As we near the NBA trade deadline and the start of the second half of the season, there are five things we really need to see happen. One involves Boogie. One involves Buddy. And one involves kittens not being killed. We need to see the following:
1) New Orleans makes the playoffs as the 8th seed.
I love Boogie Cousins. I think he's one of the more underrated superstars in the league, and think he's been viewed unfairly by the public at large. When news broke Sunday night of his trade to the Pelicans, I thought the following things:
-Good for Cousins. Sacramento is a toxic organization with no leadership. Cousins was never going to thrive in those conditions.
-Boogie Cousins has such a fun nickname. And we now have a duo called "Boogie and the Unibrow." I love basketball so much.
-Boogie Cousins is a bit of a head case. I'll concede that. He'll get technicals. He'll lose his cool to members of the media. He'll possibly kick the ball into the stands at some point and essentially cost his team a game against a team like the Nets or something. But you know who else was a head case? Dennis Rodman. Only the best rebounder of all time. Give me crazy Boogie over a calm and collected Boogie.
Now that AD and Boogie are teammates, we NEED the Pelicans to make the playoffs. But they have to make the #8 seed. No higher. Because Golden State will have the top seed, and the one lower-tiered team in the West that can beat them in the 1st round is a team like New Orleans that can expose the one weakness the Warriors possess: strong rim protection. Plus the potential of a Boogie/Draymond fight is just too juicy to pass up.
2) Russell Westbrook to average a triple-double.
I love Boogie, but I have a legit man crush on Russell Westbrook. The guy plays with an equal amount of pure joy and pent up rage that he is arguably the most exciting player to watch in the league (I'll also allow consideration for this to The Greek Freak). Oscar Robertson is the only player in league history to actually average a triple-double. Westbrook is on pace to do just that. Detractors will say he shoots too much and always has to have the ball in his hands. To this, I say so what? He is the only legitimate offensive threat on his team. He is one of the top 3 point guards in the league. And his pregame attire is basically the same as postgame Cam Newton. The acrimony between Russ and Kevin Durant is real, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And while being a top 4 seed for the Thunder would be great, the ultimate slap in KD's face is for Russ to really show just how great he can be without him. The best pettiness is NBA pettiness.
3) Paul George to go play for a contender in the East.
The state of Indiana is home to three people who are similar in one spectacular way. Each of them is great in their own right but played on teams that are not/were not as great as their talents are. Those three people are Andrew Luck, Ron Swanson, and Paul George. Andrew Luck is a top ten quarterback on a team with no defense. Ron Swanson is one of the most perfect sitcom actors of our time on a show that just wasn't quite what The Office or Seinfeld was. And then there's Paul George, who is basically the non-crazy Boogie Cousins of the east: a star talent on a lackluster team that gets no attention. And because the Pacers are no legit threat to the Cavs (or Celtics, Raptors, and Wizards, for that matter), they need to deal Paul George now and reap the benefits that could come with some picks in the loaded upcoming draft. But one request: please let Paul George stay in the East. The West is already loaded with star teams. Right now, the East has one. Paul George joining any of those second tier teams mentioned about would inject intrigue into the second half of the season in the East. Also, Paul George becoming a Laker would just suck. A move like that would probably kill off a bunch of kittens. It just would be awful. Please keep Paul George in the East.
4) Buddy Hield to become a cornerstone.
There is pressure on Boogie Cousins, sure. Now he has another star to play beside and has no excuse for not becoming a winner. But let’s not act as if the pressure on Boogie is the same as what poor Buddy Hield has on him. The key piece for Sacramento in the Boogie Cousins trade, Hield was brought in because some think he could be the next Steph Curry. On the surface that feels as egregious as thinking Harold Miner was the next Michael Jordan back in the day. Hield currently averages 8.6 points per game. He’s essentially be given the keys in Sacramento to lead the team into the future. There’s no question the guy can shoot and should be a pretty good player in the league for years to come. But will he be the next Steph Curry? It’s unlikely. Kings fans should be happy if he even becomes the next Dell Curry. But for all the pressure on the young man, you can’t help but root for him.
5) Phil Jackson to walk away from the NBA.
I don’t have any grandfathers in my family still alive, but if I did I can only imagine how they would be if they got a Twitter account. I fear it might be something relative to how Phil Jackson is on Twitter. It’s equally embarrassing, I would think, for Knicks fans as it is for Phil’s grandkids. Phil Jackson was one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports, let alone the NBA. Managing superstars in two different cities to the point of winning multiple championships is beyond impressive. Completely derailing an already dysfunctional franchise in the New York Knicks is doing nothing but hammering dents into what many considered to be a dent-proof legacy. Please, Phil, walk away. And when you do it, do it via Twitter. It would just make all the sense in the world.