The Engines that fell apart ….
The second half of the NBA season will begin earnest on Friday 20th February after the mid-season All Star Break . Thursday, brought in the customary intrigue as it was the NBA Trade Deadline for teams to cut , waive or trade players , as they seek to make cap space or for those and seeking added help to bolster their playoff hopes with their trade maneuvers. All season long we were being told how good the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks were likely to be. Idiots bought into the notion Phil Jackson being hired to head the Knicks’ Basketball Operations added legitimacy to the organization , along with the hiring of rookie head coach Derek Fisher was simply another notion of sheer lunacy on their part.
The Knicks’ season has been a complete disaster and now with the loss of the team’s best player , Carmelo Anthony having to undergo season ending surgery , what is now left of the franchise’s season has essentially been blown asunder. Fisher and his coaching staff have coached the team to one of the worst records not just within the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference but also in the entire NBA.
Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills have now began to revamp the roster as they begin the second half of their eighty-two game schedule . The first game of their slog will be a home game against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. In an Eastern Conference which has been far from entertaining with the exception of the dominance of the Atlanta Hawks and the recent winning streak of the Cleveland Cavaliers , there has been nothing at all to recommend about the stature of the conference and the overall play there.
The Brooklyn Nets with their $90.5 million payroll have simply proven that throwing money at a matter doesn’t solve it or make things any better . GM Billy King and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov have began to find that out and they are likely find the financial penalty by way of the luxury tax will prove to be costly for the franchise which will in the end mean their having to pay the league hierarchy a hefty $135.6 million penalty . All of the imbecilic NBA fans without a clue , as to what the meaning being of fiscally prudent involves, should actually take note and understand the business of sports’ economics once and for all.
Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff have simply struggled to get the team to play with any type of determination , with the Nets bearing an average record among all NBA franchises. There has to be a great deal of frustration among the Brooklyn Nets’ fans as to the ongoing ineptitude shown by the team and many of the players. Hollins and the team will likely fare better in their next contest when they tip-off against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California,. Between them collectively the Lakers and Nets have combined for seventeen road victories and if your belief is that the teams have fared any better at home then you would be sadly mistaken. The contest promises to be one of sheer mediocrity given the recent form of both teams.
The return of Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves , the franchise where the player began his career is likely to be one of nostalgia , after his travails elsewhere, which saw his success with the Boston Celtics and their their most recent championship win. His move on to a lackluster spell with the Brooklyn Nets , serves as a kindly reminder as to what can go wrong for a veteran player,who still believes he can contribute even when his career has taken a downward slide.
Minnesota’s own self-implosion has been brought on by the ineptitude shown within the front office , led by owner, Glen Taylor , de-facto GM and Head Coach Flip Saunders . All of this has been borne out by the team’s record and abysmal play throughout the course of this season . I am not so sure what Garnett might be able to bring to the table by way of leadership, because that was nowhere to be seen during his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets. Other than his veteran experience and the likelihood of his seeking move up the ranks and into a coaching or executive capacity, this move is one that will bring about the chapter to one of the great careers in recent NBA history.
Sam Presti , GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder might just be one of the most under-estimated front office executives in the entire NBA. With Kevin Durant having been sidelined for part of the season, Presti knew without his All Star and reigning League MVP , the team would likely suffer , albeit, they still had the prodigious talents of their point guard Russell Westbrook .
Durant’s return has led to an upswing in the play the Thunder, as they seek to strive for playoff berth within the Western Conference. They currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference, where were the season to end today , a first round match-up against the Golden State Warriors would await Kevin Durant and his teammates. That certainly would be a series well worth watching between of two of the best offensive scoring teams not just within the conference , but also the league . Over their last six games Oklahoma has been on a tear having won five of six .
Sam Presti engineered the trades of Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett , to bolster the team’s roster and perhaps give themselves not only cap room for 2015 , but also perhaps even greater depth than the rosters of the Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers , Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs . With addition of of DJ Augustin , Enes Kanter, Steve Novak , Dion Waiters and Kyle Singler . This is a team that cannot be now overlooked, merely, because of their early season travails . The Oklahoma City Thunder have a very good coach in Scott Brooks and a coaching staff which complements Brooks’ acumen. It would be foolhardy to overlook those assets.
In the past six weeks , I certainly believe the Phoenix Suns have gone from being possible playoff contenders in the Western Conference to now having blown any chance of actually gaining themselves a playoff berth. My reasons for this come about from the front office’s decision to trade both Goran and Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat for veteran swing-man Danny Granger, which I believe the recipients got the better end of this deal by far ! Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough and Head of Basketball Operations Lon Babby may well have been thinking long-term as to the franchise’s future , but short-term , this deal does nothing for the team’s aspirations for the season. If anything, it now places Phoenix among the ” also-rans” of playoff contenders within the West. Their only hope now , may well lay elsewhere , with the implosion of several teams ahead of them within the West and their going on a multiple game winning streak . Something I do not firmly believe them to be capable of !
Phoenix may well have “sold their souls ” to the Devil and might now feel the wrath of their long-suffering fans after this deal. We will certainly get to gauge this all, when they play their next game . However , it will be their next two home contests , that will likely give vent to their anger towards to the front office and team owner Robert Sarver . The can be no denying before this trade was given the seal of approval, Goran Dragic was one of the primary reasons behind the Suns’ success over the greater part of their season. Dragic’s former teammate Eric Bledsoe may well have been viewed as the focal point of the lineup , but the two players complemented each other and made Phoenix’s success all the more pivotal. It remains to be seen, how the Suns will acclimatize themselves without Dragic and how the player will now impact the Heat’s own fortunes as they seek to make their presence felt within their division as well as the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James may well now be enjoying the fruits of his labors with the Cleveland Cavaliers , having left the Miami Heat prior to the start of the season. With both teams having struggled within the conference and their respective divisions. It could be said their current records are a reflection of who they represent as teams within the NBA .
Heat Team President Pat Riley may well have felt perturbed by James’ abrupt departure, but it should be noted the front office executive did little to aid the disgruntled star in building a roster capable of winning an NBA title last season. Granted, Miami made it to the Finals in 2014 , but manner in which they fell to the San Antonio Spurs was not only embarrassing, but the lack of competitiveness shown by the team was more of a surprise than anything else. You simply were given the impression , that James and his former teammates felt they had the luxury of sleep-walking their way through the series . A 4-1 series’ ass whupping suffered at the hands of the Spurs led to more than a wake-up call, not just LeBron James , but for the entire organization of the Miami Heat and their fans.
On Friday night, the Miami Heat came away with a lopsided twenty-four point road victory over the New York Knicks in a game played and I use the term ” game played” loosely , as nothing about the Knicks suggests this is a team which has a frigging clue , from the front office , down to the coaches and playing staff has any idea as to what it takes to win in the NBA at present . Anyone seeking to point out any positives concerning the New York Knicks this season has to be in need of psychiatric assistance.
The Cleveland Cavaliers for their part were bolstered by a thirty-eight point victory over the Washington Wizards , with Lebron James leading all scorers with twenty-eight points. victory which helps the Cavaliers make inroads in to the Central Division lead of the Chicago Bulls.
A debate continues to rage on all corners this season, as to which player should be viewed as the leading candidate for the NBA League MVP . We have the four-time winner LeBron James once again staking a claim for himself, that he is not only the best player in the league, but also the best of his generation and perhaps among the top-fifteen players to have ever stepped unto an NBA and win just about every accolade possible. In a year when we have seen Steph Curry , Klay Thompson , Kevin Durant, Chris Paul , Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and James Harden raise the level of their play. I cannot help but wonder are they really that good or is the the level of coaching that bad , where the defensive mindset within the NBA is almost non-existent ?
Harden has led the Houston Rockets to one of the best records in the NBA and is almost single-handedly making the team a force to be reckoned with in the league. So much for Dwight Howard bring his prowess to the team. Howard remains ‘Robin’ to Harden’s role as ‘Batman’ . Holy smorgasbord , what’s going to happen now ? While some might decry Harden as purely an offensive minded player , you simply cannot deny what he has brought to the Houston Rockets as a player. Consider the fact, there have been a number of winners of the League MVP Award who were no better better than James Harden , in terms of their defensive ability , but yet a number of observer, perhaps out of bias rather than using common sense, believe the Rockets’ forward not worthy of being the recipient of the NBA’s most prestigious regular season award. If left to them it would gift-wrapped and handed to LeBron James annually , without taking a vote ? The only player where that premise should be applied should be during the era where Michael Jordan reigned supreme within the NBA. The year that Karl Marlone was the recipient of the award, may well have been done out of pity , rather than merit.
If James Harden is not the named League MVP at the end of this season , given the fact the second-half of the schedule, is still in its infancy, my choice for the award would be Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors ! He is having an outstanding season , while making his presence felt as a very versatile player . Given Curry is presently earning as a point guard in this league , I believe him to be vastly underpaid in his current role !
Over the coming months which player , players , team or teams, do you believe will be on the ascent as the second-half of the season begins to take shape ? Finally, which two franchises do you believe will be the conference representatives in this season’s NBA Finals ? Your comments are more than welcomed on this topic and anything else you believe to be relevant to the subject . So let’s get the ball rolling with a comment or two.
Picture and slideshow details below.
(1) New York Knicks’ GM Steve Mills seated , is seen congratulating Derek Fisher center , after the formal announcement has been made that the former Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard has been named the new head coach of the franchise . The decision was made by Phil Jackson who heads up the Knicks’ Basketball Operations . This season the New York Knicks have been far from convincing as a team and are likely to end up being part of the NBA Draft Lottery when the 2015 NBA Draft takes place on the 25th June , 2015. AP Photo / Paul Daniels
(2) Dwyane Wade (3) of the Miami Heat posts up LeBron James (23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 25 , 2014 in Miami, Florida. Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann
(3) Jordan Clarkson(6) of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Deron Williams (8) of the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. With the departures of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Nets this season, the team is now back firmly in the hands Nets point guard Williams to lead . Unfortunately , for Brooklyn, Deron Williams’ play has been inconsistent as has been the team’s play which is reflected in their record . Getty Images / Stephen Dunn
(4) Kevin Garnett (2) of the Brooklyn Nets waits to hear the calls after he and Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets got into a scuffle in the first quarter at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Getty Images/ Elsa Martinez
(5) Seen here in the foreground is Oklahoma City Thunder player and reigning League MVP Kevin Durant . Also pictured is team GM Sam Presti who has engineered a multiple player trade with the view of bolstering the roster. Durant is due to become a free agent in 2016 , but could opt out at the end of this year and become one of the marquee free agents on the market during off-season. The front office and ownership are likely provide the their MVP with a lucrative contract at the time his current deal expires, making him one of the highest paid players in the league. However , Kevin’s Durant’s main goal is to win an NBA title having come close already , only for the Thunder to falter on each occasion . AP Photo / Matt Holmes
(6) Phoenix Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough is seen here speaking with the convened press, addressing their questions posed concerning the team’s season . McDonough made the decision to trade both Goran and Zoran Dragic to the Miami Heat , but has now leveled some criticism aimed at both players in the aftermath of their departure. Getty Images / Phil Pearson
(7) Steph Curry (30) and teammate Klay Thompson (11) are the primary reasons why the Golden State Warriors possess the best record in the Western Conference and are closely bearing down on the league’s best mark held by the Eastern Conference top seeds the Atlanta Hawks . Curry is also seen as a leading contender for League MVP . Getty Images / Steve White
(8) James Harden of the Houston Rockets might well be the leading candidate for the League MVP this season but questions are being raised to the Harden’s candidacy and his legitimacy as a nominee for the award . Getty Images /Harry How
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