New Blog!!!

Check out my newest creation kingdomeofseattlesports.com. A fantastic new site dedicated to Seattle Sports. Lots of content on the Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners.

Fun fact, has been viewed more times than Squatch the Sasquatch (or Bigfoot for that matter) in the last five years. (Although that may change soon…)

Don’t worry though, knowhitter fans. Your favorite David Stern disapproving blogger will still be rolling out new content.

 

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

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.)

Spite: Why Again, is the Sonics’ History in OKC?

Oh yeah, spite. That’s the answer, or at least that’s my take on it. You see, not only have we (Seattle) lost our team, but in a matter of years the Raiders are in the NBA Finals. So, not only does that irk me (that’s the PG version), but I should also point out that all of the Sonics’ history is owned by Clay Bennett and his “posse”.

So, assuming you’re still following along after that painfully short lead-in, here is my perception:  spite. Yes, spite. Why else would you want to take a team’s history? When Seattle gets a team back (looking at you Stern), I don’t want that team’s history. That’s their history; they accomplished it, and they deserve to have it.

Say your team is gone along with its history. Say you’ve had some Hall of Fame worthy players as well. Now let’s say that those players’ jerseys were never retired and that the history, as stated, is owned by somebody else. Welcome to our world readers who aren’t Northwesterners and/or Sonics fans. Gary Payton’s jersey was never retired, and the ability to retire it now lies in the hands of Clay Bennett. And that’s what bugs me. Bennett isn’t going to retire the Glove’s jersey. Even if he did, GP has said he doesn’t want it retired in OKC. So basically, the jersey is useless in OKC’s hands. And that’s what bugs me. They know that they weren’t going to do anything with the jerseys of guys like Payton and Kemp, not to mention the 1979 NBA Championship Trophy. But they own the history nonetheless. Which seems spiteful to me.

You’ll notice that I don’t refer to OKC as their actual nickname, and more accurately call them the Raiders. They are in fact just that, Raiders, who took the team and the history.

A quick side slant at Bennett and Stern here. Stern named Bennett the head of the NBA Relocation Committee. That might be the worst hiring since the Knicks brought in Isaiah Thomas. Or maybe even worse.

Another  thing that is bothersome (again, being PG rated here) is that every time I watch the NBA playoffs, they throw out stats like “OKC’s first playoff (put accomplishment here) in over 15 or 20 years.” That’s also a load of bahooey (again PG), because it wasn’t OKC. It was the Sonics.

And just to clear things up, I’ve got no ill will towards the Thunder players or coaches. Most of them weren’t in Seattle, but the people I do have a problem with are Bennett and his “posse”.

 

And Stern.

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.)

NBA Trade Deadline Grades that Pay

(Corny title, I know.)

The deadline is upon us as I write this. It probably isn’t the magnitude that the baseball trade deadline is, but it’s close, at least on a higher level than the NFL.

Deals will happen. They always happen at the deadline and will continue to do so in the NBA’s existence.

Let’s start with the Lakers, who have glaring needs at forward and the point. Here’s what they have done so far-

  • The Lakers Acquired Ramon Sessions to stabilize the point guard spot while also picking up young forward Christian Eyenga. The cost to acquire those two was and is wings Jason Kapono, Luke Walton and a top 14 protected 2012 first-round pick.

Sessions was expendable from the sense that the Cavs already have Kyrie Irving on payroll and the fact that Irving is the future.

The Lakers give up what is probably a pick somewhere in the 20s if they make a playoff run.

That might be the only huge loss here for LA. They get out of the rest of Walton’s contract as well as Kapono’s. They also get a youth infusion in the front court with Eyenga.

This leaves the Lakers with Sessions, Steve Blake and Derek Fisher on payroll. Which leads us to this…

  • The Houston Rockets Acquire PG Derek Fisher from the LA Lakers for Jordan Hill and the Mavericks first-round pick.

The Lakers have now moved both of the first-round picks that they owned in this year’s draft. But on the flipside, the Lakers have unloaded both Fisher and Walton, who are under contract next year, replacing them with players who might not be under contract next season.

Hill gives the Lakers more youth in the frontcourt as well as depth, which is another thing that they probably could have used to help their championship aspirations.

The Rockets pick up another first-round pick to add to their hull while also picking up a stop gap point guard to fill in for Kyle Lowry while he recovers from injury. The Rockets could also buy out Fisher following the return of Lowry, or keep him for a stretch run.

Hill was movable in a sense because of another trade…

  • The Houston Rockets acquired Marcus Camby from the Portland Trailblazers for former lottery picks Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a second-round pick that originated with the T-Wolves.

The Rockets picked up a presence in the frontcourt after going down swinging in the original Chris Paul trade. Thabeet and Flynn were almost dead weight in Houston and should benefit from a change of scenery. The Blazers might be in a bit of a rebuilding or retooling stretch, whichever lights your fire after moving this key cog to an Eastern Conference team…

  • The New Jersey Nets Acquire F Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trailblazers for frontcourt depth in Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur and a top three projected 2012 first-round pick.

The Nets are attempting to keep Deron Williams for next season just as Dwight Howard has now chosen to stay in Orlando for next season. A starting five and core of Wallace, Williams, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks isn’t too bad.

This is curious for Portland, who after dealing Camby and Crash, they have also reportedly fired Mr. Sonic himself, Nate McMillian. This is truly sad news, as the Blazers are supposedly starting to rebuild or retool. Again, whichever lights your fire. Williams has a player option for next year, which will likely be exercised as well as Okur’s expiring deal, which totals almost 11 million dollars. This should set up Portland to go after a big free agent while also getting a potentially high pick in a very good draft.

Moving on with no transition, we see a very surprising trade from George’ Karl’s Denver Nuggets-

  • We move on to more former Sonic news as George Karl’s Nuggets have moved their big free agent resigning- Nene Hilario- to the Washington Wizards for JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf. This trade also involves the Los Angeles Clippers as Nick Young will head to LA to help the Clippers’ two guard needs. The Wizards will get forward Brian Cook and a future second-round pick in return.

This moved shocked me to be honest with you. The Nuggets dealt their starting center in Nene for another one in McGee as well as another good bench player in Ronny Turiaf. The Nuggets will certainly be fine because of their exceptional depth, but the Wizards clearly won from a talent perspective now. Nene might just be a better fit with John Wall than McGee was, and he gives a young Washington squad a veteran presence.

The Nuggets might have benefited long term more so than the Wizards because they got to unload Nene’s contract. This frees up money not only for the future, but also money for restricted free agent Wilson Chandler. Chandler, who is fresh off a stint in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), would give the Nuggets a boost on the wing.

The Clippers are the under the radar team here as they pick up a shooting guard to replace the long-injured Chauncey Billups. This really helps the Clips in terms of a missing piece and needed scoring punch.

New we really don’t have any transition as the Indiana Pacers get some backcourt depth with Leandro Barbosa.

  • The Pacers picked up Barbosa for a second-round pick and cash considerations from the Toronto Raptors.

The Pacers didn’t need to put any outgoing players in the deal because of their vast salary cap room. Not exactly vast mind you, but under these circumstances, that’s a lot. Good deal for Indy.

  • Golden State acquires Richard Jefferson and a first-round pick from the San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors did a brilliant job of turning Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown into Andrew Bogut, Jefferson and a first-round pick. That’s a nice little roster turnaround for Golden State. Jefferson might be bought out, nobody knows. Nice swap for the Spurs as well as Jackson gives the Spurs a little bit more of a scoring touch compared to Jefferson.

  • In the last move, or first chronologically — whichever way you want to look at it, the Philadelphia 76ers picked up athletic wing Sam Young from Memphis for the rights to former second-round pick Ricky Sanchez.

So there are your trades everybody. Some other notes of prominence-

  • The Raptors have released point guard Anthony Carter, who was originally believed to be part of the Barbosa trade.
  • The Magic didn’t trade Dwight Howard, as he will presumably come back next season.
  • The Celtics kept the Big 3 intact for at least this season.
  • Steve Nash stayed put in Phoenix.
  • Michael Beasley is staying in the Twin Cities.
  • And Deron Williams is still a Net.

Trade Rajon Rondo?

Rajon Rondo has evolved from a spare part to key cog in Boston. Rajon Rondo might also be the key to any success the Celtics wish to have in the future.

The question now shifts to, “Do you trade Rondo or keep Rondo and Build around him?”

This branches off into multiple questions. One being, “If they do trade Rondo, what would they get back?”

And another being, “Should we trade the Big 3 for younger pieces to build around Rondo?”

If the Celtics do in fact choose to trade Rondo, then the return has to be substantial, if not an offer that blows them out of the water. The Celtics need a torch bearer, a star or center piece to lead them into the next phase of Celtics basketball. Rondo could be that player, and currently is that player at the present time. If he is traded, then the return has to be a player almost exactly like him. Not so much in a playing sense, but one who can be the center of a team, but also one who is young.

Because if the Celtics do trade Rondo for lesser pieces, so to speak, then they will be left with those supporting players in three to five years and will be nowhere near the level they were a couple years ago.

It’s a long road back to a championship level. The Pistons are on that long road, the Lakers where making that trek before some guy named Gasol showed up.

But probably the one constant is that it’s hard to blow everything up and compete at the same level the next season. If the Celtics are going to move Rondo it needs to be a player on the same level as Rondo coming back. The problem with that is that players of the stature in the league are entrenched in playoff runs. These would be guys like Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. There isn’t a chance any of those teams makes those moves with the exception of maybe Orlando with Howard, but then the reoccurring question comes up for Orlando, can you build around Rondo? (This is assuming Rondo goes to Orlando in a Howard deal.)

The answer is … to be determined. If the Celtics jettison their vets for youth and keep Rondo, then we will see if you can build around him.

If the Celtics chose to build around their young point guard they need to, as stated, move their vets.

I’ve run through some potential situations and it makes the most sense to move KG and Ray Allen. Paul Pierce’s contract is probably one that the Celtics wouldn’t mind paying at a reduced rate, but Pierce retiring wearing another team’s jersey? Come on. Allen, Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal lead a horde of expiring contracts that dot the roster. The C’s will have a lot of cap room in the offseason. What they might choose to do with it is their decision. On the flipside, the expiring deals could be a draw for contenders and cellar dwellers alike to clear money. O’Neal’s contract is particularly interesting seeing as it is upwards of six million. Meaning the Celtics could move it for a sizable return and not be limited by the restrictions of a high-ish dollar value returning. Names like Michael Beasley, Tyrus Thomas and JJ Hickson are all potential targets for Boston. All three are young and have upside, and wouldn’t be a bad paring with Rondo.

Another thing that the Celtics should consider is Jeff Green, who they retain the rights to seeing as he is missing the year due to injury. Green paired with Rondo down the road suddenly doesn’t seem as bad as just Rondo. Still it’s nowhere near an elite nucleus the Celtics would like. Now if they get Thomas and pair him with Green, Rondo and maybe Avery Bradley, then maybe you get somewhere, but to be clear, Boston needs to make something happen.

One last name to consider is Josh Smith of the Hawks. His salary certainly isn’t obnoxious given his play, but it isn’t necessarily a bargain either. I’m not completely sure that Atlanta would move him to Boston for Ray Allen just to clear cap space.

Kevin Garnett could help a lot of squads. Squads who feel they are on the cusp of being legitimate contenders. Squads who feel they are that one veteran guy away from doing big things. If team X is out there, then they better have some monetary assets to move because KG makes north of 21 million this year. It’s not going to be a straight up swap to get him, and it might allow Boston to do something like this-

Boston offers KG to Dallas for Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom. Then makes Dallas throw in Dominique Jones and Rodrique Beabois, because the Celtics are taking Marion’s contract off of Boston’s hands, hence allowing Dallas to pursue the inevitable Deron Williams and Dwight Howard paring in free agency.

All of a sudden you have a team of Rondo, Pierce, Marion, Green, Beabois, Bradley, Brandon Bass, JaJuan Johnson, E’twaun Moore, potentially Odom and free agent signings X and Y. That’s not too terrible, seeing as X and Y are probably big guys because that team would be a bit back court/wing heavy.

That scenario isn’t too bad. It actually seems a bit desirable. I would certainly take it over their current roster.

Here is another involving former Sonics great Ray Allen.

First off, Ray Allen would be an obvious fit in a lot of places, some of those being Oklahoma City and the Clippers. There is no way the Thunder can finagle Allen from the Celtics. Yes Allen is a great, if not perfect acquisition for Clay Bennett’s Raiders. But the return for Boston would probably be some mix up of Cole Aldrich, Nazr Mohammed, Thabo Sefalosha, Royal Ivey and Daequan Cook. There is no shot the Celtics take that. It also deprives the Thunder of most of their bench.

Back to trades- Minnesota has been linked to players like Jamal Crawford. Allen certainly isn’t the same player, but would give the Timberwolves a nice shooting touch at the two. The Celtics would get forwards Michael Beasley and Anthony Tolliver in return. Allen is probably a little difficult to replace for Boston, but the potential that Beasley provides for the future probably out-weighs the Celtics need of Allen this season. Tolliver provides the Celtics with another body up front seeing as their current bigs are KG, Bass, O’Neal and Wilcox, not exactly an elite front line. Not a bad one either, but still not elite. There is more upside to this than just Beasley. If he doesn’t work out then the Celtics can let him walk in free agency after the season. No skin off their teeth, same with Tolliver. Point is that they maintain their free agency flexibility.

Now back to trading Rondo. They aren’t going to get a full return on him. If the previous situations play out, the Celtics might look like an athletic, wing-dominated team a la the 76ers. You could have that or you could trade Rondo to say Utah for Paul Millsap (makes a lot of sense now that I think about it, at least from a Utah standpoint) and let’s also say that KG and Allen walk via free agency. So would you lose the Big 3 not named Pierce as well as Rondo, have Millsap to show for it and a ton of cap space? So there’s Pierce, Millsap (or frankly anyone like that that the Celtics would get in return) and cap space and even more cap space. Or the sure thing in a potentially dangerous team for an extended amount of time. Just something to ponder.

 

 

Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and the Lakers all Wrapped Up Into One (and the defending champs, ho hum, note the sarcasm)

Disclaimer: This is all just a proposition. Just a made-up idea, it probably won’t happen. Don’t get too worked up Suns and Magic fans.

The proposed deal- (emphasize proposed)

Orlando Magic Acquire- PF/C Pau Gasol, C Andrew Bynum and G Darius Morris

Phoenix Suns Acquire- G Rodrigue Beaubois, PF/C Daniel Orton and SG Dominique Jones

Dallas Mavericks Acquire PG Steve Nash

Los Angeles Lakers Acquire C Dwight Howard, F Hedo Turkoglu and PG Jason Kidd

(Phoenix and Orlando also get everyone’s favorite trade fodder: draft picks)

Why it makes some sense- We’ll start at the top for this one (or by the list shown above).  Orlando gets two quality big guys (probably better than quality, more like All-Star, but we’re moving on) to replace another All-Star, Dwight Howard, who is leaving anyways at the end of the season. Just to be clear, this isn’t an even swap. Gasol and Bynum are good, but it takes a lot to replace Howard with one or even two players. Morris has been losing minutes in LA and the Magic could use some youth. Orlando also gets the aforementioned, terribly exciting to write about, draft picks! (Note the heavy, heavy, heavy sarcasm.)

Phoenix is the next team listed, so naturally we will talk about them. That’s not a ridiculous idea right? Back to Phoenix. The Suns return isn’t going to jump out at you. This is Beaubois, Jones and Daniel Orton. The latter being a young big with upside, a guy who Orlando sat on the bench for all of last season. Maybe they were looking for an Aaron Rodgers effect with Orton and Howard. Who knows? But Orton’s contract option was declined (if I’m not up to date in contract-speak, then insert correct term here). He’s going to be a free agent after the season. Phoenix could find some upside in him. After all Steve Nash did turn Marcin Gortat into a legitimate center. (That’s completely contradicting since I have Nash leaving Arizona, but it sounds good.)  Beaubois and Jones give the Suns some infusion of youth in a backcourt that includes Sebastian Telfair, Ronnie Price and Michael Redd. By the way, I toiled away at this on ESPN’s trade machine and Phoenix saves somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 or 10 million. And don’t-forget-about-the-picks.

Dallas gets an upgrade at the point, plain and simple. If Nash doesn’t work out, they can let him walk like they might let Kidd walk. Dallas might lose some picks in this situation, but to get Nash, I think they’ll take that risk.

Here is the one problem with this. If Dallas is intent on pursing Howard in free agency, or even in another trade this doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if the Magic and Lakers agree on a deal, Dallas could still gain from it. And to be honest, the Lakers probably have better trade pieces (cough, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, cough) than the Mavericks do (cough,  Sean Williams and whatever Shawn Marion used to dye his hair, cough).

The Lake Show finally gets Dwight Howard. They also absorb Turkoglu’s contract as well as picking up Kidd to run the offense. This isn’t Howard and some throw ins. Turkoglu will help the Lakers’ instability on the wing next to Kobe. They also get a potential HOF point guard to distribute the ball. A good trade all around for the Lakers even though they didn’t get to unload Luke Walton or the player-formerly-known-as-Ron-Artest’s-contracts.

More trades for teams who aren’t making the playoffs.

Charlotte Bobcats- The Bobcats are bad. The team needs some kind of size. Byron Mullens has been nice, but they need more size, whether they’re contending or not (read not). The rest of their frontline consists of Tyrus Thomas, Mullens, DJ White, Boris Diaw and the rookie-name-sensation Bismack Biyombo. Mullens is 7 feet tall, Thomas is 6-10. But outside of that the rest of the guys are 6-9 and shorter. We also should mention that Michael Jordan’s team has DeSanga Diop. Problem is that the Bobcats don’t have a ton of assets. Someone might want Corey Maggette’s contract. Boris Diaw could be a nice rental. I’m assuming they would like to get out of Matt Carroll, Diop and Maggette’s contracts. DJ White could be another cheapish rental. Unless they want to unload DJ Augustin because they’re fully committed to Kemba (it’s plausible) there aren’t a whole lot of assets here.

Potential Deals-

F Boris Diaw to Miami for Whoever. Miami could certainly use another big, whether that be a more finesse option like Diaw remains to be seen. Miami could have troubling dealing for anyone, let alone the former Sun, because the only non-Big-3 players who didn’t sign this offseason (making them trade-able only after two months or March 1st) are Norris Cole, Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. Haslem and Anthony aren’t being dealt for other bigs. Neither is Cole or Miller. Pittman’s salary isn’t going to match up.

F Corey Maggettee and PF DJ White to Boston for C Jermaine O’Neal, PF Chris Wilcox and G Keyon Dooling. Maggette gives Boston a big boost on the wing. A boost that is sorely needed in Boston. Sasha Pavlovic and Mickael Pietrus are nice back up options, but the Celtics need some bench scoring. Maggette immediately becomes the best scoring option on the second unit. He also becomes the fifth best player on the team. Yes, this is no screw up. Boston dealing one of their better big men (yikes) in O’Neal. White is younger and cheaper. White can play the four with KG at the five. White can play five with Brandon Bass at the four. Greg Stiemsma has been serviceable. This isn’t a complete loss. Granted this doesn’t help Boston at all for the future seeing as they have to pay Maggette next year, but it certainly would help this year.

The Detroit Pistons have some nice pieces. (Read: Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe). They also have some overpaid ones. (Read: Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.) It should be noted that Charlie V and Ben Gordon aren’t bad options, they just cost a lot.

How about this-

G Ben Gordon, F Charlie Villanueva and F Austin Daye to…….(fake, corny drum roll please…..) Atlanta for G Joe Johnson. Yes, this is terrible for the Hawks and the trade machine spits it out as their projected wins going down by five, but what if they trade their contractual albatross (Johnson) to Detroit for two contractual crows, so to speak. They also get a young guy with some upside (Austin Daye) who is a tweener in every since of the word.

Detroit gets a star player and All-Star to pair with Monroe, Knight and Jonas Jerebko. They also get a ticket-draw, so to speak, in Johnson. One that they desperately need. Think about that nucleus for Detroit, Johnson, Monroe, Knight and Jerebko, plus a likely lottery pick in a deep draft (probably another big man). Sounds pretty good right? Atlanta meanwhile moves to more of a Portland like blue-print. One lead scoring option who’s a good player ,not a superstar yet, (Josh Smith) and a flurry of secondary options that can contribute 10-20 points on a given night (Jeff Teague, Tracey McGrady, Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Charlie V and Marvin Williams). That’s not too bad, right? Probably still good enough to make the playoffs in the East. Did I mention Atlanta saves like a bajillion dollars?

Next up is the Hornets. Did anyone think that they would be this bad without Chris Paul? They aren’t short of good players. Eric Gordon is a very good two. Chris Kaman is solid. So are Jarret Jack and Emeka Okafor. Point is New Orleans has pieces that some teams might be interested in.

Proposed trade numero uno-

C Chris Kaman to Indiana for …. picks. Indiana has the cap room and is supposedly looking for another center to play behind Roy Hibbert. Kaman provides a more than quality option for Indiana. If it is picks, then  they are TBD. I’m not sure what the asking price for a potential All-Star Center is in the NBA these days.

Or….

C Chris Kaman to Houston for PG Johnny Flynn, C Hasheem Thabeet and G/F Terrence Williams. All three lottery picks who could use a change of scenery. All are also buried on the depth chart by well, depth. New Orleans gets three young pieces with a lot of potential for a guy who is a rental for them at best.

SF Trevor Ariza to Boston for F/C Chris Wilcox, G Keyon Dooling , G E’twaun Moore and a second round pick. Ariza doesn’t have a bad contract by any stretch, but I’m sure the New Orleans management (read David Stern) will want to shed some cash. The Hornets get two guys on expiring contracts who are potential buy-out guys as well as some youth infusion of Moore and another pick. I still can’t stress Boston’s need for perimeter help. Ariza is a bit like James Posey, so maybe that will help the Celtics.

The Washington Wizards. What can be said about the Wizards. They play in Washington, they’re called the Wizards. No, but seriously, the Wizards aren’t very good. They have some cap room, which is a plus, but something probably has to be done about Rashard Lewis and his 21 million dollar salary. That is way too much for a player that isn’t a part of Washington’s future, let alone worth that much. John Wall is a great building block. JaVale McGee can dunk it home. Jordan Crawford and Nick Young can both score. There’s upside, they just need more players with that kind of upside. Plus they could use my favorite thing to write about… Picks.

Deals that might work (just a heads up, I’m running out of synonyms for that phrase)-

PF/C Andray Blatche and a 2012 first-round pick to Sacramento for PF/C DaMarcus Cousins. It’s somewhat of a swap of headaches. Yes,the Wizards give up a likely lottery pick and a potential number one pick. But think of the potential of John Wall and Cousins playing together again. Those two with the rest of their young nucleus, not to mention Jan Vesley. Yikes. Blatche still has some potential. Even though he’s injured now, it still could be there for Blatche.

Jimmer mania has moved to Sacramento. Sacramento is also on their second coach of the season. The Kings have a good nucleus with guys like Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Jimmer, guys like that. The Kings have a lot of cap space, so money isn’t an issue. Here’s what I would do if I ran the Kings-

Trade SG Francisco Garcia and C Jason Thompson to Boston for C Jermaine O’Neal, PF/C Chris Wilcox and G Keyon Dooling. As you can tell I think the C’s could make some moves to help their bench and these guy’s expiring contracts are currently the best assets that Boston can move. Thompson helps them a lot in the frontcourt, and if he doesn’t work out, his contract expires after the season too. Garcia gives Boston their overstated boost on the wing. Sacramento gets out of Garcia’s contract and saves even more money.

So, don’t lose it thinking these deals are going to happen. Some of them might and some of them have absolutely no chance.

The Door is That Way, David Stern

The door is the first on the left. Or the right, frankly it could be the door at the end of the hallway. I have no idea seeing as I’ve never been in the league office.

Point is David Stern has fumbled numerous times. David Stern fumbled with the Sonics situation (still bitter about that), fumbled with the first Chris Paul trade, fumbled with the PR on that, fumbled in the second Chris Paul trade and almost came away with Chris Paul still playing for the Hornets. David Stern fumbled, fumbled again and probably would fumble if he had Walter Jones and Jeff Saturday blocking for him against a bunch of pee-wee players.

Stern won his battle in Seattle because of some cheap shots among other things. He also sets off a domino effect of pain and suffering if he keeps his promise of getting Seattle another team. Stern would probably have to take someone else’s team away from them, leaving them in the situation that we are in, in Seattle. (If you can’t tell yet, I’m not David Stern’s biggest fan.) Or he can be smart about it and give Seattle an expansion team, squash the Sacramento/Anaheim business and give Anaheim a team, and everybody’s happy. Because of the state of the economy, Stern is likely to uproot a team and move them to Seattle. It would be terrible if Anaheim got a team before Seattle. Anaheim is a great town, but what is the use of getting them another team if people can sit in the car for a bit and make the trek to LA to see one of the Lakers or Clippers? The closest thing we have is the Blazers who are in an entirely different state.

Back to the commissioner’s fumble-prone habits. Episode two took place recently when he nixed a deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston, Lamar Odom to New Orleans, Luis Scola to…. You get the point. A few days later the Clippers stepped up to the table and made a run at the talented New Orleans point guard — only to come up short when David Stern wanted the Clippers to give up their last viable trade piece that doesn’t throw down ridiculous dunks in point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Clippers thought this to be too much and backed out.

Time passed, albeit two days, and the league and one certain commissioner backed off the Bledsoe involvement and agreed to the Kaman, Gordon, Farouq Aminu, Timberwolves first rounder-for-Paul-swap.

All this mumbling-fumbling almost got Stern one of his star players being irked for an entire year, left another one of his star players (Kobe Bryant) perplexed and not liking another trade that was a domino falling over down the line (Lamar Odom trade). And oh yeah, he still has the Seattle situation to deal with.

NBA Season Predictions Western Conference

Northwest-

In the somewhat accurately named Northwest division, you have everyone’s chic pick, Oklahoma City (not mine). A rugged team that has gone through a ton of adversity, Portland. The deep team that seems built for a lockout shortened season, the Nuggets. A squad that has a lot of youth, but also a lot of veteran presence, the Utah Jazz, and a team who is looking to take their lumps in a rebuilding year, Minnesota.

Predicted Finish-

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder 40-26
  2. Portland Trailblazers 38-38
  3. Denver Nuggets 35-31
  4. Utah Jazz 34-32
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves 23-43

The Thinking:

Oklahoma City is going to be good, how good, I’m not sure. Kevin Durant will get his 20-30 something points per game, outside of that the starting five could have some problems. The Thunder has made the decision of going with defensive stopper Thabo Sefalosha over the more offensively gifted James Harden. This works when guarding the elite perimeter players, but offensively Thabo isn’t going to give you a lot. Throw in two defensive-minded bigs in Serge Ibalka and Kendrick Perkins, as well as Russell Westbrook’s streakiness and there’s some potential to have a terrible game on the offensive end if KD has a bad outing.

Rip City has been the subject of adversity as of late. Brandon Roy was forced to retire due to his knees. Greg Oden’s status is still up in the air. But Portland has rebounded in one of the better ways possible. They replaced Roy with fellow Seattle area native Jamal Crawford, and added frontcourt depth with Craig Smith and Kurt Thomas. The Blazers also swapped Andre Miller for Raymond Felton, which looks genius from a lot of different standpoints. Throw in those additions with guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Mathews and Gerald Wallace. I’m telling you, Portland is going to be good.

Carmelo Anthony is gone. And quite frankly, Denver seems to have moved on just fine. The Nuggets have taken the identity of a team who can play a lot of guys and still score deep on the bench. Denver is very deep in most positions and can beat you in a number of ways. The Nuggets could be a problem come playoff time because of their depth.

Utah is a curious team. Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Raja Bell and Josh Howard form a nice veteran core for the Jazz. On the flipside they have a talented young nucleus in Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. If the now Jerry-Sloan-less Jazz can find a good mix of intriguing vets and youth, it’s there in Salt Lake City. If they can’t find a good mix, it might be a long year and other teams will come calling for guys like Millsap, Bell and Howard.

Minnesota will be fun to watch. Not on par with Lob City, but a core of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, JJ Barea, Michael Beasley  and Derrick Williams will excite. The future is there in the Twin Cities, but the present might be filled with growing pains and turnovers.

Pacific-

The California/Phoenix division is going to be fun. In LA especially, Chris Paul will lead the league in Alley-Oop passes, Kobe Bryant will lead the league in… something — you pick. Lamar Odom is out of tinsel-town for the first time in a while. His replacement is the one and only Josh McRoberts. Yes that’s right, the reigning sixth man of the year was, and is replaced by McBobs. Golden State meanwhile is ushering in the Marc Jackson era with a new found attempt at being a defensive team. I’m not messing with you. A team with a starting lineup that includes Monta Ellis, David Lee and Stephen Curry is focusing on defense. We go from one run-and-gun (though they don’t want to show it) to another in the Phoenix Suns. The Suns have Steve Nash, and if they ever lose Nash for an extended amount of time, it could be a problem. We’re talking major problems. I guess Sacramento is the same kind of team, same mold, as the last two teams listed. They are going to run, they are going to gun and a good deal of the time, they will brick. This is a team with some good players with young talents like Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins (it would probably serve them to draft strictly John Calipari guys going forward).  Throw in the Jimmer and there’s some potential for some big highlights, but also some big time bricks. The Clips might be Lob City, while the Kings might be Brick City.

Predicted Finish-

  1. Los Angeles Lakers 36-30
  2. Los Angeles Clippers 34-32
  3. Golden State Warriors 31-35
  4. Phoenix Suns 30-36
  5. Sacramento Kings 19-47

The Thinking:

The Lakers could very well finish fumbling down the stretch if Kobe gets banged up. It’s already a three man squad to begin with, with Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. There isn’t much else to be pumped up about on the bench or in the rest of the starting lineup. You’ve got nice pieces in McBobs and Steve Blake. Outside of that it’s newly dubbed Metta World Peace, Derek Fisher, Gerald Green and Luke Walton. Yikes.

The laughing stock isn’t necessarily the joke it used to be. If you have lived under a rock for the last couple months you’ve missed that A, we have basketball again, but B, the Clippers are relevant again. When I say relevant, I’m not saying a title is a distinct possibility this season, but a ring certainly isn’t out of the question in the next couple of years if a couple things go as planned. One, CP3 resigns. This is the key. Pair him with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan going forward, and there’s going to be some dunks and points scored. Two is that Blake Griffin resigns long term as well. They’ve locked up Jordan. Now they just need the other two to resign and they are golden. Oh yeah, did I mention that they brought in some guy named Chauncey Billups as well? The Playoffs this year are certainly not out of reach for the Clippers.

Tell me if you notice a theme here. Monta Ellis, strength: offense. Stephen Curry, strength: offense. David Lee, strength: offense. Klay Thompson, strength: offense. Ditto Brandon Rush and Dorrell Wright. Did I mention that new coach Marc Jackson wants to be a defensive team? Confusing, I know. There will be some growing pains in the bay area this year. Don’t be completely shell-shocked if they sneak in as an 8 seed with all the unrest out West.

Welcome to Brick City! Yes, that’s what signs should read all over the capitol of California. Jimmer will make some shots that make people go Google BYU and see how they are flopping in WCC this year. Other than clicks for ESPN’s BYU page, Sacramento won’t accomplish much. And I’m serious about the whole only drafting Calipari players.

Southwest-

The real up and comers out west, the Grizzlies,(that’s right Thunder) are looking to rebound on a solid season last year in which they surprised a lot of people. Not to mention without Rudy Gay, lots to like in Memphis. Then there are the defending champs, the Dallas Mavericks. Excuse Shawn Marion’s blonde hair, I’m not disrespecting Dallas. I still think they are a likely 1-3 seed come playoff time, and I really like the Delonte West signing. A repeat is not completely obnoxious to think about. Following them down the line are the Spurs, who because of the lockout will likely give up some games to rest their Big 3 for the playoffs. Big if here, but if Houston’s clustered roster of former lottery picks plays up to the hype that made them lottery picks, then Houston could be a thorn in some higher seeded team’s side come playoff time. Then there are the Hornets who are just begging to be moved to Seattle (again had to throw a Stern jab in there), and are subsequently owned by the league. But the rebuilding process is under way in NOLA and it’s not too bad of an outlook for the Hornets.

Predicted Finish-

  1.  Dallas Mavericks 43-23
  2. Memphis Grizzlies 40-26
  3. San Antonio Spurs 37-29
  4. Houston Rockets 33-33
  5. New Orleans Hornets 22-44

The Thinking:

The Mavs will be relevant again after their title run last year. They could very well go to the Finals once again because of all the uncertainty in their very own conference. Dallas added some nice pieces (Lamar Odom, West) and lost some pieces that were extremely important to them (Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea). The regular season will likely end in a playoff berth, that much is probably true, because the Mavs are too good not to make it. The key for Dallas will be Brendan Haywood. If he plays more like Tyson Chandler than himself (another big if) then Dallas could repeat, if not, the ring ceremony on opening night might be their highlight of the year.

Memphis is the up and comer. None of the OKC business, the Grizzlies are for real. They have no glaring needs anywhere and are a complete team that can hurt you in a number of ways. Not just one, (cough: Kevin Durant) while the phrase “a lot to like” has been used probably a little more than anyone would like in this column/piece, there is a lot to like for the Grizz.

The Spurs are going to succumb to the shortened season by sitting their Big 3 on some nights for rest. Or entire road trips for that matter. The Spurs will make the playoffs, and if proper rest is used accordingly, this team could be dangerous come playoff time. (Again another overused phrase, but just roll with it.)

Kevin McHale has somewhat of a curious team in Houston. The Rockets are rich with former lottery picks, so the “rebuilding” tag is a hard sell at this point. Houston’s basketball team might be stuck in NBA no-man’s land:  middle of the pack. Like I previously said, if they play up to the potential that made them lottery picks. Watch out. (Yet another overused statement that likely is being burned out of my mental dictionary/word-bank as we speak due to over usage.)

The Seattle Sonics… Oops sorry the New Orleans Hornets, have a difficult season ahead of themselves this year. One, they just lost their starting point-guard and face-of-the-franchise: Chris Paul. And two, they have the second worst owner in the league: (only to every northwesterner’s favorite sports figure, notice the heavy sarcasm, Clay Bennett) David Stern. Plus they don’t really have ownership at all seeing as the league still owns the team (a point I can’t state enough). It might be tough in NOLA. (Yes, I just used NOLA more times than New Orleans.)

If all that becomes somewhat of a reality the playoffs would then look like this in the west:

1 Dallas Mavericks vs 8 Utah Jazz

2 Memphis Grizzlies vs 7 Los Angeles Clippers

3 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 6 San Antonio Spurs

4 Portland Trailblazers vs  5 Los Angeles Lakers

I don’t see a whole lot changing here. With the exception of a Steve Nash miracle (not out of the question) the playoff picture probably looks something like this:

1 Dallas Mavericks vs 8 Phoenix Suns

2 Memphis Grizzlies vs 7 Los Angeles Clippers

3 Oklahoma City Thunder vs 6 San Antonio Spurs

4 Portland Trailblazers vs  5 Los Angeles Lakers