This summer, Pau Gasol has three doors staring him straight in the face, each one leading to a different future, and each one dictating a different ending for how he’ll spend the rest of his career as a meaningful basketball player.
1) He leaves L.A. behind and becomes the same player he was in 2010, ridding himself of all the name-calling, unjust third-option placement, and total lack of respect that’s bogged him down these last two seasons.
2) He leaves L.A. and brings all the baggage with him, roaming around the perimeter, showing up for some games and disappearing in others, and looking more like a second or third option than a franchise player.
3) He stays in Southern California and continues to disintegrate beside Kobe Bryant.
That’s it right there. Those are the three roads. If it comes down to the first two options and you’re the Rockets, there’s quite a gamble in not knowing which door he ends up walking through. At this point they’ll need to ask themselves: is it even worth the risk? [read more…]
I am loath to dole out grades. I’ve never done it. Why? Because it presents a veil of finality. Not every issue is closed or can be defined by the assignment of a single character. But I’ll do it. Psychologists will tell you that people like grades because people want conclusions. Whilst casual reading, people don’t want to be left with open-ended analysis; they want a concrete takeaway in concise form. So with that, I’ll do this…for you guys. But know I hate such gross oversimplification in assessment.
We’ll start this series with Kevin McHale. I’ll work through every major figure associated with the team, or until I grow tired of the whole thing. That could very well happen as early as like the Kevin Martin issue or even last up to Hasheem Thabeet. We’ll see. Actually, I had been working on (putting off) a ‘season in review’ piece, but realized I needed to do some of the major thinking in more detail and figured this series would help. Anyways, without further ado, I present to you the Kevin McHale installment.
Speaking recently on ESPN’s NBA Today podcast about how basketball’s physicality is devolving throughout the league, Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute identified Kevin Martin as one of the league’s finest floppers:
“A lot of guys, their whole game is flopping offensively, and they’re very efficient at it,” he said. “[Martin] is one of the best floppers. Offensively he uses it to his advantage; he does a good job at it, getting to the lane, hitting people and throwing the ball up. He’s just using the game, being smart.”
Mbah a Moute’s commentary was phrased in a complimentary way, but it shouldn’t be read that way. With the playoffs in full bloom and each possession under the microscope of a basketball watching nation, flopping has quickly become the NBA’s most contentious issue. [read more…]
I took my last final on Wednesday and have been in Georgia visiting my parents since Thursday. I’ve been wanting to write and have even sat down to do it on numerous occasions, but nothing comes. Those of you who write regularly might be able to relate: when doing it habitually, whatever one is thinking almost flows straight from the mind onto the keyboard. After breaking that routine, things bog down and nothing seems to come out. Nevertheless, we’re here and we have the playoffs to discuss.
The NBA is a league driven by opportunity. To arrive is one thing, but without a motor constantly pushing you to get better, a well-established niche, and coaches who believe you’re good enough not to get them fired, finding a way to stay for the long haul can be just as challenging. If you’re a marginal player, several factors play into which side of the fence you’ll fall on: If the guy ahead of you on the depth chart has a long standing reputation as a consistently productive player; if the system does or does not suit your strengths and hide your weaknesses; or if you’ve been jammed into a role that may or may not fit (Evans, Tyreke or McGee, JaVale), the future can either look rosy or uncertain. But if you manage to have everything fall into place, with a simple set of instructions laid out by a smart coaching staff that embeds you in a cocoon of comfort, good things can happen. [read more…]