Hoop Logic with God Forbid’s Doc Coyle: “The Drama, The Bickering … I Love It.”
Hey MetalSucks ballers! Welcome to a brand new Hoop Logic with Doc Coyle, guitarist and backing vocalist of God Forbid! Well, the fun and showboating of All-Star Weekend is a memory, the trade deadline has passed, and for better or worse, teams are locked in for a wild ride to glory or gore. Let’s check in with Doc about all the latest action — and lack thereof — in our beloved NBA! Read on!
THE FUTURE’S SO DWIGHT
Doc, a hot topic leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline was the dysfunctional Lakers and their plans for C Dwight Howard. And despite their persistent troubles, they declined to make the trade to capitalize now before Howard enters free agency in a few months. Does this imply an intention to re-sign Howard?
Doc Coyle, God Forbid: There has been a sentiment in the sports media that we shouldn’t be covering the Lakers so much because they haven’t been winning, and that other deserving teams should get more coverage. I couldn’t disagree more. The monumental underachievement by this pseudo-supergroup has been one of the most entertaining stories of this NBA season. Just Kobe Bryant‘s quotes alone are box office gold. The drama, the bickering … I love it.
With that said, I feel that the Lakers intend on retaining Dwight Howard long term. Of all of their stars, he is the youngest and easiest to build around. Even at 70%, Howard still leads the league in rebounding, shoots almost 60% from the field, and averages 2.5 blocks. I still think he is highly underutilized; the Lakers offense and defense work better when Howard is involved early and often: When getting consistent number of touches, he puts his opponents in foul trouble, creates space for shooters (not that the Lakers have many), and becomes infinitely more engaged on the defense. His only real weakness is turnovers — very sloppy with the ball.
But head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s offense does not work with two bigs on the court. When paired with Howard, Pau Gasol sucks (but he did great as a starting center when Howard was out with injury). It can be forgotten that Howard led the Orlando Magic to the Finals in 2009 in a system built around him: pick and rolls surrounded by three-point shooters. Kinda sounds like what the D’antoni offense is supposed to be, huh?
But I think they were right to not have traded D12 — unless, in return, franchise-quality talent had been offered, or some kind of package for the Lakers’ win-now game plan for Kobe and Steve Nash‘s final years. Really, I believe that the Lakers should have traded Gasol, but his current injury screwed that up any way. Of course the Lakers are a better team with all of their weapons, but not when Gasol isn’t happy with his role and underperforms because of that. Plus they could’ve sought a stretch 4 (Ryan Anderson, Chandler Parsons) and a point guard to back up Nash and Steve Blake. That would’ve been an improvement.
And the real question is will Dwight Howard stay with the Lakers at season’s end? He is mentally fragile and immature, and that will ultimately be his undoing unless he grows up quickly. Every team with cap space is going to go after him HARD. But I think he will re-sign because A) L.A. can pay him the most, and B) their reputation is built on the ability to retool and rebuild on the fly. Though if I was him, I would go to a young team in a smaller market with less scrutiny. He just does not mesh with Kobe — and I put that on Kobe. He’s the leader and he has to lead. Howard can’t be blamed for being a bad follower, can you? So I would love to see Howard move to the Houston Rockets. He would make them instant contenders in the West and would be very exciting to watch.
FUN AND ALL-STAR GAMES
Did you find that last Sunday’s All-Star Game was less fun than usual?
I have a theory about All-Star weekend. It’s starting to be like New Year’s Eve: hyped up to no end, and never as great as the amazing parties you had when you were young which are rose-colored with nostalgia. So a fan is set up to be disappointed from the get-go.
Actually I really enjoyed the All Star game. It was close all the way through and filled with competitors. Compared to the Rising Stars Challenge, the All Star game had a playoff-like intensity. Those guys have fun, but they also really like to win and respect the game. LeBron, KG, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Kobe are there to prove that they are the best of the best, and it shows. And I really liked the East reserves because they were all no-nonsense, scrappy hustlers; Joakim Noah, Tyson Chandler, Jrue Holiday, and Luol Deng don’t know how to turn off their competitive engine. Can you imagine Chandler or Noah not caring about defense? Defense is what they do. But the West just has more talent. When your bench is James Harden, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook, it’s kind of not fair. By the way, how fucking good is Kyrie Irving? All-Star 2013 was his coming-out party. He is the heir apparent to Chris Paul, but perhaps more of a scorer then distributor.
I didn’t get to watch the dunk contest live, but all I heard from friends and Twitter was that it was terrible. So I watched it the next day and found these claims to be exaggerated. It started great and ended great. Sure, there was a pretty bad lull in the middle because each guy kept missing and that killed the momentum. Plus, TNT analysts Charles Barkley, Shaq, and Kenny Smith were just killing the contestants. (They were hilarious though.) But look at the highlights — there were some amazing dunks. If it was LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin doing those same dunks, people would say it was a great event. Fans want superstars in the dunk contest. That’s what was great about the old contests. It was Jordan vs. Dominique. Dr. J and even Kobe. Also consider that at this point, it’s virtually impossible to be original without bringing some props or gimmicks into it. Guys are bigger, faster, and jumping higher — but it’s still very hard to come up with a completely new dunk. Cut ’em some slack. We should just relax and enjoy what these guys can do, which is pretty damn amazing if you ask me.
It’s been off and on the NBA radar for months, so who knows for sure, but the Sacramento Kings move to Seattle seems certain. Are you pumped? Will this juice their low-profile franchise?
DOC: I have mixed feelings about the move. I have fond memories of Gary Payton throwing thunderous alley oops to Shawn Kemp for the old Sonics in the mid ’90s. Hell, Ice Cube even name drops the SuperSonics in “It Was A Good Day.” They were a great franchise with a loyal, rabid fanbase. They did not deserve to lose their team.
On the other hand, I also have fond memories of Jason Williams throwing monstrous alley oops to Chris Webber with the awesome Kings of the late ’90s-early ’00s. Now Sacramento has not been a particularly great franchise; they’ve had talented players, but haven’t really been able to put winning teams on the floor besides that Webber team or perhaps Mitch Richmond‘s Kings. And even without championship banners waving in the rafters, Sacramento fans have been dedicated. They do not deserve to be constantly fucked with by the Maloof brothers ownership. It seems like the city of Sacramento will give them whatever they want to stay in town, but they are pursuing the Seattle deal anyway.
There is no outcome that will work out for everyone. One city will win, the other will lose. But I am not in favor of expansion; 30 teams is perfect for the amount of NBA-level talent. Let’s not dilute it anymore to appease a city or for a money grab. And please don’t have a franchise in Europe. That doesn’t seem to have any logistical recourse to work.
Doc, past trade deadlines had much more action than this season’s. What’s the story?
DOC: The real story of the trade deadline is the absence of big-name trades. Although it happened well before the deadline, the most impactful trade was Memphis Grizzlies’ shipping F Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors. Memphis is considered to be a contender, so it seems illogical to deal their most talented player and leading scorer in the race for a championship. Then again, the Grizz recently hired numbers wizard John Hollinger, creator of the ESPN Player Efficiency Rating (PER), as vice president of basketball operations. That means this Gay move comes with a lot of dispassionate number-crunching regarding game and salary cap. In one of the NBA’s smallest markets, they have to be even more mindful of their cap situation than many teams — which is a shame. It’s good that they got Tayshaun Prince, although a contender like Memphis would have smarter to grab him a few years ago, close to his prime. Prince can play the same role as Shawn Marion for the champion Dallas Mavericks team in 2010-11: Top defender and reliable scorer whom you don’t have to draw up plays for. I wonder how this is going to work playoff time without having that big gun …
The move straps Toronto cap-wise, but getting a player of Gay’s caliber is a big deal for the Raptors. They haven’t had a superstar since Chris Bosh, and Gay makes a nice young, athletic core with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Who knows if C Andrea Bargnani will stick around, but perhaps he will produce a little better as a second option behind Gay. The Raps have an exciting team and have played great since Gay arrived. They definitely have a shot to make the playoffs, but this move is really about the future. I imagine there will be plenty of more moves by GM Brian Colangelo in the off-season. The Atlantic division will be very interesting when C Andrew Bynum gets healthy for the Philadelphia 76ers. I pray for my Knicks.
–Doc Coyle, God Forbid