Sunday, July 12, 2009

NBA Offseason

Now that the celebration in Los Angeles has subsided it's time for the teams to look forward to next season. Of course, most teams are looking a year further into the future with the 2010 free agency period casting a large expensive shadow over the whole league. Super stars Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and some guy named Lebron James (as well as a large handful of other stars) are expected to test the waters and change the whole landscape of professional basketball. But that's next year. What about this year? Some teams (New York Knicks) are obviously tanking next season to try and get one of those coveted players in free agency (There are rumors the Knicks are looking at signing a combination of either Wade, Bosh, and James), but other teams (L.A., Dallas, Orlando, Cleveland, Boston, San Antonio) know they are contenders now and want to win the title next year. Those teams are being aggressive and signing guys they believe will put them over the hump to legitimally give them a shot at the title. Let's take a look at some signings and potential signings and their impact on the league.
  • Allen Iverson- Do you really see A.I. in a Memphis uniform? He's one of the greatest players of our generation (his crossover on Michael Jordan is one of my all-time favorite sports moments). Why would he want to finish his career in the Siberia of the NBA? It makes no sense. According to Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Grizzlies are prepared to offer Iverson a 1-year $5 million deal. Say it ain't so! I want to watch Iverson. He's fun! He has the heart of a lion. Thank goodness for the Miami Heat. Rumors are swirling he ends up there with Dwayne Wade (who, in my opinion should have been the MVP this past season). After much convincing I've come to the conclusion that if Iverson ends up in Miami this would be a good fit for him, Wade, and Miami. Iverson fits because he can get back on a good team with good players surrounding him. If he is willing to pass the ball then the 1-2 punch of Wade and Iverson could be very difficult to guard. Dwayne Wade already said he will remain with the team if management makes it look like they are trying to build a legit contender. By adding AI, they are showing Wade what he wants. Which will make him stay. Which obviously, helps Miami keep their superstar and face-of-the-franchise guy on the team, and happy to be there.
  • Shaquille O'Neal- Another all-time great found a new place to play, and wow he found a good team to go to. He joined Lebron James and his misfits in Cleveland in what the team believes is the last piece to the puzzle. Cleveland got dominated in the playoffs by Superman Dwight Howard (13 Boards and 25.8 PPG) exposing the team for what they really are. With Shaq, they have the big man presence that, if they play him right and he's healthy come playoff time, can match-up against Howard and Boston's Kevin Garnett. And just like Miami with Dwayne Wade, it shows Lebron that they are really trying to get him a championship and keep him in Cleveland past 2010. Will this work? Only time will tell, but personally, I like it. Cleveland is going to be better with Shaq and once the playoffs start will re-establish themselves as one of the top two teams to beat.
  • Rasheed Wallace- Sheed got himself out of the mess that is becoming the Detroit Pistons. He signed a 5-year $57 million deal ( to join an already stacked Boston Celtics team. This signing plus the return of a healthy Kevin Garnett makes, in my opinion, the Celtics the best team in the East. Their opening day line-up will be Sheed, Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. This could easily be the starting line-up for the All-Star game. Wallace brings an outstanding amount of experience talent to a team that already has an abundance of experience and talent.
  • Vince Carter- The defending Eastern Conference Champions traded with the New Jersey Nets to land forward Vince Carter (Courtney Lee, Raefer Alston, and Tony Battie for Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson) knowing they would be losing Hedo Turkoglu (who eventually signed with the Toronto Raptors). Though Hedo is a better perimeter shooter then Carter, I consider the addition is an upgrade and the Magic still managed to keep their bench deep. Carter has the experience and ability to help the Magic stay relevent in the East as the regular powerhouses stock up to remain at the top. Carter brings 10 years, 23.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 4.3 APG to a team that is still young and looking to build a dynasty around Dwight Howard. Plus, two of the best dunkers on the same team? Could be really fun to watch on fast break opportunities.
  • Trevor Ariza/Ron Artest- It wasn't a trade, but the Lakers and Rockets swapped players via free agency. Ariza used his outstanding playoff performances to help land him a 5-year deal with the Rockets. Even though his defensive abilities aren't as good as Artest's are, Ariza is young enough to develop into a top-tier player and still gives Houston a good defensive presence to guard against some of the tough players Houston faces in the Western Conference. Artest joins the Defending NBA Champions in what could be his last chance at winning a title. The Lakers get one of the best defenders in the league in Artest and definitely a guy with swagger to help toughen up this team. The Lakers have gotten better because of this acqusition, which is scary because they are already the best team in the NBA.

The 2009 offseason just began so many more moves are sure to happen. Teams are building for this year, and looking forward to next year so this is a crucial time for the NBA. The landscape is going to be different in the next two years making it a very exciting time for the fans. What are your thoughts? I'll write about the draft and the potential salary cap issues for 2010 in another post. There is a lot going on right now in the NBA, so stay tuned.

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