And One: Thunder Asking For Trouble?

  • It’s not all 14-game home win streaks and looking down at the masses from atop the Western Conference standings for OKC. The Thunder don’t take care of the ball anything like a championship team and have spent much of the season among the league leaders in turnovers. They are to the point where they are asking for trouble in the playoffs (where each possession becomes more valuable) and, in the most telling sign, coach Scott Brooks knows his team has a serious problem. “I’m very concerned,” he said, adding, “It’s a variety of things, and we have to get better. No question. We turn the ball over too many times.” Imagine how much better OKC would be if it didn’t have to spend so much time backpedaling in transition defense and the high-scoring offense had more opportunities.
  • The turnover rank of the last 10 champions: Mavericks (2011) tied for 12th, Lakers (2010) sixth, Lakers (2009) 11th, Celtics (2008) 27th, Spurs (2007) fourth, Heat (2006) 16th, Spurs (2005) eighth, Pistons (2004) 18th, Spurs (2003) tied for 23rd and the Lakers (2002) second. So there is slight precedence for Oklahoma City being able to overcome sloppy play, mostly Boston ’08 and San Antonio ’03. Not that Thunder GM Sam Presti needs to be told – he was a rising star in the Spurs’ front office at the time and a Concord, Mass., native.
  • I’m sticking with the belief Dwight Howard will not be traded before the deadline as the Magic play chicken against themselves. They are relying on Howard choosing money and central Florida over the best chance for a title elsewhere because there is no move to surround him with a team good enough to make Orlando close to the favorite in the East ahead of Miami or Chicago the next several years. Credit management for exhausting every avenue in recent years to upgrade the team, from aggressive deals to lavish spending, but when Ryan Anderson is the best trade bait to build a championship-level supporting cast, there’s nowhere to go.
  • The great unknown, and obviously a hugely important factor, is what Howard is telling the biggest bosses in private. That the Magic continue to signal the league that Howard is not on the auction block with the deadline growing ominously close indicates they have latched on to a hope that the superstar center will consider re-signing in the summer. The other unknown, then, is how much hope he offered. Is Orlando willing to stare down that meteor hurtling toward Amway Center over Howard saying “I’m open to staying” or “I would love to stay if you can tweak the roster”? Big difference.
  • DeMarcus Cousins might be blossoming into the center the Kings always believed would be worth the migraines – 16.2 points and 11.4 rebounds in just 29.4 minutes as a 21 year old – but his reputation within the league continues to suffer. No longer merely seen as immature, Cousins is increasingly viewed as a bully of a cheap-shot artist delivering unnecessary blows to smaller players rather than putting the same hit on fellow big men. One opposing coach, asked if it’s only a matter of time before someone clocks Cousins, smiled and laughed. A player from another team heard assistants during a timeout referencing underhanded tactics. Said another player: “He knows exactly who to do that with. It’s mostly smaller players,” and, “All it takes is one time in this league to pick the wrong person.”
  • Results from a Sports Illustrated survey that asked 137 players who their first pick would be when starting a team from scratch were surprising even for those of us who have been pro-Eric Gordon since his arrival in the 2008 draft. The Hornets guard finished 13th, ahead of All-Star locks Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love and instant-impact rookies Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio. New Orleans coach Monty Williams, meanwhile, is treating questions of when Gordon may return from knee surgery as if they landed on his doorstep ticking. Williams won’t even rate the chances of Gordon playing again this season.
  •  “This @Lakers team needs help-trade, trade, trade,” Magic Johnson tweeted Wednesday night after losses at Detroit and Washington within about 24 hours.
  • They’re trying, trying, trying. This isn’t even the typical incalculable pressure for the Lakers to be title-contender good, amid renewed concern as the encouraging Sunday home win over the Heat turned into the pair of road losses to opponents headed down a greased road to the lottery. L.A. got one real asset from dealing reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom to Dallas, a trade exception worth $8.9 million, and is within days of having it blow away in the wind. The Lakers have until December to use it, but getting nothing in 2011-12 from the controversial Odom swap while in win-now mode would generate an understandable outcry.

15 Comments

  1. Lakers R Us says:

    @Prix! The Lakers have beat the Mavs twice this year! Or haven’t you been watching! You’re so busy taking digs at the Lakers in every one of your blogs; that you don’t even make sense with what you say!

  2. No one is going to take Howard before the deadline because the magic will want to much for him, he will become a free agent and once he sees that the nets are the right place to go and Brooklyn is his city, him and DWill are going to bring a championship to Brooklyn in year one

  3. RealGmer says:

    P.S. Scott…did you ask the coach who said someone is going to punch Cousins smile and laugh what exactly he thought would happen next? LoL.

    Might I suggest a new line of attack against the Kings. Writing that Cousins is going to get beat up is not exactly top quality journalism.

  4. RealGmer says:

    Except for his dislike of the Kings and Sacramento and obvious love for the Lakers.

    The idea that a 6’11, 270lbs, 21 year old Cousins (who moves NBA big men out of his way at will game in and game out) is somehow scared and lashes out by picking on little guys is laughable.

    Tell us Scott…who is the “wrong person” for Cousins to mess with?

  5. RealGmer says:

    Scott Howard Cooper is a good writer.

  6. Okc need not be worried because obviously you are doing enough things right if you’re sporting the top record in your conference..also I’m a firm believer in the ancient phrase “dont fix what’s not broken”…with that in mind they should also be looking to keep everything the same..no need to get involved with trades or free agency..they’ve got everything they need to win a champ. Right now Mindofmattman.blogspot.com

  7. Jwilllakers says:

    I think he’s going to the lakers, dwighthowardlakers.com

  8. Dominic says:

    Dwight to the nets with josh smith.

  9. Pau Ahn says:

    Well i didnt put the whole trade above but this trade machine will show trade can work out http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine
    Magic Lineup:
    i Smith or Duhon
    J Rich
    MWP
    Hedo or R Anderson
    Bynum

    Boston:
    Jameer Nelson
    Avery Bradley
    Paul Pierce
    KG
    Pau Gasol

    Lakers:
    Rajon Rondo
    Kobe Bryant
    Matt Barnes or Devin Ebanks
    Jermaine O Neal or Josh Mcroberts
    D12

    • Sideliner says:

      that’s a completely one sided trade, boston and orlando would never do that. that doesn’t make orlando better AT ALL when considering bynum is not at the level of talent the Howard is, and considering MWP is a locker-room headache, along with 6 terrible shots a night. Ray Allen wouldn’t fit into that line up.
      Then, you want Pau and KG to work together? Wow. and Jameer Nelson in Rondo’s place? That would be a waste of money and talent for Boston. No way.
      Sure, LA comes out as the best team in the league that way, but come on, do you honestly think that makes sense? teams don’t make trades without strategy, and no team manager is going to be stupid enough to send Dwight and Rondo to LA and end up with half-bait in return.

  10. Pau Ahn says:

    Lakers Boston and Magics can make a 3 way trade that makes sense

    Magic: Andrew Bynum, MWP, Ray Allen
    Celtics: Pau Gasol Jameer Nelson
    Lakers: D12 & Rondo

    Now Kupchak Get it done

    • Witness says:

      Your crazy. The Celtics arent going to build around Pau and Nelson SMH. Man you are WAY off thats some funny stuff right there.

    • Andy H says:

      Are you a lakers fan? cuz there the only team that would benefit from this trade. MWP doesnt bring anything to the table and orlando already has plenty of shooters so ray allen is pointless. celtics situation would be better than orlandos but not by much. no way this would ever happen.

  11. prix says:

    Who cares about sloppy plays…OKC will rule the west..only the Clippers will stand a little chance..Spurs and Lakers are way too far..even the aging Mavs can sweep the Lakers again…