Carmelo Anthony Traded to Oklahoma City

After an entire summer filled with rumors and teases, the Carmelo Anthony saga has finally come to an end in New York. New York dealt Anthony this morning to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second round pick. A move made by two franchises heading in different directions, let’s take a look at what this trade means for both teams involved.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Just like other teams in the West, the Thunder are going all in. They went out this summer and acquired Paul George to help Russell Westbrook offensively. This move now adds even more offensive firepower to OKC. While Melo has earned a bad reputation over the past two seasons, he can still score with the best in the league. He has, and will, always have his troubles defensively, but a motivated Carmelo Anthony is still good for 20 points and 7 rebounds on a given night.

Carmelo’s stock has been steadily trending down thanks to Phil Jackson. It’s not news that the Zen Master and Anthony never got along in New York. Melo never fit into Phil’s aged triangle offense. The rift led to a checked out Carmelo,  confused front office, and a frustrated fan base. In a new city, with All-Star talent around him, I expect a rejuvenated player, one who is far better than the 64th best player in the league. He does come with flaws, but it was a move OKC had to make in an attempt to knock off Golden State this year.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are officially putting the franchise in the hands of Kristaps Porzingis, if he’ll have it. After skipping his exit interview, and with rumors circulating about the Latvian star’s poor relationship with coach Jeff Hornacek, there is a bit of uncertainty in the air as to how long Porzingis will stay with the Knicks. For now though, the team is his. The youth movement has begun. No rebuilding on the fly; no disgusting, overpaid contracts. The New York Knicks are tanking and looking to rebuild around their young star.

This rebuild has been a long time coming in New York. In years past, owner James Dolan would never allow such a thing, choosing to hand out generous contracts to underperforming players. Now however, with new GM Scott Perry at the helm, the Knicks are pointed in the right direction. Alongside Porzingis, the Knicks will look for Willy Hernangomez to continue his development. The all-rookie selection last year will give New York an exciting and young front court when paired next to Porzingis or the newly acquired Kanter. Opportunity is also there for players such as McDermott, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, and 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina, to learn and grow in Hornacek’s offense.

These two teams are trending in different directions. The Thunder are looking to challenge the Warriors and win the Western Conference. The Knicks have their eyes set on Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter Jr, rather than an NBA championship this year. It was a move that had to be made; Melo’s time in New York was done. His career continues in OKC, where I think he still has a lot to contribute. New York needed to part ways in order to truly start a rebuild, now they can. This is a move that could end up benefiting both teams.

Stephon Marbury Needs to Avoid Return to NBA

Stephon Marbury has reportedly been eyeing a return to the NBA. It has been eight years since Starbury has competed professionally here in the America, but if he has his way, fans will see him once again. Life after the NBA has been a roller coaster for Marbury, very similar to his career in the NBA. Shortly after his last NBA games, Marbury went viral for an internet meltdown. The video led to countless jokes on Marbury’s behalf.

Years later, Marbury admitted he experienced depression and suicidal thoughts towards the end of his NBA career. It was clear Marbury was not handling his fall from superstardom well. Thankfully Marbury would resurrect his career, though not on American soil. In 2010, he signed with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. From there Marbury would become a Chinese basketball sensation.

Life in the CBA

Starbury’s accolades in the CBA include 6x CBA All-Star and 3x CBA champion. He won the 2010 CBA All-Star MVP award, as well as 2015 CBA Finals MVP for the Beijing Ducks. After helping lead the Ducks to his first CBA title in 2012, Marbury was honored with a statue in front of the MasterCard Center in Beijing.

Stephon Marbury was honored with a statue outside the MasterCard Center, which was the home of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Now, he is looking to parlay his Chinese basketball success into an NBA contract one last time. I think that is unwise. Like most competitors, Marbury still likely wants to prove he can compete at the highest level. He wants his last NBA moments to be better than being bought out by New York and playing an irrelevant 20 games for Boston.

Stay Away, Steph

This is the NBA, where teams buy stock in young players, hoping they reach their potential and mature into assets for their team. Aside from riding the bench for a championship contender, there’s no real place for a ball dominant 40-year-old point guard. Now I’ll admit that the images I have in my head of Marbury are from his days with a horrendous Knicks team, and that’s not entirely fair to him. If Marbury’s goal is to make an NBA team, then maybe he can do that. Maybe a team will take a chance on a seasoned vet who revitalized his career overseas and has one good season in the league in him.

But would he be content with that? Would he accept seeing DNP – Coaches Decision next to his name on a regular basis? Maybe he would, but for someone who was a former all-star in this league, and who is coming off a recent string of success in a foreign league, why open yourself up for what could be another epic failure in the NBA? Why not enjoy yourself for one more year in a league where you are beloved, and hang up you sneakers on a high note, a note that seemed unfathomable six years ago.

Stephon Marbury went from NBA All-Star, to internet laughing-stock, back to a basketball superstar. While his career may not have gone the way he envisioned when he was a budding superstar in Brooklyn, NY, Marbury was able to rise from the ashes of a burning NBA fallout and once again become an adored basketball player. And while he still may be feeling the highs of CBA success, Stephon Marbury needs to avoid an NBA return for his own sake.

Retiring Kobe: The Best of Number 8 and 24

It was announced today that the Los Angeles Lakers will honor Kobe Bryant on December 18th prior to their match up against the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers will retire both 8 and 24, the two numbers worn by Bryant during his time in LA. Bryant will become the sixth player to have two different jerseys retired, joining Julius Erving, Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Oscar Robertson and former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Prior to the announcement that both would be etired, the internet had fun speculating which number would be hung in the Staples Center. Each number represents different points in Kobe’s career; let’s take a look at some of his best moments in both numbers.

#8

Bryant wore 8 from his rookie year in 1996 through the 2005-06 season

81 Point Game vs Toronto

On January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant torched the Toronto Raptors for 81 points in a Laker win. 81 points set the second most points scored in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points. What many people forget is that this was a close contest for much of the game. Only in the 4th quarter did the Lakers proceed to pull away for a 122-104 victory. Not only was it one of the most prolific scoring efforts in NBA history, it wasn’t in a blow out, lopsided win.

2004 NBA Finals

The 2004 Finals is one that Laker fans like to forget during that span of winning. Alongside Hall of Famers Shaq, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, Kobe and the Lakers were upset in five games by the Detroit Pistons. The lone Laker win in that serious, however, was a bright spot for Kobe. He scored 33 points and had 7 assists. He also buried a clutch three-pointer that sent the game into overtime. It was a forgotten series in LA, but on a personal level, but it was still vintage Kobe.

1997 Slam Dunk Contest

Kobe Bryant took part in the 1997 dunk contest as a Rookie in the NBA. Kobe Bryant won the 1997 dunk contest and became the youngest player to ever win the event. While a dunk contest title doesn’t separate the good from the great, fans do like to see the best in the game compete during All-Star weekend. For Kobe, this became another similarity he shared with MJ. His dunks weren’t too shabby either.

2000 NBA Finals

Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals showed the emergence of the Mamba’s clutch gene. His partner in crime fouled out in overtime of a crucial Game 4, leaving Kobe to take the reigns and lead the Lakers to victory. With the score 112-109 in favor of LA, Kobe would score three of his team’s final four buckets, helping the Lakers take a 3-1 series edge on the Indiana Pacers. In what would become a career of clutch moments, 2000 was just the beginning for Kobe.

#24

In 2006, Bryant switched to number 24, which he wore for the rest of his career

2010 NBA Finals

Bryant’s fifth and final NBA title was classic Kobe through and through. While Game 7 wasn’t one of his best shooting games in the series, like always, Kobe found a way to win. Kobe scored 10 of his 23 in the 4th quarter, tallied 15 rebounds and helped erase a 13 point deficit to win a second straight NBA Final and Finals MVP. It was the perfect “find a way to win” performance from Bryant, something we saw many times from him in his career.

61 Points at MSG

Like many NBA players, Kobe loved playing under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Also like many players, Kobe would go on to dominate the Knicks with a memorable performance, dropping 61 points in a 2009 win over New York. The world’s most famous arena, saw a famous performance. Bryant made 18 field goals on 31 attempts and shot 88% from the stripe that night. His 61 passed Bernard King’s Garden record, but would later be broken by Carmelo Anthony in 2014.

2009 NBA Finals

2009 was a big year for Kobe personally. It was the first championship post Shaq and proved to those that doubted him that he could win on his own. He and the Lakers would make light work of the Orlando Magic, dominating them in five games. Bryant would get his fourth ring, but first Finals MVP, averaging 32.4 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Shaq had gotten his ring without Kobe three years earlier, now Kobe would get his without Shaq.

One Final Game in the Staples Center

Some may argue that this is not one of the Mamba’s best moments, but I think it’s perfect. Did Kobe need 50 shots to score 60 points? Sure, but for one last night, basketball fans got to remember the real Kobe. Leading up to his last game in 2016, Kobe struggled with injuries from 2013-2015. He was a shell of the assassin he used to be. But on April 13th, in his last game ever at the Staples Center, Kobe scored 60 points in a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz. 60 points was the most points scored in a game that season, and Bryant became the oldest player to score 60 or more points in a game. It was the perfect way for Bryant to walk into retirement: a winner.

Kobe Bryant is one of the most decorated players in NBA history. He’s one of the best winners of his game’s generation and one of the best players to play in the NBA. There was nothing like the seeing Kobe get that snarl on his face, and proceed to pick an opponent apart. While it may look a bit funny of a player to have two separate numbers retired by the same team, Kobe Bryant certainly has had enough memories in each to warrant this decision.

Kyrie to the Celtics Changes NBA East


Boston wants to dominate the 2020s.

Ainge knows that while LeBron remains in Cleveland, he shouldn’t sell the farm for a short term upgrade.

Boston is saving their assets for a true superstar – think Anthony Davis.

Ainge knows Golden State is unbeatable for the next 2-3 years.

These were the refrains we heard for the past few years. Boston had the most coveted assets in the league after fleecing Brooklyn out of three first round picks. They were rumored to be potential destinations for all of the stars on the trading block for the past few years, but they continued to pass on players such as Demarcus Cousins, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler. It frustrated fans, but it made sense. Why trade young players and picks now when they almost certainly can’t put you past LeBron or the Warriors?

Celtics GM Danny Ainge stayed the course, even when public pressure to make a move mounted. The ping-pong balls rewarded his patience when the Celtics won the draft lottery in May 2017. After moving down, they still got their guy – Jayson Tatum – and added him to a roster with talented prospect Jaylen Brown. With Tatum, Brown, young superstar coach Brad Stevens, and Brooklyn’s first round pick in 2018, the Celtics were in incredible position to field a dominant roster in the 2020s.

By now, you already know that the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first round pick for Kyrie Irving. The move makes sense on some levels. As well as Thomas played last year, he is simply not as good as Irving. The Celtics were leery about paying a 5’8”, 29 year old point guard a max contract in the summer of 2018. Crowder has been a contributer, but his absence frees up more minutes for Brown and Tatum. But the offseason addition of Gordon Hayward may have tipped the scales more than any other factor in favor of making this trade. He too plays the same position as Crowder. But more importantly, Ainge thinks Boston can make the Finals this year.

The Celtics are positioned for the 2020s, but they are pretty damn good right now. Hayward, and to a lesser extent Al Horford, give the Celtics All-Star caliber players in their prime (the back end of Horford’s). Adding Irving makes the team better this year. All reports indicate that LeBron’s relationship with Cleveland ownership is shattered. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where he mentally checks out like he did during the 2010 playoff series versus the Celtics and the 2011 Finals versus the Mavs. If so, the Celtics are poised to take advantage. Then Boston is one injury of a key player on Golden State away from winning the Finals. It’s unlikely, but only the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavs still have a better chance of winning the 2018 Finals than the Celtics do. That has to count for something.

At age 25, Kyrie is right in the “sweet spot” where he can help the Celtics make the Finals this year and can still contribute long term. Horford will be a dinosaur by the time Boston’s teenagers (and future picks) are ready to contribute, and Hayward will be getting long in the tooth as well. If they can lock Kyrie up long term, he can be the point guard of the present and the future. Ainge took a big risk by finally dealing one of the Brooklyn picks. If it ends up as the top pick in what is shaping up to be a top-heavy draft, he may come to regret it. Marvin Bagley in particular has been called a once in a generation talent.

Boston payed a hefty price for a player who had to be traded. But they gave up players who were ultimately expendable for them, either this year or next. Giving up the Brooklyn pick definitely hurts – especially after George and Butler were acquired for so little – but Boston undoubtedly got better this year, and draft picks can be uncertain. Check back in about fifteen years to see who won this trade. Maybe the Celtics will have multiple Larry O’Brien trophies to show for it, or maybe Marvin Bagley will be remembered as the greatest Cav of all time.

NBA vs. NCAA: The Debate

ncaa nba

Basketball is the best sport. This is an indisputable fact that all reasonable people can agree on. But which is better, NBA basketball or NCAA basketball? Let’s look at some of the factors that make the NBA and college hoops unique from one another.

NCAA March Madness vs NBA Playoffs

Quality vs. Quantity

The most obvious difference is the quality of play. In addition to the cream of the crop from college basketball, the NBA features the best international players. NBA players are either in their prime or their career or close to it, while college players aren’t close. Exacerbating this discrepancy is the fact that the most talented college players almost always leave after one year in school – gone are the days when a player like Patrick Ewing would stay in school and dominate college basketball for four years. There are about 4200 Division I basketball players versus about 360 NBA players. Clearly, the NBA is a better option if you’re strictly looking for great players and great basketball.

Quality of play and is far from the only thing that impacts how we enjoy the sport. There are a surprising amount of rule differences between the NBA and the college game. Most of the rule differences make the NBA a more exciting product. In the NBA, the shot clock is 24 seconds and the game lasts 48 minutes. This creates more possessions and a faster pace than in college, where the shot clock is 30 seconds and the game is 40 minutes. NBA teams can advance the ball well past half court after calling time out. This is critical in the last few seconds of a close game – instead of taking highly improbable half court heaves, NBA teams advance the ball and create better opportunities for buzzer beaters. Their counterparts in college are forced to inbound the ball from under their own basket. The college rule is more “pure”, but the NBA rule is more exciting.

Rules, Rules, Rules

A few other rule difference deserve acknowledgement. Six personal fouls get you tossed from an NBA game, compared to five in college. While the 8 extra minutes of game time and shorter shot clock in the NBA make the numbers virtually proportional (one foul per 8 minutes), it is still easier to get in ‘foul trouble’ in college. Put it this way: if basketball games were 8 minutes total and one foul got you ejected, everyone would be in foul trouble for the entire game. The game is best when the best players are playing, so the NBA gets the nod on this rule too. The rule difference that favors college most is the 1 and 1. It creates and exciting scenario where a team is punished heavily for missing the first free throw. In the NBA, teams get two shots when they are in the penalty and don’t risk losing the possession over one miss.

Atmosphere

While the rules and quality of play favor the NBA game, college basketball often has a better atmosphere. This is partially due to rivalries. With all of the player movement in the NBA, true rivalries are hard to come by and Lakers Celtics is the only true old school rivalry. But no matter who is on the court, you know that Carolina – Duke is going to be a bloodbath. Even in non rivalry games, college basketball crowds are usually more fired up than NBA crowds. It creates a more exciting atmosphere for regular season games than there is in most NBA arenas.

Crowning a Champion

The NBA and NCAA crown champions in very different ways. The NBA playoffs last two long months, and the best of seven format ensures that upsets are rare and the best team usually wins it all. It’s an extremely fair system and the amount of games ensures that the league creates significant revenue. But what is fair is not necessarily exciting, as we saw this year with Golden State going unchallenged. College basketball’s system needs no explanation – March Madness is simply the best yearly event in sports.

Style of Play

Another area where college basketball has an edge is the various styles of play. Fortunately, the NBA has gone away from the isolation basketball that made Jordan’s Bulls, Duncan’s late 90s / early 00s Spurs, and the Shaq/Kobe Lakers so successful. Offenses play a much more visually pleasing pick-and-roll and ball movement style, with the most successful offenses surrounding the pick-and-roll with accurate three point shooters. However, it is mostly one note. Winning comes down to who can execute this style better (or who can defend it). College still features many styles of play. When I turn on a UNC game, I know that they are running after every possession St that Roy Williams doesn’t know what a time out is. I know that Louisville is going to be pressing, Syracuse is going to be in their match-up zone, and that Duke players are taught to undercut opponents in an attempt to draw a charge. The fact that a myriad of styles are still used at the college level makes the game unique.

These styles of play are largely linked to coaches. Unfortunately for college basketball, coaches are the only thing that remains familiar to fans. All of the best college players are gone after one year. With NBA basketball, you can follow a player from when is is 19 years old to when he is 35, and sometimes beyond. When Dirk Nowitzki finally won his title after over a decade of playoff disappointment, the moment was bigger than when Carmelo Anthony won a title in his one year at Syracuse. The journeys and legacy factor make NBA accomplishments feel more significant than NCAA accomplishments, especially if we’ve been watching that player for years.

If you haven’t figured it out, I favor NBA basketball over NCAA ball. The quality of play, player storylines, and favorable rule differences are some of the factors that tip the scale in the NBA’s favor. Having said that, good luck prying me away from the Tournament in March.