All posts by Opinionated Media

Passionate Lover of Basketball, the Arts, and various forms of Entertainment. Media & Entertainment Extraordinaire

Chip for Clips?

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By: Opinionated MJ

Championship for Clippers?

Retaining DeAndre Jordan, acquiring Lance Stevenson, signing Paul Pierce… Have the Clippers now finally put themselves into championship contention instead of playoff contention? They’ve honestly had no excuse to lose in the last two seasons but somehow, someway, we found a way to give them another big room full of excuses. This time they “didn’t have the depth to survive against teams with more depth.” Okay, fine. Still, Blake Griffin improved his shot, Chris Paul improved his balance and also played in all 82 games, and JJ Redick finally made sense to be in someone’s starting rotation. Until the playoffs hit, then came calamity. We overlook the achievement for Chris Paul though, playing in all the games and doing his best to not miss any in the playoffs. In a new NBA world where the players don’t want to play 82 games, they want midseason vacations, a longer break during All-Star weekend, less minutes while they’re in their primes and requests for better teammates, Chris Paul actually found a way to improve. Just hope his critics were paying attention.

The real question now is, “Do the Clippers have the players in place to succeed?” I’m really high on having players who have “championship” experience on your team in order to get to the promise land. Golden State had a coach who has won in different settings. Be apart of the Jordan Bulls and the Spurs organization when they’ve won titles over the last 20 years. He’s been side by side with the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Duncan, Parker, Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. It can’t get any better than that can it? He has a pedigree and understanding of the game. He also set the team up for success when he asked some of the players to play certain roles that would eventually land them a ring in return. The Clippers now have Doc Rivers along with Paul Pierce this time around step up into those big moments. If Pierce was there against the Rockets, it would’ve been Clippers 4-2. These additions are great for offense but what will they do for defense? Paul Pierce won’t be stopping anyway, and that’s the truth. Lance had a lost season with the Hornets but I’m sure that with CP3 and DeAndre on the floor with him, they’ll be a defensive nightmare and they will be able to hide him and Griffin on nights against the OKC Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. The real question now is, “What about those Spurs?”

Could they beat the Spurs now that they’ve added Aldridge and West to their team? Pierce isn’t guarding Duncan with any success. Did you see what Duncan was doing to DeAndre?!?! He was doing it at 39 years old and almost no athletic effort! So Imagine what pick & rolls will look like with Parker having Duncan and Aldridge at his disposal AT THE SAME TIME! They’ve retained their defense in Kawhi & Danny Green and they also have a system in place that apparently is the direct way to fight against father time. One year they’re old, the next year they are in the Finals. So we would be best to not drop that special “they’re old” line like we do when they have slow stretches. I don’t think that they’ll have any slow stretches this offseason.

Can the Clippers find a way to utilize Lance the way he was used during his last season in Indiana? If they can have him anchor the bench then I truly think they may have something figured out. Jamal Crawford actually wants to leave now and wants to go to the easy breezy Eastern Conference to the team that will damn near have a cakewalk to the Finals for the next 2-4 years, the Cavaliers. I sound like a hater. I am a proud hater of how garbage the Eastern Conference is. Go Cavs, I expect them to win a chip soon anyway, especially if this trade happens, but who is sent back in return? If I’m the Clippers, I’m pushing for Dellavedova and Thompson, yes BOTH! This won’t happen but I’m not helping a Finals team get better. I’m not accepting a JR Smith sign & trade. I would entertain acquiring Timofey Mozgov, sure, but I’ll need a few picks along with it. Hard bargain.

The path to the Finals goes through OKC, Golden State, and San Antonio. No one else is a legitimate threat, including the Rockets. Four headed monster in the West with a few dark horses. The Pelicans, Rockets, Grizzlies, and I’d just throw a #8 seeded Kings team out there just because I truly don’t know who’ll fit into that spot. The Clippers should be able to beat the lower seeds and have shown what they can do against the Spurs which legitimizes whether they could win in the west or not. At least to me. If you can beat the Spurs than you can survive and succeed out west. The Spurs have a way of breaking a team down and shredding away at your strengths. The Clippers proved to me that they’re ready to take the next step, it’s all left up to the chemistry they’ll have with their new additions.

FoR Kobe

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By: Opinionated MJ

I am a Kobe Bryant fan. I have been there throughout all his ups and downs. From his draft day and continuing through now. He was the next in line after Jordan to me. He stepped into Jordan’s space when Jordan retired for me as a fan. Now I see KD or Russell Westbrook carrying that torch when Kobe is done. More likely Russell. Anyway, I’ve been a fan throughout all of the criticisms and throughout all of the early naysayers. You know:

“He’s not better than AI. He’s not better than T-Mac. He’s not better than Vince Carter. He’s not going to win a championship. He’s a ball hog. He doesn’t pass the ball. He won’t win like Michael. He won’t be a leader. He won’t win a second championship. He won’t win a third championship. That thing in Denver, yeah, he did that! He did that! He’s going to jail. He’s a r*****. He’s not one of the best of all time. He won’t win without Shaq. He doesn’t impact his teammates. He’s not a likable person. He’s egotistical. He’s too selfish. He only wants to win on his terms. He took too much money. No one wants to play with him. No one likes Kobe.”

The charges are almost endless. I didn’t agree with those as a super die-hard fan of Kobe’s. I’ve since cooled but I am still very much in Kobe’s corner but now I’m also very realistic. My reality is simple though and looks past all of the prior things people would’ve said, past all of the personal things, past things that don’t relate to Kobe Bryant when he is on the court. Super simple: Facilitate or Retire.

Let it rain in, “Oh! You’re no Kobe fan!!” I very much am. I’ve been a witness to all of his successes and all of his failures. The only time you could question that is when he played the Detroit Pistons and lost. Come on, it’s the home team. He had to lose that one. You can’t win them all right? I’ve seen the duels against everyone they tried to make be “Kobe Stoppers.” HAHAHAHAHA! Ruben Patterson, Raja Bell (did the best job on him, IMO), Ron Artest, Bruce Bowen, Doug Christie, Matt Barnes, Tony Allen, and I know there’s more I’m missing but you get it.

He’s overcome all the obstacles and things people said he couldn’t do. He even used it in a manifesto for inspiration, twice. The man’s work ethic is second to none, literally. So why, really, how could I call on Kobe to retire? Well, he isn’t truly known to facilitate but he does have a nickname as “facilitator Kobe” that we’ve all forgotten because he is a scorer first, second, and third. He needs to be more of a player that’s going to threaten defenses near the rim and set his team up for easy shots, cuts, and drop in passes. He’s built to do this. He’s known widely as a scorer and no one would dare leave him open unless he was shooting 10% from the field on the season.

Imagine what he could do if he operated from where LeBron operated in the NBA Finals. Mid-post area to either score close to the basket, get to the basket using his footwork and fundamentals, or kicking it to an open or cutting teammate. It’s almost too easy. I’m not asking him to be LeBron, I never did. There are things that LeBron can’t do, Kobe can and vice versa at this point. Prime Kobe could do anything, but not now. I also think that Kobe may actually be one of the most dominant post players in the league only 3rd behind Tim Duncan and Demarcus Cousins. May sound like a reach but do your research. We can argue and debate, but do your reasearch about Kobe close to the basket. I’m not too interested in seeing him hoist Steph Curry distance 3 pointers, nor super contested long 2 pointers.

Kobe needs to understand that simple is better as his career winds down. He needs to allow these rookies to prove and teach them how to overcome their mistakes and become better players. Kobe has always improved his teammates whether you believe it or not. His hard bargain driving, superman work ethic, and dedication to the game rub off on everyone unless you’re just a super lazy, weak-minded individual. It’s gold to be able to be playing alongside Kobe. Practicing, watching film, and everything else that comes with it. He’s one of the last students of the game who can actually untap your potential without even actively being LeBron-esque or Jason Kidd-esque, Steve Nash-esque, or Magic Johnson-esque. I’m not asking him to turn into some superhero point guard either, I’m asking him to allow his teammates to become, well, his teammates. He doesn’t have to hijack every game if they brick 7 straight shots. He doesn’t have to let his takeover gene kick in when they fail on a few assignments. Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t have developed if it wasn’t for Kobe having to sit the rest of the season. That’s my honest opinion. No All Rookie First Team for him. He statistically matched Andrew Wiggins during the second half of the season. Having Kobe is gold, having Kobe be a mentor and a guide as you play is almost like having a diamond. His knowledge is worth more than anything else that anyone could provide. Who could better teach them? NO ONE! Phil Jackson doesn’t coach, LeBron doesn’t want to teach kids nor sit through a rebuild or he would’ve at least kept Wiggins around, and Durant, Russell, and other teams don’t have someone who could honestly teach these kids the ropes better than Kobe? Who would actually improve them by being hard on them, like a parent? Who would actually DEMAND that they show up or shut up? Who would actually tell them that they’re as soft as Charmin during practice? LOL! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!

Enough. Kobe… Facilitate or retire.

Respect The Shooter

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By: Opinionated MJ

What is the more important way to score in the NBA to you? What has happened to the art of the mid-range game? The way Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Richard Hamilton, and the Ray Allen’s of the world used to torch opponents was always a spectacle. Very rare to find it throughout the entire NBA today.

This is currently LeBron’s game depending on who you ask. The driving, the finishing, the kicking it out to the open man. Everyone considers that style of play as MVP basketball. It seems that if Kevin Durant didn’t average the assist numbers he did during his MVP season that he wouldn’t have become league MVP. I certainly don’t think so. So how did Stephen Curry win this year’s MVP award? I think the league is more LeBron, Russell Westbrook, more DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin than anything.

Then there’s the rare few players in the league that can light it up from anywhere on the floor. This brings us to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Who is the best shooter?

Could you honestly answer this question without truly thinking that maybe you’re wrong no matter how you answer it? It’s like there’s not enough decisiveness about who has done exactly what you think they should be doing. Stephen Curry should probably shoot more mid-range jumpers but he won the MVP and NBA Championship relying on his three pointer. Kevin Durant has won an MVP and has an NBA finals appearance but we all still think he should be more in control than Russell Westbrook.. wait, do we still believe that? Especially after the season Russell had without Kevin? Could they do it alone? I personally don’t think so. We’ve also seen Durant go for it on his own and he’s basically MVP by himself. So do we judge the winner by their body of work?

We knows who’s won and he’s done so being the focal point of his team’s success in efficiency and judged by win shares. Of course I’m talking about Chef Curry. The guy spent one-quarter of most of the games sitting because he put teams away in short order. He’s been the one who Steve Kerr gave the keys to and told him that the offense is running through him. After being much developed by Mark Jackson, I’ll give him his due, yeah, but Steve Kerr opened up the flood gates for Steph to just come in and shoot, shoot, shoot without a leash.

They said live by the three, die by the three but no one has ever truly lived from it until now. So do we acknowledge that he single-handedly changed the way the game could be played? Not only from an individual perspective but also a team perspective for those who are looking to team build and focus on small ball, Stephen Curry is the carrying the torch into a new era. Before he can truly run freely, he’s already been tasked with validating his championship. Which means his torch is lit but he can’t run just yet, it may go out.

Kevin Durant on the other hand is the silent assassin. The Slim Reaper, Easy Money Sniper. Tall enough to be considered a power forward but skilled enough to honestly play the shooting guard position. The guy who you’d expect to make the game winners that everyone else misses. The man should have a championship title under his belt if it wasn’t for injuries to each of the Thunder’s big 3 over the last 2-3 seasons plus the loss of James Harden. The man can shoot over anyone but seemingly only has a problem when Chris Paul guards him. Keep that dribble closer! I’ve seen Kevin Durant do some things I didn’t think were in him during his MVP season. It seemingly made it over the hump into superstar territory with the way he closed out teams. He had the best scoring tear since Kobe had his launch of great games strung together that led up to 81 and thereafter. He’s been the one man who everyone wants to see get a chance to run his own team and be the focal point, or at least convince Russell to defer to more often cause he can take you promised land easier than Russell can. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor just like Steph Curry and can also drive to the hole and make plays for his teammates. So much talent and basically gives his team the same package that Stephen Curry does.

So you still have only one answer and it has to be one or the other. Which answer do you give? What do you consider? If you take away all the accolades, who is the winner?

I’m going to go with Stephen Curry.

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Could Prime Michael Jordan Have Defeated The Golden State Warriors In LeBron’s Place?

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By: Opinionated MJ

Could Prime Michael Jordan Have Defeated The Golden State Warriors In LeBron’s Place?

I want to start this discussion by saying that I respect LeBron and his abilities and the fact that he’s a champion. I believe that he’s arguably the best in the league right now along with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. I also believe that he will probably be in the next 3-4 finals. Weak Eastern Conference, eh? Now let’s weigh in.

I have started an uproar amongst peers who are proud Jordan fans, LeBron fans, and Kobe fans. I made a statement and asked a question that has us nearly hating each other over our different views. I said, “If Prime Jordan was in LeBron’s place against the Warriors, he would’ve won this series. What do you think?” I’m a believer that LeBron is currently in his prime and at the very height of it. Though, LeBron’s weaknesses are Jordan’s strengths and I think Jordan would’ve overcome the Warriors as he has done against pretty much everything he’s been up against except father time.

A close friend to me says that Jordan has the “Superman” complex when I talk about him because it’s based upon what Jordan has done and was able to do and the fact that he succeeded so how could anyone dare to see him fail in this situation. Sacasticly we then argued about that complex. I watched Jordan as a kid and he put away competitor after competitor after competitor at every level. I’m seeing LeBron operating from the post and mid-post areas and looking to facilitate unless he was backing down Harrison Barnes or Draymond Green. He made a couple fadeaways which was surprising and he also made a few of those jab step jumpers that Carmelo Anthony specializes in. I thought I was watching Melo for a minute at times. Now, when Andre Iguodala guards LeBron James, not only can he push him outside of the post, but he can force him to take really bad shots. I posed this question, “Could Iguodala had honestly stopped Jordan in the spot that made him legendary? The mid-post?” I am very doubtful that he could. Jordan has seen tougher defenders in my opinion.

We’ll move on to this whole concept of “Making His Teammates Better.” LeBron, in my opinion, makes his teammates INSTANTLY better because he is on the floor ACTIVELY looking for them to be open once he penetrates the lane and attracts defenders. Rather he’s driving or he’s posting up (usually a smaller defender), he’ll find an open teammate for a good shot. This is where the argument took another turn in saying that he makes his teammates better and people saying to me that Jordan didn’t do that. I totally disagree. Jordan made his teammates raise their game individually so it would fit into the grand scheme of things so when he passes them the ball they could actually connect on their opportunities instead of hanging on to his every move like LeBron’s teammates. How many times has Randy Brown and Jason Caffey come in make shots and had you like, “Really? Him?!?” Without LeBron, JR Smith and Shumpert were simply LOST. The whole team loses their identity and the ball movement comes to a halt and isolation takes over completely. The only reason they survived a lot of times in the season when this happened was Kevin Love being able to stretch the floor and when the iso’s fail, Kevin will be standing there where LeBron wants him. What a big 3 member is supposed to be doing.

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Would Jordan have converted on a lot more of the volume shots LeBron was taking?

People also say LeBron didn’t have anyone. Okay, so we have actual NBA players who aren’t worth a damn when they fail but when they’re making shots they’re being celebrated. Shumpert! FOR THREE! YESS!!! JR is UNCONSCIOUS RIGHT NOW!!! Celebrated when doing well, and hated and treated as worse than D-Leaguers when they’re doing bad. I’d like some of you to see what the 97-98 Bulls roster looks like from top to bottom. I’m sure you’ll recognize LeBron’s teammates but then again we live in a post-2K era where everybody knows everyone and all their business. Twitter didn’t exist during Jordan’s playing time. Let’s analyze.

Sounds upsurd but, Jordan Cavs:

Dellavedova

Shumpert

Jordan

Thompson

Mozgov

Jordan Bulls:

Kerr

Jordan

Pippen

Rodman

Longley

Considering what I’ve seen from those Cavs teammates, they are VERY defensive. They were able to keep the Warriors off their game for 2 games and 3 quarters and still played good defense thereafter. Thats basically defense at every position and athleticism. Who expects Kerr to stop Curry? So I’d go with Dellavedova on that one. Shumpert did well with his assignment. Thompson seemed to be Dennis Rodman in this series anyway cause he grabbed a few rebounds from half court and Mozgov is a good defender and guy you could drop the ball into for a bailout. Who didn’t he dunk on in this series? He even went 28 & 10 in game 4. Yeah, I would take Mozgov over Longley. Maybe I need to watch some tape to remember what Longley did other than be a gump who made a few shots at the rim. Lets not act like that Cavs team wasn’t defensively formidable and would’ve been better having a lockdown defender with Jordan being there. LeBron isn’t a lockdown defender to me. You disagree? I have a few names: Jason Terry, Kawhi Leonard, Derrick Rose (before injury), Stephen Curry.

I can see Prime Jordan at least continuing to slow down Curry. May not stop him but he’d have a higher chance of doing so. Let’s also not forget how different the rules are nowadays. Jordan would literally rule at the line and would easily put up 50 points. He almost effortlessly could reach 40 points. He was already the focal point of the offense so why would his style thrive in this situation? I see Jordan scoring in places where LeBron would pass. I see Jordan scoring on Iguodala with no problem. Iguodala still had happy feet, it’s just that LeBron could not convert on many of his jumpers. He’s also not comfortable trying to force the issue, Jordan also thrives in this area well. When his teammates became spotty scorers, he would’ve taken over instead of putting his head down and accepting defeat. I see LeBron accept defeat before and he also did so in game 6. I can’t see the assassin in Jordan just relent. I don’t see that happening.

We can argue FG %, we can argue 3pt %, we can argue FT %, we can argue assist ratios, fact of the matter is that Jordan always elevates his game and rises to the occasion and puts teams dreams on hold. He always did. 6 for 6 in the Finals explains enough.

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Would LeBron have made this shot?

An Unstoppable Play: Teamwork

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By: Opinionated MJ

Much is to be said about playing the game the right way. A few teams have actually won this way and of course all the championship teams would say they played the right way. So what defines your own definition of what “playing the right way” is? There are a few head coaches who preach this and some of them had success. Names like Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Rick Carlisle, and Doc Rivers, they all follow the mantra of playing the right way. Although there’s an unspoken element in all of this.

No one talks about having veterans in place and hungry youth all at the same time in order to push beyond boundaries and limits teams thought were placed on themselves. The Golden State Warriors had this element, the Miami Heat had this element, and the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers can also be thrown into this fray. For the love, my 2004 Pistons are also a “play right” team.

Now speaking of these veterans, we have the Boston big 3 with older veterans behind them and with young Rondo hungry to win. Young LeBron and Bosh leaned on Dwayne Wade’s experience and the veterans Shane Battier, Ray Allen, and Chris Anderson in place. During Kobe’s fourth run with his Lakers, he had Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher as those who were experienced, with a young Trevor Ariza. The mighty Spurs of course had their own big 3 at the helm full of experience in Duncan, Parker and Ginobli, with more experience in Diaw and with youth in Kawhi, Green, and Mills. The Champion Warriors have Curry, Thompson and Green with vets Iguodala, Bogut, Lee and Barbosa isn’t exactly too old but he’s battle tested. Lastly, my 2004 Pistons had hunger and youth in Prince and Hamilton, and had loads of experience with Rasheed and Chauncey. Plus you had to fear the fro! Big Ben Wallace!

On the surface, these teams all had two things in common: great coaching and teamwork. It gets no better than the Spurs and Warriors who put together remarkable runs built on ball movement, spacing, and defense. The Spurs single-handedly put together some of the best team basketball seen since the beginning if basketball itself. I’m too young to have seen but research had led me to understand that basketball wasn’t so much of an individual sport as it can be now, at times. It was about sharing the ball and creating an advantage by player movement and moving the ball constantly until you found the open man.

This should serve as a PSA for the current and future stars who think the buck stops with them. It just doesn’t. Although having a superstar never hurts.

Foresight: L.A. Kings

By: Opinionated MJ

Today I had a hunch after seeing that the Roy Hibbert trade was made official. Take careful note of what I’m saying here, remember where you heard it first. July 10th, 2015 at 11:31pm Eastern Time as I write this. Ha! The Lakers only gave up a 2nd round pick while also getting Roy Hibbert to agree to waiving his trade kicker which leaves the Lakers with money. I also paid special attention to the Lou Williams signing, the Brandon Bass signing, the Larry Nance sighting (yeah I watched the Lakers 5 on 5) and the fact that the Lakers still have Nick Young. I thought about the Sacramento Kings and wondered why do they have so many centers on their roster. Cousins, Cauley-Stein, Arturas Gudaitis, Kosta Koufos, and they are also entertaining the idea of Sim Bhullar. Karl also likes Javale McGee. 5 centers to be exact. This also stemmed from a conversation I had with a friend about the George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo triangle. Knowing that Rondo & Cousins will either get along very well or won’t get along at all. Rondo will probably get along with Karl because Karl likes point guards. Then again, Rondo’s attitude may also prove to be problematic for him too. Which leaves me wondering why would they build a nuclear bomb to only shoot it directly up and target it to fall directly where it came from.

This is going to blow up. I don’t see it any other way. I don’t see DeMarcus actually trying to be buddies with George Karl after what happened. It’s quiet now. I believe that quiet is only attributed to the learning process the new front office is going through. Vlade Divac doesn’t see eye to eye with Karl on this matter. Excuse me Jalen, Bill, but Boogie doesn’t trust the Kings as an organization. So with all of this pretty much up in the air, there’s only one solution: See what this team can do from opening day through the trade deadline and make a move for the future of the franchise. By then they will know whether they are retaining Rondo. They will know whether Karl will have truly been right or wrong, and I believe they want to fire him BUT they don’t and they won’t. How would it look to hire a coach and not get anything out of him? They’re going to get their money’s worth. Rondo is on a 1 year deal. You have a lot of new faces at the center position incoming and this could ultimately spell the end of the Cousins Era in Sacramento.

Here’s where it gets tricky. What would you expect in return for your center? A center to replace him right? Well exactly. Enter, again, the Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve shored up their 4 position for ultimate decision: trading Randle. Adding Bass, Williams, drafting Nance, and keeping Nick Young throughout this time, and in the now-term according to Mitch Kupchak, only sets them up to have the assets to pull this deal off. George Karl honestly wants coachable players, so Rondo is the scapegoat in this one. They may even try to find a way to pit Rondo against Cousins and side with Rondo to find a reason outside of themselves being the blame for trading away Cousins, once they do. This will also be the action speaking pitch to Rondo to stay on board and that they keys to the franchise belong to him, at least throughout this time. The Lakers have the contract to match with Roy Hibbert, the assets to woo them with Nick and Julius and the Kings have the available big men to shuffle around once Cousins is gone, not to mention they’ll end up with Hibbert.

The Lakers are smart, or maybe it’s just me, but lets take a look at what I’ve come across:

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This is the trade that I assume will be proposed, give or take a few draft picks, although in the trade machine it doesn’t work because they’re trying to spread the Jason Terry exception across both Nick Young and Julius Randle. Thats where you take another gander here:

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We end up having to use every exception the Kings have but why wouldn’t they when Roy Hibbert has an expiring contract along with Rondo’s contract? There’s more than $25 millions soon to come off the books. The trade exceptions they hold is less than half of what they could possibly have free to lure free agents who could end up playing With Rondo & Rudy or taking over altogether. Here were my successes although they were not the complete trade:

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and of course this one here:

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If you are a GM in the league, what deal do you think the Kings will get that is better than what the Lakers may be willing to give up? There’s maybe only a #1 pick that they could receive from elsewhere that would be potentially better but that could take anywhere from 2-5 years of player development to reach where they want to be: contention. Plus there are rumors that teams do not want to deal with DeMarcus Cousins but the Lakers are NOT one of those teams. They are willing to take the risk. Why not? They took the risk for Dwight Howard and he left as soon as he could while they were practically on their knees begging him to stay.

The Kings have been trash since C-Webb and Company left them and the entire run was over. They have to find a way back to relevance or they wasted their time fighting to keep the team in Sacramento. They will have successfully failed their fanbase. So why not shoot themselves in the arm with a steriod to jumpstart another possible rebuild period by trading Cousins to the Lakers, freeing up cap in the very near future, having veterans on board in Rondo and Rudy, bringing in Hibbert who is a good rim protector and seeking to retain him, and having to only fill in the blanks? No one wants to start from Stage 1 Rebuilding in the Western Conference. You will not have the same luck the Celtics have. This isn’t the “Least-ern” Conference.

Have fun with the ESPN NBA Trade Machine yourself.

Inside In

San Antonio Spurs players Tim Duncan (21) holds his MVP trophy while teammate David Robinson (50) holds the championship trophy after the Spurs beat the New Jersey Nets 88-77 to win the NBA Championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio, June 15, 2003. The sports year in Texas got off to a rousing start with Bill Parcells saying on Jan. 1 that he had agreed to coach the Dallas Cowboys and soon after, the San Antonio Spurs gave David Robinson the ultimate reitrement present, an NBA title. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file)

By: Opinionated MJ

With LaMarcus Aldridge agreeing to join San Antonio, the Spurs look primed to bring a certain style back to the game that has definitely been endangered. The league has been pushing fastball and the Golden State Warriors fit that model. They’ve done away with voting for “true” centers on the All-Star ballot and now we’re using the term “3 & D” and the important “stretch 4” to describe players that should be playing the power forward position. We’re playing two shooting guards, two small forwards, and a “big”. Let me explain that the easy way: Steph, Klay, Barnes, Iggy, Green as a starting 5. Basically two shooting guards and nearly three small forwards. How many “true centers” do we have there? None. League wide? Cousins, Hibbert, Gasol (Marc), Drummond, Howard, Bogut? Okay, we have more than I thought and I could name more, I think. We’re going to see something like a David Robinson and Tim Duncan frontcourt this upcoming season with Aldridge on board. It’s already July so only three months before we get back into the game on the daily.

Be prepared to be reminded of what the 90’s and early 2000’s basketball looked like, offensively, especially if the Spurs plan on winning a championship as constructed. I don’t think they can get it done without adding at least another shooter or two, and one that can slash. I’ll be direct, they need to replace Bellineli. Period. He made it where Ginobli didn’t need to be as important against other teams when the postseason arrived. Ginobli served as icing on the cake. The only way they can survive as constructed is if they move their plan of attack (and I always compare them to the 2014 Championship Spurs) under the three-point line a bit more. With Aldridge, Duncan, and West, they can play in the mid-post area. The same area Michael Jordan acquired rings from. This of course also allows Duncan to rest even more definitively with West added. He should never play more than 28-30 minutes a game with them both being added to this team. Tiago Splitter was decent but he misses a lot of close shots that could tip the scale of a game. I’m talking easy lay-ups. Aldridge won’t miss those. West is more reliable in that area as well. I expect them to outrebound and outscore opponents in the paint EVERY NIGHT! Same way I expected the Big 3 Miami Heat to win championships, no less. The Spurs sure have a way of deflating current champions when they don’t occupy that spot themselves.

Outside of the Spurs, they only have 4 threats depending on how Free Agency boils down. The Warriors, Thunder, Cavs, and the Clippers IF they can retain DeAndre Jordan. Don’t forget they’ve acquired Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce. As I write this, the Clippers representatives are at his home and not allowing any reps from the Mavericks to enter his home. Reports say that they will stay there until he re-signs with them. Smart move huh? How can you get kidnapped at your own home? Crazy stuff. Anyhow, the Spurs should be able to outlast just about anyone in the coaching department, but you can’t coach how to stop Steph from pulling up in your face from distance and making it unless you employ a fierce trap defense which will leave you with holes. I am one who believes that the Warriors were NOT at full strength in the Finals. Say what you will but didn’t Klay only score 6 points in the last game? Didn’t Steph only wake up at the end of game 3? Draymond didn’t get acclimated until game 3. Adjustments weren’t made until after game 3. I also don’t think the Clippers had the depth to win this year. I’m still shocked they allowed a comeback from 3-1. So atrocious. You know they cried in the car after that.

The dark-horse in all of this is the OKC Thunder who, when healthy, have the Spurs number. Keep Enes Kanter to go with Ibaka and Adams. Slim Reaper returning from injury with Russell Westbrook who could carry a team to the #3 seed in the east? PROBLEMS! They too, need to acquire RELIABLE shooters. They have my boy Kyle Singler who they acquired from my Pistons but they traded Jeremy Lamb away. Who on that team can shoot besides Durant? Russell? I don’t want to see Ibaka shooting long 2’s and 3 pointers when he has Durant to do that for him. They have to acquire someone who will make a difference. I wont sleep on McGary either. Do I really have to speak on Cleveland? Simple. They have LeBron James.

This league is a guard’s league right now. It seemingly has always been. Nothing works without a decent point guard in place either. Now, we’re requiring every position to have skills like guards instead of serving their very own purposes. I mean, LeBron played the 4 & 5 during the playoffs. Handled the ball, setup the team, set the pace, controlled the game. He did it all. So thinking there’s an easy way to get past Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley, there isn’t. Anthony Davis is also on the prowl. If Jrue Holiday can stay healthy, you can add him to that list along with the Pelicans. The Rockets could be a threat but they can’t let go of too much depth. I’m also believing that the Kings with Rajon Rondo will be a problem if they can get Cousins and Karl to mend their differences (I truly don’t know about that though) and if they let Rondo dominate the ball and his teammates be happy with that decision. Imagine if Phil Jackson could coach the Kings… Now wake up!

The western conference remains stacked and we could analyze what each team could do to beat the Spurs. Simply said, the Spurs can’t be handed the title while they have a little less depth in the backcourt and still no assurance that Parker and Ginobli will be healthy. If Tony Parker is down and out, you can French kiss that ring goodbye.

Un-Common Ground

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks and Kobe Bryant (from www.newsday.com)
(from http://www.newsday.com)

By: Opinionated MJ

Regarded as the biggest two markets in the NBA, these two teams find themselves struggling to maintain an identity although they possess two of the games biggest names. The Lakers and Knicks find themselves stuck while the rest of the NBA acquires big names and stars elsewhere. Prior to the latest CBA, would those players have actually made themselves available to the smaller markets? I guess this is a win for David Stern who pushed to make the league more marketable from top to bottom, and Stern who also may have single-handedly put the Lakers in the situation they’re currently in. At this point though, that’s water under the bridge.

Looking at some of the players both teams have acquired, you can blatantly see desperation. Once you take off the “hate” glasses and allow these teams to soak in their own messy situations, you can see that they still are actually trying to be as competitive as possible. What more could you ask for? Lakers miss out on LaMarcus Aldridge and they go after Roy Hibbert. When was the last time they actually had a defensive center? Bynum? That’s not a bad look to me. Low risk, high pay, high reward. What’s better, Robert Sacre? I’m not too sold on the Lou Williams deal, but then again, his deal will be a bargain in the long run and he’s already acclimated to coming off of the bench. Not too big of an ego I’d guess. I’d think if his ego was inflating, it was satisfied by simply becoming a Laker. They’ve also acquired Brandon Bass who is a hard worker. Who’s better? Was Boozer better? Maybe offensively. So why not?

Everyone loves to kick the Laker dog while it’s down, which is usually never. Not the way it is right now. This is the worse. They’ve hit bottom as of this past season and can only go up from here. I’m a longtime Kobe fan/supporter but I am ready for him to ride off and pass the torch myself. Friends question my status as a true Kobe fan when I say that amongst them. I guess the front office still wants to help Kobe believe he’s going to be able to compete in the playoffs, for championships specifically, and to help satisfy his eventual retirement. Maybe this will help fulfill his drive or whatever is pushing him to continue. Maybe just to be professional and fulfill his contractual obligations. Who wouldn’t at the tune of $25 million? I’ll ease off the Lakers by asking them to let D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle start, play huge minutes, and hopefully develop into something like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Far-fetched? I’ll touch on this in another story down the line.

Now, the New York Knicks! NEW YORK, NEW YORK! Let me start by saying that I also am a Carmelo Anthony fan/supporter. I guess I love some volume shooters, eh? The more, the bigger the individual score, the merrier! Damn Carmelo has got to be thinking about his decision to stay in NYC turned out bogus, at least in the short-term. He would’ve competed for a championship with the Chicago Bulls or Houston Rockets. I prefer he had gone to Chicago. I mean, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah?!?!?!?!!??

kanyeshrug

The Knicks are also trying to make some moves. I actually expected Phil to go after Roy Hibbert. Guess he told Jeanie about his intentions a little too soon! At least they acquired Arron Afflalo which should serve as a replacement for losing Iman Shumpert. I do NOT understand WHY they traded Tim Hardaway Jr. If he was still apart of this team as it’s being constructed, I could actually see them trying to compete.. for an 8th spot in the East. Isn’t that good enough? Why not see LeBron in the first round? Develop your team that way, through disappointment. Let them know what it feels like to go against a juggernaut. Learn, improve next summer, add to the team, come back with everybody knowing what it’s about. Throw them to the wolves! Let me pose my first question… What is Derrick Williams going to do for this team, in thee (yes, “thee”) triangle offense, and with Calderon potentially still starting? Why not start Jerian Grant? He’s a Grant for godssake! Coveted by Phil Jackson himself. Or, wait! Maybe it’s another move to coddle to the people he’s fond of. I thought when Phil arrived to NY that he’d bring Fisher, Shaw, Clemons, and everybody he’d been associated with. I definitely didn’t see Derek Fisher as a fit for coach. Second question, would Derek Fisher have led Golden State to a championship? Meh. The Robin Lopez move, to me, was made to lure Aldridge and ended in an epic FAIL! At least they acquired a big man who can defend and rebound. Let’s not talk about Kyle O’Quinn. He averages 5.8ppg, 3.9rpg, and 1.2apg. Those numbers may fall with Melo on his team. No disrespect to my boy but he truly IS a ball-stopper. Deservedly so considering he will have only Afflalo as a decent weapon. I hope the Knicks aren’t done dealing because they need another scorer. Maybe they should request Nick Young from the Lakers who they oddly share NBA dungeon space with.

Hold on to hope cause there’s light at the end of the tunnel for both teams. They have to trust in their youth (yes Knick fans, even Kristaps Porzingis), let them all soak up as much experience and knowledge as they can early, and hopefully resemble cohesion by the time mid-January rolls around. The Lakers have much more upside in their youth, especially with Clarkson having a season under his belt running the show. He should be the example of my “throw them to the wolves” theory. They can only get better. No one wants to constantly embarrass themselves every night on the biggest stages. If someone told you that you had to do the Apollo or audition in Hollywood studio every night for 9 months, you’d get better. I don’t see it any other way. Unless you’re stuck behind the curtain.

An Unstoppable Play: Health

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) topples over Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs, Monday, May 25, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) topples over Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs, Monday, May 25, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

By: Opinionated MJ

Let us start by congratulating the Golden State Warriors for having a clean bill of health during their 2014-15 NBA Championship run! Now let’s have a discussion about why it didn’t seem to matter when they won. Seems like the media wanted LeBron to win this ‘chip only to have attempted to vault him beyond the great Michael Jordan, although, with him losing (but further solidifying his legacy) he simply “needed more help” and was seriously considered for Finals MVP honors. Had he won this title, he would be the most heralded man on this planet right now with total disregard to those who “helped” him get to this point. Yes, with Kyrie & Kevin available it would’ve been a different series. Yes, with Andy available it would’ve been different in the post and in P&R situations. Yes, with health everything is different. One problem: “it’s apart of the game.”

We’ve gone away from the days where fighting through small injuries are the norm and we’ve arrived at a place where we have NBA stars angling to eliminate the 82 game schedule. The grind of the season is a problem but if these same injuries are happening during the offseason, the preseason, and early on in the regular season, how can we truly make a big deal about it in the playoffs? What if the players themselves have been injury-prone over the last few years? Has anyone actually ignored Kyrie’s health since college? Everyone believes that Derrick Rose being healthy over the last 2-3 years would’ve resulted in a Championship for the Chicago Bulls. Sure. There is no guarantee of that actually happening. The Warriors beat up a beat up Cavaliers team. Cavalier fans are quick to note this, but lets hone in on Cleveland’s very own LeBron James.

Let me first add the statement I keep hearing: “Steph Curry played injured guards throughout the playoffs. Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Patrick Beverly, and Kyrie Irving.” Grueling truth, although every one except Patrick Beverly at least played one game. Still, it’s apart of the game and may just also be Steph’s luck on the year. At least he fell directly on his head en route to a title and Klay Thompson was on the receiving end of a knee that looked like something from Triple H of the WWE and later suffered a concussion. Didn’t know you needed to raise your knee to block a shot! Now back to the breakdown. During LeBron’s title run of the 2011-12 season, there were injuries to Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, Paul Pierce (although he played through it), Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah (and they were defeated in the first round against the 76ers). That’s only from the Eastern Conference and I only included the Bulls injuries cause they were considered a threat. So LeBron, Wade & Bosh made it past the Celtics and won the title after defeating the OKC Thunder. During the title run of 2012-13, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, are the notables and lets also throw Wade in there. Those are the two championship runs.

Now lets fast forward to this years playoff picture. The Cavaliers suffered an injury to Kevin Love in the first round, the Celtics own Jared Sullinger returned but was visibly out of shape and not playing near the best we’ve seen from him. Further along they played the Bulls who had injuries to Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. Derrick Rose had returned just before season’s end and Jimmy Butler was back some time before then. They had no time to truly gel. Forget the excuses. Still pros getting paid big money, right? Atlanta was decimated in every sense of the word. They lost Sefolosha to the NYPD (damn shame), their lock on shooter Kyle Korver, and were fighting for their lives with Carroll, Milsap, and Horford all hobbled. With Kevin Love out and Kyrie hobbled the Cavaliers still went 12-2 throughout the eastern conference with one of the losses coming from a Derrick Rose 3 point prayer that his haters expects him to miss every time. Let me say it how the analysts would, “the Cavs COULD’VE been 13-1 through all this right now!”

They destroyed all the other teams ahead of them and then met the surprisingly healthy Golden State Warriors. They’ve been hit with injuries over the years to Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Brandon Rush, and so on. Reaching a higher potential, being healthy, and dominating the NBA this year, having what everyone calls a “Dream Season” just may have been destiny. A lot of teams go through the ringer before they come full circle. That’s why having 82 games in a season matters. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The Cavs still gave the Warriors what they had and one can only imagine if they actually were fully healthy. I’m one that believes that the Warriors were destined to win this year. They’ve adjusted to every team they faced in the playoffs, so why wouldn’t they have been able to adjust to the Cavs? My thinking was, if the Bulls pumped out 2 wins, why couldn’t the Warriors? Stephen Curry was playing better than Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson was playing better than Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green was in his own world, Andre Iguodala was the apparent LeBron stopper, and the Warriors bench was the cleanup crew.

Respect to LeBron for trying to will his team through a 7-8 man rotation. He’s definitely a champion and the scary part is he can still improve upon a few things that would only make him a terror. I’d like to see him bring a title to Cleveland and be the hometown hero and add the cement to his legacy. We’ve also got to give credit where it is due and congratulate the Warriors for winning this championship regardless of how it was won. Everybody plays teams that aren’t at full strength once the playoffs arrive. Give credit to the adjustments, the sacrifices, and the hard work that these men put in. They put their egos aside and everyone resigned to the fact that Steph would carry them where they needed to go and they would be there to pick up the leftovers. Chef Curry could’ve always simply dropped the pot on his ankle and been out for huge portions of the season once again and left them hungry for success with another lottery ticket.

 

Very Opinionated

By: Opinionated MJ

Welcome, enjoy as the opinions flow in. This is the Opinionated Basketball Minds blog. Site for opinionated basketball minds to unite and have a voice. The site will be booming during the regular season. I will also put time into it during the off-season. Only thing I want to introduce you all to is that I’m a lover of basketball. If you share the same passion, enjoy and participate. Thank you! I plan on making this a big place from its small corner. Witness growth.