Super Team Update: Melo to OKC, Wade to Cavs

Written by :
Published on : October 2, 2017

 

 

The biggest story in basketball right now is that Dwyane Wade has opted out of his contract with the Chicago Bulls and will be joining his former teammate and best friend, LeBron James, on the new look Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are stocking up talent with the hopes that they have enough firepower to beat the Golden State Warriors.

 

This isn’t anything new. Seems like every owner/GM these days is trying to build a “super team” to stop the Warriors. Speaking of, Carmelo Anthony has been traded from the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder. These are both huge moves that dramatically reshape the world of the NBA. Let’s dive into the mantle of this earth shaking news and see what it means for everyone else. Without any ranking, these are our super teams as they currently stand:

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Warriors: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

 

Cavaliers: LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Love,  Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.

 

Thunder: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams.

 

Rockets: James Harden, Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Nene, and 7’2″ Chinese star Zhou Qi.   

 

Celtics: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris.

 

Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford.

 

That’s a lot of firepower on a small number of teams. Despite OKC’s big addition, it still looks like the Cavs added the most since last year. Right now, it’s on the rest of the league to stop a fourth installment of Warriors vs Cavs in the NBA Finals. Because they still look like the two best teams on paper. But who knows what the next season holds? I think many folks would love to see some new faces in the championship. Rockets vs Celtics anyone?

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

The world of the NBA is seriously changing. Being good isn’t good enough anymore. The money is too big for all of that. The stars are aligning, literally. Basketball stars are picking sides and gutting the middle class of the league. The new normal is you either have 2 or 3 superstars or you are looking to draft one. The only thing that’s clear in 2017 NBA ball is that one star can’t win a trophy alone. Best to team up.

 

Also, playing total dick-devil’s advocate, Golden State still was the edge because their roster has played together. All these other squads have just been pieced together. Those crews are going to need to time to gel. Just like the LeBron Heat didn’t win their first year. We shall see.

 

Deals.

 

 


Kevin Durant and the Era of Emo Athletes

Written by :
Published on : September 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Makes a decision to change teams.

 

Claims to be sleepless, days after making the decision.

 

Responds to critics on social media.

 

Comes out with shoe detailing many negative insults hurled at him.

 

Continues responding to critics by using several ghosts accounts.

 

Handles criticism by overeating junk food.

 

This is the new age athlete. This is not Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, or Reggie Miller. Gone are the days of newspaper articles slamming players, with the only retaliation from the players being to address the reporter personally. The previous era of players did not have to worry about branding, social media, and approval from their peers. Maybe it’s a millennial thing. Maybe it is the fact that money is making these athletes more vulnerable and emotional.

 

I simply see it as being soft.

 

The actions of Kevin Durant over the past year further proves that he is emotionally fragile. I’ve speculated that the reason Durant decided to leave Oklahoma City is that he did not want to play for coach Billy Donovan. This was evident to anyone that follows the NBA. We all could see that he was close to Russell Westbrook. He did so many positive things for the city and even opened a signature restaurant in Oklahoma City. The issue with Durant is with the move to Oakland he exposed himself emotionally. He went from superstar on an underwhelming team to bandwagon star looking for an easy championship. Once the big brother and protector of Westbrook he now is in a culture with players that have their own agendas; far more than just dealing with Westbrook.

 

                                                                                      The way we were.

 

The paradigm has shifted from him being protective of Westbrook, to now being on his own and needing a shield of his own. In Oklahoma City, he spent so much time deflecting criticism from Westbrook that he never had time to check his critics and his own demons. Maybe there was value in protecting Westbrook. In doing so, he bought more time from those expecting him to lead his team to a championship. He has never faced the criticism of LeBron James despite losing one championship to James and failing to capitalize on a 3-1 lead against his current team.

 

Durant used several Twitter accounts to defend himself. The effort to make several accounts, and post from them consistently, is childish. I also question his intelligence. Did he not think that someone would find this out? The same amount of effort he took to make the account, with all the obligations he has, he did not stop to think what some person with more time can figure out about him?

 

It’s not only Durant that suffers from this soft mentality. Dwight Howard recently stated how he feels he’s misunderstood and what he has had to endure as a player. Once one of the more marketable players in the NBA, Howard, is now a running joke among his peers and has changed teams three times in five years. Other players have displayed behavior that is soft as well. I can’t say definitively if it’s just the new era of players or if social media has changed how players conduct themselves. It is a slippery slope. Most of these players NEED social media to promote their brand and increase their revenue.

 

                                                                                   How far we’ve fallen.

 

Most companies have to employ people primarily to run their social media accounts. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is not going to run the team’s social media account. The NFL Commissioner has not taken over the NFL Twitter account. If the players view themselves as CEOs of their brand opposed to merely players then I think that they would have less issue with social media. There is the desire to communicate with fans but when it becomes a detriment to what the athlete is trying to build, that is a problem.

 

Luckily for Durant, he is young enough to learn from his mistakes. I believe this may be his last season with the Golden State Warriors. At some point, one of their core four players will have to leave. This may be Durant’s LeBron/Miami experiment. He may have to move on sooner than later. Unfortunately, due to his posts, he can’t return to his original team. Durant should look no further than Dwight Howard as a cautionary tale of what not to do. I believe Durant is still respected by his peers but he is also a few years younger than Howard. This is the time to mature and define what he wants in the league. Calling out critics and former teammates is a loser move and no championship will ever erase that mentality.

 

 


The NBA Free Agency Mambo

Written by :
Published on : July 5, 2017

 

Welcome to the arms race that is NBA free agency mambo. Since the Chris Paul trade, many other big names have signed new deals. Time to review all the big action so far. This is not every transaction but all the important ones.

 

Paul George to Thunder via trade

George was one of the most sought after talents this offseason. Him joining Oklahoma was a bit of a shock but he adds a much needed second weapon to Russell Westbrook. If this keeps the Thunder will be in the hunt in the West.

 

Blake Griffin re-signs with Clippers

Many thought Blake was gone after Chris Paul left but instead he stays in town and signs a max deal for 5 years/$173 million. This is officially Blake’s team.

 

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

 

Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson to Timberwolves

3 year/$57 million for Teague and 2 year/$28 million for Gibson. This Wolves team should be pretty fun to watch since they already added Jimmy Butler to the young roster.

 

Warriors keep everybody

Many thought some of the role players would leave the championship team to go get paid but this was not the case. David West, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala all re-signed. Plus Kevin Durant inks a 2 year/$53 million extension and Steph Curry gets a max deal of 5 year/$200 million. These moves keeps almost the whole crew together for another run. Scary.

 

Jrue Holiday gets paid by the Pelicans

5 year/$126 million. The deal could be worth up to $150 million if certain incentives are met. That’s big cash.

 

jrue-holiday

 

Chinese star Zhou Qi joins Rockets

He is 7’2″ and Chinese. Where else would he play? The Rockets love tall Chinese dudes. That’s their type. Let’s see if Qi is the next Yao Ming.

 

JJ Reddick to 76ers

1 year/$23 million. No, that isn’t a typo. Straight up, top 10 NFL quarterback level money. The NBA deals are off the charts these days.

 

Raptors keep Kyle Lowry

3 year/$100 million for the rising star. This ends rumors of him going to a new squad. Makes sense from Toronto’s point of view. They must keep Lowry and build around him.

 

lowry

 

Paul Millsap to Nuggets

3 year/$90 million to bring Millsap from Atlanta to Denver. $30 mil a year to bounce a ball? God damn I should have never quit playing basketball after 8th grade.

 

Kings add George Hill and Zach Randolph

Sacramento is in a tough spot in the West but these signings will make an impact day 1. Another two names off the free agency big board.

 

Nets offer Otto Porter Jr max deal

Brooklyn has a 4 year/$106 million contract on the table. It’s now up to the Washington Wizards to match or pass. Expect a resolution in the next few days.

 

Otto-Porter-Jr

 

Danilo Gallinari to Clippers after 3-way trade

Danilo will get 3 year/$65 million in Los Angeles. Atlanta gets Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone plus a 2018 first round pick. Denver gets Atlanta’s ’19 second round pick. Complicated but interesting.

 

Gordon Hayward to Celtics

The last big name that many were waiting on. Hayward looked like he wanted to stay in Utah but the call to join a solid Boston squad was too great. He also doesn’t have to deal the Warriors in the playoffs anymore. The future is bright in Boston right now.

 

That’s all the action so far. There is sure to be some big moves on the horizon. Especially when you hear humors like the Cavs or Rockets are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony. That’s just nuts. But who knows? Anything can happen in this new super cash era of the NBA.

 

Signing bonus.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 5

Written by :
Published on : June 9, 2017

 

 

Good golly Miss Molly. I really thought this segment was dead but the Warriors stay perfect despite the Cavaliers’ best efforts. Golden State is currently an insane 15-0 in the NBA Playoffs and is one win away from completing the ultimate sweep. Needless to say, this is all uncharted territory in terms of the record book. This undefeated quest is bonkers and if this team manages to complete the sweep then they will go down as one of the best NBA teams ever assembled.

 

This final installment of Sweeps and Creeps 2017 is all about game 3 of the NBA Finals. By all measure, the best of the series by a wide margin. Mostly because it was close and competitive the entire time. Something that was sorely missing from the blowouts of games 1 and 2. We all knew LeBron James and the Cavs were going to come out firing on their home floor. Much like what happened in the 2016 Finals. And they did. It was back-and-forth action from tipoff. After a wild first quarter, Warriors were up 39-32.

 

durant-celebrate-game 3

 

Cleveland was playing so much better than their previous efforts. They had pace and aggression, they were attacking the rim and it was working. It was 67-61 Golden State at half, thanks in large part to the brilliant shooting of Klay Thompson who had 30 points on 11 of 18 attempts, including 6-11 from three point land. But the story for the Cavs started in the second half with Kyrie Irving. The dude took the game over. Driving, shooting, passing. It was beautiful. Kyrie finished with 38 points on 16 of 29 from the field but 0 for 7 on threes.

 

LeBron once again showed us his lion-sized heart on the way to 39 points on 15 of 27 shooting, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. JR Smith kicked in 16 points, going 5 of 10 from behind the arc. Kevin Love had a rough outing. He notched only 9 points on 1 of 7 from the field. Kyle Korver added 8 points but missed a huge shot late in the game. Cleveland got almost nothing from anyone else on the roster. Overall, it wasn’t enough. Not when Steph had 26 points on 8 of 19 shooting and 5 of 9 from three, plus 13 rebounds and 6 assists. But the real star was Kevin Durant. KD lead the Warriors with 31 points on an efficient 10 of 18 from the field, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Including this monster from the last minute of the game. This sequence turned the whole contest.

 

 

Durant is a beast. The Warriors clawed their way back after a huge 3rd quarter effort from the Cavaliers. Suddenly, things were getting very interesting as time ticked away. The last 2 minutes were all Golden State. The Dubs ended the game on an 11-0 run and most of that is courtesy of Kevin Durant. Final score 118-113. The stunned faces of the home town crowd said it all. The Cavs got hero performances from James and Irving and still lost. This begs the question: does Cleveland have enough firepower to win a game?

 

I’ve changed my prediction with each new Sweeps and Creeps article (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) so no reason to stop now. After all this, I’m the creep that’s calling the sweep. That’s right. The Warriors will stay golden, win game 4 and the championship. Believe that.

 

Sad LeBron.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 4

Written by :
Published on : June 7, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, I thought this segment was done for the year but then the Warriors won game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals by a commanding score of 132-113. And the thought crossed my mind, “could we really see another sweep?” Well, just asking that question was enough for a little exploration. Many are quick to mention that Golden State was up 2-0 last year and ended up losing. That’s true but they are a different team now. They have Kevin Durant and are a PERFECT 14-0 in the playoffs so far. So it’s not crazy to discuss whether or not that success is going to continue.

 

Game 1: Warriors win 113-91

Here we go. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for. Cleveland’s stars played well. LeBron James went 9-20 for 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Kyrie added 10-22 shooting for 24 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Kevin Love added 15 points and 21 rebounds but the Cavs got little help elsewhere. On the other side, Kevin Durant made the most of his Warriors Finals debut with the and dropped 38 points of 14-26 shooting with 9 boards and 8 dimes. Steph followed suit with 28 points on 11-22 shooting (including 6-11 from 3-point land) with 6 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Curry lay up game 1 2017

 

Cleveland gave up too many dunks and easy buckets to keep up with the high octane Warriors. Gunnar explained all that and what the Cavs needed to change but they didn’t totally listen. I’m worried that the Cavaliers are simply out-gunned. Even if they get 30 each from their big 3 (James, Irving, Love) they could still come up short to a Golden State crew that has at least 7 ballers that can drop 20 (Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, Livingston, Clark, Iguodala) on any given outing.

 

Game 2: Warriors win 132-113

Cleveland came out aggressive. LeBron was driving and scoring, Kevin Love was knocking down shots all over and the Cavs looked ready to play. Unfortunately for them, so did the Warriors. Steve Kerr was back to coaching and Steph Curry went 10 for 10 from the free throw line on the way to a 40 point first quarter for the team. Each time the Cavaliers closed the gap, Durant or Curry would make a big play and rebuild the cushion. This went on and on.

 

Cleveland never recaptured the lead and it broke wide open in the last half of the 4th quarter. James went to the bench and Cavs coach, Lue,  got a look at the reserves. Some lineup changes may be in order. Overall, the Warriors scored tons of points but they didn’t protect the ball very well. Imagine what they could do if they limited the turnovers? On the Cleveland side, they looked gassed. Like they couldn’t keep up with Golden State’s pace. Something better change or we are headed for broom town.

 

Green Durant hi five 2017 finals

 

Game 3

If the Cavs don’t win this contest on their home court then this series is over. Yes, they came back from down 3-1 last year but down 3-0, to this squad? No way, that’s too tall of a mountain to climb, even for LeBron. That being said, expect the James gang to be hype in the Believeland. Even if there is a sweep, game 3 should be the closest contest we see. We shall see Wednesday, June 7th.

 

The old prediction was Warriors in 7. But after seeing the blowouts of games 1 and 2, the guess must be recalibrated. Warriors in 5. The Cavaliers are the perfect creeps to stop the championship super sweep but they haven’t shown enough for me to think they can storm back. Even though I hope they do, just so we can see a great show. Read the old Sweeps and Creeps here. Part 1, part 2 and part 3.

 

“Warriors, come out to play”.

 

 


3 adjustments the Cavs need to make after game one

Written by :
Published on : June 2, 2017

 

 

The NBA Finals have finally arrived, but apparently seven days of rest wasn’t quite enough time to prepare for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As bad as game one went for the Cavs, many of their problems are fixable. After a first half that was littered with sloppy possessions and defensive breakdowns, the Cavs were very fortunate to only be down by eight. If head coach, Tyronn Lue, made some seemingly obvious halftime adjustments, I thought Cleveland would have a chance to steal a game on the road. Instead, the Warriors outscored the Cavs 33-20 in the third quarter and ran away with the game.

 

Now, the pressure is on Lue to get his team on the same page and make the necessary adjustments, two things he failed to do in game one. LeBron James also deserves some blame, as he tied a season high with eight turnovers, despite otherwise finishing with great stats. Since Lue took over as head coach, there’s been speculation over whether he is really coaching the team, or he’s just a figurehead who falls in line with LeBron’s commands. Regardless who’s calling the shots, here’s three things the Cavaliers need to do differently in order to avoid complete and utter disaster.

 

James Curry Finals 2017

 

Smarter possessions, simplify offense, limit turnovers

One mistake the Cavs were making, LeBron in particular, was overthinking things on offense. Their offense was at it’s best when LeBron and Kyrie Irving attacked the basket, as it normally is. Despite that, they were determined to get the ball to Kevin Love whenever he was guarded by Kevin Durant, but Durant was up to the task and Love shot 4-13 from the field. Much of Love’s bad shooting was due to him getting the ball in difficult positions. LeBron had at least two turnovers on plays where he forced very difficult lob passes to Love when he wasn’t open.

 

LeBron had another near turnover attempting to lob a pass to Irving from half court. Somehow Irving came up with the ball, but the long pass gave the defense time to swarm him and the possession did not result in points. LeBron did this because Irving was being guarded by Steph Curry and the Cavs liked the matchup, but Cleveland will have many opportunities for Irving to attack Curry without lobbing him the ball in the post. They can simply give Irving the ball on the perimeter, where he’s comfortable, and let him attack Curry one-on-one, as he did in the final three games of the 2016 Finals. Forcing lob passes to a guy who’s 6’3” in high heels, or a guy with a four inch vertical, doesn’t seem necessary when you have two players who attack the basket and create offense as well as LeBron and Kyrie.

 

James dunk 2017 finals

 

Another LeBron turnover came late in the 2nd quarter, on a play where he made a great drive to the basket, could have had a layup, but instead threw the ball right to Klay Thompson, leading to fast break points for Golden State. At halftime, one would think Tyronn Lue and the Cavs would adjust their game plan to stop forcing the ball to Love and various role players because they like the matchups, and start attacking the basket with LeBron and Irving regardless who is guarding them. Conversely, on the first possession of the 2nd half, the Cavs went to JR Smith in the post. Again, he was being guarded by Curry and they liked the matchup. Not surprisingly, Smith made a few sloppy dribbles and lost the ball.

 

The head-scratching possessions continued for Cleveland. On one play, Irving forced the ball to a well-guarded Tristan Thompson who was immediately tied up for a jump ball. In a fourth quarter possession, Deron Williams took the ball down the court, tried to beat his defender off the dribble and forced up a contested fadeaway. Tyronn Lue needs to tell Williams this is the 2017 LeBron James/Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers, not the 2010 Deron Williams Utah Jazz. I don’t care who’s guarding them, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Deron Williams creating their own shot is NEVER a higher percentage play than LeBron James or Kyrie Irving creating their own shot. Instead of focusing so much on the Warriors perceived weaknesses, and good matchups for bad offensive players, the Cavs should play to their own strengths. James and Irving need to attack the basket as often as humanly possible. Then they can kick it out to open shooters when the defense starts overcompensating for them. That’s when guys like JR Smith and Deron Williams can get some easy baskets.

 

Less switching and rotating, more guarding the guy with the ball

This one may seem obvious, but the Cavaliers didn’t seem pick up on it all game. Amid their constant frantic mess of switching and rotating, Cleveland either didn’t have a strong defensive game plan, or they didn’t understand it well enough to execute it. It looked like no one on the Cavs knew who to guard all game, and as a result they basically didn’t guard anyone. I’m not a basketball coach, but if I was going to pick the most important person to guard, I’d start with the guy who has the ball. The Cavs were so caught up in their rotating ways, the nearest defender opted to rotate off the guy with the ball on several fast breaks, leaving the Warriors with easy dunks and layups. Most notably was a second quarter play where Kyrie Irving was dropping back to pick up Kevin Durant on a fast break, then he inexplicably ran away from Durant to double-team a three point shooter, as Durant took a free pass to the hoop. Even Durant smiled in disbelief after the easiest dunk of his NBA career.

 

Durant dunk 2017 finals

 

I realize Cleveland wants to avoid playing traditional man, since they don’t like a lot of the one-on-one defensive matchups, and it would be hard to keep up with Golden State’s ball movement, but Tyronn Lue needs to find a way to simplify Cleveland’s defensive approach and make sure everyone understands who to guard. Minimize the the switching and rotating, because while the Cavs were switching and rotating, the Warriors were shooting and scoring. And if all else fails, for god sakes, just guard the guy with the damn ball!

 

Less JR, more Jefferson

Last year, Tyronn Lue earned his respect by adjusting his lineup based on which role players were working best in any given game or series. This year, Lue has kept JR Smith in the starting lineup as long as he’s been healthy. Smith started in 35 out of the 41 games he was available during the regular season, despite shooting a career low 34.6% from the field, and scoring 8.6 points per game, his lowest in eleven seasons. While his field goal percentage has risen in the playoffs, he’s scoring a measly 6.4 points per game in 26.4 minutes. That’s not very good for a guy who’s main asset is scoring. Smith apparently played 28 minutes in game one, although you probably didn’t realize that unless you checked the box score, since he essentially did nothing to help the Cavs.

 

Meanwhile, Richard Jefferson was Cleveland’s third best player in the limited minutes that he was on the court in game one. Jefferson was one of the unsung heroes of the 2016 Finals, playing 24 minutes per game and providing great defense and savvy veteran experience. At 36 years old, I understand why the Cavs haven’t used him a lot this season, but this might be the time to start. He can guard Kevin Durant better than any Cavalier aside from LeBron, he makes good decisions with the ball (like passing to LeBron and Kyrie), and he knows when to be aggressive. Cleveland can’t start Jefferson because he plays the same position as LeBron, but they need to play him a lot more than his current postseason average of 11 minutes per game, and start getting him in the game before garbage time.

 

The Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) drives against the Cleveland Cavaliers' Richard Jefferson (24) in the second quarter of Game 1 of The Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, June 1, 2017. (Nhat V. MeyerBay Area News Group)

 

In the 2016 Finals, Cleveland proved they’re never out of a series when they were down three games to one against Golden State and came back to win the championship. This year, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, and the margin for error is even smaller for the Cavs. The Warriors have one of the best teams ever assembled, and they deserve a lot of credit for how well they played in game one. But you can’t beat a team as great as Warriors if you’re busy beating yourselves. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Cavs were doing wrong in game one, their mistakes were glaringly obvious. Hopefully Tyronn Lue realizes this and makes the adjustments the Cavaliers desperately need. That way the Cavs can at least make the series interesting enough to force Jeff Van Gundy to talk about what’s happening on the court instead of his awkward schoolboy crush on Rihanna. Otherwise, Lue could be packing his bags to join David Blatt as assistant in Turkey while LeBron is picking a new head coach in the offseason.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 3

Written by :
Published on : May 27, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, a quick update on all things NBA playoffs. Catch up on the previous entries HERE and HERE. Now, to the court!

 

The Warriors stay golden and undefeated after doing their sweep thing all over the San Antonio Spurs. They are now 12-0 in the playoffs this year. That’s a new record. Also, Golden State is entering the NBA Finals with the highest winning margin in playoff history. To say they have breezed their way back to their third straight Finals appearance diminishes the great team effort we’ve seen but yeah, the Warriors are cruising. They did benefit from playing some teams missing key members due to injury but they can’t control that. All they can do is beat the pants off whatever starting five they’ve seen. This squad is straight Monstars. They are moving the ball well and both Durant and Steph are healthy. Oh god, could we see another sweep?

 

Enough sweeps, here come the creeps. The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow lost to Boston in game 3. None gave the Celtics much of chance in the contest considering the they lost by 44 in game 2. Game 3 was in Cleveland plus Boston’s best player, Isaiah Thomas, was out with an injury. Seemed like a forgone conclusion. But some crazy stuff happened. LeBron James only had 11 points on 4-13 shooting in 45 minutes of action. Then Avery Bradley hit the game winner. A shot that just barley fell in.

 


Game 4 in Cleveland. James and the gang got it back in gear with some big big help from Kyrie Irving. The Cavs guard dropped 42 points on 15-22 shooting including 4-7 from three point land. Kyrie was the real x-factor when LeBron headed to the bench with 4 fouls. Without this performance, this series is mostly likely tied. For reference, Irving had 21 points in the 3rd quarter while no one on the Celtics scored more than 19 points in the game. That makes the 42 points (career playoff high) look gigantic. LeBron had a very respectable 34 points. Cleveland now back in the driver’s seat heading into the potential closeout game 5 in Boston.

 

Game 5 was never close. Cleveland was on top from the tip and never looked back. Final score 135-102. Cavaliers scored 43 in the first quarter and had 75 at the half. James would not be denied. He also passed some guy named Michael Jordan for the most points scored in playoff history and is headed to his 7th straight Finals appearance. No words can follow that.

 

LeBron post up boston

 

Well, we all got what we wanted. Cavs vs Warriors part 3. The ultimate rematch. I can’t wait. The NBA Finals start June 1st on ABC. Until then.

 

Creepshow.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: the NBA playoffs

Written by :
Published on : May 10, 2017

 

 

We are knee-deep into the NBA playoffs and some strange trends have emerged. Most notably, all the sweeps. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are 8-0 in the postseason so far. That’s never happened before. Meaning, both teams have swept through the first two rounds. It almost seems inevitable that they will meet in the NBA Finals for a third straight time. But before we get there, let’s meet the rest of the creeps still fighting it out for a chance to make history with a championship run.

 

San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

Everyone may be focused on the star power of LeBron or the Warriors roster but this Western conference matchup features some MVP candidates in James Harden of the Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs who have been giving their all in this back-and-forth battle. Currently, San Antonio has a 3-2 edge and look to close out the series with a win on Thursday. The only problem, Leonard suffered an injury that held him out of the end of game 5. The level of severity of the injury isn’t clear yet but this is horrible timing. The winner of this showdown gets a date with the Golden State Warriors. Good luck.

 

Harden Leonard

 

Boston Celtics vs Washington Wizards

Out east, the series is tied 2-2 after some serious heroics by Wizards’ star, John Wall. This will probably come down to game 7 which will be in Boston. If that’s the case, then look for Isaiah Thomas to go off and lead the Celtics to a dramatic win. But don’t get too excited Boston because a rested Cavs team is your next hurdle. And we all know that LeBron James goes to the Finals, every year. No joke, Cleveland will streamroll whatever squad makes it to the Eastern Conference Championship. More sweeps!

 

NBA Finals

Cavs vs. Warriors part 3. Like some insane boxing pay-per-view. This one should settle the argument of who is better but these teams will likely meet in at least another NBA Finals. It’s so clear that these two franchises are heads and shoulders above the rest of the field. Together, they have some of the best players on the planet and both really know how to win. All this time off is nice for aching muscles but it can ruin momentum. The team that best manages this extra waiting period may have a real leg up on the competition.

 

It’s hard to pick against LeBron James and his sheer will to win. But this Warriors team is maybe too deep to lose. Golden State nearly beat Cleveland for a second straight year only to see James change the course of history. The Warriors then added Kevin Durant in free agency to join the already mega-talented Splash Brothers. All this is setting the stage for a big event. I’ll even go so far to say that the rating for the Finals will the the highest of all time.

 

lebron curry handshake

 

Some have complained about all the one-sided contests, calling them boring. Others say they are excited to see the game being played at such a high level. I think we can all agree that we want a NBA Finals that will go to game 7. And Cavs vs Warriors will be the best possible scenario. Leave your comments below, you creeps.

 

Sweeps week.

 

 


Russell Westbrook for MVP, Mostly Very Petty

Written by :
Published on : February 23, 2017

 

 

I can imagine being Russell Westbrook, somewhere on vacation on July 4th, 2016. He’s probably picking out some USA themed crop top with skinny jeans, shoes are optional with this guy. As he is putting together this glorious outfit, he starts to get so many texts that before he has a chance to check his phone, the battery dies. He finds his charger, turns on the phone and before he sees his text messages, an ESPN alert pops up:

 

“Kevin Durant is taking his talents to the Golden State Warriors.”

 

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

 

I can imagine feeling betrayed by someone that at the very least I considered a friend. Nevermind that Durant affectionately called Russell his “little brother.” Disregard the fact Durant saved a big part of his MVP speech to thanking Russell for making him a better player. The fact that at every post-game press conference the two took questions from the media as a tandem, not individually. Clearly, Westbrook had to feel that all the years toiling with this guy, taking the blame from the media for the team’s chemistry issues while his ‘brother’ rose to stardom, was all gone.

 

On that day, Westbrook was in a relationship and found out on social media that he was the sidepiece.

 

There is no other explanation for the disdain Westbrook has shown towards Durant. He dismisses questions about their fractured relationship as professional as he possibly can. Well, except for his “Fashion Week” retort he said at the NBA All Star Weekend. The only interaction they’ve had publicly was their last game, in which Westbrook repeatedly told Durant “I’m coming.”

 

KD and russ All star

 

I don’t think that Durant went without texting Westbrook about the situation. I believe Durant possibly waited until the news went public, then tried to text Westbrook. By then, Westbrook deleted Durant’s info and off muscle memory of Durant’s number when he saw the text decided against a “new phone, who dis?” reply.

 

The thing that is in question is the actual depth of their relationship. My friends and I have had our fair share of quarrels over the years. Most of my friendships are 20 years long. In our early teens and young adult years, a disagreement would be settled with a quick shoving match or fist fight. Hours after we’d be playing video games like nothing happened. These days my friends and I are too old to fight. So, maybe a shoving match and some pointed words of anger but then you agree to disagree and move on.

 

Westbrook is acting a like a scorned lover. In my experience, when a partner is fed up they will do enough to get your attention but act as though they’ve moved on. Hence the some of Westbrook’s outfits before Thunder-Warrior games.

 

The credentialed photographer outfit: A play on Durant’s hobby of photography.

 

russ - willie beamen

 

The Any Given Sunday Willie Beamen jersey: now this one can be interpreted several ways. My personal take on it is Beamen was often blamed for the team’s shortcomings in the movie. He was considered a ball hog and me-first teammate. However, when the QB Jack Rooney was too hurt or considered too soft to play, Beamen lead the team to victory.

 

I don’t want to speak from both sides of my mouth but Russell Westbrook is one of my favorite players in the league. He’s fearless and he has endless energy on both ends of the floor. What Westbrook will realize is that this path was predestined just for him. His own team! James Harden was traded away years ago. Serge Ibaka is now in Canada. Durant is taking photos in San Francisco. Westbrook has everything he wanted through his actions but could not ever verbally say. He has his own team and he can do it his own way. All the aforementioned players will have some of the best years of their respective careers WITHOUT each other.

 

With Westbrook chasing history, averaging a triple double thus far this season he can be in reach for a MVP award. His actions will determine which “MVP” recognition he ultimately receives.

 

 


Being butthurt over Durant’s departure is not a good look for Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : January 20, 2017

 

 

In today’s professional sports landscape, loyalty isn’t something that rules supreme. With the salary cap, and the very limited window in which pro athletes have to capitalize on their talents, one can’t afford to risk being loyal to a team. It has been made clear over the last few decades that it is a business before anything else. And the players with real longevity and success do themselves the biggest favor by recognizing that fact. As an individual player, you have to do what is best for you and your family, whether that means chasing the money or chasing a title.

 

Aside from maybe your agent, no one is going to be looking out for your best interests. Not your teammates, and certainly not ownership or management. They are all too busy looking out for their own personal best interests. That’s why the narrative that Russell Westbrook was somehow betrayed by Kevin Durant seems like complete bullshit to me. And for some unexplainable, childish reason, Russell Westbrook seems to be buying into it.

 

 

Russell Westbrook is now the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder after years of being second-fiddle to Kevin Durant. When Durant chose to take his talents to Oakland, Ca and join the Golden State Warriors last offseason, there were groans in OKC and the rest of the country about having another “super team.” Russell Westbrook has been mostly silent on the issue but stated after the Thunder’s loss to Warriors a few days ago that he was not on speaking terms with Durant. This is despite the fact that Durant has maintained that he and Westbrook are still friends.

 

Westbrook is in the middle of an insane season in which he has posted an eye-popping 21 triple-doubles. In fact he had another one during the Thunder-Warriors matchup, but it wasn’t enough and the Thunder fell by a score of 121-100 behind Kevin Durant’s 40 point effort. After the game, Westbrook was so salty that he referred to Durant as a “bitch” when Enes Kanter made a move to speak with his former teammate while the players were leaving the court. Further evidence that Russ has some growing up to do.

 

 

I don’t understand what Russell Westbrook could possibly be so mad at Kevin Durant about. The guy made the best choice for himself and his career. Did he think that they were both going to stay on the same team for their entire careers? In today’s NBA, or any pro league for that matter, it doesn’t work like that. And the fact that he is obviously holding a grudge against his ex-teammate is making him look like a little baby.

 

He should grow up and start to worry about how he can take HIS Thunder team to a championship because Kevin isn’t coming back. And staying mad at him isn’t going to change that. Russell Westbrook is one of the greatest players and if he can become one of the greatest teammates then maybe he can help elevate the Thunder to the next level. Then maybe he will be healed because all the triple-doubles in the world aren’t going to fill the hole in his heart.

 

 


All I want for Christmas

Written by :
Published on : December 23, 2016

 

I already have two front teeth but there is plenty I still want. Mostly I want less credit card debt. Or clothes, I can always use clothes. I won’t leave a link to an amazon wish list because I’m not a stripper on twitter. Now, let’s turn to the world of pro athletics and I’ll go through my Christmas wish list, sport by sport. Get ready to have your stocking stuffed. With sports!

 

Baseball

For the Cleveland Indians to retire their racist mascot, Chief Wahoo. They are already removing him from all their hats for the upcoming season but he will still be featured on their sleeves. Baby steps aren’t good enough anymore. Just ditch the insanely racist cartoon completely. Please and thank you. I understand that fans in Cleveland may have fond memories of the mascot but their franchise was just in the World Series so they have that to think about it. It’s a perfect time to bury that bigot of an image.

wahoo

 

Football

Let’s keep the Christmas righteousness rolling. I wish that the Washington “Redskins” would change their name. I’ve said this many times and I’ll keep saying it. They can keep the logo for now but the name has to go. If they want to keep the Native American theme then they can pick something less offensive (maybe the Washington Warriors) or could rebrand completely. The Washington Wallabies. Or the Washington Washing Machines. I like that, not the toughest animal but it’s universally respected.

 

Oh, and quick side note. Dear Santa, if you aren’t too busy, please let the Lions win the Super Bowl. Love, Bruno.

P.S. I left you cookies and bourbon.

 

Hockey

All I want for hockey Christmas is for the Red Wings to make the playoffs again this year. That would make it 26 straight years with a postseason appearance. Which is nuts, because I’m 31, so most of my active memory includes the Wings being good. It’s already the longest active streak in any major sport but the real reason I want the playoffs this year is because it’s the last season the Wings play at Joe Louis Arena, the building where that streak started. Let’s see the stadium out with a bang, one last cup run. Let’s go Red Wings! #LGRW

 

redwings spirit 2002

                                                  Spirit of Detroit statue dressed for the playoffs

 

Basketball

I wish for Russell Westbrook to stay healthy all year. So he can get the most triple doubles ever and play the Golden State Warriors in the postseason. And If I’m being honest, I want for at least one moment, for Russ to drive and KD is the help defense that rolls over. Then, that moment will slow down as Batman guards Robin. I’m not saying who is better but I bet Westbrook either scores or get’s fouled. Just like if KD had the ball. But please let me have this moment. We all want to see that go down.

 

P.P.S.

Santa, there is a roast beef sandwich for you in the fridge. And if you make the Lions win the Super Bowl then you can also take a few beers. Hell, take the whole case. I’ll just buy more with my credit card. Love Bruno.

 

Eggnog.

 

 


The New Sports Rivalries

Written by :
Published on : November 6, 2016

 

 

Everyone knows about Yankees vs. Red Sox and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those and many other old rivalries are classic. Important parts of the fabric of sports history. But what are the new beefs? The modern day feuds? We look in every major sport and highlight the contemporary era of rivalries.

 

Toronto vs. Cleveland

Hear me out, first the Cavs bounced the Raptors out of the playoffs last year and just a bit ago, the Cleveland Indians said goodnight to the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe this rivalry is a little one-sided but be sure, Drake and all of Toronto are looking forward to their next chance to get revenge on Cleveland.

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

 

Want to win a Super Bowl? Chances are you have to beat one of these guys to do it. Things really started cooking when Peyton joined Denver. Manning vs. Brady part two. Featuring new team colors. Even with Peyton retiring, this matchup is still serious. I could easily see both franchises back in the AFC Championship game.

 

Detroit vs. Everybody

This attitude is almost out of control. And I’m part of the problem. The Detroit fanbase can be salty but it comes from a place of love. It just doesn’t always shine through. The vs. Everybody campaign has its merits, I like the galvanizing quality but it can get pushed into hostile territory that will leave us Michigan sports fans without any sympathy from anyone outside the state. NOTE, not really an issue in the Red Wing world. People hate us but that’s because we are awesome at hockey.

 

Russ vs. KD

It’s Batman trying to kill Robin. Kevin Durant and the Warriors are the favs in the west but don’t tell that to Russell Westbrook. This dude is looking to drop a triple-double in every game until he meets KD and company in the playoffs. Everyone wants to see that.

 

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

mayweather mcgregor

 

They have never fought. Probably never will. But they are rivals. No doubt about that. Since we may never get a pay-per-view, our only hope is that these two both meet in a Vegas nightclub and they fight on the dance floor. Video provided by iPhone.

 

Penguins vs. Capitals

This is more than just Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. These two crews have been battling it out for the last few seasons and it’s been some of the finest hockey you can watch. Not a huge fan of either team but the product they put forward is top shelf. But please, someone just put Crosby into the boards already.

 

Cavs vs Warriors

The best and most epic of the new school rivalries. They have met in back-to-back NBA Finals and a third meeting is inevitable. That win will end the argument until they met for a forth of fifth time. Right now, this is the greatest show on floor. Damn, that saying doesn’t really work in basketball.

 

All it takes for a new rivalry to be created is one great game. You can’t tell me the players don’t feed off that kind of stuff. Drop your favorite rivalries in the comments and let’s keep this conversation going.

 

Heated.

 

 


Durant decision screws up fantasy draft strategies

Written by :
Published on : August 6, 2016

 

 

If you pay attention to the NBA in the slightest, then you’d know that the biggest free agent name since LeBron James in 2010 has chosen to take his talents to Oakland, CA.

 

Kevin Durant, the 8-time All-Star, has moved from Oklahoma. His decision conjured up plenty of reactions from fans, analysts, active players and retired players. While some reactions were supportive, others expressed the very opposite.

 


Aside from the beautiful basketball we’ll be tuning in to watch from our couches and some from actual arenas, there may be a slight obstacle frequent fantasy basketball team owners may have to face. With “super-teams” already having a mixed reputation, it doesn’t look to get any better in the fantasy basketball community.

 

The Golden Sate Warriors finished the 2015-16 regular season off with a mind-blowing best regular season record in NBA history of 73 wins and only 9 losses. It included Stephen Curry leading the way with 30 points a night, Klay Thompson‘s 22 and Draymond Green doing pretty much everything else in-between. We saw head coach Steve Kerr and staff maximize the production across the roster. Now, with the signing of Kevin Durant not only do you have a super-team, but a potential dynasty, assuming Durant opts out and signs long-term.

 

Durant

 

On the other hand, with so much fire power from all angles, you may have to reconsider who you take with your first-round draft pick because of the expectation that players like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and perhaps even Kevin Durant’s production may decrease the longer the foursome stays together.

 

Although, nothing’s set in stone and predictions in early August are anything but accurate, it’s best to stay on the safe side and at least explore some other options if you’re entering a competitive fantasy basketball season. That being said, enjoy the Rio Olympics.

 

Go USA!

 

 


How does joining the Warriors affect Durant’s legacy?

Written by :
Published on : July 8, 2016

 

Like many of you, I was expecting to wake up on the 4th of July and see that Kevin Durant had re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, after I rolled out of bed and grabbed my phone and opened my ESPN app (because the SBS app hasn’t launched yet), I rubbed my eyes and did a double take and saw that Durant actually did sign a two year deal to play for the Golden State Warriors. This came as somewhat of a shock. When the rumors came out during the regular season that the Warriors were the biggest threat to steal Durant from Oklahoma City, it seemed like a pipe dream. But that pipe dream became a pipe reality, and the Warriors pulling off such an unlikely deal left me with several questions…

 

If it weren’t for two of the most incredible comebacks in NBA playoff history, do the Warriors land Durant?

 
When the Thunder took a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors, it looked like Oklahoma City had the series sealed up. But the Warriors fought back, winning the next three games to get back to the NBA Finals. All three of those wins were by single-digits. All three came down to the final minutes, with the Thunder having several opportunities to close out the series, in particular in Game 6 when they blew an 8-point fourth quarter lead on their home court. In that fourth quarter, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for seven threes, while Durant and Russell Westbrook gave up six turnovers.

 
In the Finals, the Warriors got a taste of their own medicine, as the Cavaliers orchestrated an even more shocking comeback after also trailing three game to one, then winning the next three led by unbelievable performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to give the city of Cleveland it’s first championship in 52 years.

 

 

Much like the Thunder in Western Conference Finals, the Warriors certainly showed they could beat the Cavs, they were just outplayed by a very slim margin over the course of seven games. It’s hard to think that Durant and the Warriors would make such major decisions based on losing by such a slim margin. But it’s even harder to imagine that Kevin Durant would have joined the Warriors if he and the Thunder had just defeated them, or that the Warriors would risk messing with a team that has such great chemistry to spend a ton of money on Durant if they had just won their second straight NBA title. If it weren’t for Splash Brothers shooting the lights out in the 4th quarter of Game 6 in the West Finals, OKC’s turnover-filled collapse in the same game, LeBron’s amazing block and Kyrie’s amazing three in Game 7, along with several other incredible events that led to slim margins of victory, Durant would still be wearing a Thunder uniform next season.

 

Was Durant move more about hurting Thunder than helping Warriors?

 
After relying on an amazing comeback to beat the Thunder, then losing to Cleveland in the Finals, Golden State had a reality check: despite breaking the record for most regular season wins, there was one team in each conference that would pose a serious threat to them for many years to come. The Warriors wanted to do everything they could restore the notion that they are lightyears ahead of any other team in the league. The best way to do that was not only to get the best player available in free agency, but take the best player away from their toughest competition in the Western Conference. Sure, this trade made the Golden State much better, but more importantly, it made Oklahoma City much worse.

 

Does this help or hurt Durant’s legacy?

 
As a player, Durant has every right to sign with whatever team he wants. As a fan, you have every right to lose respect for him as a player. I personally want to see the top players in the league battle against each other rather than join forces and create nearly unbeatable teams. Kevin Durant is one of the three best players in the league and he is good enough to lead his own team to a championship, rather than joining a team that won a championship without him just one year ago and already has the best roster in the NBA, including the two-time MVP.

 

 
Sure, NBA greatness is measured mostly by rings, but many people will see Durant’s potential rings as somewhat tainted by riding the coattails of Curry and the already dominant Golden State squad. Just one championship for Oklahoma City could earn him even more respect than three or four in Golden State, where he will always be viewed as Sideshow Bob instead of Krusty the Clown. Because the Batman and Robin metaphor is just played out… Although Durant never tried to murder anyone, so lets go with Cameron Frye and Ferris Bueller…

 

How is Durant’s decision different than LeBron’s?

 
Naturally there’s comparisons to LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami. While Durant learned from LeBron’s mistake and made his decision quietly, the real difference here is the supporting cast. In LeBron’s first seven seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs best effort in finding his Cameron Frye was bringing in Mo Williams and a washed up Antwan Jamison. That’s not quite Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter.

 
Oklahoma City improved last year’s roster with a great trade on draft day, sending Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in return for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and Domantas Sabonis, who the Magic took with their first round pick. The deal gave OKC a much needed third scorer and ball-handler in Oladipo and the depth to make up for parting with Ibaka. It was widely expected that the Thunder would trade one of their three very talented big men, but no one saw them getting this big of a haul in return. If Durant had decided to return to Oklahoma City, he would have the supporting cast in place to contend for a championship. The same cannot be said for LeBron when he first left Cleveland.

 

What are the Warriors risking?

 
I don’t think they have much to worry about in terms of on-court chemistry. Although they all like to shoot, Curry, Durant, Thompson and Draymond Green are all very unselfish players who don’t seem to be concerned with their numbers taking a minor hit in exchange for winning. The real concern is when the egos start to kick in off the court. The NBA announced today that the projected salary cap for the 2017-18 season is currently $102 million instead of $107 million, which was the previous projection.

 

warriors-trio

 
The Warriors were counting on using every dollar of that initial $107 million (perhaps even more) when they signed Durant, knowing that Steph Curry will hit the free agent market next summer. Curry will obviously demand a massive contract and Durant will likely decline his player option to maximize his earnings as well. There’s no way the Warriors will let Curry get away, and he probably isn’t interested in leaving a team and city that has been so good to him. This means the Warriors could face the dilemma of either accepting Durant as a 1-2 year rental, or essentially gutting their entire bench and completely letting go of their “strength in numbers” identity to retain their big four. Whether or not they can keep this together long term, the Warriors are riding on the logic that it will be worth it while it lasts.

 

Can anyone compete with the Warriors?

 
Probably not. Certainly not in the West, where the Warriors just beheaded the Thunder (I’d throw in a Game of Thrones reference here, but I’m the one guy in America who doesn’t watch the show), the Spurs are getting even older and slower, and the Clippers have done nothing to improve a roster that has already failed to compete with the top teams in the conference. A third straight Finals matchup between the Cavs and Warriors almost seems like a guarantee at this point.

 
It took unbelievable performances by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to lead Cleveland to their miraculous comeback this year. It could take that and even more next year, which is a lot to ask, even for players of James and Irving’s caliber. For the Cavs to have a serious chance at repeating, they might have to bank on an injury to Curry or Durant, who both have had some injury problems in their careers. Even then, the Warriors still have a good shot at reclaiming their status as NBA Champions. Since we basically already know who will play in the Finals in 2017, it’s pretty hard to get excited about NBA basketball until next June. But that’s only 11 months away…

 

 


Oklahoma City should trade Russell Westbrook

Written by :
Published on : July 7, 2016

 

 

Kevin Durant chose to leave a title contending Oklahoma City Thunder team to form a Big 4 with the Golden State Warriors. Typically when a team loses a player of Durant’s stature it leaves the team reeling in mediocrity for years. Luckily, the Thunder have an All-NBA point guard in Russell Westbrook. He led the league in triple-doubles last season. The year prior he willed the team to the playoffs without Durant (Durant had surgery on his right foot causing him to miss most of the season). The team built around Durant and Westbrook, adding skilled big men and floor spacing shooters. With Durant gone, the Thunder could continue to add players to keep Westbrook in playoff contention.

 

Or they would be wise to trade Westbrook now.

 

The team gambled with Durant during free agency, hoping that his loyalty to Westbrook and the OKC fans would stave off the allure of winning a championship next year. Even though the Thunder had the Warriors down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals and were within minutes of going to the NBA Finals, Durant clearly decided that his union with Westbrook had reached its peak.

 

Apr 23, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) and guard Russell Westbrook (0) react at the end of the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

 

With that in mind, we must consider Westbrook as a trade asset in order for the Thunder to start a rebuild. Here are some deals I believe the Thunder should take a look at to upgrade their roster:

 

1. The Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram or D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle. Protected 2017 1st round draft pick

 

This trade would benefit both teams immediately. The first priority for the Thunder is to see which teams would Westbrook commit to long term. I see the Lakers as a potential fit, as Westbrook is a Los Angeles guy (he played for UCLA). The Thunder would have to decide if they want Russell to be their future point guard or Ingram as the next Durant. The Lakers can’t totally gut their team because they need pieces around Westbrook to be competitive. The key to this trade scenario is that the Thunder have to wait until right at the trade deadline. They have to let the Lakers accumulate as many losses as possible before Westbrook arrives, so they can get the best use of the draft pick they would acquire.

 

d'angelo russell

 

For the Thunder, a team with D’Angelo Russell, Victor Oladipo, Julius Randle, and Steven Adams is a pretty good start to a rebuild. Once they add a player from a 2017 Draft that is rumored to be one of the best in recent years, that is quite a rebound from the heartbreak Durant inflicted on the franchise.

 

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Timberwolves Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks.

 

Now on paper this looks like a steal for the Thunder. They would be getting a young, proven wing player in Wiggins, a freak athlete in LaVine, and the draft picks are a nice throw in. There may be room for Rubio on the roster but the team would be better served it they traded Rubio for another wing player. The Timberwolves would be loaded with backcourt talent, with rookie Kris Dunn and Westbrook. Pairing those two players with Rookie of the Year Karl Anthony-Towns would give the Timberwolves a pretty good team. Also, head coach Tom Thibodeau would get the best out of Westbrook defensively and give him the freedom to create for himself offensively.

 

karl-anthony-towns-andrew-wiggins

 

Although Andrew Wiggins has shown improvement his first two years, there are no signs pointing to him being a superstar. I have his floor at Rudy Gay and ceiling at Vince Carter. He’s still young but giving him a new start in OKC with LaVine could possibly unlock his full potential as he would undoubtedly be the face of the franchise.

 

3. New York Knicks

Knicks Get: Russell Westbrook

Thunder Get: Derrick Rose

 

This is the biggest gamble of all. Westbrook for Rose may seem like a crazy trade. However, if you follow Westbrook you know he is into bright lights and big cities. The move would cater to his modeling and fashion vices. It would also give him a better team than what he’s currently on when you account for Carmelo Anthony, Kristap Porzingis and Joakim Noah. Getting Westbrook to commit to an extension after the season may not be as difficult when you consider Anthony’s contract will be off the books in two years and Porzingis can be a building piece going into the future. Rose would ultimately be the loser in this scenario but he would have a young team to play with for a season to prove he can return to MVP form. Sharing the spotlight with Porzingis and Anthony is more cumbersome than playing with Enes Kanter and Oladipo. Maybe the Knicks attach some future draft picks to sweeten the deal but the Thunder have to make a move on Westbrook soon.

 

 


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