NBA Season Predictions Eastern Conference-

Atlantic-

You’ve got Boston and New York: the old team trying not to fall apart too disgracefully and the up and comers with the shiny new toy. After that there’s the wing dominated, somewhat freakishly athletic Philadelphia 76ers. Following them is the New Jersey Nets, who have the cloud of Dwight Howard staring ominously down at them, with the Darren Williams situation hanging in the process. Finally there’s the Toronto Raptors who are still struggling after the Chris Bosh departure.

Predicted Finish-

  1. New York Knicks 40-26
  2. Boston Celtics 35-31
  3. Philadelphia 76ers 31-35
  4. New Jersey Nets 25-41
  5. Toronto Raptors 20- 46

The Thinking:

I think Boston could make it farther in the playoffs than the Knicks if Doc Rivers can manage the aging Celtics minutes. Bench issues could provide problems seeing as the Celtics best bench options are Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic. This isn’t your “All Washed Up Second Team” this is the Celtics bench. Throw that in with the minute watching, and it might be a tough season at times for Boston.

New York, on the other hand, might be the exact opposite of the Celtics in some regard. Mike D’Antoni’s job could be on the line, and he might be forced to override Amare and Melo in order to win some games. The wildcard here is Baron Davis. If Baron Davis can play like he did in his Warriors days then this might be a steal for the Knicks. Other than Baron, the rest of the Knicks point guard situation isn’t necessarily great. It’s a nice bench setup with Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby, but not too outstanding.

Philadelphia is a bit tricky, a little hard to figure out. Andre Iguodala is a monster and Thaddeus Young is a big time athlete. You also have former number two overall pick Evan Turner, along with scoring option Jodie Meeks, plus veteran wingman Andres Nocioni. If you haven’t been keeping track you have all of those guys in line for two positions. It’s a bit much seeing as their only size up front is Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes and Mareese Speights. That could be a problem for them in the East.

New Jersey is another hard to predict situation. Dwight Howard could be in uniform at the end of the year, or he might not be.  Darren Williams will probably toil another year away in Jersey with an improved roster none the less, but one that is built around the arrival of Howard. Mehmet Okur and Deshawn Stevenson were nice additions, but at most it places New Jersey in the 10-12 range out East if Dwight Howard doesn’t come to town.

Toronto has struggled since Chris Bosh left. They have nice pieces in place with an efficient point guard in Jose Calderon, a potent-outside-scoring big in Andrea Bargnani. Ed Davis has some upside. Demar DeRozan has a ton of potential. The future certainly isn’t terrible in Toronto, but it’s not your Dream Team type either.

Central-

Chicago is going to be one of the best teams in the East. They, or Miami, could have the top seed going into the playoffs out East. Indiana is a really good looking up-and-coming squad led by Danny Granger. Milwaukee could be a sneaky playoff squad, or they could be picking in the lottery. Detroit and Cleveland both have young point guards that they are counting on in Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving respectively.

Predicted Finish-

  1. Chicago Bulls 48-18
  2. Indiana Pacers 37-29
  3. Detroit Pistons 30-36
  4. Milwaukee Bucks 29-37
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers 17-49

The Thinking:

It’s hard to argue with an MVP (Derrick Rose), a cast of top notch role players (Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Ashton Kutcher — also known as Kyle Korver to some), plus a potent post pairing (that’s as far as I could go with the alliterations) of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. The prospect of a top defense isn’t the worst thing in the world to have either.

Frank Vogel’s Pacers team is complete. Complete is the perfect word. The Pacers have almost every need filled. Outside of being complete they also are deep, which could be more key than anything this year as teams will look to sit players on some nights to preserve them for the playoffs.  Throw in a healthy David West. There’s some potential in Indy this year.

Detroit is going to surprise some people, probably not a title contender this year but as a sneaky, troubling team to a high seeded team come playoff time. They are deep. How good the depth can be or is, is yet to be determined. The Pistons have a glut of 3-4 type players, including Tayshaun Prince, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye and Charlie Villanueva. Add in a solid upside guy now and later in Greg Monroe, as well as a stable of guards in the form of rookie lottery pick Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum. There’s somewhat of a little quality depth there, and the Pistons might get some wins playing Charlotte, Cleveland, Toronto, New Jersey and a possibly Dwight Howard-less Magic team.

Milwaukee might get into the playoffs on two things: Stephen Jackson’s attitude and Andrew Bogut’s health. If Captain Jack is on, then he’s extremely potent. Also, if Bogut’s trainer/doctor visits are kept to a minimum, then the whole “fear the deer” hoopla may return and Milwaukee could be dangerous. If not, then fans in Wisconsin could be in for a long, long season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have problems. I didn’t like their draft choices in terms of potential. Irving and Thompson aren’t going to be any LeBron or Keven Durant. Also, if the Cavs tank, Andy Verajao and/or Antawn Jamison could be moved. It’s a long haul for Cleveland.

South East-

The Big Three could win a ring, not one, not two….. They can’t win two in one season. That’s ridiculous, none the less impossible. There’s also the ongoing Dwight Howard situation in Orlando: Will he stay or will he go? Where is he going? What are the Magic getting in return? Now he doesn’t want to be traded? Can I get a sandwich? (Just thought I’d throw that in there). Let’s see, who else? Oh yeah, Atlanta has no cap space and didn’t do anything except lose Jamal Crawford. Charlotte has “Cardiac” Kemba and the Washington Wizards have a guy you might have heard of called John Wall.

Predicted Finish-

  1. Miami Heat 47-19
  2. Atlanta Hawks 35-31
  3. Orlando Magic 34-32
  4. Washington Wizards 28-38
  5. Charlotte Bobcats 26-40

The Thinking:

The Miami Heat made a great move by bringing in Shane Battier. Add that to a squad that went to the NBA finals last year. It’s a bit of a by-default finals pick for some because of the uncertainty out West. If Eddy Curry can play like somewhat of ghost of his former self, then watch out for this team.

Quite honestly Atlanta and the Magic are interchangeable at this point. If Dwight Howard does leave via trade, this number could drop to a terribly low number. The team is a mess with Howard. Without him… Yikes. But I’m going with the Hawks over Orlando because of the sheer fact that they have a more complete team than the Magic. Yes Jamal Crawford is gone, but Joe Johnson could have a ridiculous comeback year. Or just a comeback year, either way I think the Hawks will be fine with one of the two previous options.

Orlando, like I said, is a mess. You have the Dwight Howard situation, plus oodles and oodles of bad contracts (yes that’s right oodles):  Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon, JJ Redick, Quentin Richardson and I guess to a degree Jameer Nelson. It’s just a tough pill to swallow for the Magic either way. If Howard does stay, I don’t see Orlando being anywhere near Dallas, Miami, or Chicago in terms of title potential.

Washington, Washington, Washington, we’re still here waiting for a new team Stern! (Just thought I’d get that in there.) Now we’re talking about the Washington Wizards, a team with an intriguing core of Jon Wall, Jordan Crawford, Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Again not a lot of title aspirations this year, but a year where they will take some lumps, but also gain a lot of much needed experience. Put another big guy into this group and you have the makings for an exciting team.

Michael Jordan knows how to win. He might not have that opportunity. Any time you have Boris Diaw as a starting center, yep take that one in, Boris Diaw, who could play three in a big lineup as their starting center. I know that there aren’t a lot of elite centers out there, but Boris Diaw at the 5 spot? It’s a humongous red flag for a team who is undersized to the fullest and could take more losses than Jordan was used to as a player.

So just as a recap, this is what I would have in the first round of the playoffs:

1 Chicago vs 8 Philadelphia

2 Miami vs 7 Orlando

3 New York vs 6 Atlanta

4 Indiana vs 5 Boston

With Detroit as the team on the outside looking in, though I will say this, if Dwight Howard (hope you’re keeping track at home of how many times I’ve mentioned his name) is traded, Orlando doesn’t make the playoff and Detroit takes their spot with Philly moving up one spot. Here’s a visual:

1 Chicago vs 8 Detroit

2 Miami vs 7 Philadelphia

3 New York vs 6 Atlanta

4 Indiana vs 5 Boston

There’s your East primer/prediction extraordinaire. Stay tuned for the West primer/prediction.

Chris Paul is Going to the Clippers (and the Fit the Lakers Will Throw)

The Chris Paul saga has ended. And while the term “saga” has been used for a lot of fiascos and ongoing events, this one actually fit the definition of a saga:  A series of events or a story stretching over a long period (or so says dictionary.com). We had the vetoed Lakers-Rockets deal, the trade the Clippers pulled out of and the trade the Clippers actually made.

Paul will obviously be playing in LA. On the Hornets side of things they got a guy who could be more of a dynamic scoring threat than he already is (Eric Gordon). They also acquired a guy with a ton of upside in Al Farouq Aminu, a borderline All-Star in Chris Kaman and Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first round pick.

Minnesota’s first rounder could end up not being the number one overall pick that everyone thinks it will be. While it’s probably a lottery pick, people have to remember that Minnesota has some talent. Kevin Love is ridiculous on the boards. Guards  Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea can fill it up along with former number two overall pick Michael Beasley. That, combined with the lottery, could sink the chances for a number one overall selection. The draft is going to be extremely deep this year, and the lottery will be the crème of the crop.

So that’s the Hornets coming away with an extremely legit shooting guard in Eric Gordon. Kaman, who could be moved for more pieces and picks, is even more of a trade piece than usual because of his expiring contract and high level of play. Farouq Aminu still has a high ceiling and will contribute to the team. You throw in Aminu and Gordon with two lottery picks in a stacked draft, and it means two potentially good to superstar type players.

On the flipside you have Chris Paul lining up with Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as a starting five. Follow that up with Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Ryan Gomes off the bench. Add on a potential to bring in another big guy, which they need, and you have the potential to be really, really good long term.

On the flip-flip-side there are the Lakers. The Lakers not only lost out on Chris Paul, but lost one of their key players in the process: Lamar Odom. Throw in that with his replacement, none other than Josh McRoberts (not a bad player at all, just not Odom), and you have all the ingredients for a dismal year.

To be honest, at this point a dismal year for the Lakers is probably a loss in the conference semifinals like last year. The Lakers could be faced with the realization that not only the Clippers could be better in the long term, but also that the Lakers could be on the short end of the stick in the present. Another realization that could come to fruition is that this could be the eventual downfall of the Kobe Bryant era. Pau Gasol could be shipped out to either get Dwight Howard, or pieces for him. Ditto Andrew Bynum. If Gasol goes and Howard isn’t on the plane back to LA then we might see a string of seasons somewhere in the no man’s land that is first-round playoff losses that could happen until Kobe eventually retires (yes that will happen at some point in time Lakers fans).

Because of this the Lakers probably will throw a behind-the-scenes temper tantrum at the League and David Stern after getting their own Chris Paul deal nixed and then seeing him head to their constant-butt-of-jokes-cross-arena-more-of-a-punching-bag-than-rival-Clippers. It may surprise you, or it may not, but at season’s end the better team is probably going to be the punching bag.

The Amnesty Clause’s Possible Affect on the League

The amnesty clause is the new-fangled exciting/controversial thing in the league that doesn’t suit up for the New Orleans Hornets or Orlando Magic, and isn’t speculation of trade rumors.

The details of the clause aren’t one hundred percent clear yet, but from where I sit this seems to be what it is.

A team gets a ‘get out of jail free’ or ‘undo button’ on a bad contract. The player with the bad contract is waived, and while the team still has to pay him it doesn’t count against the cap. You read this and think people like Gilbert Arenas, Jerome James, Rashard Lewis. Players like that. Not necessarily busts, but players that you’d like to get out of their contract cap-wise.

After that other teams in the league line up with their wallets and bid on the player. Whoever puts in the biggest salary number wins the player and has to pay him that much. How that works I’m not sure, but this could create opportunities for contenders to get useful players for a lot less than the player would usually cost.

The only downside to this is that that the teams with the big checkbooks and lots of cap space might win out in this. But a lot of those teams don’t have room and are way over cap.

So, maybe it’s an opportunity for the little guys to get a guy who could revive them. Then again maybe it’s a reunion tour for some guys. Gilbert Arenas has already had the amnesty clause used on him by the Magic and could be a nice third guard for the Warriors if they deal Monta Ellis.

Does Dwight Howard Make the Nets an Immediate Contender?

“Yes” is probably the first thought that comes to mind. And in the long term Dwight Howard obviously makes them better. With Howard the Nets would have the best center in the league and the second or third best point guard in Derron Williams. They also have a solid backup point guard in Jordan Farmar. That’s about it. The wings in New Jersey/Brooklyn are not great. Travis Outlaw is decent, but has a ridiculous contract. Anthony Morrow is potentially lights out from the land o’ three, but that’s about as productive as it gets for him. The rookies have some upside for New Jersey, but outside of that and maybe Damion James, there isn’t much to gawk at.

 

If a deal goes through with Howard suiting up for the Nets, the Magic might unload some of their “bad” long-term contracts on the Nets. Chris Duhon and Hedo Turkoglu are the likely players that go to the Nets. While Turkoglu gives the Nets some help on the wing, he or Duhon could be amnestied next year, or even bought out to give New Jersey some money help.

 

One glaring problem the Nets have, Howard or no, is that when I look over their depth chart there isn’t really much in the power forward department. Shelden Williams is a nice back up 4 and/or 5, but as it stands Outlaw is the starting 4. Which doesn’t help seeing as he is likely out the door via the previously over mentioned amnesty clause.

 

You need a somewhat legitimate four to contend in the NBA. The Mavericks obviously have Dirk Nowitzki, Miami has Chris Bosh, the Lakers have Pau Gasol and Boston has Kevin Garnett. Even teams who are in the 7-8 seed range have somewhat decent or good power forwards. Philadelphia has Elton Brand, as terrible as his deal is. Indiana now has David West. The Hornets used to have him. Point is that you probably need some kind of serviceable big guy. At the present time the Nets don’t have one to potentially pair with Dwight Howard.

 

If Dwight Howard does join the team soon to be known as the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets (say that five times fast) then he gives them an upgrade over an already good center in Brook Lopez and another superstar player to build on as they move towards Brooklyn.

 

The Nets would also lose an advertising opportunity that is only rivaled by Hines Ward in Hienz Field in Pittsburgh with a Brook Lopez in Brooklyn add.

 

The League Can’t Win with Chris Paul

Chris Paul was supposed to be headed to Tinsel Town to play for the Lakers. Ultimately that deal didn’t work due to a timely nixing of the deal by NBA commissioner David Stern. (Who, by the way, is now running the Hornets as their interim owner and GM after rendering Dell Demps useless.)

That trade amounted to nothing, except the Lakers trading NBA Sixth-Man-of- the-Year winner Lamar Odom to the almost arch-rival Mavericks and a media session of head scratching from Kobe Bryant

But back to Chris Paul. After the Lakers deal fell through, their cross-venue-rival Clippers swooped into the bidding for Paul. The asking price proved much too expensive for LA’s other team, and they pulled out of the deal, only to come up with amnesty-wire-acquisition Chauncey Billups.

If this is the last trade push we see by both the Lakers and Clippers then we might have seen the climax of the Chris Paul trade. The trade suitors of the former Wake Forrest point guard are running low. The Knicks have used their only cap space on Paul’s former alley-oop partner Tyson Chandler. The Celtics only enticing player is Rajon Rondo. The Lakers have now positioned themselves for more of a run at Dwight Howard. Speaking of Howard, there isn’t much of a chance that Paul goes to Orlando. Golden State just gave Kwame Brown seven million dollars for 66 games. Yes, that’s right, Kwame Brown just got seven million. Go ahead, read it a couple more times to let it sink in. Kwame Brown just got seven million dollars for sixty six games! Golden State might be a bit generous with their cash-flow but probably won’t be able to sign Paul to an extension. After the Bay Area that leaves us with Dallas, who has  little-to-no enticing assets. Maybe free agency in the offseason, but Chris Paul probably isn’t going to be traded to the Mavs.

That being said, the market for a Chris Paul trade is likely both of the teams who call LA home. Now, Stern and the league are faced with the reality of both annoying Paul and keeping him in NOLA.  Stern then looks like a fool for vetoing the first Lakers trade and doing it again minus Lamar Odom, plus being completely contradictory  with the new CBA and small market teams. Not to mention making it look like you’re trying to build a super team in one of the country’s biggest markets, sports or no. Option three is to lower their steep asking price and take the Clippers trade only to make one of your chief money-makers, the Lakers, feel cheated and enraged.

David Stern can’t win with the Chris Paul situation, no way around it.

The Clippers Were Smart to Pull Out of the Prospective Chris Paul Trade

Chris Kaman, Al Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledose, Minnesota’s unprotected 2012 first-round pick and Eric Gordon. That’s what David Stern and the League wanted for Chris Paul.

If you’d pull the trigger on this deal you probably live in New Orleans or are a Hornets fan that has come to the realization that Chris Paul is probably skipping town for greener pastures.

Or you’re a crazed Clippers fan who is obsessed with the idea that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin could be suiting up together in something that’s not the All-Star game or a charity game.

Overall you might have regretted this. The reason for the deal being nixed before Stern could give a verdict on is that the Clippers thought it was too high of a price to pay for the All-Star Point Guard.

Gordon is a ridiculous season away from being third in the two-guard pecking order behind Kobe and D-Wade. Minnesota’s first-round pick could be the first name that the commissioner calls out on draft day. Kaman is probably going somewhere with DeAndre Jordon getting a monster contract. Bledsoe and Farouq Aminu are both good young talents. Overall this is a lot for any player no matter if his name is Kobe or Darko.

Angels: Watch Your Dream Team Monikers

Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson on a team that isn’t an All-Star squad is a bit intriguing. Throw that in with Cy Young runner up Jered Weaver, highly consistent Dan Haren, Super Prospect Mike Trout as well as up and comers Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo. We haven’t even mentioned Ervin Santana and Kendrys Morales.

 

 

But I’m not buying it for a couple of reasons. The first being that outside of first base, their infield has zero power. Zero, zip, nada, zilch, whatever term you want to use. Secondly, their outfield outside of an inexperienced Trout and Bourjos is cluttered with the likes of Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu.  The pitching is good, but how good I’m not sure.

 

 

The Angels might not even be the best team in their division. The Rangers lost Wilson but will replace him with Neftali Feliz, who won’t be an exact replacement and will give them quality if not electric innings and wins. Overall the Rangers rotation is a little more balanced seeing as the Angels don’t have a plethora of quality options for the fifth spot, let alone a quality option at all.

 

 

Here’s the historical reason — the last known “Dream Team” or overhyped teams in the last couple of years across sports have failed in reaching the goal of winning a championship. The Heat lost to the Mavs in the NBA Finals, which was the most successful of the examples. The others include the present-day Eagles who are mired in the middle of a dismal 5-8 year. The 2008 Tigers, as it pains me to say, suffered through an exceedingly disappointing year in which they were dubbed by some to have “the best offense ever”, but at the last glance they had a record of 74-88.

 

Chris Paul Possible Trades

Chris Paul, along with Dwight Howard, is the topic of a number of trade speculations and predictions (and even a vetoed trade!). If you haven’t been over stimulated with others, here’s some more.

  1. Chris Paul to the New York Knicks for whatever picks the Knicks have left in this century plus Toney Douglas, Iman Shumpert, Andy Rautins, Josh Harrellson, Bill Walker, even Renaldo Balkman plus Chauncey Billups contract. Basically anyone not named Amare or Carmelo or Landry Fields. This could be Miami all over again in terms of cap space and things of that nature. But don’t count against it, seeing as Paul wants to play for the Knicks. Remember the last guy who wanted to come to the Knicks with that much star power was a guy named Carmelo…
  2. Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers along with David Anderson for Andrew Bynum and Luke Walton and picks, picks and more picks. Here the Lakers get the point guard they need in Paul. No disrespect to Derek Fisher, but at this point his best days are behind him. They also automatically get a backcourt that is the best in the West and might start the All-Star Game. Plus there’s the fact that they need a torch bearer after Kobe retires at some point.
  3. Chris Paul to the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, Mehmet Okur’s contract and picks. Another situation where Devin Harris is the secondary point guard in the trade. Do Jason Kidd and Deron Williams sound familiar? Anyway, it’s not a slam dunk of a deal, but the Hornets get salary cap and an underrated point guard in Harris. It could happen if New Orleans waits too long to deal him. Or Utah might just turn around and give the Hornets exactly what they got for Deron Williams in Harris and Derek Favors now that they drafted Enes Kanter  (pick they used on him also from Deron Williams trade).
  4. Chris Paul to the Boston Celtics for Rajon Rondo and two first round picks. At this point the trades are becoming less likely, but let’s run with this one for a bit. Paul would give the Celtics a superstar that they already have in Rondo, but Paul would give them a more dynamic scoring threat than Rondo. Other than Rondo and the Big 3 the only other Celtics with a contract are the expiring deal of Jermanie O’Neal, Avery Bradley and the rookies E’twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.
  5. Chris Paul to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith and Marvin Williams. Unlikely I know, but look at it more closely. Yes, you’d probably have to move Joe Johnson to the 3 and Kirk Hinrich to the 2, but Paul and Johnson would form quite a tandem for the Hawks. That coupled with Dwight Howard likely leaving Orlando could bump them up in the playoff pecking order in the East.

Best Haul for Paul & Will His New Team Have Horns Like Darth Maul?

No. Sorry to disappoint or raise eyebrows, really. Chris Paul will not be playing for the Chicago Bulls or even the Milwaukee Bucks.  Plain and simple, plus that was the first corny rhyme that came to mind.

Moving on to the vetoed group of players that the Hornets almost obtained for Chris Paul:

Vetoed Players Supposedly Going to New Orleans for Chris Paul:

F Lamar Odom (from Lakers)

PF Luis Scola (from Houston)

SG Kevin Martin (from Houston)

PG Goran Dragic (from Houston)

In most situations trading superstars results in a big rebuilding year or the mesh year where all the players learn to play together in order to move forward as somewhat of a respectable squad. We saw the Timberwolves struggle post KG. Cleveland and Toronto were two of the worst teams in the league last year after falling victim to the creation of the Super Friends.

This wasn’t Al Jerfferson and spare parts for Kevin Garnett. It would have been a pretty good return for the Hornets. Odom can guard any position. Scola is a very underrated big man. Kevin Martin could give you 35 at the drop of a hat.  Dragic was once perceived as Steve Nash’s replacement. This wasn’t a bad return at all. In all essence it made the Hornets better. Yes, that’s right better, better without their best player and face of the franchise. It’s more of a complete team if this trade would have gone down. A starting five of Dragic, Martin, Trevor Ariza, Scola and Okefor with Odom as a sixth man, or even Scola and Odom down low. It’s a pretty intriguing scenario. One that might not mark high in the books of the average fan, but for someone who knows basketball, or at least thinks they do, this makes some sense.

That situation could have snuck New Orleans into the playoffs as a 6 seed max. They’d be better than the Nuggets with half of Denver’s core in China with no way out in the near future. Memphis is on the rise but could take a hit if Marc Gasol leaves. Dallas could slip up a bit with the loss of Tyson Chandler to the Knicks. I’m not saying Dallas gets a 7 seed or even misses the playoffs all together, but it will be a tougher road to hoe without Chandler. Utah has a problem with a gargantuan frontcourt logjam. Phoenix is on its last Steve Nash-supported leg. San Antonio is aging, and this might be its last window of opportunity. Portland just lost Brandon Roy to retirement. New Orleans would have had a shot.

Let’s look at the other vetoed components of the deal.

Other Vetoed Components of the Deal (in imitating voice from the heavens kind of voice)

The Lakers would have obtained Chris Paul obviously, but Houston would have come away with Pau Gasol in this trade. Which is extremely intriguing to think about when you imagine the many stockpiled picks and former lottery or 1st round picks that Houston has on its roster. If you’re wondering where a recent first-round pick went from the last couple years, they are probably in Houston: Hasheem Thabeet (now in Houston) Jordan Hill (Houston) Courtney Lee (Houston) Terrence Williams (Houston) Patrick Patterson (Houston) and finally Jonny Flynn (you guessed it … Houston).

You add Pau Gasol to that mix, plus players like Kyle Lowry and Chase Buddinger as well as recent first rounder Marcus Morris. It’s not, or rather would not, be a team that would be favored in Vegas for a title, but the playoffs certainly would have been in sight.

Is a Chris Paul Trade to the Lakers a Good thing?

There is speculation that Chris Paul is headed to Tinsletown with Pau Gasol going to the Houston Rockets. Lamar Odom will go to New Orleans with a group of players supposedly including Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic. Plus, everyone’s favorite most exciting trade piece (wait for it….) picks.

From the onset you probably think “oh, this is great for the Lakers!” or “Lakers are going to win another title!”

It’s fine to think that, but when you look at it a second time it might not seem as jazzed up as it might be. Think about this, the last few years the Lakers have changed the landscape of the game with their size on the front line. Teams are rushing to the phones to acquire big men like shoppers running out on Black Friday to get a new blender. GMs and coaches are sacrificing in other areas just to get big on the front line to compete with the Lakers. Now the Lakers are essentially sacrificing that, which is fine, because they enter a new dynamic or play style.

Andrew Bynum is a good player, one who might be dealt to the Magic as a centerpiece for Dwight Howard. But now all those teams who rushed out to get big on the front line are going to be salivating when the Lakers come to town. They will have headaches back court wise, but in the front court… Man I just don’t see how Andrew Bynum alone is going to win you anything. Chris Paul and Kobe are great, don’t get me wrong, but really? The Lakers just witnessed the Heat fail to win a title WITHOUT a real big guy. Say what you will about Chris Bosh, but he’s no Dwight Howard. And on that note, maybe the Lakers are going to ship him to Orlando for Howard. But with what? Luke Walton? Metta World Peace? Orlando isn’t going to take that trade unless Jerry Buss magically buys them too (pun intended).

Back to ‘By Himself’ Bynum. The Lakers traded Odom and Gasol for a point guard. Chris Paul is probably the best in the league, but still. Dealing Odom and Gasol to the Magic for Howard makes sense. You still have two top-tier big guys after all is said and done. But now after sending Odom out in the deal you are absolutely barren in the frontcourt. Bynum can and will hold his own with most guys, but it’s a little puzzling that the Lakers aren’t getting much front court help back. The Lakers are saving some money here by sending out some 28-30 million with Odom and Gasol and getting only 16 and change back with Paul. So, maybe there is some wiggle room for them to go get another big. Maybe Emeka Okafor’s obnoxious-ish contract is following Paul in tow to LA. If Okafor isn’t involved that leaves the Lakers some cap space to get another post player, but they likely won’t find one with the talent of a Gasol or Odom.

This puts an interesting light on David Stern seeing as some people might criticize him for making this deal because he and the league own the Hornets. It’s also puzzling as to why Stern hasn’t moved the Hornets himself. He did promise Seattle an NBA team within 5 years of the Sonics moving. It’s coming up on five years soon-ish…

You know who’s the most excited about this potential trade? The Mavericks, Celtics and Heat. The Mavs probably will lose defensive anchor Tyson Chandler and the Heat have no bigs at all. And now the Celtics don’t look as much of a fool for trading off Kendrick Perkins. As it is, the landscape of the NBA might be changing once again.