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The Give and Go: The Give and Go-Week 5

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers

Subject: Give and Go
Date: November 24, 2008 9:20 AM PDT

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the big Knick trades, I've had a chance to consider what's happening from a fan's perspective.

It reminds me a bit of when I was a kid, walking out of the theater after seeing The Empire Strikes Back. I had just learned that Darth Vader was Luke's father... Han was frozen in a giant Hershey bar and stuck in the back of Boba Fett's ship, and Chewie and Lando were setting off in pursuit.

And I wasn't going to find out what happened next for two long years.

Knicks fans are in the same spot right now... Donnie Walsh has at least given us reason to look forward to his 2010 summer blockbuster... but we have a long time to wait. I'm trying to sell myself on the Chris Duhon/Nate Robinson/David Lee/Wilson Chandler Knicks in the interim - but honestly, I was sort of enjoying the Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford team scoring 110 a night. They were interesting, at least. Will they stay interesting with a team constructed mostly according to contract length?

That said, let me deviate from my New York bias for a moment and mourn the loss of one of fantasy basketball's greatest assets, Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan.

I'm gonna miss Eddie. His teams were good for around 110 a night. And another 115 from their opponents. I'll be very interested to see if Washington's next coach tries to slow that team down a bit. Seems like a reasonable expectation - when teams change coaches, they tend to focus on what the last coach did poorly. Do we downgrade the Wizards across the board? And while we're talking Wizards - how is Ed Tapscott still employed in the NBA? He's the guy who drafted Frederic Weis!

(Sorry... New York bias came back there for a second. It repeats on me... like bad clams.)

But maybe the loss of an offensive-minded coach in Washington will be offset with the addition of one in Oklahoma City. Interim coach Scott Brooks has a background with the Nuggets and Kings - not exactly lock-down defensive teams. In his first appearance running the club, OKC scored 97 - 30 of them from Kevin Durant. They average under 90 a game on the season. Small sample size, sure... but if you were coaching a team with guys like Durant, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Russell Westbrook and Earl Watson, wouldn't you want them to get out and run?

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: November 24, 2008 11:59 AM PDT

I blogged about Mike D'Antoni being the Barack Obama of the NBA, and remember Obama on election night said it might take more than one term to get things back on track. (Maybe Donnie Walsh is the better analogy, but either way, you get the point - you can't climb out of an eight-year abyss right away). But having some hope that it will happen eventually goes a long way. And this year's version might yield some building blocks of the future contender. It's always better and more genuine to get emotionally invested early, before everyone's on the bandwagon - the payoff will be greater down the road.

And the Wizards could slow it down and focus on defense, but that team is really in limbo right now until/unless Gilbert Arenas gets healthy. It doesn't matter what style they play - they just don't have the horses, and when Arenas does come back, I'm not sure a slow-it-down approach would suit them anyway. Remember when Arenas/Butler/Jamison are healthy, this was a No. 5 seed-type team in the East - (damning with faint praise, I realize) - and that's about the best case scenario until they get some new impact players. (And maybe a new GM).

As for the Thunder, I actually like the nucleus there - Westbrook/Durant/Green have a future, and when they hit their primes, I think this team will contend. They obviously need to improve up front, but I agree that for now - turn these guys loose. I think Westbrook in particular should benefit.

But the significant thing about both the Knicks and the Thunder is that they're free to let go of short-term expectations for the goal of building a long-term championship contender. The Wizards are like the Knicks of three or four years ago (maybe not that dire) - still worrying about how the team is doing now. In the NBA, you'd much rather be the Thunder or current version of the Knicks than a team stuck in the middle. Because that way, management's interests are aligned with the team's. When you have a GM who's worried he might get fired unless he boosts success in the short term, that divergence will kill a franchise. It'll also kill an investment bank or two.

Going forward what franchises would you most like to have a long-term stake in? In other words, if NBA teams were stocks, which ones would you invest in for the long haul? Portland to me is the obvious one. Here are a few others I'd like to have a stake in over the next several years:

  • Memphis - O.J. Mayo/Rudy Gay look up to carrying the offensive load, and the Darrell Arthur/Marc Gasol/Mike Conley trio could develop into very solid supporting pieces. Expect another lottery pick as well.

  • Oklahoma City - I talked about Westbrook/Durant/Green, and you can expect another lottery pick - perhaps No. 1 overall even.

  • LA Lakers - this is an expensive blue chip, but if Andrew Bynum achieves anything close to his ceiling over the next three years, it could be an all-time team.

The Knicks miss the cut for now because they don't have any centerpieces (Wilson Chandler and David Lee are nice players, but not build-the-franchise-around guys), and they're relying on being able to sign a big free agent. Still, there's hope for the future, and that goes a long way.

Subject: Give and Go
Date: November 24, 2008 11:34 AM PDT

Hmm. Stock market analogies. That's sure to make us very popular with the readers, Chris. Shouldn't we spend the time talking about bikini models instead?

(Mental note... next week's Give and Go... compare NBA franchises to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. The blogosphere will love it.)

Bearing in mind that, if I were any good at picking stocks, I probably wouldn't be sitting in a basement office talking fantasy hoops at 2pm on a Tuesday... here are my investments.

  • Philly - Lot of young talent on that team, and Elton Brand. I think they're still getting used to each other. Once they do, they'll be tough.
  • Atlanta - Really interesting squad, and for the first time in forever, they seem to have a real identity.
  • Chicago - Derrick Rose is that good.
  • New Orleans - Chris Paul is even better.
  • Portland - for all the reasons you mentioned.

But I think I'm most intrigued right now by the Pistons. I was down on the Iverson trade... I thought AI would be too disruptive to their team concept... but I can't argue with the results. And now Dumars has the option of using the $20-plus million that will come off the cap when Iverson's deal ends to retool his roster without descending into the lottery.

As for the Knicks... don't get me wrong, I really like the long-term prospects for the Walsh/D'Antoni regime. As a franchise, I think they're similar to the Yankees or Red Sox. For years, the Yankees and Sox weren't particularly competitive. They had tons of money, but they spent it poorly. Then, they made some smart management hires, came up with a better strategy for franchise building, and they've been the dominant forces in the sport for better than a decade.

There's no reason the Knicks should ever have fallen as far as they have... but they've made a long series of ugly mistakes. Now, they have a couple of professionals calling the shots - and all of a sudden, it seems like they have a plan.

Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: November 25, 2008 12:23 PM PDT

Now's the time to talk about the market Charlie - the readers should be mad at everyone touting it during false boom of the last few years! Always fade the public and always do the opposite of what anyone on TV says. Not that I didn't get my ass kicked this year, too. It was like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaq stopped by my house during trading hours to work me over.

And I'd never short the Pistons with Dumars in charge - besides the Darko debacle, he's done just about everything right. I've said this before - Iverson is probably my favorite NBA player, in part because he's a four-time scoring champ who weighs less than me. And I'm not surprised about him fitting in - the media always exaggerated his negatives - even on the Nuggets, there were no issues between him and Carmelo Anthony even though that team wasn't ideally constructed. In Detroit, they needed a more dynamic player on the perimeter, and it worked on the salary-cap end as well.

And yes - that's the key with the Knicks - they have pros in charge - people who are serious about "governing" a team.

Article first appeared on 11/25/08