The trade deadline has come and went. With the constant buzzing of general managers, coaches, players, analysts and sports writers on the who, what, why, and where of the league it can be quite difficult to separate the rumors that offer some real insight and the ones that are, well, just rumors. That being said, every once in a while a trade comes around that is not completely inflated and over covered by media, but is none the less massively impacting on the status of the league. One such trade occurred this past Sunday, and boy was it a huge one.
DeMarcus Cousins is a New Orleans Pelican, and I would hazard to guess not many people outside of the Kings and Pelicans front offices saw it coming. That goes for DeMarcus himself, as you can see in this interview when he is sitting down to talk about the All-Star game and is informed by his agent. For Cousins it seems emotions are quite mixed (though that may not be surprising coming from a famously emotional player) as he is sad to leave Sacramento but holds a positive outlook on what the future may hold for him in New Orleans.
Fans of the Pelicans should be ecstatic, and any one that isn’t a Kings fan should at least be intrigued, because the possibilities of having DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis playing side by side on the same floor are staggering. We are talking arguably the two best big men in the modern NBA throwing each other lobs and setting each other screens. At the very least it will produce some great highlight plays, and if the best case scenario unfolds and they mesh together well we could be seeing New Orleans escaping the mire of mediocrity they have been stuck in for so long. With the right amount of luck they could push forward from their current 11th place in the western conference and make it in the playoffs as an 8th seed to challenge the Warriors. You could also argue the very fact that Davis and Cousin’s style of play are too similar and may lead to too much ball stopping and clashes of ego. It all remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure; the second half of the season just got a whole lot more intriguing.
For those interested, below is the entire press conference after DeMarcus was traded, featuring Boogie himself, his fellow traded King Omri Casspi, the New Orleans GM Dell Demps and New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry:
As most people who follow basketball well know, Kevin Durant left his long time team the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason, seeking a better opportunity to win a championship. And boy did he get one, bringing his once in a generation scoring talent, MVP, freak athlete portfolio onto a Golden State squad that already broke the regular season record for wins the year before. But many have speculated it was also because he wanted to play for a team where the other stars where more willing passers (so not Westbrook). But as LeBron’s experience should show you, fans of a franchise don’t care about your reasons. Not only do they not care about your reasons, they don’t even care about all the success and good time you brought to them. They just care that you left. And as the video above will show you (taken from Chris Smoove’s YouTube channel, be sure and subscribe), the return home was none to pleasant for Durant.
But in basketball, what it comes down to is winning. The Warriors won the matchup last night, 130-114, and Durant scored 34 points, and all the booing and clever signs in the world won’t change that. Durant made comments after the game on how he “expected worse”; his mom on the other hand had a choice word or two to say about the OKC fan’s treatment of Durant. It should be noted that Durant was a wonderful philanthropist during his time in Oklahoma, donating a million dollars to tornado relief funds, building basketball courts for children, and even going himself to sites affected by storms and cleaning and rebuilding along with the rest of the relief effort. He was a true citizen and this shouldn’t’ be overlooked. That being said, nobody who has watched similar scenarios in the past can say they were surprised by this outcome. Tempers will cool over time, and that is about all Durant can hope for. Something tells me come June when he is competing in a NBA finals for the first time since the Thunders 4-1 shellacking by the Heat in 2012, he will not be thinking about a February game where fans held up “cupcake” signs.
Charles Barkley in his current role as a TV analyst
There was some serious drama in the world of the NBA this week. So much so that most of the news on the NBA had more to do with the verbal spat between LeBron and Barkley then anything actually related to the game of basketball. For those that don’t know, Barkley has had a history of criticizing James. Now, all this criticisms have been basketball related, if not sometimes bordering on the hypocritical (talking smack about LeBron changing teams and talent searching when he did the exact same thing). But whatever it was about what he said this time around, it seemed to strike a serious nerve for LeBron. For the entire comment made by LBJ, you can click here, but the general gist was as follows; James feels his legacy speaks for itself when compared to Chuck’s, and does not appreciate him calling him “whiney” in the least.
I’m unsure of whose side to be on in this argument. On one hand, Chuck was doing his job and commenting on a basketball player, but on the other, he has a history of taking the same outdated issue with James, questioning his competitiveness and his resolve. It would get on anybody’s nerves, but to deal with these kinds of comments from people basically from the time you were 15 years old and up would take the resolve out of anyone. So for now I stand by LeBron (and not just because it was supremely entertaining to read his roasting of Barkley.) When it comes to legacy’s, Chuck does not come even close, and once more, questioning LeBron’s competitiveness is just plain dumb. If he was not supremely competitive, he wouldn’t be pushing for a new point guard in the first place. We are talking about a man who single handedly pushed a crazy good Warriors team to six games in the 2015 finals. Alas, whomever’s side you land on, I think one thing can be universally recognized; this back and forth between LeBron and Barkley has been fun to watch.
Should LeBron be blaming anybody but himself for the Cavs lack of a playmaker?
I am almost invariably a LeBron fanboy, and I will defend him in any situation and for just about anything. I fell in love with his play style as a kid and I have never looked back. And, I might add, most of the time my defenses of him are well thought out and based in fact. But his last statement to the media has left me a bit stumped. For the first time in my life I can’t defend LeBron, and here is why.
First, a little back story. After the Cavaliers lost to the Pelicans this past Monday (who were without their hands down best player, Anthony Davis), making it a streak of 5 losses in 7 games for them, LeBron lost his temper a bit in the post game interview. This lead to him having some choice words to say about the state of the team. Do I disagree that they could use one more playmaker? Most certainly not. The NBA is now more then ever a league where a team has to have great depth to have chance of winning a championship, with more emphasis on guys that can do it all at multiple positions. That being said, if anybody is to blame for the Cavaliers front office not grabbing them a playmaker, you would have a good argument in saying it is LeBron; here is why.
LeBron has not (and will never again) hurt for money since he was 18 years old. Before he had ever played an NBA game he signed a contract with Nike worth 90 million dollars. 90. Million. It is estimated that in his now 14th season in the L, he has made 595 million dollars in salary and endorsements. He has a legit chance at becoming the second athlete (behind the great Michael Jordan) to be worth a billion dollars when its all said and done, and that will probably come a lot sooner for him then it did for MJ (who was 50 when he reached the billion mark). This being said, if he wants better teammates, take a smaller salary. This year the Cavaliers are paying James a total of 31 million. How much would it hurt LeBron to take a smaller deal, maybe only make a paltry sum of 20 million, and free up a bunch of cap space for a better back up point guard? I don’t think that he will have to take a mortgage out on his house if he lost a few mill of of his salary. So, there it is; I criticized LeBron. It hurts a little bit, but it had to be done.
A visual representation of how this “rivalry” has went so far for Westbrook
The Thunder and the Warriors added the latest chapter in their newfound rivalry this past Wednesday, finishing in a 121-100 win for the Warriors on their home floor. But to call it a rivalry for the teams as whole organizations isn’t really a fair analysis of what is forming on the hardwood this 2016-17 NBA season. No, this is really more about Westbrook himself and how he feels about being both metaphorically and literally dumped by Kevin Durant this past off-season when Durant accepted the offer to join the Warriors. The Warriors are focused on winning and while Westbrook is doing a decent amount of that himself, it doesn’t appear even his superhuman ability (Westbrook is averaging a triple double this season) can stop the pure talent on the Warriors roster. And for Russ, that is the hardest pill to swallow, and it shows in his outbursts on the court and off it.
The following link shows how he feels about his teammates even speaking to a Warrior after the game; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-csNEy-Fwx4. And when told about the incident pictured above (Westbrook apparently was unaware that Zaza Pachulia had stood over him after his hard foul), Russ responded with a simple message; “…I don’t play that game. Imma get his ass back… I don’t know when that’s going to be but I don’t play that game.” Suffice it to say, Russell has no love left for Durant and by extension he doe not have any for the Warriors either.
The sad part is that this “vendetta” or “rivalry” will largely remain in the mind of Russell personally until either he or Durant switch teams, and neither occurrence is likely to happen anytime soon, with Durant being under contract for two seasons and Westbrook for three. Unless the Thunder’s head brass can facilitate a miracle this offseason (Demarcus Cousins to the Thunder, anyone?) Westbrook and his Thunder are most likely to meet the same fate in future match ups with the Warriors and their super team to end all super teams.
In this blog it is my plan to write on various topics, all based around this years NBA season. I am new to the whole blogging ideas as a whole, so I hope what I produce is not too horrible or difficult to follow. More specific themes I plan on following include: best plays of the week/month, trades and trade rumors, my opinions on any controversy/news updates around the world of basketball, my opinions on age old debates such as LeBron vs Jordan, Magic vs Bird, is the draft rigged, etc. My interest in topics such as those listed above have been growing in intensity as I age. I did not start watching basketball until 2008, although I’ve played it (organized and otherwise) since I was five years old. At first it was a casual interest in just the games that may have been on TV at the time, but has sensed blossom into what some might call an obsession. I just love the sport and I can’t get enough of it.
My goals for this blog are pretty small, as it is my first attempt at doing something like this. I just hope that I enjoy doing it and that those who may read it also enjoy doing so. I realize that while basketball is a popular sport and its fan base is growing astronomically every year, there are still a good majority of people who are not interested by it in the least. That being said, the audience I hope to reach would be people as intrigued and entertained by basketball as I am. As I have said already in this blurb, I have never been a blog person and therefore my knowledge on other blogs concerning this topic or with a similar theme are pretty narrow. However, upon a fairly short search I was able to find the following blogs that are along the lines of what I would like to try and achieve: http://www.insidehoops.com/blog/ and http://puresweatbasketball.com/blog/.