A little more than 10% of the seemingly interminable NBA regular season is in the past and while it is way too early to make any sort of definitive projections for the season, there have been some interesting NBA happenings already. First, the opening instance of “load management” took place before 10 games had been played by the LA Clippers. Kawhi Leonard sat out a game against the Milwaukee Bucks; it was first game in a back-back scheduling situation.
I don’t want to rehash the “load management” debate both pro and con. I will say that the folks who might put the arm on the NBA and the NBPA to do something about this are the execs at ESPN. The network pays a tidy sum to the league for TV rights; if star players sit out nationally televised games, that is going to affect ratings; if those lower ratings bring in less ad revenue to the network, that could be a problem in the near-term and will certainly be a problem the next time negotiations commence between the network and the league.
Yes, I acknowledge the plight of the fans in Milwaukee who bought tix for that game hoping to see Kawhi Leonard vs Giannis Antetokounmpo – – but the fact of the matter is that the league and the players’ union do not give a fig for fans in that circumstance. Reality bites…
Down in Miami, the Heat are off to a good start winning 6 of their first 9 games. However, some drama just descended on the team as they have suspended – without pay – guard Dion Waiters. The suspension is for 10 games and the reason is “conduct detrimental to the team”. According to reports, here is the conduct detrimental…
- Waiters reportedly suffered a panic attack on the team plane late last week.
- Supposedly, the panic attack was brought on by Waiters’ consumption of gumballs that contained THC compounds.
Up in Boston, it seems that the basketball gods want to punish Gordon Hayward for signing there as a free agent. Recall his gruesome leg injury early in his first season in Boston which had him out for all that season and limited his effectiveness for last year as he recovered from that injury. At the start of this season, he looked to be back to his Utah Jazz form – – the form that made him a top-shelf free agent in the first place. And then the basketball gods struck again…
Gordon Hayward broke his hand over the weekend. Early reports say he will be out for 6 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair the break. The only part of this report that might be considered “good news” is that the broken hand is his left hand. The Celtics have the best record in the NBA Eastern Conference this morning. If you assume that Hayward will be back in 6 weeks and “back-in-form” in 8 weeks, that means the Celtics will have to play on without him until early to mid-January. I doubt that the injury will cripple the team for that period, but they will have their work cut out for them to stay at the very top of the NBA East.
Now, all those happenings are merely the warm-up act for the latest episode in the New York soap opera known as the New York Knickerbockers. The Knicks are at the other end of the NBA Eastern Conference standings this morning relative to the Celtics; the Knicks are dead-last with a record of 2-8. That situation is not all that surprising when you look at the rosters of the two teams. However, while the Celtics go about their business in a reasonable and rational manner, the Knicks invent ways to make the team look like a horse’s ass.
Last weekend, the Knicks lost to the Cavs – – another bottom feeder team – – by 21 points; it was a dispirited effort. Rather than re-grouping and trying to figure out how to get blood from a turnip – – win half of your games with that roster – – the Knicks chose to take a different path. They called an impromptu news conference featuring team president, Steve Mills, and Knicks’ GM, Scott Perry. [Aside: Team news conferences need to be orchestrated events; impromptu news conferences are accidents waiting to happen.]
These gentlemen announced to the world that they believed that the team was not playing up to its capabilities. The cynic in me finds that hard to believe since these are the two guys who assembled this roster and they are both reputed to be NBA-savvy execs. Here are some of their comments:
“We think the team’s not performing to the level we anticipated or expected, and it’s something we think we collectively have to do a better job of delivering the product on the floor that we said we would do at the start of the season.”
“We’ve seen glimpses of how we can play as a team when everything comes together, but we’ve got to find a way to play complete games at the level we expect our team to play at. That’s a responsibility we take collectively, but I also think it’s important for us to communicate to our fans that we’re not happy where we are right now. … We have to, as a group, come together and be more consistent in terms of how we play.”
They wove into their narrative the dreaded vote of confidence for their coaching staff although the NY papers say that Mills is setting the table to fire coach David Fizdale once he convinces owner James Dolan that is the right thing to do. Fizdale signed a 4-year contract worth $22M last year; that means he has about $16M left in the contract. Let me be clear, David Fizdale is not the reason the Knicks are not winning games; that roster is going to struggle to win 30 games for the season and could well find themselves with fewer than 25 wins next April.
Coach Fizdale did not help his cause much in the aftermath of that poor showing against the Cavs. He threw this irrelevancy into the mix:
- We are only 2 games behind for the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in his column Sideline Chatter in the Seattle Times a while ago. It shows that every time you go to see a baseball game, you stand the chance of seeing something you have never seen before:
“Astros minor-leaguer Miguelangel Sierra lost a home run playing for the Fayetteville Woodpeckers because … he failed to touch home plate.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………