Brickhouse Roundtable Part 2: New Beginnings
A league without Duncan and Kobe is really the end of an era. To make the next season even more surreal multiple future Hall of Famers, some synonymous with their cities, are on new teams. In the moment it’s hard to know, but it feels like excitement for the NBA right now is near an all-time peak. We had to ask our analysts for their breakdown of all the changes.
1.With Kevin Durant gone, what happens now with Russell Westbrook?
Matt Baker: He becomes the first player in NBA history to take all of his team’s shot attempts in a single game. This happens on opening night. Oh, and then he signs a contract extension with OKC.
Kevin Hershner: While the Thunder will surely take a step back, Westbrook will flourish individually and likely win this year’s scoring title.
Julian Ouanès: First guy to average a triple double since Oscar Robertson.
Gabe Greenstein: Hopefully the franchise falls apart in shambles amidst the crushing weight of broken dreams and moves back to Seattle, restocked with draft picks and young players after the trade. In case you didn’t guess, I live in WA.
Adam Baker: Westbrook signs an extension with the Thunder to prove that he doesn’t need Durant to win. The Thunder trade for Blake Griffin and OKC installs the triple-layered rims you commonly see at a bad outdoor basketball court, in order to withstand the Westbrook and Griffin dunks. Both players’ shooting percentage plummets.
Nick Dieringer: The have already started building around him with new additions Oladipo and Sabonis, but I would really like to see them trade Westbrook and start over. He’ll bring a great return, and the Celtics likely have the most to offer. This would be an exciting option for the Thunder fan base to experience a strong rebuild after losing Durant as well as giving the East a potentially strong enough opponent to challenge the Cavs.
Bob Johnson: Russell Westbrook trains for the upcoming season by sprinting like Tom Cruise around Los Angeles all day collecting Pokémon. If you thought he played like a man possessed before, get ready for destruction of Cthulhu-level proportions. Russ told his summer campers he’s not going anywhere. Unfortunately for them, I predict they’ll be the most disappointed juniors since Michael Scott promised he’d send all of his “Scott’s Tots” to college.
Westbrook doesn’t have to worry about following in the footsteps of KD by playing the villain who leaves in free agency. Unless he signs an extension to stay in OKC through the next Clinton term, he’ll be traded before November. How does a starting lineup of Westbrook, Clarkson, Deng, Larry Nance Jr. and Mozgov sound to you? Because to me it sounds like Russell could break Kobe’s Lakers single-game shot attempts record immediately.
2. The Bulls added Rondo and Wade and lost Rose and Noah. How does their next season play out?
A. Baker: Fred Hoiberg had success at Iowa St by bringing in transfers who didn’t quite fit at other schools. For his sake, I hope he can recreate some of that magic with this team. I hate to joke, but he has a history of heart problems and this collection of players would not be advised by his cardiologist.
Dieringer: These guys have enough talent to compete in a lot of games, but also some glaring issues. I think they end up being a .500 team that hopefully gives their young players a chance to shine.
Johnson: Not well. When Jimmy Butler heard Derrick Rose had been traded to the Knicks he was not surprised, saying, “I figured it was either him or me.” Presumably, Rose and Butler clashed over who had the ball and got the lion’s share of the spotlight, which makes the Bulls decision to bring in two aging stars that defiantly left their last teams (or in Rondo’s case last two teams), to compete for the ball and star-power on the perimeter with Jimmy Butler is baffling.
Both Rondo and Wade have one and one deals which means they should use this season as an audition for their next contract giving them even more incentive to want to hog attention and the rock. Jimmy Butler forces a trade to Minnesota for Zach Lavine, who instead of getting stepped on by his backcourt mates, jumps over them in the 2017 Dunk Contest.
M. Baker: Hilariously. Rondo goes “missing,” Wade becomes nervous and shifty when being asked “where’s Rondo?” Hoiberg just laughs it all off and says “ah shucks, fellas.” They could probably finish a 4 or 5 seed.
Greenstein: Every good General Manager knows that when you’re trying retool a team and rebuild the culture you always want to start by marginalizing your most important player. The best way to build goodwill with your best player, and make them feel secure about their future with the organization is to bring in a ball dominant legend that plays the same position. It also helps with the aforementioned team unity, if the incoming legend is a future HOF first ballot inductee, with multiple championship rings, that was born in that city.
Grant looks great for the future but the ultimate irony would be Derrick Rose in a contract year along with the Knicks knocking the Bulls out of the playoffs next year. Assuming either team makes it that far.
Hershner: By adding Wade and Rondo, this Bulls team immediately becomes the front-runner in the East. I can’t wait to watch this team. I also can’t wait to try this new Instagram app and graduate from college in the spring. Oh wait, I forgot, this isn’t 2010.
Ouanès: We all see where this is heading right? Wade wanted his money. But he also wants to play with LeBron, who he was vacationing with right before this all went down. Unless this non-shooting Bulls backcourt is a success, it’s gonna be a Wade for Shumpert/Frye/Picks swap to Cleveland to help battle the other superteam.
3. The Knicks will probably start Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Melo, Porzingis, and Joakim Noah, with Brandon Jennings and SASHA VUJACIC coming off the bench. What do you expect from the Knicks season?
Ouanès: It’ll be like when they first signed Amare. Fun for a couple months before the wheels fall off the wagon.
Hershner: Whenever I see the name Courtney Lee I have to double-check that it’s not a reference to the former St. Lunatic, Murphy Lee, who once famously shot symbolic free throws in a Foot Locker while attempting to purchase two pairs of size ten and a half, blue and white Nike Air Force One sneakers. That’s how much success I am expecting for The Knicks.
Greenstein: Could this finally be the year that hiring Phil Jackson starts to seem like a good idea? Can the Knicks break into the bottom tier of Eastern Conference playoff teams? My personal Knicks expectation bar is set to extra low, so that way I’ll be pleasantly surprised when they’re not one of the five worst teams in the league. I’m optimistic that at bare minimum this roster upgrade will make Knicks games watchable.
Johnson: HYPE! If they can stay healthy there’s sure to be excitement at point guard with both Rose and Jennings playing for their next contract in the NEW-TV-DEAL-marketplace. My only hope is for another leap for PorzinGOD because he’s exciting to watch but also to see how much it affects the NBA draft future. KP looked like the best European player to be picked in the lottery since Pau Gasol. Maybe it’s coincidence that 14 non-American players went in the first round of the 2016 NBA draft, as opposed to six in 2015. Or maybe it was Porzingis. While the Knicks will draw attention early in the season, they will fail to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
M. Baker: This will be the year Rose plays 82 games, Carmelo shares the ball, Noah is DPOY again, Jennings plays like the high school dominator we all remember, the Knicks finish 2nd in the East, they don’t play the triangle once, Phil Jackson moves out of Montana, Dolan sells the team, Ewing leads them to a title, Allen Houston becomes a HOFer, Anthony Mason pays off his debts.
A. Baker: It goes one of two ways… If they keep Marshall Plumlee, they will finish 6th in the East. If they get rid of him, they will also finish 6th in the East, but Plumlee will be free to join the Army and America armed services will be the strongest they have ever been.
Dieringer: My first job out of college had a company basketball league. I looked at the picture of the previous year’s champs, all of the players were old and overweight. I thought, “I’ll come in here and run these guys off the court, mwuhahahaha!” Boy was I wrong, never NEVER overlook old man strength/skills! In that same vein, I actually think the Knicks will be able to compete in every game, and sneak their way into the bottom of the eastern conference playoffs.
4. Name your biggest wish for Kobe Bryant’s post-playing career.
Johnson: That Kobe cast himself as the star of his movie franchise akin to Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, or Dom Toretto for whatever “fictional universe” he claims to be creating. He invites Dwight to do a cameo without explaining his character will be swallowed by a giant CGI-ed monster in the first scene. Every line from Kobe’s character drips with sarcasm and ego that would make Indiana Jones look like Smush Parker.
A. Baker: He directs and stars in Snakes on a Plane 2: Mamba Out
Dieringer: Please please please join Inside the NBA on TNT. I know there are mixed feelings about this show, I personally love it. I can only imagine Kobe just taking over and completely demoralizing Shaq and Charles. Shaq would get some jabs in, but Kobe would knock him out on the regular.
Ouanès: He plans to becomes a storyteller, and I can’t wait for him to realize his vision for his first project. “There’s an entire mythological universe I’ve created. There are certain rules that make up this world,” the first probably being pass to Kobe.
Greenstein: I’ll give three different scenarios for this answer:
a. US Ambassador to China
b. Kobe teams up with Richard Branson or Elon Musk to give space adventure tours in a commercial rocket sponsored by Nike and shaped like the Kobe XI
c. Entrepreneur/owner of “Kobe Black Mamba Brand” online-venomous-reptile-delivery-service.
Hershner: I would like him to finally spend some time with his family, but I know he’s going to attempt to direct some pretentious knockoff of a Terrence Malick film instead.
M. Baker: That he doesn’t murder everyone out of boredom.
5. Draymond Green was arrested for slapping a man in Michigan this week. He may have an anger management problem. Who’s your starting five “All-Anger Management” team drawing from current NBA players? Who’s the coach?
PG – Reggie Jackson (I’m only saying this to make John Wall angry… which means Wall is actually my PG)
SF – Draymond
Other F (and 6th man) – Morris Brothers
PF – Noah
C – Cousins
Coach – Pop (not cause he’s angry but because he can channel it)
Draymond Green may have an anger management problem, and Charles Barkley may have a gambling problem. PG – Charles Oakley. SG – Charles Oakley. SF – Charles Oakley. PF – Charles Oakley. C – Luther Rackley (My childhood neighbor’s brother who once attempted to enter the opposing team’s locker room to continue a fight.) And I know this asked for current players, but you try telling Charles Oakley he isn’t going to be on this team. And for the coach, well, why not Rick Pitino? He’s coached every other team. Besides, for this team to work you need the coach to be a lover not a fighter. And when I say, “lover,” well those of you who know the story get it. And those of you who don’t know the story should consider yourselves all the more fortunate.
PG – Patrick Beverly
SG – Nic “Nut Shot” Batum
SF – Matt Barnes
PF – Z-Bo
C – Hassan Whiteside
6th Man: Jahlil Okafor
Coach: Byron Scott, who recently got into it with an Instagram troll in the comment section.
PG – Westbrook
SG – Tony Allen
SF – Matt Barnes
PF – Draymond
C – DeMarcus Cousins
Coach – Scott Skiles
PG- Russell Westbrook. I just assume at some point a basketball hoop fell and killed his best friend. He attacks rims like Tre Styles attacks invisible gangsters in Boyz in the Hood.
SG- Dion Waiters. DW may get the touches he craves if he lands on the Nets or Sixers, but playing for this All-Anger team he’ll go right back to exasperation-mode every possession he doesn’t shoot the ball.
SF- Matt Barnes. Matty B has already bought himself a retirement gift: a plane ticket to wherever the fuck Derek Fisher is at the time.
PF- Draymond Green. The judge in the Draymond’s recent “Slapgate” is, no shit, named Ball. Not what Green was expecting when he started a war on balls this postseason.
C- Boogie Cousins. Could it be anyone else? DeMarcus has lead the league in technical fouls three of the past four seasons. He’s also LeBron’s only competition for most passive aggressive tweets.
Coach: George Karl. Just in case anyone on this team has a day where they don’t wake up pissed off at the world.
Dieringer: Twist – made this the all-practice-anger-management-team
Coach – Meta World Peace, he talks a big game but continues to lose his cool, which is the best way to lose your cool
Greenstein: Point Guard- Chris Paul
Anger Archetype: “The Complainer”
Angry Characteristics: Whining to ref, dick punching, and trash talking
Historical Evidence: May 9th 2016, circa Kevin Durant’s balls
Argument for 1st team: Only Chris Paul can give another player a hernia test while the refs not looking and then cry about injustice to the same ref on the same play.
Shooting Guard- Ron Artest.
Anger Archetype: “Stark raving lunatic”
Angry Characteristics: Brawling, crazy eye death stare, trash talk, maniacal laughter
Historical Evidence: Nov 19th, 2004, nuff said
Argument for 1st Team: I’ll give credit to Metta World Peace for toning down out his anger in the past few years thanks to the help of many highly paid, highly trained mental health professions. That being said Metta World Peace is still a stark raving lunatic with an even crazier maniac named Ron Artest inside of him. What will happen to the NBA and society at large when Ron Artest busts out of his existential prison and escapes from inside of Metta World?
Small Forward-Draymond Green
Anger Archetype: “The Thinking Man’s Thug”
Angry Characteristics: Punching, kicking, trash talking, calling out opposing coaches to the media
Historical Evidence: 7/10/16, Lansing Michigan.
Argument for 1st Team: The former Spartan is no stranger to anger or controversy, but he gets bonus points for kicking Steve Adams in the groin and punching Lebron James in the South Beach region, and for executing those moves in back to back playoff series, leading to a crucial suspension.
Power Forward – Blake Griffin
Anger Archetype: “Optima Animosity”
Angry Characteristics: complaining to refs, flopping, flying elbows
Historical Evidence: 1/23/16, Sotto Sotto Ristarante
Argument for 1st team: Along with fellow “Trash Brother” Chris Paul, Blake Griffin helps forms the leagues whiniest duo. He makes the All Angriest 1st Team Frontcourt on account of missing three months of the season after breaking his hand on the face of good friend, Clippers Equipment manager, Matias Testi.
Center- DeMarcus Cousins
Anger Archetype: “The ‘Center’ of the Universe”
Historical Evidence: 6/22/15, Twitter@boogiecousins
Argument for 1st Team: This was a tough pick, considering that tinderbox Hassan Whiteside may have already surpassed Cousins in uncontrollable volatility. In the end Cousins gets the nod for sustained excellence in being angry consistently over a long period of time. Also want to give Cousins props for still keeping his burning hatred for Charles Barkley alive after all these years.
6. Now that he’s retired, what do you think Tim Duncan is doing right now?
A. Baker: Working at a bank … get it … because he liked bank shots…
Ouanès: He’s off somewhere buying an oversized corduroy shirt that may finally help him dethrone MJ as worst dressed superstar of all time.
Greenstein: Teaching a generation of underprivileged youth in San Antonio to take the “fun” out of basketball fundamentals.
M. Baker: Eating his normal breakfast of plain oatmeal cooked with unsweetened almond milk. Searching Buzzfeed for new cat posts. Quietly scolding his children for having emotions. And then scolding himself because scolding is too emotional.
Johnson: Shopping online looking for the perfect addition to his souvenir spoon collection.
Hershner: Wearing a flannel shirt.
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