Monday, July 21, 2008

Offseason Moves

We're back after a short hiatus. Rather than play catch up and give our comments on both the Finals and the Draft, we are just going to dive into the offseason and analyze some of the biggest moves that we have gone down so far. Below are the 15 biggest offseason moves (as of last week) in descending order, excluding free agent resignings. We only want to look at transactions that are going to reshape the NBA landscape.

15) Dallas Mavericks signs Gerald Green to a 1-year, $850K contract.

Kay: I know that some people are high on this guy's potential; but I just don't see it. True, he has crazy hops and athleticism, and can score in bunches. But he just don't have a good feel for the game. He makes just as many, if not more, bad plays as good plays. Generally, he looks lost out on the floor, and he's prone to chucking up bad shots and turning the ball over. He was signed by the Rockets last season after being cut by the T-Wolves but only played in 1 game. Ouch. The Mavs desperately need some youth, athleticism and scoring off of their bench, so for them it's a low risk gamble. I suppose worst case scenario, he rides the bench all year. Best case scenario, he provides the Mavs some scoring off the bench, and is good for the occasional highlight reel on ESPN. I don't have much else to say about this move. We just included it because we needed a 15th item. Hah!

14) Portland Trailblazers sign Rudy Fernandez to undisclosed contract. Memphis Grizzles sign Marc Gasol to a 3-year, $10 million contract.

Kay: Here we have a pair of talented International players coming into the NBA. I'd like to see them both succeed to reinforce the belief that the NBA is becoming a global sport and that there is plenty of excellent talent available overseas. I haven't seen either one play, but from what I've heard, they are both winners. Marc Gasol is a big man with a lot of skill. He's not very light on his feet, but he should be savvy enough to be effective in the league. He'll forge an interesting duo with Gasol in the middle. Center is a sparse position, so if Gasol proves to be half as talented as his brother, Memphis will have gotten a great deal. Meanwhile, Rudy Fernandez is a beast that has been named MVP in nearly every league that he's played in. He's generally seen as one of the best players outside of the NBA. He has a great basketball IQ. He can score in a variety of ways, but is also unselfish and eager to find opportunities for his teammates. He's a winner; and should be a valuable contributor to this young and up-and-coming Portland team. I heard he turned down a contract to play in Russia for like $10 million per year. Crazy. But if that's true, he's really dedicated to winning. I like that. He reminds me a little bit of Ginobilil based on his attitude and his track record overseas.

13) New Orleans Hornets sign James Posey to a 4-year, $25 million contract.

Kay: Wow. Nearly $6 million per year for Robert Horry-lite. Posey averaged roughly 7 points and 4 rebounds last year. I'm not sure he is worth that much money, but his departure is a crushing blow to the Celtics, who refused to give Posey a 4-year deal. The Celtics will have to scramble now and find someone in the free agency market to fill the void left behind. I think Barnes or Childress would fit in nicely on the Celtics team. Or they could even go after former Boston Celtics, Gomes or Davis, to replace Posey. The Hornets meanwhile get a nice piece that they hope will bring them over the top. I'm still not sold on this Hornets team, however. I think they overachieved last year. I don't think they have the depth or experiencing to compete in the West. And I'm not sure if this move will change that. They still did not address their issue of a weak SG. Peterson/Wells are not the answer, and I'm not sure Posey is either. He's more of a SF; and might be better suited to coming off the bench. Posey is the kind of guy that will bring a contending team over the top; but I'm not sure if the Hornets are that type of team.

12) Minnesota Timberwolves trades Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner & OJ Mayo to the Memphis Grizzlies for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins & Kevin Love.

Kay: What an ugly trade. You got teams trading bad contracts back and forth. And in the middle of the trade are 2 rookies with a lot of potential, but also a lot of question marks associated with them. Will Love be able to continue his dominance in a more physical league? Does Mayo have the maturity and mental toughness to be a star in this league? If I had to pick a winner in this trade, it would be Minnesota. Because they got the best player in the trade: Mike Miller. Granted, the T-Wolves aren't going anywhere next year, but Miller will get a lot of open shots thanks to Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Those two guys are a disaster on defensive, but they should be able to score in bunches on the other side. On a side note I'm disappointed that the Gay Love connection wasn't given a chance. Heh. Memphis is now the home of Walker with his shimmy, and Jaric with his wifey Adriana Lima, who should be able to attract some new fans to the Grizzlies. Hah! Mayo and Gay form a potent 1-2 combination. They should be exciting to watch, even if they lose a lot of games. Neither of these teams will make much noise next year, so the overall significance of this trade is pretty low.

11) Miami Heat sign James Jones to a 5-year, $22 million contract. San Antonio Spurs sign Roger Mason to a 2-year $7.5 million contract.

Kay: Two low-key moves that could pay dividends. Miami desperately needed a 3pt shooter to space the floor, and punish teams for double-teaming Wade. James Jones will play the role that Kapono and Posey played on the champion Miami Heat squad. This Miami squad should have a nice bounce back season. Adding Beasley, Chalmers and Jones will be huge. If they can resign Marion or trade him for another nice piece, this team could challenge for a playoff spot. It's a huge improvement over the squad that they had last year, which was comprised of like all NBADL players. On the flip side, the Spurs sneakily sign Roger Mason before anyone had a chance to blink. He'll be a great fit for the Spurs, and should combine with Hill to form a nice backup backcourt. They are both young, athletic and can score in bunches; and should allow Parker and Manu to rest more. I like how the Spurs are finally adding some youth to their team. I expect Ian Mahimini to be called up from the NBADL, where he was a first teamer. He should be a solid big man off the bench for them. Too bad they could not get Tiago Splitter. Those 3 players should inject some youth and energy into this team. Along with their veteran core, this team should be able to contend for the next few years, to many people's dismay.

10) New York sign Chris Duhon to a 2-year, $12 million contract. Orlando Magic sign Michael Pietrus to an undisclosed contract.

Kay: Two very underrated moves. Chris Duhon gives the Knicks a pass-first PG, who can actually defend. He's a great for D'Antoni's system. He's also an excellent shooter. Definitely one of the better PG on the market. He's been stuck on the bench besides Hinrich for the past couple years, and now he is given a chance to shine. Notice that the contract ends in 2010. It looks like the Knicks want to take a run at Lebron James or Dwayne Wade. Duhon isn't going to push the Knicks to the playoffs, but he's a step in the right direction. I like what Donnie Walsh is thinking. If they can ship Randolph and Marbury off, I would consider this offseason a huge success. On the other side, Pietrus is a great signing for Orlando. He gives them some consistency at the SG spot finally. He's a great shooter, but unlike some of their other players, he's also a great defender. He's very athletic, can rebound, and can play multiple positions. He gives this team great versatililty, and will fit in well with the other guys. Orlando is close to being an elite team, but they need to either shore up the PG or PF positions. I'm not sure I like the idea of playing Lewis and Turkoglu together; players with comparable skill sets, and neither is a PF who can bang inside. And Nelson is too short, and too inconsistent to man the PG position as a full time job.

9) Portland Trailblazers trade Brandon Rush, Jarret Jack, Josh McRoberts to the Indiana Pacers for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu.

Kay: From what I've seen so far, Portland made out like bandits in this trade. Jerryd Bayless is, by far, the best player in this trade. He's been dominating the summer league, and should be named the MVP. The general consensus is that he was a top 5 talent that strangely slipped in the draft. I think he'll be a great complement to Brandon Roy in the backcourt. Both guys can handle the ball and both can score efficiently. Ike Diogu will probably not see much burn, but he has some potential. On the flip side, the Pacers get the other Rush brother, and Jarret Jack, who will compete with TJ Ford for the starting PG spot. The Pacers needed a PG, so it seems strange that they would trade one away to get a combo PG in Jarret Jack. It seemed like a heavensent that Bayless fell to them. But they must have really saw something great in Brandon Rush. Either that, or they have complete faith in TJ Ford's ability to stay healthy and run the point. I suppose that for a rebuilding team like the Pacers you just want to stockpile as much talent as possible, and hope that they pan out. This helped this fill 2 needs instead of just one. How strange is it that there are brothers playing on the same team? How frequently has that happened (if ever)?

8) Brandon Jennings signs with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of Italian Serie A.

Kay: Wow. In what could be the start of a new trend, Brandon Jennings elects to play a year overseas rather than play college ball. This is a decision that will piss off David Stern. But can you blame the guy? First, he'll get paid to play basketball for the next year. Second, he'll be able to play against professional players in another league and hopefully refine his skills more than if he just played college ball. Granted, there will be a lot of cultural shock, but it could help to toughen up his skin and make him ready for the NBA. And who knows, maybe he'll like playing overseas so much that he decides to stay over there. The NBA needs to realize that their one-and-done policy with the NCAA is a stupid idea. Why force kids to go to school for a year; especially when many of those kids end up just skipping classes and get accepted into college via shady methods? The players make the college teams tons of money, but have nothing to show for it themselves. Should they get paid? I don't know what the solution to this problem should be, but some changes need to be made. On a side note, Carlos Delfino signs a 3-year, $13.5 million contract for Khimki Moscow of Euro Cup. This is significant in that some players realize they can make more money overseas in than in the NBA, and have a better shot at fame and success.

7) New Jersey Nets trades Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Bobby Simmons & Yi Jianlian.

Kay: On paper, this looks like a steal for the Bucks. They get the all-star SF that they've always coveted, and a second banana for Redd. And in return, all you had to get rid of was an expensive role player and a rookie that hasn't lived up to the hype yet. Not only can RJ score in bunches and defend, but he's an unselfish player and should be able to provide some leadership to this young team. You gotta like their chances in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs. Williams/Redd/Jefferson/Villanueva/Bogut on paper is gonna score a ton of points. Of course, they could go with Sessions at PG, and either trade Williams for a more reliable PF or play him off of the bench in a Barbosa, Ginobilli, Terry or Gordon type of role. For New Jersey, this was a all up saving $ and preparing for a run at Lebron James in 2010. Simmons' contract is one year shorter than RJ and he is making $30 million less. Yi could turn out to be a solid starter; otherwise, it's a cheap short-term risk. He can maybe attract a larger asian audience to their stadium, at the very least. The Nets are trying to get younger but stay competitive. I would not be surprised to see Vinsanity traded in the upcoming seasons. They have some nice young talent on their team and are clearly in a rebuilding mode.

6) Golden State Warriors sign Corey Maggette to a 5-year, $50 million contract.

Kay: Is Maggette overpaid? Yes. But he's a consistent 20+ point scorer, and unlike other players on the Warriors lineup, he won't just sit around and take jump shots all day long. Maggette and Ellis should combine to a form a potent slashing duo. They should each average a ton of free throw attempts this year. Though we can all agree this was a knee jerk reaction to losing Baron Davis, and missing out on Elton Brand. I'm surprised they didn't make a run at Josh Smith, but I think most teams have settled with the idea that the Hawks will retain Josh Smith. They'd rather go after an unrestricted free agent, which is more of a sure thing. In addition to losing Pietrus, it looks like the Warriors are going to lose Barnes and Azubuike also. So they are suddenly very sparse at the swing positions. Maggette will take over a majority of those minutes (hopefully he can stay healthy). And hopefully Nelson will give Belinelli some burn. This should also free some more minutes for Randolph and Wright. Hopefully those guys can assert themselves and be productive. These young gun are the future of the Golden State team. I should also comment that the Warriors offered a contract to Turiaf, who gives them a nice bruiser at the PF position, and helps solidify their bench.

5) Indiana Pacers trades Jermaine O'Neal and Nathan Jawai to the Toronto Raptors for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and Roy Hibbert.

Kay: I like this move for both teams. Toronto realizes that they aren't going to get anywhere with their current squad, so they take a gamble and trade away Ford and Nesterovic for Jermaine O'Neal. This frees up more playing time for Calderon, which is a win-win. Both Ford and O'Neal are injury prone, however, so whoever manages to stay healthy will prove the winner in this trade. O'Neal and Bosh form a potent 1-2 punch in the middle for Toronto. If O'Neal returns to all-star form, they'll be competitive in the East. This should also allow them to play Kapono more minutes, who will greatly benefit from the double teams and open looks. The Pacers, meanwhile, get a replacement for Tinsley finally. They can cut off Tinsley from their team, which is a good move towards turning around this franchise. Nesterovic and Hibbert provide some depth for the Pacers in the middle. Both are skilled big man who should be able to contribute right away. The Pacers are a young team, and this trade gives them some young talent to play with. They have solid depth at every position now. I don't think it's enough to challenge for a playoff spot yet, but I like the direction this team is going.

4) Denver Nuggets trade Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers for a conditional 2nd Round Draft Pick.

Kay: Wow. Camby was traded for nothing. That's gotta be a harsh blow to your ego. He wasn't traded for a first round pick. Or even a second round pick. He was traded for the option to swap second round picks. Hah! Apparently, Denver cares more about saving some bucks than trying to win. Not that they were close to winning a title, any ways. Camby was their only decent defensive player, and his departure will create a huge hole in the Denver lineup. They now have to depend on Nene and Kenyon Martin, both injury prone players, to man the PF and C positions. Perhaps Denver felt pressured to play Nene more minutes because they gave him an inflated contract a year ago. On the flip side, the Clippers get a nice, affordable player to play at PF. It will be interesting to see how Camby and Kaman blend; but they should be a force on the defensive end. I suppose with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Tim Thomas in town, they need someone to rebound all of those missed shots. For the Clippers, it's a short-term gamble. He comes off the books in 2010, and should free up a ton of salary space, if they elect to make a run at one of the big guns. I would have preferred they go after Josh Smith, but they elected to go with the safe route and not pursue a restricted free agent, who will likely get matched by their current team.

3) Los Angeles Clippers sign Baron Davis to a 5-year, $65 million contract.

Kay: I would have liked this signing even more if Elton Brand had stayed with the Clippers. As is, the other LA team is a borderline playoff team at best. And Baron becomes the face of this franchise. His job will be to elevate the play of everyone around him and try to fill some seats, at the same time. Baron Davis and Eric Gordon sounds like a potent duo on paper, and most definitely an improvement over Knight and Mobley from a year ago. Luckily, the Clippers were able to acquire Camby, so he should take some of the pressure off of Baron. I expect Thornton and Kaman to have big seasons playing with Baron. And if they allow Baron to push the tempo, this team should be fun to watch and very high scoring. I'm not sure if they'll be able to make the playoffs, though. The West is tough and competitive; and I don't see this team as being very good defensively. The key will be whether Baron can stay healthy for the entire season. It's hard to argue with Baron's logic for leaving the Warriors. First, the Clippers offered him the most money, and second this gives him a chance to return home and be in Hollywood, where there are more non-basketball opportunities. It's hard to argue with that. It's not like the Warriors were a contender anyways.

2) Philadelphia 76ers signs Elton Brand to a 5-year, $82 million contract.

Kay: While I prefer the Clippers starting lineup with Brand in it over the 76ers lineup with Brand, you can't argue against taking more money, playing in the Eastern Conference, and moving closer to home. While the Clippers lineup would be stacked, they would not be guaranteed a playoff spot, and would struggle to get out of the first round. The Western conference is just that deep. In the East, he can elevate the 76ers to near elite status. They are definitely one of the top teams in the East with Boston, Detriot and Orlando. Brand gives the 76ers the inside/post scorer that they desperately needed last year in the playoffs, where they got beat by the Pistons. They are horrible in a half court set, and Brand should look to solve those problems. He instantly becomes this team's best player. He can score in bunches, rebound, defend, and draw double teams. Andre Miller should have a field day with all of his offensive weapons now. Dalembert should improve playing next to Brand in the middle. Young and Iggy should have more room to operate. They need to sign some shooters to take advantage of the open looks that Brand will give them.

1) Seattle Supersonics relocate to Oklahoma City... Sorta.

Kay: The biggest offseason move this year is not a player, but a team. Hah! The whole situation behind the relocation is quite confusing, so I will instead just post a link to a wikipedia article on the topic. I understand from a financial/business point of view, that moving the team to Oklahoma City is a good idea. Just look at the number of season tickets that they have already sold: 16,000. That's in only 2 weeks! Compare that to the Seattle Supersonics average attendance last season which was less than 18,000. And you can see that there is much greater support in Oklahoma City than Seattle for a basketball team. And unlike Seattle, Oklahoma City was able to approve the renovation of their arena (the Ford Center) to better accommodate the basketball team. But I just don't like how everything went down; all of the lawsuits, broken contracts/leases and the lies of the new ownership group. To take away a team from another city is just wrong. I'm also disappointed that the city of Seattle did not put up much of a fight to keep their team. They accepted a settlement with Clay Bennet and his group to void the lease that the team had with KeyArena to allow the team to relocate in return for a lump sum of money ($45 million) and also the right to retain the name and history of the Supersonics franchise. What's the point in having a team name and history, when you don't have a team?

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