Friday, April 14, 2017

As the NBA turns

Phil Jackson, aka "triangle" Zen Master, is likely right when he says Carmelo Anthony would be better off playing for another team rather than the Knicks PJ has overseen in recent years.

Sure, Anthony played his college hoops at an upstate university (Syracuse) in New York state, and no doubt has loved all the attention that comes with playing pro hoops in the Big Apple.

But he's approaching 33 years of age. Not exactly a geezer, but definitely on the down side of his career as cagers go. There is little doubt Carmelo is a wonderfully gifted offensive player. The dude can definitely score. But there's also little doubt he regards playing any sort of defense like a typical politician would being completely honest. It just isn't in the cards. Ain't never gonna happen.

Thing is, Anthony has a no-trade clause built into his current mega-contract. The Knicks can't move him without his permission. There is also ZERO doubt yon Knicks won't be anywhere near championship contenders any year soon. So what are their options regarding Carmelo? Sit him in favor of playing younger players and trying to get better for the future? They could do that, but Phil Jackson, being a white guy, would likely be accused of some sort of racism by benching a man of color. And it would seem to be pretty stupid to keep paying Anthony his millions while not even utilizing him for what he IS capable of.

A dilemma indeed, but hey, it's the Knicks with that Dolan guy still running the show. Lots of dollars but little sense.

Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder appears to be the favorite for MVP this year. See Russell as the only player since Oscar Robertson to average a "triple double" for the entire season. See Russell talk a lot of trash and dress like a pimp off the court. See the Thunder crash and burn when the playoffs start. One trick ponies just won't get it done in the post season. This is what happens when they somehow let mega-talents like James Hardin and Kevin Durant get away to free agency to the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors respectively. One of those teams will likely be the one that zaps the Thunder in the next few weeks.

See the Detroit Pistons play their final game at the Palace, still not only a totally functional arena, but also a world-class facility. Their relatively new owner, one Tom Gores, bought the Palace (which was already long since paid for) along with the team. See Gores pour $10-15 million into upgrades at the Palace. See Gores turn around and move his team to the dregs of downtown Detroit, where he'll have to pay rent at the new Little Caesar's arena. It leaves one to wonder -- how in the world did this guy get so rich in the business world in the first place? Hello?

See the Palace sit quite empty from now on. This is the venue where the Pistons experienced their brief bouts of success, including three NBA championships. Now, as bottom feeders, they're going to join their counterpart bottom-feeding NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings, in a brand new arena. It would appear the marketing people have their work cut out for them selling this two-fisted plankton tag team act.

There are those that say Detroit is being "revitalized". Perhaps, to a point. It couldn't get much worse than it was a few years ago with corruption and crime running rampant. Though they've purged many of the crooks, the "FOX" district where all four Detroit professional teams play could be compared to the "Green Zone" in Iraq. A lot of money has been poured into it to pretty it up and it's relatively safe. But venture far in any direction is to take one's life in their hands. The blight and lawlessness are still in full force lurking just outside the perimeter. Who's kidding who?

Many, including yours truly, thought the Golden State Warriors might tank a bit when superstar Kevin Durant went out with a leg injury a while back. Au contraire. They once again wrapped up home court advantage throughout the playoffs. But they had that last year and somehow managed to blow a 3-1 lead in the Finals to the Cavaliers. Now Durant is ready to come back. How will this play out? That's one helluva good question. No idea.

At that, the Lebron and the Cavs themselves have looked very vulnerable in recent times. Good grief, they're not even the best team in the East, at least according to the regular season final standings. The Celtics passed them by for home court advantage. The Cavs seem to be having a chemistry problem of their own, as in playing team defense like Carmelo. In other words, they've been on cruise control and not willing to do the hard work necessary.

Will they pull it back together for the playoffs? Probably. Lebron's not getting any younger either and is likely approaching the back side of his career bell curve, but who would dare count them out?

As for Boston, they're not ready to seriously contend for a championship yet -- even if they can get by the Cavs in the playoffs, which is doubtful, home court or not. Whoever emerges from the brutal west would be heavily favored to make short work of the Beaners in the Finals, should they somehow manage to get that far.

But no mistake. Boston is coming and they'll have to be reckoned with soon, perhaps in as short a a year or two. They bit the bullet and blew up the team a few years back, shedding themselves of aging players and ridiculous contracts. Of course they predictably stunk for a while.

Yet general manger Danny Ainge had acquired mucho extra draft picks while doing so and has used them wisely to rebuild. The Celts are young, already very good, and Ainge still has a few more extra picks in the near future, which will likely reap even greater benefits down the road.

It is definitely to their credit that they finished with the best record in the East this year. Champion-worthy? Probably not. But these guys will likely be the real deal before long, and may stay among the elite for quite some time.

Unlike the Pistons, they appear to have a few brains at work in the front office.......

No comments:

Post a Comment