HOOP LOGIC with GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: TRADE KOBE? TRADE RONDO? TRADE MELO?
NBA All-Star weekend provided lots of thrills and laughs — and at least one broken nose — but now it’s back to the marathon race to an NBA championship, and its pace intensifies with every score, steal, and rolled ankle. Some teams will lunge for the lead, others will be trampled under foot, and still others will limp to the nearest bench. MetalSucks’ NBA expert and Knicks superfan Doc Coyle, guitarist of awesome God Forbid, takes senior editor/Lakers apologist Anso DF through the wild start of the season’s second half.
ITEM 1 Earlier this week, NBA analyst Ric Bucher sparked a firestorm of criticism after suggesting that the Lakers trade mega-star Kobe Bryant. Wow, right?
I am going to chalk these comments up to an attempt by Bucher to grab headlines. I’d have to imagine that for a member of the sports media, which essentially moved online in a minute-by-minute, play-by-play, Twitter-fueled blog-Fest, you are in competition with every other NBA beat writer out there for the limelight.
I’m going to assume his claim was pure bluff because trading Kobe Bryant would be FUCKING STUPID! Kobe isn’t as good as Michael Jordan, but he’s the best we’ve had since MJ in terms of accomplishment, style of play, and ambition. Jordan won his sixth NBA championship at age 35, and retired for the second time at the end of that season. Kobe is 33 years old, leads the league in scoring, plays through injuries like the Terminator, remains the best closer in basketball, and shows no signs of slowing down.
The fact is the Lakers made a giant blunder by trading Lamar Odom without getting back some more youth and scoring off the bench or at least a serviceable point guard in return. Derek Fisher’s age has begun to show, and Metta World Peace is a liability on offense. They are the most top-heavy team in the league, but it’s a hell of a top. A team with Kobe Byrant and two of the NBA’s top five seven-footers always will be competitive. And there is still a chance to land Dwight Howard, but the Lakers likely would have to give up Bynum and Gasol.
I would not move Gasol unless I get something amazing in return. That abortive off-season deal for Kevin Martin and Luis Scola will not do. Thrown in Kyle Lowry with Scola, and we may be talking. There have also been talks about landing Timberwolves F Michael Beasley — that would be amazing. The Lakers would immediately get a young guy who can create his own shot and contribute 12-20 points nightly. As the Wolves have a surplus at the forward spot, and he doesn’t fit in their future plans, I hope the Lakers land him.
ITEM 2 In the offseason, the Bulls landed a major scoring threat and defensive stopper in Rip Hamilton. But his tenure with Chicago so far is marked by nagging injury and little assimilation into his new team’s system. If Hamilton’s issues persist, do the Bulls have enough offense to match the Miami Heat?
No, they don’t. For the Bulls to even have a shot, Rip Hamilton and Carlos Boozer need to play lights out in the playoffs. Because of Rip’s injury problems, I haven’t really seen how he works in their offensive flow, but on paper he gives them everything they lacked last year. Unfortunately, we all may be hoping for the Rip from four or five years ago, and it remains to be seen if he can get back to that level of production.
Between the injuries, his age, and the lockout schedule, his conditioning must not be great. Poor conditioning has affected a bunch of quality veterans like Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Lamar Odom, who all came to training camp in sub-par shape (Stoudemire due to back injury). Pierce and Dirk seem to be hitting their stride now, so hopefully the same will happen for Rip. Currently, the Bulls have the best record in the league, so I will abstain from shedding any tears for them.
ITEM 3 I’m consistently impressed by the resolve of Ty Lawson and his banged-up Denver Nuggets: They’re not an elite team now, but they’re hanging tough until the return of major weapons Nene and Danilo Gallinari. Will their deceptively mid/low playoff seed give them a sneaky edge?
I’m don’t think the Nuggets will end up with a low seeding in the playoffs. Right now in the Western Conference, there is only a four-game difference between the third and eighth seeds — with Portland, Utah, and Minnesota knocking right on the door. It’s really going to be about who gets hot going into the post-season. Talent-wise, I would put Denver in the upper tier because of their depth. Obviously, this depth and talent matter only if they can stay healthy. Nene and Gallinari just came back on Monday, and there is a strong possibility that the team will re-sign F Wilson Chandler, another athletic, skilled up-and-comer that came their way in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Denver has been misfortunate in regards to injury early in the season with maybe only New Orleans and New Jersey having worse luck.
Because of all of the ex-Knicks on the Nuggets, I am definitely rooting for them out West. They are also one of the most exciting teams to watch. The way they move the ball and run the break is awesome. As with Philly, not having a true closer makes them somewhat questionable in the post-season, but I wouldn’t want to go up against them in the first round.
ITEM 4 Friday was the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1962 game in which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. How meaningful is this landmark achievement today?
It is very meaningful because this record will more than likely never be broken. Unfortunately, I think it is a little over-hyped in that Wilt Chamberlain was 7’1″ and 275 pounds in an era that just didn’t feature a whole bunch of big, tall, strong guys. He had an advantage that doesn’t apply today. Shaq and Dwight Howard could have had a shot at that record because of their unique physical attributes if they were transported to 1961. Meanwhile, Shaq had to play against monsters like Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwan, David Robinson and Yao Ming, and he was still dominant. Unstoppable in his prime. In 1961, he might have scored 120 in a game.
ITEM 5 Dude, on Sunday in an impressive win over the Knicks, Celtics G Rajon Rondo’s line read as follows: 18 points, 20 assists, and 17 rebounds. Holy shitballs!
Yeah. Rondo is a beast. He has been one of my favorite players since he went nuts in the 2010 playoffs, upset the Cavs, and essentially ended LeBron’s run in Cleveland. When a guard puts up a stat line like 18 points, 20 assists, and a career-high 17 rebounds, it really does read like a video game, and in fact it’s only been done twice in NBA history — by Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson.
I think it reflects the idea that Rondo may be the most unique player in the league. If he could shoot consistently, he would be a top-five player. My favorite thing about him is that he plays the game the right way: He is a true point guard who understands his job to run the offense and get others involved before looking for his own shot. His quickness, freakishly long arms, and big hands give him the tools to put up these big rebound numbers and be one of the game’s best on-the-ball defenders; plus, Rondo is highly disruptive in the passing lanes and one of the top steals guys in the last few years. So the rumors that he is on the trading block baffle me. The Celtics should want to rebuild around Rondo, not flip him; they will not get equal value back. Unless you could get Deron Williams or Russell Westbrook in return, trading Rondo seems like a disaster waiting to happen. If you read last week’s Hoop Logic, then you know how I feel about GM Danny Ainge’s decision-making of late.
ITEM 6 I remember and completely agree. That Perkins trade — ugh. Let’s move on to Jeremy Lin news. The red-hot Knicks guard has cooled off, and somewhat predictably, this coincides with the return of Carmelo Anthony from injury. Your thoughts, my Knicks-loving friend?
It’s not looking good in the Big Apple. Defenses have caught up to Lin and he hasn’t seemed totally comfortable since Melo returned. Some of this is expected. The Knicks had the league’s easiest first-half schedule, and now the pendulum has swung back the other way with the toughest schedule to close the season. No one thought Lin would keep up at that All Star pace with 25 points, 10 assists shooting 50% from the field. Plus, you have a lot of new pieces in addition to Melo like JR Smith, Baron Davis, and Josh Harrelson, who were not there when Linsanity was at full tilt. This seems like a good problem to have, but chemistry was a big question before this full team finally arrived.
Expectations aside, I am officially calling “Linsanity” over. It was fun while it lasted, but now there is a scouting report on Lin (defenses must force him to his left), the stretches of five or six games against bad teams are over, and Melo’s presence has disrupted the offensive flow.
Here is what I’m seeing: Starting before the All Star break, the Knicks fall behind early and big (15-20 points down) in every game with the exception of their blow-out win over Atlanta. The starting five is shitting the bed and their bench is bailing them out. I have never heard of a scenario like this. The chemistry in the starting unit just is not working. Most of the time, they get back into the game, but the inconsistency is staggering.
I’ll be honest, I have questioned whether Melo and Stoudemire could work together, and I really don’t think it will ever work. I could be wrong, but with Carmelo Anthony in the line-up this year, the Knicks are 12-17 and 6-4 without him. This team has far too much talent to play this poorly. They are now one of the deepest teams in the league, and the time for excuses is over. Maybe coach Mike D’Antoni and Melo don’t mesh. It’s possible that a different coach could make it work, but I am skeptical. Maybe they can turn it around but I will be pleasantly surprised but if they finish the season with a winning record. If I could swing a deal to get Dwight Howard or D-Will, I would pull the trigger. I agree with Charles Barkley on this one. “The Knicks have stars, but no superstars.”
— Doc Coyle, God Forbid
Doc Coyle plays guitar and sings in awesome God Forbid, who set March 26 for release of sixth album Equilibrium. Check out new jamz and studio reports here. Pre-order here. Holler at Doc on the internets @Doc4bid.