Barely two weeks into the NBA season and the trouble is real for a handful of teams, including teams who were expected to not only compete for a playoff spot but something more, like a conference championship.
Yes, that's you Houston Rockets.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were precariously close to making the list. They started 0-4, but two consecutive victories saved them.
Jimmy Butler asked for a trade before training camp and hasn’t received it yet, and the fallout is palpable.The Timberwolves are 3-4, Butler is not playing in every game and Karl-Anthony Towns, who signed a five-year, $190 extension before the season to be the franchise centerpiece, is off to a bad start with career lows in minutes, points per game, rebounds per game, field goals made and attempted and shooting percentage. Yes, it’s just seven games in. But it feels like 70 for Minnesota.
The Wizards started 0-2 at home against teams on the second night of a back-to-back, players started complaining about shots, playing time and agendas by the fifth game and they are 1-6 with a real chance to start 1-7. Washington is 24th in offensive rating, 26th in defensive rating, 27th in three-point shooting and 27th in rebounding.
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Cleveland fired coach Ty Lue after a 0-6 start that failed to show any tangible results — either with veterans or young players. In a statement, the team named associate head coach Larry Drew their interim head coach, but he has balked at that interim title because the team hasn’t restructured his contract. All-Star forward Kevin Love is out for a while with a toe injury, and ESPN reported J.R. Smith is unhappy with his reduced role. The rubble in the aftermath of LeBron James’ departure is getting large.
Houston had the best record in the league last season at 65-17 and took Golden State to seven games in the Western Conference finals. They are 1-5 this season and just lost 104-85 to Houston. MVP James Harden is out with a hamstring injury, and Chris Paul missed two games because of a suspension. The offseason losses of Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are significant, and the addition of Carmelo Anthony has yet to reward Houston. That high-powered offense from last season is nowhere to be found. Houston is 26th in offensive rating, and that improved defense from a season ago is in reverse. Coach Mike D'Antoni said the team is playing like crap and has lost its swagger.
Los Angeles Lakers
After losing to Minnesota on Monday, LeBron James told reporters they wouldn’t want to be around when he loses his patience. He might be holding on to the last bit of his patience, saying, “We can’t keep having the same mistakes over and over.” Los Angeles is 2-5 and a majority of its problems are on defense — the Lakers give up a lot of points. Opponents are getting to the foul line and making shots at a high rate. In the deep West, there are few easy games, especially for a team that looks like a playoff bubble team. Suspensions for Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo didn't help.
The Suns fired their general manager one week before the season and then started 1-5. They haven't even been close in the five losses, falling by an average of 20.5 points. They are the 28th-ranked defense, allowing 115.3 points per 100 possessions, have the worst net rating in the league at minus-11.6 and lead the league in turnovers at 18.8 per game.
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