After signing a two-year, $8 million contract to remain a member of the Golden State Warriors, Brandon Rush commented that he wants in on the starting small forward conversation.
Danny Granger has proven to be an effective scorer for the Pacers, averaging 18.2 points per game over the last seven years. He has also been a consistent rebounder, with a career average of 5.2 per game.
While it’s hard to think about trading a 29-year-old forward who averaged better than 18 points per game last year, it’s time for the Pacers to discuss it.
In the last four years, Granger’s points per game have dropped from 25.8 to 18.7. While Danny is shooting the ball less as his team has added better scorers around him, his field-goal percentage has also dropped to 41.6 percent from 44.7 percent four years ago.
Granger is also slated to make more than $13 million next year and $14 million the year after that. That’s too much for a scoring small forward whose role has continually diminished.
The Pacers should actively try to trade Danny Granger this year, because he still seems to be worth something. He has shown he can score a lot of points for a team that doesn’t have many other options, like Indiana before they gained strength.
What Indiana should do with Granger is either trade him for a combination of draft picks and expiring contracts or attempt to trade him for a shooting guard. If they go with the first route, the Pacers should actively attempt to sign either Courtney Lee or O.J. Mayo to go along with Paul George.
While this will cause many fans to shake their heads, as George currently plays shooting guard, he is better suited as a small forward. His shooting ability isn’t outstanding, and he is much bigger than a standard shooting guard. He gives the team flexibility, because he can guard both shooting guards and small forwards.
The team also just added Gerald Green, which gives them another young shooting guard who put up almost 13 points per game last year, including shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. He is also a tall guard who can play both shooting guard and small forward, allowing the Pacers more versatility with their lineups.
With Green’s acquisition, the Pacers would probably benefit more from acquiring high draft picks, since they will have D.J. Augustine and George Hill at point guard and Green and George at shooting guard and small forward.
The team also has Lance Stephenson in reserve. He hasn’t played many minutes, but has had a strong showing in the Orlando summer league this offseason. They only need one more swing-man through free agency to make that a very deep lineup.
The Pacers should trade Granger now, because he is beginning to enter the downside of his career and his trade value is the highest it likely will ever be. His absence will also likely allow Paul George to have the breakout season that everybody is waiting for from him.
While it is always a hard decision to trade a former franchise player like Granger, the Pacers would be wise to do so now.
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There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Brooklyn Nets this offseason and going into this upcoming year, with their new brand and arena.
They certainly have made moves to upgrade their roster, but are they really going to be better than the New York Knicks?
Let’s take a look by position, with the following assumptions.
First, the Knicks are going to match Jeremy Lin’s deal. They have already made that a priority and have the cash to do it.
The Knicks may or may not match Toronto‘s offer sheet to Landry Fields.
I’m assuming the Nets match any offer for Kris Humphries.
Knicks: Jeremy Lin, Jason Kidd
Nets: Deron Williams, Tyshawn Taylor
Williams is a three-time All-Star and a legitimate force at the position. He averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists per game last year.
As valuable as Lin is on and off the court for the Knicks, keep in mind that he has played in only 35 games.
The future remains bright for Lin, and the addition of Kidd will help in his development.
Knicks: Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith
Nets: Joe Johnson, MarShon Brooks
A casual basketball fan might think that the advantage weighs heavily towards the Nets.
Not so fast; this is closer than it seems.
Iman Shumpert is an amazing talent. As a 22-year-old rookie, he already started filling up box scores, averaging almost 10 points, three assists, three boards and two steals a game. He is regarded as one of the top five perimeter defenders in the game and has incredible athleticism.
His health is recovering after his injury last year, and he will only continue to improve. I expect him to have a breakout year in 2012-2013.
Joe Johnson is a nice player, but he is going in the other direction.
His minutes have declined each of the last six seasons, from 41.4 to 35.5 a game, as has his scoring, from 25.0 to 18.8 points.
J.R. Smith and MarShon Brooks essentially provide the same thing: scoring off the bench. Smith is probably a better all-around player, but Brooks is a better shooter.
I still give the Nets an advantage here, but it is not a huge one at all.
Knicks: Carmelo Anthony
Nets: Gerald Wallace
A 6’8″, 230-pound eight-time All-Star, Carmelo is arguably one of the top 10 or 15 players in the league.
Gerald Wallace is a nice, versatile player and defender, but he does not have the offensive prowess or the rebounding ability of Melo.
Knicks: Amare Stoudemire, Steve Novak
Nets: Kris Humphries
Kris Humphries will be a nice rebounder and a good player for Brooklyn, assuming the Nets bring him back. He is a solid power forward that averaged right at 14 points and 11 boards a game last year.
Amare had a difficult year and took fewer shots playing with Carmelo and Jeremy Lin, but keep in mind that he still averaged nearly 18 points and eight rebounds a game.
In a bad year.
As good as the Nets are at rebounding this position, I like the Knicks’ versatility here. When Amare isn’t on the floor, New York will like to go with Novak and spread it out. At 6’10″ and 240 pounds, Steve Novak came off the bench at the forward position, averaged nine points and shot 48 percent from three.
Knicks get the slight advantage.
Knicks: Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby
Nets: Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is a nice talent and just got a huge, $61 million contract.
Keep in mind, though, that, because of injury, he played in only five games last year.
He is a nice scorer, averaging 20 points a game two years ago. However, his defense leaves something to be desired: In that same year, he only averaged six boards a game.
Camby and Chandler are two exceptional defenders. Camby averaged nine boards a game in limited action, and Chandler was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Chandler also improved his game offensively and became a better pick-and-roll player with the arrival of Jeremy Lin.
The Knicks are just much more reliable at this position, despite Lopez’s offensive talent.
The Knicks frontcourt is just much deeper than Brooklyn’s. Carmelo, Amare, Chandler, Camby and Novak is a much more formidable group than Wallace, Humphries and Lopez.
What the Knicks lack in defense with Amare and Carmelo, they more than make up for having the defensive player of the year in Chandler and Camby, a solid defender off the bench.
Also, the shooting they have off the bench at forward with Novak is something the Nets don’t have. Wallace, Humphries and Lopez are nice players, but all three have their limitations, and Brooklyn has nothing off the bench to help them, frontcourt wise.
The Nets do have an advantage in the backcourt, especially at point guard with Deron Williams.
The Knicks have talent at these positions, though; Lin and Shumpert are both rising stars and will only continue to improve.
Overall, I have to give the Knicks a slight advantage. They just have a deeper group. They actually have an eight-man rotation and depth at each position.
The Nets don’t.
Another important distinction is that the Nets went 22-44 last year and the Knicks went 36-30.
Sure, the Nets got a nice player in Joe Johnson and may now have a healthy Brook Lopez. But have they improved their depth and their bench?
No. Are that one addition and a healthy Lopez worth 14 extra wins?
It’s a tough argument to make.
On the other hand, the Knicks brought in a couple nice pieces, in Kidd and Camby, which should improve their leadership and bench. Lin and Shumpert are only going to get better. I see no reason why the Knicks can’t be just as good or better than last year.
So while there is a nice buzz growing in Brooklyn, the Knicks still have the better team in New York.
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Throughout weeks of speculation, it was unclear which direction the Philadelphia 76ers would head this offseason. Would they address their frontcourt? Would they let established names walk? Would the annual trade rumors surrounding Andre Iguodala come to fruition?
Now that signings and trades are becoming official, it’s time to evaluate where the Sixers stand.
Although the Sixers’ front office may not be done making moves, here’s how I envision the Sixers’ starting lineup when the 2012-2013 season tips off:
Point Guard: Jrue Holiday
Shooting Guard: Evan Turner
Small Forward: Andre Iguodala
Power Forward: Lavoy Allen
Center: Spencer Hawes
Of the five starting spots, the power forward position is clearly the most in flux. Holiday, Turner, Iguodala and Hawes all appear to be locks to start, but Lavoy Allen is no shoe-in to begin the season as the starting 4 man.
The selection of Mississippi State forward Arenett Moultrie in the NBA draft could pave the way for a new face in the frontcourt, but as we’ve seen in the past, Doug Collins is not particularly fond of starting rookies.
Moultrie actually fits perfectly with a second unit that is now loaded with athleticism and scoring prowess. A season ago, the Sixers had to rely on Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load off of the bench, but times are changing.
With Thaddeus Young, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Nikola Vucevic and rookies Moe Harkless and Arnett Moultrie, the Sixers have created a deeper roster than they had last season. We know that coach Collins loves flexibility, and he has afforded himself that with a bounty of wing players who will presumably play out of position on more than a few occasions.
The only real void left to be filled on the Sixers’ bench is the role of backup point guard. Perhaps the front office is satisfied with the depth they have established and they are willing to rotate Turner in as the team’s floor general when Holiday comes off of the floor, but it would seem that they need a more definite plan.
While players like Justin Holiday (Jrue’s brother) and Jacob Pullen vie for the coveted spot during play in the Orlando Summer League, it would be wise of the Sixers to pursue a veteran backup point man.
For a team that finished 25th in scoring last season, the Sixers appear committed to fixing their inconsistent scoring problems, and their aggressive stance in free agency thus far has to be encouraging to fans who were desperate for change.
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When the Atlanta Hawks shipped off Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets and Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz, it seemed as though new general manager Danny Ferry was entering into rebuilding mode, clearing cap space for the future.
However, the addition of Lou Williams on a multiyear deal proves that Ferry’s squad isn’t going to be content to sit at home and watch as the postseason unfolds.
Even if the master plan is still to land both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul in free agency next year—outlandish as that may seem—signing the Philadelphia 76ers‘ reigning scoring champion and PER leader guarantees the Hawks a return to the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
The loss of Johnson is going to hurt. There’s no doubt about that.
For all the grief he took about his exorbitant contract, Johnson was the Hawks’ best and most consistent player. He’s the one that took the team to a new level.
Now it’s up to Lou to make up for the loss of scoring punch as he tries to earn the favor of his hometown fans.
Assuming that no more significant moves are made, here’s how the Hawks lineup should look:
Point guard: Jeff Teague, Lou Williams*
Shooting guard: Devin Harris, John Jenkins, DeShawn Stevenson
Small Forward: Anthony Morrow, Mike Scott
Power forward: Josh Smith, Jordan Williams
Center: Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, Keith Benson
While that’s obviously not the lineup of a title contender, it should be strong enough for the Hawks to earn the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, a task that usually only requires a record of just about .500.
Al Horford, when healthy, is an All-Star, while Josh Smith has been snubbed for a while now. With an even larger role on the team this season, I have to expect Smoove to finally get that elusive bid.
Teague and Harris form an undersized backcourt, but a potent one, especially with scorers like Williams and Jenkins coming off the bench.
The Hawks should have already been considered a contender for a playoff spot, despite the losses of Johnson and Williams, but this Lou signing pushes them over the top and makes them a lock for one of the eight berths in the postseason.
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Not yet, anyway.
According to Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Nets will send Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, DeShawn Stevenson (via sign-and-trade) and a conditional first-round pick back to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the six-time All-Star, who’s slated to make nearly $90 million over the next four years.
Assuming the deal goes through, the Nets wouldn’t have much to speak of on their payroll. Granted, there’s still plenty of work to be done by GM Billy King and, with free agency just two days old, plenty of time in which to do it. Aside from Johnson and Gerald Wallace—who’s slated to sign a four-year, $40 million deal to stay in Brooklyn—the Nets have only two players (Travis Outlaw and MarShon Brooks) under contract for next season. King has already tendered Brook Lopez a qualifying offer, thereby rendering the 24-year-old center a restricted free agent and allowing the Nets to match any deal thrown his way. Lopez spent most of last season sidelined by a foot injury, though as Tim Bontemps of The New York Post considers, he still stands to profit handsomely, given the exorbitant deals already tendered to the likes of Roy Hibbert and Omer Asik. The Nets also figure to hang onto Gerald Green, who enjoyed a rather stunning renaissance of sorts in New Jersey last season.
The biggest domino of all, though, has yet to fall. The team is awaiting the decision of Deron Williams, who met with both of his free-agent suitors (the Dallas Mavericks and the Nets) on Monday, while Twitter was busy exploding over the news of Joe Johnson’s move. The Nets can offer D-Will more money ($100 million over five years vs. approximately $75 million over four) and more marketing opportunities in the New York metropolitan area than he’ll find in Dallas, and with Johnson, Crash and Lopez on board, they can all but promise him a spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, as well.
Wherever Williams signs, he’s expected to bring fellow free agent Jason Kidd along with him, per ESPN’s Ric Bucher. If the eventual destination is Brooklyn, the Nets would then be left with eight players under contract for next season, five of whom—Johnson $19.75 million, Williams at $17.2 milion, Wallace at $10 million, Outlaw at $4 million and Brooks at just under $1.3 million—would likely take up $52-to-53 million of Brooklyn’s cap space, not including a $7.6 million hold for Lopez. That puts the Nets nearly up against a salary cap that’s expected to be in the $60-to-61 million range, according to Zach Lowe of SI.com.
Supposing the Nets, then, are able to re-sign Lopez and Green and bring J-Kidd back aboard, they could look to fill their front court by signing Bosnian free agent Mirza Teletovic and/or inviting Kris Humphries to stick around for some portion of the $5-million-per-year mid-level exception afforded to teams over the cap but under the luxury tax threshold, as the Nets would be.
Not to mention a $1.96 million biannual exception that would be at Brooklyn’s disposal.
All of which would leave the Nets with three or four open roster spots to fill with late draft picks (i.e. Tyshawn Taylor), undrafted free agents and veterans hoping to land on the end of the bench.
However those last four-to-five spots turn out, head coach Avery Johnson’s depth chart would look something like this:
|Point Guard||Deron Williams||Jason Kidd|
|Shooting Guard||Joe Johnson||MarShon Brooks|
|Small Forward||Gerald Wallace||Gerald Green|
|Power Forward||Humphries/Teletovic||Travis Outlaw|
|Center||Brook Lopez||Backup TBD|
Not exactly a cast of world-beaters, though it’d certainly be a significant upgrade over the band of misfits who’ve finished at least 14 games under .500 in each of the last five seasons. These Nets would presumably have the look of a team capable of cracking the Eastern Conference playoff picture, perhaps even as a top-four-or-five seed.
That may seem like a stretch at first, until factoring in the Chicago Bulls spending half the season (if not longer) without Derrick Rose and bidding farewell to Omer Asik, the Indiana Pacers potentially losing Roy Hibbert to a massive offer sheet, the Hawks (of course) shipping out Iso-Joe and Marvin Williams in an effort to clean house, the Orlando Magic staring down Dwight Howard‘s seemingly imminent departure and the Boston Celtics potentially losing Ray Allen to any number of suitors.
In other words, the East could be significantly weaker behind the Miami Heat when all is said and done. Any number of teams may end up vying for home-court advantage behind the defending champions, including the Nets.
To be sure, the Nets (specifically, owner Mikhail Prokhorov) would’ve preferred to have gone for a bigger splash by bringing Dwight Howard to his destination of choice. And some (like Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops) would suggest that a swap for Superman is still well within the realm of possibility for Brooklyn, should Orlando be privy to a package involving Lopez, Brooks, Wallace, Humphries and a handful of draft picks.
Either way, so long as the Joe Johnson deal goes through and D-Will decides to stay, the Nets’ debut in Brooklyn this fall may well be legitimate cause for excitement on the hardwood.
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It’s safe to say that second-round picks don’t pan out at a far higher rate than first rounders, so if a team can snag a guy in the second round that ends up being a contributor, they’ve done well for themselves.
Credit to where it is due in the 2012 draft: The Warriors (Green), Bucks (Lamb) and Hornets (Miller) all made fantastic picks, and they will eventually be rewarded with a player that can help lead them to success in the future. These players may even make quite an impact now.
Let’s break these picks down.
Golden State Warriors: Draymond Green, Small Forward, Michigan State, No. 35 overall pick.
Green is a player that could have gone in the late first round, so the Warriors are really getting a steal at No. 35 overall. He’s coming out as a senior with a ton of experience at Michigan State, was coached by one of the best in Tom Izzo, and was highly regarded as a leader for the Spartans.
He’s going to bring those intangibles as a person, but as a player he can be dangerous. He’s strong and big enough at 6’7”, 230 pounds to go into the paint, and he’s comfortable down low. That said, he was also the floor leader for the Spartans and can dribble and control the ball very well.
This makes him a very versatile option coming off the Warriors bench, and he’ll be utilized in a ton of mismatches.
Milwaukee Bucks: Doron Lamb, Shooting Guard, Kentucky, No. 42 overall pick.
The pickup of Lamb in the second round could really play major dividends in the future for the Bucks. He’s a guard that can be dangerous from outside, but he can also penetrate the lane, get up a shot and make things happen.
He scored 13.2 points per game on a very talented Wildcats team, and he should be able to fit in nicely with what the Bucks are trying to do. They were able to acquire veteran big man Samuel Dalembert via trade and then drafted North Carolina big man John Henson with pick No. 14. With Monte Ellis and Brandon Jennings in the backcourt, Lamb could prove to be a very reliable scoring option off the bench, which would relieve a ton of pressure from the starters.
Expect Lamb to settle in with the Bucks as a very effective scorer off the bench.
New Orleans Hornets: Darius Miller, Small Forward, Kentucky, No. 46 overall pick.
Surprise, surprise—another Kentucky player. This time though, the Hornets find themselves with the experienced senior that averaged 9.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game for the nation’s best team.
Miller is a big guard/small forward type at 6’8”, 225 pounds, so he shouldn’t have any trouble transitioning to the NBA game. He has experience coming off the bench and making a big impact, as that’s what he did on KU’s national championship team, so expect him to do well in that role with the Hornets.
He can come in and give the Hornets a starter’s effort when they need him off the bench. Also factor in that he should be a great presence for No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, as they were teammates at Kentucky.
Expect Miller to play a huge role on this team in the future, and perhaps even sooner.
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