Posts Tagged ‘KG



31
Jul
07

Who wins with a “big 3”?

After reading this insanely positive article by SI’s Ian Thomsen I have ask, when was the last time you can remember a team winning their conference or the championship with a “big 3” and nothing else around them?

I remember the Wolves had a big 3 with Garnett, Sprewell and Cassell but they lost in Western Conf. finals to a deeper Lakers team.  I remember when the Mavs had a big 3 of Nowitzki, Finley and Nash but they lost twice in the Western Conf. semis and once in the Conf. finals.  The Nets had a big 3 last season with Carter, Kidd and Jefferson but they lost in the Eastern Conf. semis.

Garnett, Pierce and Allen have more combined talent than Garnett’s last big 3 and certainly more than New Jersey’s.  They’ll also be playing in the Eastern Conf. which, although improving, is not as strong as the Western Conf. that those Mavs teams lost in.  Nevertheless, it’s a team game and short of having Michael Jordan on the court it takes a team to win a championship.  This will not be a team.  These three superstars will most likely fit well together.  However, after a season of playing 44 minutes per game because they have absolutely nobody on the bench to help will these three guys – all of whom are over 30 – have enough left to carry this team to a championship?  When young, deep teams like the Bulls and Raptors are pushing the tempo on them in a 7-game series are they going to look like the Heat did in last season’s playoffs, old and slow?

I expect this team to win 50 or so games in the regular season and be extremely fun to watch but they’re not going to win any championships.    

UPDATE:  ESPN’s John Hollinger made a similar point about a big 3 not being enough.  He noted last season’s Wizards as another team with a big 3 who didn’t go all the way.  I’d say they’re more of a big 1 and medium 2 but you get the point. 

30
Jul
07

Garnett to Boston makes sense but . . .


Just give Joakim Noah a couple of years in
the NBA and he’ll look pretty like this too. 

Things are still slow out there in the world of NBA news.  At least there’s a new rumor today that doesn’t have anything to do with Tim Donaghy.  Kevin Garnett might be traded to the Celtics!!!  Essentially it’s the same trade that was on the verge of happening prior to the draft but with a couple more players thrown in to replace the pick. 

The details vary based on the report but Minny would definitely be getting Ratliff’s expiring contract and Al Jefferson.  Beyond that, reports are all over the board.  The Boston Globe’s reports seem very optimistic for the Celtics.  One even has Al Jefferson not included in the deal, being replaced by a #1 pick.  Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Rajon Rondo and Gerald Green are the other names floating around. 

Basically the deal is all of the Celtics young talent and maybe a future #1 pick or two for Kevin Garnett.  It’s a high price for the Celtics to pay.  Garnett is one of the premier players in the game and with someone to carry the scoring load he’d be even more valuable.  As sad as it will be for Minnesota fans to see a loyal, hard-working fan favorite go, this is an opportunity that Kevin McHale has to jump at. 

If McHale can get back 3-4 quality young players, an expiring contract and maybe a pick or two he will have gone a long ways (well, maybe just a ways) towards making up for all the terrible, terrible general managing he’s done in Minneapolis.  Sure, nobody wants to lose KG but McHale has put the team in such a bad spot that he could never surround him with half of what the Wolves will have if they make this trade. 

The situation is a bit more complicated for Boston.  They’d be giving up every asset they have for the future (beyond the next 2 years) and possibly any ability to rebuild if draft picks are included.  If they make this trade they are taking a one year shot at an NBA title.  The team they’d have will only be worse in ’08-’09 than they will be in ’07-’08 and they’d continue to decline from that point while other strong young teams in the East (Bulls) improve.  Because of the bleak future beyond the next season or maybe two it seems like it would be a bad idea for the Celtics to make this trade.  However, Danny Ainge already jumped on board the bad idea bus when he traded for Ray Allen and as long as he’s already stuck he may as well take KG along for the ride. 

Ainge gave up on building a team around the wealth of young talent he had when he traded the #5 pick and Delonte West for Ray Allen.  Ainge had been trying to keep veteran Paul Pierce around while slowly building a young contending team.  Pierce finally had enough of it and made his feelings known this past season.  At that point Ainge should have traded Pierce and continued with his youth movement.  Instead he decided to make the team older and picked up Allen.  

Once he made the Ray Allen trade there was no turning back.  He had to try and win it all with Pierce and Allen in the next year or two.  He probably figured because of his poor track record he’d be fired before his young team came around anyway.  Once you know you’re on the edge of losing your job why think about the future?  Therefore if Ainge gives up everything on his team that will have any significant value in 5 years he’ll have a one year window and a decent shot to win the Eastern Conference.  There’s no turning back, he needs to make this trade desperately.  The team as it currently stands won’t beat the East’s best.  The price he faces for Garnett is high – especially if they don’t work out a contract extension prior to completing a trade – but it’s Ainge’s last and only shot at success. 

 As we’ve said, McHale has to make this trade.  However, letting Garnett slip away from Timberwolves fans will go down as his biggest failure.  Garnett is the ultimate team player and the wounds this trade would leave on Wolves fans can not and should not heal quickly.  What we want to know is, if Ray Allen was available prior to the draft why didn’t McHale go after him?  Sure, his pick was two lower than Boston’s (#7 vs. #5), but he could have sweetened the deal with other pieces.  Allen and Garnett would have been a better duo than Sprewell and Garnett ever were.  Most importantly Minnesota could keep Garnett while giving him some help.  Ultimately rebuilding with what youth they have combined with what they get from Boston will probably be best for the Wolves.  Nevertheless, you have to believe that there was something that could have been done to keep KG in Sota with his faithful.

With the trade Minnesota will join Portland and Seattle as teams in the West that are extremely young but have very bright futures.  Those three teams should be able to peak right around the time the current powers in the West start to go downhill. 

 Assuming Boston is able to hold on to a halfway decent point guard they should be a very fun team to watch as well.  Allen, Pierce, Garnett at the 2, 3, 4/5 will be hard to stop.  They’ll need to jell soon however because the East is getting better.  See any other entry on this blog for the current improving state of the Bulls.  The composition of the Knicks is flawed but they’ll have enough firepower to cost some good teams regular season wins this year.  Atlanta may finally have enough pieces to make something out of their tremendous depth of talent.  The Pistons look to have one more good year in them.  We have to assume the LeBron will only be better this year than he was when he single-handedly carried the Cavs to the Finals last year.  Orlando might be better than last season, with an improved Dwight Howard and added help from Lewis.  The Wizards remain intact and if Arenas can fully recover from his injury they should regain the strong form they showed the first half of last season.  Toronto is bound to be a top tier team for the next several years along with the Bulls.  The Heat and Nets are on their way down, but other than those two the East is getting stronger.   The Celtics better win now if Ainge’s master plan has any chance.

The Kevin Garnett trade probably will happen because it makes sense and will help two teams in desperate situations.  With Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge running the show, however, you never know if the move that makes sense is the move that will happen.

25
Jul
07

Would Donaghy trade Kobe if he ran the Lakers?

If you follow the basketball/sports media closely like we do you have to be tired of all the Donaghy coverage by now too.  90% of what’s out there is talk about how much trouble the NBA is in, how many fans they’re going to lose and what could happen if this or that group is implicated along with Donaghy. 

Enough already.  Things may get worse for the NBA.  They’ll eventually get better.  Regardless, unless you’re David Stern or somebody who works for him things aren’t any worse for you than they were before.  If your team was screwed by Donaghy they didn’t get screwed any worse when news came out about his so far still alleged illegal actions.  Your team still lost and it’s not going to change. 

What’s worse is that the media forgot anything else happens in the NBA besides gambling scandals.  Should the basketball media be covering the Donaghy story?  Absolutely.  But shouldn’t they continue to cover other basketball news?  I know it’s the offseason so there’s not much going on but still, throw us a bone.  What happened to the Kobe and KG speculation?  We’d even settle for a fantasy basketball outlook at this point and we’re not fantasy players.  Give us something other than Donaghy to think about for 5 minutes!

In this desperate time Marc Stein at least took a less somber/comical approach to the issue and gave us a much needed change of pace

How do you say Donaghy?
Admit it: If you were watching David Stern's news conference Tuesday, you
thought that he was mispronouncing Tim Donaghy's last name on purpose. 

You figured that was Stern's shrewd way to spite the allegedly crooked
referee he can now only pray was operating as a "rogue, isolated
criminal."

I can certainly admit it.

The true story, sadly, isn't that sinister. Turns out that the way Stern
kept saying it -- DAHN-AH-GEE, with a hard G -- is the correct
pronunciation of Donaghy's last name.

All of us who have been using DAHN-AH-HE for days have had it wrong.

 Let’s get back to talking about basketball and basketball teams instead of gambling.  This is David Stern’s problem, not ours.  If you only watch the NBA because you believe Stern when he says his league has the best refs in the world of sports then you’re not a basketball fan.  If Stern wants to trade jobs (and more importantly salaries) we’ll take on the scandal.  Otherwise can somebody tell us where Paxson is at in extension talks with Deng and Gordon?  Is Joakim Noah’s shoulder healed yet?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller . . . Bueller . . .

19
Jul
07

Thursday Bulls notes

ESPN’s John Hollinger ranked the Bulls as the 12th Most Improved Team this offseason.  His list:

1. – Houston  
2. – Charlotte
3. – Phoenix
4. – New York
5. – Atlanta                        
6. – Boston
7. – Memphis
8. – Washington
9. – New Orleans
10. – Sacramento
11. – Los Angeles
12. – Chicago

(added Joakim Noah and Joe Smith; lost P.J. Brown)
Maybe power forward isn't the weak spot on the roster anymore.
Already possessing a promising stud at the position in Tyrus
Thomas, the Bulls added the energy of Noah and the veteran
smarts of Smith to their roster, shoring up a spot manned by a
fading Brown last season. No, none of these guys can score in
the post, which is where the Bulls really could use help, but
they'll add another jolt of energy to the frontcourt. Plus,
they give Chicago yet more assets to throw into a trade for the
likes of Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol.

We’d probably place Chicago a few spots higher on the list, but overall it’s an interesting take on team changes so far.  The bright side for Bulls fans is that 9 out of the 11 teams on the list above the Bulls had significantly worse records in ’06-’07 than Chicago did.  Everyone knows the Suns are going to be good.  Yes, the Rockets will probably now legitimately join the upper echelon in the West.  But this list also indicates the Bulls will stay atop the power rankings of Eastern Conference teams.

  • Joe Smith says he has a legit post-up game.  “Posting up is what got me here, from college to my first few years in the league. I started developing the mid-range game when I started playing with Kevin Garnett [in Minnesota] because he was the main post-up guy. I had to spread the defense a bit. But I still feel comfortable with what I can do with my back to the basket.  In Philly last year, they used me a lot on the block, and I was able to get things accomplished whether it was for myself or drawing the double team and finding open guys,” Smith said. “I have a lot of confidence in what I can do on the block as well as what I can do away from the block.”
  • Hinrich will be at the USA Basketball camp in Vegas but he’ll have to compete with Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams to keep his spot on the team.  Luol Deng will play on the British national team this summer and in the ’08 olympics.  Thabo Sefolosha, the only player from Switzerland in the NBA, will do the same for the Swiss team.  Nocioni will not participate this summer on the Argentine team because his leg has not gained enough strength yet after his recovery from plantar fasciitis.  Rumors have circulated that Ben Gordon would also play for Britain as he was born in London and spent the first three weeks of his life there.  Nothing official has been reported.
02
Jul
07

Noah & KG

McHale wanted Noah, dress and all
 
KG back when he was about Joakim’s age

KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote a very interesting article about Joakim Noah after speaking to Billy Donovan.  We highly recommend checking it out. 

Now that the draft is behind us and preseason is still a ways away there’s not much to focus on other than trade and free agency speculation.  KG is still more or less without a home because after the Wolves tried so hard to trade him prior to the draft it would just be awkward for everyone if he suited up in a T’Wolves uniform this season.

Chicago remains a prime destination in hypothetical media trade talk as it has in KG speculation for the past two years.  The Bulls have the young assets to make things worthwhile for Minnesota.  They are in the Eastern Conference so the Wolves wouldn’t have to trade Garnett to a divisional opponent.  However, if the do trade KG they will be a ways away from competing with the young talent they’d have left and thus probably wouldn’t be excessively concerned that Garnett’s new team may beat them for the next couple of seasons.

Mark Stein of ESPN.com reports that Kevin McHale was trying to acquire all three former Gators in last Thursday’s draft:

Wolves VP Kevin McHale even half-admitted what he was going
for when he spoke with Minneapolis reporters late Thursday
night, saying: "If we had more picks, we would have [taken
Al] Horford and [Joakim] Noah, too. We were working on that."

Thus the Bulls would seem like an even more logical pick in a Garnett trade because it’s now clear that Minnesota covets Noah.  For argument’s sake let’s assume the salaries all add up with whatever sign and trades need to be worked out.  Who would the Bulls, and more importantly John Paxson, want to give up along with Noah to get KG?

Who’s not going anywhere
Based on previous trade talk for Pau Gasol and everything that Paxson seems to be saying we can assume Luol Deng will not be included in any trades.  Pax refused to include Hinrich in talks regarding Zach Randolph, and while Randolph is no KG we can still take Paxson’s stance as a sign Hinrich is likely here to stay as well.  Ben Wallace also would not be involved in any trade with the Wolves as they’re clearly trying to go with a youth movement that wouldn’t have room (or money) for Big Ben.

Who could be included
As the Bulls leading scorer you’d have to assume the deal would include Ben Gordon.  Noah also seems logical since McHale publicly stated he was trying to get the former Gator.  Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha proved to be very intriguing prospects last season and would look good to the Wolves.  Nocioni doesn’t fit the mold of what Minnesota is looking for in that he’s right around the middle of his career in terms of age, but he may need to be included for salary purposes.  P.J. Brown similarly could be included in a sign and trade if he’s willing.  According to various online sources any deal Brown would sign would have to be for at least three years but could have only one year guaranteed.  Thus he could be used to create an expiring contract and cap flexibility next year for the Wolves.  The Bulls could use Brown this way more easily than other teams because for teams over or near the cap re-signing a player is easier  than signing a free agent is.  Brown has yet to make any statement regarding how he’d feel about such a situation, but it’s hard to believe he’d turn down a year of maybe $12 million. 

We need to remember that Garnett can opt out of his contract after this season.  After quietly working away in Minnesota for the past three seasons without complaining it seems unlikely KG would feel he owed anything to the Bulls after a year.  Giving up let’s say Noah, Gordon, Thomas and Sefolosha would be a high, high, price to pay for one year of Garnett.  Many may think it’s not enough for KG because there’s no all-star involved.  However, if you look at those four players in three or four years and you look a a likely diminished Garnett playing on the Suns it won’t look like such a good trade.  Even if Garnett does stay, what does the team look like?  Hinrich running the point, Deng slashing and KG posting up.  There’s no shooting guard left on the team and there’d be no money to go out and get one.  Assuming they’d re-sign Nocioni he would be the entire bench offensively.  If they re-sign Duhon that would make a nice team.  With two years of guaranteed Garnett it would be a deal that Paxson would probably have to make given Ben Wallace’s age.  However, with one year left for KG we don’t think Pax will or should make the move. 

As of today NBullsA predicts: 
Paxson stays with the team as it is.  He views Noah as an eventual replacement for Ben Wallace.  Pax drafting Noah this year is a sign that he’s changed his focus from winning it all right now to letting his mostly young team mature together to win it all in a few years.  Yes, this strategy wasted the Ben Wallace money and gave away Tyson Chandler for nothing.  However, Paxson tried to get Gasol for P.J. Brown last season and couldn’t work a deal he was OK with.  At that point he shifted gears.  The fact that he didn’t go out and get Zach Randolph when he was easily attainable is further proof of Paxson’s strategy.  Out of the young core he still may trade Ben Gordon because of his size, but the other pieces are in place.  Noah will step in for Wallace eventually and provide defense and rebounding without a lot of offense, just as Wallace provides now.  Hinrich will run things and Deng will be the leading scorer.  Sefolosha may step in as a point forward allowing Hinrich to shoot more.  Tyrus will either be a starting PF in an up tempo style or else an explosive 6th man of the year if Paxson can manage to find a low post player.

As for KG . . .
Minnesota can’t keep him.  Boston is starting to look possible again.  Like Chicago it is in the East.  Garnett vetoed it once, but unlike Kobe he doesn’t have a no trade clause.  Plus, Garnett said no to Boston before the acquired Ray Allen.  We’re still skeptical that the Ray Allen/Paul Pierce combo will work out but it shows that the Celtics are trying to do what KG wants by winning right now.  Boston would give up Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract and change for KG and may take the risk even if he continues to say he wouldn’t stay. 

The other most likely possibility is L.A. with Kobe.  The Lakers don’t look like they’re trying to trade Kobe yet.  If they quickly get Garnett for Bynum, future picks, and everything else on the team except for Odom, Kobe would probably accept it and be quiet. 

28
Jun
07

The big day is here.


Picture this guy in red because it looks like that’s 
who the Bulls are picking.  He’ll have to get a new
number though because 10 is retired by the Bulls. 

In several hours whatever is going to happen will finally happen.  Oden will go, then Durant will go, then who knows.  

A troubling report came out this morning from ESPN.com’s Andy Katz:

Washington freshman center Spencer Hawes is fairly
confident that he'll end up with Chicago at No. 9 after
working out for the Bulls Tuesday for a second time. Hawes,
who also worked out for Minnesota, Philadelphia and
Sacramento, said he's a perfect fit for the Bulls since he
would be another young piece to help them continue to win.
He said that despite all the rumors, he never received a
guarantee from Minnesota that he would be selected.

Hawes should be confident the Bulls are going to take him if he’s still on the board.  They didn’t bring anybody else in for a second visit and he should take that as a good sign.  However, he is incorrect in thinking that being “another young piece” makes him the perfect fit.  It may mean he’ll have more fun off the court than he would with a team of guys mostly in their 30’s, but it also means he’s the last thing the team needs to help them win. 

At this point all we can do now is hope that Minnesota picks him at #7.  Kevin McHale is picking so he could pass up a better prospect because he’s Kevin McHale.  Also, if they do eventually unload KG they’re going to try and get as young as they can.  In that case Hawes does fit the bill.

One other thing we’d really like to see happen in this draft for the sake of the NBA:

Hawks pick Mike Conley at #3.  Conley probably isn’t the third best player in this draft but it looks like he’ll become a great point guard.  With all of the super athletic guys Atlanta has an exciting true point guard like Conley would make them really fun to watch even if they don’t become contenders.

26
Jun
07

Same ol’ same ol’


Bulls GM John Paxson always knew when to pull the trigger as a player.  Now he needs to figure it out as a general manager. 

K.C. Johnson shed some light on Paxson’s state of mind in the Chicago Tribune today.  It sounds like Paxson will use the #9 pick instead of packaging it in a trade prior to Thurday’s draft.

Paxson, to steal the stand-up comedian's cliché closer, really will
be at the Berto Center all week. That's where he and his staff are
engaged in delicious debate over the fate of the pick, which at
this point Paxson said he's prepared to use.

That's despite league sources insisting the Bulls would trade the
No. 9 pick to acquire a veteran big man. . Said Paxson: "Any talks
I've had with anyone about the pick haven't gone anywhere and were
on the surface level."

He also sounded like a general manager who'd be perfectly content
drafting the proverbial "best player available" so as to stockpile
another asset, perhaps delaying the Bulls' biggest need of
acquiring a scoring big man either through free agency or a summer
trade.

"There are some really good players at positions that are probably
our strengths," Paxson said. "The thing I have to keep in mind is
if we take the guy we like the best, there may come something after
July 1 that opens up for us, even if we're supposedly stronger at a
certain position. It may allow us to move that piece."

So don’t expect to see KG, Zach Randolph or any other big name player on the Bulls roster prior to the season.  Paxson will draft whoever he views as the best player available, even if it’s Georgetown’s Jeff Green who’d mirror Luol Deng or North Carolina’s Brandan Wright who’d mirror Tyrus Thomas.

It sounds like Paxson’s strategy is to continue to stockpile attractive pieces to trade when the right time comes.  The question is when will that time be?  Over the past few seasons Pax has had great opportunities to pick up Garnett, Gasol and now Randolph but he’s yet to pull the trigger.  It would appear he’s hoping to steal somebody much the way Detroit did with Rasheed Wallace.  The problem is he could wait another few years for an opportunity like that to arise if it ever does.  By that time Ben Wallace’s abilities will have decreased and $60 million will have been wasted.  Or, he might find that opportunity soon by trading someone like say Tyrus Thomas for (in his dreams) an unhappy Elton Brand.  The problem there is that this year’s pick is still wasted because you’d have Brandan Wright still at 19 years old.  If he trades the pick in advance of the draft he could have Tyrus at 20.  Youth is important for providing energy in games and a GM has to think about the future.  However, at what point do you have to finally take a risk to make it to the next level?

So what will Paxson do?  He’ll draft Noah if he possibly can because he’s a hard worker and comes from a winning program.  Hinrich is a hard worker from a winning program.  So are Duhon, Deng, Gordon and Nocioni.  Tyrus was from a winning program last year and there were no signs that he wasn’t a hard worker.  We’ve come to see what Pax looks for in a draft and his below comments would seem to support that he’ll stay true to his past.

On Joakim Noah winning two NCAA titles at Florida: "This guy is a
winner who plays with heart and passion. There's something to be
said for winning. You have to accept a role and play to that role.
There's a lot to be said for that from our end."

It’s possible Noah won’t be there by #9.  In that case look for Paxson to feel like he’s taking a risk with Hawes because Hawes didn’t come from a team that went too deep in March.  They’re bringing him in for a follow up interview which appears to be a good sign for the former Husky.  If Paxson gets nervous at the last minute about taking this “risk” he’ll pick the best available talent that remains.  He’d love Conley, Green orJulian Wright.  Chances are he’ll be scared of Yi or Brandan Wright.  

He’ll enter free agency looking to pick up somebody like Jamaal Magloire with the midlevel exception and feel confident he’s improved the team.  He’ll then wait for that difference maker to become available from another team during the season for cents on the dollar.  That player either will never become available or he’ll have a “questionable character” which would probably be why he’s available in the first place and Pax will again freeze up and pass on the opportunity.   

On free agency, which begins Sunday, and beyond: "We are in very
good shape to go out and spend [the midlevel exception] in free
agency if that's what it takes. You can look at the list and make
some calls there. I think we'd be able to plug some pieces into
our roster too. At some point, we're going to have to make a deal.
I have to be patient. If we can acquire a player this draft at nine
that is a valuable piece, it may open more things up for us in
terms of trading. There's one more piece that you have that someone
somewhere down the line may like and you can put together a package
that makes sense to get that player without gutting your team."

The players currently on the Bulls roster are very likable and hard working.  It would be sad to see any of them go.  However, Paxon has to move beyond viewing trading any of them as gutting his team.  He said he has to be patient but at wjat point does patience turn into stuborness?




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