Friday, August 9, 2013

Paul Pierce Says It's Time For The Nets to Start Running New York

This Summer the Brooklyn Nets made a trade with the Boston Celtics in which they acquired veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.  This move was considered one of the best, if not the best offseason move this year in the NBA, and many people believe that the Brooklyn Nets have immediately been vaulted into title contention.  One of those people is newly acquired small forward Paul Pierce.
Well, it didn't take long for Paul Pierce, who has more than a little familiarity with a Knicks rivalry, to turn up the heat from Brooklyn. "I think the hate [for the Knicks] has grown a little. Everybody knows how much I disliked the Knicks when I was with the Celtics, but I think it's grown to another level," Pierce said on ESPN NewYork 98.7 FM's "The Michael Kay Show" on Thursday. "I think it's time for the Nets to start running this city." Pierce later told reporters at a Sprint H-O-R-S-E event in Manhattan: "The only thing that separates the two teams is a bridge. And both of them are in the same division and both of them are considered contenders. You can't help but say this is probably gonna be the best rivalry in sports next year."

I love this, I absolutely love this and let me tell you why.  First of all, since the Nets acquired Deron Williams, and subsequently moved to Brooklyn Nets management has been doing everything possible to turn the Nets into a title contender.  They acquired Joe Johnson last season and though Johnson didn't have his most productive year the Nets did improve immensely from their 22-44 record that they posted in the 2012 season.

With the addition of Joe Johnson, and the acquisition of Gerald Wallace from the season before the Nets looked like they had a pretty solid core between Williams, Wallace, Johnson and center Brook Lopez.  Many outlets, including ESPN were dubbing them immediate contenders, and many began to speculate on a great rivalry with the Knicks.  Brooklyn would go on to split the regular season series 2/2 with the Knicks.  

Though hopes were quite high the Nets struggled early in the season and head coach Avery Johnson was fired, and replaced by PJ Carlesimo.  Deron Williams had a slow start, but managed to put together one of the more brilliant years of his career as the season went on.  Unfortunately, Gerald Wallace seemed to lose all semblance of his game after the all star break, and power forward Kris Humphries who had a breakout 2012 season struggled to replicate that production and live up to his 2yr/$24M contract.
The Nets would eventually limp to the playoffs as the four seed where they were bounced from the playoffs in the first round by the Chicago Bulls who were missing Derrick Rose and who didn't have Luol Deng for the better part of the series.  The series went seven games, but the Nets never really looked in sync, and apart from game one every game was close.

The Nets responded to their playoff failure in the way that everyone expected new owner Mikhail Prokhorov to do and immediately sought high priced talent.  They were ultimately able to make a deal with Boston, who are in the beginning stages of rebuilding.  The deal showed that the Nets are clearly in win now mode, as they should be with the huge contracts they already had as they sent Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, journeyman shooting guard Keith Bogans, talented prospect Marshon Brooks and first round draft picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018.  The Nets received Garnett and Pierce, but also acquired veteran sixth-man Jason Terry who is sure to add some firepower off the bench.  Obviously, the move makes Brooklyn better, but are they now contenders?

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have won on the biggest stage before, capturing the Larry O'Brien trophy against the Lakers in 2008.  They also made a return to the NBA Finals in 2010 before falling to the Lakers in seven games.  The point is, they've been there, they've won there, and they know exactly what it takes to get back there.  While the Celtics may have struggled last season and only ended up the seventh seed in the playoffs, just two years ago they gave the Miami Heat all they could handle in the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to LeBron James and the Heat in seven games. 

Jason Terry is no stranger to the big stage either, as he was a key player in the Mavericks win over the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.  Terry was called out by LeBron following a game three loss, and then responded in kind, averaging 21.7 points per game through the finals three games of the series.

The point is, these guys are veterans, and they're very, very good.  They've been very good for a long time, and while they may be older their production hasn't dropped off that much.  Pair that with the fact that they won't have to be the go to guys all the time on their team and that makes Brooklyn that much scarier of a matchup.

There is no doubting by any means that the Nets have gotten better, but there is one question that remains.  How are all of these alpha personalities going to co-exist with one another?  Deron Williams was signed to be "the guy" for this Nets team before they had their arena in Brooklyn, and when the Nets were preparing to build for the future.  Joe Johnson was "the guy" in Atlanta before he came to Brooklyn, and he seemed to mesh decently well with Williams, but can the same be said about Garnett and Pierce? I think so.

Pierce and Garnett are both competitors, and they want to win at least one more before they retire.  Because of this I think that they will both be willing to give up personal statistics in order for the team to win.  However, that is not the issue.  Ultimately the issue comes down to how many alpha personalities there will be on this team.  

Brook Lopez is probably not going to be someone who is going to clash with his teammates over the way things are going, but could Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett? Absolutely.  There's also the possibility that Pierce and Garnett may take each others sides in certain issues and that could obviously be very devastating for locker room chemistry.

Not helping this matter is the fact that Jason Kidd is a head coach after only just a year of playing against every single one of these players.  Kidd himself will obviously have his ideology, and his system, that he is going to put in place because he is the head coach.  The question remains though as to whether or not a roster full of veterans is going to listen to a man they were just competing against.  Sure, these guys all have respect for Jason Kidd, but that doesn't mean that they're going to want to take coaching advice from the man.

Jason Kidd himself is also an alpha personality, and should players and the coaches not agree on things it could end up poorly for Brooklyn.  I'm not saying this is necessarily going to happen, but there's always that possibility.

Of course, everything mentioned above is merely speculation as to whether or not the team will be able to function correctly.  Should the team have zero chemistry issues, well, then the Nets could very well end up representing the East in the NBA Finals.  Obviously Johnson, Williams, Pierce, Garnett, and Lopez are the guys who are going to be getting attention, but this team has bench depth to rival any team in the league.

One signing the Nets made this offseason that got somewhat lost in the wake of the Garnett/Pierce trade was the signing of Andrei Kirilenko who opted out of his contract with Minnesota and is playing for Brooklyn for considerably less money.  Kirilenko proved last season that he still has a lot to bring to the table, and is still the same staunch defender that he's always been.  Kirilenko will provide great minutes off the bench, as he's a multi faceted player and can significantly impact games.

The Nets' other big time player off the bench is Jason Terry as mentioned earlier.  Terry is a hybrid forward who over the last several years of his career has embraced his role as a very efficient sixth man off the bench.  Terry can score at will, and is a great shooter from the outside.  He's instant offense, and much like Kirilenko gives you 100% every time he steps on the court.  Terry has shown that he can go off for 30 on a given night, and anytime a team has someone capable of doing that you can never count them out of any games.

Quite obviously Terry and Kirilenko are the big names, but Brooklyn has even more depth.  Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche will both be coming off the bench, and both of them are very solid defensive players, and both of them can grab rebounds in bunches.  Blatche has a much more polished offensive game, and he looks like he's finally matured since his time in Washington.  Blatche is 6'11 and can play either the center of power forward positions.  Though Reggie Evans is not very skilled offensively, he's a bruiser and a force to be reckoned with underneath.  Evans is not hesitant to bang with any player underneath, and may very well be the most physical player in the league.  I personally like to compare him to a poor man's Dennis Rodman as he busts his ass all night long, and grabs rebounds like it's nobodies business.

Other role players on this team include guys like Jerry Stackhouse, Shaun Livingston, and Alan Anderson.  I don't expect Stackhouse or Anderson to get much more than spot minutes, but both of them can shoot from the outside and should be able to contribute.  Livingston will get minutes at the backup point guard, but some of those will be eaten up by Terry.  Though he may have limited minutes Livingston can contribute on both ends of the floor and should be a solid bench piece for Brooklyn.

When it comes down to it, Brooklyn may struggle to find chemistry early on in the season much like Miami did when they acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh.  However, I don't expect that to be long lasting if it even is a problem, as I have no doubt that every player on their very loaded starting five.  While I ranked them fourth in my way too early Eastern Conference preview that's more a testament to the strength of the top teams in the Eastern Conference as opposed to how good I think Brooklyn will be next season.

Make no mistake, this team became serious contenders this offseason and if anyone is going to dethrone King James and company, Brooklyn may very well be the team to do it.  Either way, this team is definitely going to be a fun one to watch next season, and I can't wait. 

Follow me on Twitter - @DbRedickulous

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pac-12 Commisioner Calls One-and-Done Rule "Inappropriate"

I'm a little late to the party with this story, but I couldn't not write about it.  The current NBA rule is that players must be 19 years old in order to play in an NBA game.  Let me state that again, the current NBA rule is that players must be 19 years old in order to play in an NBA game.  I reiterate that because too many people frequently refer to this as the "one-and-done rule" as in, the NBA says that players must play at least one year of collegiate ball before coming.  This is not the case, and I point to Brandon Jennings who did not play in college, but rather played professionally for a year in Italy before coming to the NBA.  The reason that I'm clarifying this is because I hate listening to people complain about the supposed "one-and-done rule."

Anyway, to the point, Larry Scott who is the current Pac-12 commissioner bemoaned the current NBA age requirement rule last week during Pac-12's football media day.  First of all, why the hell are you bringing this up during football media day? Second, why the hell are you bringing this up during FOOTBALL media day?  Here's the report from Doug Hollander of the the Arizona Republic:

But with college sports on the brink of overhaul, Scott feels it's time to alter a system that lets student-athletes “be on our campuses for less than 12 months.”
“Anyone that's serious about the collegiate model and the words ‘student-athlete' can't feel very good about what's happening in basketball with one-and-done student athletes,'' Scott told a small group of reporters at last week's Pac-12 football media day.
“We've managed with the NFL and football to have a reasonable policy that allows kids to go pro at the appropriate time. We've managed to do it in baseball. Basketball's the only sport where we haven't managed to come up with a responsible policy and the blame is with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA, so now's the time to take ownership of it. We've got time. We've made major changes in football. Now there's time to make major changes in basketball.”

Alright Larry, there are several issues with your points here, but I'm going to start with the most glaring one.  First off, comparing football and basketball immediately makes your point irrelevant.  Collegiate football players are allowed to enter the NFL draft following the completion of their junior year of college.  This means that if you are a redshirt sophomore that you are eligible to enter the draft as you've completed three years of college.

Here's where the fundamental differences lie.  In the NFL, these athletes are absolutely punishing each other.  These are grown men going out and lighting each other up, I can tell you right now that there are absolutely zero 18 year old kids that can go out there and strap on pads and play with guys like Clay Matthews, Calvin Johnson, Ed Reed, and any other player in the NFL.  Hell, there are 22 and 23 year old kids who can't make it in the NFL because of this.  The NBA is completely different.

Yes, the NBA also requires a great deal of skill and athleticism to play, but unless you're a center who's going to be doing a whole lot of banging underneath, you're not really going to get hurt that much.  Sure, there are torn acls, and hurt ligaments, separated shoulders etc.  But there aren't 275 lb. men flying around trying to truck stick you in the NBA (unless your JJ Barea in which case watch out for Andrew Bynum).

This brings me to baseball.  Here are the baseball eligibility rules straight from

  • High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
  • College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
  • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed
Ok, so there you have it.  High school players can go straight to the big leagues, and so can junior college players.  Though I do understand his point in that they force kids to commit to playing major college ball 'til at least 21 I think this is an absolutely unfair rule.  I get it, you want kids to come play for you in college, and you want to get something out of recruiting them, and that's fine.  The thing is basketball is a completely different animal when you compare it to both football and basketball. 

Basketball is certainly a team sport, there is no arguing that, but teams that are successful generally have a marquee player who does a lot for the team overall.  You can win in basketball by having a couple very, very good players and then some fairly average players surrounding them.  Yes, there are teams that win because they have very complete teams, but there are also teams that win because they have "one and done" guys who can dominate.  

Also, why sell these kids short?  Why shouldn't they be allowed to go play professionally if they believe they can make it?  I understand that these institutions are giving these kids scholarships in order to get a degree, but I can tell you right now I'm graduating in a semester and I'm hoping that I make $40K coming out of college next year.  If you told me I could have left after my freshman year to sign an NBA contract I, and almost everyone else in this world would leave that institution in a heart beat.

There's also the fact that many coaches know what they're getting into when they recruit these players.  John Calipari knows that of the class he's recruited this year that nearly everyone of them of are going to the NBA after this season.  Does Calipari care? Well considering in the past four years Calipari has lost 10 freshman to the NBA draft I don't think he's terribly concerned.  Instead, he reloads each year, and this year appears to be his best class ever with seven of his players ranking in the top 25 ESPN prospect rankings.

The thing is, that when it comes to basketball you can be a force at a young age.  Examples include LeBron, Kobe, Kevin Garnett, etc.  Even then, there have been plenty of other players who have emerged from the high school ranks and had solid careers, guys like Rashard Lewis, Monta Ellis, JR Smith, Al Jefferson and several others.  There are also plenty of guys who came from high school and although they're not superstars or even great players they're still solid role players, guys like DeShawn Stevenson, Martell Webster, Amir Johnson, and many more.

 Pictured: T-Mac, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant from 1998 all three came from high school and have been solid NBA players

I'll be honest, there are always going to be people prodding at the so called "one and done" rule, but ultimately it has been good for both collegiate players and the NBA.  While I listed several players who were quite successful NBA players there have also been many who didn't cut it in the NBA and were unable to play in college having played professionally.  Now, there are players who think that they can succeed in the NBA, but they must go to college or play in the D-League or overseas before they can do so.

This essentially allows players who think they're good enough to find out how good they really are when playing against a tougher degree of competition.  This also aids colleges in their recruiting as they're now able to go out and recruit the best of the best instead of fearing losing them to the NBA.  The system might not be perfect to some people, but I'll tell you now it's about as close as we're going to get.

Overall, the system has shown that it works, and that it will continue to work.  Allow me to close with these words.  Shut up, Larry Scott.


Follow me on Twitter - @DbRedickulous


Suns' Michael Beasley Arrested For Marijuana...Again

Via USA Today
Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley was arrested in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning and could be facing charges for drug possession, according to Scottsdale police.
Police stopped Beasley in Scottsdale at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday for a traffic violation in the area near Scottsdale and McCormick roads, according to the Scottsdale Police Department.
According to police, officers searched his vehicle after smelling marijuana coming from the car and confiscated narcotics located in the driver area.
Beasley was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession and released from custody. He could be facing charges for drug possession.
The incident is not related to sexual assault claims made against Beasley earlier this year. Police said that the case is still open and no formal charges have been brought against Beasley.
In February, police cited Beasley for several offenses including speeding, driving on a suspended Arizona license, and driving without a vehicle license plate or registration.
Here is the Scottsdale Police report:

On 08/06/13 at 1:15 am SPD made a stop for a traffic violation in the area of Scottsdale and McCormick Roads. As the officer approached the vehicle he could smell marijuana emanating from within the car. A search of the driver's area recovered marijuana that was impounded. The driver, identified as Michael Beasley, was booked pending charges for possession of marijuana and released.

Ok, I'll admit it I have been a Michael Beasley apologist for awhile now.  I've always thought he was just a guy who needed to be in the right situation for him to succeed.  However, after this arrest I don't know that I can believe that myself anymore.

Beasley was an absolute beast in college during his one year at Kansas State averaging 26.2 ppg along with 12.4 rpg on 53% shooting.  Those numbers were so impressive that many people thought he would be the number one pick in the 2008 NBA draft.  Beasley ended up going number two to Miami after Derrick Rose was selected by his hometown Chicago Bulls with the number one pick.  Since being selected Beasley has had a very tumultuous career.

Beasley had a rough start to his NBA career when, during the rookie transition camp he was found with fellow rookies Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers in a hotel room that smelled strongly of burning marijuana.  Chalmers and Arthur were both dismissed from the camp and fined $20K each.  Ultimately, Beasley was not fined nor dismissed, however Pat Riley would force Beasley to confess that he had slipped out the door when police arrived.  Beasley would be fined $50K by the NBA thus marking the beginning of his many off the court issues.

In 2009 following a very strong rookie campaign Beasley checked himself into rehab for "stress related issues" but many speculated that it was for his marijuana usage.  Beasley completed his rehab and returned to Miami for his sophomore season where he appeared to have improved.  Beasley managed to stay out of trouble during this season, and it appeared he may have things on track. 

In the Summer of 2010 Beasley was traded from Miami to Minnesota in exchange for draft picks which would allow the Heat room to sign both LeBron James and Chris Bosh.  Beasley seemed to embrace his role for the Timberwolves as he was the 2nd leading scorer as well as the 2nd leading rebounder.  Beasley averaged 19 points and 5 rebounds during his first year with the Timberwolves, and although it wasn't the most efficient year he'd ever had Beasley looked poised to finally live up to his potential.

Unfortunately this was not the case, and Beasley had an abysmal 2011-2012 season.  Beasley ended up only playing in 47 games that season and averaged a career low 11.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg.  During this year Beasley was pulled over while speeding through Minnesota suburb Minnetonka.  When he was pulled over marijuana was allegedly found in Beasley's vehicle, and he was subsequently fined and ticketed for the marijuana after claiming that it belonged to a friend whom he had just dropped off.

Though Beasley struggled during his last year and seemed to be reverting back to his old ways the Phoenix Suns decided that they wanted to make Beasley a cornerstone of their organization.  Phoenix recognized his immense talent and believed that if they brought him on he could finally live up to his potential.  Yet again, this was not the case.

Beasley had the worst year of his career, averaging career lows in points, rebounds, and shooting just barely over 40%.  Phoenix's hope for Beasley's resurgence were quickly dashed, and he started in only 20 of the 75 games in which he played.

Phoenix did not make the playoffs this past season, and were one of the worst teams in the league.  Beasley was inked to a 3yr/$18M deal which means that he may still be around for two more years which will handicap the Suns a bit financially.  However, there is actually a chance that Beasley's contract may end up being voided whether by amnesty or by what else? More off the court issues.

In May of this year it was reported that Beasley was being investigated for a sexual assault charge that occurred in January.  The alleged assault occurred in Phoenix and is still under investigation by authorities, and has yet to be resolved.  While Beasley may not have committed the crime, it doesn't matter at this point.  His image as a serious player in the NBA is going to take a beating from this whether he's acquitted or found guilty.

This brings us to his most recent marijuana charge. The police report and all of the details are listed at the beginning of this article so I'm not going to discuss that, but I do have one question.  How in the hell does Michael Beasley continue to screw up like this?  This is his job, this is what pays his bills.  Should he be waived by the Suns it will most likely be quite difficult for him to find work with another organization.  He may still be signed by someone, but those lucrative contract offers are not going to be coming anytime soon.  

The NBA cares a lot about it's public image, and teams do too.  Teams will take second, and even third chances on a lot of players hoping they can turn their image around.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  Most teams however, don't gives guys 4th and 5th chances and that's where we are with Michael Beasley.  Like I said, this is the guys livelihood and I can tell you right now there's not a real high demand for people with only a year of college completed.  At the end of the day, Beasley needs to get his head on straight, though it may be too late should he turn himself around he may still be able to be the player he could have been, and he may find himself another roster spot.  

I used to be a Michael Beasley apologist, but not anymore.  There comes a point and time where you can no longer defend a guy, I'm officially at that point.  I'll root for him if he can turn it around, but until then, I don't really care, and really, the NBA probably doesn't anymore either.

Follow me on Twitter @DbRedickulous


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What to do With Greg Oden

If you're an NBA fan then you probably know who Greg Oden is.  If not, allow me to explain.  Greg Oden was the number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft, and he was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers exactly one pick ahead of Kevin Durant who was drafted by Seattle. Oden was considered a can't miss prospect coming out of college, a legit seven footer who had great game on both ends of the floor.  Nearly every scout agreed that Oden was the number one pick, and nobody was surprised when Portland ultimately selected him, and prepared to assemble what appeared to be a very talented core of Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy.  Yes, it appeared that Portland was finally going to get over the hump, that this was it, the future of Trail Blazer basketball.  The future had arrived and it was in the form of a seven foot tall giant from Ohio State.  Alas, it was not to be.

Oden only managed to play in 82 games over the course of his five years he spent under contract with the Trail Blazers due to serious knee injuries.  Oden has had five surgeries, including three arthroscopic surgeries on his knees, these are the same kinds of surgeries that guys like Tracy McGrady, Gilbert Arenas, and Kenyon Martin struggled to come back from.  Roy also was an unfortunate victim of injuries, as he played only five seasons with Portland before being forced to retire due to the meniscus issues in his knees.  Thus, the Trail Blazers high hopes quickly disappeared. 

Oden's tragic tail opens up comparisons to former Trail Blazers center Sam Bowie, who was selected in 1984.  Bowie only managed to play 511 career games in 11 seasons, which is good for only a little over half of the games in those 11 seasons.  Bowie was selected over greats like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton to name a few.  Conversely, Oden was selected over players such as Kevin Durant, Al Horford, and Joakim Noah.  While none of those players are comparable to the stars that were selected ahead of Bowie, they've all been very good NBA players while Oden has hardly played.  Obviously this is not the exact same situation, as Oden was the consensus number one pick in his draft and Sam Bowie was a guy who could have easily fallen to another team, but still, they're centers who the Trail Blazers drafted that unfortunately never panned out due to injuries.

Ultimately, the Trail Blazers were forced to let Oden go, simply because it was not worth continuing to pay him for him to not play a single second of NBA basketball, and they needed to make room for trade acquisitions.  Oden did not workout, nor did any team seek to sign Oden for the 2012/13 season as he wasn continuing to rehab his knee in order to hopefully make a comeback this coming season, and he already has many potential suitors.

Oden is currently being pursued by six different teams, the Mavericks, the Hawks, the Pelicans, the Spurs, the Heat, and the Kings.  Each of these teams has a unique reason for wanting him, and it would appear that Oden would fit in on every single one of these teams rosters.  Ultimately, all of these teams are hoping that Oden can be at least close to what he was when he was drafted, however if he's not it will cost them little to sign him and should be seen as a low risk/high reward investment.

The Mavericks have been desperately trying, and failing, to woo a marquee free agent to Dallas for the last few years.  They were unable to sign Deron Williams, unable to snag Chris Paul, and most recently unable to land Dwight Howard.  Oden is not a marquee player, let me set that straight before anyone thinks that's what I'm suggesting.  He is however, someone who, if healthy should be immediately able to contribute.  Dallas missed the playoffs last year for the first time since the 99/00 season.  The Mavericks had quite a few problems with their roster this past year, but perhaps the most glaring is front court depth.

The Mavs just recently signed center Samuel Dalembert, who is by all accounts serviceable, but if healthy, Oden would certainly be an upgrade.  Mark Cuban is a businessman, and a damn good one at that.  Cuban knows that if he can sign Oden for relatively cheap, and Oden ends up playing at a high level than this is definitely a minor risk worth taking.  Dallas is definitely an intriguing destination, and I would not be surprised to see Oden sign there in any capacity.

The man pictured above (yes the man stop looking to his right) is RC Buford for those of you who are unfamiliar with him.  Buford is currently the Spurs GM and is easily one of the top five best GMs in the NBA, if not the best.  Buford has successfully managed to sign or trade for key players that will fit Poppovich's coaching style, and has helped the Spurs consistently maintain a position among the Western Conference elite.

As I've just pointed out Buford is a savvy GM and he knows what he's getting into in his courting of Greg Oden.  The Spurs just resigned Tiago Splitter to a 4yr/$36M contract, but DeJuan Blair is no longer on the roster, and as much as I love him Matt Bonner is not a serviceable backup center.  The Spurs definitely need some front court depth and this is exactly what they'd be getting in Oden.  

At this point I'm inclined to believe that the Spurs are one of the destinations higher on the list for Oden.  He would be looking at some substantial playing time, and would be walking into a roster that just went to the NBA Finals.  However, he won't be under a whole lot of scrutiny as the media doesn't generally spend a whole lot of time worrying about what's going on in San Antonio, so he won't feel that immense pressure to become the player that he once was.

I could list the reasons for the Pelicans and the Hawks, as well as the Kings, but they basically fall into the same reasons the Spurs and the Mavericks do.  All of these teams are in need of solid front court players, and Oden definitely fits that mold.  These are obviously a variety of teams ranging somewhere between the top, the middle of the pack, and the bottom.  Ultimately however, there is one destination that desires him over all of these other franchises, and that is of course the Miami Heat.

Pat Riley has made some extraordinary moves in South Beach, the biggest of which obviously is bringing LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh together, a move that has resulted in three straight finals appearances, and back to back finals championships.  Not to be lost amongst that is his signings of Ray Allen for less money than Boston offered him, his acquisition of Shane Battier, and his late round drafting of young players who only need to fill a certain role.  This obviously means that Riley will ultimately land Oden right? Well, I'm not so sure.

Miami's current glaring need right now is quite clearly a capable man in the middle.  Joel Anthony is absolutely god awful, and the starting big men combination of Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem were exposed when they faced the Pacers and their front court of David West and Roy Hibbert.  Oden would provide a presence in the middle that Miami has yet to see during the LeBron James era, and would most likely vault this team into their first ever three peat.

Oden's impact, should he be healthy and in game form would be immense.  Here's the thing, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are not getting any younger, and they were quite clearly not as effective during the post season last year.  Adding a healthy Greg Oden here would be huge, as they would finally have someone who is capable both offensively and defensively patrolling the paint, meaning that it would be even more difficult for teams to score on what is already a very tough Miami defense. 

Why then, would Oden be hesitant to sign here?  Well, obviously there are many veterans who have opted to sign with Miami for limited contracts because it means opportunities at championship rings.  I don't have any doubts that Oden is interested in a championship ring, but should he sign with the team who has received the most media attention than nearly any other team in sports over the past three years he would ultimately be subjected to a great deal of scrutiny.  Suddenly, every reporter is asking the question "can you still play?" "do you think you're the piece the Heat need for their three peat?" etc.  

These are not the questions you want to be asked if you are a player who is coming back from five knee surgeries, and haven't played in three years.  Instead, I believe Oden will be looking to perhaps play in a smaller market with less media scrutiny where he can quietly try to return to form, in order to pursue a bigger contract with a contending team later on.

At the end of the day, I'm not Greg Oden, so I don't know what's going through his head. I do know that Oden is a competitor, so he very well could go to the place where he believes he can win the most.  I'm a big fan of his, I have been since he played at Ohio State.  And when it comes down to it I can honestly say I hope that he succeeds wherever he plays, whether it be Sacramento or Miami.  I'll be rooting for him.

Good luck, Greg.

Follow me on Twitter @DbRedickulous

Rockets' Terrence Ross Arrested For Stomping on a Homeless Man

Via SBNation
Portland police arrested Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones after "he yelled at a homeless man and stomped on his leg" early Wednesday morning, according to The incident happened at about 2 a.m. local time.
Per police reports, an officer watched a man later identified as Jones "walk by a doorway where two homeless men were sleeping," before he "yelled, 'Wake up,' then raised his leg and stomped down on one of the man’s legs." The victim only received minor injuries that didn't command immediate medical attention.
The second-year NBA player was officially charged with harassment and will attend a court date Wednesday.
A Portland native who starred for the local Jefferson High School, Jones later played for the University of Kentucky before being selected in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft by Houston. It's currently unclear how the team will handle this matter.

Uhh what? Seriously?  I mean Terrence Jones was obviously wasted here right?  Like, I mean don't get me wrong I've been walking home drunk in downtown Iowa City myself past bums plenty of times but I've never thought to myself "damn, I should just stomp on these homeless guys." 

Not to mention the fact that Jones is an NBA player, I mean, what the hell does it matter to him that these guys are homeless?  Seriously, Jones is set to make $1.5M next season.  I have to imagine he thought "how can I help out these bums? Give them a few bucks out of my million dollar salary? Nah, I'll just stomp on their legs for a little bit."  I honestly have no idea what to think here, but at the end of the day I highly doubt that he sees any serious reprecussions from the league or the Rockets.  Maybe a small fine, but that's pretty much going to be it.

The NBA, where caring happens.

PS - These dudes can totally get a settlement out of this right? I mean besides the fact that they can't afford a lawyer, and probably couldn't represent themselves in a courtroom obviously.

Follow me on Twitter @DbRedickulous

A Look at The Brandon Jennings Trade

The Milwaukee Bucks have finally found a new destination for point guard Brandon Jennings, and Brandon Jennings has gotten a contract for about what he's worth.  Last night the Pistons acquired Brandon Jennings from Milwaukee in exchange for Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, and Slava Kravtsav.  This trade benefits both sides, as the Pistons acquire their second big name this offseason, and Milwaukee can finally start rebuilding.

First of all, let me say, Joe Dumars has managed to save his job this summer.  Acquiring Josh Smith was a big time move in itself and it even led me to predict that the Pistons would make the playoffs. Now with the acquisition of Jennings from Milwaukee for next to nothing Dumars has proven that he is still somewhat of a savvy GM.

I will admit, I'm one of the first people to tell you all about Brandon Jennings' shortcomings.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a Brandon Jennings fan, and I think he has loads of potential, but he's yet to live up that.  Jennings has only shot over 40% from the floor one season, while using 25% of his teams possessions in every season but last in which he used around 24%.  This is obviously not very efficient, and is some good evidence as to why the Bucks have struggled the last few seasons.  However, I do believe that some of this can be attributed to the situation Jennings was in, in Milwaukee.

Realistically Milwaukee hasn't exactly surrounded Jennings with talent.  Though they have made the playoffs three of the last four years they've only registered one winning season in those four years.  While I understand it's difficult to bring in quality free agents to a market like Milwaukee GM John Hammond has not done a great job with the assets that he has had.  The most glaring example of this was trading Andrew Bogut to Golden State in exchange for Monta Ellis.

Ellis and Jennings are more or less the same player, and it was painfully obvious that they were not very cohesive on the floor together.  Both of them are high volume shooters who need the ball in their hands a lot, and neither of them are great defenders.  Pairing two poor defenders in your front court is obviously never a good decision, but the Bucks did it anyway to very little success.  The addition of Ellis definitely hurt Jennings as it was much harder to cover up Jennings' mistakes on defense, and allowed opposing guards to exploit the two of them.

Now that Jennings is no longer in Milwaukee, and appears to have some real talent around him, especially a very talented front court, we should be able to find out how good Jennings really is.  There's little to no doubt that Jennings can score, we all know that, but now that he won't be one of very few offensive weapons we will see if he can effectively run a team as a point guard.  

Jennings' assist totals did improve last year to the best in his career, which is promising because it means he will probably be willing to play the role of a pass first point guard in Detroit which they desperately need.  The Brandon Knight point guard experiment that Detroit attempted was clearly not working, and now it appears that they may actually have a true point guard.  Chauncey Billups will also probably be instrumental in helping Jennings become a better point guard and team leader next season as Billups was very much that guy in Detroit during the early 2000s. 

Make no mistake, Jennings is definitely surrounded by some serious talent now in Detroit.  Obviously he's got Josh Smith, and Greg Monroe is a serious player when it comes to playing underneath.  I think Andre Drummond and Jennings will also be very cohesive and I'm excited to see the two of them run the pick and roll.  Not to mention guys like Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rodney Stuckey, and Jonas Jerebko.  I mean, none of those guys are stars by any means, but they're much better role players than what Jennings was stuck with in Milwaukee.

The addition of Jennings definitely makes Detroit a team you're going to want to watch on league pass next year, and it will be very interesting to watch how Jennings responds to this opportunity.  Big picture though? The Pistons look like they've definitely gotten a lot better.

John Hammond, man, what can I say about John Hammond that I already haven't?  This guy has been in charge of the Milwaukee front office for 5 years now and I can honestly say I don't think he's made one really great move.  The best move of Hammond's tenure in Milwaukee was probably his drafting of Braond Jennings, and well, obviously Jennings is no longer on the roster.

This trade though, may very well give Hammond the opportunity to turn it around and begin a rebuilding process.  Obviously the question there is whether or not Hammond is competent enough to rebuild successfully, and whether or not he will be around to see the fruits of his rebuild fulfilled as he may very well be fired before that. 

The best thing Hammond did here was trade a clearly disgruntled guard who wanted to be somewhere else, for a decent prospect in Brandon Knight, and two middling prospects in Kravtsov and Middleton.  The best part about this? He doesn't really have to pay them anything, and Brandon Knight could potentially be an asset after this season as he will be an expiring deal and some team may want his services as a bench scorer around the deadline.

Another key here is that Milwaukee is going to be bad.  I mean, really, really, really, really, really freaking bad.  This team is going to challenge Philly and Phoenix for worst in the league here.  I originally pegged them finishing around 12th in the Eastern Conference but there is not a chance that they finish better than Orlando or Charlotte.  This is great news for Hammond as this means he will be in position to get a top 5 draft in what as I continue to mention looks to be a loaded draft class.  Should Milwaukee land say the top pick in this upcoming draft and land Andrew Wiggins, well, that right there is a job saver for Mr. Hammond over here. 

In all honesty, Milwaukee is a difficult team to run.  Small market, cold weather, not a city that has any real major draws.  That's certainly a tough situation for a GM to be in, but you have to make the best of the situation you're in and Hammond has yet do that so far.  The Bucks seemed fine with signing players who are middle of the road guys to keep them in the tail end of the playoffs which will allow them to generate revenue from the playoffs and at least keep the fans mildly interested.

I understand why Milwaukee would be doing this, as Sacramento nearly just lost their franchise to Seattle and the Bucks could be the next to go if they should struggle for several seasons, but it's a gamble they have to take.  Hopefully Hammond will make that gamble and this trade would appear to be a step in the right direction.

It's tough to be a bad team, it really is.  It's tough on the fans, it's tough on management, it's tough on the players.  However, the best success you can have in a small market is building through the draft and acquiring players that want to be in the organization and want to succeed.  Sometimes, in order to do this you have to be pretty freaking bad, and again, that's tough.  Ultimately though you have to look at the end goal if you're a small market team, and that's to be able to have at least a few years of contending before you must make some moves in the name of money and cap space.  No team should make it their goal to be at the end of the playoffs and drafting an average prospect every year, every team should be trying to contend and that's simply how you have to do it in a small market.

In the long run, Milwaukee should ultimately benefit from this trade, though in the short term it's going to be a bit of a rough going.  Hang in there Milwaukee fans, support your team, and hope that your front office is taking steps to making the team a serious contender.

Follow me on Twitter @DbRedickulous

My Way Too Early Western Conference Predictions

I know it's been a little while since I've posted some content, but this article has actually been pretty tough for me.  The Western Conference is so much better than the East in terms of team talent from top to bottom.  However, I think I've gotten my predictions completed, and I'm pretty confident in them.

1. Los Angeles Clippers

This was somewhat of a difficult decision to make but I'm standing by it.  Plain and simple, the Clippers just got a hell of a lot better this summer.  They traded away Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, along with two 2nd round picks and got back Jared Dudley, and JJ Redick who they both have long term for relatively cheap.  Both of these players are guys who you want on a championship team, as they play good defense, can shoot the ball, are above average ball handlers, and good passers.  Neither of these guys are top tier players, but these are the kinds of pieces that are essential to winning championships.

Another key move the Clippers made this off-season was inking Matt Barnes to a 3yr/$11M deal.  Barnes is a great hustle guy, and a great defender and does exactly what you want a player like him to do.  He's physical, and he plays with a "if you're not on my team I don't like you" attitude, which is great when he's on your team.

The key point for the Clippers this offseason however, was the resigning of Chris Paul to a 5 year deal.  Paul is hands down the best point guard in the league and locking him up long term is huge for this organization.  On the topic of point guards I also think that bringing in Darren Collison was a great move.  Collison is easily a starting caliber point guard and he thrived in New Orleans as Paul's backup, he should be a very key addition this next season.

2. Golden State Warriors

I get it, this might be unpopular but if you watched what the Warriors did in the post season last year then you have to agree with this.  The biggest caveat here is whether or not Stephen Curry can stay healthy, when Curry is healthy he's easily one of the most pure scorers in the league.  Should Curry play the entire season at the level he is capable of there is no reason this team should finish anywhere below 2nd in the West.

The biggest move the Warriors made was making some key trades to shed salary.  Richard Jefferson and Andres Biedrins are both gone, and with the money they acquired they were able to sign Andre Igoudala.  Igoudala is easily one of my favorite players in the league because he goes out and gives you 110% on both ends of the floor every night.  He's a pretty efficient scorer, rebounds well, and is an above average passer.  Furthermore, Igoudala plays suffocating defense which is sure to help this pretty young Golden State team.

David Lee will be back and healthy and although he's a liability on defense he can still score and rebound at extremely efficient rates.  Klay Thompson will be back and he looks to be continue getting better and better. Harrison Barnes has unquestionably accepted his move to the bench with Igoudala, but he will definitely see some big minutes at both the PF and SF positions.  Barnes was an absolute force playing the PF position last year in the post season when David Lee went down with an injury, and it should be expected that he will build on his great play from last year.

The departure of Carl Landry may hurt, but Draymond Green and Barnes both proved they could play the PF so it shouldn't have too terrible of an impact.  Marreese Speights is also still on the roster and he should be able to provide at least some filler minutes at the position if needed. 

Make no mistake, this team was pretty darn good last season, and they should be much better this next season.

3. Houston Rockets

The Rockets arguably made the biggest move this offseason in acquiring Dwight Howard.  This move alone immediately puts them into championship contention, and gives them the ability to win the Western Conference.  I'm sure some people will think it's absurd for me to rank them behind Golden State and the Clippers, but I have my reasons.

Is Dwight Howard still a dominant center? Absolutely.  Is Dwight Howard still the same player he was around 2009/2010? I'm not so sure.  Dwight is a beast on both ends of the floor, but he still has a very limited offensive game.  He has no mid-range jumper, and no post moves that are above average.  Dwight has had success offensively because he is big and strong and athletic and can move players out of the way in order to get dunks or easy looks at the basket.  This is fine, as he's been a very efficient scorer over the past few years, but there is one significant issue.  Dwight's body has begun to break down a bit, as he is very physical, and defenders are often very physical with him.  All anyone has to do is look back to to his back injury from two years ago, and his shoulder injury from last season to be concerned for him.  Howard was clearly not quite the player that he's always been last season, and that should be the cause for some concern.

Of course the issues with Howard could be all speculation and he could return to his peak form, which would obviously not be surprising he is only 27 years old after all.  Not to mention Howard is at his best when he has shooters surrounding him (see his '09 playoff run in Orlando).  Howard will have no shortage of shooters surrounding him in Houston.  Nearly every guard and small forward on this Houston team is an above average shooter.  Patrick Beverly, Francisco Garcia, Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi, and Aaron Brooks all shot above 35% from long range last season.  Throw in Jeremy Lin and Reggie Williams who also shoot above 30% and you've got a pretty solid group of players who can hit from long range.  This doesn't even include James Harden who shot 37% from three last season, and showed that he is one of the most dynamic scorers in basketball.

Obviously, pairing Howard and Harden should look great on paper, as Harden was exactly what Howard missed during his time in Orlando.  Sure, Orlando had the shooters like Houston does, but they never had a great slasher who could get to the rim on his own.  Harden can definitely do that, and that could very well be what gets Dwight his first ring ever.

4. San Antonio Spurs

Every year you hear the same old thing, "the Spurs' title window is closing" "the Spurs are too old" "Tim Duncan isn't the same player he used to be" etc.  I think the Spurs have proven to us these last two years that anyone who says that is full of it.  Yes, the Spurs are another year older, but they just took the best team in basketball to seven games in the NBA Finals and were two missed free throws away from winning their fifth title of the Tim Duncan era.

The Spurs brought back Manu Ginobli for two years and only $14M, and Tony Parker is coming off of what was an MVP caliber season.  Sure Ginobli struggled in the finals, but he was still a pretty damn good player during the regular season and I don't expect his game to deteriorate that quickly.  As I mentioned Parker is also back and he just continues to get better and better and I fully expect him to be a top five point guard, or at least in the conversation for top five point guards next season.

Tim Duncan is coming off his best year out of his last three years and I don't see this guy slowing down anytime soon.  Duncan is still a crafty passer, can still shoot the mid range, still rebounds very efficiently, and is so fundamental on the low block he's still a force to be reckoned with.  It's also worth mentioning that Kawhi Leonard looks like he's getting comfortable being a scorer instead of just a great defender/corner 3pt specialist.  This is huge as Kawhi looks like he could very well blossom into an Andre Igoudala/Luol Deng type this next season, which is a kind of player every championship team needs.

The Spurs also happen to be coached by the best coach in the NBA in Greg Poppovich.  Somehow this guy manages to get the most obscure of role players to fit into his system and make an impact, and he can pretty much out x and o any other coach in the league on any given night.  So, go ahead and count the Spurs out, but we'll see where they are come April.

5. Oklahoma City

Blasphemy? Maybe.  I mean, it sure could be considering the Thunder have two top 10 players in the league, but I don't think they have gotten better in any capacity.

Yes, Kevin Durant is great, he's easily a top five player but he struggled last season to get his team past the Grizzlies when Westbrook went down.  I understand that Westbrook will be back this next season, but apart from the two of them who do they really have? Kevin Martin is gone, James Harden is obviously gone, Serge Ibaka looks like he's reached his peak offensively, and lord knows Kendrick Perkins isn't going to be a scorer.  I'll admit that I've always been a big fan of Jeremy Lamb, but I don't see him coming off the bench and being an instant scorer, at least not on the level Martin or Harden was.

Another thing that concerns me about Oklahoma City is their coaching.  Scott Brooks is not a good coach, and that's all there is to it.  But wait, he's won so many games over the past few years and got them to the finals.  No, make no mistake the Thunder have accomplished as much as they have because of how talented they've been and how good their chemistry is.  Brooks' offensive sets are extremely poor which is why you end up with Westbrook still dribbling around with eight seconds left on the shot clock.  Seriously, watch Kevin Durant when he doesn't have the ball, he literally just stands around 90% of the time.  If the Thunder want to get to the next level they definitely need better coaching.

Again, I'm hesitant to put Oklahoma City much further lower than five strictly because of Durant and Westbrook, but the Grizzlies very well could overtake them.  Speaking of the Grizzlies..

6. Memphis Grizzlies 

Memphis is probably the most intriguing team here because they very well could finish anywhere from 6th to 2nd.  Though Memphis declined to rehire coach Lionel Hollins, a coach who I have a great deal of respect for I think Memphis is still a complete enough team that they can work with nearly any system they are presented with under new coach David Joerger.  Joerger reminds me a lot of Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in that he preaches excellent defense, and the Grizzlies have improved tremendously with Joerger on the coaching staff.

Memphis' defense is predicated by Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, and reigning defensive player of the year Marc Gasol.  Prince and Allen are two of the better perimeter defenders in the league, and though they aren't getting any younger it doesn't appear that they're slowing down any on the defensive end of the floor.  Having Gasol in the middle also allows Memphis' defenders to gamble a bit more because he is so effective at patrolling the paint and moving quickly between his man and a player attacking the rim, and then back to his man again.  The Grizzlies also have some tremendous defenders off the bench, which makes them a tough team to match up against at any time.

Mike Conley Jr. has proven over the last couple seasons, and last post season that he is one of the better point guards in the league.  An elite point guard? Probably not, but he has improved every season that he's been in the NBA and would definitely be the starter for most teams.  Conley can play extremely good defense, which was evident in the way he handled Clippers point guard Chris Paul during the playoffs this past season.  Conley is also extremely effective and running the Grizzlies offense, and has proved that he is a capable scorer and a quite crafty passer. 

Memphis' greatest offensive strength is without question is their low post game.  Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are two of the most efficient post players in the league and the focal point of the Memphis offense.  Both players are extremely hard to match up with in the post as they're both extremely physical, but also have a great deal of finesse to their offensive games.  Randolph and Gasol both seem to up their games on the big stage in the playoffs and I would expect that trend to continue into next season.  

Once a maligned franchise, the Grizzlies are a team nobody should take lightly now.

7. New Orleans Pelicans

The Hornets Pelicans look to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time this coming season.  The Pelicans were quite active this offseason in acquiring Jrue Holiday via a draft day trade, and signing former Kings guard Tyreke Evans to a 4yr/$44M contract after acquiring him through a three team trade with Portland and Sacramento.  Evans certainly has his fair share of critics, but I am not one of them.  Unfortunately Evans was playing in a very, very crowded back court in Sacramento, but should be able to get some solid minutes for the Pelicans and be able to play up to his potential.

Make no mistake, this team is going to score, and they're going to score a lot. I fully expect the starters to be Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis.  Though this lineup is somewhat small, that appears to be the trend in the current NBA and this Pelicans roster should have no trouble with that. Al-Farouq Aminu may start in place of Evans who could be some very much needed firepower off the bench, but if not there's nothing wrong with this starting five.  Every single one of these players can score the basketball at a pretty efficient rate, and between Holiday, Evans, and Gordon they have some very, very capable ball handlers.  

Should this ultimately be the starting five for New Orleans they should be very difficult to match up with.  Holiday, Evans, Gordon and Anderson can all shoot from long range, and Davis has an extremely efficient mid-range game but can also play down low, as can Anderson.  Gordon, Holiday and Evans can also all attack the rim, and can create their own shots which will open up opportunities for everyone on the floor which leads me to believe this team will be in some top offensive categories.

Defense may be somewhat of an issue for New Orleans as they traded away Robin Lopez, and they aren't very deep in terms of big men to protect the paint.  Stiemsma is serviceable but he is not Robin Lopez.  Further, apart from Anthony Davis none of New Orleans top five players are really known for their defense.  This isn't to say they're bad defenders, but they're pretty average.

The Pelicans this next season will definitely be one of those teams you're probably going to want to purchase League Pass to watch because they're going to light up the scoreboard.  I'm excited for the future of this team, and you should be too.

8. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets are coming off their best season in franchise history in which they logged 57 wins.  Coach George Karl won Coach of The Year and it looked like Masai Ujiri had put together a potential contender even winning Executive of The Year honors.  Instead, Ujiri left for Toronto, and George Karl was subsequently fired.  Obviously the firing of Karl is a bit of head scratcher, but sometimes teams just run their courses with a certain coach, as we saw back in 2008 when Dallas fired coach Avery Johnson after two consecutive first round exits in the playoffs.  Karl has struggled similarly in the playoffs being bounced in the first round the past three seasons.

The most notable departure for Denver is Andre Igoudala who signed with Golden State this offseason.  Igoudala was the perfect fit for the team philosophy under Karl, and his departure may have played a significant role in him leaving the team.  This move definitely hurts Denver on both ends of the floor as Igoudala is a highly skilled defender, and a good offensive player who has one of the best all around games in the league.

The Nuggets will still probably run their high-octane offense that they've been known for the past few seasons, especially since Ty Lawson is still running the point guard.  Lawson should continue to improve as a point guard and a scorer and I fully expect him to have a career year.  I expect Gallinari to be back and healthy, and if Wilson Chandler can be the player he was when he was acquired from New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade this team may very well over achieve.  

Despite Karl and Igoudala being gone the Nuggets still boast one of the deepest benches in the league.  Nearly every single player they bring off the bench is a capable player, and I expect that to help them immensely in their bid for the playoffs.  Defensively they are also still pretty deep and though they won't quite be as good as last year I still think they'll be a tough out for anyone.

9. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas will probably miss the playoffs again this next season, as they haven't really done anything to improve their roster from last season.  Yes, they still have Dirk, and he will be healthy next season, and Monta Ellis may end up being a good fit for this team but otherwise what do they really have?  

Dallas signed DeJuan Blair and Samuel Dalembert this offseason which should help them out underneath, and Shawn Marion will return to Dallas this next season which definitely bolsters their front court defensively.  Jae Crowder will be coming off the bench and in his rookie season last year he showed that he is a capable defender off the bench and can score the ball fairly well.

The Mavs should still be able to score the ball pretty well this upcoming season.  Obviously Dirk is still an elite offensive player and Monta Ellis can score pretty well albeit at a sometimes very inefficient rate. Marion is still a decent scorer and Vince Carter has proven that though his age is beginning to show and he's not throwing down monstrous dunks that he can still be a very efficient scorer.

Dallas is definitely not a bad team by any means, but I also don't think they're necessarily a good team either.  They're fairly average and they may make the playoffs, but as of right now I don't see that happening.

10. Los Angeles Lakers

Yes, the Lakers are going to miss the playoffs next season.  I know everyone thinks that Kobe will be back earlier than most are when it comes to a serious injury such as achilles tear, and he might because yes Kobe is a different breed.  However, most players are simply not the same when it comes to returning from this injury.  Kyle Wagner of Deadspin broke down how achilles injuries affect NBA players in a really interesting article back in April.

So, I assume that Kobe won't be back until at least a quarter into the season and in my opinion I think that's being somewhat generous, which means the Lakers are going to have a threadbare roster and are going to struggle in a deep Western Conference.

Los Angeles has refused to commit to contracts beyond one year deals for free agents next season as they hope to compete for LeBron or Carmelo after 2014.  That said, the Lakers did manage to bring in some decent talent on the cheap.  They signed Nick Young to a one year deal, and though he's not the most efficient scorer he can still light it up.  Former Mavericks and Clippers center Chris Kaman was also signed to a one year deal and make no mistake Kaman can definitely still play.  Wesley Johnson was the number four pick back in 2010 and he was signed to a one year veterans minimum deal and he may live up to his potential next season.  

The Lakers still have Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, but both players appear to be out of their prime and very much in the twilight of their careers.  Ron Artest is no longer on the roster as he was a casualty of the amnesty clause, and oh, yeah Dwight Howard is gone.  Obviously Dwight leaving is the most glaring loss of the offseason for the Lakers and leaves the Lakers pretty much barren for the next few seasons. 

The Lakers have no draft picks available until 2017, so I expect them to have some pretty thin years over the next few seasons, and unless they land a high profile free agent they are going to continue to struggle.  So rehab that achilles Kobe, because these Lakers are desperately going to need you.

11. Portland Trailblazers

The Trailblazers are getting there.  Damian Lillard has shown that he will be an elite point guard in the future, LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing at an all star level, and Nic Batum has proven to be an excellent defender and a solid offensive player.  This is an excellent core for the Blazers who struggled somewhat greatly last season and look poised to miss out on the playoffs again.

The Blazers have a pretty darn good core with those three players I listed above, and don't get me wrong Wesley Matthews is no slouch on an NBA court either, but they desperately need some depth.  CJ McCollum was an excellent draft pick and he should have no problems playing alongside Damian Lillard as the two have very similar games.  Thomas Robinson was also a great pickup this offseason.  Although T-Rob hasn't necessarily been what everyone predicted he would be in the NBA he's a solid front court player and should be able to provide some solid minutes off the bench.  The Blazers also nabbed Robin Lopez from New Orleans in a three team deal this Summer.  Lopez is coming off his best year as a pro and will be the starter in the middle for the Blazers.  Lopez gives them a good defensive presence, and some much needed size which they missed out on last year with JJ Hickson playing the center position.  

Dorell Wright was obviously a good addition as they were able to sign him fairly cheap and he will provide some depth at the small forward position.  Wright can shoot and is a pretty decent defender which is something Portland has desperately needed.  Allen Crabbe who was drafted from California will also probably get a decent amount of playing time, as he can shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor and shooters are something every team needs off the bench.

The Blazers obviously did an excellent job of bolstering their bench this offseason, but they're still very young which leads me to believe they'll struggle. However, like I said, they're getting there and they may very well catch some teams by surprise this year.

12.  Minnesota Timberwolves

I've been expecting the Timberwolves to get over the hump for around the past three seasons, and they just haven't been able to do it.  I've realized that these expectations are ridiculous and they won't be much of a contender next season.

Kevin Love will be healthy next year which is going to be big for the Timberwolves, but even a healthy Kevin Love is not vaulting this team to anywhere near playoff contention.  Make no mistake, Kevin Love is one of the best, if not the best power forward in the league, but plain and simple he cannot do it all himself.  Ricky Rubio should also be 100% this season, and he is one of the most fun point guards in the league to watch but Rubio still isn't an elite point guard and will need to raise his game significantly if the Timberwolves are going to have a shot.

The T-Wolves have been fairly active this offseason, acquiring Shabazz Muhammad through the draft, and Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and Ronnie Turiaf through free agency.  Martin is not quite the player he used to be, but he can still definitely put the ball in the hoop, something Minnesota desperately needs from their wing players, and Brewer will bolster their perimeter defense.  Muhammad should hopefully contribute offensively for Minnesota as he was a great scorer in college, and, as mentioned, the T-Wolves are in very desperate need from high offensive production out of their wing players.  Turiaf will add some front court depth, but if Nikola Pekovic doesn't resign Turiaf may have to start, and that's not something that any team would want.

Speaking of Pekovic why the hell hasn't this guy signed already?  I mean, seriously does he think anyone is going to give him a better offer than the 4yr/$50M offer he received from Minnesota?  Seriously, take that money and run.  Not to mention the guy's from Russia so he can definitely play in the cold weather.  All jokes aside Minnesota better hope they resign him, or they're going to finish a hell of a lot worse than 12th.

13. Utah Jazz

Utah is in rebuild mode like several other teams at the bottom, and that's completely fine.  Al Jefferson is gone, Paul Millsap is in Atlanta, and Mo Williams will probably sign with Memphis.  

Utah started their rebuilding project by drafting NCAA Player of The Year Trey Burke from Michigan.  Burke was an absolute standout in two years of college, and I think he will be an effective point guard for Utah.  I know there are naysayers who will say "oh he struggled in the Summer League" well, if you think Summer League stats have anything to do with actual NBA Production than you're full of shit.  Adam Morrison averaged 25ppg in the Summer League and where is he? Oh yeah, out of basketball.

This next season will allow Utah to see how far Derrick Favors and Alec Burks have come.  Both have been decent NBA players in their own right, but it's now time for them to play at a much higher level.  Gordon Hayward should also hopefully continue to trend his game upward, and if that happens Utah may have a pretty good young core of Burke, Hayward, Burks, and Favors.  

Utah's bench is very thin, but that's okay because this team should be looking forward to the 2014 draft and salivating.  Their bench is not going to help them win games, in fact it will probably help them lose quite a few which means they should get a very, very good draft pick and this next draft class appears to be loaded.  

Utah traded with Golden State this past offseason to acquire Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins, two players who after this season will be off the books.  Marvin Williams also has an expiring contract which means the Jazz will be shedding somewhere around $27.5M in salary which will make them players in the free agent market over the next few seasons.

14. Sacramento Kings

I don't know when the Kings are going to turn it around but it's not anytime soon that's for sure.  They've been in lottery the last seven years and have been just absolutely abysmal.  None of their draft picks besides Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins have turned into anything other than average NBA role players, which is very, very concerning for a franchise in the shape their in.

Sacramento drafted Ben McLemore with the 8th pick this past year and McLemore looks like he could be a future star in the league.  Again, the kid struggled in the Summer League but you already know how I feel about Summer League play.  McLemore has all the potential, and all the athleticism, let's just hope he works to get there.  Sometimes players with McLemore's ability end up going into situations like the Kings are in and never get any better, but I expect coach Mike Malone to get the most out of him.

The one bright spot for the Kings right now is that DeMarcus Cousins has said he wants to stay in Sacramento and seems to really mean it.  It's always very rare for a star player to want to continue to play for a losing organization, and you really have to respect Cousins' loyalty in this situation.  Yes, he has his maturity issues, but I would say this is a good sign that he's working on that and I fully expect him to be the cornerstone of this organization for a long time to come.

Sacramento narrowly avoided having their team sold to Seattle last season, so the new Kings management better turn this team around and fast, or they'll be in that conversation for awhile.  Fortunately, they're getting a new arena, moving out of Arco which is so old it's absurd, and the Maloof brothers are no longer running the franchise.

P.S. - Kings fans, go to the fucking games.  Seriously, I'm from Iowa and we have no pro sports teams here.  You somehow managed to keep your team around, so you better damn well appreciate them. I don't care how bad they are.

15. Phoenix Suns

Is there anyone else to put here?  I mean the Suns are easily going to be the worst team in the league this upcoming year.  Phoenix seriously has nothing in terms of good players, but they do have some assets and they look poised to win the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes this upcoming season.

Phoenix acquired Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler this summer in exchange for Jared Dudley.  Bledsoe and Butler are both expiring contracts which means they're definitely worth something.  Phoenix also traded Luis Scola who still had quite a few years and a considerable amount of money left on his contract for Miles Plumlee, and Gerald Green from Indiana.  Green and Plumlee are both on the cheap, and should also help this team tank for 2014.

Phoenix is seriously going to be just absolutely horrendous next season, but hopefully they can flip what assets they do have into more draft picks for the 2014 draft, and prepare themselves for the future.  Don't worry Suns fans, though you can't see the horizon yet, and it's a great uphill battle, the team is starting to look prepared for a turn around.

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