Well folks, that just about does it. Yet another riveting and engrossing NBA season has drawn to a close, but yet, we are left wishing next season would start tomorrow. While, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been crowned champions, questions from around the league remain as the offseason looms. Let’s take a look at some end of season thoughts from around the NBA.
The Trade Radar
The Bulls need to trade Derrick Rose.
For a while it looked as though the Bulls had landed the NBA’s next generational player as Derrick Rose stuffed stat sheets and record books while taking home an MVP trophy to put on his shelf. But after injury after injury after injury after injury after injury, Rose is a shell of what he once was, and he and his twenty one million dollar salary are holding the Bulls back. Coming off a year where he failed to break even five assists per game and was ranked the forty fourth best point guard in the NBA by ESPN metrics, it’s time to go. The Bulls need to rebuild around Jimmy Butler, and in order to ensure that it can be a quick rebuild, they need to ship Rose for any solid young prospect. The rumors of a D’Angelo Russel for Rose trade are tantalizing as the Lakers could take a gamble on a renaissance from a still young former star while the Bulls could discover another building block for their backcourt…
The Cavs should trade Love… But only if they can get a true impact player in return.
Cleveland’s championship will cause team management to look through their squad with rosy glasses, but they need to make the tough decision here and deal Love. He is a great player, but he cannot function as a third cog. The reason this hasn’t worked out is simple. As the third member of a Big 3 including Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, what is needed is a tenacious defender and selfless distributor and rebounder. Kevin Love’s game is built around dominating touches and scoring in droves, but when you have Irving (the second best scoring point guard in the game) and Lebron James (one of the best players in NBA history), you don’t need anymore scoring. What Cleveland needs is a true Chris Bosh type player. Someone who is a reliable and respected defender, someone who can pick up the scoring slack when the top two struggle, and a selfless player unafraid to sacrifice his stats for the good of the team. Love is a great player, but he’s not this player. The Cavaliers should try to trade Love in order to find a better fit to round out their big three. However that being said, Love is a star in this league, so Cleveland needs to take this route with extreme caution. They should aggressively try to deal Love but only if they can find a true impact player to replace him.
Phil Jackson needs to pick a road.
Phil Jackson’s quest to become Pat Riley has gotten off to a rough start over the first two years of his tenure as Czar of the Knicks front office, and in large part because he has been indecisive. Publicly, he has said that this team is rebuilding… Yet he reigns in mediocre veteran players like Jose Calderon, Aaron Afflalo, and Robin Lopez while keeping Carmelo Anthony. New York can be a very good basketball team in the future due in large part to the startling emergence of Kristaps Porzingis, but right now that future is fading because they have failed to chosen what road they wish to go down. If they want to rebuild, they must trade Carmelo Anthony and the team’s veterans in order to acquire scores of young talent. Meanwhile, if they want to win now then they need to start making aggressive moves in free agency and in the trade market with acting on the oft talked about Derrick Rose rumors or going all out for Kevin Durant. Phil Jackson needs to commit to a road for this team to go down and do it now. They can either rebuild or win now, but they cannot do both at once. That’s how you lose in both the present and the future.
Your Good Ol’ Free Agency Bullshit Tracker
Teams absolutely love to leak misinformation to the press in order to confuse their opponents as to their next strategic move during the free agency silly season. In the ‘Free Agency Bullshit Tracker’ we’ll debunk whatever the most recent nonsensical conspiracy theory the sports media is running with now.
- Lebron James will seriously consider leaving Cleveland
Bullshit. So you’re telling me that after relocating his entire family to Cleveland, penning a thousand word letter to Sports Illustrated about it has been his dream to come home and play for his hometown team, creating a championship culture, finally achieving total (though unofficial) control over a team, and winning an NBA Championship Lebron’s just going to leave without getting a chance to defend his new title? Yeah, okay sure.
- The Warriors are trying hard to pull Dirk Nowitzki from the Mavs.
Bullshit. Yes, Nowitzki would be a really nice fit for the Warriors given his play style and their system, but does anyone honestly believe that anything short of the U.S. airforce can pry him away from Dallas and Mark Cuban? While there’s always a chance he could pull a Karl Malone if he truly becomes desperate for another ring, I don’t see this happening. To put it simply, the guy is a Mavs lifer and he’ll stay that way.
Examining the Upcoming NBA Free Agency
Chris Bosh is holding the Miami Heat back.
As said in earlier articles, I am a huge Chris Bosh fan and I sincerely hope he can make it back onto the court soon… But right now he is holding the Heat hostage. Ever since Lebron left, the plan for this offseason was for Pat Riley to steal Kevin Durant from the Thunder and begin another Heat dynasty, but with Bosh’s twenty five million dollar salary on the books next to a Bosh shaped hole in the wall of American Airlines Arena, Riley’s sales pitch is a tough one to make. The Heat will have a tall task convincing KD or any major free agent to move down the South Beach when the status on Bosh is so uncertain and his gargantuan salary precluding the team from attaining any other star talent to replace him with. Riley will absolutely have a shot at KD with the Heat’s winning culture, the Miami atmosphere, a veteran champion in Dwayne Wade, and a solid all around roster with Goran Dragic and hopefully Hassan Whiteside… But without Bosh and still with his salary, it’s a tough shot to make.
The Warriors will rightfully go after Kevin Durant and he should listen…
Golden State singing KD would be a colossal risk, but one work taking. For a team so dependent on chemistry and ball movement, adding a ball dominant superstar to the mix in the middle of an impressive run is dangerous, but it’s a move the Warriors should try to make. If they truly want to win titles, they have to understand that their competition is going to continue to improve and adapt to their revolutionary game like the Cavaliers did in the finals. Lebron isn’t going away. Chris Paul and the Clippers aren’t going away. Dame Lillard and the Trailblazers are only going to get better. You can bet that the Spurs will not go gentle into that good night. The Warriors need to swing for the fences if they want to forge a true dynasty, and that means going for Durant. To land him they’ll need to jetison some great players that have played integral roles in their run, but would any other team even hesitate to accept a Harrison Barnes- Andre Iguodola- Shaun Livingston for Kevin Durant trade? I didn’t think so. If KD declines the opportunity, don’t be surprised if the Warriors look to a player like Al Horford. The sweet shooting big man with impressive passing skills would be a stellar fit in their offense.
On the other side, Durant needs to leave OKC. Frankly put, if he hasn’t been able to win a title with Russel Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder core in nine years, there’s not going to be a magical fix all in the near future that enables them to win a title. Meanwhile, he has a historic opportunity to go create a dynasty somewhere in his prime while earning a major payday. He undoubtedly must leave the Thunder, and he should strongly consider the Warriors. At least due to the dominance that could ensue.
The Spurs must make a move.
The Spurs have been one of the most consistently great teams in the league for over a decade, but their run is beginning to wind down. Tony Parker is half the player he once was, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli are half out the door, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are awesome but not good enough to single handidly lead a team to a title. The Spurs need to make a dynamic move in this offseason to have any shot at landing another ring. They should (like the Warriors) throw everything at Kevin Durant and also explore other options like Mike Conley. The Spurs need another superstar to have a chance to lock down one last ring for Popovich, Duncan, and co..
And about that NBA Finals…
Rumors of Stephen Curry’s Demise have been greatly exagerrated.
Yes, Steph Curry struggled mightily in these finals, and yes, his team absolutely blew a chance to make history and blew it so badly that they ironically did so in historic fashion… But no, Curry’s game is not just a fad or a mirage, and the Warriors are not going away anytime soon. I strongly believe that this Warriors team (and especially Curry) simply ran out of gas. They managed to get up 3-1 and all of a sudden the exhaustion and complacency of a 73 win season and potential title repeat crushed them. The wear and tear on the team reached its point of no return and they simply crumbled. Curry may have performed poorly in the finals, but he didn’t choke. As a slight of frame player, his myraid of injuries coupled with damn good defense on Cleveland’s part and a physical series just proved too much for him. But nonetheless, this does not mean that ‘the NBA has figured out the Warriors’ secret’ or any nonsense like that. All this proves is that the playoffs and the NBA season as a whole is a game of endurance and whoever is left standing up the straightest at the end will be carrying home the shiny trophy. The Warriors are still one hell of a basketball team, and they will be back next season and the next season and the next season.
Lebron has cemented his legacy and now has serious claim to the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ consideration.
Make no mistake, this season is Lebron’s legacy. Taking Cleveland (Cleveland of all places?!) from a 3-1 deficit against the greatest team in NBA history back to win its first championship in over sixty years will go down as James’s masterpiece. This title answers nearly all of the questions surrounding Lebron’s stake to Michael Jordan’s throne as the GOAT. Attacking questions that he could not win a title without Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh… Answered. Questions over whether his gamble on returning to Cleveland and forcing the controversial Kevin Love trade and David Blatt firing would pay off… Answered. Questions over whether is priorly bland finals record of 2-3 were an indictment of his lack of clutchness… Answered. Lebron single handidly reinvented the freaking Cleveland Cavaliers into a model of NBA excellence while dominating every moment of this season and winning a championship. I have zero doubts saying that James is beside Jordan as the Greatest of All Time, the only question is if he has surpassed Jordan… Statistically, this one’s too close to call but right now Jordan’s titles give him the edge. But if LBJ can pull down another MVP and a title or two by the time he calls it quits… The GOAT throne will belong in the King’s chamber.
That does it for this week’s NBA Notebook. Check back for more NBA updates and analysis.