NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Monday, July 24, 2017 Podcast: Kyrie Irving requests a trade; John Wall extends with the Wizards

                                          (Akron Beacon Journal) 

On this week's episode of the Podcast, Brian Kaiserman joins me to discuss Kyrie Irving's trade request and also John Wall's 4 year, $170M extension with the Wizards. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday Slam: Making sense of Kyrie Irving's request for a trade

                                                   (Akron Beacon Journal) 

The big story of the week is the report that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland and is pushing for a trade. The New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Miami Heat are said to be the teams that he is most interested in joining, though the Cleveland Cavaliers ultimately control his fate.

When I first heard the news I was surprised given the sheer magnitude of the story and what it could mean for the NBA, but upon further reflection, I'm not surprised at all. Irving has always wanted to be the number one option on a team and so long as he played alongside LeBron James, he wasn't going to get his wish. He's won a championship with the Cavaliers and has been to the NBA Finals three straight years. He rightfully feels like now is a good time for him to move on to a new city and forge his own path separate from LeBron.

Whether you feel like this is the right move for Irving or not, one cannot deny that the Cavaliers were never his team with LeBron around. While there's no shame in being second fiddle to a guy of LeBron's magnitude, one can certainly understand why Irving would ultimately want to spread his wings and fly away. He's proven himself as one of the top players in the NBA and as such is deserving of having a franchise built around him.

As far as where he might land, I don't see the Cavaliers trading him to another Eastern Conference team. It just wouldn't make sense for them to help out a team that competes in the same conference as them. Rather, it would make more sense for them to ship him out West and allow him to make the Western Conference even more of a logjam than it already is.

Out of all the teams in the West that he could go to, the Spurs seem to make the most sense. They could use another superstar to go alongside Kawhi Leonard and they also have an attractive trade chip in LaMarcus Aldridge who has been rumored to want out of his situation as well. A trade sending Aldridge to the Cavaliers and Irving to the Spurs would make sense for both sides. Aldridge would be a very nice number two option for LeBron to play with while Irving would be a nice upgrade over Aldridge, giving the Spurs more versatility in the backcourt.

During the coming weeks, it will certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out. I expect Irving to be traded relatively soon since the Cavaliers won't want to have to deal with him as a distraction come training camp. At the same time, the Cavaliers shouldn't rush to make a move, either. Irving is a very valuable piece and if you are going to trade him, you better make sure you get back something really good.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: The Atlanta Hawks are tanking and I don't know why

The Atlanta Hawks are tanking and I don't know why. To be clear, I know why teams tank. They tank to get higher draft picks so that they can be better for the long term. The Atlanta Hawks, however, are a team who seemed to tank for no good reason. They went 43-39 last season, which was good enough for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The year before that, they were 48-34, which was good enough for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, though they fell to 4th place due to a tiebreaker. In the 2014-15 season, the Hawks finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 60-22 with Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver as their core, all of whom are no longer with the team.

Since the 2014-15 season, the Hawks have gone downhill, wholesaling their best players to other teams without wanting anything good in return. Rather than trying build around a core that won 60 games, the Hawks decided to blow the whole thing up and start anew, believing that what they had wasn't going to produce a championship no matter what moves they made.

While I understand the tanking philosophy and acknowledge that it has its place, the Hawks were not a team in need of embracing it. They should have instead embraced the quality roster that they had in the 2014-15 season and done all they could to enhance it for the purposes of better positioning themselves for a championship run.

By embracing the "If you're not first, you're last" mantra of Ricky Bobby, the Hawks have robbed their fans of witnessing deep playoff runs year in and year out. While it is true that the ultimate goal is to win a championship, it's not like the only successful seasons are the ones that result in a championship. Reaching the conference finals is a successful season that gets your fans excited. Winning a playoff series can also be considered a successful season, especially if you are a young and up and coming team.

My point is that if your ceiling is to reach the conference finals for a few years in a row, ride that ship out and see where that takes you. You never know, maybe someone gets hurt and you find yourself in the NBA Finals. If you are positioned to make those kind of runs year in and year out, tanking is not the solution to getting over the hump.

With most teams that tank, I understand why they are doing it. They're far from winning a championship and are in need of replenishing with young talent. The Hawks however were not in either of those camps. They were close to winning a championship and had a talented core that had plenty of years left. Taking a nosedive like this is very perplexing and difficult to understand.

Wednesday Windmill is a weekly piece that focuses on the Eastern Conference 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: What does Rudy Gay bring to the San Antonio Spurs?

While they didn't make the biggest splash in free agency, the San Antonio Spurs still found a way to get significantly better by signing Rudy Gay. Gay, who is entering his 12th season in the NBA, averaged 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season with the Sacramento Kings. Those aren't bad numbers for a veteran swingman.

When looking at this move, there's a lot to like if you are the Spurs. First, you get a guy who can become your number two or number three scoring option behind Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 25.5 points per game last season. LaMarcus Aldridge averaged a very solid 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, but after that, there was a bit of a drop off to Pau Gasol, who was the third scoring option on the team (12.4 points). It was clear that the Spurs needed more of a scoring punch in order to compete with a team like the Golden State Warriors and adding Gay certainly addresses this need.

In addition to giving the Spurs another scoring threat, Rudy Gay provides some veteran leadership. With Tim Duncan gone and Manu Ginobili entering what could be his final season, the Spurs could use another veteran leader to help them dig deep against a team like the Warriors. While the Spurs still have Tony Parker and a veteran head coach in Gregg Popovich, it won't hurt to have another veteran like Gay who is battle tested and hungry for a ring.

Lastly, Gay gives the Spurs another guy to match up against Kevin Durant. At 6'8", 230 pounds, Gay has the size and length to guard Durant and give him some trouble. At the moment, the only guy who the Spurs have that can really guard Durant is Kawhi Leonard. Adding a second swingman that can guard him will help take some of the defensive pressure off of Leonard and allow him to guard Durant more effectively when he is on him.

When looking at what Rudy Gay brings to the Spurs, it's pretty obvious why he's such a great addition for them. He provides scoring, leadership, and more versatility on defense. I don't know if this move pushes the Spurs over the top, but it makes them a lot better. When you consider the options that the Spurs had to work with in free agency, they really couldn't have asked to land a better player.

Tomahawk Tuesday is a weekly piece that focuses on the Western Conference. 

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Farewell to the 20 second timeout

This week, the NBA announced some rule changes with the attempt to improve game flow. The most notable are the changes to timeout length. Each team will be given seven timeouts per game with each timeout lasting 75 seconds. That means that the 20 second timeout is no more.

As silly as this sounds, I am really sad to hear that the 20 second timeout has been removed. It's been a part of my life forever and to have it gone, I feel like a piece of me has died along with it. I know that sounds over the top, but in a way it's really true. There was always an extra feeling of drama when a 20 second timeout was called down the stretch of a close game. It was just a part of the background of the NBA that I've grown to love. To have it gone will feel very weird.

By reducing the number of timeouts from 18 to 14, the NBA is ensuring that there will be fewer interruptions to games, something that will be nice. All the same, I feel kind of sad knowing that when I someday become a father, my children will never get the chance to see a 20 second timeout. It will be a thing of the past. Just like how my children will never know about the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Seattle Super Sonics (fingers crossed that they'll return), etc. There's some things you wish could last forever and unfortunately they don't.

Hopefully, these new changes will make the league better and make in-game experiences better for fans. If they do, then I'm all for it. The NBA does a great job of looking for ways to improve their product and they are never afraid to try new things.

All the same, I will never forget the 20 second timeout. It's always been there from the very beginning, adding just the right amount of drama and tension. In the words of Salute Your Shorts, "20 second timeout, we hold you in our hearts and when we think about you, I hope we never part."

For a full description of what these rule changes are, click here.

In case you haven't seen Salute Your Shorts or would like to take a stroll down memory lane, click here to watch its intro. 

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday Slam: What exactly are the New Orleans Pelicans becoming?

The New Orleans Pelicans are becoming something, but what is it, exactly? In an effort to build around Anthony Davis, they've traded for DeMarcus Cousins, re-signed Jrue Holiday to a 5-year, $126M deal, and now added Rajon Rondo on a one-year deal. The combination of Davis, Cousins, Holiday, and Rondo is certainly interesting, but will it produce the results the Pelicans want?

Before I dive into the concerns that I have with what the Pelicans are doing, let me quickly say why this could work. First, Anthony Davis is the best big man in the NBA. He averaged 28.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game last season. The dude is a beast. When you got him as your franchise centerpiece, you got a shot to be really good.

Second, DeMarcus Cousins is arguably the second best big man in the NBA. He's been in need of a change of scenery and paring him with a guy like Davis could be what he needs to reach his full potential. When you got two of the best big men in the NBA, there's good reason to think you'll succeed.

As for Holiday and Rondo, both have proven their value as elite level point guards. Rondo has tailed off since his best days in Boston, but he's still a very good pass-first point guard. As for Holiday, he averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists per game last season, which are very solid numbers.

The concerns I have with the Pelicans has nothing to do with the individual talent they are adding. It has to do with the blend of talent that they are adding, specifically putting DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo together. The very best of teams can handle one head case if they have a strong leader and know what they are doing. The Pelicans have added two head cases in Cousins and Rondo without having the pedigree of a championship level team. That alone raises serious concerns.

As far as what these guys bring to the court from a pure basketball standpoint, it's unclear how Holiday and Rondo will play together as pass-first point guards. As for Davis and Cousins, there are legitimate concerns about their ability to matchup against smaller and quicker teams, especially in a league that is moving towards positionless basketball.  Such a frontcourt may find better success in an era with more traditional big men.

The bottom line with the Pelicans is that while they are adding talented players to their roster, it's unclear whether or not they are the right fit for each other. If they can find a way to work together and get the most out of each other's talents, the Pelicans could be a really good team. When you consider the upside and also potential for failure, this really is the ultimate example of a "boom or bust" team. I smell bust, but I'm willing to withhold my judgment and see where they are at come playoff time.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Fadeaway Friday: Breaking down the new NBA G League franchises

As we head into the 2017-18 NBA season, I thought it would be good to provide a quick breakdown of the new franchises that will appear in the NBA Gatorade League. The NBA is moving towards a 30 team G League, giving each NBA team their own minor league affiliate. As it stands right now, the G League is almost at its goal, featuring 26 teams for the upcoming season. 

The South Bay Lakers are a rebranded version of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, who also were the D-League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers. This isn't really a new team so much as it is the D-Fenders getting a new name. I'm guessing that the switch from D-League to G League prompted this change.  "D-Fenders" was a clever name that tied into the name "D-League", but with the league now known as the "G League" the name "D-Fenders" would just seem obsolete. 

The Los Angeles Clippers used to be affiliated with the Bakersfield Jam, but they moved to Prescott Valley, Arizona to become the Northern Arizona Suns, the G League affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. With the Jam relocated, the Clippers needed a G League affiliate of their own, giving rise to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. It's quite a name, which means "Hot Water Clippers" in Spanish. The team is named after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a federally recognized tribe of the Cahuilla in Southern California. 

The Memphis Grizzlies were formally associated with the Iowa Energy, who now are known as the Iowa Wolves, associated with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Memphis Hustle will replace the Energy as the Grizzlies' G League affiliate, playing their games in Southaven, Mississippi. The logo is similar to that of the Memphis Sounds, a team that played in the now defunct ABA. 

The Orlando Magic were previously associated with the Erie BayHawks, located in Erie, Pennsylvania. With the desire to have their affiliate closer to Orlando, the Magic moved the BayHawks to Lakeland, Florida, which is located about an hour southwest of Orlando, closer to Tampa. 

The Iowa Energy, formally associated with the Memphis Grizzlies rebranded themselves as the Iowa Wolves, now serving as the G League affiliate for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves will play in Des Moines. 

The Wisconsin Herd will serve as the G League affiliate for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Herd will play in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is located about an hour southwest of Green Bay, located right off Lake Winnebago. 

With the BayHawks name now available after the team's departure to Lakeland, Florida,  the Atlanta Hawks took advantage and purchased the team name, keeping the team in Erie, Pennsylvania. At least for now, anyways. 

Note: The Washington Wizards will get their own G League team based in the D.C. area starting in the 2018-19 season. This leaves the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Portland Trail Blazers as the only NBA franchises that do not yet have a single affiliate G League team. 

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