Gowhere NBA Awards: Trade Deadline Edition

What better time to bring back the Gowhere NBA Awards this season than after the GOAT Trade Deadline yesterday?

By the end of it, 11 trades happened and a record 37 players changed teams, including all of the players pictured above. The flurry of trades was made even better if you were following NBA Twitter, where if you follow enough basketball reporters and bloggers, you were able the near deals, the finalized deals, and all of the jokes in real-time. (Not pictured above: Javale McGee.) The last 15 minutes of the deadline brought about one shocking deal after another that it became so overwhelming to keep track of, that I actually think this is the best representation of the trades.

So let’s recap the movers and shakers with my usual made-up music awards highlighting the big new releases and some tunes in my playlist you shouldn’t ignore.

Gowhere NBA Awards: Trade Deadline Edition

The “One Man Can Change The World” Award to the most high impact traded player
The “Go Hard or Go Home” Award to the team going all-in
The “Wolves” Award to the player who’s running it back
The “begin again” Award to the team who is most starting anew
The “Come Find Me” Award to a player in a new and unexpected situation
The “It Takes Two” Award to the most highly entertaining trade of the deadline
The “Adoration of the Magi” Award to the team who made the best sneaky good move
The “Goodbye Tomorrow” Award to the…
The “Know Yourself” Award to the teams who are runnin thru the 6 with their WOES!

Ah, the suspense. Feel free to scroll down to Drake, I won’t get offended.


The “One Man Can Change The World” Award
to the most high impact traded player goes to…
Goran Dragic

Yup, there’s a song titled “One Man Can Change The World” and it’s a perfect parallel to describe which of yesterday’s traded players will provide the biggest impact on this NBA season. For that, I’m taking the clear choice of the 2014 3rd Team All-NBA guard, Goran Dragic.

I emphasized 3rd Team All-NBA because Dragic was amazing last season, especially in the 29 games without backcourt mate Eric Bledsoe. The Suns relied on Dragic as their primary scorer and distributor and he responded with 22.3 points per game (52.9% from the field and 46.3% from three-point range) and 6.6 assists as the Suns went a respectable 16-13.

This is just to illustrate how Dragic can be the team’s primary perimeter player, which is a role he’ll now find himself in alongside Dwyane Wade (and when Wade rests, especially.) This season, he’s handling the ball 40% less, per Tom Haberstroh — a direct, objective stat that depicts his lessened role with the Suns and why he demanded out earlier this week.

With Dragic in tow (Goran AND Zoran, which is great, but I’m talking about Goran here), the Heat now boast a very formidable starting lineup (Dragic-Wade-Deng-Bosh-Whiteside) that is a scary prospect for the East’s top seeds. In fact, a first-round upset (and maybe more) wouldn’t surprise me and is something I’d absolutely be rooting for in poetic Hollywood fashion over Cleveland.

The enthusiasm, best exemplified by ESPN Miami’s Le Batard Show, is unfortunately greatly dwindled today as Chris Bosh’s overnight hospital stay is circulating reports of potential blood clots in his lungs. This, in the wake of Jerome Kersey’s sudden and untimely passing earlier this week for blood clots in his lungs is scary. The relief is that Coach Erik Spolestra assured today that Bosh’s condition is not life-threatening but early speculation suggests Bosh may miss the rest of the season to recover and ensure good health. That’s first and foremost and I’d like to join the chorus and send our well wishes to Chris Bosh as well.

Now, hopefully you also pressed play up above. The newest preview of Dark Sky Paradise features the likes of Kanye West & John Legend but it’s Big Sean who shines the brightest, dominating the verses and expressing an inspiring concept above all: that one man can truly change the world. I wrote the other day that for this alone, I appreciate the song and smile at the thought of it inspiring our youth. This is the Big Sean I enjoy and resonate with the most as well and naturally, I follow suit on other songs from the advance leak of Dark Sky Paradise like the intro and “Win Some, Lose Some” that are along this vein. I’m not sure there’s a better one than up above though.

The “Go Hard or Go Home” Award
for the team who’s going all-in…
Oklahoma City Thunder

Once again, the song title is pretty indicative of an attitude — this one representing that of the OKC Thunder in win-now mode, making one more push to shore up their bench and moving on from promising young guard, yet a team chemistry disruptor, Reggie Jackson.

On paper, everyone is a nice fit. Enes Kanter becomes the Thunder’s lone low-post threat. D.J. Augustin, more adept at distributing (8 APG as a starter in the last 10 games) and a better shooter than Jackson, slides into his role and was college teammates with Kevin Durant. And Kyle Singler & Steve Novak should provide some insurance outside shooting at the forward position.

For the Thunder, this is a net positive given not only the talent that they added but the addition by subtraction of the disengaged Reggie Jackson, who was pining for a greater starting role and gets one with the Detroit Pistons. Where I’m skeptical is if the sum of all these parts, plus the relatively new addition of Dion Waiters, will all mesh together with less than 30 games to go before the Playoffs amongst themselves AND with stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant may miss some games with ongoing soreness to his surgically repaired right foot, leaving last night’s game already.

Up above, Wiz Khalifa and Iggy Azalea provide the new theme for Fast 7, and unfortunately to me, it was nowhere near the pump up jam “We Own It” for Fast 6 that Wiz Khalifa worked on with 2 Chainz. In fact, it feels like more of the same and I question where Wiz’s buzz will go if this one and his new single “Decisions” falls flat like they do for me.

Maybe I need to see “Go Hard Or Go Home” set to a Fast 7 car race montage and it’ll grow on me. Just the same, we all need to see the Thunder try and gel with all of these new parts and a Kevin Durant who is not 100% healthy.

The “Wolves” Award
for the player who’s running it back…
Kevin Garnett

Alright, the most obvious parallel is too synchronistic to ignore. KG is coming back to the “Wolves”. But follow me for a few closer connections I made between Kevin Garnett’s surprising return to what he affectionately calls the ‘Sota and Kanye’s SNL 40 performance of track 01 off his upcoming album.

– Kanye opens up the performance with “Jesus Walks”, lying like, well, Jesus on a cross. He looks up and backwards into the camera for an iconic shot and close-up into his creepy/cool color-corrected contacts. I feel Kanye’s hoarse voice is on purpose and the dire vocals further represent the beaten down struggle in race relations he describes in that first verse that feels even more relevant today. While we get excited about “Wolves”, and for good reason, we shouldn’t overlook this part of the performance. Though KG’s impact on a basketball court doesn’t have the same depth as what’s described above, prime KG on the Wolves was when “Jesus Walks” blew up in 2004. I would also liken KG’s intensity to Kanye’s as both are notorious over-the-top performers in the best sense of the description. Can’t you imagine KG laying down like that in the locker room before a game?

– Before Kanye goes into “Wolves”, he performs a verse from his New Year’s release “Only One”. Before KG comes back to the Wolves, he finds greater pastures as a player, like Kanye did as a man. KG comes back to Minnesota with a Celtics championship ring, solidifying his career as one of the elite power forwards to ever play the game.

– Here’s where it gets fun. Joining Kanye on the narrow, simplistic stage is “Wolves” featured guests: Vic Mensa and Sia. The three crawl delicately together, igniting a light bulb that they’re wolves themselves. Like how Kanye is the veteran of the trio, Garnett is coming back to the Wolves to lead the young pack forward. With SNL 40 as high-profile a look as Chicago’s Vic Mensa has received in his already buzzing career to date, he shines with wonderful vocals that sound even better than the HQ studio version used in the adidas fashion show. Think of Mensa as Andrew Wiggins, the league’s runaway Rookie of the Year and perhaps an even greater star down the line. For Sia, this parallel is not as strong, but it is fun: Ricky Rubio. It’s probably the bangs, but Rubio has assumed the team’s leadership role that he’ll now likely share with Garnett. Sia’s star is bright in her own light as well and I’m confident in the early returns for both (Rubio’s limited games this season and Sia’s big-name looks this year) as a sign that they’ll both keep growing.

– I won’t dive into the lyrics since this is pretty personal a song for Kanye, Vic, and Sia, but now that I look at the performance in the wake of Kevin Garnett’s return, I can’t help but picture an intense KG face in place of Kanye’s. Timberwolves fans, hopefully KG’s return is something you’re anticipating as much as we’re all anticipating the studio release of “Wolves”.


The “begin again” Award
to the team who is most starting anew…
Phoenix Suns

The song titles in 2015 are just tailor made anthems for the NBA, aren’t they? The Phoenix Suns “begin again” like Purity Ring for the rest of this season and beyond, having dealt 4 impact players that ultimately resulted in the same amount of role players coming back alongside their new Eric Bledsoe backcourt partner: Brandon Knight.

In the subtraction though, the Suns scrapped their plan from just this past summer. Gone are point guards Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Tyler Ennis. To contrast the talent sent away, the Suns received 2 future first-round picks from the Heat, which could prove to be high, who knows? But the disappointment for the Phoenix fanbase is the lingering feeling that it didn’t have to come to this. After last year’s feel-good campaign, the Suns added too many point guards and subsidized Dragic’s role. As the dominoes fell, now it feels like the Suns took a step backwards into rebuilding mode. Ideally, it’s to take two steps forward though, but we won’t know that for sure for years to come.

Purity Ring’s journey contains a few parallels. They burst onto the scene in 2012 with a critically acclaimed debut album but have left fans clamoring for more since. That is finally upon us on March 3rd with Another Eternity and “begin again” acting as the dark, synthpop preview that has really made a dent in my playlist this year. It’s in the top tier of 2015 productions so that alone makes it a must-listen. The track’s energy is an optimistic sign for a sophomore album that has a high bar to match, and perhaps an optimistic anthem for Suns fans to cling to as well.

The “Come Find Me” Award
to a player in a new and unexpected situation…
Isaiah Thomas

The music and NBA parallels continue closely with this next Award as “Come Find Me” features some eerie female vocals as well, courtesy of Lykke Li. The vibe of “begin again” and Emile’s song up above make for a seamless 1,2 punch so if you’re looking for something alternative to hip hop, I gotchu here as well. Emile’s album, We Fall, impacts even sooner: February 24th.

So who did I think of when I thought of “Come Find Me”? Former Sun, naturally, Isaiah Thomas who finds himself a new home in Boston — a surprise given Boston’s well-documented rebuild. But they bought low with Thomas still on a friendly contract and a target that got away from them this past summer. He’ll provide the C’s with a much-needed scoring punch for this season and beyond as Marcus Smart continues to mature. And hey, the Celtics may have a playoff run in them as well.

So while a Thomas trade was a surprise in the wake of the presumed Dragic trade, the actual reporting of Thomas’ movement secures the “Come Find Me” Award for him. Yesterday, Thomas was supposed to be sent to Philadelphia in Point Guard Roulette. Literally within minutes, the Celtics were his reported landing point which led to a fun game of, “Where is Isaiah Thomas going?” But that wasn’t the most light-hearted moment of the trade deadline flurry…

The “It Takes Two” Award
to the most highly entertaining trade goes to…
Javale McGee to Philly

These are real names. *Sean Connery in Celebrity Jeopardy voice* Chu Chu Mad You a Bum?

It’s perfectly fitting they are the ones involved with a Javale McGee trade to the tanking Philadelphia 76ers. This makes Javale the highest-paid Sixer and now… a mentor for Joel Embiid?! High comedy potential.

For as entertaining as this was when it’s announced, and as it looks a day later, let’s take an entertainment intermission thanks to Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon. They used a beat box app to re-create “It Takes Two” and the result was very fun. See the correlation?

The “Adoration of the Magi” Award
to the team who made the best sneaky good move…
Houston Rockets

With 11 trades yesterday, there were a few that slid under the radar. In my opinion, there were a couple that stood out as steals.

The obvious under-the-radar trade was the Portland Trail Blazers giving up no one in their rotation for Arron Afflalo — a starting swingman who will shore up their bench. While that’s also a reward to LaMarcus Aldridge, who’s bypassing surgery to play the rest of the season, I chose the Houston Rockets as my “Adoration of the Magi” recipient for their acquisition of rookie KJ McDaniels from the Sixers.

They stole someone who fits their 3 and lay-up culture (in KJ’s case, dunks.) for a prospect and a 2nd rounder. McDaniels has shown potential of contributing on the offensive end and his otherworldly athleticism to lead the league amongst guards with 1.3 blocks per game. The swingman rotation is pretty loaded in front of KJ right now, but if he re-signs with the Rockets after this season, he’ll eventually pair up with James Harden as a formidable starting swingman duo.

The namesake of the award is one of over a handful of brilliant records from Lupe Fiasco’s new album, Tetsuo & Youth. The lyrical meaning of the record outweighs an under-the-radar NBA trade, but the parallel comes with how sneaky good, nay great the hook to “Adoration of the Magi” is.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 6.54.32 PM
Did you catch this? One of the coolest, most brilliant displays of lyricism in Lupe’s career… and as you know, that says a lot. I had the light bulb moment that brought me back to head scratchers like a “Dumb It Down” or a “The Instrumental” (when it comes to the hook.) Whoo! I don’t see this, and really the last “season” of records off Tetsuo & Youth leaving my rotation anytime soon.

The “Goodbye Tomorrow” Award
to the…
NBA Trade Deadline, in general

You could apply the phrase “Goodbye Tomorrow” towards the many teams and players affected by the NBA Trade Deadline, but to me, it also represents how both entities came out of nowhere… and to my thorough enjoyment.

The NBA experts predicted a quiet Trade Deadline so yesterday’s furious set of transactions was a pleasant surprise for everyone. The surprise factor for Goodbye Tomorrow is that they… well literally came from out of nowhere.

Goodbye Tomorrow did so under a veil of mystery at the top of the month with the debut single and video for “JAY Z”. Flat out, I proclaimed “JAY Z” at the time as “the video of the year so far.” So if that’s not a statement that piques your curiosity, then perhaps 77K views and some heavy co-signs from MTV, Huff Post, Complex, Revolt (and I can go on) will inspire a press of that play button.

What you’ll see and hear is an embodiment of its end message: “JAY Z: A Dissertation on the Diaspora of the BLACK Soul.” The beautiful visuals and audio itself work together to deliver a message each could not without the other. It will surely inspire a second viewing to understand (a simple, yet rare result for music videos these days) or purely just to enjoy the design of the video again.

So what’s next for Goodbye Tomorrow? Well, all that is known is that everyone is curious about the identity with the artist hailing from our hometown in Chicago. All I’ll add is that the rollout will continue to reveal a substantive message and versatility, over anything else, that many artists, again, are rarely able to communicate. I’m hyped to see Goodbye Tomorrow grow after about as strong of a debut release as any new artist could ask for. Needless to say, keep it locked.

The “Know Yourself” Award
to the teams who are runnin through the 6 with their WOES!
Golden State Warriors & Atlanta Hawks

Undoubtedly the most quotable song off Drake’s new surprise mixtape, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late the hype anthem “Know Yourself” is probably my favorite song, post-drop.

It was, like many of the music up above, a natural fit for the Gowhere NBA Awards because while all of the activity of the trade deadline was going on, the conference leading Warriors and Hawks were… well… just chillin’ amongst their WOES (woes=crew for the slang uninformed.)

In fact, it led to probably the best quote of the day, courtesy of Hawks all-star Paul Millsap.

This is a rare, and highly entertaining NBA season that doesn’t have a true favorite from either conference. But the Warriors and Hawks have proved to be a tier above the rest with their play so far and have no holes to currently address. Everything can improve within, which you can also say that about similar non-trading contenders like the Bulls or the Spurs, but their play so far still leaves something to be desired. Any of these 4 teams though, and much of the teams that made moves yesterday can create a path to June and no one here would really think twice. It’s shaping up to be a great end of the year, while concurrently, a great start of the year for music.

Now, like any team as of today, or you and I at home… let’s act like Lil Wayne…


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BONUS: My weekly Friday column at Hardwood Paroxysm has even more on the NBA.