Another week, another 5 on 5 to educate the masses. The trade winds are blowing and people are askin' questions. The gang's all here (Brandon Scott, Sandy Dover, Michael Tillery, J.C. Gamble and Nubyjas WIlborn), so guys, break it down.
SANDY: The L.A. Lakers NEED a trade, but I'm not so sure that Pau Gasol needs to go. Gasol can post, score, and defend with the best of the best when he gets touches. Dwight Howard is still free to leave, and nobody knows if he will ever fully recover from surgery -- plus dude is lookin' kinda soft out there.
GAMBLE: The Knicks looked like beasts early, but since Felton fell and the O.G.’s (Sheed and Camby) got touched up, my worst nightmares have come true. I said in a previous TSL 5-on-5 joint that the Knicks were too delicately structured to lose personnel and still have realistic championship hopes. Felton will return, but NY needs a garbage man with some size to shore up the interior D and provide some authentic gangsta.
NUBYJAS: Knicks aren’t built to last as they currently stand. Hopefully James Dolan and Glen Grunwald have been doing more than recording Carmelo Anthony and get him some help on the court. So it would be behoove them to make some moves ASAP.
TILLERY: The Philadelphia 76ers. With Andrew Bynum still not able to challenge his knees in a basketball fashion, it's uncertain if he'll return this year at all. The Sixers need some beef down low in the worst way. I've campaigned for DeMarcus Cousins since he was drafted. Get him the hell out of the West and into the rough and rugged (by today's standards) East and let him flourish. Crazy, but the blockbuster trade that sent Andre Iguodala out of Philly was essentially made for Jason Richardson and he is out with a knee injury as well.
B.SCOTT: Rudy Gay trade rumors are not going away. The Grizzlies may have dumped a ton of salary sending away Wayne Ellington, Marreese Speights and Josh Selby to the Cavaliers, but Gay's contract is still ridiculous and getting rid of him should still be a priority. Other than that, perhaps the Rockets and Pau Gasol will do their dance again.
SANDY: This move is still great for the Nets because Howard actually wants to be there. He's durable, and the Nets can feed his ego, something that the Lakers (and Kobe) are unwilling to go above and beyond to do. Brook Lopez would be fine playing with Pau Gasol, someone he actually is similar to, save for the frequent long bouts of injury.
GAMBLE: The Nets are clicking under P.J. Carlesimo. Deron Williams hasn’t Sprewell’d him, and there’s been several Joe Johnson sightings. Adding Howard to the Brooklyn mix would force the Barclays to open a new wing for all the fans, but I don’t see that happening. The Lakers need a power piece in place for Kobe’s departure, so the LA Posse will put the financial full-court press on Superman Deux. “Brook Lopez and the Lakers” just doesn’t have that Masta Ace bass kick to it.
NUBYJAS: It would be a great move for both teams as Sandy noted. The problem is the move is too much like right, so therefore it won’t happen. Howard will continue to sulk in LA and eventually the Nets will get him for free next year.
TILLERY: The Lakers will eventually get this right and I fully expect Dwight Howard to resign. They are just looking for the perfect beat. That's just a hunch, but seriously, why in the hell would he want to leave LA even if he doesn't want to play there (imagine him in Miami, don't sleep on Pat Riley) with everything LA could provide him on and off the court? If the Nets do trade for Howard, I agree with the fellas that's it's mutually beneficial to all. Dwight just wants to have fun. Problem is, he's not fully recovered from back surgery. This will all play out the way it's supposed to.
B.SCOTT: It seems like an over-obsession with Howard, but like Sandy said, that was his original preference as a landing spot. It's always a good trade to bring in the best big man in the league, even if the one you've got is pretty decent (and Brook Lopez is that). If I'm the Lakers, I at least entertain a deal because Howard could end up in Brooklyn anyway. And the Nets would probably benefit from whenever Howard gets back to full speed.
SANDY: Top 20? Nah, but Paul George is probably a top-50 guy right now. He could be top-25 by the Playoffs, but it's hard to say, because he's still improving within the season. It can get scary just how good he can be, but time is gonna tell us what he really is.
GAMBLE: His tools are Top 20, but like Sandy spit, he’s still in the wax on/wax off Danielson stage. If he keeps maturing, harnessing his sick versatility and serving it daily capo status, then he’ll play himself into elite status with a wreck-shop playoff run. Still not sure if he can be the No. 1 option down the stretch. If anything, he’s shown the ability to hold down the fort with Granger out.
NUBYJAS: He’s always been a top-notch defender and now he’s adding the scoring by going over 20 points in 12 games. And he’s averaging 19.3 points, 10 boards and four dimes in the month of January. George should be an all-star when the team is announced on Thursday. Yes, he’s firmly in the top 20.
B.SCOTT: I've been on Paul George since he played Summer League ball a couple of years ago. You could see how special he was then, averaging something like 15 and 8 in those five games. Now, George has emerged as one of the most improved players in the league and a rising young star. The Pacers are his team. From the quote Tillery pulled and from what I've seen, dude is fully aware of what he's capable of.
TILLERY: George told me this time last year this when I asked of the expectations for his talent: "It has its pressure that it gives you, but I think that’s the pressure that keeps me working. It’s the pressure I want. I wanna be known on the court as the kid that can create and play, can score and defend…rebound and do all of those things. I’m happy with the pressure I put on myself now." That sounds like somebody ready to give the sports world a charge. There is nothing he can't do on the floor and look for him to explode in the second half.
SANDY: No question, Mark Jackson's job with the Golden State Warriors earns him the COY. It's not a condemnation of Tom Thibodeau, but Jackson, a man with zero head coaching experience is doing something that Don Nelson was unwilling to do to make his team play better – play competent defense – and now, the Warriors are among the best in the league. Mama, there goes THAT MAN.
GAMBLE: Mark Jackson should be home coaching the Knicks. Since that move is another Obama term away, I’ll revisit in my 40’s. Thibs is a defensive wiz with the flair of a nun. Everything about Action Jackson says superstar. It’s sort of like the difference between Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy. This season’s COY will eventually get Golden State to a conference final before he moves on to greener pastures, in a bigger market with championship allure and resources.
NUBYJAS: I love Mark Jackson, but I’m going to give the edge to Thibodeau. We still have no real clue as to when D Rose will be back. Yet, the Bulls are still a contender. Warriors are a great story, but they’re mostly healthy and the Bulls are missing their best player.
TILLERY: I gotta go with Mark Jackson. No coaching experience and he has the Bay ballin'? Come on now. Thibs is nice and the Bulls are in first place without the Bull Wonder, but they are doing what they are supposed to do. No one expected the W's to be in this position. Golden State is doing it right in every facet and will be a dangerous team learning their way though the eventual playoffs. No diss to Yannick's boy, but the Bulls have no upside without Rose, while the Warriors are on the move.
B.SCOTT: After D. Rose went down and the Miami Heat ultimately won the title last year, the Bulls became an afterthought. Their window of opportunity seemed to be closed once the Heatles finally realized what they were capable of. Then all of a sudden, the Bulls are what they are with or without the franchise player – an energy team that plays defense like nothing we see in the NBA today. Mark Jackson is a worthy candidate, but Thibs really is the man in these streets.
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