CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE.
Welcome to #TankCity Vol. 2, Part 2, where we break down the current residents of #TankCity. Let’s get it started…..
As I look at the season of the Sixers who currently have the 2nd worst record in the NBA, are throwing out D-League caliber talent on a nightly basis since the trade deadline, and are the proud owners of a 20-game losing streak with no end in sight, it only seems natural that we check back on our favorite front office people, the Sixers CEO, Scott O’Neil and his GM, Sam Hinkie. Let’s look into their latest conversation……
***O’Neil cracks open the door to find Hinkie reviewing highlights of last night’s games on NBA.com while singing along to his favorite Philadelphia-based song playing from his iDock station.***
Hinkie: “We still hustle until the sun comes up/Crack a forty when the sun goes down/It’s a cold winter…..”
O’Neil: Sammy! We did it again!!
Hinkie: Ha ha haaaaaaa! & they said it couldn’t be done!
O’Neil: Haha! Oh my goodness, I love what’s happening! Everything we discussed is happening to a tee. To a tee!
Hinkie: I was almost worried about Evan Turner sir. I started to think we couldn’t pull that one off on such short notice. But hey, we solidified the extra 2nd round draft picks and Danny Granger. The media doesn’t seem to realize in this new CBA, 1st AND 2nd round draft picks are like solid gold. They’ll learn after a few years.
O’Neil: Danny Granger………..hahahahahahaha!
Hinkie: Hahaha! I know, I know.
O’Neil: & Doc Rivers thinks he’s going to do what exactly?!?! Do they not have a league pass over there???
Hinkie: Who knows really? The only downside to all this, is that I’m not sure if we can beat anyone else the rest of the year. I’m not even sure we can beat the Atlanta Dream or the Maine Red Claws right now. It might beat down the self-esteem of the players and the coaches. I feel it the most for Thaddeus Young. I know he’s had his bags packed and ready to go since the beginning of January when he realized how bad we were gonna be, but I can’t give up ALL of our talent this season without getting destroyed by the fans & media. It’s a shame, Thaddeus is such a nice guy too, and I know he didn’t want to…..
O’Neil: F**K THADDEUS!!! F*** him! We’re paying his salary Sam, if he doesn’t like it, we’ll send him to the D-League to battle the Red Claws! He’ll see how sad he can really get when he’s riding Greyhound coach behind the bus driver!
Hinkie: It’s okay sir, it’s okay, I’ll talk to him sir. I’ll let him know that ownership has given him the green light to pad his stats as much as possible for his next contract…..
****O’Neil is still staring at him*****
Hinkie: …….& we promise that we won’t resign him?
O’Neil: Good! Good stuff! THAT’S what I like to hear! Listen Sammy, you’re doing such an exceptional job this year. You’re staying the course for us. Me & the boys upstairs have the company jet gassed up tonight. As a thank you, we’d like you to come along with us. We’re gonna head down to South Beach.
Hinkie: Oh wow sir! Thank you! But…..we’re not playing in Miami tonight sir.
O’Neil: I know Sam. I know. ****smiles at Hinkie****
Hinkie: ****long pause**** Are……are we going to K.O.D’s?!?!?!
O’Neil: ****still smiling at Hinkie**** Meet us at the lobby for 6PM. Don’t be late.
********O’Neil leaves the room. Hinkie is yelling while doing Tiger-Woods style fist pumps.*********
The biggest story that the Celtics will have to deal with this off-season will have to be how to deal with the Rondo situation. Do you trade him for more pieces to rebuild for the future, or do you use all the picks you have to reload for a big run around him? Bill Simmons from Grantland believes that the Celtics can make a move by using their picks and a player or two to get Kevin Love, and when you have two stars on your roster, it’s much easier to get a third star to come to your team. All I know is this: it’s not every day you can get a PG like Rajon on your team, especially one who loves to pass first and plays elite defence for his position. By next season, he’ll be 100% healthy & one of the top 3 PGs in the game again. I don’t think you can give up on that yet, especially seeing that he’s not even 30 yet. Regardless of how hard he may be behind the curtains, he’s a star performer, and his best talent is to make others better. If anything, they should probably look to shut him down for the rest of the season just to protect his body for next year.
GM Rob Hennigan is the perfect example right now as to how to run your team in #TankCity. Stockpile on those young players and lottery picks, & put them in a positive culture that breeds winning. In other words, follow the OKC mold that he watched & help cultivate with his mentor, Thunder GM Sam Presti. The only difference though is that OKC had a potential superstar in Kevin Durant to plant their flag. Thus far, the Magic doesn’t have anyone that falls under that mode just yet, but a solid foundation is there right now led by C Nikola Vucevic, SF/PF Tobias Harris, and last year’s #2 overall pick & this year’s possible Rookie of the Year Victor Oladipo. If they can land someone to help become the official new face of the franchise this summer, in the weak East, it can propel them to a playoff spot next season. They are in need of a strong & dynamic wingman, so landing Wiggins, Jabari Parker, or even someone like Dante Exum is imperative to their future.
Sometimes when you’re at your work, and you see someone who is inefficient at their job, hanging on to their position for so many years, you often wonder “why?” We’ve all experienced this before at any job that we’ve held once you’ve been there long enough. You start speculating whether that person has seen something that they can use to blackmail the company, like walking in on the owner shredding files that they can be used against them in court. You wonder if they’re secretly related to someone that’s on the Board of Directors. Maybe they walked into their supervisor’s office & found their supervisor going to town on Kerri from Accounting. Or maybe it’s because they’ve been there for so many years, management feels guilty in letting them go. Either way, there simply has to be a reason as to why this person is still employed, no matter how wild or tame said reasoning is.
Which leads me to Joe Dumars, VP of Basketball Operations for the Pistons franchise. As a player, I was one of his biggest fans as part of the Bad Boys era teams of the late 80s. He’s been one of the classiest people in NBA history, so much so that NBA Sportsmanship Award winner is awarded the Joe Dumars Trophy. He’s been part of the Pistons organization for almost 30 years now as a player and executive, but the relationship has gone stale & it’s time to cut it loose. He’s received credit for construction of the Pistons team that went on to win the NBA title 10 years ago. Since the teams reign ended in 2008, he’s been making questionable moves one after another, especially when cap space opens up, and it always seems to set the franchise back. In 2009, he spent $90M on Charlie Villenueva and Ben Gordon (let’s not even get started on how bad that signing was even back then), this past off-season he spent another $78M on Josh Smith & Brandon Jennings to push for the playoffs. Outside of cornering the market for the most left hander ballers (Smith, Jennings, Greg Monroe) in a starting lineup, they have clinched another losing season in Auburn Hills for the 5th straight year.
Owner Tom Gores has to make a decision here. The franchise needs new leadership, & as respected as Dumars is around the league, the teams needs to take another path through different eyes. If he keeps him on again past this season, it will be like staying in a relationship that you lost the love for only because your parents love her & she gets along great with your sister. It feels comfortable, familiar, and because of the years invested into the relationship there’s a sense of loyalty, but it also doesn’t feel right anymore. At the end of the day, it’s time to start seeing other people.
There’s a rumor circulating that the highest ratings for the Duke Blue Devils games this season has been in the State of Utah, with people shutting down their businesses to support fellow Mormon Jabari Parker. Ok, maybe that rumor isn’t true at all, but would you be surprised if it was??? By the way, they’re tied for the worst record in the West with the LA Lakers…..
……And these guys! Good news for Rudy Gay fans, he has played more efficiently since leaving Toronto. He’s shooting 49% from the field, 85% from the line, passing a little better (3.2 APG) & scoring just a little bit more (20.6 PPG). This is probably the best he’s looked since his Memphis heyday. It’s probably not a coincidence that he’s much more effective with a quality big man around that can score right? Let’s face it, Jonas Valancuinas, through no fault of his own, is not Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, or Demarcus Cousins. At least not yet. It also goes to show that maybe you shouldn’t have Gay leading your franchise either. Z-Bo and Gasol were the best players in Memphis where he wasn’t the #1 option, & Cousins is the lead dog here. He’s more effective when he’s the 2nd or 3rd best option on the team, which is why I was totally behind Toronto letting him go. He’s a good player, but he basically reached his peak ceiling as a player. He’s made about $73.5M in his career & with another $19.3M coming to him if he opts in (he’ll be crazy if he doesn’t), and as long as he stays in the West, he’ll probably never play in an All Star game. Again, thank you Masai. Thank you.
“Woah….. I wasn’t expecting to see you guys here. ***shuffling through paperwork***……but, didn’t you guys win 57 games last year? I don’t understand….huh? What’s that? You want to stay in #TankCity??? Nah man, I can’t do that, you guys are too good to be here. That makes no sen…… you got rid of Coach Karl?? But he was coach of the year! You guys had no stars!!!!…….. You let Ujiri go??? The f*** are you guys talking about man?!?!…… To Toronto??? What chu mean he wanted to go back home?? He wasn’t born and raised there guy!…….but don’t you have the same guys on your squad? Lemme go over your application again….. ***reading*** Iggy’s in Golden State……No Andre Miller huh?…….. Danilo never came back? Damn…… No JaVale either…….AND you guys may get to keep your draft pick too?……..Okay, fine. We got condos available, let’s go check out the model suites then. It’s on the 3rd floor…..Nah, elevator’s out, you gotta take the stairs…..”
Oh yeah, they don’t own their draft pick this year. Smh.
In other news, Phil Jackson will take the job offer as Team President of the franchise, which to me is a decent move. He’s the greatest coach in NBA History & his contemporaries on his level (Aurebach, Riley) have all gotten to run a franchise in their image in the front office, so why shouldn’t he get a try? His biggest concern right now is the Carmelo situation & what to do with him this off-season obviously. The only way I would make the attempt to keep him in New York if I was Phil, is to really believe in my heart that I can get Melo to change his style as a player. He’s already made comments from behind the scenes about how he doesn’t like his game & has taken joy in breaking him down & beating him when he was coaching the Lakers. If he feels he can do that, they sign him to that long term deal. I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out in terms of convincing him to change, only because he’s gotten the most stubborn players in NBA history (MJ, Kobe, Shaq) to give themselves to the team for the goal of winning. Between that & the stature that he holds in the game today, it’s possible that he could change. Slim, but possible. But then you have to pay Melo at least $25M/yr to stay in Manhattan? Yeah, I’m not sure he’s going to want to do that…….until you remember that James Dolan is the owner. Who the hell knows how this is going to turn out, but there’s a pretty good chance that Knicks could be on their 2nd complete teardown of the team in 5 years. Let’s just move on.
I feel sorry for the fans of the T-Wolves. They haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years. The last time they were in the playoffs, Sam Cassell & Lattrell Sprewell were running the backcourt & Kevin Garnett was enjoying his first & only MVP season. As it stands, they have possibly the best PF in the game in Kevin Love who continues to put up astronomical numbers every night, bruising C Nic Pekovic, a solid SG in Kevin Martin who scores & gets to the line (& not much else), and PG Ricky Rubio who hasn’t improved much from his rookie season if at all. I would say that will take some time to rebuild back, especially with all the David Khan debris that’s still blowing through the city. The problem is that they don’t have that kind of time. Love’s a free agent next season, & he hasn’t come near the playoffs in his career yet. Plus he’s probably never forgotten that he wasn’t even offered the max deal when his contract was up a few years ago. Instead, that slot was held for when Rubio’s contract was up.
You can’t really blame Flip Saunders for that screw up — his name isn’t Kahn — but still falls under the T-Wolves watch. If Minny was smart, they’d pull a Sam Presti with the Harden negotiations and trade him once we can’t work out an extension this offseason. Don’t do what Cleveland & Toronto did in 2010 with LeBron and Bosh & try to convince him to stay. The Lakers and the Knicks can open the vaults again in 2015, and you cannot compete with those resources unless Love really loves to make snowcastles & have tobogganing runs during his down time. You may as well get something for him, don’t get stupid.
“HEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYY! Cleveland, how’ve you been?!?! Ah, that’s too bad man, sorry to hear that…..don’t worry about it though, we got you covered! We left your Penthouse Suite just the way you left it. I know you said you wasn’t coming back after last year’s draft, but deep down, you know, we wasn’t so sure. We left your place alone just in case. We didn’t rent it out to no one man. We even cleaned it up for you! We got that trophy case all cleaned up for Kyrie’s All Star trophy, got the spotlights for it & everything. Plus, we stocked the fridge for you, & we got liquor in every cabinet……yeah, Ciroc of course! Peach & Amaretto, We got you. We even have a pot of Rice & Peas with some King Fish on the stove for Tristan and Andrew! We left a Gucci knapsack of stress balls in Waiters’ room when he needs to chill out too….. what’s that?……Hahaha! LeBron ain’t coming back home man, you’re crazy! Hey, who’s this with you?…….How you spell Milwaukee? No offense, but you look beat down…..look at all them bruises…..listen, come upstairs, we’ll get a suite ready for you……. No, no, no. Don’t worry about the paperwork, this one’s on us…..”
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Not sure where to begin with the Lakers, so let’s start with the Laker fans. Please stop acting like the Lakers have never suffered through bad times in their lifetime. Look at the league’s history. Most teams, especially in the modern era, that had great success (championships or not), once they fall & hit rock bottom, don’t normally bounce back immediately to contender status. The only team that has sustained a high level of success in the last 25 years without depending on a complete rebuilding plan, is the Spurs. Other than having the one ‘hiccup’ during the ’96-’97 season, when David Robinson missed the whole season with a back surgery (which led to getting the #1 overall pick & landing Tim Duncan), the Spurs have missed the playoffs exactly once since 1989, the year before Robinson’s rookie season. Outside of that, every team took a few years to get back to being a contender.
The Lakers are no exception. Everyone calls Jack Nicholson the world’s most popular and loyal Lakers fan, but I remember those couple of years right after Magic Johnson retired, where Nicholson was noticeably absent from his court side seats. Not until the Nick Van Exel-Eddie Jones led the Laker team back in 1995, did Nicholson start coming back. It wasn’t until Shaq & Kobe came to them about two years later, did they truly bounce back. Same thing once Shaq left back in the 2004 off-season along with Phil Jackson. Did everyone forget how that team looked the first year after Shaq left the team? I mean, take a look at this roster! It took management returning Phil Jackson the following season & a hissy fit from Kobe the year after the 2007 season, before the team started playing better, and landing Pau Gasol in that trade that immediately made them the standard in the Western conference, winning back-to-back titles by the end of the 2010 season. But now, the Lakers are starting from the bottom again, they are dead last in the Western Conference. The only difference between this time & the other times was that Jerry Buss was overseeing things. Now, this team is being overseen by his son Jim Buss whose moves thus far haven’t panned out since he’s officially taken over. This including the now ridiculous-looking contract extension for Kobe Bryant that handicaps them Free Agency wise over the next two years. Laker Nation is banking on history that the Lakers can & will get it done in the next couple of years, but just understand that unless the top free agents want to willingly play for with Kobe, it’s gonna be a humbling experience the likes of this franchise has ever seen. Their only concern right now is hoping Laker management nails this upcoming draft.
One other thing……
**putting on Conspiracy Hat***
Up until a couple of months ago, I firmly believed that if Toronto made the lottery, they would get the #1 pick, especially if Andrew Wiggins maintains his #1 draft stock hype. New management led by Tim Lieweke, the rebranding efforts (i.e. Adding Drake to the team), getting to host the All Star game in 2016, I assumed that it would be capped off by landing the hometown kid. Now that Toronto has left #TankCity, I feel like the Lakers would be the frontrunners for the #1 pick. It would not only keep the Lakers in the news, but adding that pick with cap space by 2015, will set a new foundation sans Kobe. The only reason why I don’t guarantee that yet is that I’m not 100% sure yet something like this will happen under the Adam Silver commissioner regime. Stay tuned.
Cal Cee // South Shore Ave