The NBA Off-Season Fraternity Battle

ESPN’s corporate stronghold on the sports reporting business is growing stronger and stronger by the second, even with massive budget cuts, overall revenues taking a dive recently and lay-offs of SEVERAL high ranking “analysits”.  ESPN as a brand is still going strong, replacing the popular and (occassionally overly) well-paid talking heads with younger unknown talking hairdos almost regularly.

One of the NBA mainstayers is Tom Haberstroh, an extremely knowledgable NBA beat-writer who I would guess has a lot of phone numbers in his cell’s contact list.  He’s probably so cool.

But even the greats can falter at times, like Tyson against Buster Douglas or Lebron James against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan again, Tony Parker again, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry again, Klay Thompson again, Kevin Durant and of course Javale McGee.

The NBA preseason jibberish writing is of the fullest abundance currently, Mr. Haberstroh has briefly lost his way in an article posing the question of “Who’s the next Super Team?”.  After discussing the obvious (although not-probable) possibilitites: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (big “IF” on this one) and San Antonio Spurs, the list became hilarious, ficticious and even more fleeting than Anthony Scaramucci.

Haberstroh writes:

Darkhorse: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls have essentially cleared the decks for the future. By trading Jimmy Butler and officially hitting the reset button on the Tom Thibodeau era, Chicago has only about $23 million in guaranteed contracts in 2018 and another $16.4 million in non-guaranteed money. Zach LaVine has a free agent cap hold at nearly $10 million, but the expectation here is they’ll wait on extension talks until they see his recovery from a torn ACL. That would be the smart move.

The Bulls should have $52 million in cap space next summer and a big-time market to lure free agents, but unlike L.A. and San Antonio, Chicago lacks a magnetic star like Kawhi or Lonzo. Maybe Kris DunnLauri Markkanen or LaVine can prove us wrong, but we’re not betting on a star rising in Chicago anytime soon.

Runner-up: Phoenix Suns

Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough knows what it takes to get this done. The 36-year-old was an assistant GM under Danny Ainge when they brought in Garnett and Allen in 2007. The chest is full of assets in Phoenix. The Suns have four top-10 picks on the roster who aren’t even of drinking age yet: Devin Booker (20 years old), Josh Jackson (20), Dragan Bender (19) and Marquese Chriss (20).

Not only that, the Suns have the Heat’s 2018 first-rounder (protected Nos. 1-7) and their unprotected 2021 first-rounder to toss in a deal, in addition to their own first-round picks going forward. Assuming the Suns don’t attach any of those long-term prizes in a deal for Kyrie Irving, the Suns are set to be prime candidates for a superteam via trade.

There’s no doubt that the Suns will be lurking in case a disgruntled star makes noise next season. Like Boston, the Suns figure to keep a close eye on New Orleans, but Kristaps PorzingisBlake Griffin and Klay Thompson are all names to watch down the line.

Dark horse: Philadelphia 76ers

The process is starting to turn into results. By signing JJ Redick and Amir Johnson to big one-year deals, Bryan Colangelo sent a clear message: overspend now but retain flexibility later. Philadelphia is set up for the future with $48 million in cap space to spend in 2018 while retaining a core of Markelle FultzBen SimmonsDario SaricJoel Embiid and Robert Covington (the latter two’s free-agent cap holds are factored in here).

Even with a max contract for Embiid, the 76ers would have $50 million in cap space for 2019 to go after Klay Thompson or Kevin Love. Of course, with all the young talent, they could flip their bundle of assets for ready-made stars, a la the 2008 Celtics. Colangelo isn’t shy about fast-tracking a contender. Remember, in Phoenix, Colangelo in 2004 signed a 30-year-old Steve Nash to pair with a 21-year-old Amar’e Stoudemire and a 23-year-old Joe Johnson. And the rest is history.

The next ’14 Warriors: Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have quietly built an offensive machine in Denver. Fact: After Nikola Jokic joined the starting lineup in Dec. 15, the Nuggets — not the KD edition of the Warriors, nor the LeBron-led Cavs — owned the NBA’s best offensive rating for the rest of the season (113.3 points pre 100 possessions). Yeah, that caught the rest of the NBA by surprise too.

And just like the Warriors, the Nuggets built an offensive juggernaut largely through the draft without needing a top-five pick. Like Draymond Green, Jokic was a gem found in the second round back in 2014. Talented guard Jamal Murray was the No. 7 selection in 2016, and Gary Harris was a sweet-shooting steal at No. 19 in 2014. Kenneth Faried was the No. 22 pick in 2011 during the Masai Ujiri regime.

Under the leadership of president Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas, the Nuggets have nailed their draft picks lately. And like Golden State a few years ago, they’ve begun adding from the outside. This summer, the Nuggets acquired their version of Andre Iguodala in Paul Millsap, a star team-first veteran who can anchor both sides of the floor.

And they may not be done. With some cap creativity, the Nuggets could have up to $45 million in cap space (good enough for a max player) to add to an already strong core of Millsap, Jokic, Murray and Harris. If Denver declines Jokic’s team option, he would join Harris in next summer’s restricted free-agent class, giving Denver more flexibility next summer.

So who would be the Nuggets’ KD? Don’t overlook Chris Paul as a target. Denver’s head honcho, Connelly, was the assistant GM in New Orleans in 2010 while Paul was there. And the Los Angeles Times reported that Denver was on Paul’s short list of planned free agency meetings this summer before Houston pried him away. No team may ever replicate the Warriors’ success through the draft, but Denver could have the best shot of anyone.

Runner-up: Milwaukee Bucks

This is another stud core built through the draft. Giannis AntetokounmpoJabari ParkerMalcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker were all Bucks’ selections, and only one (Parker) was a top-nine pick. (Milwaukee also traded for Khris Middleton after his rookie season in Detroit.) The Bucks have indeed hit the jackpot in the draft, but the Bucks’ “own the future” slogan could be soon running on fumes.

Look at the cap sheet and you’ll see that the Bucks in 2018 have $100 million in salary, just $2 million below the cap, thanks to some questionable long-term free agent signings in Mirza TeletovicMatthew Dellavedova and John Henson(an extension, technically). A tough question for the retooled front office will be whether to pay up for Parker after two ACL tears when he becomes a restricted free agent.

As of now, it seems as if the only way to build a superteam is from within. The Bucks could be a tax team next summer if Parker’s new contract commands a salary north of $20 million, limiting their options in free agency.

Still, if the core continues to develop like its has, the Bucks will be in prime position to take over the Eastern Conference when (if?) LeBron James heads West or begins to decline.

Dark horse: Sacramento Kings

Look, we can’t believe we’re mentioning Sacramento and Golden State in the same breath either. But the young core in Sacramento is tantalizing. Youngsters De’Aaron FoxBuddy HieldWillie Cauley-SteinSkal LabissiereJustin Jackson and Harry Giles represent a sky-high ceiling in Sacramento. With George HillZach Randolph and Vince Carter presenting some much-needed veteran infrastructure, the kids could bring trouble to the rest of the NBA in a few years.

We’re a long ways away from seeing if the Kings have something that resembles a playoff team, but the seeds have been planted. Look for the Kings to pounce in 2019 free agency with as much as $55 million in cap space with nine players under contract (all first- or second-round picks).

If they hit a couple home runs in the draft and manage the cap shrewdly, could they steal Klay Thompson in 2019? We like what’s brewing up the coast in Sacramento.

Even in Trump’s America, where an appointed communications director doesn’t last 10 days, I STILL never thought I’d see the words “Super Team” combined with Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and the real kicker: the Sacramento DAMNIT, NO Kings!

First to address the obvious:  No star worth his weight in gummy bears is purposefully going to Sacramento.  Sorry, it’s not happening.  In a league that’s built around multi-top tier players in order to compete, there’s just no shot at Sacramento luring a Golden God.  They’d have to build from within by drafting young talent, which I’ll admit openly: they’ve ve done well so far, on paper.  BUT in order to dethrone the Warriors, Spurs or future Lebron-Lakers 100% of the players drafted would have to come to fruition and contribute almost immediately.

Next up:  Ok, Chicago and Philly make a little more sense in a perfect, utopian basketball world where everything goes according to plan.  Chicago has a destination-pull for young talent as a city in general and now that they’ve parted ways with Jimmy Butler there is an opening for the alpha-dog position.  It makes sense that through a trade or free agency they could make a move in the next 2 years.  The same can be said for Philly, in addition to the amount of “potential” talent they already possess, not to mention the amount of cap space available.  Although, does anyone else get a Greg Oden-vibe about Joel Embiid?  Just sayin…

 

And lastly:  The Nuggets and Suns are both respectable mid-level franchises with pros and cons to playing in both locations.  Denver offers a great city life and a strong fanbase, as does Phoenix.  Both franchises have had mid-level success over the last 10 years, playoff appearances, some young talent, good moves and BAD moves by the front offices respecitvely.

From an objective viewpoint, all of these mentioned franchises (except Chicago and Philly) have relatively the same issues:  mid-level market, mid-level franchise with very little lure for big names and very little room for a strong playoff run due to road-blocks; The Spurs, The Warriors, The eventual Lebron to the Western Conference scenario, and not to mention The OKC Thunder.  Franchises like Denver, Phoenix and Sacramento are AT BEST a 5-seed in the West and more than likely eliminated in the first round.  Today’s NBA is the most robust version of AAU basketball we’ve ever seen, the top 10 players in the league have 99% of the pull when it comes to player movement and franchise-changing transactions.  This generation of superstar wants to be on the court with their high-level talented friends, and it takes 3 stars on a roster to even compete for the top spot in either conference.

Sidenote:  The Kyrie Irving situation in Cleveland.  I understand Kyrie’s desire to be “The Man”, but where and how is there any scenario that will be better than what he already has?  ANY team he goes to will have a lesser chance of making the NBA Finals!  Go ask Russell Westbrook how many “The Man” moments will make up for consistent first or second round exits in the playoffs for the next 5 years?  Winning is what matters, winning solves all problems.  And the major problem is that the NBA may as well be fraternity row right now, the biggest, richest house on campus (Golden State) has all the best parties, the most recognition and the most pledges knocking down the door to join.  Until Delta Delta Delta can figure out how to beat Alpha Beta at their own game, no one else stands a chance.

Annonymous NBA Front Office Executive:

When lovable nerds (name retracted) and (name retracted) embark on their freshman year at Adams College, little do they realize the dangers that await them. They are beset by taunting from the jocks of Alpha Beta fraternity, which only worsens when the jocks accidentally burn down their house and toss the freshmen out of the freshmen dorm. To make matters more problematic, (name retracted) develops a crush on pretty Betty Childs, popular sorority sister and quarterback’s girlfriend. Joined by the aptly named Booger and the violin-playing Poindexter, the nerds soon realize they must form their own fraternity in self-defense. Soon the tables are turned as the nerds employ high-tech warfare against the jocks…. but can they really succeed and make a difference?

 

 

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The NBA = Fantasy Basketball

It all started on draft day, when the Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Great White North for a shovel, a bag of lime and a garbage bag.  Since then, all hell has broken loose around the NBA.  After that trade there was an obvious backlash from fans in Chicago upon receiving: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and moving up 9 spots in the draft to select Lauri Markkanen.   Yikes.

In the aftermath, the NBA has gone all “Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle” towards becoming the real life fantasy basketball league that we all wanted but never knew we needed.

Chris Paul opted-out of the Clippers road-side garbage-fire and took his State Farm Insurance branch to Houston.  In return, the Rockets will be sending the Clippers: Patrick Beverley, forward Sam Dekker, forward Montrezl Harrell, guard Darrun Hilliard, guard DeAndre Liggins, guard Lou Williams, forward Kyle Wiltjer, a future first-round pick, and cash considerations.  Although there are mis-leading reports about some of those fictitious players staying in Houston, still waiting for a full report on the details.

If LA was determined to grow their bench while simultaneously downgrading their PG situation, thus leading to a Blake Griffin departure…then they seem to have exceeded expectations.  Also, THIS.

Phil Jackson got his crazy ass fired from his zombie Knicks job.  The self-proclaimed “Zen Master” has Zenned himself right out a job with the storied franchise while 99% of Knicks fans all sigh together in complete exhaustion.   Seriously what’s been worse overall:  1) Being a Knicks fan during Phil Jackson’s time in office. 2)  Being a 76ers fan and being forced to “Trust The Process” ever since Iverson left.  3) Being a Kings fan…in general this must be a self-mutilating disease of an existence.

Jackson managed to make a bad franchise even worse over the last 3 years, causing everybody’s rich douchey uncle (James Dolan) to eat the $25 million he still owes Phil just to get him out of Madison Square Garden.  Jackson’s tenure will be highlighted by:

(a) His ability to sign Melo to a ridiculous extension at age 30 (Carmelo Anthony signed a 5 year / $124,064,681 contract with the New York Knicks, including $124,064,681 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $24,812,936. In 2017-18, Anthony will be 36 years old and earn a base salary of $26,243,760).  

(b) Signing Joakim Noah after the Bulls broke his back in half (Joakim Noah signed a 4 year / $72,590,000 contract with the New York Knicks, including $72,590,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $18,147,500. In 2017-18, Noah will earn a base salary of $17,765,000), he’s played in 75 out of a possible 164 games in the past 2 years.

(c) Accidentally drafting a future star in Kristaps Porzingis, and then alienating him and pissing him off so much that the 21 year old skipped his exit interview with the Knicks at the end of the 2016-17 season.

(d) Attempting to continue the tradition of his “Triangle Offense” in the NBA, forcing it upon ill-equipped players and coaches who don’t understand it.  The triangle offense worked perfectly when Phil had players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.  But asking Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to do the same is like asking George Costanza to explain Marine Biology.

Scottie!  Scottie!  Get the ball to Michael and get the hell outta the way!

Lastly, today we met the Sacramento Kings newest soon to be traded asset:  Serbian guard Bogdan Bogdanovic!  With the 27th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns selected Bogdan Bogdanovic (not to be confused with Wizards forward Bojan Bogdanovic or famed Serbian architect Bogdan Bogdanovic). Three years later, Bogdanovic is finally coming to play in the NBA, reportedly agreeing a three-year, $36 million dollar deal with the Sacramento Kings. That’s the highest amount a rookie has ever made in the NBA, and a huge chunk of change to pay for a dude who has yet to play at the highest level. So who is this guy?

I can’t wait to see what happens next with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Paul George, Gordon Hayward and of course, Lebron James’ Cavs.  On the highway of life that is the NBA, we’re all just broken down jilopies on the shoulder watching the Warriors fly by in a Ferrari.

 

Warriors Win NBA Finals – Javale McGee Finally Gets His Ring

Javale McGee = NBA Champion 

Charles Barkley, Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, Chris Paul and George Gervin = NOT Javale McGee

The rat-tailed, 7-foot basketball-Narnia-journeyman of the NBA finally reached a pinnacle that MANY of the greats have never ascended.  Despite being a player who by all accounts should be an unguardable force forged by the Greek God of athletics (Hermes) himself, previous to this moment Mr. McGee seemed to never quite grasp his natural surroundings, similar to a jheri-curl or a mullet.

Perhaps Javale’s basketball prowess could be more aptyl compared to a baby deer standing on a frozen pond for the better part of purgatory, he only seems to comprehend images six inches in front of his face while he floats amidst the tress, vaguely reminiscient of an elderly man lost in a mall parking lot.

And yet here he is now, NBA Champion and Supreme Leader of Braided Rat-Tail Enthusiasts.

Trump’s America…am I right?!?!

 

 

 

 

Sebastian Telfair Steps Up His Game

Former NBA Journeyman And Prep Phenom Sebastian Telfair Reportedly Arrested With Lots And Lots Of Guns

Image: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Former NBA journeyman Sebastian Telfair was arrested in Brooklyn Sunday morning and charged with possession of a terrifying arsenal of weapons, ammunition, and bulletproof vests, according to an NBC New York report.

NBA fans of a certain age will remember Telfair as a legendary Brooklyn high school point guard who backed out of a commitment to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville in order to enter the 2004 NBA draft, and wound up going to the Trail Blazers with the 13th pick. Telfair’s prestige as a professional basketball player can be tracked pretty tidily by the players he was traded for during his nine years in the NBA: from Portland to the Celtics in 2006 in a deal that ultimately returned Brandon Roy to the Blazers; from the Celtics to the Timberwolves in 2007 as part of a package that returned Kevin Garnett to Boston; from the Wolves to the Clippers in 2009 in a deal that sent a declining Quentin Richardson to Minnesota; from the Clippers to the Cavs in 2010 as part of a complex deal that brought along Antawn Jamison’s corpse to Cleveland; from the Cavs back to Minnesota in 2010 in a deal for Ramon Sessions; and, finally, to the Toronto Raptors in 2013 in a deal for [gulp] Hamed Haddadi. Telfair last played professionally for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Telfair was arrested in 2007 and pled guilty to criminal possession of a weapon after a loaded handgun was found under the passenger seat of a car he was driving in Yonkers. In the years since he seems to have graduated from unwittingly transporting the odd pistol:

Telfair, 32, and another man, Jami Thomas, 18, were found with three loaded firearms, a semi-automatic rifle, ammunition and a bullet-resistant vest, police said. Two bags of marijuana and a burning marijuana cigarette were also allegedly found in the 2017 Ford F-150 pickup with Florida plates.

Note to Lavar Ball: Now We’re All Rooting Against Your Kids

LaVar Ball Is A Great Showman And An Unabashed Dickhead


originally posted on deadspin.com

LaVar Ball is, to put it lightly, a lot to deal with. He’s an insane shit-talker, a genius marketer, and a shrewd businessman who has done a truly admirable job of promoting his children while sidestepping the NCAA’s bullshit amateurism rules. He’s also, plainly, a dickhead.

Ball, as you well know, has made various braggadocious claims about his eldest son Lonzo over the past six months. For the most part, they’ve been harmless, obvious attempts to drum up publicity and notoriety for the Ball family and subsequently the Ball merchandise wing, Big Ballers Brand. And the act works! Most any profile or piece on the man will link out to six other stories about wild shit he’s said; he’s buddy-buddy with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN; he trends on social media at least a couple times a month. So long as you don’t take Ball’s bloviating too seriously, the act is bearable.

But then there’s the way Ball actually treats people in real life. For insights here, we can turn to two articles—one from USA Today, the other from The Undefeated—that detail Ball’s interactions with his sons’ high school coach.

All three Ball children went to or currently attend Chino Hills High School. The team’s basketball program was of little note before the Balls arrived; once Lonzo came along, so did the state titles and 30-win seasons, thus improving the likelihood that LaVar would be granted a say in on-court matters. Unlike Lonzo’s UCLA squad, these teams played tight man defense, pressing constantly, and they thrived on NBA-range treys and transition offense—all products of LaVar’s preferred system. Chino Hills head coach Stephan Gilling was even trained by LaVar as a teenager. With Gilling now 30 years old and in his first season as head coach at Chino Hills, Ball believed his sideline coaching style—literally him yelling which schemes to run at the Chino Hills players from the sidelines—would still fly.

The USA Today story hops in here to grant the first example of how LaVar handles being told he’s not in control of his kids’ team. At this December’s annual Tarkanian Classic, Chino Hills was down 12 at the half, with failed attempts to trap Roosevelt High School’s guard against the half-court line and sideline leading to easy layups and jumpers in the paint. Noticing that the method (the constant ball-pressure method LaVar had his sons run on his AAU teams) wasn’t working, Gilling told Chino Hills—which fielded LiAngelo and LaMelo at the time—to just play man-up.

From the sideline, LaVar can be heard on video screaming, “Double team!” throughout the second half; Gilling can be heard yelling, “Stop trapping!” Chino Hills eventually won by eight after LaMelo started to heat up in the final 10 minutes, and, for the most part (LiAngelo trapped multiple times after looking at the stands), they listened to their coach and played man down the stretch.

According to USA Today, after the game, LaVar, miffed that Gilling would do something as basic as run a different defense in an attempt to win, left the stands, went in the Chino Hills locker room against Gilling’s request, and refused to leave.

“He comes to me and says, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ I said, ‘What do you mean? I’m trying to win the game.’

“He turns around and walks to our locker room,” Gilling said. “I said,
‘LaVar, don’t go into the locker room.’ He continues walking. I said, ‘LaVar, why are you trying to embarrass me?’ And he just kept walking and goes into the locker room. He’s in there sitting down with the team. And I’m like, ‘LaVar, get out!’”

Gilling says Ball refused to leave the locker room, so Gilling told his team to follow him back to the hotel while Ball’s sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, stayed behind.

When the Chino Hills team made it back to their hotel, Ball still hadn’t cooled down. In fact, he was just getting started.

“An assistant coach comes up to me and tells me that he sees LaVar rallying the team up,” Gilling said. “I guess he got them out of their rooms on the 18th floor and tells the team that it was his system that won. That we’re doing what he says. ‘I run Chino Hills! I run UCLA, about to run the NBA!’

The Undefeated picks up the story (in a very pro-LaVar light, it should be noted) two months later, after Chino Hills lost an overtime game 83-80:

“He committed the cardinal sin of cussing out Melo after the game,” LaVar said of Gilling. “He blamed the loss on him. That was it. So I told my boys to do an acting job. Nod your head when he talks, but when you’re on the court, do what I tell you.

“He told my boys not to let your father in your head. What?”

[…]

“He had to go ahead and be a hardhead and try to do things his way,” said LaVar. “This is his last year. One-and-done. He’s gone. I will definitely have a hand in picking the next coach. He’s not welcome here anymore.

Chino Hills athletic director Jeff Schuld told USA Today last week that Gilling has his full support. Ball told the publication (which he no longer speaks to) that the reason his team had “problems” this season, was because Gilling—a 30-year-old man paid to coach a team—“got his own mind.” Chino Hills finished 30-3 this season.

And then there’s Ball’s most recent television appearance, on this morning’s episode of Second Take on FS1. While Lonzo sits beside mute beside him, LaVar once again talks about the beef with Gilling, and even implies that the coach is suffering from bipolar disorder:

Strip away all the theatrics associated with the Ball family and set aside whatever critiques of a broken and corrupt system LaVar’s act is making, and what you are left with is simply a man being a cruel bully. Going on national television and airing out a high school coach for daring to implement a different scheme before accusing that coach of being mentally ill, all while his son sits next to him in what appears to be silent agony, is not harmless fun. It does nothing to advance the careers or earning potential of his children, either. It’s just something an asshole would do.

Oakleygate Plummets Further Into Stupidity

originally posted on deadspin.com


Report: Charles Oakley Once Again Allowed To Watch Sloppy Basketball At MSG

Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

Former Knicks great Charles Oakley can once again watch all the triangle offense he desires at Madison Square Garden. The Oakley ban is gone, according to The Undefeated’s Mike Wise:

 

The Associated Press also spoke with a source who said the ban had been lifted.

 Last Friday, Knicks owner James Dolan and his binder appeared on Michael Kay’s radio show in an attempt to persuade the public that he, not Oakley, was the sympathetic character in this dispute. His lobbying wasn’t very effective: the Knicks owner spent a good portion of his time insinuating that Oakley needed “help” for some unspoken issue, and said that the former player would receive a lifetime ban from MSG.

“I mean, to me, you know, I think that, I mean, Charles has a problem,” Dolan said at the time. “I said this before, we’ve said it before, we’ve said that he’s his own worst problem. He has a problem. People need to, you know, sort of understand that, that, the, you know, he is—he has a problem with anger. He’s both physically and verbally abusive. He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know.”

When asked if the ban had been lifted, an MSG spokesperson supplied a copy of NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s statement from yesterday.

The NBA Is A Shit-Show Right Now

As we approach the NBA All-Star break (Feb 17-19), it seems that just about everybody in the Eastern conference is ready to take a weekend off of work.  Tensions have been rising in Chicago, New York and even in Cleveland where the King is unhappy upon his thrown, peering down amongst his constituents with a scowl that would make bitch-face uneasy.

lebron-you-mad

The NBA’s drama all started to hit the fan when earlier this week, Chicago’s Dwayne Wade explained how his teammates completely sucked, while talking in a post-game interview that threw a wrench into the Bull’s bicycle spokes:

“I’m 35 years old, man,’’ Wade said. “I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts (teammates). They have to want it.”

–Dwayne Wade

Jimmy Butler chimed in:

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Jimmy Butler said after scoring just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting one night after he played 56 minutes against the Pistons. “I know Fred is a laidback guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.

“We weren’t doing what were supposed to be doing, what we wrote on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up. I did, but probably not enough times. I think he has to hold everybody accountable, from the No. 1 player, all the way down. Everyone has to do their job.”

And apparently Rajon Rondo chimed in via instagram as well:

“My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.”

Chicago sounds like a dumpster fire right now, they’re 23-24 overall and spiraling out of control, Fred Hoiberg is on the hot seat.

****UPDATE: Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade will start the game tonight on the bench as a punishment.

The next big, weird, awkward happening is in the Big, Weird, Awkward Apple.  Carmelo Anthony is on the trading block, the latest rumor is a move to the LA Clippers for some combination of Jamaal Crawford (hasn’t he played for the Knicks like 4 times already?), J.J. Redick, and/or Austin Rivers.  My guess is that there will have to be a draft pick fixed into this move on both sides as well.  A Big-4 in LA could be forming with the likes of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony, a solid core that will fight for that 2nd seed in the Western conference for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the Melo-trade talks, Phil Jackson seems to have lost control of this franchise (assuming he ever had control).  Whatever the hell offense they were trying to put together has now been dismantled by ZERO ball movement (Melo), ZERO outside shooting, ZERO defense, while Head Coach/scapegoat Jeff Hornacek gives ZERO fucks anymore:

“I don’t think our guys aren’t trying. Maybe we’re just not capable of it. I don’t know,” Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re going to have to figure out. Maybe you have to play some of these other guys. We might have to mix the lineup up somehow.”

–Jeff Hornacek

If “playing some of these other guys” includes giving Johkim Noah more floor-tic, Phil should just fire Hornacek now and put him out of his misery.

Derrick Rose pulled a disappearing act a few weeks ago, it’s still relatively unexplained as to what really happened with that.  In addition, D-Rose is shooting way too much.  In the last 5 games – all losses – Rose has taken 21.2 shots a game.  In games where Rose plays and the Knicks win, he averages 13.6 FGA.  In losses he averages 17.7 FGA.

And finally, this week Lebron James aired his grievances in true Costanzian form by taking to the media to complain about his front office NOT going hard after Melo, or any other available superstar.  Despite spending more than any other NBA franchise this season, Lebron isn’t content.  The Cavs (30-14) are currently committed to $127.5 million in salaries and $27 million in luxury taxes for this season.  They’ve spent more than any other NBA team over the three-years since Lebron came back.  The most recent acquisition was sharp-shooter Kyle Korver, who has yet to fully mesh with the Cavs’ offensive flow.

While Lebron spoke about the younger, less experienced players like Kay Felder, DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae on the Cavs roster:

“No disrespect to DeAndre and to Kay: You think we can rely on them to help us win a playoff game right now?” James said. “And it’s no disrespect to them. But it’s like, it’s not fair to them.”

–Lebron James

I can understand that Lebron wants to remain competitive, you can see he’s smart enough to realize that they’re chasing the Warriors after the Durant addition.  But going media first is always the wrong way to handle things.  Why does this keep happening?  The NBA is plagued by players who are reporting to the media first before handling issues internally, then they complain about the media being too on top of them.  The past two weeks seem particularly gossipy and complainy, maybe the NBA needs a quick break.  All-Star weekend can’t get here soon enough.