NBA Roundtable: Dec 9th Edition

Welcome to the NBA Roundtable!

Each week we will answer the hot topics in the NBA,talking do You believe in Portland, Coach Kidd, time to dump Deng, Melo leaving the Big Apple and LeBron!

This week we have Bill Golamb, EJ, Joao, and DJ taking a break from his onemanfastbreak duties to join us. If you have Questions, post them in the comments!

1. Are you a believer in Portland?

Plenty of room on the bandwagon!
Plenty of room on the bandwagon!

Bill: I’m not entirely sold on them being able to sustain their record nor do I have any confidence in them being able to continue piling on wins as the season progresses. They’re an odd bunch in that they’ve been highly competitive against some of the top flight teams (GSW, CHI, DEN, SAS, IND, OKC), but they’ve also lost twice to a PHX team that many suspected would be in contention for the league’s worst record. POR has a solid core of key players, but I don’t think their bench goes as deep as it should and that will definitely become a problem as the playoffs get closer. You can only ride your starters so hard during the season, and mercy help them if someone goes down and out. That, and there’s an awful lot of parity near the top of the conference that makes for tough competition.

EJ: After seeing the Blazers beatdown the Nets in person, I left the arena believing in the team. The Blazers are really good. Lillard and Aldridge are playing like All-Stars, and Wesley Matthews is finally playing up to his contract. Now, if the Blazers can pry Omer Asik out of Houston then this team can really be a contender in the West.

Joao: Am I believer in them winning the West? No, I am not. But am I a believer in them – if healthy throughout the season – landing home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs? Yes. Currently at 16-3 they have shown enough firepower to be a top 4 team in the West, especially when you look at the Warriors’ defensive shortcomings, the Rockets’ lack of consistency and Memphis also being somewhat of a letdown, even if we consider that Marc Gasol has been inactive.

The Blazers have been very good and they have already beaten some top flight opponents, in the Spurs, Pacers, Thunder and Warriors. LaMarcus Aldridge is putting up monster numbers and, if he can maintain his level of play, then he should be included in MVP discussions (a bit too early, I know). Damian Lillard is having a terrific sophomore season thus far and then you have Batum and Wesley Matthews as the other two important pieces.
So why won’t win the West? Because the Spurs, Thunder and Clippers have more depth and experience. But if the Blazers can continue to develop their current core of players, they might be a tough opponent for just about everyone in the playoffs, they may even go on an extended playoff run. And almost no analyst outside of Oregon had seen this coming.
DJ: In short, no. They are off to a very nice start and they have a really good starting lineup but their bench is still kind of weak. The only good players they have there are Mo Williams and Dorrell Wright.

2. Do you think ‘Melo could leave NY?Melo

Bill: Could he? Sure. Do I expect him to? Nope. Melo hasn’t shown any kind of genuine leadership during his tenure with the Knicks despite burning bridges and tarnishing his reputation in order to get there. I can understand his frustration with how the season has gone to this point, but I doubt it will continue to be this bad unless the Knicks are trying to get increase their odds of a higher pick in what has become one of the most anticipated draft classes since ’84 which was, considered by many, to be the best draft ever. While I’m not willing to go so far as to label them tankers, I will label them as early failures and place them atop the list of over hyped teams.

EJ: Do I think Carmelo will leave? My Magic 8Ball says too soon to tell. The Knicks can offer more money, and a spotlight that’s all his own, but I do believe Carmelo would be better served with playing with an All-Star in his prime. That’s why I believe that if he does leave New York he needs to find his way to the Clippers or the Rockets. Playing with Chris Paul or Dwight Howard could bring him a lot closer to a ring then he would by being the man in New York or playing with a fading Kobe Bryant with the Lakers.

Joao: Absolutely. Whenever your star player comes out and says “We are the laughingstock of the league right now” you know you’re in trouble. Currently at 4-13, second to last in the not so formidable East, the Knicks have been digging a deep hole for themselves. And this was a team that was supposed to give Miami fits this season. The Knicks are crumbling fast and there are no easy solutions to implement (firing Mike isn’t going to help, in my opinion). So yes, somewhere along the way, Carmelo, with two years left in his contract, may ask to be traded elsewhere. And that is something that opens a lot of interesting scenarios.

DJ: Of course, he could. Especially, if the Knicks continue to lose games (and I won’t get drawn into where, July 1st is a long way off). I don’t think Melo is the kind of player who is at the stage where he just wants his cash. I think he sees what LeBron, Bosh and Wade are doing in Miami and wants to win AND get paid. People can bring up the fact he hasn’t won much in his career…..but neither did LeBron till he went to South Beach.

So, could he? Sure. But….will he? I honestly don’t know.

3. Lebron is down from 8rpg to 5.8. Is this a cause for concern?130620102150-lebron-james-drives-on-tim-duncan-062013.home-t3

Bill: No. His production will increase as the season goes on. LeBron is about as steady a producer as they come. The far bigger concern is the team’s rebounding. MIA currently ranks an absolutely dismal 30th in the league for rebounds per game. Despite James’s outstanding abilities on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, he simply can’t do everything. Again, I expect his rebounding figures to come up by season’s end, but it’s hard to say if they’ll end up around 8 rpg.

EJ: Honestly? No. As long as the Heat are winning, I don’t think LeBron gives a damn about his rebound numbers being lower. He shouldn’t care anyway. All LeBron should be focused on is winning.

Joao: Heat fans, no reason to panic. So LeBron’s numbers have gone somewhat down from last season (and that’s not only rebounds, it’s also scoring and assists, while turnovers have gone up) and Dwyane Wade’s knees are a concern going forward, while the Pacers sit atop the East right now. Things have been so dysmal for Eastern Conference teams thus far that the conference really seems to be heading into yet another showdown between the Heat and the Pacers, after last season’s thrilling 7-game series. But I do believe the Heat are still the team to beat and that they have simply been pacing themselves. LeBron’s minutes per game are down a little bit and they are just trying to stay healthy for when it matters. They will be fine, James is still the best player in the world.

DJ: He’s playing power forward so no. He’s matching up against bigger players and his rebounding numbers are taking a hit but I don’t think it’s too serious.

4. Will Jason Kidd make the season?Kidd Drink

Bill: This one is a crap shoot, but I’m going to side with yes. I think they’ve got plenty invested in him and seeing that Lawrence Frank was recently dismissed from his assistant coaching duties, they’re going all-in with Kidd. I don’t necessarily believe it to be the smart move, but it speaks to Prokhorov’s trust in him. If he can’t make it work, the Nets will invariably be searching for another head coach or even go so far as to potentially bringing Frank back to the bench so long as he’s still a part of the organization. I’d be interested to see if Frank would be willing to accept another run at it seeing how things have turned out. Then again, money has a way of changing hearts and minds.

EJ: I suspect he will but he shouldn’t. As a Brooklynite, and someone who watches a lot of Nets games, he isn’t ready for this. The owner of the Nets invested a lot in Kidd so pulling the plug on him would be an admission of defeat, so they will likely give him every opportunity to succeed. However, if Mikhail Prokharov can come up with a way for Kidd to step aside gracefully then he needs to pursue that.

Joao: Currently at 5-14 he is definitely on the hot seat. The only reason why there aren’t more people pointing their fingers at the Nets right now is because the Knicks have been even worse. A rookie coach, a lot of veteran players and health issues have been an implosive mix for the outfit from Brooklyn. I don’t think Nets’ management will pull the trigger before the All-Star break, but you never know. The Nets have so much talent that it is not even funny to mock them; the Atlantic division is, like the Knicks, the laughingstock of the league, and I really do believe there is no other direction for the Nets to go but up. But I do not think Jason Kidd is still the Nets’ coach by the end of the season, and that’s a terrible way for a future hall of fame player to start his coaching career.

DJ: EJ and I were recently texting about this and the Nets have a lot invested in Kidd. So, he should….unless something breaks about him beating on another female.

Houston is that-a-way
Houston is that-a-way

5. Should the Bulls move Deng or wait on Rose . . . again?

Bill: I don’t see them moving Deng unless they can get a significantly better return on him from another team or teams should it take a larger deal to make something worthwhile happen. Deng is a solid player and can definitely help stretch the floor with his shooting and athleticism, but how much of that does he have left? CHI has too much at stake with Rose being out again, so I think they’ll stand firm. Only if something too good to pass up comes across their bow do I see Deng playing elsewhere and if so, it’ll likely be somewhere in the Western Conference.

EJ: It’s time to move Deng and it’s time to amnesty Boozer in the offseason. The Bulls need to rebuild and in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with blowing this up, finishing in the lottery, and praying to the NBA gods, that Chi-town native Jabari Parker falls in their lap. A rebuilding Bulls with Rose and Parker would be a real good look. Even if the Bulls aren’t that lucky, blowing it up and going younger wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Joao: I am no doctor but I do believe Derrick Rose will never be the same player again, he will never return to his MVP days, and that is a terrible shame and waste of talent. You miss a full season, come back but look tentative out there, and then you are out for the remainder of this season; it is just too much for one to expect a full comeback.

So, if you are sitting in the Bulls’ head office, what exactly do you do? On one hand you know that the 2014 draft will be one of the deepest in recent years; on the other hand, you also know that, after Miami and Indiana, you have a chance to be the third best team in the East, even without Derrick Rose. The thing is that Luol Deng might walk at the end of the season and you get nothing in return, so the savvy thing to do here, in my opinion, is to quietly place him on the trading block and see what happens, listen to interesting proposals. Several teams are bound to be interested in Deng’s services and the Bulls then guarantee something in return, if possible a mix of players and draft picks.
DJ: Keep him. There isn’t much out there next summer that they can add to improve their team and he’s absolutely playing like a man possessed right now. He’s averaging a career-high 19.4 points per game and 4.2 assists per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds per game. He and Carlos Boozer are the Bulls offense right now and are capable of getting them into the playoffs and a tough matchup for any team.

If Rose is never the same player….they have a backup plan in Deng. He’s an underrated scorer and a good defender. Keep Deng and Amnesty Boozer if they want to cut loose a player.

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  1. Houston should consider it. Don’t think Deng would be the preferred option as a stretch 4, but if nothing else is out there . . . why not?

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