Monday, November 25, 2013

Kobe at 35: NBA Highest Paid Player

Kobe Bryant was a free agent after this season. While he's casually mentioned that he might retire before people think, there was little doubt he would continue to play past his current contract. There was also little doubt that he would remain a Laker and a Laker he shall remain as he signed a two-year $48.5 million extension.

In 2014 at age 35 Kobe will make $23.5million and in 2015 he will make $25 million. I don't blame Kobe for wanting to make as much money as he can and honestly I don't think he had to negotiate too much with the Lakers to be the highest paid player in the league. However, there is a salary cap in the NBA and Kobe's contract will certainly be prohibitive. With Kobe the Lakers can still sign another max level free agent but it would likely be easier to acquire a max level free agent, or free agents if Kobe was making a little less coin.

A 35 year old Tim Duncan was a free agent in the summer of 2012, coming off a solid Duncan season but certainly not his best. Still, he had a PER of 22.5 which is quite good. Duncan could command a lot of money but he resigned with the Spurs for a three-year $30 million extension with the last year being an option. The Spurs are paying Duncan half of what he could command but because of it Duncan's able to play with a better team.

Kobe Bryant's season last year was certainly better than Duncan's season before he resigned but Kobe's yet to even play this year as he's recovering from a torn Achilles. I don't doubt Kobe will return to an all-star level but I wonder if it would have been more optimal for the Lakers to wait and see how Kobe would play out this year, before making him the highest paid player in the NBA at age 35 and 36. I suppose Kobe can be trolling us all and he intends to play until he's 40, at which point he'll give the Lakers a discount, but I don't think that's necessarily likely.

Kobe and the Lakers, like any player and team, have their eyes on titles, but this recent extension isn't necessarily the best step towards that goal. Yes, Kobe will be a Laker for the next two years, which is a good thing, but was anybody doubting that?

The purpose of this isn't to put Duncan on a pedestal and blame Kobe but if championships are the main goal, there is something fishy and/or sub-optimal about the timing of this extension.  I think Kobe will still be a great player over the course of his extension but it also makes it a little harder to build around him. I don't expect Kobe to take a  pay cut, but if he did, clearly it would help the Lakers quest to get Kobe ring #6, although with this move, one can't help but doubt that ring #6 is necessarily the goal here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carmelo: #1 Alpha Dog?

Today, the awesome people at ProBasketballTalk spoke about an ESPN article, with NBA executives answering questions about Carmlo Anthony.

Specifically they were essentially asked if Melo is a #1 option. Unsurprisingly, given much of the talk about Melo these days, the answer seemed to be no. Some tidbits:
"I love him as a player. I just don't think he's your alpha male. He can't be your No. 1 guy. He's kind of like Clyde Drexler. As the alpha male in Portland, Clyde never got over the top. But when he went to Houston and was the No. 2 guy to Hakeem Olajuwon, he won." 
"And as a winner -- that's what it's all about, right? -- he's not rated highly. I mean, this is his 11th season. It's time to win something."
"So now, 10 years into the league, he's probably Robin on a championship team instead of Batman. He has Batman talent, but the intangibles are missing."
While everyone had some nice things to say about Melo, the bottom line seems to be that he's either a) not a number one option on a championship team; or b) you have to find the perfect people to build around him, aka "five Tyson Chandlers" for him to win.

I don't necessarily have any qualms about this. What I have a problem with, is putting the majority of the blame on Melo and not just a product of our own expectations and the ruthlessness of winning NBA titles. Every NBA champion in recent memory has either had an all-time great playing at their peak, a slew of similarly talented Hall of Famers and in some cases they have had both. Carmelo Anthony isn't LeBron James or Kobe Bryant and he doesn't play with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen or Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Why is that so bad?

Maybe I'm naive here and underrating how Melo plays ball (the bad parts) but aren't those Celtics teams pretty damn good if Melo replaced Paul Pierce? If he had Andrew Bynum, Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom, could Melo win a title against an injured Celtics team? I tend to think the answers are yes, but what do I know?

Sure, Dirk won one without some of the above, but what does that really teach us? That Carmelo Anthony is a worse player than Dirk, we knew this. And for what it's worth, Dirk had the perfect team around him, several Tyson Chandler types, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and a fantastic coach, and this all after years of people claiming he couldn't win a title.

I don't think it's a bad thing for Clyde Drexler to not win a title without Hakeem and I don't think it's a bad thing if Melo can't win a title without a future Hakeem (it's probably not named Kevin Love). But, it might be bad for the NBA if those are truisms in the league. By all accounts Melo is a terrific player. ESPN's #NBARANK, may not be the best judge of talent but  Melo ranks as the 15th best player in the league. If that's the case, and Melo can't be the alpha dog, isn't the problem that you need one of at most 14 players to win a title and probably two? That's pretty ruthless. Daryl Morey's worked so hard to get two, #1's in James Harden and Dwight Howard, who both rank higher than Melo, and Houston still isn't even talked about as a legitimate title contender.

I could be a biased Knicks fan but all the talk about Melo just gets boring. It's not even enlightening to hear what league executives have to say about it. It's the same old stuff being repeated, whether it's about Melo or anyone else. One player in the NBA has a larger effect than any other player has on their sport but even with that, they can't do it all alone. Did LeBron win anything before he and coach were on the same exact page, putting him on the court with all great shooters?

I guess people like reading the headlines about Melo and how he is or isn't good enough to win alone but nobody is saying anything interesting about the subject. Wait, Carmelo Anthony needs another great player or a team perfectly constructed around his talents to win a title? Great, he's like every other NBA player!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quick Thoughts

Some quick thoughts:

  • With or without Tyson Chandler the Knicks were playing so bad I wonder if they would make the playoffs. Without him for at least a month, I think it might be a coin flip. The Knicks beat the Hawks last night which is certainly a good sign. There is buzz about a Shumpert for Faried swap, the Knicks could use a big man with Tyson out but they should still be playing the long game here. If Shump is the guy they prefer long term, Shump they shall keep. I love Faried but if he was that good, JJ Hickson wouldn't be brought in and start over him.
  • The Nets are old. Every team has a clunker but losing by 21 to Sacramento is embarrassing. Something is up with Kevin Garnett as he only played 15 minutes last night shooting 2/9. Garnett's too good to shoot 30% all year but at 37 years old with his game fading further and further away from the hoop, the Garnett we used to know might be gone. 
  • I can't read enough or talk enough about the college games on Tuesday. The media can get annoying over hyping certain  every event but Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, and Jabari Parkerdid not disappoint. If I had to rank those three after a sample size of watching one game I would go Randle - Parker; 3) Wiggins. Randle might be a little too aggro on certain plays but fixing up a few turnover issues seems likely and it looks like he could average 20 and 12 in the NBA tomorrow. 
  • I've become a rather large fan of the NBA in recent years but you couldn't pay me to watch the Celtics vs Bobcats. Woof. Well, Cody Zeller is on the Bobcats...
  • The new Knicks pipedream is to sign Kevin Love in 2015. The last time this happened they got stuck with Amar'e's knees and Ray Felton. A Carmelo/Love duo would be fantastic but it sounds like a poorly constructed and naive plan. The Knicks need a better direction than hoping Kevin Love wants to play with the 6th seed Knicks. Meanwhile, Love is torching the lead averaging 27.1/5.1/14.2 on a 6-3 Wolves team with the third best point differential in the league. I'm not sure he's itching to leave. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


I have been blogging about baseball since 2008. It's been fun and rewarding and while I'm no less of a baseball fan I've become what one might classify as a fairly large basketball fan nowadays.

Here is where I will write my musings about basketball, whether it be the NBA, NCAA or the Urban Professionals League that I play on. Considering I'm not any good and only run around and set screens, you probably won't hear much about the latter.

As far as my basketball world goes there a few things you should know:
  • I went to school at Indiana University under the Kelvin Sampson era. 
  • I have owned season tickets to St. John's University basketball games under the Mike Jarvis/Norm Roberts era. 
  • My favorite basketball team for ever and always will be the Rasheed Wallace era Blazers.
  • I love the Euros and any big man that can shoot and/or pass.
  • I don't think teams take enough threes.
  • I think the "hot hand" is overrated.
  • I'm glad that the NBA is using more advanced stats, I plan to use them as well.
Anywho, I hope you enjoy what I have to say and let me know if you ever want to get involved, the more bologna the better!

The best.