Friday, July 03, 2009

InClement Weather: 5 NBA Free Agency Stories

While most of the talk has been about the soon-to-be-fabled free agent summer of 2010, there has been plenty of action in the summer of 2009.

A lot of talk about LeBron, Wade, Amare, Dirk, and Bosh in 2010.
Don't sleep on some of the other talent though, especially Joe Johnson (above).


Sure, a few of the 2010 names include: Joe Johnson, Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby, Tracey McGrady, Shaquille O'Neal, Yao Ming, Amare Stoudamire, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Mike Redd, Steve Nash, and Carlos Boozer...not to mention another name that might wait out a contract extension to the last second, CP3.

Fortunately, for the present, there's still plenty to speculate about this summer.

After a rather pedestrian draft-class (or so the hype seems to say), plenty of sparks have been flying.

Detroit made the earliest splash in free agency, but was it the wisest?

I've already touched on a few issues via the blog and Twitter:
-San Antonio reviving their title candidacy by acquiring swingman Richard Jefferson for a box of Rasinets and a few veteran big men.
-Orlando all but giving up on re-inking the opted-out Turkoglu by trading Courtney Lee and Skip to my Lou (Alston) for Vinsanity. Seems like a mistake, doesn't it? Carter is often (truthfully) viewed as a black hole with the basketball, despite being able to put up 25 on a daily basis. Carter's often more than a liability towards a team's chemistry (or so it seems), which is an odd acquisition for a team who just made the NBA Finals.
-What happens to Detroit's backcourt with the addition of Ben Gordon? Is Rodney Stuckey the future point guard of this team? Is Rip Hamilton the odd man out? How will Joe Dumars handle rebuilding his storied franchise and its overloaded backcourt?

Now let's dive head-first into five of the biggest issues of the this off-season.

Story #1: The Shaqtus ships out to Cleveland
Shaquille O'Neal is seeking a 5th title, this time by protecting the King and his men. While it's far too soon to speculate on 2010 and Shaq v. Kobe (in fairness, it'd be LeBron v. Kobe), it is juicy stuff, right? My question is, with LeBron demanding open access to the paint, doesn't the Diesel hinder that a bit? Not to mention, can Shaq remain healthy away from the positive sunshine vibes of Phoenix? I suppose it's an even trade off to risk such problems with KG (supposedly) healthy next season and Superman the dominant big man in the Eastern Conference. Fortunately for the Cavs, Turkoglu offered more matchup nightmares than anyone on the Magic roster...and he's in Toronto now and not Orlando.

Story #2: Hedo heads out to Portland...whoops...I mean Toronto
You can't blame the Raptors if Chris Bosh bolts next season. Signing Turkoglu away from the Blazers was a huge coup for Brian Colangelo. He is the perfect compliment to Bosh on a roster than has talent at key positions (don't sleep on Calderon at the point) and perhaps the draft's biggest make-or-break superstar, USC's DeMar Derozan. The Eastern Conference could see a major power tilt after next season, especially with LeBron, Wade, and nearly the entire nucleus of the Celtics' roster up in the air. Well played north of the border. As for Portland, it might not be as terrible as it seems. Both Turkoglu and Brandon Roy demand the ball in their hands in the closing minutes. The Blazers have a talented young roster (trading Rodriguez for so little was a MIS-take) and have that money to spend still. They'll survive.

Story #3: Zach Randolph takes his 20 and 10 act to Memphis
Score 20 and board 10 for an entire season and team's can wait to get rid of you, if you're name is Zach Randolph anyways. Randolph has only himself to blame though, never considered a team-first guy and always one to find himself in trouble. Nevertheless, Memphis traded Q Richardson (recently acquired from New York for Darko) for the big man. What this move means in Memphis perplexes me just a bit. A lot of ball-hungry guys (Gay, Mayo, and now Randolph) on one roster is going to be a challenge. Especially considering just how young the nucleus of this team is. Not to mention what they're going to do at the point guard position (is Conley the answer?). Will they soon become the Clippers of the midwest? Wait and see, I suppose.

Story #4: Ron Artest heads to LaLa land, Ariza packs it up and heads off to Houston
This story has gotten plenty of pub, so I won't bludgeon any of you with details. Instead, I'm wondering if the Lakers think that Ariza's 2009 postseason was a bit of an aberration. Do they feel they know something that nobody else did? As for Houston, they had to make a move, especially since Artest didn't take Yao's recent medical diagnosis so well, and Ariza (all of 24 years old) might very well be part of the Rockets' nucleus of the future. How? T-Mac's health is never certain, ditto for Yao, and Aaron Brooks can only do so much. 2010 in Houston will be a potential search for a new superstar, but with Ariza in tow (a potential new-age Scottie Pippen?), it just got a little easier.

Story #5: The Plight of Allen Iverson
How the mighty seem to have fallen. Detroit imploded more due to the loss of Chauncey Billups than the addition of AI. Joe Dumars made the move in large part, in fact 100% of the reason, to free up cap space for moves in 2009 (and 2010 likely). Now rumors have AI contacting Memphis (not the right fit), ending back up with Larry Brown (now in Charlotte), or potentially joining D-Wade in South Beach for a season. Point is, one of the NBA's top talents and fan favorites has flown completely under the radar in an offseason where some felt he would've been a centerpiece. Question is: will AI rise back to prominence or continue to sink into relative obscurity?

Reunited and it feels so good?

All food for thought. The offseason is still quite young and plenty of moves will be made. Finding those gems (2010's Ariza perhaps?), role players off the bench, and dumping contracts for 2010 has just begun. Especially in New York.

Enjoy the ride...especially since it's not even practice time yet.

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