When a team exits the first round of the playoffs, for some less-than smiley players on the losing squad, the final post-game interview of the season can be a bit daunting. Typically younger players with more to lose keep a tight lip, potentially spit out the athlete-rhetoric responses we have grown used to about “the future” or “keep working hard” or my personal favorite, “it is what it is”.
But every once in a great while, a player who’s a little longer in the tooth and full in the belly, may spew out some interesting nuggets of truth and /or general tone-def selfishness.
Take John Wall for example, when disposed about his team’s future:
“It’s just figuring out what pieces we can add to our team,” Wall said. “What guys can stay and what guys can go. That make us, that really want to be here. That really want to win and really want to take that next step.
“I don’t put the pressure on everybody else. I put the pressure on myself because I am that franchise guy. I am the guy that has to be the leader of the team, that has to get everybody better, make everybody better on my team,” Wall said. “At the same time, if I’m doing my part, the other 14 guys on my team have to do their part at getting better every year. Just being true to the team. Our problem at a lot times is guys don’t understand their role and respect their role.”
After the post-game interviews cooled, he elaborated more by throwing players under the bus:
“It’s pretty obvious. I don’t need to point it out. I think the way the league is going, you need athletic bigs, you need scoring off the bench, you need all of those types of things,” Wall said. “We don’t really have an athletic big.”
“I don’t know. It’s up to them to make the decision. Like I said, whoever comes back, whoever stays, what it is, we deal with it because those are our teammates,” Wall said. “Those guys do the best they can. They have the ability to help us out as much as possible. We know what it is, what the situations are. That’s up to the front office to decide. If they want to make any changes or keep guys. At the same time, you kind of know what guys want to be here from what people have said in the past or what they haven’t said.”
Sooooooo that’s one way to do it, I guess.
Carmelo Anthony, who in the last 6 months, fell off of a cliff the size of the friggin Grand Canyon averaged an awkward 16.2 ppg and 5.8 rpb this season (both career lows) only to follow-up the downward spiral in the playoffs by slopping out 11.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. The stat line in the playoffs for Melo read more like a third year role player who might get traded in the off-season than that of a scoring champ, gold medalist and league scoring title-belt owner.
So when the OKC Westbrooks were put out of their misery by the Utah Yazz flutes, an obviously frustrated Melo took to the microphone, and when asked about next season, Melo replied:
“I’m not sacrificing no bench role. That’s out of the question. As far as sacrificing—I don’t even like to talk about finances and the economics of the game of basketball. When that time comes, that time will come. If and when we have to sit down and talk about what’s the future, and ideas and situations, then, that time will come. I honestly don’t even feel comfortable sitting here talking about money and basketball.”
Kudos for Melo NOT speaking money publicly, he’s smart to ignore that part of it. Melo si owed $28 million next year if OKC takes his option and brings him back. But there’s zero chance Melo will be a starter, he’s hit his wall athletically and there’s no chance he can be anything but a spot up shooter with Westbrook’s gazelle offense. This season he produced a dismal 50.3 True Shooting percentage, and an even shittier 48.3 percentage after the All Star break. He’s been an inefficient scorer and a poor defender for at least the last four seasons and forever respectively.