Welcome back! Sorry gone so long, but let’s move this along…
First off, R.I.P. Nathaniel Hornblower. You are already missed.
Now with the first round of the playoffs halfway through for some, and pretty much over for others, I can’t help but day dream about what teams will look like in 2 months time once the draft hits and free agency opens up. Sure there are ‘mock drafts’ out there and rumors galore, but truth is, true fans of their teams know better than to take the media bait and try their own stab at being the GM of their favorite teams. It’s not exactly fantasy basketball I’m talking about, which I have zero interest in, but more of thinking up realistic moves that would push a team that much closer to a banner next season or the next. For some it’s full blown explosions to a team to try to start over and see if the new pieces fit, how they react to the coach and how they handle the proven teams like San Antonio, LA, OKC and the rolling nightmare in Miami.
This season, we’ve seen a surprise from several teams that decided to ‘blow it up’ and attempt to contend. The Clippers are a prime example of this. They traded away most of their team for CP3 and then added more pieces to the puzzle with Caron Butler and Kenyon Martin. This was very much a Boston Celtics ’07 move when they traded away half their team for KG and picked up Jesus Shuttlesworth, Sam Cassell and other vets. It worked for them, but they also had a full summer training camp. Had the Clipps had that, along with several other newly constructed teams, this playoff matchup could look much different.
Injuries are another hot topic. I fully believe the Timberwolves would have made a deep run in the playoffs if Ricky Rubio wouldn’t have gone down early with a season ending injury. Same goes with the Magic, Bulls and Knicks. Injuries happen, on and off the court, but this compact schedule of cramming 66 games into 4 months was a disaster waiting to happen. Teams like San Antonio and Utah, though, proved that smart drafting and trading to build a solid bench is the way to go when a starter or 2 goes down clutching their knee or shoulder. Boston somehow kept going even with a weaker than others bench. They were dropping as fast as the Net’s starting lineup and still managed to come out strong into the playoffs.
It’s still a bit early for solid Finals matchup predictions but it’s looking a lot like Memphis or OKC could be facing Miami or Boston. Next season is going to be very fun to watch with half-injured superstars heading out of the playoffs and into the Olympics and back to rest a few weeks before starting training camp exhausted. To me, this is Miami’s last chance to win it all. With 3 of their stars heading to London this summer, they are going to be frazzled and worn out by the time next season starts. You can count them out. This is probably the best thing for teams like Minnesota, Chicago, Boston and whoever gets D12 this summer who will have the offseason to rest their injured and not lose them to more challenging and tiring games overseas. These teams will come in hungry, clicking and ready to kick the wounded and keep them down. Expect the Rockets to make a surprising push too. They are a foreign center named D-Mo and an all-star point guard in the making away from a deep run next season.
As of right now, my team of choice to dissect will be my favorite of course, the Boston Celtics.
Beantown would be smart in extending Pierce’s contract a 3rd time and stretching it over the next 3 seasons. This will give just a little extra cap room for this summer and the next to load up the bench. Hopefully Danny will do a better job this offseason than next. HOPEFULLY Danny will be in Portland or at home and Larry Bird will be grabbing up free agents like donuts.
Resigning KG and Jesus to smaller contracts, but not minimum ones, would be ideal for topping off their careers and mentoring the next generation in Boston. Bringing back Bass, Pietrus, Steimsma and starting Bradley are also musts for next season. Picking up Chris Kaman could be just what they need at the 5 with Steimroller spelling him. Jeff Green most likely will be back in a Celtics jersey and the Purdue rookies will be that much better next season after a full training camp and summer camp. The key will be getting that starting 5 like Kaman even Better Lopez from Brooklyn, and choosing wisely in the draft with their 4 picks, 2 of which are in the middle of the 1st round. This team will be a great blend of youth and experienced vets, much like the 2008 championship team. I fully expect them to be in the finals next year unless Chicago can find a way to solidify their frontcourt issues and starting 2 spot this summer. Either way, I’d welcome a Chi-Town/Beantown Semi-Finals any day next season with OKC waiting on the other side of the court.
I tip my hat to basketball and am thankful there’s at least one sport out there I can still connect with.