TSean Maleady ’17
Tim Bontemps is the national NBA writer for The Washington Post. A graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Tim formerly covered the NBA – especially the Knicks and Nets – for the New York Post. He has been a guest at Chaminade’s Sports Broadcasting camp for the last several years.
Q: Will superstars in their primes such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well others just past their primes including Dwayne Wade and Dwight Howard, continue to change teams, as we saw so often over the past two summers, or is this recent trend an anomaly?
A: I think it was sort of an anomaly. There were some unique circumstances with the way that the new television contract and recent salary cap expansion allowed teams not previously able to spend big money to sign superstars in the prime of their careers, such as Kevin Durant. If guys get all the way to unrestricted free agency and do not re-sign with their current team immediately, chances are they’re going to change teams and go give somewhere else a look to try to find something better for them. Other players who are more towards the tail end of their careers, who have played eight or nine years for their team, are bound to want to go somewhere else if a better situation exists.
Q: What team other than Cleveland or Golden State has a chance to win the NBA title this season?
A: I don’t think there is one. Most seasons, you can come up with five or six teams that probably have an opportunity to win a championship, but this year I think there are really only two. The Warriors and the Cavs will play again in the Finals, barring any catastrophic problems for either team. Golden State will beat Cleveland in the finals this year. Durant and [Steph] Curry are free agents after the season, but if they stay, which I expect them to, it could easily be the same matchup in the Finals for the next few years.
Q: Is Phil Jackson a good NBA executive? How will his new-look, injury-prone veteran roster fare this season?
A: He has had his moments as an executive, good and bad. Obviously drafting Kristaps Porzingis, who will be the most important player for the franchise for the next 10 or 15 years, will be seen as a major success. I don’t think a lot of his other moves have been very good. Phil spent all of this money on risky, injury-prone veterans to be good this year, which is a major mistake given their current roster. The Derrick Rose move is a debacle, and signing Joakim Noah was equally bad. Carmelo Anthony looked like he lost a step at the Olympics this year. It’s disturbing that they have no depth on the bench when their starters are so injury prone. It is hard for me to see how the Knicks will be good this year. The only reason I’d say I might be wrong is if Porzingis becomes a superstar this year, which I think is a little premature, and is good enough to carry this team no matter what else happens. Then, they can be successful. I think he’s a year or two away from that, and therefore it’s hard to see them even making the playoffs. If Phil Jackson leaves after the season, which I think he will, his tenure with the Knicks would be considered a success because he drafted Kristaps Porzingis, but it is hard to look at many of the other moves and say that they have made a lot of sense.
Q: How will Kristaps Porzingis grow in his second NBA season?
A: I think he’s going to be great. I love Porzingis. He’s a levelheaded, intelligent kid who has terrific talent and understands the pressure of being in New York and embraces it. A 7’3’’ guy who can handle the ball, be a presence in the paint, shoot beyond the three-point line, and be a good defensive player is everything you could possibly ask for. He really is somebody who I believe will become a superstar, giving the Knicks somebody to build around for the next decade. I honestly think that it would be great for the Knicks if they stunk this year, because they have their first-round pick and can start to get more young players to build around Porzingis, which is what they need to do. They need to let things grow around him and prepare for the future instead of messing around and trying to win a couple games in the short term.
Q: Jeremy Lin signed with the Nets coming off the best statistical season of his career. Can he continue to thrive in Brooklyn?
A: I think he’s going to be really good. He’s a really nice fit. They needed a point guard, and he’s an above-average one and should help them a lot. They will run a lot of pick-and-rolls, and he will put up big numbers. I think he will make the All-Star team this season after being voted in as a starter, putting up big numbers for the Nets’ passionate fan base. This move was one of the best signings of the summer. Lin is a special player and a nice one for them while they try to truly rebuild. If they don’t learn to rebuild and to stop mortgaging the future by trading draft picks, they will continue to stink. It will take rebuilding the franchise from the bottom up to climb out of the hole they are in.