“The transaction seems to have usurped the action in sports because the promise of tomorrow can feel so much better than your team’s today” – Dan LeBatard
I’d say that the value of transactions has another basis. I’m 6’1 and about 155 lbs. I won’t be a center in the NBA. When I criticize an NBA center about the basketball skills that they don’t have, I do so knowing that the things that they can’t do are also things that I can’t do, and never will. However, fans can be amateur GMs because being a GM just requires knowing the game of basketball. Even better, unlike Lebron James, who is judged by what he actually does on the court (note: That would be 4 MVP Awards, 5 NBA Finals appearances, and 2 championship rings as the best player on his team), transactions allow the fan to judge the future. Discussing transactions allows the fans discuss things that they could be qualified to do. There’s a much better chance that I’ll be an NBA GM than an NBA player.
Learning to cheer for the NBA commissioner
The previous NBA commissioner, David Stern maintained an antagonistic relationship with the fans during his tenure. He had a reputation for being a shrewd businessman. He’s responsible for bringing the NBA from the tape-delayed dark ages to the league it is today, where teams are worth millions and billions of dollars. He also was responsible for the Chris Paul trade rescission, an awful handling of the Reggie Lewis contract after his tragic death and presiding over the Tim Donaghy Era, amongst other black marks on the league.
Insert Adam Silver. He quickly and decisively handled the Donald Sterling situation. He deals with media questions in a way that doesn’t feel like he’s hiding something, even when those questions expose vulnerability. But the way he handled Isaiah Austin at the draft was masterful. Austin, a projected 1st round pick, found out that he had an illness which would prevent him from playing basketball. The diagnosis might have saved his life, but it also meant that his dream of walking across the stage and having his name called as a first round pick wasn’t going to happen.
However, at the draft, midway though the first round, Adam Silver calls his name and allows him to have that moment. It doesn’t cure his illness and it won’t allow him to play NBA basketball, but it’s a sweet, thoughtful and caring moment. It was a dose of humanity that the NBA often missed during Stern’s tenure. The NBA and Adam Silver didn’t have to do it, but he did it anyway. So far, Silver has had nothing but positive reviews.
Is it better to have McBuckets and lose him then never to have had him at all?
First. Let’s describe our favorite unathletic, fundamentally sound, similar to Larry Bird, Adam Morrison and Kyle Korver, (with a little bit of Pistol Pete) player in ways that are actually accurate – Doug McDermott. Listening to the way he was described by sports pundits became white basketball player bingo. Please tell me more about how “surprisingly athletic” he is. Does he also have “deceptive speed”? You would think that after 50+ years of NBA we’d do better than to only compare white basketball players to other random white basketball players using stereotypes that have little to do with how he actually plays.
Here’s what we know about McBuckets from his college career. He’s a career 55% shooter. He’s a 45% 3 point shooter. He has exceptional range. He has a 36 inch vertical which is middling for a draft prospect, but not awful. As far as what I think about him, he’s going to a great spot in Chicago where he can play the three and some stretch 4. Antawn Jamison? How about Glen Rice? Rashard Lewis? See, it wasn’t that hard. That, or we could just compare him to Ryan Anderson; I guess that’s fine too. We can occasionally throw in some cross-racial comparisons every so often.
Second. When he was drafted to the Denver Nuggets I was instantly excited to watch the team. Suddenly, the Nuggets had Arron Afflalo and Doug McDermott at their wing positions. When he was traded to the Chicago Bulls, it was agonizing, even though he was announced as a Nugget about 5 minutes before. However, going to Chicago is probably a better place for him, since in Denver he’d be one of the best players there and a primary option. He’s currently projected to be a role player and he can do that well in Chicago. For me, I’ll have to settle with my excitement that Spencer Dinwiddie, former Colorado point guard, was drafted by Detroit, a team that needs his specific talents and has a great coach.
NEW YORK BASKETBALL
So the Knicks made a trade and got draft picks. Then they pick up CleAnthony Early (Who I think will be a contributor in the league for a long time) and Greek Freak Prime, Athanasios “Thanasis” Antetokounmpo (The Greak Freak’s older brother). For the first time in a while, the Knicks leave the draft as winners.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach, Jason Kidd, has lost his mind. April 2013, he was on the Knicks playing out his last year. June 2013 he got a job as a head coach for the Brooklyn Nets, a team projected to make a deep playoff run. After an underwhelming season and a second round exit, he’s tried to parlay his “success” to being the president of a team in a Phil Jackson role with the Brooklyn Nets. Now he’s interviewing with the Milwaukee Bucks who (1) already have a coach and (2) already have a GM. Also, he has 3 years remaining on his contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Remnants of the Dwight Howard trade
The Dwight Howard trade is one of the defining moment in recent NBA history with repercussions still being felt in the league. For those who don’t remember, it was a 4 team trade that mainly sent Andrew Bynum to Philly, Igoudala to Denver, multiple pieces to Orlando and Howard to LA. The Biggest effect of the trade is that none of the players mentioned are still on that team. Bynum’s injuries and general awfulness have led Philadelphia to the bottom of the league. This year they grabbed Embiid, who’s definitely not an injury prone center. LA has also bottomed out, picking up Julius Randle with the 7th pick in the draft, and hoping that their gargantuan amounts of cap space brings them a talented superstar (again). Denver still hasn’t found the right set of pieces and used their draft pick to get two 1st rounders including Gary Harris from Michigan State. Orlando hasn’t fully recovered from losing Dwight, but used their lottery pick to grab Aaron Gordon, who I love, and used the Denver pick form the Howard deal to get Dario Saric (who they traded for a point guard from Louisiana Lafayette).
The Agony of Defeat.
It’s one thing to be grateful for an opportunity. But sometimes, we catch players at a bad time. Embiid looked like the first victim of the instant reaction as he stared solemnly as he was picked third by the Philadelphia 76ers. Later we heard that there was a tape delay error and that Embiid was actually overjoyed. I’ll believe it. Zach Levine on the other hand had no way of explaining his reaction. He mouthed out what appeared to be “F— Me” after the camera pointed to him. If I had to go to the T’wolves right now, that would be my reaction. People can be happy to be in the draft and not be thrilled about what team they end up on.