Tag Archives: Markelle Fultz

Examining the Foundational Issues of the NBA’s Cellar-Dwellers

Can anything be done to fix the NBA‘s perpetual cellar-dwellers? Every year, we revere the teams at the top and laud those that made significant leaps. But the ones in the basement get cursory lip service.

Sure, no one remembers the losers, but winning quite literally can’t be everything to those franchises stuck in the doldrums. They still need to right the ship.

Fixes for the NBA’s Perennial Cellar-Dwellers

Sacramento Kings

Royal Flush

It’s been 15 years, but the Kings made the playoffs eight years in a row in the early 2000s; even reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2002. From 2007 to the present day, however, the Kings are owners of the second-worst win percentage in the NBA. Many say they were cheated out of a Finals berth in that ‘02 run.

But they made the playoffs four more times after that.  Even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t excuse what they’ve done since that time. Poor drafting and free-agent signings, bad coaching, and, most of all, shaky ownership have left the Kings as a “struggle franchise” in today’s landscape.

They were trending up when they won 39 games a couple of years ago; a 12-game improvement over the previous season.

But they regressed the next season after firing Dave Joerger due to conflict with Vlade Divac in favor of Luke Walton. The move was widely panned as being on-brand.

That WCF team was unceremoniously parted out with the flashy Jason “White Chocolate” Williams for the less sizzle, more steak player in Mike Bibby. That got them four more regular-season wins and that WCF run. But those good decisions have been few and far between as the Kings repeatedly got rid of and alienated players and hired the wrong coaches.

A Bad Hand

Bad luck (Chris Webber’s knee in ‘03) and silly trades (Kevin Martin for Carl Landry in ‘10) gave way to players like Demarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, and Hassan Whiteside going elsewhere to flourish.

Flash forward to today and it’s the same story of a wayward franchise compounding its issues. They’ve already reportedly offered (and got rejected) 2018 second-overall pick Marvin Bagley in a trade to the Detroit Pistons for rookie Saddiq Bey (19th overall in last November’s draft). Bagley hasn’t been great but this type of deal is emblematic of the team that took him over Luka Doncic.

Luckily, Tyrese Haliburton fell into their laps in this past draft and has made a case for Rookie of the Year before the All-Star break. The problem is Sacramento doesn’t have much around him and their only other (consistently) good player, De’Aaron Fox.

The Kings need to get their leadership in order before reconfiguring their roster. Because it’s never really been about finding talent for Sacramento. It has always come down to the direction of the franchise. That comes from the top down. Unfortunately, the only remedy for that is for those in charge to recognize their short-comings and hire someone to fix them.

Welcome to the vicious cycle.

Orlando Magic

Now You See Me…

Yet another team that has been on the verge of being a champion (both literally and figuratively) since the late 90s. The Orlando Magic (who own the NBA’s worst winning percentage since 2013) has drafted and subsequently lost two of the most dominant big men in NBA history in Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

Unironically, their success and continued failures coincide with the arrivals and departures of the pair.

When Shaq got to Orlando, they were coming off a 21-win season. They won 41 games in O’Neal’s rookie year. The LSU product solidified himself as one of the game’s most dominant forces ever as he made the first of 15 All-Star games; including making the 14 of his first 15 seasons.

The Magic made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history the next year.

Shaq is now a Hall of Famer and three-time champion but most of that is due to his time with the Lakers. All of the rings came outside of Orlando as he won two with the late, great Kobe Bryant and another with Dwyane Wade.

Howard added 15 wins as a rookie. He’s enjoying a career resurgence the last couple of seasons. First during the Lakers title run last season. Now with the 76ers as they try to make a run of their own. He’s coming off the bench these days but was once a terrorizing presence who averaged 20 points and 14 boards at his peak and took the Magic to the Finals in ‘09.

Slight of Hand

In between those two behemoths were two of the NBA’s most dynamic (but injury-prone) players in Tracy McGrady and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway (who was traded for Webber on draft night and overlapped with Shaq).

Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu all would find their way to Orlando at one point or another; never helping them over the hump.

Now, as Thursday’s deadline comes (and likely passes by the time you read this), they’re repeating some of their past in moving star big man Nikola Vucevic. It’s a move many have predicted for years given Orlando’s current roster construction.

Still, with an injured Jonathan Isaac as the team’s most promising player and a pair of injured, young guards in Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz, it’s unclear when the Magic will try to be competitive again despite making the playoffs each of the last two seasons. Granted, last year’s berth was not like the others, it’s still hard to compete as a small-market team.

The Magic have been a playoff team for literally half of their existence. Between the Shaq and Howard eras, they only missed the postseason six times and one of those was Shaq’s rookie year.

Eventually, they have to get back to their surprisingly winning ways.

NBA’s Cellar-Dwellers Bad for a Reason

These aren’t isolated incidents as most teams have spent time as one of the NBA’s cellar-dwellers. It’s also not entirely meant to be cautionary because some poorly-ran team will undoubtedly repeat the mistakes that got these organizations in the positions they’re in. That means it’s also in their power to correct their failures. Again, welcome to the vicious cycle.

Triple Zeros: Is Deshaun Watson Gone?

Triple Zeros

Is Deshaun Gone?

Josh goes over the big news out of Houston that Deshaun Watson is “extremely unhappy”. He also laments the injury to Markelle Fultz and so much more!

Deshaun Watson gone Clocker Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light.

Deshaun Watson gone

Clocker Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light.

Clocker Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light.

Bulls*** and the NBA Trade Deadline

Trade Deadline Reaction

The NBA trade deadline came and went yesterday with a flurry of activity. There were a few distinct winners and losers as well. Deals that were (and were not) made will have a significant impact on the playoffs. At least until the Finals, that is.

Bulls Treat Trade Deadline Like Free Agency

The Chicago Bulls traded forwards Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis along with a future second-round pick for forward Otto Porter from the Washington Wizards just a day before the NBA trade deadline. The move is an admission by the Bulls front office that they were never going match any serious offers to Portis, an impending restricted free-agent. Moreover, the organization acknowledged it has a diminished image in the eyes of free agents. It is a poor state of affairs for a franchise with their history.

One thing that has plagued them is the reluctance to fully commit to a rebuild since trading Derrick Rose. Moving Parker and Portis could (and should) have set up a chance for Chicago to embrace the tank. Instead, the trade for Porter makes them better. It is already a four-way battle for number one with the Bulls fourth on that list. The odds are similar to a top-three pick, but the floor is also lower. Chicago does have the second-toughest remaining schedule of the bottom four teams; behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In an interview on AM 670 WSCR in Chicago, Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson became defensive when faced with questions about the job security of he and GM Gar Forman. It was a standard line of questioning; to which Paxson was obstinate. Both Paxson and Forman have been around long enough to know, eventually, you run out of other people to fire.

Deadline Winners and Losers

Winners:

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Milwaukee Bucks went out and flipped big man Thon Maker to the Detroit Pistons for wing Stanley Johnson. His cup of coffee ended when the Bucks shipped him out with Jason Smith to the New Orleans Pelicans for forward Nikola Mirotic. The Greek Freak is a legitimate MVP candidate and adding a sniper like Mirotic (shooting .368 from three this season) to lineups with Brook Lopez (.387) and Khris Middleton (.384) should create wide-open lanes.

Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge got his wish, at least for now. The Pelicans held on to Anthony Davis after their very public courtship with the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston was unable to be a bidder at this juncture, but Davis remaining in New Orleans means the Celtics will be allowed to participate in the A.D.-sweepstakes this summer. Whether or not they can retain him is another story entirely. Ainge is not worrying about that or Kyrie Irving‘s potential exodus, apparently.

Markelle Fultz: This is more of a humanitarian nod than anything. His career has been derailed without ever leaving the station by thoracic outlet syndrome. The Orlando Magic acquiring Fultz gives him a chance to recuperate out of the spotlight and with no pressure. No one knows how the draft or free agency will unfold. But if Fultz can recover – a big if at this point – the Magic may have found their point guard of the future. All of that comes after what figures to still be a lengthy recovery.

Losers

Bobby Portis: This should probably be the Bulls. As mentioned Portis went to Washington with Parker for Porter. That was a surprise to fans as well as teammates. Bulls guard Zach Lavine spoke highly of Portis, who is set for restricted free agency. Chicago was not going to match the kind of offers Portis is expected to receive. A claim that Portis did not seem to buy himself. The Bulls will miss his outside shooting (.375 from three) and his toughness.

Philadelphia 76ers: Alright, this one is kind of nitpicky. Philly made one if the best moves before the deadline in acquiring walking-bucket Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers. He immediately steps in to give the Sixers, perhaps’ the most talented starting five in the East. The rub is that Milwaukee and the Toronto Raptors also made moves to improve and remain deeper; as do the Celtics. Philly is not going to be channeling their inner Thibs, playing guys 48 minutes. Their sudden lack of depth is concerning for the playoffs.

Feelings: A couple of the biggest rumored deals on the actual day of the deadline did not get done. The Davis trade and trades that would have sent guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz or to Toronto (with former teammate Marc Gasol). All were very public (especially the Lakers-Pelicans talks) and now the healing begins. Players whose names were bandied about now have to use it as fuel. The Conley talks revolved around veteran point guards that have all been traded aside from Conley himself. But the Lakers are younger and still growing as players. The win last night over Boston helps even though it came down to a Rajon Rondo buzzer-beating layup.