NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Slam: What will the New York Knicks do with Carmelo Anthony?

The biggest question on the minds of every NBA fan right now is what will the New York Knicks do with Carmelo Anthony? According to ESPN, Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause if he can get traded to either the Cleveland Cavaliers or Oklahoma City Thunder. He was also willing to go to the Houston Rockets, but that ended up not coming to fruition.

On Wednesday, I wrote about the New York Knicks now needing to be Kristaps Porzingis' team, but of course, the Knicks may not heed my warnings and instead hang onto Anthony through the season. The key thing to understand is that the Anthony has a MASSIVE contract that pays him $26.2M this season and $27.9M the following season. He won't hit unrestricted free agency until 2019 and at that point, a team will be able to sign him for a lot cheaper. To take on that contract for two seasons is only worth it if you truly believe adding Anthony makes your team a legitimate championship contender.

The good news for Anthony (and the Knicks), is he could make both the Cavaliers and Thunder legit championship contenders. LeBron James needs a true sidekick with Kyrie Irving gone, while the Thunder are at least one man short of giving the Golden State Warriors a serious run for their money.

The Thunder to me is the more intriguing destination for Anthony because he'd give them a big three that includes Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Together, Anthony, Westbrook, and George would form a very exciting trio that would make basketball in Oklahoma City great again (sorry, I couldn't resist!). I don't know if that trio would be capable of winning a title, but I'd sure like to find out! As for the Cavaliers, I think that would be a better destination for Anthony since he'd have less competition to deal with. The Cavaliers is the safer team for Anthony to go to, but the Thunder is the more intriguing team since that situation is much more of an unknown.

While I don't know for sure what will happen with Carmelo Anthony, the overall vibe is that something will go down. It's just a matter of when. It could happen this weekend, it could happen right before the trade deadline, etc. It's almost like Donald Trump's impeachment: Everything indicates it's going to happen, but we just don't know when it will happen, exactly.

                                         (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) 

Ultimately, the New York Knicks would be wise to trade Carmelo Anthony, but they need to make sure they get back as much for him as possible. He's a very valuable asset to have and you don't want to give away an asset of his magnitude for nothing. Personally, I think Carmelo Anthony will be with the Knicks through training camp and a trade will happen sometime close to the trade deadline. I could even see him getting shipped out in a last second trade deadline move.

The Knicks would be smart to play this out for as long as possible and make sure they get what they can. Unlike the Kyrie Irving situation,  Carmelo Anthony isn't making the same type of stink about staying put, so it's not like his presence will create bad vibes in the locker room or anything. They can be more patient with this one and see what offers come their way.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: The New York Knicks need to be Kristaps Porzingis' team

                                         (AP/Julie Jacobson) 

As NBA training camps are set to open in the coming days, the New York Knicks still have Carmelo Anthony and it's unclear whether or not he'll remain with the team though the season. So long as Anthony hangs around, he'll remain the face of the Knicks franchise and Kristaps Porzingis will continue to be viewed as part of the future as opposed to the present. That needs to change starting now.

With the 'Melo era not yielding the type of fruit that the Knicks were hoping, it's time for the franchise to turn over a new leaf and start afresh with Porzingis as their centerpiece. During his first two seasons in the league, "Godzingis" has proven his worth as a franchise player, averaging 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Unlike Stephen A. Smith, I have been on the Porzingis hope train from day one. When I watched film of him in preparation for the 2015 NBA Draft, he reminded me of a 7'3", 240 pound Andrei Kirilenko capable of doing virtually everything on the floor.

With Porzingis solidifying himself as a legitimate star in the NBA, the Knicks need to start putting all of their resources into building a quality team around him. The first step towards doing this is to part ways with 'Melo and get back whatever you can for him. So long as 'Melo hangs around, the Knicks will continue to be in no mans land, looking ahead to a Porzingis era while not yet totally ridding themselves of an era that has been a failure.

The failure of this current era doesn't fall on 'Melo. From day one, he has done his part to help this team get back to relevance. The problem is that the Knicks never figured out a way to put the right pieces around him. Now that it's too late to put a contending squad around 'Melo, the least the Knicks can do is trade him to a team that has a shot at winning a championship.

When looking at the New York Knicks, it is clear that Kristaps Porzingis is their franchise player for the future and that they need to start building around him. The longer they hang on to 'Melo, the longer they put off the next chapter of their franchise. It's that simple.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Don't sleep on the Portland Trail Blazers

Last season, the Portland Trail Blazers traded Mason Plumlee to the Denver Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic and unfortunately were not able to reap the immediate benefits of the move due to Nurkic suffering a non-displaced right leg fibular fracture at the end of the season. During the 20 games that he played in a Trail Blazers uniform, Nurkic averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game, making an immediate impact and helping the team lock up the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

With a healthy Nurkic, the Blazers finally have a quality low post player to pair with their dynamic backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The real question is how good will this Blazers team be if they are able to keep their core trio healthy? While it's somewhat a tricky question to answer given all the moves made during the offseason, I think it's safe to say that this Blazers team has all the pieces to get back to the playoffs and possibly win a series pending on who they draw in the first round.

The real think to keep an eye on is what the Blazers do with the excess of power forwards that they have to pair with Nurkic. Ed Davis, Jake Layman, Meyers Leonard, Caleb Swanigan, and Zach Collins can all play the power forward position and it is unclear which of those guys will get the bulk of the minutes alongside Nurkic. There are good odds that the Blazers will trade one of those guys for a quality backup point guard to give their roster a bit more balance. Which one gets shipped is what remains to be seen.

Probably the other main thing to look for with this Blazers team is how ready they are mentally to take that next step. They've been hanging around for the past couple of seasons but have not yet found a way to really give a contender a scare. Lillard and McCollum are at a point of their careers where they should start to make some serious noise in the playoffs. While the addition of Nurkic is huge, it is still up to those two guys to carry the load for this team and take them to that next level where they can actually threaten to reach the conference finals.

Overall, the pieces for success appear to be in place in Portland. They have a fantastic back court and a big man to give them scoring and interior defense down low. They just have to find a way to balance out their roster a bit and build on the success that they had towards the end of last season. While I'm not yet ready to make a prediction on how deep this team goes, I am ready to say that this is a team that deserves our respect and attention as we head in to the 2017-18 season.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday Slam: NBA Draft lottery reform is a good idea.

Earlier this week, it was announced that on September 28, the NBA board of governors (owners) will vote on draft lottery reform and guidelines for the resting of players. In regards to draft lottery reform, what will be proposed is to lower the chances of the worst team walking away with the #1 overall pick and thus making it a less attractive option to tank.

In the current system, the team with the worst record in the league has a 25% chance of landing the top pick, the second worst team has a 19.9% chance, and the third worst team has a 15.6% chance. What is being proposed is to give each of those teams a 14% chance of landing the top pick and then give the remaining teams in the lottery odds that are slightly lower pending on their record. In addition, landing the worst record in the league wouldn't guarantee a top four pick. You could finish with the worst record and pick fifth instead of fourth if you didn't land one of the top three picks.

Personally, I feel like such a change would be good for the league. Too many teams throughout the league have tanked in order to land a higher draft pick, making the league less competitive and more lopsided. With lower odds of landing a top pick as a result of tanking, franchises would much more incentivized to put their best possible products on the floor and let the chips fall where they may come lottery time.

The only possible problem that could arise from this type of change is the fact that the perception of a rigged lottery could arise with even more full force than usual. Teams that are slotted eighth or ninth could get the top pick with more regularity and thus it could be seen that the league is creating a system that allows them to manipulate the lottery with less suspicion.

However, I do not believe the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged and further, one could actually argue that this type of change would lessen suspicion. By not having any clear-cut favorite to land the top pick, fans of a particular team couldn't cry foul play when their team didn't get the top pick.

The only question is whether or not this type of reform would be the right type of reform. In other words, isn't there more the league could do than this? One possible solution would be to give all teams that miss the playoffs the same odds of landing the top pick. This would really discourage teams from tanking. However, I feel such a solution would be taking things too far. I do believe that teams with the worst record should be rewarded through the draft, but that they shouldn't be guaranteed to get the top pick if they get the worst record.

You want to help your weakest teams get better, but at the same time, you don't want to reward teams for intentionally putting a weak product on the floor. I think what is being proposed is a good solution to this problem since weak teams will get higher picks without being incentivized to completely tank the season.

What would probably be the best solution to this problem is for the league's entire format to change. As it stands, the best team walks away as the NBA champion 80% of the time if not more because of the sheer number of games that the league plays. When you play 82 games, odds that the best team walks away with the top seed or number two seed in their conference are very high. When you play a best of seven series in each round, the odds of the better team advancing are very high as well. The league would be better served to play fewer regular season games (66) and make the first round of the playoffs best of five as opposed to best of seven. That's a change that would create more parity, which is what the league should really want.

While we aren't likely to see those types of changes, I do think that if the owners vote on the proposed lottery reform, that will be a step in the right direction. It's a tricky balance to find between rewarding weaker teams while also not rewarding intentional losing and I think the proposed reform does a pretty good job at finding this balance. The NBA would be smart to vote on this reform, see how it goes, and then tinker with it as needed in the future.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Utah Jazz need to ink Rodney Hood to a long-term extension

Earlier this month, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the Utah Jazz are already engaging in talks with Rodney Hood about a contract extension. Hood, a 4th year shooting guard out of Duke, has emerged as one of the franchises' most promising young talents, having the potential to replace Gordon Hayward as the team's top scorer out on the wing. With him slated to be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019, the Jazz can prevent him from hitting free agency by signing him to a contract extension.

During his first three seasons in the league, Hood has been a very nice player for this Jazz team, averaging 12.7 points per game on 41.5% shooting from the field, 36.4% shooting from three-point range, and 81.8% shooting from the foul line. With Hayward now gone, Hood is certain to get more touches and play an even more integral role in the team's offense.

Even more importantly, outside of Hood, the Jazz really don't have any good shooters or guys who they can rely on to get points out on the perimeter. If they aren't able to hang on to Hood, the Jazz will really be in a pickle to find themselves a scoring wing.

                                          (Credit: SlamOnline) 

While it is fair to wonder whether nor not Hood will ever become the player that Gordon Hayward is, the Jazz don't really have the luxury to bet that he won't become such a player for them. Right now, Rudy Gobert is the franchise centerpiece and they have to put a quality supporting cast around him in order to keep him in Utah beyond his current contract. The first major step towards putting such a supporting cast around him is to lock up Hood and give Gobert somebody who can take some of the scoring pressure off of him.

The Utah Jazz are in a rather unique position in that they are coming off a very successful season while also losing their top player in free agency. It will be hard for them to carry the momentum from last season into this season as a result. If they can sign Hood to a contract extension, they will be giving themselves another building block for the future and something to help them continue the momentum that they've built during the past few seasons.

Personally, I really like Rodney Hood and was very high on him when he was coming out of Duke. I thought he should have been a lottery pick and so when he fell to the Jazz at #23 overall, I thought he was an absolute steal. What I like about Hood is that he has all the tools to be an effective scorer in the NBA. He can score from beyond the arc, he can get to the foul line, etc. I see him as a guy who could someday average 18+ points per game in the league. If he can become the player that I think he can, he'll be worth every penny.

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Note: This blog post also appears on my Utah Jazz blog. Click here to check it out. 

Friday, September 8, 2017 Podcast: Kyrie Irving lands in Boston; Rodney Hood discussing extension with Utah Jazz

(Boston Celtics on Twitter)

On this week's episode of the podcast, Brian Kaiserman joins me to discuss the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade, Rodney Hood possibly getting a contract extension with the Utah Jazz, and the future of Carmelo Anthony. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: Kobe Bryant's evolution through video game history

                                                     (Keith Allison. Click here for source)
Something cool that I came across this past weekend was a video displaying how Kobe Bryant evolved in video games over the years. The change in graphics is astounding as is the fact that Kobe stuck around the league for as long as he did. Most guys wouldn't have played for as long as Kobe did, but his determination, grit, and love for the game drove him to be one the fiercest and greatest competitors the league has ever seen. Shout out to the Black Mamba! The basketball world misses you! #MambaMentality

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