Knicks Summer ’17: The Longest New York Minute Ever.

carmeloamareBy: Will Stevenson

“The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian.”
… “it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy.”

The New York Knicks have been abysmal by every stretch of the imagination for more than a decade. They went from a franchise that was neck and neck with he Chicago Bulls of the 90s, to a team that has done nothing but suffer through coaches, players and upper management since their loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the finals of the ’99 lockout season. The New York Franchise has been waiting for that one star, or stars to save them from their demise on the court, and have been searching for the right front office moves to rescue them from the incompetence of their owner, Jim Dolan. For the fanbase of the Knicks, they have been conditioned to look towards the future, and once that future arrives, they again condition themselves to look towards the future again.

So here we are, the Summer of ’17, and the Knicks have done it again. After another season of consistent disappointment and landing in the lottery, the Knicks had a golden, well golden’ish opportunity to actually get it right. Spoiler Alert: They didn’t.

  1. Get rid of Phil Jackson as soon as the season ended
  2. Trade Melo
  3. Don’t shell out money for Derrick Rose
  4. Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard
  5. Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space
  6. Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market
  7. Do not move any future first round picks
  8. Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

Get rid of Phil Jackson:

The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but they waited until Phil had his turn in taking down the Knicks one last time. Not only did he devalue Carmelo once again, he put Kristaps Porzingis on the trade block right before the draft. He allegedly fell asleep during draft workouts, and continued to drill the notion of the Triangle as the offense for the upcoming season. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to draft Ntilikina as an 18 year project instead of Dennis Smith Jr who has caught the eye of every GM during Summer League. The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson, but not before he was able to opt in for the final two years of his deal. Just a reminder: The Knicks did part ways with Phil Jackson.

Trade Melo

Melo is older, less explosive and still the focal point of the Knicks offense. Some want him to go, while others want him to stay. The Knicks brass has been trying to get rid of Melo for almost three years now, but nothing has come to fruition. You may notice Anthony has a NTC (no trade clause), given to him during his extension he signed. So, the Knicks decided to resign him, knowing he was aging, give him a NTC while knowing they wanted to get rid of him: Got it. The rumor mill has had Melo going to the Rockets for about a week now, but nobody wants Ryan Anderson. This is very similar to nobody wanting Kevin Love around draft night: See something similar here? None of these teams want an aging stretch-four that cannot guard his position, or any other positions to say the least. As of now it is Saturday, July 15th, and the Knicks have pulled back on their fervor to trade Melo. Go Knicks.

Don’t Shell Out Money For Derrick Rose

They didn’t, but they have done some Knickery in Free Agency.

Trade up in the lottery, or draft a future point guard

The Knicks could have traded up, but that would have cost them Prozingis or Hernangomez, to big men that have blossomed last season. The draft went as expected, but there were players on the board that seemed to give the Knicks a more immediate boost than Frank Ntilikina, notably Dennis Smith Jr. Look, we booed Phil when he drafted Porzingis, and even though he lucked into that decision, it has turned for the better. Maybe, just maybe this draft choice will be the same, in the future.

Do not sign any free agents that will clog up salary cap space

They almost made it, almost. We watched the Kings shell out money for veterans, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nuggets and Clippers make sign and trades for 28 and over players, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Nets sign restricted free agents so other teams would bite, the Knicks held tight. We watched the Miami Heat resign their own free agents to multi-year deals, the Knicks held tight. Even as the Knicks did not have a President of Operations during Free Agency, nor could they wash their front office for David Griffin to bring in his own guys, the Knicks the did not do any Knickery as they did last offseason. The Knicks signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a 4yr 71 million offer sheet. A player they once drafted, then traded, then traded the guy they traded for him. That’s right, Knickery. They didn’t shell out money for Derrick Rose, they didn’t give long-term deals to JJ Reddick, Shabazz Muhammed, Gallinari, or make another Noah deal. The Knicks were doing it right for a week at the least. As usual, it did not last long. The Hawks did not match, of course, and now the Knicks are back to Knickery, again.

Look for a veteran point guard on the free agent market

They didn’t. They resigned Ron Baker.

Do not move any future first round picks

They haven’t, yet. There is still time with this possible Melo trade, or if they want to get rid of the Noah contract, or the Courtney Lee contract.

Re-establish front office mindset towards building the future

The Knicks are Tristan Thompson, and Scott Perry is Khloe Kardashian. Not only was Scott Perry part of the Sacramento Kings, he was only there for a few months. He was with the Orlando Magic before he joined the Kings. Perry goes from the Magic, a lottery team in disarray, to the Kings, a lottery team in disarray, to the Knicks, a lottery team in disarray. We already know the things that you can’t turn into a housewife, and it looks as if Scott Perry is Lane Kiffin’ing his way through the NBA management hierarchy. Now that Perry has arrived, the Melo trade talks have been put on pause, but that’s because Perry has a great track record of getting deals done. For the culture, Perry will report to Steve Mills who is in charge of the Tim Hardaway Jr. signing, so don’t anything to change.

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Bucks Show Why They’re A Team On The Rise! Brogdon Shines!

By Lawrence Edwards

 

Celtics shot 39% from the floor and the Bucks took advantage leading by a game high of 14 points at one point. The Celtics would not go down without giving it all for the home crowd however. The Celtics 4 game win streak in a 6 game home stand was the on line with the game coming down to the final seconds.  Celtics capitalized on a foul with 26 seconds to go to pull within 1, however, Malcolm Brogdon made an impressive shot over Avery Bradley with almost no time left to go on the shot clock to go up 3 with 15 seconds left that would ultimately seal the game at 103-100. The loss hands the Celtics it’s 27th and 1st in the last 4 home games with one left to go against the Orlando Magic before hitting the road to take on the Knicks. Boston will try to use the next game to get back on track so they can be ready when the Cavaliers come into town on Sunday. The Cavs will be sure to bring their A game when the top two teams in the East face off for the #1 seed. The C’s will need more than just Isaiah Thomas to do the scoring. Isaiah Thomas led all scorers in the game with 32 points against the Bucks.

Meanwhile the Bucks are slowly becoming a team no one wants to see in the playoffs. How about rookie Malcolm Brogdon! He finished with 16pts 9 assists 4 rebounds and no turnovers, he was without a doubt the heart and key to victory tonight. If  you didn’t think so already, Brogdon should be rookie of the year, in my opinion he solidified his status in the race after this game. He came up huge in a playoff atmosphere against the then current #1 seed in the East. The Greek Freak is the future of this league and he showed it tonight. The Celtics had no answer for him as he led the Bucks with 22 points 3 blocks and 9 rebounds. The Bucks shot 52% from the floor which is a huge reason for their victory. Look out for Milwaukee in the playoffs, if this young team continues to develop they will be looking to prove a point and cause some upsets.

This three game series is now tied at 1-1 with the final game on April 12th to finish out the regular season. The Celtics will be looking to get revenge and close the season out on a high note.

GAME STAT LEADERS

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Isaiah Thomas: 32 pts 5 Rebounds 4 assists              

Jae Crowder: 13 pts 3 assist 2 rebounds                

Al Horford: 12 pts 10 rebounds assists

Milwaukee Bucks Logo

Giannis Antetokounmpo: 22 pts 9 rebounds 3 assists

Khris Middleton: 19 pts 6 rebounds 5 assists

Malcolm Brogdan: 16 pts 9 assists 4 rebounds

 

 

 

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*Feature image credit of Associated Press*

Fear And Loathing To Las Vegas: 31-1, the Raiders are leaving Oakland

By Will Stevenson

Welcome to the NFL where business is booming. As a North Carolinian, I have watched professional teams come and go, and I’ve often wondered why this state hasn’t been a part of the events that go on in our professional leagues. We haven’t had a baseball team, so watching the Braves on TBS or the White Sox and Cubs on WGN were the regional options.  Our basketball team was here, then went to New Orleans with our good players and ultimately drafting Chris Paul, then leaving us with an expansion team called the Bobcats. Oddly enough the HB-2 sent the 2017 NBA All-Star Game to New Orleans, so yet again New Orleans was there to take our karma (Somehow I feel David Stern is behind this, but I digress). Our football team came in 1996, I was there when they played their home games at Clemson Stadium. The Carolina Hurricanes are our hockey, which they were relocated from Hartford.

With North Carolina being more famous for their collegiate sports, our history as a professional sports state pails in comparison to places such as Cleveland, Green Bay, New York, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. Although I don’t have a long-standing connection with the Carolina Panthers or the newest version of the Charlotte Hornets, I still have an understanding of how it feels to know the team you invest your time and money into is leaving to another city. With today’s 31-1 vote to move the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, those feelings of betrayal and emptiness were connected once again. We’ve all seen this coming for the past couple years and we should have know it was going to happen when the Rams moved to LA, and then subsequently the Chargers. The Raiders stayed in Oakland, but most knew it wouldn’t be for long, as Las Vegas was ramping up their proposal. With that 31-1 vote, Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins voiced his concern with the Palm Beach Post, “My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to the fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us.” Is that a general concern of the fans, or is Stephen Ross looking at his mid-dumpster fire of a money-making franchise and seeing what is to come on the horizon?

All Las Vegas needed was a team, any professional team to get the NFL on board. Baseball wasn’t budging, the MLS isn’t in the Big Four as far as major sports are concerned here in the states, and the NBA wasn’t ready to test those waters after the debacle of a weekend with their All-Star game (Shoutout PacMan Jones). That leaves one left: Hockey. That’s right, the NHL, a league that has undergone major construction with their relocation over the years through their rebranding after work stoppages and the loss of network sponsorships, has paved the way for professional sports in Las Vegas.

The NFL has continuously noted the conflicting interest of gambling and a possible move to Las Vegas, but it’s 2017, and with the world being so technologically advanced, there’s no need to refuse uncharted territory that can be seen as financial gain. A fan base is key to the business of relocation, but the Raiders won’t see Las Vegas for another 2-3 years with the opening marked for 2020. For the NFL, that’s plenty of time to decide on PSLs (Personal Seat Licenses), sponsorships, parking, traffic, and promotional tactics: And Hotels. Let us not forget this is a business, and when a new sports franchise is coming to town, there are business partnerships that must be forged: Restaurants, Hotel Chains, Flights, Ticket Packages, “Ambassadors”, Spokesmen, Commercials, etc.

Enough of the business aspect, let’s get back to the fans in Oakland. The Oakland fan base has once again suffered. Their team is leaving, and their team is actually good with a promising offense running the show. You know what that means: The Raiders have two years to go for it all. I know stacking rosters to win isn’t the most efficient way of building a championship contender, but the Raiders have only one chance to do it. With the Patriots maybe-slowing-down but not probably, the Raiders need to win the Superbowl with the team they currently have. They need to win before the fans have to choose between going to Las Vegas or possibly rooting for either of the teams in LA. Help us all if any Raider fans have to cheer for the Rams.

This is a day when all Raider Nation collectively post on social media to grieve. Every meme, picture, comment section, Twitter think-piece and Facebook Group is already feasting at the Vegas trough. Just as Kendrick Lamar said to rappers about his upcoming album, Oakland has two years to get their sh*t together. In two years you will only have the Warriors to cheer for, and I’m sure that traveling package for Las Vegas won’t be cheap. Your significant other will only allow so many “football trips” to see the Raiders play in Vegas, and I’m sure some of you are already planning to fail two years in advance.

Happy Monday Oakland, Happy Monday.

PS: Who will be the next “Purple” in Las Vegas? Ask for a friend.

NBA Non-Playoff Run: The Basketball Gods are coming

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By: Will Stevenson

With the end of the NBA regular season coming to an end, the actual basketball coverage continues to dwindle. We have teams at the top of the standings that are just hoping to get to the playoffs without any injuries, teams in the middle jockeying for home court, teams at the bottom still fighting to stay in the playoffs, and the teams trying kinda-sorta to keep their lottery pick. The teams who have no hopes of the playoffs are shutting down veteran players and giving those minutes to the young guys, while those coming up on free agency are showcasing for the offseason. Defense hasn’t been great this season, so those games between losing teams seems unwatchable to most casual NBA fans. The NBA isn’t like most sports as in they have a long season, so marquee matchups down the stretch don’t have the shine as they were suppose to have when the scheduling was being made. More than those who are in the playoffs, lets take a look at the teams we thought would be competing for a playoff spot this year.

  1. Hornets (32-40) 3 GB of the 8th seed
    Kemba Walker has done all he can to keep the Hornets afloat this season. Even with the emergence of Cody Zeller and Frank Kamisky, the Hornets are still a team full of face cards: They can’t outright win with a spade, but they can get a book every now and then with a King of Clubs. Coach Clifford has been able to adjust to the NBA’s rising pace of play by adding more shooters and letting the big men go from the previous roster. The Hornets have one scorer, Kemba Walker, and with them being a below average defensive team, won’t cut it in today’s NBA. Let me not forget about the poor play of Nicholas Batum who is often injured and inconsistent of being a number two player on a given team. The Basketball Gods have awarded the Hornets with Kemba, but it seems as though everything else is just average: Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, Kaminsky, Zeller, Batum and Joseph Forte… I mean Jeremy Lamb.

2. Timberwolves (28-43) 6.5 GB of the 8th seed
50-32, that was pretty much the consensus after Tom Thibodeau was named the Head Coach in the offense. With the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine, we had high hopes the Wolves we become the Western Conference darlings, much like the Trailblazers last season. We must have forgotten about the ability to learn team defense and the fact their young stars are just that: Young. Even before the season started, Coach Thibs didn’t like his roster as rumors of old Bulls being traded to the Wolves circulated. Wiggins still hasn’t been able to match is on-ball defense with his offense, and the Wolves aren’t adapting to the 3pt barrage as the rest of the league as of yet.

3. Lakers (21-51) 2nd worst record in the league
New coach, new system, but the same players. The Lakers came out the gate average, but they played with energy, hustle, and ESPN showcase defense. After the injury to Russell, it all fell apart and the run to keep that Top 3 protected pick in this year’s draft was the only thing to shoot for. I didn’t think the Lakers would make a playoff run, but I imagined them winning 30-35 games this season. Maybe the Basketball Gods will punish the Lakers again and knock them out of the lottery this season. Only can only hope.

4. Pelicans (30-42) 5 GB of 8th seed
Anthony Davis. That’s pretty much the team in a nutshell, but after an offseason spending on mediocre role players, the Pelicans were looking to be a team of 3 and D. Jrue Holliday , Tyreke Evans, and Quincy Pondexter started out the season on the IR, and Buddy Heild was shooting like the Raptors in last year’s playoffs. Then, the Pelicans pulled off a ransom for Demarcus Cousins. They were 3GB of the 8th seed at that point, and they’ve been falling since. 30 games isn’t enough to say the “Fire and Ice” experiment failed, or to move Boogie in the offseason if they can’t extend him, or to fire Alvin Genty, but the Pelicans must figure out if they want to resign Holliday and keep the team they have for the next few seasons. Once, again, I’m hoping the Basketball Gods give the Pelicans a Top 3 pick. In that case, the Kings would lose out on the opportunity to have 2 lottery picks this season. Or maybe the Pelicans don’t deserve to have a lottery pick this year. I’m conflicted.

5. Blazers (33-38) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
We see it all the time in sports. A team stays hot and overachieves during a season, and then they overcomplicate things in the offseason which makes the next season impossible to replicate. The Blazers were flying high as they lost in the second round to the Warriors last year. They have two guards that could score form any place on the floor, 3 and D winds, and athletic big men who could run the floor and make plays from the high post. It all went downhill with the explosion of the Salary Cap last summer. The Blazers needed to hit the salary floor and add players to a roster that seem pretty good, and young. They paid Mo Harkless, Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. Harkless is average, Crabbe is average, Evan Turner needs the ball to perform, and Festus hasn’t played a game this season. Offense is the trend this season, but if your guards can’t stop penetration and your bigs can’t defend the rim on a consistent basis, then a bad shooting night will result in multiple losses.

6. Bulls (34-39) 1.5 GB of the 8th seed
Breaking News: The Bulls have signed Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. I knew it was downhill from there. After the Bulls let Noah go and traded Derrick Rose, I figured they would be going in a younger direction, even with Taj Gibson outplaying Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic at every turn. I figured, and I was wrong. The Bulls decided to go against conventional and analytical wisdom to pick up two over-thirty-non shooting-high usage players to their team. Even after the high 3pt percentage games to start out the season and a Wade game-winner, the Bulls fell back to earth as they should  have. They ended up trading Gibson and McBuckets to the Thunder for Cameron Payne, and lost Wade to injury a few weeks ago. To no surprise, they’ve played better without him. Rondo’s play on the court hasn’t been the issue this year as he has played well off the bench. I don’t know what the Bulls will do this offseason, but I do not want to see them get swept by the Cavaliers if they make the playoffs. If by chance, the Kings get screwed in the lottery and they land outside the top 10, the Bulls will get that pick. I don’t know what the Basketball Gods will do this summer.

For these franchises, the season was full of hope back in October. Whether it was injury or inconsistent play, these teams will fin d themselves in the lottery if they don’t make a final push to be swept in the playoffs.  If not, there’s always Tinder.

NBA MVP Race 2017: What Will The League’s Electoral College Do This Year?

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By Will Stevenson

With the NBA Season winding down, most fans and pundits around the league have collectively gathered to discuss the league’s Most Valuable Player. I hate it.

I hate this conversation with the furry of a thousand eardrops of Tomi Lahren’s bathwater. Maybe I have become numb or annoyed by the MVP talk, but it just seems that we care about an award that we immediately diminish once the playoffs arrive. It is probably unfair to former MVPs that didn’t win the championship, because we like to compare everything the Michael Jordan. If you don’t have Google, or basketball-reference readily available, the regular season MVP goes unnoticed by most on recall. Day after day we bring up the usual suspects for the MVP, and then go through all the reason that player should not win the MVP, instead of giving them their props for their consistent play.

With an 82 game season, we need something to yammer about other than the actual games during the week. With the pace of play on the rise, defense in a slump, and players gearing up for the playoffs or Cabo, players have been able to take advantage of lack-luster play throughout the season. While some of the counting stats may be overblown a bit, efficiency, true shooting and usage rate have allowed the basic fan to realize the players in this year’s MVP race aren’t just hustling numbers. Appreciating guys like James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James, and Russell Westbrook is an utopian concept. The only way we are able to digest the MVP race is by finding weakness in order to illuminate strength.

I always felt the love for Russell Westbrook has been fake for this season. Kevein Durant left and now we grab on to Russell because we know has the best “IDGAF” attitude in the league and isn’t shy about it. Westbrook is currently averaging a triple double this year which is something most, if not all were sure would never be accomplished. We’ve been able to watch Lebron James flirt with the possibility as well as Jason Kidd. The conversation usually went to, ” If he really wanted to, he could do it” which I think is the reason why many NBA players don’t want to achieve this feat. Averaging a triple double is taxing and in today’s up-tempo NBA makes the seasonal wear and tear more apparent.

We also discuss the winning angle for the potential MVP. MVP selections do not lose in the regular season, as the value component of the discussion really reveals itself. With the season being so long, there are many opportunities for highlight games and stats to get lost in the shuffle, especially on a Tuesday in Brooklyn, or a Saturday Night in Orlando. We look to marquee matchups and  showcase games to get our one-game sample taste of what these players have to offer: Like when the Warriors played the Spurs last week (oh wait..). The issue with putting winning ahead of everything is calculating the number of games it takes to qualify for MVP. Is it best record? 55 games and above? Division winner? Who knows?

The MVP discussion is objective, with everyone have their own views of what matters to them. Most of the talk is a battle of semantics as we parse through analytics to pick which one holds more weight, or if defense is more valuable that offense.

It would be nice if we just awarded these men with awards, but we already do with the All-NBA Teams, and nobody cares about those discussions. Once the playoffs start, unless the winner is Lebron, we will tell you how un-MVP their play is, or if it lives up to our hype. Either way, I hope it’s a 5 way tie, because I have none of the aforementioned winning the damn thing.

500 Days of Spring: The NBA Season Is A Long One

By Will Stevenson

The NBA Regular Season is winding down, and I for one am very excited for it to be over. Remember when Joel Embid was the talk of the league? Remember when the Warriors and Thunder were facing off and Pachulia was standing over Russ? I remember when the Bulls were playing hard and the Lakers were 2 games above .500. I didn’t even know who Nikola Jokic was or that Nurkic was a beast in the making for the Trailblazers. I thought the Blazers were bad? Remember when the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets were tied at 11-30? Since that time, the Heat are now 32-35,  and the Nets are 12-54. Remember the Warriors being a villain? That concept was pretty much a lost cause for the team.

Certain things have dulled this regular season: Injures, Back to Backs, Pace of Play and new systems. Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, LaMarcus Aldridge are the marquee names that have, and will miss extended time this season. Not to mention players like Chandler Parsons, JR Smith, Evan Turner, George Hill, and Derrick Favors have all missed significant time with injuries. Players are resting more, which they should, and teams are keeping players as fresh as possible for the stretch run. With the draft coming and the free agent pool being dwindled by extensions this past summer, teams are tanking on purpose.

Injuries

I can never wrap my head around the concept of a player being injury-prone. It’s as if we don’t believe players should every have anything wrong with their body. Injuries are a natural part of progression, and bad luck can happen to anyone, which it does. How many players have the Pelicans released because of injury? How many times has Lance Stephenson been cut because he’s suffered various injuries. I remember watching Pierre Jackson (right before the Yogi Ferrell “explosion”) score 9 points in the first quarter for the Mavericks, then he hurt his leg and I haven’t heard from him since. He was on a 10 day contract and was released. Andre Bogut played 58 seconds before he collided with another player and broke his leg, he was released as well. Kevin Durant was knocked out by a flopping Zaza, just as Paul Gasol got hurt during shootaround. A number of players have broken a hand or finger by it getting caught in an opponents jersey. If you remember, Durant had a nasty fall in which he fell on his wrist a few games early before the knee injury. The point is injuries happen, bad luck happens, and these guys aren’t injury  prone, they are just human beings in a sport in which bodies collide with each other often. I won’t even go into these training regiments and tightness of muscles plus over-exertion. Players get injured often, and waiting until you are fully 100% is something that isn’t obtainable. Chandler Parsons is on the verge of being Brock Osweiler’d. Kyle Lowry would be replaced if Cory Joseph weren’t the embodiment of Delusions of Grandeur. Derrick Favors, in a contract year, is both months removed from being a centerpiece and months away from being paid the vet minimum and/or being replaced by Trey Lyles.

Rest

This won’t take long: Players need rest. Whatever high-horse you are on, complaining about how the fans need to see the best product are taking hypocrisy to a whole new level. Nobody complains when stars rest in Orlando, or Milwaukee, or if it isn’t a Primetime game on TNT, Espn or ABC. I get it, you care enough when you get to watch them in primetime, but not when they are playing in Minnesota on a Wednesday and being broadcasted by the local cable company. Even those that paid to go to the game, it happens. If the NBA isn’t refunding your tickets or giving back so sort of perk for those that went to the Spurs/Warriors game, then you shouldn’t be so angry at the players. You should be mad at yourself because you got played, again.

Tanking

This tanking thing is something isn’t it? The Kings are trying to tank so hard, but can’t. when they traded Cousins they were 3 games out of the last playoff spot, and banking on the Pelicans making the playoffs or missing it barely to get 2 lottery picks and be bad enough so Chicago wouldn’t get their pick which is top-10 protected (I play lots of 2k). The Kings are 6 games out of the 8th seed, but are tied with a team that gave them a 1st rd pick, but it was top 3 protected because there was no way they could end keeping that pick, the Pelicans. That’s right, Fire and Ice are melting themselves into a possible oblivion I haven’t seen  since the Lakers and Nets traded away all their picks and missed out on protection picks. The Kings could lose out on a possible top 3 pick, or the Pelicans could lose out on a top 5 selection. We all knew it would take time for the Pelicans, and they were thin, but it has really been a struggle, especially with the resurgence of the Blazers, Timberwolves and Mavericks. The bottom-playoff teams have been so bad that the teams attempting to tank are a 3 game win streak from being in the playoffs. The Lakers have been horrendous this year, and this time it’s not Kobe’s fault. The Lakers pick is top 3 protected, so if they win, they lose the pick to the 76ers. Their development this year stopped around December once the injuries hit and the losses piled up. Mozgov and Deng have be inept and are now DNP-CD (Did not play – coaches decision), isn’t that something for 33 million a season for 4 years (Thanks Jim). The Orlando Magic traded away Oladipo, Sabonis, Ibaka, and still are as putrid as before. The Suns aren’t tanking, but their play does it for them, and the Nets are tanking but don’t have a 1st round pick (a high one) for 3 total years. Teams are hoping the 2017 class is a deep one and leads to potential stardom, but these teams should realize that they themselves have played a major role in harming their own on-court success.

Despite these issues in the league, I am interested in watching playoff basketball. With the pace of play substantially going up league-wide, I’m interested to see if the high pace will translate to the playoff style. Will the Rockets continue to shoot 40 three pointers a game? Will a team like the Wizards be able to put up 106 ppg? Will coaches be able to swallow their defensive and carefulness instincts, knowing that a team could “grit and grind” them at any point. Though the pace of play is up with transition and three pointers attempted, we saw how that changed when the Cavs fug in on defense and the Warriors didn’t connect on those threes. Will teams turn back into the Jazz on offense, and will the Grizzlies continue their team record pace for relapse into the Grindhouse? Just something to check up on.

Lavar Ball: Building An Empire While Inside an Empire

Will Stevenson

In 2017, things are different.  In this capitalist society, maximizing your value is something every one of us should strive to do.  In all honesty, we don’t want others to maximize their value.  We want them to go through the “proper channels” and only behave the way we want them to.  Most of us weren’t born with the talent to dictate our own financial prowess.  Most of us work jobs, have managers, a boss that tells us when and where to be, how to act, and what our value is.  I must admit there is something that rises up in us when we see someone “buck the trend” of business and/or sport protocol.  When we see someone else have the power, instead of reveling in their presence or linking up with them to become stronger as a brand, we cut them down so they can be on our level. Sad is it not?

Lavar Ball is building an empire inside of an empire, which belongs to college basketball and the NBA.  Lavar Ball has helped himself to any news outlet to profess the greatness of his three sons.  Three sons.  We loved the Mannings, the Gronkowskis, but we don’t like the Balls.  Why?  In a sports world in which a collegiate athlete is drafted to a particular team instead of being able to choose a team of their own, being able to dictate the terms is almost impossible. For Lavar Ball, he must be able to dictate what he can, and continue to push the envelope.

Ball has spoken on how he wants his oldest to play for the Lakers.  He wants his son to stay in California, be close to home.  That actually sounds like something that would be a great idea, knowing the further away Lonzo Ball is away from his father, the easier it is to be pulled from his influence.  Ball has also spoken of building a brand with his sons: shoes, apparel, all the like.  We know the competition with Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, Jordan and Reebok would crush the competition, but why not try to infiltrate the system.  Every business out there is going to attempt to sink their marketing teeth into the Ball family, so it would be in Lavar’s best interest to do that himself.

As sports fans, we hate meddling parents.  We want those meddling parents to stay out-of-the-way and let coaches do their jobs.  Lavar has been slashed in almost every comment section there is for his interviews.  We always say others should avoid the spotlight, so if there were to be a downfall there wouldn’t be so much damage from the media.  Who can avoid the spotlight though?  The same people criticizing Lavar Ball are the same ones leaving comments on ESPN or on twitter hoping someone of importance reads it.  How ironic right?  Don’t let the fact that the Ball family is better at basketball than most of us let that cloud our hopes for their success.

We keep saying the fathers of this nation are lacking.  We keep reiterating that parents should be raising their children, not the system.  We continue to tell our children they can be anything, and they do always have to go the regular route.  If a relationship between a father and his sons is such that a father has the knowledge to navigate the sports business world, then we should all get behind the father and his sons.  Leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB make it almost impossible for an athlete to do their own marketing, or choose another brand that isn’t sponsored by said league.

Maybe they all make it in the NBA.  Maybe none of them do.  Who cares?  What Lavar Ball has been able to accomplish up to this point is nothing short of amazing.  We don’t like what he says or how he goes about it, but we cannot dismiss his accomplishments because we are too busy stuck in our insecure feelings.