NBA Roundtable: 3/11 Edition


Welcome to the NBA Roundtable! This weeks questions deal with the Great Philbo chances of resurrecting the Knicks, D’Antoni and Woodson’s future, the Playoff picture and do you believe in the Rocketmen?


1. What impact do you think Phil Jackson will have on the New York Knicks?Phil Jackson Knicks

Zach: I actually think Jackson will have more of an impact than Pat Riley did for the Heat. Barring all formalities, Jackson should be given the green light to demo this team and start anew. Like Riley of Miami, Larry Bird in Indy, and Flip Saunders of Minnesota, it’s becoming more and more of a common trait for old, burnt out coaches to take to the front office and continue to contribute in a different role. Jackson, THE greatest coach the NBA has ever seen, will definitely be a person to break the mold on a new, re-defined Knicks squad. I mean he really has a chance to make this Knicks team great again. The question is; will it be around Carmelo Anthony?

Bill: Given his reputation alone, I think his presence as part of the front office will give the fans something to believe in and when it comes to turning the team around. Jackson was an integral part in both the six-time champ Chicago Bulls and the five time champ LA Lakers, and having that pedigree will carry more weight than any other single person out there if the Knicks truly mean business and hope to compete. It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson is sort of a “home town” boy in that he was originally drafted by the Knicks. There’s little doubt that fact plays a part in his desire to change the fortune of the team that believed in him once, even if it was 46+ years ago.

DJ: Stephen A Smith recently said it’s no lock for Phil to take the Knicks job and I agree. New York is a good distance from the West Coast and Phil could be a candidate for the Kings or another team on the WC. Not sure if I agree with Smith on the Clippers because Phil is not a fan of Sterling. However, I think he’d be perfect in Gotham (if Dolan stayed out of his way, no sure thing there) considering he played for the franchise and he might consider letting Melo walk as a free agent and just look forward to their draft pick in 2015 and all the cap space they’ll have available to woo potential free agents. Plus, as most people know NY is the Mecca of hoops. I don’t know what the likelihood of Jackson committing to NY and being so far away from Jeannie Buss. That could be a huge deal breaker for Phil.

EJ: Here we go again. Once again James Dolan thinks he’s found the savior of the Knicks. If Isiah Thomas, Donnie Walsh, Larry Brown, Amare Stoudemire, and Carmelo Anthony fail, keep trying until you eventually succeed. Right? As the lone New Yorker on the panel, forgive me if I’ve cynical because I’ve seen this act play out before. Since the Knicks made the 1999 NBA Finals, this franchise has only advanced past the 1st round of the playoffs: one time. In those 14 seasons there have been some terrible 20 and 30 win teams. So, do I think Phil Jackson will fare any better? No. I don’t think he takes the job, and even if he does, his health issues and Dolan’s eventual interfering will make this a short stay for Mr. Jackson.

David: Has Phil Jackson ever BUILT anything? Just wondering. The man does one thing and one thing only. He takes Great and makes them legendary. This would be like taking Liam Neeson’s character from Taken and having him tend bar. Can he do it? Sure. Would be be good at it? Why not? But why would you? You put Rondo, Kevin Love on this team with a healthy Chandler and Jackson could make Carmelo a Hall of Famer. But now? JACKSON CANNOT COACH. He can’t get on the planes and endure the beatings- unless he can coach via skype, we have problems.

2. Is Mike D’Antoni’s time up out west? With two failed squads, is Mike’s “Fast Break” offense a thing of the past?Mike D'Antoni

Zach: The Lakers do not want to look like fools for passing on Jackson, so I think to cover their tracks, Mike D will be given one more season. This season, being the wash that it was, didn’t solve anything. Nash hasn’t panned out in L.A., Howard left (not that he could run the floor anyway), and Kobe is nearing the end. Is it the end of MD in L.A.? Not exactly. Is it the end of the “Fast Break” offense? In a sense, it just shows you have to have the right guys to run it. Just remember, the Lakers were below .500 the season after they traded Shaq, only to make a deadline deal for Pau Gasol. After that it was like overnight that the Lakers were back. Just relax, Laker fans. The next big thing is yet to come for L.A.. Until then, have faith in Mike and the gang. There’s not really much else you can do.

Bill: I would have to say no, but the clock is certainly ticking much faster than it was when he started. To be honest, even with Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were never designed to be purely an offensive juggernaut as the Phoenix Suns were back when D’Antoni was at their helm. The Suns were built around a core of solid all-star players in their primes, whereas this Lakers team is filled with players who can barely manage to stay on the court let alone run up and back all night. Beset by injuries for the majority of the season, it’s not really fair to so harshly judge D’Antoni’s job with the players he’s had at his disposal. A coach is there to rally the troops, but it’s hard to rally when you’re working with injuries and players that are castoffs from other teams where they couldn’t make the cut. The Lakers are one of the proudest of franchises and seeing them perform at this level is hard to watch. If, however, D’Antoni is not able to right the ship and have the team compete by mid season of next year, I fully expect that we will have seen him coach his last NBA game.

DJ: Reportedly, he’s safe. But, we all know how well votes of confidence are, they are usually the kiss of death for a coach. The team has actually competed well this season, despite being snakebitten when it comes to injuries. And injuries are a huge reason for this horrible season, you have to believe they’d be drastically better with a healthy Kobe and the rest of the players that helped them achieve a 13-13 record earlier this season. They have missed the most games due to injuries, but the youngsters play hard. They have recently defeated Portland and Oklahoma City and even in losses, generally play hard.

So, if he is fired…..I think he’ll take a year off and maybe consider the college game. His offense would be very much like Paul Westhead at Loyola Marymount and be a big hit in the NCAA. I think he’d be better suited to the college game.

EJ: The Lakers are a bad team and one look at their roster ought to confirm that this 22-42 season of theirs is no fluke. Do I blame D’Antoni? No. Not really. For the most part the Lakers have been competitive this season. Outside of the beatdowns the Clippers have put on them this season, the Lakers have hung tough but ultimately lost to some good teams. Does this mean that Mike should be given another full season with the Lakers? No. I’d bring him back for next season but if they are faltering by early January 2015 I’d look to can him. As far as his offense? I don’t think it’s a thing of the past but in order to run it he needed what he had in Phoenix. A younger and healthier Nash, and excellent athletes.

David: It’s an issue of talent. D’Antoni would have been fine with the Clippers- I think he might be a better fit there than Doc Rivers, but it all starts with a point guard, and Ray Felton is no Nash, but you also need a good passing team with a mobile good center. How many of those have ever been on the Lakers Roster since Divac?

3. If Mike Woodson gets the Knicks into the playoffs, will it be enough to save his job?Woodson Melo

Zach: Yes, I do. Mike Woodson is a good coach, folks. He really is. He just has the impossible job of dealing with multiple conflicting personalities, plus a team full of individuals. Woodson is not the problem here, folks. Is he part of the solution? Define solution. Because if it’s the same definition as mine, then anything of short of “The Zen Master” coaching is not the solution. My advice; cut your losses with the entire team, get some draft picks, and let’s start talking demolition in New York.
Bill: It’s hard to say if Woodson’s job will be safe even if the Knicks squeak into the playoffs. It’s clear that players are clashing with his style (JR Smith, for one) as well as players seemingly doing their own thing and tuning him out (Carmelo Anthony), but much of the roster seems to embrace his defensive scheme and when it’s clicking, it’s truly effective. Still, the Knicks are a mess and Woodson’s hard work alone just isn’t going to cut it.
DJ: They are 3.5 games out of the 8 seed with 17 games to play. They have to keep playing well and hope Atlanta keeps losing (they have lost 9 of their last 10). Their four game winning streak bodes well but Minnesota, Utah and Cleveland (the three teams they have defeated) are all teams that aren’t competing for the playoffs. They have 10 games against teams that are in the postseason as of today. If they get in, I think he could keep it but it also depends on who takes over in the front office. Not sure if Jackson would want to retain Woodson or bring in his own guy.
EJ: Once again as the lone New Yorker on the panel allow me to say: No! HELL NO!! Woodson was what he was: a good short term coach to phase out the D’Antoni era (or shall I say error) here but he doesn’t deserve to keep his job. The island of mismatched toys that is the Knicks roster has phased him out, and it’s clear that Carmelo doesn’t care if the man stays or goes. I go back and forth on whether I believe the Knicks will make the playoffs, but if they do, he’s gone the second they’re bounced out of the 1st round.
David: Depends on what Melo says, There is not a single solitary player I care about on the Knicks going forward if I’m Dolan. Just like Chris Paul had a thumbs up/down on Vinny, Melo has that option on Woodson. It all depends on Melo. I would not have hired him in the first place, but that’s just me. If I’m Dolan, and Melo says he is staying and he wants Chris Smith to coach, then Chris Smith is the coach.

4. Which team is your darkhorse from both conferences sneak into the playoffs this year?Playoffs

Zach:In the east, I think it will be the New York Knicks. Barring any serious injury to their “big three”, I think New York will put the drama aside, sneak into that eighth spot, enough to keep Mike Woodson around. Or maybe I’m just dreaming…

In the west, I like this Timberwolves squad. Sure, they are inconsistent and haven’t really found an identity past Kevin Love. But if you look closely, every step for Minnesota has been in the right direction. Every season, the horizon gets a little bit more clear. And I think this year is the time when Minnesota ends the drought.
Bill: Out in the west, it’s hard not to rally behind the Phoenix Suns. Yeah, you can call me a homer since they’re my team and all, but what they’ve accomplished this season seeing how everyone had completely written them off before the season began has been nothing short of extraordinary. Last night they finally slipped out of the playoff hunt due to a loss to Golden State despite it being a winnable game for them and that sole loss could make or break their season. Even so, Eric Bledsoe’s return is a given and is likely to happen Wednesday against Cleveland. His injection into the lineup is a welcomed one and will take some of the ball handling pressure off Goran Dragic and ease the scoring load that Gerald Green has picked up. The six through eight spots out west are going to go down to the wire and some team that’s been playing hard to make the cut is going to get left out. Who will it be among the four fighting every night as though it is their last: Golden State, Dallas, Memphis, or Phoenix? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. Still, I say Phoenix takes the eighth and final spot.
Out in the east, it’s just as close when it comes to the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Pistons, once thought to be firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt have faltered and fallen to the outside looking in. The clusterfuck that is the New York Knicks has closed the distance and is right behind them. For that matter, so are Cleveland and Boston. All of the aforementioned teams are within a half game of each other and only three games out from the current eight seen in Atlanta. Who makes it according to yours truly? I’m taking the Knicks based on what could be an easier remaining schedule.
DJ: As fellow RT’er EJ will tell you I’m a huge Lakers fan but have also adopted New York as my Eastern Conference team I like. As I stated above, the Knicks have a three game winning streak and I just like them to make the playoffs as a 7 or 8 seed. Carmelo Anthony has been having an incredible year (28 points per game and 8 rebounds per game) despite a team that has been hit hard by injuries and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I want to see them make the playoffs. Melo gets too much criticism as a selfish player, he shoots the ball a lot so I get where it comes from, but he’s an offensive stud and has to put up the shots and points for them to be successful. It isn’t like he’s in Miami with a stacked team or Oklahoma City (with a stud #2  guy), he’s the lone All Star. And nobdy can do it alone.The Hawks are the current 8 seed and aren’t playing well at the moment and NY could replace them easily if Atlanta continues to struggle. The Charlotte Bobcats aka as the BobKitties are 6-4 in their last 10 games but I just don’t trust them to continue to keep up this surprising season. Like Phoenix, Charlotte wasn’t expected to be competing for a playoff spot. The Bobcats (like the Knicks) face 10 (out of 19 remaining games)  teams that are currently in the postseason.Phoenix isn’t exactly a darkhorse candidate, but I don’t see the Wolves leapfrogging Memphis and Phoenix. The Suns have been a surprise all season and I think they end up getting the 8 seed over Memphis. Why? No reason, just a hunch.
EJ: I think we’re a little too late into the season to identify “dark horses” but I’ll play along. Since I still am not sold on the Knicks making it out of the East I’ll go with Cleveland. The Cavaliers are 3 and a half games behind a fading Atlanta for the 8th seed, and they don’t look too bad actually. Hawes has transitioned well since coming over from the Sixers, and if they can get better play out of Luol Deng I can see them making a run. The West is a little tougher to identify a dark horse but I’ll go with 10th place Minnesota. The Wolves might be 31-31 and 5 games out of 8th but they seem too talented to not make a late run at it.
David: I have to agree with Minny and the Bobcats. The NBA’s nightmare Finals.

5. Are the Rockets really that good? Or will they cool off?Houston Rockets

Zach: WELL, I’m not sure it was ever a question of talent. Obviously, the Rockets have the tools to become a powerhouse in the deadly west. The intriguing part is that they are really finding out about their personalities and really starting to work together well right now. They are clicking unlike any other time in the season. It should be interesting to see if anyone can beat the momentum they have going come playoff time. Then again, there is still a lot of regular season left.

Bill: Honestly, no. I was at the game where they barely managed a win versus the Suns a few weeks back and watched then blow an 18 point lead and barely manage to hold on (questionably on several occasions, too) to a three point win. Yes, Dwight Howard seems to have left all the nightmares of his single season in LA behind him and get back to enjoying basketball once again. I suppose those fat paychecks don’t hurt, either. Harden has been steady as always and is a nightly threat to dominate. Lin has shown little of what he had in NY while playing for the Knicks and if his contract wasn’t so terribly constructed, he’d be playing elsewhere right now. The rest of the Rockets of note, Beverley, Parsons, Jones, Metiejunas, and Casspi, are all doing what is asked of them when the starters either need a rest or aren’t playing as well as they should. This is a pretty deep team that’s been constructed to compete; that said, is it well enough constructed to dethrone the two time champion Heat? I don’t think so. Competition is fierce in the western conference, and any team can pull off an upset on any given night.

DJ: The Rockets have had a good season so far but the playoffs are completely different animal so to speak. It may take them a postseason together to figure out things, but they should be able to advance past the first round. But, again it depends on the playoff matchup and that’s still to be determined. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if they make it as far as the Western Conference Finals but think that’s their ceiling. A second round appearance is more likely, which is a minor improvement over last season.

EJ: Yesterday while watching the Lakers game, I sent DJ a text. My text said one thing: After the Clippers, I really think the Rockets are the best team in the West. I know the Spurs and Thunder have better records, but I really think the Rockets, as well as the Clippers, are really that good. Dwight Howard is healthy and confident, James Harden is one of the better scorers in the game, Chandler Parsons is a good 3rd wheel, and they get good contributions from the rest of the supporting casts. It will all depend on how the final playoff standings shake out,

but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Rockets are in the Western Conference Finals.
David: I see the second round being the end-point. Keeping Omar was a MAJOR error, and could have filled a need. Lin is still a massive negative in my eyes, but going home after a game 6 vs the Thunder or Spurs is no letdown. A full season with Harden and Howard, and add another H? Maybe look at dumping a ton of all those assets for a bankable point?
How about this?
Rondo and Green’s albatross contract for Lin, Asik, Jones and a pick or two?
That gives the Rockets

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  1. Isiah Thomas was, and is, an incompetent boob when it comes to analyzing talent and negotiating contracts. A good player does not a good coach or GM make.

    Carmelo Anthony? My opinion is that Carmelo is not a player you build a team around, sorry. He is not a leader. Lebron is a leader. Kobe is a leader. They talk too much sometimes but they are leaders. Melo is not.

    Amare Stoudemaire? Never seems like he is on the court enough to really make a difference. Bad luck or bad signing? Choose your poison.

    Donnie Walsh and Larry Brown? If jackass Dolan, or Guitar Jimmy as one wag on the Daily News likes to call him, would stop meddling the Knicks might right now be a decent team and a lock to be in the playoffs. But, Dolan has George Steinbrenner/Jerry Jones syndrome and can’t leave well enough alone. Yeah, it’s his money, and all that, but, if, you hire somone to do a job then it makes sense to let them do that job and stay out of the way.

  2. You’re a local just like I am Joe. That’s why I answered that question the way I did. As long as James Dolan is running this team, Christ himself can run the basketball operations of the Knicks and still fail. Dolan doesn’t know how to get out of his own way and just write checks and play with his band.

  3. A bunch of you folks seem to doubt the Rockets’ legitimacy but in my opinion they might be the scariest team in the western conference come playoff time. They’re getting better as the season goes on and sometimes we forget just how dominant both Harden and Howard can be. If those two get hot for a couple weeks at the right time I could easily see Houston facing Miami in the Finals.

  4. I believe the Rockets are legitimate, and they could easily make the Finals. They’re peaking at the right time and personally I’m not so sold on the Spurs and Thunder. So, yeah I could see the Rockets-Heat jumping off for the title in June.

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