By Craig Kwasniewski
I'm not really up on all the players drafted yesterday since the only NCAA hoops I watched all year was from the Las Vegas Hilton on the first weekend of March Maddness... Basically my knowledge on the college scene falls somewhere between Stu Scott and Rick Kamla (or Vanilla Scott as I like to call him).
So here are my thoughts on the trades from the past 48-hours:
1 - Shaq to Cleveland: Props to the NBA media for not overreacting and proclaiming the Cavs the 2010 NBA Champs. Props to Danny Ferry for going "all in" and taking a chance on Shaq, hoping to convince LeBron to re-sign in 2010. And props for Donald T. Sterling 2.0 for completely ruining one of the NBA's greatest franchises and killing Steve Nash's final years as a player. This trade has way more questions than answers.
Will Shaq play second fiddle to the league's biggest alpha dog? He thinks Kobe was bad but LeBron runs EVERYTHING in Cleveland. His teammates, his gags, his front office... this is LeBron's team. From Penny to Kobe to Wade... all three All-Stars were young and didn't have the locker room pull that LeBron has. Kobe was stubborn and always battling Shaq to be THE number one, but Shaq always had the Lakers roster and coaching staff on his side. Shaq is clearly the outsider in Cleveland, will his ego accept being a number #2?
And don't tell me that he settled in with Phoenix as the #2! Just one season in, the Suns were slowing things down and dumping to Shaq just like all the previous teams he played for. Now we're hearing that Nash requested the Suns trade away Shaq. He's 37 years old and he's never changed his demeanor as a player. Why would he change now?
Will Shaq have patience for Mike Brown, the guy who was thoroughly out-coached by Mr. Master of Panic Stan Van Gundy? As the Eastern Conference Finals showed us (and as I've been literally screaming for years!), the Cavs have one play in their offensive playbook. Just one! High screen and roll for LeBron where his options are: 1) step back for a three, 2) drive down the lane, 3) pass to the corner for a three, 4) hit the rolling big man to the hoop. That's it! But LeBron is so damn talented that he normally overcomes defenses (well expect when playing the Lakers, Orlando or Boston, but NOBODY seemed to remember this during the regular season DESPITE THE LAKERS SWEEPING THEM!!!) Anyway, Mike Brown is CLEARLY the worst head coach that Shaquille O'Neal has played for (and yes that includes Terry Porter and Del Harris).
The Cavs now have their first low-post option since a pre-lockout Shawn Kemp in 1998. Will Mike Brown add a second page to his offensive playbook and post up Shaq? What happens when they face Orlando during a regular season game and start trailing? Will Shaq DEMAND the ball during timeouts or will Mike Brown freeze up (like in the ECF's) and just ask LeBron to save them? How soon before Shaq realizes the huge gap in ability between Mike Brown and Stan Van Gundy?
Does this trade make LeBron Tom Hagen? Or is he Connie? One of Shaq's best quotes was his comparison of his superstar teammates to the Corleone Family. Penny Hardaway was Fredo (hilarious), Kobe was Sonny (temperamentally very true) and Dwyane Wade was Michael (maybe). There's really only two left, Connie and the adopted Tom Hagen. The way I see it, Steve Nash and LeBron is Tom Hagen who was one of the smarter and more appearance-savvy members of the Corleone Family... much like LeBron. Nash as Connie totally makes sense considering Connie was the least valuable sibling in the Corleone family (BTW - Nash and Shaq combined for ONE playoff victory)... HOWEVER her actions did lead to Sonny’s death. And Nash did eliminate Kobe twice in the playoffs.
2 - Vince Carter to Orlando: The Magic gave up virtually nothing and got a former All-Star to add depth to the defending Eastern Conference Champ AND/OR a quality back-up plan in case Hedo leaves. A brilliant deal! If Orlando gets 80% of Vince Carter from his All-Star days AND they re-sign Hedo you're looking at the favorites in the Eastern Conference. They added scoring and athletic depth and another player that will force defenses to spread out and give Howard even more space to score from down low. If Howard expands his low-post game (which he will), the look out, this might be the next NBA Champs.
If Hedo leaves, they are still one of the top contenders. With Carter they'll get a player like Hedo who can clear out defenses and iso during crunch time. But I think Hedo will stay in Orlando. Now all of this depends on Carter's motivation... which should be high now that he's closer to a NBA title than ever before.
Here's my question... With Cleveland and Orlando making major moves, will Boston try to counter?
3 - Richard Jefferson to San Antonio: Spurs get Richard Jefferson for left-over garbage (Bowen, Oberto and Thomas). I guess Popovich is no longer complaining that the league needs a trade czar because this is almost as one-sided as the Gasol trade last year. In fact, one could argue that the Grizzlies got more because of Marc Gasol... a promising big. The Spurs trade old size and defense and get a proven athletic scorer in Jefferson. This trade gets the Spurs back in the second round of the playoffs but it doesn't counter the Lakers size.
Now if the Spurs can somehow find a way to sign Rasheed Wallace, then they become the odds on favorite in the West.
4 - Jamal Crawford to Atlanta: Wow another high-scoring player with ZERO basketball IQ! Just when you though the Hawks were the dumbest team in the NBA, they just found a new level of supid-itude (a way of saying suckitude except with stupid). I really can't find a proper word for how dumb this team is... but what do you expect from a team whose head coach's game face is the "who farted??" look! Such a MEH trade!
5 - Amare to Golden State: This isn't official until July 8th (or until EVERY Phoenix Suns season ticket holder skips town) but it looks like a done deal. So in two seasons the Suns go from the SSOL, high-scoring, high-impact, fun to watch and with several All-Stars and a major contender to NOTHING. What a shame! Robert Sarver IS Donald T. Sterling 2.0 make no mistake about it.
Initial trade rumors have the Warrior sending Curry over with Biedrins, but now I hear they're keeping Curry. So why give up a relatively young annual All-Star with a very exciting game for absolutely nothing?
Knock on the Clippers all you want but since they moved into Staples Center they've at least tried to assemble a team with talent. Mis-guided efforts aside, every season Clippers fans at least have a small glint of hope when they look at their roster (Barron Davis, Marcus Camby, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin... these are players with talent!). But teams like Phoenix, Memphis, Sacramento and Charlotte don't even try... they're a lottery team BEFORE October! Why plunk down hard earned $$ to even watch this crap.
Watching Phoenix dissolve into this garbage is sad.... Screw you Sarver!