You could call it the NBA’s winter of discontent … except it’s not even winter yet.
We’re barely two weeks into the season, but, in terms of drama, the league is well ahead of schedule. Somehow, some way, nearly all the league’s glamor teams are something of an unhappy mess, while the Knicks and Kings are pointing and cackling and saying, “Aren’t you glad we’re not like them?”
Look at it this way: The world champion Warriors have lost three games in a row, gave up a season-low 116 points in defeat Tuesday and had their second-best player punch their fourth-best player in the face just before the season started. Yet we can barely even get in a word about them because we’re so busy dissecting the other assorted messes.
Golden State’s opponent in those NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics, suspended their coach for the season for violations of team policies and may see him land in Brooklyn soon. The team with the best record last season, Phoenix, has a suspended owner, a key player DNP-chilling while he awaits a trade and another barely subsurface cold war in center Deandre Ayton.
They’re not alone. Can the Lakers possibly stand to play the rest of this season with Russell Westbrook? How about the rest of this week? Will Kawhi Leonard ever play a full game? Will his team ever run a play? Will the Sixers run back on defense? Do the Rockets know they can pass to one another? Do we need eye-rolls per 100 possessions as a new stat?
Never have more of the league’s brand-name teams seemed more combustible, with the exclamation point coming in Brooklyn on Tuesday. In a you-can’t-be-serious series of events, the Nets announced that they parted ways with head coach Steve Nash just seven games into the season. League sources with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Brooklyn plans to replace him with Ime Udoka — suspended in September by Boston as a result of having had an intimate relationship with a female member of the organization.