The Celtics Plan Without Rajon Rondo

This isn’t the kind of injury that you can replace with a game-manager or fill in/expiring contract to replace a starter. This is Rajon Rondo we are talking about. Rondo probably means more to his team than a lot of other stars mean to theirs. Knowing this, it’s going to take someone special to replace Rondo in the short term, and even then the replacement probably won’t be up to Rondo’s par.

Not many players even have the potential to be on Rondo’s level. This trade I’m going to throw out there might fix the Celtics’ problems short term and long term. Let me explain.

(It’s a four-team trade, so you’re excused if it’s confusing. It’s making my head hurt,and I haven’t even written it yet.)

 

Boston acquires Tyreke Evans from Sacramento and Steve Blake from the Lakers.

Sacramento acquires Courtney Lee and Fab Melo from Boston. Devin Ebanks and Jodie Meeks from LA and Omri Casspi from Cleveland.

Los Angeles acquires Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox from Boston and Tyler Honeycutt from Sacramento.

Cleveland acquires Francisco Garcia from Sacramento and a future second-round pick from Boston and LA.

 

Now we get to the explaining part.

First off is Boston. The Celtics get two point guards to at least do a half-decent job of filling in for Rondo. Obviously no one is going to replace Rondo, but Evans has the potential to be very good. Blake is one of the more consistent backup point guards in the league.

Boston also gets help long term. Not only would Boston have the option to re-sign Evans before anyone else does in free agency (that’s a huge stretch, but the Celtics would have the option,) but if they feel Evans doesn’t work, then they can let him walk and save the money that they owe long term to Lee. Blake gives them value this year, but also next year as a more-than-appealing expiring contract in a trade.

Sacramento. I have a little trouble with this if I’m the Kings Sonics. And the only problem I have is with Lee, more specifically, Lee’s contract. That is a lot of money long term for a starter-on-a-bad-team-bench-guy-on-a-good-team player. Sacramento Seattle gets another look at Casspi, plus Melo, a high upside big. Meeks’ contract is very team friendly in terms of what he can do. Ebanks is another guy on an expiring deal who could pan out given the chance. Sacramento gets rid of Garcia’s and Honeycutt’s contracts going forward.

The Lakers would love this trade if they made it. The one upside of Blake’s recent injury is the emergence of Duhon as more than just a trade throw in. That and the ever looming Darius Morris make Blake expendable. He’s even more expendable due to the fact that LA wants to save money. Dealing Blake would do that. LA also gets a Barbosa-Nash-D’Antoni reunion. (Side note, how many Phoenix fans envisioned that within five years of each leaving the Suns? The answer is one. That one guy who wants to rebuild and trade away anyone who isn’t 22 with big potential. We’ve all met them.) LA also gets more big-man insurance with Wilcox. Plus the fact that (and I’m no salary cap aficionado) Honeycutt’s contract might be non-guaranteed. Thus the team waves him, or buys him out, keeps a roster spot and saves enough money to buy the whole team lunch for a month or two.

Cleveland gets picks going forward, but also gets an interesting piece in Garcia. Yes, he costs them an extra four million, but has the potential to, like Blake, be a very appealing option as an expiring contract next year in terms of trade value.

I think the smartest thing for Boston to do is to go get Evans. You obviously aren’t going to finish with the best record in the conference, but maybe Evans finally figures it out under the tutelage of Doc Rivers, KG, Paul Pierce and a hobbling Rondo. Maybe Evans stays long term and plays well alongside Rondo in the future. Those “maybes” might turn into something better than a regular season conference title.

Poof! There Goes A Contender!

How one off-season trade has sent the Orlando Magic crashing and tumbling towards the basement and eventual lottery.

First, I should start off by mentioning that the Magic are 2-1 as I write this. I know they have a winning record, but they’ve played three games. They’re serving as kitchen-store lighting at the moment, also known as a flash in the pan. If the season goes really well for the Magic, then the joke’s on me, but on paper and for the future the Magic look anything like their name.

Dwight Howard got traded. I think everyone down to the foul pole at Safeco Field knew it was coming. The question then became, “ok, well what can they get for him?” Continue reading

While You Were Out NBA Headlines- Joel Pryzbilla Signs with Milwaukee, David Stern is Still a Resident Jerk and Dwight Howard was Traded to the Lakers… Wait WHAT?!?!?!?

Let me convey my surprise again: WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!… ?!?

Here’s the skinny, Dwight Howard has changed his address, thanks to the Lakers, Magic as well as Denver and Philly. The league’s best center is going to Tinsletown.

I still can’t get over the fact that LA got Dwight Howard, defensive monster extraordinaire, for the price of Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga. Continue reading

The Orlando Magic’s Dilemma

Dwight Howard will play in Orlando at some point. Whether he is on the road team or the home squad remains to be seen.

The Magic are stuck in a rut. Dwight Howard might go somewhere else, or he might stay. The man has not made up his mind, which is terrible for the only major sports team in Orlando. If he stays, then the Magic could pursue another big name guy to pair with him. Darren Williams could be a potential fit if he leaves the Nets, ditto Chris Paul with the Clippers.

The Magic’s present and future hinge on Howard. Without him they are a mess of bad contracts and a couple decent -to-good upside guys on the roster.

Hypothetically without Howard the Magic are a complete and total mess. Think about this for a minute in terms of teams who didn’t make the playoffs-

West-

Houston Rockets

Phoenix Suns

Utah Jazz

Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers

Sacramento Kings

Minnesota Timberwolves

East-

Milwaukee Bucks

Charlotte Bobcats

Detroit Pistons

New Jersey Nets

Washington Wizards

Toronto Raptors

Cleveland Cavaliers

Most of those teams have some degree of young talent. Top to bottom: Houston has a ton of young lottery picks. Phoenix has a nice piece or two. Utah has an intriguing size and talent. Golden State can score now and can probably score in seven years with a lot of the same group. The Clippers have a ridiculous young nucleus. Despite the DeMarcus Cousins situation, Sacramento has some high octane guards, post talent or no. Minnesota might have the best young group going into the next couple years with an (insert exciting-like adjective here) core of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams.

Out East it’s the same kind of story. Milwaukee rolls out a potentially explosive, not to mention, a potentially top-ten point guard/ center combo with Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut. Charlotte is in the same boat as Phoenix in the sense that it’s a couple of nice pieces and some veterans. Detroit has a good, young, solid point/center duo like the Bucks in Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. New Jersey has Derron Williams and Brook Lopez, but seeing as they haven’t done diddly with a decent supporting cast, it’s tough to see them getting better with that core. The Washington Wizards have got a guy you might have heard of named John Wall (that’s probably been overused, but Wall is the best player on that team). Toronto is in the same “bunch of lottery picks, not a superstar on the team” boat. Cleveland just has Mike Conley 2.0 (Kyrie Irving) and a fan favorite (Anderson Varejao). Sell season tickets with that!

Now put a Dwight Howard-less Magic on this list. Just a refresher, this would be the Magic’s roster:

Player X who Orlando gets for Howard

Jason Richardson

Ryan Anderson

Hedo Turkoglu

Jameer Nelson

JJ Redick

Glen Davis

Daniel Orton

DeAndre Liggins

Chris Duhon

Quentin Richardon

Von Wafer

Earl Clark

Justin Harper

Larry Hughes

Let’s say that Player X is someone along the lines of Brook Lopez. Put Lopez or a DeMarcus Cousins on this team and a once 5-8 seed type team downgrades to more of a definite lottery team to a fringe playoff contender.

That and the heaps of bad contracts make for a long rebuilding process.

Now let’s say Howard stays with the Magic. You have the same exact team as above with Howard replacing Player X. That leaves the Magic in the NBA no-man’s land that is mediocrity.

It’s not as if this is the LA Clippers of a couple months back, or last year’s Knick team that started the season. This is not a team with a superstar and pieces that can be moved for another superstar. The New Jersey Nets are not going to come calling for Quentin Richardson, Von Wafer and a late first-round pick for Derron Williams. It’s simply not going to happen. The only possible trade pieces here that don’t wear number twelve are the streaking Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis. That alone isn’t going to get you a superstar.  With the way Anderson is playing the Magic will want to keep him to complement Howard.

If Dwight Howard does in fact stay there will be more Eastern Conference Semifinals and first round exits in your future Magic season ticket holders. If he does go it might be 3-5 years before it gets somewhat better.

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.

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.