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.

Christmas Day Predictions

As the clock hits 12 tomorrow the NBA season officially begins. Let’s take a look at the Christmas day match-ups. The winners and the losers.

Knicks vs. Celtics:

A repeat of the first round of the playoffs from last year. The Celtics swept the Knicks, however this year the Knicks are back with a vengeance. They drastically improved their roster this off season with additions like Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis among many others. This match-up should be very interesting. Or it should’ve been interesting, however recent changes in the Celtic roster have made this game a no brainer. Losing Jeff Green was a huge blow to their depth, and the injury of Paul Pierce just gives Melo more room to score. That means Marquis Daniels will start and that leaves the bench with…. Brandon Bass? That won’t be enough to hold off the Knicks, especially when the Celtics core are all in the mid 30’s and need breaks often. Tyson Chandler will also have whatever he wants in this game. He will most likely be guarded by Jermaine O’neal, a slower and shorter center. Tyson will have his way in the paint, and since Jermain O’neal isn’t an offensive weapon he will be able to play lots of help. Furthermore, Amar’e Stoudemire will play along the elbow and the perimeter causing Kevin Garnett to come out as well. Leaving Jermaine O’neal all alone. The guard play will be vital for the Celtics in order for them to win. Rajon Rondo has a large advantage over Toney Douglas, however Iman Shumpert has shown defensive capabilities as well as quickness and a 6’5 frame. He will need to step up this game, as well as Ray Allen. He will need to do more then just shoot, due to the absence of Paul Pierce. If I had to predict right now, I’d give it to the Knicks.

Heat vs. Mavericks:

A finals rematch, probably the most anticipated game of the Christmas match-ups. After winning the finals, the Mavericks made substantial changes to their roster. Letting Tyson Chandler, Deshawn Stevenson and J.J Barea go made the team softer. However, they added veterans Lamar Odom and Vince Carter. This game will be a test to see if the Mavericks still have the toughness and defense they had last year. Nobody will be able to guard Dirk in this game, because frankly, it’s impossible. He will get his share of points, no doubt. Lamar Odom will also be a threat on the floor, he and Bosh will be a great match-up considering they’re almost the same type of player. Then you have D-Wade and Lebron. It’s very rare that players can guard them. And this game will be no different. There is no way, an older Vince Carter can guard Lebron James. He’s slow, and he’s not interested in playing defense. At the shooting guard position there really is nobody to guard D-Wade except for Jason Terry. Although, the Dallas bench can still out battle the Miami bench, I will give this game to Miami. The loss of Tyson Chandler is bigger then they think, they lost toughness and a defensive anchor. Who’s really going to stop D-Wade and Lebron in the paint? Nobody.

Lakers vs. Bulls:

This game features the Bulls and the second best team in Los Angeles. The Lakers are out to prove that they can still win games, doubt has surrounded this team for weeks. Kobe’s injured, Bynum’s out, Lamars gone, the triangle offense is gone. Everything seems to have gone wrong, well unfortunately tomorrow won’t be the light at the end of the tunnel. I predict a Laker loss. Let me explain. The former MVP is going to destroy this whole team. It’s as simple as that. Derrick Fisher can’t guard him, neither can Kobe. He will get by the first man and Bynum will block him. Oh, wait Bynum is out. Pau isn’t a shot blocker and isn’t as intimidating as a Bynum. I forsee a Derrick Rose takeover tomorrow. Another strength of the Bulls is their bench. Taj Gibson…. 

Ya, remember him? Omer Asik and Kyle Korver are other names among the young bench who averaged around 27 points a game last season. Another weakness of the Lakers is their bench. They lost the 6th man of the year in Lamar Odom, and they lost Shannon Brown. Now that Bynum is out for 5 games, they have to move Josh McRoberts into the starting lineup, which leaves the Laker bench with…. Matt Barnes? Steve Blake? That won’t get the job done. Among all this doubt, there is a strength that the Lakers have. An angry Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the type of player to go off when he is mad, and oh boy does he have things to be mad about. His wife left him, he tore ligaments in his wrist, the front office traded Lamar Odom, and Mike Brown was appointed without any discussion. Even though he might go crazy tomorrow, that won’t be enough to get past Derrick Rose, the Bulls defense and their bench. I’ll give this one to the Bulls.

Thunder vs Magic:

The Magic fans will be happy to see Dwight Howard on the floor in an official game as a member of the Orlando Magic. They won’t be happy to watch their team get beat by the Thunder. The Thunder pride themselves in their defense and their energy. Their young talent and their scoring champion in Kevin Durant. I bet Kevin Durant is smiling somewhere right now as he thinks about the poor perimeter defense he will match up against tomorrow night. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson. What a joke. Kevin Durant will rip them up from all over the floor. As well as his partner in crime Russell Westbrook. Who has no problem being guarded by Jameer Nelson. I bet James Harden is even looking forward to the loose defense of the Magic. However, getting to the basket will be harder then ever. Whenever you’re up against Dwight Howard you know points in the paint won’t come easy. He should have his way in the middle, nobody on the Thunder can really out muscle him. They do have a good chance of constraining him though, considering the depth at the power forward/center position. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collinson and Cole Aldrich are all very defensive minded players and will try keep Dwight Howard under control, but we all know that’s close to impossible. The depth is also a huge problem with the Magic. Besides Big Baby Davis and Quentin Richardson the bench is pretty empty. Everyone else is inconsistent and won’t be a match for the young and energetic  bench who scored around 30 points a game last season. This game will go to the Thunder. I will also predict that this win against the Magic will be the beginning of their finals run. A win in the finals? Possibly but this could be the beginning of something special.

Clippers vs. Warriors:

The world is buzzing about the Los Angeles Clippers. The most exciting team in sports right now. The “Lob Angeles Clippers,” they’ve been dubbed. The talents of Blake Griffin and CP3 combined seems like something out of a video game. I would say they scored the biggest this off season with the additions of Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Chris Paul. They’ve proved they’re no fluke, while beating the Lakers in both preseason games. I could see this game being more of a challenge for the Clippers. The Warriors actually have players who can stay with CP3. Stephen Curry has shown defensive aptitude in his career and although Monta Ellis isn’t a defensive minded guy he can still keep with CP3.  The Warriors bench is also very young and talented. Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, and Brandon Rush are among the bench. They will provide a boost of energy for the Warriors if they need it. Unlike the Lakers, the Warriors are a very young team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they really give the Clippers a run for their money. This match-up is especially interesting because  neither team really plays too much defense. This should be a score-a-thon. Both teams somwhere in the 100’s. The X-factor in this game for me is DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin will pound David Lee down low, he isn’t quick or strong enough to guard him. DeAndre Jordan is the key to a Clippers loss or win. It is yet to be seen if he can be a defensive anchor in the middle, if he can man the paint and provide an intimidation factor, then Monta Ellis and Steph Curry will have a harder time scoring. If he ignores the defensive end, then this game will come down to who can outscore the other. We’ll see. I’m going to be spontaneous and give this one to the Warriors. I have to have at least one surprise. I think the Clipper mania will come to a halt when the Warriors come out of nowhere and beat the Clippers.

What do you think? Comment who you have to win each game. Only 13  hours until tip-off. Here we go!

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.

Changes Needed: Celtics

Boston embraced instant success when they brought the big three to Boston. They embraced instant failure against the Heat’s big three in the playoffs. There window is clearly closing, their big three are getting older, their edge is fading away and their toughness is disappearing. If they want to be contenders again then there are some changes that they may want to think about.

Age. It can kill a team but also carry a team. In the Celtics case it’s hurting them. The NBA is taking a turn in the young, athletic direction right now. The Thunder, the Heat, the Knicks, the Bulls. They’re all up and coming and will be contending for a championship almost every year from here on out. The Celtics are getting older, slower, and aren’t able to keep up with the younger teams like they did in 2008. Their Big 3 are all in their early to mid thirties. They need youth, maybe not for right now but for the future. Once the big three is gone the Celtics will have to be led by Big Baby Davis, Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. Those are really the only young players who have the talent to carry the Celtics once their legacy dies away. They need a backup point guard. Don’t call Carlos Arroyo a backup point guard because he’s not even that. He’s one of the players that would play if Doc Rivers cleared his bench. He was shipped out of Miami because he couldn’t play alongside the big three. He has a few good plays here and there but they need a really productive point guard. The Celtics almost lost the first two games of the first round series to the Knicks because their bench ran all over the Celtics bench.

Jeff Green looked like an up and coming all star in Oklahoma. He was scoring around 18 points grabbing around 6 rebounds. He was a great 6th man and was right at home in Oklahoma. Then on the trade deadline he was sent to Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. That’s when his confidence and his energy dropped. Maybe it was the change of scenery. The Thunder are known as quite a soft team and he was traded to what was the edgiest team in the league. He’s missing easy jump shots, shaking on rebounds and sulking on the bench. Maybe Kevin Garnett should shout at him to get him in the game because he needs a jolt of energy. He’s going to be one of the leaders when the big three retire and he should start preparing.