, I don’t put it past him to have posted this. My question is, do I dare ask my friend if she knows about this? Do I just keep my mouth shut for life? What do you suggest? (And yes I’m married, but my wife knows I “browse” occasionally online.)

— Anonymous in Tennessee

I’m trying to figure out (a) if we can get the New York Times‘ new ethicist to tackle this one and see what he comes up with, and (b) if I went to college with anyone who now lives in Tennessee.

Thinking about it, this must happen kind of a fair amount these days, no? I would be interested in hearing how others have dealt with these situations. There’s certainly plenty of downside to getting involved. She might already know, in which case you’ve done little more than out yourself as a purveyor of grainy revenge snapshots — which, no judgment; I’m just laying out the scenarios here! — with a heart of gold. Or you might find yourself pulled down into subsequent drama. Your wife may be chill now, but it’s one thing to theoretically “know” that you “browse” and another to potentially turn into a minor character (played by Tracey Gold) in some sordid real-life Lifetime movie plot called, like, Fatal Reflection.

On the other hand, if I were the one in the picture, or if it were one of my friends, I’d want to know ASAP so that I could try to get that ish taken down. If you know about the size of her alimony checks, I assume the two of you are relatively close. So tell her what you saw. I have an aversion to talking on the phone, but in this case it’s probably your best bet — more personal than an e-mail, but allowing her more privacy than face-to-face. Be prepared for it not to go well — the messenger sometimes winds up shouldering the blame for the bad news — but just stay calm, keep things light, and know that, unlike her douchebag of an ex, you’re doing the right thing.

More of a comment than a question. Watched THIS today and couldn’t stop staring at the stars. Our lives are silly little things.

— Noah C.

View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

I like that this mailbag gets a small but reliable stream of “trippy, man”–style questions. It’s a good thing, too, because the sad truth is that when I originally looked at this question I just assumed it had something to do with NHL free agency, or the Emmy nominees. I need the constant reminder that none of it matters. We’re all just specks. Glaciers made everything happen. The Milky Way, dude. That Sally Ride was a hip, hip lady.

No, seriously — if you’re the type to geek out over footage of stars, take a few minutes to read her amazing obituary. Did you know she was the no. 1 tennis player at Stanford, and Billie Jean King tried to convince her to turn pro? Or that days before she became the first American woman in space, she had to endure Johnny Carson joking, as the New York Times put it, “that the shuttle flight would be delayed because Dr. Ride had to find a purse to match her shoes”? She was finishing her Ph.D. in astrophysics when she got the whole astronaut gig by answering a newspaper ad. Our lives are silly little things, but they can be pretty cool.

Filed Under: Bake Shop, Celebrities, Jeremy Lin, Nas, People, Series

Katie Baker is a staff writer at Grantland.

Archive @ katiebakes