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#IMHO: Thibs, All-Star voting, and mid-season awards (plus, Tony Allen!)

by Lang Whitaker | Grizz Gaming GM

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.


From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 8:23 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Let’s begin today with a shoutout to Freddie Mercury, because another one has bitten the dust. This week the Timberwolves parted ways with Tom Thibodeau, who arrived a few years ago with a lot of fanfare, was given plenty of power and tasked with taking a young and hungry franchise to a new level.

And that didn’t work out so well. Jimmy Butler is now gone, and while KAT and Wiggins are still there, what seemed to be a clear path forward now seems muddied.

Mike, did the T-Wolves act too soon in moving on from Thibs? Or was it time for the Wolves to move on?

Tom Thibodeau

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 11:33 AM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: RE: #IMHO

I’m not sure whether it was too soon or well past time to part ways with Thibs. What’s clear is that the T-Wolves are underachieving and have been stagnant this season. What this ordeal in Minnesota exposes, more than anything, is that the era of the coach-slash-president of basketball operations dual role is no longer structurally efficient. I remember Pat Riley once describing how he struggled separating those roles in his final years on the bench in Miami, when he preferred to rely on veterans to win right now and was emotionally tied to them. Because of that, his vision as president for laying the foundation for future success beyond those same veterans was always somewhat clouded by the here and now.

Another storyline to me, Lang, is how we’re approaching the second returns of the All-Star voting. Derrick Rose receiving the second-most votes among guards in the West was a bit of a shocker to many. That said, what I’d like to see is the coaches votes go public. The NBA is now televising when the captains pick their respective All-Star teams. The voting for postseason awards is always made public by the league. Isn’t it now time we see if what coaches say about certain players deserving to be All-Stars lines up with their actual voting record?

Derrick Rose

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 9:46 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Re the coach/GM thing, I used to wonder why it was such a rare combination, but now that I've been behind the wall here in Memphis for the last year, I see just how much work each one of those jobs is. It takes an unbelievably special person to handle both of those roles. I mean, when even Pat Riley isn't able to sustain it...

But to your point about the coach's All-Star votes, I couldn't agree with you more. Most media members are open about who they've voted for, and now the Captains will have their picks televised, so it'll be pretty clear who they're riding with. I get the coaches' argument that they want it kept private because they've got to play against these guys down the road. My response would be if you're so worried about how a guy might hold a grudge weeks later, don't leave him off your ballot.

There was an announcement today that former Hornets forward Gerald Henderson will be joining the Hornets' television broadcast team for the rest of the season. Which current player would you like to see in the broadcast booth when they hang it up? I'll throw one out there right now: Jamal Crawford, who knows everyone, has played with and against everyone, and would likely be able to slide right behind the mic and excel.

Tony Allen

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:48 AM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: #IMHO

Not to be a prisoner of the moment, but my pick would definitely be Tony Allen. We got another dose of the Grindfather's passion, unique insight, raw emotion and astute analysis during his guest appearance this week on The Chris Vernon Show. T.A. knows the game and has a 'keepin'-it-real' approach to storytelling and constructive criticism that some, let's say, more polished and politically correct former players simply can't or won't manufactor. Someone like Kobe Bryant or Ray Allen or even Rajon Rondo would be smart, insightful and great in that role as well. But they can't bring it the same entertaining and engaging way as T.A.

So Lang, this week brings us to the midpoint of the 82-game schedule in terms of games played. We'll close out by updating our NBA Awards ballot. My midseason Coach of the Year is still Denver's Mike Malone, with Brooklyn's Kenny Atkinson now a close second. My midseason Rookie of the Year is Luka Doncic, with Jaren Jackson Jr. running second. And The Beard's dynamic surge has moved him ahead of The Greek Freak as MVP. So, who ya got in those categories right now?

Luka Doncic

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2018 7:07 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

I still think Nick Nurse up in Toronto should be the coach of the year – considering he’d never coached in the NBA before, to come in and take a team that has won a lot the last few years and bring them to a higher level is impressive, but to me it’s even more impressive that he’s been able to get this team to buy into his system.

I’m guessing Luka’s still the frontrunner for ROY, despite Jaren’s early season showing. And yeah, the Beard is in the clear right now for the MVP award. We’ve never seen someone who plays offense the way Harden does, and to play it at the volume that he does has made him irreplaceable. And valuable.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. Their sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and they have no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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