Friday 5 with K.B.: Front-row seats in the Big Apple
In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with Ken Berger, the CBSSports.com NBA Senior Writer talks Cuban's spending, the best of the best of Team USA, and who will have more fans on opening night, the Nets or the Knicks?
1. Rank these four players on Team USA in terms of both their overall ability and their importance to the team: Kobe Bryant , LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony , Kevin Durant .
1) LeBron James: When he's scoring in the paint and making plays with the ball in his hands in the middle of the floor, he and Team USA are unbeatable; 2) Kobe Bryant: When the kids see old man Bryant digging in defensively, being active in the passing lanes and generally just playing the role of defensive nuisance, it sets an important tone; 3) Kevin Durant: The Americans are better with Durant starting and Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench, in large part due to the matchup problems that both present; 4) Anthony: Perfect for the stretch-four spot in the international game, Anthony simply has to focus on what he does best. If only he could've had a coach in New York who would've afforded him such opportunities .. oh, wait.
2. The Miami Heat Triad was famously first conceived in Beijing. Deron Williams and Dwight Howard talked about playing together at the same time. Should the Minnesota Timberwolves , New Orleans Pelicans or teams for any of the other players be concerned about these guys scheming to play together?
Any time the biggest stars in the game get together, conspiracies happen. So yes, younger guys like Anthony Davis and Kevin Love are sure to absorb some of their mentors' team-building philosophies.
3. How could the Milwaukee Bucks give Ersan Ilysova a five-year, $45 million deal when his closest comparable in free agency, Ryan Anderson , got only $34 million over four years? What is John Hammond thinking?
Simple. They didn't, and there's nothing wrong with John Hammond. Although Ilysova's deal was reportedly for $45 million over five years, it includes only four guaranteed years and about $5 million in unlikely-to-be-reached incentives. It's a flat deal at $8 million a year, meaning Ilyasova got just about the same guarantees that Anderson got -- four-years, $32 million. The fifth year at $8 million isn't guaranteed.
4. You're a New York guy -- what do you think the breakdown will be on opening night of Nets fans vs. Knicks fans vs. "I just paid to be seen here" fans?
I would have to believe there would be a healthy contingent of Knicks fans -- upwards of half the building -- given that plenty of Knicks fans live in Brooklyn. What will be really interesting is whether the Knicks' celebrity row will simply shift to Barclays Center that night. If Spike Lee's in the front row, can it really be counted as a Nets home game?
5. You wrote a great feature this week about Mark Cuban and his approach under the new CBA. Is it possible we're going to see an unprecedented run under one owner with Cuban? He's already pulled off an amazing feat with 10 years of 50 wins, and 50 next year wouldn't be shocking with how the Mavs have restocked. Going forward, if he snags another big fish, they're set for post-Dirk life. How good can this franchise be long-term?
I like your premise and mostly agree, although Cuban still has to win three more titles before he can be in the same conversation with Peter Holt and the San Antonio Spurs . But for little money I have compared to fellow Indiana Pacers University alum Cuban, he's about as good as it gets as an owner if you're a fan of an NBA team. As James Dolan has proved by paying more than $195 million in luxury tax for one playoff win over the past decade or so, it isn't just spending that matters, but spending wisely -- and knowing when to back off. Cuban's done the latter brilliantly in the past 13 months, and it won't be long until he's back to his big (and smart) spending ways.
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