The Diss-cussants join me to discuss the end of the longest 18 month free agency ever.
1. Were you generally satisfied with Dwight’s decision to go to Houston?
Hans Peterson: Sure. I wasn’t very interested in another year of inevitable Dwight-Kobe drama. At this point, just about anything that gets Kobe less attention is a-ok with me. And honestly, I think he probably made the right choice overall. Houston has a good team that is likely to remain competitive for at least five years, there’s less pressure and drama, and they could potentially improve a bit more over the next couple years.
Joe Bernardo: I’m not really angry (like Sir Ice Cube is here), as I am embarrassed. A top caliber player saying NO to the Lakers?? That’s unprecedented…and sadly, won’t be the last time that’ll happen. In Houston, he’ll be in the best position. He’ll have Harden to be the play-maker in the clutch, great 3-point shooters, a smart “big-man”-type coach in McHale, and no “big-city” pressure (even though Houston is the 4th largest city in the nation). If he’s not happy there, God help him.
Kenji Spielman: Yes. I find Houston fascinating, just in terms of how they are run, the advanced analytics, the whole Dork Elvis thing, massive stockpile of assets, picking up James Harden, these sorts of things. So it is very interesting to see how it all shakes down. I am a little worried that other teams will follow the blueprint of “be crappy, stockpile assets, no matter how they fit together, bide your time, try to grab a star or two” as I don’t think it makes for very fun basketball to watch in the short term.
Andrew Snyder: I think he made the right choice for aforementioned reasons (Harden>Kobe, McHale>D’Antoni for big men), plus the way Morey’s constructed his roster is quite reminiscent of the 2009 Orlando Magic Finals Team - shooters around Dwight. That team’s solid supporting cast 1-4 (Nelson and fine 09 vintages of Lewis and Turkoglu) minus The Keith Bogans Problem (the jam band Frankin Mieuli plays tambourine in, if you weren’t aware) carried them past 2009 LeBron after all. This construction of this team as of now is eerily similar, with the weakest link with Jeremy Lin at the 1 or whomever McHale starts at the 4.
Alex Maki: Completely satisfied. I am glad we can stop following this saga, and I think the Rockets make a good fit. Plus, I always enjoy watching entitled Lakers fans get a raw deal. Win-win.
John Reyes-Nguyen: Yes. I think he made the right basketball decision. It’s really a no brainer for him to play with Harden and get coached by McHale who is a post up master.
2. Your feelings about the Lakers post Dwightmare could best be described as ______ .
Hans Peterson: Schadenfreude.
Joe Bernardo: Malungkot (if we’re continuing on with this international flavor), although hopeful for 2014.
Kenji Spielman: Bwahahhahahahhahahahah. And then… Kaman! The gift that keeps on giving! I was going to make a crack about signing some goofy washed up SF, but damn, lookit, they already have that! Good times, good times.
Andrew Snyder: Celtics fans are like…
Alex Maki: Pity as I watch a stubborn Lakers team that should probably amnesty Kobe? I mean, they don’t really have a chance to make any noise in the West with the current lineup. I think they will try to land Carmelo next off-season, and even if they do it won’t make a huge difference. This team has been trading its future for a long time, and I think it starts to catch up with them now.
John Reyes-Nguyen: Refreshing. Lakers won’t have all that pressure to succeed because they have a “super star team.” Next year the team will be more balanced. Pau will get to play his natural position in the post, the team will be healthier (even though they are old, the injury luck can’t be as bad as last season), Kobe will get to shoot more to prove his achilles is good, and Nash will pick and roll with Pau and Kaman?
3. Who will win an NBA championship first, Dwight or the Lakers?
Lakers vs Houston conference finals. Pre order your popcorn!!
— Metta World Peace (@MettaWorldPeace) July 7, 2013
Hans Peterson: If I were betting, I would say the Lakers, because I don’t know if I’m convinced Dwight will win one. But I think Dwight will get much closer in the next 5-7 years than the Lakers. But Dwight has a window of 5-10 years to do it. The Lakers have forever. I’m leaning toward Dwight never winning one. I’m not at all confident his skills age well and I need to see him be the Dwight of 2010 again before I start assuming the Rockets just got the league’s best center.
Joe Bernardo: Sadly, Dwight. I think Morey will pull off one more trade/pick-up this year or next (perhaps a floor general-type PG like Rondo) to complete the final piece of that championship puzzle. Dwight won’t be a multiple champion, but I think he’ll win one…with better players carrying him.
Kenji Spielman: I strongly doubt whether the Lakers will win a championship while Dwight is in the league. They are now a LONG way from competing. I am also not sold that Dwight wins a championship. Maybe. Maybe despite him. However, in his favor, if they make it to the finals, who the hell on the Heat is going to slow him down? Seriously. The Heat need to get a serviceable wide body fast.
Andrew Snyder: Dwight. Dork Elvis won’t waste his Harden/Howard chance…
Alex Maki: I am not sure that the Rockets are good enough to seriously challenge for a championship in the next couple of years. That being said, I still like the Rockets’ chances over the Lakers’.
John Reyes-Nguyen: Lakers. It will take three years for the Rockets to gel and get to the Western Conference finals. By that time LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Love would have already won a ring with the Lakers.
4. In your opinion, why is NBA free agency such a big deal?
Hans Peterson: Individual players matter more than in other major sports. Except for quarterbacks. You can sign the best player in the major leagues and your team might actually get worse if a couple mid-level pitchers have a bad year. Your star running back is wasted with a terrible offensive line. But you sign a top five NBA player and you gain 20 games in the standings. If its Lebron you might gain 30. That’s pretty high stakes.
Joe Bernardo: The entire landscape of the NBA can shift just in the first two weeks of July. Mediocre teams become great teams, great teams become bad teams, bad teams become…well, the Charlotte Bobcats. It’s easily the most exciting time in the league.
Kenji Spielman: It starts like middle school social cliques, who chooses who, who are the cool kids who everyone wants to be friends with, who is the new kid in school who is really neat and NEW and who is he going to hang out with, that sort of energy. Then it transitions to high school prom desperation when GMs throw money around desperately. ”Oh my god, I’m never going to get a date, what about that girl? I don’t really know her, she’s kinda cute though, but man does she have an annoying laugh. Oh well, gotta take someone, here goes!” Then there is a last bit like in college where you take the easy road and pragmatically pick friends/hook-ups. ”Well, we have a bunch of classes together and both work out, I suppose I should get to know him better.” Or “He lives a dorm away, and this is senior year, it won’t go anywhere, I won’t even call it dating, but it beats sleeping alone.” The part where GMs just sorta go down the list of remaining free agents and fill out the roster. So to answer the original question, there is something for everyone, several distinct and interesting phases, displays of ego, hubris, and indecision like in few other sports, plus petulance! (I love the petulance.)
Andrew Snyder: You think NBA free agency is fun this year… JUST WAIT FOR 2014 plebeians…
Alex Maki: Probably because so many big names in the game actually switch teams in a given off-season. I remember when I watched basketball as a kid, and it seemed like I could quit paying attention for a season and teams would tout pretty much the same lineups next year. That seems to have changed. Also, it is a time when fans of every team are hopeful that their respective front offices will actually make some competent moves.
John Reyes-Nguyen: NBA free agency is like a soap opera and connect the dots. Who goes where, why, how does it effect another free agent or another team. It’s really fun to follow.
5. What font should the ghost of Dr. Jerry Buss choose to write his angry letter to Dwight?
Hans Peterson: I don’t think I’ve been paying enough attention to get this reference. But from a distance, Buss has sure seemed to be screwing up the Lakers the past couple years.
Joe Bernardo: Wingdings, cuz apparently that’s how he communicates to Mike D’Antoni. Please god, assassinate Jim Buss.
Kenji Spielman: GIL SANS ULTRA BOLD, IN ALL CAPS. KINDA TRASHY, PRETTY UNCULTURED, WAY OVERLY SELF-IMPORTANT. I THINK THAT ENCAPSULATES THE BUSS FAMILY PRETTY WELL, YES? (AND YES, MY GIRLFRIEND HELPED ME OUT ON THIS ONE.)
Andrew Snyder: Nothing says I’m angry at you like a heaping portion of impact, size 16, bold underlined, AND italicized.
Alex Maki: I don’t know shit about fonts. Wingdings, for all I care.
John Reyes-Nguyen: BASE, to give it street cred.