June 25, 2013
Alright Miami, that’s enough celebrating. It’s time to start getting ready for next season…starting with Thursday’s draft. Many of the league experts are saying that this draft class is pretty weak and there aren’t any franchise altering players available. Maybe not. But some teams will get better. I just hope it’s mine.
The Cavs must improve their defense if they are to make the playoffs next season. At 7-1 and 255lbs, Len will help clog up the middle and improve their rebounding as well. Unless of course the Cavs are able to pull off the trade that has been rumored since they won the lottery.
What do you do when you need help at every position? Take whoever you think has the best shot to become a star.
Porter fits the biggest hole on the roster and should be a good fit to play with John Wall.
After having the most balls in the draft lottery, the Bobcats dropped to the fourth pick but they still get Noel – they guy they would have picked at No. 1.
Oladipo will be a solid all-around player for Phoenix, especially defensively, where the Suns have been awful.
I still can’t wrap my head around the switch to the Pelicans. I don’t like it. Maybe Bennett will like it. Pelicans? Really? Really?
Burke is probably my favorite player in this draft. The Kings get a steal here.
Here’s another guy I really like. Detroit looks to be set inside with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond so they go with a guard who will be able to score.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Cody Zeller, PF, Indiana
LaMarcus Aldridge needs some help inside. Aldridge gets what he wants.
Why not? Muhammad is one of those guys who could go just about anywhere in this draft. He is a risk/reward pick and the Sixers take a shot.
What the Thunder really need is a fully healed Russell Westbrook, so they take the best player available to give Westbrook some assistance.
Everyone knows the Mavs are looking to use this pick to acquire more cap space. We’ll say they draft pick Olynky and ship him somewhere.
Both of Utah’s starting guards are free agents. Larkin fills one of those holes.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – Dennis Schroeder, PG, Germany
There are countless ways this roster could wind up by the time the season starts. Assuming Kevin Garnett isn’t back, the Celtics will need a big defender.
17. Atlanta Hawks – Giannis Adetokunbo, SF, Greece
I’m not going to pretend like I know much about foreign players, but from what I’ve read it seems like the Hawks are interested.
18. Atlanta Hawks – Allen Crabbe, SG, California
You can never have too many shooters and the Hawks are getting one here.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
In a couple years Adams and Len could be a force inside for Cleveland. But the Cavs could use this pick in a trade for a veteran player to help them win now.
20. Chicago Bulls – Tim Hardaway Jr., SG, Michigan
The Bulls should have a healthy Derrick Rose back and someone like Hardaway could provide some scoring to make Rose’s life easier.
21. Utah Jazz – Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
22. Brooklyn Nets – Jeff Withey, C, Kansas
Another big man behind Brook Lopez.
23. Indiana Pacers – Rudy Gobert, C, France
After giving the Heat all they wanted in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers should look to add depth to an already strong roster.
With Jason Kidd moving on to the coaching ranks, the Knicks get a lot younger in the backcourt.
The only thing the Clippers should worry about is getting Chris Paul back. If that doesn’t happen Canaan will take his place.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves – Sergey Karasev, SF, Russia
Andrei Kirilenko may leave so they replace a Russian with a Russian.
27. Denver Nuggets – Lucas Nogueira, C, Brazil
A big man who can run and block shots would fit right in with the high-tempo Nuggets.
This could be the guy to replace Manu Ginobili.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Ricky Ledo, SG, Providence
Here’s an inexperienced kid that would be able to develop behind a solid roster.
30. Phoenix Suns – Mike Muscala, C, Bucknell
The Suns walk away from the first round with help in the front and back courts.
January 2, 2013
Adrian Peterson barely misses Eric Dickerson’s record: I’ll admit that I was among the doubters not believing that Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson could break Eric Dickerson’s long-standing record of 2,105 rushing yards in a season. But Peterson shocked me (and probably a lot of other people) in rushing for 199 yards, coming much closer than expected. In the end, he fell only nine yards short of the goal and despite the happy face he may put on this week, it’s hard to imagine he’s not at least a bit disappointed. Peterson still should have a few more productive seasons ahead of him, but reaching the rarefied air that he did this year may never happen again. Even if it doesn’t, though, congratulations are in order for an MVP-type season and one of the best ever for a running back. Plus, the win over the Packers gave the Vikings a playoff berth and ultimately, that’s a pretty nice consolation prize for Peterson.
Avery Johnson fired as coach of Nets: The Brooklyn Nets made a fairly surprising move by firing head coach Avery Johnson. Assistant P.J. Carlesimo is leading the way for now, but the franchise also has an eye on Phil Jackson. For Johnson, it was a tale of two months. The former NBA guard had the Nets out to an 11-4 start in November and looking like one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. But then came a 3-10 stretch in December and that ultimately cost him his job. Part of the reason for that downfall can be attributed to the loss of star center Brook Lopez, who missed six games due to injury. But with so much talent, more was expected of the team at this point in the season. Johnson should get another opportunity with a different team down the line, though. Before serving as the Nets’ coach, he led the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs in each of his four years with the franchise and also took them to the NBA Finals in 2006.
Hideki Matsui retires: Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui ended his long career by officially announcing his retirement last week. Matsui spent a total of 20 seasons playing Japanese and American baseball and in ten major league seasons, he hit 175 home runs and batted .282 with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay Rays, and Oakland Athletics. Even factoring in his 332 home runs in Japan, Matsui still isn’t a likely Hall of Famer. But he was certainly an above-average major leaguer. Matsui finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2003, was a two-time All-Star, and won a World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
Three Rookie quarterbacks make playoffs: When a rookie quarterback leads a team to the NFL playoffs, it’s a big accomplishment. When three do it in the same year, it’s probably time to call the Mayans for another apocalyptic prediction. That’s what happened this year as the Colts’ Andrew Luck, the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III, and the Seahawks‘ Russell Wilson led their franchises to the postseason. The amazing thing is that none were just along for the ride, either. Luck broke the rookie passing record, throwing for more than 4,100 yards this season, while Griffin had the NFL’s second-best passer rating and Wilson tallied 26 touchdowns and more than 3,000 yards.
Kevin Ollie named permanent UConn head coach: Ollie, a former player, was named as UConn’s permanent head men’s basketball coach with a reported five-year deal. Following the retirement of Jim Calhoun, Ollie was given the job on a sort of trial run with only a one-year deal. But so far this season, he’s steered the Huskies to a 9-2 record and convinced the administration that he was capable of leading the program. Replacing Calhoun is a tough task and Ollie will have his work cut out for him if he wants to achieve as much as the former coach did. The key here is that the new deal will make things much easier for him on recruiting. Instead of telling prospective players that he hopes to still be on the job next year, he can now virtually assure them that he will.
Brandon Roy hopes to continue comeback bid: Just a few years ago, Brandon Roy was one of the top young guards in the NBA. In his first four seasons with the Portland Trailblazers, Roy averaged nearly 20 points a game and made three All-Star teams. But knee issues forced him to suddenly retire after a disappointing 2010-11 season. Roy made a comeback this year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but is still suffering with the condition and has only appeared in a few games so far this year. Roy has weighed another retirement, but is hoping to get back on the court after dealing with the chronic knee pain. The decision has to be difficult for him. He’s still young enough that he could have several seasons in front of him if the pain can be treated. But at some point, the conditioning day in and day out to be able to play has to be a burden.
February 28, 2011
As expected, there was a flurry of moves before the NBA trade deadline. Some teams legitimately improved their chances of winning a championship this season and others planned for the future. An important aspect of some trades is the ability to take on players with expiring contracts to increase salary cap space in future years. But because free cap space doesn’t guarantee teams will necessarily be able to sign the free agents they want, that part is essentially impossible to consider when evaluating these deals.
With that said, it’s time to break down some of the more significant trades and find out who got the better end of each deal.
New York Knicks receive: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, Anthony Carter, and Corey Brewer
Denver Nuggets receive: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, Knicks’ first-round draft pick, Two Warriors’ second-round draft picks, and $3 Million cash
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph
This was the blockbuster deal of the year and the Knicks finally made the big splash that everyone expected. Not only did they land one of the NBA’s best players, Carmelo Anthony, to pair with All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire, they also secured Chauncey Billups to give New York a legitimate trio of stars. While Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman, and Anthony Carter are lesser talents, Corey Brewer is a young player who could develop into a solid sixth man down the line. Brewer came from the Minnesota Timberwolves, who played a small part in this deal.
Even though Denver lost Anthony, they did pick up some legitimate talent in exchange for him. Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler are three young developing players who could help Denver for years to come. All three are averaging more than 15 points per game and are already quality players.
Still, at the end of the day, the Knicks came away with arguably one of the league’s top ten players and a former All-Star guard in one fell swoop. In trading for Carmelo, the Knicks have lit a fire under their fan base and should be a contending team in the Eastern Conference for many years. The young players and draft picks that Denver received help make this a fairly even trade. But in the NBA, superstars win championships and without Anthony, Denver will have a hard time advancing deep into the playoffs.
WINNER: New York
New Jersey Nets receive: Deron Williams
Utah Jazz receive: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Two first-round draft picks, and $3 Million cash
The Nets may have missed out on Carmelo Anthony, but they did grab a nice consolation prize in Deron Williams. Williams is one of the league’s best point guards and reports surfaced recently that he and long-time coach Jerry Sloan didn’t always see eye to eye. So when Sloan abruptly retired shortly before the trade, no one could imagine that Williams would be shopped. The Jazz apparently had other plans.
In moving Williams, the Jazz gave up on a franchise player. He has the ability to win games almost single-handedly and is a bonafide leader. While the Nets didn’t give up a star to get him, Devin Harris is a proven starting point guard, and Derrick Favors was the third overall pick in last year’s draft. But the 2011 first-round pick might be the biggest piece for Utah. The Nets are one of the NBA’s worst teams this season, and, depending on which way the ping pong balls bounce when the draft order is announced, that pick could end up being one of the top selections in the draft.
WINNER: This one’s a little complicated. Part of the reason the Jazz traded Williams is because his contract expires after next season. If the Nets are able to re-sign him, they are the winners. But if Williams leaves after next season, the Jazz come out ahead. This trade falls under the dreaded ‘To be determined’ category.
Boston Celtics receive: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Future first-round draft pick
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson
The defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics made a bit of a gamble in dealing starting center Kendrick Perkins and one of their top reserves, Nate Robinson. In exchange, though, they get the versatile Jeff Green and backup center Nenad Krstic. For now, the Celtics have settled upon starting Krstic. That may change, however, as they also have the option of anointing Green as a starter and using a smaller lineup.
Perkins is a good defender, but the Celtics received a capable replacement in Krstic. While they’re now weaker in the middle, Green is another defender who will help them if they run into the Miami Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in the postseason.
WINNER: Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Mo Williams and Jamario Moon
Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Baron Davis and 2011 First-round draft pick
Since LeBron James’ departure, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been the same. They’ve gone from a championship contender to one of the worst teams in the league. With this trade, they lose two high-energy players, but pick up a one-time star in Baron Davis. The Cavs also secure the Clippers’ 2011 pick, which will be a lottery selection. So why would Los Angeles trade a high draft pick and a solid point guard for two average players? Simply put, it was all about the money. The Clippers wanted to be free of Davis’ large contract, and this trade allowed them to do that. But in giving up a high draft pick, they also gave away a chance at adding another young piece around stars Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. Meanwhile, with two lottery picks for next season, Cleveland has a chance to rebuild a bit faster than expected.
WINNER: Cleveland Cavaliers
Atlanta Hawks receive: Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong
Washington Wizards receive: Mike Bibby, Maurice Evans, Jordan Crawford, and 2011 First-round draft pick
This deal features two veteran point guards, and while Kirk Hinrich may be a very slight upgrade over Mike Bibby, that swap is essentially a wash. Hilton Armstrong and Maurice Evans are both marginal players, so there’s not much impact there, either. But the Wizards also get the Hawks’ first-round draft pick and a young player in Jordan Crawford, so they get the edge in this one.
WINNER: Washington Wizards