Long Distance Jayhawk


Basketball Related Conversation That’s Mostly (Kind of?) Funny by longdistancejayhawk
January 9, 2015, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I had every intention of writing an actual preview about tomorrow’s game against Texas Tech. I had an intro that was going to be a weird obit for Jamari Traylor that somehow turned into him rising from the ashes, thanks to the dunk getting waved off. But, you know, life. Never got around to it. I did, however, have a week long email excahnge with my buddy Andrew. Below is that exchange (technically, he only agreed to a “quoting” but in my defense, he didn’t define how much he was willing to be quoted on).

Me:

I mean, I know it was the holidays and I kind of spaced on paying attention to the NBA for like a week, but I can’t imagine that poor Cole Aldrich did anything to deserve being mentioned in the same visual breath as Marc Gasol.

Also, it’s the most Knicks-y thing to have your official Twitter account’s name be NBA New York Knicks.
Andrew:
Ha! Cole looks like a 14 year old whose Mom just walked in on him dribbling a basketball around the living room.
Me:
Agreed. Also, WTF? Shumpert and smith in the waiters deal?
Got a seat upgrade for the Mavs game tonight. I can count each of dirk’s teeth.
Andrew:
Ah, man. That’s pretty dope! Don’t know if Waiters will fit on the Thunder. Pretty sure the Cavs traded him because of his clashes with Kyrie – you think he’s going to have an easier time with Westbrook? I highly doubt it. He just seems like a low character guy, not typical Thunder material. Fortunately OKC only gave up a protected first-rounder and Lance Thomas to get him. I really don’t get this trade from the Cavs perspective though. I’m sure the Knicks made taking JR a requirement for getting the deal done, but good Lord if the Cavs don’t cut his ass tout suite they’ve effectively traded one mercurial, mid-range gunner for another. If I were the Cavs, I would have done just a straight up Shump for Waiters deal – but again, I’m sure Phil made JR a non-negotiatable piece of any deal was going to get made. If it wasn’t clear when all that talk about Melo sitting out the season started circulating, at this point I think it’s fair to say that the Knicks are tanking.

Looks like the Nets game was pretty close. Guess you don’t have to worry about ever being out of the playoff picture in the East though.

Me:

Man, I’m on board with you probably 100%. I was having a blast at the Nets game (great atmosphere, BTW…some solid possessions down the stretch to force OT – specifically a like 25-foot bomb from Johnson on a busted play – but the Mavs were just better; especially Monta Ellis have it all).

To kind of expand on your point, isn’t this a trade with two losers and just one winner? Hell, I’d argue that Phil Jackson is the only winner out of this whole deal, since he looks like he literally put two other teams over a barrel and forced them to help him get out of a shit jam clusterfuck. I mean, look what he managed to do: waive Dalembert two days before the deadline, then flip Smith and Shump for cap relief so he can scrap this season, persue free agents in the off season, and maybe turn Melo’s career around for the better.
Meanwhile, the Thunder pick up yet another guard that brings little to the table. I feel like I saw this stat recently, but he’s like 26% on catch-and-shoot this season. And how the fuck are the Thunder going to use him? As a safety valve! A CATCH-AND-SHOOT GUY WHEN A PLAY’S BROKEN! Like, what? Do they miss Thabo that fucking much? And to your point: Kyrie is an exceptionally good player, sure, but more subtly is that he seems like (relative to the NBA) a pretty chill dude. And Dion clashed with him. Clashed with a dude who looks like he’s perma-stoned. So, naturally, the best situation to put that guy into is one that involves Russell “The only guard more combative, angry, and agressive than me is Rondo” Westbrook. These two are going to get along like oil and water, assuming that oil murdered water in the middle of a 2-7 playoffs series.
Seriously, I just don’t see what this brings to the Thunder at all. Like, Waiters just takes away shots from your pair of top ten guys, right? If that was your plan, why didn’t they make a run at Josh Smith? If KD And Russ can’t get anything, let him bomb.
As for the Cavs, I have two theories: 1.) In the face of a mountain of injuries, the Cavs are looking for instant offense to hold things down for them in the absence of LeBron and figured they could buy low-ish on two guys that might take to a change of scenery (Shumpert, maybe…JR? Keep in mind, this is the dude who order like $3,000 worth of room service on the Knicks’ dime just to see if the hotel would ever stop bringing him food). 2.) Without pretty much every player on their roster available, Dan Gilbert and their GM had ‘Nam-esque flashbacks to the Irving/Waiters brawl, and realized that, with the way things currently stand, that was going to happen again. And instead of having blood on their hands, maybe they let someone else bury the body. Which is why I think they keep both of those guys for the time being. They have until like 5pm tomorrow to make cuts, and I can’t imagine that was part fo Cleveland’s plan at this point. I think it was a genuine move with an eye at treading water for the time being, and maybe mixing the two in as bench unit bombers.
Now, all of that is to say…I think this might be the stupidest idea in the history of mid-season trades. I hope to Christ David Blatt didn’t have a hand in the trade because I’m pretty sure it’s just enough rope to hang yourself.
/rant
Andrew:
It does seem like the Cavs are going to keep JR. Maybe he can turn it around – think Rondo and Chandler on the Mavs this year – but he’s never been much of a defender, which is what the Cavs need. Also, I just want to point out that Shumpert is seriously overrated as a defender. Everyone’s talking about him like he’s Pacers-era Ron Artest or something. I mean, he’s fine, but he’s basically Anthony Morrow with better hair. The fact that anyone even talks about him at all comes down to the fact that his name EHHH-MAAAAAN SHUUUUMPERT and he’s played the last several years in the nation’s largest media market.

The internet has been saying that Waiters is an insurance policy for the Thunder in case Reggie Jackson leaves next year, which seems the same as buying a ham sandwich in case you get cancer. THAT SWEET SWEET HONEY-GLAZE WILL NOT SAVE YOU. Nevertheless, I don’t think having Waiters around will move the needle either way for OKC – though now they might be marginally more likely to let Jackson go when the time comes. The Thunder just need to focus on staying healthy right now (just as a sidenote, people always say that “focus on staying healthy” – what the hell does that mean? “Hey, KD maybe don’t go parkouring all over downtown with your ankles tied together. Focus on staying healthy!”).

Can’t believe KU doesn’t have anyone scoring over 13 ppg. Then again, Kentucky may not have anyone scoring over 10 and they’re the best team in the country, so what do I know?
Me:

Confession time: I’ve probably spent more time saying “EHHH-MAAAAAN SHUUUUMPERT” than I have actually watching the man play basketball, so you’re right on that count. All I remember about him (and let’s talk about these dudes in the past tense since the only reason any of us really cared was because Walt Clyde Fraiser was saying their names on a telecast) was the flattop and that documentary MSG pimped the shit out of when he was coming back from the ACL tear. Other than that, I honestly cannot think of a single basketball moment featuring him. Wait, I take that back…I think he had a big oop or dunk the Nets/Knicks game at the end of the season in Brooklyn.

I think, but I wouldn’t want to bet my life on it.
I think you get to the heart of JR Smith and the problem with him as a player (and Shumpert, who I would argue is better than JR, in that you would rather have Shump as your seventh man than JR on your team): he’s in a perpetual state of “turning it around.” AT some point, we have to admit that either he’s turned it around or that this is it and there’s no turning around. In either case,that’s scary since turning involved going, what? Like 5-degrees tops? Personally, I enjoyed watching him play. Not that he was great or even consistent, but that he had the most insanely outsized ego I’ve ever seen. Look at the way he carried himself during that unconcious stretch like two years ago. Look at the face when he hit that clutch game winning three. Those are memories.
 
Of course, none of that really means anything when you’re paying him an ungodly sum of money and he’s more known for that minor outburst of production and Tweeting about how that ass “want the pipe.” You realize that, right now, the most important thing happening on a basketball court is Mason Plumlee. And that’s scary. This is the Mecca, dammit!
 
The more I think about this trade, though, the more upset I get about the stalled Williams to Sacto talks. Watching them ship off Smith and Shump made me happy from an NBA fan perspective (massive trade happening in the middle of the season) and sad from a Nets fan perspective (look, the incompetent Knicks are out competenting you, Billy!). There are trades to be had, even for head case guys. The Knicks proved it. Billy King, the gauntlet has been thrown. What’s your plan*?
 
God, I don’t think there’s a scarier contract situation that you could possibly be in if you’re the Thunder, right? Reggie Jackson is fucking awesome! Now, Waiters is just going to be the dead weight you drag in after Jackson possibly leaves for more lucrative pastures? Balls to that. To further your sandwich-as-cancer-insurance analogy, if Jackson leaves, you’ll realize he was the delicious ham sandwich all along.
“Hey, KD maybe don’t go parkouring all over downtown with your ankles tied together. Focus on staying healthy!” – you win this topic, so I’ll leave it at that.
Me (the next day or so after the Timofey Mozgov deal went through):
Dude, the Cavs are like someone who gets loaded on a Tuesday night and starts making like 100 fantasy trade offers. God only knows what other trades they’ve shopped around that we’re not hearing about. Is it possible that the Cavs could have like 93% turnover on their roster from entering free agency last summer and the playoffs? Obviously, the NBA is a transient game, even if you are a superstar, but this is ridiculous. Of the current roster, just four players were rostered on the Cavs last year (Delladevdova, Irving, Thompson, Varaejao). That seems pretty insane, especially when you consider the fact they made that extreme roster surgery as an anti-tanking maneuver.
Andrew:
I liked the Mozgov deal. And they did suck last year, which makes keeping the same players around less appealing. I can’t remember where I read/heard this, but some Grantland/ESPN person said something along the lines of “Continuity doesn’t matter if you’re terrible.” I agree with that. I will say this – Lebron has definitely lost a step. He’s still one of the Top 5 guys in league, but he doesn’t have the same explosiveness he used to. What’s more, I haven’t been that blown away by Kevin Love this year. Athleticism isn’t everything, but the guy barely gets off the ground. What’s more, he can’t play defense and doesn’t move that well off the ball. Then they’re picking up all this “veteran talent” (a coinage that’s synonymous with “washed up” about 75% of the time, cf. the Clippers) like Shawn Marion and James Jones. What the hell are those guys giving you? Maybe I’m jumping the gun in saying this, but Lebron might have been better off staying in Miami. I think the Heat still would have fallen off significantly, but at least they wouldn’t be struggling to figure things out in the middle of the season. What’s really crazy is that with all the talent in the rest of the league, I think that Lebron is probably done winning championships. Isn’t that nuts? I mean, he’s 30 years old and in his 12th season. Sure, he could probably play another 8 seasons – and he might – but the Cavs would have to pull some real alchemical magic to surpass the Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, Blazers, Bulls, Hawks, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Clippers, Spurs, Raptors, and Suns (teams that are better than they are right now) as well as the Pelicans, Kings, Timberwolves, and 76ers (teams that almost certainly will be in a few years).
And another thing about Kevin Love – when do we start saying that those fucking outlet passes are kind of a gimmick? I don’t know that they are necessarily and I don’t feel like engaging in a rigorous statistical analysis to prove my point, but Jesus Christ, man, I don’t want to hear about it anymore. “Outlet pass” might as well be his goddamn middle name at this point.
Me:

His middle name is outlet pass? Could has sworn it was WesUnseld, since I’ve never seen the 2014-15 Cavs play without a comparison video. And one of those games was at Barclays and they put the comp video up on the Jumbotron.

Jokes! They didn’t do that. That didn’t stop me from imagining Ian Eagle waxing on Unseld while Mike Fratello drew a dog catching the pass over the clip on YES. Czar of the Telestrator, baby!

Aren’t most things that guys do gimmicks, though? There are certainly people who would say the same thing about the Rockets’ philosophical approach to the game of basketball. Anyway, I think too much is made of it, especially since the Cavs get so much national TV love and, at a certain point, saturation is reached and everyone who gives a shit has already heard Mike Breen and Reggie Miller discuss it. Sure, they’re a functional part of the game. That’s not in dispute. I think Love gets so many of them because of the types of teams he plays on. If you’re a run and gun team or you have guys like LeBron, you’re probably going to connect a lot more often. Look, we all get it: the dude knows how to bust out a long distance chest pass.
Honestly, I don’t mind the wheeling/dealing or the moves at all. Just the flurry of them. I just imagine Dan Gilbert shooting off Comic Sans emails every fifteen minutes that contain a single players’ name. Continuity is probably garbage if you’re bad, too. I was more getting at the idea that, should the Cavs win the Finals, it would be the ultimate evidence of rooting for laundry. The roster will be radically different by the end of the season*. I’m not quite ready to say LeBron won’t win another title. Sure, the talent in the league is fucking deep, but I think he’s smart enough and good enough to adapt his game, the way Jordan did, to try and maximize his chances. Which is maybe what he’s doing, in terms of the paleo thing and losing all that weight. That said, I agree he doesn’t look the same. There are bursts of the former LeBron, just not anything sustained (I think to him eviscerating the woeful Nets in the final five minutes of the third quarter at Barclays). Initially, I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he might just be trying to both play and recoup from four straight Finals. Now, I’m not so sure. Is there something more to it? Is it just age? Am I prepared to live in a world where LeBron is no longer LeBron and ages just like nearly every other superstar (Duncan and Jordan, the counterpoints)?
Given that we’re the same age, maybe I’m just trying to avoid facing my own mortality by refusing to accept a diminished LeBron.
Finally, fuck veteran talent. Shit’s overrated. You think the Clippers are the best example? Try watching the Nets, my friend. We’re about to veteran talent our way into a five year rebuilding crater.
* – as a quick aside: after JR got traded, my desire to see the Cavs lift the trophy quintupled, overriding my feeling that LeBron winning another would be sort of meh. Remember what he’s done when playing for a non-contender? Can you imagine what kind of crazy shit’s going to happen if he’s drunk on Championship? I’m pretty sure he’d end up burning down a club and the party keeps raging as the place is reduced to ash all around him.
Apropos to the conversation: this. The leader image alone is worth the price of admission.
Andrew:
Ha! You going to the Nets v. 76ers tonight? Tickets are dirt cheap, so I was thinking about checking it out. Obviously it’s like the platonic ideal of a shitty NBA matchup, but I heard the Sixers play hard at least.
Me:
Yeah, on two counts. The tickets are totally dirt cheap…hell, we might see the first tie in the history of the NBA. And yes, I’m going to the game tonight. We could probably arrange the same deal we did for OKC if you want to sit in the 204 with me.
Andrew:
Mike Fratello absolutely would draw a dog catching a pass on the YES calendar.

You could call everything a gimmick, I suppose. I guess I’ve just reached peak outlet pass. I also feel like a lot of the time he makes kind of reckless throws down court.

Where’s your seat again?

Me:

Haha, seriously. I love Fratello, mostly because he’s like the goofy basketball loving grandfather I never had.

Anyway, I also included it above but with no context, which probably made it seem liked I stroked out and jammed a couple of keys.
Cyprus works for me, buddy. I’ll get out of here at 5:30, so be there a little after six.
Andrew:
Cool. Just wanted to see Henry Sims play before I die.
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