Simple Rules for Starting Your Teenage Rebuild

Hitting the restart button is hard, but sometimes it’s all just part of the process.

So you got yourself a franchise that’s lost a little bit of its shine and luster. The paint job may not be quite as nice and the new sleeved jerseys have encouraged nauseating spells in some of your followers. The Playoff well may have ran dry or you are simply stomping ground in one place so repeatedly and ferociously that you’re now standing in a 10ft hole looking up. Well, when is enough enough? When do you tear down the walls of your apothecary, leas out a cart with one shabby wheel and take your wares on the road to a town near you hoping to scratch up enough snake oil to build yourself back up to relevancy? The time is now. For some teams. Others stay where you are, you’re good.

Generally, if you’re having doubts about the viability of your franchise, that isn’t exactly a red flag. Ask McGyver and he will tell you that a well paced paper clip, an industrial amount of duct tape and/or a timely waving of Josh Smith’s $60mil + multi-year contract will do the trick. For when it won’t, here’s a handy guide you can print of and carry around with you in case Mitch from Accounting once again tells you that the “Knicks are fine and might even compete this year.”

1. Know the Max Value Of Your Assets

Be like the Celtics. The Boston Celtics had a great run in the past, however long the game of basketball has been played professionally, but even they have hit some snags that are hard to avoid. When Danny Ainge magically pulled together a unit of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo it seemed like the Green were back to reign, and while they did run the East for a few odd years, it didn’t quite extend into a dynasty Ben Affleck could be proud off. Instead, they were challenged by a Miami Team that pulled the same magic trick, but just with younger players.

Danny Ainge’s greatest moment was recognizing that the window was closing quickly in front of him and that neither Pierce, Garnett nor Allen were getting any younger, so he did what any GM in the league did at the time of urging for a good trade — called Billy King. The Celtics now own the Nets’ future up until about 2020 and I’m not entirely sure that King didn’t thrown in his house as part of the deal for Ainge to re-purpose as a Draft War Room Facility.

Don’t be like the Nuggets. There are a few instances where the Nuggest have won out in the rebuilt, otherwise known as the “you could have waited for half a season and signed Melo as a FA while keeping all of your assets” chapter in the Grand Encyclopedia of Knicks Misadventures (tome 5). However, they have entirely mishandled the Kenneth Faried situation. Waiting for too long and letting his value fluctuate until the NBA had no need for an athletic four who couldn’t shoot further than 15 centimeters out of the paint and a waning athleticism due to injuries has hampered their ability to move his contract.

2. Know Your Limits

Be like the Nuggets. I told you the Nuggets would be back in a much better place. After having Carmelo Anthony and watching him blossom from a cornrowed youth into a demi-god of the pull-up jumper that looks more effortless than me lying on the couch trying to decide which League Pass game to put on, it was time to call it quits. They called up New York (I am now launching an official water supply investigation because it’s a trend in the greater Manhattan area) and hauled back an impressive array of assets, young and old, for something that was pretty much New York’s in the first place if they only waited for half a season.

Don’t be like the Raptors. I will make my last stand on this hill I’ve just staked my claim on. Bring on the Raptors fans and the ire of my city with a mach maligned history of sports. I shall make this my final resting place. As will the Raptors.

Saying “you’ve peaked” is the biggest insult I can think of. It basically tells someone that this is it, you’re at the pinnacle of whatever it is that you do as a human being. Nothing from now on will compare to the high you are experiencing now. You have nothing to look forward to except for the a procession of TV dinners and screaming at the TV in volume increasing proportionate to your age.

The Raptors reached the conference finals last year and gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money. They made the whole city stand up and roar. Then they doubled down on everything. An athletic shooting guard who doesn’t have the skill set for the modern game and is pretty much “what you see is what you get” at this point. An aging team leader who’s hitting the age of notorious drop off for his position. A once franchise cornerstone who’s official autobiography will probably be called This is The Year He Figures it All Out. Look, I’m not saying the Raptors are bad, I’m just saying they’ve peaked, at least with the current roster. Teams around us are getting better, we’re stuck on a treadmill.

3. Have a Plan

Be like the 76ers. Hinkie died so The Process could live. Say what you say about Philadelphia’s slow and torturous slug through the swamps, but the light may be in at the end of the tunnel. The Sixers are sitting a stockpile that Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Regan would blush at, a variety of picks and this kid.

Everything that happens from now on will still be covered in Hinkie residue (gross). The Sixers have stuck to a plan despite public calls for the head of anyone attached to the despotic tank movement. In the end, it may be the one thing that brought them back into relevancy.

Don’t be like the Lakers. The Lakers let the NBA power shift whizz right in front of their faces and did absolutely nothing about the fact. I suppose they might feel like a trust fund kind who’s credit card is suddenly cancelled and he has to figure out how to purchase gas for his BMW somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert. The old adage was “people want to play in LA.” Until they didn’t anymore. Following the Dwight Howard fiasco, the Lakers seemed flummoxed by their inability to attract anyone and managed to come up with 0 viable options to somewhat ease the aging process of Kobe Bryant’s body. This year, they couldn’t even get Kevin Durant for a meeting despite the fact that he was probably already in town anyway.

4. Stick to It

Be like the 76ers. No, I am not opening the church of Hinkie (not until JoJo is off his minutes-cap at least), but his GM postmortem will read that he stuck to his guns. When the Sixers were fielding a NBA equivalent of the YMCA team on a slow Wednesday night and the pitchfork business in Philadelphia was hitting a boom, Hinkie kept course. Shame he won’t be there to reap the rewards.

Don’t be like the Magic. Orlando had it all figured out. When Howard bolted LA for Houston and Andrew Bynum discovered he liked McDonalds more than he did basketball, Orlando appeared the winner of the three-team trade. They had a young and promising center in Nicola Vucevic and a collection of nice assets and draft picks that turned into Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, and that’s before they rinsed out Milwaukee for Tobias Harris’ serviceable contract. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t match it with a coach focused on developing young talent. I am not sure if the communication broke down between Jacque Vaughn and the front office or if not scouting the opposition as a coach in the NBA before each game is just a bad habit, but it never clicked. Orlando got impatient, moved Harris to Detroit (after signing him to an extension) and Oladipo to OKC along with a lottery pick (now Domantas Sabonis) for Serge Ibaka. All they have now is a collection of assets with expiring contracts and all ready to bolt.

5. Draft Well

Be like the Seattle SuperSo… I mean Oklahoma City Thunder. Sometimes things just work. Sometimes the team with the first overall pick ignores the intriguing collection of limbs built like a deadly basketball scoring spider in lieu of a big man plagued by injuries. But then you also get a bundle of nuclear energy and anger packaged together to resemble a human being and a scoring guard who moves with the intensity of a sloth but gets to the line upwards of 20 times per game. Sometimes you throw it all away years later, but the point is, they were right there.

Don’t be like the Kings. Generally good life advice regardless of topics is to think about what would the Kings and Vivek do and then do the exact opposite at twice the speed and intensity, but also, definitely don’t draft players into the same position repeatedly for consecutive years. Seriously, don’t be like the Kings.

6. Don’t Rush

Be like the Raptors. Congratulations to any Raptors fan who made it this far without their head exploding from fury and/or tweeting “but Terrence Ross had a 51 point game” at me after point number 2. Here is your reward.

While the Raptors may have reached the pinnacle of what the current roster is capable of, they are not in a rush of blowing anything up just yet. That’s good because A) it’s the East and they’re still a 50 win team and B) the value for what they have right now is dirt low across the NBA. Sometimes there just isn’t a clear path forward just yet so it’s best to keep winning and hoping a break falls your way. This Raptors team is still very good, way too good to warrant a blow-up operation (but not good enough to not warrant my satirical take on it paragraphs earlier), so it’s better to just ride it out for now.

Don’t be like the Suns. I tried to figure out what the Suns’ plan was in the last few years (while temporarily having a fake epiphany that it was actually good) and I basically just stood there for 3 minutes with my eye-balls doing somersaults inside my sockets. It’s not just the puzzling sequence of moves with it’s own fibonacci sequence sequence, it’s the rapid speed at which they made them contributing to a lack of foresight.

7. Don’t Stall

Be like the Pistons. Stan Van Gundy is one bad mother… Shut yo mouth! He took over the Pistons with a goal of building walls and possibly also making it back into the playoffs as a bonus achievement. The team was poised to line up behind a gargantuan three of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh “never met a three he didn’t take” Smith. When it didn’t work, Stan pulled the trigger. He knew Smith wasn’t working, but he also knew that Smith’s value wasn’t going to go up, just like his propensity for taking shots out of his range (all of the shots he takes) wasn’t going to go down. So he did the only unspeakable thing we could imagine. He waived Smith and decided to build on the ashes of that decision. Now he has a young core and a team that’s ready to play itself into the playoffs.

Don’t be like the Bulls. Someone should probably let the Bulls know that the three point line has been around since 1979 and is probably not going anywhere now. They took an aging and much maligned roster, jettisoned it to the Knicks (this is basically the running tagline for this article) and handed the keys to the the 26 year old who happens to be the best 2 way player in the game. Except, then you decide to bring in two guards past their prime who shoot the basketball… well shoot is a stretch. The Bulls seemed to confuse themselves with their plans this season, putting aside a chance to rebuild at the right time for something none of us can really see.

8. Don’t be the Kings.

Seriously. Just don’t be like the Kings.

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