First I’ll mention the MLB home run derby, congrats to Prince Fielder on the big win. And also a pat on the back to Robinson Cano who got booed into a 0 homer outing. That had to suck.
On the topic of home run derby’s, apparently the ever busy Rob Gronkowski won a celebrity derby at a Triple-A All-Star game the other day that included a legit 325 foot home run. I guess I’ll be impressed.
On to the main topic, the ridiculousness that is NBA Free Agency. While none of the signings are official yet, they might as well be, and rumors of more crazy moves to come are everywhere, including a 4 team deal that will send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets. But I’ll touch on that in a little bit. What I wanted to do is just glance at the big name teams and signings and what I think the reality of the moves will be.
Miami Heat: The biggest news continues to be Jesus Shuttlesworth taking his talents to South Beach (or Ray Allen to the Miami Heat for those of you who don’t get that reference). A big name going to the defending champions is always a prime headline, and while I love Ray Allen and the quickest and prettiest release in the NBA, I think at this stage of his career he is a role player and won’t make quite as big a splash in Miami as people think. What he will do, however, is stabilize the Miami bench. I said before the Finals this year that the Heat couldn’t win with only 3 players, and then Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, a worn down Mike Miller and even Norris Cole all stepped up to provide the help they needed. With Ray Allen in the mix they have one more legit scorer to help when James or Wade are out, double teamed or just cold. The 3 point shooting on the Miami’s roster goes from good to scary, and if you leave any of those guys open on the wing they will make you pay.
Boston Celtics: The logical next team to mention is the Celtics who Ray Allen spurned to head to Miami. The rumors of his discontent with their interest in trading him, and the thought he didn’t get along with Rondo, made the split easier for the team, even though it has the fans pissed. It helps that they replace him with Jason Terry, a player who is similar in his scoring ability but with a lot more speed and ability to drive to the hoop at this point in their respective careers. Boston doesn’t really change their team at all with this move. They are also reportedly interested in Courtney Lee who would be a good addition as well.
Brooklyn Nets: In the past two seasons the Nets have not only revamped the name and city, but the roster as well, adding Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace. Now they pull off a trade that not only keeps Deron from leaving, but adds Joe Johnson to the roster. The rumor now is they have a 4 team deal in the works that I won’t try to figure out or explain, but will land them Dwight Howard as well. If that happens the Nets would have the most talented starting lineup in the entire league, but they will experience growing pains similar to how the Heat did after their ‘Big Three’ teamed up. The Nets will be giving up pretty much all of the bench talent with these trades and they 4 guys won’t know how to work together right away, so it could take some time for the talent to shine through. Regardless, this will be a very scary team for the next few years, even without Howard.
Orlando Magic: The Magic appear to prefer being a bad/rebuilding team for the next several years over trying to make Dwight Howard happy. Trading him is just a matter of time until they get the right deal worked out. They also just sent Ryan Anderson to New Orleans to play alongside Anthony Davis. In return they get a prospect player at center in Gustavo Ayon. Good luck to those fans for the next few years.
Los Angels Lakers: In probably my favorite move so far, the Lakers receive 2 time MVP Steve Nash from the Suns. Steve Nash will give the Lakers a much needed true point guard and take a lot of pressure off of Kobe while helping to get him, as well as Bynum and Gasol, more open looks. The Lakers were already a veteran team so adding another very experience player who desperately wants to win a title is a great move, as he will do what he needs to do within the team to help.
Atlanta Hawks: So far the Hawks have replaced Kirk Hinrich, Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams with, in no particular order, Devin Harris, Jordan Farmer, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and Johan Petro. While there is some potential and ability in this crew, I’m sure losing Johnson doesn’t make Josh Smith the happiest man in Atlanta and he could be getting ready to leave town if the Hawks don’t find him more help. On the plus side though, the Hawks are rumored to still be in the Dwight Howard race and have plenty of fire power to trade their way around.
New York Knicks: For me the Knicks might just be the team to watch in the East, outside of the defending champs. They appear to be planning to bring Jeremy Lin back and have already added veterans Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. The veteran leadership from these two guys will be a big boost to this team as will their skill sets. Kidd would be a great mentor and backup to Lin to help him become more consistent, and Camby is a phenomenal defensive player to bring off the bench behind Amare’ and Tyson Chandler. J.R. Smith has also said he will be staying in New York to round out their starting lineup. If the Knicks can play consistently and up to their talent level after a full off-season to work together, they could be a scary team next year.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls are bringing Kirk Hinrich back to Chicago where I’m sure the fans still love him. He was one of those guys who left because financially he had to, but I’m sure they hated to do it. With Rose banged up and unsure when he will be able to play again, bringing back a veteran point guard and fan favorite will help ease the pain. When Rose does come back, Kirk can slide over to shooting guard and help stretch the floor for the team as well. Great move.
Other notable pending moves: Lamar Odom is now a Clipper. He can go back to being the 6-man being Blake Griffin and will be back in L.A. which I’m sure he is happy about. Brandon Roy is trying to make a come-back with the Grizzles. They could use a healthy Roy as they have already lost Michael Beasley to the Suns. The Suns are also trying to get Eric Gordon away from New Orleans, it is up to the Hornets to match the offer however.
West Final – Lakers over Thunder (Kobe’s last hurrah)
East Final – Heat over Knicks (LeBron’s redemption, part 2)