clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

From Behind the Bar: Examining Trade Scenarios w/o Sacrificing the Core

New, comments

A let's keep it together but maybe not approach to roster refinement.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Roster Patience (No Big Moves, Let it Simmer):

It’s trade season in the NBA, and we’ve already seen major moves within our division. Dallas added Rajon Rondo and Houston traded for Corey Brewer while also dumpster diving for Josh Smith. It’s all a little scary. It’s easy for Pelicans fans to start thinking about what Ryan Anderson or Austin Rivers can fetch us in a trade.

I say put that wheeling and dealing thoughts on hold. Does this team have holes? Yes, but who doesn’t? Don’t get me wrong, if you can find a small forward without giving up a key piece, do it. However, what this team needs the most is consistency and chemistry.

Anthony Davis, Omer Asik, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Austin Rivers all have had very little shared court time due to injuries. The latest Gordon injury has again thrust another shift in the starting lineup. Tyreke has moved to a new position, and the the starting four haven’t yet learned how to play with their underutilized fifth teammate — Luke Babbitt (who needs more minutes). This lineup has a lot of potential if they learn Luke’s tendencies and find him when he’s open. They need more time to figure this out.

Eric Gordon's Return

Unfortunately, reports say that Eric Gordon will be returning to practice on Sunday and to game day soon after. It’s not unfortunate that he's coming back, only that he will likely be thrust into the starting unit again, which will once again create more adjustments/overthinking.

The bench squad has been kind of a disjointed mess — which is partly talent, but it’s mostly chemistry. Some of those chemistry issues are created by Monty Williams with his weird on-and-off relationships with Withey and Ajinça. His Salmons and Fredette spot usage is also disruptive. However, with some health luck and some commitment to a rotation all of this can be solved by the All-Star break for the stretch run. Dante Cunningham has been the exception to the rule (mainly because he’s the type of player that does the dirty work and doesn’t demand the ball) as he instantly gelled with any lineup he was thrown into and held things together. With a little more time and patience, the entire unit could end up following his lead.

I’d like to see Gordon slotted into the 2nd unit for at least 10 games, if not all year. I believe this would take the pressure off of him, make him a focal point of the reserve unit, and limit the disruption in chemistry.

Austin Rivers is kind of a man without a position, which confuses many fans. Many view him as a point guard and look at his low assist rate as a negative. However, I see him as a true combo-guard. When he is feeling his shot he should be creating for himself, when others are in rhythm he needs to facilitate to keep them going.

Any of the following stat lines from Rivers should be considered a success: 12pts 3ast, 6pts 6ast, 2pts 7asts or 18pts 1ast. His role should reflect the flow of the game. Adding Gordon to the 2nd unit means we won’t have a true point guard when the reserve backcourt is in, but I don’t see that as a major problem, as both guards fall into the combo category.

Monty should have a set 10 man rotation and only use an 11th or 12th man if an injury or foul trouble demands it. Also, we should only play with 5 backups on the court together for very limited stretches, Monty goes this route too much for my liking.

That being said, if you keep the starting unit as Holiday, Evans, Babbitt, Davis and Asik as it has been, they will learn to play off of each other better. Their skillsets won’t overlap as much. You’d have only two ball dominant players on the court at a time; you’d have the spacing provided by Babbitt’s 50% shooting from beyond the arc. However, the Pelicans need to make a real effort to get him more shots in order to enhance that spacing. If we constantly leave him open in the corner without touches, teams are going to play off of him, then it’s basically back to playing with Aminu on the wing without the defense he brought to the table.

The reserve unit would be Rivers and Gordon sharing ball handling duties, Cunningham, Anderson and whatever center wins the Monty Williams coin flip. I’d go with Withey, mainly because I think he’s the better defender, and has more potential to grow. When he isn’t fooling people, Ajinça has a nice skillset, but he’s at his ceiling. I’d take the long term potential of Withey over that. Focusing on these 10 players and creating 3-4 specific lineups with them and riding that for weeks will be more beneficial than making a panic trade where we lose a key piece like Anderson for spare parts.

I understand it’s frustrating being stuck in .500 land without any significant injury streaks, but if we stick with the guys we have and give them time to learn to play together the run will come.

That Being Said — Trade Machine Porn!

As much as I’ve been preaching consistency and developing chemistry, I’m aware that those approaches aren’t sexy or fun. ESPN is pretty unwatchable (aside from Jalen Rose) and unreadable, but they made this amazing trade machine, and like so many of you, I too am addicted. I can spend hours down this wormhole. Here’s one recent trip through late night wheeling and dealing. These are mostly unsexy for us —keeping with my consistency and chemistry mantra, but there are a couple of splashes. Insomnia is a hell of a drug…

The Leftovers Part 1:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.07.34 PM.png

In this trade we probe the Celtics to see how married they are to Jae Crowder (whom they acquired in the Rondo trade). I actually do not like giving up Withey, but I’m sure he’s the most attractive "untouchable" on our roster. He’s got a great contract, a great block rate, is young and has a decent touch. He brings energy and rim protection, which the Celtics could use. Crowder gives us a player with some strong 3 and D potential.

Losing Withey would force us to play Anthony Davis at the five spot more with either Anderson or Cunningham getting some extra time at the four. Crowder isn’t the shooter that Babbitt is, but he’s a much better defender. I would still like to see Babbitt start to provide some shooting and space in the starting unit (now if we could only convince the other four and Monty to get him some shots), but with a quick switch out for Crowder and Cunningham.

In a perfect world, we could send them Fredette or Salmons for Crowder, but I think it would take Jeff to get it done. I also wouldn’t be opposed to sending a 2nd rounder and waiving someone (Fredette or Salmons) to make room. Crowder can’t be traded with another player, so dreams of a complex deal that lands us other parts are crushed.

The Leftovers Part 2:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.08.23 PM.png

This is the same kind of trade as the Boston move. The hope is that the T-Wolves are not enamored with Daniels and just wanted to take a peek at a guy with some potential and a small contract. I’m a big fan of Daniels — Fredette, not so much. I think we’d have to send a 2nd with Jimmer, or maybe the right to switch draft positions to get Daniels, but it’s worth it.

He’s a career 40% shooter from 3pt range and that’s with a 2014 season dip to 35%. He was a vital piece of Houston’s late season run last year, hitting some really big shots — including a few against the Pelicans. He’s still young (23) and has decent size for a two (6’4", 205lbs).

Getting a reliable shooter like Daniels could really solidify the 2nd unit backcourt. Rivers can finally have a defined position (PG), while Daniels would be knocking down jumpers created off of Austin’s penetration. Anderson is an incredible go to option for our 2nd unit, but when he gets cold, it’s Siberia. It’d be great to add another deadly shooter to the arsenal. It would also give us the ability to play some Houston Rockets’ styled 1 inside 4 outside lineups with either AD or Asik in the paint surrounded by Holiday, Daniels, Babbitt and Anderson. I can’t see Monty going to that for long stretches, but it could be a nice change of pace lineup for short bursts.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 1:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.12.51 PM.png

We are entering some weirder/sexier trade machine dreams here. These are a bunch of 4 team trades (which are extremely rare) that often make the Western Conference stronger, but also bolster our roster without giving up too much. This one is probably our biggest win (aside from the ones where we get to dump Gordon’s contract), and the least likely to happen.

For this to happen, we need a few teams to adjust their mindsets. First, we need the Thunder to realize they are losing Reggie Jackson in the off-season and should look to make a move for the future. The Knicks need defense, youth and a big that works in the triangle. The Bucks will also need to decide to play hard, collect more assets and not win this year.

The Knicks:

They have to give up the scoring and future potential of Tim Hardaway Jr, which will hurt. However, there have been reports of a rift between Hardaway and Carmelo Anthony, so it’s not too far fetched to assume they would be open to moving him. What they get is a starting caliber center/power forward in John Henson. He’s young, rebounds well, plays solid defense and has a good post game. He’s caught up in a roster filled with similar players and his skillset demands more minutes. They also get the rim protection and youth of Jeff Withey. Derek Fisher has had trouble installing the triangle because he doesn’t have the roster and cap flexibility to do so. Ilyasova is the perfect stretch four for the triangle. He’s a good rebounder, a good passer for his position and he can stretch the floor and play in the post.

The Thunder:

The weakest link in OKC has been the void left by James Harden. Reggie Jackson has emerged as a quality PG and a very nice tradeable asset for the Thunder. With a healthy Westbrook and Jackson’s desire to start, it’s a no-brainer to move him before he can walk away. In this move, they give up a young PG with potential, but they gain a solid young scorer with great pedigree and potential to fill that Harden void for years. They also get a backup point guard to offset Jackson’s loss.

The Bucks:

If Jabari Parker had not gone down for the season, I’d see the Bucks standing pat. However, the injury gives them the opportunity to clear some clutter and add a consistent starting point guard. Khris Middleton is in the last year of his contract and the Bucks can turn his solid play (13.3 PER and 42% from 3pt range) into a PG of the future and the right to swap draft position with the Knicks and a 2nd rounder from the Pelicans. Middleton isn’t long for the Bucks. The Greek Freak is the long term answer at the three and Parker is manning the four for years. They absorb Salmons with the hope that he provides that veteran leadership he was allegedly going to give us to Giannis and crew and the alleged shooting we were getting from Jimmer. They replace Ilyasova’s stretch four skill set with a lesser version in Bargnani, but keep their foreign player collection strong. If he becomes a decent fit, they can re-sign him at a much lower rate for next season. Brandon Knight becomes a 6th man, playing the Lou Williams role and is the clear leader of the bench unit. They likely fall out of the playoffs this year after the trade, but they add a true asset in Jackson and get another lottery pick to play alongside the teenaged duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker.

The Pelicans:

The Pelicans get the Mr. Wizard’s world of chemistry, shooting, leadership and length of Anthony Morrow and a true starting SF to solidify Tyreke’s permanent shift to the two. Acquiring these two players by only sacrificing Jimmer, Withey and a 2nd would be a real coup for Dell.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 2:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.17.54 PM.png

In this move, Orlando decides it’s time to try to win now and clears some clutter, the Pacers fix the current Paul George and Lance Stephenson holes in their roster, Boston gets assets and rim protection, and the Pelicans get a SF with potential.

The Magic:

The Magic give up the mistake that was the Channing Frye signing. Frye is a decent stretch four, but Orlando doesn’t have much of an identity or the right kind of veteran leadership. They also lack shooting. David West has somehow developed a reputation as a tough player. I scratch my head every time I hear a commentator describe him as a, "Ray Lewis type." I’ve watched him for years and never really liked him. He was a beautiful jumper; yet he’s kind of a black hole. He eats the ball. In the final days of the Paul/West era I was driven mad each and every close loss as CP3 fed West on the elbow, then he ducked his head and pushed his way to the rim, three or four defenders would collapse on him and instead of kicking it out he’d force up terrible shot after terrible shot for multiple possessions. I couldn’t stand his whining and complaining. I felt like he never got back on defense, but that jumper was pretty. Still, he’s somehow Keyser Söze-ed or Jedi mind-tricked people into thinking he’s this real tough player, so let’s hope Orlando bites on that. In any case, they can at least use his shooting and body (though I find him to be the classic, "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane" player). They also add a nice piece in Chris Copeland. His size and shooting work nicely for them, and help offset the inevitable loss of Tobias Harris. They also get Jimmer who just has a face made for Disney World and a rumored jumper to offset the non-shooting of Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo.

The Celtics:

Boston gets a 1st from Orlando and a 2nd from the Pacers. They also get Jeff Withey and his shot blocking, so they can play Sullinger and Wright at the four and offset the lack of interior D that Kelly Olynyk provides. They also gain more cap space.

The Pacers:

They lose a few pieces in West and Copeland, but West is getting older and their focus should be on the future. Jeff Green helps offset the loss of Paul George for the stretch run, but more importantly he’ll replace Lance for the future. Green and George will give them great length and athleticism from the 2 and 3 for years to come. Channing Frye offsets the shooting that’s lost with the West move, but hurts them in rebounding/banging. Still, he can play a good role on a team not known for scoring and at a sort of decent salary.

The Pelicans:

Monty is forced to commit to a backup center. Withey and Ajinça have been taking turns in the Monty doghouse for reasons no one can figure out. Now that problem is solved. We also gain Mo Harkless who is very raw, but is a 6’-9" athletic SF who could be the next Jeff Green. We get to find out if he can be that at a very nice salary. I’m not sure this helps us much for this season, but it could be a move that shines in the post-Gordon era.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 3:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.31.31 PM.png

Here’s the first attempt at fixing Brooklyn.

The Nets:

Brooklyn dumps two of it’s bad contracts and gains a hometown hero. Lance is a headcase and has been utterly terrible this season. Sometimes home cooking is just what you need. Also, he’s still young and is on a decent contract (especially when it is in the context of this roster). The Nets also get a sort of serviceable (?) point guard in Calderon and a year to decide if Bargnani can play better in the boroughs than the big city. They’d also get the right to swap draft position with the Knicks and a 1st round pick from the Hornets.

The Hornets:

MJ gets to slide Al Jefferson over to the PF spot while adding the solid post game and interior passing you get with Brook Lopez. Charlotte not only gets the addition by subtraction by ditching Lance, they get a long term answer at the two spot.

The Knicks:

Are they still boneheads? Do they think Deron Williams can still play? I think they are and they might. They eliminate the friction between Melo and Hardaway and gain some defense. Withey is a huge upgrade when it comes to interior D in NYC. Carmelo can move over to the four with and MKG could give the Knicks the perimeter D they’ve needed (and who knows, maybe one day he’ll be able to score). Naturally, they will then ruin all of their upcoming cap space and collection of picks to unsuccessfully chase Durant, but maybe end up with Tobias Harris.

The Pelicans:

I don’t like giving up Withey, but he gets replaced with the solid defense and rebounding of Biyombo. Getting a look at him during the current season could really help to determine if he is a good-enough/much cheaper version of Asik in the offseason. He’s still young and raw, so he could actually become a better player than Asik. The acquisition of Cleanthony Early offsets the lack of a 1st rounder last year. I know he was a second rounder, but he had 1st round grades. He also could potentially evolve into a starter at the SF spot, or at least bolster its depth.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 4:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.36.47 PM.png

Brooklyn dumps some contracts and gains a PF of the future, Sacramento constructs twin towers, the Lakers continue to make dumb decisions at point guard and we get some toughness, rebounding and a body to audition at the three.

The Nets:

The Nets get a first from the Kings for Lopez. They also get Ed Davis who is one of the most underappreciated players in the league. He could be their starting four for years. Derrick Williams gets another audition and some big minutes in Brooklyn. Jeremy Lin also gets a chance to respark Linsanity in the nearest neighborhood to where it started. Maybe Landry Fields still has a couch in NYC he can sleep on. The rest of the pieces are just expirings to make salaries work.

The Kings:

It’s so cliche to say that new owners want to make a big splash, but Vivek Ranadivé has ensured that will continue for at least a few more years after firing Mike Malone. This move is counter-productive to the run and gun style that was so successful in his daughter’s high school tournament, but it better fits his personnel. Cousins can move to the four and a frontline of DeMarcus, Brook Lopez and the newly efficient Rudy Gay could be unmatched. They also get Bob Sacre to cheer on the sidelines and who doesn’t want that on their team?

The Lakers:

LA follows their recent model of adding ineffective and overrated point guards. Deron Williams is a shell of himself. Maybe he needs a change of scenery, but being sent to LA to play with Kobe and Nick Young probably isn’t going to resurrect his career. However, the good news is that he will play Chris Paul more times a year, and he’s been able to overpower him throughout their career long matchups. They also acquire the overpaid, but decidedly average Jason Thompson to stand around while the three aforementioned players take turns dominating the ball.

The Pelicans:

Dell continues to add toughness to the roster by bringing in Reggie Evans and his elite rebounding and even elite-er-er nastiness. Who's driving the lane on Evans, Asik and Cunningham? But then again, who is scoring in that lineup? Monty does love him some bad offensive lineups, so this is right up his alley. However, it doesn’t matter because there will be blood. We also get Wesley Johnson who is a legit NBA small forward (I didn’t say starting). He can give us quality minutes at our weakest spot.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 5:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 10.54.50 PM.png

The Nets:

Again, this move is about dumping contracts, but they do get a few pieces here. They get the potential of Davis and Lin as they do in the previous trade, and they’d also get a 1st and Perry Jones III’s potential from OKC. Jones has been really inconsistent, but is young and has great athleticism and size. He surely won’t get the minutes to really develop behind a healthy KD, so this move could be really good for his career.

The Lakers:

LA makes the same mistake in taking on Deron Williams, but at least this time they get a center they can build around.

The Thunder:

OKC adds a legit fourth piece. Brook Lopez upgrades their center play greatly. He’s not a great defender, but Ibaka can help offset the step back from the interior presence Adams provided. Wesley Johnson helps replace some bench production that was lost by moving Jones and Morrow.

The Pelicans:

We have some addition by subtraction and add that special ingredient we’ve been missing.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 6:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.06.15 PM.png

This is that crazy move that no one saw coming that changes the landscape in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls:

Chicago is a great team. It’s hard to imagine them doing anything big. However, they may decide that the, "will he play? won’t he play?" rollercoaster of the Derrick Rose era has run its course. It’s hard to imagine a team moving a player like Derrick Rose, but there is something to say for consistency. Keep in mind that without Rose this team still has Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson. Butler is a player, a real player. What’s even better is that he’s an iron man. His defense is amazing, and he’s developed a solid offensive attack. This move makes him the new face of the franchise. They also get a legitimate starting point guard to replace Rose in the starting lineup. Lance is a gamble, but Tom Thibodeau is a coach I’d trust to make that work. Stephenson would play the two, moving Butler back to the three and Dunleavy to the bench. Chicago would also acquire the made for TV movie version of Butler that is Kidd-Gilchrist. If they can turn him into half the offensive threat that Butler has become and Lance returns to form, this is a better team than the Rose-era Bulls (even the trade machine agrees).

The Hornets:

Charlotte nabs a superstar. This a huge get for their marketing department as Derrick Rose is a star. This brings sponsorships, jersey sales and other forms of income that small market teams need. When healthy, he’s an MVP candidate and an All Star. They also gain Brook Lopez who allows them to move Al Jefferson to the PF spot. Both of these bigs have good jumpers and would benefit from Rose’s ability to penetrate and kick. Both Rose and Lopez have faced injury issues, so it’s a gamble. However, if it pays off they are legitimate Eastern Conference title game contenders.

The Nets:

Brooklyn clears some cap space and adds a pick from Charlotte and some potential. Doug McDermott, Noah Vonleh, Cody Zeller and Russ Smith could all become long term contributors for the Nets.

The Pelicans:

New Orleans gets a shooter that could start at the 2 with Evans moving back to the 3, or provide spacing off of the bench. We also get a young SF to audition for the future.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 7:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.18.21 PM.png

Brooklyn dumps two contracts, adds some familiar faces from other hypothetical trades and gets a stretch four. The Magic do something weird and the Pelicans try to make a Jeff Green out of a Mo Harkless.

The Nets:

They get a lot of the parts already discussed in previous trades, and some more expirings (that Ben Gordon contract is a team option). They end up giving up Teletovic — which hurts, but they have to do so to dump Deron Williams. As a consolation prize, they acquire the stretch four stylings of Channing Frye.

The Lakers:

LA adds some really nice pieces. Lopez (when healthy) is arguably a top 5 center in the league and Tobias Harris is a very good forward who can play both spots. Randle returning late this season or next year offsets the loss of Ed Davis. They do have to send a 1st to Orlando for Harris, but he’s a good get.

The Magic:

Orlando realizes that Elfrid Payton will never develop a shot and panic. It’s understandable as they don’t have a dominant scorer in their backcourt, but it still should be considered a panic move. They also realize that Tobias is already looking for big city bright lights and get another 1st round pick to offset that eventual loss. They do add a nice piece in Teletovic, but he’s not Tobias Harris.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 8:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.22.23 PM.png

Here’s where some fantasies begin, but stranger things have happened.

The Knicks:

Have you seen their big man rotation? You probably have since this terrible team is constantly on television. Anyway, it’s amazingly bad. The centerpiece of this trade is John Henson. He could be their answer at center for years to come. They also get Perry Jones’ potential. They shed Jose Calderon’s contract and get Austin Rivers' penetration and improved catch and shoot skills. The hangup is that they also take on Eric Gordon. Gordon could be convinced to opt out with some Zen Master mind trick, or they could see if he can be a player again. Let’s face it, they’ve taken on worse contracts.

The Pelicans:

We get the duo I drool over and most importantly rid ourselves of the Gordon contract. I would assume Dell would buy Bargnani out, or he could be insurance in case we lose a big for an extended period of time. Either way with Gordon gone and Bargnani and Asik coming off of the books in the offseason, we’d have a lot of cap room to build the team (which should include re-signing Asik).

The Thunder:

O.J. Mayo was once a very solid two guard in this league. Being sent to the basketball wasteland that was Milwaukee (until the promise of this season) saw him lose interest and the ability to wear skinny jeans. He’s back in shape and is playing hard again. However, I think he’d even be a better player than he’s ever been in OKC. He’s a good scorer, but was always a guy who also facilitated for his teammates. He’s a less dynamic Harden, which is what this team needs. They give up their backup PG who could be a star (but they won’t be able to keep anyway) for a starting two and an adequate backup point guard. They also get some second rounders from all three of the other teams in the trade.

The Bucks:

Milwaukee gets the starting point guard they need, clears some redundancy and decides to spend another year in the lottery. They likely buy Perkins out and maybe he goes back to OKC at a lesser salary since they can’t quit each other.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 9:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.34.29 PM.png

Philly takes tanking to a new level after deciding Carter-Williams isn’t the long term answer and blows up everything except it’s big man rotation. New York state shares some brotherly love.

The 76ers:

They take a chance on Russ Smith being a floor general and test the patience of their fanbase. They get picks from everyone and unload their guards to ensure they don’t accidentally win some games. They also get relegated to the D-League, the Mad Ants enter the NBA.

The Pelicans:

We dump Eric Gordon’s contract and replace him with a young emerging player with some length and great athleticism.

The Nets:

Brooklyn gets their backcourt (Carter-Williams and Hardaway Jr.) of the future and a decent backup point. They only dump one of their non-expiring contracts, but have to eat Amare’s expiring. It’s a small price for getting some real backcourt potential to build around Plumlee, Teletovic and Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Knicks:

NY does this for Brook Lopez, the sane and less ball-dominate version of JR Smith (Tony Wroten) if he played the point and a roll of the dice on resurrecting Eric Gordon’s career or convincing him to opt out.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 10:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.40.17 PM.png

Nate Rob goes back to Boston with a lunatic in tow, the Pelicans take in your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe thicker air freely. Denver starts the first step of blowing things up.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 11:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.44.54 PM.png

Brooklyn likes bad contracts, gets a new one. The Pelicans gain a Hall of Famer and a solid bench, OKC goes big and the Bucks add more youth and potential.

The Nets:

Brooklyn sniffs around Eric Gordon and gets some picks.

The Pelicans:

We get the duo I’d love with the mentoring and fire of KG. I know no player has gone from 60-0 in such a short period of time, but I’d love for there to be a Pelicans’ jersey with Garnett on the back of it.

The Thunder:

OKC bolsters it’s front line and adds a serviceable backup PG.

The Bucks:

Kidd gets himself a real point guard, a great shooter who can play the two or the three and Jimmermania.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 12:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.57.36 PM.png

Cleveland panics, lets Lebron play GM and the Nets win.

The Cavaliers:

Cleveland is entering full-fledged panic/blame everyone not named Lebron mode. It’s even being reported that James would consider leaving...again — this is likely sensationalized irresponsible journalism or it could be another misstep in LBJ’s career. In any sense, he’s throwing the coach under the bus and with Anderson Varejao out here’s their panic move. They dump all of their roleplayers, the strangely maligned yet talented Dion Waiters and a 1st to Brooklyn for a legit center. They can then try to convince Ray Allen to come out of retirement and fill the remaining roster with Blatche or Jordan Crawford, who are currently overseas, and a handful of D-Leaguers.

The Nets:

Brooklyn likely waives half of these guys when they arrive, but they dump two bad salaries, pick up a 1st rounder and add some solid youth. Ed Davis is a stud, Waiters has skills, James Jones is a solid 3pt specialist and they get to try to capture that Linsanity magic.

The Lakers:

LA lands their newest bad point guard, a solid big and a guy who probably can’t play.

The Pelicans:

NO gets bodies to upgrade depth on the perimeter.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 13:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.32.59 AM.png

More defense for the Celtics, but with a touch of shooting. Charlotte goes all in. The Pelicans get a 3 and D guy and a 2013-2014 1st round pick. Lance goes back to the Pacers and brings a decent supporting big rotation with him.

The Celtics:

Boston adds to it’s collection of non-shooters with MKG, but gets some real solid defense from him and Withey. Gary Neal offers the range they desperately need.

The Hornets:

Charlotte goes all in, dumps some youth and potential, but gets some legitimate pieces. West spreads the floor with his lovely 18’ jumper, Jeff Green brings the scoring MKG could never provide and CJ Miles offsets the loss of Neal.

The Pelicans:

We get a 3 and little-D guy in Chris Copeland and recoup the loss of a first rounder with the slightly troubled, but potential scorer PJ Hairston.

The Pacers:

Larry Bird and MJ assist each other like a 1980s McDonald’s ad on this one. Lance returns from whence he came, they get a cheap stretch four, a young bruising four and Jimmer gets a shot to be a bench scorer and maybe even a starter this year.

Playing 4th Wheel on the Arms Race Part 14:

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.39.40 AM.png

Golden State realizes you can’t pay everyone and begins to shuffle the roster. The Kings make the big new owner splash. Charlotte dumps lance for a young SG with potential and a backup PG. The Pelicans get the starting SF we’ve been searching for since Jamal Mashburn’s knees exploded.

The Warriors:

They are very unlikely to make a move, but this one does make some sense. They finally unload David Lee and get a 1st rounder from the Kings. They also get decent parts. Carl Landry is a solid backup PF, they get a stretch four who can play some three with Marvin Williams, they get a one year look at a less polished Iguodala and reserve center to help offset the Bogut injuries. They know they can’t keep Barnes and Green and the rest of the cast, this move takes care of that and maybe even opens up some playing time for Ray Allen should they talk him into playing.

The Hornets:

This is purely a dump Lance move, but McLemore has shown promise lately, Evans will bring them some toughness and Sessions is a decent roleplayer.

The Kings:

They get to be the, "I told you this new owner was looking to make a splash" team, but if David Lee stays healthy and Lance gets his groove back a starting unit of Collison, Stephenson, Gay, Lee and Cousins looks pretty good on paper. Their bench gets thinner, but they can find some parts in foreign leagues, the D-League and maybe some smaller trades.

Random Thoughts:

• Spoiler alert: Bran Stark grows up to become Luke Babbitt.

• That Asik tip-in was way too reminiscent of the Ditka-era Hail Mary loss to the Cleveland Browns.

• The matchup I’m really excited to see: Dante Cunningham vs James Johnson.

• I must have done something really wrong recently because I did something nice and was punished for it at the Suns game. Karma took a day off or something. I traded seats with a some strangers who were trying to sit closer to their family, which kept me in the same section, put me in a lower row and gave me a more obscured angle. That didn’t bother me. What did was sitting next to the pre-teen Jimmer fan club on the game that Monty decided to give him big minutes. They wouldn’t shut up about Jimmer. Look, I’m a Jimmer hater, I own this. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to play well because he’s on my team. I just don’t trust him, or like his game much. That being said, is their more annoying group of fans out there? I’ve concluded that Jimmer fans are the Smurfs. They say the word, "Jimmer" so much that it seems you can use the word, "Jimmer" for anything. "I went to Jimmer Bell before the game. I ate a bean Jimmer with extra Jimmer sauce. I just had to take a huge Jimmer in the stadium Jimmer’s room. I’ll never Jimmer there before a Jimmer again." It was something like that.

• At one point in time, I was a 25-year-old white male that went out in public, but I never felt the need to just yell quotes from tv shows or bad jokes out to strangers on stairwells, etc. Did every white male under the age of 25 get a bottle of Jack and a soapbox for Christmas?

• The NBA continues to be cutting edge in matters of sexuality. They were the first major sport to have an openly gay player and now they are the first to have a polyamorous player, Lou Williams. No matter what your views are on sexuality/conventional relationships, it at least opens up some discussions. That’s never a bad thing.