The Portland Trailblazers must rescue the Summer from boredom.

July 20, 2009

aldridgeby Jack Maidment

On the day that we are told that the Detroit Pistons have lost Walter Hermann to Tau Ceramica in Spain, and that the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed Jamario Moon to an offer sheet and that Blake Griffin has been ‘unjustly’ named MVP of Summer League, it becomes clear that there is literally nothing of any real interest happening in the NBA today.

Back up bench players departing for Spain can hardly be labelled exciting news, but the nature of 24 hour news and the fact that we are all greedy like fat kids with cake ensures that hoop heads around the world get a fix that might kkep them happy for around 2 minutes.

Until something more nourishing (read: anything at all) makes itself apparent, we will all have to make do with the speculation and overly hyped non events that are currently making up the bulk of our NBA diets.

So what is there to look forward to before the season begins in all those days time?

There are only two concrete definites: Lamar Odom’s contract and the money waiting to be unleashed in Portland.

So unleashed may be a bit strong, but there is certainly money to be had playing for the Trailblazers. The problem is that there really aren’t too many players left, if any, capable of justifying the almost $8 million in Kevin Pritchard’s pocket.

Turkoglu committed then bolted for Toronto and the ‘toxic’ offer they submitted for Paul Millsap just wasn’t enough to scare the cost effective folks in Utah. Which realistically only leaves David Lee as a target for the Blazer’s, though there is a very strong possibility that the Knicks will re-sign him anyway: by waiting for other teams to show their hands, New York stays in a strong position for when they negotiate Lee’s deal.

As for Lamar Odom, there seems to be a simple two horse race: the Lakers and the Miami Heat. The smart money would be on L O to remain in LA. Why would you leave? Quarrelling over one year and a few million seems ridiculous for a multimillionaire with a realistic chance at 2,3,4 more NBA Championships.

Neither storylines are exactly dynamite, but a combination of the two would certainly spice up the summer.

Portland are just about the only team with the cash Odom wants, but do the Blazers want Lamar?

Let us hope that the answer is yes, or we may be relegated to a summer of truly mind numbing proportions.


Miami Heat seek Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer to appease Wade’s concerns

July 16, 2009

wade

by Jack Maidment

The wheel that squeaks gets the grease.

True. Just ask Dwayne Wade. While nothing is concrete until the papers are signed, the noises emanating from Miami surely have to go some way to appeasing their franchise player’s fears over his supporting cast.

Everyone in the League knew the situation: Wade was never going to commit to the Heat’s extension offer unless Pat Riley made moves to suggest that Wade would be leading a contender, sooner rather than later, instead of carrying the entire hopes of Miami on his shoulders.

Riley seemed to be reading from the contrary script: without a commitment from Wade, no changes would be made.

However, it would seem that Riley has come to appreciate the sheer value of his franchise player with news of not one, but two, major trades involving the Heat both with the aim of helping Wade back to Championship challenging status.

Lamar Odom. Calos Boozer.

Boozer, who is being shopped to anyone and everyone, is apparently edging nearer to Miami as part of a trade that would send Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright to Utah. To balance salary and enable the Jazz to re-sign Paul Millsap, the Memphis Grizzlies will take on Wright’s salary, around $2.8 million, with cash and picks in return.

Odom, whose new contract offer from the Laker’s has been taken off the table, is allegedly being offered a five year $34 million deal at the mid level exception from Miami.

The Laker’s offered the forward four years at $36 million with his agent looking for five years and $45 million.

With money around the League all but dried up after the signing of Villanueva, Marion, Turkoglu etc Odom may well be forced to accept a move to Miami if the Laker’s remain staunch in their decision to withdraw their offer.

If both moves are successful, the Heat will boast one of the best starting front courts in the Eastern Conference with Boozer and Odom joining Jermaine O’Neal. 3 big men who can all score the ball will undoubtedly take the strain off of Wade, allowing him to shed some of the weight from his back.

It would also give the Heat scoring from the bench with Michael Beasley likely to lead the attack for the second unit.

The only question that remains will hang over the head of their point guard, second year Mario Chalmers, who did an impressive job in his rookie year: will he be able to keep Wade, Odom, Boozer, O’Neal and Beasley happy?


NBA Playoffs Conference Semi Finals: Lakers Face Houston, Hold The Ace

May 2, 2009

lakers_bench1

With the utter insanity of the Chicago Bulls – Boston Celtics match up out East it is easy to forget just how good the first round series have been elsewhere. Even the ones with consistent blowouts offered something wildly entertaining.

 

Man it was ugly, but watching the Denver Nuggets humiliate the New Orleans Hornets was sure fun. Same goes for the Atlanta – Miami series where both teams have shared a powerful commitment to blowing out the other on alternate nights.

Watching Dwayne Wade and Joe Johnson go to work makes the 30 point loss kind of redundant. It’s just good.

So while Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon plot the downfall of Paul Pierce and his Celts, and Miami and Atlanta decide whose turn it is to get blown out in their game 7, the 6 teams who have already secured progress are busily preparing for what promises to be monumental semi final match ups.

Only 4 teams, all out West, know for sure who lies between them and the Conference Finals.

The Los Angeles Lakers are undoubtedly a little more troubled by their second round opponents than they may have been.

Houston’s progress means that LA face a team of hungry veterans with a splash of youthful arrogance thrown in that promises more problems than a Portland team who would have been far more likely to succumb to the flashing lights of Hollywood than Yao and Co.

You can bet all the tea in China that Yao Ming is not just happy with finally getting out of the First Round. Tasting post season success for the first time will have given the man from the Orient the impetus to drive his team even deeper, toward the Finals.

Yao is the major problem for the Lakers. 7 feet 6 is just hard to guard. Andrew Bynum, the Laker big man, was perhaps unwise to call for a match up with Houston so that he can take down Mr Ming.

If Yao discovers a new ‘domination’ level of play that his stature should make possible, the Laker frontcourt will have their work cut out to stop themselves getting steam rolled.

The problems do not stop with Yao. On paper, the Houston Rockets are one of, if not the, best defensive team in the League. With Ron Artest and Shane Battier locking down the LA perimeter players and Luis Scola’s hustle providing the perfect accompaniement to Yao’s length inside, the rockets are tough.

Kobe going at it with Battier promises to be a lot of fun. As does Bynum/Yao and Scola/Gasol. So many key match ups.

As good as the Rockets might be defensively, no other team in the NBA possess the same amount of fire power as the Lake Show. Kobe, Pau, Lamar, ‘Drew, Fisher, Ariza, Shannon Brown, Vujacic, Farmar.

Pick. Your. Poison.

There is no way that the Rockets can outswcore the Lakers, but the fact that giving up leads is sort of what LA does, Houston have a chance. Especially with Aaron Brooks on point.

Of all the men on the floor, Brooks poses the most problems for Phil Jackson. He is a match up nightmare. Too fast. Too dangerous. Too confident?

The speed that he has to burn will cause Derrick Fisher all kinds of trouble. 30 year old ankles are not designed to withstand Texas Tornadoes.

The Lakers may have to sacrifice the steady hand of the Fish Man for the zippier Jordan Farmar. Although his lack of minutes recently hardly prepares him too well for going toe to toe with one of the quickest players in the game.

Defense meets Offense. Grit meets Finesse.

Such a summary would ordinarily point toward a dead lock. A 7 game slog. The Lakers do however have an ace up their collective sleeve.

Kobe.