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The Madhouse - Week of 9/27

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Cam Johnson, SI thinks the Suns should tank, fun and winning, tampering.

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Auburn v North Carolina Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Twelve days until Phoenix Suns basketball.

Suns Stuff

Rod managed to find some fantastic questions to pose to the FanTable in this week’s Center of the Sun. No small feat this late in the offseason.

I like ‘em all. I’m answering them all. I’ll take the first two at the same time.

Most fans seem to expect/want a 9 man rotation of Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Dario Saric, Deandre Ayton, Tyler Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes early on. Which player that most fans expect to start the season out of the regular rotation do you believe will earn significant rotation minutes first?

AND

Which Suns player worries you the most that he could turn out to be a “wasted” addition to the roster?

I’m with Suns superfan GuarGuar here. The answer to both questions is Cam Johnson. None of that is Cam Johnson’s fault.

When you “reach” as many perceived the Suns did when they acquired Johnson via a draft day trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the script is largely already written. People will compare him with Jarrett Culver, who the Suns sent to Minnesota for the North Carolina guard and Dario Saric. If he underwhelms only slightly he’ll be deemed a bust.

If he moderately exceeds expectations, the braintrust in Phoenix will receive praise that’s a little over the top.

That’s the sports universe we live in. It’s all a little excessive. Nobody is going to say, “yeah that’s about right” for Cam Johnson. And they’ll forget Saric was part of the deal in three years.

The opportunity for minutes is definitely there, if for no other reason than we don’t know what Phoenix is going to do at the 4. But not a big deal. Season starts in a few weeks. I’m sure they’ll figure it out.

He’ll get a shot. The biggest question will be if he can shoot well enough from behind the arc for us to ignore those other things that many basketball people think he does poorly.

I like this question too. I’m doing all the questions. I don’t always do all the questions.

Which team in the Western Conference with high expectations (not the Suns of course) do you think could “crash and burn” and be a major disappointment instead?

Dallas.

I think the Mavs and Mavs fans are thinking playoffs. I say that having spoken to exactly zero Mavs fans about this. Either way, the Dallas Mavericks ain’t making the damn playoffs. Knock it off.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re getting closer. Last time I checked, earlier in the week, Vegas had the Dallas over/under at 40.5. I’ll take the under.

I don’t know if you’re new to this game or this blog, but the Western Conference is highly competitive. To think Dallas is going to make a big leap, you’re taking for granted that Kristaps Porzingis is right from the get-go. Even then, they don’t have enough. They’re not making a big splash at the trade deadline either. They sent New York two first-rounders for The Unicorn, so they can’t deal another one until 2025.

So it’s Dallas. If I’m totally wrong and no one is expecting much from the Mavs, please disregard everything you just read.

NBA Stuff

The NBA doesn’t want players lying about their height or age anymore. So we’re going to hear some new heights. But I’m much more interested in the new ages.

Sports Illustrated thinks YOUR SUNS should tank in 2019-20 for what must be the 17th consecutive season. Sigh. Khadrice Rollins writes:

With so much talent in the West, it’s really hard to think any of these teams should even consider tanking. Yes, some of them are not at all competing for the playoffs right now. But if you don’t start competing sooner or later, it will take a lot to vault into the playoff picture out there because there are a lot of teams that are in positions to compete for a long time.

I thought about giving this spot to the Grizzlies simply because they likely won’t make the postseason and could always use another top-three pick to team with Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., who could very easily become one of the league’s most dynamic duos in a couple of years. But with the veterans they acquired recently in Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Jonas Valanciunas, that team would get much more out of trying to win every game it could and then coming back next season with a sense that it actually can take on anybody.

The Suns on the other hand still need more high-level players and have to figure out who can best work with Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Ricky Rubio.

If Rubio fits as the point guard of this team, and at least three of Kelly Oubre Jr., Tyler Johnson, Dario Saric, Mikal Bridges, Ty Jerome and Cameron Johnson stick as reliable starters/heavy rotation options, Phoenix might be able to at least enjoy the last few years of Booker’s extension.

But this season is the time to play around with the bottom of the roster and see if they can come up on any undrafted players or G League vets who could possibly help build a playoff roster out there. And there is also no harm in trying to get the top pick when you’re likely the worst team in the conference and at least 12 others think they should be in the playoffs.

The Suns haven’t nailed too many of their high draft picks within the past few years, but maybe the next one will pan out. They can’t all be busts.

THERE IS HARM KHADRICE. THERE IS HARM. We will not tank. No. Absolutely, positively not. I will not endure losing season after losing season after losing season until life brings me all the way up to my first colonscopy. And that is starting to sound like a more pleasant experience. No. Absolutely not. The tanking is done.

Carmelo Anthony cannot contribute to a winner. But here’s some more people saying he can.

The NBA adjusted it’s rules on traveling which absolutely will not prevent me from saying “that’s a walk” so many times that my wife throws something at me.

New free throw rule in the G League. Check it out:

Players will take just a single foul shot when they go to the free throw line, which will be worth either one, two or three points depending on the nature of the foul leading to the attempt.

I love it. Let’s get weird.

Like me, Draymond Green wants to be a billionaire before he’s 40.

Atlanta Hawks “star” Allen Crabbe will be in court next week courtesy of a drunk-driving charge, a crime that should require significant jail time in every single occurrence but sadly does not. He won’t miss any basketball.

Are we serious about LaMelo Ball being the number one overall pick next summer?

Here is an article saying that Michael Jordan made money after selling his stake in the Charlotte Hornets. This is an important article to read if you were under the impression Jordan sold his stake at a loss. Who writes these headlines?

My Stuff

What I’m reading: The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann. Next: It’s a big book, not really thinking about the next one right now.

What I’m playing: Nothing new to report here. But I did mount a television in the garage that rotates vertically for a more authentic arcade experience.

What I’m listening to: Last week I ran through the first five episodes of Wu-Tang: An American Saga. I was inspired to dip back into the Ghostface catalog.

What I’m watching: Watched The Fountain last week. Will be getting into Twin Peaks this weekend.

What I’m Thinking

At the risk of boring everyone with another tale of one of my favorite teams, I’m going to use my beloved Vegas Golden Knights to illustrate a point.

I was driving home from work today and there were these three dopes on the radio talking VGK hockey.

The point of the back and forth was that Vegas fell short in the NHL Playoffs last year because Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was too much of a “locker room prankster.” They even went as far to say that Vegas needed “an adult in the room.”

Now if you don’t know who Fleury is, he’s a goddamn American hero. From Quebec. He’s loved in Vegas. I’d take a bullet for the man if I wasn’t certain he’d thwart an assailant with a stick save.

They’re right. He is goofy. It got me thinking. What’s more important? Winning or fun? It kind of feeds into our conversation last week. I’ve made it abundantly clear that I don’t think putting an unwatchable product on the floor, ice, field, diamond, is worth a chance of a deep playoff run sometime this decade. Or the next decade, as we may see in Phoenix.

Fun is the name of the game. Entertainment. That’s all it is. We’re taking sports too seriously.

Ok, the next and last thing. Last week we talked tanking. This week we’re talking about another t-word.

Tampering.

This week the Milwaukee Bucks were fined $50,000 when GM Jon Horst said this about signing superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo when he hits free agency next summer.

“The answer for right now is we can’t talk or negotiate anything,” Horst said. ”Giannis, basically a year from now, will be eligible for a supermax extension. At that time, of course, he’ll be offered a supermax extension.”

$50k.

Guys, this is silly.

Let’s change that last sentence. What if it read like this:

“At that time, of course, we’d like to offer a supermax extension.”

Fine?

What about:

“At that time, perhaps, we’ll be in a position to offer him a supermax extension.”

Fine?

How about:

“At that time, we’ll evaluate the resources of the Milwaukee Bucks, and see what kind of package is financially feasible.”

Fine?

Either way, we’re not talking about meet and greets. We’re not talking about needlessly verbose or bombastic statements. This is all boiling down to a word or two here or there.

The NBA can’t control this thing. So I am suggesting that we scorch all tampering rules, most of which I don’t know anyway, and let people say whatever the hell they want.

Money probably shouldn’t exchange hands before a certain time or date, but I don’t know, talk to me enough and you could probably convince me that’s ok as well.

Imagine how much fun that war of words would have been between the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers over Kawhi Leonard. I mean who cares, guys?

The NBA will not get a handle on this. It’s just going to get dumber and dumber. It’s too hard to define, it’s too difficult to monitor, and truthfully, I don’t think unabashed “tampering” would have any impact on the competitive balance of the league.

The Suns won 19 games last year. What are they going to do? Tamper that number all the way down to 14?

Some Quote:

“Rice is great when you’re hungry and you want 2000 of something.”