Basketball fans, welcome to another edition of the NBA Roundtable here on Saving the Skyhook! Once again, we have brought in some writers from around the FanSided NBA network to discuss the hot topics around the league, so let’s get right to this week’s introductions and topics!
Joining us this week:
Cody Norman – (Right Down Euclid)
Bryan – (A Royal Pain)
James Grayson – (Swarm and Sting)
1. The Orlando Magic may have officially arrived this past weekend in terms of being in the championship discussion, as they traded for Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu (oh, and Earl Clark if you’re an Earl Clark fan). In looking at the new acquisitions, which player do you think will have the biggest impact for this team?
Cody: Honestly, I don’t think any of these guys are the right fit for the Orlando Magic at this point in time. The main reason Hedo Turkoglu was a significant piece to this team when they made the Finals two years ago was because he posed a huge match-up problem for opposing teams. He and Rashard Lewis, together, gave teams fits due to their size.
However, Lewis was shipped to Washington to obtain Gilbert Arenas. The Magic are going to run into an issue because there will not be enough shots to go around. And none of these guys really pose a significant match-up issue for any of the powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference. To me, they still are not better than the Celtics. They match up better with the Heat but I still don’t think they’re better than the talent in South Beach.
Bryan: That is one huge roster turnover and I’m interested in seeing how it turns out. The Magic most certainly won the talent portion of the trades, but, it’s always a question mark as to how everybody will exactly fit in. I love the addition of Jason Richardson. Being a Kings fan, I’ve seen more than enough of JRich for my enjoyment – he always found ways to screw over Sacramento…so watching him go to the Eastern Conference wont be hurting my feelings. He’s a nice replacement for Vince Carter who was declining extremely quick.
As for Arenas, he’s the big question mark. If he’s able to check his ego at the door (and that’s unlikely…) he could be the missing piece for the Magic. Hopefully for Orlando, he’ll be more interested in playing basketball than putting on the Arenas show. Hedo should also do well with his return to Disney East.
James: First off I don’t think this enters them in the “championship discussions.” Gilbert, Jason and Hedo are all very decent offensive players, but defensively it doesn’t elevate them to the likes of the Celtics, Lakers and Heat. The main reason that defense takes precedent is because the playoffs is dependent on a team playing it to the extreme, Stan Van Gundy knows this and it’s why he preaches it so much. I think of the three players though Jason Richardson will have the biggest impact. His athleticism combined with his ability to shoot the ball is a perfect match for what Orlando does, will it be enough to challenge the Celtics in a 7 game series? Probably not, but it’s a start.
Blake: I’ve always thought Richardson was one of the more underrated scorers in the league, and I really think he’s going to help this team out. But, the Magic are still a step behind the Lakers and Celtics. I’m not exactly sure how the Arenas experiment will play out, as you’ve suddenly added three guys who need to score in order to be effective. None of these guys are great defenders, and that is something that the Magic are still lacking, and ultimately, that may be their undoing come playoff time.
2. Rumors are swirling around in Portland that Brandon Roy is unhappy, and wants to be traded if the team doesn’t move Andre Miller. Now, Roy is obviously the franchise player here, but given his knee problems, do you think the Portland brass could actually entertain trading Roy this season?
Cody: Let’s look at this logically for a second: Andre Miller is 34 years old. Brandon Roy is 26 years old and still has the ability to be a franchise player. If the Portland brass decide to trade Roy this season and keep Miller, they may very well be the worst front office in all of sports. And keep in mind I live down in Washington Redskins country – also known as, the house Dan Snyder destroyed. Roy is the cornerstone of that franchise. And if he isn’t happy with the players around him right now, it would be in the best interest of the Blazers to get rid of Miller. Look for him to be shipped elsewhere in the coming week.
Bryan: It appears Roy forgets he’s playing on two chopsticks and has an absurdly large contract. Nobody is going to give Portland anything of much value for him, especially with the scary reports of how serious the knee issues are. I most certainly think Portland would be open to moving Roy if given a somewhat ample return, it’s just that I don’t see anybody giving that. Portland has had some horrifically bad luck lately – it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for them.
James: Brandon Roy is a fantastic player, but injuries in Portland have been killer. I have for many years seen Portland as the true contender in the West. Their core group of players was fantastic as well as their top flight coaching staff. It’s a shame they have had terrible luck with injuries but it’s a part of the NBA. Whether the Blazers actually think about trading Roy is another matter. If they were to do so they would have to start over again and I don’t think they are willing to do that. There is still potential in this roster, they just have to get on the court for a year.
Blake: You would think that there is no way that Roy gets traded. However, if Roy continues to go the path that he’s currently going on, his effectiveness is going to drop quite a bit. So this could be one of those cases where you trade a guy simply because his stock is going to do nothing but fall at this point. He is their franchise player, but there comes a time when you have to realize that you need more pieces to be a winning team. If the Blazers can trade Roy for a few pieces, I’m not sure you could blame them at this point. Will they though? I’d say probably not just yet.
3. You’re sitting in a room with Michael Jordan, and he wants your opinion on what should be the first move with the current Charlotte roster. We would have to assume at this point that pretty much everyone on that roster is available. What reasonable trade do you attempt first?
Cody: Quite honestly, the only two players on the Bobcats right now that I can actually see anyone wanting are Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson. So that narrows down your choices right there. There has been some talk about the Lakers being interested in both of those guys. To me, Wallace is a much better fit in that organization so I believe you’ve got to start there. And I believe you’ve got to steal Shannon Brown in any trade that you make with the Lakers involving either of those guys. Brown could be a valuable piece to any franchise. Especially one in need of some good, young talent.
Bryan: My opinion on Jordan’s first move? Could it be to remove himself from any potential player evaluating? Seriously, nothing against Jordan the basketball player but he is a pretty poor talent evaluator. I’ve never understood why so many great players feel they’ll be just as great as a coach or in the front office. In all seriousness though, the Bobcats are just completely stuck in mediocrity. Their entire roster reeks of it. Anybody should be available, starting with Cap’n Jack and GWall. If you’re not rebuilding or contending, what are you doing?
James: If Mr. Jordan was sitting across from me I’d tell him to gut his roster right now. Even when they made the playoff last year they didn’t possess any great players and when they got rid of Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler they were giving away their best youthful prospects. The Bobcats need to acquire draft picks and a lot of them. They need a coaching staff integrated with the General Manager, they need an overhaul. The first trade I attempt first is packaging Gerald Wallace with some of my other uglier pieces. Doing this would get back some prospects and picks while getting rid of the duds. While Wallace is at the back-end of his career a contending team may be willing to pick him up for a playoff run.
Blake: Everyone seems to be on the same page here, in that it’s obvious that Jackson and Wallace are the two you’ll get the most out of. And while I hadn’t thought about it, Cody brings up a good point in that Shannon Brown could be a very smart move for them. Brown is going to get his shot at starting spot somewhere sooner rather than later, although I’m not sure who you’d give up to get him. Even though the Bobcats were a playoff team last season, it might once again be rebuilding mode for them the next few seasons.
4. It’s the holiday season, so let’s get in a giving mood. What’s a good book/DVD/etc. that you would recommend for the NBA fan on someone’s list?
Cody: You know, as much as I hate to say this, More Than a Game – the movie about LeBron James and his high school buddies – is a great movie. I bought it a few days before that tool decided to take his talents to South Beach and, just on principle, I haven’t watched it since. But it is undeniably a great watch for the average basketball fan. I, on the other hand, would prefer to throw it in a LeBon fire along with the rest of the crap that I gathered in support of that quitter.
Bryan: It’s not a book or a DVD, but, a YouTube video. If you’ve never seen “Art Of War”, I highly suggest it. One of the best basketball mixes you’ll ever come across: Art of War.
James: Get “The Other Guys” a hilarious movie with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and an all-star lineup of cast-members.
Blake: I’m a big fan of detailed NBA history, which makes “The Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons the obvious choice for me. Honestly, I’m not even 100 pages into it yet, but there’s so much knowledge already that I can just tell that this is going to be one of those that I have to recommend for any serious NBA fan. Even if you’re not a Simmons guy, you should tell get this book if you love the NBA.
5. The Heat and Lakers meet on Christmas Day for the NBA Championship. OK, so maybe it’s not for the championship, but it’s a pretty big game I suppose. It’s prediction time, gentlemen. Who wins?
Cody: First of all, this is obviously not the NBA Championship. I don’t say obviously because it is so early in the season but because the Miami Heat will not be involved in that series this season. Or next, for that matter.I think it is rather obvious who I will predict to win that basketball game. There’s only a handful of people in this world who dislike LeBron James more than I do, so I’ll never pick his team to win anything. Just on principle.
But you’ve got to believe Kobe Bryant has been licking his chops for this match-up since The Decision a few months ago. If he can take down this three headed monster and win himself another ring this season, you’ve got to believe Bryant will go down as the greatest to every play the game. Better than Michael Jordan. This is just the first step in that process. Put a big lump of coal in the stocking of the cHeat on Christmas Day.
Bryan: Both the Heat and Lakers are starting to play well so this should be an epic battle. I still like the “team” aspect of the Lakers when compared to the three amego’s, so, I’ll take Los Angeles in a close one.
James: Heat by 4.
Blake: After watching the Lakers play last night, I’ve got some serious concerns with them right now. Luckily, we’re only a quarter of the way through the season, and they’ll likely get everything fixed by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a tough pick, as I want to say that with the Lakers taking center stage on Christmas Day on their home court, they’ll get the victory. However, I feel like their defensive struggles could bite them in this one. So I’ll take the Hea…..well, hang on. I’ll take the Lakers. Why? They have Kobe, and I think he drops at least 40 in this one.