Posts tagged Russell Westbrook
Ball Don't Lie EP 60 - Kawhi the Don

Count the Dings' Mariano joins Scott and Joe to recap the biggest news in NBA free agency thus far. Kawhi and PG to the Clippers, AD and Boogie join Bron with the Lakers, Kyrie and KD team up in Brooklyn, Jimmy Buckets to Miami and the swirling rumors surrounding Russell Westbrook. All that and more on episode 60 of Ball Don't Lie!

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

WrestleMania might be over but you can still rep Becky Two Belts with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

When it comes to trading for Russell Westbrook, Bulls fans need to make up their minds: is it Oochie Wally or One Mic?
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

This isn’t a post advocating for, or against, the Chicago Bulls trading for Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook. You’ll certainly see plenty of articles predicting where the 30-year-old MVP will wind up between now and the time he is traded, whether that comes now or at some point during the season. Let’s be frank: those are fun Bleacher Report stories to sift through while you sit on the Red Line hoping that discolored stream trickling down your train cart is actually some high schoolers’ spilled Mango Mania Mystic and not some homeless guy’s piss. However, they’re dry as hell and one of 1,000 that will be typed up by nerdy white dudes with ‘-NBA” on the end of their Twitter handle. Nobody needs more of those.

No, this article is addressed to Bulls fans, some of the most passionate supporters in the world. We have been there for our Bulls through the euphoric highs (three-peat X2, the Derrick Rose-led Bench Mob-by Bulls of 2011) and the dark, depressing lows (the Baby Bulls, Rose’s recurring knee injuries, The Three Alphas). One could argue that more than any team in the NBA, Bulls fans ride for their squad in thin times, evident by the Bulls’ second-place finish in average attendance in 2018-19, another year at-or-near the top of the league for a team that’s led the league in attendance 13 times since their last championship in 1998.

These are very much lean times for the Bulls, entering their third year of a long-overdue rebuild, the first full year of head coach Jim Boylen’s tenure after replacing the out-of-his-league Fred Hoiberg mid-season and limping towards a 22-60 record. Who knows when the Bulls will be competitive in the East again, or how long a fan base already restless for the return of a winning franchise will continue to wait patiently until heads finally roll.

Still, there’s much for Bulls fans to be excited about next season. Lauri Markkanen enters his third year in the league, and despite missing 30 games last season with a sprained elbow and health issues, has flashed glimpses of a future All-Star. Zach Lavine exploded in 2019, finishing in the top 20 in scoring in the NBA. Wendell Carter Jr. started 44 games before a thumb injury ended his season, and the Otto Porter Jr. trade at the deadline brought over a capable three-and-D option on the wing.

Chicago, shockingly, even made good moves in the offseason to improve the club, adding point guard Coby White and big Daniel Gafford in the draft, while signing vets Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky in free agency. The Bulls aren’t back yet, but the hope around Chicago is they’re well on their way.

But while the Bulls were busy resetting the ballclub, something happened across the NBA. The league we once knew got flipped on its ass, and all of a sudden the powers that were are no longer. The Western Conference has balanced out after the Raptors ended the Warriors run this June, with Kevin Durant leaving for the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson set to miss a good chunk of next season with a torn ACL. Now, more teams are gearing up for a run at the Larry O’Brien in 2020. The Clippers - say it with me again - are challenging the Lakers’ big two of LeBron James and Anthony Davis with one of their own, signing Kawhi Leonard away from Toronto and swinging a massive deal with the Thunder for Paul George. Brooklyn will try to make it work without KD next season, while Boston hopes for better returns from Kemba Walker than what the newest Net Kyrie Irving gave them, and the Sixers load up by re-signing Tobias Harris and adding Al Horford. The Heat are trying to build around Jimmy Butler, while the Jazz hope Mike Conley fits perfectly next to Donovan Mitchell. Not to mention the Bucks and reigning MVP Giannis Antetekoumpo, rising squads in Denver and Indy, and established powers in Houston and Golden State.

LOL and the Knicks doing whatever the Knicks are doing.

That brings us back to Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, who according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, are receptive to trade offers for the eight-time All-Star. It’s not often that a superstar of Westbrook’s caliber - a former MVP coming off his third-consecutive season averaging a triple-double - is available via trade. Speculation has already begun with clubs like the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons reportedly the frontrunners, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst named Chicago as a destination that makes sense.

There’s pros and cons to the Westsiders pivoting in the middle of a rebuild to acquire an aging star like Westbrook, and we’ve heard each and every one of them to death on social media since the Paul George to LA trade was announced early Saturday morning. Cries of Westbrook’s alleged poor shooting ability, IQ, attitude, age, and most importantly, the massive contract he signed to stay in OKC that includes a player option of $47,063,478 in 2022-23, have run rampant online. All of those fears are understandable, especially given the time spent to acquire the young pieces the Bulls have over the last few years. However, something doesn’t seem right.

Just a week ago, Bulls fans and media members in the city looked down on the Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky acquisitions, either because they weren’t sexy, or because the Bulls made no effort to attract a superstar this summer or leading up to it. Now, the same ones are writing think pieces and making podcasts about why it would be idiotic for the Bulls to move for a superstar to try and compete in a thin Eastern Conference in 2020.

So what is it, Bulls fans? Is it Oochie Wally or is it One Mic? You decide, but be aware: the clock is ticking.

You can’t clown the Bulls front office for having a plan since the February trade for Porter and sticking with it this summer, then run it back and criticize fans who would be open to trading for one of the ten best players in the game right now. You can’t go on a tweet-storm about Chicago not being an attractive destination for free agents, then say the Bulls would be stupid to add a star that moves them not just a step closer to a title, but closer to attracting top talent in free agency, because it theoretically takes them out of the running for Giannis once he reaches the open market. Bulls fans have not been consistent at all with what they want out of the club, and it’s honestly more frustrating than watching the product on the court.

Do I want the Bulls to engage OKC in conversations for Russ? Hell yeah. He’s in his prime, playing the best basketball of his career, and he will be the same age Chris Paul is now when his contract is up. If he can bring the same level of production at 34 that CP3 has, there’s no reason to worry about his age. He immediately vaults the Bulls into playoff contention, but more importantly the pieces left behind after the trade - almost certainly Markkanen and one of Lavine/Carter Jr. - will elevate their game alongside Westbrook. Coby White would become a casualty of the deal, either going the other way to OKC or coming off the bench for Westbrook, but are we really worried that trading for a future Hall of Famer is going to greatly affect the future of Coby White?

If Gar Forman and John Paxson stick to their guns and avoid a move for Westbrook, I’m fine with that too. Sure the Bulls might be unbearable as hell next season, and maybe the season after that as well, but I won’t lose sleep. Chicago will wait their turn to strike on Giannis or A.D. or some other disgruntled superstar who could boost the club’s chances of winning. Russ definitely speeds up the timeline, but missing out on him doesn’t hurt it either.

But God help me, Bulls fans, pick a lane and stay firmly there. If you bitched and complained about the lack of a push for a star last week, be open to a deal for one the next week. If you demand more from the men in charge, don’t huff and puff and throw a hissy fit online when other fans do the same when they see one of the premier players in the league available. Sometimes it feels like Bulls fans have no idea what they want; they just want a return to the glory days of Bulls basketball, and I get it. 21 years is a mighty long time to be wishing and praying on a come up. But you can’t come up in the NBA if you don’t take chances. See: 2019 Toronto Raptors, 2008 Boston Celtics, and 2004 Detroit Pistons.

Or, yanow, keep whining like the apathetic losers you are. Won’t change how I feel about the Bulls one bit.

Ball Don't Lie EP. 43 - "Get Paid, Black Man!"

Scott and Dante weigh in on a frenzied start to free agency, Odell's move to the Browns and AB's move to the Raiders. Plus fan incidents at games and Goofy Mog of the Week!

Topics:
NFL Free Agency
- Chicago Bears moves
- Odell to Browns
- Antonio Brown to Raiders
- winners/losers
NBA
- Warriors recent slump
- Are the Rockets the biggest threat out west?
- Fan incidents at games
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Scott on Twitter: @BarbersChairNet
Follow Dante on Twitter: @OctobersOwnTae

Listen to the new bangers playlist from The Barber's Chair on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal!

Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

Rep THE MAN just in time for Wrestlemania with the brand new #FreeTheMan tees up now on the Barber's Chair Net merch shop
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair
or
teespring.com/freetheman

Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Ball Don't Lie Ep.39 - Manny Got The Sox On Read

Ball Don't Lie shuffles the chairs around as Dante hosts with Scott this week as Manny Machado watch continues. How will the Sox fare this spring with (or without) Manny? Plus a look at the new Eastern Conference, moves around the NFL, and the 10 year anniversary of Drake's "So Far Gone" mixtape.

Topics

Machado/Harper still unsigned
Drama in Hollywood with LeBron, Lakers
The new-look Eastern Conference
Are the Thunder a legit threat to Golden State?
What's more impressive: James Harden's 30pt streak or Russell Westbrook's triple double streak?
Antonio Brown requests trade from Steelers
Joe Flacco traded to Broncos
Browns sign Kareem Hunt
Kyler Murray chooses NFL over baseball
10-year anniversary of So Far Gone
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Scott on Twitter: @BarbersChairNet
Follow Dante on Twitter: @OctobersOwnTae

Celebrate your division champs by grabbing one of the NEW shirts straight from The Barber's Chair merch store!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Ball Don't Lie ep. 20 - The Season Finale ft. @Al_Patron

It's the season finale of Ball Don't Lie! Author & creator Al Patron (@Al_Patron) joins the crew to wrap up the NBA season. Are the Warriors a dynasty, and how long will their window be open for? We also talk about the ridiculous of LeBron James stans and has the GOAT debate finally been laid to rest? Also what's our overall grade on the NBA, did Drake catch the biggest L in Hip-Hop history, and our final Goofy Mogs of the season.

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Joe: @FlowsAndolini
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

Did the Thunder choose the wrong guard between Westbrook and Harden?
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was a tale of two MVPs. While the expected 2018 NBA MVP led his team to a commanding 3-1 lead, the incumbent got flamed all night on social media as his team now sits a game away from imploding.

In Minnesota, the pressure was on James Harden to perform at an MVP-level against a Timberwolves squad hungry to even their best-of-seven series with the Rockets. Harden struggled in game 2, making just two of 18 shots in a winning effort, and then followed up by missing 12 of 21 attempts as Minnesota took game 3. It looked like game 4 would be much of the same when his first seven shots didn't drop and the Wolves trailed by one at the half.

Harden responded in MVP fashion, outscoring the TImberwolves alone in the third (22 points for Harden, 20 for Minnesota) as Houston exploded for a franchise-record 50 points in the third quarter en route to a 119-100 win. Harden finished with 36 points on 12-of-26 shooting, all but erasing the stench of the previous 10 quarters.

"We hit the switch, the switch that we've been trying to hit since the beginning of the playoffs," Harden told TNT after the game.

Meanwhile in Utah, Russell Westbrook guaranteed to "shut that shit off" in game 4 after Ricky Rubio gave Russ a dose of his own medicine with a 26-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple-double performance in game 3. Russ did cut Rubio's point total in half, but the Thunder were embarrassed by the Jazz 113-96, showing less fight on the court than Mitt Romney on the sidelines.

Two men. Two MVP-caliber stars going in completely opposite directions.

To think, they were once teammates.

The biggest modern-day question in sports is 'what if the Oklahoma City Thunder stayed the course with their homegrown picks - Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden?' OKC made the NBA Finals when it seemed like their core was starting to reach their peak, and most definitely would've won an NBA Championship (or two... or three... or four) in time with a trio of future MVPs on their roster.

The belief was the Thunder couldn't afford to keep all four players. Kevin Durant had just started a five year, $86 million extension and was entrenched as the franchise cornerstone, and Russell Westbrook had signed a five year, $80 million extension in January 2012. The decision on who to keep and who to let go came down to Harden vs. Ibaka.

Yahoo Sports

Yahoo Sports

GM Sam Presti tried to lock both down the summer before they hit restricted free agency. Serge was able to come to terms on a 4-year, $49 million deal in August 2012, but not Harden. The Thunder offered him 4 years, $55 million, but he wanted the max. Thus, Harden was shipped to Houston, leaving OKC fans and all of basketball to question the move for years to come.

The Thunder could've waited until the summer, maneuver around the books to find the financial flexibility to keep the Beard (read: amnestied Kendrick Perkins' abysmal $8 million contract.) They could've sat and let another team sign Harden to an offer sheet and matched the deal, and dealt with the salary cap and luxury tax ramifications later on. But right before the 2012-13 season, months before they really needed to make a decision, they settled for the trade.

Not only has it changed the course of Oklahoma City basketball, it changed the landscape of the NBA.

The Thunder never got back to the NBA Finals with Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka, collapsing in 2016 after a 3-1 series lead on Golden State. They then traded Ibaka to Orlando and watched as Kevin Durant bolted for the Warriors, subsequently leading the best team in basketball to another NBA title.

James Harden has since become one of the best players of the modern era, lifting the Rockets to the top seed in the west as they try to end a 23-year championship drought. Ibaka has regressed, but is carving out a nice role for himself with the Toronto Raptors.

And then there's Russ - an undeniable superstar with an MVP and consecutive triple-double seasons on his resume. He's one of the most exhilarating players in the game today, but he's failed to win with one of the greatest of all time (KD), couldn't do it on his own, and now sits a game away from elimination with a prime Paul George and (not-so-much in his prime) Carmelo Anthony.

It begs the question: did the Thunder trade the wrong guy in their backcourt?

The decision (made easier by giving Westbrook the max) was always between Harden and Ibaka, but what if OKC gave Harden the max instead and shipped Westbrook off for assets far greater than Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lang?

The instant thought is Durant possibly would have stayed in OKC. He and Russ continuously clashed as both tried to assert themselves as the alpha of the team. Harden has shared the spotlight well with Chris Paul in one season in Houston, and could've dealt with the same playing with Durant, who was already set as the franchise player in Oklahoma City. Golden State is still enticing, but having a better rapport with the Robin to your Batman may have been enough to sway KD into signing a new deal.

For everything that makes Russell Westbrook great - an explosive, exciting game, the unwavering will to win - James Harden brings an equally dominant game, plus an underrated intangible: the ability to make everyone around him better. When he's on, he commands so much attention it opens up plays for others. In an MVP season for Harden, the Rockets have been the best three-point shooting team in the league.

The Thunder move as Russell Westbrook moves. His aggressive play can be dominant at times, at others, it becomes more of a detriment to his teammates than an asset.

Westbrook has just one more chance to prove he can take his club to glory. If he doesn't, George is likely to leave him high and dry just as KD did two years ago, the 'what if's' will intensify, and he'll forever have to play through the whispers from fans and pundits who will second-guess every move he makes for the rest of his career.

Harden, on the other hand, is beginning what could be a long run atop the NBA in Houston. Time will tell whether the Rockets will be coronated, but they're much further along (and better) than OKC.

Five and a half years later, Thunder fans have to be thinking in the back of their minds if they could go back in time and trade the other guard.