Category Archives: NBA

Fantasy Basketball Trade Deadline Review: 2011

I can’t remember a trade deadline so active with so many big names before. I mean lots of former All-Stars shipped all over as teams made their final pitch to better their postseason chances. If you read my Talking Trade article then some of these trades/teams should not come as a surprise –Nets made a move after missing out on Melo (check), Gerald Wallace to the Blazers (check), Cavaliers move a point guard (check). I also mentioned the Grizzlies would move Mayo (should have went to Indiana but apparently the GMs lost track of the deadline) and the Pistons would move Hamilton (who reportedly vetoed a trade to Cleveland).

However, the biggest reason we saw so many moves yesterday was due the CBA and the uncertainty that goes with it as we head into the summer. I believe that is why you saw the Clips dump Baron Davis (2 years/ $ 28.8 million left on his contract after this season) and the Celtics part with Perkins (knowing they were not going to give him the big money and longterm contract he will desire as a free agent). But with a ton of trades to get into let’s not waste anymore time.

Jazz send Williams to New Jersey:

Jazz Acquire: Devin Harris (G), Derrick Favors (F), Two 2011 1st Round Picks, and $3 million

Nets Acquire: Deron Williams (G)

The Nets got star power with Williams, but will it last longterm remains the question?

The biggest block buster since, well Carmelo. The Nets get a franchise face in Williams, (although not a guaranteed face longterm) who can hopefully help recruit free agents. Williams however, is a free agent himself come the summer of 2012 and should he walk on the New Jersey (well Brooklyn by then) then this trade could be a disaster.

It’s an excellent move on Utah’s part because they do not have to go through what Denver did this year and worry about getting something in return for their superstar who wasn’t going to resign. They get two 1st round picks in June including the Nets pick which will be in the lottery (oh the irony should NJ win the lottery this year). They also get back a starting point guard in Harris and basically another lottery pick in Favors, who should allow them to try to get out of Al Jefferson’s contract ($29 million/two years after this season) and roll with Derrick and Paul Millsap (or they could move one of these two and keep Jefferson).

Fantasy Focus: Utah is in rebuilding mode and that should allow C.J. Miles (available in 62% Yahoo & 87% ESPN leagues) to take a lot more shots and try to fill the scoring void left behind by Williams. Not to mention Kirilenko contract expires after this season and will most likely move on from the Jazz meaning he shouldn’t be a big threat to Miles minutes. Favors should continue to be a prospect and I expect similar numbers from Harris as before the move.

Rockets send Battier back to Memphis:

Rockets Acquire: Hasheem Thabeet (C), DeMarre Carroll (F), 1st Round Pick

Grizzlies Acquire: Shane Battier (F), Ishmael Smith (G)

Memphis makes this move in an effort to finally get to the playoffs. They acquire a superb defender in Battier as he goes back to the team that originally drafted him (remember Rudy Gay will be out at least another three weeks). Ishmael Smith can play a bit himself to and could eventually become Mike Conley’s backup but for now will be behind Jason Williams. Houston not only gets the 1st round pick for the expiring contract of Battier but also get the former 2nd overall pick in Thabeet who could potentially be your center to replace Yao.

Fantasy Focus: Battier should be able to carve out his role as a defensive specialist heading into the playoffs but will get major minutes with Rudy Gay out. For Houston, neither Thabeet or Carroll will get time right away. Instead Chase Budinger (available in 69% Yahoo and & 88% ESPN leagues) will start and replace Battier and should immediately be picked up in standard 12 team leagues. He will get the minutes to be a difference maker for the playoffs and will be a source of points with about 6 boards a game and possibly even a steal and three per game.

Rockets send Brooks to Phoenix:

Rockets Acquire: Goran Dragic (G), 1st Round Pick

Suns Acquire: Aaron Brooks (G)

The Rockets were set to go with Kyle Lowry running the point and Brooks wasn’t happy with his role. In return they get a 1st round pick and a reliable backup who is capable of handling full-time duties should they run into a problem with Lowry. For Phoenix, the move was all about the future as they now have their heir to superstar Steve Nash in Brooks.

Fantasy Focus: Bad news for Brooks owners who were hoping eventually he could again supplant Kyle Lowry (available in 44% Yahoo and 10% ESPN leagues) and take back the starting role. Lowry is the big winner here and if somehow he is still available is a must add. Brooks minutes should stay around what they have been off the bench in Houston but playing with Nash will definitely benefit him and he should be a consistent source of 3’s the rest of the way.

Bobcats send Wallace to Portland:

Bobcats Acquire: Joel Przybilla (C), Dante Cunningham (F), Sean Marks (C), Two 1st Round Picks, and cash

Blazers Acquire: Gerald Wallace (F)

Jordan finally parts with the last original Bobcat.

The Bobcats get out of Wallace’s contract and part with the last original Bobcat in exchange for three expiring contracts. They also get two future 1st round picks which hopefully Jordan will not screw up. The Blazers should solidify their playoff spot with the move, as the health of Brandon Roy (both longterm and short-term) is not as crucial because of the created depth between Wallace, Batum, and Matthews. They still have pieces like Rudy Fernandez should they try to trade to get a 1st rounder back in the future.

Fantasy Focus: Wallace will undoubtedly get his but I do not expect him to be the fantasy beast he was in the past or even where his average draft position was. He no longer looks like the second or third round pick you drafted him as (he should be behind Aldridge and Roy possibly even Matthews as far as scoring options are concerned), but should keep up with what he has been doing the past month in Charlotte. Hopefully a trip to the playoffs and change of scenery will up his shooting percentages as he is shooting his lowest season total since becoming a full-time start back in 2004. For Charlotte, Gerald Henderson (available in 83% Yahoo and 95% ESPN leagues) is the guy you want to grab as he will take Wallace’s place in the starting lineup. Henderson won’t give you 3’s but he rebounds well for a guard and will score in bunches (although may be inconsistent as he adjusts to his new role).

Celtics send Perkins to Oklahoma City:

Celtics Acquire: Jeff Green (F), Nenad Kristic (C)

Thunder Acquire: Kendrick Perkins (C), Nate Robinson (G)

This deal tells me that Boston questions the Lakers ability to repeat or else why would they want to part with Perkins (many believe including the Celtics that they would have beaten LA again last year if they had a healthy Kendrick)? They give up their biggest strength-size, and will rely on Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, and “Big Baby” Davis at the center position. They bring in a versatile wing in Green, who can hopefully rebound from a rough season with a change of scenery. Boston will most likely sign Green longterm in the offseason and are thinking to the future after the “Big 3” with a core of Rondo and Green. For OKC, they realized a need to get tougher and bigger if they want to make a run into the postseason and ultimately beat the Lakers (in addition to Perkins they also added Nazr Mohammed yesterday for Morris Peterson and DJ White). They also get back Nate which just adds to one of the deeper teams in the league. Robinson should backup Westbrook and provide instant offense off the bench along with James Harden.

Fantasy Focus: It remains to be seen how Boston will use Jeff Green but I have a hard time believing he will continue to play 37 minutes a night for the Celtics. He will be serviceable but his already decreasing value undoubtedly will take a hit. The big men for the C’s will have to step up without Perkins and I expect Glen Davis (available in 48% Yahoo and 55% ESPN leagues) to do a majority of that as far as the regular season is concerned. Speaking of Perkins, he is out for a couple of weeks but when he does play should continue to put up his regular numbers. Serge Ibaka will see some extra minutes until then.

Clippers send Davis to the Cavaliers:

Clippers Acquire: Mo Williams (G), Jamario Moon (F)

Cavaliers Acquire: Baron Davis (G), 2011 1st Round Pick

Donald Sterling continues to amaze me. Just when the team starts playing well and chemistry is being developed between Davis and super rookie Blake Griffin, he moves him. LA gets younger with Mo Williams and they obviously believe he will be the point guard of their future and will try to lock him up longterm. But they also part with what will surely be a lottery pick in this years draft. Not to mention Williams has a player option and could opt to leave and test free agency after the conclusion of this season. For the Cavs, this deal was a no-brainer. They have plenty of depth at the point so even if they view Baron as a downgrade to Mo Williams (which many would not) they can surely make up for it. It should also be noted Williams struggled to stay healthy all season so they are familiar with playing without him. But the biggest gain was another lottery pick in this years draft which very well could mean two picks in the top 10 come June.

Sessions could be in line for a big second half with Mo Williams out-of-town in Cleveland.

Fantasy Focus: Attention Baron Davis owners, abandon ship! It took Blake Griffin to get Davis to step his game up this year and he will not be motivated in Cleveland (at the time of this article he still hasn’t even shown up to take his physical). Try to sell him off if possible and be prepared to go cheap, but he could in fact be drop material in a few weeks. Ramon Sessions (available in 35% Yahoo and 10% ESPN leagues) and Daniel Gibson (available in 69% Yahoo and 79% ESPN leagues) are the winners here as far as fantasy value is concerned in Cleveland. Gibson’s role should be safe for the remainder of the season and Sessions should continue to see the starters minutes he has the past month. If still available he is a solid source of assists and points, although don’t expect much in the 3’s department. He could be viewed as a third point guard option in some cases. I expect Mo to continue to bounce back well from injury and should get all of Baron’s minutes.

Wizards send Hinrich to Atlanta:

Wizards Acquire: Mike Bibby (G), Jordan Crawford (G), Maurice Evans (F), 2011 1st Round Pick

Hawks Acquire: Kirk Hinrich (G), Hilton Armstrong (C)

The Hawks have been looking to upgrade at the point all year-long deciding that Jeff Teague was not ready to become a full-time starter. They finally do that in Hinrich and add size in Armstrong. It’s a wash between Bibby and Hinrich (both contracts expire in time for the summer of 2012) for Washington since either one will serve fine as John Wall’s backup. Crawford is an interesting shooting prospect and if they decide not to commit money to Nick Young (a free agent at season’s end), Jordan could potentially replace him. Evans is just an expiring contract and the extra pick won’t be in the top 20 but will definitely help the rebuild for the Wizards.

Fantasy Focus: Very simple here, Bibby’s value goes down as he will get less minutes as the new backup for Wall. Hinrich’s (available in 49% Yahoo and 58% ESPN leagues) minutes go up as he is given control to Atlanta’s offense. Not as good a three-point shooter as Bibby but knocks them down and get assists (a rarity coming off the waiver wire).

Kings send Landry to Hornets:

Kings Acquire: Marcus Thornton (G) and cash

Hornets Acquire: Carl Landry (F)

After a spectacular rookie season, Thornton has struggled to find playing time this year. That could change however in Sacramento.

The most interesting part of this trade, as pointed out by Mark Cuban, is the fact that the Hornets (currently owned by the NBA and looking for someone to buy it) completes a trade in which they take on salary (meaning ultimately every other team in the league is paying for it).

As far as the players involved and what it means for the teams I like it. New Orleans gets another post player to go along with West and Okafor and gives Paul another offensive weapon. The Kings take no risk in acquiring a second year player in Thornton and with Tyreke Evans currently sidelined for a few weeks he should be able to step in and contribute right away as with Marquis Daniels (who they acquired from Boston yesterday as well).

Fantasy Focus: Landy’s (available in 38% Yahoo and 53% ESPN leagues) value will have to be determined as we will have to wait and see exactly how he will be used in New Orleans. One thing for sure is that he’s never played with a point guard of Chris Paul’s caliber. I do like Thornton (available in 67% Yahoo and 67% ESPN leagues) as a deep pickup for 3’s and points. Evans is dealing with plantar fasciitis that has affected him all year-long but will keep him sidelined for a few weeks. Thornton should be given the opportunity that has not been there for him with the Hornets. Remember what he did in the second half of last year, there is just too much upside not to take a chance if you have a roster spot available in deep leagues. Everyone else, keep an eye on out.

Nets send Troy Murphy to Golden State:

Nets Acquire: Brandan Wright (F) and Dan Gadzuric (C)

Warriors Acquire: Troy Murphy (F) and a 2012 2nd Round Pick

With the playoffs almost completely out of sights the Nets should be able to give Wright an opportunity he’s never had before – playing time. The 8th pick from th ’07 draft is going to his third team and can hopefully take the minutes left behind by the recently departed prospect Derrick Favors. Murphy is likely never to suit up for the Warriors who will release him and get back a 2nd round pick for their efforts. The main thing to watch from this trade is where Murphy will end up signing to finish the season and make a playoff push. More likely than not it will be in the east as he has garnered the interest of Orlando, Miami, Boston and now New York.

Fantasy Focus: Murphy (available in 49% Yahoo and 64% ESPN leagues) will end up with a contender which almost certainly means a reserve role so we would have to see exactly how many minutes he gets. As far as fantasy value is concerned New York and Orlando would be the best destinations. A three-point shooting power forward would thrive in those systems and he should be able to contribute better than say Ryan Anderson and Shawne Williams. We can’t forget about Murphy’s rebounding skills as well (career average of 8.5 rebounds a game) he is certainly a multi category contributor.

Peja is just one example of an unhappy veteran getting a buyout and then finding new life with his new team.

Every year we see players get bought out of their contracts and signed by March 1 allowing them to be post season eligible and sign with contenders. Example, Dallas signing Peja Stojakovic after he was bought out by Toronto a couple of months ago. Players that could fit the bill this year include T.J. Ford, Richard Hamilton, Troy Murphy, Mike Bibby, Eddy Curry, and Jason Kapono. Not everyone will be bought out, but there are some significant names here that will certainly find a new home if that is the case.

Once bought out by Houston, the Knicks are expected to sign forward Jared Jeffries (who they traded to Houston at the deadline last season). He knows the system and should provide some defense and issue the team realizes they need to address. They also have shown interest in bringing back another ex-Knick in Earl Barron as well to provide some more height. One more thing to note, the Cavaliers have released forward Leon Powe after trading for rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden. My guess is that Powe will sign with the Celtics (remember he won a title with them back in ’08,) since they will be looking to add players to their roster after trading away four guys yesterday (including three big men). Unless of course, Rasheed Wallace decides to come out of retirement and give the Celtic green one more go.

Fantasy Focus: Ford (available in 98% Yahoo and 99% ESPN leagues) seems to be the biggest name here and could resurrect his fantasy value back from the dead if he ends up on the right team. New York (who suddenly becomes mentioned with every free agent and every move after acquiring Melo) has him on their radar but Miami is the team that needs him most. If they can sign him he will play significant minutes and possibly even start for them. Assists are a rarity to pick up off free agency in fantasy and it would behoove owners in need of the category to make space and grab him now.

Hamilton (available in 78% Yahoo and 56 % ESPN leagues) will be a much tougher buyout with years remaining on his contract (same with Mike Bibby), but if he’s available teams like Chicago and Boston have already expressed interest. He too could wind up with a starting gig if the Bulls sign him and would warrant immediate pick up consideration. Bibby (available in 63% Yahoo and 86% ESPN leagues) is in the same boat as Ford. If both are available and Miami takes Ford, Bibby could wind up on the Knicks who would be a better fit as they are looking for outside shooting as well as a backup point. Kapono (available in basically 100% of all leagues) could be a three-point answer for the Knicks also as they look to replace the shooting left behind by Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari.

And last (and probably the least) Eddy Curry (do a player search he is a free agent available everywhere) could actually log a minute in the NBA this season. The need to get big is apparent in the East and Miami as well as Boston could take a look. However, the biggest surprise could be….wait for it…. back to the Knicks. I know it seems crazy but could this be the plan by Walsh all along? Don’t play Curry, use him as a trade chip, then sign him and have the center they’ve been missing all along. Perfect! On second thought maybe they would be better off begging Karl Malone to come back, the commercial said he was interested.


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Just in the Knick of Time

The Knicks have sealed the deal bringing not one but two All-Stars to come alongside Amare.

Finally it’s all over. Carmelo Anthony is officially a Knick and he brings Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, and a familiar face in Renaldo Balkman along with him. New York departs with Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov as the four of them remain teammates in Denver (at least for the time being). The Timberwolves were the third team involved in the deal as they were needed to absorb Eddy Curry’s contract and get 21-year old Anthony Randolph from NY. Minnesota also sent Corey Brewer to the Knicks to round out the deal, and NY sent a 2014 1st round pick to the Nuggets as well.

So what does it all mean? Let’s start off easy, for Minnesota they get a young 7 ft prospect in exchange for Brewer who will be easily replaced in the rotation by the likes of Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, and rookie Wesley Johnson. If Randolph ever develops to the potential as the lottery pick he was drafted as, then Minnesota has a very nice young core with Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Randolph, and Jonny Flynn (also Ricky Rubio whenever he’s ready to come over from Spain).

Denver, loses two stars in Melo and Billups (who was also the hometown hero) and sets them back into rebuilding mode. They start with a future 1st round pick, and solid rotation pieces in Chandler, Gallinari, and Felton who they can keep and resign or try to move elsewhere for more picks and/or prospects. It has been reported that the Clippers are interested in Gallinari and the Nets interested in basically anyone who has ever worn a Knick jersey in an effort to steal NY fans for the move to Brooklyn (remember they tried to grab David Lee this past offseason). They also get a 7 ft prospect in Mozgov and also finally will give Ty Lawson a more meaningful role as many believe he will be the starting point guard of the future. The Nuggets remain in talks with several teams including the Houston Rockets for center Nene whose contract expires at the end of the season and could be lost for nothing if he decides not to resign (a la Anthony all over again).

Despite the blockbuster for Anthony, Walsh and the Knicks continue to pursue a center and have contacted Portland about getting Camby back in a Knick uniform.

As for the Knicks, it’s everything they missed out on this summer with LeBron, but possibly better. Yes, they create some rotation holes but as the Heat are proving this season that will get replaced. They create their own “Big 3” in Amare, Anthony, and Billups and get the superstar power that has been missing for almost a decade. They again become relevant and revamped the city back into a basketball town. The Garden will be filled every night and the excitement can already be felt all over New York City. And according to Donnie Walsh, they are not done yet. They continue to look for a center and size to help them contend in the East this season and have reached out to the Trail Blazers about bringing back Marcus Camby. It should be noted that Billups and Camby’s contracts (should they acquire him) expire going into the summer of 2012 and allows them to go after their longterm goal of signing a top-tier point guard like Chris Paul or Deron Williams, or possibly even Dwight Howard.

Fantasy Focus:

Overall I see this trade as a negative for most players involved. Let’s take a look as to why…

Playing in D’Antoni’s system has never hurt any players value unless of course they don’t crack his rotation. This will not be a problem for Billups (seasonal averages of 16.5 ppg, 5.3 asts, 2.1 3s should stay consistent) and Anthony, who I believe has the most to gain (possibly up to around 27 ppg and 7.5 rebs as he will see time down low at the 4 position as well). His three-point shooting will undoubtedly increase and should improve his scoring as well. Shooters will be needed with the departure of Chandler and Gallo, and if Roger Mason or Andy Rautins can get minutes they will become a cheap source of three’s as well. If Brewer sticks around he has and will be a steady source of steals and maybe there is a chance we see his three-point shooting from the second half of last season return where he shot a career high 34.6% (playing at least 16 games) for the season. However he could go the exact opposite way and completely fall off the map it remains to be seen. Deeper leagues will want to keep an eye on Shelden Williams if you are in need of rebounding (think back to his value for the first month or so of the season) for the simple fact that he will have to play as the Knicks don’t have any other big bodies as of yet.

Lawson has always produced when given the chance and he could put up big numbers for fantasy owners heading into the playoffs.

Unfortunately I’m expecting the opposite for the players traded from the Knicks. Gallinari will shoot wherever he ends up and could even become a second scoring option depending on the teams, although I expect him to drive and be more aggressive offensively as he is a fantastic free throw shooter at 89.3% for the season. Wilson Chandler is a different story. His numbers have been on the decline for a couple of months now and I doubt Denver will use him in the power forward spots like the Knicks sometimes were forced to. I think his blocks should decrease to around one a game (still extremely valuable in leagues that have him with SG eligibility) which is right around his career average. But with Afflalo, and J.R. Smith ahead of him he could struggle to log big minutes and put up the scoring numbers he did in New York.  Same goes for Raymond Felton, who certainly will be in a time share with Lawson whereas he was the main man for the Knicks. Denver has a ton of mediocre players at the guard and wing position so playing time could be inconsistent and hard to find for some players. However if you have an open roster spot go get Ty Lawson before it’s too late. Lawson is currently available in 56% of yahoo leagues and 69% of ESPN leagues. Last night (although obviously Felton wasn’t available to play) he started and starred posting a line of 21 pts, 5 rebs, 7 asts, and 6 stls in 39 minutes. He obviously will not be playing that much a night but I can’t see how they would play him less than 25 minutes a night and we have seen his success when given time.

Anthony Randolph could benefit most from this trade. He goes to a place where he should finally get the opportunity to grow and develop. His main competition for playing time will be Darko Milicic and Anthony Tolliver, players not exactly invested highly by the Timberwolves organization (although Darko did just sign a four-year contract this past offseason). Teams in need of rebounds and blocks will definitely want to take a look at a player drafted in almost all leagues at the beginning of the season. If given a consistent 25-30 minutes a night he could flirt with double-double numbers and at least a block a game. The departure of Brewer should free up time for rookie Wesley Johnson as he should get plenty of minutes moving forward in the Minnesota youth movement. He is a streaky shooter but maybe this gives him more time to work out the kinks and try to get into some type of rhythm in the second half. If so he could rack up decent point totals as well as develop into a solid fantasy three-point contributor.


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Talking Trade (Excluding Melo)

The NBA All-Star weekend is officially over which means the trade deadline is days away. With all the ‘MeloDrama we have dealt with all season long it’s easy to forget players not named Carmelo Anthony can get traded as well. This season the theme heading into the deadline (other than Carmelo obviously) is players on the block being shunned by their current teams (getting the Eddy Curry treatment). And I’m not talking benchwarmers but players that once played significant minutes in the league and may have even been All-Stars or NBA champions. Here is a list of my 5 teams most likely to make a move by the deadline and the possible players to be involved (it should be noted that the teams are not ranked in any specific order but rather just five teams with assets and motives to get a deal done).

The Pistons have some veterans with playoff experience that could draw interest from teams as the deadline nears.

Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars has done wonders for this franchise but as it stands now this will mark the second straight year the team does not make the playoffs (currently 4 1/2 games out). He is not one to hesitate on a move (that’s the Nuggets job) and has a roster full of forwards and wings. He could make a move to rebuild, getting picks and young players rather than try to make a playoff push, when the reward for being successful would just be a 1st round exit to Boston or Miami. His main goal will be to unload underused Rip Hamilton (currently in Kuester’s doghouse) and his remaining three years/$38 million contract. The Bulls could be a team interested as they have been looking for starting SG but after committing money and a three-year deal to Kyle Korver this past off-season they certainly will not be willing to pay a high price, as the move will basically take away all cap flexibility for the next three years. The expiring contracts however of both Tracy McGrady and Tayshaun Prince could appeal to several contending teams however and also clear the way for more playing time for Ben Gordon (signed through 2013) and young forward Austin Daye.

New Jersey Nets: The latest reports are that NJ is still in Carmelo discussions and who knows how that will play out. But if the Nets miss out on Anthony (or Prokhorov decides to pull out again) I still expect them to make a move. Unhappy with his recent play, they seem motivated to move Devin Harris and now a potential trade with Portland is being proposed (more on them later). It would send disgruntled guard Rudy Fernandez and veteran PG Andre Miller to NJ for Harris and either Travis Outlaw (who started his career with the Blazers and just signed lengthy contract this past summer) or Anthony Morrow. Other names like Joel Przybilla and Johan Petro have been mentioned but talks are still preliminary. But what could be the Nets biggest asset is the expiring contract of exiled forward Troy Murphy. Another player in another doghouse (this time first year Nets coach Avery Johnson) Murphy has been on the block since he was acquired and his $12 million would come off the cap at the season’s end helping any team looking to clear space to rebuild (like teams did for the summer of 2010) not to mention he can play a bit to. A three-point shooting power forwards sounds like someone who would fit the Orlando Magic scheme and GM Otis Smith has already looked into it despite revamping the roster already this year. He decided the asking price was too high but if they could work it out, there’s a possibility Murphy is starting for Orlando come playoff time.

Rudy may finally get his wish and an exit out of Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers: The problem with the Blazers making moves is that despite the injury woes to Roy and Oden, they are right in the middle of a playoff race in a tight Western conference (or at least seeds five through eight). Not a bad problem to have except the pieces they have are selling pieces, the expiring contracts of Miller and Przybilla as well as the two years left on Marcus Camby’s contract. However, if they were to include Rudy Fernandez, who has wanted out of Portland before the season started, and some of those pieces they could make a move at a player who could help significantly help a postseason run. One such player reportedly on the blocks is Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace. With three years remaining on his contract (two years with a player option), it seems as though Jordan and company are ready to move forward without him and with Fernandez, the expiring contract of Przybilla, and a 1st round draft pick it could be enough to force Charlotte to part with their longest tenure player (remember it was reported the Bobcats were in talks with Cleveland about trading Wallace and that was for just a 1st round pick alone). The Nets deal for Harris seems more likely however at this point, as Harris would be a more athletic point to help them compete against a Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, or Chris Paul they might find in the playoffs.

Cleveland Cavaliers: The team with the worst record in the league (although did just beat the Lakers heading into the break) will certainly be active sellers in hopes of getting anything to excite the city moving forward and try to erase the painful memory of LeBron. Antawn Jamison might be their best player right now but with two years and roughly $28.5 million left on his contract it will be hard to move let alone get anything more than expiring contracts for him. Again the Magic are looking for a power forward but the only contract that will make the numbers match would be the expiring contract of Jason Richardson and I can’t see them parting ways after just acquiring him.  With the way Ramon Sessions has been playing lately the last two weeks- 19 ppg, 4 rebs, 9 ast, 2 stl, and with three years left on a decent contract it makes Mo Williams and/or Daniel “Boobie” Gibson expendable. Williams will be the trickier sell as he has a player option after this year and could walk out not only on the Cavs but whichever team he’d be traded to as well. Gibson on the other hand is making slightly more than Sessions but also has three years left on his contract and would certainly appeal to any contending team looking to add a three-point shooter.

If Denver moves Melo, what will happen with the rest of the Nuggets?

Denver Nuggets: It would be hard not to mention the Nuggets as they have headlined trade talk since this past summer. We all know the deal on Anthony, and if he does get traded what does that mean for the rest of their roster? Denver currently has the 5th highest payroll in the league and are well over the luxury tax. If Anthony is moved, I expect a total rebuilding project to occur. JR Smith, Nene, and Kenyon Martin all have expiring contracts and although the Kroenke’s have expressed interest in resigning Smith, I can’t see them committing money longterm to the other two. Meaning they could be acquired on the cheap just so the Nuggets can get something for them (sounds familiar for this team huh?) whether it be picks or young prospects. Billups is also a player the Nuggets would like to get off the cap although he has expressed his desire to want to retire in his hometown as a Nugget. However, this is a business and even if they do decide to keep him I cannot see them accepting the over $14 million team option, as a new deal is far more likely. It should be noted he could be traded, the other team denies his option, and then he returns to Denver next year via free agency. The biggest concern though should be moving Al Harrington and his recently signed five-year contract. If they go into rebuilding mode, they should listen to anybody who would be willing to take on his contract and accept any offer no matter what it is. $33.5 million  is committing to much for a team that will be looking to get younger and cheaper unless of course they plan to build around him- not a chance.

Other Possibilities:

OJ Mayo would be another dissatisfied player that wouldn’t mind a fresh start, but with the Grizzlies actually in the playoff race and with Rudy Gay now being sidelined for four weeks, I can’t see them moving him now as they will need his scoring and he basically will get a second chance to try to revive his career in Memphis.

Mark Cuban has been active around this time and with Caron Butler done for the year he could be looking for a starting small forward.  Right now they are using Peja in that role, but this is one place I could see Gerald Wallace ending up. With Butler’s contract expiring at the end of the season, they can just stick with Wallace and it would basically give them a three-year window as serious contenders.

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The World’s Greatest

In the words of R. Kelly….

Ray, you made it


You’re the worlds greatest…

Ok not exactly how the R put it, but still catchy. One thing that is for certain however, Ray Allen is the worlds greatest three-point shooter and it shouldn’t have taken last night for you to realize that. It wasn’t a matter of if he would break Reggie Miller’s career record of 2,560, but rather when. Since arriving in Boston for the start of the 07-08 season, Ray has taken his game forward as opposed to slowing up. This year he is shooting some of the best percentages of his career -.505% from the field and .459% from 3-pt which would both be career highs. To make the moment even better, Ray hit number 2,561 with Miller on hand commentating for TNT. To break it down Allen has surpassed Reggie in exactly 315 fewer games (about 3.8 fewer seasons) and 53 fewer shot attempts.

The 15 year veteran has arguably the purest shot the NBA has ever seen. He broke Kenny Smith’s NBA Finals record of most three’s in a game and set the mark at eight in last years finals versus the Lakers. So it only seemed right that he broke this record against that same squad. The 10-time All-Star gets his shot off faster than anyone with a simple flick of the wrist. But what people don’t realize is the incredible footwork he has to square his feet to the basket coming from any angle. Here’s how the historic moment went down:

After a highly successful college career at UConn including winning Big East Player of the Year in 1996, Ray moved to the NBA and onto the big screen. Filmmaker Spike Lee (also known as one of the biggest Knick fans on the face of the planet and simply put not a fan of Reggie Miller), decided to have Ray co-star in the 1998 film He Got Game with Denzel Washington. Ray played Jesus Shuttlesworth, a high school star whose father tries to convince him to choose the school that will help lower his prison sentence. The only reason I bring this up is because Spike obviously saw something special in Allen (and I don’t mean an upcoming movie star) as he could have casted any other bigger name star for the role (like maybe the face of basketball himself Michael Jordan, especially after the success in films before with Space Jam). So did he know that this second year kid was going to ultimately break his arch rival and hated villain’s three-point record, probably not. But I can guarantee you he was sitting at home screaming “Jesus” last night cheering on Ray as he moved past Reggie for number one all time. Here’s a clip of just some of the beef between Spike and Reggie:

In conclusion, let me just say congratulations to Ray Allen, you are well deserving of this honor and it couldn’t have happened to a more humble individual. You are a future Hall of Famer and true role model to basketball fans everywhere. I wish you future success and hope you can continue to play and build on your record. And not that you needed the title but make no mistake you are the Three-Point King and will wear the crown for a long time coming.

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A Class Act

Yesterday the NBA said goodbye to the longest tenured coach in professional sports.

On Monday he agreed to a one-year contract extension. Yesterday, he resigns. I was not even a year old, the last time someone not named Jerry Sloan was manning the Utah Jazz sidelines. In fact, in their entire existence the Jazz have only had six coaches dating back to when they joined the NBA back in 1974. For 23 of those seasons, it was ’09 Hall of Fame inductee, Sloan running the show and had it not been for Michael (how many times have we heard that one before?) he may have won back-to-back championships from 1996-1998. Sloan will most be remembered for Utah’s championship years (although they never actually won an NBA Finals) and the famous combo of Stockton/Malone who without question ran the pick and roll better than anyone in NBA history (yes, kids better than Nash/Stoudemire in Phoenix). He then seemed to find new success under another All-Star PG Deron Williams and big man Carlos Boozer (the modern version of his Stockton/Malone pick and pop combo,) and getting the most out of role players like Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. However, despite 23 years at the helm, two NBA Final appearances, 1,127 wins (not counting his short stint with the Bulls), being the 3rd winningest coach of all time, and the longest tenure in professional sports, Jerry Sloan has never won Coach of the Year honors. Taking a look back now, it seems like a crime.

Although one could not have predicted Jerry’s resignation to come in the middle of the season, much less a season in which the Jazz will be in the playoffs (currently sitting seventh in the West as of Thursday night), the end was nearing for Sloan. In 23 years, not much has changed in the way he ran Utah, but it seems as if everything else in the NBA has. No I don’t mean the league wide 245 coaching changes since he took over on Dec. 9, 1988 (13 of which were by the Clippers alone). I mean the game itself including the role of coaches taking a backseat to players and agents demands especially those by Creative Artists Agency. I’m talking about players choosing who they want to coach and where they want to play. The “Decision,” Chris Paul wanting out of New Orleans, and Carmelo wanting to go to New York, none of this was imaginable back in ’90’s when Jerry’s Jazz were the team to beat out West.

Sloan was an old school coach, he would often get in the face of Karl Malone and confront his superstar getting the most out of him whether they agreed or not. Can you imagine what would happen today if Erik Spoelstra got on LeBron publicly about playing defense or anything else for that matter? Holy cow, he’d be fired and Pat Riley would take over quicker than he could say “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.” It became evident over the past couple years as players were leaving Utah (and Sloan) for the bigger markets and the rifts between Sloan and D-Will seemed to be getting worse, that his time was coming to an end. Yesterday, we heard as an emotional Sloan stood in front of the world saying, “I had a feeling this time was the time to move on. ” Explaining that “My time is up.”

It should be noted that he is not walking away alone. Assistant coach Phil Johnson will also resign and after sticking by Sloan’s side the past 18 years it should come as no surprise, saying “I came with him and I’ll leave with him.” Both men will be 69 this year. It sounds cliché to say, but Jerry Sloan simply was a class act and will truly be missed. He leaves behind him almost a quarter century of memories not just for Utah fans but for the entire NBA. His legacy is the success of what the Jazz have become and I find it hard to imagine that a coach who never won a championship can ever become a symbol to a franchise, like Jerry was for Utah. He resigns as the only coach in history to win over 1,000 games with one team and is one of three coaches with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record. Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, both with 19, are the others.

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‘Melo Down Everyone

There has been a ton of trade talk this week involving Denver Nuggets superstar, Carmelo Anthony. Earlier in the week it was reported that a deal had already been agreed upon sending the 6″8 Brooklyn born forward to the Nets, (who plan to open the 2012-2013 season in the Brooklyn based Barclays Center) along with Nugget teammate, Chauncey Billups and  3-time All-Star Richard Hamilton, meaning Detroit would also have to get involved. Who would get back the expiring $11.97 million contract of Troy Murphy but would have to put up with Johan Petro’s contract until the end of the 2012-2013 season. They would also get a 2nd round pick from New Jersey. The Nuggets in return would get two future 1st round draft picks, Nets prized rookie Derrick Favors, ’09 All-Star Devin Harris, 3-point specialist Anthony Morrow, and money matching throw-ins Ben Uzoh, Stephen Graham, and Quinton Ross.


Don’t worry about it, cause it’s not going to happen. Which is why it hasn’t already happened. With the Pistons on-board, the Nets of course in, and the Nuggets got their wish of expiring contracts, young players to help build around (Favors and Harris-who they can trade with Ty Lawson waiting to eventually supplant Billups or keep), and two 1st round draft picks.

So what’s the holdup? Suddenly Denver wants more cap relief and wants someone (or a new team) to take on the contracts of either Al Harrington (expires 2015) or Renaldo Balkman (expires 2013). Really? We’re supposed to believe Prokhorov and the Nets is this close to getting Melo but refuse to work Harrington (a NJ native) or Balkman into the deal? After all, with the amount of players the Nets are trading away, wouldn’t they need players like Harrington or Balkman just to fill roster spots?  I’m not buying it.

Trading for Iguodala could allow the Nets to possibly keep Favors and Harris.

Personally, I don’t even like the trade for the Nets. With five 1st round draft picks in the next two drafts, help is right around the corner. Even if they believe Favors and Harris are not the answer you can use them as trade bait later and still draft whoever you want to build around. Even with Carmelo it’s no lock the Nets make the playoffs this year in this top-heavy (only six teams above .500) Eastern Conference. Why not keep your core guys and trade for a cheaper player on the block, like maybe Andre Iguodala or Gerald Wallace? They would come at much reasonable price and would in all likelihood allow them to keep Morrow, Harris, or Favors or maybe all three. Then at least you have other players to go around Iggy or whoever you bring in right away. As oppose to restarting the build again with an already in his prime, Carmelo.

According to Yahoo Sports, Billups has already stated that if traded he would seek a buyout so he could return home and retire in Denver. Rip will be 33 this February and is no longer the All-Star caliber player he once was. Theres no way Anthony believes he has a better chance of winning a ring with Rip in Jersey over what he already has in Denver. Instead I think it’s his agent Leon Rose (who is also Hamilton’s agent) just trying to get Hamilton’s name out and on the block because his client wants out of Detroit. Carmelo will be fine and he has options which is not necessarily the case for the Pistons shooting guard. He could be the force pushing these talks, not Anthony. For the Nets, is Melo worth losing picks, Favors, Harris, and Morrow for? Yes, they would have him for three years, but is it worth it for Melo to go there and rebuild while in the midst of his prime?

That may be why this trade hasn’t gone through. Although Carmelo hasn’t listed the Nets as a team he would not sign an extension with (a list that includes the likes of Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Washington) he hasn’t said he would either. He has publicly only mentioned one team on his list of teams he would sign an extension with; the New York Knicks. Maybe the reason this latest Melo trade (remember the one involving Charlotte and Utah back in September) was a “done deal” and didn’t go through was because Anthony didn’t want it to. That seems to be the logical explanation to me. If Carmelo refuses to sign an extension with the team trading for him, a deal is practically impossible to get done. What team would give in to the Nuggets high demand to see the prize of their trade walk away in free agency at the end of the season. So in the end it’s up to Anthony to choose where he wants to go and as currently demonstrated, when.

If the Knicks do end up trading for Anthony, they could be welcoming back an old friend as well.

Anthony controls his own destiny, which keep Donnie Walsh and the Knicks in play. New York is where Carmelo wants to go, it’s as simple as that. If Carmelo says he will only sign an extension with the Knicks or walk in free agency guess what? Denver has one team to try to trade with otherwise they could very well lose out like the Cavaliers did last year (unless, of course, new Denver executives Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke decide to handle the fate of the franchise by calling Anthony’s bluff). So even if the likes of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Landry Fields are not what the Nuggets want for Anthony (as they have stated), they are surely better than nothing. Not to mention the Knicks wouldn’t have a problem taking on Balkman’s contract, given his popularity in New York, the team that drafted him. D’Antoni would find use in him as a three or four and could essentially take minutes from Bill Walker or Shawne Williams off the bench.

Walsh and the Knicks have and always had the upper hand in the negotiations which is why I believe they will ultimately wait until Denver comes to them.  Donnie is an experienced general manager which is the reason he was brought in to fix the Knicks in the first place. While Amare publicly endorses Anthony to pair with him in New York, Walsh can keep his poker face and take a back seat knowing that in the end, Carmelo will end up with the Knicks if that is truly what he wants. If Melo waits five more weeks (and he has waited this long already,) will he be willing to potentially leave $65 million on the table to sign in the summer under a new CBA? With the recent events of this latest deal, it certainly would seem so. What would he do to make up for his financial losses in that case,  probably go to a place where he can be marketable – billboards and jerseys; all over advertisements and endorsement deals; take the city by storm and what better place to do that than in the Big Apple?

Now in his third season in the league, playing time is all the 21-year-old Randolph needs to reach his promising potential.

Now in order for the Knicks to get a trade done by the February trade deadline, they need to make at least one other deal first. The will need to get at least one 1st round draft pick and there are some teams that have picks to spare. Most noticeably the Nets and the Timberwolves. I’d say the NY Giants have a better chance of winning the Superbowl this year than the Nets helping the Knicks get Melo. However, Minnesota becomes a very interesting situation. They are already rebuilding with pieces in place like Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, and Ricky Rubio (a player on the original Knicks wish list, who remains in Spain). So trading one of their picks is possible for say a young big man to put next to Love. Assuming Minnesota officials and GM David Kahn doesn’t truly believe Darko is an All-Star waiting to blossom, 21-year-old Anthony Randolph could very well an answer. It works out for the Knicks as they work on getting pieces Denver wants. It gives the T’Wolves a young seven footer who has been waiting to see consistent minutes since he arrived in the league and also allows them to identify talent and see what they have for when Rubio does (if he ever) comes to Minnesota.  Randolph benefits with the playing time he needs to develop on what seems to becoming the NBA’s “Island of Misfit Toys” (remember Beasley was exiled from Miami after “The Decision” for practically nothing) in Minnesota. Either way the Knicks have said they can acquire a 1st round pick for the Nuggets when they need to whether it is this route or another. Most recently, at the end of this week we are hearing rumors about the Knicks trying to get Memphis into the talks, with the hope that O.J. Mayo (whose had a disappointing and controversial season thus far) could be a young talent Denver would be interested in. More importantly than whether NY can get something done now with the Grizzlies in the picture, is the fact that they are showing interest and in essence are reaching out to Melo saying “of course we want you!”

I expect this to drag on at least another week or two and quite possibly right until the trade deadline and for a couple of reasons. For one, since getting picks is what Denver is about at this point, why not wait as long as you can to try to gain more clarity about where the picks will end up (whether it will be a high/low lottery pick, top 20, or end of the 1st round). It will allow them to evaluate the value of the picks better. Another reason, is despite the Nuggets poor play of late (which if it continues would be the reason a trade is made earlier) they are right in the thick of the playoff race in the West and could actually have a chance to make it even if they trade their superstar. That would allow them to rebound from losing Anthony and start the rebuilding process much quicker helping them go forward, especially from a fans perspective. Something the Cavs are clearly not going to be able to do for a while. And lastly because, like Carmelo has acknowledged, the Knicks are playing too well for Walsh to make any changes right now. If this is where Melo will end up, it will be on Donnie’s terms and when he’s ready, something Denver executives Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke can agree upon as they took discussions “underground” because they felt they were being pressured by the media. It comes down to what Anthony really desires. Will he pass on guaranteed money for a chance to win a ring and be happy in a destination of his choice? Or will he settle and take a trade to the Nets, creating what could be an eerily similar situation in Denver to that of Cleveland this year: loss of a legacy, status as a sellout, turned on by the city he once ran.


Anthony is currently averaging a career best in boards during his eight-year career (8.3) by nearly one a game. And it’s efficient as his playing time is down three minutes a game compared to last year. If he were to get traded though, I believe his rebound totals may suffer slightly, down to probably around six a game which is closer to his career average (of course this depends on where he goes and whose cleaning the glass when he gets there). However, there is room for his scoring to increase despite a current 23.9 ppg which is actually below his career average and five points a game down from last year. A trade to the Nets or Knicks should help to increase this mark and if he winds up in NY, I would expect an up-tick in 3’s as well, simply because in D’Antoni’s system everyone shoots more and better from downtown (as they spread the court and leave room for shooters on the perimeter).

If Carmelo leaves town, J.R. Smith could shoulder the offensive load for the Nuggets.

It’s hard to tell how the players traded for Melo will fair until we know who they are, but we can start to speculate who would pick up the scoring deficit the Nuggets would be left with. Aaron Afflalo’s career year should continue and although more shots could open up for him, I can’t expect an increase in his already 35.2 minutes a game. So now would probably be the time to go and try to cop J.R. Smith as a great buy low candidate. He will by default have to come out of coach Karl’s doghouse and could be inline for over 30 minutes a night. That means he could put up Nick Young numbers and would be a great source of 3’s and points, not to mention he is also averaging a career high in rebounds and may average over five a game with starters minutes.

Ask any Knick fan about Al Harrington and they will tell you he loves to shoot, like a lot. He would have no problem taking up the shots left over from Melo granted that he is not moving himself. If he stays, whether he comes off the bench or starts he will certainly see an increase in value as well, in points and 3’s which could be especially useful coming out of your power forward (and in some leagues center) spot on your roster.

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Quest for C….Championship

Now that the season is officially over, we have the seedings and schedule for NBA Playoffs which kick off this Saturday. First, the biggest news of the day coming out of Boston, is the possibility of Kevin Garnett missing the Celtics title defense. Coach Doc Rivers exact words were “It’s not official he’s out for the entire playoffs, but it’s official as far as I’m concerned. I just don’t see how. I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t see it.”

Garnett might have to do all his celebrating from the sidelines this postseason.

Garnett might have to do all his celebrating from the sidelines this postseason.

Not the words fans in Boston wanted to wake up to today, but unfortunately could be the cruel reality. Now right off the back, it needs to be said that Boston isn’t totally screwed. They’ve been a great home team since the “Big 3” arrived and having that advantage for at least the first two rounds will be huge. Even without Garnett, Boston should make it past a young rolling Bulls team. Boston was successful last postseason because of the team defense and although Garnett was a temendous part of that, as long as Derrick Rose is held in check and isn’t able to produce March Madness tournament numbers the Celtics should be able to get by Chicago. Any further, remains to be seen. Garnett was able to come back and play in 4 games since injurying his knee back on February 19, but never logged more than 18 minutes. But who knows, maybe the theatrics will play out and one night in the TD Garden Garnett will triumph heroicly just like on his quest for the Holy G. I mean Boston does have a history of superstars coming back from an injury and performing in the playoffs…..And Garnett was supposed to come back to play in the final two games of the regular season, then final, and then he didn’t show up, but I don’t know I just get this feeling it isn’t a good idea to count out Garnett.

So what about the rest of the Eastern Conference? Well I think the Cavs are in a good position as the number 1 seed to easily knock off the 8th seeded Pistons. These are not the Pistons of the past and just are not in sync right now. Sure having Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey sound great on paper, but we are going to see a messy team already thinking about this summer.

The 76ers were able to keep the Cavs from tying the best home record in a season from beating the backups last night and grabbed the 6th seed. That just gives them an invitation to travel to Disney World and take on the Orlando Magic. If the Magic get a somewhat healthy Hedo and Lewis, they should be focused and ready to en dour their title hunt. The 76ers have a year of playoff experience and pulled a game 1 upset last year, but Stan Van Gundy has prepared this team all year, and they must be salivating at the thought of not having to match up against Garnett in the second round.

How far can Wade will his team in the playoffs?

How far can Wade will his team in the playoffs?

The most intriguing match up out of the East has to be the 4/5  series between the Hawks and Heat. Just the individual match up of all stars Dwayne Wade and Joe Johnson going at it should make for a great series. Although the Hawks gained playoff experience taking Boston to a game 7 last year and despite having the home court advantage, I’m putting my money on Dwayne Wade. Maybe the second best player in the league, Wade has been waiting to get back to the playoffs and perform. The 2006 Finals MVP will be able to get his team into the second round and if we thought this match up was nice how bout the possibility of Wade vs. LeBron in round 2?  Unfortunately the Cavs are too good of a home team and LeBron has a better supporting cast this year, that it’s very unlikely Wade will be able to extend his heroics to get the Heat any further.

Back to the Celtics though, assuming they and the Magic advance, do they have enough down low minus Garnett to stop Dwight? Doc Rivers is no rookie coach though, he should create some defensive match ups and try to exploit Orlando’s lack of depth at the guard position. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put Rondo, House/Marbury, Allen, and Pierce out all on the same line and try to run off Orlando’s missed field goals. Orlando however will out rebound Boston so badly without Garnett that Boston won’t be able to go run. I think without Garnett the match up swings tremendously in Orlando’s favor and they should move on to take on King James and Cleveland. Magic vs. Cavaliers would be another awesome series and although my heart lies with Orlando, the Cavs have been too good of a home team that when the series comes down to the seventh game LeBron won’t let them lose. He’s been to the finals before, elevated his game this year, has a better team and is poised for a championship…

Over in the Western conference things are not as clear. Teams 2-8 are seperated by a total of 6 games! Starting off with the top seed, the Lakers have an interesting match up against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are a playoff experienced team getting healthy towards the right time. They always serve a challenge to the Lakers and I expect them to grab a couple games. But the Lakers are healthy now with Bynum back and will just score to much for the Jazz to keep up.

How will Carmelo and Chauncey pair up for the playoffs?

How will Chauncey and Carmelo pair up for the playoffs?

The Nuggets were able to clinch the northwest division but just barely. It doesn’t get any easier either with a tough first round test against New Orleans. I’m anxious to see what Chauncey and ‘Melo can do in the playoffs together, ‘Melo is still one of the best scorers in the league and Billups was brought in for this time of the year. That bench can certainly score points, and somehow the tandem of K-Mart and Nene were able to stay healthy this year (keep those fingers crossed). But unfortunately I think too much Chris Paul might be the difference. The Hornets are experienced as one of the best teams last year and they too are getting everyone back and healthy at the right time. Chris Paul is an MYP caliber player and a winner.

The 3 vs. 6 match up reminds us of a possible Western Conference finals series a few years ago. The Spurs and Mavericks are two veteran teams in the West and should make for a good series. Dallas had to fight just to make the playoffs but have been on a roll lately. Still, the Spurs are a defensive team that should be able to slow down Dallas. Popovich is a wise coach who has 4 championship rings already and hungry for a 5th. I expect them to force Dirk and the Mavs into some tough shooting nights and San Antonio moves onto the next round. Portland vs. Houston is yet another great 4 vs. 5 series. Houston into the playoffs again, and again they are not healthy. T-Mac is done for the year but Yao has Ron Artest this year. I think Houston will be more of a defensive team in the playoffs then we saw in the regular season as Battier and Artest are expected to tally 35 minutes a night.  But Portland is a young team that has plenty of talented players all throughout the roster. Even if Aldridge or Outlaw don’t get going theres offense to bring off the bench. Brandon Roy is a star and Greg Oden finally seems comfortable. I expect the Blazers to live up to some of the big expectations in the beginning of the year and advance past Rockets onto the Lakers, a team they have beaten twice already this year…But the playoffs are a different story and Roy and his Blazers will learn this the hardway. Kobe will dispose of Portland as the Lakers will be lookin to finish what they couldn’t last year.

Revenge could be sweet for Paul and the Hornets this year against San Antonio.

Revenge could be sweet for Paul and the Hornets this year against San Antonio.

The Hornets would play the Spurs again in a rematch of the Western Conference semi’s from last year. The Spurs got the better of the Hornets last year but with Ginobili‘s  bad ankle we will see if they can do it again. I think Paul and West realize what they have to take advantage of this year and abuse the age of the Spurs and slow down Duncan. No Ginobili means a Roger Mason or Michael Finley needs to step up and i don’t know if they are up for the task. I hate to go against San Antonio because all they ever do is prove the haters wrong, but the Hornets proved they were an elite team last year and even though have struggled at times this year the post season is a whole other season and i believe the Hornets get revenge this year. If it all goes down like this, Kobe and the Lakers would surely have a tougher time in the Western Finals than they did last year. The Hornets match up pretty well with the Lakers, they don’t exactly have the height but Fisher will have a hard time keeping up with Paul. Peja would be a key x factor having the most experience for New Orleans and needs to be a shooting star all series. At the end though, I believe the Hornets might lose another heartbreaking game 7 and the season ends similar to how it did last season. Kobe goes back to the finals and only LeBron stands in his way of a title.

Many had hoped for a Celtics vs. Lakers rematch of last years finals but unfortunately because of the injury to Garnett I can’t see that happening (unless KG has a surprise for us all). That’s fine though, it’s not like having LeBron there will make it any less of a series. Last time Cleveland found themselves in the finals, they played a pesky defensive Spurs team and LeBron couldn’t do it all by himself. This year he’s better, would be going up against a weaker defensive team, and has a better overall team. And all this is not good news for Mr. Bryant who yet again cannot find a way to win it all without Shaq. I believe the Lakers don’t shoot like the Lakers all year but the Lakers in last years finals. Mike Brown has preached defense all year and they will be able to do a lot of the things Doc Rivers had his guys do to stop LA last year. LeBron gets his first championship and is praised as the new God in Cleveland. But a championship still doesn’t make the summer of 2010 anymore easier….

The King could really be on top by the end of this season.

The King could really be on top by the end of this season.

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