Sound The Early Alarm For These Teams

Despite the anguish that occurs each time LeBron James misses two shots in a row or his team loses back to back, nobody is really worrying about the Heat. The Larry O’Brien Trophy still travels through Miami. We figure the Bulls will get everything sorted out whenever Derrick Rose becomes totally comfortable back out on the floor. Golden State will be entertaining and dangerous as long as Stephen Curry stays healthy. The Spurs will grind on. The Thunder will roar. Those are the stories for the long haul.

Then there are the teams that even two weeks into the season might as well have a fire pole and a Dalmatian inside their home arenas, because the alarm bells are already ringing:

Utah Jazz: It was always going to be a transition year in Utah as the team cleared out Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and made a full commitment to the youth movement. But with Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks finally getting their shot, the transition was not supposed to be a crash all the way into the basement. The Jazz have been missing first-round Draft pick Trey Burke (broken finger) at the point, but that’s hardly an excuse for their rarely even competing. They just completed a winless four-game road trip where they trailed Brooklyn by 26, Boston by 25, Chicago by 29 and Toronto by 38. This is the worst offensive team in the league by any measure — points (86.9), rating (90.4) and shooting percentage (40.1) — and are barely better on defense, ranking fourth from the bottom. They give up layups, dunks and wide-open 3s. It’s the worst start to a season since the Jazz moved to Utah in 1979 and if there aren’t at least signs of this bunch becoming regularly competitive, this always-patient franchise could push coach Tyrone Corbin out the door.


VIDEO: Jazz radio play-by-play man David Locke on Utah’s winless start

New York Knicks: What’s more embarrassing: Losing by 31 points at home to a Spurs team that might as well have been floating on its back while sipping an umbrella drink in the third quarter? Or having team owner James Dolan make a bold guarantee that the Knicks would win their next game over the thoroughly mediocre 3-3 Hawks? Really? We’re at the promising-our-guys-will-show-up-and-remember-to-tie-their-sneakers point in the season already? Look, when you go “all-in” with your pile of old chips last season and once more get only as far as the East semifinals, the talk of being a championship contender is just so much self-deluding smoke. Yes, J.R. Smith is back after missing the first five games of the season due to suspension under the league’s substance abuse policy, but center Tyson Chandler is out four to six weeks with a broken leg. The highest paid player on the roster, Amar’e Stoudemire, can’t help a lick and is more dead weight with another $23 million owed next season. Their best player, Carmelo Anthony, is shooting a career-low 41.3 percent from the field, and calls the Knicks play “embarrassing.” Coach Mike Woodson called the effort against the Spurs “unacceptable.” Get ready for Woodson to pay the price is it doesn’t change quick. Never mind beating out Indiana, Miami, Chicago and Brooklyn for one of the top four seeds in the East. The bigger question is how the Knicks do it after next season and beyond?


VIDEO: Knicks coach Mike Woodson blasts team’s effort in loss to Spurs

Los Angeles Lakers: After #bearhunt and #blackout, maybe Kobe Bryant’s next hashtag on Twitter should be the not-so-cryptic #lottery. It is one thing to hope — maybe even expect — the ultra-competitive Black Mamba to not only return to the Lakers lineup from Achilles’ tendon surgery sometime in the next month or two, but to do so at All-Star form at 35 years old. But it is more than a bit unrealistic to think he’ll be able to do much more than simply pull this purple and gold limousine out of the ditch. Anybody who’s given just a glance this season already knew the Lakers didn’t play anything resembling defense (as a 47-point first quarter against Minnesota on Sunday night proved). The hobbling Steve Nash (back) is out at least two weeks. Coach Mike D’Antoni is fiddling desperately with lineups and combinations. They got their only road win of the season when old buddy Dwight Howard gift wrapped it by clanking seven missed free throws in the fourth quarter. When Pau Gasol has to body up and play defense for a full game in the middle, it leaves him sapped on offense. Knowing Bryant, he’ll come galloping back in at full speed and do everything he can to keep his team on the periphery of the playoff race. Even if he beats the odds and succeeds, the Lakers are going nowhere next spring. If the intent is to re-sign Kobe going forward, it would be better off to get him fully healthy for the rebuilt roster in 2014-15.


VIDEO: Kobe Bryant on his rehab progress, return date plans and more

Brooklyn Nets: Oh, nobody’s saying it’s time to write off owner Mikhail Prokorov’s big, expensive plaything just two months into the season. But this is a team and a whopping payroll that wasn’t assembled to show patience and slow growth. With geezers like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce holding down key spots, the Nets have a window of two seasons at most — and maybe even just this one — to make a real Finals bid. The vital cog in the whole machine is point guard Deron Williams, who has been unable to get back to the level where he was one of the league’s top three at his position in his Utah days. His numbers looked good on Saturday night against the Pacers, but down the stretch he committed a big turnover, then a foolish foul on a George Hill 3-pointer. He looks like anything but the strong quarterback this team needs. Brooklyn stumbles late and can’t close games. Garnett is saying that he’s got to take charge of the team and that’s not practical with the limited minutes he’ll play, no matter his Hall of Fame resume. At 2-4, the Nets can’t afford to dig themselves too deep a hole in the race at the top of the East with Indiana, Miami and Chicago and need some urgency to their game.


VIDEO: Nets forward Paul Pierce talks about life in Brooklyn

Memphis Grizzlies: We know former coach Lionel Hollins got to clean out his desk when he left the FedExForum, but couldn’t a security guard or somebody have stopped him from taking the defense? You can talk about Memphis’ need for a consistent perimeter scorer, solid backup guard or anything else. But the reason the Grizzlies are below .500 (3-4) is they’ve lost their claws and their identity, the part that made them the Grizzlies and carried them to the 2013 Western Conference finals. They’ve gone from the second-rated defense in the league last season to 21st. They’ve fallen from among the leagues in steals and forced turnovers to ranking in the bottom third in the league in both categories. They’re simply being outscrapped, outhustled, outworked. That rarely happened under Hollins and it’s becoming too much of an early trait under new coach Dave Joerger. “We have to get it together,” said Grind House founder Tony Allen, “and get it together soon.” The alarm bells are ringing.


VIDEO: Grizzlies put up little fight in road loss to undefeated Pacers

46 Comments

  1. Brent says:

    Poor Jazz fans. They might not win a game until December. Not the way you want to get into the history books.

  2. Jj says:

    Knicks are joking around. All jr smith do is swag around. Their leader is carmelo? Who has a bad fg%. Well goodluck to them. They’ll be lucky if they reach playoffs… I agree with regarding the brooklyn nets. Patients slow growth? Its a win now or never. They have potential but the russian owner should have learned from the lakers that an all star line up will still lose

  3. sayawkakai says:

    i’m just glad the celtics isnt on the list even if everyone expects them to be a bad team this season…but yes, it is still to early in the season

  4. chonun says:

    bring back coach hollins.

  5. sayawkakai says:

    I am just happy that the Celtics isn’t on the list…and to think everybody expects them to be a flop

  6. Jungle says:

    Not re-signing Hollins was very foolish on the part of the new Griz owner.

  7. spursfan says:

    the Knicks , Nets and the Clips are no contenders at all. i swear from the tiniest of molecules in my body.

  8. Ari says:

    I knew that under bet on NYK was money in the bank!

  9. I think the Nets will turn it around…. same goes for the knicks i think they will start performing A LOT better…. i think utah jazz will struggle to win more then 14 all year

  10. J says:

    Great article!

  11. kekekek says:

    Im a knick fan, watched all of their games last season, and watched all of their games this season, but I must say, that the new york fans are the worst fans in basketball, bandwagon all of them, it dont know how fans act in the US, but atleast here in europe we dont boo our team when they are struggling and playing bad, we support them. very sad when I sit and watch the knicks game and I can here their own “fans” booing the team instead in supporting.

  12. gtmacchiato says:

    Not signing Hollins was probably the worst management decision in the NBA this season. Gasol, Randolph, Conley, these guys aren’t superstar caliber players. That lineup worked because Hollins made it work but instead let’s bring in some no-name and see how it goes. I can only imagine the amount of facepalms in Memphis when they announced this.

    Knicks and Nets are pretty much in the same shoes. Signing washed up or second tier stars and filling up their roster with ridiculous payrolls that completely disregard team synergy. The Knicks would probably be better if Chandler wasn’t injured but they’re still never gonna win a championship with that lineup. The Nets, well, I don’t even feel like they’ve put together a better team than last year. At least not in it’s current rotation.

  13. lilmac807 says:

    Real smart to get rid of the best coach the grizzlies ever had in lionell hollins still my team though but damn

  14. Gillsy says:

    Well what can I say. The Jazz look like they are hoping to fill a void at guard than have your draft pick go down for 8 weeks doesn’t help but you can see they are looking forward to get Wiggins or smart in the draft. The Knicks problems seam interesting they have a disjointed bunch of players a overpaid power forward who doesn’t play and then surprisingly has their best player before the season tip off saying he wants to test the waters at the end of the year. Which tells me he thought this was going to happen. While the Grizzlies and Nuggets are both regretting firing their coaches. And as has been said Howard got over leaving LA, but LA hasn’t got over Howard. Nash is playing his last season (well it should be) and my guess is that if Chandler is out for a while for the Knicks and their season goes down hill a trade for Anthony maybe on the cards. While with the Nets its not total time to panic cause KG usually starts slow, but if it continues to be a slow season that pick the gave the Celtics maybe better than they thought.

  15. Tim says:

    The Knicks is a much more deeper team this year than last year, but it’s clear that there is no real leadership in this organization. They have great pieces, but having a good recipe doesn’t mean you can bake a good cake.
    This problem might not just involve the roster, but probably the coaching staff, front office and obviously Dolan..

  16. no name says:

    The Houston should trade Lin & Asik for Rondo. THis trade works for both team.

    • Jay says:

      No one wants Lin’s back heavy contract. He was given a generous contract by the Rockets that they must now live with.

    • iii says:

      And how would rondo harden and howard work together? rondo is a guard that needs the ball in his hands at all times, and so does harden, and howard is gonna start bitching if he doesnt get touches. So rondo with that group wouldnt work, and Lin is actually playing well so far, I think he also leads the nba in points in the paint.

  17. NHbleedsGREEN says:

    How in the world does the leagues all-time most overrated “player” make $23 million a year?

  18. Jamie Miles says:

    Yes, I agree the Grizzles are not playing any defense this year which is the reason for the bad start. However, the a mistake firing coach Hollis as you can clearly see. It wasnt his fault they loss to the spurs and even if it was he still had a very sucessful year last year.

  19. Fire Same Presti says:

    The only teams in the league that are locks for a success right now are the Heat and the Spurs. Bulls are a question mark, no one knows if GSW are real contenders, Clippers remain pretenders as Flake Griffin hasn’t developed any kind of game. OKC is missing its punch of the bench, so much hangs on the development of Jackson and Adams this year. The season is already on its head.

    • Jay says:

      You also forget the Pacers who are 8-0 and almost beat Miami last year.

      • Witness says:

        What? The same way Miami also almost had them beat at 6 games instead of 7? LOL It goes both ways there. Miami blew them out on their wins but the Pacers were barely able to get close wins against them. So either way you can say it was close all you want but the Heat won and theres no trophies for “almost” winning.

  20. Zaza says:

    The NBA players should stop swaging and acting, they should start to play basketball!!!!

  21. NBAFan says:

    Agree Kamote..

    IMO, D-will and James Harden are overrated PGs in the league. Nets and Rockets will lose in first round of playoffs to the teams that they meet…

  22. TD Touch Down says:

    I am so disappointed in the start of this NBA season.., its so unreal! No one and certainly “NO TEAM” is producing at any high level of expectations of the fans. I hope it gets better or the NBA Fan base is going to desolve.

  23. Tonhenx says:

    The NYK should have traded Amar’e away as soon as he became healhty (for two days) last season and he still had a market value… now they won’t get rid of him and that extreme amount of money they have to pay him. Anthony will leave for good, end of story. The Grizzlies were tamed by 4-0 this spring they need to make some trades (not like the Prince one) to get back on track, they are broken by the sweep and the loss of Hollins. I don’t think the Nets should worry, they’ll be fine but anyone who thinks they have a shot for the finals is either delusional or haven’t seen the Heat vs Pacers ECF (or the new-look 76ers :-D). Utah needs a new coach, nobody expected them to be top 20 (even top 25) this year. I refuse to write anything about the Lakers, well deserved.

    • Jay says:

      You just wrote something about the Lakers… I bet you were a fan of a team that got beat by the Lakers years ago, like the Kings. .. let it go man, just let it go.

    • XavierQ says:

      No one was trading for Amare and his uninsured contract.

  24. laupie says:

    how about the cavs? I was expecting big things to happen with all of their youth players getting a year older and the accuisition of anthony bennett, jarret jack and andrew bynum.

  25. LAKERSLAKERSLAKERS says:

    such biased reporting. how could you count out so many teams and still keep putting chicago at the top of the east. they’ve been playing garbage, rose is already injured and carlos boozer is the guy leading their offense. if you’re gonna count out all these teams you might as well add Chicago to the list.

    • #teammelo says:

      Exactly i like the nets in Knicks to have a better record then Chicago nd no team on the east is playing good but the pacers its 81 games left the teams that’s lookin bad always do in the began of the season

    • kiefy says:

      nah man the bulls make playoffs with or without rose.

  26. eastbrook russell says:

    The Knicks like to talk, but they perform as zeros on the court and all sensible people knew that all along; JR Smith is still very entertaining on the interviews though. The Nets will just need a 10-12 game winning streak and will get it together in time to properly compete for the playoffs. Someone must have rid the city of Memphis of any basketball sense, for no other reason can firing Lionel Hollins be explained. Also, I understand saying big words in this league isn’t recommended, but the Lakers having any near shot at the playoffs is a joke that everyone in the city of Angels should stay clear of.

  27. vicenç says:

    I agree with Lakers and Nets opinion. I wasn’t expecting anything else from the Jazz.
    I hope the NYK will do much better, as some of their players deserve, but, to me, the roster looks disbalanced and fulfilled of people with no heart.
    The Grizzlies have changed the coach for an unknown one, that’s always a matter of fact…

    • Jay says:

      LoL, Lakers were projected to underperform before the season started (12th place in the west). How is it any different now?

  28. dd def says:

    you think the grizzlies are missing lionel yet? pretty stupid to fire the only coach that ever lead that team to anything at all. but hey, not my problem.

  29. Kamote says:

    Trade DWill for Rondo :)

    • JDUB says:

      hahaha – I like the idea. They can even call themselves Brooklyn Celtics, and Dwill can once again be stuck where he doesn’t want to be (although Boston is surprisingly playing well at this point of the season).

  30. E-Dubbz says:

    So true for the Lakers who’s coach is living up to his reputation as Coach An”toni because he doe not coach defense. Really, the proof is in the pudding.