Without a doubt, the NBA offseason trumps all other sports. The draft is held in a single night, consisting of only two rounds and there’s always a handful of interesting free agents each summer that the moment July 1st strikes, the league goes crazy. I’m just now posting a piece on all of it because 1) summer vacation, but 2) free agency is CRAZY.
My Favorite Moves
1. The Miami Heat
If we’re being honest, Justise Winslow fell into the lap of Pat Riley and company at number ten. I can’t believe he wasn’t picked someone between four and six, much less seven and nine! Miami not only got my favorite player in the draft (I believe he could be the most exciting of this class in a few years), but somehow got him when a handful of teams above them were far more desperate.
The moment Miami drafted Winslow, they put themselves in a position of leverage with Dwyane Wade. Rumors have swirled that Wade would be willing to leave the franchise (possibly for the Lakers…LOL) and with a young talent like Winslow, Miami isn’t nearly as desperate as they would have been. Add to that they’re quick negotiation with Goran Dragic (5 years, 90 million), and Luol Deng opting in, losing Dwyane Wade will hurt them more in terms of reputation than it will in basketball play. Miami has all the leverage, a better chance of winning, and the market for Wade these days does now lean his way. a 33-year-old shooting guard, that can’t shoot, and is without the same athetlic ability to slash the way he used to, he’s better off signing in Miami, where he’s guranteed to start and have a role in mentoring a young talent like Winslow.
2. Phoenix Suns
I don’t know that Brandon Knight deserves the five year deal he got, but I do like that as of now, the Suns have some formidable guards in Knight, Bledsoe, and the newly drafted Devin Booker, who I believe is a future sixth man of the year. They’ve done this, held onto Markieff Morris AND signed Tyson Chandler AND had Tyson Chandler sit in on the pitch meeting with Lamarcus Aldridge, making them a serious contender it seems. If they land Aldridge, I really like that lineup. If they don’t, I still like what they’re working with.
Of the three contenders (San Antonio, Houston and Phoenix), Phoenix is the team I’d most like to see Aldridge sign with, but as of now we’re just playing the waiting game. If they don’t sign Aldridge (or any team for that matter), expect them to go after David West as the back up plan.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Amazing! Every team Greg Monroe met with (including both New York and Los Angeles Lakers) offered him a max contract. He chose Milwaukee! This is a new NBA, a modern and advanced NBA. Lamarcus Aldridge wasn’t impressed with the Lakers basketball presentation and I guess Monroe wasn’t either. That’s because the trend towards analytics is a real fucking thing, Charles Barkley and Phil Jackson.
In addition to grabbing Monroe, the Bucks resigned Khris Middleton to a five year deal that I’m not quite sure he’s worth. Fortunately for Middleton the market for shooting guards in thin and even if it turns out they overpaid, I still think it’s a smart move by Milwaukee to lock him up. He’s proven he can shoot and given more time to gel together, that lineup of MCW, Middleton, Jabari, Giannis and now Monroe is going to cause a stir in a weak Eastern conference. Oh, and they still have Jason Kidd as their coach and strong veteran presence of O.J. Mayo and Jared Dudley. We may see the Bucks in the second round this year.
Things I Did NOT Like… Or Thought Were Just Plain Funny
1. Sacramento’s Win-Now-And-Save-Face Desperation Move
Last night the Kings traded away Nik Stauskas with Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, as well as a few future first rounders to the 76ers in order to shed some dollars and expand their cap space. Ideally, they’d like to sign a combination of Monta Ellis, Rajon Rondo and Wesley Matthews. Well, Monta Ellis just signed a four-year, 44 million dollar deal with Indiana, 4 million less than the deal Sacramento was said to have offered them.
I don’t like this because it all comes down to appeasing Demarcus Cousins. It’s a shame really, because once Boogie hits free agency next summer, he is not coming back. I don’t think they have a shot in hell. If.. and that’s a big IF… they can sign Rondo and Matthews, then I might recant all of this, but in the meantime, I just don’t see how it’s going to work. Willie Cauley-Stein’s addition will allow Cousins to play more of the PF position, but right now Rondo seems like the most likely FA option for them, and he’s a guard that can’t shoot. That’s not something you want to pair with a big like Cousins. Let’s hope they can grab Matthews.
2. The 76ers uh… Strategy?
Right now the Sixers have Nerlens Noel, Joel Embid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster. What are they doing with Embid still? I like that they grabbed Stauskas from the Kings, but why are you helping Sacramento shave off cap space in exchange for picks? YOU ALREADY HAVE ALL THE PICKS. They don’t mean anything if you don’t turn them into players. There seems to be a methodical strategy at work… I think… that’s the only way I can justify all this non movement. Go after someone. Call LeBron if only to show you’re serious about grabbing a player. Call Wes Matthews. Call David West. Hell, call Dwyane Wade! Do something. Please. I have friends who are Philly fans, and I feel sad for them.
3. No Love for the “BIG” Markets
In the modern NBA, there isn’t much need for a big market anymore. Because of social media and the countless amount of media outlets today, a player doesn’t need to play at the Garden or Staples center in order to secure time in the spotlight or votes for the all-star game. We saw Giannis become a league-favorite in Milwaukee and I remember the buzz Goran Dragic brought to Phoenix that led him to become the MIP that year.
Between New York and the Lakers, the only free agent signing so far has been Arron Afflalo to the Knicks, a solid role player, but nothing to gush about. Aldridge didn’t give the Lakers a second thought and the Knicks aren’t even on his radar. Los Angeles drafted Russell second overall, which I think is a great move, but if they don’t surround him with pieces soon, he’s not going to amount to anything. The Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, and native of Latvia (like Dragic), but right now he is all potential. The kid was born in 1995 (!!). No way he’s going to make a mark on the league just yet, especially if his only influence is Carmelo Anthony.
“We’re the Lakers” or “We’re the Knicks” doesn’t work as a pitch. Knowledge of the game, however, does.
Things I’m Still Unsure About
1. DeMarre Carroll to Toronto
In his first two years with Atlanta, Carroll made a total of 5 million dollars. Yesterday he signed a deal with Toronto for four years and SIXTY million dollars. This is great for DeMarre, but is his breakout year with the Juggerhawks enough to warrant that kind of pay increase? I’ll admit, I think he was the best player on that Atlanta team during the playoffs, and I think he will play well in Toronto, but this is one of those cases in which we won’t know until we know.
2. Washington’s Inactivity
Losing Paul Pierce sucks, and we won’t know much about Oubre until he’s get some extended minutes, but I’m also really excited about Otto Porter moving into the starting lineup. Maybe having Pierce this lone year was enough to change the culture in D.C., and put Wall and Beal in a position to become legitimate leaders in a pool of young talent. Again, we won’t know until it all plays out on the basketball court, but I’d like to see them add one more piece, even if it isn’t big. Maybe Thomas Robinson? Norris Cole?
3. Damian Lillard’s Extension
Yes, Portland, you HAVE to lock him down, but right now you’re losing everyone else. Aldridge isn’t coming back. Matthews seems to be looking elsewhere. Afflalo just signed with New York. Robin Lopez is looking elsewhere. What ELSE are you doing? Who are you going to surround Lillard with? Because I like the guy, but he isn’t going to carry that team. There is only one LeBron. You need to let go of Aldridge and look elsewhere because the available talent is thinning by the hour.