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Dysfunction Junction: How Have the Cavs, Wizards, Knicks, and Nets Fared Since Their Players-Only Meetings?

Over the last couple of weeks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Washington Wizards have all had players-only meetings. These kind of gatherings rarely happen when things are going well, so it should come as little surprise that the combined record of those teams is 14-31.

So what’s going on with these teams? What happened in their players-only meetings? And is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Your NBA chemistry Sherlock and Watson — a.k.a. Chris Ryan and Andrew Sharp — are here to investigate.

Brooklyn Nets

Ryan: How depressing was the players-only meeting?
Sharp: Kevin Garnett called it “dismal,” so, yeah. The team has been a mess all year long, and it’s been so against what should’ve been a pretty manageable schedule. Only two of its eight losses this year came against teams who made the playoffs last season, and everyone is either hurt or old or Joe Johnson. It’s pretty dismal in Brooklyn right now.

Is it possible that Paul Pierce and Garnett didn’t skip their media appearance, but it just happened to be past their bedtimes?
Well there’s no way KG sleeps for more than 20 minutes a night, so no. KG doesn’t have a bedtime; he just passes out when he runs out of oxygen. I think there’s a better chance he was alone in a dark training room, cursing out a concrete wall, and the team’s PR people were too afraid to go inside.

Pierce was sitting for hours and hours in the whirlpool with a diamond-and-titanium iPad that Mikhail Prokhorov gives to all the players. He just kept scrolling up and down, sniffling, looking at his Celtics Instagram tribute.

NBA scout on Jason Kidd: “He doesn’t do anything.” Discuss!

Oh man. It was all good when he and Deron Williams were just a couple of friends hanging out and finger painting in the Hamptons. But this will get worse before it gets better. It’s hard to watch. That Howard Beck column was pretty damning, only because it had a real scout go on record with what the rest of us were silently thinking. If he’s not coaching the offense or the defense, and he’s (clearly) not making a difference with the chemistry, then what is he doing?

I guess I expected Kidd to at least be animated on the sideline, but he sorta looks like he gets a Valium drip before every game. When you watch Brooklyn games, Kidd almost looks like a video game version of an NBA coach. There’s lifelike motion, facial expressions, even some timeout signals, but nothing’s actually happening.

Is the prospect of one-legged D-Will going coach-killer on one of the greatest point guards of all time the most exciting thing that could happen to this totally unexciting team?


Is the only thing more exciting than that the prospect of Prokhorov building a rocket and strapping all these dudes to the boosters and shooting them into space, live on Russian state television?

Nah, only Billy King is getting the rocket treatment, because King has actually wasted $250 million of Prokhorov’s money.

The players? He’s going to kidnap everyone except Andrei Kirilenko, and then drop them out of an impossibly luxurious private plane onto a Siberian tundra, where they will be left to fend for themselves against nature. Like in The Grey. Andray Blatche definitely dies first.

Is there hope?
Not really! They’ll make the playoffs, and if/when they fire Kidd, they’ll probably go on a little roll, but there’s no way this team ever competes with the top three teams in the East. They were always doomed, too. Not because of Pierce and KG, not because of Kidd, but because Deron Williams was always the linchpin for them as a contender, and as good basketball players go, Deron Williams really isn’t that great.

New York Knicks

Sharp: How depressing was the players-only meeting?
Ryan: You know how back when you were in school, you would arrive to classes in the early fall, the air crisp, your thirst for knowledge seemingly unquenchable, a desire for academic success burning in your young stomach? You thought to yourself, This is the year when I make my studies a priority. Conductor, I’ll have a one-way ticket to Knowledge Town. Then, one week in, you were carving bongs out of various gourds and buttonholing kids you didn’t even know to find out what the two cities were in A Tale of Two Cities. Well, that’s the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony called the players-only meeting after a home loss to the Bobcats. The theme of the meeting was apparently “effort.” Since then, the Knicks are 2-5. Has anyone seen my gourds?

Is Bargs the worst part of this Knicks season, or the best part?
Where do we start? The pneumonia? Or Carmelo saying, “He’s not going to adjust to the New York style, New York way of living, New York way of life overnight.” Which kind of makes it sound like Andrea Bargnani is constantly jumping on the A express instead of the C local and zooming past his subway stop every day. Classic New York! He’s been booed, he’s played some center, and he’s been called “the Switzerland of pick and roll defense” in the New York Times.

It’s a testament to how poorly the Knicks are playing that Bargs isn’t actually being seen as the culprit, though. There is no best or worst when it comes to Bargs. He’s just Bargs.

If you were Carmelo, would you stay? If you were a Knicks fan, would you want him to?
The neutral fan in me wants to see Melo and Kobe play together on the Lakers, just like the idiot in me wants to see Transformers 4. The Knicks fan in me (which doesn’t exist) thinks they should either let him walk or trade him, and truly rebuild. The Knicks actually do have some of the smartest fans in the world, and if anyone could get through a massive do-over, it’s them. The sadist in me wants him to stay only to have George Karl hired as the new coach.

Wouldn’t everyone be happier if Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Carmelo just retired to tour the world with Anna Wintour?

Is there hope?
There’s this:

Cleveland Cavs

Sharp: How depressing was the players-only meeting?

(via HoopsBoosh)

Ryan: Two words: “tempers flare.” After getting yammed on by the Wolves, the Cavs held this gathering, where a frank exchange of ideas took place. It was also rumored that Dion Waiters’s fists had a frank exchange with Kyrie Irving’s face. Waiters then left the team with an undisclosed illness about which Mike Brown, MD, said, “he has a prescription.”

For his part, when he finally returned to the team, Waiters said he’d rather “fight somebody else on the other team than one of my teammates.” Great. Since the meeting, the Cavs lost to the Bobcats and Wizards. Maybe they should have fought each other.

Remember when Waiters was a future star and the reason Cleveland didn’t want Victor Oladipo? How many more horrible games will Anthony Bennett have before Chris Grant is forced to commit seppuku at center court?
The other day, I was making the case that pretty soon all the GMs in the league are going to be Sam Hinkie or Ryan McDonough types, and it will be really hard to fleece another team or take advantage of market inefficiencies. Grant is proof that this time has not yet arrived. I think you could make the case this guy is the new David Kahn. God, this team could have had Kyrie, Jonas Valanciunas, and Oladipo. I get so mad thinking about that.

How good is Kyrie?
Here’s a better question: Is he as good as we think he is? In his last 10 games, Kryie is averaging 23.1 points and nearly seven assists a night. He is capable of 41-point outbursts, stupendous moves …

But, for me, the jury is still out on whether he’s a franchise player. I know he’s been dealt a bum hand by the front office, but it’s kind of on him to try to make guys like Tristan Thompson and Waiters better. Right now he’s a point guard who likes the ball in his hands, on a team of guards who like the ball in their hands. At the end of games, he’s trying to play hero ball, and it’s only working some of the time. We were quick to anoint this guy “The Next Chris Paul” because of his handle and his ability to score when it mattered. But Paul makes everyone around him two or three times better. Kyrie doesn’t do that.

Who deserves more blame here: Mike Brown and his offense, or Dan Gilbert and his playoff guarantees?
Carmelo didn’t even know that James Dolan had a band, so sometimes I wonder whether players really give a shit what owners think. Brown should have tried to hire an Alvin Gentry type, but I don’t even know if an offensive coordinator could have figured this sorry group out.

Is there hope?

In the beginning of the season, there was all this talk about whether the Cavs could lure LeBron back home. At this point, I’d be worried about whether they could keep Kyrie. It’s all up to this guy, really:


Ryan: How depressing was the players-only meeting?
Sharp: Maybe not that bad? “We try to put everything together,” is how Kevin Seraphin explained it. It works best if you read it in a french accent. “All the leaders came together and now we try to find a way to win … Everybody speak up, John [Wall]. That was a good thing for us. My first year, we never had this. We was losing all the time, by 30, 20, and nobody tried to fix it. But this year, we can see, we have some leaders on the team.”

So … Still losing all the time, but trying to fix it now. All right!

Which young players was Nene referring to when he said they needed to get their heads out of their butts?
John Wall. One day I’m gonna have PTSD from all the nights I spent watching Wall pull up for awful 20-foot jumpers with 16 seconds on the shot clock.

But just for the record, Nene had four points and two rebounds the night he told his teammates to get their heads out their butts. Brazilian big men in $13 million glass houses should not throw stones.

Is Wall’s “everybody believes in Coach Witt” the writing on the wall for Randy Wittman? Should he go ahead and put his Silver Spring condo on the market?
The Wizards nearly blew a 27-point lead in Cleveland on Wednesday night. Matthew Dellavedova single-handedly dismantled their offense for about eight minutes. I mean, it’s cool that Wall is saying the right things and trying to be a leader, but anyone who still believes in Coach Witt needs to get their head checked.

But it’s complicated. Firing Wittman will definitely make the Wizards a playoff team this year. Keeping Wittman, on the other hand … They would have a much better chance of missing the playoffs, landing a top-seven-ish pick, and forcing Ted Leonsis to get rid of GM Ernie Grunfeld plus Wittman in April. This would not only give them a chance to add a possible star next June, but it would get rid of two cornerstones of Wizards incompetence. Addition by addition AND addition by subtraction. So, I have no idea what I’m rooting for anymore.

It’s fun when they win, but if they lose 55 games, that’d be cool, too. Go Wizards?

If they were to fire Wittman midseason, who would be a good replacement? Is that George Karl’s music I hear!?
Forget Karl. And forget assistant coach Don Newman, who they’ll probably choose in real life. There is only one right answer to this question.

How are you feeling about the Marcin Gortat trade, a few weeks later?
It was better than the $80 million Wall contract! The best part about the Wall contract is knowing it’s going to drive me insane at least once a week for the next five years. But the Gortat trade was fine. He has given us the greatest Vine of the NBA season, and again, considering the Wizards already decided to invest $80 million in Wall, they might as well give him a real lineup to work with as they try to make the playoffs, because winning will help his development more than anything else they could do.

And if it all falls apart … TOP-12 PROTECTED.

When the season started and everyone looked horrible, it was like:

But Beal is the best young shooting guard in the league, he has gotten better every week, and it’s the first time since Gilbert Arenas that the Wizards have a star other teams would actually kill for. He’s the greatest.

Wittman, Grunfeld, Leonsis, the Wall contract, the Nene injury that’s definitely coming in the next four weeks — none of it matters. One good girl is worth a thousand bitches, and one great player gives Wizards fans a reason to be excited regardless. It’s like:

That’s me and Beal right now, living the dream together, ignoring the haters.