Making Sense of the Phoenix Suns.

I’m going to give you three NBA teams who aren’t so high in the standings: the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Throw Phoenix into the mix and you have four struggling teams.

Remember the old Sesame Street bit where they sang, “One of these things is not like the other?” This is similar, in the sense of how the teams built their current rosters.

Sacramento has gone the rout of putting as many young, high potential guys who like to shoot the ball (not much else) together.

Houston has a young group of interesting roster decisions. The point there is that they are young. Agree or disagree with how Darryl Morey got the players, the Rockets have exciting youth.

Cleveland rounds out the list with multiple lottery picks littering the roster.

The underlying theme in this is that the teams are young, and however frustrating it is to watch the team on the court (Sacramento), they have potential.

Phoenix however is different. There is no mention of a young building block with the potential or aptitude for stardom (i.e. Kyrie Irving, James Harden or DaMarcus Cousins). Continue reading

David Stern’s Lasting Impression

Get ready sardines and liver, David Stern is going to leave a worse taste in people’s mouths than you.

I’ll be the first to point out that David Stern has been commissioner longer than I’ve been alive. Therefore I obviously wasn’t around for the frozen envelope stuff and what not, but in my recent years of NBA fandom you can see the wheels falling off.

Yes, Stern, Bird and Magic may be credited with saving the NBA, but the lasting impression of Stern certainly isn’t a pleasant one.

Because of my limited viewpoint, so to speak, we’ll start with the things that have occurred in my years of fandom.

Continue reading

Game of Dominoes: NBA Free Agency

Let’s cut the flabber and get right to it. Steve Nash is heading to the Lakers in one of the more shocking moves of the offseason. The 38-year-old was shipped to LA in a sign-and-trade for two future first rounders and two future second rounders. The initial reaction isn’t a huge one. With Nash joining a proven playoff team, the picks figure to be at the end of their respective rounds. The thing is, though, that this was probably the best thing Phoenix was going to get. It surely beats letting him walk for nothing, and trumps out whatever sign-and-trade options Toronto, Dallas or New York would have offered.

It’s also somewhat genius for LA. Financial fodder aside, the Lakers got a top-tier player for relatively nothing. Los Angeles has a tendency to move their late first rounders for useful players in years past, so moving them for Nash isn’t surprising. Not to mention Steve Nash is much more than a useful player. No, the Lake Show didn’t get to unload Metta World Peace’s contract in the move, or any contract for that matter, but the Suns probably wouldn’t take it, or want it.

On the flip side of this, Phoenix seems to be throwing their new-found cap space at young, offensively-talented players. They have supposedly signed former Sun and Nash understudy, Goran Dragic, to a four-year deal and have also agreed to terms with former number two overall pick Michael Beasley on a multi-year pact. The third potential attacking prong is that of Eric Gordon. The Suns have signed him to a large offer sheet, and New Orleans could be hesitant to match given the fact that they are rebuilding and don’t want to tie down too much of their future money to one player, even one of Gordon’s talent. The Suns seem to be in less disarray than people would think after losing their face-of-the-franchise. A core of Dragic, Beasley, Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris and potentially Gordon is pretty desirable, especially for a team that wants to score in drones like Phoenix does.

With Nash now out of the picture, Dallas has lost on one of their point guard options, scratch that, one of their options period. Lamar Odom is gone and the return is simply a trade exception. That we knew was probably coming, but what’s more is that the Mavs find themselves having gone down swinging on Nash, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Derron Williams. Yikes. What Mark Cuban and friends do next is beyond me.

Speaking of Williams, he’s staying a Net. One reason for that is the acquisition of one Joe Johnson. Johnson will join Williams along with recently signed Gerald Wallace in Brooklyn at the expense of Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson (likely a sign-and-trade) as well as forwards Jordan Williams, Johan Petro and a draft pick. This move looks terrible for Atlanta when news trickles in that Jordan Farmar is likely being bought out. That likely leaves the Hawks with some three pointers by Morrow and some defensive stops from Stevenson. Not exactly what you envision when you trade a six-time All Star. But here is why it’s so wonderfully brilliant. All the contracts the Hawks received in return only run through next season. That’s right, all expiring contracts. Even more surprising is the fact that Danny Ferry also shed Marvin Williams oddly long contract by way of Utah, dealing another former number two overall pick to the Jazz for Devin Harris. Who, in sticking to theme, also has an expiring contract after this season.  So add that all up and the Hawks have thrown themselves into the much finagled running for Dwight Howard and All-Star Point Guard X, who might or might not end up being Chris Paul.

In other New York news, Jeremy Lin might be done playing for the Knicks. It’s reported that Jason Kidd has verbally, or whatever the official term is, reached an agreement with the Knicks. Because of the new CBA among other things, the Knicks do technically have the ability to match any offer that is made to Lin, but it could be costly as reports suggest that Houston is discussing an offer sheet in the neighborhood of 30 million dollars. Talk about “overnight” success.

Houston meanwhile is putting a lot of their eggs in that “Lin” basket. The team moved Kyle Lowry to Toronto for a first-round pick that takes a lawyer to decipher when Houston could actually get the pick. That and Goran Dragic’s aforementioned presumable departure leaves the point wide open for Kevin McHale’s club. It would be a bit funny if Lin stays in New York and the Rockets go after and sign Aaron Brooks. Brooks was traded to Phoenix for Dragic, and should he sign with Houston… well you get the point.

With no transition at all here, no really, none at all, the Clippers are getting better. In terms of success, the newer Los Angeles team strengthened a solid backcourt to the point of using the word ridiculous. Randy Foye and Nick Young are likely out the door, but in their place return the now-healthy Mr. Big Shot as well as Jamal Crawford. They join Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe in a backcourt that now has four starting caliber guards. This move also merits the acquisition of Lamar Odom at the cost of Mo Williams. If you’re playing along at home, that’s a starting five of Chris Paul, Billups or Crawford at the two, Odom at the three (if not off the bench), Blake Griffin at power forward and DeAndre Jordan down low. Yikes.

In a slight towards the Oklahoma Raiders, what a crap deal to trade away Eric Bledsoe’s draft rights for a future first round pick, they could have definitely used him in the playoffs. Actually, good for Bledsoe: the Raiders don’t get a good player and Bledsoe doesn’t have to play for a terrible owner. Win-win.

In guards-who-can-score-at-all-times news, Jason Terry is going to Boston. Or he has “supposedly” agreed to a contract with the Celtics. Terry will get the full mid-level exception for three years and upwards of 15 million dollars. Jason Kidd supposedly signed with the Knicks because they had better pieces, and you can see why. Dirk’s supporting cast has shrunk to Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. Yikes.

And throughout all this, the name “Dwight Howard” seems to be flying under the radar. FOR ONCE. The constant-topical center has supposedly (if I only had a million dollars for every time I said that, I’d be a multi-millionaire! Grins cheesily and gives Borat-esque thumbs up) asked to be moved to New Jersey Brooklyn. Good luck Dwight. After Joe Johnson and his contract (which, by the way, is so big that he had to check it on the flight up to Brooklyn) were acquired, and along with the long-term buildup of Gerald Wallace’s shiny new deal, there isn’t a whole lot of cap room left for you. The Nets do have Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks, who all together almost add up to Howard’s salary. However, I’m not so sure that the Magic should make that move.

 Let the financial finagling continue.

Charlotte Observer: What the Charlotte Bobcats Need to Do to Get Better

The Charlotte Bobcats are the worst team in the whole-entire-NBA. Not the CP3-less Hornets. Not the rookie-led Cavaliers and not the “wait, who’s on their team?”Raptors.

What I’m saying is that the Bobcats are pretty bad. They aren’t going to get better overnight and certainly aren’t going to have a huge rebirth next season. But if the Bobcats want to contend or even win more games than a person has fingers, they need to do some things:

Let DJ Augustin Walk…To a Degree.

The Bobcats should probably let the former lottery pick walk in order to let Kemba run the show on a full-time basis. This is going to speed up his development more than if he were coming off the bench or playing the 2. I say to a degree because they should probably work out a sign and trade so Augustin isn’t lost without compensation. And to be honest, the Bobcats should be happy to get any pieces, however they get them, because they need them.

Get Tyrus Thomas’s Contract off the Books.

This could come by amnesty. This could come by trade. This could come by who knows what, but the Bobcats need to move Thomas’ money. The Former LSU Tiger struggled in the Carolinas this year, putting up almost identical point-age and rebounding numbers to his rookie year.

Here is one that a lot of people aren’t going to be overly jazzed about: TRADE BISMACK BIYOMBO.

Let’s say the Bobcats do end up with the top pick in the draft, and the once-in-a-long-while talent that comes with it: Anthony Davis. You’d have a frontcourt of Davis and Biyombo, pretty intimidating defensively and almost the opposite offensively. That’s fine if you’re the Miami Heat or Denver Nuggets with oodles of wing-scoring options. But the Bobcats don’t have any big time scorers at the present time and Kemba needs more time to develop into one. The point here is that Biyombo might be a big commodity for some lottery teams who aren’t overly thrilled with the Sullingers and Joneses of the world. Last season’s lottery pick could fetch a decent return. Like say moving Biyombo to the Hornets for Gustavo Ayon, Xavier Henry and a future first-round pick. The Bobcats get a solid post player to team with Davis while also picking up a running mate for Walker. The Hornets meanwhile would get a strong defensive presence to pair with Thomas Robinson (should he fall to them) to form a strong, youthful frontcourt tandem.

Get Someone to Pay Corey Maggette.

Maggette is in the same boat as Thomas and needs to be shipped out to save the Bobcats money. Surprisingly, the Bobcats have less than a million in cap space. Generally bad teams don’t have a lot of cap room. You might as well throw in Desagana Diop in the same boat.

Go After it in Free Agency.

I’m not saying that they need to sign Steve Nash, but the ‘Cats could use some new blood, guys who could use a change of scenery or larger paycheck like Goran Dragic, Craig Brackens, James Anderson, Ersan Ilyasova, Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton. All of whom could make sense for a young Charlotte team.

Charlotte needs some youth and talent. Maybe this is the offseason when they get it.

PS- We’d like an NBA team back  in Seattle sometime, David Stern. (Sorry had to get that in there, my standard Stern jab.)

Best Fits for Pau Gasol

This could be complete junk by the time you read this. Pau Gasol could be on a team that is not the mighty purple and gold Lakers (note the heavy sarcasm). He might be first fiddle. He might be second fiddle. Who really knows? But if Gasol is traded, certain situations and teams are probably better fits for the seven-footer. What we have heard from various media outlets and insiders in various cities and counties is that Houston and Minnesota are two teams who are interested in Gasol.

Houston’s interest in Gasol is natural seeing as they would have acquired him in the much-ballyhooed trade that was vetoed by the point-man behind the Hornets… David Stern. Houston would have surrendered Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Goran Dragic and a first round pick to the Hornets while receiving Gasol. And Houston is probably still interested in Gasol. The kicker is that Chris Paul is off the board, so there won’t be any three-team swap with the assets going to the Hornets. In any deal for Gasol, the Lakers would probably like a point guard in return, because of the whole Chris Paul thing. Houston, incidentally has a very good one named Kyle Lowry. Now, whether the Rockets want to include Lowry in any deal remains to be seen. If they wanted to include him, he’d probably be a Laker and Gasol would be a Rocket. Here is the thing with Houston, Gasol would be a good fit, but at what cost?

Houston would probably have to surrender not only Lowry, but also Scola. If this is a two-for-one, LA comes away with a seven-win improvement and Houston takes a four-game hit. All per ESPN’s trade machine. This serves up the first point, does this make Houston better? Does it? Do we, or Houston for that matter, want a reincarnation of Memphis with Pau Gasol as the centerpiece of the team? Gasol is easily one of the better 20 or 30 players in the league, but I can’t see him being a team-centerpiece at this point. Houston also sacrifices their starting point guard and power forward. I know Houston is deep with youth almost everywhere, but is sacrificing Lowry worth it? As it stands Houston would be in the playoffs if they started today. So maybe they don’t need to do anything. I just think this whole thing is a bad idea. Houston is set as it is, and they don’t need a whole lot to make noise in the playoffs. They have maybe the most valuable thing in the NBA that isn’t LeBron James: a deep bench with young, fresh legs. That might be all that Houston needs.

Minnesota has also reportedly expressed interest. This one actually makes a lot of sense. A Gasol-Love post paring seems pretty formidable. Who plays the five would be up in the air, but that’s a very good duo to dump the ball into. Both can also stretch the floor with jumpers and hurt you on the low block. If you can’t tell, I’m already jumping on the imaginary bandwagon. The other pairing that would be formidable would be Gasol with his countryman Ricky Rubio, those two along with Love and Nikola Pekovic is a very good nucleus. Throw in JJ Barea and you have, as stated, a very good team. The other key with Minnesota is that the assets LA would want from Minnesota would be some combo of Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, a pick(s) and some other smaller pieces. Beasley will probably be traded in one way or another, so why not ship him to LA in a Gasol deal? Williams also goes to the Lakers with the Timberwolves not losing as much as other teams would be for dealing the number two overall pick from the previous year.

Minnesota doesn’t lose a whole lot, but would have to send salaries like Brad Miller’s and Anthony Randolph’s to Los Angeles to even it out.  The picks going to LA will be … well I’m not sure. These things tend to work themselves out. Maybe a future first rounder? Honestly I have no idea.

Teams who loaded up on assets to go after Dwight Howard might find Gasol a viable alternative, though I can’t see any one of the teams possibly interested in Howard (New Jersey, Golden State, etc.) making a run at Gasol.

So if I’m Minnesota, I make the call to LA and get the Gasol thing done if the Lakers are willing to do it.

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.