Players vs. Owners and the NBA Off-Season

Now to other orders of business.

I wanna go through a bit of off-season banter for a bit. This is kind of preemptive, I know, but there are some pretty decent names flirting with the pool right now. I’m going to go over some of the highlights of this years free agency and put my two-cents in on what the “optimal” outcomes are for the teams involved.

The ATLANTA HAWKS definitely need to re-sign Jamal Crawford. He’s still not the stud he was predicted to be, but since joining the Hawks, he’s starting to find a niche. If the team wants to remain competitive, they need him. Crawford is one of six free agents the Hawks are sporting this year, of which all are unrestricted.Crawford is their definite catch, but adding Hilton Armstrong and Josh Powell with new contracts wouldn’t hurt either.

The BOSTON CELTICS should re-sign Ray Allen and Glen Davis. This is an absolute must. Allen, the aging veteran sharpshooter had a career year in 2010-11, silencing the critics who claim he was “getting old” or “slowing down”. Glen, the artist formerly known as “Big Baby” is a bit streaky, sure, but not nearly as bad as he used to be and is a good body to bounce between the four and five spots. He’s the guy when Kevin Garnett retires. The Celtics would be wise to re-sign Jeff Green, too. Even though he isn’t as dominant in the post and can’t quite crash the boards like Kendrick Perkins could, he is still the “Center of the Future”, I guess you could say. He’s a good player, don’t get me wrong, and if anyone could get his true potential to shine, it’s Doc Rivers, but the Perkins trade is one of the reasons the Celtics are struggling against the Heat. 2011-12 could be a re-building year, but the payoff could come in 2012-13 when Jeff Green starts acting a little more like Blake Griffin.

Oh, and they need to convince Shaq to hang up his Nikes.

The CHARLOTTE BOBCATS aren’t going to feel much pressure in this off-season. I think if they really needed a re-sign, it would have to be Kwame Brown, or Boris Diaw. They need to set their sights on re-signing D.J. Augustine at the conclusion of next season, but really Charlotte is set on contracts right now.

The CHICAGO BULLS don’t have anything to discuss right now, honestly. They have three unrestricted free agents coming up and can, honestly, afford to let them go. However, next season, the crosshairs need to be on Derrick Rose.

The CLEVELAND CAVALIERS can probably do without Anthony Parker and Ryan Hollins, but for the sake of the team still feeling the burn of “LeBron’s Team” falling apart, I would say re-signing them. Parker can get hot at times, and despite his streakiness, can provide some solid bench minutes. Hollins is the same way, but he can be a defensive force on occasion. Cleveland definitely needs to draft well this year. Maybe somebody from Virginia Commonwealth could help. (reference to previous NCAA Final Four post)

The DALLAS MAVERICKS have some papers to sign. Their crop of 2011 UNRESTRICTED free agents include “No Fear” Barea, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, and Peja Stojakovic. If I’m Donnie Nelson, I ink them now. I know I need these four guys. Now, looking at Caron Butler. Granted, he’s injured, but in his position sits Shawn Marion, who is on a resurgence of sorts and works well with Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki, and Peja Stojakovic, who has found his stride as a bench spark alongside Jason Terry. This 2010-11 team is arguably beeter than the 2006 team that participated in “The Great Choke”. So, why do away with it, especially since you have nine players over the age of 30? This is that point where the younger guys, especially Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones, need to develop. I will say, though, Dallas is in good shape.

If you run the DENVER NUGGETS, you re-sign Nene, J.R. Smith, and Wilson Chandler. Kenyon Martin and Arron Afflalo give you some solid bench minutes, so re-signing them is also beneficial. Denver played beyond expectation when they dealt ‘Melo to the Knicks, so I feel this team needs to stay intact for the time being. They hit a wall in the playoffs, but maybe picking up someone like Caron Butler in the off-season could be a nice addition to a team looking to remain competitive next season.

The DETROIT PISTONS really just need to blow apart their roster and start from scratch. They’ve finished in the lower-middle of the Eastern Conference two years in row and have had some of their best traded or walk for other oppurtunities. I think they should keep Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey (specifically because he’s already pretty good and has another 10-12 years left in his career) and let T-Mac fall away from the game with what little he has left in him. Chris Wilcox could be another decent resign. Streaky, sure, but can be solid off the bench.

The GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS have some bench guys coming up this off-season. The only two of note that I could see weighing the option of a re-sign would be Al Thornton and Vladimir Radmanovic. While the two are just a shell of their former selves (this guy specifically remembers a time when Radmanovic wouldn;t miss from mid-range), they still help stabilize the bench with some solid results and veteran-ness. The draft is what the Warriors really should be thinking about, and the possibility of nabbing someone from next year’s class.

The HOUSTON ROCKETS need to tender a new contract for Chuck Hayes. He’s good for 25-30 minutes a game and is a pretty consistent player. Yao Ming, on the other hand, shouldn’t be re-signed. Wow. There is still a part of me that can’t believe I said that, but the injuries and inconsistency kind of tell the tale. That’s the problem with having acromegaly. You don’t hold together very well. Yao only played in five games this season, and didn’t play at all last year, because of recurring foot injuries. It’s a hard decision, but at the same time it’s kind of a no-brainer.

If you’re the INDIANA PACERS, you have to ask yourself the following questions: Do I re-sign Mike Dunleavy? Yes, but not for a long-term commitment. He’s too… I don’t know… inconsistent. I like them re-signing Jeff Foster. He’s a beast on the boards.

If I’m the LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, I keep DeAndre Jordan and Craig Smith. Then, I look for someone in free agency to help Blake Griffin. Then, next season I get involved in the scramble for Chris Paul.

The LOS ANGELES LAKERS have an interesting road ahead of them. Phil Jackson is gone and the team was just humilitated in the playoffs. I think I re-sign Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes, sending Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith into the pool. I play next season as well as I can, without no real high expectation. After next season, I release Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher (the latter may even just retire) and go after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. With the incentive of playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Paul and Howard just might head to Hollywood… and a particular legendary coach could be knocking on the door once again…

The MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES have a couple of different scenarios. If they beat the Thunder and make a Conference Finals appearance, re-sign everyone (with the exception of maybe Leon Powe). If the Thunder take the series, I say focus on Marc Gasol, Shane Battier, and Zach Randolph. Supplement as needed. Shake. Then serve up a 2011-12 season that could include NBA Finals discussions.

A quick note: Since the Lakers-Grizzlies trade a couple of years ago was looked at as one of the most one-sided, messed up, disappointing, et. al. trades in the history of the NBA, I will be writing a post soon discusing how it probably worked out better for the Grizzlies in the long run.

The MIAMI HEAT, Communist Russia of the NBA World, need cap space, especially since I don’t put it past them to go after someone in 2012. Having the likes of Wade, Bosh, and LeBron on your team is expensive, and since the NBA may start cracking down on salary concerns (see “Potential 2011 NBA Lockout”), if you want someone like Chris Paul or Deron Williams to come to South Beach, you have to give them the monetary incentive. I’m even going to go out on a limb here and say the Heat will release Mike Bibby, alongisde Erick Dampier and Juwan Howard, assuming the two don’t retire first.  There’s even then possibility Mario Chalmers could walk. Since the Heat don’t have any free agents coming up in 2012, they need to clear some room now. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and the rest of the 2012 free agent class will not be a checkbook friendly expense.

The MILWAUKEE BUCKS have some issues now. First, let me start out by saying, I want them to re-sign Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, known from now on as “That Guy”. That Guy is a spark off the bench and with some work, could begin making replacement starts. I mean, he gets about 26 minutes a game and knocks down six points and five boards on average. A little work, yes, but he’s only 24. He can get better.

The MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES won’t suffer by letting go of Sebastian Telfair.

The crazy Russian owner of the NEW JERSEY NETS has to be a little pleased with himself. His team’s moving to Brooklyn soon, has some talent, and can seriously think about competing for an NBA Title within the next couple of years. He just has to be able to entice certain players to re-sign this off-season. As much as it kind of weirds me out, re-sign Kris Humphries. He averages nearly thirty minute a game and spent 2010-11 hauling 10 boards and scratching 10 tally marks per game. The guy’s aggravating as hell, but Sasha Vujacic would be a good re-sign. I think beyond that, the 2011 free agents for the Nets are expendable. The real focus needs to be keeping Deron Williams and Brooke Lopez after next season, especially since the move to Brooklyn commences for the 2012 season.

The NEW ORLEANS HORNETS have some trouble. There isn’t much hope for Chris Paul staying after next season. Before that dark day, however, they may very well lose David West this year. Both are frustrated players, and both are looking for a change of scenery. If you lose West this year, then you’re going to lose Paul next year, which means, not only are you kicking yourself for dealing Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler to division rival Dallas, but the collapse of your team is imminent. If I was looking at this doomsday scenario, I would just let my team unravel, and focus on maybe grabbing someone in 2012 free agency.

If I’m the NEW YORK KNICKS, I may keep Shawne Williams, but the other six free agents just don’t seem tantilizing enough for me. I spend this free agency trying to land someone like Theo Ratliff. A guy I can convert into a solid bench presence, taking some of the pressure off my stars (‘Melo and Amare). I keep my eyes peeled in 2012 also, but may even take the initiative to restructure Chauncey Billups’ contract at some point this season.

The OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER probably don’t need to, but I would re-sign Deaquan Cook. He’s on the court for maybe fifteen minutes a game, but he is a great guy for diversions and will give you some points.

The ORLANDO MAGIC may end up keeping Earl Clark, but my definite re-sign is Jason Richardson. He can start when you need him to and plays solid numbers from the bench.

The PHILADELPHIA 76ERS may be wise to keep Spencer Hawes. A bench big man who gives you seven points and five boards in twenty minutes a game is a good cushion to have. Thaddeus Young definitely stays. He’s too much of a scoring threat and is finding his shot easier and easier.

The PHOENIX SUNS should keep Aaron Brooks and if available, Grant Hill. Then, they need to worry about Steve Nash and Vince Carter.

In 2011, if I were the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, I let Patrick Mills and Greg Oden go. Mills is a decent guy for low-minutes bench players, but the team is heading in a more, shall we say, “give LeMarcus Aldridge forty-minutes a game” direction, with some decent results. Granted, they couldn’t take down the Mavericks, but they came close, especially since the 2009 Brandon Roy model came back for the series. Hopefully, he can stay like that. It’ll give Portland some of it’s flair back and won’t make the attempt to re-sign Gerald Wallace after the 2011-12 season as daunting a proposition.

The SACRAMENTO KINGS aren’t going anywhere fast, so because of that, I play the “Destroy Your Roster” card. Re-sign Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Thornton. Finish with maybe twenty wins next year. Don’t re-sign Beno Udrih. Not worth the inconsistencty (see “Darko Milicic”). Either way, whether they re-sign Dalembert, Thornton, or even Udrih next season, the Kings are looking at another few years and major coaching and office changes before the word playoffs can even be uttered in the city of Sacramento.

The SAN ANTONIO SPURS really only have a Tim Duncan with an ETO to think about right now. Since Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan, it’s not even really a worry. Duncan would re-sign even if the Lakers or the Heat waved money in his face. The Spurs need to worry more about him retiring than donning a different uniform.

If I’m the TORONTO RAPTORS, I’m feeling the sting of losing Chris Bosh. Hard. So, in an attempt to keep my team from completely imploding (more than it already has), I re-sign Sonny Weems, Alexis Ajinca, Leandro Barbosa, and Reggie Evans. Then, in 2012, I make a push for a five-guy and a three-or-four guy. Basically, I try and coax Russell Westbrook to not re-sign in Oklahoma City and aim to grab Kevin Love if he puts his foot in the water.

The UTAH JAZZ are screwed, to put it bluntly. Jerry Sloan not only vacated his post, but in the middle of a tumultuous season. And rather ungracefully, if I might add. Deron Williams is gone. Carlos Boozer is gone. Mehmet Okur isn’t nearly as consistent as he once was. What do you do? Honestly, you don’t fight the end result of next season, first off. You need a high draft pick, and chances are good, you’ll get one.As far as this off-season goes, you re-sign Kyrylo Fesenko for a roster spot basically. You keep Andrei Kirilenko because he’s more like 2001 Andrei Kirilenko, now, more than in recent years. You keep C.J. Miles for a bench presence and occasional “if-nessessary” starts. You keep Earl Watson for a roster spot. In 2012, you puruse the star to lead these guys.

The WASHINGTON WIZARDS should re-sign Othyus Jeffers, Yi Jianlian, Nick Young, and Josh Howard. Then maybe get involved in a trade over the course of the season, then actively puruse someone in 2012.

Of course, all of this is kind of detrimental on there being a season next year. The NBA may end up following the NFL’s example and locking out. Like the NFL’s issue, the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) is set to expire and the National Basketball Players Association (“NBPA”) is looking for some changes, as are the officials in the NBA’s front offices, who are convinced that players are being overpaid and teams are being stacked because of some owners’ ability to pay the luxury tax while other’s cannot.

A possible outcome of this is a “hard-cap”, meaning a strictly enforced ceiling of pay that owners and GM’s cannot, under any circumstance, surpass, like the NFL has. Some players are opposed, since the NBA has been using a “soft-cap”, which is basically a “recommended” salary ceiling, but owners have the ability to pass it, as long as they pay a luxury tax every year to the league. Things could get a little hairy before they get better, but I don’t think too much harm will come out of it.

I know the league won’t lose the whole season. This is the NBA’s second Golden Age. The ratings are high, the players are rich, and the owners are raking in record-setting profits off their teams. As with the first Golden Age, when everyone tuned in to see Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Grant Hill, and the rest of the All-90’s team, this revival of the sport’s marketability is fueled by LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and the rest of the 2003 NBA Draft Class.

Time will tell how bad this spatting could get, but even though David Stern is a shady commissioner, at best, he knows how to make the league money, and will do whatever he can to ensure that happens.

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About Robert L. Franklin

Ah, the About Me section - social networking's excuse for you sounding like an elitist prick. Hmm... what to say? What to say?
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