With about a month to the trade deadline, in many an NBA front office, do Twitter Fingers become Trade Trigger Fingers?
Whether it’s a seller’s or buyer’s market or not, Will Strickland and Duane Watson, hosts of the TSN Radio Network’s flagship basketball program, #1On1 with Will & Duane, weigh the possibilities with guest scribe Don Kingu of ATBNews.com in this week’s edition of the Ultimate Hoops Writing Machine, #3MW!
Is the NBA placing a higher value on breaking into international markets over the game itself?
Strickland: No. David Stern’s pipe dream is just that: a dream. The preseason NBA Global Games serve as a great ambassadorship of the game. Playing overseas during the season is time, cost and performance-averse, however. It’s not the NFL where you have a week between games. Eurobasket, the Chinese Basketball Association and other quality international leagues are thriving. More than ever, the Association is littered with quality athletes from around the globe competing at the highest levels. The NBA is beamed in to over 200 countries around the world. Commissioner Silver is doing a fine job expanding the reach of the NBA without expanding overseas.
Kingu: It’s tough to say. I think the international markets needs some NBA exposure. When the NBA first brought it up, I felt that they were placing a higher value on it with the suggestion of adding international teams or having more games played internationally. But after going to France and experiencing how little exposure the NBA has over there, I think it would be good for the game in terms of growth and development.
Watson: I think it’s great the NBA is trying to increase its global footprint, but not during regular season play. It was evident in the Raptors’ game in London that fatigue/jet lag was a a factor. Field-goal percentage went from over 50 per cent for both teams in the first half to just over 30 per cent for the pair in the second and it was clear that players lacked a lift in their jumpers. Now Adam Silver is talking about the idea of morning tip-offs on weekdays, to accommodate international audiences? Not only will this not work for players, but what about attendance at games and broadcast issues? Save it for the off-season.
With the coaching and front office purge in Brooklyn, is a player fire sale imminent for the Nets?
Strickland: Absolutely. With no draft picks for an eternity, thanks to the shrewdly deft front office machinations of Duke alum and former GM Billy King, the Nets need to find a well-respected, well-connected general manager before the trade deadline. Will this person right what’s been horribly wronged in BKNY? Negative. But the name of two-time former NBA Executive of the Year Bryan Colangelo should be the name owner Mikhail Prokhorov has in mind. Will they leave interim head coach Tony Brown at the wheel of a bus with three blown tires and no spares for the rest of the season? Perhaps. Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson have surfaced as potential bench bosses in the Boro after wild rumours of the $120 million asking price of Kentucky coach John Calipari drifted away like so many Celtics-owned draft picks.
Kingu: I mean, I don’t think they have much to sell, to be honest. The most intriguing piece they have is Brook Lopez and, if I were the Nets, I would keep him. Trade Lopez and you literally have no one. If any move will be made, it’ll be Joe Johnson, even though I doubt that most teams will bite on him, unless it’s a contender looking for an extra scoring punch. I think the team will most likely stay as is, at least until a new GM and a coach are hired.
Watson: “Sale” may be a bit of a strong word, as they barely have any coveted assets in Brooklyn. Thaddeus Young is the only enviable piece and Brook Lopez is good, but has a history of bad feet. From there, the drop-off is significant. They need assets desperately and Billy King, in his infinite wisdom, traded them all away. The Nets can’t even be as bad as the Sixers because they have no draft picks. King mortgaged the future and the franchise hemorrhaged.
After a disappointing 13-26 start, should the Pelicans consider trading Anthony Davis?
Strickland: While The Brow is NOLA’s best asset, no way does GM Dell Demps move his recently minted franchise player, especially with whispers that a Hall of Fame player in former Detroit Pistons president/GM (and Louisiana native) Joe Dumars might be waiting in the wings for that gig. Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans would be coveted on the trading floor and, if they are moved, consider the Pelicans in full fire sale and rebuild mode. The question at that point might then be, can the Pelicans depend on Anthony Marshon Davis, Jr., who while immensely talented, is slowly and painfully wresting the title of The Human Injured Reserve List from another former first-overall draft pick, the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut?
Kingu: HELL NO! I know there’s been a lot of talk how he’s overrated and he’s not a true leader, but let’s look at the facts here. The Pelicans have been injured all season so far with Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, Ryan Anderson, Norris Cole, Quincy Pondexter (out for the season) and Davis, himself, all missing time. You can’t expect a team to do well with all those key pieces being out, on top of playing under a new coach with a new system. That all takes time. But now that most of those pieces are back in the fold, the Pelicans are starting to play better, winning two in a row and sitting in 12th place, four games back from the eighth seed. The season is still young. If they can stay healthy, I still think they can make a run at the playoffs.
Watson: No. Only, of course, if they are getting Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry in return.
The Raptors are currently in second place in the East. Are they a better team at the mid-season point this year versus last year?
Strickland: Without question. Only one game off of last season’s pace, with a far tougher schedule over the first 40 games of 2015-2016 and a heavy roster turnover with seven new faces in the fold, coach Dwane Casey has maintained a modicum of continuity and a sense of purpose. The Raptors have also dealt well with injuries to key components DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas. And while this is all good right now, an exit from the playoffs before May 1 will have Casey possibly relieved of his duties and will leave DeMar Darnell DeRozan with the biggest decision of his professional life.
Kingu: I think they’re better simply because they had a harder schedule starting the season this year than they did last year and more road games. They also had to deal with injuries with JV and Carroll missing a good amount of time. With that being said, the Raptors have been able to keep the boat afloat and that only shows growth and improvement. Once this team is healthy again, and key guys continue to step up like Ross and Patterson, Toronto can get to that next level and create some separation at the #2 seed in the East.
Watson: Yes. It goes without saying that this is a much better defensive ball club than last year. Furthermore, they have had DeMarre Carroll for only a little over half of their games (in addition to missing Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross for a stretch) and all of this has been done in a far more competitive Eastern Conference with more of their games taking place on the road. But everyone knows the true measure of this team will be how they perform in the playoffs.
Just when will the basketball world really take notice at what the San Antonio Spurs are doing this Season?
Strickland: What sorcery is this? While they may not be the Highlight of The Night squad, those in the know have clearly observed the sustained greatness of a team that mirrors its stars, past, present and future in Timothy Theodore Duncan and Kawhi Anthony Leonard. But this is exactly how the Spurs like it: Quiet. Unassuming. Lacking fanfare…and ruthlessly efficient and effective. Their collective goal is singular, as it has been since the 1997-1998 season: Win titles. Craft legacy. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Kingu: I really don’t know. I think the Spurs will always be that team that flies under the radar. It’s just who they are. The world is just not interested in them and that’s why they always rack up wins and nobody notices because they do it without flare. San Antonio doesn’t care about the spotlight. I actually think they enjoy being under the radar now because they continue to add players that have that kind of personality. If you really think about it, every single player on that team has a low-key personality, so it fits to how they want to play and they continue to add those same type of players every year.
Watson: Possibly if/when the Warriors falter, but then again, the Spurs are always at the top of the heap in the West. Likely only when the season is over and this team wins the NBA Finals will everyone look back at this incredible run they’ve been having. Nothing has changed. They are still resting their players and not playing at full strength every night with everyone accepting their roles, moving the ball and playing defence. There’s an apathy towards the Spurs, as they’re not flashy, but students of the game are very aware of what they are doing, as they do year after year.
Don Kingu @atbnews_ can be found challenging Florida’s Open Carry Laws whilst holding a fruity adult beverage with a tiny umbrella in it whereas Duane Watson @duanewatson and Will Strickland wallstrizzle1 bring you the News, Views and Truths on the NBA and beyond as #1On1 with Will & Duane comes to you at a special time of 4pm this Saturday on TSN 1050 Radio.