NBA trade season is here. And big moves are already to being made—like DeMarcus Cousins going to the Pelicans—as teams get ready for the second half of the season. When it comes to NBA trade madness, nobody knows the game better than Chris Broussard of Fox Sports. Formerly of ESPN, Broussard has taken his talents to Fox and is working in a different sphere.
Removed from the sources game, Broussard is now sharing his opinion more than he ever has before on air. And not just about the NBA, but every major sport. Broussard launched his brand new "In the Zone With Chris Broussard" podcast recently where he breaks down the sports world's biggest stories in fun and interesting ways. With his new ventures underway, Complex had the opportunity to speak with Broussard about his new gig, the podcast, and his feelings about the upcoming trade deadline.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
With the NBA getting into trade season right now, what is the most interesting storyline?
I think it’s obviously Carmelo Anthony, and where he ends up if it’s not New York. Obviously they’re only talking to three teams—Boston, Cleveland, the Clippers. I would love to see Melo go to either Cleveland or the Clippers, as long as those two teams can keep their big three. Like if Cleveland can keep Kevin Love—obviously they’re not moving LeBron or Kyrie—or if the Clippers can keep Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.
If you get Melo, it changes things. Now, on paper, you’re like, “Okay, they’re both pretty much even.” So, I would love to see that, or Melo go to the Clippers. I don’t think the Clippers would beat Golden State, but it gets them closer.
With the Knicks, what do you think brought it to this point?
Ultimately, it was the losing. That’s really what it boils down to, and you can’t blame that all on Carmelo Anthony. They obviously went into this season not thinking they’d beat Cleveland, but, thinking they’d be a good team, thinking they could be as good as anybody else in the East, and then you take your chances against Cleveland.
And it just hasn’t worked out that way, and you can say from the get go, with Derrick Rose having to miss time early in the season because of his trial, there were a lot of things that factored into them getting off to the start that they did and not being the team that they are. The bottom line is it hasn’t worked out, so, if you’re the Knicks you say we’re not going anywhere now, hasn’t workout out for us, let’s go young. We have a potential star in Kristaps Porzingis, let’s build around him, and that’s where it comes to you being willing and ready and dying to move Carmelo Anthony.
Do you think that there are any unexpected names out there, like someone who could be a surprise guy who gets put on the market?
Well, with Paul Millsap, his name was out there earlier, then the Hawks took him off the market—and they’ve been playing pretty well, so they make keep him—but the issue with the Hawks is Millsap’s gonna want max money. There was a feeling when he signed with them, that when it was time for him to get paid, under the new contract, the salary cap, he would get max money. Now the Hawks aren’t so sure; so that’s what they have to weigh: if we’re not gonna max him, then we lose him in free agency this summer, do we move him now? Or, even though we’re not a contender, we’re still a pretty good team. We’re still going to win close to 50, if not 50 games. We still have a shot to go as deep in the playoffs as anybody other than Cleveland. Do we play this out, and bring Millsap back and go this route? He’s a guy that, you know, you need to watch for.
"I think LeBron is a few things. he’s always been his own man. He doesn’t like when anybody tries to say he has a place."
LeBron’s never one to hold his tongue but you’ve never seen him be as candid as he has recently, it seems like he’s tired.
He’s usually been more politically correct. He’s usually taken the highroad. I have no problem with him going at Barkley, and some people say he got personal, and he did. He did get personal. Barkley kept it to basketball, LeBron got personal, but you know what, I don’t think it’s great, as a societal thing, but that’s our society now. The president gets personal like that. Unfortunately, nothing’s off limits anymore. But, LeBron, I do think he is being a little more outspoken. He went at Phil Jackson, saying he doesn’t have any respect for him anymore. He didn’t say it in those words, but that basically was the implication. I think LeBron is a few things. One, he’s always been his own man. He doesn’t like when anybody tries to say he has a place. Like, you shouldn’t say that; and Barkley was kind of like, you, a player, you don’t need to be getting involved in all that.
He’s always been his own man and outspoken like that, and now I think he’s just like, “Hey, ima say what ima say.” Look, LeBron knows the history of the game. He knows legacy. He probably knows—he wouldn’t admit this and he hasn’t said it to me or anything, he may know he’s not going to catch Jordan with six rings. That’s the goal, but he’s 3-4 in the finals, and that’s why he’s looking at it like, “We gotta get more.” Because he don’t wanna be 3 and 5, you don’t want to lose in the Finals period, but when you look at it, it could be 3-5, could be 3-6, heck, could be 3-7, you know what I’m saying? The way the Warriors look set up, and the way the Cavs look set up, there could be a lot of Ls, and that could harm a legacy. Even though you could say, “Well, he got to the finals 7, 8, 9 straight times.” If you lose those, it could harm you, and I’m sure that’s a part of his thinking too, at least I believe it is. That’s why you're getting what you’re getting out of him.
Now that you’re at Fox Sports now, what was the transition like going from ESPN to Fox?
It was a tough decision. I had been at ESPN for 12 years; had written for ESPN Magazine, obviously I had done television as a news reporter, as a sideline reporter, on the countdown show with Magic Johnson. I had done a lot of different things there, and even, at points, I had done personality and opinion. I had been on First Take as a regular with Skip Bayless, and some other shows. PTI filling in...but, the doors weren’t really opening for me to walk into that space on a bigger scale. They wanted to keep me as a news reporter and news breaker, and Fox Sports 1 was looking at me as more an opinion and personality. That’s really why I made the move, because I liked that role better. It’s the difference between being like a beat writer and a columnist.
You talk about basically everything in sports now. How’s that been?
I mean, obviously, I know the NBA better than other sports, but, I was always, growing up, even as a young sports writer, I was into all the sports. I just happened to end up covering the NBA, and this is true for probably most sports writers, because that’s where the break came. As a young sports writer I covered all sports. Then, my break to cover the pros was with the Cleveland Cavaliers when I was working for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1995. If it had been with the Browns, or Cleveland Indians, maybe I would have gone that route. I did do a lot of Indians reporting when they went to the World Series in 1995. So I like all the sports, and I follow all the sports as a fan, but obviously I don’t have the intimate knowledge that I have of the NBA, after being a reporter for the NBA for so long. But it’s a lot of fun because it allows you to branch out and show that you know other things, and I get it, I understand, that for a while I’ll be pigeon-holed into the NBA, and that’s fine, because that is, right now, what I do best. I don’t have any problem with that, but, you want to show that you can talk other sports as well.
It seems like when you’re talking about the NBA it really brings out that heat in you.
[Laughs.] Well, the NBA, more than any of the other sports, lends itself to individuality, and you know the players better than any other sport. That’s why, even though it’s second, or maybe third, the third biggest sport behind college football, I think we can say it’s passed baseball, certainly with the younger generation. But still, those NBA players are still more well known than any other professional athletes in the country, or in the world. That’s because, you know, the individuality of the game—they don’t wear helmets, the fans are right up on the court—and that’s why so many of them have endorsement deals. You get to know the players better, and they can share their personalities and be colorful if that’s who they are, so that lends itself to more debate.
"I think Isaiah Thomas is starting to move up. Now, he’s not much of a defender either, but, you know what it’s about, man? It’s about impact."
You have the podcast now—what was the driving force behind that?
It's called “In the Zone with Chris Broussard,” and really, again, with Fox...and ESPN tried to brand me, and did brand me, and brand a lot of their talent as well, but Fox, they wanted to help me move into this other space. Because if you notice, at Fox Sports 1, we’re not really trying to report and break news. We’re opinion, and personality, and debate, and things like that. They recognized that my space had been reporting, so they wanna move me, and help me move into that different space and to brand me in that way, versus the way I’m basically branded now as an NBA reporter. That’s really what it came down to, and right now it’s been NBA. It’ll be mostly NBA, but we will, at times, talk other sports, even if there’s big social issues going on that are relevant to the sports. We’ll deal with that too. We may have some actors, some rappers. We just had Michael Rapaport, but we may have others on the podcast as well. I’m enjoying it. It’s a little different than your typical podcast; we didn’t want to make it just based on interviews. Again, we’ll have some of those, but we didn’t want that it has to be based on an interview. We mix, as you’ve heard, we mix in a lot of hip hop elements, which I think makes it fun. It’s not only informative, but entertaining as well.
Last question: NBA MVP. James Harden’s to lose? Or do you think someone can catch up?
Well, he can definitely be caught. I said on my podcast, it may have even been on my first one, that Harden was the MVP, now that was five weeks ago, a lot has changed. Houston’s losing a lot more games. They’re still on pace to win 56 or 57, OKC is on pace to win about 46 or 47, and that’s a big part of it, because neither of them have like an All-Star ensemble around them. Right now, I would give the slight edge to Harden, but if they dip closer to 50 and Westbrook and OKC are getting closer to 50 on the lower end, then I think, I mean, I don’t know how you can deny a triple double. I know when Oscar Robertson got it he didn’t win it, but it was a different day and time. Their team only won 43 games. Wilt averaged 50 points that year and still didn’t get the MVP himself; he was second, Oscar was third, and Bill Russell won it I believe.
Also, I think Isaiah Thomas is starting to move up. Now, he’s not much of a defender either, but, you know what it’s about, man? It’s about impact. This guy, without any All-Star teammates, has them second in the East, he’s the leading fourth quarter scorer, the last two months he’s averaged about 30, 31 points a game, only on 48, 49% shooting, I mean, the dude is playing out of his mind. So, I think he has to be in consideration. I think it’s really up in the air right now. Again, Harden’s slightly ahead right now, but we obviously have the whole second half of the season left.