Free Agent Rankings Revised

You’ll notice I changed my order a little.

Players who were never going anywhere:
** Dwayne Wade (re-signed with Miami)
** Dirk Nowitzki (re-signed with Dallas)

Best Available Free Agents:
01 – LeBron James (to Cleveland)
02 – Chris Bosh (re-signed with Miami)
01 – Carmello Anthony (re-signed with New York)
02 – (R) Greg Monroe
03 – Lance Stephenson (signed with Charlotte)
04 – (R) Eric Bledsoe
05 – Kyle Lowry (re-signed with Toronto)
06 – Pau Gasol (signed with Chicago)
07 – Marcin Gortat (re-signed with Washington)
08 – Luol Deng (signed with Miami)
09 – Ed Davis (signed with LA Lakers)
10 – Rodney Stuckey (signed with Indiana)
10 – Chandler Parsons (signed offer sheet with Dallas)
11 – Gordon Hayward (Offer Sheet with Charlotte/Matched by Utah)
12 – Andray Blatche
13 – Spencer Hawes (signed with LA Clippers)
14 – Channing Frye (signed with Orlando)
15 – Trevor Ariza (signed with Houston)
16 – Paul Pierce (signed with Washington)
17 – Andrei Kirilenko
18 – Isaiah Thomas (sign/traded to Phoenix)
19 – Vince Carter (signed with Memphis)
20 – Jordan Hill (re-signed with LA Lakers)
21 – Shaun Livingston (signed with Golden State)
22 – Ray Allen
23 – Glen Davis (re-signed with LA Clippers)
24 – Darren Collison (signed with Sacramento)
25 – Caron Butler (signed with Detroit)

Veteran Help:
Chris Anderson (re-signed with Miami)
Mo Williams
Greivis Vazquez (re-signed with Toronto)
Kirk Hinrich (signed with Chicago)
Anthony Morrow (signed with Oklahoma City)
Devin Harris (re-signed with Dallas)
Mike Miller (signed with Cleveland)
Aaron Brooks (signed with Chicago)
Marvin Williams (signed with Charlotte)
Thabo Sefolosha (sign/trade to Atlanta)
Ramon Sessions

Youngster Value:
Michael Beasley
Evan Turner
Nick Young (re-signed with LA Lakers)
Avery Bradley (re-signed with Boston)
Mike Scott
DeJuan Blair (sign/trade to Washington)
Jordan Crawford
Al-Farouq Aminu
Patrick Patterson (re-signed with Toronto)
Kevin Seraphin (re-signed with Washington)
Brian Roberts (signed with Charlotte)
LaVoy Allen (re-signed with Indiana)
Xavier Henry (re-signed with LA Lakers)
MarShon Brooks
Epke Udoh
Jordan Hamilton
Trevor Booker (signed with Utah)

A Historic Day in the Association

As I tweeted earlier, I don’t think that I could ever bring myself to forgive Dan Gilbert for the letter, so I have to applaud LeBron James for being able to take the high road and forgive such a blatant disregard for professionalism and human decency.

LeBron James left Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent four years ago because it was more than obvious that the front office team that was in place was not going to be able to win a championship. Ever. They had no idea what it takes to win. They surrounded him him sub-par players that relied on him to do all the heavy lifting; this is not how championship TEAMS are built. Leaving Cleveland was not about money or fame, it was about winning. Not winning regular season games or individual awards, but championships. Sure, “The Decision” was stupid and its “after party” showed just how easy three naive young players thought winning would be (not one, not two, not three…). What they learned is that winning is not easy. Championships are not won on paper. Although the “Big Three”, as they came to be known (the least original sports name ever, by the way), won two championships they also lost in two NBA Finals appearances. The Rolling Stones famously said that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you get what you need. Although I don’t think that he could have known it at the time, LeBron left Cleveland because he WANTED to win – and eventually he did – but first he had to get what he NEEDED. He needed to learn HOW to win. And who better to turn to than Pat Riley.

So fast forward to today, four years later. LeBron James is returning home. He returns to a young roster full of incredible potential. I think more potential than Miami had 4 years ago. While the Heat were winning two championships in four years, the Cavs were winning three lotteries in the same time. Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, and Andrew Wiggins were all taken in the lottery. The team still has an incredible glue player in veteran stalwart (and everyone’s favorite fern-headed, Side Show Bob look-a-like) Anderson Varejao. The team still has money to try and lure Ray Allen and Mike Miller, two of the King’s most faithful subjects, to Cleveland. So now the once naive King James has returned, he has learned how to win, and his new task is simple. He must serve as mentor to these young players; to pass on what he has learned, to create a real culture of winning in city he loves. These young players have no other option but to fall in line. His words cannot be questioned because he is the best player in the game, in the prime of his career. And he can teach them what he needed to go to Miami to learn: HOW to win. And they have no choice but to listen. They have no choice but to learn.

Draft review; Trade Roundup

Another draft is in the books.

The injury to Joel Embiid added some intrigue to the top pick, as it seems like Cleveland had their hearts set on him. However, once the dust settled, they took who we would have thought they would pick last year at this time: Andrew Wiggins. While many seem to consider him a SG, I continue to project him as a SF in the long-run. I think is defensive abilities are what separates him from Duke’s Jabari Parker and makes his ceiling not just really good, but potentially great.

Philadelphia surprised many people by taking a couple of players who are not going to contribute to their team this year. So many people are angry FOR their fans because they are accepting losing as a culture. While they have a very good point that culture is a difficult thing to change once it is established, let’s be honest here: the entire Eastern Conference is playing for second now that Miami’s stars have decided to take less money for the good of the team. Philadelphia is building for the future – and their smart fans understand this – a future that sees LeBron James, Chris Bosh and whomever else they sign past their primes in a few years.

As far as good picks, bad picks. I like how Orlando is building through defense. Oladipo last year, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton this year. I like how Gordon compliments Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, and Moe Harkless. I liked the trade of Aaron Afflalo to Denver for Evan Fournier for both teams. It allows Orlando to add another young piece in the backcourt who can shoot as well as clear Afflalo’s bloated deal off the books. Denver is a team that is committed to winning now and Afflalo is one of the hardest working players in the league and has improved his scoring average in each of his first seven seasons since being drafted by the Pistons. Denver also made a trade with its picks that I’ll dissect later on.

Without piling on Toronto. Their selection of Bruno Caboclo was a seemingly strange move by a talented young GM. I suspect that he tried desperately to move down and was unable to. Rumors were that Toronto was focusing on Tyler Ennis and Clint Capella; once Ennis was gone they likely could have moved down to secure Capella and an extra 2nd to take Caboclo. Why they went the way they did I cannot explain.

I thought Chicago, who usually draws ‘A’s from me on draft day, made a poor decision trading two picks in a deep draft to move up and get Doug McDermott. They could have had James Young and Gary Harris. What makes it even more strange is that they had to take on the salary of Anthony Randolph too. For a team that is looking to make a run at Carmello Anthony I don’t get it.

Charlotte did an excellent to get Noah Vonleh, P.J. Hairston and Semaj Criston. Their draft haul was one of the best I’ve ever seen. All three could be rotation contributors in some capacity this year.

I thought Sacramento taking Stauskas at 8 was a bit of a reach. I think Minnesota – or any team – taking Zach LaVine in the 1st round was a reach. I was surprised that Rodney Hood and Cleanthony Early slid so far. I thought that Josh Huestis was also a questionable pick. There are almost always teams looking to give up a second and a future 1st to get into the end of the first round where OKC took him, a trade down would have made more sense.

Speaking of Cleanthony Early: the best value pick in the draft. Kudos to Phil for getting the pick and making it count.

Most importantly: I was happy with Spencer Dinwiddie as the pick for my Pistons. A nice value after Early was taken a few picks earlier. I would have been happy with Glenn Robinson III as well in that spot.

Pre-Draft Trades

A Couple of pre-draft day deals were made today.

Trade #1:
New York traded Tyson Chandler (2yrs/28.6M) and Raymond Felton (3yrs/11.3M) to Dallas for Jose Calderon (4yrs/28.8M), Wayne Ellington (final year) and Samuel Dalembert (final year). Financially New York has managed to dump Felton and spread out the injury-prone Chandler’s money over 4 years. If that wasn’t enough New York also received PG Shane Larkin fresh off his rookie season and a couple of 2nd rd picks 34th (originally Boston’s pick) and 51st (Dallas’ own pick).

ANALYSIS: I like the move for New York from both a financial and a basketball standpoint; but it isn’t going to make much difference short-term or big-picture. However, this is how to fix the Knicks: slowly and with the long term in mind. I don’t hate the move for Dallas BUT they are going to have to address PG through free agency or trade since they no longer have any draft picks… and they aren’t getting any younger.

Trade #2:
Houston traded Omer Asik to New Orleans for a 2015 1st rd pick. The pick cannot be traded until after the draft due to the modified Stepian rule, which prohibits teams from trading/owing a first rd pick in consecutive future years.

ANALYSIS: I love the move for New Orleans. Asik is a plus defener which allows Anthony ‘The Brow’ Davis to move into his natural position of PF. Asik is a plus defender and coupled with the return of Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans may be able to make a move into the playoffs this year. I also like the deal for Houston. The Rockets are always aggressive in improving their roster and I feel like they have the best chance (and represent the best fit) of landing Carmello Anthony if the Knicks’ star leaves the Big Apple. This move and a possible trade of Jeremy Lin – coupled with allowing Chandler Parson to become a restricted free agent – allows them the chance to be a player in the off-season sweepstakes.

MOCK DRAFT V 2.0

2014 MOCK DRAFT
MAY 25TH

1st round
01. Cleveland Cavaliers – Andrew Wiggins
02. Milwaukee Bucks – Jabari Parker
03. Philadelphia 76ers – Dante Exum
04. Orlando Magic – Aaron Gordon
05. Utah Jazz – Noah Vonleh
06. Boston Celtics – Joel Embiid
07. Los Angeles Lakers – Julius Randle
08. Sacramento Kings – Marcus Smart
09. Charlotte Hornets – Doug McDermott
10. Philadelphia 76ers – Nik Stauskas
11. Denver Nuggets – Dario Saric
12. Orlando Magic – Elfrid Payton
13. Minnesota Timberwolves – Rodney Hood
14. Phoenix Suns – Zach Lavine
15. Atlanta Hawks – Gary Harris
16. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Ennis
17. Boston Celtics – Adrien Payne
18. Phoenix Suns – James Young
19. Chicago Bulls – P.J. Hairston
20. Toronto Raptors – Jusuf Nurkic
21. Oklahoma City Thunder – C.J. Wilcox
22. Memphis Grizzlies – Kyle Anderson
23. Utah Jazz – Jordan Clarkson
24. Charlotte Hornets – T.J. Warren
25. Houston Rockets – Clint Capella
26. Miami Heat – Shabazz Napier
27. Phoenix Suns – K.J. McDaniels
28. Los Angeles Clippers – Jarnell Stokes
29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Mitch McGary
30. San Antonio Spurs – Khem Birch

Draft Order Set

The NBA held the 30th annual Draft Lottery tonight and for the most part, the order established by the regular season held the same. The only change? It was a big one. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery for the second year in a row, and the third time in four years, despite having a less than 2% chance of being the team in the last envelope.

Certainly many pundits will claim that this is another part of the compensation agreement between the league and Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert who was, to put it lightly: “unprofessional in the voicing of his disappointment” with LeBron James’ “decision” in 2010.

From my perspective, it cost my Pistons their first round pick this year. So I am trying my very best not to have my own Gilbertonian reaction; We’ll leave it at saying that I am not really happy.

01. Cleveland
02. Milwaukee
03. Philadelphia
04. Orlando
05. Utah
06. Boston
07. LA Lakers
08. Sacramento
09. Charlotte (from Detroit)
10. Philadelphia (from New Orleans)
11. Denver
12. Orlando (from New York via Denver)
13. Minnesota
14. Phoenix

Ties Broken; 2014 Draft Order Set

The 2013-14 Regular Season is over and the NBA lottery and first round order is set.

The NBA held random drawings on Friday to determine tiebreakers for the 2014 NBA Lottery and Draft order. Here are the results:

· Utah (25-57) won a tiebreaker with Boston.
· Brooklyn (44-38) won a tiebreaker with Washington.
· Chicago (48-34) won a tiebreaker with Toronto.
· Portland (54-28) won a tiebreaker with Miami and Houston; Houston then won a tie-breaker with Miami.

The NBA lottery order:

1. Milwaukee
2. Philadelphia
3. Orlando
4. Utah
5. Boston
6. LA Lakers
7. Sacramento
8. *Detroit (pick goes to Charlotte if 9-14)
9. Cleveland
10. *Philadelphia (From New Orleans, unless pick is 1-3)
11. Denver
12. *Orlando (From New York via Denver)
13. Minnesota
14. Phoenix

* Please note that teams that finished the regular season with identical records will select in the second round in the reverse of the order in which they select in the first round, provided, that if more than two teams are tied, then, as among the tied teams, each tied team will select one position earlier than it selected in the first round, except that the tied team that selected earliest in the first round shall, among the tied teams, select latest in the second round. With respect to the tie between Boston and Utah (25 and 57; 0.305 pct.): since the order of selection in the first round for this set of teams may change based on the results of the Draft Lottery, the order of selection in the second round cannot be determined until after the Draft Lottery is conducted.

The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery will be held on May 20th, 2014.

Source:

http://www.nba.com/bulls/news/ties-broken-nba-draft-2014-order-selection.html

Wooden Award Mid-Season Top 25

Here is the list:

Keith Appling – 6’1 PG Michigan State (Senior)
Cameron Bairstow – 6’9 PF New Mexico (Senior)
Aaron Craft – 6’2 PG Ohio State (Senior)
Cleanthony Early – 6’8 F Wichita State (Senior)
C.J. Fair – 6’8 F Syracuse (Senior)
DeAndre Kane – 6’4 PG Iowa State (Senior)
Doug McDermott – 6’8 SF Creighton (Senior)
Shabazz Napier – 6’1 PG UConn (Senior)
Adreian Payne – 6’10 F/C Michigan State (Senior)
Casey Prather – 6’6 SF Florida (Senior)
Russ Smith – 6’0 PG Louisville (Senior)
Chaz Williams – 5’9 PG UMass (Senior)
Jordan Clarkson – 6’5 SG Missouri (Junior)
Nick Johnson – 6’3 G Arizona (Junior)
Joseph Young – 6’2 G Oregon (Junior)
Kyle Anderson – 6’9 SF UCLA (Sophomore)
Sam Dekker – 6’7 SF Wisconsin (Sophomore)
Rodney Hood – 6’7 G/F Duke (Sophomore)
Marcus Smart – 6’4 PG Oklahoma State (Sophomore)
T.J. Warren – 6’8 F NC State (Sophomore)
Tyler Ennis – 6’2 PG Syracuse (Freshman)
Aaron Gordon – 6’9 PF Arizona (Freshman)
Jabari Parker – 6’7 SF Duke (Freshman)
Julius Randle – 6’8 PF Kentucky (Freshman)
Andrew Wiggins – 6’7 G/F Kansas (Freshman)

Kevin Durant, on fire?

As of today, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has scored 30 or more points in 11 straight games. He is the first player since Tracy McGrady in 2003 to have such a streak. While Durant may be able to make a run at the ‘modern era’ record of 16 games, held by the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, the humble superstar has a long way to go to reach the NBA record held by Wilt Chamberlain of 65 consecutive 30-point games. Let’s gain some perspective…

While I am certainly not a Chamberlain worshiper, his numbers during a stretch of time in the early 1960′s speak for themselves. Chamberlain’s record streak was set during his historic 1961-62 season. Keep in mind two important things about WHEN these numbers were accomplished: 1.) Chamberlain didn’t often play against players his own size (7’1, 275). Even the great Bill Russell was only 6’10; and 2.) This was before all of the modern rules changes that Durant and today’s big-time scorers benefit from. You know, the ones that eliminated hand-checking, virtually ending any chance of seeing real defense being played in the regular season? — Durant cannot help the rules any more than Chamberlain could help that most team’s centers were 6’8.

In the process of setting this monumental record Wilt Chamberlain played in 80 of his teams’ 82 games and he AVERAGED 50.4 points per game. He AVERAGED shooting 10 for 17 from the foul line EVERY night. This means that teams were doing anything they could to try and stop him; and he still shot over 50% from the field AND averaged 25.6 rebounds per game. These numbers speak volumes against the argument about his competition, in fact they prove that he brought his best every night. This was likely the most dominant scoring performance that we will ever see. And as far as that 65-game streak? Chamberlain also holds the next two longest streaks with 31 in 1962 and 25 in 1960.

We love watching Kevin Durant too, but let’s not get carried away with any historical comparisons. For a stretch of nearly two years, Chamberlain achieved a level of dominance that is not likely to ever be equaled.