NBA: Thoughts On First Week Of 2008-09 Season


NBA: Thoughts On First Week Of 2008-09 Season
M.D. Wright
11.2.08

Well, the NBA is finally here. This is the first time in probably 10 years that I have been looking forward to the NBA season immediately after the NBA Finals/Draft. The Finals were palpable, the NBA Draft was interesting in that viable NBA players are being drafted again — plus some of the offseason moves that were made (and not made) created a buzz for the upcoming season unlike anytime this decade.

Add to that stories such as:

Will Boston repeat?
Will the Lakers win, with Bynum healthy?
Are the Knicks ever going to be relevant for the right reasons again?
Did Isiah really attempt suicide because he lost his job?
What are the Hawks going to do to build off last year?
Is this LeBron’s best shot at a title?
Did he just issue a dry ultimatum to the Cavs’ brass “win or failure” this year?
Where will LeBron play in 2010-2011?
What is to become of Seattle and Charlotte? One team loses its team, the other may lose its team (again) within the next 2-3 years.

The NBA is full of plots and subplots to the point where it feels like one of those daytime soap operas; you’re almost tempted to watch even though you know everything is a train-wreck in motion.

As a Knick and Kobe (hence, Laker) fan, I am going to be glued to the TV a lot. The Knicks are in a position, that if GM Donnie Walsh plays his cards right, they can put themselves in prime position to lure LeBron to New York. We have a good $45 million in cap room to clear in basically 18 months. Is it possible? Sure. But let’s look at the players the Knicks must move (or whose contracts must come off the books by June 30, 2010, since they are definitely going to have to take back a bad contract or two themselves in any deal) in order to be in position to get LeBron James.

1. Stephon Marbury.

Look, Steph is my boy. Always has been, when I was reading his newspaper and magazine clippings from 1993-94/1994-95 in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, etc. But coach Mike D’Antoni is obviously bent on not playing Marbury and ruining any chance of making a halfway decent trade to get younger talent and draft picks. Teams aren’t going to trade for Marbury with all the (mostly UNWARRANTED) bad press he receives and the DNPCD’s he’s going to rack up. Play him or trade him. That is $22 million sitting on the bench. If the Knicks are smart, they can use that soon-to-be cap space to their advantage. I’m not sure how smart Donnie Walsh is after witnessing how he botched the Pacers after going to the NBA Finals in 2000. I still think Starbury has 3-4 good years left, but it is not going to work now that the New York media has done a good hatchet job on his character. It may never work in New York and that’s sad as a fan of Marbury.

2. Eddy Curry.

I hate this dude’s work ethic. This is one of the many guys in the NBA who should not get paid big money too soon. Unfortunately, the union and collective bargaining agreement in place in the NBA is structured this way. Ironically, the guys who were getting what are now considered “max” contracts in the mid 90s, when spending was out of control and no one cared about the salary cap, played harder and didn’t seem to perennially report to training camp out of shape and unadapted to any changes within the team. Last I checked, the Knicks made serious changes from top to bottom this offseason. Why isn’t he is in better shape? He’s going to be 27 soon. Should be entering his prime years, yet he looks like a calcified 15-year veteran. I like him as a PERSON, but I expected so much from him both in Chicago and ESPECIALLY since Isiah Thomas (over)paid to bring him to New York. I say trade him. He’s a big man. Golden State can use him (along with Lee, for Al Harrington and one of the stiffs at the end of the Warriors’ bench to make the numbers match?). I just want dude to reach his full potential. I saw so many players I grew up idolizing mmiss prime years of their playing career because of injury (Bernard King and Andrew Toney, just to name two off dome) NOT from being out of shape and lacking the will to get better.

3. Zach Randolph.

He’s not a problem per se, but he and Curry cannot co-exist. I believe Randolph is better suited for D’Antoni’s system, but in the name of clearing cap space, they might be inclined to seek trade vouchers for him. We will see.

4. David Lee.

Lee is a favorite amongst us Knick fans, and probably the only viable trade piece. But at what cost? He is more or less a side item when it comes to salary considerations in any deal, but he is really the centerpiece when it comes to the player that teams want from the Knicks. No other player on the Knicks’ roster is desirable by other teams right now (except Marbury, and that is more or less because of his expiring contract).

5. Patrick Ewing, Jr.

BRING HIM BACK! If, for no other reason, for me to hear Mike Walczewski exclaim “Paaaaaaaaaa-trick EWING!!!” over the PA like when Ewing’s dad played at Madison Square Garden LOL

Anyway, aside from that, the Lakers look tough. The Hornets may or may not have lept over the Lakers in acquiring James Posey aka one of the main reasons the Lakers could not upend the Celtics in the Finals. The Celtics were able to get over the emotional ceremony and beat Cleveland (once again) to start their home schedule. The Cavaliers are going to be a tough out, but still appear to be lacking the go-to scorer they are going to need to win any 7-game series.

The Wizards are going to be abysmal at least until February; when, even in the east, they’ll be too far out of it to get the 8th seed.

The Bobcats are fighting, but they don’t look any better. Michael Jordan isn’t earning any fans by being an absentee GM down here in North Carolina — especially since the team isn’t improving at all. I’m still going to attend about 10 Bobcats games this season. One thing you MUST admit is the ambience is nice at the Bobcats’ Arena.

Here are my early picks in each conference:

Eastern

1. Boston (until further notice).
2. Orlando.
3. Detroit.
4. Cleveland.
5. Chicago.
6. Toronto.
7. Philadelphia.
8. Miami.

Western

1. LA Lakers.
2. New Orleans.
3. Houston.
4. Portland.
5. Utah.
6. Dallas.
7. San Antonio (they are going to miss Ginobili a great deal and their bench looks like the Walking Wounded)
8. Phoenix.

Of course this can all change with current injuries to significant players and potential injuries, but based off what I have observed thus far, this is how it looks to me.

DEFINITELY more to come next week.

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