Archive for ‘Minnesota Timberwolves’

February 22, 2011

Musings on Melo

by Jeeves

So Carmelo Anthony finally got traded to his dream locale, New York (not New Jersey). As of now the trade shakes out as follows:

New York Knicks get: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and Corey Brewer

Denver Nuggets get: Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton (plus draft picks)

Minnesota Timberwolves get: Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph

So lets take a quick look at this trade from the viewpoint of the teams involved and then at the end I’ll have some random observations that you may or may not see elsewhere.

New York Knicks

This trade is a no-brainer, to me, for the Knicks. As the team was structured before the trade, they were a middling playoff team in the Eastern Conference and that’s it. It’s possible, though unlikely, they could have pulled off an upset in the first round, and such an event represented the best case scenario for their season. The Knicks are not the Bobcats; the franchise doesn’t need the money from a playoff run. If this trade represents 1 step back before 2 steps forward (and thus costing the Knicks a playoff trip) they’d still make large sums of money as they sell out MSG. Blowing up (most of) the core of low playoff seed will not cost the Knicks anything. If anything, by adding Melo and Billups, they made themselves a more dangerous playoff team. Bench play is less important in the playoffs and if those two plus Amare are healthy, I would be much more worried about playing the Knicks than when they had Gallinari, Chandler, and Felton.

In the short term, the Knicks will probably sacrifice a couple regular season wins, but will come out of this as a better team in the future. They have assured themselves the addition of a top 10-15 player (depending on your view of Melo) which is a far cry from merely positioning themselves with the cap room for a top 10-15 player. Anytime you can do that in exchange for non-sure thing prospects, you do it, and worry about how the pieces fit afterwards. In basketball trades, the big thing, unless you’re trying to round off a championship squad or shed salary, is to come away from a trade with the best player. The participants in the trade may have differing opinions on who the best player is, but in this instance, Carmelo is vastly superior to everyone else involved.

Denver Nuggets

Masai Ujiri can take a bow for this trade. He continually raised the price for Carmelo and ended up getting it all. He knew that the Knicks wouldn’t (Renaldo) balk(man) at the price, as they were desperate to add Melo. It took a lot of balls and it paid off. Not only does Denver pick up some really intriguing pieces, but they get loads of cap relief. In fact, the $14 million-ish coming off the cap is enough to bring them under the luxury tax threshhold which has a two fold monetary effect. First, they don’t have to pay dollar-for-dollar the amount that they are above the tax line and second, they receive money from the pool created by teams that do have to pay the tax.

As far as Gallo and Chandler are concerned, I think they picked up two really good complementary pieces. They aren’t good enough to lead you to a championship by themselves, but they certainly are good players. I’m actually a big fan of Gallinari. He shoots really well from outside and gets to the line a ridiculous amount, plus he’s super young. There’s a lot to like about him. Chandler is a bit of a wild card for the Nuggets. He’ll basically tryout with them for the rest of the season which gives them time to decide whether he’s worth bidding on over the summer (assuming there’s a season) as he is a restricted free agent.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They did okay for themselves. They get some nice financial relief in Eddy Curry’s expiring contract, as well as $3 million to cover the rest of his expiring contract. They gave up Brewer who didn’t figure into their long term plans and they took a Michael Beasley style shot on Anthony Randolph. The Fighting Kahns need talent and this gives them some. Whether Randolph cashes in on that talent it another story.

Quick Thoughts

– Anthony Carter has a no trade clause. I think it would be hilarious if he exercises it and blocks the trade.

– The Knicks could play a high priced game of chicken by not signing Anthony to an extension until after the new CBA. They own his Bird rights so if they don’t sign him now, under the current CBA, it’s likely no other team will be able to then trump a hypothetical Knicks offer under the new CBA. It would be way to savvy and risky of a move to happen, but it’s still a possibility.

-Along those lines, imagine if the Knicks try to trade Anthony or Amare in 2012 for a signed-and-traded Dwight Howard.

– The Knicks are probably out of the 2012 Free Agency Derby which is probably for the best. Who know with the new CBA how things would even work out. As they say, a bird in the hand is better than a better bird in the bush.

– Denver’s trade makes Bryan Coleangelo look even more incompetent. Do you think the Raptors would prefer a package like this rather than the 2 Miami draft picks and trade exception they got?

– The Nets are probably lucky that the Knicks didn’t have the balls to stick to the original asking price. Prokhorov was willing to give up a ton of assets for Melo.

-If Isiah returns, him and Renaldo Balkman will be reunited. I guess it really was true love at first sight.

-This probably will signal the beginning of open trading season. I think most GM’s were waiting for this domino to fall before proceeding.

– I guess this trade happened much like Melo’s offensive game…jab step, jab step, jab step, pull the trigger when everyone knows its coming.

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February 17, 2011

The NBA All-Star Player Draft

by Jeeves

The NBA All-Star break is fast approaching (the Lakers, it seems, have been on break for a little while), which got me thinking, what would happen if the NBA had a player draft for the ASG, like the NHL did?

Before we get to how I think things would play out, here are some things to keep in mind.

The game, this year, is in Los Angeles, therefore, I’m choosing Kobe and Blake Griffin as the two captains. If the game was in say, Vegas again, I’d probably go with Durant and Lebron as the captains as they play the same positions and there’s the whole super humble vs super ego angle. Since it is LA, I thought it would be nice to have the two “home teams” provide the captains. Second, I’m working under the assumption that there’s something actually on the line here that would make all the players desperately want to win, other than just pride. Basically before the draft, everyone is programmed with Kobe’s pathological desire to win. I’m also giving Kobe top pick since LA is more his town than Blake’s…for now. Also, on the playground we always played the first captain gets the choice of first pick or second two.

Kobe – Pick 1 – Dwight Howard

Kobe knows that defense wins championships games. Dwight offers great defense and pretty damn good offense down low. Some probably think the pick here would be Lebron, but Kobe knows that he duplicates some of Lebron’s skill set.

Blake – Pick 1 – Lebron James

No brainer here. Lebron is the best player in the NBA in my books. This team also has the die cast for a sick display of dunking and alley-oops, which leads to…

Blake – Pick 2 – Chris Paul

There’s no point forward on this team. Paul will be the one throwing oops to Bron Bron and Griffin. The former undisputed top PG gets bragging rights in this draft, though I personally wouldn’t rank him first.

Kobe – Pick 2 – Kevin Durant

Kobe picks another wing scorer, one that’s young enough and humble enough to clash with him personality-wise on the court.

Blake – Pick 3 – Dwyane Wade

With Lebron in his ear, Blake chooses Wade to round out his starting back court. A Wade, Lebron, Griffin trio is a Big Three worth much more hype than the Big 2.5 of Wade, Bosh, Lebron.

Kobe – Pick 3 – Derrick Rose

Kobe goes with Rose to run the point. I think of this writing, Rose is the best PG in the league (a two legged Paul would be better, but since he only has one, it’s Rose). Rose provides the whole package at the 1. Drive and kick ability, a great mid range game, 3-pt range, pretty good defense, etc.

Blake –  Pick 4 – Pau Gasol

The Griffin’s need a center and Gasol fits that role beautifully. It’ll set up an interesting Kobe vs. Pau dynamic.

Kobe – Pick 4 – Dirk Nowitzki

Kobe goes with the stretch four option here. It’ll bring a nice dynamic to the team. Nowitzki can play in the post with Dwight or out near the 3pt line to open up driving lanes for Rose. Plus there’s no stopping he’s awkward fallaway. Dirk is secretly one of my top-5 favorite players in the league.

Blake – Pick 5 – Carmelo Anthony

Blake grabs a volume scorer to be the first man off the bench. He can come in at SF and allow LBJ to slide to PF or SG to create some matchup nightmares.

Kobe – Pick 5 – Al Horford

Blake gave Dirk and the Mavs some issues in their second meeting of the season, so they go with Horford who offers more defense than Amare and more athleticism than Duncan. This pick is a bit of a reach in terms of pure talent, but it’s a value pick.

Blake – Pick 6 – Deron Williams

Unfortunately there’s no Paul vs Williams battle. Williams provides size to perhaps bother Rose if he blows by Paul with consistency.

Kobe – Pick 6 – Rajon Rondo

He’s kind of made for All-Star games in the sense of his pass first mentality. When Team Kobe gets a bunch of scorers on the court, they’ll be paired with Rondo who’ll run the offense beautifully.

Blake – Pick 7 – Chris Bosh

The Miami trio are reunited in this scenario. He provides some good jump shooting and is already used to not being the top dog.

Kobe – Pick 7 – Paul Pierce

As much as Kobe would like to play the whole game, he’ll need to be spelled at some point. Pierce can slide over to SG as well as provide some good defense on Lebron. Team Kobe officially changes its name to Team Awkward Fallaways.

Blake – Pick 8 – Ray Allen

The Griffins jump on Ray’s ability to shoot the trey and prevent Allen and Pierce from pairing up again.

Kobe – Pick 8 – Kevin Garnett

The run of Celtics is complete. KG gets picked for defensive ferocity. The pick by need here would be Manu, but Kobe knows that he can sit on him as Blake doesn’t have a need for Manu.

Blake – Pick 9 – Amare Stoudemire

Amare gives team Blake a bit more size down low.

Kobe – Pick 9 – Tim Duncan

Value pick here. Duncan won’t necessarily need to play heavy minutes. Plus, he can take it to the bank.

Blake – Pick 10 – Russell Westbrook

I think the team of athletic freaks needs one more athletic freak.

Kobe – Pick 10 – Manu Ginobili

Kobe cashes in on the Ginobili pick. Can’t afford to wait any longer on him. Plus, he can take it to the bank, too.

Blake – Pick 11 – Kevin Love

Glue guy. Rebounding. Love and Westbrook perhaps get to relive some UCLA magic.

Kobe – Pick 11- Joe Johnson

Size and shooting on the outside…and the only guy left on the board.

So the teams look like this:

Team Kobe Starters:

Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose

Team Blake Starters:

Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul

Team Kobe Bench:

Horford, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Duncan, Ginobili, Johnson

Team Blake Bench:

Anthony, Williams, Bosh, Allen, Stoudemire, Westbrook, Love