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Nate McMillan

Winners and Losers of the NBA trade deadline

KOBEsh went to Vegas this past weekend. While there, he decided to spend some time writing about the NBA trade deadline’s winners and losers. His dedication is shameful yet endearing.


This post is probably a touch outdated, but the man wants the post run based on principle alone.



WINNERS

Los Angeles Lakers

As we went over last week, the Lakers definitely scored big at the deadline. They desperately needed a point guard, and Ramon Sessions might have been the best case scenario for them, especially without giving up one of their three All-Stars. While Jordan Hill wasn’t the best solution for their need of a scorer off the bench, hopefully he’ll be able to give LA half of what near-Laker Michael Beasley would have given them. Subtracting Derek Fisher will have an effect on chemistry,  especially with Kobe and the other vets, but he had to be dealt to diffuse an almost certain caustic situation in terms of point guard minutes. A huge win for the Lakers, one that maybe could transform them into a title contender.

Orlando Magic

How could they not be? Let’s not even get into Dwight’s imitation of a drunk 19 year-old who “kinda wants to get down tonight, but I don’t know, my friends are here and I’m sooooooooo drunk” that he’s pulled the last few days. As I said to Mambino correspondent El Miz yesterday, it’s amazing that these players seem to concerned with their brand, and yet, not at all concerned that the circus they creates far more damage than any move could provide improvement.

Regardless, Orlando is a huge winner here. They somehow (I’m still not sure. Did they have naked pictures of him and Jameer together? Did they threaten to kill his dog? What happened?) convinced Dwight to stay for another year and a half, in which GM Otis Smith will have to pull a flock of rabbits out of his butt to make this team a contender. Regardless of whether he does that (amazing) feat or not, he has bought himself another year (until the next trade deadline) to prove to D12 that this team is worthy of him committing for another 5 seasons.

San Antonio Spurs

In a trade with the Warriors, the Spurs flipped SF Richard Jefferson for a new addition SF Stephen Jackson, who had arrived in a deal from the Bucks only days earlier . As I mentioned a few days ago, Jackson is having one of his worst seasons in years, though I would put a lot of the onus on the fact that he was playing in a system his skills weren’t best suited to, for a coach who he didn’t get along with. Jax won a title with the Spurs almost a decade ago in 2003, and famously fell in line with Greg Popovich in, what had been until then, a rocky NBA career full of trouble. Jefferson has become more and more ineffective each year, and 2012 is no different. At his best, Jackson is a gigantic upgrade over the Spurs, and even at his age (33), is still a threat to score, rebound and pass with tremendous efficiency. A great acquisition for the Spurs, who are quietly angling for title number 5.

Washington Wizards

JimmyWa’s reaction to getting Nene.

In a three-way trade with the Clippers and Nuggets, the Washington Wizards acquired Brian Cook and Nene for the price of Nick Young, an injured Ronny Turiaf and the unintentionally hilarious JaVale McGee. I couldn’t sum this up any better than friend of the blog and last Wiz fan standing, AO:

“Holy crap, this is awesome! We’re turning Nick Young and Javale McGee into Nene!! At this point can we keep the momentum going and just ban Andray Blatche from all Wizards facilities?  Honestl… Read more...

Nate McMillan could coach a WNBA team to the NBA playoffs

That headline obviously isn’t true. John Wooden couldn’t do that much. Don’t be ridiculous. But I think more recognition needs to be put on the fact that Nate McMillan has done some of the best coaching the NBA has ever seen over his tenure with the Portland Trailblazers.

Nate inherited an absolutely atrocious Trail/Jailblazers team in 2005 when he came over from the neighboring Seattle Thunder (strange, that name kind of works actually). This team had broken the Blazers 21-year streak of making the playoffs – and not only that, but created a cavalcade of negative headlines for The Oregonian; some of the stand out citizens of that team involved Sebastian Telfair, Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson, Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells and Darius Miles. After a 21-win season, several trades, gun charges and MIPs, Nate had a team that he could actually coach, and improved in win total for the next 3 years, going to 33 to 41 to 54 wins (that season being their first playoff berth in 5 years). During the 2009-2010 campaign, they team fell down to 50 wins, but still made the playoffs as a 6-seed.

Now that is an impressive track record all on its own – McMillan took a team riddled with bad contracts and terrible human beings and transformed it from a lottery team to one of the better squads in the league. With several savvy draft picks (LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, Greg Oden, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, et al) and some excellent trades, McMillan had a team that could potentially overthrow the Spurs, Mavericks and Lakers for conference supremacy.

Potential is a funny word. The definition has both a positive connotation and a negative one – it essentially means that you have the possibility of greatness, or to achieve something greater than the current status indicates. That’s the caveat though – you are the current status indicated. You are less than the best you could be.

Unfortunately, that’s what Nate has gotten – less than the best they could be. With a team and players full of potential, fate has dealt him a roster of guys that are the current status indicated. His players are those that are undervalued, with skill sets and natural gifts that would deny them results on the basketball court equivalent to their effort. Despite what some might call (the scientific term anyway) “shitty luck”, Nate McMillan has taken what could have been a potential (there’s that word again) Western Conference juggernaut, survived an avalanche of injury and succeeded – albeit not on the levels he had once hoped. This has made his accomplishments all the more impressive, but simultaneously undervalued.

Now every team has injuries – basketball is a highly physical, intense sport. A team without injuries, or a team that is restrained to a few during the season, is considered abnormal. But these Blazers teams have been the exception to the rule. I researched the spate of injuries bad luck that have befallen this team over the past few years; something that should have taken me 20 minutes took me over 2 hours. Not because the results were so hard to find – but rather there were too many results. The following list reads like something a Hollywood comedic writer wrote – and not shitty, CBS comedy writer. I’m talking about a legitimate, comedic writer. I actually read off this list to some friends today. One certain beautiful blonde laughed so hard her stomach hurt.

Take a look at the previous two seasons:

2009-2010 Season

7/9/2009: G Patty Mills (broken foot, missed 72 games)
10/30/2009: G Nicolas Batum (shoulder … Read more...