Mike Rice

Jan 27

Nobody Can Predict the NBA without a Crystal Ball

By Mike Rice
In my early days on the show Courtside on Monday nights with Steve Jones, I did a segment on looking into the future as 'The Swami'. I had a crystal ball and made outlandish predictions on the future of the NBA.

I still have that crystal ball and might offer it to Rich Cho.

This is the era in NBA history where the front office personnel might be more important than the basketball coaching and playing personnel.

The front office personnel must look into their crystal balls and decide not only how to handle their teams the rest of this year, but must figure out how their moves now may change what we do in the future.

You have to try to figure out how how each team goes into the future. How will the pie be divided between players and teams? How can each GM stay ahead of the future curve of what to pay your stars, and how many stars can you afford?

Rich Cho might have the most difficult job in the NBA looking into the future.

It seems the Miami Heat started the trend of getting three All-Stars to play on the same team – Wade, LeBron and Bosh took less money so they could get a shot at a championship.

Now the Knicks are trying to get another 3 supers together in Amare, Carmelo and Chris Paul.

It won't stop there. In 2012, Orlando's Dwight Howard, Deron Williams of the Jazz and Chris Paul all become free agents.

Now if you're Rich Cho, you have to wonder: Do I have a Big 3 in Oden, Roy and L.A.? Should I give Greg Oden a qualifying offer to retain his restricted free agent rights? Will Brandon Roy regain his All-Star ability and will L.A. continue to improve when Roy does come back?

Everyone knows about 'Decision Day' for LeBron James and how badly it was handled, but a couple of 'Decision Days' lie ahead for Rich when he must decide on what to do with Andre Miller, Marcus Camby, Joel Przybilla and Jeff Pendergraph.

A lot of GMs have already made bad decisions on what to pay their players. According to the figures I found in Athlon Sports Magazine, the Nets overpaid Travis Outlaw (4 years, $28 million) when they could not get LeBron. Ben Gordon got 3 years, $37 million from the Pistons when they thought he was the answer to their scoring problems. Rashard Lewis is getting $44 million for 2 years from the Wizards, and let's add Tyrus Thomas' 5 year, $40 million deal.

All these deals come about when GMs try to find a short-term solution for a long-term problem.

The main concern of most GMs is to not panic into making moves that strap your future. It will be interesting to see how Michael Jordan (new owner of the Bobcats) and Mikhail Prokhorov (Russian billionaire and owner of the Nets) work with their GMs on not making moves that either hurt chemistry or overlap talent in trying to get a quick fix.

I read that Prokhorov paid about $50 million in taxes last year, so he does not sound like someone who will wait too long to get a winner.

Finally, is it the GM who is on the hot seat to get the talent to win in the NBA? Or does it come down -as it has throughout history- on the NBA coach to put everything together for a winner?

I will say it helps if you have a coach like Nate McMillan who can win with all kinds of injuries and he never complains about not having enough talent to win. It gives the GM time to work things out without having to make bad moves for a short-term solution.

By the way, rumors have it that John Kuester of the Detroit Pistons, Jim O'Brien of the Pacers and Keith Smart of Golden State are all NBA coaches on the hot seat who might not make it to next year. So far I have not heard of any GMs who are at that level.

But my crystal ball has been a little foggy lately...


  1. Great blog Rice! I'm excited to read more from you in the future. You're insight and knowledge is invaluable to us Portland fans. Thank you!

    by sarahhecht on 1/27/2011 10:08 PM
  2. What? You learned how to type? Darn kids and their computers nowadays.

    by mikebarrett on 1/28/2011 10:06 AM
  3. hey Wild One ... interesting blog. as fans, we often become impatient in looking for a trade or an acquisition, but you're right; a general manager has an extremely tough job trying to satisfy the short term while not eliminating options in the long term.

    ~ Kassandra

    by Kassandra on 1/28/2011 1:38 PM
  4. MR the Wild one. I have been a fan of yours like forever. I remember your crystal ball predictions as the Swami' and your late episodes with that Merlin the Great. I though Merlin was great, he had many of the same traits that you did, Is that why you didn't speak to him LOL?

    Welcome to the blog land I will enjoy each and every blog as I have MB. Now if we can get Antonio to blog I will never get out of my computer chair.

    BTW, I will bet you the house that Wheels don't own that your 47 win prediction is off by at least 5 games. Oops, I wasn't supposed to bet Wheels house anymore.

    Welcome aboard


    by Hg on 1/28/2011 5:17 PM
  5. I only have one comment. Extend Nate's contract. He is more important to the future of the franchise than any player. He has done a terrific job in spite of all the injuries and Vulcan challenges. KEEP NATE!!!

    by RWRoeder on 1/28/2011 6:47 PM
  6. Oh, and keep dissing the refs. I love that part of your broadcasts!

    by RWRoeder on 1/28/2011 6:48 PM
  7. Hey Rice,
    Excellent blog. You make very good points. I take it you are not interested in being a GM? You might be a good candidate.

    by Bull Frog on 1/28/2011 8:18 PM
  8. Awesome blog! I hope Cho & co handle our team's Decision Days with a smidge more tact than Lebron. Restructuring and trades are a reality but it's hard not to get attatched to this group of players that have battled through all kinds of adversity.

    by minimegstew on 1/28/2011 11:50 PM
  9. awesome blog and ty for that perspective on the gms your knowledge is invaluable. i remember you from the steve jones time the crystal ball was great. glad your here to blog

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 1/29/2011 12:30 AM
  10. Hello Rice :)

    Nice to see you make it to the darkside ;) Well the future is full of guesses at this point. I think Oden does deserve a chance, afterall before his last surgery,he was playing well. It will be interesting to see how Roy will fit in with a lineup where LA is a much larger offensive threat. We cannot go away from that. Theres plenty of room for this team to have 2 20+ppg scorers...That is if Roy comes back samo Roy. I love seeing Batum progressing and getting more aggressive. This team has ALOT of potential if all the pieces of the darn puzzle would fit together!

    by whitefeather21380 on 1/29/2011 1:26 AM
  11. Great blog! Love hearing your insight and perspective! Keep them coming!

    by RedRudy5 on 1/29/2011 11:55 AM
  12. Hey Rice,

    It's good to see a post from you. I think you have asked some good questions...can you give us a take on what you think the answers "according to Rice" would be?

    by tsh on 1/29/2011 7:07 PM
  13. hey mike, glad to see you start blogging....you are one of my family's favorite parts of the game...one witty comment, and we all BURST out laughing...I agree with whitefeather, it is AWESOME watching Nic get more agressive and just over all becoming a great player.

    by dancegirl on 1/29/2011 7:09 PM
  14. They have these wonderful items that I know Merlin would dig. They are batterey operated light strings, kinda like Christmas lights. Every wizard could use some magic on their robe.

    by Tobyus Sanchezo on 1/30/2011 2:57 AM
  15. Pacers fired Jim O'Brien.

    I personally believe we do have a "big 3" in our team with LaMarcus, Roy, and Oden. But what separates us with the rest of the league is that we have youth and a strong supporting cast.

    I can't stress enough how much I think we need to stand pat with our starters (including Roy and Oden) past the trade deadline, unless we can get a better replacement for Andre Miller and Marcus Camby.

    Injuries happen, and our players that were part of the big 3 that are injured are still very young and have lots of playing time in their careers. Roy may not return to 100%, but he's one of the smartest players in the game, and basketball IQ is something very valuable to a team. Oden, according to doctors, is only going to get healthier.

    We got a bright future, and everything that's bright eventually flickers. These past two years have bee flickers, but we'll be shining soon.

    Only changes I would make is getting more consistent SCORERS on the bench. Rudy and Patty I can see being traded soon.

    by Herr on 1/30/2011 1:38 PM
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