Sunday, July 7, 2013

NBA Free Agent Action is Hot!

Take a few days off to catch some fish at the cabin and you miss like, 1 million free agent signings in the NBA.  I'm going to hit a few of the highlights.  Or lowlights.

1.  Might as well start with your precious T-Wolves, who signed Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger in a move to try to surround the Ricky Rubio/Kevin Love nucleus with as many poorly defending shooters as possible.  You take those two, J.J. Barea, Rubio, Love, Luke Ridnour, and Derrick Williams and add Shabazz Muhammad to the mix and the Wolves might end up being the worst defensive team in the league next year, especially if Kirilenko isn't back.  Nikola Pekovic, who it sounds like they're going to do everything to keep, is a decent post defender but not a rim protector in the slightest, which taken all together means that Giorgui Dieng is the only true paint defensive presence on the entire team.  You know, the guy whose job it is to discourage guys like Lebron and Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook from driving past all those white guards over and over again.  Sounds like a recipe for success!

2.  Dwight Howard is going to Houston.  Howard turned down more years and more money to stay with the Lakers and play with two (possibly 3) other future Hall-of-Famers, which is a stunningly good decision given Howard's track record the last three years.

Apparently the Howard signing isn't loved by everyone, as incumbent starting center Omer Asik has said he doesn't want Howard there, doesn't want to back him up, and doesn't want to play next to him and might want out of Houston.  Well guess what Omer?  I got news for you: I'm pretty sure they were exploring trades for you already.  Outside of free throw shooting his entire skill set is Dwight Howard extra lite, he offers nothing complimentary to Howard's game, and he's good enough where they can get something nice back for him most likely.  Sorry Omer, but you're not Dwight.

And make no mistake - Dwight Howard is still really, really good and it seems like everyone is forgetting that.  Last year was horrible, yes, but
  1.  He was returning from a back injury, which for a player like him who relies on his athleticism and specifically his ability to jump quickly that is a tough one to play through.
  2. The system he was playing in last year sucked for him, and playing with Kobe Bryant made him miserable which, because he's an immature person, made him sulk and affected his play.
  3. People around the country hated, or at least had a strong dislike for Howard and the way he got Orlando's coach fired, then pushed his way out,then got Mike Brown fired with the Lakers.  Dwight is an immature person, and being disliked made him extra miserable and see #2.
Basically Howard is an immature baby who is mentally weak and who is going to sulk and suck when he's not happy.  He still averaged 17 & 12 with nearly 3 blocks per game while being only half engaged.  You don't think he's going to be better next year with his co-super star as James Harden, who knows about deferring when it's time to defer? He's still just 28 years old.  What if he actually realizes he has an amazing opportunity to learn from two of the best big men in history (Hakeem and McHale) and embraces it?  He could be a monster.  Going to be a big year for Houston.  Big.

3.  Sticking with the Rockets, they also traded your best friend Royce White to the 76ers.  Clearly Philly succeeded so well with one troubled but talented young big man in Andrew Bynum that they were super excited to try it again. Since Royce is pretty much afraid of everything, he's started walking to Philly from Houston and expects to be there by time training camps begin. Also, I really think trading Jrue Holiday is going to end up being a mistake for Philly.

4.  In what was, to me, the most shocking development of this period Brad Stevens (formerly of Butler) has agreed to become coach of the Celtics.  I was up at the cabin with Snacks and news was on in the background because we only get one channel up there and when the banner "Stevens to Boston" came up we had to yell and shush everybody else up and do you know how hard it is to shush up three women and one old man who've been hammering wine since mid-day?  It ain't Ninja Gaiden hard, but it's hard.

I'm just totally blown away because I assumed Stevens was going to be at Butler until he was lured away by Indiana or Duke or Kentucky or one of the other big-time college programs - I never ever thought he'd be going to the NBA for some reason.  I think part of it is because I thought we were done poaching college coaches and trying to make them NBA coaches since basically everybody has been a failure (seriously who is the best coach to make the switch?  I think it's P.J. Carlesimo which is like whoa).  Also this surprises me because Stevens is only 36 and has zero NBA experience.  People threw enough of a fit over Rich Pitino getting hired to coach kids at 30, but now Stevens is going to handle grown ass millionaires at 36?  I know it's a young team after trading Garnett and Pierce, but their best player is a total head case in Rajon Rondo.  There's almost no way Rondo spaz out by midseason. I'm not saying Stevens won't work out for sure, I'm just saying he won't with Rondo around.  FACT.

5.  The Hawks and Bucks got into a big fight over Kyle Korver.  Looking at the teams involved, you'd probably guess that this was an idiotic fight to get in to, and as usual you're right.  There were no winners in this fight, except of course Korver who ended up with a 4-year, $26 million contract which, considering he's going to be 37 at the end of that deal and he has exactly one discernible skill seems like a bit of an overpay, but then again J.J. Redick got 4/$27 and Jose Calderon got 4/$28 apparently that's the running rate for a one dimensional player who is really good at that one dimension and terrible at everything else.  For some reason, this seems terribly unfair.

6.  The Warriors are getting interesting.  First, because Dawger will point it out anyway, despite all my misgivings Steph Curry has completely proven me wrong and is a very, very good NBA player.  He's not as good as Bill Simmons thought he was during the play-offs, but he's an all-star, I will admit, and there's no doubt that he and Klay Thompson are a pretty dynamic duo.   Next season Harrison Barnes will be a year older and a year better, and he started to show some pretty dramatic growth in the playoffs and he gives the Warriors three pretty good wing players who can score in bunches. 

Now, via free agency, they've added Andre Iguodala, who doesn't score in bunches the way the other three do but is still averages 15 ppg for his carrer, is an absolutely outstanding defender, and can handle the ball and create well enough the Curry will get more chances to run off the ball, which will only help.  The plan seems to be to go with all four in the lineup at a time quite often, which will work if Barnes can defend and rebound at the 4 (remains to be seen), but even if not that's a pretty potent lineup, and Andrew Bogut (if healthy) is a good enough interior defender to make up for some defensive mistakes.  Really though, having four players who can all dribble, create, and shoot is something few teams have, and any time all four of those guys are on the floor it should be fun to watch.  Possibly on both ends.

7.  Milwaukee, oh Milwaukee.  First they made a trade towards the end of last season to acquire J.J. Redick, giving Tobias Harris to Orlando.  Harris, who averaged less than 12 minutes per game with the Bucks, was given starter's minutes in Orlando and went on to average 17 pts and 9 rebounds per game.  The Bucks just traded Redick (in a sign and trade) and received two second-round picks in return.  Then Monta Ellis opted out of his deal, which might actually be a good thing, but also means the Bucks have to find a way to replace some production all while with the handicap of selling Milwaukee to free agents.

Their big moves so far have been to sign O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia, and Carlos Delfino - essentially a sixth man and two back-ups.  Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis (he gone), and Mike Dunleavey (he gone) were the team's top 3 scorers last year and now all three may be gone depending on what Jennings ends up doing.  Essentially the team is a bunch of so-so big men (John Henson is probably the best or at least has the most potential depending on what you think of Larry Sanders whose name does not actually have to be capitalized nerds) and Ish Smith.  This is either completely pathetic, or a genius realization that they're never going to be able to build a contending team through free agency and are in full on tank mode.  Given that we're talking Wisconsin, they're probably just drunk.

8.  We all know that the Lakers are somehow going to end up with Andrew Wiggins in next year's draft, right?  That's just how it happens.  If their smart they'll amnesty Kobe (since he is taking up nearly half of their cap room) trade Nash to Dallas for the heart warming Dirk/Nash reunion, trade Gasol and World Peace for whatever they can get and completely bottom out and hope for Wiggins.  What they will do is continue trotting out a lineup completely mismatched to D'Antoni's system which will be mismatched because Kobe will rush himself back by the season opener and they'll end up missing the playoffs by just a couple games and then win the lottery anyway because the NBA is rigged and everybody knows it.  Fact.

Who could say no to this?


Mr Kushanova said...

I just randomly found your blog searching for Courtney Fortson. Yes. Courtney Fortson. Nice free agent write up!

WWWWWW said...

I love it when that kind of stuff happens.