Monday, July 17, 2017

Which upcoming NBA draft/free agent signings/trades could help the also-rans challenge golden state warriors for NBA title.

The Golden State Warriors sit atop the throne, almost imperious in their position. Almost but not quite. Winning the NBA finals was something that they had to do. Having blown 2016 so spectacularly, there could be no repeat a year later against the same opposition.

Going 3 - 1 up against the Cavaliers brought memories flooding back. If disaster struck once again, the Warriors would have been bracketed with the greatest sporting chokers of all time, putting the ‘86 Red Sox and Greg Norman at the ‘96 Masters to shame; they would become the NBA’s Cubs.

Instead, as with all great champions, they took their setback on the chin, turned up for game 5 of the finals and duly won the series 4 - 1. There had been an authority about their play throughout the post-season and delivering the title had an air of inevitability.

The gap to their rivals seems large. but with the draft, the opportunity arose to see if it was insurmountable yet. We look at which of the franchises came away happier with their business.

LA Lakers

With a win percentage of just .317 in 2016-17, one of the most globally recognizable of sporting franchises needed a good draft and overall, their front office delivered. They had a plan and kept to it. With the number 2 pick, they had an opportunity and it was off-limits in every discussion about trades they had.

Not only that, they used it well with Lonzo Ball, the UCLA Point Guard. Later picks included Villanova shooting guard, Josh Hart, and, Indiana center, Thomas Bryant. The interesting addition to their roster is Utah’s Kyle Kuzma, with his 7’6” arm span has vultures looking on enviously.

Perhaps the best business is offloading Timofey Mozgov but the drafts are the future. Ball is expected to be the future face of the franchise but the highest hopes for the coming season are surely the play-offs.

Boston Celtics

Losing the Eastern Conference final to the Cavs suggests that the Celtics are not far off being genuine contenders. A couple of judicious trades, perhaps pick up a pick. According to ‘sources’, they chased Paul George but they are set to lose out to the Cavs once more.

They lost out to the Timberwolves as well, with Jimmy Butler joining Minnesota on the Thursday night. It left them with Jayson Tatum whose strengths will be fed by Brad Stevens There’s a distinct possibility that the off-season could be underwhelming but Danny Ainge, while not the messiah some claim, is nowhere near as flimsy in planning as his critics believe.

Free agency is their interesting time for the Celtics. With the Cavs and others improving their rosters, can Boston afford not to do well in the remaining deals? Maybe the draft was a big tease and the powers-that-be have a couple of tricks up their sleeve? This may yet be an interesting summer.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Trading Jimmy Butler from Chicago for the number 7 pick, Zach Lavine and Kris Dunne, as well as receiving the number 16 pick, is a formula for a lot of fun. Not necessarily into the finals but the playoffs are a distinct possibility.

Dunne needed a change of scenery after failing to live up to the expectations but Lavine is a costly element in the trade. His departure is something they still need to address; that, they hope, is a future problem when age catches up with him.

The Wolves added Justin Patton from the draft and will be busy with free agency as well. There are still weaknesses to address but one thing seems safe to say: a repeat of last season’s .341 win percentage is not on the cards.

Cleveland Cavaliers & Golden State Warriors

Between the pair of them, last season’s NBA finalists managed one pick in the draft. Golden State bought pick 38 from Chicago and left with Oregon’s Power Forward, Jordan Bell. Cleveland will argue that they are tied up working on a deal to bring Paul George from Indianapolis.

George has been linked with all and sundry but at the moment, is going nowhere. It’s expected that he will move to the Cavs soon, giving an air of respectability to the front office’s work. The two clubs have monopolised the regular and post seasons in recent years. The bookies see no reason why that will change with bookies offering odds of 3 / 5 on the Warriors and 3 / 1 for the Cavs, as of June 29.

When the regular season begins, there is a lot of interest focussed on how the draft picks will fare. Until then, it’s all about deals to be done.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The latest breaking news from the world of the NBA.

James Dolan is thinking about Phil Jackson’s Future with the Knicks

James Dolan is considering Phil Jackson’s future as the president of the New York Knicks. Dolan had the capacity to eschew the contract at the end of the 2016/2017 season, since both sides were able to exercise a mutual option. The New York Knicks hired Phil Jackson on a 5-year, US$60 million contract back in 2014, amidst harsh criticism from Knicks fans that supported Dolan.

Jackson has been looking to trade Carmelo Anthony recently, but the comments that he’s been making publicly have seen Anthony turned instead into a sympathetic figure in the eyes of most fans and almost all of the media.

The manner in which Jackson treated Anthony was also part of the reason that Kristaps Porzingis missed his exit interview with the Knicks when the season came to an end. Subsequently, Jackson has spoken in public about the Knicks’ options being explored as far as the trade market for Porzingis was concerned.

Rockets are a Serious Threat Regarding Signing Chris Paul

The Houston Rockets have come into view as a more and more serious threat to sign Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers. Paul met with the latter on Tuesday, and is set to do so again soon.

James Harden is one of the individuals advocating for the Rockets to sign Paul, and has conveyed this message directly to the player, and betting sites worldwide are eagerly awaiting the outcome of these talks.

Celtics Hope to Get Paul George

The Boston Celtics need a commitment from Gordon Hayward before a trade can be finalized for Paul George. The Pacers are perhaps unwilling to wait until the free agency begins in order to agree on a trade, however, and may well start looking elsewhere with their trade talks regarding George.

The Celtics need to maneuver their roster and start unloading salaries, but they do have a contingency plan in place. If Boston is unable to secure the deal with Hayward, it’s possible that they will sign Blake Griffin instead, and then make a trade for Paul George.

Rockets Focus on Trading Anderson if They Need Cap Space

The Houston Rockets have put all of their attention on attempting to find a team with cap space that would allow for the absorption of Ryan Anderson’s contract in order to chase maximum free agency space. Anderson is still owed US$19.6 million and US$61 million in total over the next 3 seasons. The Sacramento Kings are a possibility, since they require a stretch-4 and Anderson is native to that area.

Anderson enjoyed an outstanding 1st season with the Rockets after he was signed from the New Orleans Pelicans. Houston is also chasing Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin in free agency.

Everybody Wants Andre Iguodala

The San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz are some of the teams that are set to go in for Andre Iguodala in free agency.

The Golden State Warriors are still hopeful about re-signing Iguodala, and it has not been confirmed whether the player will be meeting with anyone else. Iguodala’s contracted with the Warriors on a 4-year, US$48 million deal back in 2013.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Warriors vs. Cavaliers: 3 Things You Might Have Missed

There are 3 things that may have slipped past unnoticed during the Golden State Warriors’ Game 5 NBA Finals eradication of the Cleveland Cavaliers:

1. Irving Really Played Defense

Kyrie Irving really did play defense; it was just to no avail. The Cavaliers required that Irving outplay Stephen Curry if they were going to take Game 5, and it must be acknowledged that the point guard came very close. He was avidly hunting for steals and generally getting in the face of the 2-time Most Valuable Player winner as much as he could, and Curry almost did himself in by dribbling the ball into traps set by the Cavs more than once, but Irving’s A-game was just not good enough this time around.

2. The Appalling Officiating Went Two Ways

The dreadful officiating extended both ways, and although many felt that it may have favored the Golden State Warriors, it ultimately did not. Throughout the first quarter of the game it seemed almost like the game was fixed, especially if you were following social media reports.

Fans all over the world thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were seeing too many benefits from the whistle because the NBA wanted Game 6 to go ahead, as the referee seemed to be ignoring the fact that they were drawing fouls thanks to the fact that the Warriors seemed to be consistently put out of position. The calls did eventually even out though, and although this game was not a well-officiated one, it was an equally badly-officiated one, and this factor did not play a part in the eventual triumph of the Warriors, as punters making use of NZ betting sites to bet on the game may have feared it would.

3. The Cavaliers and Warriors Busted Out Medium Ball

Everyone knows about the much vaunted small-ball belonging to the Golden State Warriors, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are able to use it as well. Everyone is also well aware of the Cavaliers’ ability to stay big versus the Warriors, thanks to their conventional starting line-up. During Monday night’s game, however, something in the middle of these 2 examples was discovered…
Early on in the game’s 2nd quarter, Draymond Green was the shortest player on the baseball court, with Kevin Durant and Tristan Thompson being the only tall players for both the Warriors and the Cavaliers. Furthermore, neither of the 2 teams had a true point guard player until Curry managed to check in after a few possessions, ruining the startling fun of such an unconventional stretch. Positions had become worthless, and there were suddenly just 10 top athletes on the court playing the game as well as they could.

While it could well be termed the medium-ball, it could also quite easily be called the future of the NBA, since this does seem to be where the Association is headed.

Players like the almost 7-foot tall point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo are taking their places alongside centres like Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Kristaps Porzingis, who are able to connect the ball to the fall, shoot 3s, and anchor the defence, to varying degrees, and it is wonderful to watch.