Thursday, July 29, 2010


Most free agents are signed and the balance of power in the NBA has shifted to the East.

Now that free agency is basically over, winners and losers can be determined. Obviously, the Miami Heat were the big winners for securing two of the NBA's best players and the top three players of the free agent class. The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks also made bold moves during the offseason. But who was the biggest winner of the Summer of 2010? The Western Conference.

The Heat became a perennial title contender but other teams in the East also improved. The Chicago Bulls made their big splash by signing Carlos Boozer but also added Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson, and Kurt Thomas to a core that already includes Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, and Luol Deng. Add new coach Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls have a new formula for success. The Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks improved their teams with great new additions and the Boston Celtics kept their team together for one more shot at a title.

While the Celtics, Heat, Magic, and Bulls will be discussed as title contenders, the only true contender in the West is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Phoenix Suns took the Lakers to six games in the West Finals but they lost big man Amare Stoudemire and sixth man Leandro Barbosa. The Utah Jazz lost several key pieces including Boozer, Korver, and rookie defender Wesley Matthews. The Denver Nuggets tried desperately to add a veteran big man like Jermaine O'Neal or Zydrunas Ilgauskas but lost out to teams in the East. The Suns acquired Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick. The Jazz traded for Al Jefferson and the Nuggets signed Al Harrington. However, all those teams failed to address their lack of size and toughness.

Each team in the league is aiming to defeat the Lakers now but L.A. managed to improve in the offseason. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers got better but still do not have enough to take down the defending champs. Expect L.A. to beat out a weaker Western Conference and face one of the new Eastern powers in the NBA Finals.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Michael Jordan returns to the game virtually in the upcoming NBA 2K11.

While Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were dominating teams throughout the 1990s, gamers were left using a random guy named Player using #99. Jordan would later sign off on using his likeness for games that were made during his Washington Wizards days but he was not the same dominate player.

Now, Jordan is teaming up with 2K Sports and will appear, in all his Bulls dominance, in NBA 2K11. Users will get to compete in a series of "Jordan Challenges" aimed at recreating several of Jordan's greatest moments. Ten top games will be highlighted, including the "Flu Game" and the 1991 NBA Finals. Each challenge will have a number of in-game goals to reach. For example, in the "Last Shot" game, users must score at least 45 points and obtain 4 steals with Jordan as well as win the game.

2K Sports has gone to great lengths to visualize the events. All players on both the Bulls and the opposing teams will appear in the game. His Royal Airness will even do things like the famous shrug after hitting six threes in a row against the Portland Trail Blazers. Just hit six straight threes in the game and hope that your mind does not literally blow up from the awesomeness.

2K has been the best basketball game since it arrived on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999. Now, it adds a player who is mostly regarded as the greatest player of all time. NBA 2K11 hits stores on October 5th.

Friday, July 9, 2010


The superstar chooses to leave Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade's team in Miami.

The guy has played in multiple all-star games, including winning an MVP in one. He plays small forward but has the ball-handling and passing skills to run the point. He was selected as an All-NBA player and NBA All-Defensive player multiple times. He is regarded as one of the best players ever to play the game. No, not Lebron James; Scottie Pippen.

Pippen was a great player. So great that he was named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players during it's 50 year celebration. He averaged over 16 points, 6 assists, and nearly 5 rebounds per game; basically a triple-nickel every time he touched the floor. But no matter how good he was, he will always be regarded as Robin to Michael Jordan's Batman. With Lebron James' decision to join Dwyane Wade in Miami, he is stepping into a new role: wingman.

Lebron's decision disappointed some and let down others. At the end of the day, James wanted to go to Miami and play with his friends because, let's face it, he has always seemed to care more about having fun than winning. Going to the Heat means he will be joining a team that is already claimed by Dwyane Wade. He is now the sidekick.

The two superstars coexisting will mean that each will have to sacrifice some stats. More than likely, James scoring numbers will curtail as he will be expected to handle the ball. His huge ego should not get in the way because he had a chance to lead a team and could not claim the ultimate prize. If he is able to defer to Wade, especially during crunch time, it could work. Wade is more like Jordan in his style of play and his fourth quarter moments. James has had a few game-clinching plays but he is nowhere near as good in the clutch. That is why he will only be second fiddle on this team. Expect Wade to maintain his scoring numbers while James looks to add more assists and rebounds.

As the 23 jerseys burned in Cleveland it might have allowed James to come out of the shadow of Michael Jordan. His chance at "global icon" status is likely in doubt because he will merely be known as part of a big three. "King James" was always more like Magic Johnson but compared to His Royal Airness. Now, the comparisons can stop as James will try to become the great facilitator.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Lebron James makes his decision tonight live on ESPN and he could not be handling free agency any less like a king.

There is not much more to say about the Lebron James free agency debacle that has not already been said. So take a look at a few links that show what people are thinking about Lebron James...

William C. Rhoden of the New York Times says the Summer of Lebron is making Kobe Bryant seem so much better.

Ian O'Connor of thinks that James needs to stop listening to outsiders in his ear and listen to himself instead. The reference to James becoming Alex Rodriguez instead of being Derek Jeter is especially good.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports says what everyone is thinking: an hour-long special to announce "The Decision" is ridiculous. Lebron is more worried about winning the "Championship of Me" instead of actually winning an NBA championship.

John McMullen of the Montreal Gazette questions the journalistic value of airing "The Decision."

Reports are saying that James will be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The backlash in Cleveland has already begun...and it is not pretty. However, the Cavs and Knicks are still keeping their fingers crossed. The world will know later tonight.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Lebron James has yet to decide what team he will play on next season. By choosing not to play in Cleveland, Chris Bosh delivered a message to his free agent friend.

After months of speculation, it was announced that free agent forward Chris Bosh will be joining guard Dwyane Wade as a member of the Miami Heat. Bosh drew interest from several teams but it seemed from the outset that he wanted to join Wade in Miami. An intriguing team had interest in Bosh before he made his decision: the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Reports had the Cavs and Toronto Raptors close to agreeing on a sign-and-trade deal involving Bosh. The players going to Toronto are not clear but it most likely involved F/C Anderson Varejao, guard Delonte West, and forward Jamario Moon. Only one thing stopped the potential deal from happening: Bosh did not want to play in Cleveland.

Bosh made a good decision. If James really wants to play with Bosh, he still has the opportunity to do so with the Heat. Miami certainly is a more fun place to be an NBA superstar than Cleveland. Bosh's choice shows Lebron that he might have a hard time attracting NBA talent to join him on the Cavs.

Although Cleveland has changed a lot since James first joined the team as a rookie in 2003, it lacks the appeal of the bigger markets in L.A., New York, Chicago, Miami, and the cities in Texas. If the Cavs wanted to bring in help for Lebron, they have been forced to do so via trade. Last year, free agents Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest were recruited by the Cavs before taking the same amount of money to join the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers respectively. Cleveland also failed to acquire Amare Stoudemire at the trade deadline, instead settling for Antawn Jamison.

How this effects James' choice is unclear but it should become a late factor in his decision making. If he really wants to play with marquee talent at his side, he should leave Cleveland. The world be tuning in Thursday at 6 P.M. PT to see what's next for Lebron James.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Free agent Mike Miller opted to see the rest of his options over chasing a championship in Los Angeles.

Free agent G/F Mike Miller has said many times that he would like to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Apparently he didn't want it that bad because he passed on the opportunity.

The Lakers are looking to revamp a lineup that includes six free agents. Kobe Bryant has been pushing management to act quickly in the offseason in order to ensure another run at a championship. So, GM Mitch Kupchak immediately targeted Miller when the free agent negotiation period began on Thursday. The Lakers slapped a 5 year, $30 million offer on the table, offering most of their mid-level exception. However, the Lakers wanted to make sure they did not get left without a dance partner in free agency so they gave Miller a short time window to accept or decline.

Miller, who made $9.8 million last season in the last year of his deal, does not want to win as bad as he implied. He did not accept the offer, opting to see what else is out there in free agency. The Lakers quickly moved on to point guard Steve Blake, who agreed to a 4 year, $16 million deal. Miller has met with the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks while the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers are also said to be interested.

Maybe Miller wants to play with his good pal Lebron James in Cleveland or maybe he wants more money. Either way, he contradicted himself and declined to step into a perfect role. His skill set would have allowed him to play three positions in the triangle offense (PG, SG, SF). Miller is a very good complimentary player but is no better than a great third option on a good team. He does not have the mentality to be a star. Any team that pays him big money will be sorely disappointed.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The Milwaukee Bucks have been the most active team in the offseason so far and it continued on Day 1 of NBA Free Agency.

Last season the Milwaukee Bucks looked like a team that could compete in the East. Behind rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, the Bucks made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 before losing in the first round. They improved their record by 12 wins over the previous season and 20 wins over 2007-08. However, a first round exit left a bad taste in their mouths.

The Bucks want to continue to improve and feel they have a great foundation in Jennings and center Andrew Bogut. Michael Redd is one of the best shooters in the league but rarely stays healthy and his massive expiring contract could serve as a trade chip for the upcoming season. His health was the reason the team acquired swingman John Salmons at last season's trade deadline. With Salmons opting out of his contract, the Bucks immediately began their offseason by looking for players who could fill his role.

Milwaukee was one of the worst teams in the league at getting to the free throw line. Taking advantage of the cost-cutting Golden State Warriors, the Bucks acquired 6-foot-6, 225 pound wingman Corey Maggette. He ranked first in the league last season with 551 free throw attempts (83.5% of which went in).

Then the Bucks used the New Jersey Nets desperation to clear cap space to get G/F Chris Douglas-Roberts for a future second round pick. Douglas-Roberts reached the NCAA Championship game in 2008 with Derrick Rose as a member of the Memphis Tigers. He averaged 9.8 points per game in his rookie season but did not get much of an opportunity with the Nets. He is a solid scorer who will add depth to the roster.

Today, the Bucks were the most active team in free agency, agreeing to deals with Salmons and big man Drew Gooden. Salmons addition last season clearly made the Bucks much better. In 30 games with the Bucks, he averaged 19.9 points per game and was very effective on the defensive end. Although it is not yet official, Salmons is close to agreeing to a 5 year, $39 million deal. The average income of $8 million a year is a reasonable price for Salmons, although the length is probably too long. It will be great for the Bucks to have some stability at the shooting guard position after dealing with Redd's injuries for years.

Gooden reached a 5 year, $32 million agreement with the Bucks. He will now join his eighth NBA team in eight seasons. While Gooden is no all-star, his career numbers of 11.9 and 7.9 rebounds per game are decent. At 6-foot-10, he will fit in nicely at the power forward position for the Bucks. They probably could have waited for a better price but $6 million per year is not bad for a solid role player and veteran.

With those moves, the Bucks are more than likely done with their offseason moves. They addressed some of their biggest needs and added stability to a team that has had a revolving door of players for years. If Bogut can stay healthy throughout next season, they will be a force in the Eastern Conference.