Category Archives: NBA

Jim Buss FINALLY Gets it Right with Byron Scott

200px-LA_Lakers_logo.svgLet me take a moment to stand up and give Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss a round of applause.

Buss and the Lakers’ brass made a good coaching move for a change and hired Byron Scott – a former Lakers great – to coach the team.  This was a lot better than the last coaching hires he made: Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni.

More importantly, Buss hired a man that Kobe Bryant WANTED.  Remember when the Lakers brought in Brown?  That was because Buss (and to be fair, his late father Jerry) clashed with former coach Phil Jackson and forced Jackson’s resignation after getting swept by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks out of the second round of the 2011 Western Conference playoffs.

And how did Brown work out?  He got fired five games (FIVE!) into the 2012-2013 season because he basically could not coach offense.

And remember that D’Antoni hire?  That was because he was chosen over the idea of bringing Jackson back to coach, which by the way was not only an idea that Jackson was open to but was also something Bryant WANTED (again).  Even with a healthy Bryant, the Lakers underachieved under D’Antoni.

So if you are keeping score, Buss rebuffed Bryant’s wishes TWICE before wising up in bringing in someone he wanted and respected.  Only this time, Buss may have finally listened.

Bryant idolized Scott because of the role he played on those great Laker teams in the ’80s.  Bryant also idolized Scott because he was a winner.  The fact that Bryant respects and loves Scott should bode well for the Lakers, even if they are not expected to make the playoffs.

Let’s look at Scott’s track record before that disaster in LeBron-less Cleveland.  He led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals.  He led the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) to a memorable playoff run that ended in a Game 7 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2008 Western Conference playoffs.

I think Scott is a good hire for the Lakers.  Again, it may not translate into a playoff spot for the Lakers (look at the Lakers’ roster aside from Bryant.  Jeremy Lin?  An amnestied Carlos Boozer?  Swaggy P?  Really?), but at least Buss finally have his Lakers headed in the right direction.

And it’s about damn time.

Indiana Will Miss Stephenson

220px-Indiana_Pacers.svgThe Indiana Pacers made a big mistake in letting crazy-ass Lance Stephenson go to the Charlotte Hornets.

I know the Pacers had some chemistry problems and Stephenson may have had a lot to do with that.  I know that his antics in the playoffs – especially vs. the Miami Heat – were a major distraction.  As I wrote before, there is no reason why a grown man should be blowing into another man’s ear.

His teammates were eventually tired of his act.  Hell Larry Bird, an ardent Stephenson supporter, called him out for that foolishness.

However Stephenson was the only Pacer (outside of David West) who have the Pacers their heart.  He led the NBA in triple-doubles.  He can create his own shot, leading to instant offense when needed.

In short, Stephenson’s departure made Indiana’s lack of offense worse, while making the Hornets’ better.

Anyone who watched the Hornets last year noticed the following: 1) they were inexplicably called the Bobcats; 2) while they were one of the better defensive teams, they couldn’t score on their on wives.  Stephenson gives Charlotte the scorer it sorely lacked last season.  You think Al Jefferson will be glad to have another teammate who could create his own shot?

Stephenson also gives them something that Indiana lacked: heart.

Say what you want about him (crazy as hell and reckless come to mind), but Stephenson was not afraid of ANYONE.  Check out what he did during the Miami playoff series.  I realize anyone who challenges LeBron James and Dwyane Wade may be nothing short of “stuck on stupid”.  But count me as a person who rather have fearless cats as teammates than cowardly lions.

Look, I don’t know if Stephenson will be able to keep it together in Charlotte next season – let alone the next three years on his contract.  But this is a good inexpensive gamble by Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets.

Melo Should Have Chosen Bulls Over Knicks

ny-knicks-logoI wish I was as shocked over Carmelo Anthony choosing to return to my beloved New York Knicks as much as I was over LeBron James leaving South Beach for Cleveland.  However, I had a feeling that Melo would return to the Knicks when it was all said and done.

In fact, Melo had over 120 million reasons to do so.

Thanks to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams that currently employ soon-to-be free agents could offer those players the most money.  In this case, the Knicks could offer Melo the max, which was a five-year contract worth $125 million dollars.  The most that other teams such as the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers could offer him was four years and $88 million.  Let’s face it, there was no way in hell that Melo would leave a year and over $30 million on the table.

And let’s focus on the Lakers for a minute.  If Melo felt like a one-man band in New York, how bad would it have been in L.A. with a hobbling, aging Kobe Bryant.  And we all know how Kobe likes the get down.  He could have a wooden leg with a kickstand and STILL want to be the man.  As much as Melo loves Kobe (and as much as Kobe wanted Melo), it would not have been a good fit.

As for Chicago, even though Melo would have taken less to go there I still thought it was the right spot for him.  The Bulls simply have better personnel than the Knicks.  The Bulls have Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy and a healthy Derrick Rose gives Melo a better chance to win.  I just don’t see a Knicks team the employs Amare Stoudamire, J.R. Smith, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert making any noise next season.

Yeah I know, Rose may not be 100% ever again.  But if you watched how Chicago competed the last two seasons (and postseasons) without Rose, you’d know that the Bulls were a dynamic scorer away from advancing in this year’s and last year’s playoffs.

Alas, Melo chose money and comfort over a better chance to win – and I am not mad at him.  His wife loves it in NYC, and his son attends school there and probably made some good friends.

As a Knicks fan, I am happy as hell Melo is staying in New York.  I just don’t need to hear him say “I just want to win” when it was clearly about him getting paid.

LeBron’s Move Back to Cavs Makes Sense

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_I have NEVER been so wrong about anything in my life.

I could have sworn that LeBron James would remain a member of the Miami Heat.  I thought to myself “why would LeBron leave the Heat, where he would have several opportunities to compete for championships in the weak-ass Eastern Conference?”  More so, “why in the hell would LeBron ever, EVER, play for owner Dan Gilbert after that childish scathing letter he wrote after LeBron’s departure?”

I guess I had it wrong.  In fact, I had LeBron’s thought process wrong as well.

But that doesn’t mean I do not understand where LeBron is coming from.

If we step back for a minute to survey everything, we’d realize that the Heat were in worse shape than we’d all imagine.  That curb-stomping administered by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals taught us a lot about Miami.  It is not deep and worst of all, OLD.  Miami’s bench was virtually non-existent against San Antonio.

Basically the Heat – beyond LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – are simply not that good.  And Wade’s health is once-again suspect.  LeBron had to have figured, if the Heat is in such bad shape, why stick around on an older beat-up team instead of going a place where the personnel are younger, talented – and dare I say HUNGRIER?

Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs are younger, talented and deeper than the Heat.  Kyrie Irving is a stud.  Dion Waiters is a talented marksman.  LeBron is going to help get those two young brothers on the same page.  Oh, and Andrew Wiggins is going to be a star.

Granted Cleveland just hired a coach who hasn’t coached an NBA game (hell anyone is an upgrade over Mike Brown), but he is respected in international basketball.  What helps is LeBron also respects him and should help guide the Cavs to the promised land.

Plus given what LeBron said about his old-stomping grounds in an Sports Illustrated article, he longed to come back:

“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

LeBron returns to Cleveland a better player, a better leader – and a better man.  I clowned him in the past for running away to join another superstar and win titles elsewhere, but I understood his reasoning for leaving Cleveland the first time around:

“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”

As for playing for Gilbert again, I guess LeBron has truly forgiven him and turned the page.  LeBron is a better man than me.  There was no way in hell I would play for an asshole who did me like that while walking out the door.

At any rate, good for LeBron, good for Cleveland – and perhaps good for the NBA…

Jason Kidd Is Not to Be Trusted

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_Jason Kidd will be the new coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, even though he was still in the beginning of his head coaching career with the Brooklyn Nets.

A head-scratcher you say?

No need to consider that the case when Kidd wanted more power and looked to the Bucks as a lifeline after falling out with Nets’ management, even though the Bucks already had a head coach in Larry Drew.  This was in spite of the Bucks also telling Kidd that he would not have personnel power in addition to his head coaching duties.

Still scratching your heads?

Well, if any of you are a wee bit familiar with Kidd’s past, you shouldn’t be surprised at all.

Remember how he clashed with Byron Scott in 2004, which led to Scott’s ouster, and how he allegedly quit on the team by faking a migraine in order to miss a game in 2008.  Mind you, Scott was the coach who helped lead the Nets to BACK-TO-BACK FINALS appearances!

Remember how Kidd turned on top-assistant Lawrence Frank – after Kidd begged ownership to hire him to be his top lieutenant?

And we can go back in time to when he was part of the “Three Js” in Dallas.  First, he got then-new coach Jim Cleamons fired during the latter’s rookie season because he didn’t buy into Cleamons’ philosophies.  Second, Kidd allegedly clashed with his then-buddy Jim Jackson over a chick.  It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal except it torpedoed the chemistry those two built on and off the court, which then led to the locker room chaos which forced the Mavericks to jettison Jackson the following season.

And now (yes, I jumped back to the present), Kidd wanted to supercede general manager Billy King in having a say over personnel matters.  Keep in mind that King, along with the Nets’ brass, willingly took a chance on hiring a dude with NO HEAD COACHING EXPERIENCE to run a team loaded with veterans in a major market – with a “win-now” mentality to boot.

In other words, Kidd has no sense of loyalty.

If the Bucks aren’t careful, Kidd may very well pull this stunt on them.  I mean let’s be honest about something: the Nets are a much, MUCH better franchise than the Bucks.  Did someone fail to tell Kidd that Milwaukee was the worst team in the NBA last season, losing over 65 games?  Given the fact that the Bucks didn’t grant him the front office say he craved in Brooklyn, be rest assured that it will be a matter of time before Kidd acts out.

Kidd is officially the Bobby Petrino of the NBA.

Chandler Trade a Win-Win for the Knicks and Mavs

ny-knicks-logoIn the mega-trade heard around the world yesterday, my New York Knicks traded Tyson Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks for guards Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington and Shane Larkin, veteran center Samuel Dalembert and the 34th and 51st picks in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Let’s examine what this trade means for both teams.

First of all, the Knicks unloaded a ton of money and were able to get under the salary cap.  Felton and his under-performing self was due $4.4 million next season with a player option worth $4.5 million for 2015-16.  Chandler, while very good when healthy, has one year worth $14.6 million left on the contract.

Meanwhile, Dalembert ($3.9 million), Ellington ($2.5 million) and Larkin ($1.6 million) are relatively inexpensive pieces for the Knicks, and none of their contracts are guaranteed past next season, which should help the Knicks maintain space under the salary cap.  In fact, word on the street is New York may waive Dalembert, which should help its current salary cap situation even more.  Either way, the Knicks are in a position to either make another trade or bring in a more talented player with the freed up space.

And team president Phil Jackson was able to get back into the NBA draft thanks to the acquisition of the 34th and 51st picks.  My Knicks are in a dire need of a young infusion of talent, and could ill afford to miss out on perhaps the deepest NBA draft in recent memory.

As for Dallas, the Mavericks get back their rim-protector in Chandler whom they sorely missed since letting him walk to New York after their 2011 NBA championship.  Ya think Dallas could have used Chandler in their opening round playoff series with the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs?  Judging from the reaction of Mavs star Dirk Nowitski, Dallas is more than happy to have Chandler back in the fold.

And if someone could get through to the black Pillsbury doughboy that is Felton, it would be head coach Rick Carlisle.  Carlisle is one of the best in the business, and would motivate Felton to play up to (or perhaps beyond) his talent level.

What is more intriguing is how this may play into the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes.  Both teams expressed interest in Anthony, and have been putting together their cases as to why he should join either one.

As for New York, it’s good to see Jackson doing what he can to get the Knicks pointed back in the right direction (and to perhaps resign Anthony).

Carmelo Anthony Should Head to Chicago

254px-NBA_Logo.svg_As expected, Carmelo Anthony has opted out of his last year of his contract with my New York Knicks.

For the record, Anthony can sign a maximum contract worth $129 million over five years with the Knicks.  He can sign a maximum deal worth $96 million over four years with another team.

So this basically comes down to this: what is more important to ‘Melo – getting paid or winning  ?

If getting paid is more important, he should obviously stay in New York.  As mentioned earlier, he’ll make over $30 million more.  He would be able to expand his brand through Wall Street thanks to owner James Dolan’s connections.

And there is something about balling in New York City that appealed to Anthony.  After all, he forced his way out of Denver to come to Gotham.  And there is not brighter lights than New York City (okay, MAYBE Los Angeles).  Plus it helps that Phil Jackson is running things in the front office.

However if winning is more important, Anthony should take his talents to Chicago.

Anthony, Derrick Rose (when healthy), Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson would be a formidable core of a team capable of a multi-championship run.  I am also not buying the notion that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would not want a defensive liability in Anthony on his squad.  Coach “Thibs” want to win more than most coaches in the NBA, and he doesn’t care if Anthony could play some defense or not.  Noah and the front line would cover for ‘Melo’s defensive lapses.

Look at it this way: if the Bulls had ANYONE who could create his own shot and score, they’d be AT LEAST in the Eastern Conference Finals last playoffs.  The Bulls have arguably the most heart in the NBA.  Adding a bonafide scorer in Anthony would not only make the Bulls a perennial contender, it would bring him closer to getting a championship.

For some reason, I think Anthony will stay in New York.  As stated earlier, he forced his way here, and likes balling in Gotham.

It wouldn’t be a good look if ‘Melo remains a Knick, but it would surely make this longtime Knicks fan happy…

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