It’s been a couple of weeks since my last posting. Sometimes real life gets in the way of best intentions. And while my intention is to write each and every week, real life decides to throw me a curve.
Here’s what I have for you this week.
Fred Hoiberg Gets the Axe
If you follow along with my work at Sonics Rising, you already know that, periodically, I write a post about coaches who I feel are about to be fired. Last season, we had four coaches from our list get the axe. We aren’t even a third of the way into the 2019 season and already two coaches from our list have been asked to seek employment elsewhere.
Tyronn Lue found himself out of a job about ten minutes after we published last time. This morning the Chicago Bulls decided to fire Fred Hoiberg.
Obviously, it wasn’t surprising both coaches were let go; I figured these coaches were done, that’s why I write the posts. It’s the timing of these firings that don’t make much sense.
What did the Cavaliers expect Tyronn Lue to do after LeBron James headed off to LaLa land? Reach another final?
Didn’t Coby Altman and Dan Gilbert already know what Lue was, and more importantly what he wasn’t, as a coach? Or does the LeBron James effect deceive these NBA executives like it does with some fans and media members?
Why hit the reset switch six games into their season? Why not give a coach an entire summer to prepare, or, in Lue’s case, a season to show what he could do without James?
Hoiberg getting bounced wasn’t that big of a surprise either. The timing was. How do you fire a coach missing as many as three elite players for considerable lengths of time to start the season?
I know this might shock Oklahoma City Thunder fans, but NO coach in the NBA is going to win many ball games starting Cameron Payne at point guard.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Hoiberg hiring and not a big fan of his firing. Much was expected of him and I think that was unfair. Sure, he’s had some ball players come through Chicago during his tenure, but mostly they were either injured, on the way out or just plain assholes. I’m sure he’s in a much better place today. He will eventually head back to college, have the hammer, and he will win.
Fizdale Rescues Knicks from the Jackson Triangle
I wasn’t a fan of the Knicks hiring David Fizdale to be their head coach. Spent too much time with Kevin Lipe on our Memphis Flyer sponsored radio show Beyond the Arc to ever believe Fizdale would get another shot at a head coaching job in the NBA. I mean, he really made a mess of things in Memphis, so why would anyone in their right mind want to bring that mess to their team?
James Dolan may have made many mistakes over his ownership tenure, but I think he got this one right.
The Knicks are currently 8-16 this season, but there’s a different vibe coming out of Madison Square Garden these days.
Gone are the days when Knicks faithful turned on the tube and the Knicks would be finished by halftime. Okay, once in a while that still happens, but not as often as it did in the past.
Knicks fans are watching retreads like Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay take over basketball games and shed their draft bust status. There isn’t a rhyme or reason behind either of their playing time, but that’s the eccentricity of Fizdale.
Noah Vonleh seems to have found a home after languishing in Neil Olshey and his baby smurf backcourt aka the Portland Trail Blazers. The former Hornets lottery pick is playing valuable minutes, making contributions and bringing much needed energy on both ends of the floor.
Tim Hardaway Jr is another retread who needed a fresh voice and if anyone has benefited more from the Fizdale hiring, it’s Hardaway. Hardaway Jr has a long relationship with Fizdale and is the only Knicks player currently averaging more than 30 minutes a night. He might not be having a career year thus far, but his shot selection has gotten better and he’s stepping up as a leader.
Lottery pick Kevin Knox has struggled with injuries but has shown flashes of the player the Knicks thought he was when they drafted him.
Two-way player Alonzo Trier has been a revelation this season. The Knicks would be smart to just give this kid a real NBA contract, give him 30 minutes a night, and let him develop.
Oh, and they also have this kid named Porzingis who we probably won’t see playing until the end of the season.
Fizdale isn’t responsible for most of the roster, but what he’s done is put these kids, and retreads, is to put them in situations where they could succeed. That’s a far cry from where they were one year ago.
Can the Knicks make the playoffs? I dunno. They are currently three games out of the eighth seed in the East so anything is possible I guess. Not sure it’s probable though, but we will see.
In the meantime, Fizdale needs to keep playing the hand he’s been dealt; develop those rookies, keep encouraging the retreads and continue to make watching Knicks games fun again. Oh, and I still love this from his Grizzlies days;
Utah Jazz Make a Surprising Move
The Utah Jazz are riding the struggle bus this season on the offensive end of the floor. The real struggle is scoring buckets when Donovan Mitchell isn’t on the floor. So, in an attempt to do something about it, Utah recently traded away oft injured guard Alec Burks and two second round picks to the Cavs for Kyle Korver.
So let me get this straight. Said NBA team has trouble scoring the basketball, so said team brings in a player, who hasn’t averaged 12 points or more per game in at least seven years, to fix their scoring problems? Said team gives away two picks, AND a player who is probably better than the one they traded for?
Maybe Dennis Lindsey has it right. Maybe what the Jazz needed was more pop off the bench. Korver went off in his debut, knocking down four triples in a Jazz victory. Game two didn’t go quite as well in a two point road loss to the Heat. That finds the Jazz 1-1 since the trade.
I’m a big fan of Kyle Korver. He does bring that added pop off the bench. I think it’s great. But it isn’t what I would call a difference maker.
What I think the Jazz could use is another scorer in the starting lineup. A shooting guard who can handle the ball like a point guard. A shooting guard who would be all in for a team expecting him to play defense.
Bradley Beal is what the Jazz need to get them over the hump.
Beal is a proven high volume scorer with solid shooting percentages. You run him out at the two, move Mitchell to the three, Ingles to the four and Gobert anchoring in the middle with Rubio bringing up the rock would be just what the doctor ordered to add some instant scoring among the starting five.
That would be a team that a player like Korver could help. Just not this Jazz team.
The Jazz more than likely would have to part with a player or two, and their 2019 First Round pick would probably go to Washington. Just for starters. Beal has two more seasons on his existing contract and would be worth the price Washington would ask.
And the Jazz would automatically become serious contenders to dethrone the Warriors this spring.
See you next week?