Friday, July 17, 2009

Offseason Moves: Part I

Boston signed Rasheed Wallace (2 Years, $10 Million)

This is a solid FA signing by Boston. But if they end up losing Big Baby in the process, that minimizes some of their gains. Rasheed provides them some much needed depth at the PF and C positions. And allows them to keep Scalabrine on the bench, where he belongs. Rasheed is a huge upgrade over the red haired one, who was forced to play a major role last year in the postseason because of injuries. Rasheed is still a capable defender and rebounder, and can stretch the opposing team's defense with his outside shooting. He's a little old, but seems to fit in with the rest of this Boston squad. The return of KG and this signing should propel them to the Top of the East, assuming that Rondo won't be too much of a distraction. The Big 3 in Boston should be able to to wheel Rasheed Wallace in, who otherwise can be a bit of a loose canon. Hopefully KG's intensity and hard work will rub off on Rasheed. They definitely have one of the more potent starting lineups in the league.

Detroit signed Ben Gordon (5 years, $55 million)
Detriot signed Charlie Villanueva (5 years, $40 million)

I'm not a huge fan of either signing, and think that Detriot overpaid for both players. Detriot was just desperate to make a move. They freed up a lot of this cap space, and needed something to show for their effort. In essence, they are replacing Rasheed and Iverson with Villanueva and Gordon. Which duo would you rather have? Ben Gordon is an undersized trigger-happy shooting guard, who doesn't offer much besides scoring. He is a weak defender and unwilling passer. His shot is streaky; but he continues to be one of the most clutch players in the 4th quarter. He has excellent range and can drive to the basket and draw contact. He is a borderline all-star that is better suited to come off of the bench. The other puzzling thing about this signing is that they just recently signed Hamilton to a contract extension. Both players play the same position. Either Hamilton is out of the door, or they are paying one of them over $10 million per year to come off of the bench. A backcourt of Gordon and Stuckey sounds very undersized. On the flip side, you have Villanueva who has proven to be a capable scorer when given playing time. He can score from both inside and outside, and has legit 3pt range. He's a decent passer and when motivated is a capable defender and rebounder. But often he plays too passive and disinterested. On the Bucks, he was constantly shuffled in and out of the starting lineup, and didn't develop into a good rhythm until both Bogut and Redd went down with season-ending injuries. Neither player strikes me as a good fit for the team concept in Detriot, which focuses on ball movement and team defense. Both are young players though and Dumars as a reputation as a smart GM. So we'll see how this plays out.

Houston signed Trevor Ariza (5 years, $33.5 million)
LA Lakers signed Ron Artest (5 years, $33 million)

The story as I understand is that the Lakers offered Ariza a 5-year contract for the mid-level exception. The Lakers felt that this was market value for Ariza and wanted to conserve the rest of their money to make a play at resigning Odom. Ariza was offended by the offer. And out of spite, he goes out and signs the same contract with Houston. What an idiot. He was a valuable contributor on a team that will be a perennial contender for the next few years. Why throw that all away? Instead he joins a borderline playoff team, whose 2 superstars will miss the majority of next season. It was reported that he was also offered the same contract from Cleveland, but he elected to sign with Houston where he would get more minutes and a better chance to be a focal point on the offense. Ugh. He will form a potent defensive duo with Battier. He is a capable 3pt shooter and finisher, but has limited offensive game. I think his game will be exposed playing in Houston where he won't have Kobe and Gasol drawing the defense's attention. On the flip side, the Lakers have a great consolation prize in Artest. I think part of their strategy was to not overpay Ariza, because they had a backup plan in Artest. He will fill the void left behind by Ariza. He is a rugged defender, but is a more dynamic offensive player. He is a capable passer, can hit the outside shot, and has a more diverse offensive arsenal. The key will be keeping his ego and make sure he doesn't become a distraction off of the court. They need him to avoid turnovers, ball hogging and chucking up bad shots. He has a tendency to force things instead of letting the game come to him. He's a friend of Lamar Odom, which may help in resigning Odom to a long-term deal. It's a high risk, high reward move; but the Lakers have a great shot at defending their title, assuming they can resign Odom. For all of Artest's wild antics, he is a former defensive player of the year, and has made the all-star team.

San Antonio signed Antonio McDyess (3 years, $15 million)

A very underrated move by the Spurs. This solidifies their PF position. He and Blair are arguably the most talented players that Duncan has played next to since The Admiral retired. They can finally limit the minutes of Bonner, who is better served as a bench player. While McDyess is a bit old, he is still a capable contributor and nearly averaged a double-double off of the bench last year. He was one of the more consistent players for Detriot last season. He has a solid jump shot, and can rebound with the best of them, despite his decreasing athleticism. He's a smart defender, and just a great teammate overall. He fits in well with the Spurs, and is an improvement over Kurt Thomas. I think this move guarantees that Duncan plays the C spot next season. Some experts think that the Spurs trying to sign Rasheed was just a smokescreen so that they could get the guy that they really wanted. I'm not sure if that is true, but the Spurs always like great character players and he fits the bill. He doesn't have 3pt range like Rasheed though. In the end, McDyess and Jefferson are a big improvement over Bonner and Finley.

Crazy 4-team trade between Dallas, Toronto, Orlando and Memphis.

Trying to summarize this trade would give me a headache. I think the only thing worth noting is that Dallas acquired Shawn Marion and Toronto picked up Hedo Turkoglu. For Dallas, it's a great move as they make something out of nothing. Marion is a great defender, who can play multiple positions. He will hit the occasional 3pt shot, but he is better known as a slasher and a finisher. He'll be the recipient of some nasty lobs from Jason Kidd. He is capable of grabbing double-digit rebounds, and will score on offensive rebounds and putbacks. He is one of those great players who doesn't need the ball in his hands to be successful. After some sub-par years (by his standards) in Miami and Toronto, it will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank. Remember that he was an all-star just a couple years ago. It's too bad that they were not able to sign Gortat. He would have given them a wildly different and dynamic starting lineup. Turkoglu meanwhile gets a fat contract in Toronto. He was this close in signing a deal in Portland, but changed his mind at the last moment because of his wife. He gives Toronto a dynamic play maker and scorer, and fits in well with their international theme. Toronto will score a ton of points, but also be scored on a lot. Turkoglu doesn't do much to help out their team defense. But he has great range, and his length will be a matchup nightmare for most teams. A starting lineup of Calderon, Derozan, Turkgolu, Bosh and Bargnani doesn't sound too shabby at all. I think they are playoff-bound.

Phoenix signed Channing Frye (2 years, $8 million)

Another underrated move that has flown under the radar. Frye gets a chance to showcase his talents on the run-and-gun Phoenix suns. He has a solid jump shot, and should be able to form a potent duo with Amare in the middle. He's not a great rebounder or shot blocker however. But he provides some length and athleticism to the Phoenix frontcourt. He needs to bulk up more to really be successful, but can stretch the opposing team's defense with his shooting. Don't be surprised to see him hoist up some 3pt shots in this Phoenix offensive system. I wonder if he will start over Robin Lopez. I know that Amare hates to play the Center position, even though his athleticism and speed gives him a big edge there. Nash has a record of turning bench players into stars. So It will be fun to see how he is able to elevate Frye to the next level. He was buried on the bench in Portland and finally gets a chance to showcase his skills. This is his make or break year. With the resigning of Nash and Hill, it doesn't look like the Suns have given up on winning and gone into complete rebuilding mode yet. Frye could be a nice sleeper.

Cleveland signed Anthony Parker (2 years, $6 million)

I like this move by Cleveland. They needed to add some size to their backcourt. Mo Williams and Delonte West had trouble defending some of the bigger SG. Parker is a solid veteran. He has great range, can score in bunches, but is also a capable defender and an underrated playmaker. He's a very fundamentally sound player; smart and team-orientated. He could be the player that pushes Cleveland over the top. He's no Candace Parker, but will do all of the little things to make this team win. He can play some minutes at the SF position, too. And he is an improvement on either Wally or Pavlovic. It's a short contract so it should not hurt them too much in the long-run. This move in addition to the signing of Shaq puts Cleveland at the top of the East with Boston and Orlando. It will be a fierce battle next season for the Eastern crown. This signing does make West or Gibson expendable, as they don't need 3 undersized guards. West is the more talented player, but is also easier to trade because of his contract. Don't be surprised to see one of them moved; otherwise, one of them will be out of the rotation.

Orlando signed Brandon Bass (4 years, $18 million)

A brilliant signing by Orlando who is breaking the bank this offseason. They tricked Dallas into thinking that they would not match on Gortat. So that took their attention away from Bass. Bass gives Orlando some much needed depth and versatility at the PF position. Bass is a bit undersized, but he plays hard and tough. He has a variety of moves to score buckets, and has a decent jumper. He gives this Orlando team just another weapon. Can they find enough minutes for him though? He adds a much needed dynamic to this team. Now Orlando can go with a traditional lineup at times, with either Bass or Gorat at the PF position and Lewis at the SF spot. Either is a big improvement over Battie or Foyle. I have not even mentioned Ryan Anderson who is a great shooter who will stretch the defense at the PF position. All they really need is a backup PG and they will be set to contend for another title. They are a really deep team. It will be interesting to see how Vince Carter melds with this team, and how they are able to cope with the loss of Turkoglu. Nelson's health will be a key for them next year.

New York traded Quentin Richardson and cash to Memphis for Darko Milicic.
Memphis traded Quentin Richardson to the LA Clippers for Zach Randolph.

Darko Milicic goes to NY where he has the best chance to revive his career and prove that he is not a bust. He can block shots with the best of them, is a solid rebounder and scorer. He has great quickness and athleticism. But needs to stay out of foul trouble and improve on his toughness. He has a lot of talent and potential to be a solid starter in this league. He is still too young to be called a bust. And D'Antoni's system should give him a lot of freedom on the offensive end, where he will be running and gunning, and getting some easy buckets in transition, where his speed will be a factor. Also Zach Randolph going to Memphis gives them a legit PF and a solid starting lineup. He doesn't really fit in with their young lineup though, and has never been a good character player. But he is a dynamic scorer and rebounder. He's not the quickest or most agile, but he finds a way to get the ball in the basket. He's a decent passer, too. His main problem has been his lack of defense and his attitude. This move puts Arthur back on the bench, who shows some flashes of being a starting PF last season. He hustles, rebounds and defends, but needs some more polish on the offensive end. Randolph provides Memphis an inside scorer to compliment both Gay and Mayo. This team has the potential to be dangerous but just needs more time to gel and season and get better and improve chemistry.

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