As 2016 draws to a close, here are NBA New Year's Resolutions for 2017
Ring out the old. Ring in the new. The calendar does another 360, so it’s time to slam dunk into 2017 with a few resolutions for some worthy NBA characters and teams:
DeMarcus Cousins: You’re big. You’re talented. You can do almost anything you want on a basketball court. Except win. And apologize properly. You’re on your sixth coach in seven NBA seasons and haven’t won more than 33 games in any of them. Apologize for that.
Chicago Bulls: You got off to a fast start and seemed ready to make everybody eat their offseason words about the changes. But now Dwyane Wade is struggling on offense, the whole team is leaking oil defensively and unless you pull it together fast, you’re all going to be watching the playoffs from home.
Russell Westbrook: You’re the reason to buy NBA LEAGUE PASS, to pop open a cold one, to inch farther out to the edge of the sofa. Keep that chip on your shoulder.
Pat Riley: Landing Shaquille O’Neal to produce the first championship for Miami back in 2006 was a neat trick. Getting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Wade in 2010 was the equivalent of David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear. Now you’ve got to show us some real magic.
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love: With the burden of playing for a championship lifted, kick back to enjoy the experience of riding with The King, stretch your own limits and possibly reel in a couple more.
Dwight Howard: In L.A., it was the fault of Kobe Bryant and Mike D’Antoni. In Houston, it was James Harden. Now you’re in Atlanta with a Hawks team struggling to chin over the .500 mark, so it might be time to consider that the problem is closer to home.
Philadelphia 76ers: You can talk till you’re red-white-and-blue in the face about how to fit Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel into the same playing rotation. But you need a point guard.
Dwane Casey: You are a testament to persistence, perseverance and continuity. Never mind that you’re 0-3 against the Cavaliers this season. Those losses were by a combined 11 points. Your Raptors lead the league in offensive efficiency, are on pace for a 60-win season, yet your best path might be to keep right on flying below the radar.
Kevin Durant: Don’t ever back down. Don’t ever worry about fitting in. The Warriors went out and got you because they need who you were in Oklahoma City.
Houston Rockets: You’ve turned the entire NBA into your own Pop-A-Shot game. Keep pumping those quarters into the machine.
Memphis Grizzlies: Come on, we’re knee-deep into the 21st century and you’re 29th in offensive efficiency in large part because you’re still playing the game the way Dr. Naismith invented it in 1891. Embrace your inner Rockets and fire up those 3s.
Stephen Curry: You’re the two-time reigning MVP. You’re probably the greatest shooter of all time. It’s time now you stopped trying to accommodate your high-profile new teammate every night and got back to pushing at the boundaries of what’s possible in the basketball world.
New Orleans Pelicans: Many folks go to the Big Easy to try to forget their troubles. But Anthony Davis lives his over and over night. It’s time Pelicans GM Dell Demps put a real lineup around Davis to stop squandering his talents before one of them hits the door.
Jeff Van Gundy: We’re begging you again to climb down off the worn-out soapbox about the intentional foul and admit that you don’t change a fundamental part of the game because a handful of players can’t shoot free throws.
Detroit Pistons: You’re not too old like the Mavericks and not too young like the Timberwolves. And that’s just the problem. You need real changes, because you don’t work.
Paul George: Scapegoat season is over. Last year it was Larry Bird and Frank Vogel who wanted you to play out of position. Now it’s the referees and the old bogeyman conspiracy from the league office. Stop looking for somebody to blame and pick the Pacers up yourself. Yeah, back in the day, Bird it.
Danny Ainge: Al Horford is healthy and looking good. The team is nice. But nice doesn’t win championships. It’s past time to roll the dice with those Nets draft picks and pieces of the roster and make that trade, because the Celtics are not a playoff contending threat. Again.
New York Knicks: Stop being baited into short-term fixes (Joakim Noah) and free agent fantasies (Kevin Durant) by the New York media and build something that grows and lasts around Kristaps Porzingis.
LaMarcus Aldridge: It was one thing to hide up there in the left corner of the map all those years in Portland, score a bunch of points and occasionally make the playoffs. But now you’re in San Antonio, where they play for championships, and you have to dial it up every night.
Denver Nuggets: We know you have a rebuilding plan again and again and again and again. Pick one. We’re getting dizzy.
Orlando Magic: See:Nuggets.
Secausus Seven: Or nine. Or 11. Or 15. Or however many of you (Hi, Joey Crawford!) are sitting cozily in the Replay Center in the swamps of New Jersey, ready to turn every questionable whistle into an examination of the Zapruder Tapes. Make some popcorn. Order a pizza. Watch a movie on HBO. You’re making every ref in the league gun-shy and sucking the life out a wonderful game.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin: Tick! Tick! Tick! That’s the clock on the wall. You both better show up healthy for the playoffs if you want to stay in LA.
Luke Walton: Stay laid-back California cool as the kids grow. On the other hand, another early flop by the Clippers could make CP3 or Blake available to help jump-start your major construction project.
Draymond Green: The world knows you’re multi-talented and full of more energy than a power plant. But the persecuted act is wearing thin. The Cavs definitely aren’t scared. Go back to making noise with your game.
LeBron James: Don’t. Change. One. Thing.
Cavs-Warriors: Just show up again in June. Please.
Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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