LeBron James: The Potential of the King in Cleveland

LeBron James could be a Cleveland Cavalier next season. Of course the operative word there is “could”. LeBron could opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer. “The King” won back-to-back titles in Miami and has an excellent chance at a three-peat this season. Leaving Miami would be tough after a potential three-peat, but there are long-term questions about whether the Heat can continue to add pieces financially.

While the short-term potential in South Beach is tantalizing, the long-term potential in LeBron’s old home of Cleveland could be amazing.

Why Cleveland? Not only would James return to try and win a ring and a sense of redemption in his home state, he would also join an up-and-coming Cavaliers side.

Cleveland won’t exactly be pouting if their hometown hero stays in Miami. After all, they’re likely bound for the lottery again this season, and the potential to add one of Dante Exum, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker to a nucleus of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett is ridiculous.

Throw in Tyler Zeller, Anderson Varejao and Andew Bynum and you have a scary team.

(Let’s say that for all intents and purposes, the Cavs draft Exum, as suggested in this CBS piece, and start Varejao at center.)

How about this for a rotation-

PG Kyrie Irving

SG Dante Exum

F Anthony Bennett

F LeBron James

C Anderson Varejao

Bench-

G Jarrett Jack

G Dion Waters

F Tristan Thompson

F Tyler Zeller

C Andrew Bynum

F Earl Clark

Cheap, Ray Allen-like Signing

Players would be lining up to play for this team. Not only do you have LeBron, but you also have a soon-to-be superstar in Irving and another potential superstar in their draft pick. It might not be Exum who the team takes, but with the depth in the upcoming draft class, whoever the pick is, they’re going to have tremendous upside.

The long-term potential in Cleveland for LeBron is undeniable. What’s more is that if, at age 35, LeBron can’t physically carry the team like he carries Miami now, Cleveland can turn to Irving or their young draft pick as the focal point of the team. They can then use LeBron in a more complimentary, less physically taxing role.

I’m not putting it past LeBron to carry a championship contender at age 35, but who knows what will happen when he gets up there in age.

The short-term potential in Miami is better than Cleveland, but I’ll pose it this way, if you were LeBron, do you want to be playing with the declining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in your later career years? Or do you want to be playing with a younger, more exciting Cleveland team where you don’t have to do as much?

It should also be noted that Wade and Bosh are going to be paid a lot of money down the road, as is LeBron. Thus making it difficult to add more pieces to compete for rings.

LeBron to Cleveland. Makes a lot of sense.

 

 

MLB Trade Rumors: Fixing the Angels

On paper the Angels look like they should make the playoffs if not win a good number of games. You know, at least be respectable.

Alas, last year’s Angels did not live up to their on-paper-expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, the Angels’ offense was good statistically. Only Cleveland, Baltimore, Oakland, St. Louis, Detroit and Boston scored more runs. The rub here is the pitching prowess. Or lack thereof.

The Angels actually gave up four more runs (737) than they scored (733). Only cellar dwellers Houston, Minnesota, Colorado, Toronto, Seattle and Philadelphia gave up more runs.

It all begins with the starters, and the sad truth is that Anaheim’s starters weren’t that bad last year. Garret Richards and Jason Vargas both preformed moderately well. Jered Weaver didn’t win, or start as many games as he usually does, but he still had a good year. CJ Wilson posted a career high 17 wins. The quality is there. LA of Anaheim just needs… well, they could use a fifth starter for one. Jerome Williams was alright in his spot in the rotation, but if you want to contend for division and league titles you can’t have a starter who posts an ERA of 4.57 in your rotation. It simply doesn’t fly.

It’s not as if the Angels haven’t tried. Tommy Hanson hasn’t really stuck in the rotation. Joe Blanton was close to awful.

Accomplishing the goal of acquiring pitching may be easier said than done. The Angels have a ridiculous amount of money on the books (not necessarily Yankee money)in Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, Jered Weaver and Erick Aybar’s respective contracts. This probably means the Halos will look for cheaper options. Cheaper, low-buy, not-a-lot-of-money-involved options generally tend to be hit-and-miss with an onus on the latter.

Which probably means that trading for someone is the likely route. No one wants Josh Hamilton and/or Albert Pujols’ respective contracts. If the Dodgers never traded for Adrian Gonzalez, then maybe you might be able to convince them to take Pujols away, but regardless, it’s not happening now. Aybar could appeal to teams as an option at shortstop, but his contract and the lack of middle infield depth likely rule that out. Both of the Angels’ catchers have been mentioned as targets of the Blue Jays, but I can’t see the Angels looking at any of Toronto’s starters as an upgrade. One of Toronto’s numerous quality relievers could be a fit, but Los Angeles might not want to trade from its only position of depth for a relief arm.

Mark Trumbo may be the only piece the Angels are willing to part with who could bring in an above-average-return.

They should not be doing this.

Sure, Trumbo is being shopped to find better pitching, but he shouldn’t be moved.

In his young career, Trumbo has shown that he can consistently hit for power and be a middle-of-the-order presence — Something that the Angels need because Pujols and Hamilton may be hard to rely on. Saying Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton weren’t reliable three years ago would have probably been as accurate as saying Thabo Sefalosha is/was a better basketball player than LeBron James. Nowadays, Sefalosha is still inferior compared to LeBron, but Pujols and Hamilton aren’t what they once were. It may have just been a year or two of down seasons for the two of them, but their collective three years in Anaheim have been below par considering their previous success.

Pujols hasn’t hit .300 or slug 40 homeruns in his tenure in Southern California, hallmarks of his years in St. Louis.Numbers-wise,  Hamilton fell off a cliff from his last year in Texas. The numbers-

Josh Hamilton 2012 (with Texas)- 148 games played, 160 hits, 103 runs scored, 31 doubles, 43 homeruns, 128 RBI, .930 OPS.

Josh Hamilton 2013 (with Anaheim)- 151 games played, 144 hits, 73 runs scored, 32 doubles, 21 homeruns, 79 RBI, .739 OPS.

Staggering.

A foot injury that caused Pujols to miss almost half of the season further augments the instability in the middle of the lineup.

The last 200-odd words are basically longhand for “the Angels need to keep Mark Trumbo.”

The Angels need to keep what they have (i.e. Trumbo) as well as make additions to the team. They aren’t going to contend by taking two steps backward and three steps forward, in terms of additions. Sadly, the Angels probably need to spend to get where they want to be in terms of contending. Also sadly, they don’t have a whole lot of money thanks to their lavish signings (see Hamilton, Josh and Pujols, Albert among others). The Halos need to get creative to win. Getting creative to win with minor-league signings, low-buy trades, etc. isn’t always the easiest route. It involves a little luck sometimes. The Angels need that luck; otherwise they’re staring at another middling season.

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

The Best in World of Sports: An Atlas of Atlases

In Greek mythology there is a Titan named Atlas who held up the world, or held up the sky so that it didn’t crash down on the Earth.

In the world of sports, each team has its own “Atlas” who keeps the team from falling flat.

Some of the best “Atlases” in recent sports memory:

  1. LeBron James- Cleveland Cavaliers. During LeBron’s tenure the Cavaliers were essentially James and a never-ending roll call of role players. Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Wallace were the only really good players who James played with in Cleveland. And at that point both were in the respective twilights of their careers, and Wallace wasn’t scoring much (as per usual). Cleveland was so bad without “King James” that they set an NBA record for the longest losing streak: 26 games after he made the decision to go to South Beach.
  2. Derrick Rose- Chicago Bulls. A small sample size, but while Rose dominated Game One of the first round of the playoffs versus Philly, he tore his ACL towards the end of the game. After holding on for the win in that game the Bulls went on to lose the series 4-2 to the eight-seeded 76ers. As a follow up, this year with Rose out for an extended amount of time, most pundits and talking heads have Chicago in the 6-8 seed range in the playoffs. Quite a drop-off for the team who had the best record in the East last season.
  3. Luis Suarez- Liverpool. If you take away Suarez’s fantastic production, the Reds would likely be in the relegation zone if not in last.
  4. Dwight Howard- Orlando Magic. Orlando is so bad without Howard it compelled me to write an entire piece on it, you can see that here. Orlando is going nowhere fast.
  5. Steve Nash- Phoenix Suns. Obviously earlier on in Nash’s career he had Amare Stoudamire and friends, so the team wouldn’t be that bad off without him. However, the Suns of the past couple years have needed Nash to help them stay out of the cellar. With him they were camped on the stairs going to the cellar; now they’re the cellar’s likely tenants.
  6. Mike Trout- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Trout supporters love overusing the stat about the visible improvement of the Angels’ record with him, as opposed to their record without him. Take away Trout and a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells goes nowhere offensively. Continue reading

1992 VS 2012: Which Olympic Team Wins?

Yes. If you haven’t figured it out, I was born in 1996. But even though that was four years before I was born this is a topical post that’s interesting to me so, moving on…

Who would win if the 1992 Dream Team squared off with the current chapter of the Men’s Olympic Basketball team?

We’ll never know of course. If we did know, then time machines would work and the magic of Back to the Future would be lost on us.

The one glaring difference between the teams is their respective post presences, or lack thereof. The Dream Team was stocked with Hall-of-Fame-worthy big men who dominated the paint: Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson led that elite group. While this year’s contingent is stocked with… Tyson Chandler. Similar, I know.

(The Secret Word is… Sarcasm)

While ’92 was more well rounded, with dominance at every position, the current team is more wing oriented and athletic. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Andre Iguodala form a daunting group of wing players. They are fast, and athletic, they’ll run up the score and force turnovers on you at will. Plus, most of them are in their prime, or some stage of it. LeBron is probably at his best, if not nearing his best play. Kobe is coming off one of his better seasons. While Durant is just entering his prime years, and Harden and Iguodala are fresh off respective breakout years. Carmelo Anthony is pretty good too.

But can this team beat the Dream Team? One of the best, if not the best, team in sports history?

The wings would definitely cause the ’92 team a problem or two. Guys like Magic and Bird were at the tail end of their careers and might have issues guarding some of these guys. But the flipside to that is that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were in their prime. Two of the best defenders ever, I would certainly take them defensively over most, if not all, of the current guys.

So would the 2012 version of the Olympic Men’s National Basketball Team beat the 1992 version? No, they wouldn’t. I’m not even sure if 2012 could beat the 2008 version.

Dynasty? Nahhhh: Why OKC Won’t Win Titles

There has been speculation from all of the talking heads and what have you that this is the first of many opportunities for a basketball team in Oklahoma City to win a title.

And now I will explain why that is a load of “horse droppings” (again, trying to stay as clean as possible here).

First of all, Kevin Durant is great. And that’s amazing and all, but where is the offensive depth behind him? Russell Westbrook is also a viable point-scoring option, but after that it might get sketchy.  No, I haven’t forgotten James Harden, but he is going to demand a large paycheck when he reaches free agency. And while he is effective, where is the depth after him?

Nick Collison is a nice fourth/fifth post option, and Derek Fisher has his moments, but after that the cupboard is bare. There isn’t a whole lot behind Westbrook and Fisher at the point. While the starting two, Thabo Sefolosha, is defensive, in a word. On the front line, however, well there is a bunch of bargain bin fodder really; Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward and Nazr Mohammed aren’t too exciting.

So here is the “pleasant” dilemma OKC has. Shell out a bunch of dough to Harden and lose cash to go after much needed bench help, or let Harden walk and go through a tail spin of sorts. I should also mention that Serge Ibaka will warrant a whole lot of money as well.

The third thing here, and most glaring hole in OKC’s game, is that they have no scoring presence in the post. Take away KD, Westbrook and Harden with three very good defenders like say Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Shane Battier, then you’ve won the game already.

That leads right into my Finals prediction, Heat over the Thunder in 6.

(Sorry Stern, you already handed Bennett the team, you don’t get to hand him the trophy.)

NBA Off-Season “Hot Topics”

(Never thought I’d write “Hot Topics”….moving on.)

Is it too early to discuss the NBA offseason?

Is it premature to speculate about the goings on in the offseason?

Yes and yes. But I’m delving into it anyways. And don’t think I’m giving up on the playoffs yet, I’m pouring all my energy into jumping on the Spurs bandwagon. I’m not saying this because I’m heavily opposed to the Raiders, which I am by the way.  I’m saying it because San Antonio is the most complete and best team left in the playoffs. There, I said it Heat fans.

Enough about San Antonio, let’s get on to the offseason:

Uncertainty: When I say uncertainty I’m aiming right at Sacramento. David Stern needs to do something right for the first time in a of couple decades. He (and I’m sorry King fans, I feel your pain, I really do) needs to move the Kings north to Seattle. I’d like it done quickly, but honestly just the promise in writing that a team is coming at some point is fine. And no one gives a rat’s whatever about my opinion. Case-in-point-but-not-really-just-wanted-to-say-the-words-case-in-point.

It’s also that time of year when the time-old tradition of imploding-playoff-teams-if-they-can’t-work happens. The Lakers are a sure candidate for this after being bludgeoned out of the playoffs by the Raiders.  Pau Gasol is a likely trade possibility, as is Andrew Bynum if the right return presents itself (read Dwight Howard). The Boston Celtics are probably next in line at the blowing-up establishment. The Big 3 are obviously in their twilight years and even if they win a title, change could be in order. Atlanta has gone through a lot of one-and-done as well as second-round exits in the last couple years. The underlying-theme-spoiler-alert-WRITTEN-IN-ALL-CAPS theme is that the current group isn’t doing it. Joe Johnson is good, but not good to the point of warranting his contract. Josh Smith supposedly wants out, Marvin Williams is an amnesty option and Kirk Hinrich’s contract is up. Al Horford is the one sure thing on the roster. He’s backed up by a solid Zaza Pachulia and will likely be joined by the potentially-potent Jeff Teague. After those guys, and I’m not kidding you, the rest of the roster is one-year, minimum contract guys. That’s how low the Hawks are on cap space. So now that I’m done rambling about them I’ll give you the short version of the story on all the other possible roster-dynamite-lighters. Utah was a surprise playoff team and could move some of their vets toward a larger youth movement. Dallas might blow it up to get under the cap, and Orlando has the whole Dwight Howard conundrum.

If you haven’t heard (because whenever you Google “NBA free agency” you get a load of pick-your-expletive  on the Miami Heat and what not) free agency is almost upon us. That’s right, no LeBrons or Chris Boshs, but very good players none the less. Steve Nash is an option for teams looking for point guard help (just realized that might be the worst lead in on a topic ever). After Nash there’s a guy you might have heard of that kind of took the world by storm and then couldn’t make the tail end of Sportcenter: Jeremy Lin. Not because he played bad, but because he just wasn’t playing at a ridiculous level. In the rest of the free agent pool there are a lot of guys wading (pun intended… eh… not my best) for a big payday. Roy Hibbert could cash in big time after a nice bout of postseason play. Ditto JaVale McGee. Other guys waiting in line for a bigger pay check include Lavoy Allen, Omer Asik, Lopez’s Brook and Robin, Landry Fields, Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphries as well as Eric Gordon. Let the speculations begin.

There’s also this little thing where guys get to represent their country called the Olympics coming up, again, not sure if you’ve heard of it. There are plenty of spots available now that Dwight Howard and Derek Rose were lost to injuries. Just thought I’d mention that so you could run to the Y and practice before you try out. Anyways, the loss of Howard is a real blow to the Americans. With a daunting Spanish frontline consisting of the Gasols and Serge Ibalka, it might be a problem without one of the better rim defenders in the league. But the options after him are quite good. Tyson Chandler might be second in everything that Dwight Howard is first in defensively and Kevin Love is a rebounding monster. And I write this as I look at the roster of finalists, you thought Beijing was good? Listen to the potential here, you’ve got almost everybody from ’08. Which means Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, Chris Paul, Deron Williams. Then there’s the “new guys” Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Iguodala and Russell Westbrook. This is going to be a really good team and a fun one to watch too.

So there it is, enjoy your off-season folks. Well, enjoy it after the finals, but enjoy it none the less. And let’s bring the NBA back to Seattle while we’re at it. (Looking at you Stern.)

Rashard Lewis: You See Contractual Albatross, I See Potential Gold Mine

If I asked you who the highest paid player in the entire NBA is you’d probably rattle off answers like LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose or the ghost of Gilbert Arenas’ contract. But no, in fact it is former Seattle SuperSonic great Rashard Lewis.

Yes, Rashard Lewis is being paid 22.7 million dollars next year. What makes it even more perplexing is that he plays for the Washington Wizards, a team that doesn’t really need him and should be angling every asset on their roster towards youth.

Which is what they might be doing with Lewis.

Maybe Ernie Grunfeld and friends were being smart when they didn’t use the amnesty provision on Lewis. Maybe they’ll look like complete geniuses for not doing it. After all, he could turn into the next Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac was dealt in a three-team mess with the Knicks and Kings from the Rockets to New York. Houston also gave up Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey and in return picked up Jordan Hill, a couple first round picks and the right to pay Jared Jeffries checks.

Not too bad right?

Now if you’re Washington, you already have a star player and team “Atlas” of sorts in John Wall. He’s the star; he’s the present and future face of the franchise.  You already have a very good center in this league in Nene. And you have a bunch of youth, which is never bad. Some of it will pan out and some of it won’t, but it’s better than trotting out declining vets with bloated contracts.

Going on my theory of throwing almost a dozen young players at the court and seeing which ones stick, it wouldn’t be bad if Washington had more of them to throw at the court.

Now, McGrady was moved to New York for the sole intent of clearing cap space to bring in a max free agent(s). Which ended up being Amare and money to throw at Carmelo after they were robbed by the Nuggets and left with Anthony. The point here is that Tracy McGrady was moved so the team could get under the cap so they could go after a max-contract free agent. It’s not as if there aren’t any potential big-name free agents hitting the market soon. Well, except some guy named Dwight Howard. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

Again the point is that normally teams wouldn’t go rushing out to get an overpaid player whose contract is north of 20 million as a rental, but that is something that might become a reality here.

The big, grand finale-ish, maybe-wrapping-up-point-but-probably-not is that the Wizards are in a prime position to move Lewis to a team who would like to clear cap space for Howard.

These would be teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Nets.

LA isn’t going to do anything brash and dump Pau Gasol for Lewis, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them pick him up for the sole purpose of clearing cap space. I’m sure LA would love to be rid of Metta World Peace, Josh “McBobs” McRoberts and Steve Blake’s collective contracts, however, the Wizards aren’t going to make that trade unless David Stern threatens to move them to Omaha. Again, a completely viable option. I would not put it past him. Next thing you know the Magic and Suns will be playing in the Dakotas. All because he likes “small markets”.

Dallas could conceivably deal Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood and Vince Carter’s unguaranteed contract to Washington, though while Marion would help  Washington a lot at the 2 and 3 as well as providing… You know what? A John Wall, Nene, Marion, Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely starting five would be pretty fun to watch.

The only thing that really prevents the previous trade from happening is Brendan Haywood’s supersized, bloated, terrible, overkill contract. Feel free to add any adjectives that I might have missed there. Maybe it could happen if the Wizards forced the Mavs to take Andray Blatche back. Not sure if Dallas would do that.

Another scenario, this assuming Lamar Odom’s contract isn’t bought out, sees Dallas moving Odom, Marion and Carter for Lewis. Not sure if the Mavs would sacrifice that much wing depth, but to Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, I’d do it.

The trade machine makes it a bit difficult to trade with the newly dubbed Brooklyn Nets seeing as almost all of their contracts are expiring.  Still, Lewis to New Jersey for anyone but Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez or Gerald Green makes sense. I realize that  I named almost half the roster there, still those guys are likely safe unless Howard comes to Brooklyn. In that case Lopez would be available.

The point here is that Rashard Lewis and his contract very well could be one of the more sought after commodities on the trade front. He’s gone from maybe the least desirable asset to maybe the most desirable one.

The Dallas Mavericks and Their Cap Space

The Mavericks would like to continue to build around Dirk Nowitzki. They would also like to add Deron Williams and Dwight Howard and basically be the Anti-Heat from a style of play perspective.

What the Mavericks do with their cap space remains to be seen. Dwight Howard is likely to play in Orlando for at least the first half of next year while Deron Williams becomes the singular big name on the market.

Dallas could make a Miami-like splash with a superstar player or a Net-like splash that brings in guys like Johan Petro and Travis Outlaw on bloated contracts.

If Mark Cuban and friends want to get the big name free agent this summer (Williams), they need to do a few things. One is to trade Shawn Marion. Marion had a nice year in the Big D and played some lock-down defense. In any other situation the Mavericks would keep him, but with the possibility of pairing the aforementioned superstars with Dirk, he probably has to go.

The Mavs will also likely have to amnesty Brendan Haywood. Haywood wasn’t exactly Tyson Chandler this year, but he was a solid replacement and better than a lot of options. Like Marion, he would probably come back, but he is one of the biggest contractual albatrosses around. He probably has to go.

Vince Carter’s contract isn’t guaranteed next season or the year after, meaning he is also likely to go if the need for money persists. Lamar Odom is also likely out of the picture.

Brandon Wright, Dominquie Jones, Kelena Azubuike and Rodrigue Beaubois represent the only other multi-year contracts on the books. However, all four are young and cheap enough to be moved easily.

Jason’s Kidd and Terry as well as Brian Cardinal, Yi Jianlian, Ian Mahinmi and Delonte West could all land elsewhere next season as the Mavericks roster could be turned upside down.

Now that you’ve digested all of that, here’s what the Mavericks should do to achieve the goal of getting Deron Williams.

  1. Amnesty Brendan Haywood. Sorry, had to be done.
  2. Continually kick themselves for not resigning Tyson Chandler. That’s assuming they have no shot at trading for Dwight Howard (which they don’t) or signing him next offseason (looking iffier by the day).
  3. Trade Shawn Marion, Jones and Beaubois to Golden State for the Warriors first-round pick. This is assuming that Golden State doesn’t land a small forward like Harrison Barnes or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft. Jones and Beaubois could both use the change of scenery.  Jones could play the 3 in a smaller GS lineup, and Beaubois provides the Warriors with a little bit of insurance should Stephen Curry’s ankles give out (no really, at this point it wouldn’t be a total shocker.) Dallas meanwhile gets a top ten pick to go along with the potential of Williams and Dirk.
  4. Cut Vince Carter. I thought briefly about the idea of Marion being dealt to the Warriors for Richard Jefferson, the Mavs resigning Kidd and keeping Carter, but then again that would have been exciting maybe six years ago. Not now.
  5. Trade Azubuike for a second-round pick next year and the year after. Boring, I know. But the Mavs could use some picks, and they did deal Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer for a second-round pick in 2014, so maybe this isn’t so bad.
  6. Resign Jason Terry to a deal that’s as cap friendly as possible. The Jet landing somewhere besides Dallas? Give me a break.
  7. Convince Oklahoma City that Brandon Wright is a cheaper Serge Ibalka and swap the two. This would be phenomenal, but only from a standpoint of seeing Clay Bennett falter, and gasp, take scrutiny in OKC. In which case Stern would probably legally force Kobe and/or LeBron to play in OKC for pocket change. It’s not entirely impossible, but seeing as Stern did some questionable things moving the team there, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
  8. Sign Deron Williams. This is the big one. If the Nets were smart they’d keep Williams. If they can’t however and he signs in Dallas, the Nets should sap whatever they can out of the Mavericks in a sign and trade. Then maybe that pick from Golden State could come in handy…

The Mavericks might do some of these things, and they might not. (Side note, the OKC thing isn’t happening, I just like taking shots at Stern because I’m still irked, putting it nicely there, about what he did to the Sonics.) But all in all Dallas definitely could use some more cap room to go out and get a big name free agent.

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.