NBA offseason preview
By Peter Melling /// Staff Writer
While the first round of the NBA playoffs is winding down and teams are preparing for the semifinals, the league will begin its first offseason under Commissioner Adam Silver. This offseason will be a transitional one, ranging from teams making minor changes to massive personnel and even brand revamps. What exactly is playing out, and how is that going to affect the league going forward?
Back in the New York Groove
New York Knicks owner James Dolan, in what might be the first good decision of his tenure as owner of the Knicks, has brought on the legendary coach Phil Jackson (who coached 11 NBA champions over his long career) as the president of the team. Unfortunately, Phil has inherited a mess. A team with an $88 million payroll, no salary cap room, few draft picks and a 37-45 record is what he has to work with for his first upper management job. He has made no significantly overt moves yet, and has given few clues for his plan to rescue the Knicks. While head coach Mike Woodson has been fired, firing a head coach after a lackluster season is nothing out of the ordinary. There have been rumblings about Phil Jackson hiring former player/broadcaster Steve Kerr as the new head coach, but there has been little of note surrounding his decisions regarding the soon-to-be free agent Carmello Anthony, or any of the other players occupying far too much cap space. Look for Phil to make some unexpected moves over the next couple of months, as he will get desperate to fix the utter sinkhole that is the Knicks. Will it work? I don’t think even Phil knows.
New Sting in Charlotte
Only a couple of seasons removed from the worst team in NBA history, the Charlotte Bobcats snuck into the Eastern Conference Playoffs as the seventh-seed (which may say something about the disparity in talent between the two conferences, but that is another story). This good news in Charlotte also coincides with the announcement that they will change their name from the Bobcats to the Hornets (now that New Orleans has rebranded as the Pelicans). The Hornets, a name centered on a Revolutionary War nickname for the Charlotte, appeals to fans of the original Hornets team (who moved to New Orleans in 2002) and a general sense of 90’s nostalgia apparent in the media (i.e. 90 percent of all Buzzfeed quizzes). With their return to the playoffs, this is the perfect time for Charlotte to revamp their image and present themselves as a successful organization, free from all of the negative baggage they gained as the Bobcats. With a young core and some surprisingly decent moves by executive Michael Jordan (finally learning from the stuff he pulled from the Washington Wizards), these new Hornets look to flip over a new leaf. Look for them to continue their upwards trend, and maybe even get into the playoffs with a better seeding next season.
Hell Comes to Laketown
Something is rotten in the state of California. With poor coaching from Mike D’Antoni, injuries to aged players like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and ridiculously incompetent cap management, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a massive sinkhole. The son of Dr. Buss finds himself in a tricky spot, keeping up old policies or going into the popular “tank, then dynasty” method used by many other teams? What they hell are they going to do when they have screwed themselves over with poor wheelings and dealings over the past few years? With Kobe’s potential return and D’Antoni’s probable firing, can they play it safe knowing expectations are so high? Definitely expect them to make some effective small moves, and keep in mind that they might just surprise the rest of the league with some blockbuster move (which will have about a 50 percent chance of backfiring).