HOOP LOGIC with GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: THE TRADE ENDS OF SANITY
So, you just saw God Forbid guitarist Doc Coyle wielding an axe in his band’s new video for super-jam “Where We Come From” and in these rad live pics. You’re pumped for God Forbid’s forthcoming Equilibrium record (pre-order here) and for their April-May tour with fucking Overkill. And now, you’re reading Coyle’s breakdown of the many movements leading up to last week’s NBA trade deadline in this week’s Hoop Logic Trade Deadline Aftermath Special! It’s great to be you!
ITEM 1 In February, phenom Jeremy Lin led the ailing New York Knicks back to a .500 record, winning eight of nine games without injured star F Carmelo Anthony. Upon Anthony’s return, the Knicks lost eight of their next ten. Then coach Mike D’antoni resigned on Wednesday; reports pointed to friction between D’Antoni and Anthony, and Knicks stars Baron Davis, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Lin expressed displeasure with the change. What do you make of this, Doc? Has Anthony pushed out their coach and alienated his teammates?
Doc: This is a situation where I don’t think anyone is “wrong”. D’Antoni got the short end of the stick in that an upper-tier coach never should have been hired for those first two dismantle/rebuild years. Losing is not good for your psyche, so by last season, when he got the horses he needed to truly run his system, they blew it up mid-way through the year to get Carmelo Anthony. D’Antoni’s system was working when he had the right components, and both he and GM Donnie Walsh were against giving up so much for Carmelo. All in all, their instincts were probably right to have waited until the off-season to acquire Anthony. But owner James Dolan took over negotiations and usurped his GM and Coach’s authority, which ultimately lead to Walsh’s resignation. D’Antoni didn’t really want Melo, or at least not at the high cost because Melo just isn’t the type of player that fits into his system.
But D’Antoni had enough talent to at least be respectable. His Knicks team was expected to be at least in the middle of the playoff pack, so it was too much to bear to fall seven games under .500 once, and then drop six games in a row after Linsanity cooled down. At that point, it seemed like the Knicks wouldn’t play hard for him, and the time for excuses was over: He finally had a point guard to run the system (Lin, Davis), two starters from last year’s All-Star game (Melo, Amar’e), a center fresh off a championship (Tyson Chandler), and one of the deepest benches in the league. I don’t think he utilized his talent in the best way, nor was willing to bend his system enough and to force the team to work hard enough on defense.
I think D’Antoni was doomed from the start — because of the Melo trade, the lockout-shortened season with little training camp or practices, and the key injuries. In the end, he was a defeated man, and change was needed, but I do feel for him because I think he can be effective in a more suitable situation.
ITEM 2 Assistant coach Mike Woodson will lead the Knicks the rest of this season. As a Knicks fan, who do you want for head coach duties next season? Rumored candidates include retired guru Phil Jackson and super-coach/ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy.
Doc: As of this writing, the Knicks are 3-0 with wins over the floundering Trailblazers by 42 and the very good Indiana Pacers in back-to-back contests. The team looks renewed, but I am not willing to call it a 180-degree turnaround yet. There are a few things I do like about Woodson that I think fit this squad more than D’Antoni:
1. He plans to run the offense more though Amar’e and Melo, and in deeper position on the block and in the post. I don’t see why a team would pay these guys $20 million a year but not use them as marquee players. They combined to average 51 points a game last year and I’m tired of Melo getting the ball behind the 3-point arc. I want some of that physical “bully ball” he was famous for. I also want Amar’e taking it to the rim — not shooting 20 footers. His explosion seems to be coming back.
2. Woodson is a tough coach, unafraid to get in a player’s grill, chew someone out for missing a defensive assignment, or pull someone out of the game for poor effort. Guys like Melo and JR Smith will walk all over a coach who isn’t tough like a substitute teacher; Woodson will command this group’s respect.
3. Woodson is a defense-first coach and that is what you need to win playoff games in this league. And that’s what you need to compete in the Eastern conference, traditionally a tougher, more defense-oriented conference. Leave that finesse in the West. Marcy Projects son! WHAT!?!
As for next year: Phil Jackson seems like a pipe dream. I would love to see him in New York, but his health concerns me. And bringing him to NYC would likely be another Pat Riley situation: He made the Knicks an instant contender, but not enough to take down Michael Jordan; likewise, Phil Jackson can’t conquer Lebron, Wade, and Bosh in Miami.
The return of Jeff Van Gundy would be great because he’s a true New York coach who can handle the backlash in this city. But my money is on Woodson staying.
ITEM 3 Dwight Howard announced in a press conference on Thursday that he’ll waive his option for free agency after all, and will remain with the Orlando Magic for at least another full season. Have you ever witnessed a more bullshit-filled press conference, my man? Beneath all the talk of “loyalty” and “family,” wasn’t Howard’s subtext basically ”No trade offer was good enough, and no team would let a superstar drift into free agency and get nothing in return, so I’m stuck here in Orlando a bit longer”?
Doc: I don’t think that was the case. Howard is a nice guy who didn’t want to be a villain. And the Orlando Magic is still a pretty damn good team, so there’s no logic in asking to be traded to the New Jersey Nets — who won’t contend for the playoffs til next year anyway. I also think Dwight is very indecisive — he seemed to go back-and-forth on wanting to leave — and has a lot of people in his ear telling him to different things.
At the end of the day, Howard didn’t want to be a Shaq copycat by leaving Orlando for L.A., and for some reason he didn’t want to go to the Bulls. I don’t understand that, so I’m unsure of Dwight’s acumen for picking a “winner.” For the future, a lot will depend on Orlando’s playoff performance. Orlando has a chance to upset Miami because of their lack of size up front, so time will tell. Otherwise, we will be going through this drama again in another year. That means more bullshit speculation from ESPN’s Chris Broussard and his “sources.” Yippee!
ITEM 4 The Golden State Warriors solved their redundancy problem by trading one of their high-impact guards, Monta Ellis, to the Milwaukee Bucks for injured, underachieving C Andrew Bogut. Doc, can you take us through each side of this deal? The Bucks are more powerful now, right? What do you expect from the Warriors this season and next?
Doc: The word on Golden State is that new coach Mark Jackson and Monta Ellis did not get along. Ellis has been on the trading block for a while now, and his prolific scoring might be empty calories since it has not led to wins. Like you said, Steph Curry’s presence essentially made Monta expendable. And Golden State has been clamoring for a center like Bogut since the off-season striking out with Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, and now Dwight Howard. The problem now is that your two best players, Bogut and Curry, are extremely injury-prone, which scares me, but their upside is huge. But very few deals like this come without risk, and with their chances to make the playoffs this year being nonexistent, the change makes good sense to me.
On the Bucks side, I think it’s an issue of Bogut’s inability to stay healthy. Because they are right in the playoff hunt, Ellis’ firepower certainly can’t hurt. He’s very talented and useful to the right team, kind of like a more explosive version of Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford. If you could get him to be a more committed defender, his value goes up even more. Unfortunately, I think with Ellis and Brandon Jennings in the same backcourt, you kind of get the guard version of Melo and Amar’e in New York: Jennings and Ellis are both undersized, hold on to the ball a lot, and take a lot of low-percentage shots. So I am very curious to see how this will work. The one thing I like about the deal is that now you have insurance if Brandon Jennings becomes a free agent in 2013 as he has hinted.
ITEM 5 The Portland Trail Blazers are now in rebuilding mode, having just dealt inconsistent F Gerald Wallace and aged C Marcus Camby, and having parted ways with coach Nate McMillan. Did you foresee this disastrous season for such a talented, well-balanced, and well-coached team? Is it that players are reeling from the off-season loss of star G Brandon Roy and the loss of number-one overall pick C Greg Oden? Seriously what the fuck?
It is really hard to figure out this Portland situation. Things were going bad quickly and they made big changes, but it’s not a true blow-up or rebuilding situation. If guards Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton got shipped out as well, than okay, that’s a dismantling. Both were on the block though, so maybe I’m reading this wrong. And Nate McMillan lost his team mentally and a mutiny was in tow. I saw the 42 point loss to the Knicks (McMillan’s last game), and it was probably the worst effort I’ve seen in an NBA team game, so things were very, very bad.
I am not chalking up their poor play to Brandon Roy’s retirement or the demise of Greg Oden. Neither of those guys was a true factor last year outside of Roy’s heroics in game four comeback in that series against the would-be champion Mavericks. Plus, the Blazers started out the year great. I don’t follow them super close, but they have some nice young pieces like Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge — and they get a great lottery pick from the Nets in the Gerald Wallace deal. Portland never stays bad for long thanks to one of the best front offices in the NBA. I expect good things down the line.
ITEM 6 Of the other notable trades — Nene for McGee, Sessions for Walton/Kapono, Fisher for Hill, Sixers pick up Sam Young, Jackson for Jefferson — which teams are positioned to improve the most?
Doc: In the short term, the Lakers have plugged a giant hole at point guard and got some much needed youth and quickness in Ramon Sessions. I am not sure what Jordan Hill brings to the table, but overall the Lakers are in a better position to compete out West where all of the top teams boast a high-caliber point guard. I wish they had been able to swing the Michael Beasley deal because their bench is still suspect. Derek Fisher is a true professional and champion, so it kinda sucks to see him go out like that. He just got waived by Houston, so he may end up on a contender somewhere.
In the long term, you really have to look at the Denver Nuggets trading Nene to Washington for Javale McGee. According to reports, Denver was looking to trade Nene all along after re-signing him. By doing so, they got younger and saved a bunch of money in the meantime. They also got very lucky in the emergence of impressive rookie big man Kenneth Faried, who made Nene more expendable. Now, Javale McGee is a bit of an enigma, but has great potential and athleticism. Maybe being around a more stable, talented group and a great coach like George Karl will get him on track. Denver also just inked Wilson Chandler to five-year deal, so things are looking up.
-Doc Coyle, God Forbid
Hoop Logic returns next week to mourn the season-ending injury to Ricky Rubio and to hail the dominance of the Rose-less Bulls. Holler at Doc on the internet @Doc4bid!