Greg Anthony Q + A
A sit down with the NBA TV and CBS College basketball analyst.
SLAM: Being that you played for Pat Riley on the Knicks and were a part of that intense rivalry with the Chicago Bulls whom you also played with later in your career, where does Chicago rank in your mind as far as the elite teams in the Eastern Conference?
GA: I think they are an elite team, to be honest with you. The best part for Chicago is when you look at their core in terms of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, those guys have yet to play their best basketball which is a great position to be in because that means that ultimately, that team is going to get better. The addition of Boozer has really solidified their front line in terms of giving them some more scoring and it’s also made their bench better. Now they just have to learn to trust one another, go through some adversity, deal with some ups-and-downs, and you probably won’t know exactly just how good they’re going to be right away, but I think they’re one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference and if they can stay healthy and continue to improve, they’ll be a very dangerous team in the east.
SLAM: With Pat Riley putting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the same team in Miami and knowing the way that he thinks about the game having played for him, what was your interpretation of his vision when he put that squad together?
GA: I think when he put that team together he had the Chicago Bulls teams in mind and I think that’s a testament to his basketball mind. I always tell people that the greatness of Pat Riley was the fact that he could coach the teams that he coached in LA with that uptempo style because that’s the personnel that he had, and then to come to New York where we had a lunch pail, meat and potatoes team and coach that kind of personnel and have as much success as he did tells you that he understands it’s about putting the personnel you have in a system that functions best for them. I think that when you look at these guys, in a lot of ways you can look at Wade and LeBron — and I’m not comparing them to Jordan and Pippen — but they have the closest skillset to those two guys on the wing that we’ve probably seen since MJ and Scottie and I don’t think there’s any question. So I think that was part of Pat Riley’s thought process. I think that this is a team that he feels as they continue to improve and add pieces will be a defense first team. They’re not going to try and outrun people, they’re going to try to disrupt and dominate defensively and turn that defense into offense and I think you’ve seen it against some of the more mediocre teams in the league, the question is can they do it against the elites? Can they impose their will on people. Can they get what they want out of the game as opposed to having to play, say, Boston’s game or the Lakers game. That’s going to be the challenge for them this year. But I’ll tell you what, once you’ve got those guys on the same page, let’s face it, they’re going to be the talk of the league whether they win it this year or not and they’re going to be legitimate championship contenders for many years to come.
SLAM: What are your thoughts on a potential NBA Finals matchup in terms of the teams who could potentially come out of the East and the West?
GA: I think Chicago is legit. I think when you look at Chicago, Boston, Miami and Orlando, those are four teams that I consider elite teams. In the west you’re talking about San Antonio, Dallas, obviously the Lakers, Utah and everybody loves Oklahoma City as well. Those are a lot of good teams. The thing about the NBA is than an injury here or there can change the whole dynamic of everything. And when you have the kind of a grind of a season that we have, you can’t really write anybody off. And I think the middle of the NBA is better than it’s been in a long time. It used to be where you had a few really great teams or elite teams and the rest were kind of mediocre but I think you have a lot more parity now — we’re not even mentioning Atlanta and Denver or New Orleans and those are really good teams — so I think it sets up for a really good run.
SLAM: Speaking of Denver, a lot of talk has been made of Carmelo Anthony’s situation. Do you think he’ll be moved prior to the trade deadline and if so, where?
GA: I’ve heard that if the contract extension is not signed by the trade deadline that he will be moved. So that makes it interesting because from Denver’s standpoint, they almost have to move him in order to get something back that they want as opposed to having to do a sign-and-trade after it’s already been decided. But I think that’s going to be a domino effect throughout the league when and if that trade does materialize with him leaving Denver. And with all the talk about New York and New Jersey, it could be a lot like what happened with Cliff Lee in baseball where he could end up going to a team that nobody is talking about and all you have to do is think back to LeBron. Everybody though he was going to be in New York. Nobody before the season ended last year thought he’d be in Miami. So you could have another scenario where something like that plays out with Carmelo because the beauty is when you’re a team that’s not being discussed or talked about in terms of the speculation, that’s when it’s easiest to get a deal done.
You can catch Greg Anthony on NBA TV or on CBS during college games. You can also follow him on Twitter @GregAnthony50.