Its time for another roundtable discussion on the happenings in the NBA. This week the panel discusses the Rajon Rondo trade to the Dallas Mavericks, WIll the Oklahoma City Thunder make the playoffs? This and much more.
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1. Is the Mavs trading for Rondo a good move? What does it do for their playoff odds?
EJ: The Mavs trading for Rondo is only a risk because Rondo as a pending free agent could leave after the season. However, I doubt he’ll leave. Mark Cuban knows how to take care of his guys and playing with Dirk, Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis should make Dallas an interesting team come playoff time.
David: I think the Mavs stole Rondo. The Problem is, what does he do to the system. I have confidence that they can make him a borderline all-star, I mean look at what they did with Monte Ellis- and he was a lot more broken than Rondo.
Bill: Trading for Rondo, if anything, is a highly risky move for the mere fact that there’s no assurances in what they’re going to get once the season comes to an end. Rondo will be an UFA if I recall it correctly and even though DAL has an owner willing to spend to get top level talent, it’s really up to Rondo as to if he’ll want to re-sign there or move on. Beyond that, Rondo isn’t the player he was even three seasons ago. His severe knee injury has hampered his agility and speed somewhat on both offense and defense which leads to him gambling more on deflections or steals. While Rondo is still a sharp minded floor general, it all remains to be seen as to how well he will mesh into the lineup. Rondo’s acquisition does indeed bolster their chances for a deep playoff run so long as no one comes up lame due to injury as their depth wanes significantly once the first unit is out. The only two players of measure are Richard Jefferson and JJ Barea. DAL does have one of the very best starting units in the league, for sure… but will it be enough? At this point, it’s hard to say but I will say I do like their chances.
DJ: It’s a definite upgrade over a washed up Jameer Nelson (7.3ppg on 37% shooting, 4.1apg, and 2.7rpg).
When news of the trade broke, Dallas was 6th in the Western Conference and I think they will end up being a top 3 team in the WC. Rondo gives them a very good passer and he should have no problem running their offense once he learns it and gets comfortable. On paper, they have a very good starting 5 in Rondo, Ellis, Nowitzki, Parsons and Chandler and that’s easily one of the better starting units in the NBA.
It was a heck of trade and they got rid of very little to obtain him, but they still need to do something with their bench. They have Devin Harris, JJ Barea and Raymond Felton backing up Rondo and they need a solid backup big man so Chandler isn’t over worked given his injury history in recent seasons.
2. ESPN stated that the duo of Curry and Thompson of Golden State are yhe best backcourt ever. Do you agree?
EJ: The best duo ever? Umm . . . I’m not sure I can agree with that. No disrespect to Curry/Thompson but what have they won? When it comes to these “best ever” lists I’m from the school of if they didn’t win a title then they are not the best ever.
David: Thats laughable. Thats a credibility-destroying level of stupidity.
I’ll just take the ones off the top of my head- that I have seen.
I’m not even sure they are the best in Golden State history- since they are looking at Timmy Hardaway and Mitch Richmond.
Detroit alone has two that I would take above them, The Chauncy/Rip and the Zeke/Dumars- who is actually in the discussion.
I think I’d take Me and Jordan as the best. Or Me and Magic. How’s that?
Gun to my head? I think I take Magic and Cooper as the best in my lifetime. Cooper as the defensive stopper and how he just got better in big games, and Magic is Magic.
Bill: Not a chance. While their talent and ability is clearly top notch, putting them at the very top is pretty laughable given the number of outstanding duos to grace the NBA’s hardwood over the decades. Two I’d easily say are above the Curry/Thompson pairing would either be Isaiah Thomas/Joe Dumars or John Stockton/Jeff Hornacek. I would even go so far as to say Kevin Johnson/Dan Majerle, but perhaps that’s just the Suns homer in me coming out. Anointing them as the “best” given the rather short time they’ve played together is pretty much doing all those others a disservice.
DJ: Um, no. Not even close. I won’t continue because it isn’t even worth of much of a response.
3. Will the Oklahoma City Thunder rebound and make the playoffs? If so, how deep can they go?
EJ: Yeah the Thunder will make the playoffs. Westbrook is playing excellent so far and Durant is slowly coming on. As long as those two stay healthy I can see the Thunder slotting in somewhere from 6-8 and giving some higher seed a tough first round in the playoffs. Depending on the matchup they might even make it as far as the Western semis.
David: Depends on Durant. If he goes off, its hard to beat them 4 out of 7. I’ve been pushing Portland, and of course, the Spurs are out there, I think they can take every other team out there. If Perkins wakes up, they might be right there with the Spurs as the second best team in the NBA.
Bill: It’s pretty clear that the boys from OKC live and die with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. With both of them out, it seemed as though OKC would have a hard time beating some of the better NCAA teams let alone NBA level talent. With them together, however, they have stormed back to prominence with a vengeance and put the league on notice that they’re coming for them and that counting them out of the playoff hunt would be pretty foolish. They have a good measure of talent on their team, without question. Will it be enough if one of the two key players go down again? I don’t think so. Still, I look for them to be there at the end of the season. As for how deep the might go, I don’t see them getting any further than the WCF if that far. Too many other teams have narrowed the gap and are just as hungry to ascend to the top and dethrone the Spurs as the best in the conference.
DJ: They may sneak in and I say may because I don’t think Russell Westbrook can stay healthy during the course of an entire season. Westbrook plays out of control at times and is a physical player, he may be just 26 years old but his body takes a lot of grinding with his style of play. And Kevin Durant seems to be getting injured a bit this year. He started the season on the IR and tweaked his ankle on Thursday. If they don’t have both for the rest of the season they don’t get in.
If they do get in, it’ll be as a 6-8 seed. If they are both healthy, they will admittedly be a scary team to face, but I have my doubts.
4. With a quarter of the season in the books. Who is your MVP so far?
EJ: Steve Kerr! Nah, just playing. While I disagree with Curry/Thompson being the best backcourt duo ever, I do think if the Warriors keep this up then Steph Curry is your MVP.
David: The Atlanta Hawks Coach. Oh? I have to pick a player? I might have to go with the Brow, but they simply are not winning enough. James Hardin is up there, but again, its one sided. I’ll just take LeBron- since he’s still the best out there.
Bill: This is certainly a tough question and one I always have difficulty answering seeing that my view on the MVP is one that’s definitely THE most valuable member to his team and not always the best player on the best team. As such, my pick would have to be… Anthony Davis from NO. The guy is simply killing it every night: 24+ PPG, 10+ RPG, ~ 3 BPG. He’s clearly the heart and soul of that team and with him out, they’re nowhere near as well rounded or good. He’s the type of anchor that a team is supposed to build around and NO couldn’t have picked a better player than Davis to turn that franchise around.
DJ: LeBron James, no question. He may be slowing down a little, but he’s still the best player in the league. After starting slowly to gel with his new team-mates, James is averaging 25.4ppg (on 49.4% shooting), 7.6apg, 5.4rpg, 1.4spg and 0.7bpg. Those are still MVP numbers, despite the Cavs struggling to win games.
And anybody that thinks otherwise needs to be checked out mentally.
5. The Knicks two years ago were considered a threat in the East. Since then, they have done a complete nose dive in the past two years. What, if anything do the Knicks need to do in order to get back to where they once were?
EJ: What the Knicks need to do is simple: blow it all up. The majority of the team will hit free agency this Summer. Smartest thing to do is let them all walk. I’d cut ties with J.R. Smith A.S.A.P. as well. Keep Melo and build brand new. If you’re going to stick with Fisher, Phil, and the triangle then you have to start over.
David: Dump Amare and his contract. Dump Derek Fisher and the Triangle. How about getting Philbo to shut up and work the phones? They need to build around Melo, and everything else takes second place. Instead of hoping to get a monster free agent, how about work on some solid number 2s? Add say Noah? Get a defensive stopper at PG or even SF.
Bill: They need to cleanse the roster. it was a good move in the right direction to hire Phil Jackson to run the ship, but was it the best move to retain Carmelo Anthony? Yeah, I understand he’s the key figure on that team and the face of the franchise but that doesn’t mean he should be. Amare Stoudemire isn’t anywhere close to where he was in his Phoenix days and I strongly doubt that his red wine baths are going to rejuvenate him enough to be the player the Knicks have been paying him to be. Shumpert is a great man defender, but he’d be better elsewhere and his name has been on the block for a couple of years running. Why not pull the trigger and make it happen? J.R. Smith is likely to be sent packing or he’ll be allowed to walk. Either way, that’s a bonus for the Knicks as his antics and attitude are caustic. I still don’t understand the move to get Bargnani. The rest of the players, with the exception of Tim Hardaway Jr, aren’t collectively great enough to get this team to where it needs to be. On that end, was Derek Fisher’s hiring REALLY the best choice? One thing is for certain: Phil Jackson has his hands full and it’s going to take far longer than a New York minute to turn it around. Do the fans of their beloved Knicks believe in him enough to make it happen and will they have enough patience to see it through? With regards to Phil, I’ve got faith; on the point of the fans, I don’t see that working out. Either way, it’s time to blow it all up and start over. Why not start by seeing what Jackson can get for Anthony? It’s what I’d do.
DJ: Other than Melo, Tim Hardaway Jr, Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert, and Amare Stoudemire they don’t have a lot of talent on the roster. Not to mention, they are adjusting to the Triangle offense, it is very complicated and it takes time for players to adjust to the intricacies of it. This offseason, the Knicks will have a ton of salary cap space available and will be able to find players who fit the offense to a T.
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