NBA first round exit interviews

It’s peanut butter jelly time.

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”.

“Did IIIIIIIIIII do thattttt?!?!”

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.

Cool armpit tattoo bro.

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.”

later adding….

“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.

 

Advertisements

The NBA playoffs are here- rejoice unto him

Key dates: 2018 NBA playoffs

April 14: First round begins | Tickets on Vivid Seats

April 30-May 1: Conference semis begin (possible move-up to April 28-29)

May 15-16: Conference finals begin (possible move-up to May 13-14)

May 31: NBA Finals begin

(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (8) Washington Wizards


(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Milwaukee Bucks


(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Miami Heat


(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (8) Minnesota Timberwolves


(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs


(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans


(4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

You’ve all been asking – what’s really going on with Korean basketball?

Determination masked as mouth-breathing

Recently many of you may have been pondering, as I often do, what’s going on in the world of professional Korean basketball?

Resting in the shadows of the 2018 Olympics, nuclear weapons and politics – we have the current state of hoops going through a bit of a renaissance in South Korea.

As reported by Deadspin:

The KBL instituted a rule last month to limit the height of foreign players to two meters, and to only have a maximum of two foreign players per team, according to the Korea Times.

The rule was reportedly put in place to encourage teams to recruit more locally. And in the true over-40 rec league sense of rule making – to find players who aren’t merely a tall drink of water holding a basketball above their head while “the littles” attempt to swing at the just-out-of-reach ball like they’re swatting at flies. If this sounds like a scene from Space Jam, well…..it kinda is:

He’s so little!

David Simon, a 35-year-old Anyang KGC center, has been playing overseas for more than a decade now, but this new rule means he’ll have to find a team in another country. He’s now too tall for the Korean Basketball League. At 6-foot-8 or 202 centimeters, Simon doesn’t cut it, the limit is now 200 cm per player.

Although height definitely helps on the hardwood, it doesn’t necessarily translate to skill—but it has for Simon, who led the league this season in scoring (26.1 points per game) and blocks (2.2). So, essentially the league just gave it’s best player the boot.

David Simon (not The Wire)

This isn’t the first time the Korean pro league has made some headlines of late, recently coach Yoo Jae-hak of the Korean Basketball League was livid during a timeout, even though his team was winning by 13 points, and one specific player caught his ire.

Jae-hak was so inexplicably furious that he had a staff member give tape for Ham Ji-hoon to place over his mouth. Now, I don’t speak Korean, so I’m not sure what was said, but the tape probably meant Jae-hak wanted that player to shut up.

And let’s not forget the greatest basketball themed mannequin challenge ever perpetrated on a basketball court (I apologize for the social commentary in this video):

 

 

 

 

Yes, And-1 Is Still Around And Hot Sauce Is Still Breakin Ankles

The hoops crime scene was outlined with white chalk, a pair of untied Jordan’s and a back-side sweat print on the wood floor in Atlanta at Phillips Arena on Monday night.  The victim was identified as Joey “Falls Hard” Jenkins (may or may not be his actual name).

The sniper?  AND1 Mixtape star Philip “Hot Sauce” Champion.

Looks like the halftime show is more exciting than any actual Atlanta Hawks game this season:

NBA All-Star Voting Is Dumb

The NBA announced the 10 “starters” for the NBA All-Star pick-up game that is set to be performed at the Staples Center midway through the N.E.R.D. concert, and just following the Fergie/Bare Naked Ladies National Anthems next month.  Yes, you read that correctly, Bare…Naked…Ladies are still around apparently.

The voting is a trifecta of confusion and stupidity based on 3 voting groups consisting of fans, players and media members.  The media members cast votes for 7 frontcourt players and 5 backcourt players which are then ranked accordingly.  While this seeems like a decent system worthy of even the GOP’s approval, the fans are allowed to vote as many times as they want online and there was even recently a “double voting” night on the NBA website which made every vote count as two.  What?!?!?!

Lastly, the players themselves cast votes, which leads to 125 guys who got at least one vote from a fellow player.  That’s an average of a little more than 8 per team — not just to be an All-Star, but a starter.  Here’s a list of every player that received 1 vote:

  • East Frontcourt: Cedi Osman, Domantas Sabonis, John Henson, Jabari Parker, Jarrett Allen, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doug McDermott, Frank Kaminsky, Bismack Biyombo, Trevor Booker, Dwayne Bacon, Ike Anigbogu, Denzel Valentine, James Michael McAdoo, TJ Leaf, Semi Ojeleye, Taurean Prince, Amir Johnson, Lance Thomas, Marvin Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Tyler Cavanaugh, Johnny O’Bryant III, Eric Moreland
  • East Guards: Derrick Rose, JR Smith, Frank Ntilikina, Zach LaVine, Dennis Schroeder, Courtney Lee, Terry Rozier, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Mario Hezonja, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, Cameron Payne, Sean Kilpatrick, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Derrick Jones Jr., Derrick Walton Jr.
  • West Frontcourt: David West, Julius Randle, Rudy Gobert, Kosta Koufos, Nemanja Bjelica, Paul Millsap, Willie Cauley-Stein, Josh Jackson, Omer Asik, Dragan Bender, Matt Costello, Damian Jones, Ivica Zubac, Trey Lyles, Gorgui Dieng, Darius Miller, Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, Nerlens Noel, James Ennis III, Dakari Johnson, Willie Reed, Brice Johnson, JaKarr Sampson, Jack Cooley, Tyler Lydon, Brandan Wright
  • West Guards: Jordan Clarkson, Danny Green, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Seth Curry, De’Aaron Fox, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gerald Green, Tyus Jones, Will Barton, Brandon Paul, Wes Matthews, George Hill, Briante Weber, Pat Connaughton, Daniel Hamilton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Aaron Brooks, Sindarius Thornwell, Wayne Selden

For now let’s focus on how dumb fan-voting is.  Here’s all you need to know, Lonzo Ball received 607,961 fan votes, which beat out Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Devin Booker, Tony Parker, Lou Williams, CJ McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyle Kuzma, Blake Griffin, Brandon Ingram….I mean the list is long and distinguished, unlike Lonzo’s stat-lines this season.

Here’s another cherry on top of the madness, Gordon Hayward received more than 79,000 votes from fans (16th among East frontcourt players).  Hayward has played less than six minutes this season because of a vomit-inducing injury on opening night.

Sure it feels weird to whine about voting for what is billed as a “fun” celebratory basketball weekend for the NBA, but players’ career stats and salaries are partially affected by all-star voting.  The number of all-star appearances are valuable, feather-in-your-hat, negotiating tools in contract discussions as well as HOF induction parameters at the end of a player’s career.  So while it may seem like a meaningless award to be named to an all-star team for casual NBA fans, it’s much more meaningful to players.

Damian Lillard is a two-time all-star, that averages 23 ppg during his six year career in the NBA.  He’s consistently considered widely as a top-five guard in the western conference and by some hoop-heads, a top-five guard in the entire league.  He’s the 4th highest voted guard in the west by the players this season, but 8th overall in the west by fans and received ZERO votes by media members.  How is this possible?  Simply put: Lillard plays in Portland in a tough western conference, and the pacific northwest is a forgotten wasteland to media members and fans alike unless the city is named Seattle or whatever Narnia those vampire emo-kids are from.

Furthering my point, Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers has 250,000 more fan votes than Lillard (insert stat-lines that will infuriate):

Damian Lillard 2017-18: 25 ppg 4.8 rpg 6.5 apg

42.8 FG% 34.9 FG3% 91.9 FT%

PER 22.8

Lonzo Ball 2017-18: 10.2 ppg 7.1 rpg 7.1 apg

35.6 FG% 30.3 FG3% 48 FT%

PER 12.1 

In addition to fans being degenerate, drunken, mental dwarfs….the players’ vote isn’t much more efficient when you consider: Tyler Zeller, who is 10th on the Nets in minutes per game at 17.6, received four votes from the players.  So did Jahlil Okafor, who barely played for the 76ers before getting traded to the Nets.  He’s played 138 minutes TOTAL this season.  Knicks bench-mooks Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn also received four votes.  Enes Kanter finished tied for ninth among frontcourt players in the East with 17 votes, ahead of players like Khris Middleton, Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside.  The Knicks’ 2nd best player all season, Tim Hardaway Jr., only received two votes, the same was Wily Hernangomez but one more than Doug McDermott and Lance Thomas.

So what’s the answer?

First of all, expand team sizes to 14 per side with 2 alternates.  Who cares about playing time, this isn’t the YMCA rec league.

Secondly, voting for those 16 total players in both conferences should come from a) NBA Coach’s vote, b) Media Members vote, and c) NBA Players’ vote.

Lastly, let the stupid fans have their fun by selecting the starters from those rosters selected by the coaches, media members and players.  Fans votes should have ZERO affect on a player’s career stats or future contract-bargaining chips when it comes to all-star appearances.

Why is this whole thing so dumb?  I used to love the NBA All-Star Weekend, what happened?!?!

 

Lithuanian JV-Pro Team Signs The Ball Brothers

If you’ve been weeping tears of agony about how the Ball brothers would land on their feet, don’t you worry anymore.  LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball have reached an agreement to sign professional basketball deals with Lithuanian club Prienu Vytautas, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Perspective is important in life:

Vytautas plays in the Lithuanian (LKL) league, but it’s more likely that I get time on the court for this league than the Ball brothers.  The word on the Lithuanian cobblestone streets is that the brothers would possibly see playing time in the lesser competitive (Junior Varsity) Baltic League, otherwise known as the outdoor, uphill-grass league. The team has discussed a role of 20 to 25 minutes a game apiece in the Baltic League.

Even more perspective, that I honestly couldn’t even make up if I tried:

  • Prienu Vytautas, or (JV) BC Prienai as it’s sometimes called, is a low-level club from a small, non-English speaking village of roughly 10,000 people in southern Lithuania (beautiful country, I hear). The team has major financial issues, and started the season losing eight of its first 12 games in the Lithuanian league.
  • The club plays in a 1,700-seat arena; 500 of those seats are reserved for team sponsors and their friends. Tickets cost around 5 euro and at halftime Jackie Moon wrestles a live bear.
  • The team has no general manager and doesn’t practice regularly due to the poor financial situation.  But they do hold team bake sales every Sunday morning at the Kepta Duona Farmers Market.  I’m told the Grybukai is to die for.
  • The team’s best player currently is the coach’s son, Edvinas Seskus, who was considered a huge prospect as a teenager but didn’t develop as expected, partially due to injuries and also due to the lack of internet in Southern Lithuania.
  • The JV team is 4-1 in the Baltic League after its country-wide stunner of a loss came on a forfeiture. The game was abandoned with three minutes to go at 65-65 after the coach was ejected due to syphilis, err uhhh, due to arguing with the referees. 

Lavar – Washes His Hands Of College – Ball

The dog & pony show successfully reached ludacris speed in the world of the unproven, loud-mouthed, sports helicoptering parents today as Lavar Ball announced that his two younger sons had signed with a sports agent and will forgo college athletics.  Both LiAngelo (recent UCLA drop-out/shoplifter) and 16-year-old LaMelo had signed with agent Harrison Gaines and would, (and I quote): “soon sign deals to play overseas”. Gaines, who represents Lakers point guard and eldest Ball-brother,  Lonzo Ball, has already reportedly been in contact with a handful of teams in Europe and Asia (Seriously?  Asia!?!?  Come on man!) about the services of the Ball brothers, neither of whom HAVE EVER PLAYED IN A COLLEGE GAME.

By NCAA rules, both the Ball brothers will not be eligible to play collegiate sports since they have given up their amateur status and signed with the agent.  In the past, players with success in the NBA that have forgone college all together to play overseas have been scarce since the one-and-done rule has taken effect.  In 2015, Emmanuel Mudiay was taken No. 7 overall and in 2009, Brandon Jennings was taken No. 10, both players skipped college and went strait to professional hoops in Europe.  Most recently, 5-star high school recruit Terrance Ferguson  opted for playing overseas instead of going to college for a year, now 2 seasons later and a trip to the D-League, he sits on the end of the bench for the OKC Thunder.

A less-successful example is Jeremy Tyler from San Diego.  Jeremy left high school in 2009 after his sophomore year to play overseas, after a year in Israel and a year in Japan he was drafted in the 2nd round of the NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats who then traded him to Golden State.  After playing on four different NBDL teams, six different overseas teams and three very quick stints on an NBA roster, Jeremy is 26 years old and currently playing in Australia for the Sydney Kings averaging 12.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg.

Jeremy Tyler, Sydney Kings

For the Ball brothers, according to EVERY NBA analyst and scout,  LiAngelo doesn’t project out to be an NBA player, and while LaMelo is a top high school recruit, he’s also 16 years old and years away from possible draft eligibility.   Don’t bother looking up videos of either of the younger Ball brothers in high school, it’s complete basketball Narnia filled with edited “highlight”reels and awful competition, even for high school standards.

Lavar Ball has successfully ruined school and any chance of a quality, normal education for his youngest sons, can’t wait to see what he’s gonna do for his next trick when/if any of his sons can’t hack it on the court, much less real life.  So far all he’s successfully done is create hostility and contempt towards his young basket-Ballers, not to mention the a general lack of a firm grasp on reality.

 

 

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?