A Few Ruminations on the NBA

Thought I would do a grab bag of things I've been thinking about, none of which seemed to justify a fanpost on their own.  Seems worthwhile to expand the discussion beyond what to do with the second pick and just how terrible David Kahn is as POBO.  Other things are going on around the league, some of which touch tangentially on the Wolves.

A. Let's start with a shout out to the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that just a couple of seasons ago appeared to be in the same place as the Wolves, as a pretty sad sack team that needed some pretty serious rebuilding.  Now they are a 46 win team that gave its fans a thrilling playoff run, beating San Antonio and pushing OKC to 7 games.  The Grizz actually were a season behind the Wolves in rebuilding to the extent that they traded their star big man almost a year after the Wolves traded theirs. 

What the Grizzlies showed us this year is that there are different ways to win in the NBA.  We spent the year complaining (with justification) about the Wolves 3 point defense.  And in fact, the Wolves gave up the 2nd most 3 pointers and the 4th highest 3 point shooting percentage.  But on the other hand, the Wolves were 9th in 3 pointers made and 6th in percentage.  The Grizzlies on the other hand MADE the fewest 3 pointers in the league and had the 4th worst percentage, and weren't great at defending the 3 either: they gave up the 4th most 3s, and had the 7th highest percentage against.  How the succeeded was by being in the top 10 in both ORB% and TOV% while also forcing the most turnovers in the league.  As a result, they took over 300 more shots than their opponents. 

B. The NBAPA filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board yesterday accusing the NBA of failing to bargain in good faith.  While I think they probably have a point, it's probably a bit too early for this, to the extent that the NLRB will probably send them away for a while.  (Though, by the time the Board gets around to ruling on this complaint years might go by).  The Union is essentially accusing the league of what's called "surface bargaining," which means that while the league is pretending to bargain by meeting with the union, they are not truly willing to engage in any give and take or compromise.  They are maintaining an extreme bargaining position without any interest in actually making a deal, but instead are intent on forcing a lockout and then using their economic advantages to strong arm the players into an unfavorable agreement.  If the NLRB finds in favor of the players, they can force the owners to open their doors and play under the current (soon to be expired) CBA, and I believe they can also require them to pay money damages if the lockout happens and costs the players money before they make such a ruling.

C. Relatedly, the owners are proposing a $45 million hard cap, phased in over 2 years.  This is shocking to me; currently there is a $58 million soft cap.  I don't see how this could even be phased in over 2 years even if the players were to agree.  It would have to include removing guarantees from existing contracts so that teams could cut players without being obligated for their salaries.  This is a massive rollback.  Just making the current $58 million a hard cap instead of a soft cap would be a massive rollback; cutting the number to $45 million makes it seem punitive.  Hey owners: don't blame the players because you can't stop yourself from spending poorly.  When you continually wind up with buyers remorse, perhaps you should reassess your shopping habits.  This at a time when revenues appear to be increasing, and TV ratings have been excellent.

D. The Blazers have fired yet another General Manager, apparently because he didn't make friends with Paul Allen.  However, he did make a pretty damn good trade for Gerald Wallace after Brandon Roy went down with what apparently is a career changing injury.  Rich Cho acted; he didn't wait around fretting over his bad luck that his franchise guy, signed to a max deal by the previous GM, went down, he found a way to help his team and get them to the playoffs.  He apparently didn't spend enough time chatting with the powers that be, however, and off he goes.  Glen Taylor: take notes. 

E. In the meantime, the Warriors have brought in Jerry West to consult.  Don't know if it will work out, but there's something to be said for bringing in a professional voice to vet your thinking.  I get that there's danger in neutering your GM (or POBO...) but given the results, and the somewhat out of control appearance of the front office, hiring a grown up has appeal.  Glen Taylor: take notes.

F. Who will take the Wolves coaching job?  The biggest indictment of Rambis, in my opinion, is his failure to get the team to play anything resembling defense.  Returning to the Grizzlies, this is one of the big differences; Lionel Hollins got them to defend despite not having a crew of players known for individual defensive prowess.  I have no faith that anyone with real talent will be willing to take the Wolves job as it currently stands, but they need to find someone sooner rather than later.  Jerry Sloan isn't walking through that door.

What's on your mind?

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