Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cavs Making Moves: NBA Free Agent Freeze Ready To Thaw?

Will LeBron James come back to Cleveland, or will
he break Cavs fans hearts again.
Eventually rumors can become facts.

The NBA's free agency period (a moratorium right now until July 10th) has been not much more than rumors.  The fact that Josh McRoberts signing with the Heat is getting a lot of attention tells you just how little anything concrete is happening.  No, it has been more about guessing where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are going to go and following various owners' private jets to this point.

But now it may be happening.

Today is Wednesday, and LeBron James has a meeting set up with Pat Riley and various Miami Heat bigwigs.  Many feel that either Riley will lock in LeBron by the end of the day ... or that LeBron won't hear what he wants and will indeed move on.  Now the Cleveland Cavaliers have made a three way trade that dumps Jarrett Jack and Tyler Zeller off their books for a 2nd round draft pick -- obviously a salary cap move in order to sign LeBron.  Word is that they've also been chatting with Ray Allen, who has said he'd follow LeBron to his next destination, and Mike Miller.

To many, that destination is either Cleveland or Miami for LeBron.  While that would seem like a no-brainer to most, it really isn't.  Cleveland, essentially LeBron's home, offers a wealth of young talent right now.  They have Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Anderson Varejao and some other young guys.  Miami, right now, has nothing.  Sure, Miami could bring the band back together but what is that?  LeBron, a guy in Chris Bosh who may not have that killer instinct to take the second in command role, a clearly fading Dwyane Wade and the same roster problems of filling the rest of the team with aging vets willing to play for the minimum or youn pups that aren't ready for prime time.  That still may be good enough to get back to the NBA Finals or even win another championship.  But LeBron didn't seem to have as much fun last year playing his rear end off while fellow star Wade rested and Bosh seemed content in his subservient role.

Granted, Cleveland won't have the same star power.  Maybe.  Irving is a rising star but he doesn't have Wade's or Bosh's status in the League or with LeBron.  However, the Cavs could turn a few of their young stars ... namely the current No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins ... and turn him into Kevin Love.  Love wants out of Minnesota and the Wolves might listen if the Cavs offered Wiggins in a package.  LeBron, Love and Irving?  In the very weak Eastern Conference?  That would be better than a LeBron-Wade-Bosh trio in South Beach.

LeBron knows those scenarios and will make a very informed decision.  No one else can until LeBron decides.

The freeze.

Once LeBron's domino falls, Carmelo Anthony will get a great look at the landscape.  Does he go back to New York?  Will he team up in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant?  Will he try to go to Chicago and attempt to make a title run with the Bulls with a shift in Eastern Conference superiority?  If LeBron leaves Miami, would Carmelo decide to go there and team up with Wade and Bosh?

Bosh.  If LeBron leaves, does he go to Houston or the Lakers or somewhere else?  If he stays in Miami, where do those teams go?  Guys like Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Lance Stephenson will now get serious attention from teams who finish out of the LeBron-Melo-Bosh race.  Then guys like Shawn Marion, Paul Pierce and Emeka Okafor will fall into place.  Plus there will be the trade market of Love or Amare Stoudamire.

Unrestricted free agents like Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe, Chandler Parsons and Isaiah Thomas will finally receive their audiences.

Once the LeBron cork pops, the freeze is over and we will finally see the rapid movement of free agency.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Just Wait On Grading This NBA Draft, Let's Look At 2009 Instead

The NBA Draft is over.  Who won?  Who had the best pick?  Who had the worst pick?  Who got the big sleeper?  Who reached?  What trade was the smartest?

Who cares.

I know that's what draft nerds always do after the NBA and NFL drafts.  We try to break it down as if we are Miss Cleo.  Was is smart for Philly to draft Joel Embiid with that foot and back injury?  Should Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker have gone No. 1?  Who the hell is Bruno ... uh ... whatever that the Raptors picked?  Stop it!

We love this too much.  The Oscars are all about dubbing titles on movies and roles that just came out a few months ago.  I mean, did Shakespeare In Love hold up like Saving Private Ryan did?  No, put the former won Best Picture.  We like the hurry of it.  But we need to wait a bit just like most sports Halls Of Fame do.  Hold off for five years or else we would have Sammy Sosa in the Hall of Fame right now.  Take a step back.

So instead of me breaking down the 2014 NBA Draft, I want to break down the 2009 draft to see really what did and didn't work.  Green are great picks, red are horrible picks and black are just guys who are okay (*-no longer with drafted team).

1-CLIPPERS, Blake Griffin.  A slam dunk, no pun intended.  He was a serious MVP candidate this past season and one of the most marketable players in the NBA.  Five years ago, the Clippers were moving along as the worst franchise in pro basketball history.  Now they are title contenders.

2-GRIZZLIES, Hasheem Thabeet*.  Ouch.  I don't know why we have so many bad No. 2 picks over the years.  It really is stunning.  Thabeet has basically been nothing in the NBA.

3-THUNDER, James Harden*.  Great pick and great player.  He, along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were supposed to be OKC's Big Three.  They were until the Thunder realized they couldn't afford all three and shipped Harden away to Houston.

4-KINGS, Tyreke Evans*.  Evans has been so-so in the NBA.  He won Rookie Of The Year, and he's put up some nice point totals but his three-point shooting is horrid and he seems to be getting worse by the year.  Now he's a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and spent much of the season as a sixth man.

5-TIMBERWOLVES, Ricky Rubio.  I have loved Rubio's game since he was featured in SLAM magazine as a 16 year old.  But Rubio's flaws have stuck with him in Minnesota.  Remember that Rubio didn't even play for Minnesota until two years after he was drafted.  From there he is barely a double-digit scorer who has a nice assist total but cannot shoot.

6-TIMBERWOLVES, Jonny Flynn*.  Yeah, the Wolves picked another point guard with their second of back-to-back picks.  Flynn played just two seasons in Minnesota was out of the league in three years.

7-WARRIORS, Stephen Curry.  Curry is one of the top two or three players in this draft class.  Yeah, and Thabeet and Flynn were drafted ahead of him.  See.

8-KNICKS, Jordan Hill*.  Hill is an alright role player who just finished up his contract with the Lakers.  Not a star but a guy who can get you some rebounds and can have a game every once in a while where he fills up the basket.

9-RAPTORS, DeMar DeRozan.  Nice pick here.  An All-Star who certainly isn't a Bruno ... uh, what was that kid's name?

10-BUCKS, Brandon Jennings*.  Jennings isn't a guy who win with ... but he's a guy that can crush a game every once in a while.

11-NETS, Terrence Williams*.  Played 78 games in his rookie season with New Jersey.  Played 75 games in the following three seasons for four different teams and is now out of the league.

12-BOBCATS, Gerald Henderson.  A guy.  He's athletic and has some good games here and there but he'd pretty much leveled off as that kind of guy.  Nothing special.

13-SUNS, Earl Clark*.  Clark has bounced around the league yet had just one solid season in his lone campaign with the Lakers.  Other than that, nothing much to see.

14-PACERS, Tyler Hansbrough*.  Hansbrough's great college career hasn't translated to NBA success.  He is most known as an enforcer that pisses opponents off.  Not really a lottery pick kind of skill.

15-PISTONS, Austin Daye*.  Daye is basically a guy who collects playing time in garbage time.  Daye was one of those guys that came out of college as an athletic lengthy kid who was nothing more than that.  We see those kinds of busts the most.

16-BULLS, James Johnson*.  Johnson is just some guy floating along in the NBA.  He bounces from team to team and thru the D-League.

17-SIXERS, Jrue Holiday*.  When you consider the crap that I just listed drafted ahead of Holiday, he is a bit of a steal.  Holiday has been an All-Star before being dealt to the Pelicans in a 2013 Draft Day deal that sent Nerlens Noel to Philly.  A stress fracture ended Holiday's initial season in N'Awlins, but he's a legit player that should be in the League for quite a while.

18-TIMBERWOLVES, Ty Lawson*.  Yeah, the Wolves had three first round picks and they drafted three point guards.  However, the best of the bunch was the one guy they traded.  Yeah, the Wolves sent Lawson to the Nuggets on draft day for a future draft pick.  Lawson is nearly and All Star who has led Denver in scoring.

19-HAWKS, Jeff Teague.  Teague has gone from a guy that I thought would be a bust into a legit NBA player.  His rookie season saw him average just over 3 ppg.  Now he's starting for a playoff team and dumping over 16 ppg.  And unlike most guys so far ... he is still with his drafted team.

20-JAZZ, Eric Maynor*.  Maynor didn't even make it half a season in Utah before being dealt to Oklahoma City.  There he was a solid backup and has since just bounced around the league.

21-HORNETS, Darren Collison*.  Collison just signed a nice contract with the Kings, but he's not much more than a shoot-first backup point guard that rubs coaches the wrong way with his play.  Still, he's a decent talent.

22-BLAZERS, Victor Claver.  It took him three years to get over to Portland and, while he has started a few games, hasn't been much more than a end-of-bench kind of guy.

23-KINGS, Omri Casspi*.  To me, Casspi is a solid player.  Just a role guy though.

24-MAVERICKS, BJ Mullens*.  Mullens two seasons in Charlotte were very solid but he hasn't done much before or since.

25-THUNDER, Rodrigue Beaubois*.  Beaubois was a change of pace backcourt player who played his first four seasons with the Mavericks.  He spent last year in the French league.

26-BULLS, Taj Gibson.  Gibson is a solid sixth man who could be starting for many teams.  He hustles, boards, defends and does anything it takes to win.

27-GRIZZLIES, DeMarre Carroll*.  Carroll had a middling career until last year, were he started 73 games for the Hawks and was one of their defensive gurus.  

28-TIMBERWOLVES, Wayne Ellington*.  Yeah ... the fourth Wolves pick.  Ellington hasn't found that magic stroke he had in college and has found himself thrown into a lot of different trades.  He is now in ... let me see ... the Knicks.

29-LAKERS, Toney Douglas*.  Douglas never played for the Lakers but has spent his career as a backup combo guard ... though he did start 17 games for the Miami Heat this year.

30-CAVALIERS, Christian Eyenga*.  Eyenga played 51 career NBA games.  That's it.

So out of the 30 first round picks, only 8 remain with the teams that drafted them.  Only five have been to an All Star game with three of the picks (Griffin, Harden, Curry) being franchise kind of players.  Most are just guys who will play for a while then fly away into the forgotten land of NBA rejects.

Oh ... the second round wasn't much better ... though there were guys like Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Beverley, Chase Budinger, Danny Green and Patty Mills who were drafted.