Tag:Friday 5 With KB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:52 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 2:58 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken Berger talks about how you should evaluate trade rumors, if anyone will ever touch Wilt's 100-point-game, and how David Stern's legacy has evolved.
1. 50th Anniversary of Wilt scoring 100 this week. There's a lot of talk about whether it will happen again or not. Do you think if the NBA went through a hyper-scoring binge like we've seen in the past it could ever happen again, or be passed?
KB: Never. The game is too different, defenses are more sophisticated and the talent level is more equal than in 1962.
2. 'Tis the season, KB. What are the things fans should look for when judging the accuracy of a trade rumor?
KB: Excellent way to put it. You have to consider the source (who's reporting it and how many outlets are reporting it) and dissect the potential agendas that are at play. For example, is an agent trying to manufacture news because he wants his client out? Also, teams have dozens of conversations about possible trades at this time of year. The mere occurrence of dialogue isn't news; serious discussions, with details of proposals that have been exchanged, perhaps rising to the ownership level, should be valued above the garden variety, "Team X is shopping player Y." As Ricky Watters once said, "For who? For what?" Details are proof. Finally, most teams have several people in the front office who are authorized and in position to discuss possible trades, which clouds the inevitable denial of those discussions. When a GM or coach says, "I've never even spoken with that team," or, "I've never even had a conversation about Player X," that doesn't mean someone else in the organization who's authorized to have those discussions didn't do so. In short, it's a tangled web we weave in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.
3. Steve Nash is both the most adamant he doesn't want to be traded and one of the most involved in trade rumors. Do the Suns know exactly what they want to do with him, considering their public statements of "Nash now, Nash forever?"
KB: The key question is, what does Nash want? He doesn't want to be out there publicly lobbying for a trade, but if he decides it's time to move on, I believe the Suns will try to oblige.
4. Michael Beasley's another name out there on the wire. Are coaches receptive to dealing with his... er... eccentricities?
KB: For a contender that needs versatile scoring punch (Lakers, Celtics, Magic), Beasley would be the ideal fit. The questions will become, can he be had for a second-round pick? And if not, will a team -- particularly the Lakers, who have two first-rounders -- become so desperate to upgrade that they'll part with one?
5. David Stern said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel he can't be concerned with his legacy because it will impact his ability to do his job. What do you think Stern's legacy is today, given the events of the past 12 months?
KB: Any time you discuss legacy, it has to be a big-picture, textured discussion. Though the lockout, lost games and hard-ball negotiating tactics are fresh in our minds, those things can't move ahead of certain undeniable accomplishments like dramatically increasing national TV exposure and revenue and globalizing the brand. But depending on how things work out in New Orleans and Sacramento, Stern is in danger of having his legacy tarnished by franchise relocation. The financial circumstances in markets like those and Milwaukee, Charlotte and Memphis are grim. If the problems can't be solved by revenue sharing, then what? So Stern can't retire yet simply because he achieved a new collective bargaining agreement. He can't leave the NBA until he's leaving all 30 franchises (or however many there are when he leaves) on sound footing competitively and economically. So that part of his legacy, which includes over-expansion, is still to be determined.
Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:03 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken Berger discusses Linsanity, Bulls minutes, and who's on the trade block headed into All-Star Weekend. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. So, hey, that Jeremy Lin kid's pretty good. We've beaten the subject into the ground here at CBSSports.com this week, but it bears opening the Friday 5 nonetheless. Let's forget about how Melo fits in, or D'Antoni, or even Lin's play directly. Is the best thing for the Knicks about this run that it's brought the locker room together and they're having fun again?
Ken Berger: Well, I think that's a by-product of what Lin has brought to the table. Among the many elements of this perfect storm was the fact that the Knicks were running the most point guard-dependent offense in the sport and had some of the worst point-guard play anyone had ever seen. Plug in a competent point guard, and the Knicks would've played better. Plug in someone performing as well as Lin has performed, and you have the makings of something special. So it started with Lin's production, which has instilled confidence in the locker room and made everyone relax in an environment that can be extremely high on stress. The Knicks now believe they can win, and confidence is a big part of the battle.
2. You wrote in Post-Ups this week about the Heat flying under the radar. How good is that for them to avoid the spotlight for a few weeks?
KB: Who? Oh, the Heat. I'm not sure it's either good or bad for them. I think it's great for the league as a whole that people are captivated by something other that how LeBron and Wade are getting along or playing together on any given day. And the fact that people are captivated by basketball being played the right way, an enjoyable way, is a pleasing diversion from the usual poisoned brew of trade demands, coaches getting fired, agent agendas, egos colliding and the like.
3. I've been critical of Tom Thibodeau and his approach to minutes with Luol Deng and Derrick Rose with various injuries considering the long-term goals of the Bulls in this insane schedule. But I'm not a doctor and I'm not a trainer. In your mind, if the doc's say it's fine and the trainers say it's fine, should Thibodeau just disregard the notion of exhaustion, and if so, is it because they really do need that top seed?
KB: I'm not a doctor or a trainer, either. And Thibodeau presumably learned how to manage minutes from one of the masters in that department, Doc Rivers. I think the time off due to back spasms will do Rose some good. But to a degree, when he's healthy, he's going to be on the floor for 38-plus minutes. Same goes for Deng, especially if you're in a close game and the opponent (like the Celtics, for example, with Paul Pierce) has an elite wing scorer who needs to be dealt with. It's a fine line with this schedule for coaches between resting their stars and winning as many games as possible. To get where they want to go, the Bulls need homecourt advantage. Once they secure that, Rose and Deng and anybody else who needs to put themselves back together for the playoffs can have as many minutes off as they need.
4. Ken, I know you've enjoyed writing about actual basketball for the past few weeks. But trade season's back, bro. Who are you expecting to be chattering next weekend in Orlando?
KB: Well, of course there will be the Dwight-fest. After that, I think the biggest name being discussed will be Steve Nash. A point guard could make all the difference in the world to the Lakers and Magic. For the same reason, Ramon Sessions will be on the radar.
5. With J.R. Smith joining the Knicks, what was the driving force behind his decision and what should the Knicks be concerned about with him, if anything?
KB: J.R. seemed to enjoying the process of being recruited, and will wind up with more money at the end of the day by joining the Knicks. The way Lin has the Knicks' offense humming, J.R. could see a lot of future dollar signs swishing through the Nets at Madison Square Garden. Even off the bench, he could be an electrifying scorer in Mike D'Antoni's offense. Plus, he's played with Anthony before, so there's a comfort level there, and Knicks official Mark Warkentien was a big supporter of Smith when both were in Denver. Concerns? What concerns? Oh, yeah, J.R. is a knucklehead. But he's a knucklehead who can make a jump shot. So the risk-reward is pretty heavily in the Knicks' favor.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:24 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken Berger talks Lakers-Celtics, the power in the East, and what to blame LeBron for this week. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. There's a common refrain in your column from Lakers-Celtics Thursday and others, which is that it was a fun rivalry game (even if neither team shot over 40%), but there's a definite sense that neither team is in a position to contend. I argued yesterday neither team is dead. What's the big key for Boston, outside of just being healthy? Is there one? Or do they just have to hope the same formula works two years later?
KB: It's mostly the same formula for Boston, and it's a pretty damn good formula as long as Pierce, Allen, Rondo and Garnett remain upright. The key for the Celtics is getting more size (to contend with Dwight Howard and to protect the rim from Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade). Jermaine O'Neal isn't going to cut it. The Lakers need a point guard who can get into the paint in the worst way.
2. Is it accurate to say that it's shaping up where one team out of the Lakers, Mavericks, and Nets is going to be completely screwed after this summer? Dwight can't go to all places at once.
KB: Well, some are in more danger than others. The Nets and Magic (take your pick in terms of what order) are most vulnerable. If the Lakers don't get him, at least they still have Kobe, Bynum and Gasol. If the Mavs get neither Dwight nor D-Will, they'll still have Dirk and the flexibility to upgrade in a vibrant free-agent class. But if the Nets don't get Howard, chances are they lose Williams. A fascinating game of musical stars.
3. What's the one team in the top of the East which isn't an Eastern Conference Finals contender? Who's the fraud?
KB: No frauds, really. I see seven locks (Chicago, Miami, Philly, Boston, Orlando, Atlanta and Indiana). In the battle for eighth, it's Milwaukee (missing Andrew Bogut) and the multiple-personality Knicks. The Cavs shouldn't be dismissed, as GM Chris Grant has been patient with the assets he received for LeBron and could make a move if the fit is right. In a short season, strange things can and usually do happen.
4. After seeing Philly up close this week, what are your thoughts on the job Doug Collins has done there?
KB: Tremendously impressed with Collins and the Sixers. Love how they defend and play unselfish team basketball. If they get a consistent post scorer, they could possibly be a conference finalist. Depends on whether they want to be patient or try to make a big move while the opportunity is there. Sometimes, those moves are the ones that blow up on you, though.
5. LeBron James went on a little rant this week about people blaming everything, including being out of milk, on him. What's your favorite thing to blame on LeBron? /eyeroll
KB: I blame LeBron for Linsanity. Somebody has to.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 5:26 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, KB talks the best power forward in the West, how good the Bulls are, and whether Griffin-over-Perkins was a dunk . You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. Who's the best power forward in the West?
If you consider Pau Gasol to be a power forward (and I do, despite the fact that he doesn't play with much power), it's hard to do better. But in terms of all-around game, LaMarcus Aldridge is about to pass him, if he hasn't already.
2. Are the Bulls better, worse, or the same as they were last year?
Better. Rip Hamilton gives them an experienced scorer for the playoffs and makes their bench more potent -- whether he starts or Ronnie Brewer does, either way. Omer Asik will be ready to contribute in a meaningful way in the playoffs and is becoming a bear to deal with on screens. Also, I love the way Derrick Rose has responded to falling short against Miami in the conference finals, with a quiet but edgy determination to go farther this time.
3. Brian Cardinal noted to me this week that teams that can go 9, 10 deep are having success. Do you think the need for depth in this crazy compacted schedule will carry over in the playoffs or are we just going to see the usual 8-man rotation we usually see?
I think it depends on the team, but for the most part, the extra days of rest, practice and game-planning will allow teams to go with a more orthodox rotation. For teams with quality bench players (Spurs, Mavs, Thunder, Bulls, Sixers), getting them additional floor time and experience during the regular season will make them more effective in the postseason.
4. What should the Pistons do to fix this mess?
Where to begin? As I alluded to in Postups, Joe Dumars could be in for some tough times. For starters, I'd see if a financially flexible contender would be willing to take Ben Gordon off my hands between now and the deadline. Then, I'd amnesty Charlie Villanueva next summer and go from there. Where I'd be going, I'm not sure, but I'd get moving in that direction -- whatever that direction is.
5. How does the Blake Griffin/Perkins dunk measure up on your all-time scale?
I don't really keep conscious track of such things. But I enjoyed the EOB roundtable on the best dunks ever, and I'll say this: 1) Like Dwight Howard's "Superman" stunt in the dunk contest, if you don't flush the ball and make the rim snap, it ain't a dunk. Impressive that Griffin is the only player in the league who can get so high above the rim that he's literally throwing the ball through the rim from on high, but still, it ain't a dunk; and 2) Whatever it was, it still wasn't better than Vince Carter over Frederic Weis.
Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:30 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 5:24 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we look back on extensions week, ask if the Celtics are back, and of course, check in on Dwight Howard. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. After two games between Orlando and Boston this week, is Boston "back?"
Ken Berger: I still think they're going to be OK. What a difference when Pierce has it going. He's clearly getting his confidence back. What happened Thursday night was as much about the Magic's fragility as it was about the Celtics' resilience. But to come back like that on the road, without Rondo or Allen, is a great sign for Boston. The Celtics' bench is still way too thin, and they don't have enough size. But one thing they need more than anything is some young legs and youthful exuberance, not to mention those attributes coming with meaningful contributions. They got that Thursday night from E'Twaun Moore. A much needed jolt for Boston's elders.
2. What extension decision, signed or unsigned, surprised you the most?
Ken Berger: I don't know that any surprised me, but the most interesting case was Eric Gordon. Given his knee situation, it's difficult to make a largely unnecessary long-term commitment now. But clearly the Hornets can't afford to lose the most significant asset they received in the Chris Paul trade. But much like Kevin Love's shorter extension with Minnesota, this arrangement could work out in Gordon's favor. If he comes back healthy and continues to put up big numbers, he'll command a bigger deal as a restricted free agent. And New Orleans knows they control the situation because they can match.
3. The Pacers have an interest in Eric Gordon. With his future in the air, is there any chance teams make a run at him in trade at the deadline?
Ken Berger: It would be logical for Gordon, the IU product, to wind up only a short drive from Bloomington. But I don't expect the Hornets to entertain in-season trade offers for him. There's no reason to panic since they have the right to match next summer.
4. We hear a lot about the Magic waiting to make a decision on Dwight Howard. But how about the Lakers? Are they going to give this team a chance to gel or will they pounce at the first opportunity for improvement?
Ken Berger: It always depends on the deal. If Howard can be had for a price that's less than Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, then the dialogue could catch fire pretty quickly. But unless Orlando completely goes in the tank -- and they haven't been playing well lately -- I see no signs that Otis Smith and Alex Martins are going to consider anything less than an all-out blockbuster offer for Howard. There's one caveat: If the realization of losing Howard for nothing hits the Magic organization like a freight train on March 14, it's impossible to predict now how they'll react.
5. Explain why the Minnesota Timberwolves not signing Kevin Love for as many years as possible is in any way a good decision on their part, please.
Ken Berger: I got into this in Postups yesterday. Basically, it's a good deal for both sides. Love has three years to determine if the Wolves are, in fact, going in the right direction. The Wolves, in turn, get to preserve their five-year designated player extension for Ricky Rubio. But Minnesota also will be able to get Love on a five-year extension after he opts out of the fourth year of this deal. And Love will get more money, too. With seven-plus years of service at that point, he'd be eligible for 30 percent of the cap.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 2:51 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we find out if canning Westphal was the right move, if the Hawks need to detonate it, and who's in the trade market. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. All right, so Westphal's out, Keith Smart is in. Was committing this early to Smart the right move for Sacramento?
KB: Yes. First, you need someone with knowledge of the roster/overall strategy and relationships with the players. Smart has established both. Second, and more important, you can't ask Smart to sit in the first chair without the backing of the organization -- particularly when the DeMarcus Cousins fiasco has such a tenuous hold on the locker room. With no security, Smart would have no juice. With no juice, he'd get run over by Cousins in a hurry. Another point: No self-respecting coaching agent would allow his client to be thrust into an interim situation without some assurance that the organization was backing him. As with all coaches, if it doesn't work out, you can always fire him later.
2. Atlanta actually was playing pretty well until Thursday when all of America decided they were the worst team in the history of everything. Is it time to blow up the Hawks?
KB: I'm really trying to stay away from knee-jerk overreactions in this shortened, chaotic season. So much of what we are watching is atypical and very difficult to evaluate given the circumstances. But in the long run, I don't see the Hawks going anywhere positive with more than $120 million locked up in Joe Johnson. The cynic in me wonders if the ownership group was thinking, "That won't be our problem," and now that they haven't been able to sell the team, well, it's their problem.
3. If Andrew Bynum keeps playing like this, it has to make L.A. hesitate on a trade for Howard, right?
KB: No way. Dwight Howard is Dwight Howard.
4. Give me a team that might get active in the coming weeks in a desperation trade to save the season.
KB: I'll give you three. It seems that the Warriors will be involved in almost every trade scenario out there. They're being super aggressive. The Wizards are in a bad place, obviously, but I'm not sure what trade possibilities could help them in the short term. (Though if I were Ernie Grunfeld, I wouldn't be too comfortable.) And as I mentioned in Postups, don't be surprised if the Knicks look to break up the Melo-Amar'e tandem if things really go south.
5. What are your New Year's NBA resolutions?
KB: No more hotel lobbies unless I'm getting Marriott points.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:07 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, Ken keeps sticking up for the Celtics, we talk about whether the Nets are a disaster, and early surprises. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. You threw the Celtics a life line on Tuesday, saying how their comeback effort against the Heat meant they're not dead yet. Then they turned around and flopped in New Orleans like a corpse. No, I'm sorry, that's too far. A corpse would at least give resistance by being dead weight. How bad is this going to get for the Celtics to be in some real trouble?
Ken Berger: You can't fully evaluate the Celtics until they get Paul Pierce back. Even then, it's going to be a bit of a horror show at times for Boston, with old bodies stressed by the schedule and not enough depth to cover it up. In a shortened season, three- and four-game losing streaks certainly are magnified. But as long as Boston's core remains healthy and gets them through the season, they'll be there at the end.
2. We're two weeks out of training camp and a week into the season. How much leftover anger from the lockout are you hearing from players and agents?
KB: Haven't heard much. I think everyone (including myself) needed to shift gears from lockout mode to basketball mode. I do think at some point there will be a power struggle for leadership of the NBPA, as the agents who wanted Billy Hunter out have not changed their minds.
3. The Nets are off to a pretty horrific start. Is there a point where this becomes a concern for Dwight Howard as he evaluates suitors, and does this only strengthen the likelihood of him ending up in L.A. as you forecasted?
KB: Well, yes and no. It's faulty logic to look at the Nets and shake your head in disbelief that Dwight would want to play for THAT team. That's not the team Dwight would be playing for; he'd be playing for a Nets team with HIM on it. Big difference. The most interesting aspect of the Dwight saga won't be where he does and doesn't want to play, but where the Magic are and aren't willing to trade him. If Otis Smith and Alex Martins decide they want Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the likelihood that Dwight's a Laker goes through the roof. If that can't or won't happen, can the Nets flip some of their assets for win-now players Orlando would want, i.e., Luis Scola and Kevin Martin from the Rockets, or something similar? Fascinating chess match that Orlando will be playing.
4. The Knicks do not look good right now after being dominated by an L.A. team playing Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy significant minutes. Rank their concerns in order: Injuries (Davis, Jeffries), Mike D'Antoni, overall roster.
KB: I'd say injuries and schedule are the Knicks' biggest problems, and I'd include Iman Shumpert among the injured players they miss the most. Not that Shumpert was necessarily ready, but losing him means Mike Bibby must fill a bigger role off the bench, and this is not good. Tyson Chandler needs to tone it down a notch; with three techs in three games, he's making Knicks fans yearn for Rasheed Wallace to come out of retirement and sign for the mini mid-level. Heading out West to start the season isn't ideal after a long lockout and short training camp, so I'll re-evaluate the Knicks after they play a couple of home games this week and get comfortable on the East Coast. I do like the offense running through Melo and would like to see more Melo-Amar'e pick-and-rolls. Like a lot of contending teams (Dallas, Lakers, Celtics), the Knicks are having to incorporate new players and tweak their schemes with little or no practice time. So it's too early to panic and point the finger at D'Antoni.
5. Two parter. What's the team that's impressed you the most and team that's disappointed you the most so far, early in this season?
KB: Even though I picked them to go to the Finals, I'd have to say the Thunder (4-0) are playing even better than I thought they would. It's a little early for disappointment, but I'd classify it as disappointing to see the Nets lose Brook Lopez and face a long, ugly road to the March 15 trade deadline without their key asset in a potential Dwight Howard trade.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:17 pm
By Matt Moore
In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we go over the insanity of the week that was, the best value signing of free agency, and why you should be very, very scared of the Mavericks. You can follow Ken Berger on Twitter @KBergCBS.
1. So... that was a fun week. What surprised you the most over the past week?
KB: Undoubtedly, it was how involved Stern and the league office were in the Hornets' trade discussions. Ultimately, I believe the Hornets got a better deal as a result. But I was stunned by the role the league took on. It had been my impression that the league would advise on certain priorities for trading Chris Paul, but I never envisioned that the commissioner would be telling the Hornets' basketball people what to do -- or that Stu Jackson would be the architect of the eventual deal. All's well that ends well, I guess. But I definitely found that surprising.
2. What's next for the league with the Hornets? When are they going to start looking at buyers?
KB: Stern said there would be a new owner in place in the first half of 2012, so they're moving fast. Clearly, there must be a list of contenders, and they'll evidently begin narrowing it down after the New Year.
3. Give me your best value signing of free agency.
KB: It's hard not to like what the Pacers did, getting David West for $20 million over two years. Indy has a nice group with West, Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, Paul George and George Hill/Darren Collison.
4. So Dwight Howard's off the table. Let's indulge in fairy tales for a minute and ask the question, what could Orlando do between now and All-Star Weekend to convince him to stay?
KB: Well, the hope in Orlando is that a good start over the first two months of the season, with an expressed willingness to add another significant component to the roster, would appeal to the part of Dwight that, deep down, wants to stay. I'm not convinced that's going to work, simply because I'm not sold that the Magic have enough to be a title contender. (I'm puzzled by the Glen Davis addition, for example, but I'm told that's what Dwight wanted.) I suppose one thing they could do is just give the ball to Dwight every trip down the floor from Christmas Day until the All-Star break and hope everyone else is too tired and beat up from the compressed schedule to guard him. Having said all that, I do not expect Howard to finish the season in Orlando.
5. What in the name of everything holy is Dallas doing?
KB: That's easy. They're trying to get Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or BOTH. Getting both will be difficult, but the Mavs already are projected to be at least $18 million under the cap next summer, and if they bought out Lamar Odom ($2.4 million guaranteed) and amnestied Brendan Haywood, that's another $14 million. Scared? You should be. Just imagine how the Nets and Magic feel.