Jun 16, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; A Cleveland Cavaliers fan reacts after game six of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. Warriors won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Tragedy Strikes, Opportunities Open
When the clock struck midnight on July 1st, 2015 the NBA was hit by a catastrophic tornado that flung partnerships, friends, and teammates to different parts of the country. Many said the damage done by this occurrence will effect the league in ways we deemed impossible, others stated that it is in fact only the opening act to what is possibly the biggest hurricane to ever hit the league.
In regard to what lies ahead the ongoing catastrophe has been a blessing and curse to many organizations and players in the past week. Of those who were hit by the vortex, some landed safely in the comfort of their own home or were brought in by loving families. Others saw the last of their loved ones while coming home to a contorted house missing a roof. The less fortunate are now forced to live through a couple years of agony while persevering through the difficulties that lie ahead until they can return to the norm. Those who are in comforting hands are welcomed with loads of cash and windows of opportunity to succeed.
The wrath of this natural disaster has not died down and continues to ravage through the confines of NBA offices. As we speak, assets and liabilities are whirling around the eye of the beast waiting on their time to be released into the familiar, simultaneously dreading the abyss.
Chaos and joy has been afflicted across the NBA spectrum and running for shelter is a hopeless act. Other regions have reaped the benefits of this rare occurrence in their attempt to keep the fort strong and lively. Among the NBA zones that have benefited from the tornado is a cult of organizations that have through recent history, recklessly mauled those who dare to enter it’s territory.
Next: Grit and Grind
Apr 29, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen celebrates fromt the bench in the second half against the Portland Trailblazers in game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at FedExForum. Memphis defeated Portland 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
South West Mafia
Arguably the toughest division in the NBA (the Southwest Division) has used this NBA free agency frenzy to sharpen the knife, adding perennial all stars and refueling the engine by resigning vital parts to last season’s success.
The fathers of Grit and Grind have moved stealthily acquiring players that seamlessly fit their rugged personnel. Bringing back lumberjack big man
was a move that without a doubt was at the top of the priority list. To be honest, I was a bit surprised the Spurs didn’t make a strong chase after the versatile big man. Gasol going to San Antonio would’ve made sense with his insane vision from the elbow and high level defensive awareness… imagine how unfair that would’ve been.
But unlike a lot of organizations around the league, Memphis understood what they had in Gasol and decided to pay the man the money he deserves with a 5 year, $110 million max contract. Congrats’ big man, you’ve earned every cent of it.
Aside from bringing back the best Center in the league, the Grizzlies shopped at their local Walmart and picked up bouncy big man Brandan Wright for a bargain 3 year, 18 million contract. With the loss of Kosta Koufos and Jon Leuer, expect the Grizzlies to experiment with some small ball line-ups inserting Jeff Green at the power forward position while using capable rim protector Wright at the center position. Wright adds a level of athleticism and activity that Koufos and Leuer didnt have. Additionally, Wright is effective offensively on second chance opportunities around the glass and diving towards the rim off pick and roll action.
For those who grew up watching the Disney Channel after school and making sure you caught the latest Proud Family episode, you’ll understand the fear that the Gross Sisters struck into the eyes of Penny and her friends. These 3 bullies were the sole reason Sticky Webb remained 3 feett tall throughout the series, stealing all his lunch money, so he couldn’t afford the milk to help him grow. Well, the Grizzlies just put together their own version of the Gross Sisters by acquiring family favorite Matt Barnes. Imagine Barnes, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph on the court at the same time with tensions flying high…. I love the NBA!
Memphis more than anything added some depth in terms of physicality but haven’t addressed their problems concerning perimeter shooting. Barnes isn’t a player who’s going to consistently stretch the floor as his shooting has declined over the past 2 seasons. Though there are still some holes to be filled with this team, one thing is for sure, don’t expect to leave FedEx Forum all in one piece.
Next: Standing Pat?
May 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) speaks to the media after the victory against the Golden State Warriors in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs. at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Imagine walking into a bar full of attractive guys and gals, you’re wearing the best outfit you have and your hair has never looked better. You notice others noticing you, the signs are promising. You’re getting signals.. winks, smiles and eye contact. Things are looking good and the night has potential.
2 Hours Later
You’re in bed alone watching a episode of Friends on Netflix pondering over whether or not you should’ve initiated conversation with the attractive lady that couldn’t stop staring at you or maybe you should’ve given the handsome doctor your number. But it’s all okay because you live a completely comfortable life doing what you love as a career, your life is great and one night of wonder doesn’t bother you. This is how it feels to be a Rockets fan during the off season. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and what ifs.
The kings of flirtation! Every off season Houston never ceases to find it’s way into talks of acquiring a big name free agent. From almost luring in Chris Bosh to attracting Lamarcus Aldridge through a fancy analytic presentation and rumblings about Kevin Love. This all comes with the territory of having a general manager who is constantly looking to improve and innovate. Truly a blessing and a curse for fans.
In perspective, the Rockets aren’t in need of any major off season moves to dramatically improve. They were 2 injured starters away from a possible finals appearance. Knowing this, Daryl Morey addressed the media noting that this summer’s priority was to resign every free agent the roster has. To date Houston has resigned ball hawk Patrick Beverley to a 4 year, $25 million contract and energizer bunny Corey Brewer to a 3 year, $24 million contract.
The mission is to bring back last year’s Western Conference Finals roster. With decisions on veteran guard Jason Terry pending while the Clippers continue to show interest in Josh Smith, Houston is far from completing the assignment. Deciding on who’d they prefer to keep with the Mid Level Exception of Smith and K.J McDaniels will be the priority for now.
I’m sorry Morey… I’m not entertained. GIVE ME SOMETHING EXCITING!
Next: The Pelican Brief
Apr 12, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) defends against New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans
For 3 years Monty Williams was handed the keys to a roster that resembled a Corvette. Beautiful on the outside with loads of performance potential on the inside. Williams constantly persisted on driving 40 mph while the league was pushing 70. Management didn’t like it, so out goes Williams and in comes world champion assistant coach turned head coach; Alvin Gentry.
Aside from resigning mega star Anthony Davis to the richest max contract in league history and bringing back front court teammates Alex Ajinca and Omer Asik, the acquiring of head coach Alvin Gentry could very well be the missing link to propelling the Pelicans into a potential title contender. Gentry has had experience under brilliant basketball minds such as Greg Poppovich, Larry Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr.
With championship experience and a talented roster including the next face of the NBA in Anthony Davis, the sky’s the limit for New Orleans….. Just stay off the deep fried avocado’s Alv.
Next: It's a Cruel World
February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Western Conference forward Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks (41) during the second half of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) and guard Chris Paul (3) hug after defeating the San Antonio Spurs in game seven of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Clippers won 111-109. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mark Cuban & Chandler Parsons when the Mavs play the Clippers pic.twitter.com/TNuhMJNhRr
— Trey Ball RollTide® (@Sam_Sosa3) July 9, 2015
Next: Eye Of the Storm
— Chitra Chandhok- (@chitrachandhok) June 21, 2013
San Antonio Spurs
I looked at the Aldridge manifesto through two identities as the whole thing was going on. One as his loving and caring dad. The other as his “homie”.
As Lamarcus’s dad I pushed for him to go to San Antonio as any other dad would have done, “Go to San Antonio and surround yourself with an organization thats been there and done it. Who could pass up the opportunity to be around the greatest power forward of all time and have Mr. Miyagi as your head coach? Not only do you have a chance to win now, but you’ll be playing alongside human cyborg Kawhi Leonard for years to come! And let’s be honest here… all this talk of the big 3 getting old and the Spurs slowly decaying, let’s stop it okay? The Spurs have figured out that the River Walk is actually a fountain of youth, which explains Tim Duncan‘s insane playoff performance against 2 of the most athletic big’s in the league! Make the wise decision here son.”
As Aldridge’s homie I tried everything in my power to convince him to land in Houston, “You’ll be playing along side the best shooting guard in the game in James Harden. Dwight Howard was a beast in the playoffs wouldn’t you like to play next to him? They made the Western Conference Finals last year and were 2 starters away from a potential finals appearance! You’ll be apart of something special.. apart of a big 3 and a organization that has every possibility of winning now! Plus, you’ve seen how much fun Harden has in his nightlife… imagine that. Turn up!”
Now, it’s too early to tell whether or not Lamarcus made the right decision as the season is months away. But as a pure basketball fan and a man who wishes nothing but the best for others, it’s safe to say Aldridge made the right decision in joining the classiest organization in today’s league.
Similar to The Admiral handing Duncan the keys, the Spurs have made sure that Duncan will be able to leave in peace knowing that the franchise would not skip a beat in it’s winning ways behind LA.
As evidence to the amount of dignity this organization has held through out the years, veteran David West opted out $12.5 million from the Indiana Pacers to join the Spurs signing for a price of $1.4 million. Winning is the motive.
Anyone who knows me knows how often I am in awe of the Spurs. Basketball in it’s purest form and the level of unselfishness through out the whole organization is unmatched. Just when the world thought they were done after exiting in the 1st round of last year’s post season, they’re projected to tip off the opening day with a line up of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Lamarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan. Let that soak in for a bit.
Ahead of The Pack
Aside from completely ripping the roof off Cuban’s American Airlines Center, the Southwest Division has clearly revamped what were already considered title contending rosters.
The only question remaining is when chaos has settled and it’s time to leave the shelters, will any of these teams have what it takes to compete with those who bleed Black and Silver?
Apr 26, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) is introduced before the start of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports