NBA Draft 2009: Rubio Slips, Griffin First Overall

June 26, 2009

blake12

 

by Jack Maidment

1. Blake Griffin. LA Clippers.

Can’t really argue with this pick. Best player available.

2. Hasheem Thabeet. Memphis Grizzlies.

Ummm. You have to feel that Memphis were beaten into a corner by Rubio’s camp. Defensive presence for sure, but no offense. At all. Pretty underwhelming #2 pick.

3. James Harden. Oklahoma City Thunder.

Really good pick. Arguably the best player available and at a position that OKC need. Very exciting starting 5 for the Thunder next year. Part of me wishes they had taken Rubio. Imagine the passing to Durant.

4. Tyreke Evans. Sacramento Kings.

Just no. The Kings now have two good players at the same position. Who would bring the ball up? Kevin martin or Evans? Makes little sense, especially with Rubio still available. Madness quite frankly.

5. Ricky Rubio. Minnesota Timberwolves.

Run for the Spanish hills Ricky. Potentially insanely good player drafted to a woeful franchise. Good chance he will stay in Spain.

6. Jonny Flynn. Minnesota Timberwolves.

The two best PGs in this draft playing in the same backcourt? I guess someone had to draft with stupidity. One of Rubio or Flynn will move, if they don’t Rubio almost certainly wont come over to play.

7. Stephen Curry. Golden State Warriors.

Funny just because they spoilt New York’s party. Asking a lot for Curry and Ellis to play together. Could turn up in Phoenix as part of the trade rumoured for Amare Stoudemire.

8. Jordan Hill. New York Knicks.

Booed because he wasn’t Stephen Curry, Hill is hardly the star the Knicks would have liked. Solid player, but not electrifying. You can appreciate the disappointment of Knick’s fans: Curry would have been fun.

9. DeMar DeRozan. Toronto Raptors.

Very good for the Raptors who were in desperate need of a slasher: DeRozan is the perfect player for them. Wise draft choice. Clearly not on the crazy pills supplied to Sacramento and Minnesota.

10. Brandon Jenning. Milwaukee Bucks.

This is a good pick for the Bucks who are firmly now in a rebuilding phase. If you are going to lose games, you may as well have fun and score points, two strengths of Jennings. Huge potential to turn into a star.


Washington Wizards add Mike Miller and Randy Foye, Timberwolves in strong position to go after Ricky Rubio

June 25, 2009
Please be Healthy.

Please be Healthy.

by Jack Maidment

If points were the only thing that mattered, the Washington Wizards would likely be in the mix for the title next year.

In exchange for the #5 pick in this year’s draft and 3 veterans the Wiz are now the proud owners of one of the most offensively capable teams in the League.

A squad which now includes Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, DeShawn Stevenson, Nick Young, Mike Miller and Randy Foye should be capable of hanging with any team in the scoring department.

Their trade partners, the Minnesota Timberwolves, now hold 4 first round picks: 5, 6, 18 and 28.

It is thought that they will try and trade up to acquire the #2 pick, currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies. If successful, the Wolves will take Ricky Rubio second overall on Draft night.

They believe that the Spaniard’s talents and personality might be enough to reinvigorate a franchise that has struggled for support in recent years, especially since Kevin Garnett’s departure to the Boston Celtics.

Even if they are unable to swap with Memphis, picking at 5 and 6 gives them a great chance at upgrading their squad with at 2 exciting, young players.

Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan and Tyreke Evans are all likely to still be on the board when the Wolves’ time comes.

The deal also puts the Timberwolves in a strong financial position for 2010 with a large number of expiring contracts in their possession.

This means that the Wolves will have the chance to sign some big time free agents. Only for them to be rejected.

Even so, the Wolves will be young and exciting next year.

Not so young but perhaps more exciting will be the Wizards. Injury dependant that is.


Cleveland Cavaliers Acquire Shaquille O’Neal From Phoenix Suns

June 25, 2009

Shaqcavs

by Jack Maidment

The ‘Fire Steve Kerr’ lobby just got a lot more ammunition as the Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired Shaquille O’Neal for the NBA equivalent of a Mars bar and a packet of crisps.

The move which sees Ben Wallace, who is likely retiring, and Sasha Pavlovic, heading to Arizona accompanied by a low second round pick and a reported $500,000.

For the Cavaliers this trade represents a bolstering of their frontcourt, a presence inside and a 2nd/3rd option for LeBron James to dump the ball to when the time is right.

Last season showed that given the right amount of rest The Most Dominant Ever can still embarrass just about any other center in the League, putting up numbers reminiscent of Shaq 6 years ago.

Meanwhile, the Suns are officially in meltdown, dismantling the team that took them close but no cigar. The departure of Shaq could well leave the door open for Steve Nash to pack up his bags as he searches out a contender for his chance at a ring.

The Cavs will hope that the $20 million Shaq is owed this coming season will be enough to push the franchise over the hump.


Richard Jefferson Traded To San Antonio Spurs, Bye Bruce Bowen

June 23, 2009

bru ce bowen

by Jack Maidment

The NBA is a business. And business can be brutal.

One day you are a happy player on a happy team and the next, you are shipped to Milwaukee, the wasteland of the League. Apparently.

With that in mind, who do you think has the biggest smile in America right now?

Richard Jefferson. His stay as a Buck is over as next season he will be suiting up in the silver and black of the San Antonio Spurs.

The Best Run Franchise In Sports has sent Fabricio Oberto, Kurt Thomas and Bruce Bowen.

Yep, Bruce Bowen is no longer a Spur. I’m crying and I know you are too.

Besides the fact that this trade has exploded onto the scene rather than gather pace over a period of time and the sadness that has to be felt for Bruce, this trade puts the Spurs right back in the contender bracket.

Admittedly their bench may be on the light side, but a line-up consisting of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, plus one other big is damn near insane.

4 All Star calibre players (ish). Regardless of your thoughts on Jefferson, he’s not old, can score the ball and gives San Antonio some much much much needed athleticism on the wing.

This trade is frickin awesome for San Antonio. I’m actually excited by the Spurs. Ha.

Meanwhile, the trade alleviates the financial strain on the Bucks who can now afford to re-sign one of their free agents, Ramon Sessions and Charlie V.

That kinda tells you where the Bucks are at right now: they trade an almost All Star for 3 role playing old men. Good players all, but old indeed.

The Spurs are back and the Bucks are right where they were. Hooray for consistency in the NBA.


Detroit Pistons Reject Boston Celtic’s Trade Advances

June 23, 2009

rip and princeby Jack Maidment

How many times have you tried talking to someone for them to apparently not hear you at all? And when they do acknowledge your attempt at communication, all you are greeted with is a look of annoyance that you have disturbed their peace.

NBA General Managers must be familiar with both sides of this ‘conversation’ given the amount of talk, especially in the off season, that takes place regarding the switching of player personnel.

There are those that love to talk, those who love to listen and those who do a little bit of both.

According to Yahoo Sports one man who has been doing a lot of listening this week is the Detroit Piston’s GM, Joe Dumars, with the Boston Celtics at the other end doing all of the talking.

The story is being told that neither franchise’s GM was involved in discussions, but that initial talks had taken place between lower level executives.

The Celtics were looking to trade Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen for Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey.

To say that these team’s ‘discussed’ a trade appears to be slightly hyperbolic given the simplicity of Detroit’s response: no.

The trade appears to be more wishful thinking than realism on the part of Boston. Such a deal is clearly built around the value of Allen’s $20 million expiring contract which would leave his team big time cap room heading into 2010.

The Piston’s however are more keen to rebound quickly, playing with the salary space that Allen Iverson’s departure has created.

With the desire for cap space eliminated, the trade, talent wise, just doesn’t make sense for Detroit.

Ray Allen is clearly in the autumn of his career, a very good player but for how much longer? In contrast, Rip Hamilton is realtively sprightly with many years of production ahead of him.

The same can be said for Prince who was no doubt desired by the Celtics for his ability to defend the lengthy 3s and 4s that will stand in between Boston and a return to the Finals.

Boston is apparently reluctant to re-sign Rondo to the long term and large contract that he will soon command. Stuckey appears to be the cheaper alternative.

The trade would almost certainly reinvigorate the Celtic’s, but given the fact that it makes next to no sense for Detroit, this simply ain’t gonna happen.


Toronto Raptors Trade Jason Kapono, Philadelphia 76ers Real Winners

June 20, 2009
Firepower? You could say that...

Firepower? Kapono's your man.

by Jack Maidment

On June 9 2009 the Philadelphia 76ers sent Reggie Evans to the Toronto Raptors in return for the services of Jason Kapono.

In Evans the Raptors gained a player who can add toughness and rebounding to their front court, something that they desperately lacked this season past: getting banged on the boards was one of the bigger reasons why they were so disappointing this year.

In Chris Bosh and Andre Bargnani the Raptor’s possess two big guys with great scoring ability but little in the way of defensive presence.

Evans, who once led the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes, should prove effective in compensating Toronto’s existing finesse game inside.

Toronto certainly gain a quality player through this trade, a player that they really needed, but there is a reason why Andre Iguodala was so excited when Kapono’s arrival was announced, a reason that suggests that the Philadelphia 76ers can be more than content with their shopping.

In the 2006-07 season Jason Kapono led the League in 3pt % shooting at a clip of .514, 4th best in NBA history. He has two All Star weekend 3pt scoring titles in his locker. He shoots .454 from 3 for his career.

There can be little doubt that Jason Kapono is the League’s best 3 point shooter. Stats don’t lie.

That is not to say that you want the ball in his hands down the stretch, because, well, because you probably wouldn’t, but for scarily consistent production from down town, Kapono is your man.

For a team like the 76ers, this is the sort of trade that can only make your team better, another piece that can help push you to the next level.

If Andre Miller can be re-signed, Kapono will join a core of players who have been a constant in the East for the past two years: just below Cleveland, Orlando and Boston but competitive.

The Sixers have achieved that largely without their All Star forward Elton Brand and if the pivot man can stay healthy for the whole season, allowing some rhythm to grow in the team, the 76ers have the pieces, and now the fire power, to legitimately challenge in the East.

Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand holding down the paint, Andre Iguodala slashing from the wing, Kapono spreading the floor and Andre Miller running the show.

Add to that the ever improving Thaddeus Young, Louis Williams and Willie Green and the Sixers may be the force that they were predicted to be last year.

 


NBA Trade Rumor: Ben Gordon to Detroit Pistons

June 17, 2009
gordon6

Gordon for Rip? No thank you.

by Jack Maidment

The term combo guard can mean a few things, but normally it describes a player who prefers to score the ball but is too small to play the shooting guard position exclusively.

If ever there was an example of a two guard in a point guard’s body, it is Ben Gordon.

The Chicago Bulls’ player who terrorised the Boston Celtics in round one of this year’s playoffs, seemingly ‘playing horse with god’, is one of the most high profile players available through free agency this summer.

The difficulty lies in how much money a team is willing to commit to a player generously listed at 6-1 who doesn’t like to pass and is a defensive liability: he may score 25 a game but he will likely gift the opposition the same in return.

There is little doubt that Gordon’s offensive capabilities will prove attractive enough for a number of team’s to offer him big time money. It is with some surprise that the Detroit Pistons are being strongly associated with a move for the guard.

Detroit, who have placed the future of their team in the hands of Rodney Stuckey, are far from the perfect fit for Gordon in their current state.

The main problem would come in the form of Rip Hamilton: it is difficult to see how Gordon and Rip would play together which leads to the strong possibility of Hamilton leaving Mo-Town, completing the destruction of the Championship team of just a few years ago.

The fact that Rasheed Wallace looks to be walking, Detroit has some big decisions to make. Is Ben Gordon the player to lead the Piston’s rebuilding?