Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pre-Draft Trades

1) New Jersey Nets trade Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.

And the big trades continue. Wow. Orlando acquires an all-star talent for some spare parts. Vinsanity can hit the outside shot and will be a good fit for this squad. Assuming that Orlando can resign Turkoglu they'll have the best starting 5 in the league, hands down. Every player in their starting 5 has the potential to average 20 points per game. That's ridiculous. Of course, it's also possible that the trading of Vince Carter means the Turkoglu will be changing addresses. Vince Carter is set to earn $33.5 million over the next 2 years. So this Orlando franchise will definitely be paying luxury tax. But this is a franchise hungry to win. I like that. Ryan Anderson is just a throw-in player. This trade does hurt the team's depth quite a bit. They'll be forced to rely on Anthony Johnson once again to backup Jameer Nelson. And they lost a good prospect in Courtney Lee. Tony Battie will be an underrated loss. They desperately need to resign Gortat or get another big body to backup Dwight Howard. But they have the pieces to return the NBA Finals again next year, assuming everyone is healthy. For New Jersey, this was a pure salary dump. They'll have a ton of money saved up for the summer of 2010. As all three players that they acquired have expiring contracts this year. Courtney Lee is a nice addition to this team and will be teamed up with Devin Harris in the backcourt. Saving up all of this cap space is only a good idea if they are able to sign someone. If they cannot attract a big-name free agent, their plan will have backfired. Will anyone want to play on a team that traded away all of their talent?

2) Golden State Warriors trade Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton.

Apparently Don Nelson wasn't joking when he told Jamal Crawford that if he did not opt out of his contract, he would be traded. It was clear that a backcourt of Crawford and Ellis would not work. So I'm not surprised that the Warriors traded Crawford away. Nelson is looking for a pure PG to run his offense. Crawford was set to earn $20 million over the next 2 years, so the Warriors are saving a bundle in this trade. They also have an excess of backcourt players, so this trade helps alleviate some of that congestion. Even though they traded for 2 PG, I would not be surprised to see them draft a PG. I don't think Monta Ellis is the answer at that position. And trading back for Baron Davis doesn't seem like a good long-term move. I don't foresee Claxton getting any burn, and Acie Law is a backup PG at best. Crawford can score buckets, but I'm not sure where he fits in the Hawks squad. I heard that they plan to resign Bibby during the offseason. So that means they are trading for a $10 million per season backup PG/SG. Does that make any economic sense? He can fill the role left behind by Flip Murray, who is a free agent. And I suppose they could play a small lineup with Bibby and Crawford in the backcourt at times. But this trade doesn't really improve the Hawks team that much, who really need an upgrade at PG and C. The latest reports say that the Hawks don't plan on resigning Bibby. So Crawford will become the starting PG for this team. Yikes. I don't foresee this turning out well, at all. Neither Crawford or Johnson is a true PG.

3) Phoenix Suns trade Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a 2nd Round Pick and $500K.

Cleveland finally pulls the trigger on this move. I like it. And they did not have to give up anything of value. Neither Wallace or Pavlovic played major roles in their rotation. Shaq's contract expires next year, so it's a nice low risk move. They will still have salary flexibility next summer to pursue one of the big name stars to play along Lebron. And in the short-term, they have a legit post scorer who will demand double teams. This also will allow Cleveland to single cover big men like Dwight Howard. The only downside is that he's poor at defending the pick and roll, and can be injury prone. But let's see how motivated Shaq is next year. I'm sure he's eager to 1up Kobe and win his 5th ring. On the other side, the Suns get some salary flexibility. Ben Wallace is considering retirement which would save them a ton of money next year. Pavlovic is only guaranteed $1.5 million next year, and will probably be waived. Amare should be happy now that he is the man in Phoenix, unless they decide to trade him. They can return to a run and gun style without Shaq clogging the middle. Phoenix is in a difficult spot though; are they in rebuilding mode or are they trying to win now? They have a lot of holes in their lineup now. Who will man the C spot now? Will Amare move back over to C? And who will start at the SF position?

4) Minnesota Timberwolves trade Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards for the #5 pick, Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songalia.

This is a great move for both teams. The Wizards stubbornly refuse to go into rebuilding mode, and they want to try to win now. So trading away a draft pick for some solid players benefits this agenda. They were also able to dump some bad salaries off to Minnesota. Thomas is set to make over $7 million next year, and Songalia is owed over $9 million over the next 2 years. Yikes. Meanwhile, both Mike Miller and Foye's contracts expire next summer. So it's a low risk move. I don't think this propels them to contender status, however. But these guys will provide some extra scoring for this Wizards team, who should be near the top of the league in that category. Flip Saunders is a great offensive coach. Both guys can hit the outside shot and should help stretch the offense. Foye is more of a shoot-first PG, so I'm not exactly sure where he'll fit in. I expect Miller to move to the starting lineup, with Foye taking on the 6th man role. I'm not sure where this leaves young developing talents like Nick Young and Javaris Crittenton however. The Wizards are a bit thin in the frontcourt after that trade. They are going to have to depend on Blatche and McGee to step up their games. And hope that Haywood can return back to form. For Minnesota it helps their rebuilding efforts. They now have 4 1st round draft picks and both the #5 and #6 picks. They have a lot of flexibility with what they want to do. I expect them to draft a new backcourt to join Love, Jefferson and Gomes. It should be an exciting time for the Timberwolves franchise.

5) Milwaukee Bucks trade Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto.

Finally. The Big 3 get some help. The Spurs problem has always been a lack of consistent scoring from their role players. RJ will definitely help the Spurs in that regard. He's capable of scoring 20 points per game. And provides them with some much needed athleticism and "youth". And they had to give up very little to acquire him. RJ is owed nearly $30 million over the next 2 years, which hurts their salary flexibility. But with Duncan on the decline and Manu constantly injured, their opportunity to contend for a title is quickly closing. It's a good short-term risk. The trade leaves them with some major holes in the frontcourt, however. As of now, an injury to Duncan would be devastating for this team as of now. They have to hope that Ian Mahinmi can contribute next year, and they can try to resign Gooden or another big man. I've heard Rasheed Wallace's name being thrown around, which would be a perfect fit. A lineup of Parker, Manu, RJ, Rasheed and Duncan would be title contenders. RJ is a big upgrade over Finley or Bowen. He is a capable defender so the Spurs defense should not skip a beat. For the Bucks, it was purely a salary dump. Now they can use some of that money to sign Sessions or Villanueva. They will likely waive Bowen. And Oberto has already been traded to the Pistons for Amir Johnson. A nice PF prospect. Maybe the Bucks could have gotten more for RJ, but trading him off was a great move for their franchise for the future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rumor Has It

1) The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro suggests trade talks between the Suns and Cavaliers surrounding Shaquille O'Neal have heated up again.

From what I had heard, Cleveland would ship Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix for the Big Cactus. Had Danny Ferry pull the trigger on this deal at the trade deadline, we could be talking about Lebron James winning his first title right now. It gives them a legit scorer in the middle, and a big man who can defend Dwight Howard. And think about all of the fascinating storylines that would have developed from this. Superman Vs. Superman in the Eastern Conference Finals. And than a dream reunion of Kobe and Shaq in the Finals. All 3 players are only signed through the summer of 2010 so its a low risk move for Cleveland. Phoenix meanwhile saves some coin in this trade if Ben Wallace retires and they buy-out Pavlovic. And they make Amare happy, who now becomes the focal point of their offense.

2) Carlos Boozer is expected to opt out of his contract with the Jazz and could be pursued by the Pistons or Cavaliers.

There are a couple big names players who will be opting out of their contracts this summer, but Boozer has the best shot at changing teams. Utah seems more concerned about resigning Millsap and playing him at the PF spot than retaining Boozer. Also if Okur opts out of his contract, they will have to worry about resigning him to a long-term deal as well. They won't have enough money to sign all of these players. With that said, I doubt that Boozer returns to Cleveland given their bad history. But a move to Detriot sounds possible. Detriot will have a ton of cap space due to the expiring contracts of Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson, and they can offer Boozer whatever he wants. Detriot is desperate for a big man who can score some points as they haven't had any luck filling the PF spot with young guns like Amir Johnson, Kwame Brown or Jason Maxiell. The question is whether Detriot wants to spend money now or hold off until next summer.

3) One trade possibility has Tracy McGrady landing in New York in exchange for Larry Hughes and Cuttino Mobley's expiring contract.

Considering Houston's postseason success without McGrady and his history of injuries, I think they are willing to depart with their superstar. It's one of those addition by subtraction moves. All players involved have expiring contracts. Even though McGrady is scheduled to miss the first month of the regular season (and perhaps longer), the Knicks can afford to take a gamble on McGrady. He, by far, is the greater talent and he'll help fill some seats at Madison Square Garden. And on paper, he has the necessary skill set to be flourish in D'Antoni's system. McGrady could be a nice rental for the upcoming season. And if he's willing to take a paycut the following year, he could be an enticing partner for a future summer of 2010 signee. And besides, it's not like Hughes was in their long-term plans anyways. For Houston, it's more about freeing up playing time for their other players and getting rid of a distraction from the locker room. Hughes is a decent player. He can create his own shot and gives Houston some size in the backcourt. He's good for some steals and is a good slasher/penetrator; differing from the rest of this jump shot happy team. Mobley is retired; but it would be nice to see him back in Houston. Now if only they could sign Francis...

4) Sam Smith of is reporting that the agent for Ben Gordon says the Pistons have guaranteed the unrestricted free agent an offer of $11 million this summer.

I think this report is just BS. There's no way that any team would make a guarantee to Ben Gordon for $11 million per year. He's just a one dimensional scorer and is not deserving of top dollar. And why would Detriot even be interested in Gordon? Sure they have the cap space, but they already have a backcourt of Hamilton and Stuckey. Stuckey is their future PG, and Hamilton was recently given a contract extension. It doesn't make any sense. I wonder if it's a rumor created by the agent to increase the perceived value of Gordon. Also Gordon is an undersized SG, who doesn't play defense or know how to pass the ball. He would not fit in on this Detriot team. He's a streaky jump shooter that can get hot on occasion. He would be a nice 6th man for a playoff bound team, but is not a star. I don't see any team offering him a big deal. Not even a desperate team. He should not have rejected the $10 million per season deal that Chicago offered him last summer.

5) An NBA source confirmed that a potential trade of Al Jefferson and the No. 6 pick for the Suns' Amare Stoudemire is no longer on the table.

Let me first start off by saying that there is little to no chance of this trade actually going down. Zee and I debated on which side of this trade gets the better deal. I'm siding with Phoenix because Al Jefferson is locked up to a long-term deal and plays some defense. Meanwhile, Stoudemire can opt out of his current contract during the summer of 2010. There is a lot of risk in trading for Amare. And throwing in a #6 draft pick also? Why would Minnesota make this deal for? Neither player's skill sets match the teams that they would be traded to. Al Jefferson is not an athletic big who can run with the Phoenix team, and Stoudemire can not score effectively in the half-court. Jefferson and Shaq in the middle would be an absolute mess. True, Jefferson just came off of knee surgery. But he's a young player, and I expect him to bounce back and make it first all-star game sooner than later.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Steve Nash covers the finals

Nash is a pretty funny guy. Who knew?

The Candy Man.....

This might explain why he has such sporadic play at times. Sugar rush perhaps?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Ahh yes, the puppets commercial all Lakers fans have been waiting for. Sorry Lebron, maybe in a few years.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Milking The Cash Cow

Wow. Nike is really going overboard with these Nike Muppet ads. Below are 3 more spots to add their collection.

There's not much more to say besides that. The Los Angeles Lakers are the 2008-2009 NBA Champions beating the Orlando Magic in 5 games. I'm pretty sure that no one is surprised by the outcome of the NBA Finals, as they were the favorites coming into this season. Kobe finally got that monkey off of his back. And the Lakers will be perennial contenders for the next several years. This franchise will face some difficult questions during the offseason, however. Will they be able to resign both Odom and Ariza (Odom has already said that he's willing to take a paycut to sign back with the team) and will Phil Jackson retire? It'll be interesting to see whether a different coach is able to guide this team to a championship. Of note excluding Fisher and Bryant, this is a young team that will continue to improve and get better. The question now is how many titles can these Lakers win?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jumping The Shark

Below are # 8 and 9 of the Nike Muppet ad campaign. I wasn't too impressed with either of these spots. What do you think?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Most Valuable Puppets: Continued

It looks like we haven't seen the end of these Nike Muppet commercials. Below is the latest spot, which features Lebron stuck at home with Lil Dez during the NBA Finals. Cold. But absolutely hilarious. I was wondering how they were going to extend this ad campaign. If only they could get a Dwight muppet mixed in there; but he's an Adidas guy. I'm looking forward to a spot with Kobe showing off his 4th ring to Lebron. I looked it up online and people are saying that Bobb'e J. Thompson is the voice of Lil Dez. He's the kid from the film, Role Models.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How The Lakers Can Win It All

Zee knows how much I hate the Lakers so he asked me to write an article on why I think they are going to win the Finals. Hah. I'll try to be as objective as possible here. On the flip side, Zee will take the Eastern Conference and talk about why he thinks Orlando will win the finals. The Lakers are hungry to win this season and eager to redeem their lose from last year. Everything this season has built up to this moment. They will only be content with winning a ring, anything less will be a failure. Kobe is eager to cement his legacy as one of the best players in history and he knows that he won't get many more chances to win a title. I'm sure he wants to add a Finals MVP to his resume and prove to the doubters that he can win a title with Shaq. And for some historical context. If the Lakers win, this will be Phil Jackson's 10th ring as a coach (he also won one as a player). That will put him alone at the top of the most winningest coaches list. This will be the Lakers 15th NBA championship, second to only Boston. I checked out the ESPN web site, and 9 out of the 10 experts have picked the Lakers to win. I even read an article that said the Lakers are President Obama's pick. Let's drill deeper into why they are everyone's favorites.

First and foremost, they have homecourt advantage. I expect this series to go 6 or 7 games. And both of those games are played in Los Angeles. They have a great shot of closing out the series there. Phil Jackson has a record of 43-0 when he wins the first game of the series. So it will be huge for the Lakers to pick up that win. Phil Jackson in general is a better coach than Stan Van Gundy. He'll make the right adjustments, exploit the mismatches and win the psychological war. He knows how to work the refs and motivate his players to win. Coming off of a hard loss that year in the Finals, this team will be hungry for a win and a chance to redeem themselves. This inexperienced Orlando team may just be happy to be there and will wilt under the spotlight. The Lakers need to be careful not to underestimate Orlando. I have all playoffs long, and they have proved me wrong in 2 of the series. The Lakers had 2 hard-fought series against Houston and Denver. Hopefully some of that toughness will rub off on them. And they will continue to play hard and play smart each game. Compared to last year's squad, this is a better team. Ariza and Bynum were DNP's last year, and they have played big for them so far this year. Kobe is the best player in the series and maybe the league; and he'll need to prove it once again.

The main key for them will be slowing down Dwight Howard. If they are able to successfully single-cover Dwight with either Bynum or Gasol, that will give them a huge advantage. As the Orlando shooters won't have as many open shots. Cleveland got in trouble because none of their bigs could effectively guard Dwight Howard, and that opened up the floor for the rest of their players. Also of note, Dwight has gotten into foul trouble in the past and already has 5 technical fouls. If they can get him suspended for a game or get him into foul trouble consistently, they could dominate this series. Both Gortat and Battie are a huge step down from Superman. Second, the Lakers have length and athletic forwards to match up with Lewis and Turkoglu, who have been huge all playoffs long. They should be able to contest each shot and limit the number of easy baskets that they get. Ariza and Odom will have the main defensive assignments. Ariza has been great at stealing the ball and applying pressure in the backcourt. Once again, the X-factors will be Odom and Bynum. They will need to play up to their potential for the Lakers to win. I like Odom better at the PF spot over Gasol because he has the quickness and athleticism to match-up with Lewis. I think Bynum and Gasol will take turns defending Howard at Center. Bynum is better suited for defending Howard, but he will need to stay out of foul trouble and prove that he can put up consistent effort on both ends of the floor. Gasol has been a beast so far in the playoffs, averaging a double-double in the postseason so far with 2 blocks per game.

Of course, I have to mention Kobe in this article. He needs to be the best player in this series. He'll be the closer for the Lakers. Also he will need to facilitate the offense and get his teammates involved; and set the defensive tone early. They will rotate Lee and Pietrus to defend Bryant; neither of whom I think is capable of slowing him down. He should have a huge series as he makes a run for the Finals MVP award. Differing from Cleveland, the Lakers have a well-balanced offense. They can go inside and outside, and get buckets from a variety of players. With Cleveland, Orlando just had to focus on one player. That same strategy won't work against the Lakers. Also the Lakers will run the floor and try to get easy buckets in transition, which will put a lot of pressure on the Orlando defense. The Lakers role players will need to step up and hit big shots for them. Does Fisher have anything left? Can Vujajic break out of his slump? Brown and Farmar have had some great moments so far in the postseason. And if it's true that Jameer Nelson will play limited minutes for Orlando, they will be key in slowing him down. Quick PG like Nelson have always given the Lakers a lot of trouble. See Aaron Brooks in the Houston series. Nelson was the main reason why the Magic were able to sweep the Lakers 2-0 in the regular season. Fisher has lost a step on the defensive end, and is not quick enough to defend Nelson. Neither Alston or AJ will be a difference maker in this series.

Walton has been effective sporadically off of the bench. But he gives them size and another play-maker. This is a deep Lakers team that can hurt Orlando in many different ways. If they double Gasol or Kobe, that will open up their shooters. This Lakers team have great ball movement and is very efficient on the offensive end. But you can't always expect to outscore the other team. And I have some concerns about their defensive effort. Will they be able to close out shooters and stay focused for the entire series. They have to contest every shot and make Orlando work for every point that they get. This Orlando team has been red hot from the field. And have proven in both the Celtics and Cavaliers series to be resilient and tough to beat. They can come back from big deficits because of their outside shooting. How effective will Gasol be at defending Howard? Will the Lakers elect to double team Howard or will they force him to beat them by himself. I know that Jackson is against the Hack-A-Howard technique, but it might be a smart strategic move. His FT shooting as been streaky so far in the playoffs. Hopefully they will do a better job of defending the pick-n-roll than the Cavaliers did. Turkoglu and Howard were allowed to get any shot that they wanted. Slowing down Turkoglu will be huge. As he's the primary play-maker for this team. With all of that said, I expect the Lakers to knock out Orlando in 6 games. They match up well, and are a more balanced and deep team. And Kobe finally wins one by himself.