NBA Today: June 26


Free Agency Profiles: Chris Bosh

Now that the draft has passed, it is time to focus on attention to the event that NBA fans have been anticipating for literally years. On Saving the Skyhook, I’ll do a review a day of each of the major players who figure to command the most attention come July 1 — in no particular order. Today features Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto Raptors Chris Bosh speaks to the media after finishing the NBA season in Toronto April 15, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Source: Yardbarker.com

As free agency approaches, arguably the third-most-discussed name on the market behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is Chris Bosh. For most of the season, it was generally accepted that Bosh would leave Toronto this offseason, unhappy with the team’s production and his supporting cast. When the Raptors narrowly missed out on the playoffs in April, his departure became nearly certain.

Bosh is one of the league’s best big men. In 2009-2010, CB4 averaged 24 points and almost 11 rebounds, taking offensive control for a team that didn’t really have much else to rely on. Bosh possesses a rare combination of inside and outside game for the NBA, complementing great touch around the rim and decent post moves with a silky-smooth jump shot out to 20 feet.

On the defensive end, he could improve, but right now he’s serviceable on that end of the basketball. With decent athleticism and good length, he can contest shots and he’s an excellent rebounder.

Furthermore, Bosh’s value gets a boost because he has largely avoided injury throughout his career. Amid other power forward targets like Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, Bosh has the cleanest bill of health, making his contract a rather secure one.

Bosh needs to improve his passing, though, as he finished the season a mere 35th in assist ratio among power forwards league-wide. One could make the argument, however, that on a Raptors team with little offensive presence, he didn’t really have anyone dependable to whom he could pass the ball, so his best bet was to take it to the rim himself.

Moreover, GMs have to worry slightly about Bosh’s attitude in Toronto this season. For most of the year he seemed checked out, waiting for the opportunity to jump ship and sign with a contender. When he got a whiff of the playoffs, however, he righted his emotions and turned on his game. That emotional unevenness did not hinder his production, though.

On the free-agent market, Bosh can be a great addition to any team that has the cap space to sign him. He’ll bring an immediate presence in the post, but the role he wants is yet unclear. At first, Bosh suggested that playing second fiddle to someone like James or Bosh would not satisfy him; he wanted to lead a team himself. Many questioned the potential of a team with him as the first option on offense, so he seems to have changed his tune. Now he seems ready and willing to play sidekick to another free agent in order to win.

That doesn’t mean he’s willing to accept sidekick money, though. Bosh will demand a maximum-salary contract, and he’ll get one, too. With all the desperation among teams to make a significant improvement through free agency this July, no team will hesitate to fork over max. money to the most desirable big man on the market.

In the long run, Bosh would probably be best off being the second option. With that in mind, his best option would be to team up with Wade in Cleveland or Miami, or go with Wade of James to a team that can afford two max.-contract players, like Chicago or New York.

Nevertheless, he is going to make some team a whole lot better this summer.

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Winners of the 2010 NBA Draft First Round

With the first round of the draft now completed, the top-30 picks know their fates regarding where they’ll play next season. The beginning of the draft went as expected for months, but there were still some very good selections buried among the first half of the event. Let’s look at the teams that did the best on Thursday night:

Los Angeles Clippers: No. 8 Al-Farouq Aminu and rights to No. 18 Eric Bledsoe

The Los Angeles Clippers need whatever they can get to recreate a winning culture in Los Angeles alongside the Lakers. On Thursday night, management did a good job to take the next step with the team. Going in, the void at small forward was the one pressing concern. The Clippers were fortunate to have Al-Farouq Aminu fall to them at No. 8, and he provides them with an instant influx of athleticism, defense and versatility. Then they acquired the second-best pure point guard in the draft in Eric Bledsoe at No. 18, giving them a good shooter and passer whom they can groom as a potential replacement to the aging and declining Baron Davis.

Toronto Raptors: No. 13 Ed Davis

After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in 2010, the Raptors will very likely lose Chris Bosh to free agency. Accordingly, they’ll have to go back to the drawing board for figuring out a plan to win. With their selection of North Carolina’s Ed Davis, they immediately inject some talent into the position that Bosh will probably vacate. While his college production wasn’t solid, Davis has a lot of upside, with great rebounding and a developing post game. With a couple years under his belt, Davis can take his game to the level that suggested he could have been a top-5 overall pick a year ago.

San Antonio Spurs: No. 20 James Anderson

It’s not often that a perennial contender like the San Antonio Spurs can add a good value in the second half of the first round, but they have done exactly that. Following up on their steal of DeJuan Blair in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft, the Spurs add an excellent talent in James Anderson. He’s a good-sized player who’s an above-average scorer, and he plays admirable defense, too. While he won’t be the next Hall of Famer, he will be a serviceable role player for many years, hopefully providing San Antonio with someone who can maintain their high level of performance.


Movement in the NBA Draft

Part of the allure of the NBA Draft is all the shifting and moving that teams undergo to best position themselves to make an impact. From moving up in the draft to moving down in the draft to trading in or out of the draft, there are always plenty of surprises as the draft date approaches.

At this point, let’s take a look at the movement so far and what rumors there are of changes that potentially lie ahead:

The Done Deals

  • New Jersey Nets trade Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 44th overall pick in the draft.

CDR showed decent scoring potential in the early goings of his second season in the NBA with the Nets, but that production fizzled later on as a result of sparring with personnel and off-the-court issues. He was still on a rookie contract worth just short of $900,000 a year, so he wasn’t costing the Nets very much, but they elected to free up some more money for free agency.

  • Miami Heat trade the 18th overall pick and Daequan Cook to the Thunder for the 32nd overall pick in the draft.

Obviously, the Heat acquired a second-round pick for a first-round pick, but the objective of this trade was to free even more cap space. The Heat are attempting to lure a top free agent in addition to re-signing Dwyane Wade, so they need all the room they can get to enhance their rotation elsewhere and not just settle for minimum-salary bodies. The Thunder, meanwhile, trade up the draft, trying to assure a shot at a top-of-the-board center like Daniel Orton, Hassan Whiteside, or Solomon Alabi.

The Rumors

  • The Memphis Grizzlies send the 25th and 28th overall picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 16th pick.

David Kahn has had some interesting draft strategies over the years, but it seems like he’s not very confident in his abilities. If Minnesota makes this trade, the team will have stockpiled six picks in this year’s draft. Kahn seems to be attempting a brute-force approach — they can’t all be bad choices, can they?

This also might not end the dealing between these squads. Many are reporting a swap of Al Jefferson and Zach Randolph.

  • The Cleveland Cavaliers trade assets or money for a 2010 draft pick.

Nothing’s a sure thing in Cleveland anymore, and LeBron’s lack of commitment plus the lack of a coach have everyone worrying. The Cavs see trading into the draft as a safety net should the worst happen in the coming weeks, and they want to get on the road to the rebuilding process if it becomes necessary.

  • The Boston Celtics deal their 19th overall pick in the draft.

The Boston Celtics are clinging to the scraps of their core, but apparently no one’s ready to throw in the towel with regard to a title run just yet. Therefore, the Celtics might trade their first-round pick to avoid having to pay a draft pick decent money. Then they can apply those funds to signing a veteran who can rekindle their championship hopes or to retaining Ray Allen, who may bolt for greener pastures this July.


NBA Today: June 23

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Will Jackson Go Out on a High Note?

Phil Jackson has his 11th NBA Championship, and speculation has swirled lately that he might retire now that the 2009-2010 season is over. Is possibly the best NBA coach of all time ready to throw in the towel? ESPN.com reports that his daughter has the inside scoop:

“I think this is it. I think he’s done now,” Chelsea Jackson, the coach’s daughter, told Sports Illustrated.

Jackson’s contract expires this offseason, and he’s weighing whether to return to try to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a third straight title. He has said that he should have a decision by June 27, with the biggest factor being his health. He has a problem with his knee, among other ailments, that he is getting checked out.

Even so, the Lakers players want him to return and ultimately think he will:

“Obviously his main issue is his health,” Lakers center Pau Gasol said. “I think he’s concerned about that. He loves the game of basketball as much as anybody and I think he wants to continue to be a part of what we’re doing here, but health is the first thing for everybody. If we don’t have health, we can’t function and the NBA schedule is very, very demanding, and going through three years the way things have gone — which luckily have been really good — it’s wearing and it’s draining.

“So, he’s got to take care of his health first and hopefully he’ll come back, because obviously he’s a big part of our success.” [...]

Sasha Vujacic has had an up-and-down relationship with Jackson, getting meaningful minutes and then riding the pine this season. But he was in Game 7 in crunch time and hit two title-clinching free throws.

“Coach was making me better throughout the year,” Vujacic said. “Sometimes when you don’t play, when you get pulled out or whatever happens, it’s that mental training that PJ does with all the players and I’m glad that I kind of passed the test and he gave me that confidence in the most crucial game when not only the game was on the line, but the entire series, the season. He showed me confidence when he puts me in the game like that. That shows a lot.”

Ron Artest has had a rocky ride with every team he’s played for, but he accepted a lesser role on the Lakers and it paid off with a championship, in which he saved his best for the decisive game.

“With coach, I know it depends on his health if he’s able to move forward,” Artest said. “He’s been coaching a long time, but I hope he comes back because his whole philosophy is team. I know I can strive under a coach whose philosophy is team and structure and the system.”

Some players are taking a proactive approach to Jackson’s decision.

“I’m going to put the pressure on him,” said Andrew Bynum, who has his own health challenge in impending knee surgery. “We all want PJ to come back, every last one of us, so hopefully he makes the right decision and decides to get another ring.”

Whether he comes back will not have any impact on his legacy. Jackson’s success is unquestioned, and he will remain a major figure for the league far into the future.

Will the Lakers be able to play without him? There’s no doubt about the talent, but a change in system and philosophy might have a negative influence.


Would the Hornets Really Deal Paul?

January 20, 2010: Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets in action against the Memphis Grizzlies during an NBA game in the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, LA. Tyler Kaufman/CSM.

Source: Yardbarker.com

Rumors have surfaced recently that the New Orleans Hornets are contemplating dealing Chris Paul, the best player on the team and the cornerstone of the franchise. In 2009-2010, he missed a handful of games as a result of a meniscus injury, and during his time on the court his performance was down. Even so, would it be worthwhile to part ways with him?

Clearly, the emergence of Darren Collison as a fantastic passer in the league next year would soften the blow of a swap of Paul. In addition, the team is in rebuilding mode after a rather unflattering campaign, so getting rid of CP3′s contract would help the cause.

Of late, the New Jersey Nets, among other teams, have been the subject of reports relating to Paul. Some sources have said that the Nets made an offer of Devin Harris and the No. 3 overall pick in this Thursday’s draft for the superstar point guard.

That swap doesn’t seem to make much sense. Not only would acquiring Harris keep Collison in a second-string role and hinder his development, but it also wouldn’t be ideal from a salary-cutting perspective either. He still has a few years left on his current deal, and with the amount he’s getting paid, it’s not exactly relief to take on his contract.

Aside from the salary implications of dealing Paul, there’s just so much to miss if he’s gone. He’s a wizard on the court, and just last year he was drawing some nominations as the league’s best player ahead of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Just because he had one down year clearly resulting from injuries doesn’t mean he’s down for the count — he’s very likely to rebound and return to his franchise-player form.

In addition, his presence on the team is an instant marketing tool and a draw for fans. People like to watch Chris Paul play, and considering the state of the Hornets franchise, they could stand to put some butts in the seats.

Lastly, some have suggested that Paul could be an enticing factor for top-tier free agents. While New Orleans isn’t in a position to sign one of the many stars in this July’s class, they could position themselves to make a run at Carmelo Anthony next summer or someone else down the road. Certainly those players wouldn’t remind receiving pinpoint pass after pinpoint pass from one of the best quarterbacks in the NBA.

To be honest, I’m not taking the bait. I really don’t think the Hornets will trade him, and if they do, they’d better get equal value. Harris and the No. 3? I’m sorry, but that’s not enough.