Coach Karl Ousted

The NBA’s Coach of the Year, George Karl, of the Denver Nuggets has been fired, according to a source with ESPN. Karl had one more year on his contract and wanted to come back to the team, but after their GM left for Toronto, the team decided that they downloadwanted to go in another direction. Karl led a team with absolutely no All-Stars to a 57 win season and a 3rd seed in the playoffs. Yes, they lost early again. Karl has only made it out of the first round once out of nine times. I get that part. But he hasn’t always had the best players. He had a young, more immature than now Carmelo (hard to believe after this, I know), and a bunch of below average players. Even this season, their leading scorer was Ty Lawson with 16.7 PPG (31st in the league).

The Nugs were 38-3 at home this season which was best in the league. They were also 24-4 after the all-star break. Karl has coached 25 seasons and has a 1131-756 record but can’t seem to get it done in the playoffs. You can bet that a team is going to pick him up for next season. He has already talked to the Clippers.

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LeBron: The Next Chapter

Miami Heat Forward LeBron James
Picture Courtesy of palmbeachpost.com

A Decade of Dominance: 10…that’s the number of years LeBron James has played in the NBA. It’s hard to believe, because it seems like just the other day we were still in awe watching astounding highlight tapes of a kid out of St. Mary’s high school in Akron, OH. Nevertheless, King James has enjoyed all the riches, spoils, and rewards a King could desire during this decade (aside from a few struggles along the way). But what about the next 10 years?

At 28-years-old, LeBron James is already in the prime of his career. Which is crazy considering he’s been making headlines and highlight reels since 2003. With this year’s NBA Playoffs right around the corner, so too is the Next chapter of LeBron’ career. But before we gaze into the NBA’ crystal basketball to see LeBron’s future, here’s a rundown of his reign as King:

LeBron doing his pre-game powder ritual in Cleveland when he played for the Cavaliers from 2003-2010.
Picture Courtesy of espn.com

Taking the Throne: LeBron’s Career Achievements, Awards, and Statistics:

Awards:

2003-2004 NBA Rookie of the Year

2003-2004 NBA All-Rookie First team

Nine time NBA All-Star (2005-2013)

Two time NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008)

Two time All-NBA Second Team (2005, 2007)

Six time All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008-2013)

2008 NBA Scoring Champion

Four time All-NBA Defensive Team (2009-2012)

Three time MVP Award Winner (2009, 2010, 2012)

Three time Olympic Medalist (2004 Bronze Athens, 2008 Gold Beijing, 2012 Gold London)

2012 NBA Finals MVP

2012 NBA Finals Champion

LeBron again with the Cavs about to throw-down his trademark break-away tomahawk slam.
Picture Courtesy of zimbio.com

Achievements:

One of eight NBA players to Win three MVP awards

One of eight NBA players to score 2,000 points or more in seven consecutive seasons

One of four NBA players to average at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in their rookie year. (Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, Tyreke Evans)

One of five NBA players to average over 25 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists per game in a season (five times) (Oscar Robertson achieved it six times, John Havlicek twice, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan)

One of three NBA players to average at least 30 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in a single season. (Oscar Robertson achieved it five times, and Michael Jordan)

One of two NBA players to average at least 27 points, six rebounds, and six assists for six consecutive seasons. (Behind only Oscar Robertson who had eight consecutive seasons)

One of three NBA players to average at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists in a post-season series. (the other two are Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird)

Only NBA player to average 26 points, six rebounds, and six assists for their career

Only NBA player to post at least 2,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, and 100 steals in four consecutive seasons

Only NBA player to score 30 or more points while also shooting 60 percent from the field in six consecutive games

And that’s just some of the achievements, there’s over two-dozen other achievements I left out to save space for this post.

James about to windmill it home for the Heat
Picture Courtesy of swaggnews.com

Stats: (Career Stats as of April 12th, 2013)

Points: 21, 037 (32nd on the NBA All-Time scoring list) Rebounds: 5,540 Assists: 5,287 (46th on the all-time list) Blocks: 649 Steals: 1,322 Double-Doubles: 255 Triple-Doubles: 36

Post-season: Points: 3,275 (16th on the all-time post-season list) Rebounds: 998 (44th on the all-time post-season list) Assists: 772 (22nd on the all-time post-season list) Blocks: 109 (53rd on the all-time post-season list) Steals: 195 (22nd on the all-time post-season list) Games: 115 (80th on the all-time post-season list) Double-Doubles: 48 Triple Doubles: 8

A King is Crowned: Last year LeBron James and the Miami Heat claimed the 2012 NBA Finals Championship and appear to be poised to win this year’s NBA Finals. Which would give King James another jewel to add to his crown, so to speak. This brings us back to the beginning of this post. With the beginning of this year’s NBA Playoffs, LeBron will put pen to paper (more specifically the rock to the rim) and write what will be the first pages of the next chapter in his already storied career.

So, what does the future hold for LeBron? The Answer: It’s entirely up to James himself.

While teammates Dwayne Wade (31)  and Chris Bosh (29) are a tad older than LeBron and may call it a career earlier than he will (likely due to injury or age), this Big Three should remain intact for at least another 5 years. However, James could opt out of his contract with Miami after the 2014 season. Meaning he could make another big “Decision” via free agency.

Which could spark more than a few what if scenarios around league front offices, as in “what if we had LeBron?”. An even bigger question…what if King James returned to his old castle in Cleveland?

Imagine for a moment James playing with star point guard Kyrie Irving, and a talented power forward in Tristan Thompson. Throw in a couple of other free agents/role players and you’ve got a Cleveland team that could go the distance. Granted, it’s unlikely team owner Dan Gilbert would even consider allowing LeBron back, but the idea is stimulating enough.

Then there’s the more realistic route, which is James re-signing with Miami to finish out his career in South Beach. James could then be a key cog in continuing to build the franchise into a Dynasty if all were to go well. Even after Wade and Bosh leave, James could sway other top players to bring their talents to South Beach until he too retires.

Miami guard Dwayne Wade (left) James (center) and center Chris Bosh (right) all celebrating their 2012 NBA Finals Championship
Picture Courtesy of washingtonpost.com

Everlasting Empire?: LeBron James has certainly changed the landscape of the NBA in more ways than one in his 10 seasons thus far, and he will continue to re-construct it for years to come. Which leads to one final question…where will James rank among the greatest NBA players of all-time when it is all said and done? The Answer: The sky is truly the limit for LeBron.

Here’s a projected finish should LeBron play another 10 seasons based solely on his career averages:

(stats based on James’ career averages over the next 10 years in which he would play 800 more games, 80 games a season, without any major injuries.)

Points: 43,117 (finishing 1st overall surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’ 38,387)

Rebounds: 11,380 (finishing at 26th all-time just outside the top 25 behind Elgin Baylor’ 11,463)

Assists: 10,887 (finishing 3rd all-time behind Jason Kidd 12,079 and John Stockton 15,806)

Blocks: 1,149 (finishing well within the top 50 at 36th all-time)

Steals: 2,682 (finishing 2nd all-time past Jason Kidd’ 2,679 and under John Stockton’ 3,265)

Based on those regular season career projected stats, LeBron would likely finish at or towards the top of nearly every statistical category in post-season career stats. As far as the number of championships goes, like the post-season itself neither playoff spot nor NBA Finals trophy is promised to any NBA team.

However, consider this interesting stat: Michael Jordan won his 1st of six NBA championships when he was…28 years old. Meaning LeBron may just be getting started on his ring collection also.


Picture Courtesy of teenbulletin.com

Final Thoughts: Hypothetically speaking James has a chance to end up with insane career numbers when he walks away from the game. However, realistic thinking tells us that James will eventually not be the same King James at some point down the line, and as a result his career numbers will see a steady decline until his NBA days are done.

Nevertheless, James can continue to play at a competitive level for at least the next 5 seasons and can likely bring home some more hardware (MVP awards, NBA Finals trophies/rings, etc.) in that time-frame. Past that, only time will tell how long the King will watch over his throne. Until then we can only watch, wait, and debate.

Celtics Clinch a Playoff Spot

Boston Celtics F Paul Pierce looking for an open man against the Pistons
Picture Courtesy of csnne.com

Seventh Heaven: Following a 98-93 win over the Detroit Pistons Wednesday (April 3rd), the Boston Celtics secured a playoff spot and will likely be the seventh seed in this year’s NBA playoffs.

Despite an up and down month of March in which the C’s went 8-8 (including a six game losing streak, and losing Kevin Garnett for a few weeks), Boston has managed to will their way into the post-season once again.

Playoff Picture: With the NBA playoffs taking shape, here’s a look at what the Eastern Conference playoff seeding would look like if the season ended today (April 4th):

1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks

4) Brooklyn Nets vs. 5) Atlanta Hawks

3) Indiana Pacers vs. 6) Chicago Bulls

2) New York Knicks vs. 7) Boston Celtics

Pierce guarding New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of zimbio.com

The C’s would draw the Knicks as shown directly above and would undoubtedly have their work cut out for them. Boston has only played New York a total of three times this season going 1-2 for the season series.

In their win against the Knicks, Paul Pierce posted 23 points with six assists, three rebounds, and one steal, while Kevin Garnett added a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The C’s held Carmelo Anthony to 20 points (which was solid considering he averages 28 points per game) and caused the Knicks to only shoot 40 percent from the field.

In their two losses to New York, Boston allowed Anthony to score a combined 57 points while letting J.R. Smith drop 32 points coming off the Knicks bench. Granted, in both losses the Celtics had multiple players score in double digit figures, however, the scoring combination of Anthony and Smith proved too much in those two loses.

Celtics C Kevin Garnett fading away agains New York Knicks C Tyson Chandler at TD Garden
Picture Courtesy of celticshub.com

Keys to Playoff Success: Defense will ultimately decide the outcome of Boston’s potential opening round series with the Knicks. If Paul Pierce and company can contain Anthony, who by the way dropped a combined 90 points in his last two games (April 2nd and 3rd against Miami (50) and Atlanta (40)), and hold the Knicks to a low shooting percentage while contesting shots and controlling the boards, the Celtics will have a chance against New York.

If they can’t…it will likely be curtains for the Celtics who will see an early exit if they fail to contain Anthony and the Knicks.

Final Thoughts: In what has been a brutal season for Boston, the Celtics have found a way to overcome injuries and losing streaks to give themselves a chance at a championship. Though it may be a long shot with the Heat, Knicks, and Pacers all looking like NBA Finals champions, the Celtics are in it to win it like everybody else. And when your Boston, you’re never counted out. How do you feel the C’s will fair in the playoffs? Leave a comment below.

Beating the Odds: C’s Avoid Anticipated Collapse

Celtics Competing:  I’ll admit I was one of the many who threw their hands up and said, “What are we going to do now?” when I heard Rajon Rondo was out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Well, since then the Celtics have responded to everyone’s questions the old fashioned way…by simply winning.

The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games with impressive victories over the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Chicago Bulls . More importantly, and surprisingly, the C’s have done so without the likes of Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and more recently Leandro Barbosa (all out for the remainder of the season due to injury).

Winning Ways: With the loss of Rondo and Co., Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jeff Green have led the team on the floor along with assistance from Jason Terry. Here are their numbers for the month of February:

Pierce: 17.1 PPG with 8.9 RPG and 7.3 APG

Garnett: 16.6 PPG with 10.3 RPG and 1.4 SPG

Green: 14.4 PPG with 4 RPG and 1.7 BPG

Terry: 13.1 PPG with 3.7 APG

Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass have also contributed, each averaging 8 PPG.

The Celtics have used a no “pure point guard” philosophy in their 8-1 stretch without Rondo, and so far it has worked well.

Playoff Probability: Although Boston is finding ways to win without a true point guard, they will have to add depth to their roster if they want to have a sure shot at the post-season. According to ESPNBoston’ Chris Forsberg, Coach Doc Rivers recently released his “shopping list” of what he felt the team needed to compete down the stretch:

“Well, I would say a ball-handling guard. It’s no longer a point guard, it’s just a guard. A guard that, if I had my perfect guard for this group right now, it would be a guard that can play multiple positions, that can shoot, and has some toughness. Then we need a big. You’re not going to find a center, so a 4. Obviously a 5 would be great, but a 4 that can stretch the floor, or a 4 that can rebound — just a great rebounding 4 that has skill. That’s the list.”

We’ll have to wait and see what kind of deals Doc and Danny Ainge can whip up in the weeks to come. As of today (February 15th) the Celtics are 28-24 overall and hold the seventh playoff spot/seed of the available eight in the Eastern Conference. Moreover, if the season ended today the C’s would make the playoffs. Of course, the season still has about 30 games to go and as we all know with any sport “anything can happen”.

Nevertheless, I whole heartedly believe Boston can continue their winning ways and place themselves somewhere between a fifth to seventh seed at seasons end. Honestly, at the rate the C’s are playing, they could even lobby for a fourth seed. We’ll just have to watch and see what happens.

Final Thoughts: With roughly 30 games left and only 10 healthy players on a 13 man roster, the C’s have their work cut out for them as they head down the final stretch. Will the Celtics make the post-season? If so, what playoff seed will they earn? Leave a comment below.