Wizards All In Next Year With Recent Moves

With the Eastern Conference opening up more and more by the day, the Wizards are one of the few contending teams in the conference actually getting better. The Bulls are the only other team near the top of the conference that has added significant pieces to their team. Think about it. The Heat lost LeBron. The Pacers lost Stephenson. The Nets lost Paul Pierce. The Raptors mostly stayed the same. And while the Cavs added LeBron, they still have a young, unproven roster around him that will take time to gel.

The conference really is up for grabs, perhaps more so than at any other time in the past decade. Of course that could shift if the Cavs get Kevin Love, but at the moment, the Cavs seem unlikely to trade Andrew Wiggins. No matter who wins the Eastern conference next year, the NBA champion will almost positively come from the Western Conference. But that’s not a reason to throw the towel in if you’re in the East. Especially for a team like the Wizards who have been so starved of any playoff success in the past 30 years.

The Wizards haven’t made any earth-shattering moves this offseason, but they’ve quietly made smart moves that will keep them flexible in the long-run and competitive right now. Letting Ariza walk in free agency was the right move. Not because $8 million per season is too much for him, but because it allows the Wizards to pursue hometown superstar Kevin Durant in the 2016 summer. Replacing his value with the aging, but still effective Paul Pierce was one of the more deft moves we’ve seen Ernie Grunfeld make in his tenure with the Wizards. Even more recently though, the Wizards have signed three big men who will be key contributors for the Wizards off the bench. Continue reading

Daryl Morey Keeps It Real, Offends Chandler Parsons

Most hardcore NBA fans know about Daryl Morey. The Rockets GM who is obsessed with advanced stats, who makes front office decisions like a fantasy football owner. He’s always looking to make another trade that will set the team up better in the long haul, or sign an unknown player that can contribute right away. Many fans and analysts call Morey a genius, but also think he’s too smart for his own good sometimes.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Houston will miss Parsons, but they had maxed out with him as their third banana.

Recently, he had the plan of signing Chris Bosh once LeBron left Miami, and then quickly matching Dallas’ offer sheet for Chandler Parsons. Thus giving the Rockets a core of Beverly-Harden-Parsons-Bosh-Howard. Good luck finding a nucleus more talented than that. Once LeBron signed with Cleveland, it seemed like a sure bet that Houston would almost instantly transform itself into a top three team in the league. But the plan quickly blew up in Morey’s face. Bosh signed a max deal with the Heat. And then surprisingly, Morey decided to let Parsons go.

Morey didn’t think Parsons is a star, and according to Morey, once the Rockets missed out on Bosh, it was just not worth paying Parsons over $15 million per season. A trio of Howard-Harden-Parsons could not win a title, in Morey’s estimation. As Morey told SportsRadio610: Continue reading

Wizards Choose Unlikely Replacement For Trevor Ariza, Eye On Durant In Future

Coming off of a surprisingly successful second round exit in the playoffs, the Wizards had two players to re-sign: Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Having both guys be right in the middle of their prime and coming off of career years, it was predictable that they would get huge contracts in free agency. Most Wizards fans were a little queasy at the idea of re-signing, and likely having to overpay Gortat and Ariza, just to remain a good, but not great team.

They completed the first part, giving Gortat a huge payday, what he called “the best day of my life.” The deal for Gortat, worth $60 million over the next five seasons, seems like an overpay, especially on the back end, but was probably necessary to keep Gortat. Good centers are scarce in the NBA, and Gortat averaged a double-double last season. But, the real question mark was Ariza. Would he really get paid? And by paid I mean PAID. Don’t get me wrong: Ariza had a very good season last year. He was Washington’s best perimeter defender and shot 41% from 3, the best clip of his career from deep. But really, he’s just a catch-and-shoot corner 3 shooter. He benefitted from John Wall’s career year more than just about anyone else on the Wizards’ roster. He was the guy who got the open looks in the corner, off of Wall’s drive-n-kick dishes. That’s no fault of his, but it is to say that Ariza’s offensive production was largely the result of an All-Star point guard who created open shots for everyone else. He’s the type of player that can be replaced. He’s the ultimate ‘3 and D’ guy: he hits 3’s and plays good defense. Those are the kind of players you can find in free agency for cheap.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards' success last year, but he is replaceable.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards’ success last year, but he is replaceable.

Continue reading

Rockets Miss Out On Bosh And Parsons, Add Ariza

Houston’s mastermind plan of adding Chris Bosh and then matching the Mavericks’ offer sheet to Chandler Parsons ended up being nothing more than a pipe dream. The Rockets lost out on the Bosh, and then strangely, and somewhat surprisingly, decided not to match Dallas’ offer sheet to Parsons. It’s a serious blow to the Rockets, who many were starting to project as the second best team in the West, assuming they retained Parsons and added Bosh. Without those guys, the Rockets are left with a Howard-Harden duo and mediocre supporting players. It’s a team that is still in the playoffs, but decidedly less imposing. They couldn’t even make it out of the first round with Parsons.

The Rockets supposedly let Parsons walk for financial reasons. That’s somewhat understandable. Matching the 3 year/$46 million deal that Parsons got from Dallas would’ve been Houston’s way of saying they believed they could win a championship with a Howard-Harden-Parsons nucleus. Keeping Parsons would have hamstrung their cap for the next few years, and only given them minimal space to add other quality players. Is Parsons worth over $15 million per season? The Rockets didn’t think so. He’s only 25 years old. He has been a very productive player in the NBA so far, and is fairly versatile. His numbers might be a tad inflated playing on the up-tempo Rockets. Most fans think of him as purely a shooter, thus fitting the typical stereotype, but that really is not Parsons. He’s a good shooter, but his game is much more versatile than that. Parsons is good at putting up shot fakes and scoring off the bounce. And he’s a much better passer than he gets credit for. It’s tough to find quality footage on YouTube of Parsons’ game in college, other than the pair of buzzer-beaters he hit and general highlight clips. But in college, he basically served as a point-forward for Florida. He has great vision for a player of his size, especially one who’s primarily a scorer. Continue reading

Why Does Everyone Think Houston Is The Best Fit for Chris Bosh?

Amid speculation that LeBron may be seriously contemplating heading back home to Cleveland, there have been reports that the Rockets have intensified their courting of Chris Bosh. Born in Texas, Bosh would have a chance to chase a title with Dwight Howard and James Harden, forming a supposedly formidable, at least on paper, Big 3 in the West.

The move makes sense for Bosh personally. A few days ago, rumors swirled that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had no idea what LeBron would do in free agency. There is much less coordination on their part this time around in free agency. This time, LeBron, it seems, is keeping his cards close to the chest. He owes nothing to Wade and Bosh, and the LeBron’s only priority is winning. It was reported that Bosh came away from a meeting with LeBron with the feeling that LeBron might very well leave Miami. And, so LeBron told Bosh to pursue other options, just in case.

The team that keeps popping up interested in Bosh is the Rockets. Unlike the Heat who are lowballing Bosh, the Rockets are willing to offer Bosh a max contract. Bosh would get more money and play a bigger role on the Rockets than in Miami. I kind of get it for Houston. They are looking for a third star, and especially a stretch four to create some more room for Dwight Howard down low. But let’s not kid ourselves. A ‘Big 3’ of Dwight Howard, James Harden, and Chris Bosh isn’t nearly as formidable as it may sound. Harden plays no defense. Bosh is one of the softest big men in the league, and has slowly compromised his game, so that now he’s mostly just a spot up shooter. And Howard has been criticized for years now at the dearth of low post moves and poor foul shooting, not to mention the obvious lack of any leadership. Continue reading

Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers Makes Zero Sense

Let’s make one thing clear first: the Lakers are the marquee franchise in the NBA. They have a history of attracting the league’s biggest stars, and will probably do so in the next few summers. Carmelo Anthony is already 30 years old though. He might be one of the most talented players in the league, but he hasn’t shown the ability to lead a roster far in the playoffs.

This just doesn’t make sense.

Not for the Lakers. Not for Carmelo Anthony.

A few days ago, it seemed like it would be a safe bet to assume Carmelo was going to end up either in New York, Chicago, or maybe even Houston. He would meet with the Lakers, the NBA’s premier franchise, more as a sign of respect, it seemed, than as any indication that he might sign there. And then something happened. A day after Carmelo’s visit, rumors swirled that the Lakers had vaulted their way into serious contention for Melo. Who knows what it was. The allure of LA? Perfect weather? The banners at Staples? Kobe putting a gun to Melo’s head? The last option would be the most likely, except we know Kobe wasn’t there.  Continue reading

Day 1 of Free Agency Is Every NBA Fan’s Worst Nightmare

In the NBA, free agency is supposed to be the time of delusion. The time where bad teams convince themselves if they can just sign that one guy, they’ll be contenders. Those teams rear their ugly heads and leak out rumors that their aim is to sign LeBron and Carmelo, with promises of multiple titles. Teams make ridiculous sales pitches that will obviously never happen. But it’s really too entertaining to dismiss. The crazy rumors. The ridiculously overpaid contracts. The insanity of it all inevitably leaves indelible stains on some franchises’ futures. Just ask the Magic, who were still paying Gilbert Arenas over $20 million last season for him to sit on the couch and troll Roy Hibbert.

Imagine how crazy free agency can be. Now magnify it a couple million times. That’s what happens anytime LeBron is a free agent. LeBron is good enough to make whatever team he’s on a contender. So, when he’s a free agent, the league collectively loses its you know what. Hell, Vegas won’t even put up its 2015 title odds, until it knows jersey LeBron will be wearing.  Continue reading

Let the LeBron Speculation Begin

As you’ve heard by now, LeBron opted out of his final year with the Miami Heat. So every team desperate and deluded enough is clearing cap space with the hope that they’ll be able to convince LeBron to join their team. The thing is, there are only really five teams with legitimate chances to get LeBron. Zach Lowe mentioned the Hawks and Suns as other unlikely candidates, but all he is saying is that they have the requisite cap space to get LeBron. He’d never go to either of those teams, even if they’re not that bad. Who really has a chance at getting LeBron?

1) Miami Heat
They’re still the most likely scenario for LeBron. He knows their management, respects Pat Riley’s judgement, and still made the Finals last season with its weak roster. LeBron opting out is merely a ploy to motivate the Heat and get Micky Arison to spend more money. It’s a move to push Wade and Bosh to restructure their deals and take much less money. This is the least exciting move LeBron could make. The Heat would need to show LeBron they’re going to completely alter the bench and add some real contributors and fresh legs. Let’s all hope he leaves Miami so that the bandwagons fans in Miami can disappear again. They don’t deserve a good team. Continue reading