NBA Notebook: Malone, Lance and those Warriors

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

So I realize I haven’t actually written anything in nearly a month, and I wanted to apologize to all of you who have been looking for new Zocco’s Modern Life content. I got busy with a new job and also a little lazy. While neither of those things are an excuse there is a lot of NBA, NFL and MLB offseason stuff to talk about.

I will use this notebook format to quickly touch on various topics from the past month in the NBA. I plan on doing an MLB podcast in the very near future to discuss some of the offseason moves that have occurred, and as you hopefully figured out by now NBA podcasts are always on the horizon.

Now that I got all of that out, lets get to my NBA notebook:

  • King’s fire head coach Mike Malone after a about 100 games, and the explanation: ownership. I got this news to my phone a couple nights ago (and it appears I found out the same way Boogie did), and haven’t been so shocked, confused and kind of mad in a while. I thought the Kings were starting a new era when they stayed in Sacramento, but it turns out this move was just too King-like not to happen. It seems new owner Vivek Ranadive messed up the coaching situation from the beginning:

    It also came out that Malone, who seemed to be a good up-and-coming defensive minded head coach, never got along with management. The disconnect started from a multitude of things, from Malone not playing Royce White last season to Malone not getting to choose his assistant coach. One of the final straws might have been over Josh Smith of all people. Basically, ownership wanted to get Smith from the Pistons and Malone objected. Malone made his stance known and ownership really didn’t care (talk about disconnect). The trade never happened because both sides couldn’t get a deal worked out. Ultimately ownership said Malone did not live up to winning expectations, which is why he even had a job in Sacramento for the first 20 games of this season. These expectation were clearly too high for a young team on the rise in a tough Western Conference. And just like that all of the good the Kings had done recently has been undone, and they are almost back to what they were two years ago.

  • Charlotte shopping Lance Stephenson and lucky for the Bobcats Hornets, who just signed him this offseason, his contract (3 years, $27mil) makes him a very movable and desirable piece. While a return to his former team in Indiana or a return to where he is from in Brooklyn seem like the frontrunners, who knows if the Hornets will ever actually pull the trigger. Right now talks stalled between the Pacers and Hornets because Charlotte would not include a first round pick with Lance (leave it to GM Larry Bird to really stick it to MJ when Bird knows he has all the negotiating power). This is such a Bobcat’s move though: sign a guy in the offseason to make your team better, and then after it not going as well expected 20 games in call teams to try and trade the guy they first day you can. I am a huge Lance fan because of how he plays and all of his awesome nicknames (just listen to one of my NBA podcasts), but the Hornets should have known this thing would take time. Lance isn’t a great shooter and that is really what the Hornets need if they plan to play offense around Al Jefferson. I’ll talk more about this situation in my next NBA pod and might even do a potential landing spots for Lance if he is traded. I do believe Lance will be traded before the February deadline if things do not change and the relationship between Lance and Kemba/Clifford doesn’t get any better.
  • Golden State continues to kick butt behind a Curry and Thompson backcourt (who wants to trade for Kevin Love now), but a bump in the road is about to occur. The Warriors are currently 21-2 and have the best record in basketball, but former starting power forward David Lee is about to come back from a hamstring injury. A team riding a long winning streak usually would not want to add or subtract anything from a formula that is working so well. The only problem: Lee is owed $15 million this season and another $15 million next year so making him just go away will not be easy. My guess is Lee will be with the Warriors for the next two seasons in some capacity. The best case scenario would be if Lee would accept a bench role. This allows Golden State to keep the same starting lineup they have had for most of the season (Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green and Bogut), and then first year head coach Steve Kerr can bring both Lee and Andre Iguodala off the of the bench with Shaun Livingston and Marreese Speights. While the Warriors will not have Lee or Bogut Tuesday night when they travel to “The Grindhouse” to take on the Memphis Grizzlies (19-4), tonight’s game will tell us a lot about how good both of these teams actually are.

(This is where I would usually have something for us New York basketball fans, but between the Nets and the Knicks there is really nothing worth writing about.)

If you have any suggestions for what I should talk about in my next NBA/NFL/MLB Notebook or in my next podcast, please feel free to email me at

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