Following the NBA Finals, the only thing to keep an eye open for during the summer is the NBA Draft and the league’s free agency period.
This year the draft didn’t excite many basketball followers. The top 10 draft spots could have went in any direction for any team.
The predicted No.1 over-all pick Nerlens Noel, coming off an ACL injury, fell to the No.6 spot to the New Orleans Pelicans. Free agency has already taken off, and although there are not many great candidates available, there are some teams that will benefit from this year’s shopping spree.
Notable names like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are at the top of the list. But Paul immediately scratched his name off of it, agreeing to resign with Los Angeles Clippers for $107 million over the next five years.
It helps that former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers signed on to coach the Clippers and assume the role of vice-president of basketball operations. Lakerland is begging for Howard to stay in Los Angeles but all signs point to the center winding up with the Houston Rockets.
I don’t think a large billboard on the side of Staples Center put up by the organization trying to influence Howard or tweets from teammate Steve Nash will work in the resigning of the league’s top center.
With no state taxes to pay in Texas, a star to play alongside with in James Harden and a Hall of Fame coach (Kevin McHale) that was a big man himself, Houston looks and sounds like the final resting stop for Howard.
Another big man on the market that hasn’t quite played up to his contract is Al Jefferson. Making $15 million last year with the Jazz, Utah decided to allow him to walk.
Needing a center to help point guard Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Bobcats signed him for three years at a cost of $41 million.
I never really liked Jefferson’s production for the Jazz. Averaging over 18 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Jazz the past seven years, Jefferson is solid. He was named the third best center a few years back by CBS Sports, only behind Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
But he is not even on my list of top five centers today. Staying on the East Coast, the New York Knicks got smart and resigned J.R. Smith, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year last year.
Smith contributed to the team’s success in capturing the Atlantic Division title for the first time since the days of Latrell Sprewell.
In my opinion this was a good move by the Knicks. Smith plays well with superstar Carmelo Anthony and brings great spark off the bench for the Knicks. He has a few head issues but his personality is perfect for the big stage in New York.
Across the way, the Brooklyn Nets may have the slowest lineup the NBA, trading for Paul Peirce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics. Peirce has always played in slow motion and his game is similar to the Nets’ shooting guard Joe Johnson.
Once dubbed “The Jet,” Terry is a shadow himself. Although I feel Garnett can help in the development of center Brook Lopez, he himself is on his last leg.
Brooklyn, acquiring the Nets all-time leading scorer in Jason Kidd, who is fresh out of retirement, was probably the best move by organization as far as getting a coach someone to mesh with point guard Deron Williams.
But after signing Kidd as your head coach, why not go get young players to build the team around? Instead, the Nets sign players that are right behind the head coach in age.
The summer is early and we can expect more teams capitalizing off other team’s mistakes, such as the Los Angeles Lakers not re-signing Earl Clark or the Clippers not re-signing Eric Bledsoe.
Although cliché, the old saying is true: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
In this case, it is one team’s junk or treasure. I hate to label players as an item to be bought or sold, but it is a business. Players are often reminded that teams have the power to part ways with them at any time.
Overall change is good, no matter how one perceives how good or bad a team might be.
I, personally, look forward to the up and coming 2013-2014 season (even without a year of great draft picks).