Friday, June 24, 2011


The NBA draft had all manner of dark clouds and questions hanging over it until the draft actually occurred live. Honest excitement took over in the Pine Barrens, the CBA took a back seat, the Morris brothers went back-to-back and the first round was littered with euro bigs with deep, froggy voices - they may well be playing host to their new teammates next season.

The Lakers have owned timeshares in the second-round for most of recorded history. They did SfS right by taking Darius Morris at 41. The rangy point guard would have been perfect in a Phil Jackson system except that said system plus his former assistants, have now been successfully erased from the collective NBA consciousness (late-breaking news, Brian Shaw makes a mad dash to Indiana). The Lakers also picked outside shooter Andrew Goudelock from the College of Charleston at 46, a solid choice and easy to justify.

And then, it happened.  Chukwudiebere Maduabum was taken at 56, followed by Ater Majok at 58. That sound was a live microphone being dropped on the stage of an empty club.  It’s worth noting that Jim Buss fired the scouting staff about a month ago.  ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy shrugged helplessly when queried about Chukwudiebere, "I've got nothing.  I've never heard of him."  There's not much anecdotal information about the Nigerian, he played three games for the Bakersfield Jam and claims to be 30 percent normal, 70 percent crazy on his facebook page.  Sadly, the comedic potential of Chu-Chu & Ater was cut short by the subsequent trading of the enigma's rights to Denver, for a future second-round draft pick.  We hardly knew ye.

Three of my four remaining picks found homes outside the world as I know it. Corey Joseph surprised many by rising to the last slot in the first round (San Antonio), cautionary tale Jeremy Tyler went at 39 to Golden State and Isaiah Thomas was the final pick for Sacramento.  Ben Hansbrough went undrafted but he’s sure to have a number of camp invites, if in fact, camps still exist in the future.

There’s another CBA meeting tomorrow and players have a golden opportunity. Sit quietly in the big meeting until invited to speak. Derek Fisher should then rise with all due gravitas and issue the following statement:  "William Burroughs once attempted to shoot a glass off his wife’s head. It didn’t work out so well."  Sit back down, open a bag lunch and proceed to eat.

Once the league moves ahead with its long-planned lockout, players will be well served to file various and sundry lawsuits and start their own league, the SBA.  Don’t even ask me what the "S" stands for, you already know (no, it’s not Chukwudiebere).

When Mike Brown was hired, I threw an internet hissy-fit.  As weeks passed and calmer voices prevailed, my fears began to recede. Yes, Mitch says the core group will remain. Yes, Mitch says 300 candidates are being considered for the assistant slots. It will be okay.  And the trade rumors began and the voices inside my head returned.

I don’t believe that teams exist in a vacuum.  I believe in equal and opposite reactions, the unceasing change that turns the circle of life.  It doesn’t make much sense that the Buss-trust would plan on handing an intact unit of Bryant, Gasol, Bynum & Odom, over to Brown, Kuester & Boylen.  It’s not a knock against these guys, I just think it’s unreasonable to expect that all major changes take place on one side of the court.  In all likelihood, we’re looking at the beginning of a rebuilding process with Kobe and Andrew as the centerpieces - changes to reflect long-term cost savings and the reasonable desire to have a new staff work with a team that isn’t wholly the product of a previous coaching regime. This isn’t to say that we can’t quickly retool and vie for a ring.  But, change begets change and with it comes the holy grail for someone to replace Chukwudiebere.  

I hope I’m wrongheaded on much of the above - I’d like nothing better than to hear that the owners have decided against keeping the players’ escrow money, that the players have agreed to some form of flex-cap and that this year’s crop of next generation players, will in fact realize their NBA dreams. Close with actual footage of the Mighty Majok.