Christmas is a magical day in the NBA. With 5 video games on the schedule, it is a possibility for gamers and followers alike to have fun every thing that makes the NBA so particular. It additionally implies that in the event you’re watching the Knicks and Bucks play at midday ET Dec. 25 on ESPN, the Christmas procuring season is over. So, with that in thoughts, we requested our writers to look forward one full yr and inform us what they’d like to see below the proverbial NBA Christmas tree in 2019.
Malika Andrews: A girl head coach
The argument that girls are incapable of teaching males has been debunked, as extra girls have seen success in the NBA lately. Final summer season, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon grew to become the first girl to interview for a head teaching place. The Denver Nuggets lately employed Sue Fowl to work in the entrance workplace. Pau Gasol penned an open letter urging the league to make use of a head coach who’s a girl. LeBron James mentioned he would “love” to have a feminine coach and would welcome any coach who “is aware of the sport.” Ladies know the sport.
In November, Adam Silver mentioned that he’s “very assured” a girl will likely be an NBA coach “in some unspecified time in the future.” Some level ought to be 2019, Santa Silver. Maybe inside the subsequent yr is wishful pondering, however is not that what the vacation spirit is all about? Miracles occurred on 34th Avenue, why not at NBA headquarters at 51st and Fifth, too? By Christmas 2019, we ought to be celebrating the first two months of the NBA’s first girl head coach.
Kevin Arnovitz: A title run for this Bucks core
It is a bit early to declare the Milwaukee Bucks a group with a championship window. However as we strategy 2019, the indicators are favorable. They characteristic a top-five famous person in Giannis Antetokounmpo who’s compulsive in his preparation and unselfish in his play. Milwaukee runs an offensive system that enhances his skills and a protection that is a work in progress however already the league’s fourth-most environment friendly. The Bucks sport the NBA’s finest level differential, are deep, culturally sound, and have one in all the league’s prime teaching staffs.
But other than Antetokounmpo, each member of the Bucks’ beginning lineup is scheduled to change into a free agent July 1. Maintaining Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez below contract will likely be prohibitively costly, significantly for a small-market group. It is going to additionally demand a nice deal of religion that this core really has the expertise and chemistry to maintain its present trajectory towards being amongst the NBA’s elite. However there’s one thing about this group, its vibe, the approach particular person gamers embrace their roles that implies the alternative for one thing huge.
Ian Begley: An enchancment to two-way contracts
This is not an earth-shattering change, nevertheless it’s one that may even the taking part in discipline in a system some gamers imagine is simply too helpful to groups: Put an NBA opt-out in two-way participant contracts. Presently, two-way gamers who spend a most of 45 days with their NBA groups have the probability to earn roughly $275,000 — a lot larger than the common G League participant. However the more money comes with a value. A two-way participant can solely be referred to as up from the G League by the NBA group he is signed with. G League gamers on non-two-way offers are eligible to signal customary NBA contracts with any group. So the two-way system limits the participant and may also damage the open market. A possible resolution that may make for a merrier vacation season in 2019? Enable two-way gamers to choose out of their deal if one other NBA group gives them a assured contract for a number of seasons. This units a excessive bar for an opt-out whereas giving gamers deserving of that contract size/cash the alternative to money in.
Tim Bontemps: A enjoyable house for Zion Williamson
RJ Barrett passes the ball to Zion Williamson, who rapidly finds his approach to the basket for the layup.
It is laborious to envision a situation that would not have a enjoyable consequence for Zion Williamson, the most well-known basketball participant in the world presently outdoors the NBA. How about Williamson with the New York Knicks? Pair him with Kristaps Porzingis and a free agent or two this summer season and the Knicks would possibly lastly be in enterprise once more. What about him catching alley-oops from Trae Younger with the Atlanta Hawks? Or with the Brooklyn Nets, the place a franchise that has yearned for an identification since coming to Brooklyn would lastly have one? Or the Chicago Bulls, the place he may pair with Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen in what would have the makings of a terrific younger core?
The list goes on. Whether or not Williamson is the subsequent all-time nice participant or not is one factor. However what just isn’t in query is that, wherever he goes, it’s going to be a nonstop story subsequent season. I, for one, cannot wait to see how that story goes — and the place it’s situated. The one assure is that it’s going to be a lot of enjoyable.
Nick DePaula: A new look for Kawhi Leonard
A yr after surprisingly signing with New Stability, here is hoping that potential MVP Kawhi Leonard has his very first signature shoe mannequin on retailer cabinets and beneath timber by the shut of 2019. He might be taking part in as soon as once more in Toronto, in Los Angeles or with one other franchise, however the success of his first sneaker will likely be reliant much less on his house market and extra on a compelling design and advertising marketing campaign that is extra fascinating and thrilling than his famously reserved persona. Regardless of its lack of cache amongst NBA followers, New Stability has practically 115 years of historical past, a lot of experience making sneakers and raked in additional than $four billion in gross sales for 2018. Leonard hardly signed with a newcomer, although the stress will likely be on him to reignite curiosity in the model’s basketball class.
Nick Friedell: A drama-free yr for the Bulls
If Santa is feeling significantly beneficiant for the 2019 vacation season, perhaps he’ll ship some heat ideas towards a group that basically wants some: the Bulls. After a number of years full of drama and strife inside the group, how about a complete yr of peace, happiness and progress? A completely wholesome group could be good. Possibly Santa might help maintain Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. wholesome sufficient to play collectively for a complete season. Possibly the Bulls can get a little lottery luck and add one other promising younger piece to their core. That is a lot of needs for a group that has struggled to discover its approach of late, but when any group is in want of a Christmas miracle it is these Bulls.
Chris Herring: A Bay Space return for KD — in a new jersey
The eight-part docuseries, produced by UNINTERRUPTED and airing on ESPN+, will observe LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s unbelievable journey from Akron to the world stage. Watch on ESPN+
No participant, not even Kawhi Leonard, can ship the kind of shockwaves by the total league that Kevin Durant can by merely altering his house deal with. This summer season, Durant will face a troublesome alternative, particularly if Golden State wins a third consecutive championship. Does he need to proceed to win and be a main piece of a group that for years has belonged to Stephen Curry, or does he need to go someplace and have a group constructed primarily round him, as was the case in Oklahoma Metropolis?
The logic in leaving could be clear: After conducting nearly every thing he may with Golden State, he’d be ready for the subsequent problem, to present he is able to successful huge with out the kind of star energy he has now.
The guess right here is that come Christmas Day 2019, Durant will likely be taking part in in the Bay Space — simply in the opposing group’s uniform, in his return to face his former group.
Jackie MacMullan: A fresh start for Markelle Fultz
SVP performs “Headline or Storyline” with Markelle Fultz being recognized with thoracic outlet syndrome, saying it may lastly lead to a full restoration.
The one factor on my 2019 NBA wish list is for Markelle Fultz to be OK.
This child deserves a break; from the persistent scrutiny, from the parade of medical doctors and specialists, from the unrelenting stress of being a No. 1 choose gone awry, from the peculiar season-and-a-half of doubt and disappointment and intrigue.
It is clearly a time for a change of surroundings. Fultz wants a clear slate the place he can re-establish himself as a dynamic expertise with scoring capability, significantly in the pick-and-roll. The Sixers want to transfer on from a participant who has misplaced belief in them and is a painful reminder of what has change into, till circumstances change, a main pre-draft commerce blunder.
Wherever Fultz winds up, I hope it is someplace the place he can heal in peace. Have in mind he’s solely 20 years previous, too younger to drink a beer or hire a automobile with out surcharges. Rely me amongst those that imagine he can nonetheless have a completely satisfied, productive NBA profession. However for that to happen, Fultz wants a new yr, a new group and a new, sincere outlook on the sport that has so cruelly betrayed him.
Bobby Marks: A Raptors Christmas Day sport
For the previous few years, it has been Groundhog Day in early August when the NBA schedule is launched. The Raptors, regardless of a mean of 52 wins since 2013-14, are left off the Christmas schedule, in favor of big-market however lottery-bound groups like the Knicks and Lakers (earlier than LeBron James).
Sure, the way forward for Kawhi Leonard will definitely decide whether or not the Raptors are sleeping in on Christmas Day 2019 or preparing for the midday sport (sorry, New York). But when the Raptors advance to not less than the convention finals and Leonard returns? The reply is simple.
Count on to see Toronto taking part in on Christmas for the first time since 2001.
Kevin Pelton: A possible new house for the Clippers
Steve Ballmer’s huge wish in 2019 is a new house in the L.A. space for his Clippers, who’ve had third precedence as tenants at Staples Heart behind the rival Lakers and NHL’s Kings. If the Clippers are unsuccessful of their hotly contested efforts to construct a new enviornment in Inglewood earlier than their Staples lease expires in 2024, Seattle could be an apparent backup plan for the former Microsoft CEO. Town lately landed an NHL enlargement group to play in a renovated Key Enviornment. Regardless of the curiosity in bringing basketball again to the former house of the SuperSonics, Ballmer nonetheless does not sound , telling a Seattle viewers at the current GeekWire Gala, “I like Seattle. I’d by no means transfer our group.”
Mike Schmitz: A greater appreciation of Zion Williamson
Whereas Zion Williamson is a bodily marvel in contrast to any we have seen in the sport, by this time subsequent yr the doubtless Rookie of the 12 months candidate ought to be praised for his precise basketball acumen, not simply his rim-rattling slams. Misplaced in the ferocious alley-oops are his nifty deal with, sharp imaginative and prescient, unimaginable footwork and relentless motor. He is extra than simply a dunker with an intensive YouTube clip reel, and it should not take lengthy into his rookie marketing campaign for gamers, coaches and followers to see that Williamson has actual sport, even when the jumper continues to be a work in progress.
Andre Snellings: A new king of the NBA
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s double-double ties a career-high with 44 factors and 14 rebounds in the Bucks’ 114-102 victory over the Cavs.
From the time he entered the NBA, LeBron James represented a bodily evolution, and he ascended to greatness over a number of spectacular seasons. Throughout the 2008-09 season he won his first MVP and assumed his throne as King James, the biggest participant in the world, regardless of the earlier era of kings (e.g. Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett) nonetheless making their mark on the league. Historical past is repeating itself, as a new bodily evolution has arisen to take the throne from King James. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been ascending for a number of seasons, bursting from thrilling prospect to Most Improved Participant to All-NBA MVP candidate. By Christmas 2019, it ought to be clear that he has taken over as the new biggest participant in the world and the customary by which historical past will consider each different participant of the subsequent era.
Michael C. Wright: A classic Spurs squad
The NBA has the final vacation reward with 5 star-studded matchups on Christmas Day:
• Christmas Day schedule: MIL-NY | OKC-HOU | PHI-BOS | LAL-GSW | POR-UTAH
• Dangle Time: Jayson Tatum goes procuring
• LeBron’s $765 million empire in L.A.
• Inside P.J. Tucker’s sneaker assortment
• The Bucks are nice and Giannis is brooding
• OKC has an MVP candidate — it isn’t Russ
• KD-Dray rift not going to break the Warriors
• Return of the Bully: Embiid accomplished capturing 3s
• Pricey Santa: An NBA wishlist for 2019
Loads of enjoyable rides may be discovered domestically at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, however Spurs followers desperately need off the curler coaster that has been 2018.
This yr, the Spurs confirmed they had been able to beating up on strong Western Convention foes equivalent to New Orleans, Houston, Portland and Golden State, solely to endure losses to struggling squads like Phoenix and Miami sprinkled in with a couple 30-point stinkers to Minnesota and the Rockets. That’s not the consistency of a group that won 50-plus video games each season from 2000 by 2017. Positive, San Antonio flashes glimpses of the franchise you could possibly all the time depend on to make the postseason, however even that’s in jeopardy this season.
Let’s hope by Christmas 2019, the Spurs have discovered a approach to develop a stage of familiarity, belief and cohesion with all the new gamers left in the aftermath of the departures of their Large Three and Kawhi Leonard, and are on the approach to beginning a new run of constant success.
Royce Younger: A transparent resolution for clear-path fouls
The clear-path foul — and the countless replay evaluations it brings — is one in all the nice scourges of the trendy NBA. And it would not take a Christmas miracle to repair it, simply a small tweak, borrowing from soccer. As a substitute of blowing the whistle and calling the foul to cease the sport then inevitably go to the monitor, referees ought to maintain out each arms and play “benefit.” Let the play occur, have the scorekeeper write it down as a foul each on the participant and group, and play on. This fashion, we get a extra free-flowing sport. That can result in additional time spent watching thrilling highlights, and much less time watching referees huddle over a courtside monitor.
Ohm Youngmisuk: A basketball rebirth in NYC
Image this for subsequent Christmas: Kevin Durant and Kristaps Porzingis are lacing up their vacation sneakers as they put together to play their first Christmas sport collectively as Knicks teammates at Madison Sq. Backyard. Throughout the Brooklyn Bridge, the Nets are a few hours away from their activate the Christmas Day nationwide stage now that they’ve Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton and No. 1 general choose Zion Williamson.
It is potential for New York basketball to be again, following an Empire State-sized blockbuster summer season, when each groups lure stars to NYC with their ample cap house and the Nets get some lottery luck. KD, Kyrie, Unicorn and Zion all in New York; it is a Broadway ending that not even Spike Lee may dream up.