I’m sure we’ve all experienced a day in our lives that through some kind of grueling experience we somehow came out victorious. On the inside all we cared about was the instant satisfaction of winning but on the outside we appeared broken and defeated. Not so long ago I had such a night. It’s not the shame that makes it so difficult to talk about, but the shame that there’s a sense of glory and accomplishment that goes with it. JB and I decided a few drinks were in order one night and we decided, while watching some NBA action, to have ourselves a little drinking game. Sure I thought, I’ve had a few already how bad can this be? The deal was that we would pick a player and for each assist that player had the other person would have a drink. JB wanted it to be field goals made but I managed to talk him into assists, or so I thought. “Chris Paul“, I said without hesitation. Looking back I probably had a really stupid smirk on my face. JB calmly ordered himself another, then he ordered me an appetizer – which looking back may have saved my life. With a perfectly calm demeanor I got to hear words that will still cause me to cringe, “Kendell Marshall“.
There isn’t enough space here to tell you how that January 3rd night went. Maybe one day I’ll turn the footage into one of those shaky camera movies. It would be a mix between Project X and REC, with less Spanish but just as many unintelligible conversations. For now I’ll stick to watching NBA games as far away from anyone who might randomly scream, “Go Heels!” Which for some reason is causing an uncontrolled response to run around in circles and stomp my feet. As to why, your guess is as good as mine. I just know that I’ve been trained like a Pavlovian dog and I don’t even know what my treat was.
As I’ve spent more nights watching games on my own, with an ice cold glass of water, it’s starting to become apparent which teams aren’t too concerned about adding up wins. There’s a bigger picture that not me, nor JB, nor the ghost of Red Auerbach could tell you. All we can do is take a step back, watch how the waves break, then jump in and enjoy the ride. For me it’s not about catching a few decent ones. For me it’s that one perfect wave and I’m watching to see if one of these teams is going to give it to me.
Chicago Bulls – In the aftermath of the Luol Deng trade and continued absence of Carlos Boozer the once proud Bulls have officially thrown in the towel. With rumblings of Kirk Hinrich having one foot out the door plus the ever increasing minutes of Taj Gibson, D.J. Augustin, and very soon Tony Snell, will not so quietly turn into roster staples. For the first two that time is right now, for the third it should only take one more move by the Bulls. For deep leaguers, maybe a return attempt from Marquis Teague or dare I say, Erik Murphy?
Los Angeles Lakers – Shawne Williams gets 2 starts and 36 minutes in each to being cut a few days later, welcome to La La Land. Obviously that means nothing, but he had been a thorn in the side of Jordan Hill‘s playing time for most of the year. Right now it’s Robert Sacre, and if you’re in a pretty deep league that’s not a bad find, but that’s just the consolation prize. We want Jordan Hill to get those minutes. And of course now there’s Ryan Kelly getting 15-20 minutes. Maybe Hill is a lost cause, maybe RKelly… I’m not making that joke. As for the wing and PG situation. We are a long way from knowing who’s going to be around come playoff time but Jodie Meeks and Kendall Marshall are giving us a pretty good ride right now.
Utah Jazz – OKC lost to Utah a few nights ago. With Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka sidelined this wasn’t a shocking development. Utah hasn’t turned the corner in the Western Conference and become a playoff team. Utah is on this list for a different reason than the ones above. They are playing a pair of mediocre older players and losing. It’s widely documented that I think this will change – there have already been some trade rumors out of Utah and that should continue. I’m not going to make any moves based off of a rumor, but when a trade happens we could get very positive returns from Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and maybe even see the return of Rudy Gobert.
Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies are dead in the water yet they continue to play their older players. At some point they have to make a decision. Either make a change and try to win, or make a change and build for the future. Very soon the option of ride the storm and accomplish nothing will no longer be on the table. James Johnson could be the biggest benefactor to innumerable trade or lineup change options. Jon Leuer has a future and Memphis will need to see exactly what that is. Jamaal Franklin and Nick Calathes could also get thrown into the fray at some point, whether they sink or swim is anyone’s guess.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Cleveland needs to be mentioned for not quitting. With Luol Deng they get an above average player at a position of need and got rid of Andrew Bynum. That’s what we call a twofer. It cost them some picks too, but I’m sure they weren’t complaining. The important thing is that Anderson Varejao is locked in to full time minutes. Tristan Thompson… Never mind, I should stick to fantasy relevant players. The pecking order for the wings gets even more cluttered now so they are probably best left for the birds.