NBA Roundtable

Its time for another NBA Rountable. This week the panel discusses Derrick Rose, George Karl, and some mid-season awards.

On to the questions, lets not waste any time.

karl

Will George Karl be able to co-exist with Demarcus Cousins, and what is his time table to turn around the Kings?

Steve: I think so, Karl did have some trouble when he started off with big players. He proved he can work with them and in his style of system when he was with Seattle when he coached Kemp and Payton to the Western Conference title in 1996. He also can work with superstars as he proved it with the Nuggets with Carmelo, and Iverson. Karl is a fantastic coach, and if anyone can turn this team around he can do it. Tyion and I were actually discussing the Kings recently and I posed the question, Is there any hope for the Kings? This is before Karl was even in consideration for head coach. I give George Karl 3 years to make this team a playoff contending team. Give him a few draft picks, and he will be able to turn this team around.

Joao: I think that DeMarcus has shown tremendous improvement in terms of his maturity, to go along with his overall talent and improvement on both sides of the court. It all started with his stint on Team USA during the past summer in Spain. While he did have one of those moments during the game versus Lithuania, his overall behavior on the court was excellent and he is one of the key reasons why the US was able to take home the gold.

So I do not think that George Karl will have problems there. Where he will have problems, though, is in turning these guys into a solid playoff team; we are also talking, as always, about the crowded West. The same West where the Thunder are trying to slide into the 8th seed.

The Kings are 18-34 heading into the All-Star break, 13th in the West. I do think they have enough talent to be better than Utah and Denver, but they will not surpass any other teams this season. So I believe that George Karl will do well to gain the trust of his players while planning for next season. Perhaps with a couple of free agents and a good draft pick the Kings will be able to be a playoff contender next season.

Bill: Putting two volatile personalities in close proximity and forcing them to work together is a recipe for disaster in most circumstances; however, if there’s a coach out there who can extract the most from Cousins with the minimum amount of BS (simply because he won’t tolerate it), it’s Karl. Either this pairing will have an immediate clash and subsequent meltdown or they’ll be a perfect fit and help to turn this franchise around. The Kings need Cousins to be the man he believes himself to be and leave his immaturity at the door. While I do like the hiring and am glad to see George get back out onto the court after dealing with some pretty serious physical health issues, I do think the Kings did Corbin pretty dirty.

Chad:  I think that if any free agent coach can deal with DeMarcus Cousins it would be George Karl who has had some interesting personalities in his coaching career i.e. Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Carmelo Anthony. I will admit that Cousins is a different and more college would have helped mature. But I like the hire; now as far as a time table I would think that he gets the rest of this year and maybe a season and half before people start wanting change if it is not there

rose

Derrick Rose had a terrific first half of the season. Will Rose keep this up in the second half and be able to stay healthy.

Steve: Rose is incredible and I think with the core of players around him, he does not have to be THE GUY every night. You have Pau, Butler, Hinrich, Noah, all willing to take shots. This may be the most un-selfish team the Bulls have produced in some time. Rose can struggle throughout the game, but there is not one guy other than Steph Curry that I would want to be the guy to take the last shot of the game. Rose is clutch, he proved that against the Warriors where he struggled all game, until hitting the game winner. I don’t see him slowing down, and it appears that Rose is back, and ready to lead the Bulls to a deep playoff run.

Joao: I cannot really say about his health but I do think that he is a liability in the sense of potentially re-injuring himself at any point. But let us hope, for his sake, for the Bulls’ sake and for the NBA as a whole, that he does not re-injure himself.

The Bulls have been inconsistent, to say the least. They have beaten great teams on the road and they have lost to much weaker teams at home. Derrick Rose is another element that fuels that inconsistency somewhat: on some nights he is the MVP of old, on other nights he just falls in love with the jump shot. And that is ok, that was to be expected as he is, after all, protecting himself. The fact that he has been to play in 43 out of 54 games is a great sign for the Bulls and I do believe they will only go as far as Rose takes them.

Pau is re-igniting his career, Jimmy Butler is a prime candidate for Most Improved Player (and he is an All-Star) and the Bulls will certainly need Noah and Dunleavy to be healthy. But above everything else it all hinges on Rose’s ability to slash to the basket and finish, not to mention his health. I am going to risk saying that Rose will have a terrific second half of the season and that these Bulls will fight for the Eastern Conference crown.

Bill: I think everyone would like to see Rose stick around seeing as he’s the player that really makes the Bulls go. When he’s on the court, his presence changes the entirety of the game; when he’s absent, the Bulls, while still solid, are severely lacking despite possessing a far better cast of players than seasons prior. Being healthy in this league is a crap shoot seeing as an unforeseen injury can happen at any time. Ask Kobe Bryant. Despite that, it would appear that Rose has regained much of his speed and lift and is finally regaining some confidence in his abilities as a slasher and dynamic high riser. If the Bulls stand any chance of coming out of the Eastern Conference as its victor, they most definitely need Derrick Rose in top form.

Chad: I do believe that Derrick Rose has the components on the wing and the post that he has not before and more time on the floor gets him sharper and sharper. In addition, with Butler, Gasol, and Noah; Rose doesn’t have to do everything in order for the Bulls to succeed. Though his contributions and presence elevate the team to a legit contender. So I do believe he can continue his play and stay healthy

 thibs

 Do you think Tom Thibdeau will remain the Bulls head coach, if the Bulls fail to make the NBA Finals?

Steve: If he isn’t, and if for some ridiculous reason the Bulls fire him. The Bulls brass are extremely stupid. I think that Thibodeau is one of the top 3 coaches in basketball today. He has had the talent around him, and has had success in the playoffs, reaching the Conference Finals against Miami back in 2011. To his defense, he has not had a healthly Derrick Rose in the playoffs the past three seasons. This could be different as far as the outcome goes, because this may be the best team he has had since taking over the Bulls. In no way should his job even be questioned no matter where the Bulls finish.

Joao: We are in an age where coaches seem to always be on the hot seat. One day you are Coach of the Year, the next day you are unemployed. And there is a lot of speculation regarding Thibs’ future in the windy city, something that is quite perplexing if we consider that he is one of the finest active coaches in the NBA and also given the fact that his Bulls are 34-20, good for the third seed in the East. The way things are going they will probably overtake the Raptors for the second seed. On top of that we also need to consider that several key pieces have missed games due to injury – Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy Jr, Taj Gibson.

Noah’s injury woes, in particular, have been tremendously negative for the Bulls’ defense – the worst defensive Bulls team under Tom Thibodeau. And defense is his trademark. But I think that, if Tom is able to manage the minutes of some of his key players (chiefly Jimmy Butler, who is leading the league in minutes played per game) these Bulls are going to be very dangerous come playoff time.

To directly answer the question, if the Bulls are unable to make the NBA Finals then I do think Tom Thibodeau will not come back to Chicago next season. And that is, I believe, a huge mistake.

Bill: Thibs is far too good a coach and a fit in Chicago for them to cut ties with him should they not make it. I’m of the belief that far too much pressure and responsibility is placed on the neck and shoulders of a coach and especially so seeing that it is the jobof the players on the court to put the ball through the hoop. However, should problems arise and said ball isn’t getting through the hoop as much as the front office would like, it’s always the coach that’s sent packing even though it’s not right. Seeing as it’s far easier and cheaper to replace a coach than it is a player, the coach is going to always be the one who gets the proverbial axe. All that said, despite the outcome, I think he stays.

Chad: There are a lot of expectations for this team with all of the components together and healthy. I think at the minimum have to the East Finals to keep the job. The Bulls last playoff 3 runs have yielded one playoff round win and yes injuries did play a factore. Assuming everyone is healthy I would say the Bulls have no excuse to not get to the East Finals and based on the performance against the Cavs before the break w/o Butler. The Bulls must at least get to the east finals to keep Thibs’ job.

MVP

Who is your first half MVP?

Steve: How can it not be Stephen Curry? This kid is doing things that I haven’t seen since the Jordan era. And no I am not going to compare Curry to Jordan, its not even close. This season, Curry has been the key factor in Golden States success, and that will lead him to the MVP this year. He will have some competition with James Harden, and even his counterpart Klay Thompson, but Curry should win the award easily. Anthony Davis’ injury puts him on the outside looking in.

Joao: I am going to pick Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. Even though the All-Star game is a popularity contest to some extent, the fact that he led all players in voting is something to behold.

But there is much more to support my pick: his Warriors are the top team in the West right now (4 games above the dangerous Grizzlies!), second in the league overall, and he is quite simply the best player on that roster. The rise of Klay Thompson is obvious but fact of the matter is that Curry is the Warriors’ leader and top player.

Curry’s ball handling and shooting ability is second to none and his trips to the rim are a thing of beauty. People also want to see hard facts supporting these picks, so let us look at some stats: Curry is 7th in the league in scoring (23.6 PPG), 4th top backcourt player in terms of field goal percentage (48.1% FG), 6th overall in free throw percentage (90% FT), 5th in assists (7.9 APG) and, last but not least, he leads the league in steals (2.16 SPG).

I went back and forth on this between Curry and James Harden but, at the end of the day, the Warriors’ success gives Curry the nod so far in my book.

Bill: Hard to choose between Harden and Curry but as much as it pains me to say it, I’ve got to go with the former. All Harden has done is put the team on his back and carry the Rockets to one of the best records in the far superior Western Conference. Dwight Howard being potentially out for the remainder of the season will surely test his mettle, but if anything it’s seemed to have increased his desire to show what he can do while continually reminding OKC that trading him was a bad idea. Harden’s play has been stellar to this point and with the second half of the season coming on quickly, it’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain his torrid scoring pace while continuing to break hearts around the league. My Phoenix Suns sure felt the pain of Harden this season, that’s for sure. While the accomplishments of Steph Curry have been outstanding in his own right, I have to discount them somewhat seeing that Golden State has a superior team in general.

Chad: My first half MVP would be James Harden because of two reasons A) He’s doing a little bit of everything in the stat sheet and the Rockets are 36-17 at the break. B) The considerable favorite Steph Curry has a sidekick that gets more attention then does Harden’s sidekicks which makes him more valuable to his team. Which is what I believe the award should be based on

melo

Carmelo is likely out for the season after the All Star Break? What are your thoughts on this?

Steve: Why not? Where are the Knicks going this year? Nowhere. So why risk further injury to play for a team who his heading down the toilet. He needs to regroup, the Knicks need to just put this season under the rug and move forward to next season where maybe…just maybe they can win 25 games.

Joao: The Knicks have literally nothing to play for this season. It is certainly nice to see that Carmelo will be a starter for an All-Star Game at the Madison Square Garden but, once that game is finished, he has nothing else to play for this season.

The Knicks are currently the worst team in the league and they have decided to embark, along with the Celtics, on a veritable fire sale (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, while also waving Samuel Dalembert). There are multiple reports that Amare Stoudemire is also on his way out.

I am certainly not a doctor but Carmelo has said it himself that he is playing in pain. This is a difficult situation for Carmelo and rookie head coach Derek Fisher, while the Zen Master is certainly not used to this lack of success. But the best thing to do is to shut Carmelo down for the season and work him back to full health for next season.

At the same time, the Knicks without Carmelo are going to be hideous to watch, but it is what it is. This will allow some of the players, mainly Tim Hardaway Jr, to further develop while taking on a more central role with added responsibilities. And then the other thing to do is to shed further bad contracts and gear up for the draft lottery. The Knicks cannot possibly be as bad next season as they have been this year and getting Carmelo fully recovered has to be a priority right now, so shutting him down makes perfect sense.

Bill: Melo has been as much of a non factor this season as in the last few and seeing how the Knicks aren’t going anywhere but down, what difference does him being out make? None. If anything, his absence gives the front office a chance to evaluate the players they have now and plan for the future. There are few keepers on this team as it stands, but I don’t see players lining up to join this team no matter how great the potential could be for a pay day. New York is easily one of the harshest places to play and if you’re not pulling your perceived weight, they’re going to let you know about it. Nightly. If Anthony is playing in as much pain as he says he is, there’s no point in risking a far more serious injury by placing unrealistic expectations on him. Important players have been traded away for essentially nothing and now Amare Stoudemire reportedly received a buyout from the team, thus removing another key player and putting even more on Melo’s ailing back. Why shoulder it if you don’t have to? As before, let the other players on the team do their part and see where it leads. It’s not going to be pretty once the final horn sounds in the last game of the season, but Knicks fans should be used to it by now. I’ve said from the moment he became a free agent that re-signing Anthony would be a bad idea… and from every look of it, I’ve been right.

Chad: The worst team in the league lose their star. Oh Darn…now why will Spike Lee come to the Garden? Can we focus on teams that can get to the playoffs. I guess the Knicks can see what else they have and try to help Phil Jackson figure out how to rebuild the team moving forward

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