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Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

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Old 01-09-2016, 03:31 PM   #497
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return



March 29th, 2017


The rain came down from out the window as Max surveyed the two men before him. "Well?"

Both Lionel and Ray looked back at him, his proposal still hanging in the air. It was risky. It was bold. But they could do it. Hell, they would be even better if they did pull it off. To do it, though, he needed these two men with him.

He wasn't about to blunder into this.

"It's not the worst thing I've ever heard," Lionel stated, his tone non-committal. "Going after Westbrook is, by itself, a fine plan. But making him the center-piece of the franchise? Pitching him as the leader of the team for years to come? Are we sure we want to do that?"

"I think there are a few guys on the team who might have a problem with that." Ray shook his head. "Nerlens and Rondae, in particular. They both know they're the future of this squad."

"And they still will be -- Russell won't be able to do the things he does now forever. He probably has another four or five years of his prime left, and when that ends, Rondae and Noel will be just hitting theirs." Max pointed out the window. "And if we take him from the Thunder, we deal them a blow they'll be hurting from for years."

Both Lionel and Ray looked at one another. "It makes basketball sense, but it sounds just as much personal as business," Lionel said quietly. He narrowed his eyes at Max. "Tell me you're not using a guy to get back at someone else."

Max shook his head. "I proposed this before Bennett crossed that line. It's not just about him; it is about putting us in a position to dominate for the next decade. If we have Russell here, we can bring Malik along at his own pace. He can take over the point when Russell just isn't quick enough to guard it anymore -- and then we can move him over to off-guard, where he'll be a terror."

Ray's eyebrow shot up. "Russell doesn't like playing off-guard too much. He'll do it, but he's a point guard in his mind, plain and simple."

"And in five years, he might not be able to stay in front of the league's point guards," Max countered. "I'm not saying he will do it -- he might scoff and if that's the case, Malik can play the off-guard just as well as Russell can by that point." He eyed Ray. "He'll have had a few years to practice with you, his shooting should be much improved."

Ray sighed, but nodded. "All right, we go all-in on Russell, then."

"I think we should wait to make any decisions till after the playoffs. There's still a lot that can happen before we get to the offseason." Lionel crossed his arms. "I'd like to give Brandon a chance to keep his spot."

Max shook his head again. "Brandon has performed very, very well. Don't get me wrong -- but his inside game is atrocious. His percentages are way down since he came back from injury and his shot selection isn't giving me a lot of faith."

"He's only been back for in action for a little over a month."

Ray gave Lionel a long look. "And he's had some really bad nights; his shooting stroke is way, way off."

Lionel looked between them both and crossed his arms. "If we go after Russell, and miss, then what? Brandon won't sign with us, that's for damned sure."

Max smirked. "Rose. He'll want to prove himself more than ever and he's having a hell of a year."

Lionel took a moment, then reluctantly nodded. "All right. But we should have a couple of fall back plans if Rose falls through, too."

Max tapped the side of his head. "I've got a few thoughts."
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Old 01-09-2016, 04:28 PM   #498
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

2016-17 NBA Final Regular Season Standings

April 12th, 2017

By Vonny Lee




The end of the NBA Regular Season is upon us and what a year it's been. Here's a quick look at the final regular season standings and where the team's that didn't make the playoffs stand at season's end.



1. The Timberwolves
--Doc Rivers first year almost ended in a playoff berth, but the Wolves finished a few games behind the 8th seeded Spurs and had no way to regain that ground. The final month of the season was pretty tough for the young squad, but they've showed some serious resilience. Assuming Karl-Anthony Towns comes back fine, the Wolves should be a playoff lock for next season.

2. The Nuggets -- They sported one of the worst offenses this year and last, and didn't benefit at all from the trade for Nicolas Batum. The best thing you can say is that they've increased their odds for a good draft pick, but the Nuggets seem to be a team stuck in losing. Coach Mike Malone might be done in Denver.

3. The Jazz -- had a miserable year, plain and simple. Gordon Hayward is as good as gone from Utah and the team is preparing for a long rebuild. Dante Exum continues to be seen as an asset despite putting up just 8.3 PPG, with 3.4 APG, on 38 percent shooting, 29 percent from three. The Jazz are sure they have something with him, but it looks like Exum isn't going to make a leap anytime soon, if ever. Utah has the best odds of the first pick.



1. The Lakers
-- were so close to snagging the final playoff spot, but the injury to Whiteside towards the end of March snuffed out any hope of a miracle run. Still LA has to be pleased with the way the team performed and the Russell/Randle combo showed big improvement this season compared to last. The Lakers look to be in good position for next season.

2. The Suns -- have to be incredibly pleased with the way the season ended. The Suns went 8-2 in their last ten games and made a run at the final playoff spot. The situation in Phoenix is still touching, but it looks like the team has finally recovered from the disastrous Rondo signing. Next season will be telling to see if the Suns can make noise. As for this offseason, Phoenix will definitely be moving on from Markieff Morris.

3. The Kings -- are a mess, but hopefully they won't be for much longer. Multiple bad contracts come off the books this offseason (Rudy Gay among them) and Sacramento can look to the future without a ton of baggage this offseason. They still need to find a new head coach, but that's a small matter considering how talent deprived the roster is at this point.



1. The Mavericks
-- once more finished out of the playoffs and Dirk's last season goes to waste. Dallas will likely watch Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams leave in the offseason, so Mark Cuban needs to make some tough choices. Is Wesley Matthews capable of being the lead dog? Will Embiid stay healthy (he played in all 82 games again this season, making it two years in a row)? Is it time to go full rebuild? Dallas' decisions will be very interesting.




1. The Pacers
-- missed the playoffs after sneaking in last season and there's no one reason why. Indiana only suffered minor injuries throughout most of the year and their fate was their own. If they had won their last four games, they would be in the playoffs right now -- instead, they find themselves at home. Look for a minor overhaul of the bench as the Pacers try to find another piece to put around Paul George and Derrick Favors.

2. The Bucks -- have defied expectations and didn't finish with the worst record. That's small consolation for a fanbase as long-suffering as the Bucks faithful. Milwaukee must decide what to do with many players this offseason as the roster is clearly broken. Kris Middleton and Greg Monroe are the two players likely to go.



1. The Hawks -- saved face with the Gobert trade and nearly made the playoffs. Gobert thrived as the big man in the center of the revamped Hawks lineup but Atlanta has to wait and wonder what Teague and Millsap will do. Both key cogs are considering their options and if they both leave, the Hawks will be hard pressed to find better replacement players.

2. The Grizzlies
-- are at the end of an era. The Grit and Grind Grizz are dead and gone, a distant memory. Time makes all things extinct and it was no different here. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both suffered injuries that sidelined them for an extended period of time and that ended the Grizzlies playoff hopes long before they realized it. Now the question becomes what to do with the team? Gasol is a Grizz lifer. Randolph is a free agent and could move on. Michael-Carter Williams worked to a point, but doesn't look like an actual answer at SG. Many questions for the Grizzlies.

3. The Hornets
-- Michael Jordan's team continues to underperform despite definable talent. A promising beginning to the year was derailed due to an injury to MKG and the Hornets never recovered. Going 2-8 over the last ten games killed their playoff hopes and the franchise is at a crossroads. There are parts of this team that work and parts that don't. Expect Charlotte to pursue a legitimate two-guard as Eric Gordon leaves.



1. The Celtics
-- might have figured it out. A late season injury to Jae Crowder removed him from the lineup and inserted Otto Porter in as the starter. Boston thrived, finishing over .500 the last month of the season. Porter was never the answer in Washington, but perhaps he is in Boston. Danny Ainge has to decide what to do with Crowder, but expect there to be plenty of interested parties around the league for a player as consistently above-average in all aspects of basketball as Crowder is.

2. The Knicks
-- suffered a minor set-back this year and one has to wonder if Derek Fisher is the coach this team needs. New York will have a ton of cap space to play with this offseason (and there are rumors that they're targeting Westbrook and Rose to run their point), but expect Phil Jackson to continue building in his zen-mastery way.

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Old 01-09-2016, 04:42 PM   #499
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

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Old 01-09-2016, 05:47 PM   #500
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return


1st Round Playoff Preview

April 13th, 2017

By Vonny Lee



The 2016-17 NBA season brought us plenty of action, but the postseason is shaping up to be even better. Here's a look at the 1st round.



1. Sonics vs. 8. Spurs


Going 63-19 is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering the Sonics had to rely on a rookie point guard to lead their team for a month while Brandon Jennings recovered from an injury. Jennings' reinsertion back into the lineup went as smoothly as you could think and Seattle finished a win short of tying the franchise's best every regular season record (belonging to the 95-96 Sonics, who went 64-18).

But they face one of the toughest matchups in recent memory in the 8th seeded Spurs, who have had trouble adapting to life without Duncan and Ginobli after their retirements. The Spurs not only finished short of 50 wins (going 43-39 this season) for the first time in forever, they also don't have a very good defense. Don't expect Coach Pop to let that stop him from making this a very tough series.

Prediction:
The Sonics don't have a lot of room for error, as they split the season series with the Spurs. I expect this to go the full five games, with Seattle winning and moving on.


4. Rockets vs. 5. Warriors

The Rockets have managed to make the playoffs with a record of 47-35, sporting a defense that regularly holds opponents under 100 points and an offense that has found a groove of late with James Harden. Harden, as per usual, is the key to this series -- after Houston's upset loss last season at the hands of the Pelicans, the Rockets need to make a statement.

Unfortunately, they drew the Warriors. Finishing the year 45-37, Golden State managed to survive a slew of injuries to key role players over the season. They haven't set the league on fire, but they're still as deadly as ever.

Prediction:
Houston is suffering from the curse of Dwight Howard and faces a healthy Warriors squad. Golden State in four.


2. Thunder vs. 7. Blazers


The Thunder reached up and stole the 2nd seed from the Clippers, though it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Finishing the season at 56-26, OKC wants to see the Sonics again and can only do that if they meet in the WCF. Both teams would like a rematch of last season's series, and the Thunder have a lot to prove.

But the Blazers are equally hungry, perhaps more so. After missing the playoffs last season, Lillard and co. have gotten the Blazers back in the conversation as a playoff team. But can this roster truly threaten the Thunder?

Prediction:
OKC lets one slip away against the Blazers, but only one. Thunder in four.


3. Clippers vs. 6. Pelicans

The Clippers let the 2nd seed slip through their hands at the end, playing only .500 ball over the last 10 games. Despite that, they find themselves facing a difficult opponent in Anthony Davis. Davis' talent is off the charts, and that always makes him a threat.

But the Pelicans had a chance to put themselves in much better position than the one they're in now -- they've gone 1-9 over the last 10 games, dropping the last four and the mood in NOLA isn't fun. Getting past the Clippers will be tough, but not impossible.

Prediction:
Clippers in five. Anthony Davis is good, but the Clippers are a better team.

Out East ...


1. Raptors vs. 8. Magic


The Raptors held onto their conference-leading best record and now sit in a very unfamiliar position: that of the 1st seed. Never in franchise history have they had the 1st seed, nor have they ever won 50 games. They've done both this year but have yet to advance past the 1st round of the playoffs in over a decade.

The Magic are back in the playoffs after a long, long drought. The last time a Magic team made the playoffs was when they had Dwight -- which seems like decades ago. Orlando nearly slipped out of the playoffs at the end of the season with their poor play (2-8 in their last 10), but that's mostly been due to the loss of Aaron Gordon to injury (expected to return this series). Can the scrappy team pull off an upset?

Prediction: The Raptors are by far the better team here and they need to take this series. I see them winning in four.

4. Heat vs. 5. Pistons

Miami didn't finish this year as well as last year, but injuries have derailed them. First to Wade, then to Dragic, then to their replacement point guard in Ronnie Price. The move to pick up the waived Trey Burke paid off, but Miami has drawn a matchup with a person who knows them: Stan-Van Gundy.

SVG and the Pistons looked to be dead after the ASB, and rightly so -- but after the break, they went 19-11 and somehow, someway, ended up in the playoffs in a very winnable matchup. Drummond vs. Jefferson isn't a contest and the Piston's youth will be a boon here.

Prediction: Rajon Rondo and SVG, both guys with axes to grind against the Heat (for different reasons), pull out a five game win over Miami, scoring a minor upset.

2. Bulls vs. 7. 76ers

The Bulls nearly stole the 1st seed from the Raptors, falling just short, and now have their best shot at the Finals in many, many years. Rose is playing superb, the team is clicking on all cylinders, and it really seems as though Chicago is ready to make a leap.

Standing in their way are the 76ers, who haven't seen the postseason since 2012 (when half this team was still in high school) and who eliminated the Bulls during that lockout shortened season. Philly is just glad to be here.

Prediction: Bulls take the young 76es behind a woodshed and gore them to death. Chicago in a three game sweep.

3. Cavs vs. 6. Wizards

It has not been an easy year for Cleveland. The trade of Kevin Love was supposed to free up minutes and time for Tristan Thompson, and it has but it hasn't resulted in a different story; Cleveland still relies too much on LeBron and Kyrie. With Mosgov out for another 2-4 weeks with a torn hamstring, the Cavs are playing a small-ball lineup.

That is the opposite of how the Wizards are playing. Washington went on a tear, winning 8 straight games to make the playoffs. Led by the eruption of John Wall, human fireball, the Wizards are one of the hottest squads in the postseason.

Prediction: The Wizards present a matchup issue for the Cavs, as Cleveland has no one on their roster who can match the height and play of Brook Lopez. If Washington can take advantage of that, they win. I'm calling it: Wizards in five in a big upset.

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Old 01-09-2016, 05:56 PM   #501
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

As discussed a few pages back, I seem to be really killing the CPU. I could raise the difficulty, but HOF feels cheap to me, so I'm going to go ahead and institute the "every other playoff game" rule. I will play all the odd number playoff games (only exception being the closeout game of the Finals -- I want that trophy ceremony). The rest will be simmed, either via the engine or Simcast.
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Old 01-09-2016, 08:31 PM   #502
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

That new home court looks beautiful.
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:08 PM   #503
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Everyone take a deep breath.

Release. Breathe in. Release.

Good. If you're like me, you're stunned that Seattle won tonight. The team did not play like a defending champion and the Spurs came out and gave their absolute best shot, falling just short at the end.

In the first, we had the usual trading of blows between these two squads. The Spurs were without Danny Green (who suffered a bad ankle sprain in practice and is out for the next 4-6 weeks) and Patty Mills (who's been out for the last month and will be out no matter what happens), but that didn't stop San Antonio from scoring. No, sir, Greg Poppovich is the best coach in the NBA (and, arguably, modern sports) for a damned good reason.

He played a wack lineup the Sonics were not prepared for off the bench. He put Kyle Anderson (Slow Mo formerly of UCLA) at the point, threw out Jonathan Simmons (undrafted guard from Houston), and played Boris Diaw at the four with Marjanovic at the five, and Leonard at the four. At all times, no matter what bench unit the Spurs had out there, there was one of Parker, Leonard, or Aldridge.

And it worked. The Spurs bench unit ran roughshod over the Sonics second-team, who were completely unprepared for the weirdo-bizarro lineup they saw, and gave up a seven-point lead midway through the first. A quick adjustment by Lionel Hollins (reinserting Noel) helped slow the bleeding, but the Spurs climbed out to a five-point lead after one.

In the second, the chess match between coaches and players continued. Pop put Parker in, rotated Anderson to the three, put Leonard at the four, and stuck Diaw at the five, putting in a Spurs version of the small-ball "Death" lineup the Warriors like to roll out. The Sonics weren't so thrown this time around, going back to their original bench squad lineup of Lin, Crawford, Bogdanovic, Landry, and Sanders. The two groups battled to a near-stalemate before the starters began to rotate back in; that's when Seattle began to make some headway and a clutch Brandon Jennings triple at the end of the half cut the Spurs lead to just one, 57-56.

In the third, the game became a massive back and forth affair. It seemed liked every minute the lead changed hands. Dunks, triples, fadeaway twos, steals ... the quarter had everything. It was just as exhausting for the fans as it was for the announcers (poor guys lost count of the lead and they stopped trying to guess). The Sonics eeked out a three point lead at the end of the quarter and it looked like they might pull away.

But the Spurs weren't done. Their starters gave Seattle a run for its money and, with less than three minutes to go, the game wasn't a lock for either side. More buckets and steals, more blocks (San Antonio dominated that stat and the boards) happened, and the Sonics finally managed a six point lead with under a minute to play.

Then Gary Neal happened. Yes, Gary Neal, who was traded for Lin (and that trade is still a sore subject for some fans), nearly became the dagger stabbed through the Sonics heart. The Spurs fouled the Sonics and the Sonics made some, missed some, and managed to let the Spurs jack up not one, but two decent triples in the final ten seconds: both by Neal, both good.

Unfortunately for Neal, his last triple came from just past half court with under two seconds to play and it went in as time expired. He got the points, but there was no more time on the clock for another play and San Antonio, who has been a problem for the Sonics since their revival, just barely missed a chance to steal Game 1 on the road.

Seattle has to be thanking its lucky stars that Nerlens Noel played as well as he did. Noel kept Aldridge and Hill in check, neither player eclipsing 16 points. Noel gobbbled up boards, hit some big shots, and got some players in foul trouble -- exactly what you want from your big man.

He was named player of the game.

Whew. Go Sonics.






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Old 01-09-2016, 09:09 PM   #504
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Re: Second Coming: A SuperSonics Return

Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzMan
That new home court looks beautiful.
Thanks!

I really like it, too. Gonna be tough to top this design in the future. We might be looking at a Lakers/Celtics thing here, where I only update the main design here and there rather than full do it new. We'll see.
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