With your busy schedules and lack of league pass, basketball is tough to keep up with. Lucky for you, our staff is addicted to every facet of the NBA and we’re here to keep you informed. Here are some random musings, irrational thoughts, and favorite moments of the past week.
Varoon Bose: In a season that has seemingly been dominated by a Warriors narrative (and rightfully so) last night showcased two of the league’s best kept secrets: the Cavaliers and the Spurs. You probably know at this point that the Warriors are 37-3. What probably hasn’t been beat over your head was that heading into last night, the Cavs were riding a eight game winning streak, while the Spurs were on their own nine game win streak. Oh did I mention the Spurs were undefeated (!) at home this season?
A now fully-healthy Cavs squad started off hot, but as always, the Spurs made their adjustments. As Ben Golliver of SI.com astutely pointed out, San Antonio roared back by exploiting Kevin Love’s lackluster defense on pick-and-rolls. Combine that with a rejuvenated Tony Parker, a never-aging Tim Duncan, a sturdy bench lead by BOBANNNNNNNNNN, and a guy Charles Barkley dubbed the “best basketball player in the world” and god dammit the Spurs are back…back again…Spurs are back…tell a friend. Oh did I mention they also have Gregg Popovich? Like seriously, how can you counter this type of coaching?
Look, let’s not take anything away from the Cavs here. They’re seriously coming into their own, and if they proved anything last year in the finals with an undermanned squad, they showed they could adjust with the best of them. LeBron James is not an idiot, and neither is David Blatt. They knows where this team stands right now, and both understand improvement against the west’s top tier teams requires patience and time.
Again, it’s been Warriors this and Curry that all season, as it should be. They’re not only the best team in the league, but by far the most fun team to watch on a night-to-night basis. But if last night’s game proved anything, it’s a sign that titles aren’t won during the regular season, and the playoff road ahead will be a minefield for a repeat-hungry Warriors squad. No Golden State fan wants to see either of these faces come July…or worse yet, both.
Don't know how many times we got left to go against one another but I've never have and I never will take them for granted! The consistency you've shown over the years goes unmatched and as a competitor it's always a treat to be competing on the same floor as you! Being a professional(professionalism) is so overlooked in our sport but I always knew who I could look to if I ever wasn't professional about this lovely game and that's You. From one King to Another and to the Greatest PF to Ever play this game, all Love and Respect Timmy D!
In Mother Russia, Bear Rides You
A Calipari (Rumor) Grows in Brooklyn
Jared Mintz: “Step 1. Buy NBA team. Step 2. Move them to Brooklyn and declare that they’ve taken over New York City from the Knicks. Step 3. Alllll of the profit.”
This didn’t really seem like a horrible plan from Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov when he “teamed” with Jay-Z to buy and revamp the Nets back in the Spring of 2010, and it almost worked. However, instead of taking the city from their cross-river rivals, the Nets have quickly taken the label of laughing stock of the NBA from them, culminating in the dismissal of both head coach Lionel Hollins, and GM Billy King earlier this week.
This will be the 5th Nets coach in 5 years. It will be Brook Lopez's 8th coach in 8 years with the Nets.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 10, 2016
With Tony Brown stepping in, it’s become clear that maybe King wasn’t the worst GM in basketball, but the worst positioned one. After dealing for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett back in the summer of 2013, the Nets don’t have their own first round draft pick until 2019, and with a core of Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Thaddeous Young, this team’s going nowhere fast without an end in sight.
We know that Prokhorov and Nets’ CEO/Marketing “Wizard” Brett Yormark are more interested in buzz and names than patience and substance, so when it’s rumored that famed Kentucky coach John Calipari is only interested in an NBA return if it comes with a 10-year. $120 million contract, it shouldn’t be expected that the Nets won’t try and offer it to him. The problem is we don’t know how credible of a rumor that is, as I don’t really think any amount of money would bring the nation’s top recruiter back to the NBA.
As connected as Calipari is to NBA players and a top percentage of basketball talent, recruiting in the NBA is such a different animal than recruiting in college basketball. That isn’t to say that Cal hasn’t done a very good job as an actual coach, but it seems short-sighted to want him to run your organization because of his ability to attract stars at a lower level. Even if he can get a couple of his guys that he’s coaches before, how will he fill out the rest of his roster? How will he react when the stars he’s recruiting decide to go play for a more proven coach, or a team that’s just one piece away?
As youthful and exuberant as Calipari comes across, we’re talking about a man who’s about to turn 57 and whether or not he should leave the cushiest job in maybe all of sports, to work for an organization that has been the epitome of dysfunction over the last several years. Why does Calipari need a challenge like this when he could feasibly win a handful of NCAA Championships? He likely won’t challenge Adolph Rupp’s legacy in terms of wins or championships in Lexington, but if he wins another say two championships, who knows, maybe they name Rupp Arena after him at some point.
You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 11, 2016
Just like it doesn’t make sense for Nick Saban to leave his post at Alabama to try and turn around a hopeless NFL team, it doesn’t add up to fantasize about Calipari leaving the most prestigious job in college basketball to try his luck as a salesman in a league that can chew you up and spit you out, which he experienced in the late 90’s. The Nets are in an unfortunate position trying to rebuild a team without any kind of franchise players, and without any of their top picks to benefit from these bad seasons they have approaching, but the harder they try for a quick fix the further along they’re going to delay building a solid foundation.
I’d like to see them try and get rid of their top three players/contracts and see if they can bring back some draft picks, as the only hope this organization has is trying again with a clean slate. The Calipari situation is worth keeping an eye on, but realistically I think his name is just being thrown around to keep the Nets in the headlines.
The Only Batman vs. Superman Trailer We Want
Westbrook vs. Everybody
One night after a heartbreakingly close loss against the Cavaliers, the Mavericks rested their starters and pulled out the reserves for a schedule loss against the OKC Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back. We know how these things go: the starters sit, the reserves get some reps before laying it down and taking their whupping against superior talent.
While that was the general pattern of the Thunder vs. Mavericks game, a funny thing happened on the way to a Mavericks blowout. J.J. Barea and Russell Westbrook met. Russell Westbrook is a man who has harnessed the energy and a personality most comparable to a volcano. Barea is a man who has fought and scrapped his way into one of the most improbable NBA careers in history with the chip on his shoulder to show for it. When they tangled up Wednesday night it would have been a miracle if things had not escalated.
Things got real chippy between the Thunder and Mavericks'https://t.co/6Dj73O7Wf3
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 14, 2016
Setting aside my love for all things Mavs here, it’s clear that Barea was the instigator in this incident, and getting whupped on by twenty will make you a little aggro. It is also clear that Barea gives up some height and muscle to Westbrook. While I wouldn’t put a Barea beatdown out of the realm of possibility it would have been a very unlikely result. Buster Douglas did beat Mike Tyson, but that is not how these things usually play out.
Enter Tha Rippla. Charlie Villanueva has been terrible from beyond the arc this year. That was the only reason he was on the squad. Now, now Tha Rippla is the muscle. Blowout loss, scrappy play, escalating tensions, Tha Rippla will come through and put his hand on your neck! The Thunder are a great team. Westbrook would be a MVP candidate if Stephen Curry didn’t currently possess the Infinity Gauntlet. Tha Rippla don’t care. Tha Rippla has his teammates back! In what was an otherwise terrible night for the Mavericks, Barea and Charlie “Tha Rippla” Villanueva gave us another silver lining to go along with Salah Mejri going off. Sink or swim these Mavericks are going down together.
I Think KD May Have Won The Powerball…
MEOW’S NOT THE TIME, KAT!
Mel Evans: In a week filled with sadness and loss, a blow was delivered courtesy of the Timberwolves campaign to send Karl-Anthony Towns to the All-Star game. In a short video, the Timberwolves asked that we consider sending KAT to Toronto since he had already been all around the world…with a cat.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 9, 2016
Towns’ cat bit backfired with me faster than Emma Watson’s tweet remembering Alan Rickman did with the MRA’s. As you probably know by my lack of a Bro’s Guide and your own fan pages, my beloved cat Julian was the third celebrity death this week. This makes for real shitty timing, KAT. Julian loved basketball and green screen videos and farting. (Note: no cat farting explicitly occurs in this video.) How could he so callously exploit the loss of a tiny stinky cat to his own selfish All-Star ends? While he may have seen himself as endearing, millions of Julian fans only saw him using a cat as promotion. Of course, Julian fans watched the video with Sarah MacLaughlin’s “Arms of an Angel” playing instead of the nondescript jingle. And Julian fans were not ready for a cat in the arms of a rookie center. So way to go, KAT. You made at least one person cry trying to get to a showcase of a basketball game. Thanks to your incredible insensitivity, you have me actively starting an “Anyone But KAT” campaign. Please take all your All-Star promotional funds and donate them to the Humane Society and ASPCA.