Tag:Chicago Bulls
Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Paxson: 'Marketing' is keeping Howard from Bulls

Posted by Royce Young

A couple days ago, there was the odd but very believable story that Dwight Howard might not be considering the Chicago Bulls because of his Adidas shoe contract. Really kind of wakes you up to the power sponsorships and shoe companies have in the league.

Just to pile on to that, Bulls VP of Basketball Operations basically acknowledged that's the case, but without saying Howard's name of course. Via CSN Chicago:
"We don't want to talk about other teams' players but obviously there are situations out there that you know that you have to look at," VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN radio WMVP-AM 1000 Wednesday. "The other part of it is you hope those types of players want to come here. Sometimes, at least what you hear from agents, it doesn't have anything to do with basketball. It has more to do with marketing and whatnot. Those are the things you don't have under control when an agent gets involved and doesn't even want to talk to you. All you do is keep trying, and we certainly will."
"Marketing and whatnot" could be what is keeping Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose from forming the most terrifying duo in the NBA. You think Blake Griffin and CP3 is good? Howard and Rose would be... well, it would be something.

But because Rose is Adidas' poster boy and might even being signing a lifelong contract, the company doesn't want its two biggest names in the same town. It's an understandable thing from a business standpoint, but a shocking reality at what kind of outside factors weigh in.

Like Paxson said, you just keep trying. The Bulls have some decent assets for the Magic, but it has to be about what the player wants. In free agency, you can be sure these things are a part of their decision. Market size, the city, the fans, the organization, family -- all of it's a part. So it's not surprise that Howard's shoe deal might be the biggest factor keeping him from the Bulls. It sounds ridiculous, but it's just part of the game.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 2:02 am
 

Report Card 12.26.11: Mavs crushed again



By Matt Moore


The first full night of games and it was a doozy. Rookie debuts, buzzer-beaters, and some vomit. The NBA is back in all its glory. Here are your grades for Monday, December 26th, 2011.

A: Denver Nuggets: Yeah, it was against the same team the Heat ran out of the building Sunday, this time on the second night of a back to back. But the Mavericks are still the defending champs and the Nuggets ran them out of their own building. It wasn't just the offense, either, though they were en fuego (49 percent from the field, 56 percent effective field goal percentage). Denver was also dialed in defensively. The best wins are those in which your offense allows you to set your defense to attack, which creates opportunities for your offense and it becomes a vicious cycle for your opponent. The Nuggets were like a race car wheel roaring down the track. They forced 19 turnovers, creating 20 percent more opportunities for themselves, and they took full advantage. Ty Lawson was a speed demon and when the Mavs did get in front, he smoked them from the perimeter (3-6 from the arc, 27 points). Al Harrington not only provided a huge offensive lift off the bench, he was engaged defensively. At one point he created a steal which bounced to Danilo Gallinari, who ran the floor then stopped and shoveled it back to a sprinting Harrington for the dunk. The Nuggets played so wel they could mess around on fast breaks. Dominant performance in their first season opener since 2003 without Carmelo Anthony.

B: San Antono Spurs: A little bit of revenge after the Grizzlies eliminated them from the playoffs last spring. The Spurs, six months removed from a season where they were an offensive juggernaut but couldn't stop anyone, especially down low, got back to their roots. They held the Grizzlies to an 86 offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions),which is elite status. They got back to defending, rebounding, and grinding their opponent to dust. Throw in a surprising performace from Richard Jefferson and an impressive debut for Kawhi Leonard, and all of a sudden, the "past their prime" Spurs look like they might be getting back to what made them great.

C: New Jersey Nets: Well, they were down 21 points at one point to the Washington Wizards who were playing without the fifth pick in the draft, Jan Vesely. The Nets looked lost, inept, ridiculous. And then they turned it on. Outscoring the Wizards 53-39 in the second half, they fought their way back into it and watched Flip Saunders' team self-destruct. Deron Williams was the exerienced All-Star. And Kris Humphries, man of the hour. 21 points and 16 rebounds, cleaning up misses and killing the Wizards down low. This was a game that's hard for either team to feel good about because of the opponent, and being down 21 to the Wizards is madness. But they won, and they'll take it.

D: Kobe Bryant: Here's what is working for the Lakers right now, without Andrew Bynum, and why they fell apart in a loss to the Kings. Ball movement, hustle and intelligent, efficient play. And the Lakers, after a lackadaisical game had them out of reach, fought their way back with that exact kind of play. And once again, Kobe Bryant went hero mode and once again, an opportunity to win was squandered by the Hall of Famer. The entire Lakers get a "D" here for failing to play any on the perimeter. (Seriously, Mike Brown, what's it going to take for Derek Fisher to get yanked? How many times must Tyreke Evans blow past him or block him?) But the Lakers keep getting within range through team play, and then Bryant attempts to take the team on his shoulders like he used to. That Kobe is gone, at least until the wrist heals. 24 field goal attempts for Bryant, who leads the league by a mile in usage percentage (percent of possessions used -- tricky stat that), and two turnovers, including an offensive foul late. A bad month for the Black Mamba gets worse.

F: Dallas Mavericks: You have GOT to be kidding us.

Other notable grades:

Incomplete: Chicago Bulls: Are they as bad as they have looked in the first two games after a loss to the Warriors on the road to open the season? No. But they do look bad. Really bad. But with a 1-1 mark, considering the schedule (two West coast road games to start the season on consecutive nights) and the opponent (a Warriors team with confidence after nearly nailing the Clips, even if they were on their own second game of a back to back). The Bulls fought back in and made it a game late, but if they don't make up their homework to the teacher, bad grades are coming.

E for Effort: Minnesota Timberwolves. Open the season with a narrow loss to the Thunder? Rubio looks great. Derrick Williams looks promising. Kevin Love is an All-Star. The effort was there for the Wolves, and they're only going to get better.

Gold stars: Eric Gordon (CLUTCH). Alonzo Gee. Ed Davis. Danilo Gallinari. Sean Williams. Roy Hibbert. Manu Ginobili. Marcus Thornton. Stephen Curry. Tristan Thompson. Tyreke Evans. LaMarcus Aldridge.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Adidas sponsorship keeping Howard from Chicago?

Posted by Royce Young

There are a lot of things that go on in the NBA behind closed doors. A lot of things that happen for reasons fans and media don't understand, but simply because that's the way the business operates. Things like one-sided trades made only for money reasons. Things like why players pick certain cities to sign, things like why a player was waived or traded.

Which brings us to Dwight Howard. He's got a couple cities he's considering for his impending free agency next year or that he'd like to be traded to. Los Angeles (with the Lakers), New Jersey, Dallas or Orlando. But as many have asked, why not Chicago? Why aren't the Bulls, with MVP Derrick Rose and a solid pile of assets, in the running?

Could it just be the shoes? Via Yahoo Sports:

And as one high-ranking sneaker executive says, “Adidas simply cannot have its two signature players on the same team in the same market. … Derrick is the face of that market, owns that market, and Adidas can’t possibly have maximum bang for its buck with Dwight there.

“It serves Adidas no purpose. They need them as rivals in competing markets.”

Howard knows this, too. He has an Adidas renewal on deck in the next year, and Los Angeles and Brooklyn guarantee him maximum money.

I want to say that's ridiculous. I want to dismiss that. But that's real life. In the end, the NBA is a business and while all this talk from players about going somewhere where they can win championships sounds good, what rules the day is money and fame. At least for a lot of players. I don't doubt some players truly want that championship and the money and global notoriety come after (Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Rose come to mind), but things like sneaker deals do have a ton of influence.

Rose has a new Adidas contract coming soon which could make him the highest paid sneaker endorser ever. So it does make some sense that Adidas might push Howard to look places other than Chicago.

But think about this. It's crazy. Howard could team with Rose for a long period of time, giving the Bulls maybe the best 1-2 combo in basketball. And yet, potentially, some shoes are stopping that from happening.

That's the NBA for you.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:29 am
Edited on: December 26, 2011 12:31 am
 

Theory and Proof: Lakers are who we thought

By Matt Moore

Theory: The Bulls did not play well and still won, and that says more about the Lakers than the Bulls. 

Proof: It's not so much that the Lakers played badly, because they didn't. It's that they played above how we thought they would Sunday, until the last five minutes, and then suddenly regressed to the mean at warp speed.  The Lakers had played well, above their talent level with an injured Kobe Bryant and a suspended Andrew Bynum, honestly, and looked primed to steal the game from out from under the Bulls. The Bulls were not making it hard on them. Derrick Rose was not great or even really emphatic until the last five minutes Luol Deng was more like the pre-2011 Luol Deng (good but inconsistent) than the 2011 Luol Deng (consistently great on both sides)... until the last five minutes. The Bulls shot poorly from the field, and were leaving wide-open perimeter shots left and right. 

And yet they won.

The easy way out is to say that Andrew Bynum will make everything better, that more time together will heal all wounds, but the bigger concern is that it wasn't the supporting cast of little-known non-stars that blew this game. It was Kobe Bryant his 8 turnovers, most notably the crucial final turnover that lead to Derrick Rose's go-ahead score. >Bryant shot 11-23 from the field. And there wasn't enough surrounding talent with Lamar Odom getting ejected in Dallas and Bynum at hometo cover. His shot selection wasn't really a problem until his final two attempts, where he forced things, especially his final shot, a baseline running fadea, away trying to get over three Bulls. That's not Bryant anymore. 

The formula for the Lakers has to be Mike Brown's defense  gets them in range, then the star power finishes the job. But if the star power isn't able to convert, the Lakers are in trouble. The kind of trouble we thought they might bed the going into the season. Bynum's out three more games, and the Lakers play two lottery squads in a row. But if things went this right and they still lost Sunday, isn't there a chance things could start even worse for the Lakers?
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 10:22 pm
 

Video: Derrick Rose game winner over Lakers

By Matt Moore

For 40 minutes, the Lakers were the better team. Then everything fell apart for L.A. against the Bulls. They missed free throws, took bad shots, and turned the ball over constantly. With the Bulls having closed within one, the Lakers had the ball with under 20 seconds left. Maintain possession, force the foul, hit free throws, and get out with an ugly but impressive win over the East's best team last season. 

But as we've seen all through the month of December, things simply aren't diagrammed that way for the Lakers right now. Instead, this happened.


 

The Lakers have not won a game since defeating the Hornets in the first round of last year's playoffs. Kobe Bryant hit some big shots but also turned the ball over 8 times against the Bulls. On a day where the Lakers scrapped and did a fantastic job shutting down Rose and the Bulls' offense, they simply fell apart, and the finger has to point to Kobe Bryant. 

Meanwhile... Derrick Rose made the play when he need to, just like he did all of the regular season last year. It wasn't the best start for the Bulls, but it's a win, and that's good enough. Also, you can almost see Rose's eyes go wide when he realizes he has Derek Fisher one-on-one.
Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:03 pm
 

The 12 Things of NBA Christmas



by Matt Moore


GAMES. Sweet merciful games.

The wait is over. Ol' Saint Nick has shimmied down the Christmas tree and that means the NBA has returned to our lives, kicking off with five games Sunday and a righteous quintuple it is. Boston tests an unsteady bench against the new-look Knicks (same old Knicks, except for a good rookie and one big exception down low). The Heat must watch the Mavericks' banner raised and then go toe-to-toe with the team that ousted them in the Finals. The Lakers will try to prove that Lamar Odom wasn't the whole team, Kobe Bryant's wrist is fine, and they are still the most dominant franchise in the West against the MVP Derek Rose and the league's best defense. The Magic try to pretend everything's fine while polishing silverware on the Titanic against a Western Conference favorite, the Oklahoma City Thunder. And finally Lob City premiers against the Golden State Warriors, who are looking for something new under Mark Jackson.

It's going to be fun. So on the night before Christmas, we're hear to stuff the stockings with what you need to know for each game. Here are 12 Things of NBA Christmas.

1. "Later on we'll conspire, while we lay by the fire..."

The Heat failed. And everyone pointed and laughed. After all the pomp and circumstance, the unbelievably arrogant approach to their formation and celebration thereof, followed by a somehow more outrageous backlash against three basketball players who decided to play for the same team through free agency, the Heat were left broken and tarnished by a Mavericks team which lacked neither star power nor confidence. Not that you'd know it by the storylines drawn out. Still, the Heat took a nasty fall. But during the summer and all the way through the lockout, we hardly heard a thing from them. A few appearances from Dwyane Wade. Some exhibition appearances by LeBron James. Chris Bosh went to ESPN for a day. That was it. Nothing outrageous, no outlandish proclamations or denials of the fact they had their tails kicked. Now they return to the scene of the crime, where everything started to turn for them on a warm June night in Dallas, when the series shifted on the back of their inability to stop Dirk Nowitzki.

When the Heat stumbled last season, the idea was that James, Wade, and Bosh needed more time together, and with their teammates. That chemistry couldn't be built in a day, and that even if they struggled early, it would come. Yet even in advancing to the Finals, there were so many moments where the Heat never looked like they truly belonged together, like they were thrust together without a core concept. We're still waiting for a Heat team that, for lack of a better term, makes sense. A mega-scoring, high-rebound-rate, gamble-defending shooting guard. A prolific do-it-all and rarely do enough, lock-down defender, brilliant vision in a Hummer-like body small forward. And a whisper-thin, mid-range joltin', defensively adequate power forward. It's just an odd combination. They had their trial season, and they fell only two games short of a title. But still short. This is their chance to show the world they've learned from their mistakes and that it was a rare combination of factors that led to their demise against the Mavs. With Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea gone, this isn't the same Dallas team that had the formula to stop what no one else could. The Heat can make a statement Sunday.

But we've heard that before.

2. "He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice..."

All this Lakers drama. You know what's lost in the talk of the Odom trade, of Kobe's wrist, of the Chris Paul trade that wasn't (and should never have been)? Derrick Rose is coming to Los Angeles and he's bringing all the fury a dissed MVP can bring. None of us have him repeating. Very few experts do. But Rose is consistently the most devastating single player in professional basketball and he's going up against a team still starting Derek Fisher, with Steve Blake backing him up. Blake defended Chris Paul admirably in two preseason games against the Clippers. But Rose's explosiveness is the stuff of legend. Plus, once he gets past his primary defender, there will be no Andrew Bynum, serving five games for being naughty in the worst (clubbing J.J. Barae in last year's playoffs in an all-time disgusting move). Rose instead will face Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts at the rim. McBob is a good player and will pay well or the Lakers. But he ain't Bynum.

Rose sees no reason why he can't repeat as MVP. And after an offseason hearing about everyone else and how LeBron left coal in his ECF stocking by shutting him down, Rose likely has some motivation. I'm reminded of a line from "The Dark Knight." "Turn it off. He doesn't want to talk to us. God help whoever he does want to talk to."

3. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la LOB, la la la la"

Tis the season to be jolly in ... Clipper-land? When has that ever been the case? But Sunday means the debut of Lob City (pause for collective groan for people who quickly tire of memes and/or Lakers fans) against the Warriors. Is the pressure too high? Will they be trolled by Yuletide carols? I don't know what that means but it fits with the song; roll with it. The Clippers are facing a team that has been one of the worst defensively over the past decade or so. Mark Jackson is furiously trying to instill a new attitude, but this isn't a great place to start. Kwame Brown is a better interior defender than Andris Biedrins, but isn't good enough to defend two places at once. With Stephen Curry on a bum kneee, the Oop Outlet could be open on Christmas Day. All eyes will be on the Clippers to see if the newest superteam will live up to the billing or disappoint like so many others have. No pressure, there, Blake.

4. "I'll have a Blue Christmas without you..."

The Lakers need Andrew Bnyum. This is the first time you can really say that. They won the title in 2009 without him. They could have won the title in 2010 without him. He was the only thing really keeping them afloat for much of the last half of 2011. And now with Kobe Bryant injured for their opener vs. Chicago, Bynum's injury is even more in focus. It's his overwhelming presence on both ends that makes the Lakers more nasty and tougher to stop. Kobe Bryant can pull this game out, even with a torn ligament in his wrist. He's done it before, he'll do it again. But the Lakers are going to be sorely missing the young stud that holds the key to their future ... one way or another.

5. "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names, (LIKE PINOCHIO!)..."

I know, I know, I should have spit that one out for the Clippers. But this is also can refer to the Knicks, who for years have been dismissed first as a team terrible in every phase but recently because of their defense. But then one foggy (I don't know if it'll be foggy Saturday night in New York or not), Christmas Eve, Mike D'Antoni came to say, "Tyson Chandler, with your defense so bright, won't you dominate inside against a Celtics team which is paper thin inside tonight?"

The questions are going to continue about the Knicks. Chandler has been with the Knicks for a whole ... week. It may not work at all. But he's got a chance to help redefine what defense for the Knicks means, alongside Mike Woodson. And if things go right, the Knicks could go down in history. OK, let's just start with beating the Celtics in the opener.

6. "Please come home for Christmas."

So say Magic fans to Dwight Howard.

7. "And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, the near and the dear one, the old and the young"

The Celtics still have the talent, right? I mean, this is a league where older teams win. Dominate, even. Most of the champions are veteran groups. Yes, the Celtics are ... old. But Rajon Rondo's not. Brandon Bass isn't. They have some legs left. And it's not as many months. So on Sunday against the Knicks, it's not like the Celtics are going to be able to compete with the Knicks. In fact, in most of their games against the Knicks under Mike D'Antoni, the Celtics have used the same tactic employed by the Spurs against the Suns for years: They ran them out of the building. The Celtics actually are a great fast-break team, with Allen sprinting to the corner, Rondo running the break and Pierce a brilliant cherry picker.

So even if they're old, this is still likely a better overall team than the Knicks. But this first game could be relevant in showing us how big a hill both teams have to climb, and maybe who'll take early control of the division.

8. "The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we're still, goodbye-ing. But as long as you love me so, let it snow..."

The Mavericks are going to fade off into the sunset. This is not a young team. Dirk Nowitkzi's game and condition should allow him to play until he's, oh, 60. But think about Petyon Manning. How quickly did this guy, who should have played at a high level into his 40s, see his career change? Granted, different sort of contact sport and all, my point is just that we never know when things change. And if Dirk does suffer any sort of decline because of age, the Mavericks dip too. Jason Kidd is nearly middle-aged, Jason Terry has a lot of frequent flier miles on him and Lamar Odom's no spring chicken. But on Sunday, they get to watch the banner raised in American Airlines, legitimizing Dirk's career and establishing the franchise as world champs. Yeah, it's getting cold, but the world will still love this team for their run last year and they've got enough in them to make another crack at it. Let it snow.

9. "Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh."

Are the Bulls going to be a one-horse open sleigh, or do they have some help? Will Rip Hamilton help the Bulls space the floor against the Lakers? Can Carlos Bozer score on Josh McRoberts after struggling against McBob's Indiana Pacers last season? Can the Bulls score consistently? We know the defense will be there, but the Bulls wanted a scoring upgrade this season. The Lakers, even without Bynum and Odom, are going to be a great test of how far they've come. The Lakers will score. How much the Bulls score will determine if they start the season in a rush or a slide.

10. "Me, I want a hula-hoop..."

In this scenario, Mark Jackson is Alvin and the hula-hoop is a healthy-enough-to-play Stephen Curry. And a defense. And some consistent shooting. And smart basketball. It's a big hula-hoop.

11. "All I want for Christmas is you..."

Blake Griffin got the best Christmas gift possible. The Dunk-o-meter may get broken this season. The Clippers get to test out their new toy Sunday night. Chris Paul will make Blake Griffin the best player he can be. And that is terrifying for the rest of the league.

12. "And the boys of the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay," and the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day."

That's from a song about crushed dreams but sticking together because you've built your lives around one another. And after a vicious lockout that divided players, owners, fans and media, games are back. We're stuck with each other. Let's tip it off. Happy Holidays.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 9:46 pm
 

2011-12 official NBA season predictions

Posted by Eye on Basketball



The season is finally, mercifully, just around the corner. In two days the 2011-2012 season kicks off. For all the lockout, legality, and lost games, there will be basketball. But we find a dramatically different NBA than we left. The Lakers are in disarray, the Celtics are fading, the Clippers are a potential powerhouse, and the Raptors... okay, the Raptors are still terrible.

So how is this all going to work out? We bring you our predictions for the 2011-2012 season, along with some random predictions on how things will go according to our crystal ball. (Note: We got our crystal ball at a flea market in southern Missouri. It also says "Get 'Er Done" on it.)

Three Random Predictions from Eye on Basketball

Royce Young:
1. Monta Ellis will be the biggest name traded this season. You can probably read between the lines there. That means Dwight Howard isn't getting dealt. The Magic are going to spend the first two months of the season trying to convince Howard to go to free agency, mainly because there isn't a suitable package on the market at this point. The Warriors though have been dangling Ellis on the market for a while, coming close to trading him for Andre Iguodala last season. They want to turn the backcourt over to Stephen Curry entirely and moving Ellis is what needs to happen to both Curry and the organization's development.

2. Flip Saunders will be the first coach fired. The Wizards are sort of a mess. John Wall has a ton of talent and young guys like Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Jordan Crawford have potential. But they don't appear to be moving forward as a team. Saunders is a really good coach and him being fired wouldn't be an indictment on his ability to coach. Sometimes young players just need a new direction, a new voice to listen to. You can't risk stunting development with young players and if the Wizards start slow and more importantly, sloppy, Saunders will get the axe.

3. Kevin Durant will win a third straight scoring title. Only six players in NBA history have ever won three consecutive scoring titles (Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Neil Johnston, George Mikan). So it's not some small task. I could see Durant's scoring decrease a bit because of James Harden’s emergence as a legit third scorer. That doesn’t mean Durant won’t average 27 or 28 a game, but I don’t see him bursting into 33 or 34 points per game range. He’ll take another scoring title simply because he just can’t help it. Dude could score 27 a game if he was in a full body cast.

Ben Golliver:
1. The Lakers will land Dwight Howard. The Lakers have dealt from a position of power for as long as anyone can remember, but the last month's insanity has now pushed them into desperation mode. This group, even if perfectly healthy, can't win a title this year and there are so many dead weight contracts a handful of amnesty clauses still wouldn't be enough. Put that together with Kobe Bryant's increasing age and the Lakers have no choice but to swing for the fences and deal every last tradable asset for Dwight Howard. Magic GM Otis Smith has been taking his time, as he should, but there's so much writing on this wall it looks like a New York City subway car covered in graffiti. Gasol, Bynum and whatever else L.A. can muster will head East.

2. We'll have a tank-off for the ages. Given the weirdness of the shortened season and the absolutely loaded 2012 NBA Draft, there's never been a better time for below-average teams to write off a season in hopes of landing a top draft pick. The Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are your top-3 contenders for tankapalooza, but the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets are one injury away from being in combustion mode too. The smart money is on the Bobcats but brace yourself for some truly hideous basketball.

3. Erik Spoelstra will win Coach of the Year. Miami enters the season on what feels like a perfect storm: they key players are in shape, healthy, motivated, focused and extremely, extremely talented. Importantly, they bring with them a mindset of "We've been through the worst of it and we know what to expect now" and also realize that the only team that stood between them and the 2011 championship, the Dallas Mavericks, lost its most important defensive player in Tyson Chandler. Add up all of those factors and we're looking at the possibility of Miami making a mockery of the regular season, running off lengthy winning streaks and only slowing down if they get to the point where homecourt advantage is already wrapped up. A 50-win season is well within reach and, if that benchmark is met, look for Spoelstra, who dealt with rumors about his job last season, getting tapped for Coach of the Year honors.

Matt Moore:
1. The Lakers will figure something out. This franchise does not rebuild. It reloads. And with the assets they have and under the urgent leadership of the younger Buss, something will go down. Maybe it's Dwight Howard, maybe it's a solution we can't see yet that comes out of nowhere. But the Lakers have been a dominant franchise since the inception of the league. They will not go down quietly, not with Kobe Bryant facing the end of his career. Something will shake out for the Purple and Gold.

2. One of the superteams will self-destruct. It's not that superteams are inherently flawed. On the contrary, they have an obscenely high probability of success. But they are not 100 percent proof. And the very problems that can help more complete team efforts topple the superteams (chemistry, selfless play, ball movement, defense) will spell a blowup of one of the juggernauts. Maybe it's the Heat who simply find that they can win a ton of games but never be truly great with the 1-2-3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Maybe it's the Knicks who find that they truly do need a creator to run an offense geared around front-court scoring. Maybe it's the Clippers and Lob City turns out to be the Wizards' Oz. Or maybe it will be the Nets who find that Deron Williams and Dwight Howard aren't enough with the horrible roster they have around them should they land Howard. But one team will find that their experiment with overwhelming firepower was a mistake.

3. Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala will be with new teams by year's end. I'm a believer that situations that reveal themselves as untenable will not hold. And both of those players have been on the trade block for far too long. Smith has wanted off the Hawks, the Sixers have wanted to move Iguodala for a scoring punch for multiple seasons. It's simply unlikely that both teams will elect to stay put the whole year through, especially since both teams are in direct competition for the mid-to-late playoff spots in the East. Where those two end up could have significant impacts on the playoffs.

2011-12 NBA Season Predictions
Prediction Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
Atlantic Division Winner
Central Division Winner
Southeast Division Winner
Southwest Division Winner
Northwest Division Winner
Pacific Division Winner
Eastern Conference Winners
Bulls over Heat

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls
Western Conference Winners
Thunder over Mavericks

Thunder over Lakers

Thunder over Clippers

Thunder over Grizzlies
Finals Winner
Most Valuable Player
Dwyane Wade
Heat, SG

Kevin Durant
Thunder, SF

LeBron James
Heat, SF

Blake Griffin
Clippers, PF
Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving
Cavaliers, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Derrick Williams
Timberwolves, PF


Predictions: 2011-12 Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8


Predictions: 2011-12 Western Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8
Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 2:22 pm
 

What Kobe Bryant's wrist injury means

By Matt Moore

News of Kobe Bryant's torn wrist ligament spread like fire Wednesday. The Lakers, secretive as ever, list Bryant as day-to-day. That could be because they like to keep things under wraps. Or it could be because they don't know how long they'll be able to keep the strong-willed Bryant -- well-known for playing through pain -- off the floor.

Which is what makes this so frustrating for Bryant. He struggled with injuries the past two seasons, particularly a torn ligament in his pinky and a knee condition which required experimental treatment in Germany. But the long layoff had resulted in an invigorated Bryant proclaiming he was the healthiest he'd been in years. He talked about the knee being able to let him do anything he wanted. So to immediately suffer a significant wrist injury, regardless of how long he's out for, if at all, has to be frustrating. (The fact that he injured it after being blocked to oblivion by DeAndre Jordan doesn't hurt, really, but it cetainly doesn't help.)

There's a wide range of opinions on how long Bryant will be out. It essentially comes down to this. Doctors think the wrist needs time to heal but he could play through it, and teammates are certain he'll play Sunday against the Bulls in the Lakers' opener in Los Angeles.

From the Los Angeles Times:
"Without being privy to the MRI, these types of injuries can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to heal completely," said Keith Feder, a Manhattan Beach sports-medicine specialist. "But depending on the pain level, and with support, the athlete could play."
via Kobe Bryant's wrist injury leaves his status for Lakers' opener in doubt - latimes.com


From ESPN and Dr. Robert Klapper:
"You usually don't have to operate on them, but it means that you need to let them rest so you can heal."

Hands and wrists, Klapper says, heal faster than an ankle fracture, for example. He notes that the length of Kobe's absence depends on the specific diagnosis. How severe is the tear? Recovery time could be a month, it could be less. Bryant really could be day-to-day if the tear is "microscopic." God is in the details.

Interestingly enough, Klapper says anti-inflammatory medicines "have been shown to delay the healing." Meanwhile, Vitamin C helps speed healing (and as an added benefit, staves off scurvy, should Bryant take up pirating in his spare time).
via Dr. Robert Klapper on Kobe Bryant's wrist injury - Los Angeles Lakers Blog - ESPN Los Angeles


Then you have to hear what Bryant's teammates said after the Lakers' preseason loss to the Clippers Wednesday night: Bryant declined to talked to reporters, but longtime teammate Luke Walton was optimistic about his recovery.

"He plays through injuries that most people don't," Walton said. "I did see his wrist and it looked like Professor Klump because it was so swollen. But I think he'll be ready by Sunday."

Said Lakers center Andrew Bynum: "It's tough for him to miss a game, so I think he'll be up and ready to go." via Kobe Bryant's wrist injury leaves his status for Lakers' opener in doubt - latimes.com.

Sounds about right. Most people would be out a few weeks with this injury. Kobe Bryant is not most people. But there are larger questions in play here. Can the Lakers win without Bryant? It's possible. The Bulls game may be a loss, but that was questionable from the start what with Derrick Rose being guarded by Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. The larger problem isn't Bryant's absence, though he is imperative to any Lakers gameplan. It's that Andrew Bynum is serving a five-game suspension starting Sunday for a flagrant foul on J.J. Barea in last year's playoffs. The Laker can survive without Kobe Bryant for a few games. Surviving without Bryant and Bynum becomes a much tougher trick.

So why not play him, just let him work through it? Because the injury is such that repeated damage to it could cause longer term problems. Bryant is still better than 90 percent of most NBA players at 80 percent or even 70 percent, but the wear and tear does have which could be cumulative. The Lakers want to win now. Not next year, not two years from now. Now. (And in the future. That's kind of their bag. Win now, win later, win always.) And to do that they have to have the franchise player healthy for the playoffs. Risking a substantive long-term injury to win a handful of games early is not worth it.

So why not bench him, let him rest up, and play him when he's back at full strength? Take no chances, so to speak? Because of the shortened schedule. With Bynum out, the Lakers would be in the precarious position without Bryant of starting 1-4 or 0-5 without Bynum. Three of their first five opponents are playoff teams, six of their first ten. What does a 3-7 start do with just 56 games remaining? To be assured of the equivalent of 52 wins in a normal season, the Lakers would have to win roughly 42 games. which would likely be necessary for a top four seed in the playoffs even in a diluted Western Conference, the Lakers would then need to go 39-17 the rest of the way. That's just to get to the same winning percentage as the Eastern fourth seed Magic last season.

It's an impossible problem, one which the Lakers will no doubt struggle with over the next few days. The final decision will rest with Kobe, who will want to play. And the amazing part is, it's likely Bryant will score 30+ in a game with a bad wrist. His ability to adapt and play through injury is quite literally the stuff of legend. In ten years, players will tell tales of him playing through having his hand sawed off with a lightsaber like Luke Skywalker. But the issue is that one game will cloud what could be peripheral issues in his game. Ball-handling, which has become more of an issue for Bryant (half-court traps have given him a world of fits the past two seasons, and forced two turnovers in the first preseason game), could be impacted. Passing. Defense due to an inability to effectively check with that hand or apply pressure. Tentativeness on either end of the floor depending on how the wrist is feeling.

Without Bryant, the Lakers are in trouble. If Bryant plays, his season could be in trouble. We're betting Bryant plays, and plays well, but this is not the start the Lakers wanted, even beyond the failed trade for Chris Paul, Lamar Odom's subsequent departure, Bryant's divorce, and the predictable struggle to adapt to a new system. If the Lakers are to overcome adversity and regain the position at the top of the NBA mountain, they'll need everything they can get from every player.

Or Dwight Howard.
 
 
 
 
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