It takes a village to raise a child , but what does it take to make an NBA franchise better ?

It takes a Village to raise a child , but what does it take to make an NBA franchise better?

By Tophatal

Well with the NBA schedule now eagerly making its way into the third quarter of the season , we can see that the divisional and conference standings now taking shape . No real surprises here , with the Miami Heat (40-14) and San Antonio Spurs leading their respective divisions with comfortable leads . And before the rather inane supporters of the New York Knicks (33-20) start to belly ache with their continued idiocy as to how dominant their team has been , let’s really take a look at that shall we . Beyond, leading the Heat in their season series , the team’s record and play has been somewhat uninspiring . I mean how and why is that they have disappeared into the shadows faster than a priest caught disrobing , as they seek to force themselves upon a young victim ?

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Only, the ever so obnoxious Knicks’ fans can one moment speak so passionately about their team, one minute , to then remain silent , the next ! Now not only are the Knicks suddenly a team without direction but they now find themselves as the third seed within the Eastern Conference , ½ game behind the suddenly surging Indiana Pacers (35-21) , a team , which recently blew Mike Woodson’s players off the court , in a rather embarrassingly lopsided twenty-six loss to the Pacers 121-95. Somehow , you won’t hear the Knicks’ ingrates discuss that loss , but they will suggest that Carmelo Anthony ought to be considered a worthy candidate for this season’s league MVP. Granted, there may well be some veracity to that argument, but this year , the race is essentially between LeBron James and his shadow , because no one else, is even remotely close to the player in terms of his extraordinary play this season .

Consider the fact that, the New York Knicks are now 4-6 in their last ten games , whereas the team that they seek to supplant , the Miami Heat , as the “best “ in the Eastern Conference are in fact 10-0 in their last ten games . Hardly ,seems fair , does it,? Yet, these are blatant facts borne out , for those who really seek to delve further into the matter . Yes, you, the Knicks’ fans out there, why so goddamn quiet? ? You guys, can talk the talk, but as always, more often than not , there tends to be more bullshit behind it , as you are not always prepared to “walk the walk” , more than anything else !

I don’t that there is a great deal to be said about the Detroit Pistons , as this franchise is seemingly heading into oblivion . Coming off an eleven-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks , I am not so sure that GM Joe Dumars and the team’s ownership group led by billionaire venture capitalist , Tom Gores and Dennis Mannion could have ever envisaged this team , playing so ineptly . Head coach Lawrence Frank , in spite of his youthful exuberance and experience , it is becoming abundantly clear that the franchise , while its core of players are considered to be young , the talent level and leadership needed , simply is not there , for them to be even considered a legitimate contender within their division , much less the Eastern Conference as a whole .

Greg Monroe , , Jose Calderon and Rodney Stuckey , might well be considered the franchise’s best players , and the remnants from the Pistons’ most recent success , the title team of 2004 , are now a fast fading memory, for the fans normally in attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit , Michigan, . And for Dumars , the architect of that championship winning team , time must be now fast running out , as I seriously doubt , that Tom Gores can considered it , to be in the franchise’s best interests to have the front office executive remain in his current position , that much longer .

The 2012 NBA Draft cannot be considered to be a productive one for the Pistons’ franchise , with Andre Drummond , (9th pick overall) taken in the first round , to be followed by Khris Middleton and Kim English . Thought to be prudent, but worthwhile picks , all three players having contributed overall in the team’s play , it is apparent there are still some great strides needed , before each can be considered a major star in the NBA . Albeit , that both Drummond and Kyle Singler , the franchise’s top pick from the 2011 draft , do figure in the top twenty of the league’s rookie players for scoring this season . Leading the way, in that specific category has been the Portland Traiblazers’ Damian Lillard, whose exciting play has been one of the standout highlights , for an otherwise somewhat under-achieving season for the Western Conference franchise .

Coming off a thoroughly convincing 92-86 victory over the now laboring Boston Celtics at the Rose Garden in Portland , Oregon,. It has to be said, that if the Trailblazers (26-30) are to chase down the eighth seeded Houston Rockets (31-27) and the ninth seeded Los Angeles Lakers (28-30) for that eighth and final qualifying berth for the chance to be an active participant in the postseason. Then, the level of play we are currently witnessing from the team will have to be of a much higher standard .

Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts and GM Neil Olshey can only hope to achieve any semblance of success , just as long as team owner, Microsoft co-founder , billionaire, Paul Allen , is willing to keep the “purse strings” open , in order that the franchise is able to lure talented free agents to the Pacific Northwest . And given the premise that success, as it relates to the Portland Trailblazers in recent years, has become something of a lost cause , their last postseason appearance came by way of the 2011 postseason , in which they suffered a first round series’ loss (4-2) to the eventual NBA champions , the Dallas Mavericks .

In the aftermath in the death of Los Angeles Lakers’ owner , Dr Jerry Buss , it was a time of soul-searching , solemnity and dare one say , “ empathy for this renowned franchise” ? Well, the time for mourning, is now over and it is back to playing with passion, rather than going through the motions. In their most recent games , it would appear that the team have begun to heed the words of teammate Kobe Bryant , after the player chastised his fellow players for their sheer lack of effort . Personally, I have no problem with the presumed team leader “calling out “ his teammates , especially where , in the case of the head coach , in this case , the witless Mike D’Antoni , who is being paid a King’s ransom , but yet he has brought not a goddamn thing to the table by way of his coaching acumen . It were as if he is now leaving the players to figure it out for themselves , because he sure as hell , hasn’t been able to figure it out along with that lame assed coaching staff , whom he apparently calls upon for assistance. At times , this season , it were as if Sarah Palin were advising the team on their playing strategy , but I digress, the Tea Party advocate and “ doyenne of all things stupid “ , might just be more equipped to proffer up meaningful advice than a bonehead , such as Mike D’Antoni ! The Lakers’ head coach brings with his a resume’ that first glance seems impressive , until you realize he has never achieved anything of note from a coaching standpoint , nor has he ever developed a player that has become a perennial All Star . Need one say anymore, on the matter?

Presiding over this debacle in recent weeks or to be more accurate, throughout this entire season , has been GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers’ EVP Jim Buss . The deluge of abuse and criticism , rendered against the duo , has been far and wide, it has been deeply scathing and seething with such venom , that you would be hard pressed to suggest that much of that was not warranted. And granted, while the Lakers have now played themselves into the position where they now sit on the cusp of obtaining a playoff berth , but it remains to be seen whether or not the team will be competitive for a deep playoff run in the postseason. Beyond the 2012-13 acquisition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash , the makeup of this roster is uninspired and failing in so many ways. Unfortunately, the apathy shown by the fans is what you should now come to expect when success in recent years has simply been bought through high-priced acquisitions , rather than being organic and from within .

Does anyone feel truly threatened by names such as Robert Sacre , Darius Morris , Andrew Goudelock , Earl Clark , Darius Johnson-Odom , Jodie Meeks and Devin Ebank ? Yet somehow , there was this rather asinine idiocy that a team bolstered by Bryant , Pau Gasol , Nash , Howard and Metta World Peace , would be deemed a likely conference favorite for an NBA title ? I would have drunk the Kool-Aid , until I realized that it might well have been pissed into by profound idiots such as Skip Bayless , Tony Kornheiser and Jon Barry , allegedly knowledgeable NBA pundits and media darlings , who are trying to sell this organization as a credible contender for the world championship. I’m sorry, but, I have never drunk from the pot, that others have defecated or urinated in ! It is simply not my style , nor will it, ever be!

I have long-held the contention that the Lakers will be a franchise , that will be bereft of leadership and talent , the moment that Kobe Bryant officially walks away from the game . He will go down in history , as one the top fifteen players in NBA history , Look beyond the career statistics and where he ranks amongst the all-time greats and look at the player’s achievements on the court as a player , and I believe that you get a much clearer picture as to what he simply about as an individual and as a competitor . There is not one player on this existing roster that has the competitive instinct or the all-round ability to lead this team into for the next decade or more . And for anyone to have the temerity that Dwight Howard can be seen as such an individual , leads me to believe that the person in question is either a downright blithering ass or clearly a person, who simply doesn’t understand the nuances and the fundamentals of this game ! Howard has never been, a leader, nor does he possess the intelligence or the maturity to assume such a role . And the mere fact that Mitch Kupchak sees the center as the heir-apparent to Kobe Bryant, is both a sign of desperation on the part of the executive , as he clings to straws, while looking for a lifeline to save the Lakers’ floundering season . . The team’s next game will be against conference rivals the Minnesota Timberwolves , scheduled for tipoff at 10:30 pm EST at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California , on Thursday evening .

Make of it what you will, but teams that simply do not plan ahead for the future , and who would rather spend their way to success , tend to fall abruptly from grace because the know-how , and business acumen simply isn’t there ! Cases, can now be made for both the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks , of which the latter is now simply on its last legs, as they seek to gain the last gleaming remnants of competitiveness out of Dirk Nowitzki , and the now laboring Mavericks . At 25-30 the eleventh placed Dallas Mavericks are now on the outside looking in , as they seek to climb out of their present position and up the conference rankings . Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban ” gambled and lost” in the Deron Williams’ sweepstakes as the Nets’ point guard chose to remain with the Eastern Conference franchise , as they sought resurrect their fortunes . The Brooklyn Nets with a payroll of $87.6 million for the season , have the second highest payroll in the NBA , which is led by the Los Angeles Lakers and their whopping $100.1 million , far exceeding the league’s “ soft salary cap figure” of $58.044 million for the 2012-13 season . And far be it for me to suggest, but even though the Mavericks’ figure of $69.6 million seems minuscule by comparison , in 2011 , they were amongst the highest salaried teams within the NBA , with Kobe Bryant being the highest paid player in the league that season , with a salary of $24,806,250 .

Mavericks’ GM Donn Nelson is now left seeking ways , how to best move forward as they seek build towards the future with the winding down of Nowitzki’s career . The 7’ center/power- forward has been of the best European players to graced the NBA over the past two decades , and to my mind there has not a player this good , from the European continent the Croatian , Drazan Petrovic graced the scene as a player with the New Jersey Nets . And Petrovic’s skill-set was as a mercurial point guard who simply astonished the fans with his passing dexterity and playmaking abilities . The closest we have now come to seeing this by way of European point guard , might well be the San Antonio Spurs’ dangerously deceptive Tony Parker , a three-time winning NBA titlist with the NBA franchise .

It is hard to see where the Mavericks will go from here because the team in its present guise is suffering growing pains , even in light of this and their 2011 draft picks . Defensively , the Mavericks are exceedingly poor and giving up 102.6 points per game for fourth worst in the league. And from an offense standpoint , the team remains woefully inadequate in more ways than Mark Cuban and Donn Nelson would care to admit.

Mikhail Prokhorov , the billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets cannot be entirely happy with what he has witnessed from his team this season . Already on their second head coach of the year, after the firing of Avery Johnson , who would be replaced by P J Carlesimo . As the interim head coach , he now has to work with the self-indulgence of Deron Williams , an “ overrated “ point guard , and the lackluster Joe Johnson , who with $60 million plus , remaining on his existing contract , he could very well be “ one of the biggest busts “ of the NBA season by way of his lack of productivity . GM Billy King , may well be rethinking his original stance of acquiring Johnson , albeit , the thinking would be that the player would be deemed a comfortable fit , alongside Williams and Brook Lopez , the young center , that the franchise now pins their hopes upon , having lost out in the race to acquire , then free agent , Dwight Howard .

The Nets are coming off a rather debilitating 76-72 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies , in which the team played some uninspired basketball in their defeat by one the Western Conference’s best teams. As to what this says about this Nets’ franchise and their overall ambitions over the remainder of the season , one can only surmise how it might all end . The team will seek to recover from that rather lackluster performance as they are the guests of the New Orleans Hornets , one of the NBA’s more uninspired teams of the season. A second successive defeat would not necessarily write off the hopes of the Nets , but it certainly wouldn’t create a conducive environment , as the franchise moves into the final quarter of their schedule . And with the outlay by way of the team’s payroll (87,577,676) , anything short of the playoffs and a deep run in the postseason and the front office of the Brooklyn Nets might seek to make some long-term changes right across the board that would most certainly have some far-reaching ramifications for the franchise. The financial resources asides , with Prokhovorov , being worth an estimated $13.2 billion , a fortune which places him as the fifty-eighth richest individual on the planet. It does lead one to believe that even with the Russian’s vast wealth , he must have known that his fortune alone , the lure of Brooklyn , and the ostentatious-ness of the cavernous Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards’ Complex. That alone , as the attractive pearl , could not have been enough of a driving force , for him to truly believe that his franchise could be taken as a legitimate contender for this season ? For him to have truly believed that , either he was under the mistaken belief , that the team was simply that good or the fact that rest of the Eastern Conference was simply mediocre , and would be willing to become “ lambs to the slaughter “ as the Nets laid siege to the conference . Which, do you believe it to be?

From my own perspective , I never bought into the Nets to begin with , as this current team had no real body work for which one could truly judge by . And the continued apathy , and idiocy shown by the fans of both the Knicks and Nets , as if it is now , both of these franchises’ time to shine, is simply idiotic to begin with ! As I alluded to earlier New York Knicks were a mediocre 5-5 in their last ten games , hardly something to tie one’s hat on , by way of viewing them as a legitimate , much less a perennial contender . Meanwhile, the Nets are simply a team , lacking in leadership , with a coach whose greatest claim to fame , was the very fact that he escaped being choked out by a psychopath NBA professional several years ago.

If things were to get any worse for the Boston Celtics (30-27) , then what guise would it take? They have lost their best player, point guard Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season, and the dark shadows have begun to set over this franchise. Rumors are circling that GM, Danny Ainge , would like to jettison Kevin Garnett and his burdensome contract , given his age and the fact that there are said to have been several inquiries from interested parties looking to acquire the seasoned veteran. Yet, with a no-trade clause tied to the contract , which would have to be waived and agreed upon by the player. It seems highly unlikely, that Garnett would actually leave a franchise , where he has stated categorically , he would like to play out the rest of his career with the Boston Celtics. With three years remaining on Garnett’s existing deal and approximately $36 million owed to the player , it would take a major concession on the part of the veteran and multiple All Star , to suddenly jump ship. And I can only envisage, Garnett going to a legitimate contender , rather than Ainge and owner , Wyc Grousbeck simply engineering a salary dump . As to what this might indicate to the Celtics’ fans , who may well see it, as the front office simply giving up on the season , when there is still something to play for , could very well sit either way , with those diehard individuals .

As the seventh seed within the Eastern Conference , the Celtics are quite comfortably set , with a two-game lead over their closest rivals the Milwaukee Bucks (27-28). All that is now being asked of Doc Rivers and his staff is to guide this team into the playoffs , and then simply let the chips fall where they may .

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Picture gallery, for your perusal .

It may well takes a village, to raise a child , but sheer know- how , real expediency and acumen is needed to make a successful NBA franchise . Something I truly believe, to be lacking in several of the franchises now playing within the NBA ! David Stern , longing to be seen as the best executive in professional sports , often comes off and across as a conceited self-serving pompous ass ! And is further proof is needed , during this last labor dispute with the NBPA (union) , while seeking concessions from the union , the commissioner was still compensated to the tune of $25 million in salary , not inclusive bonuses and other discretionary incentives . It simply makes you wonder . what really , does the NBA have to offer the fans by way of a very good product , and if anything by way of real integrity or intelligence ? The apathy of the fans , who state that there are some wonderful story-lines to be had , only speaks to their sheer stupidity , if it is simply a feel-good story that an individual is said to be looking for , when the product being served up , is nothing more than a rehashed meal , that is simply being reheated and packaged to look ever so fresh . Your thoughts, on this all ?

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Picture, and slideshow details below.
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(1)MIAMI, FL – FEBRUARY 26: LeBron James (6) of the Miami Heat works up the crowd during a game against the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Arena on February 26, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The Heat would go on to defeat the Kings 141-129 . Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images …

(2) Sacramento Kings’ John Salmons (5) fouls Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Miami, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. AP Photo/J Pat Carter …

(3) San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan (21) passes under pressure from Phoenix Suns’ Goran Dragic , of Slovenia, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Phoenix. The Spurs would go on to defeat the Suns 97-87 . AP Photo/Matt York …

(4) Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) shoots around Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe (10) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …

(5) Detroit Pistons’ owner , Tom Gores is seen here with the team’s GM Joe Dumars during a pregame shoot around at the Palace of Auburn Hills , in Detroit , Michigan, . This season has simply been one of immeasurable struggles for the franchise , whose roster has been completely been revamped over the past two seasons . AP Photo & Detroit Free Press / Asa Hutchinson …

(6) John Starks (3) , left of the New York Knicks , looks to defend against the Nets’ point guard Drazan Petrovic during a game played at Madison Square Garden , in New York City , New York . Petrovic’s career in the NBA was cut short , when he died in an airplane accident , in his native Croatia , formerly known as Yugoslavia . Heralded as one of the greatest European players ever to have played in the NBA , his legacy still lives on in the minds of many Nets’ fans who saw him play. Courtesy of NBA.com/archives @ copyrighted material all rights reserved ….

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