Trade Discussions and Playoff Predictions
With last minute trades that occurred at the deadline last week, I have compiled the winners, losers and playoff predictions of this years shortened, wild and unpredictable season.
Trades that actually make a difference(or not):
Dwight Howard stayed put during his soap opera filled year. He previously vowed to opt out and demanded a trade, but at the last minute had incurred cold feet and opted to stay on in Orlando for at least another year and see where they go. Since D-WILL is going to become a free agent, my money is on the Magic signing this mega talented point guard. I still believe the Magic have enough to contend for the Eastern Finals, but the Bulls or Heat will send them to Disneyland a little early.
The Nets are the biggest losers here: Not only did they fail to execute a trade to bring in Superman, they also guaranteed themselves to lose out on Deron Williams staying put and heading to beloved Brooklyn. They did trade Okur and one of the 11 players named Williams on their squad for super athletic Gerald Wallace but that wont do much. The Nets will be heading into obscurity over the next few years and be a doormat in the NBA. However, they are lucky that they have an owner with deep pockets but aside from a couple of trips to the Finals in 2002 and 2003, they are used to stinking worse than a sanitation plant. (Private Brooklyn Joke)
The Lakers have improved mostly in my opinion. I do not condone sending Derek Fisher into early retirement after he vowed to play another 1-2 seasons to win another ring alongside Kobe. The deal only clarified that this is a business. And business as usual means someone is going to be insulted. The Lakers did receive an upgrade at the 1 spot in Ramon Sessions who can penetrate, dish and knock down the open shot. They sent Luke Walton packing as well. They got younger at both positions, but lets face it : Jordan Hill isnt exactly a top 100 player in the game. So Ramon Sessions will be the x- factor here since Bynum is playing his best ball yet. Pau Gasol is pretending he doesn’t speak or understand English while ignoring his trade rumors and Kobe is playing at an MVP level. Don’t be surprised if you see them playing for the ring.
Denver surprisingly dealt Nene. This was the only real shocker during the trade deadline. They had re-signed Nene to a big fat contract (5 years north of $65 million). Seems like they wanted to get younger and have the rest of the team to play alongside youth. They received Javale Mcgee and Nick Young in return. Mcgee , who has perhaps the worst body language since Rasheed Wallace, is simply not a true big man. He’s a highlight reel. Nene is a solid 5 and can keep up with anyone at his position. I don’t understand this trade. Denver will not get better and will be dealing Mcgee in no time.
Golden State was another winner (Sarcasm all over the place) on trade day. They deal perhaps their most exciting player since Run TMC and receive an oft- injured big man in return. They also received Stephen Jackson but got rid of him quicker than referee Joey Crawford calling a technical foul on Doc Rivers. We all knew that Ellis and Curry could not play together forever and one of them would have to go. But why send away a player who can and has dropped 50 on any given night? My suspicions are that Ellis would have demanded big money once his contract was up and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber (majority owners of the Warriors) were not willing to spend it on the uber- talented Ellis. Golden State wont see the post season for a few years unless Bogut stays 100% healthy and plays at an All-Star level.
Milwaukee upset their fans and let go of the best thing that happened to them since their homegrown beer company planted itself there. I mean how do you basically tell Brandon Jennings that we don’t need your services anymore? The guy can score, defend and pass with the best of them and now Jennings’s feelings are hurt and we all know how sensitive he is. They did pick up the electrifying Ellis but without a center: Bye Bye playoff hopes.
The Spurs somehow wiggled their way into receiving Stephen Jackson for underperforming overpaid Richard Jefferson (he’s another reason why the NBA had a lockout!! A.k.a. horrible contracts). Pop is the only coach that was able to control this talented head case. The Spurs definitely improved here and will continue to have a stellar season.
Oh I almost forgot: Mike D’antoni “shockingly” resigned 2 days prior to the deadline. This was not a surprise. When you give up your entire roster full of talented youth in return for a talented scorer (and it ends there), and that scorer does not perform at satisfactory results and disrupts a 9 game winning streak in which Harvard alum Jeremy Lin becomes more popular than Lady Gaga, then this is what happens. I did not like the trade for Melo (he was coming to NY anyways as a free agent) So why do that? And you expect D’antoni to win with a player who does not respect winning unless he’s solely the main event? Come on James Dolan!! This was not Mikes fault, you should have sent Melo packing and let him be someone else’s headache. Knicks won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Except scratching their heads or behinds, whichever will have them.
1. The Miami Heat are just too good. Lebron is playing at his usual All-Star level, Wade is hanging in there and Bosh has vastly improved his last season dud. They are just that damn good.
2. Chicago Bulls- If Rose cant stay healthy, then they will exit early. Anything other than a Finals appearance will be a failure. Should Rose stay healthy and Rip Hamilton actually play, They will give the Heat a run for their money.
3. Orlando Magic- With Howard confirming he will stay put, The Magic have hung around and taken control of the 3 seed. If Jameer Nelson can play as well as he played against the Heat recently, they will make a deep run in the playoffs and possibly make a surprising Finals appearance.
4. Philadelphia 76ers- This will be a tight race. The Pacers and Sixers have played so similar that sometimes I’m glad they have complete opposite uniform colors. They both have similar guards and similar forwards. They both started off well and then had mid season slides. The good thing here is that neither of them will do much this season. They may scare a team with one of Holiday’s 30 point outbursts and/or Lou Williams 3 point shooting extravaganzas. But thats all the Sixers will see.
5. Indiana Pacers. Ill make this short. Look up a paragraph.
6. Boston Celtics- This team has the best chance to dethrone the top three. Their record wont show it, but how can you ever count out an aging Kevin Garnett? Ray Allen? I mean these are 1st ballot Hall of Famers who can still ball! Paul Pierce is not playing at his best level, but Rajon Rondo is making up for it. If any of the top three seeds should suffer an injury to any of their star players, look for this team to shock the fans.
7. Atlanta Hawks- With Josh Smith demanding a trade and then not getting what he wanted, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t give it his all. The good part for this team is that he never has. He’s talented and athletic but never plays his best. I really don’t know what to make of this team, except that making the playoffs is better than not I guess.
8. New York Knicks- This is the juggernaut of the conference. I don’t like Carmelo. I just don’t. He’s not a superstar and needs the ball in his hands to be effective. He doesn’t play defense, cannot rebound and passes only when he’s stuck. However, Amare and Chandler are still very good players and Jeremy Lin has shown he can play. His turnovers will hurt them in the playoffs unless James Dolan grants Mike Woodson his 3 wishes.
1.Lin doesn’t turnover the ball
2. Amare returns to last seasons form.
3. Melo gets hurt.
With that being said, the Knicks are still capable of forcing a long series with anybody and if things go their way, they will be a dangerous team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have really shocked me this year. They lose everything with “Le-whatshisname” bolting for South Beach and then turn up a vast improvement from last year with a 10th-11th place finish in the east? Have you seen Kyrie Irving? He is the truth! If you ask me thats almost as good as making a playoff appearance and has me scratching my head about the guarantee that Dan Gilbert made. In case your wondering? He basically told Lebron that he will win a ring before Bron & Company. Laughing? Yep, so was everyone else. But dont hold your breath. Cleveland will win a ring before Lebron like i was a fighter pilot in the 23rd infantry.
Western Conference predictions
1. Oklahoma City Thunder- This team has more talent than any one team in the league. Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Perkins, Serge “IBLOCKA” James Harden. If there is a more talented and deeper team, then I would like to meet them. This team has shown that they are good and ready for a title run. But can Westbrook play “robin” to Durant? I dont think so! Should Durant miss a game winning shot, Westbrook will take the ball and go straight to the rack no matter how many teammates are open. Ive seen Westbrook do it, he puts on his “Manson Lamps” and goes headfirst to the basket. That will be their achilles heel. I have a feeling Westbrook wont be a wearing a Thunder uniform should they not win a ring this year.
2. San Antonio Spurs- Year in and year out the Spurs seem to keep on doing it. They get older and somehow snag the top 2-3 seeds in their conference. Duncan is getting older and his stats are diminishing, yet the Spurs keep winning. Unfortunately for them though, it doesnt translate to postseason winning. They had their run of 4 rings in 10 years, but thats done with. They wont be playing come mid-june, that much i can assure you of.
3 Los Angeles Lakers- They improved with the Derek Fisher trade. They snagged Ramon Sessions whom they had their eye on ever since Chris Paul signed with Lob City. Bynum is playing better than he ever has and Pau Gasol is getting back to his All-Star numbers. Kobe is playing at his usual MVP level (although at times he tries to do too much). However, Kobe is Kobe and he is the best player of the last 10 years without QUESTION! Look for them to make a deep run and fight their way into the Finals.
4. Memphis Grizzlies- They continue to make a name for themselves yet nobody takes them seriously. They lost Zach Randolph to injury and yet they still kept pace and held on to the 4-5 seed all this time. Rudy Gay has been injured as well for some time. I give them a lot of credit. I don’t think they will pull off an upset though. They dont have the man power and will most likely make an early exit.
5. Dallas Mavericks- They started the season by underachieving. Lamar Odom has been a huge bust ever since arriving here. Dirk has willed his team back though. They received ODOM for practically nothing and got nothing from him so far. I don’t see them doing much this year except winning a game or two in a 1st round series.
6. Los Angeles Clippers- I know most people wont like me for this. But i just don’t credit the Clippers with being for real. Yes they have Chris Paul, Yes they have Blake Griffin. Has either of them won anything other than a dunk contest and skills challenge? I think not!! They are definitely the most enjoyable team to watch, but getting past the 2nd round? I wouldn’t’ bet on it.
7. Denver Nuggets- They earn this spot because of a deep roster and good coach. They got worse by dealing Nene. Yet they became more athletic with Mcgee and Nick young. However , we have seen Nick young throw the ball into the 18th row on a wide open layup so I’m not sure athletic counts for much. I cant see them going far, but they will push some teams to the brink in a few games.
8. Utah Jazz- Yes they are a few games out of this spot as of press time. But they are better than the nuggets and Houston who holds the 8 spot as of now. They are a physical and athletic squad who don’t have the leadership they are used to ever since Sloan bolted for the beach via Deron Williams. They too will force a long series with whomever draws them and wont go easy. But it will be a while before we can see this team making a deep playoff run.
Honorable mention. The T-wolves get this spot without question. They were playing good basketball before Ricky Rubio went down with a torn acl.That is just heartbreaking because they actually were on their way to the playoffs. This team has perhaps the best forward in the game today in Kevin Love. He can do just about everything and he wins too! Rubio had a chain of get well wishes via twitter from superstar athletes and rappers/actors. We wish him a speedy recovery and i see this team becoming a team to reckon with in the next few years.