You can’t just buy an NBA title anymore.
You can spend a lot of money on stars but you need to do it wisely (see the Miami Heat), but you can’t just throw a random roster of stars together. Mark Cuban tried it and learned he needed to build a team differently, one with parts that meshed.
Mikhail Prokorov and the Nets are learning that this season — and will pay the price for that lesson for years to come.
Stan Van Gundy was on the Amani and Eytan show on NBC Sports Radio Monday night and summed up the situation well. He was asked if Brook Lopez’s season-ending injury could save Jason Kidd’s job as coach.
“I think with all the injuries it’s been hard to evaluate Jason Kidd. It’s been easy to jump on him not just because of the record, but the things coming out of their locker room, the situation with Lawrence Frank, the incident of spilling the drink on the floor. I mean this has looked like a bush league organization much of the year, they don’t play with much effort at all, a very uninspired team. But at the same time they had so many people hurt you just don’t know. And now they are not they are not going to be healthy all year…
“You can do whatever you want with the coaching situation but it is not going to change the situation with their roster. They just don’t have a lot of options — they don’t have draft picks, they are way over the salary cap. They are probably in the worst situation of any team in the NBA right now.”
There already have been reports that Kidd could be gone by the All-Star break if the Nets do not turn things around.
Two thoughts to add.
First, this quote comes from Stan Van Gundy, one of the NBA’s best available free agent coaches — you think you are going to get an elite coach to replace Kidd?
Second, as I have said before, if the Nets fire Kidd management needs to step up to the podium at the press conference and own this was their mistake. Jason Kidd may or may not pan out to be a good NBA coach, but any first-time coach is going to go through a learning curve. The Nets put Kidd in charge of a team with a one (maybe two) year window to really do some damage, then be retooled. There was no time for a learning curve, and we are talking about one of the most intense media markets in the nation. That’s not all on Kidd, it’s on the choice of putting him in there in the first place.
Let this be a reminder: If you are 6’11” with impressive athleticism, you are going to get second (and third, and fourth, and…) chances in the NBA.
Larry Sanders has been out of the NBA for a couple of seasons after a mutual parting of the ways with the Bucks, a buyout of his contract that let him get away from basketball. He had personal demons to deal with and checked himself into a hospital program for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders.
He’s said now he wants to make a comeback, and the Cavaliers are going to at least take a look, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
A solo workout implies this is not going to lead to him being signed soon, it’s just more of a progress check. Sanders reportedly has looked in some previous settings like a guy who has been out of the league for a couple of years.
Sanders averaged 9.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks a game, which led to him getting a big extension with the Bucks (and that’s the Sanders teams hope to see in workouts). Sanders wrote later he struggled with the pressure and how to cope with it after signing that deal, which led to things such as a nightclub brawl left him with an injured thumb in need of surgery, being charged with animal cruelty, and being suspended a couple of times by the league for marijuana use.
Hopefully, Sanders has found the balance he sought in his life. He’s trying to turn that into a return to the NBA.
As teams return from the All-Star break, the Denver Nuggets are holding on to the eighth seed in the West. They have an underperforming Trail Blazers team two games back, and a Pelicans team two-and-a-half back that just added DeMarcus Cousins.
Which leads to the question, how eager will Denver be to move players that can help them hold on to the eight seed? There have been trade rumors around veteran forward Wilson Chandler for a couple of seasons, but will they move him at the deadline?
At least a couple of teams are interested, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports in a video about trades (video below).
“Watch both of those teams with Denver’s Wilson Chandler. Oklahoma City had been very much in pursuit of Rudy Gay before his season-ending injury. They’d love to get a four-man, a versatile forward, as would the Clippers. Both teams think that kind of player maybe gets them over the hump in a first-round series.”
The Thunder simply need more playmakers and guys who can score around Russell Westbrook. Chandler can do that, he’s averaging 15.6 points a game playing 30 minutes a night in Denver, he has to be respected from three, can score inside, and overall he’s a slightly above-average (or above replacement level, if you will) NBA forward who can play the three or the four.
For the Clippers, he could slide right into the three, which has long been a weak spot in their rotations.
Of course, the real question is what does Denver want in return? And this is where it gets tricky because the Nuggets want to win and Chandler is part of that, so the price has gone up for him in Denver’s estimation. Neither the Clippers or Thunder have obvious players that they would be willing to move that the Thunder likely want, and would either team give up a future first rounder for Chandler?
This trade may well not happen, but it’s something to watch.
The Washington Wizards are thinking about a deep playoff run this season — they are the current three seed in the East, they have the best record in the conference since Dec. 1, and they have a starting five that has been powerful all season and is staying healthy.
What they could use is some bench help to help make that run, which is why the Wizards were linked to the Lakers’ Lou Williams in trade talks. However, Williams is now headed to Houston. So what’s next for the Wizards? They have interest in the Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic, but instead how about talking to the Timberwolves, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Shabazz Muhammad has shot the three ball better this season than at any point in his career, hitting 41.4 percent but taking just 1.9 shots from deep a game. He’s not a great shooter generally but is more of a physical small forward who would like to post smaller guys up inside and score at the rim. The bigger problem is he is simply not a good defender — ESPN’s real plus-minus has him as 75th among small forwards on defense.
He could step in and give the Wizards a little help in the rotation, but not near as much as Williams. The question is what would the Wizards offer for Muhammad, who is a free agent after this season? A second-round pick is probably the top end, maybe a player they don’t need to balance the salaries gets thrown in.
The Wizards are one of the more active teams trying to land help heading into the trade deadline. There just aren’t a lot of good options left for them.
The trade market for centers heading into the trade deadline isn’t good — there’s a glut of them on the market. If a team wanted a guy to play the five, they could acquire Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, and some others who are available. Also, the low price the Pelicans paid for DeMarcus Cousins — the best center in the game — has driven down the price.
Which is why the Sixers have had little success moving Jahlil Okafor. They came close with Portland, but the Blazers instead traded Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second round pick to the Denver Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first round pick. With Portland off the table, the market seems barren for Okafor.
So the Sixers may think about moving Nerlens Noel more, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said in a recent podcast (hat tip Hoopshype).
“If they can’t get a deal for Okafor done before the deadline, I’m told that it’s possible they’ll start – there are still teams still checking on Noel, re-engaging on him. What complicates it for Noel is that he’s a restricted free agent, and teams want to know ‘what is it going to cost to us to re-sign him’. And it’s going to be a big number.”
Noel fits more with what teams are looking for in a five — he can protect the rim, he has hops, and he can finish around the rim (63.4 percent of his shots come within the restricted area, and he shoots 72 percent on those). He gets most of his offense off cuts or being the roll man — get him the rock near the basket and he’ll do the rest, but he’s not going to create or step out. He provides rim protection in the paint on defense (but if you have a big that can pull him out of the paint it gives him trouble).
There’s also the concern about his injury history.
The question is what the Sixers can get for Noel — it’s not going to be a first-round pick, because if a team wants him that badly they’ll just wait until this summer and try to poach him as a free agent. Come July, the Sixers could be forced to match a contract they don’t love just to avoid losing him for nothing.
Or, Bryan Colangelo can trade Noel for whatever he can get (a couple second rounders, most likely). Which has not been his style in Philly.