The internet was invented in the 1950s. It will end in 2017. Welcome, folks, to a plethora of factors that will create a firestorm that ENDS THE INTERNET. Hopefully, it will still exist until at least you finish this article. Yes, it took a pretty big hit when DeMarcus Cousins was traded, but it recovered. There will be no recovering for the internet after these moves. These are… 10 Signs of the NBA Apocalypse that will BREAK THE INTERNET!
1. Kevin Durant Returns To Oklahoma City
Think back to 2010. 2010, the year that Haiti was hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake, Vancouver held the Winter Olympics, the Affordable Care Act passed, UT was in the BCS title game, and Justin Bieber was still popular. And… it was the year of The Decision.
LeBron decides, hey, the Cavs are bad, so I’m going to go from freezing cold Cleveland, who has no talent, to Miami, which is warm and is pretty good. Obviously, this caused quite an uproar, even within the organization - Dan Gilbert was incredibly unhappy, and wrote this letter:
Additionally, people everywhere were unhappy that the NBA’s “parity”. Here’s the problem with that: Miami only won two titles with James! In his four years there, he lost once to the Spurs and once to Dallas, and beat the Spurs and Thunder once apiece. All in all, you could easily call his time in Miami a failure - especially when considering that oh-so-famous quote that, for basketball fans, is up there with the Gettysburg Address and “Moonlight, not La La Land”.
“(Not one)... Not two!... Not three!... Not four!... Not five!... Not six!... Not seven!... And when I say that, I really believe it.”
As we all know, he did get two, rendering his proclamation more than a bit stupid. And after he did, he returned to the very city that he had left to rot, the very city which had burned his jersey and cursed his name to the heavens. Sound familiar? Yes, OKC burned KD’s jerseys. They cursed him and lifted Westbrook to unprecedented levels of evil by proclaiming him as their lord and savior. He didn’t live up to those high expectations, clearly, but they needed hope. And Russ - their second star, the angry ball of flaming athleticism who is constantly sub-messaging the “Snake”- is the perfect man in whom to place that trust. But if Kevin Durant, whose fate has seemed inevitably linked to LeBron for his entire career, continues the similarities? No, it’s not an exact one-to-one, but both have had fan bases with seemingly endless wells of hate for their former star. Heck, they re-named KD’s Southern Cuisine to Legacy Grill! And we all know how LeBron’s story went… back to his original team. How will KD’s story go? Well, let's just say that KD has an 81.5% similarity score to LeBron…
2. The Boston Celtics Select Lonzo Ball at #1
Remember when LaVar Ball said that Lonzo would “only play for the Lakers?” When he decided that his son would only work out for LAL, that Lonzo said it would be a “blessing” to play for his team? Well, so do I. But I also remember something else: that the Baby Lakers don’t have the first pick. Boston does. And according to co-owner Wyc Grousbeck (via TMZ), the Celtics are looking at 6 “really good guys”. That list, with apologies to LaVar, includes Lonzo. It’s not like this is a far-fetched idea in the media - The Herd with Colin Cowherd on FS1 did an entire segment on why they should take the former UCLA standout over Washington alum native Fultz.
Yes, all signs point to a Futz selection or trade, but no one saw Jaylen Brown coming last year, either. And since when does Danny Ainge care what other people think?
3. Kobe Bryant Comeback… In Chicago!
Kobe has always been obsessed with Chicago. He’s always wanted to chase Jordan’s legacy. Rumor has it that he twice almost packed up to lace up for MJ’s former squad. First, in 2004, when he almost left in free agency to join the Zen Master following a particularly frustrating season with Shaq. Next, in 2007, where he famously demanded a trade to the Windy City. The trade did not go through, and he eventually settled back down in the Land of Smog. Turns out that without Luol Deng, whom Bryant demanded to stay in Chicago if said trade were to go through, the Bulls simply didn’t have enough assets to make a trade work out. And soon, there will be a third time when he comes incredibly close to joining the Redcoats: (Which I’m pretty sure is another way to say Bills, since they wear red.) This offseason.
Now, before you get all riled up, remember that Bryant is just 38, the same age or younger than 6 players (Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Chris Anderson, Paul Pierce) who played last year, two of whom - Carter and Nowitzki - are a near-lock to play again next year. Kobe is just a year removed from playing, and in his final game (or so we thought), he dropped 60 on a playoff-hopeful Utah Jazz team. He also put up 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal, and recorded just two turnovers, despite playing over 42 minutes and posting an ABSURD 62.4 USG%! And he didn’t stop there - he was on the Legend edition cover of NBA2K, and you know he played some hoops there, getting his animations in and such.
Additionally, he had worked out with Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving over the offseason, and this season/offseason he has taken players such as Isaiah Thomas and Paul George under his wing. Yes, he’s helping other players, but is he secretly prepping for a comeback in his idol’s hometown?
- Kobe Bryant
4. The Banana Boat Squad
[NOTE: When reading this first paragraph, say it in a really dramatic voice. Kind of like Morgan Freeman, but with superheroes]
The Banana Boat Squad. The four friends set out to rule the world - or at least the NBA - someday. There’s LeBron, the leader of the four, and the best player in all the land. Or at least, the current land, but that’s a whole other debate. There’s Chris, the “Point God”, who drops dimes like Teenage Kevin Love in that one State Farm commercial. There’s Dwyane, the athletic driving force of success (see what I did there?), and Carmelo, the kinda-sorta-maybe-definitely selfish scorer. And then there’s the Cavs, the Eastern Conference dynasty who shall unite these four comrades and take down the evildoers from Oakland.
All kidding aside, these four seem destined to join forces someday. They’re always talking about teaming up, and in a league of Superteams, why not make a team of Superfriends? Though this sounds difficult, it really just hinges on Wade’s contractual demands. If he does agree to something doable, the rest is simple. First, trade Kyrie Irving to LAC in a sign-and-trade for Chris Paul. This would give the Clippers their young, dynamic point guard of the future, and Cleveland would be up to the grand total of two Superfriends. Next, trade Kevin Love (Or some combination of Tristan Thompson + JR Smith/Iman Shumpert) for Melo. This would bring you up to 75% of the desired amount of Superfriends needed to create the ultimate Banana Boat Squad.
Finally, you convince Wade to sign for the MLE, or sign-and-trade one or more of JR/Shump/Tristan for him if you had to trade Love for Melo, depending on the deal, and Bingo! The Banana Boat squad is complete. Now, assuming they traded Love for Melo, signed Wade to the MLE, and both they and GSW retained all of their significant free agents, you should be a lock to play Golden State in the Finals. If so, the matchups would look something like this:
Who would win that matchup? Well, according to regular-season Win Shares from this year (Because of injuries, early exits, and Carmelo had to mess up the playoff version of said stat)… we have some more things to determine. First off, let’s assume that David West has retired due to age or the fact that he finally got his ring (Yes, the Warriors will be 2016-2017 Champs). Secondly, we’re assuming that the Cavs gain 3 players in exchange for two, meaning that there are now 12 rotation-level guys on their team, as opposed to the 10 on the David West-less Dubs. We can safely assume that Richard Jefferson and Kyle Korver retire due to age, as that seems like a reasonable assumption. That leaves both teams with 10 rotation players, with the bench shaping up as follows:
Shaun Livingston vs. Deron Williams
Ian Clark vs. JR Smith
Patrick McCaw vs. Iman Shumpert
Andre Iguodala vs. Derrick Williams
JaVale McGee vs. Channing Frye
And the winner is… Golden State. And it’s not even close. Cumulative Win Shares, based on the overall team, puts GSW’s 10 assumed rotation players as 12.7 wins better than Cleveland’s 10 players. What happens if you average it out on a per-player basis, so as to make it scalable to a 7-game series? Well, each player on Golden State is, on average, 1.27 wins better than the Cleveland players. What if we average it out without JR Smith in the rotation for the Cavs, as he has the lowest amount of Win Shares, with 0.8? Not much changes at all. It IS closer, but it only brings it down 0.45444444 wins, a Golden State lead in the average WS category by 0.81555556. So would the Superfriends beat Cleveland? No, probably not. But when it happens next year, it’s going to be REALLY fun.
5. Anthony Davis To GSW For Dray and Klay
Yes, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are incredibly valuable players. But when you have four stars, there are only so many touches to go around. Thus, Anthony Davis comes in. Pairing the Dray & Klay show with Boogie is a definite playoff team, and a Steph/KD/Iggy/Brow pairing would be FIERCE on defense, and just as good on the other end. Also, “parity” would be restored, while still making both teams better. Davis is brought to a winning environment, and perhaps best of all - we get to see Draymond and Boogie Cousins together in a locker room.
Prepare yourself to make prop bets on who gets more technical fouls between the Angry Frontcourt’s members.
6. Damian Lillard For Russell and Randle
This one makes an eerie amount of sense. If we assume that Lonzo becomes a Laker, it’ll be difficult to divvy up duties between he and Russell, due to the fact that he has almost always been the lead and lone ballhandler at his level, save for his single year as a Buckeye with Aaron Craft. Ball and Lillard, on the other hand, both have experience sharing the ball. Lillard with current backcourt mate CJ McCollum, and Lonzo with literally everyone he’s played with. This makes for a dynamic, pass-first offense led by new-school Warriors disciple Luke Walton. Crazy, exciting, ball-is-moving-so-fast-it’s-a-blur offense that leads to loads of threes with a bit of a sketchy defense? Sounds like the Lakers to me. Problem is, a Lillard/Ball offense is best suited for shooters. A Randle/Zubac frontcourt is not.
So, Randle is shipped off to Portland as a secondary asset, posing as the other asset that puts Portland over the edge in terms of trade acceptance as well as the other half of the Twin Towers (alongside Jusuf Nurkic). Portland has so much money being spent on their current roster that they don’t really have many avenues for improvement, which is something Russell and Randle provide.
Additionally, this provides cap relief to Oregon’s team, while providing LA star power to further attract their estranged lover Paul George.
7. Thibodeau Trades For Jimmy Butler
Remember during the draft throughout the year when trade rumors swirled around Minnesota and Jimmy Butler? And, quite often… the two of them together (NBA Trade Rumors: Tom Thibodeau will trade young Timberwolves player for established veteran?? Well, now that Chicago has realized that their current core won’t win a title before Jimmy Butler becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. Enter Minnesota. Yes, Boston seems like a contender, but they do seem to love Fultz, and Chicago has their eyes on someone else; someone the T-Wolves are in possession of. Think all the way back to the 2016 draft, a little under a year ago. Chicago offered a deal which new coach/president Tom Thibodeau declined: Butler for pick #5 (Kris Dunn) and Zach LaVine.
In hindsight, this may have been one of the greatest trades ever on the Minnesota side of things, whereas it would have absolutely decimated a Bulls roster utterly devoid of talent that is either A) Not far past it’s prime, or B) Not named Jimmy Butler. Well for Minnesota, they want to make a playoff push. They want defense, and Thibs wants some of his former players to join him up in Minneapolis. Jimmy Butler? Check, check, and check. How would they pull this off, you ask? Well, they still have LaVine and Dunn. They also have Ricky Rubio, the eighth pick, and cap space to absorb contracts. You’re telling me that Dunn, pick #8 in a LOADED draft, and Zach LaVine wouldn’t even tempt a Chicago front office petrified of losing their star wing? Nuh-uh. Perhaps Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, or Tyus Jones would be involved.
However it happens, be prepared for Chicago to get roughly 67.65236 cents on the dollar for an offensive dynamo with All-Defensive First Team-level defense. Also, don’t you think Butler/Wiggins/KAT would at least sniff the playoffs? And Chicago to become bad enough that they finally listen to their fans and fire GarPax, so that someone else can make them eternally mediocre? Actually, probably only one of those things will happen, but it’s always good to dream.
8. Paul George IS Traded, But Not To LA… To Philly!
Philly reportedly made a HUGE offer for PG13 at the deadline, including at least two 1st-rounders, Robert Covington, and one of two young bigs (Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel). As you can tell by which team George currently plays for, the trade was declined, and Noel was eventually shipped to Dallas. Okafor’s value is down the drain, but Noel wasn't traded for anything. Justin Anderson and Robert Covington could battle it out to replace Paul George, and assuming they trade the Lakers pick next year and the Kings pick in 2019, they could pick Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson to buff up their core of players around young stud Myles Turner.
They would then be able to run [Insert yet-to-be-drafted-with-one-of-Indy’s-picks], Doncic, Covington, Williamson, and Turner, with Anderson and one of Indy’s picks off the bench. On the Philly end, if everyone stays healthy, they would have Ben Simmons, TJ McConnell, Paul George, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid, as well as Nik Stauskas, Jahlil Okafor, and their pick this year- let’s say Malik Monk. Simmons - Monk- PG - Saric - Embiid is an incredible lineup, especially with McConnell, Sauce Castillo, and Okafor off the bench. Don’t forget about Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz, two young wings to add to the core.
Also, there’s Richaun Holmes, and… oh my, this team is so incredibly deep and top-heavy simultaneously. This team, assuming health (which you can’t really do with Philly/Embiid), would DEFINITELY be a contender, if not for the title than for the East. Of course, this banks on George re-signing (verbally, of course), as otherwise, the Sixers would be too scared of him taking off to La La Land at first opportunity.
9. Gregg Popovich Retires
The oldest coach in the NBA at 68 years old, Coach Pop is still going strong. There is the question, however, of his motivation. This will, in all likelihood, be Manu Ginobili’s last year, and there is a very real possibility that it will be Tony Parker’s as well. Will Pop, as a near-70-year-old, still have the motivation to coach without the Big 3 instead of spending time with his family? I’m sure he would like to go out on top, but with Golden State, Cleveland, and Boston (!) on the rise, there doesn’t seem to be a clear avenue to a title.
Perhaps this offseason he will decide that as the consensus GOAT coach is enough and retire. Pop, have you considered retiring?
“[Insert short, snarky response]”
- Gregg Popovich
10. Blake Griffin Goes Home To OKC
Lob City has not worked out. Yes, it seemed like one of the best PGs ever would work out great with an athletic freak power forward and a defensive beast at the 5 spot, but it didn’t. Doc could never get a good enough small forward, and they never even made the finals. They really need a mix-up, and Blake Griffin seems like the obvious candidate. DeAndre Jordan isn’t a free agent, and Chris Paul has verbally committed to a 5-year supermax.
Blake, on the other hand, has always been the odd man out. He has been injured often, and as a non-shooting four alongside an offensively lacking center, his fit has been oft-scrutinized as dubious and unworkable. Enter Oklahoma City, a team which desperately needs a second star and Blake’s hometown. “But Jackson”, you say, “They don’t have cap space!” Well, an unnamed generic reader who knows a decent amount about the cap but not everything, I will tell you. Have you ever heard of Sign-and-Trades? Yes, that’s right. Los Angeles will re-sign Blake so that they can immediately trade him to OKC for Victor Oladipo. Why? Well, this gets Blake to his destination while making the most possible amount of money, and gives LAC something in return for losing their franchise cornerstone power forward. Obviously, something always has to go wrong, and it does- the trade is $545k away from working out.
Clearly, this is ridiculously close and easy to workout, so either Blake could take a minute pay cut, or OKC could include a player like Derrick Williams or Brandon Rush as another signed-and-traded player in the Blake deal.
Just imagine a Westbrook/Blake pick and roll barreling down the lane at 300 MPH. And with Blake not being a lead ballhandler, his fit with Russ is arguably better than KD’s was. Welcome to Lob City 2.0: OKC Edition.