There are three types of teams in the NBA. You have your contenders, re-builders, and mediocre teams. The worst situation any NBA franchise can find themselves in is NBA purgatory. In the NBA, if you are not trying to get the star players in the draft, or winning 50 plus games, you are irrelevant. You will be stuck in the same cycle of being the eighth seed, only to get knocked out in the first round, and then picking 15th in June where you will find the next Thaddeus Young.
Take it from me, a Sixers fan, who has spent most of his life watching his team be in cap hell, competing for eight seeds every year, only to get swept in the first round. I am convinced that the best thing to happen to this franchise since 2001 was the Andrew Bynum trade. That was the move that finally got the front office to change, making way for Sam Hinkie, and hope for the fan base. By getting rid of the Jrue Holiday‘s and Evan Turner‘s of the world, you are given the chance to be bad, with the opportunity of a star player going to your team. Unfortunately, there are owners in this league that only care about money and are satisfied with just making the playoffs. Those are the teams stuck in NBA purgatory, and I will explore them today.
I think this is the most embarrassing situation in the NBA today. This franchise lucked into drafting one of the best big men in the league, DeMarcus Cousins, and have done nothing to help him. They draft Willie Cauley-Stein and sign Rajon Rondo. Are they trying to make life as difficult as possible on Cousins? When those three are on the court together there will be no floor spacing whatsoever. Oh, and let’s not forget that George Karl, DeMarcus Cousins, and Rajon Rondo are three of the biggest hot heads in the league. Nothing can go wrong there. The Kings also traded two pick swaps and Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia to free up cap space. They then proceed to throw a bunch of money at Wesley Matthews and he took less money to go to Dallas. Now the Kings will be without their own first rounder until 2018 or 2019 depending on whether their obligations to Philadelphia and Chicago are fulfilled by then. It will be a rough couple of years for Kings fans.
July 12, 2013 is a date that will haunt the Brooklyn Nets franchise. This was the day the Nets gave up three first round picks and a 2017 pick swap, along with other role players, to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Why the Nets thought giving up all of these future picks for two players over 35 years old is beyond me. On the day of that trade, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said, “With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, we have achieved a great balance on our roster between veteran stars and young talents. This team will be dazzling to watch, and tough to compete against.” Yea, maybe it was tough for the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, who ousted the Nets in the first round in seven games. That has basically been the norm for the Nets recently though. The franchise has not made it out of the second round since 2003, when they lost in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs. Since then, it has been a continuous cycle of early playoff exits, middling picks, and terrible contracts. You just have to check out the six-year, 123.7 million dollar contract they took on when acquiring Joe Johnson. The Nets also did exactly what an average team would do, draft the next Thaddeus Young, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. It is pretty uncanny how similar they are, lefty, no real position, and high energy players. Now they get to play on the same team together. Go Nets! I will give credit to the Nets for buying out Deron Williams‘ contract. That is a step in the right direction for the franchise.
There are many other examples of teams that are going nowhere fast, these are just the two biggest examples. Some of those teams are the Phoenix Suns, who did themselves no favors by being just good enough for the playoffs two seasons ago. The New York Knicks are heading in that direction with Carmelo Anthony‘s suffocating contract and signing guys like Robin Lopez to a 4 year, 54 million dollar contract. As you can see, the NBA is a very difficult landscape to navigate. It is not like the NFL where the Atlanta Falcons can go from a laughing-stock to one of the best teams in the league in one season. You need a star player to build around. That is why I commend teams like the Nuggets and Timberwolves. They got rid of guys they knew were not going to get the job done in Kevin Love and Ty Lawson. In return they get a chance to find that star. I expect big things from Andrew Wiggins and am very excited to watch Emmanuel Mudiay play. In the NBA, if you want to win, you must lose first.