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Thread: Official NBA Thread
07-06-2012, 03:58 PM #5601
07-07-2012, 02:55 PM #5602
Nash's winning dash to Lakers
Strong move, but will two-time MVP's talents thrive within Lakers' system?
It's a testament to Steve Nash's amazing efficiency that, at the age of 38, five teams were fighting for the right to give him a multiyear contract for several million dollars a season.
And it's a testament to the creativity of the Suns and Lakers that we got a surprise winner. Phoenix realized it had the ability to get assets back in a sign-and-trade deal when Nash unexpectedly developed a yen for the Lakers, partially redeeming the Suns after the scathing criticism the franchise took over the past year for not trading Nash before he hit free agency.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, gets a major upgrade and a few questions that go with it. On the one hand, Nash is far better than any predecessor at point guard in the Kobe-Shaq era. Also, Laker point guards spot up as much as anyone in the league, and nobody is a deadlier shooter than Nash. And if Nash plays anywhere near his level of recent seasons, the contract is a great value.
On the other hand, they're wasting a lot of Nash's talents if all they do is spot him up on the weak side. Nash is a brilliant pick-and-roll operator with the ball in his hands, but his game is an odd fit with the ball-stopping isos that Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum prefer. (Speaking of which, the first time Kobe yells at Nash should be a hoot.) Additionally, this doesn't exactly solve the glaring athleticism deficit L.A. faced in losing to Oklahoma City in the second round a year ago.
Nonetheless, we can safely say that the Lakers look dramatically better than they did 24 hours ago. Their biggest weakness, point guard, is now a strength. I'm not sure it has the Thunder quaking in their boots, but we can probably pencil in L.A. alongside San Antonio as Oklahoma City's strongest contender for Western supremacy.
So there's the Captain Obvious stuff.
But let's probe a little deeper. I have three major questions following this move that I think are still under the radar. Let's bring them out into the light.
Will the Lakers actually keep the payroll this high?
This is a question one has to ask given all the shedding of salary the Lakers have done over the past two years. Is the deal for Nash, using the trade exception from last year's Lamar Odom deal, a sign that L.A. has made a U-turn in its financial philosophy and will open the floodgates again?
Or is it a prelude to other moves that will reduce payroll by an offsetting amount, using the cover of an upgrade at point guard to offload the more burdensome contracts of Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace?
Gasol in particular is a nagging problem; he will make $19 million each of the next two seasons but it is underutilized as a floor-spacing 4 so that Andrew Bynum can dominate in the paint. It's hard to justify paying him that much money as a third option, let alone as a fourth with Nash on the floor. It's fair to wonder if L.A. will look again at trading him, perhaps for a power forward who is less expensive and fits better with the pieces already in place.
Of course, it's possible they could both trade Gasol and upgrade the roster; in particular, a trade of Gasol and Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu would accomplish that. I remain skeptical that Orlando would consider a Bynum deal when he could put the Magic through the same circus they've been dealing with -- Bynum, like Howard, has one year left on his contract. And on the other side, Howard has stated his reluctance to go to L.A. Nonetheless, one must at least broach the possibility.
More likely, one suspects that the Lakers will use the amnesty provision on World Peace and sign longtime Nash cohort Grant Hill to play small forward. If Hill were to sign for the taxpayer midlevel exception, it would save the Lakers more than $10 million in salary and luxury tax each of the next two seasons, which would offset about half the financial hit to the Lakers from Nash's deal.
It remains to be seen what team the Lakers will be putting on the floor when they open the season this fall. But the team they have on paper right now looks very, very good.
Where does Phoenix go from here?
The Suns have kept things interesting, agreeing on a max contract offer sheet with Eric Gordon and reaching a three-year, $18 million agreement with Michael Beasley. They also appear to have obtained a free-agent point guard, former Sun Goran Dragic, with four years and $34 million.
The Suns can't do all three of these things simultaneously without both amnestying Josh Childress and renouncing the rights to free agents Robin Lopez, Shannon Brown, Aaron Brooks and Grant Hill. It doesn't necessarily mean all these things will ultimately happen, though, as Phoenix can time the events sequentially so that Beasley and Dragic don't sign until after the Hornets make a decision on matching Gordon.
If that happens, the Suns have enough room to "un-renounce" Lopez and either Brooks or Brown if the Hornets match the offer sheet to Gordon (you can do this for an offer sheet). But if the Hornets don't match, it appears Childress will have to earn his first post-lockout free throws in some other uniform.
The Gordon decision is defensible; you knew it was going to take a big offer to pry him away from the Hornets, and he's by far the best scoring wing the Suns could obtain in this market. If you're going to gamble this way as a rebuilding team, gamble on young talent who can still get better. Phoenix is doing that, and the max contract for a fifth-year player isn't that outrageous price-wise.
As for the Beasley decision, I'd like that a lot better if he were playing the 4, but it appears Phoenix signed him to play the 3. He's played much better at the 4 his entire career but the Suns already have Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick at that position. Additionally, I'm not sure this is the environment where he can get his head on straight.
How do you get egg out of dinosaur hide?
And then there are the Raptors. Whoa, the poor Raptors. Toronto went for sentiment over logic, prioritized Nash over Dragic and Jeremy Lin and badly misread Nash's desires. Patriotic sentiment was nice and all, but it wasn't going to put Toronto any closer to his kids no matter how much the Raptors offered.
After 48 hours went by and the Raptors couldn't get a yes, they might have gotten a bad feeling about this, but instead they doubled down by offering Landry Fields a ridiculous three-year, $20 million deal. The idea was to blow up any sign-and-trade deals the Knicks could offer Phoenix, with the assumption that the Knicks were the Raptors' main competitor, but New York had another one lined up involving Iman Shumpert anyway. Meanwhile, Toronto never saw the Laker deal coming.
Now, at least, they won't blow a huge pile on Nash, but there's the little matter of the abysmal Fields contract -- presumably the Knicks will be laughing too hard to bother matching -- which will likely require them to lose Jose Calderon (to amnesty) and Jerryd Bayless (by renouncing his rights) to sign any other free agent of consequence.
Nonetheless, this probably saved the Raptors from a costly diversion on their road to rebuilding, and their books are clean enough that Fields' contract won't ruin their equally impressive cap-space hoard for next summer. Toronto can resume the slow, boring process of building a sustainable winner, an area in which it has already made considerable progress. Meanwhile, one hopes this setback will discourage the Raptors from chasing shortcuts so enthusiastically next summer.
07-10-2012, 08:36 AM #5603
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07-10-2012, 11:49 AM #5604
07-11-2012, 06:00 PM #5605
07-11-2012, 06:15 PM #5606
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07-11-2012, 06:23 PM #5607
07-14-2012, 03:20 PM #5608
Offseason grades for some teams
From the draft to trades to free-agent signings, we rate every squad's moves
The NBA free-agency signing period officially opened at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday, and we've already had a plethora of free-agent signings and trades.
But unlike two years ago, when seismic changes happened across the league -- thanks in part to LeBron James -- things have been much quieter. Steve Nash is the only star to change teams. A few other potential key players, such as Ray Allen, Jason Kidd and Joe Johnson, are changing addresses, but overall, the landscape of the NBA hasn't changed that much.
How much have things stayed the same? Consider this line that I wrote in my December 2011 edition of offseason grades:
"Everyone is still holding their breath on Dwight Howard, but the Magic seem determined to wait until the trade deadline to make a decision on him."
OK, this season's trade deadline seems a little far-fetched, but given what Howard has put us through the past six months, anything is possible.
A solid NBA draft, led by Kentucky's Anthony Davis, also has played a role in reshaping rosters, as have a couple of coaching changes and front-office shake-ups.
There likely will be even more player movement in the coming weeks, but now that the dust is beginning to settle, it's time to give preliminary grades for what each team did this offseason.
I'm a college professor in my day job and understand that this exercise really is the equivalent of giving a student a final grade after the first week of class. There's so much we just don't know about how these changes will pan out. In truth, you cannot really grade an offseason until you get to the postseason or even the next offseason. (Case in point: We gave the Mavs an A for keeping their powder dry in December to make a run at Deron Williams and Howard in July. They got close on Williams, but it didn't work out for them).
The grades take into account how each team in the league has performed so far in remaking itself, considering both the opportunities it had and the moves it has made. The grades are not a ranking of which are the best teams in the league, just a device to track which teams have improved and which teams haven't.
Key additions: Kevin Garnett (re-sign), Jason Terry (FA), Jeff Green (re-sign), Brandon Bass (re-sign), Jared Sullinger (draft), Fab Melo (draft), Kris Joseph (draft)
Key subtractions: Ray Allen
I guess it's time to stop writing about the Celtics' closing window. Garnett forced that window open with a stellar playoff performance, and team president Danny Ainge had little choice but to bring the gang back to try it again.
Re-signing KG was a no-brainer. His game has changed, but he is still one of the most dominant bigs in the league. Replacing Allen with Terry is probably an upgrade as well. Terry doesn't have Allen's shooting touch, but he is a much more versatile offensive player. If Green is healthy, he is a major upgrade. The team got Bass back on a reasonable deal, and the Celtics landed a draft pick in Sullinger who can be a force in the post right away as long as his back holds up.
Here's what's impressive about Ainge's moves the past few years. He has maintained his veteran core while still putting in place a group of young players -- Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Green, Sullinger and Melo -- that could become the core of the future.
Few teams have the opportunity and ability to eat their cake and have it too. Ainge has found a way.
Key additions: Deron Williams (re-sign), Joe Johnson (trade), Brook Lopez (re-sign), Gerald Wallace (re-sign), Mirza Teletovic (FA), Reggie Evans (FA), Tyshawn Taylor (draft), Jerry Stackhouse (FA)
Key subtractions: Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Gerald Green, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson
Nets GM Billy King's fingers have been in so many pots the past 18 months that it's hard to separate what the Nets have done from what they were rumored to be doing. On Wednesday, the first day players officially could be signed-and-traded, assistant GM Bobby Marks sorted out the logistics on a head-spinning 13 player contracts via free agency and trade worth a total of nearly $300 million.
When the dust settles, most will remember that the Nets didn't add Dwight Howard. Fair enough. But once Howard decided to opt into the last year of his deal with the Magic, the Nets' chances of landing him greatly diminished anyway.
If you take each deal separately, there's plenty to pick apart. Johnson is dramatically overpaid, with four years, $89 million left on his contract. The Nets never should have given a high lottery pick to the Blazers for the right to overpay Wallace to the tune of $40 million. Lopez's $60 million also seems steep.
But in aggregate, King looks much smarter. His huge gamble to trade for Williams 18 months ago paid off. Williams was the single most important signing for any team this summer, and he has made it clear that he would not have re-signed with the Nets had they not pulled the trigger on the Johnson and Wallace trades. So how can you criticize either deal? And Lopez? Roy Hibbert got the same deal. Heck, Omer Asik got huge money.
On Thursday, word leaked that the Nets were in the mix to either re-sign Kris Humphries or acquire veteran Antawn Jamison. Either player would be a welcome addition to a Nets front line in desperate need of rebounding. Given their willingness to spend anything, it's safe to assume that one of the two likely will be on their opening night roster.
All in all, the Nets have put together a team that is relevant. If they stay healthy -- a big if with a few of their older players -- they have a shot at winning somewhere between 44 and 50 games this season. They'll be a playoff team. Maybe they'll even get into the second round. Given where they've been the past few season, that's progress. Whether they can sustain momentum past the next two seasons? Well, that's why they're not getting an A.
Key additions: Kirk Hinrich (FA), Marquis Teague (draft)
Up in the air: Omer Asik (RFA, offer sheet)
Key subtractions: Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver
The Bulls' core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng continues to make the Bulls one of the top two threats in the East. But with Rose out with what could be a season-long injury and the NBA tax man knocking at Jerry Reinsdorf's door, things aren't as rosy as they were a year ago in Chicago.
The Bulls' biggest decision is whether to match the Rockets' huge three-year, $25 million offer sheet for backup center Asik. If the Bulls were owned by James Dolan, this would be a no-brainer, but Reinsdorf loathes the luxury tax; the thought of paying Noah's backup $14.9 million in the third year of his contract has to make him dry heave.
Consider the Bulls' salary commitments for the 2014-15 season, and Asik's deal will be worth about $30 million, when you factor in those luxury tax payments.
Nevertheless, the Bulls are seriously contemplating matching the Rockets' offer. They could end up using the amnesty tag on Boozer in the final year of his deal to reduce the tax, or perhaps by then they can move one of their higher-priced players off their roster. Asik was a critical part of their success last season, and the Bulls don't want to just give him away.
Match or no match, the Asik offer has hurt the Bulls.
To mitigate the financial damage, the Bulls have dumped Brewer and likely will do the same with Kyle Korver. It's expensive to be a contender, and the Bulls may not have the stomach for it -- especially when your best player is out with an ACL tear for most of the season.
The one bright star this summer was the Bulls' good fortune of having Teague fall into their lap on draft night. Teague isn't ready for heavy NBA minutes yet, but he has the quickness and scoring acumen to be a good NBA player down the road. Had he stayed at Kentucky one more season, I think he would have been a lottery pick.
Key additions: Chris Kaman (FA), Darren Collison (trade), Elton Brand (amnesty pick-up)Jared Cunningham (draft), Dahntay Jones (trade), Bernard James (draft), Jae Crowder (draft)
Key subtractions: Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Lamar Odom, Brendan Haywood, Kelenna Azubuike, Ian Mahinmi
I thought Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson were pretty brilliant in December when they decided to break up a championship team just in time to reload for another one. The prospect of landing both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard with their newfound cap space seemed like the perfect plan, worth the one-year hit in the win column.
Alas, Howard decided in March to opt into the final year of his contract, and a last-second acquisition of Joe Johnson by the Nets persuaded Williams to spurn his hometown and re-sign with Brooklyn.
When Kidd and Terry bolted soon after, it sure looked as if the once-proud Mavs were playing for pingpong balls this upcoming season.
I'll say this about the Mavs: They're resourceful. In just a few hours Wednesday afternoon, they landed Kaman on a very reasonable one-year, $8 million deal. Then they pulled off an inconceivable heist for Collison. On Friday, they won the bid for Brand off the amnesty waiver wire for a paltry $2.1 million. Suddenly, the team had a young starting point guard on a reasonable deal and a veteran center and power forward to go alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.
I don't think the moves will put them back in contention, but they should be back in the playoffs and will enter next summer as the odds-on favorites to get Howard.
It's a one-year detour, but it might be a fairly scenic one for Mavs fans.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Key additions: Blake Griffin (extension), Lamar Odom (trade), Jamal Crawford (FA), Chauncey Billups (FA)
Key subtractions: Mo Williams, Nick Young, Neil Olshey (GM)
The Clippers had the biggest offseason moment in franchise history in December when they landed Chris Paul. This summer, they added to the momentum by signing Griffin to a $95 million extension.
With Paul and Griffin in place, the team made moves to shore up an already dangerous team. If Odom is engaged -- a pretty big if right now -- he could really help them. Ditto for Crawford and Billups. Losing Williams and Young hurt, but those additions probably make it a wash.
Some will argue that the Clippers won't make it to the next level until Vinny Del Negro is listed in the "Key subtractions" line, though.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Key additions: Steve Nash (sign-and-trade), Devin Ebanks (re-sign), Darius Johnson-Odom (draft), Robert Sacre (draft)
Key subtractions: Ramon Sessions
It must be nice to be a Lakers fan. Every time the ship springs a leak, a superhero shows up to plug it.
This year, that help is coming from the most unexpected place. Nash shocked the world when he persuaded Suns owner Robert Sarver to trade him to L.A.
Reasonable minds can disagree over the impact Nash will have, but if coach Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant let Nash be Nash, the Lakers are going to be a dangerous team. Bryant is getting too old for hero ball, and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are getting tired of it. Nash has the ability to make everyone happy and still finds a way to hit the big shots when his team needs it.
It's not a plan to shore up the Lakers for the next 10 years, but for the next two, the Lakers should be the biggest threat to the Thunder returning to the NBA Finals.
Key additions: Ray Allen (FA), Rashard Lewis (FA), Justin Hamilton (draft)
Key subtractions: None
The defending champs will be returning all of the key players, with the potential exception of an injured Mike Miller, and have added more firepower this offseason.
Allen and Lewis are well past their primes, but given the dominance of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all Erik Spoelstra is going to ask them to do is spot up and shoot 3s, something both of them can do well.
When the 3s are raining down in Miami, the Heat are tough to beat. Allen and Lewis just made them that much tougher.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Key additions: Marcus Camby (sign-and-trade), Jason Kidd (FA), Steve Novak (re-sign), J.R. Smith (re-sign), James White (FA)
Up in the air: Jeremy Lin (RFA, offer sheet), Landry Fields (RFA, offer sheet)
Key subtractions: Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan
The Knicks, for the first time in a while, weren't the center of the media offseason hype this year. With no cap space or assets to make a serious run at Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, they were reduced to making a so-so offer for Steve Nash.
When Nash opted for the Lakers, the Knicks found Kidd, the next-oldest point guard, and signed him. Then they found Camby, the oldest center they could get their hands on, and worked out a sign-and-trade for him.
They finished things by paying $15 million to Novak, a guy who scored a total of 12 points in the playoffs this season.
The message? The Knicks are no longer rebuilding. They are going for it. Whether Camby or Kidd have enough left in the tank to make a difference is questionable, but the Knicks aren't really competing against the Heat or Lakers. Finishing with a better record than the Nets will do just fine.
The two younger Knicks, Lin and Fields, went out and got offer sheets from other teams. The Knicks are a mortal lock to match Lin's sheet when the Rockets deliver it. As Marc Stein humorously noted, the Knicks were going to match Lin up to a billion dollars. Whether it's wise to pay Lin that type of cash is a moot point. The Knicks had no choice but to bring him back. They didn't want a riot on their hands.
Fields? The Raptors' poisonous three-year, $20 million offer sheet appeared on the surface to be unmatchable. However, this is the Knicks we're talking about. Owner James Dolan doesn't care about the money, and he is fond of Fields, who is a young asset. Because money's no object, Dolan just might match.
Overall, the Knicks got marginally better. Whether marginal is what Knicks fans are expecting, that's another question entirely.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Key additions: Perry Jones (draft), Hasheem Thabeet (FA), Hollis Thompson (FA)
Key subtractions: None
Every year, I write the same opening paragraph about the Thunder. Every year it proves to be true.
The Thunder tend to be overly conservative during the offseason. In their case, it's a virtue. Too many teams panic and believe they have to spend all their money or the offseason is a failure. Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti waits and waits and waits for the right deal to come to him. When it does, he pounces.
Once again, there wasn't a lot for Presti to do this summer. He has a young team that is a serious championship contender for the next five years. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are locked up to long-term deals.
Their biggest question this summer will be what to do with James Harden and Serge Ibaka. If they give them market-value extensions, the Thunder will be forced to pay the luxury tax. No one is sure whether they'll swallow that pill or trade one of them to get cap relief.
Because of the impending salary hit, the Thunder kept their spending down. They made a great pickup in the draft with Jones, who slid from a potential lottery pick to the late first round because of questions about his left knee and his motor. He has looked solid in the summer league, and with Durant as his mentor, he could be the star of the draft.
Thabeet has been a bust, but he is young, blocks shots and is on a cheap two-year deal. Thompson was one of my undrafted sleepers. He shoots well and has good size and athletic ability at the 3. He is a nice, cheap pickup.
Key additions: Jameer Nelson (re-sign), Andrew Nicholson (draft), Gustavo Ayon (trade), Kyle O'Quinn (draft), Rob Hennigan (GM)
Key subtractions: Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy (coach), Otis Smith (GM)
The good news, Magic fans? GM Otis Smith is gone.
The bad news? I'm not sure Jerry West, let alone rookie GM Rob Hennigan, can fix the mess Smith left.
The Dwight Howard situation is out of control. The Magic screwed up badly when they didn't trade him before the season began or at the trade deadline. Smith mistakenly thought that the longer the Magic waited, the better offers they would get. It has turned out to be the opposite.
Howard is largely to blame. His decision to give the Magic just one team to trade him to backfired. The Magic couldn't get enough assets from the Nets to make the deal worthwhile, and Brooklyn got so frustrated that the management finally threw its hands up in the air and went in a different direction.
Now, Howard and the Magic are at a bit of a standoff. Howard is threatening to bolt this summer for the Mavericks. The Mavs have virtually nothing of value to offer the Magic in return. The other interested teams -- the Lakers, Rockets and Hawks -- have decent offers but are reluctant to pull the trigger without Howard's commitment. (The Rockets may be an exception to this.)
The Magic's best hope may lie with the Rockets, who are amassing an enormous amount of assets and cap space, hoping that the Magic will reconsider their offer if Houston is willing to take back most of Orlando's undesirable contracts -- Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Glen Davis and/or Chris Duhon -- as part of the deal. If nothing else, that offer would allow the Magic to start over from scratch.
However this ends -- and we're all praying it ends sometime before February -- it won't end well for either Howard or the Magic. In the meantime, the Magic are in limbo. They re-signed Nelson and added a few interesting draft prospects; I'm a fan of Nicholson and O'Quinn. But they lost Anderson, their second-best player last season, when his contract demands escalated, and they are still burdened by a few awful contracts.
The road back to relevance for the Magic has never been more obfuscated.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Key additions: Tim Duncan (re-sign), Danny Green (re-sign), Boris Diaw (re-sign)
Key subtractions: None
We say it every year: The Spurs are old.
Duncan is 36. Manu Ginobili turns 35 at the end of the month. Even Tony Parker is 30.
But it's hard to break up a team that still performs the way San Antonio does.
The Spurs finished tied with the Bulls for the best record in the NBA last season. While Duncan, in particular, showed a little wear and tear, San Antonio is still dangerous.
Because of that, the Spurs' moves this summer were modest. They are flirting with the luxury tax and are limited in what they can do. Their most important move was signing Duncan to another three-year deal. There was zero chance he was going anywhere else, so there was little drama. They also re-signed Green and Diaw, two important contributors to their run last season.
At some point, the Spurs' foundation will start to crack, and when it does, Kawhi Leonard looks like the only true young building block for the future. You'd love to see the Spurs doing some of the things the Celtics are doing to shore up their future, but it's hard to argue with the results.
By Chad Ford
Senior Writer, NBA Insider
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07-14-2012, 03:29 PM #5609
07-15-2012, 10:05 AM #5610
Graded the Mavs a B? Yeah right.
07-16-2012, 07:06 PM #5611
So...how bout them Bulls?!
07-16-2012, 07:45 PM #5612
07-16-2012, 07:49 PM #5613
07-16-2012, 07:53 PM #5614
07-22-2012, 05:52 PM #5615
07-22-2012, 05:58 PM #5616
07-25-2012, 06:04 PM #5617
I'd have to agree.
07-28-2012, 05:20 PM #5618
USA will take gold in the Olympics.
07-28-2012, 05:50 PM #5619
07-28-2012, 06:12 PM #5620
They handled Spain so I'm guessing it should be easy. On another note.. '92 dream team > '12 team