Saturday, December 18, 2010

Breakdown of Magic/Suns/Wizards Trade


What happened?
  • Magic traded away Rashard Lewis to the Wizards and received Gilbert Arenas.
  • Magic traded away Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, 2011 first round pick, $3 million to the Suns and received Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Earl Clark.
Magic just had a fire sale and completely reshaped their lineup. Traded away two starters in Lewis and Carter, and an overpaid backup center, Gortat for three probable starters in Arenas, Turk and Richardson, and another back up center in Earl Clark.

First things first, I feel really happy for Marcin Gortat. He was stuck in bench purgatory behind Dwight Howard and may actually get some meaningful minutes in Phoenix behind or maybe starting in place of Robin Lopez.

Let's deal with what the Suns were trying to do with this trade:

Hedo Turkoglu for the most part this season was the Suns' starting power forward. Turk is a natural SF/SG and going against the top PFs in the league wasn't getting it done. He also has a horrible horrible contract, paying him $10-12 million per year for the next four years (He'll be turning 32 in March). Jason Richardson is currently in the last year of his deal that pays about $15 million. He was having a solid career in Phoenix. Why didn't the Suns want to re-sign him? Because the Suns are officially in rebuild mode after Amare Stoudemire left this summer for New York. With no scoring all star quality big man, and a replacement of Hedo Turkoglu, the Suns said forget this, let's start over.


So they unloaded Hedo's horrible contract and Vince Carter's expiring contract ($17 million this year and a TEAM option of $18 million next year, which more than likely they will not use, making Vince a free agent). They also got Mikael Pietrus who is getting paid $5 million and has a player option of $5 million next year, which if he takes up, is still better than paying Hedo $11 million. And Marcin Gortat who is getting paid $6 to $7 million for the next four years.

Numbers aside and in plain English, they saved themselves millions of dollars for the next 4 years. They can now start rebuilding a team that may or may not include Steve Nash who is on contract for this season and next season before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.


What were the Wizards trying to do in their trade with the Magic:

Well this summer, they drafted John Wall with the number 1 pick AND traded for PG/SG Kirk Hinrich when they already had gun slinger PG Gilbert Arenas. Their current forward situation wasn't anything to brag about either. They were starting Al Thornton and Andray Blatche. So simply enough, they got rid of a Gilbert who had worn out his welcome and had a horrible contract that he never even close to lived up to for a power forward who can shoot the three, but also has a horrible over paid contract. Now John Wall can fully take over this Wizards team and have a power forward who can stretch the floor on offense.


And just FYI, Rashard Lewis is getting paid $20, $22, $23 million for this and the next two seasons. Gilbert Arenas is getting paid $17, $20, player option $20, $22 million for this and the next three seasons. This is a good trade for the Wizards. And here's to a safer locker room, cheers!


Finally, the Magic:

I've written a lot about the Magic and their bad decisions, and this is no different. They got rid of Rashard Lewis who had a bad contract, yes, but in exchange they get Gilbert Arenas who has an even worse contract for longer years. when they already have an all star (granted it was an injury fill in all star) quality point guard in Jameer Nelson!? If Gil comes off the bench, that's gotta be a record of highest paid bench player in the history of sports. And if he starts over Jameer Nelson, well that's gonna be one disgruntled bench player. So I guess they'll start them both, since Vince Carter was playing the shooting guard position.

But will Jason Richardson then come off the bench?
Jason Richardson can play the small forward spot. But what about Brandon Bass and Hedo Turkoglu? Who is this team's power forward? If they play Hedo at the 4 spot, Dwight Howard is gonna have a lot of help defense on his shoulders. Hedo got torched in Phoenix by PFs, let's see if the trend continues in Orlando.

Possible lineup?


PG - Jameer Nelson / Chris Duhon

SG - Gilbert Arenas / JJ Reddick
SF - Jason Richardson / Hedo Turkoglu
PF - Brandon Bass / Ryan Anderson

C - Dwight Howard / Earl Clark


Don't get me wrong, that's a lot of offensive power right there. But it's undersized defensively and quite frankly, NOT GOOD defensively, outside of Dwight Howard. We'll definitely see if this is enough to keep Dwight Howard happy. I will say this though. I think the addition of Hedo Turkoglu will help. He's another option who can run the point position on some plays to maybe take advantage of some other small forwards around the league. That is my bold position. He's played in this system before, he can pick it up where he left off.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

(Photo from Clippers Top Buzz)

It takes a big man to admit he was wrong. And I am that big man. 10 games ago when every team was undefeated, I predicted that the Clippers would contend-nay BE the 8th seed in the playoffs by season's end. I was naive. I thought Baron was gonna turn his life around. I thought Chris Kaman was gonna be a back up all star quality player again. I thought Eric Gordon was going to work on his dribbling. And I thought Blake Griffin was going to have energy for 48 minutes a game.

I WAS WRONG.

It took Baron 3 games to get hurt. THREE GAMES. At least it gave the team PG responsibilities to rookie Eric Bledsoe who is good, but still a rookie who has hesitation issues.

Chris Kaman is shooting 36% from the field this season and after 8 games, he is also injured.

Eric Gordon is good. He can shoot and drive to the basket and run a fast break. But he is no point guard. He does what makes every high school basketball coach tear his hair out; jump in the air and not know whether he's shooting or passing, which leads to turnovers, or horrible horrible shots. He has no left hand. I have no idea why opposing coaches don't tell their players to force him left. He will lose the ball. He didn't go left at the end of regulation last night against the fourth but at a tie game with 9 seconds left, he dribbled it off his foot and Richard Hamilton scooped it up and almost hit a game winning shot, but instead went to overtime.

Blake Griffin. I love Blake Griffin. I love his hard work and his willingness to go after rebounds. But this hustle simply stops in the middle of the game when he gasses himself out. All the energy he had in the first quarter dwindles quickly in the 3rd and 4th. Last night's game, he slovenly took 10 seconds to run up the court after inbounding the ball to Bledsoe, then got lazy on the offense end and did what we all do at the park when we're lazy. Not call for the ball and set screens for the point guard to get him an open look. Perhaps that's what the coach told them to do because every possession was a pick and roll situation with Blake and Gordon.



HE DOESN'T GO THIS HARD AT THE END OF GAMES AND IT ANNOYS.

This Clipper team is not ready. Baron Davis is on contract for a few more years and trading him will take a lot of work. It's no secret that he's fat and takes bad shots. It's no secret he has a huge contract. And also, no team really NEEDS a point guard right now. This will be another long year for the Clippers. I admit it. I was WRONG in my pre season bold prediction post.

Here's to another season of fail.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baselines demographics!

Cool feature I just found out on blogger is you can see where in the world people are viewing your blog. So here's mine!


So cool! Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Baseline Bold Predictions!

Well after a long summer of a whole lot of player movement (see my off season cheat sheet), the season is finally upon us. Embrace it. Cherish it. For it may be the last season before a possible lockout! But that's not what this post is about. These are my predictions on widely discussed topics as well as some other random predictions for specific teams.

Let's get the boring predictions out of the way.

MVP: Kevin Durant of the Thunder. LeBron coming 2nd in voting. Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade coming in 4th and 5th or vice versa. Kobe 5th at best. I doubt he'll play the whole season, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum... "too much" help and voters will go for the feel good story of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the more-quiet-than-a-mouse-after-a-thunderous-dunk-humble Kevin Durant.

Defensive player of the year: Dwight Howard of the Magic. He'll lead the league in blocks and defensive rebounds. And then who? Are there any more impact making defensive players? Shane Battier? Anderson Varejao? Howard will run away with this award.

Rookie of the year: Blake Griffin of the Clippers. I'm biased. I have Clipper season tickets and have seen more Blake Griffin games live from this and last year before he got hurt but he's just simply put: beastly. Powerful on the LeBron scale without the ball handling skills, but has more post moves than his unfair NBA comparison Carlos Boozer. Griffin will be better than Carlos Boozer when it's all said and done in 10 years. 2nd place John Wall. Clippers will have a far better record than the Wizards who have 3 point guards, one of whom is so out of touch with reality he seems to be in a 24/7 daze (Gilbert Arenas). Griffin's 18 points and 12 rebounds for a 45 win team will impress more than Wall's 15 points/7 assists on a 25 win team.

6th Man - Jamal Crawford of the Hawks. He'll have the same role this year as he did last year and if the Hawks owner keeps not re-signing him to an extension, he'll be playing for a contract this summer (unless he demands a trade). Jason Terry on the Mavericks is always a contender and could swoop in and take the award.

Most Improved Player - Any good bench player who becomes a starter or any starter who gets a lot more minutes. I have mad beef with this award, but I would have to go with Kevin Love. On a horrible, horrible team and they just got rid of Al Jefferson. He's the only big guy who can grab rebounds (unless Darko Milicic proves his 20 mil contract) and will be counted on for a lot more scoring than he had gotten last year. I'm telling you. He always had the ability. I watched him at UCLA, it's just now he'll get the minutes which means he'll get the stats... which means he'll get the award!

Executive of the year - PAT RILEY! LeBron, Wade, and Bosh and yeah, a completely new team.

Playoff teams

WEST:
1. Lakers
2. Mavericks
3. Thunder
4. Jazz
5. Nuggets (if Carmelo stays, if not, 8th or lottery)
6. Blazers
7. Spurs
8. Clippers (Rockets as well if Denver falls out)

East
1. Heat
2. Magic
3. Bulls
4. Celtics
5. Hawks
6. Knicks
7. Bucks
8. Bobcats

Finals Matchup - Lakers vs. Celtics
Finals winner - Lakers
Finals MVP - Pau Gasol

Now some predictions you may not have thought about:
  • Steve Blake will be starting for the Lakers in place of Derek Fisher within 25 games of the season.
  • Toronto will have the worst record in the league and will be praying for the first pick in the draft (or Minnesota, or Detroit).
  • Marcus Camby will average double digit rebounds for the Trailblazers, AGAIN, whether or not Oden plays the whole season.
  • Kobe will hit the league limit in technical fouls and will be have to be suspended for at least 1 game. So will at least two Boston Celtics, Matt Barnes, Vince Carter and Amar'e Stoudemire.
  • Carmelo Anthony's desires to be out of Denver will show in his game, kind of the way LeBron's Game 5 and Game 6 against Boston in the playoffs played out (until he's traded, if he's traded).
  • Gilbert Arenas won't suit up for at least 10 games and NOT because of an injury.
  • Tiago Splitter for the Spurs will play magnificently for his draft position and for coming out of nowhere (well not NOwhere but from Europe).
  • Jermaine O'Neal will be instrumental in the Miami Boston series should they meet in the playoffs. Oh, and Rondo will average about 13+ assists in that series.
  • Houston's playoff chances will all depend on the health of Yao Ming's foot. No Yao, no playoffs.
  • Cleveland will set the noise-o-meter record when LeBron is announced for the starting lineups in the Miami @ Cleveland game.

That's all I got so far but I'm sure I'll be posting more predictions on here and on my twitter account @betweenbaseline

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is Joakim Noah Worth That Spicy Meatball?


Joakim Noah, while being speculated and rumored to almost be traded in a package for Carmelo Anthony, has just had his contract extended. This season he will be paid $3 million. Then the following season he will be paid: $10, $11, $12, $13 and $14 million for a grand total of around $60 million dollars! Is he worth it? Let me work it...

Starting with the 2011-12 season and the following years (in other words, not including this 2010 season, as Noah's extension kicks in in the 2011 season) the following players will be paid around the average of those five extended players.

Atlanta's Josh Smith: $12.4, $13.2 million
Boston's Rajon Rondo: $10, $11, $12, $13 million
Detroit's Richard Hamilton: $12.6, $12.6 million
Detroit's Ben Gordon: $11.6, $12.4, $13.2 million
Golden State's Monta Ellis: $11, $11, $11 million
Golden State's David Lee: $11.6, $12.7, $13.8, $15, $15.4 million
Houston's Kevin Martin: $12, $12.9 million
Indiana's Danny Granger: $12, $13, $14 million
LA Clippers' Baron Davis: $13.9, $14.8 million
LA Clippers' Chris Kaman: $12.2 million
Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut: $12, $13, $14 million
Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala: $13.5, $14.7, $15.9 million
Phoenix's Hedo Turkoglu: $10.6, $11.4, $12. 2 million
Portland's Lamarcus Aldridge: $11.8, $13, $14.1, $15.2 million
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili: $13, $14 million

Well I honestly didn't know what I'd find 10 minutes ago, but I've come to two conclusions. First, some teams overpaid some players based on prior accolades from previous teams: Ben Gordon, Baron Davis, Hedo Turkoglu come to mind. Other teams got lucky and have some really good players for a decent price: Lamarcus Aldridge, Andrew Bogut, and Rajon Rondo.

So what can we make of Joakim Noah's new deal? It's definitely debatable. But overall, it's a good deal. Good centers are hard to come by and Joakim Noah, all 6'11 and 225 lbs of him, is a good center. The other big men who make around what he makes from the list above: Lamarcus Aldridge, Andrew Bogut, Chris Kaman, David Lee. Ok so over half of those players are better than Joakim Noah but Noah is a part of that Chicago core and they didn't want to risk losing him next summer. Especially since they just got Carlos Boozer and are looking to make a playoff push to try and compete with the Miami, Boston and Orlando heavyweights.

Plus he's got mad comedy:



"I have my friends, I don't care."

He's got heart and cares a lot about winning. Although we'll see if that hustle and hard work continues after this huge extension. I say it does continue. He is a key piece to this Chicago team and will continue to be a key piece for the next half decade. Here is to you, Joakim Noah! Although I'll never forgive you for taking out the Bruins your two years in college, I got respect for your work ethic!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In case you've been under a rock, here's the NBA off season cheat sheet

So you haven't been watching sports central 24/7. You've been catching up with baseball and the start of football. That's cool. Here's a guide to what every NBA team has been up to this off-season and what to look for (bolded) for each team. Starting with the obvious:

Miami Heat - Just signed an entire new team headed by reigning MVP LeBron James, former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, and a super sidekick Chris Bosh. Miami went all in and expect to win a championship. Lots of things to look for, but look to see how their post defense performs as their centers are Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, and a rarely used Joel Anthony.

Boston Celtics - Starting center, Kendrick Perkins hurt his knee in last year's finals against the Lakers and will miss a good portion of the start of the season, so the Celtics signed Shaq and Jermaine O'neal to overload their post play in the meantime, and to compete with the probable western conference champion Lakers' size in the finals. Also trying to win a championship, could be the last or second to last year they'll be able to compete for one with their big 4 core of Garnett, Allen and Pierce, and Rondo. Look to see the further strides Rondo has taken and how Jermaine O'neal performs better as a 4th option rather than a 2nd as he was in Miami.

Los Angeles Lakers - They pretty much filled every hole in their team, AFTER winning a championship. Coaching situation? Check - Phil Jackson signed up for one more year. Old point guard situation? Check - Signed Steve Blake, who I'm in love with. Bench player/Depth? Check - Signed Matt Barnes who can play behind Kobe (upgrade from Sasha Vujacic) and Ron Artest, which gives the Lakers flexibility at where to play Lamar off the bench (at small forward or power forward). Shot in the dark but despite all the praise of new rookies Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks, I predict they will barely get off the bench. Phil Jackson gives rookies big minutes. See Andrew Bynum's, Sasha Vujacic's, and Jordan Farmar's rookie minutes (7:24 in 46 games, 11:30 in 35 games, and 15:05 in 72 games respectively), and those were in rebuilding years. But enough about the Lakers. Look to see how the Lakers use Matt Barnes and if/(more like when is my prediction) Steve Blake takes over the starting point guard position.

So those are your high profile teams that you were probably beat to death with this whole summer. Here are some other teams that made the news you may have missed


New York Knicks - Almost an entire new team here: huge signing for them was Amare Stoudemire, formerly of the Suns. Paired with his old Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni and new point guard, Raymond Felton - not an all star but a point guard upgrade from their old PG Chris Duhon. After that, there isn't too much to talk about. This team is a playoff team at best but in the beginning phases of rebuilding mode. Look to see how Amare plays without his MVP playmaker Steve Nash.

Atlanta Hawks - They re-signed their best player Joe Johnson to a max deal so he'll be around for awhile. Coupled with their athletic freak of nature Josh Smith and solid center Al Horford this team is pretty much guaranteed a top 5 seed in the playoffs. But that's probably as far as they'll go... Probably the biggest question mark is around Jamal Crawford and his contract extension. Simply put: he wants an extension, the Hawks don't want to give it to him. Look to see how Mike Bibby performs at point guard as he failed to show up in the playoffs last year against the Magic.

Chicago Bulls - They signed free agent power forward Carlos Boozer, veteran center Kurt Thomas and Guard Ronnie brewer, traded away Kirk Hinrich (for nothing), and traded for guard CJ Watson. This team made some solid moves. Kirk Hinrich was a salary dump to get Boozer. For some reason, this team wanted to package some of their core for Carmelo Anthony. This is a solid team with pretty much no holes. Look for JJ Redick to make a huge contribution despite not having the star power Boozer has.

Alright so those are the huge news getters this summer, now let's delve a little for those who weren't following ESPN, NBA news, and listening to sports radio everyday to see what the other teams have been up to. In somewhat order of relevance:

Denver Nuggets - Main thing here is the future of their franchise small forward, Carmelo Anthony. While he hasn't outright come out and say it, sources after sources have reported that he wants to play for an entertainment industry city due to his new wife, Lala Vasquez's entertainment industry career. Talks are officially DEAD as of September 28, 2010 6:00PM. Who knows if/when Melo will be outta Denver. Look for Chauncey Billups to be stuck on a team of young guys not competing for a championship like HE wants to, if Melo gets traded.

New Orleans Hornets - their franchise player, Chris Paul was disgruntled and their were talks about trading him because they had rookie Darren Collison to take his place. Instead, they did a four team deal that sent Collison away and brought in Trevor Ariza. Chris Paul seems happy. They also got a new coach, 8th pick in the 2006 draft Joe Alexander, and still have Peja Stojakovic and Emeka Okafor. But look for 2nd year player Marcus Thornton to ball HARD this season! (and for some nice fast break dunks from Chris Paul to Ariza on sportscenter highlights).

Charlotte Bobcats - New owner Michael Jordan in. Signed former 1st round overall pick/bust Kwame Brown, lost their starting point guard Raymond Felton, paving the way for DJ Augustin and new signee Shaun Livingston. Main core that got this team to the playoffs last year is still here with Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, and Stephen Jackson. Look for coach Larry Brown to put a lot of pressure and responsibility on these young point guards (Augustin and Livingston) and how they both perform.


Cleveland Cavaliers - They lost LeBron James, Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. We know that, but what did they do after? NOT MUCH: They drafted Christian Eyenga, traded away Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair and received Ryan Hollins and Ramon Sessions, and signed Joey Graham. They almost got Matt Barnes but he chose the Lakers instead, but he wouldn't have made them that much better, honestly. The reigns of this team are now in the hands of Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. Anderson Varejao will now start at center. What the Cavs fans have to realize is that this team is better than the year before they got LeBron James. Look for Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams to give it their all this season. They're not primadonnas and will continue to work hard.

San Antonio Spurs - Not too much has changed since last season. Richard Jefferson opted out and then opted back in again (for less money, not his choice). But this is the last year of Tony Parker's contract. The team has youngster George Hill waiting in the wings but this may be the last effort of the Spurs "Big 3" of Ginobili, Parker and Duncan. Look for Brazilian Center Tiago Splitter to turn heads as a starter for the Spurs (and for every ABC broadcast of the Spurs to mention the foreign talent the Spurs always seem to get).

Detroit Pistons - Such a fall from grace, this team won the 2004 championship and was in a game 7 of the 2005 finals. Last summer, everyone went crazy because they did the first major free agent signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Things have quieted down as they signed Tracy McGrady this summer who is going to try and reinvent himself. Other than that, not much too look for other than how Tracy McGrady plays. Also look for possible trade situations for Tayshaun Prince's expiring 11 million dollar contract.



Memphis Grizzlies - Big news was giving Rudy Gay max deal money. Zach Randolph will be in the last year of his contract, unless he signs an extension. They signed back up SG Tony Allen from the Celtics which should provide some depth. Other than that, look for some possible growth and an expanded role for second year center, Hasheem Thabeet.

Los Angeles Clippers - Probably the biggest news was the hiring of new head coach, Vinny Del Negro. Blake Griffin will be ready to play this season coming back from knee surgery, and new draft picks Eric Bledsoe and Al Farouq Aminu should help get this team headed in the right direction finally. Look to see how Baron Davis has conditioned himself this off season and if THIS coach actually runs some plays for better-than-his-stats-show Eric Gordon (and how Blake Griffin performs).

Toronto Raptors - Complete Makover - NBA edition. This team lost its franchise player, Chris Bosh, and underachieving recent signee Hedo Turkoglu. They traded for yet-to-do-something-amazing Julian Wright and the Brazilian Blur, Leandro Barbosa. That is it. The team still has Andrea Bargnani and secocond year player DeMar DeRozan, but this team looks headed to the lottery and will rebuild around Andrea Bargnani. Look for Bargnani to break out as probably the only offensive threat on this team.

Oklahoma Thunder - Not too much has changed since the 6 game series with the Lakers. Kevin Durant won the MVP of the FIBA World Champion USA Team (Russell Westbrook also on the team). Durant also signed an extension as Oklahoma avoids a LeBron one hour special spectacle somewhere along the line. They drafted a center, Cole Aldrich, and the core remains intact: Durant, Westbrook, Green, and Harden. Look for Durant to win the MVP this season.

Dallas Mavericks - Biggest stories here were Dirk re-signing for four more years, the re-signing of Brendan Haywood and the trade for Tyson Chandler. Relatively quiet summer move-wise but they'll start the season with a pretty stacked team - Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Dirk, Chandler. Look for Rodrigue Beaubois to have a solid season and for Caron Butler to really make an impact, scoring-wise and defensively.

New Jersey Nets - This team won 13 games last season. They got a new billionaire owner who did his best to get LeBron James, but failed. Now they are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony, but talks have died down. What do the Nets have FOR SURE? A great young center in Brook Lopez, a solid former all start point guard, Devin Harris, #3 draft pick Derrick Favors, and new signees: Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Troy Murphy (traded for). Besides looking for news regarding major trades, look for Brook Lopez to perform at an all star level and Terrence Williams to make strides in his game at small forward. And look at Jordan Farmar on a new team!

Golden State Warriors - O. M. G. The Warriors finally got rid of Don Nelson. This is huge and I'm very excited for the Warriors. I could do a whole post on this but to make a long story short: run and gun offense with little regard for defense will sell tickets but it won't win basketball games. Baron Davis and solid defense against Dirk is the main reason the 8th seed Warriors beat the top seed Mavericks in 2007. Out with that offense and hopefully the start of a half court offense implementation will begin. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis are the stars on this team but watch out for newly acquired David Lee to make his presence felt. I'm excited to see how they use him in this new offense.

Houston Rockets - Yao Ming will be back from his injury that took him out for the entire season. Trevor Ariza is gone, but they have Kevin Martin, Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and Brad Miller. This team can make the playoffs if Yao Ming stays healthy. This team has a lot to work with though and it might take awhile for the chemistry to set in. That would be the main thing to look for, but also look for back up PG Kyle Lowry to play well. People are really high on him and he's a great defender.

Indiana Pacers - There were a lot of things wrong with this team the last couple seasons. This summer they traded for young point guard Darren Collison, who blossomed in the absence of Chris Paul in New Orleans. There are still a lot of holes in this team, however. Their franchise player is Danny Granger at small forward. Then they have Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Brandon Rush to go around them. Next summer though, they'll have a lot of money to throw at free agents as a lot of their big contracts come off the books. But also, look for possible trades as other teams may want those expiring contracts. Also look to see if Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert worked on any offensive post moves.

Orlando Magic - Not much noise outta Orlando, but they did sign Quentin Richardson and Chris Duhon. But yeah, not too much to talk about here. Look for Rashard Lewis to change back to his natural position, small forward instead of power forward.

Phoenix Suns - Lost Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks, gained Hedo Turkoglu from the Raptors, Josh Childress from Greece and Hakim Warrick to fill in for the loss of Amare. Steve Nash, Jason Richardson and Grant Hill still head this team but look for Robin Lopez to play at a high level and a career year from Turkoglu as he benefits from playing alongside Nash.

Milwaukee Bucks - This team low key did some pretty solid moves this summer. Building around Mr.-I-scored-55-points-in-a-game-and-then-leveled-off Brandon Jennings, they re-signed John Salmons, traded for Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, and signed PF Drew Gooden. Is this Michael Redd's last year in Milwaukee? He won't be able to play until JANUARY and they might not even need him at this point. Andrew Bogut will return from his horrific elbow injury last season. Look for this team to make the playoffs but also look for Redd to be mentioned in many trade rumors, and for Bogut to play at all star level (health permitting).

Minnesota Timberwolves - They signed Darko Milicic and Luke Ridnour! They traded for Michael Beasley! They traded away Al Jefferson (the guy they got in the Kevin Garnett trade)! Looks like they're building around Kevin Love and point guard Johnny Flynn. Oh, and Ricky Rubio is still playing in Spain. Not much going for this team. Lots of question marks but uhhh I guess look for Kevin Love and Johnny Flynn try and learn this triangle offense Kurt Rambis has been implementing.

Philadelphia 76ers - #2 draft pick netted them shooting guard Evan Turner and they traded Sam Dalembert to the Kings for Spencer Hawes. They still have Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, but look for Jrue Holiday to take control of this team as the starting point guard.

Washington Wizards - #1 draft pick hooked em John Wall. They still have gun slinger Gilbert Arenas who has played 13, 2, and 32 games in his last three seasons respectively. They also got Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls. So yes, they are well endowed at the guard position. They re-signed Josh Howard to a 1 year deal and have JaVale McGee at center. They have talent and could possibly make the playoffs but the main thing you wanna look for is how Gilbert Arenas comes back and reinvents himself after his gun incident last year that got him suspended for the entire season.

Utah Jazz - They lost Carlos Booozer and gained Al Jefferson. They also got Raja Bell as they outbid the Lakers for him. Other than that, the main core is still intact. Deron Williams, Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, and Paul Millsap. Speaking of which... Look for Paul Millsap to put up big numbers in the absence of Carlos Boozer. This team got pretty big this offseason, could turn some heads in the playoffs.

Sacramento Kings - They got big man DeMarcus Cousins and traded for Sam Dalembert. Reigning rookie of the year, Tyreke Evans will continue to put this team on his back and the Kings have a nice young core to build around going forward. Look for DeMarcus Cousins to compete for the rookie of the year award and for Sam Dalembert to contribute offensively moreso than he did in Philadelphia.

Portland Trailblazers - Remember Greg Oden? Well just in case he goes down again, the team signed Marcus Camby. They also signed Wesley Matthews who came outta nowhere in Utah last season. Other than that, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge will continue to shoulder the team but they'll have help with Andre Miller and Nic Batum. Look for Greg Oden to hopefully finally put a full season together.

And there you have it. Your cheat sheet to this off-season and a study guide for the season ahead for all the teams. Here's to another season!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Possible 3-on-3 basketball added to Olympic games?


Interesting article from ESPN regarding possible international basketball rule changes. Here are the cliff notes:
  • As of right now, if the ball is above the rim, a player can touch the ball to try and swat it away before it rolls in the basket in FIBA games. Not allowed in NBA games. Secretary general of FIBA, Patrick Baumann, wants FIBA goaltending rule to be the same as NBA goaltending rule.
  • FIBA will abandon the trapezoid lane in favor of an NBA-sized rectangular lane.
  • FIBA will move the 3-point line back by a half-meter (19½ inches) from its current distance of 20 feet, 6.1 inches.
  • FIBA wants to expand the width of the court by 50 centimeters on each side to give space to players trying to hit a 3 pointer in the corners.
  • Patrick Baumann wants the amount of teams in OLYMPIC play from 12 to 16 for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
  • Baumann is also making a push for adding 3-on-3 basketball as a separate competition.
This last point is what I want to talk about.

The rule changes, simply put, are making international basketball more similar to the NBA, which for Americans/human beings rooting for Americans in international play, would enjoy. The lane change from trapezoid to rectangle favors centers posting up closer to the basket. The further the 3 point line is, the harder it is to make the shot, but NBA players who hit 3 pointers shouldn't have a problem adjusting to that. And the widening of the court is simply needed because if you haven't seen any of the games, these players are simply too big for the court they're playing on!

But a push for 3-on3 basketball as a separate competition!? My goodness, that would have some interesting consequences. Let's delve:

As of right now, the 12 man team for each country is the only game basketball gets in the Olympics. Once it's over, it's over. If your country doesn't make the knock out stages, you'd be more inclined to go to ESPN5 to see if your country's Archery team is gonna have a chance to medal. Think of Michael Phelps and Olympic swimming. Think of Apolo Ohno and Olympic Ice Skating. Think of Usain Bolt and Olympic Track and Field. These athletes swim, skate and run at least 3 events each. Phelps got 8 gold medals in 2008 for butterfly events, freestyle, relays and individual medleys. Ohno and olympic ice skating also has relays and long distance and short distance races to medal in. And track and field? Forget about it: 1 mile, 2 mile, relays, 100m, 200m, hurdles etc.

Basketball could gain a lot more exposure and air time on TV if they simply add another event to the games. But let's delve a little deeper:

Apolo Ohno isn't the only American that skates for America. Neither is Usain Bolt the only Jamaican who runs for Jamaica. As of right now, the 12 guys who America sends to the Olympics are the 12 Americans representing USA's ONE team. Would the 3-on-3 competition be limited to 1 team per country, or would a country be able to send multiple teams out to qualifying games and then from there, see who advances to knock out rounds?

If this is the case, I don't see how any trio in the world could topple a LeBron-Wade-Bosh trio, or a Dwight Howard-Chris Paul-Carmelo trio, or a Kobe-Durant-Amare trio, or maybe even a Deron Williams-Tim Duncan-Joe Johnson trio... Well... Maybe Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez of Spain could take that last one down... but that's it I think. It'd be very possible for USA to get Gold, Silver and Bronze with the Knock out rounds being 75% American trios.

But let's not just think the US would automatically win like we did in 2004 in Athens... Let's face it, NBA players do NOT play 3-on-3 regularly. It's not like the Americans can do what they're doing now in Turkey: expending all of their energy on running fast breaks and scoring in transition. What would the rules be? It would obviously be a half court game and I'd assume there would be a 3 point line. After you score, do you get the ball back or do you switch off possessions? It's not like Chris Paul or Steve Nash can just run, run, and run some more in the open court.

What would teams look like? You'd obviously need tall people for rebounding purposes. You'd most likely need at least one 3 point threat as to punish defenders for double teaming a large center. And you'd need a go to scorer who can score at will whenever a point is desperately needed.

And for that matter how would score be kept? Assuming there would be a 3 point line, would scoring be 2 pointers and 3 pointers or 1 pointers and 2 pointers? What would you play up to? First to 21 points? First to 11? Teams have to win by 2 points? Would there be a shot clock? Lots of questions for this possible new game.

But either way... I'm intrigued, and depending on the organization of how teams are put together, how many teams are chosen to compete and what the in game rules are, I'd like to see it come to fruition.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Basketball Blog

Just an FYI, I've started a personal basketball blog called Heaven Is A Halfcourt which chronicles all of my basketball games and work out sessions around Southern California, it will have nothing to do with the NBA but will make subtle references. Check it out and if you don't like it, that's cool too!

Thank you

James

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Team USA at FIBA World Championships 4 games in update

Smelling his hair as he passes by
(Photo from Yahoo)
USA is 4-0 beating Croatia, Slovenia, Brazil and Iran. They'll play their fifth game against winless Tunisia before the knock out rounds start. They have already clinched a top seed.

The only close game was against Brazil when with 3.5 seconds left, Brazil missed the first of two free throws, then missed the second on purpose, shooter got his own rebound, passed it inside to the post, where they missed a shot that would have sent the game to overtime.

The starters are: Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Lamar Odom

Leaders for each game:

8/28 Croatia:
Points: Eric Gordon (16), Kevin Durant (14)
Rebounds: Kevin Love (10), Kevin Durant (8)
Assists: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups (4 each)
Steals: Andre Iguodala (3)
Blocks: Tyson Chandler (2)

8/29 Slovenia
:
Points: Kevin Durant (22), Rudy Gay (16)
Rebounds: Kevin Love (11), Lamar Odom (9)
Assists: Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose (5 each), Kevin Durant (4)
Steals: Kevin Durant (4)
Blocks: Odom, Derrick Rose, Westbrook, Gay, Chandler (1 each)

8/30 Brazil
:
Points: Kevin Durant (27), Chauncey Billups (15)
Rebounds: Kevin Durant (10), Lamar Odom (9)
Assists: Chauncey Billups (3), Derrick Rose (2)
Steals: Andre Iguodala (5), Rose (4)
Blocks: Rudy Gay (2), Durant (1)

9/1 Iran:
Points: Kevin Love (13), Kevin Durant (12)
Rebounds: Tyson Chandler (7), Love (6)
Assists: Stephen Curry (5), Danny Granger (3)
Steals: Westbrook, Rose, Durant, Billups (2 each)
Blocks: Rudy Gay (2)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Carmelo Anthony wants out of Denver = Denver screwed for the next 3 years

(photo from NBC)
You've heard it already, but
  • Carmelo can be a free agent next summer by opting out of the last year of his contract.
  • He wants to sign an extension NOW, because there is a possibility of an NBA player lock out if things don't go well at the next NBA collective bargaining agreement and he might not be able to get that money after that all of that settles.
  • He doesn't want to sign that extension with Denver.
  • He has given Denver a list of teams he would like to be traded to.
  • Denver is now taking fielding offers for one of the best players in the NBA right now.
(Photo from Zimbio)
In Chauncey Billups' corner (Denver starting point guard)
  • Simply put, this guy is an old guy (about to turn 34 in September).
  • He's still a top PG but his days are limited and he has recently said he wants to play four more years:
“I have hopefully four years left of playing,” Billups said, “and I’m not the kind of person to just ride it out. I want to win. I want to go out on top; I want to go out winning. …I want to get out there, get after it and play. And I want to win as a Nugget the rest of my years. In a perfect world that’s what I would want, that’s what I would hope for.”
Read between these lines - He's not the kind of person to just ride it out on a bad team with no superstar (such as Carmelo Anthony), an aging Kenyon Martin, a shot blocker that jumps at any pump fake Chris Andersen, etc. Even if the Nuggets got some good young players and draft picks in exchange for Carmelo Anthony (which they've come out publicly saying they want), they're not going to compete at a high level to start out.

As of right now, the top two teams who have a chance at Carmelo are the New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers. Even if the Nets offer some package including Devin Harris and/or Rookie Derrick Favors, it would take a couple years to still build a team around these players (plus Devin Harris is a starting point guard just like Billups so that wouldn't work/would be a waste of talent). Same goes for the Clippers: if they offer a package including one of Blake Griffin or Eric Gordon, as good as these players are potentially going to be, it's not enough for Billups to stick around. Even if it's not these two teams that finalizes the deal, the Nuggets have said they want young players and draft picks. They are officially in REBUILD mode.

So when Carmelo is dealt, it is inevitable that Chauncey Billups will also request a trade to a contender where he won't have to "ride out" the rest of his career. These are Denver's two BEST players. After that there's an aging/injured Kenyon Martin, a solid center in Nene Hilario, a young point guard Ty Lawson and recently signed scoring forward Al Harrington. This was a GOOD team that had the talent to do big things. They made the Western Conference Finals in 08-09 and lost to the eventual champions the LA Lakers! It's frustrating when franchise players want to switch teams because they like certain cities better than others, but it's not illegal and they can do whatever they want.

The point is, the Nuggets are in rebuild mode. The team is also trying to trade JR "I shoot the effing lights out some games" Smith. And you can't quite build a team around Kenyon Martin, Al Harrington and Nene Hilario...

My BOLD BASELINE PREDICTION is a three team deal that sends Carmelo Anthony to either the Nets or the Clippers in exchange for either Devin Harris or Baron Davis respectively, with Chauncey Billups going to a third team and other players included so salaries match. I'm also predicting that Kenyon Martin gets traded for some young players or draft picks to a team that is trying to shed salary as Martin will be in his last year of his contract that pays him $16.5 million.

Chris Andersen doing his thing...

(Photo from westword)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why the Lakers are stuck with Sasha Vujacic for next year

(Photo from NBCSports)
Before Shannon Brown was re signed to a two year deal, there were talks about how the Lakers and Brown were close to a deal but that it was dependent on whether or not Sasha Vujacic could be traded so they could use that $5.4 million and give it to Brown. Well, fast forward to a couple days ago and the Lakers went ahead and signed Brown anyway to the tune of $2.2 million this year and a player option for next year at $2.4 million (Brown has the choice to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and re enter the market).

Now the Lakers are supposedly trying to trade Sasha and his horrible horrible contract because they are well over the luxury tax threshold and Jerry Buss, while he loves winning championships, would like to do so at a "reasonable" price.

Well too bad. You are stuck with Sasha Vujacic. Here's why

Like I said, the Lakers are well over the Luxury tax limit. They're on tap for around $94 million and they just signed their two 2nd round draft picks which will probably be around another $1 million. Now they need to shed money and the likely candidates are Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton. These two players have already become the Adam Morrison and Sun Yue of the 2010-2011 season and the season hasn't even started.

But contract-ually speaking, Sasha is more moveable than Luke. Sasha is in the last year of his contract (due $5.4 million) while Luke has three more seasons at $5.2 mil, $5.6 mil, and $6.1 mil respectively. Add to that Luke's bad back problems he had last season, he's just not a sought after player as of right now. I mean, who would want a player who costs a lot who's going to be injured.

So Sasha Vujacic is on the trading block.

(Photo from Hoopedia)
Let me bring you back to the summer of 2008. The Denver Nuggets had two high priced players in Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, along with a high priced Kenyon Martin and a $10 million dollar Marcus Camby. Nuggets didn't want to pay all of that and they needed to do a salary dump. So the Clippers came along and sent a 2nd round draft pick for the former defensive player of the year, always up there in the league leaders in defensive rebounds and blocked shots. A rip off trade, no? Well of course it is, but it was a salary dump. The Clippers had money to spend, and the Nuggets were spending too much.

Had the Clippers traded another $10 million dollar player for Marcus Camby, well there wouldn't be a point to that, would there? The Nuggets would still be spending a lot of money, and the Clippers would still have money to spend and another lost roster spot. OK back to Sasha. THIS MARCUS CAMBY DEAL IS WHAT THE LAKERS ARE TRYING TO DO RIGHT NOW. They want a future 2nd round draft pick (because 2nd round picks are not guaranteed contracts. They do not want a player of equal contract value because they are trying to get RID OF CONTRACTS. So for a team to take on Sasha, they would need to send a 2nd round draft pick, and a 2nd round draft pick ONLY.
OK, so why are the Lakers stuck with Sasha? Because Sasha, unlike Marcus Camby, isn't a defensive player of the year, doesn't put up great defensive rebound numbers or blocked shots... quite simply put, no one wants him. There isn't a team out there saying to themselves, "Man, we are so close to being a championship contender, all we need is... SASHA VUJACIC!" and no team is saying, "Man, we need to rebuild this roster, first things first, GET ME SASHA VUJACIC!"

But he's an expiring contract! Everyone wants an expiring contract! True. Expiring contracts are a great way to rebuild a team for the future and/or clear cap space for a big free agent during that year's summer. But here's the thing with expiring contracts: a team wants to get rid of a guy making the same amount of money during this year, but who also happens to be making more money in later years.

So let's take a random player from a random team making around the same $5.5 million Sasha's making, but is NOT in the last year of his contract: Mike Bibby from the Atlanta Hawks. Mike Bibby is scheduled to make $5.5 million this year and $6.2 million next year. If the Hawks wanted to clear cap space because they don't want to pay the $6.2 million to Bibby next year, they would do this trade. They'd get Sasha and the Lakers would get Bibby. The Hawks would pay Sasha's $5.5 million this year, and then he'd be a free agent. The Lakers would pay Bibby the $5.5 million this year, AND the $6.2 million next year that the Hawks didn't want to pay.

But don't you see... that's exactly what the Lakers don't want. They don't want to take on more contracts regardless of who it is because they are already over the luxury tax threshold.

In plain English: they want someone to take Sasha Vujacic for free, but no one wants Sasha Vujacic.

Therefore, the Lakers are stuck with Sasha Vujacic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ariza, Collison, Murphy, Lee, Posey Trade Simplified

I've decided to do a graphic like this for all multi team deals to help me figure out what teams are giving up and what they're getting in return, and WHY teams would do what at first looks like a ludicrous trade.

Let's start with the New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets give up Darren Collison, James Posey, and Julian Wright and receive Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli (separate trade with the Raptors).

If you were paying attention last season, you'd notice that one of the lone bright spots in New Orleans was rookie Darren Collison putting up great numbers for an injured Chris Paul. In 37 games as a starter he averaged 19 pts, 9 ast, and 3.5 rebounds (40 minutes per). Those are some stellar numbers but they only won 14 games with him starting. Granted there wasn't much talent. They had already gotten rid of alley oop star Tyson Chandler for no great offense Emeka Okafor. They did have David West but after him and Chris Paul, the talent dwindled to Peja Stojakovic and Marcus Thornton.

There have been so many rumors regarding Chris Paul's future, unhappiness, and trade demands and a possible, not-as-great, big 3 in New York with CP3, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony next summer.

So why did the Hornets make this move?
To keep their franchise player happy. Out goes their back up point guard and in comes a new, slashing, defense minded, 3 point hitting, but can't quite create his own shot, small forward in Trevor Ariza, relegating Peja Stojakovic to the bench for a starting line up that looks something like:

PG- Chris Paul
SG- Marcus Thornton or Devin Brown
SF- Trevor Ariza
PF- David West
C- Emeka Okafor

Ariza can run and finish with Chris Paul on fast breaks and can hit the 3 pointer like Peja could, only he can also cut to the basket unlike Peja. Defensively, Ariza is leaps and bounds better than Peja who can guard some of the league's top swingmen. And by the way, this is Peja's last year of his contract which will give the Hornets $15ish million to spend next summer.

But what about the side trade with the Raptors (Belinelli for Julian Wright)? The contracts are almost identical. Both for two years, both for about $2 mil this season and $3 mil next season. As you can see the SG spot is a little weak with 2nd year Thornton and Devin Brown, Belinelli could offer some depth and options at that spot. James Posey was also playing that SG/SF spot but was being paid far more than he was worth (around $6 mil this season and $7 mil next season!).

Indiana Pacers

So both Posey and Collison are headed over to the Indiana Pacers, who traded away Troy Murphy.

If you've played fantasy basketball, you know that Troy Murphy is an automatic 10 rebounds a night guy. He can shoot the ball and has range that stretches to the 3 point line. Defensively, there's room for improvement but he's at the age where what you see is what you get (30). Out he goes and in comes a point guard to one of the few teams in the league that needed a point guard. James Posey and his contract was the "you can have Collison if you also take this guy off our hands" guy in order to get him Collison.

The Pacers had been playing TJ Ford and Earl Watson at point guard last season. With Earl Watson currently a free agent looking for a team and the Pacers wanting to go in a different direction away from TJ Ford (currently discussing a buy out), the team needed to get a PG and felt up and coming young Darren Collison was the way to go.

Don't get it twisted. There are a lot of things wrong with the Pacers. The PG situation was just one piece of the puzzle, and it might not even work out. They have Brandon Rush at SG (could be James Posey at the start of the season), Danny Granger at SF, their franchise player who isn't quite a franchise player, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster at PF, rebounders with little offensive talent, and Roy Hibbert and Foster at Center, again, little offensive talent although Hibbert is improving.

But here's some silver lining for the Pacers, next summer they will be busy. A lot of their guys are in the last year of their contract this year (Dunleavy, $10 mil, Ford, $8.5 mil [if they can't get a buyout], Jeff Foster, $6.6mil, Jamaal Tinsley, $5.5 mil). That's a lot of money and they can start building up a team again around Granger and Collison. Things haven't been quite the same since Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest were in town...

New Jersey Nets

The New Jersey Nets took on Troy Murphy and his rebounding skills. They also took on his expiring contract of $12 million dollars. But the Nets did need some size. All they really had last year was Brook Lopez, but they just drafted power forward Derrick Favors. They also have Johan Petro who isn't much of an offensive threat and after that, they have a lot of small guys including recent free agent signees: Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, and Travis Outlaw to go along with Devin Harris and Terrence Williams (wow this team couldn't have won more than 15 games last season!)

Houston Rockets

So they didn't really have space or playing time for Courtney Lee. So they sent him to the Houston Rockets. who gave up Trevor Ariza. What kind of deal is that?! Keep in mind The Rockets just signed Ariza last year to a full mid level exception deal to be THE GUY to replace Ron Artest and Tracy McGrady. Well they didn't make the playoffs but that was due in large part to Yao Ming being injured and being sidelined for the entire season.

Since then they acquired Kevin Martin who's getting paid a lot ($11 mil, $12 mil, and $13 mil for the next three seasons). Couple that with Brad Miller's new contract (Around $14 million for three seasons), Luis Scola's long term contract that pays him $11 million in 2014/2015 season, and Kyle Lowry's big deal for the next 4 years at about $23 million. THAT'S QUITE THE PAYROLL especially if they want to re sign Yao Ming next summer. Quite simply put, the Rockets needed to shed salary. That's why all they took on was Courtney Lee's $1.3 million dollar contract with a team option next year. Salary dump at its finest. Add to the fact that Shane Battier can start at SF and play as hard as he ever has and you have a starting lineup that looks something like:

PG- Aaron Brooks
SG- Kevin Martin
SF- Shane Battier
PF- Luis Scola
C- Yao Ming with Brad Miller backing up.

That's a nice starting lineup, one I predict to return to the playoffs.

Overall, I really like this trade for the New Orleans Hornets. Darren Collison was a nice back up but they had a starting PG in Chris Paul. Add to that a great defender and finisher in Trevor Ariza, while shedding the salary of James Posey and this team is definitely better off than they were yesterday.

Yeah, the Celtics are the team to beat in the East

(Photo from Boston Herald)
Sorry Heat, you have the star power but the Celtics are having a strong off season gearing up for another trip to the finals. Probably one of my favorite quotes of the summer so far is Rajon Rondo's comments on the Heat's off season moves:

"What is there to be nervous for?" he said. "I'm worried about L.A. That's the team we need to beat. Miami looks really good on paper, and I'm sure they're going to be really good. But they still have to come together as a team. I'm not saying they won't, but who knows if those guys can jell?

"Our biggest opponent each night is ourselves - that's how I look at it. Not to be cocky or anything, but that's how we honestly feel. We are the defending [Eastern] champs. Once the first game of the regular season starts, that's irrelevant. But we are going to go into training camp looking to get back to the Finals and win it."

Rondo's not worried about the Heat, he's worried about the only team that beat his Celtics in the playoffs last year. And honestly, doesn't that just make 100% perfect sense? Celtic management seemed to agree as the Celtics... well, they pretty much got huge. Having to replace an injured Kendrick Perkins, they signed Jermaine O'neal and Shaquille O'neal. They brought in Von Wafer to a one year deal, and they drafted Avery Bradley, a really good pick at pick #22. Along with re-signing Pierce, Ray Allen and Nate Robinson (plus Doc Rivers), this team is built to make a run.

Size and rebounding played a major role in the Finals a few months ago and now with a front line of Jermaine, Shaq, KG, Perkins and Glen Davis, I mean my goodness... that's low key HUGE. You're telling me in a 7 game series, with 2 or 3 of these behemoths clogging the lane, Chris Bosh will take advantage by taking free throw line extended jump shots, Joel Anthony will take advantage by crashing boards (all 6'9" of him) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will take advantage by taking baseline jump shots?

"But Dwyane Wade and LeBron will carry this team!" Well I don't know if you've seen LeBron James' jump shot you'd second guess your self and Dwyane Wade will be knocked on his ass like he's been his whole career, especially with the Celtics' physical style of play of NO EASY BUCKETS. I also have this strange premonition that LeBron will once again wilt under pressure and take a back seat against the Celtics, hoping Wade will carry the team. But we'll see.

Sidenote: My predicted 1-8 in the East is 1. Heat 2. Magic 3. Bulls 4. Celtics 5. Atlanta 6. Milwaukee 7. Knicks 8. Charlotte (but really it's a toss up for that 7 and 8 spot).

The Celtics, like the Lakers, addressed needs this summer. While they had to retain their core, they also needed length/replacement for Perkins. Jermaine O'Neal signing is huge and here's why:

No, Jermaine is not an all star. Especially in his years at Miami. But let me throw this out there. Jermaine was probably the 2nd best player on Miami behind Wade. Okay, maybe tied for 2nd with Michael Beasley, but he was their #1 post option. On a team with Paul Pierce, KG, Ray Allen and an actual point guard running things in Rondo, I'm predicting a more than average year from Jermaine O'Neal with his super annoying ugly jumpshot that somehow finds its way through the net. Here's a highlight video of him going against Zydrunas in a Heat/Cavs game from the 08-09 season. Again, 2nd best player on that team...

And for a substitution? Bring in Shaq who might not have the explosiveness of 10 years ago, but he is a huge person and can still change shots and like I said, will put people on their asses if they come to the lane. Like he did a few months ago against his new teammate!



Yikes!

Look, the Heat have the star power. They will beat good teams and pummel bad teams. But when it comes to the playoffs where strategy comes into play, where rebounding plays a large role, where other playoff teams are preparing by resting their star players for the REAL season, where injuries come into play and good bench players and depth play a huge part in a team's success, that is where the Celtics will shine. They made the finals, were a few points from winning the championship, they addressed their needs. They can cruise for stretches and rest their core and make a run in the playoffs like they did last year. Laker fans needn't be worried about this super Heat team, they need to worry about the Celtics. Again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Miami - Public Enemy Number 1?

Could this be possible? Can this three do it? Can Bosh never stop looking like a velociraptor? Could the Miami Heat now be the most hated team in the NBA? More than the Lakers or Celtics?!?!

Think about this: 5 teams were pretending that airplanes in the night skies were shooting stars, and wishing upon them that LeBron would come to their team: Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles Clippers, and of course, Cleveland. LeBron chose Miami and fans are upset. Know this--that if LeBron chose Cleveland, no one would resent him and he'd go on to continue his career as one of the best players in the history of the game. The five potential cities for LeBron would be disappointed, but they wouldn't be angry. Every Miami away game at these five cities, he will be booed. The Miami Heat will be booed. Chants will arise including "O-VER-RAT-ED!! CLAP* CLAP* CLAPCLAPCLAP*," COP OUT! CLAP* CLAP* COP OUT! CLAP* CLAP*" and "MVP" chants for their teams' best players at the free throw line and the usual booing and distractions for the big 3 in Miami.

But who else will hate them. Well for sure Toronto will as their franchise player left and it was well known with his twitter updates that he simply couldn't wait for July 1, 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers fans will transfer their Kobe>LeBron hatred toward Cleveland, especially if Derek Fisher (WHAT!?) signs with them.


Sidenote: If Fisher signs and starts for the Miami Heat, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Raymond Felton, Derrick Rose, and Brandon Jennings are gonna run circles around him in the East (that's about 20 games). Don't get me started on the point guard situation in the West (Nash, CP3, Westbrook, DWill, Tyreke, Baron, Kidd, Brooks, Parker, STEVE BLAKE...) plus relentless booing from Laker and Jazz fans. And if they pay Fisher the reported 10 mil for 2 years, then Miami are the true losers in all of this.
I'd have to feel that the Celtics would hate them as well. The defending eastern conference champions who always seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder will again be not expected to make it to the finals. The Heat become the automatic favorites. But I can't help feeling that whatever lame point guard situation they have at the start of the season, Rondo will be able to easily pick him apart and continue to take his game to another level.

Along with the addition of Jermaine O'neal, the rebounding swings in the Celtics' favor as well. As old as O'neal is, he's still more of a physical presence than Bosh, and if Bosh finally gets his wish and plays power forward, whatever lame center situation the Heat have, Jermaine can surely overmatch him, especially if it's Joel Anthony.

The Orlando Magic must feel some kind of angst toward their cross state rivals. Again, the Heat will be the favorite to win the East. Magic fans will proclaim that their star didn't need superstar help to make it to the finals and that Dwight was the unquestioned leader of that team. Magic GM Otis Smith has already come out and put LeBron on blast saying he thought James was "more competitive than that."

And pretty much any fan who feels sorry for Cleveland must feel some anger toward the Miami Heat. LeBron disrespected his hometown and is probably never welcome there again. He knew it. He hired security to protect his home when he went on his ESPN LeBronathon. Fans burned their Cavs jerseys and are back to being at the bottom of the eastern standings. I know I feel bad for them. The already watered down league just got a little more watered down. Cleveland and Toronto will both be vying for that #1 draft pick next summer.

A couple notes I've taken away from this:

First of all I'm absolutely shocked.
  • As a basketball fan, I'm disappointed. I like to see superstars lead their own teams to see epic battles in the playoffs. Instead of seeing LeBron take on Wade and Bosh, we'll probably see those three take on... Brandon Jennings and Drew Gooden? Joe Johnson and Josh Smith? Gerald Wallace and Tyson Chandler? Not quite must see TV.
  • As a Laker fan, I'm honestly not worried. I don't thing this big three will make it to the finals (at least this upcoming season) and I think the Celtics are still a better, deeper team with more cutthroat players than LeBron is. Lebron, by joining Wade, proves that he needs a Jordan-esque type player while he plays second fiddle. Absolutely shocked.
  • As a Kobe fan, I'm ecstatic. Pretty much half of the Kobe haters were wiped out. No longer can people say, Kobe needed Pau and Kobe needed Shaq, LeBron did it all by himself. I'm relishing in all of the comments that writers and bloggers are posting saying Jordan and Kobe would have never joined another superstar.
  • As an sympathizer, I feel sorry for LeBron. If he wins, everyone will say "He couldn't do it without Wade, and Wade already did it without LeBron." If he loses, everyone will say, he couldn't even do it with Wade and Bosh."
  • Also as a Laker and Clipper fan, I like how the west just got a lot easier. Western Conference finalists Suns got weaker by losing Amare. Semi Finalists Jazz got weaker by losing Boozer and Korver. Miami Heat are interested in Portland back up forward/center Juwan Howard.
  • I like this quote from Bill Simmons' article 12 hours before the hour long ESPN special:

    In May, after the Cavs were ousted in the conference semifinals, I wrote that LeBron was facing one of the greatest sports decisions ever: "winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York)."

    I never thought he would pick "HELP!"

  • Also from that article, Simmons pointed out that these three will have to play upwards of 40 minutes a night for 100 or so games. If one gets injured for an extended period of time, this team will not make it to the finals.
Best LeBron jokes I've heard so far via forwarded texts, facebook statuses and twitter:
  • Dear Lebron, You can run to the south.. But your mom is still riding west!
  • LeBron James apparently furious about Dan Gilbert's rant. His camp already pitching one-hour special called The Response
  • Last time LeBron/Wade/Bosh/Miller paired up they won the Bronze medal in the '04 Olympics... just saying.
  • Apple just announced that they're coming out with a Lebron James iphone, but it only vibrates, because it has no ring at all
  • Lebron woke up this morning as a young Jordan n is going to sleep tonight as Scottie Pippen

Monday, July 5, 2010

Don't give up on Allen Iverson

20 minutes ago, Allen Iverson used five tweets to get this off his chest:
I will be in my hometown of VA for Camp Crossover 2010 (July 6-9). I am going there to work with kids and to give back to my community. I want to return to the NBA this season, and help any team that wants me, in any capacity that they feel that I can help. I'm disappointed, and I owe my fans more than what they have seen of me the last couple seasons. However, now that my family is healthy and rock solid, I can concentrate fully on doing what I do best! At the camp, I will help teach kids some of what it takes to be successful in life. On and off the basketball court.
Around this time last year, AI was a free agent wanting to sign with a team that he could help win a championship. However, he didn't want to just piggy back on a team and play as a backup. He wanted to start and got his wish for the Memphis Grizzlies. He didn't start though and threw a fit and was released and signed with the 76ers. He started but then family troubles got in the way and he kinda vanished after that.

Well, here he is. Making it public that he still wants to play and wants to help any team that wants him. I'm sure there are a few teams that could use him, but it remains to be seen if he'd be willing to be a bench player or if he'll hold out to be a starting PG again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Steve Blake will be a good back up to D-Fish? WHAT!? START THIS GUY!

Ever since I saw Steve Blake play for the Clippers live, I've been so high on him. I argued that he ran a better offense than Baron Davis. Twice. I wanted the Clippers to trade Baron Davis for a good post player and hand over the reigns to Steve Blake. He's a great personality. Works hard even for the lottery bound Clippers, even as a back up PG. Yes it was a contract year, but Steve Blake has always been known as a good character guy and good professional.
Gut reactions to the signing:

He's a pass first guy and that will work well in the Laker offense:
  • Fact. He is a pass first, almost to a fault. He barely looks at the basket and is always looking around to find open men. But he's so much more than that. He's a GOOD passer. If it wasn't for Kobe and Shannon Brown's hectic ability to grab errant lobs, a lot of those high low passes from Pau at the free throw line and Luke Walton from the 3 point line would have sailed out of bounds. Steve Blake throws a GREAT lob pass, in transition and in half court sets. Granted Shannon will probably leave for more money, Andrew Bynum is a good target to pass to on the lob.
  • Steve Blake is a great pick and roll passer. And with his ability to knock down a jump shot, if teams cheat and go under the screen set most likely from Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, he'll make you pay for it. Granted most all pick and roll situations come from Kobe Bryant, this will probably rarely happen. But if Blake plays with the 2nd string players, depending on who else they sign, it adds more to the Laker offense arsenal.
  • To sum it up, he makes the right pass, but in addition, that right pass is a GOOD pass in the receiver's comfort zone, making him able to finish the play correctly.
He's a good shooter.
  • Fact. Albeit he's more of a spot up shooter. He can create his own shot but mainly off of screens but he's a good catch and shoot shooter, from 3 point line and midrange.
He's a good defender.
  • Depends who you ask. He's a pesky defender but if an oversized point guard posts him up, he'll need help. He's got a small frame at 6'3 172 lbs (compared to Fisher 6'1 210 lbs). But he does have the ability to keep his man in front of him.
  • However, he is a smart defender. He knows how to rotate on defense and isn't afraid (on the Clippers at least) to tell people quickly where they need to be on defense while the ball is in play. If he plays with Lamar, I have a feeling the other 3 guys on the floor at the time will always know where they're supposed to be as Lamar takes a lot of pride in team defense as well.
He's got a high basketball IQ.
  • Fact. Refer to what I said about his passing.
  • But also, he knows basketball situations. He knows how to use his fouls, knows how to foul to stop a fast break. Knows where his teammates are going to be and knows how to play basketball the right way.
  • The way I see it, he's a poor man's Chauncey Billups playing for Larry Brown on the Pistons. Except he's playing for the rich Lakers and still took a pay cut due to their payroll to the Laker core.
Final argument. Look, Fisher did great this playoffs. He was the MVP of game 3 in the Finals. But you cannot, YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT, ignore the 82 game season. Fisher was a liability on defense and shot poorly compared to his last couple of years (38% FG, 34% 3pt). The argument for Fisher is that he's clutch. Ok, yeah, he's clutch. But do you need a clutch player who hits big shots for 82 games of the season when you have so many other weapons and are probably going to/should be winning games with a comfortable lead with the players the Lakers have? No.

However, during the playoffs, you will need clutch performers and Fisher is exactly that, which is why the Lakers should still keep him. He needs to be relegated to the bench so that he can save his legs for the playoffs. He needs to do what is best for the team as Lamar did in 2008 and was benched for yes, Vladamir Radmanovic. Later that season, Lamar was still benched in favor of yes, Luke Walton. Luke Walton later told Jackson he should be starting Trevor Ariza. Lamar did what his team asked him to do and it ended up in a championship. Fisher needs to do what Ron Artest did for the Lakers this season, took a pay cut to chase a ring and took a lesser role as not the number 1 option on offense but still performed. He did what his team asked him to do and it ended up in a championship.

As a Laker fan, and a Steve Blake fan, I'm so happy right now. I just feel that if they do sign Fisher and he starts, somewhere in the middle of the season, there will be talks of who should be starting at point guard. Why can't we just sidestep all of that and start Steve Blake at the end and have Fisher be the hero during the playoffs?

Regardless of what happens, here's to you, Steve Blake. I hope you get a championship ring and thank you taking less money.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

World Cup Soccer Gude For NBA Fans (PART 1 of 2)

I'll admit it, I got the World Cup Fever, too bad my team lost already (USA) but I'm still watching. I've been asking my co worker who's a soccer fanatic questions about the game, rules, notable players, notable teams etc. and came up with the idea of comparing the best world cup players to NBA players so I could get a sense of who I was watching.

So basically, we'll be saying: (SOCCER PLAYER X) is the (NBA PLAYER Y) of the World Cup.

We'll start off slow:

Diego Maradona and Pele (constant argument to the extent of the "Michael Jordan or Kobe" argument) are the Michael Jordan(s) of Soccer. Back in the day they ruled the game and were leaps and bounds ahead of their peers.

David Beckham is the Reggie Miller of Soccer. A sweet shot that no one can quite explain. Not that great of an all around player but will go down as one of Soccer's best players.

Ok you get the point. Using ESPN's 50 best players of the World Cup (written in March before the World Cup started, by the way), my co worker and I discussed who was the NBA comparison so that an average sports fan just getting into soccer could better comprehend the players he or she was watching at ungodly hours of the morning due to the time difference.

Disclaimers:
  1. As I said, this list was prepared in March, way before the World Cup had started.
  2. Soccer is quite different from basketball. Great soccer players know how to dribble and shoot and pass. So it'd be easy to just compare them all to the point guards of the league. I tried not to do that.
  3. I'll be comparing styles of play and/or popularity and/or personal characteristics and/or career similarities, NOT ALL FOUR. This is just for the NBA fan to get a better grasp of what kind of Soccer player so and so is. I'll explain the choice in a few sentences, plus the scouting report from the ESPN website of the Soccer player.
  4. If you disagree, let me know about it! I'm still a rookie soccer fan.
Without further ado:

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina Forward - LeBron James, TEAM UNKNOWN
This is if you're from the LeBron James is the greatest basketball player. Lionel Messi is simply the best soccer player in the world right now. He isn't scoring out of his mind because his coach (Maradona/"Jordan") has him playing out of position. "Can break down any defense off the dribble and conjure something out of nothing."

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal Midfielder - Kobe Bryant, Lakers
One of the best in the world, plus he is considered selfish, arrogant and cocky. The team is all about him etc. I'll admit I'm biased but Kobe Bryant will always have that tag and for the most part it was true a couple years ago (and flashes here and there including game 7 of the finals!). "Prolific goal scorer, specializes in long-range free kicks and can shoot from anywhere."

3. Wayne Rooney, England Forward - Brandon Roy, Blazers/Ron Artest, Lakers
Powerful build and a great scorer with good intelligence. He also is temperamental so that's where the Ron Artest comparison comes from. "Complete striker who can play anywhere across the front three."

4. Kaka, Brazil Midfielder - Kevin Durant, Thunder
Another great scorer, just not at the level of Ronaldo or Messi. He's older than Durant so he doesn't have the upside but right now, he's the Kevin Durant of the World Cup, on a team that's predicted by most to win the World Cup. "Artistic playmaker who can break down defenses via dribble (or pass)."

5. Xavi, Spain Midfielder - Chris Paul, Hornets
Great field vision and great passer. Can pass from long range or up close. "The pulse of the Spanish team" as is Chris Paul is for the Hornets. Can also control the ball and isn't turnover prone.

6. Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast Forward - Lamar Odom, Lakers
Remember my disclaimer? Am I saying Lamar is the 6th best player in the NBA as Drogba is the 6th best Soccer player? No. Similarities, great player, just doesn't always bring it. He can score any kind of goal as Lamar can post up, hit a 3 or drive the lane... when he puts his mind to it. Also think of Baron Davis from around 2006. "Practically unplayable when he puts his mind to it."

7. Andres Iniesta, Spain Midfielder - Rajon Rondo, Celtics
Straight up playmaker. Even has a cool nickname: "El Illusionista" (The Illusionist). He's not that tall but has great ball control and vision of the field. Can take players off the dribble and always looks to pass, sometimes to a fault. "Very difficult to dispossess and can also run at defenders and take them off the dribble."

8. Fernando Torres, Spain Forward - Pau Gasol, Lakers
Good all around player with good technique. But regarded as soft and tries to avoid contact. "Can sometimes be thrown off his game if defenders dish out the rough treatment and the refs are lax in calling fouls." Pau may have shaken that "soft" tag these past couple years but he can still fall prey to overzealous defense if the foul isn't called.

9. Steven Gerrard, England Midfielder - Kevin Garnett, Timberwolves (early 2000s)
Aggressive tackler with good offense. Dynamic player who can play all over the field. "Struggles at times to shed man markers." Can't take a player off the dribble like KG couldn't. Don't get me wrong, KG could go on one but he would use his post moves, no cross overs.

10. Michael Essien, Ghana Midfielder - Allen Iverson, 76ers (2000-2003)
Great offense but also great defense. "Covers an incredible amount of territory with boundless energy." Essien was injured before the world cup even started so that's why you haven't heard much about him. Ghana is still in the tournament though.

11. David Villa, Spain Forward - Dwyane Wade, Heat
Great player who can flat out score. Finds openings and has the speed to get into the holes in the defense. Great finisher, won't miss too many shots from up close. "Predatory goal scorer who constantly finds openings in the defense and penalty box."

12. Frank Ribery, France Midfielder - Steve Nash, Suns
Known for making plays for his teammates who simply works hard. Takes over as France's franchise player after Zidane as Nash took over from uhh, Stephon Marbury? "Clever playmaker... loves to run at defenders and get to the byline."

13. Samuel Eto'o, Cameroon Forward - Manu Ginobili, Spurs
One of the older players and has maybe lost a step or two, but can still bring it every game. "Often glides into the box and finishes calmly. Presses defenders high all across the field." Fourth world cup at 28 years old because he played his first one when he was 14! Ginobili can still take over games this late in his career and moves swiftly through defenders.

14. Luis Fabiano, Brazil Forward - Jason Richardson, Suns
He's a streaky "explosive" player who "can score in bunches" but he's inconsistent. This reminds me of Jason Richardson who on any night can light a team up for 30 points but is usually going to average around half that.

15. Iker Casillas, Spain Goalie - Dwight Howard, Magic
Didn't see that one coming, did you? Our first defensive player goes to the top defensive player in the NBA. Maybe not quite as physical as Dwight but "possesses superior reflexes and positioning. Composed and deals solidly with aerial crosses" so perhaps there's a little Tim Duncan and Emeka Okafor in there, but regardless, best goalie therefore, Dwight (Defensive player of the year 2 years in a row).

16. Cesc Fabregas, Spain Midfielder - Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
He's a great player and he demands the ball. Good all around game but "can be a little careless with turnovers at times." Carmelo has averaged 3+ turnovers a game for 6 of his 7 year career (2.7 TOs per in 05/06) but still one of the game's best players.

17. Gianluigi Buffon, Italy Goalie - Tim Duncan, Spurs
Ok so the next defensive player goes to one of the best defenders, but here's why. He's 32 and still playing at a high level. "Veteran with sound positional sense. Solid shot stopper, rarely makes a mistake." That sounds very Tim Duncan to me.

18. Dani Alves, Brazil Defender - Rashard Lewis, Magic / Amare Stoudemire, Suns
A defender compared to Rashard and Amare? Hear me out, like my disclaimer said, these aren't fool proof. He's a defender, but he's a scoring defender. "Superior set-piece delivery" and "defensively vulnerable at times and can be caught out of position or muscled off the ball." Great player with those defensive asterisks, sounds like Amare with a Rashard jumpshot to me.

19. Nemanja Vidic, Serbia Defender - Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz (2004-2006)
Takes pride in keeping his man in front of him as Andrei did when he was the best player on the post Stockton/Malone Jazz. But he was also well rounded enough to be a force on offense and could pretty much fill a box score up. "Owns the box with his aerial ability, both defensively and on offensive set pieces. Can be vulnerable to pacy forwards with strong dribbling skills."

20. Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands Midfielder - Deron Williams, Jazz
Short player with good vision and can shoot from distance, prefers to be a playmaker. "World-class passing game does provide the glue that will hold together the 10 players surrounding him."

21. Maicon, Brazil Defender - Trevor Ariza, Rockets
Well rounded player. Defender who can play offense as well, but primarily a defender (Ariza on the Lakers, I suppose). "Strong defensive play with powerful surging runs down the right flank. No real weaknesses."

22. Frank Lampard, England Midfielder - Tony Parker, Spurs
Can score and pass off to teammates for assists. Impressive finisher for a midfielder as is Parker with his teardrop runner over bigs. "doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well but is above average in all areas."

23. Andrea Pirlo, Italy Midfielder - Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
Playmaking midfielder who can "control the tempo of a game and generally delivers superb set pieces." Not so much a scorer like Chauncey, Pirlo looks to set up other teammates but can hit from long range as Billups can.

24. Carlos Tevez, Aregentina Forward - Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Big ball of energy. I debated putting Leandro Barbosa here but he has fallen off a little bit from prior years. Tevez can score some spectacular goals as Westbrook can throw down some game changing dunks. Both are scorers and both have speed and hustle.

25. Robin Van Persie, Netherlands Forward - Danny Granger, Pacers
A good scorer with some well rounded abilities but needs work "on his heading ability but possesses every other tool in pace, finishing and long-range shooting." Reminds me of Granger because although he's the face of the Pacers right now, he's got some work to do to become a franchise guy.

26-50 in the works!