I just know there’s an analogy here. So I’m going with Seinfeld. Work with me here. Because, you see, James Harden is our star. He’s the “Jerry” of the Houston Rockets for purposes of my analogy, which makes Chris Paul our “Kramer” (a bitter, unfunny “Kramer,” but keep working with me please). The way I see it, Paul’s “Kramer” is just about to show up in Harden’s (“Jerry’s”) apartment with his horrible, third-wheel of a buddy, Newman, in tow.
You starting to get it now? Yup, Carmelo Anthony is “Newman.” And my guess is if this plays out the way everyone in the NBA seems to believe it will, by Thanksgiving at the latest, Harden will be doing his best “Hello, Newman” imitation through gritted teeth, every time Carmelo misses another shot that should have been The Beard’s. And it’s going to happen a lot. I can’t wait.
This offseason just keeps getting better and better. As I stated a week or two ago, the Rockets are already the biggest “short” in the NBA heading into the 2018-19 season.
Now add in a Top-5, All-Time Coach Killer, badly past his prime and unwilling to admit it. A guy who even in his All Star years didn’t play defense, and sent Rockets head man Mike D’Antoni babbling incoherently off to the asylum the last time their paths crossed (seems like eons ago). That was in New York, and we all see the aftermath of that disaster today, as the Knicks try to crawl out from under the wreckage left behind. Yes, sign him guys, sign him! Carmelo Anthony, that missing piece to a championship run. Uh huh.
Harden has got to be shaking his head wondering what he did to deserve this. And poor D’Antoni! He must want to punch smug OKC coach Billy Donovan in the mouth right about now. Please, Adam Silver, don’t let Anthony sign with the Heat, please! This will simply be too much fun watching and waiting to see who loses their mind first — Harden, D’Antoni or Paul. And the best part may just be knowing that Harden and Paul will try to act like everything’s okay, and that they are totally cool with ‘Melo as their franchise spirals recklessly toward first-round elimination.
Yes, this is the modern NBA, where street cred and off the court relationships matter. God forbid anyone says out loud what they all know — that ‘Melo has nothing left. Or that no one really wants him joining their team anymore. Paul made the mistake of floating the idea of forming his own super team (one that would include ‘Melo) at a wedding in New York some years back. He was no doubt drunk with emotion (and way too much Cristal). Careful what you wish for, Mr. Paul.
Which brings to mind another analogy. Isn’t ‘Melo that friend that overhears wasted plans being made by you and your buds about taking a road trip to the beach the next day? One of those classic “good idea at the time” discussions that often take place around two in the morning, when everyone is trashed?
And the one guy nobody wants coming along shows up in his swim trunks with his surf board tucked under his arm bright and early the next morning as you and your buds try to shake off the fog of your massive hangovers.
Envision LeBron, Harden and Paul trying to shake off their near-championship hangovers when they see ‘Melo strolling up the driveway. They all look at each other trying to remember who the asshole was that invited this guy.
And then as ‘Melo bounds through the door, LeBron is that quick thinking friend who does the “oh man, sorry Dawg, I just got a text from the kids and I’m supposed to be meeting them at the park — you guys have a great time without me” escape routine and dashes out the front door as Harden glares at Paul and seethes in silence.
Of course The Beard doesn’t want to overtly hurt the feelings of his friend’s friend, who also seems to be tight with The King of the league, so next thing you know ‘Melo is calling “shotgun.” Okay, a bit of a stretch perhaps, but here’s guessing you’ve all found yourself in one of those awkward beach outings with the uninvited guest no one wanted to be there. Welcome to Houston, Mr. Anthony!
And as the three soon-to-be-teammates sit in bumper to bumper traffic on the way to the beach (listening to Carmelo recount for the thousandth time how he led Syracuse to the National Championship once upon a time), Paul and Harden get a text from LBJ. No caption, just the picture above. If Carmelo Anthony comes to Houston, lower my bid on the Rockets to 49 wins and a number four playoff seed (behind LeBron and the Lakers).
Also, while on the subject of this glorious NBA offseason, how bad must it be if you are one of those “other” franchises? I’ve previously covered the embarrassment of my Knicks making their offseason splash by signing THE Mario Hezonja. But there’s plenty of embarrassment to go around for the NBA also-rans these days.
The other day I saw a deal announced. The Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets completed a three-way trade featuring Bismack Biyombo and Timofey Mozgov. Really? It doesn’t even matter who went where. If the Magic announced tomorrow that they were forfeiting every game on their 2018-19 schedule would anyone notice? I know, they drafted the Bamba kid out of Texas. Some think they make the playoffs this year. Okayyy… and then? I mean, someone has to be the 5th through 8th seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs this year, why not the Magic? The Pistons? Ugh. It really doesn’t matter.
If you aren’t the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder or Lakers in the West, or Celtics and Sixers in the East, right now you are an irrelevant NBA franchise. That is, unless you have a big piece that could be traded to one of the franchises that matter. The Blazers had a few minutes of relevance the other day because their best player, Damian Lillard, said he wasn’t unhappy being in Portland. What an endorsement!
The Spurs are dead as a doornail. A once-proud franchise with an all-time great coach, yet they only matter right now because Kawhi Leonard is disgruntled and likely to be traded to a team that does matter.
A couple days ago San Antonio issued an announcement about Tony Parker that I caught flashing across ESPN. I assumed that meant he must have retired, since, after all, Parker’s like 70-years-old now, isn’t he? Then I saw yesterday that Charlotte just signed him for TWO years! And $10 million! Talk about throwing money away. And it won’t mean anything to them. He won’t improve attendance or make them better on the court. But I guess MJ felt left out and needed to make a deal.
Kind of like the Zach LaVine intrigue the other day. Huh? Zach LaVine and intrigue? Yup, Zach LaVine actually got the Kings to give him an offer sheet of $80 million over four years. OHMYGOD! Well, then again, this is Sacramento we are talking about. And then the Bulls matched it (flash to smiling LeBron text again)! It won’t make a lick of difference to the playoffs or to next season, but it does once again cement the Kings as the most poorly run franchise west of the New York Knickerbockers. Their poor fans must be so elated that the Bulls out-blundered bungling Kings GM Vlade Divacs, saving them from yet another disastrous decision that would further bury their cursed franchise.
And we haven’t even gotten into Dwight Howard going to D.C. to join forces with John Wall and Bradley Beal yet, have we (smiling LeBron meme one final time)? Yeah, just what the Wizards needed to put themselves in position to compete in the depleted east. Not. How ’bout another bad locker room guy who regularly points the finger of blame at his teammates and has become a pariah in multiple cities in recent years? Sure, bring him in! When you already lead the league in bad attitudes underperforming their talent levels, what’s one more chair at the table?
Maybe the plan in our nation’s capital is to force Wall and Beal to put aside their differences and band together against arguably the most disliked guy in the NBA? Don’t know, but there’s gotta be a reason to bring in Dwight Howard, right?
Like I said, I’m loving this offseason! Now can we just keep Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson healthy through the Summer League? I know it’s only been two games (yes, I’m that desperate for positive signs), but these guys look for real and I’m anxious to see them at the Garden in the fall. However, they are still the Knicks, so when all else fails…