Chris Bosh throwing down monstrous
dunks; oh me on my.
Raptors are starting its long west coast road trip tonight at Los Angeles.From what I have seen, the Raptors are the best 2nd tier team behind the East's big 3. Their record does not reflect this, just 4-4, with some tough losses. Without Eric Gordon, the Clippers are really in disarray at the wing positions. Butler/Thornton combo is simply too weak against other NBA starting combos. The Clippers catch a break today with the Raptors starting Demar DeRozan who is not of NBA starter quality yet.
- Clipper bigs will be lost.
Bargnani is taking five 3s a game while making close to half of them. Bosh will also be shooting an array of midrange/outside jumpers. Kaman and Camby simply won't be able to defend them on the perimeter. Hopefully Kaman will be able to muscle up Bargnani inside.
- Jose Calderon
He is not having the kind of statistically driven season that we are used to seeing the past two years. He has uncharacteristically missed a few free throws and is shooting far below career norm from the field. His assists numbers are also down due to Hedo Turkoglu's influence. Having Hedo means taking the ball out of Calderon's hand. This has brought his average from nine assists per game to six. He is reduced to spot up duty on many possessions. Jarrett Jack signing the full mid-level exception with the Raptors also mean Calderon's playing time is reduced.
- Baron Davis
For the Clippers to have any chance of winning, we need a big game from Bdiddy that we really haven't seen since his addition to the team. Davis has played fine so far and looked to be enjoying his job. Let's hope he can step up to night and be the star he once was.
9 Washington Wizards traded Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, 5th pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Randy Foye, Mike Miller
The wizards traded away their lottery pick and a bunch of bit PFs for Mike Miller and Randy Foye. I believe this is a very good move by Washington. There was really no one the Wizards could draft at No. 5 that would contribute immediate or even in 2 years on a playoff roster. This is important because Jamison is already 33 and will start to decline within the next three years. They received Mike Miller, who is a very solid contributor. Personally I believe Miller performs better on a good team which may explain his struggles last season. An amazing article on bulletsforever.com offers statistics/explanations on Miller’s strange season in Minnesota. This deal helps the wizards tremendously as now they can bring Nick Young off the bench. That means no more DeShawn Stevenson and his stupid hand waving taunts. The wizards may not be very deep but Arenas-Jamison-Butler combo is plenty lethal. Blatche and McGee should continue to improve.
Minnesota drafted Johnny Flynn then Ricky Rubio which didn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, if Rubio turns out to be as good as I think he will be then the Wolves made a great trade. That is a big if and it is not even guaranteed that Rubio will play in the NBA within the next 2 seasons. So for now Minnesota is going to receive a big fat F but I reserve the right to change it as David Kahn might get Rubio to come and/or turn Rubio/Flynn into other assets.
Grades: A (Washington Wizards), F (Minnesota Timberwolves)
8 Rasheed Wallace signs with the Boston Celtics (3-yrs, $20m)
Many people might be surprised that Rasheed never averaged more than 20 points nor 9 rebounds in a season. In fact, he has averaged just 12/7 over the past 3 years. Many people believe that he will be able to spread the floor for the Celtics but ‘sheed has not shot over 45% since 2003 season. He is a good 3pt shooter you say. Well, he is a 35% shooter from long range; that is serviceable… for a PF. He does make a decent backup that is if KG is able to come back from his mysterious knee injury. KG/’sheed combo at power forward is lethal but I don’t think it will make the Celtics better than their competitors. Their goal is to win the championship, not be a second round fodder to Cleveland or Orlando. The Celts better hope Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins get even better. All I am trying to say is ‘sheed aint no fab four. Garnett, Wallace and Davis all like to shoot from the outside. What they really need is some inside play to help out Perkins. Of course, getting Rasheed is better than not getting anyone at all.
3 years also seem to be one year too many for the Celtics’s need. Although it would be an attractive expiring contract in 2012.
Grade: C+ (Boston Celtics)
7 Andre Miller signs with the Portland Trailblazers (3-yrs, $21m)
Rumor is that Miller would be coming off the bench behind Steve Blake. However, I am not sure how long that will last. In any case, Miller will be playing the majority of minutes at PG(32min+). Blake will see some action as he is a much more capable long ranger shooter. There is no reason that Brandon Roy won’t mesh with Miller. Everyone was talking about Derrick Rose last season, but in reality Andre Miller had a better regular season than Rose. Miller is a dependable distributor who can direct a young team like this and advance them post season. I believe Miller makes a much better addition than Turkoglu would have been. The Blazers have youth at SF (Batum, Outlaw, and Fernandez) but Blake or Sergio isn’t going to cut it as a starting PG for an elite team.
Grade: A (Portland TrailBlazers)
6 Ron Artest signs with the Los Angeles Lakers (5-yrs, $34m)
I really believe Artest is a better player than Ariza is at this point and will continue to be for the next 2 years. His toughness will definitely improve the Lakers biggest weakness: softness. The deal does seem long especially given Kobe and Artest’s age and mileage. Playing for Phil Jackson will keep Artest in line. Not too sure how well he will mesh with Kobe but it is only fitting for Hollywood if some sort of drama flares up between them. There is not much to say here except Artest is a very good player and his presence will certainly improve the Lakers.
Grade: B (Los Angeles Lakers)
5 Memphis Grizzlies traded for Jerry Stackhouse, 2016 2nd round pick. Orlando Magic traded for cash, $9m trade exception.
Dallas Mavericks traded for Shawn Marion (5-yrs, $38m), Greg Buckner, Kris Humphries, Nathan Jawai, cash.
Toronto Raptors traded for Hedo Turkoglu (5-yrs, $53m), Devean George, Antoine Wright.
Orlando receives a $9 million trade exception that they can use any time until next summer. If they are one of the top 2 seeds at the trading deadline, they can use it to acquire a big name start. Or if Vince Carter isn’t working out for them, they can use it the next offseason. This allows them a lot of flexibility and ability to exceed the salary cap. Whatever big move Orlando makes will probably bring them even closer to a championship.
I think Dallas did great in getting Marion. He is super athletic and is great playing transitional offense. He is still signed for 5 years and he is already 30. I actually believe this is okay because Dirk will start to decline in about the same time period so the Mavs will have lots of flexibility when the time comes. Marion will push the Mavs into the playoff but just how far they go is up in the airs. In acquiring Marion, Josh Howard became expandable. Kidd-Terry-Marion-Dirk-(center). So the Mavs has some trading chip in Howard and could significantly upgrade their frontcourt with a trade. Humphries is capable of playing solid minutes as a backup.
A contract for 5 years at more than $10 million per year is pretty ridiculous for a player who has never been an all-star. Toronto reminds a purely jump shooting team without good defense and that is just not going to make them competitive among the top teams. They want to keep Chris Bosh but I am not really sure if this is going to work. I don’t see them being better than Atlanta to even get home court in the first round. At least they are trying.
Grade: A (Orlando Magic), C (Memphis Grizzlies), B+ (Dallas Mavericks), C+ (Toronto Raptors)
4 Phoenix Suns traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, 2010 2nd round pick, cash
Giving up a crippled Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic for Shaq? Hell yes. Adding Shaq really helps the Cavs at the offensive end. They have true point and 2 good outside shooters to go with Lebron. Add Shaq as the inside force and a scrappy player in Varejao. That is a truly solid lineup with everything you need. However much old age has robbed Shaq, he will still be an effective inside presence and a tremendous offensive player. This will only be a good move if Shaq stays motivated and healthy. I doubt motivation will be a problem as he gets to play with Lebron and get a chance to beat Kobe in the finals. One drawback that is coming up in the news is that Lebron did not really give Shaq a welcoming reception. I believe Shaq knows his role and will delight his teammates with his excellent passing ability.
Grade: B+ (Cleveland Cavaliers)