It Was All Good Five Years Ago. When Did It All Go Wrong?

How the new CBA, cheap OKC management and some bad luck pushed Kevin Durant to Golden State.

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June 21st, 2012. The Oklahoma City Thunder dropped a deciding game 5 in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat as LeBron captured his first NBA title in South Beach. For the Thunder, it was a huge step in the right direction at the time, coming back from 2-0 against the vaunted powerhouse San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals. Just getting that finals experience was a success in itself for a team led by 4 players ages 23 and under. Durant and Westbrook bloomed as superstars, James Harden picked up 6th man of the year honors and Serge Ibaka asserted himself as one of the best shot blockers in the NBA. The Thunder put the league on watch, showing you the blueprint to building through the draft as each one of the prior names mentioned was drafted in 2007-2009 by the team, which is a credit to their general manager, Sam Presti. Everyone thought this nucleus would be back numerous times to the finals in the coming years.

What Happened?

In 2011, the new collective bargaining agreement made spending over the cap penalty harsher than ever, attempting to scare teams to go into the luxury tax. For example, in 2016 the salary cap is 94 million and the luxury tax is 113 million. The luxury tax is for every dollar you go over, there is a tax owed to the league on that dollar that goes as follows.

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This was a reaction to the 2010 Miami Heat “Big 3” of LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Keep this in mind, teams had no idea the cap influx would increase as much as it did because of the new television contract. So the luxury tax is having a reverse impact on building super teams in the league, as bigger markets are more willing to spend well into that luxury tax. The Cleveland Cavaliers owed a record 54 million to the league for their roster this past season, luckily it paid off with a championship.

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Fall 2012 – James Harden significantly outplayed his 4 million dollar rookie salary and looked for an extension from the Thunder. Serge Ibaka entered the last year of his rookie deal. So it was decision time, do they go over the salary cap and into the luxury tax for the reigning 6th man of the year or extend Ibaka for cheaper and stay under the salary cap. They did the later, signing Ibaka to a 4 year, $49 million dollar extension and dealing Harden to the Houston Rockets right before the season for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, Two 1st round picks, and One 2nd round pick. A very underwhelming package for a player that went on to become a superstar and the best shooting guard in the NBA in my opinion. A huge botch by Thunder management.

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The next three post seasons for the Thunder were ravaged by injury. A torn meniscus for Westbrook in 2013, a calf injury for Ibaka in 2014 and a broken foot for Durant in 2015 prevented Oklahoma City from having a healthy team at the end of the postseason, as they failed to get back to the finals.

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Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson (11) gestures after scoring a three-point basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Saturday, May 28, 2016. Golden State defeated Oklahoma City 108-101. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

May 25th, 2016 – The Thunder looked to close out the Golden State Warriors at home in Game 6 of the 3-2 series. They played a great three quarters leading by 8 at the end of the third. Enter Klay Thompson, who started scorching from deep. Nailing 4 of his 11 three pointers within the first 5 minutes of the quarter. The Thunder were apart of their fair share of blown fourth quarter leads, but could they really let this one get away? Yes, as Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play. Thompson’s 3 with 1:35 remaining put the Warriors up 104-101 over the Thunder, who turned the ball over 6 times in the last 3 minutes. The Thunder saw their chance for a title fade in those last few minutes as they crumbled under the pressure. They then went on to drop Game 7 in Oracle as the Dubs pulled off the improbable 3-1 comeback.

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June 24th, 2016 – Serge Ibaka was dealt in a surprising draft night trade to the Orlando Magic. Ibaka is going into the last year of his contract. The Thunder acquired explosive combo guard Victor Oladipo, first round pick Domantas Sabonis, and forward Ersan Ilyasova. I actually thought this was a good deal and would only help their chances of retaining incoming free agent, Kevin Durant.

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July 4th, 2016 – After taking meetings with numerous teams in The Hamptons, it was time for Kevin Durant to reveal where he would be playing next year in a poorly written Player’s Tribune article. I really thought there was no way he would leave the Thunder after having the Warriors on the ropes 3-1. I felt he owed it to himself and his teammates to give one more attempt to bring a championship to Oklahoma City, a franchise he helped build from the ground up. I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t picture him in a Warriors jersey. Did a 73 win team just add a superstar, who happens to be a top 5 player? How is this possible? Should we just give them the trophy now? It really is crazy, and unprecedented in the league. It all comes back to the spike in salary cap and having Steph Curry on a bargain 12 million dollar contract. I feel it’s way worse than LeBron joining forces with Bosh and Wade on South Beach in 2010. Durant is a perfect fit and that team is going to be straight up scary. If Durant is all about winning he made the best choice, but to me it will always be the quality of the championship rings you win, not the quantity that defines your legacy.

The third member of the former “Big 4” is gone and the Thunder are left in quite the conundrum. Do they try to compete in the west and patch up the gaping hole Durant left? Do they strip this down and press the reset button and trade Westbrook?

Either way, by next summer, I believe the thought to be future dynasty will be no more as Russell Westbrook will test free agency, and hopefully take his talents to the Knicks. Hey, I can dream, right?

Don’t blame Durant though. Blame the new CBA, cheap Thunder management, and bad luck for Durant’s departure. A few defining moments over the past few years changed Oklahoma City forever. What if they hold on in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals? What if they resigned James Harden? What if Westbrook didn’t tear his MCL in the playoffs? How many rings would this group have before the age of 30?

A lot of what ifs are on the table as the KD & Russ experiment will end with 0 rings.

I can’t wait to see this as an ESPN 30 for 30 in 20 years.

See you next year Russ!

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Remember When I Said The Warriors Should Go After Kevin Durant? It Looks Like They Listened

I hate to say I told you so

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Hey Warriors, You’re Welcome.

Ok, I can’t take all of the credit for the story. The Warriors had to beat the Thunder in the playoffs and then had to blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals in order for this move to happen so I’ll share the credit with the players.

I said this on February 2nd and I will say it again. The Warriors should go after Kevin Durant.

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I’m probably in the minority when I say this but I do not blame stars for wanting to play with other stars. Why should Kevin Durant stay in Oklahoma City when he feels that he has a better chance to win in Golden State? Kevin Durant gave everything he had to OKC, and now he’s hated? Why play with Russell Westbrook when you can play with Steph, Klay, and Draymond? Isn’t this a no brainer?

All I keep hearing is how Durant is soft and Durant is weak and blah blah blah. If KD went to your team, you would be CHEERING this move. Hypocritical fans at it again. I do not blame Kevin Durant whatsoever for leaving. There are only two reasons as to why you leave a team. You either get paid more or you increase your chances of winning. It’s no secret that Durant wants to win a title in order to add his name to the list of the greatest players of all time. If the Warriors give him that chance, then going to the Warriors was the right decision. As much as the front office gets praised in Oklahoma City, they should’ve seen this coming. OKC had a big 3 with Westbrook, Durant, and Harden but they traded The Beard away. They fired Durant’s friend / coach, Scott Brooks. Kevin Durant is Top 5 in the NBA, and yet it started to feel like Russell Westbrook’s team towards the end. Durant did not like his cards anymore so he decided to get new ones.

I don’t understand the criticism towards Durant, but I do understand the criticism of the NBA and specifically, the owners. The owners knew the salary cap was going to go up. They knew the formation of a super team was possible. It finally happened, and now the fans are pissed.

Don’t be mad at Durant. Be mad at the system.

 

 

Thank You Buddy Ryan

The Defensive guru died peacefully at his Kentucky Ranch Tuesday (June 28).

The sports world mourns after losing two legends today. In addition to basketball legend Pat Summit, former NFL head coach Buddy Ryan passed away this morning at his Kentucky ranch. The cause has yet to be released, he was 85.

James “Buddy” Ryan was the ultimate defensive guru, coaching in the NFL for 26 seasons with his signature in your face, bully type style. Buddy was an innovator as he created modern day blitz schemes we still see today. Like his sons Rex and Rob, Buddy wasn’t scared to speak his mind and was full of colorful quotes. You could see where his sons get their brash bravado from.

The Korean war veteran’s first NFL gig was as the linebackers coach for the New York Jets in 1968 when Joe Namath shocked the world as we defeated the Colts 16-7 for our only Super Bowl win. A game that Jets fans will always remember.

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After moving on to the Minnesota Viking, coaching the “Purple People Eaters,” he gained his notoriety concocting the 46 Defense for the Chicago Bears. The 46 defense was founded on sending more blitzing players than an offense could block. And in 1984, the Bears tallied 72 sacks, a record that is standing to this day. The ’85 Bears capped their Super Bowl title with seven sacks. He was carried off the field by his defense side by side with head coach Mike Ditka.

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Panthers head coach and former Bear on the ’85 defense, Ron Rivera had kind words for Buddy.

He later went on to be the head coach of the Eagles and Cardinals. Buddy had a record of 55-55-1 in the regular season and 0-3 in the playoffs, all with the Eagles.

I’ve always heard about the influences Buddy has had on today’s defenses. It was great to see him around the team when his son Rex was the coach of the Jets from 2009-2014. I got to see the qualities of Buddy through Rex as a coach. A players favorite that would have guys run through a wall for him. A defensive mastermind with an aggressive blitzing mindset that was relentless. Someone that isn’t scared to speak his mind, and is going to come out and hit you in the mouth. He is going to be missed.

You would see the Rex led Jets hop into the signature 46 defense occasionally throughout the season, for example against the Texans below.

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As Rex Ryan enters his second season as head coach for the Bills, he hired his twin brother Rob as assistant to help run the defense. They both go into it with their backs against the wall, looking to honor their late father.

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Buddy Ryan’s impact will never be forgotten, his spirit lives on through his coaching sons. Thank you for allowing my defense to thrive in Madden with the 46 playbook.

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RIP Buddy.

I Love Everything About Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks

First things first, I told you so.

So unless you were living under a rock, the big news in the NBA was Derrick Rose to the Knicks. The Bulls traded Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, and a 2017 second-round pick to the Knicks in exchange for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant.

Initial reaction: NO MORE CALDERON. Thank the lord he is gone. However, you better believe Calderon will drop 30 against the Knicks this year. Mark it down. Robin Lopez had a decent year, but he is easily replaceable. The toughest one to say goodbye to is Jerian Grant because of his potential and bright upside. Knicks fans who were pissed at this trade because they had to give up Grant should answer this question: Was Grant the future PG of this team? I can answer that with a resounding NO.

I absolutely love this move. It’s Derrick Rose we are talking about! Yes, all of you statisticians will say how he’s missed more games than played in over the past few years. Rose had one of the most inefficient years as PG in the NBA last year. He’s a walking injury. He’s bad news yada yada yada.

This is Derrick Rose we are talking about. A former MVP who is only 27 years old. He averaged close to 18 points last year as opposed to Knicks point guards, who put up a putrid 7.6 points per game. Makes me sick thinking about it. Yes, I understand he’s logged a lot of miles on the knees, but why not take a chance on him? The Knicks have NOTHING to lose in this trade. If he sucks, oh well. He’s in the last year of his deal and will make $21.3 million this year. If he sucks, then we won’t sign him. Big deal. We’ve sucked before, we can suck again!

Phil rolled the dice. I still believe he has a plan. He was right with Porzingis. He’s taking a chance on Rose. We’re going to give a max deal to a center and although I hate him, I hope Phil says fuck it and signs Dwight Howard (No idea why I said this). The Knicks needed a shakeup and that’s what is happening.

I still say it with pride. IN PHIL WE TRUST.

NBA Draft Preview

Draft Week is upon us.

First off, welcome to our new home here at Daily Mix Report. We hope you enjoy the new layout and content of the site. Blogspot just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Secondly, shout out to NBA Champion, I repeat NBA Champion, J.R. Smith.

The NBA Draft is upon us, and will get going at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this Thursday (June 23rd) at 8 P.M. on ESPN.

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Top 8 Mock Draft

1. Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons – LSU

It’s being reported that the 76ers have notified Ben and his reps that he will indeed be the number 1 pick come Thursday night. I believe it’s the right pick as he showed enough at LSU to make him worthy of the selection, but his game and attitude will need to improve to reach his superstar potential.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Brandon Ingram – Duke

The North Carolina native progressed nicely over the year at Duke, showing toughness rebounding the ball, as well as a nice shooting touch (41% from downtown). He has all the makings of an all-star player and should fit in nicely with the young core in the city of angels.

3. Boston Celtics

Jamal Murray – Kentucky

This is where the draft really starts. Nobody has a clue what the Celtics are going to do. Ideally, they’d be trading the pick to acquire a proven veteran star. I don’t think they will be able to get it done so they settle for the flamethrower out of Kentucky.

4. Phoenix Suns

Jaylen Brown – California

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Loved what I saw from the Freshman out of Cal. His big frame makes him a prototypical small forward in the NBA. He can attack the rim at will and his scoring abilities will be tough to deny. If he can get any sort of jumper, he will be a two-way stud at the next level.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Kris Dunn – Providence

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Dunn bursted on to the scene last year and was named back to back Big East player of the year in 2015 and 2016. The former Friar has the size and play making ability you look for in your floor general. I thought he would come out after a superb red-shirt Sophomore season, but went back for his Junior year. The 6’4″ guard is a lock to go in the top 7.

6. New Orleans Pelicans

Buddy Hield – Oklahoma

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The national player of the year had quite the season, I don’t know if anyone helped themselves more than Buddy did as far as the NBA is concerned. The Bahama native can shoot from anywhere on the floor, which will help him carve out a nice role for himself in the NBA.

7. Denver Nuggets

Dragan Bender – Croatia

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Admittedly, I don’t know much about the 7 foot Croatian. So I am not going to act like I watched him play basketball. What I do know is that he looks like former Spider-man, Andrew Garfield. Let’s hope he’s better at basketball than Garfield is acting. Someone will take Bender early, maybe even higher than here.

8. Sacramento Kings

Marquese Chriss – Washington

The Freshman has shot up draft boards since the combine. Personally, I was not a huge fan of his game as an avid late night Pac-12 watcher. Shout out to Bill Walton. He was the 3rd scoring option on an average team, and I don’t know what position he would be a great fit for at the next level. He has a high ceiling, but comes with some vaunted bust potential. Gamble of the draft right here.

Draft Sleepers

Dejounte Murray – Point Guard, Washington

Malachi Richardson – Shooting Guard, Syracuse

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Tyler Ulis – Point Guard, Kentucky

Possible Busts

Skal Labissiere – Forward, Kentucky

 

Will The Knicks Make a Pick?

Yes, I think Phil will work some magic and either buy a pick, or make a trade into the back half of the first round or early on in the second. Here are some targets to watch for. We need guards Phil! My eyes can’t bare to see a Calderon-Vujacic backcourt ever again.

Isaiah Whitehead – Point Guard, Seton Hall

Demetrius Jackson – Point Guard, Notre Dame

Caris LeVert – Shooting Guard, Michigan

Malcolm Brogdon – Shooting Guard, Virginia

Thanks For Reading,

LordTreeSap