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

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.

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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

Grading the Offseason Deals and More

As always on draft night, there were too many trades to count. We saw the top overall prospect traded, a 23 year old all star traded, two future Hall of Famers traded, and one of the worst contracts in the league traded. Since draft night, a flurry of other deals have been finalized as well. We’ve seen multiple trades in the past few days, and the top free agent in this year’s class resign. Already in this offseason, it looks like plenty of teams will be in full tanking mode in hopes of landing Andrew Wiggins in next year’s draft. The offseason is just beginning, but there are already plenty of deals to evaluate.

1. Celtics receive: Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, and 2014, 2016, and 2018 first round picks.i
The Celtics are in full-fledged rebuild on with this deal. Celtics fans may be upset to see KG and Pierce finally go, but it was time to move on. Whether it was necessary to take on a 3 year $30 million deal in the process is up for debate, but Celtics fans shouldn’t be bummed.

They made out with three future first rounders, and two of those could be lottery picks. The Nets will be good for the next year or two, but when KG and Pierce retire and Joe Johnson gets old, the Nets will be back near the lottery. The pick in 2016 and definitely the pick in 2018 will be useful assets for the Celtics. Celtics fans couldn’t expect much more than three first round picks for a 35 year old Pierce and 37 year old Garnett, who probably don’t have more than one year left in their NBA careers. If not for picking up Gerald Wallace’s abysmal contract, Celtics fans would be parading the streets in ecstasy for receiving three first round picks for guys about to retire anyway.

Grade: B+ Continue reading

What would it take to Challenge the Heat in the East?

As everyone knows, the Heat are 45-3 in their last 48 games. That’s an unprecedented streak that not even the 72-win 1995 Bulls matched. At this point, it’s hardly likely that anyone will stop the Heat from repeating as the champs. Unless Wade’s knee problems flare up to the extent that he can’t play, there’s no reason to think the Pacers and then Grizzlies/Spurs will beat the Heat four times out of seven. The Pacers won’t be an absolute cakewalk, but they’ll be lucky to end up with more than two wins in the Eastern Conference Finals. Injuries have riddled many teams’ hopes this season, as D-Rose (and just about every other player on the Bulls), Danny Granger, Rajon Rondo, and others missed the playoffs. While the Heat probably would have reached the Finals either way, these injuries only further paved an easy path for Heat. Not only are the majority of the teams in the East weaker, but also the Heat are considerably better this season with improved depth, notably the additions of Ray Allen and Chris Anderson. With the current state of the East, would an all star team made up of the Eastern Conference playoff teams be able to beat the Heat? Let’s play a game to find out.paul-george-lebron-james-elite-daily-600x300
Let’s pick one player from each Eastern Conference playoff team to create an all star squad and assess its chances at beating the Heat in a seven game series. The only catch is that we can only pick healthy players, so we can’t select Derrick Rose from the Bulls, for example. Without further ado:

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