Bulls Bolster Lineup With Two Key Additions

In the past few days, the Bulls have reinvigorated their roster. Last year, they miraculously managed to win 48 games without Derrick Rose. It might have been Tom Thibodeau’s best coaching job. The Eastern Conference was historically weak, but the Bulls were a team without a single player with a typical scoring mentality. Yet, they would grind out wins with defense and toughness, the staples of Thibodeau’s teams. After being eliminated in the playoffs by the Wizards, it was obvious that the Bulls had drastically overachieved in the regular season, and needed a major influx of talent, or at least a healthy Derrick Rose if they were to be taken seriously in the playoffs.

Gasol will probably spend most of his time at the high post, directing the Bulls offense.

Gasol will probably spend most of his time at the high post, directing the Bulls offense.

But in the offseason, the Bulls have made several moves to bolster their offensive fire power. Drafting Doug McDermott was the first significant move. He is a scorer first and will create space in their half-court sets, with his ability to hit 3’s and put the ball on the floor and hit mid-range jumpers. More recently though, the Bulls made two moves that should help even more.

First, the Bulls agreed to terms with Pau Gasol, who’d been deciding between the Bulls and Spurs. Gasol is the type of player that can fit into any team. His passing skills are unsurpassed by any big man in the league, and he is a great guy in the locker room. Unless he’s on Kobe’s team and Kobe is jacking up too many shots! But in all seriousness, he is a great fit on the Bulls. With Noah and Gasol, the Bulls will have arguably the best passing tandem of big men in the league. Playing Gasol at the high post will let Noah operate more under the basket. Gasol is not a shoot-first player, but he is a facilitator, and teams in need of scoring can always use facilitators to get guys open shots. That’s what Gasol will do. 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

The 15 Best Free Agents Not Named LeBron or Carmelo

NBA free agency starts at midnight tonight. Almost all of the free agent talk so far has been focused on LeBron and Carmelo. Where will LeBron end up? Will he take a pay cut? (No.) Will Carmelo join or create a Big 3? Is he headed to Miami? (Just stop.) Chicago? (Hmmm.) Rockets? (They certainly want him.) New York? (Sorry Knicks fans.) Let’s put aside the LeBron and Carmelo talk for just a second, and rate the rest of the free agents. This free agent class is by no means loaded once you get past LeBron and Carmelo, but there are still some very attractive free agents this summer that could alter the NBA landscape.

A Few that Didn’t Make the Cut

A couple guys didn’t make this list, but will be targeted by several teams. Patty Mills had a stellar run in the Finals and is bound to be overpaid by someone in the league. Plenty of teams will only remember how well he shot the ball in the Finals and be willing to offer Mills the starting job and a salary raise. His speed and pace gave the Heat fits. Speaking of the Heat, they will have to figure out what to do with the Big 3. Obviously, the Heat will do all they can to keep the Big 3 together and make another run at the Finals. There’s no way they’ll let Dwyane Wade go. He’ll probably play his entire career in Miami, and the Heat will offer him a Kobe-like extension, based on what he did for the franchise in the past, not what he will do in the future. Wade could be in this list based on previous ability and his name, but in terms of ability, he doesn’t belong on the list. He looked finished in the Finals. The Heat breezed through the weak East, beginning with their first round sweep of the upstart Hornets. The Hornets look like an up-and-coming team in the East and are trying to keep their point-forward Josh McRoberts, one of the best passing big men in the league. Michael Jordan loves McRoberts and calls him a “connector”, basically meaning Jordan would’ve loved playing with him since McRoberts only passes the ball. A connector is just another word for a glue-guy, and McRoberts is that. Continue reading

Maverick Twin Towers: Dirk and Pau?

The Mavericks have recently expressed in signing 33 year Pau Gasol. Gasol would be paired in Dallas’ frontline with Dirk, easily giving the Mavs perhaps the most skilled frontline in the NBA. Gasol is 33 year olds and has endured two disappointing seasons in Los Angeles without Kobe’s help. Despite the Lakers’ recent struggles, Pau has vowed to stay in LA if Kobe wants him to. But aside from loyalty, Pau has little reason to sign up for any more time in LA. The Lakers own the 7th pick in this year’s draft, as well as some cap space–some of which would have to be used on Pau–but that is not enough to turn the Lakers into a playoff team. The Lakers won only 27 games last year, and even the biggest Kobe-diehards have to realize that his return to the court will mean little as a 35 year old. Of course, Los Angeles is one of the premier destinations in the league. The Lakers are probably the most storied franchise in the league and the weather is always a plus, but if Gasol wants to add one more ring to his collection, Los Angeles is not the place to stay. Continue reading

Top 75 NBA Trade Value (Part 1)

Now that we’ve concluded the NBA season, we have a decision to make. We can either torture ourselves with the daily draft proceedings, or we can postpone the draft talk and hypothetically analyze fake trade scenarios to alleviate our pain and distract ourselves from the summer sports lull. Who has the most trade value in the NBA? Soon-to-be 30 year old LeBron, on the heels of four straight Finals appearances, and enormous wear and tear? Or 25 year old KD, coming off his first MVP season? Or 21 year old Anthony Davis, fresh off his first All-Star appearance and poised to be his generation’s Duncan? In other words, it’s not as simple as who’s the best player in the league. Age matters. Younger players are more valuable than guys on the verge of retirement. LaMarcus Aldridge is more valuable, being only 28 years old, than Dirk is at 36. You get the point. Salary also matters. You’d rather have Kawhi Leonard, due just over $3 million next season than Carmelo, who’s about to get a max contract. We’ll count down the top 50 players, with the #1 player being the player in the league with the most trade value. In other words, if Team A offered the #5 player on the list to Team B for the #2 player, Team B would say no. Without further ado, let’s begin the count down.

This year brings some players that show the limitations of the rating trade value. Kobe Bryant didn’t make the the cut this year. Who would trade for a 35 year old coming off a torn achillies? But obviously, the Lakers would NEVER trade him. Rather than ranking him way too high to keep some consistency, it makes more sense to cut him from the list altogether. Similarly, Dwyane Wade failed to make the top 75 this year. That might sound crazy, but given that he only played 54 games this year, is going to be 33 next year, and looked horrendous in the Finals, it makes perfect sense. Who would trade for him, especially if he opts in and is making over $20 million next year. Again, the Heat would NEVER trade him. Chances are he finishes his career with the Heat. The last premier name to miss this year’s cut is Derrick Rose, but that should be no surprise. He hasn’t been healthy for two years and has $60 million left over the next three years. Unless he magically turns into his former MVP self (not happening), he has little value. Here are some of the tougher omissions: Continue reading

Who would you build an NBA Franchise around? (Part 2)

If you missed it, Click here for Part 1.

Group 7a: Dinosaurs That Somehow Aren’t Extinct 

35. Kevin Garnett
34. Paul Pierce
33. Kobe Bryant
32. Tim Duncan
Despite KG’s injuries this year, he’s still one of the most reliable defensive anchors in all of Basketball. With KG, anything short of beating the Heat seems possible for the Celtics in the playoffs. Without KG? We’re talking about a five or six game series in favor of the Knicks. As far as Pierce is concerned, I’ll let Bill Simmons do the talking. Want to know how good Kobe was this year? Before getting hurt, even being owed $30 million as a 36 year old next year, it would have been hard to put outside the top 20. Kobe was on everyone’s MVP ballot until the day he got injured. And Duncan is one of the most remarkable players in NBA history. This guy just doesn’t wear down. He’s 36 years old and has a PER over 24. He’s putting up 18-10-3 in just 30 minutes per game. Would anyone really be shocked if three of these four guys were using deer antler spray?

Continue reading