Free Agent Update: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol: 2013-14 Salary ($19,300,000)

the-lakers-want-to-blow-up-their-roster-and-trade-pau-gasol-to-the-wizards-for-the-3-pick

 

Pau is a dilemma. He’s easily the most skilled big man in the NBA right now and one of the most skilled ever in terms of his passing, craftiness, IQ and low-post array of moves. However, the past few years haven’t been kind to Pau and that has greatly affected his stock. First off, the Spaniard has only played 174 games in the past three seasons – he’s injury prone. The other thing, which was by no means his fault, was the whole Mike D’Antoni/Dwight, Nash, Kobe trio in Los Angeles. That season was a meltdown by anybody’s standards and Pau, who was supposed to be an integral part of the Big 4, was forgotten. Then last season, in what could’ve been the most embarrassing Lakers campaign ever, Pau constantly complained with Mike D’Antoni’s tactics. From playing small ball, to not playing at all, Pau has definitely endured some difficult years in a Lakers jersey and this summer might be his opportunity to start fresh. The interesting thing to see will be what Pau chooses… And I don’t mean a team. Out of the 7 teams vying for his signature, only 1 can offer him substantial money. Dallas could probably offer him something in the 15 million range depending on what Dirk is willing to take. However, after that, despite these teams being in contention for championships, they can’t offer him even a third of what he made last season.

Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls

lakers_150The Lakers have the edge because they have the cap space. They can offer Pau whatever he wants to bring him back. Pau also has a deep connection with Los Angeles and the Lakers as he has won two championships there in 2009 and 2010. He and Kobe are also very very close so Kobe’s influence on Pau might play a role in his choice. The thing with going back to the Lakers is that Pau isn’t guaranteed winning or change for that matter. D’Antoni was fired recently – something Pau had been wishing for for a while. However, as of now, the team is very much in shams. Cap space is a beautiful thing, but it guarantees nothing. Just look at Joe Dumars’ Pistons in the summer of 2009 where Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva – who combined for 25 points per game in their first season in Detroit – were paid a combined 90 million dollars. So yes, cap space is a luxury, but it means nothing and if Pau were to sign, he would have absolutely no idea on what would happen next. With Nick Young and Kent Bazemore on the free agent market and Jodie Meeks already on the Pistons, the Lakers are looking at a team full of empty slots waiting to be filled and there is unfortunately no guarantee as to who will fill them. It’s certainly not Carmelo or LeBron or any of the next tier guys like Luol Deng or Kyle Lowry – the latter of whom signed a 4 year 48 million dollar deal with the Raptors last night. Pau turns 34 in three days and while he’s still playing at a very high level, the clock is ticking on his career and at this point, Pau, who has amassed a total of 133.6 million dollars over the course of his career should be looking for championships rather than some more 0’s on his paycheck. He’s endured some toxic years and for Pau getting out of Los Angeles would be the best for his career. In an extremely competitive Western Conference, the Lakers are nowhere near contention and Pau returning doesn’t change any of that.

NYKNICKS_Logo-FinalThe Knicks’ pitch to Pau Gasol would center around all they have to offer: the re-creation of the Lakers, and cap space next summer. In terms of personnel connections, the Knicks have the upper hand in all of this. Phil Jackson led Pau to his two championships in ’09 and ’10, and Derek Fisher was Pau’s teammate from 2008-2012. Phil’s goals for the Knicks are abundantly clear; he wants to re-create the Lakers… but in New York. He’s already hired Derek Fisher to be the head coach he can lead vicariously through and he has also offered Kurt Rambis a 4 year, 4.8 million dollar deal to be Fisher’s top assistant – Rambis was an assistant in Los Angeles last season and was on Jackson’s staff during both of his stints with the Lakers. Other assistants rumored to join the Knicks’ bench is Rick Fox, former Laker player, Bill Cartwright, former Bulls player under Phil Jackson and Jim Cleamons, a former assistant of Jackson’s as well. In terms of player personnel, the Knicks have just acquired Pau’s teammate on the Spanish national team; Jose Calderon. In addition to Calderon, the Knicks signed Lamar Odom and can bring back Shannon Brown another former teammate of Pau’s from Los Angeles. Pau could sign with New York and know that there is a familiar and strong infrastructure being built to ascend the team back to the top. The only difference at this point between Los Angeles and New York is the jersey. Pau has more fellow teammates in New York, one of his best friends as the coach and his former coach as the president of the team. There are two things Pau would have to consider before signing with New York. The first is that, next year, they are going to be bad. Every player considering signing with the Knicks has to accept that fact. The Knicks are the same team as last year except instead of Tyson and Raymond Felton they have Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert. There is also uncertainty on whether Carmelo Anthony will be donning a Knicks jersey next season. The other thing he’d have to consider is the significant pay cut. Because the Knicks are paying the luxury tax, they have the tax-payers mid-level exception worth 3.2 million dollars. Waiving Samuel Dalembert would give them the ability to offer Pau 5 million, but they have said no to that option. Pau would be taking 16 million less than last season to play in New York, however, the nice thing about New York’s financial situation is that next summer they’ll be bursting with cap space, which means Pau can sign a one-year deal and then sign a longer extension for money he’s accustomed to getting next summer. Of course all of this rides on the simple question of whether Pau wants to play in New York or not. He should know that playing in New York would most likely bring Carmelo back as well, which would form a very talented front-court in New York.

heat_150The Heat’s situation with every free agent, not just Pau Gasol, is dependent on what the Big 3 decide to do. A few days ago, word broke out that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be taking starting salaries at 11 million and 12 million respectively, which along with LeBron’s demand of a max contract and the smaller salaries of Shabazz Napier, Norris Cole and the obviously returning Udonis Haslem, would give the Heat 12 million to spend on free agents. That rumor has been called “Bs” by the man who would know it best

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 12.05.16 PM

ESPN’s Chris Broussard affirmed the claims of Henry Thomas in an article written last night:

Bosh is looking to sign a five-year deal worth between $80 million and $90 million while Wade is thinking along the lines of $55 million-60 million over four years, sources said.Those figures, combined with a max-level contract that would begin at $20.7 million for James, would not clear the cap room it would likely take to sign free-agent targets such as Kyle Lowry,Luol Deng and possibly Pau Gasol.

If the Heat’s Big 3 do as Chris Broussard says, there is no room to sign Pau Gasol, but then again the Big 3 wouldn’t re-sign if they knew there was no opportunity to bolster the supporting cast so if Bosh and Wade do take as much as stated, LeBron will likely go elsewhere, or if not LeBron, the entire Big 3 will likely split up. If the Heat do manage to work out the kinks and clear 12 million in cap space, Pau would be the perfect fit. Pau has the ability to stretch the floor and shoot from the outside, which is pivotal in the Heat offense, which revolves around drive and kicks. Pau also has great vision and getting it to him in the high post and working off that would be very dangerous considering how hard it is to guard LeBron on the move off the ball. Pau also gives the Heat something they haven’t had before and that’s consistent low-post play. Pau could be a shot-clock-winding-down-last-second-resort type of option for the Heat that they’ve never had before. Pau is a traditional big man with the skill of a guard and that’s why he fits into the Heat’s small ball lineup because he’s not someone who will clog the paint or slow them down as a team, he’d actually make them more dangerous as he’d provide them with another facet to their game that opposing defenses would have to guard.

thunder_150 I think if the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are now considered the favorites in the pursuit of Pau Gasol (according to ESPN), were able to bring Pau to the team, they would be immediate favorites to win a championship. Time and time again the Thunder are right on the cusp of reaching the finals, but in an extremely competitive Western Conference they always seem to fall short. The reason? Lack of offensive weapons. You’re probably surprised. A team with Kevin Durant, the scoring champion and Russell Westbrook, the 2nd best scorer among point guards are having troubles offensively? Yes. After Westbrook and Durant there are very few scoring options for the Thunder. Serge Ibaka contributes 15-18 per game, and Reggie Jackson offers 12-15 off the bench but besides those 4 there are nobody. That’s why their offense has the tendency to get stagnant, because there just aren’t options to go to and that causes Durant and Westbrook to hold the ball and play one-on-one. They can, they definitely can because of their supreme talent, but in the playoffs in a slower series, where defenses are focused on them and them only, there aren’t options to go to. If you want evidence just re-watch the Western Conference Finals against the Spurs. Pau Gasol would give them another scoring option, but that’s not all, because he’s such a great passer, Pau would be key in ball movement. Getting Pau the ball in the post attracts extreme attention from the defenses and a team, stupidly decides to double, then they’d be leaving Kevin Durant for the three or Russell Westbrook to dive, dunk and scream like he always does. Pau gives them, like the Heat, a new facet to their game. He is another defense attractor, which relieves pressure off of Westbrook and Durant. Defensively, the idea of a Pau, Ibaka combo would be extremely dangerous, and reminiscent of the Pau, Bynum combo in 2009 and 2010, just with more shot blocking. If Pau really wanted to join the Thunder, he could sign for the full mid-level exception worth 5.3 million. Like the Knicks, if he wanted to sign a 1 year deal and then re-sign for a longer, more lucrative extension he could because of Kendrick Perkins’ contract expiring next summer. If the Thunder were to trade Perkins’ expiring contract or amnesty his 9.4 million, Pau would have the best of both worlds – the money and the success.

spurs_150The Spurs are about 3 million under the cap as it stands right now, including the rookie deal of Kyle Anderson and the recent signing of Patty Mills. What that means is either Boris Diaw is going to have to take 3 million, or Pau isn’t coming to the Spurs. I highly doubt Boris Diaw settles for 3 million after the breakout season he had and the effect he had on the Finals last year. So I’m effectively counting out Pau from this whole ordeal, but the idea of Pau, who is essentially the perfect Spur, joining with Tim Duncan on the frontline to win another one in San Antonio would be an NBA fans wet dream. Diaw will likely have to take the mid-level exception of 5.3 million if he wants to sign with the Spurs but the R.C Buford and the Spurs front-office will have fierce competition from other teams around the league considering how effective Diaw was in all aspects of the game during the Finals.

Dallas-MavericksThe Mavericks, like their Texas rivals, are effectively counted out of signing Pau Gasol. However, this exclusion from the Gasol-mania is not due to financial issues but more because of fit. The Mavericks just traded for rim protector, former Mavericks champion and defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler so bringing in Pau Gasol would almost definitely mean he’d play a bench role because he’s certainly not capable of playing the 3. The rumors connecting Pau with the Mavericks were realistic before the trade with New York but now it’s just impossible. I’m not sure why the Mavericks would even be going after Pau when someone like Luol Deng who actually fits a need and is of the same caliber is on the market, as well as someone like Trevor Ariza. For Pau, going to Dallas to meet with Cuban is a waste of time. He’d be a poor fit and would likely see his minutes and opportunities diminished by the already solidified front-court duo of Tyson Chandler and the soon-to-be-re-signed Dirk Nowitzki.

bulls_150 Chicago is really only approaching Pau as a back-up option if Carmelo decides to return to New York or go somewhere other than the Windy City. Unlike Carmelo, the Bulls could actually offer Pau what he’s worth: something between 15 and 16 million. Pau probably isn’t even worth that much, which only makes things that much better for the Bulls. All of this rides on the amnesty or trade of Carlos Boozer and his 16.8 million dollar contract. If Pau came in, the Bulls would be receiving an average post-defender but a player with extreme length and size to help on the inside with Joakim Noah. The good thing about the Bulls’ roster is that they have the ability to hide poor defensive players like Carlos Boozer and D.J Augustin. Pau could slide into the lineup and provide the Bulls with a scoring pick and roll option and a low-post offense option, which they get little to nothing of from Carlos Boozer. The Bulls need scoring badly and outside shooting and while Pau can stretch the floor, I’m just not sure that Pau really satisfies their needs to the fullest extent. However, if they miss out on Carmelo, Pau is the next best thing and would instantly make them the best in the East, barring no headline additions by the Heat.


 

As of right now I’m really unsure on where he’ll go. Los Angeles can offer him the most money but because of his past few toxic years and the uncertainty of how the team will shape up I’m counting Los Angeles out. Along with the Lakers, the Spurs and Mavericks are off the list. That leaves Oklahoma City, Chicago, New York and Miami. Miami’s acquisition of Pau hinges significantly on the decision of the Big 3 and what they decide to do financially. If Bosh and Wade do take the appropriate cuts to give LeBron his max contract and leave room for extra talent then I think Pau would be silly not to go to the Heat. If they can’t figure it out, they’d be off the list. The Bulls are thinking of Pau as a plan B to Carmelo so their pursuit of Pau depends on where Carmelo Anthony goes. The Knicks could be a sleeper in all of this. They can’t offer him the money next season, but in 2015 they can re-sign Pau to a longer and more lucrative contract because of the cap space they’d have next summer. The Knicks are basically home to Pau who would be going to a place with former coaches, assistant coaches and players alike. He’d also be entering into the offense he thrived in during the Lakers’ championship runs in 2009 and 2010. However, taking 3 million is a humongous sacrifice on the part of Pau and I’m unsure he’d be willing to take that risk. The other option would be the Thunder who could offer Pau the mid-level exception of 5.3 million as well as the best chance to win a championship as his arrival would create a big 4 in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and himself. At this point, I really can’t put my finger on where he’ll go. Fingers crossed for the Knicks, but reports have the Thunder as the front-runner, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Thunder vs Lakers Matchup

Image

I love this series. Not only because the two best scorers in the game are featured, but because two seasons ago when the Thunder dynasty was new to the elite group of teams it was the Lakers who crushed their dreams. It’s awesome to see that this season the Thunder will get revenge at the Lakers. Also, because I’m hoping Ron… I mean Metta World Peace has another elbow spasm and starts more controversy. I also love when he contradicts his new name. Anyway, back to the series.

I think the main reason why the Lakers won’t win this series is because the Thunder are the only team in the league with enough premier post defenders to stop them from scoring inside. For the Lakers, their interior scoring is their biggest strength. The Thunder have Perkins, Collison, Mohammed, and Ibaka who are all defensive minded players who can limit Pau and Bynum. Pau was held to 10 points and Bynum was held to 20 in game 1. Game 1 was a blow out and a few things contributed to that. Kobe couldn’t get into a rythm. The Thunder had too many ways to stop him defensively, and they did. He shot a poor 38% from the field and was limited to 20 points. Sefolosha, Harden, and even Durant all took turns frustrating Kobe. Additionally, Ramon Sessions couldn’t put the ball in the hoop. He shot 1-7 from the field for 2 points. That attributes to the Thunder defense, and Russell Westbrook’s job on him. When Kobe is limited, Pau is being held to 10 points and Sessions is being held to 2, the Lakers will never win a game. That’s simply because the supporting cast behind them are pretty terrible. The bench scored 26 of the Lakers’ 90 points. Their depth will definitely be exposed in this series, considering the Thunder are such a deep team. They did a good job on the glass, but had no answer for Westbrook and Durant. If both of them continue to score 25+ for the rest of the series then this will be easy.

In game 2, the Lakers were close but couldn’t hold onto the lead for a full 48 minutes. That is credited to poor late game execution, which isn’t characteristic of the Lakers. They got a good last shot, but gave up a 9 point run to the Thunder in the final 2 minutes. To be quite honest, they only held the lead because the Thunder weren’t knocking down shots. It wasn’t because they were playing stellar basketball. Ramon Sessions was once again held to 2 points. He only took 3 shots though, so either he has to be more assertive or they just have to stop watching Kobe shoot the ball, which he isn’t doing efficiently by the way. He shot a poor 36% from 9-25 from the field. That was again credited to the strong perimeter defense of the Thunder. Once again the Laker bench was atrocious, scoring only 11 of the Lakers 75 points. They definitely need to step up, the Thunder have very good match-ups defensively against the Lakers starting unit so they desperately need some spark. Once again though, they did a great job on the glass out-rebounding the Thunder by 5. For the Thunder they have to be more aggressive. In game 1 and 2 they took way too many jump shots and that’s ok when you’re making them like in game 1. However, in game 2 when Harden is 3-8 and Westbrook is 5-17 they need scoring from inside. I’d look for them to be more aggressive down low, because they almost lost this game due to settling for jumpers.

For the future, I think the Thunder have to be more aggressive with the basketball. Maybe try to get more driving opportunities and get the Laker big men in trouble. For the Lakers, they need to take another look at their offensive strategy. Kobe is struggling this series shooting a combined 37% from the field. Sessions is struggling and the bench just can’t play basketball at this point. They should try utilize Bynum more in games 3 and 4, although the Thunder have interior defenders he has a size mismatch on everybody. They should play more of an inside out game through the rest of the series, that way they can get Bynum hot early and free up space for Sessions and Kobe.

I’m going to have to take the Thunder in this series in 5 games.

Weekly Roundup

Based on the sheer excitement of these past weeks in the NBA, I thought i’d roundup three topics that have been swirling around my mind.

First, let’s go over the Rondo for Gasol trade rumours.

I think both of these teams definitely need some change to their roster for their teams to contend this year and for years to come. Both teams have old rosters, especially Boston whose stars are slowly declining. For the Lakers I think this trade is amazing. Derrick Fisher isn’t the player he used to be and he can’t keep up with any of the younger guards in the league. He also can’t produce as much anymore. Getting a 25 year old point guard who is one of the best passers in the league would be a perfect fit for the Lakers. They would get a guy to guard the quicker point guards in the league. They would get a pass first guy on a team that has a habit of standing around and watching Kobe do all the work. He could move the ball and help get Bynum more involved. For the Celtics I don’t like this trade as much. The Celtics Big three are all in their mid thirties and if their play doesn’t start to decline, they will surely retire in the next few years. Rondo is the future of the Celtics and in a league where the Point Guard is royalty Rondo is a great choice. He is also 25. Pau Gasol is 31 years old and for a team looking for a new franchise player you don’t want to rebuild with a 31 at the helm. The Celtics are in the beginning of the rebuilding process and I don’t understand why they would give up Rondo a top 5 point guard for a 31 year old inconsistent big man. Also, you figure Garnett isn’t going to retire for another 2 years at the least and no team is going to be begging for his services if they were thinking of a trade. So, why stack your team with two PF who aren’t going to come off the bench. I like it for L.A but Boston should realize that sometimes the key to success is right in front of you, you just have to realize it.

Second, All star reserves snubs.

Well every year there are snubs, every year there are those who don’t deserve the spot. And I’m here to call them out. For the East reserves Danny Granger, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo were among the snubs for the East. I’m wondering if they were snubs or just if the depth in the East is increasing every year. Looking out at the reserves for the East I don’t see too many guys that shouldn’t be there. Hibbert may be a bit of a long shot. He’s only averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds a game. Nothing too special. However, in the West I was really shocked at the selections. It seems like the choices were made to honour the past and not respect the present. Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, were selected for the game. Dirk is coming off one of the best playoff runs ever, but this year he’s doing nothing special. Only averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds. Steve Nash is also putting up mediocre numbers, with 15 points and 10 assists on a team that is going nowhere. The most noticeable snubs from this team are Kyle Lowry, Monta Ellis and Rudy Gay. Kyle Lowry is putting up career numbers this year with 15 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. A very well rounded game that has kept the Rockets just above mediocrity with a record of 16-11. Monta Ellis is having another great year. Averaging 22 points and 6 assists, most memorably his 48 point game against OKC just a few days ago. And then there is Rudy Gay who is the most interesting of the snubs. He is averaging the same numbers as Dirk Nowitzki with 18 and 6. However, he was kept of the roster when Dirk was included. The difference between Gay and Nowitzki is that the Mavericks are 15-11 and the Grizzlies are 13-13 without their biggest inside scoring threat. I would exchange the two in a second.

3. Will Linsanity last?

Everybody still has doubts about Jeremy Lin the Harvard grad who went from benchwarmer to an instant phenomenon. And they would have valid doubts. He is clearly a great player, he is clearly mentally tough and he is clearly a great fit with a stagnant offense in New York. However, he hasn’t exactly had the best competition to compare himself to in his three games. The Knicks have played the Wizards, Nets and Jazz. Not exactly three of the most dangerous teams in the  NBA. But we still can’t take that away from Lin, who is averaging 26 and 8 in games where he plays 20 minutes or more. We’ll really get a taste of his true talent when the Knicks matchup against L.A tonight in New York. I believe in Lin, I think he is a great true point guard and is a perfect fit for a struggling New York Team. I’m not taking anything away from him but I don’t want to jump to conclusions either. From right now though, Jeremy Lin is the guy and if he continues to play like he has the Knicks should be on the right track.

Chris Paul + Clips

Finally, David Stern and the rest of the owners gave in to a trade involving Chris Paul. The Clippers traded Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and the 1st pick of the 2012 draft. All for CP3 and two second round draft picks. Now that CP3 is with the Clippers, the first question that needs addressing is an extension. Did the Clippers trade young talent for a guy who will dash out when he gets the chance? Also, who is the better team in Los Angeles? Questions need answers, so here we go.

If I was Chris Paul, I would sign an extension with the Clippers. It’s actually a no brainer. You’d be playing with the rookie of the year and one of the best big men in the league. You’d be playing in the best city in america. Hollywood. Where the opportunities are endless. Don’t forget being mentored by 2004 finals MVP Chauncey Billups. And playing with a developing Tyson Chandler type of player in Deandre Jordan. He won’t get anything better in the offseason. This team can take him far in the short term but also in the longterm.

The other question under discussion is the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers. Who is better? The Lakers have ruled the city of Los Angeles for as long as the NBA has been around. The Clippers are like the disappointing son who is stuck in their father’s shadow. Kobe has been the king of Los Angeles and only until Blake Griffin came along did people even consider the Clippers as a legitimate team.

Now it seems like the Clippers are the better team in Los Angeles. The Lakers have the experience point. They have Kobe one of the best players in the league, and along with him, Pau, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum and Derrick Fisher who all know what it takes to win a championship. However, the Clippers have the fresh legs. They have the developing stars and two all stars who are both under 30. The point guard competition between the two teams isn’t even a comparison. Chris Paul almost single handedly beat the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs last year. The Lakers only won 4-2 in what was an expected blow out. Chris Paul will take Derrick Fisher to town all day long. The shooting guard position isn’t a comparison either. Kobe will burn Eric Bledsoe every time down the floor. He has the moves even at 33, he can still score 40 if he wants to. The small forward position is pretty equal to me. Ron Artest is clearly the better defender, and is the tougher and stronger player. However, last season he scored a career low 8 points a game. He is an offensive liability and won’t be too hard to defend for Caron Butler. The Power Forward position goes to the Clippers. Everyone may be a bit surprised by the last statement. However, last postseason I couldn’t stand watching Pau Gasol play basketball. A ‘7 footer playing soft actually agitates me. If you have the size, strength and agility then use it. He didn’t at all. He also won’t be able to keep up with the speedy, and strong Blake Griffin who will jump over him any time he wants. The center position however, has to go to the Lakers. DeAndre Jordan is becoming a force in the paint but Andrew Bynum has the experience and more of a developed game on both sides of the floor.The bench goes to the Clippers. After the Lakers losing Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown their bench is pretty empty. They signed Josh McRoberts however, there is a limit to his game. The Clippers bench has Chauncey Billups the 2004 finals MVP and one of the smartest players in the game, who will mentor every young player on the team.The coaching competition is the easiest of all. Vinny Del Negro needs to go. Mike Brown is a defensive mastermind, and has been to the finals before with James and the 2007 Cavaliers.

Now that we’ve established the better team in Los Angeles, we have to take the Clippers to the whole conference and see how they compare. I can see them winning the Pacific Division. It will be close but they can get it over the Lakers. When playoffs come around they will definitely be in contention. They will come in the top 4 in the West but that’s when their run might end. They have talent, they have fresh legs, they have superstars but they don’t have too much experience. That is the key when a game 7 comes around in the playoffs. The smart players, and the players used to pressure will prevail. The Clippers only weakness is their experience. If they could add another veteran on the bench that could do wonders.

Here We Go Again

The NBA is on it’s way, which means the trade rumours have already arrived. The curtain has dropped. The spotlight is on. The show has began. And with the show comes the drama.

Dallas Ditching Chandler?

On the first day that free agent contracts could be discussed, Tyson Chandler took away one thing from the day. He was getting traded. “I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com on Wednesday. He believes Dallas won’t offer him the long term extension that he deserves. And he does deserve it. For three years in a row the Dallas Mavericks were 1st round dropouts. Disappointments to their city and to the NBA. But when Tyson Chandler came to town he changed the whole team. He brought height, he brought hustle and most of all motivated the team to play defense. It’s no coincidence that last year the Dallas Mavericks were 7th in points allowed per 100 posessions in 2010-2011 and were 12th, 15th and 17th the three years before that. He provided them with an inside presence in the finals and deserves a contract. His biggest worry is that Dallas may sign Nene over him. Nene and him are the two most coveted free agents this year.

Nene Fever:

The big man on the free agent campus this year is Nene. Teams from all over the league have shown interest in him. Dallas, Golden State, New Jersey, Denver, Houston, Indiana, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Portland were all teams who made contact with Nene’s agent on Wednesday. A perfect fit for Nene would be teams lacking an inside presence. Teams like Golden State, Denver and Houston. The Nets have shown interest in Nene due to Deron Williams’ statements that he would be far less inclined to re-sign a long-term deal with the Nets if they don’t immediately improve their roster.

Ron Artest…. I mean Metta World Peace:

It has been reported that the Los Angeles Lakers may waive Ron Artest….. I mean Metta World Peace’s over-priced contract. Although, the small forward is one of the best defenders in the league and filling the void later with other players is very difficult considering the type of defender he is. On the offensive side, he is in decline. Last season he averaged 8.5 points and it’s clear that his age may be taking a toll on his body and his speed. He doesn’t have the strength he once had (and I might regret this) but he’s become a  liability on offense. Letting go of his 3 year 21.5 million dollar contract would be a relief, causing the Lakers to save up to 27 million dollars in taxes and salary through 2013-2014.

Hollywood Wants Superman:

A minute doesn’t go by when we don’t wonder how many championships Shaq and Kobe could’ve won together had their problems not gotten in the way. Finally, years later Superman may be coming back to Hollywood. Not the one who has the superman logo on his bed. The one who wore the cape during his slam dunk performance. Jim Buss has said that he would trade Andrew Bynum “for the right deal.” The right deal or the deal that involves Dwight Howard? But Andrew Bynum may not be what the Magic are looking for in a replacement for Dwight and rumour has it that Andrew Bogut would be a better fit for them. I disagree but a three team deal has been circling, sending Dwight to the Lakers, Bogut to the Magic and Bynum to the Bucks. The Clippers also seem willing to do whatever it takes for Dwight. The Clippers have tons of young depth with players like Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Al-Farouq Aminu and can provide more assets in a trade with the Magic. Although, Dwight and Kobe together may look like a championship on paper. In reality they wouldn’t gel. Dwight loves the ball down in the post, he takes it in all day. And why wouldn’t you when you’re the most dominant player in the NBA. Then there is Kobe, who loves the ball on the perimeter and taking it to the hole. They are both types of players who demand the spotlight and I can’t see it working out.

Blazers and Brandon Roy:

A source had said that the TrailBlazers had waived Roy but team president Larry Miller firmly stated that, ”We have not, and regardless of what’s been said by John Canzano and others out there, (made a) decision on amnesty as of yet,” On January 17th of last season Brandon Roy underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees. He returned to the lineup on February 25th and scored 18 points off the bench. The rest of the season was a quiet one for Roy, he came off the bench for the whole season and averaged 12.5 points as supposed to his career average of 19 points a game. His future looked grim, until the playoffs came around and  Portland needed someone to step up. Brandon Roy came off the bench in Game 3 against the Mavericks and scored 16 points in 23 minutes. Larry Miller added, ”With everything that Brandon has done for this organization, there’s no way we would make a decision like that without having conversation with him, without evaluating where he is.” I wouldn’t give up on Roy yet, his knees may let him down at times but he showed that in big situations he can shine. He knows how to win and he is a valuable piece on any team.

Celtics Discussing Rondo Trades:

Just to be clear, the Celtics don’t want to get rid of Rondo. He is the future of their organisation and will be their saviour once Pierce, Allen and Garnett are gone. However, the Celtics are exploring options in exchange for Rondo. Danny Ainge said, “I don’t make any comments on trade rumors. I’m just not commenting on any of it. Everybody knows how valuable Rondo is to our team. I’ll talk to Rondo, but I don’t want to talk about it publicly.” I sense insecurity in the Celtics front office. They realise that their Big Three aren’t big news anymore, they are getting older and soon they won’t be able to compete with the up and coming talent in the league. Additionally, they realise Rondo isn’t the best Point Guard out there and it makes sense for them to get better. Rumours have circulated that a Rondo for Paul deal may be developing, although they are very vague rumours.

Grizz and Gasol:

After last years semi-breakout season for Marc Gasol teams are showing more interest in him now that he’s a free agent. He provided Memphis with defense, hustle and a quick inside presence that Tim Duncan and the 1st place Spurs couldn’t handle. The Grizzlies organization have shown interest in keeping him. “Obviously, we want to sit down and try to make a deal with Marc,” Heisley said. “I’m committed to keeping him.” Gasol has made it clear that he would like to return to Memphis this season. However, they may not have enough money to satisfy Gasol after agreeing to contract extensions with Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley. All we know now is that the Grizzlies want Gasol and Gasol wants the Grizzlies. Personally, I would love to see last year’s team come back stronger this year and make it back to the playoffs. Every time they stepped onto the floor, the game was bound to be exciting. They were the most energetic team in the NBA and it was a joy to watch them burst through the playoffs and surprise everybody.

Jazz’s Pick

Let’s assume Kyrie Irving goes to Cleveland like he is projected to, and let’s assume Derrick Williams goes to Minnesota. That leaves the Utah Jazz on the clock.

They are the ones with the dilemma, they have two main prospects that they will be choosing from. Enes Kantor the Turkish beast, Brandon Knight the Kentucky point guard  Like I said the Jazz have a dilemma.

This year the city of Utah was struck with misery after their saviour, their all-star, their Deron Williams was traded to New Jersey. That left them scratching their head. The received the #3 draft pick, Devin Harris a veteran point guard and Derrick Favors a talented first year big man. Who do the Jazz need the most? Let’s take a look.

Brandon Knight:

6’3, 183 lbs, and a scoring point guard right out of Kentucky. His college stats are as follows. 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. An all around point guard with room for development.  After Deron Williams left Utah, the point guard spot has been a little inconsistent. Devin Harris is giving 100% to every game he plays, he has an eye for getting the ball to an open man and is very agile getting to the basket. He also has a veteran I.Q and experience for the game. He’s played under all time greats such as Dirk Nowitzki and has learned from him about how to be a leader. But when he needs a break on the bench, the back-up point guards haven’t always been as consistent as they should. CJ Watson, and Ronnie Price have been coming off the bench for Devin Harris. They have some games where they are playing like J.J Barea in the finals. Confident, unexpected and clutch. They have led the offense and locked down on defense but some games they look as if they’re just running into a wall and trying to break it down. That’s where Brandon Knight comes in. He could provide a big energetic spark off the bench. He is a very talented scorer, he has a deadly mid range shot and is very quick and athletic which helps him get to the rim a lot. He is the perfect fit in this run and gun offense, he knows how to move the ball and move without it and would be a great pick and roll tandem with Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson.

Enes Kantor: 6’11, 258 pounds .

This guy is a big turkish monster. He averaged 18 points and 16 rebounds in Turkey. I won’t even go into how dominant this guy is. Not many people have seen him play because he is European but i’ll just show you this video. His game speaks for itself. 

I agree with his comments about being a mixture of Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard. He is persistent on the boards and tough like Dwight. His post moves are versatile and he can finish with either hand. He also can knock down jump shots from beyond the three point line like Dirk can. This guy is an all around offensive presence as well as being a mean defensive presence. But do the Jazz need him. Well I don’t think he is the right pick for them, honestly. Their front-court is their biggest strength. They already have Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and the developing Derrick Favors. I don’t think they should add another big man over a young scoring point guard in Brandon Knight. If they do pick Enes Kantor, you have 4 solid big men all having to play shorter amount of minutes. They don’t play their comfortable roles, or comfortable minutes and they don’t perform as well. Also there is no real need for 4 performing big men. I guess drafting him could give them opportunities to trade maybe Derrick Favors or Paul Millsap for some scorers.

I would take Brandon Knight. It’s not up to me though, so I guess we’ll have to wait till June 23rd and see.

Finals: Game 2 Notes

It looked all but over. The Heat had a 15 point lead with 7 minutes to go. They have three all stars on their team and they were looking like they would cruise to the finish. Then after Dwyane’s big three, their hollywood that Joakim Noah talked about came out. There was the premature celebration, the punches, the cheering and everyone including myself believed it was over.

Never doubt a veteran team.

The Mavericks closed the game out on a 22-5 run, they came back and won the game by 2 points. Lebron and Wade had so many opportunities to finish the game off, but they played along the three point line and took rushed shots. This dates back to critique on their clutch play and their ability to finish games off. This is not just another game, they just lost game 2 of the finals. They could’ve had a 2-0 lead going into the three games in Dallas which are almost impossible to lose all three. They could’ve won the series in Dallas, or come back to Miami with a 3-2 lead. Now it’s basically 0-0. The first game means nothing. Nothing has happened except for the momentum shifting to the Mavericks.

This was a big let down for the Heat. They looked like they were coasting to an easy series, their superstar firepower was taking over and everyone thought this series was in the Heat’s hands. This is not the play we should be seeing from a champion. Champions don’t lose concentration for 7 minutes in game 2 of the finals, at home, with a 15 point lead. It’s not a champions type of game.

This game also showed us how persistent and valuable the veteran experience is on this team. They never gave up. They scored bucket after bucket and dug into the Heat defensively. It showed us that maybe a champion doesn’t have to have two or more stars on their team like the 2010 Lakers, or the 2008 Celtics, or the 2007 Spurs. All you need is will, heart and determination and that’s what got them back in this game.

To close out this game, they needed Dirk Nowitzki. His 9 points in the last 2 or so minutes showed Lebron what it takes to be a real champion. His late game antics, his shooting when it counted and his reading of the defence on the last possession won Dallas this game. Never mind his contest of Dwyane’s prayer shot at the end of the game.

This game showed us a lot about who we’re watching in the finals. A team that cruises after a lead,and a team that doesn’t give up until the buzzer sounds. Hmm, I wonder who will won the NBA championship.