Looking into the Future: The 2016-17 Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe-Bryant-Celebrating

Bro – I’m calling it now. The Lakers are gonna win the NBA Finals in 2016.

Seriously, just trust me. I’ll explain and then you’ll get it, cuz it makes mad sense. One second, lemme just finish this Keystone Light first.

Arite, bro, you wanna talk Kobe? Fine, let’s start with Kobe. And I know what you’re gonna say about him, so don’t even say it. Kobe missed mad time the last two years, I get it. But who cares? The dude’s KOBE. He’s 36? So what? He jumped over a car, bro. A friggin’ car! And not just any car, by the way, it was an Aston f#$%ing Martin. Kobe jumped over an Aston Martin, bro. Pretty sure Jordan never did that.

And further, dude, the Lakers and the NBA have both totally boned Kobe over the last three seasons. First, we HAD Chris Paul. He was a Laker, bro. For like at least 15-20 minutes, at least. Then Stern straight up just cancelled it; like what kinda BS is that? It’s no wonder he got fired last season. Nah, man, Stern got fired. Why else would he just bounce in the middle of the season?

Speaking of boning, but kinda off topic; you know that girl Stephanie from Economics? She just started following me on Instagram, and she’s been posting mad bra pics. Like almost TOO many. Jerry even told me you could see part of her nipple in one. I tried looking for it when I was on the can yesterday, but no luck. She must’ve deleted it. Sucks.

Back to the Lakers, though. So we get totally hornswoggled out of Chris Paul, then we trade for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Nash used to be nashty (HAHA, I just came up with that on the spot! I feel like I’m gonna be the next Dane Cook or something!), but by the time we got him he was like 100, and now he’s got a bad hip or like swine flu or something. Then Dwight totally bitches out and leaves for the Rockets. The Houston Rockets, bro?!? I didn’t even know the NBA had a team in New Mexico. And besides, how do the Lakers not convince him to stay in Los Angeles? I mean L.A. has the hottest chicks, the sickest cars, mad celebrities and the hottest chicks. Why the heck would he bounce for Houston? I don’t even think you can take a plane straight to Houston, anyway.

While we’re on the subject of planes, bro, did you see all this stuff about ANOTHER flight getting shot down or something? It’s messed up. Yo, I’m not saying it’s all his fault, but there was never any planes shot down in Malasia, or Azerbaijan or wherever until Obama came into office. Now there’s been two in like a few months? I don’t know, man, it just sounds shady. And how come we never saw proof that Osama bin Laden was actually killed? It all seems like a conspiracy if you ask me. The Illuminati is a real thing, bro.

Alright, so now that we got the Lakers’ past outta the way, let’s talk the future. Yeah, we didn’t get any good free agents this year, but that was on purpose. Trust me. It’s all a waiting game, bro. Cuz guess who are free agents next year? Rajon Rondo and Marc Gasol. It’s not even a question whether or not we’ll get them, cuz we are. Both of them. So our lineup in 2015 will be Rondo, Kobe, Julius Randle and Marc Gasol. We’ll find some random dude to play small forward for a year, it doesn’t matter. And just one year, cuz that’s all we’ll need. Why, you ask? Drum roll please…

Cuz in 2016 KEVIN DURANT is a free agent, bro!! And you KNOW he’s coming to The Lake Show. There’s already a legit photo of him in Lakers jersey, so it’s gotta be true. (Honestly, it’s a pretty sick picture, dude. I might actually have to make it my Facebook profile pic.) And once we have Durant, Marc Gasol, Rondo and Julius Randle all on one team, you KNOW Kobe is gonna want to come back and take one last shot at that 6th ring. I even read somewhere that Magic Johnson might come out of retirement to play with the team, too. Durant-Gasol-Rondo-Kobe-Randle-Magic. That team’s more of a sure thing than Sara getting too drunk and passing out in the lacrosse house. (Remember that time she fell asleep on Vinny’s couch? I was the one who drew the “LOSER” on her forehead, HAHA! Did I tell you I’m pretty sure I’m the next Dane Cook??) Maybe we’ll finally get that Kobe-LeBron showdown everyone always wanted – with Kobe winning, of course.

So mark it on your calendar, dude. Cuz it’s gonna happen. If it doesn’t, I’ll buy you a whole 30 of Natty Light. You know what else? I’ll even show you the pics my girlfriend sent me from spring break last year. Spoiler alert: they’re nudes.

See you in 2016, bro.

Doogie Schratweiser is a writer for Back of the Jersey and For S & G. Follow him on Twitter @DoogieSchrat.

 

For want of a Face of a Franchise

By now all Yanks fans have had to welcome some new faces to the club and watch the man we thought would take the mantle of Captain from Jeter walk away for a butt ton more money.

There’s bigger implications here than losing one of the best second basemen in the game: the Yanks lost what they thought was the future face of their franchise. This seems like a meaningless thing to an outsider of this great game, but it’s something that affects all facets of a franchise from the win-loss column to the fans to the stands.

Let’s take a quick look at our eternal rivals to see what kid of difference this makes:

Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

Granted there are a great many young and energetic players on this team, and Ortiz could be argued to be a co-captain, but Pedroia is the soul of the Sox. He plays hard both on defense and on offense, is great with the fans, and most importantly he grows a damn good beard for a small guy. He brings an energy to the team that can’t be calculated but is impossible to be without. This team didn’t go from worst to first for no reason. They had a good team with good players and more importantly a face to rally around. This keeps the fans in coming to the park, enduring extremes of weather any sensible person would avoid, to cheer and root for their team and their man and bring the home field advantage to full steam. It gave them a name they could be proud for years to come to put on their kid’s jersey. It gives the players a reason other than making literal boat loads of money to go out on the field to play with energy, to play to win, to play for fun, and play to make us forget about the asshats at work or the food that has to be put on the table.
…And of course it brings revenue in for the team to spend on players to surround their face with. Which never hurts.

The Red Sox and Pedroia show us what can happen with a talented kid swinging a piece of lumber with the fortitude to carry a team not just statistically, but spiritually. And he can do this every game. Tanaka, who has the potential to be great, can only go out there once a week. CC was a great addition years ago, but the load he had to shoulder through the playoffs was enormous and obviously can’t happen every day. Yes, his spirit helped rally the team around him, but only for a short bit. 162 games is a loooooong season, and having a guy out there 155 of them that everyone can get behind makes a big difference. The team needs a position player captain, and I’m scared to say I don’t know who that will be and is likely no one currently on the team.

Yankees, we need a Pedroia. We need a face of the franchise. Not just so we can win, but so I can love going to the game more than I already do.

Phil Jackson ACTUALLY Considering Joining The Knicks

Phil Jackson hanging with John Lithgow and the UCLA Bruin

Phil Jackson hanging with John Lithgow and the UCLA Bruin

So I’m going about my normal Saturday, leaving the gym and see the following SportsCenter alert on my phone: “Phil Jackson leaning toward taking job with Knicks as president of basketball operations.”  I immediately laugh out loud thinking that ESPN’s mobile alerts were hacked.  Then I think about it for a second and realize this opportunity actually isn’t below the Zen Master.  It’s such actually an amazing opportunity because it is so truly terrible.  The Knicks have somehow repeated the Isiah Thomas Cycle TWICE within a decade.  Isiah Thomas notably was the Knicks GM and proceeded to run them into the ground in the early 2000s with terrible signings (Jerome James, 12th man extraordinare, and Jared Jeffries signed to Full Mid-Level Exceptions, wow), trades (acquiring Eddy Curry while trading away Tim Thomas, 2006 1st Round Pick (All Star LaMarcus Aldridge was selected with this pick) and the 2007 1st Round Pick, (All Star Joakim Noah was selected with this pick), questionable draft picks (selecting Michael Sweetney over David West, selecting Renaldo Balkman over Rajon Rondo, etc.), and completely ignoring the soft salary cap existence.  

The Odd and Happy Couple

The Odd and Happy Couple

Enter Donnie Walsh, who brought the Indiana Pacers into their glory days in the 90s took on the great challenge of fixing up that joke of a franchise.  He amazingly helped the franchise back into relevancy, making solid draft picks (not trading them away for a 300+ lb. center who makes Andrea Bargnani look ferocious on the boards, Isiah!), getting rid of the fat financially and literally (yes another Eddy Curry fat joke, the Knicks of ’07-’08 were once called the “fattest team in the NBA” as well), and creating financial flexibility for the 2010 NBA Free Agent Sweepstakes.  Overpaying Amare was a necessity since they needed to get at least 1 star in order to try to draw a second: LeBron or Dwyane Wade.  The Knicks ended up losing out that summer but still had enough young, talented, and cap-friendly players to give them an opportunity to land another big star.  The 2010-11 regular season started off with a bang for New York with Amare and Raymond Felton playing the best basketball of their careers along with breakout seasons by Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and then-rookie Landry Fields.  Meanwhile in Denver, Carmelo Anthony was getting impatient with the repeated first round playoff exits and looking for a new opportunity in a bigger market in an effort to win a championship.  With his pending free agency following that season, he was surprisingly open with the Nuggets so they wouldn’t be left with nothing in return after his departure.  The Knicks could have waited for Free Agency and simply signed him, but that is nothing that Carmelo wanted to chance given the pending lockout.  Melo wanted to make sure he would get a max contract given the uncertainty with what the new collective bargaining agreement would allow.  Knicks owner James Dolan stepped in and forced Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni, who both were against giving up so much to acquire Melo, to go through with making the trade.  This trade ended up leaving Donnie Walsh unhappy since he wanted complete decision-making autonomy without the interference of James Dolan.  He left the Knicks soon after and Glen Grunwald became the new GM/puppet for Dolan.  

Glen Grunwald made some good moves and some questionable moves.  Quick summary is that he signed Tyson Chandler in the summer of 2012 to anchor the Knicks defense and proceeded to increase the average age of a Knick player from 26 years old in the 11-12 season to 31 years old in the 12-13 season.  The Chandler signing made sense given their defensive struggles, still a solid signing in my opinion.  Not retaining young talent and replacing that with some All Stars from the 1990s was not the right move and the Knicks are still handcuffed to this day and have resulted in the Knicks current mess. 

Back to Phil:

Phil Jackson is the only person on this planet who MAY (I reiterate MAY) force James Dolan to sit his rich, ignorant, entitled ass down and actually allow someone to have full reign on the New York Knicks franchise.  At this point, it seems clear Phil will likely never coach again, even though he claims he may do so on a short-term basis.  Although he may enjoy coaching on its own merit, he likely doesn’t want to deal with the labors of being on the road with his team.  Also, what incentive does he have to coach? It can only hurt his legacy as the best NBA coach of all time.  Jackson is known to get restless but coaching is too tiresome for the 68 year old.  A front office role would keep him involved in the sport he loves in a less demanding manner while still sharing his expertise.  

So why do the Knicks make sense at this time?

The Knicks are so unbelievably bad right now, there is almost no way for it to hurt his legacy.  Anyone with sound reason and education in basketball will look at the Knicks and see there is an extremely high degree of difficulty for rebuilding at this time.  This leaves him with a low risk, extremely high reward situation if he can help to turn things around and bring New York a championship level team.  Phil has also never had experience in a rebuilding situation, he’s almost always had at least 2 superstar level talents and was able to win that way.  That has been the only reasonable criticism of him.  With Amare’s contract coming off the books in the 2015 offseason, that financial flexibility can create an opportunity to bring along that second superstar.  That is if Carmelo is willing to stick around for another year of misery; he is due to be a free agent after this season.  If he can rebuild THIS team to success, there would be no person to challenge him as the best coach/basketball mind in NBA history (except troll of all trolls Skip Bayless of course).  It also doesn’t hurt that Phil spent 10 seasons with the Knicks back in his playing days. 

If James Dolan agrees to give Phil full reign, I don’t see how Phil wouldn’t take this job.  If Dolan does not, Phil likely would and should reject this offer.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the days ahead.  

Go New York, Go New York, Go!

 jeremy-lin-james-dolan

As the NBA trade deadline looms closer to its conclusion this Thursday, it’s hard to sort out actual, concrete trade possibilities from the hilariously overblown debris of rumors spewing from the interwebs.

BUT.

But, I say, there are always some rumors worth discussing; the best kinds of rumors. Knicks rumors.

Courtesy of ESPN’s Chad Ford comes the greatest of things. On yesterday’s B.S. Report, Ford stated that the Knicks would be open, interested even, in trading for Jeremy Lin.

Quickly:

As “Linsanity” took over New York in early 2012, it was obvious that the Knicks had stumbled upon not just a good player, but a potential marketing goldmine. After the conclusion of the 2012 season, Jeremy Lin found himself a restricted free agent, and although the Knicks upper management, coaching staff and even Lin, himself, believed he’d call Madison Square Garden his home in 2013, owner James Dolan chose not to match the Houston Rockets 3-year, $25 million offer sheet Lin signed that July. The decision not to match Houston’s offer to Lin was thanks to the Rockets back-loading the final year of the deal, increasing Lin’s salary to $14.9 million in 2014. The Knicks, as well as many other NBA franchises, didn’t believe Lin’s worth at close to $15 million for a single year, which was a fair assessment.

But-wait-a-second.

If the Knicks trade for Jeremy Lin, they’re literally handing over more assets for someone they already had and didn’t want to pay. And on top of that, as all NBA contracts are guaranteed, Lin’s $14.9 million salary in 2014 would be paid for by the New York Knicks

What. The. F&$%?!? Yo, Dolan. Come on, dude, really? How can you be this stupid?

Unless James Dolan is running an experiment to see how far Knicks fans are willing to go before their Dolan-rage turns into an actual attempt on his life, I don’t get why he would even entertain this. Besides, Rockets GM Daryl Morey doesn’t have much to plunder from the Knicks, unless Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert somehow tickle his fancy. As funny as it is to think about, I really don’t seeing it happening. But still, we can to sit back and admire the mess that is the Knicks franchise.  

Although now it comes with a side of heavy irony, the motto remains the same as always:

We are the New York Knicks.

 

Shratweiser Reaction: My Nightmare Watching the 49ers Play in Lambeau

Let’s get one thing straight from Sunday’s game between the Packers and the 49ers. The Niners were lucky to get out of there with a win. Everything about the game had that Packers-are-destined-to-advance type feeling. The Niners completely dominated the first quarter, only to come away with two field goals despite being first and goal inside the 7-yard line two different times. We also burned our first two timeouts of each half within a few minutes, but I think that was just Jim Harbaugh’s way of playing down to Mike McCarthy. Like when you spot your little cousin the first seven points in a pickup game.

But let’s get to the play where I knew, for sure, that the Packers were going to win. 13:28 left in the 4th, Niners winning 13-10, Packers on the San Francisco 30 yard line, 4th and 2: Aaron Rodgers is stuck in the pocket, with Niners defensive tackle Ray McDonald all over him, about to bring him down for a sack (with the help of Ahmad Brooks. Then, out of nowhere, Rodgers somehow escapes the pocket in the luckiest, most Eli-Manning-Super-Bowl-Helmet-Catch type way and throws a 26 yard dart to Randall Cobb; first and goal Packers at the 4-yard line. If that play doesn’t scream, “You’re screwed, we’re getting every break and winning this game”, then I don’t know what is.

By the way, I’d like to issue a warning to those slobbering over Colin Kaepernick’s performance. He did not play well on Sunday. Aside from missing numerous open receivers, he was extremely lucky to be only intercepted once, instead of thrice. On their first possession, Kaepernick was almost picked off in the endzone by Tramon Williams, who dropped what would’ve been a sensational one-handed interception. And then on the Niners final drive, Kap made a bad decision on an out-route to Anquan Boldin that should’ve been intercepted by Micah Hyde. It was in Hyde’s hands, and he dropped it. Those two plays are the game right there. Kaepernick made some excellent plays with his arm and his legs in the 4th, but he needs to play exponentially better next week in Carolina for the 49ers to have any shot at advancing.

When the Panthers came to San Francisco in Week 10, I had the pleasure of being in attendance. And in my only experience in the cesspool that is Candlestick Park, aside from having the pleasure of seeing some of the worst 49er fans in the history of sports, I watched Carolina take down the Niners in excruciating fashion.

Check in later this week for the entire breakdown of this Sunday’s game in Carolina. Or don’t. It’s your choice, there’s no need to be all rude about it.