Dunlap Has Work To Do To Keep His Job

In the 2011-12 NBA season, the Charlotte Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history. The team lost 23 games in a row in its 7-59 season, and after Head Coach Paul Silas was fired, there weren’t exactly a lot of suitors knocking down the door to try to take this team over. Owner Michael Jordan had to more or less go off the grid and hire an assistant coach from St. John’s, Mike Dunlap to be his next coach.

Unfortunately, Dunlap still really doesn’t have this team playing well, knowing that Charlotte remains the worst team in the NBA at just 12-40. However, the Bobcats are only being outscored by 8.9 points per game this year, and at least they are staying remotely competitive against some great teams.

But will Dunlap really be able to keep this job with the Cats? The team has a lot of rebuilding to do, and it is going to start with the trade of Ben Gordon, who almost certainly is going to be moved by the trade deadline, probably not for nearly as much as he would have been with had he not gotten into a spat with Dunlap last week.

The team really doesn’t have all that much in the way of superstars, and outside of Kemba Walker, there isn’t much to build around.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist really hasn’t panned out as a Top 5 pick, and the squad isn’t getting the same type of production out of Gerald Henderson.

Most teams in the Association are just one superstar away from becoming relevant again. However, without a single playoff win in franchise history, and seemingly dysfunctional ownership that really has never hit on a big draft pick, there’s are few that would make their NBA predictions that the losing in Charlotte is going to stop any time soon.

That means that Dunlap, for as well as he has done to already almost double his team’s win total from a year ago, is probably on the way out the door within two years.

Ellis, Jennings On Trade Block

The Milwaukee Bucks are have had a rough month of February, which really erased just about everything good that the team accomplished during a 8-3 run in the month of January. Now, as a team that is hanging onto the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, there is a real question as to whether they are going to blow up the core of this team and rebuild, or whether they will hold firm with the assets that they have to bring to the table.

The truth of the matter is that the team made the bold play last year to go more offensive oriented by trading for Monta Ellis from the Golden State Warriors. The deal cost the team Andrew Bogut, who was injured at the time and only recently became a full-time contributor for Golden State.

With it though, went the identity of the team. The Bucks converted from a team that was one of the solid defensive outfits in the NBA to one that was going to try to run up and down the floor with Ellis and Brandon Jennings. What they have come to find out is that these two players are largely exactly the same, right down to their stats.

Check out these stat lines:

Jennings: .395 shooting percentage, 18.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 SPG

Ellis: .401 shooting percentage, 18.4 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.8 RPG, 1.9 SPG

They’re the exact same player, and that isn’t going to win Milwaukee an NBA title.

There haven’t been many precise deals bantered around yet between the Bucks and other teams, but if we had to guess, we would make our NBA predictions on at least one, if not both of Jennings and Ellis being shipped out of town before the trading deadline strikes in another week.

Dwightmare Still Brewing In Tinseltown

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. Dwight Howard wanted to get away from the Orlando Magic badly over the course of the last two seasons, and now, he has what he wanted. He’s playing under the bright lights of the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s playing with some other superstars that are surefire Hall of Famers when push comes to shove. However, with the good comes a ton of scrutiny, both from the LA media and from his teammates.

Yes, matters in Tinseltown are anything but cheery at the moment, as Howard and the Lakers are just 25-28 coming into Thursday’s first-half finale against the Los Angeles Clippers. If the playoffs were to start today, LA would be left out, and it really wouldn’t even be all that close. In the second half of the season, there are still three games to be made up to catch the Houston Rockets.

From a statistical standpoint, Howard hasn’t been a tremendous disappointment this season. His 16.3 points per game are low, but he is still a monster on the glass with 11.9 rebounds per game and is one of the best defensive players in the league, averaging 2.4 blocks and 1.0 steals per night. His foul shooting has been abysmal once again at just 49.5 percent, but what else is new?

The problems with Howard have revolved around what are perceived to be little nagging injuries. First it was his back. Then it was his shoulder. Only Howard knows just how injured he really is and what needs to be done to fix it, but Kobe Bryant and the media have been on Howard’s back about getting back on the court and playing through pain to help out the team.

If we had to make our NBA predictions though, Howard and the Lakers are going to just barely get into the playoffs, only to ultimately get swept away by one of the top teams in the Western Conference. From that point, it’s up to Howard and the Lakers to decide if they want to continue their relationship and ink a long-term contract, or part ways and let the Dwightmare head to another city next season.

2013 All-Star Game Preview

All eyes will be on the NBA All-Star game on Sunday night in Houston, as the best and brightest throughout the league will join together for the always high-flying spectacle.

The West has won a pair of All-Star Games in a row by relatively close margins, winning 152-149 in 2012 in Orlando and 148-143 in Los Angeles in 2011. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were matched up at the gun last year, but LeBron didn’t ultimately take the shot that could have tied the game, instead electing to pass the ball for someone else to take the big time shot.

You can make your NBA predictions that James is going to remember that one, as he and his Eastern Conference teammates are going to look to get a level of revenge against the Western Conference All-Stars.

The cast of characters in the game largely remains the same for the West. Of the 12 men that were on the Western Conference roster last year, seven were on the team last year. Dwight Howard, who is going to start at center, was a starter for the Eastern Conference a campaign ago. Meanwhile in the East, there are only four returners from last year’s All-Star Game, and there are six first-time All-Stars on the roster.

On one blush, the Western Conference clearly has the more balanced team. The point guards are clearly superior in the West now that Rajon Rondo is out of the game for the East, and everything that James can do for the East, Kevin Durant can do for the West.

Team chemistry could ultimately help out the Eastern Conference, though. The Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls have seven of the 12 men on the team. In the Western Conference, the 12 players are represented by eight different teams.

Trade Rumors Heating Up For Mavericks, Hawks

The Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks are both going in interesting directions at the moment. Both are going to have the salary cap room to go after the off-season’s biggest free agent,  Dwight Howard, but both have to make sure that they don’t make the wrong move here at the trade deadline. Stars on both teams are clearly on the trading block right now, and with the trade deadline just a week away, there is plenty to discuss with both teams.

It is clear that Dallas needs to make a move, as Dirk Nowitzki just needs more help than he is getting at the moment. Head Coach Rick Carlisle says that neither Vince Carter nor Shawn Marion are going to get moved before the trade deadline. We’re not sure that we totally believe him at this point, knowing that owner Mark Cuban badly wants to make this team a winner, but we have a hard time thinking that these two are going to be moved at this point with the eye really already on next season.

Atlanta’s Josh Smith is clearly a different story. Smith is a free agent at the end of the year, and if the Hawks don’t trade him, he is probably going to end up walking. The Hawks would love to commit to Smith, but he figures to want right around a max contract, the same max contract that Howard is going to command in free agency. Moving Smith to get some draft picks and younger pieces to build around might be just what the Hawks need. They’ll make the playoffs this year regardless, but with or without their best player, they aren’t winning an NBA title.

Our NBA predictions? Carter and Marion are going to stay. Smith is going to go.