Lakers

The start of Spring means the NBA playoffs are around the corner.  This should be good news all around for basketball fans, if you’re like me and completely bored of an even more uneventful NBA regular season than what is to be expected.  Yes, Chef Curry is still cookin, Kobe is still retiring, Lebron is still mad, George Karl is still in Sacramento, and the Spurs are still good.  The story lines have remained the same across the league since Halloween, and aside from a few Boogie tirades, Lebron social media standoffs and Blake Griffin blackouts, this season has lacked the high stakes and high drama we need to come from 7 games between Golden State and San Antonio, and the possibility of Boston, Miami or Toronto knocking off a tumultuous team in Cleveland.

With the postseason in view, the next few weeks aren’t only important to those 16 teams who will see the court in mid-April, but also to the organizations who are already looking toward next year, or have been for months.  NBA tank-a-thon 2016 is in full effect in Philly, LA and Phoenix, but come June 23rd, will it even matter? There’s a significant yet rarely discussed major detail in the tanking discussion – losing the most games rarely gets teams the coveted number one draft slot they so desperately want out of the draft “lottery.”

To be transparent, I support about 90% of conspiracies I hear about in general, and fully believe that there is no NBA Draft Lottery for the top 3 picks.  Those picks are bestowed upon the teams selected by Adam Silver, and David Stern before him, in order to keep parity in the NBA to the best of their ability while maximizing revenue and dominance in the major markets.  While I know this is constantly debated and there is much evidence to the contrary, I don’t really care to hear it, and basically operate under the assumption that this is fact.

That aside, it’s also important to note that the 2016 draft class is very shallow with a significant talent drop off after the first two picks – likely Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram – and there is abundant skepticism as to whether either of them will become a franchise, super star, foundational leader wherever they end up.  In some ways that makes getting a top 2 pick even more significant than in other years, but on the other hand, maybe it’s best for teams not to cash in their good karma in what might be a wasted year.

With that in mind, who has the best chance of locking up the draft’s top pick?  Let’s see…

If they were to show the draft balls on TV, as it stands now, Philadelphia and their impressive 9-64 record have the largest claim to the #1 pick with a 25% chance of opening their envelope (do they still do envelopes?) last.  They are in such desperate need of that franchise player to round out their squad of top picks in Joel Embid and Jahlil Okafor if they can ever stay healthy, and probably should be rewarded for what has been just an epic tank job, and potentially their best work to date.  But I just don’t see it.  They’re going to get a top 3 pick given that they have a 64.3% chance of landing on the medal stand, but the #2 spot seems like a better place for the Sixers so they don’t have to make the Simmons or Ingram decision, and can just play the hand they’re dealt.

That 9-64 record in Philly is particularly remarkable this year given that they have 7 more losses than even the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Lakers have been nothing short of terrible, and it comes at an optimal time when LA would have to give up their first round pick to Philly if it fell outside of the top 3.  Instead, the Lakers have a 55.8% chance of keeping their pick, and a 19.9% chance of it landing at #1, making it less discernible when Silver selects them to be the next and forever home of Ben Simmons, the kind of star that LA requires, forming an up-and-coming big 3 with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.

And there’s no one that would hate that more than Boston.  But Boston is in a weird spot with this year’s draft.  They’re seemingly in an incredible spot given that they have Brooklyn’s pick, and the 4th best odds of landing in the #1 spot, at a time when they’re urgently in need of a star to put them over the top.  On the flip side, their team is young but not that young and they’re actually a contender in the East given the right match up.  The star they need has to contribute now, not in a few years when their current core is on the decline.   If Silver bestowed #1 on the Celtics, it might make the most sense to complete some type of blockbuster trade that gets Boston star power this year.  But having the #1 spot go to the highest bidder doesn’t sound like the best thing for the NBA.  Boston and everyone else would be better off if they were to land #3, grab a role player who can help win some games, and continue their efforts to bring KD, Kevin Love or Boogie to the City on a Hill.

So that’s my prediction for this year’s “lottery” – Lakers, Sixers, Celtics (via Brooklyn) 1,2,3.  Minnesota’s too small for Silver to let them rise to dominance with Wiggins, Towns, LaVine AND Simmons, and the Bulls’ chances are too small at 0.5% to pull another Derrick Rose scenario so blatantly.  But there are still 3 weeks left in the season and anything can happen.  In the meantime, you can follow tank-a-thon 2016 here to stay updated on the odds across the bottom of the league.

And for the record, I know videos like this exist; I just choose to ignore them.

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Sunday was one for the books at the United Center as the Chicago Bulls hosted Kobe Bryant for the very final time. Earlier this season Kobe announced his retirement and the Bulls made sure the correct homage was paid to the NBA superstar in his final visit to the Mad House – with the exception of a win, viagra the Bulls went ahead and took the 126-115 W over the Lakers. Sorry to spoil the special moment Kobe.

The Black Mamba has been consistently compared to Chicago’s Michael Jordan as a candidate for ‘Greatest Player of All Time.’ From his style of play, to his competitive drive, to his championship pedigree, even down to his tongue-wagging ways, many say Bryant is the closest thing to Jordan since Jordan (definitely a compliment). Kobe even passed MJ on the all-time scoring list, but won 5 Championships, one fewer NBA title than the Goat. I’d like to give a shout-out to Phil Jackson, who coached both legendary players during their prime-time domination years.

Did you know Kobe almost even played for the Bulls back in 2007 after Chicago and LA tried to negotiate a big fat trade between the Lakers, Bulls and Kings? Fun fact right? It obviously didn’t work out and would have completely changed the landscape of the Bulls (they would have never had a high enough draft pick to snag Derrick Rose in 2008 with Kobe on the team). Bryant did say, that Chicago had been his top destination aside from his Lakers.

The night started with PJ Rose grabbing a quick fist bump with one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Despite PJ’s overwhelming cuteness, Pau Gasol really stole the show giving his former teammate and friend quite the tribute. Gasol introduced Kobe Bryant in the starting lineup with a personal video that had the fans on their feet. Truly humbling kind of moment between two former teammates feeling all the love and respect for one another.

Kobe put up 22 points in his final game in Chicago and was provided plenty of hugs and admiration. Other than a loss for the Lakers, Bulls fans gave the former NBA MVP an honorable send-off. With 45 seconds left in the game, Bryant checked in at the UC for the final time and fans gave the guy a standing ovation, I’m talking lots of applause here. It was a beautiful thing.

The Bulls actually put on a good show Sunday night, which is unusual as of late. E’Twaun Moore and Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 24 points each. Gasol was right behind with 21 points and Bobby Portis and Doug McDermott combined for 33 points off the bench. The Lakers aren’t currently the best team in basketball, but it’s always nice to see your team play well after some rough games.

Farewell Kobe Bryant. It was an honor to watch one of the greatest of all time play the game. The Lakers will never be the same without you.

 

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Melo UC 2

The United Center on Tuesday tweeted by @espn

Ready, pilule set, find let the Carmelo Anthony courting begin! Free agency started at 12:01 AM Tuesday morning and the Chicago Bulls got the first shot at securing the restricted free agent.

Mother Nature seems to be on our side giving Melo a beautiful Chicago summer day for his Tuesday tour, now we just need GM Gar Forman and the front office to pull out all the stops because this dude is definitely the belle of the free agency ball this 2014 off season. His list of possible suitors seems endless and the money is flowing.

After his visit in Chicago Tuesday, Anthony will head to Texas to meet with the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets and later to Los Angeles to hear out the Lakers. He will be wined and dined by each ball club and after his travels could ultimately crush some hearts and re-sign with his Knicks in New York for a fat contract.

Despite the risk, it looks like the Bulls are all in on Sir Anthony after decking out the UC with the “We want Melo” signage and pictures. Chicago drafted and traded for Doug McDermott to clear cap space last week, head coach Tom Thibodeau is on board for bringing in the small forward with the hot shot, Joakim Noah has been recruiting the sharp shooter since January during the All-Star game and the city of Chicago has been wishing for a scorer since the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era.

If you’ve missed the rumblings about Carmelo, here are some important factors to consider:

Why Should Carmelo Come to Chicago? 

  • For a better lack of words, the Bulls have been scoring challenged over the last two seasons. They are desperate for a superstar scorer and Anthony could be that guy. He’d be an instant offensive savior for this Bulls team. He averaged 27.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists last season.

    Melo at the UC

    Melo in a Bulls uniform outside the UC

  • Melo understands legacies are made by championship rings and not necessarily how many points you score a game. The Bulls want to win a championship right now. They don’t want to wait a year to clear out cap space to bring in better players. They have a strong core and know they need a solid scorer to complete their puzzle.
  • The Bulls are in the Eastern Conference – the Mavs, Rockets and Lakers are all in the Western Conference which is most definitely a tougher crowd. Think the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs, Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder, Blake Griffin/Chris Paul and the Clippers – the talent is honestly ridiculous. Other than the Miami Heat, the East is up for the taking. Your odds of at least making it to a NBA finals is far more likely in the Eastern Conference.

What Could Hold Melo Back?

  • More money more problems – Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer Melo a maximum contract of $129 million over five years. Any other potential teams can offer Anthony a maximum of $96 million over four years. Thats a hefty pay cut.

    Melo United Center

    Melo with Championship trophies around the UC

  • Derrick Rose has been injury prone over the last two years. It may be difficult to sell a team with an uncertain superstar piece of the puzzle. Rose could come back stronger than ever this upcoming season, or he may not. It’s all up the air at this point and we know Melo isn’t interested in hanging around to wait and see.
  • Stroke the Ego: Other stars have openly recruited Anthony. Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are ready for Melo in Dallas, Dwight Howard and James Harden are waiting in Houston and his good buddy Kobe Bryant is ready to chat man to man in LA. Melo and Lebron James even have a bro-mance happening that could hinder his decision. The Bulls superstar, (who hasn’t suited up in quite some time) Derrick Rose, thinks it’s not “his job” to recruit star players. However, he may not have been openly recruiting Melo, Rose did attend today’s meetings in Chicago.
  • Brooklyn Born: New York is Melo’s hometown and I’m sure he feels a connection to his city. It would mean more to win a championship in “his city” rather than some other location. It’s going to take some serious schmoozing for Anthony to move his family out of his fancy life in the Big Apple and run with the Bulls.

Melo Medley

Be prepared to hear quite a bit about Carmelo and his free agency journey across the US over the next few weeks. This is only the beginning as there are quite a few quality free agents available this off season.

Just remember, it’s only speculation until Melo officially accepts an offer – hopefully he’ll keep things classier than BronBron’s “The Decision” on ESPN a few years back. No need to nationally broadcast your choice, but if you take your talents to Chicago Melo, I promise we’re better fans than you’ll find in NY. #letsgo #Bullieve

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Kobe Bryant’s Fabulous Holiday Greeting Card

Instagram (LadyVB24)

The greatest accessory that anyone could ever own is a FAB family. The beautiful Bryant clan is spreading Holiday cheer in purple and gold. The gorgeous couple and their stunning daughters recently struck a pose for their annual holiday greeting cards.

Kobe looks dapper in purple suede (funny, stuff I never thought I’d ever utter those words).  Vanessa also looks enviable in her gold wrap gown. The mini-stylistas, viagra Natalia and Gianna look absolutely adoptable adorable in their purple and gold dresses.

Kobe was finally able to hit the court on Sunday after eights months of recovering from an Achilles Tendon injury sustained during last season’s first

Instagram (LadyVB24)

round of the playoffs. The Staples Center gave him an elaborate welcome after 8 months of inactivity. The Lakers, however, aren’t exactly raking in wins.

The Lake Show is 0-2 and scoring 21 points fewer per 100 possessions when Kobe is on the court than without him.  During Tuesday nights’ game against the Phoenix Suns, Bryant’s performance was–well–humble. Although he displayed a significant improvement, it is evident that the Black Mamba has not shown up yet. Right now, he’s more like the ‘Light-Gray Mamba.’ He scored 20 points with 6 for 11 shooting, 3 assists and 3 turnovers. The Lakers play the OKC Thunder on Friday. Let’s just hope they clean up their defense by then.

Justin Timberlake’s Game Day Gear

Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

Justin Timberlake was in Indianapolis to perform on Wednesday night as part of the 20/20 Experience World Tour. On Tuesday, JT ditched his ‘Suit and Tie’ for a sweatshirt and NBA cap. He was able to watch the Indiana Pacers put in work against the Miami Heat.

Indiana Pacers have continued to prove themselves to be worthy title contenders. After Tuesday’s impressive 90-84  win against Miami, Pacers’ forward Paul George was able to squeeze in a game of H-O-R-S-E with JT.

The sexy soul singer once had dreams of becoming an NBA player (no joke), and during their epic game of H-O-R-S-E Timberlake hit six straight 3-pointers. The Knicks AND the Lakers could use him.

sports.yahoo.com

I’m pretty sure that if he was not part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, one of these teams would have recruited him instantly. We do not know who won that game of H-O-R-S-E, but Justin Timberlake has (once again) won my heart, and the Pacers are winning new found recognition!

Carmelo Anthony Talks New Shoe Designs

After ten years with the Jordan Brand, Anthony unveiled the new design for his signature sneaker, the Jordan Melo M10. The shoe exhibits a mix of style, comfort, and efficiency. The flight plate technology used  in this sneaker is perfect for any on-court action. The Melo M10 will be available for $165 (suggested retail) on January 4, 2014. These shoes are the perfect gift for sneaker buffs. They won’t be released in time for the holidays, but it is ALWAYS theprobasketballtalk.com right time for presents!

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in their win against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. They almost blew a  big lead, but they were ultimately able to steal a ‘W’ for their record. They were up by as much as 23, but the determined Chicago Bulls do not take 20+ point leads sitting down.  The Bulls made it as difficult as possible, but New York ultimately took the win. The Knicks are now 6-15. And no. Rajon Rondo will not be a Knick anytime soon.

That’s it for now…but  not worries! I will continue to keep you fabulously posted with the League’s hottest stories. Until Next Week, Divas!

 

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The Lakers may have brought some heat from the West Coast but the Bulls sent them packing into the cold night. Things got hot at the United Center Monday night as the Bulls lit up the Lakers 95-83 and extended L.A.’s road game losing streak to six games. It was all tied up going into the final stanza, but the Bulls pulled away in the last three minutes when Kirk Hinrich and Marco Belinelli shut it down.

The Bulls may be a team without a superstar right now, but Coach Thibs is doing something right because these guys know how to play as a unit. On the contrary, the Lakers are a team with four potential Hall of Famers on the floor who can’t seem to find a team identity in this nightmare of a season. Keep reading for all the details between the gritty Bulls and Lake-Show.

What You Need to Know:

  • Captain Kirkled the Bulls offensively scoring 22 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and came up huge in the fourth quarter. Hinrich gave the sharp shooting Steve Nash (18 points) a defensive run for his money all night long.

    nbagrapevine.com

  • Jimmy Butler (10 points) started in place of the injured Luol Deng and held superstar Kobe Bryant to 16 points struggling offensively all game. Jimmy B also added some additions to the highlight reel with a fast break steal/dunk and another clutch jumpshot with 3.4 seconds left on the shot clock. His last two starts are giving fans glimpses of what the young player has in store for the Bulls.
  • Joakim Noah harassed Dwight Howardup and down the court. Jo-No was stingy on defense holding the big man to eight points. Noah had a season high of six blocks against the Lakers as well as 13 rebounds. Howard got himself into foul trouble and found himself on the bench in the final minutes of the night.

    fanpop.com

  • Bulls led for the majority of the game, but the Lakers made a run for it in the third quarter fueled by Metta World Peace (12 points) and Bryant. I still don’t know how a professional athlete can take himself seriously when the announcer’s voice booms “World Peace.”
  • Despite a tied game, Chicago stole all of the momentum in the fourth quarter. Belinelli (15 points) scored back-to-back three pointers to put the Bulls over the top, Hinrich answered with some sick jumpshots of his own and the Bulls snatched the win.

Your Take Away Piece:

“The Lakers may not have a very good record in the West, but they still have a star studded roster that has potential to dominate the court. The Bulls used their youth as an advantage to close things out in the fourth quarter and kept the momentum running high. Monday’s win was a definite confidence booster for the baby Bulls who were missing Luol Deng and patiently waiting for the return of Derrick Rose.”

What’s Next: 

Los Bulls are 24-16 and will host the Detroit Pistons at the UC Wednesday night. The Central Division rivals throwdown at 7PM on CSN Chicago. This divisional matchup is a must win for Chicago who trail the Indiana Pacers for the top spot. Let’s keep the home wins going.

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