The general rule of thumb is that an NBA roster can support only one head case. Exceed the limit and the job of coaching will resemble that of a highly paid baby sitter – just ask Flip Saunders or George Karl.
So I’ve always wondered; what if we rounded up the ten biggest lunatics in the NBA and stuck them on one team. How would they fare?
The results would be spectacular – in a train wreck sort of way. I imagine team chemistry would be similar to what you would find at a 10 year-olds pick-up game, with tantrums, blowups and a ‘whoever gets it shoots it’ strategy.
But it’s not like I am treading new ground here. Isiah Thomas had the same idea back in his New York days.
Here’s my All-Head Case line-up.
C DeMarcus Cousins (SAC)
On a team full of nutcrackers he may take the prize. He’s surly, childish and volatile. He’s a downright prat to the officials, he disrespects coaches and alienates teammates. In short, he makes Rasheed Wallace look tame.
A few incidents come to mind. The choking gesture he made to Reggie Williams after he missed a free throw in a close game against Golden State. An interesting tactic, considering the Kings were up by five points with 19 seconds remaining. And you can probably guess what happened next. In the dying seconds Cousins fumbled a rebound out of bounds, Radmanovic hit a three to send it to overtime and the Warriors ultimately won the game, with Cousins laying an egg in the extra period. Kings coach Paul Westphal said it best, “It’s unprofessional, childish, embarrassing, and it won’t be tolerated”.
But this takes the cake. In February he was suspended (and removed from the team plane) for fighting with teammate Donte Greene over the final possession of a game against OKC. The issue? Greene had the gall to inbound the ball to the King’s best player Tyreke Evans for the final shot (which he missed), instead of the rookie Cousins. On his way off the court he chewed out Evans, and then clashed with Greene in the locker-room, with both players taking swings at each other before they were separated.
Ok, so he’s a ‘little’ unhinged, but man oh man can he ball. If he can grow up and start playing the game like a civilised human being, he has the potential to become a franchise big man.
F Michael Beasley (MIN)
He loves his weed this cat, so much so that he is willing to jeopardise his NBA future (J.R. Rider anyone?). And if you saw his brain snap at a New York City streetball game, it’s clear, the man ain’t playin with a full deck.
On the court he can flat out score, but he’s a turnover waiting to happen and a comically bad defender. If he can’t make some adjustments to his game and drop the clown act, his future looks bleak.
F Stephen Jackson (MIL)
When Jax ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. The trouble is, this guy’s impossible to please.
He’s a powder keg on the court, and off the court he seems to believe that the basketball world orbits around him.
He strong-armed the Warriors (or more specifically, their previous cretin of an owner Chris Cohan) into an extension, when he still had a year and a half to run on his contract. Essentially the threat was this – ‘extend me or suffer the consequences’. Well, they did, and he blew up anyway.
He eventually sulked his way out and onto a terrible team in Charlotte, who also tired of his act and sent him on to the Bucks. At his introductory news conference in Milwaukee, in regard to an extension he had the nerve to say “It’s mandatory”, despite having two years remaining on his current deal that will net him $19 million.
Good luck Milwaukee.
G JR Smith (FA/China)
‘Uncoachable’ is probably the best word to describe Smith. He seems to get off on bending the rules and struggles with the concept of ‘team’. Sure, he can shoot the lights out, but it typically comes with a cost – teamwork goes down the toilet.
I pity the poor bastards on his Chinese team. They’re going to get a front row seat to the ‘JR Smith show’.
And can he really handle roughing it in ‘Zhejiang’? I give him a few months before he skulks his way back to the US.
G Nate Robinson (OKL)
Whether it’s the moronic free throw routine, bird-like flapping of the arms after each made basket or just his boneheaded play, Robinson seems intent on cementing his ‘sideshow’ reputation. It’s a shame because if he had his head screwed on straight he could be a valuable scoring guard off the bench (similar to Jason Terry).
C JaVale McGee (WASH)
This tells the story. In a loss to the Chicago Bulls last season JaVale McGee notched his first career triple-double: 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots. It would have been impressive had it not been for the shameless way in which he went about it.
To reach the milestone, in the last few minutes of the blow out loss to Chicago he threw up one ludicrous shot after another. When he finally (mercifully) made a dunk to exceed the ten-point mark with 30 seconds to play, he hung on the rim, let out a primal roar and was subsequently T’d up. Remember, they were getting blown out!
F Andray Blatche (WASH)
It can’t be good when both your starting center and power forward are knuckleheads. Besides his disinterested/me-first play, he’s better known for his extensive rap sheet.
In 2005, a few months after being drafted, he was shot in an attempted carjacking. In 2007 he was charged with soliciting sex from an undercover police officer. In 2009 he was charged with reckless driving and driving on a suspended license for the third time. In 2010 he refused to re-enter a game after being yanked in the first quarter of a loss to Charlotte, and in a separate incident, he got into a fist fight with McGee in a D.C. nightclub on Christmas Eve. And in 2011 he blasted Wizard fans on Washington radio for being ‘disloyal’.
So really, a stand-up guy.
F Josh Smith (ATL)
Josh Smith continues to act like the petulant kid in the playground who threatens to take his ball and go home when things don’t go his way. Under the right leadership (a disciplinarian coach) he’s a perennial All-Star, but so long as he calls the shots the team is at his mercy.
G Terrence Williams (HOU)
I was watching a pre-season game last year between New Jersey and Houston that was being played in China. I was particularly interested in the game because I wanted to get a good look at Nets rookie Derrick Favors. But he never even whiffed at it because Terrence Williams was playing one-on-five – he shot the ball every time he got his hands on it. I remember sitting there in disbelief thinking “why doesn’t Avery Johnson bench him?” (he didn’t). It was by far the worst display of selfish basketball I had seen, and I knew then that troubled times lay ahead for the young man.
Not surprisingly, during the season he was suspended from the Nets for “repeatedly violating team policy” (i.e. he was being an arse) and banished to their D-League affiliate, before being traded to the Rockets.
If he doesn’t pull his head in he could find himself out of the league in a year or two. Perhaps he’s the next Bonzi Wells; a bona fide NBA-level talent, but too full of himself to function in a team environment where he’s not ‘the man’.
A side note. If you’re looking for some in-depth analysis on the labour negotiations, Terrence has an interesting take (via Twitter): “These NBA owners is bullshitting.”
G Gilbert Arenas (ORL)
The gun conviction aside, if you’ve seen his work on Twitter there’s only one conclusion to be reached – he’s a grade-A jerk.
He doesn’t hold back and that’s probably a good thing (for us) because we get a window into the mind of someone who appears to live on a different planet. He rags on women, and otherwise acts the part of obnoxious fool.
The prospect of a Dwight Howard departure and three more years of Arenas at $62 million, should have the city of Orlando shitting bricks.
Inactive: Ron Artest, Tyrus Thomas, Lance Stephenson, Derrick Caracter
To read more of JT’s stuff, check out his blog at NBAozblog