Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?
Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.
2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?
KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.
3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?
KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal.
4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?
KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.
5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.