Sunday, July 15, 2012

NBA Moves in Review

I'm changing up the Week in Review a bit here, and rather than looking sportswide at everything that's happened in the NBA so far with the crazy free agent period that's upon us and, as per usual, pointing out the five goods and the five bads.  Make sense?  I certainly hope so because it's pretty simple.  What are you, some kind of idiot?


1.  Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to the Miami Heat. The Heat won the championship in case you hadn't heard yet so there wasn't really a huge need to upgrade and with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh there they didn't have a whole lot of of flexibility, but they managed to upgrade in a big-time way and made the prohibitive favorite for next year even more prohibitiveable. Now instead of Shane Battier and Mike Miller taking all the open threes that are created by their offense, it's going to be Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. For reference, Battier was a career 38% shooter going into last season (and shot 38% this year) and Miller was at 40% and hit 45% this season. Allen is a career 40% who has been 44% or better the past two years, and Lewis is a career 39%. Looking strictly at those numbers it looks like a push, but Allen is peaking as a shooter as he ages, Miller can't stay healthy and hasn't played in more than 53 games the last three years, Battier is toast as a defender, and both Allen and Lewis are defensive upgrades - for a team that's biggest asset as an overall squad was defense. Make no mistake - barring injury or an ugly "disease of more" situation there's no way Miami doesn't win the title. None. I know, I hate it too.

2.  Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics.  The main reason the Celtics should stay competitive next season is KG suddenly showing some resurgence and Rajon Rondo remains the most confounding and interesting and one of the most unstoppable point guards in the league.  But grabbing Jason Terry to replace the newly departed Ray Allen is a pretty big reason as well.  Terry doesn't shoot as well as Allen but he's not far off, and he's a better defender, scorer, and passer and, assuming they keep him in that same sixth man role he played in Dallas he brings more energy to the game when he enters than the more subdued Allen, as well as more athleticism as well - something the super old Celtics can use.  The C's weren't without some questionable moves this offseason - the 3 years to KG and the holy shit huge contract they gave to Jeff Green for some reason - but Boston will be in the thick of the East when it all comes down to it.  I look forward to 20 annoyingly homerrific articles on them from Bill Simmons next year.

3.  Dallas Mavericks sign Elton Brand and Chris Kaman and trade for Darren Collison. The funny thing about Dallas is I'm pretty sure they didn't really expect to be rebuilt into a contender again unless they managed to sign Deron Williams, so after he re-signed with the Nets give Mark Cuban credit for making an effort rather than giving up, because it's working out. The trade for Collison might be the most important part after losing Jason Kidd to New York and not getting Williams, because although he's no great superstar Collison gives them an excellent starting point guard and they got him for basically nothing (see below). They then signed Chris Kaman to a super cheap 1-year/$8 million deal and won an amnesty bid on Elton Brand for just $2.1 million and suddenly they've remade the team without crippling themselves for the future. Given the strength of the league they aren't a serious contender most likely, but a lineup of Collison/Delonte West or Jones/Shawn Marion/Nowitzki/Kaman with Brand coming off the bench is absolutely a play-off team and probably a 4-5 seed, and then they'll have a whole mess of cap room next year to take a run at Howard or whoever. Bravo.

4.  Lakers trade draft picks for Steve Nash. Yes, the problems with a Nash/Kobe pairing are apparent, but if things work out and they figure out how to make it work the Lakers become instant contenders to win the West, even if they stand pat and don't end up with Dwight Howard. And I don't see how it's not worth the gamble considering all it cost them was a few pretty worthless draft picks. No matter what you think of Kobe, and I hate him, he is a pretty savvy basketball mind and he should be able to figure out how to play off Nash. As long as his ego will allow him to become a spot-up shooter more often and let Nash work the offense it will benefit him (he can be more fresh later in the season and/or for his when he inevitably breaks out hero ball in fourth quarters), as well as Gasol and Bynum working off pick-and-rolls and post-ups. Of course this all relies on one of the most selfish players I've even seen (I'd put as more selfish than Iverson based on Iverson needing to play that way to win where Kobe could easily let Gasol and Bynum get more involved and probably make the team significantly better) realizing he needs to change if the teams going to win so it's pretty much a toss-up if it'll work, but again, it pretty much cost the Lakers nothing to make this gamble and if they win they're a good bet to end up losing in the Finals to the Heat.

5.  Washington Wizards trade for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. It was a minor move in the big scheme of things, but picking up Okafor and Ariza for the bloated contract of Rashard Lewis (who was then bought out), along with last year's late trade where they picked up Nene for Javale McGee and the drafting of Bradly Beal gives them a starting five of John Wall/Beal/Ariza/Nene/Okafor, which is a definite playoff contender in the East and for a team that hasn't made the playoffs in five years and has only won a single playoff series since 1983 and hasn't won more than 26 games since 2007 it's a big step forward. Not to mention that Okafor, Ariza, and I think Nene will be dropping off the payroll in two years, which should be enough time to figure out exactly what they have in Beal and Wall and rebuild their team around those two. I don't know exactly how we ended up here, but the Wizards are doing a really great job all of a sudden. Now, they'll probably end up trading a couple of guys for Hedo Turkoglu or Spencer Hawes and then we'll be all like, "I knew it" but for now? Curiouser and curiouser.


1.   Charlotte Bobcats trade Corey Maggette to Detroit Pistons for Ben Gordon.  There are a million good reasons to trade Corey Maggette.  He really does nothing but score, he blocks Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's playing time, he makes too much money, and if you're trying to rebuild there's really zero reason to have him around because he's got a bit of a cancer to him as well.  Thing is though, I don't know that trading him for Gordon and his $25.6 million he's still got coming his way is what makes sense.  I guess he gives you shooting, which the Bobcats need and doesn't duplicate Gilchrist's skillset, and by all accounts is a good dude, and you're getting rid of Corey Maggette who is someone teams should always strive to get rid of, so maybe the Pistons made the bad end of the deal here.  Actually I think they both lost.

2.   Houston Rockets go all in to try to get Dwight Howard.  I understand Houston trying to lure Howard there, even if its more for a rental, and then hoping he'd end up staying, but I kind of feel like once they started they didn't know how to just stop because although they've compiled a lot of assets they're all just kind of like, lame assets.  A bunch of middle first round picks and a bunch of guys who drafted in middle rounds I'm not so sure do them much good.  Their best asset, a Raptors first round pick, is probably going to be lottery but to get it they gave up Kyle Lowry, who might have been worth more.  They've traded off pretty much the entire roster and even amnestied Luis Scola, who is no great shakes but did average 16 & 7 last season.  And it looks like the upside is trading away all these assets for Howard and a whole bunch of crap like Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson and the way too much money they're owed. If this works and they get Howard and can somehow convince Chris Paul to sign then this has all been a genius move. Anything else and it's been just a cluster of WTF.

3.   Similarly, Orlando Magic have no clue what to do.  Is the big plan now to go through a second straight season of circus?  I get that it's tough to trade a guy of Howard's magnitude and that makes sense, but at some point you bite the bullet and figure it out - and don't think Howard doesn't deserve an equal portion of the blame for this crazytown as well, especially for signing his option for this year instead of just becoming a free agent.  Not to mention that the places Howard seems best suited for (Lakers, Hawks) he seems to have no interest in and the places he wants to go are Brooklyn (which can't make it work) and Cleveland (wait what?) while the place that is busting there ass for him (Houston) he doesn't really want to go nor can they figure out a way to put enough players around him to both trade for him and field a competitive team.  All that does is pretty much guarantee another year of same old-same old, because Brooklyn's signing of Brook Lopez kills that trade so it's either L.A., Houston, or it's another year of pussying around and figuring this shit out.  But hey, the Magic resigned Jameer Nelson while letting their second best player (Ryan Anderson) walk, so sounds like a huge ole win for Magic fans.  HAVE A GREAT SEASON!

4.   Indiana Pacers go kind of crazy for unathletic big men.  You'd think when Portland offered Roy Hibbert a max deal the Pacers would be all like, "Take 'em" and then giggle under their breath like when Dawger inevitably drafts someone like Roy Helu and then holds onto him for like six years in our keeper league just waiting for that breakout season.  But instead they matched so they can pay like $1 million per blocked shot this year.  Not only that, but they also drafted Miles or Mason Plumlee (I don't feel like looking it up) when Perry Jones and well, let's face it anybody other than a poor man's Cherokee Parks was available - and this is a team that already has Tyler Hansbrough.  Then they traded Collison so they could get Ian Mahinmi and paid him way too much money and, in case you haven't heard of him like me, he's another center.  Overall just a bizarre turn of events, especially for a team that has generally seemed to make pretty smart decisions. So maybe it'll turn out I'm wrong here, I suppose there's a first time for almost everything.

5.   Phoenix Suns assemble a 20-win team.  I can't figure out Phoneix's angle.  They traded Nash for very little, seemingly opening up playing time for their first round pick Kendall Marshall, but then went out and signed Goran Dragic for 4 years and $36 million, apparently blocking Marshall for the length of his rookie contract.  Not only will Dragic be a career back-up making starter money, but he's not a true distributor and the Suns traded him just a couple of seasons ago (along with a first round pick) for Aaron Brooks who they're now letting go in free agency.  So they paid a first round pick to accomplish nothing.  They then signed Michael Beasley for three years and won an amnesty bid on Luis Scola, then found out the Hornets matched their max offer to Eric Gordon and vowed to match any offer extended to Robin Lopez, he of the career averages of six points and three boards per game.  I'm not suggesting I could have done better, although it wouldn't have surprised me either, but all these moves just reek of a 16-year kid playing franchise mode on NBA Live with no real concise or clear plan for rebuilding post-Nash.  I suppose that shouldn't be surprising from a management group that gave huge money to both Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick and routinely sells it's first round picks for cash, but it seems like they're in on every player just because why not that's why.  Now they're the leaders for OJ Mayo as well.  This team makes zero sense the way it's constructed.

There's also plenty of Wolves' stuff to discuss as well, including this semi-bizarre Nic Batum showdown, but we'll get to that down the road when everything is finalized.  And probably TRE will do it not me because he's way more crazy about the T-Wolves than normal people.

Finally, for those of you who believe in prayer send them this way (and if you don't, send good thoughts), I will forward them on.  I don't want to say too much since it isn't my place, but someone who all regulars to the blog know well could use them right now.

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