NBA Draft Impressions

Monday, 27 June 2011, 22:16 | Category : NBA
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With this year’s NBA draft being such a week one, the jury is still out on who the real winners and losers are.  Only time will tell, but unfortunately there’s likely too much time before we even get to see these players begin their careers.  So I’m not going to pretend to pronounce the winners and losers of the draft, just my feelings on how my teams did.  All three of my teams (Pistons, Jazz, and Wizards) had lottery picks.  All three are in various stages of the rebuilding process.  All three agree it was a bad year to have such good picks.

Utah Jazz: For the 3rd pick, Utah basically had it narrowed down to either Brandon Knight or Enes Kanter.  Both would fill the most important needs for the Jazz and both were the consensus best players left on board, not just in their respective positions.  As the draft drew closer, the thought of drafting Knight grew on me, but I believe the Jazz probably made the best choice.  Scouts believe that Knight’s ceiling is probably around the level of Devin Harris.  Well, they already have Harris.  There can be arguments that he’s a younger version who can shoot better, but he still probably isn’t the long term answer Utah needs at the point.

On the contrary, while PGs of Knight’s projected skill level are fairly easy to come by (unless you’re the Hawks), it’s hard to find skilled big men.  Nobody really knows how good Kanter is, but he has shown the potential.  He’s like a younger version of Memo in that he can shoot, but he doesn’t appear to be another “soft Euro”, which is definitely not like Memo.  He’s probably worth the gamble, especially in this draft.  If he turns out to be a bust, he’s still a big body you can stick in the middle.  You just have to hope that the pick from the Deron Williams trade turns out to be the right one.

I’ve read mixed reactions on Burks, but Chad Ford had him ranked as the top shooting guard and tenth overall in this draft.  Jimmy is also really high on Burks.  I don’t know much about him, but I did have the Jazz drafting him.  It also looked like the best pick available once the Jazz were on the clock.  And I’m sure they were relieved Jimmer was not on the board at that point, because they weren’t going to take him.  Utah still has some needs to fill, but had a good start on draft night.

Washington Wizards: So Kanter isn’t going to end up in our nation’s capital with his buddy John Wall, but it’s maybe for the best.  I wasn’t ever sold on Kanter for Washington.  I know very little about Jan Vesely, but from what everyone is saying, it sounds like he’ll be a good fit.  He’s almost 7 feet but plays the 3.  He appears to be fast and can dunk.  I told myself I wouldn’t make a joke about his hot girlfriend or the awkward kiss because it’s been way overdone, so I won’t.

Chris Singleton brings toughness and defense to the team.  I think he was a steal at 18.  Shelvin Mack took his school to back-to-back national championship games.  He should be a competant backup to Wall.  It’s reassuring that the Wizards are using this rebuilding process to change the culture of the team.

Detroit Pistons: By the time the Pistons were up with the 8th pick, none of the players they were expected to be interested in were left on the board thanks to  Charlotte trading up.  I like that Dumars didn’t panic and just draft some other big that didn’t have any business going at 8.  He drafted the best talent available, which the Blazers over the years have taught us is the way teams should do it.  Although, I did hear that one of the Morris brothers really impressed Detroit, but they must have felt that Knight’s talent trumped theirs.

Knight does add to the logjam the Pistons have, but he’s a building block of the future.  The Pistons are working to get rid of many of the players currently on the roster, many of whom are guards.  Knight is a building block of the future.  And it’s hard not to like a kid that smart.  It says a lot about him.  It sounds like the type of person Detroit needs to start filling it’s roster with.  Plus the Knight and Daye comments should keep us entertained for a while, although it’s still not as great as what almost became the Gay-Love Era.

Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin also seem to add to the logjam problem in Detroit, but both were considered steals for where they were drafted.  Singler seems to be another high character addition.  I don’t know much about Macklin, but Dumars assures us he is also a tough, high character guy.  Then again, he said that about Darko too.

While I have zero affiliation with the Bucks, I also want to give them a little recognition.  They took on three really bad contracts last season and were able to get rid of two of them in one trade.  They also brought in a few other assets.  All they had to do is move don nine spots in a bad draft.  Even then they managed to draft Tobias Harris, who Ford has ranked at 14, with the 19th pick.  Clearing out those bad contracts was huge for the Bucks.  Big night for them.

All things considered, my teams did a nice job on draft night.  Both the Pistons and Jazz have found unexpected talent in previous drafts, I hope this year was no different.  With all three of my teams rebuilding, the future can’t come fast enough.  I just hope we don’t have to wait too long to witness the fruits of this draft.

NBA Offseason: Southeast Division

Friday, 17 June 2011, 6:00 | Category : NBA
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With the uncertainty of the looming lockout hanging over the NBA, teams having the daunting task of using this offseason to position themselves for success in whatever direction the new CBA takes them.  We are doing a division-by-division break down of what teams should be aiming to do this offseason.  We will analyze each team’s current situation, free agents, draft prospects, and whose contract the team would drop if the new CBA includes a new amnesty rule.  GMs, no need to worry.  We’ve got you covered.

Dwight Howard Orlando Magic, LeBron James Miami Heat
Will we see any major shake-ups in the Southeast where teams are either cash-strapped or rebuilding?

Atlanta Hawks: 2010-11 record: 44-38 (vs Southeast: 9-7)

It’s deals like the one Joe Johnson got last summer that have created the terrible situation surrounding the new CBA.  Despite have the roster coming off the books this summer, the team’s overall salary only drops about $4 million.  This limits the Hawks going forward and pretty much sticks them in no man’s land.  They did surprise us by upsetting division rival Magic in the playoffs, but is that even saying much?

Free Agents: Hotlanta needs to focus on getting more size and replacing Jamal Crawford (assuming he leave for more money).  They don’t have much monetary flexibility, which means testing the trade market may be the way to go.  I personally think trading Joe Johnson for several pieces and picks, but they were willing to pay him $124 mil not to leave, so I don’t think that’s happening (plus, who would bite on that?).  More realistically, J-Smoove is the best trade piece they’re willing to part with.

Draft: No first round pick.

Amnesty: Joe Johnson is getting paid way too much to not play.  More than anyone else on the roster, the Hawks need to erase the memories of not pick Chris Paul or Deron Williams by getting Marvin Williams (3 years; $24 million) off the books.  Okay, nothing will erase those bad memories until they win a title, which isn’t happening any time soon.  But at least they’ll get a little financial relief and can start moving in the right direction.


Charlotte Bobcats: 2010-11 record: 34-48 (vs Southeast: 4-12)

Bob’s Cats are officially in rebuilding mode.  Rich Cho proved to be a competent, if not good, GM in his short stint in Portland.  Heck, he basically stole Gerald Wallace from his new employer.  At this point the team needs to decide who is part of the long term plan and who isn’t.  Whoever is not part of the future needs to be shopped around for pieces that possibly fit that long term plan or come cheap and just fill the roster until they do get what they want.  And don’t forget to get stock up on draft picks.

Free Agents: The good news is they have some wiggle room.  The bad news is they’d have to overpay any quality players to go there, stunting the rebuilding process.  They need to improve at basically every position except PF.  His Airness needs to see who he can bring in for a decent price yet focus more on trading players like…well, anyone really.  The only player I seem them having trouble trading is Tyrus Thomas, and that’s only because of his contract.  I bet they can get some good value out of Captain Jack and Boris Diaw (if he opts to stay).

Draft: Picking 9th and 19th, Charlotte should just take the best player at any position that is available because their bench is so week.  They could also take a European big guy because they are pretty weak at center.   Marcus Morris may be an interesting option as well.  Their second pick could go to a potential scorer like Marshaun Brooks or Jordan Hamilton.

Amnesty: Tyrus Thomas (4 years; $33 million) has the longest and most expensive contract on the team, but they may want to keep him around going forward.  Diop (2 years; $14 million) may be a better option considering he is less productive and could provide some immediate relief.  It’s possible the Bobcats may chose not to exercise this right since their main focus right now doesn’t seem to be winning anyway.


Miami Heat: 2010-11 record: 58-24 (vs Southeast: 13-3)

Is there anything left to say?  Miami obviously needs a more well-rounded roster but have little flexibility for years to come.  They’ll actually increase salary over the years while losing players, and Mario Chalmers is going to be looking for a pay raise.  So it looks like Pat Riley will have to continue looking for vets willing to play for the minimum in exchange at a shot at the title.

Free Agents:  I don’t buy the idea that they’ll trade to trade James or Bosh for someone like Dwight Howard.  They came really close this year and just need minor upgrades at PG and C (it also won’t hurt if LeBron doesn’t choke again).  I’m just not sure who’s going to be better than their current roster that will want to play with the Heatles for so little.  Too bad Antoine Walker isn’t a few inches taller, I hear he’s looking for a job.

Draft: No first round picks, but they have the first second round pick so we’ll include them.  They are obviously in a win-now scenario so go with an upperclassman with smarts from a winning program. Shelvin Mack, JaJuan Johnson, Chandler Parsons, and Jon Leuer could contribute immediately. Of course, most people would contribute to that bench.

Amnesty:  The only players they have on the books beyond next year were their most important players outside of the Big 3.  If they do use it, Miller (4 years; $24 million) seems most likely to get the axe.  The others are big, which the team sorely needs, and he gets paid slightly more.  Although, they may just use it on Eddie house if he opts into his final year.


Orlando Magic: 2010-11 record: 52-30 (vs Southeast: 11-5)

For a team that wants to keep it’s star player happy and in contention for a title, the Magic are in bad shape.  Whatever they do this off-season, the Magic need to make sure it makes Dwight happy and convinces him the team is moving in the right direction.

Free Agents:  The Magic need someone who can cut and get to the rim (besides Dwight).  Also, having a backup center couldn’t hurt.I don’t think they’ll be able to sign anyone of much significance, especially since a hard cap is a real possibility.  I think the trading my be Orlando’s best option, but that may mean parting with Redick.  Do you think Philly would do an Iguadola for Arenas trade?  Neither do I, but Iggy would be a great fit, giving the Magic an athletic slasher and defender.  Don’t hold your breath, Magic Kingdom.

Draft: No first round pick.

Amnesty:  The Magic wouldn’t mind having the option to use this on 3 or 4 players.  There’s no doubt that Arenas (3 years; $62 million) would be the lucky winner.


Washington Wizards: 2010-11 record: 23-59 (vs Southeast: 3-13)

The Wizards have decent starters at every position so they may be able to contend sooner than we think.  The key now is to continue the course and be patient.

Free agents: Even with $20 mil going to Rashard Lewis, the Wiz are well below the current cap.  They need to stay strong and resist overpaying anybody this summer.  Short contracts are the way to go if they do sign anyone.

Draft: There’s been talk about them trading up for the 2nd pick, but if that’s just to get Kanter it’s an iffy move if they have to give up too much considering he may fall that far anyway.  Besides, is he even the guy they want?  Perhaps they should think about Kawhi Leonard at 6 for the energy and rebounding and they could grab a scorer off the bench with someone like Tobias Harris or Jordan Hamilton at 18.

Amnesty: If you had the chance to half your payroll by giving up an asset that isn’t in your long term plans would you?  As should the Wizards by using amnesty on Rashard Lewis (2 years; $46 million).  If they feel that’s too much money to pay Lewis to play for someone else, Blatche (4 years; $29 million) is the clear second choice.  While he makes significantly less than Lewis, he is a head case and his contract lasts until 2015.


Do You Believe in Magic?

Sunday, 19 December 2010, 17:49 | Category : NBA
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Gilbert Arenas, Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards

Saturday the Orlando Magic were the center of two blockbuster trades.  (Details here.)  The Magic have seen a slip in the last couple of plays and a change was needed, but did they benefit from the trades?  Who are the winners and losers?

Magic-Wizards Trade

Gilbert Arenas: It’s no secret that John Wall has stolen the show in DC, which has left Agent Zero in an awkward position.  He now gets the fresh start in sunny Orlando.  He went from one of the worst teams in the league to a playoff team and championship contender.  He still faces the same problem of a log jam at the guard positions and he won’t be starting over Jameer Nelson.  If he uses this opportunity as a rebirth Arenas will be happy.  Winner

Wizards: With Arenas, three of Washington’s best players were point guards and Arenas has been viewed as untradeable.  They managed to swap Arenas’ contract for a slightly better contract.  Washington has successfully dismantled all of its core pieces.  Lewis may or may not be in the Wiz’s long term plans, but they’ll have better luck tossing his contract into a trade if needed.  Rebuilding and moving forward.  Winner

Rashard Lewis: He gets shipped out to a horrible team in rebuilding mode from a team that is consistently at the top in the East.  He doesn’t even know if he’ll finish the season in Washington.  With his numbers down, he’s not even in demand from other teams.  Loser

Magic: It’s no secret that Orlando has had its eyes on Agent Zero.  Rashard Lewis’s numbers have been down and his contract really isn’t that much better than Arenas’s.  Winner?

Magic-Suns Trade

Hedo Turkoglu: Things weren’t working out in Phoenix and now he gets to return to Orlando where he was a fan favorite.  The experts seem to think Van Gundy’s system works out best for Hedo.  This may be what it takes to get him back to form.  Winner

Jason Richardson: While he more than fits into the Magic’s 3-pointer happy system, he’ll miss his old team.  You could tell he loved playing with the Suns and that they loved him.  The Magic is another team that seems to gel and have fun as a team.  If he can move on and embrace his new team he’ll excel.  Competition in the East is a lot thinner than beck West.  Winner (if he wants it)

Earl Clark: He gets to move from Arizona to Florida.  Winner

Suns: They lose a team and fan favorite in J-Rich, but shed Hedo’s horrible contract.  They also picked up a legit center

Vince Carter, Josh Childress, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley

Will Vince be able to make it rain in the desert?

who can run.  Pietrus will fit in perfectly and even bring some defense.  If anyone can get Carter back up to at least 1/4 amazing it’s Nash and co.  Even if Carter doesn’t work out it’s not like they have a shortage of wings.  They improved in size and defense, plus they don’t have Turkoglu.  Winner

Vince Carter: He get’s to play alongside Nash and won’t have the responsibility to create plays he has with the Magic.  If history is to repeat itself, then Carter is in luck.  Grant Hill rejuvenated his career after he moved to the desert from Orlando.  Shaq also looked like his young self again when he was traded from Miami.  Winner

Marcin Gortat: He’ll finally get the minutes he deserves as starting center for the Suns until Lopez returns (even then he should see a fair amount of action).  This also puts more responsibility on him, but I think he’s up to the challenge.  Winner

Mickael Pietrus: His style of play will help him feel right at home in Phoenix.  He does have the beloved Richardson’s shoes to fill though.  Even though the Suns are pretty heavy with wing players, his defense should keep his minutes up.  If he wasn’t getting along with Van Gundy (not exactly the easiest guy to get along with, then he’s glad for a change.  Winner

Magic: This move means that they’re committed to Brandon Bass, but they do lose a legit backup for the fowl-prone Howard.  Fans will be happy to have Hedo back, but we’ll see if they stay happy.  J-Rich will bring shooting and energy to the team.  He’ll be able to do a lot of what Carter was supposed to.  Apparently Pietrus had fallen out of favor with Van Gundy, so I guess he was expendable.  They also gave up a first-round draft pick and cash.  The more I look at it, the more I like the trade for Orlando, but I just can’t get over having no depth at center. Maybe there’ll be more trades to come.  Loser

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