The Decision

The Heat: A Few Days After

It has been a few days since the Heat completed their collapse and the Mavericks completed their first NBA Championship. I am not here to talk about that. I am not here to talk about LeBron’s post-game comments, nor the ring v bracelet debate, nor anything involved with all that. I know it is a novel idea, so do not pat me on the back too much, but I am here to talk basketball. That’s right, I am here to ponder what the Heat ought to do going into next year with the likely hard salary cap and doubts about how the big three fits together.

The first question is whether the big three is going to stay together. We all sort of realized going in that this was not the best big three that could be built (maybe Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony if we aren’t using the players involved) because Wade and LeBron did kind of the same thing and Chris Bosh was a good player who looked inflated by being the only player on the Raptors worth  noting. However, when they joined forced and Chris Bosh turned down the chance to retire as a Raptor and become the mascot, we all sort of tabled that fear because, hell, it was LeBron, Wade and Bosh on the same team. Months later, we are realizing that our initial doubts weren’t foolish or contrived, but at least had some kind of backing to them. So the question going into the offseason is if the big three needs changing. The answer is that it does not need changing, but they should look into it a little.

LeBron’s post game has been something that I, and others, have thought about a lot before this year, but now it seems like it is a necessity going into the offseason if the Heat are going to become the force we thought. He has never really had to play off the ball in his career, and so it is understandable that he hasn’t developed it, but it really would make him unstoppable-er. Regardless of if he adds this to his game or not, he is not going anywhere and is still the best player in the NBA by a fairly considerable margin. It is easy to pile on LeBron after the finals and forget how he eviscerated the Bulls and would have been the NVP had Rose not gone from fascinatingly talented to spectacular. He can get better, which is absolutely frightening, but he is not going to get moved or anything of the sort.

Dwyane Wade is Mr. Heat and I would be shocked to see him move after so many years in Miami. The “fans” would probably mutiny, and I could not blame them too much. However, from a basketball perspective, I wouldn’t blame them too much for moving him, especially if they were to find a way to make it for a certain player who also plays in Florida and occasionally wears a cape during the dunk contest. It would never happen, but are you telling me Orlando would turn down Wade for Howard? Does it not also make the Heat a more balanced team? Maybe I am missing a key component from a purely basketball standpoint, but if not for that fan mutiny in Miami, that trade is pretty interesting to me. However, it will never happen, especially with the Magic. If I were Pat Riley, I would let people make offers for Wade, but only if it was an absolutely fantastic offer. While he is an outstanding closer and one of the best players in the league he is a little redundant on this team right now.

Mean, but not inaccurate

Bosh is the member of the Heat trio most likely to leave, and while there will certainly be suitors, I do not think they can get value for him like they want. However, they might not have much of a choice given the potential hard cap and the unlikely scenario of someone wanting to take on Mike Miller for his current price and giving the Heat anything for him. If Bosh leaves, that means one big thing and one smaller thing for the Heat. The big thing is that LeBron would need that post game now rather than later. Bosh was never really a low-post scorer, but just the option of scoring in the paint without a dribble-drive would be nice for the Heat. The smaller issue would be getting full value for Bosh if he is moved. He is better than he is perceived to be right now and it could be hard to get the pieces you want for him, especially with his contract. I do not think he will get moved, but I wouldn’t be too shocked if he did as he is clearly the weakest of the trio.

So what gets changed? Almost nothing if you ask me. I would try to move Bosh for a defensive big man who is a good rebounder and a few other pieces if someone will offer it. I am in no way comparing Jordan to LeBron here because they hardly belong in the same sentence, but think of it as adding a less crazy Rodman to Wade and LeBron’s Jordan-Pippen. A Joakim Noah type would be fantastic, though they are never going to get a guy like that.  Even with the hard salary cap coming, I am not sure if they will be able to move Bosh even if they want to.

The role players will change themselves, and that is probably for the best. Less Mike Bibby and Juwan Howard is good for everyone. As long as they can find serviceable role players around the league, and there are a litany of them, they will be fine and should be considered favorites going into next year. It is easy to be reactionary and say “blow it up” but there are no rosters I would take over theirs right now. In a one-game situation, they probably have the best defense in the league, have the potential to have the most dynamic offense in the league if they can play together, and still should make any team’s coaching staff lose sleep. They failed when it mattered most but they are still fantastic players.

Are there changes they can make that will make them better? Absolutely, and not making those moves would be a disservice to the players and fans, but let’s not get crazy after a Finals disappointment. Once you get over your visceral reaction, if you can, to what a dick-move LeBron pulled on Cleveland, and get over everything involved with that, there are few teams who have the potential to play better basketball than the Heat. They can play the energetic, athletically jaw-dropping defense we crave, and the virtuoso offensive performances we all want to see. If the names on the jerseys were erased and the faces were blurred out, everyone who loves basketball, and only basketball, would love the Heat. Of course, you can’t erase the names, faces, or the emotions we all carry about the Heat, but from a purely basketball standpoint, you cannot help but be fascinated by this team. They are worthy of every ounce of your hate if you are from Cleveland or still hold “The Decision” against LeBron (and ESPN), but no matter what, there is an element of you that loves the way the Heat are capable of playing. It is what makes them such a compelling team to hate. Like the Joker in The Dark Knight, Tyler Durden in Fight Club  and others, the enemy is most compelling when we see something of ourselves or something we admire in them. The Heat really can, and occasionally do, play beautiful basketball. You can hate them if you want, but you cannot claim to really love basketball and not hold out some respect for them.

So they need to make some changes, but it likely will not be directly with their big three. The biggest changes that have to be made are within each of the players, especially LeBron who is the best player in the league as it is. Can he accept coaching? Can he look inward and realize what he has to change? Does he have the drive he needs to push himself without anyone else pushing him? I don’t have the slightest clue, but by the end of next year we will know if LeBronis the next Wilt, stacking up the stats on pure athletic superiority or a player worth admiring for his prodigious play regardless of athleticism like Bird and others.

Congrats to the Mavs. Here is everyone's favorite Mavs picture.

No matter what, two things are sure. One, the CBA could change everything I just wrote; and two, no single team gives us more to hate and like at the same time than the Miami Heat.

 

A few unrelated thoughts just to close us out:

  • I want Deron Williams to go to LA. To the Clippers.
  • Steve Nash should get a shot at a title next year, Unfortunately he will be with the Suns or Knicks, eliminating that possibility.
  • The Lakers are done as title contenders. So are the Celtics. So are the Spurs. All of this barring some big changes.
  • I like the Warriors next year if they can move Monta Ellis for a proper center and find a wing in the draft or elsewhere.
  • DeShawn has a tattoo of the $5 bill on his neck. He wore a shirt asking LeBron how his Dirk tastes. He jsut got arrested for public intoxication where he did not know where he was. He called the Heat classless after the finals. We need to rename the all-crazy team after him.
  • That was one of the better Finals I have seen in a long long time.

 

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Top 3 Teams in Play for Carmelo Anthony

Despite the fact that the New York Knicks “were” the favorable destination for 2011’s top free agent in Carmelo Anthony it looks as though the Nuggets aren’t interested in becoming trading partners. As Sam Amico reported via Twitter this past Saturday the Nuggets will try to trade Carmelo to three teams: Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, and the New Jersey Nets.

Which team will I pick?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Melo will in fact be traded before this year’s trade deadline. For one Carmelo has pretty much painted a clear picture to the Nuggets organization that he doesn’t have much interest in signing an extension. For two Carmelo continuously speaks to the media discussing his future plans in which he recently just expressed his interest in possibly joining the Houston Rockets.

But the third and final reason has to deal with the team that currently holds the rights to their franchise player, the Denver Nuggets.  Don’t forget they have their own agenda, their own goals, their own future to look forward too, as does Anthony. I can assure you the Denver Nuggets will take notes and examine what just happened to Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers with “The Decision”. There’s no way Anthony will depart from Denver without the Nuggets receiving some valuable compensation.

While Anthony may in fact have his own preferences of teams, the Nuggets also have their own. In which case brings up a very interesting story to follow: How will the Nuggets successfully pull off a blockbuster trade to their liking?

It begins with narrowing down the teams you’re interested in doing business with and they’ve already established that in the Timberwolves, Kings, and Nets. It’s been noted all offseason long that the Denver Nuggets have been out searching for a young power forward to replace their current aging and overpaid power forwards in Nene Hilario and Kenyon Martin. Each of the three teams mentioned as Denver’s favorite trading partners can offer the ideal young power forward the Nuggets have been searching for.

Love could be the piece to bring Melo to Minny.

In Minnesota it’s Kevin Love, a young post man currently a member of the young Team USA team participating in Turkey. Love’s a player who has expressed mixed emotions upon being a member of the Timberwolves. Most recently told reporters at Team USA camp that he felt “unappreciated” by the Timberwolves organization.

Meanwhile in Sacramento, the Kings have put themselves in a great position to be attractive trading partners by having successful draft nights the past few years. They have an oversized load of young post players that show tons of potential. With the variety of different big men they’re able to offer, there’s no question they’ve got the best chance of landing Carmelo Anthony.

In New Jersey, it comes down to the vision and decision-making of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. After Prokhorov struck out on reeling in a big name star in this year’s historic free agency, he may become impatient, and make an over-the-top offer for Anthony’s services. If he does that I can promise you he’ll be doing the Nuggets some favors (pun intended).

So let’s review each of the Nuggets’ preferred trading partners and evaluate the talent they’re willing to offer in return for Denver’s superstar. It’s important to consider that it’s not likely ANY of these trades go down without Carmelo accepting a rarely used (in mid-season) what’s called an extend-and-trade.

Each of the three teams listed will want assurance that they’re not trading young big man for a “rent-a-player”. In most trade circumstances, the NBA is not like Major League Baseball where you give away a top prospect in exchange for a star you’re unlikely to resign (cough…Brewers…cough). With that in mind, Anthony will basically have an artificial no trade clause. So in the end, can the Nuggets REALLY pull a trade off with one of the following teams? Let’s examine:

Minnesota Timberwolves: While Sacramento is clearly the favorite for Carmelo Anthony in terms of the Nuggets’ preferences, let’s not forget that for Wolves GM David Kahn it may not be tough throwing him into a deal. With the additions of Anthony Tolliver, Michael Beasley, and Darko Milicic this offseason, it’s likely Love won’t even be returning next season. The Timberwolves can offer a below average package for Anthony most likely sending Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, and probably a future first round pick that can be sweetened if Kahn makes it not lottery protected.

Favors could be the big man to bring New Jersey a big piece.

New Jersey Nets: As mentioned above, if Prokhorov does get desperate, the Nets may have a nice shot at landing Melo. Not only can they off a variety of young pieces, but New Jersey is a place that Carmelo may have interest in signing and staying long term. While the Russian man may gamble & goes all in with his young talented chips, the question that arises is if Denver is willing to gamble as well. The Nets have already come out and said they’re not willing to add Brook Lopez into any kind of deal for Anthony. So even if it sounds outrageous the Nuggets would have to acquire Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and maybe more. If a deal anywhere close to this nature, consider it a done deal, and it could be realistic “IF” (a big “if”) Carmelo agrees to do a extend and trade scenario.

Cousins is one guy who will not be included in any deal for Melo.

Sacramento Kings: Much like the Nets, the Kings also have a ton of potential pieces. But make no mistake, the Kings may be able to offer more variety of bigs, but there’s no way they’ll be willing to include DeMarcus Cousins in any trade talk. It’s clear newly acquired Samuel Dalembert will play a big role along with Jason Thompson, Donte Greene, Carl Landry, Omri Casspi and Hassan Whiteside being potential guys sent in the proposal. The Kings would love the idea of a Tyreke-Melo-Cousins trio heading towards the future. And the Nuggets may have enough interest in Dalembert’s huge expiring contract , along with Carl Landry’s. Also, don’t rule out Omri Casspi and Kings rookie Hassan Whiteside. Casspi can fill the starting small forward position and Whiteside is a young Marcus Camby in the making (Camby won 2007 Defensive Player of the Year with Denver).

This is obviously all speculation and nobody knows what may happen this upcoming season in the high country. But I’m willing to bet NOTHING HAPPENS until at least December 15th which other newly signed free agents become available for trade. That gives plenty of other teams possibilities to get involved and who knows, maybe even the Nuggets’ preferred three teams will get together to and work out a three team trade of some sort.

Until then, take this situation for what it’s worth, embrace the hype, the hoopla, and the rumors.

From LeBron to…..Ramon?

By: Ross Geiger

It was reported at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and now it’s confirmed, the Cleveland Cavaliers have interest in two Minnesota Timberwolves players that are being shopped this offseason. While big man Kosta Koufos is one of the Cavs targets, the most notable is point guard Ramon Sessions.

You know... if you add 1 to LeBron's current number, took off 5 inches and about 80 pounds... Screw it, I can't even sugarcoat it for Cleveland. Ramon is not LeBron.

The former 56th pick of the 2007 NBA Draft turned heads his rookie season after being called up later on into the 2007-2008 NBA season. Against the Chicago Bulls on April 14, 2008 Sessions made franchise history with the Bucks scoring 20 points, dropping 24 dimes, and even snatched 8 rebounds.  His incredible night not only became the first “20-20” with points and assists in Bucks history but Sessions also set (and still holds) the rookie assists record for one game with 24.

In his second NBA season, Sessions looked to build upon his successful rookie season and took over the reigns as the starting point guard in Milwaukee after Mo Williams was traded to Cleveland. The highlight of Sessions’ second year came on February 7, 2009 as he put up 44 points against Allen Iverson and the Detroit Pistons in an overtime loss at home. Another notable game was against the Los Angeles Lakers in which Sessions recorded his first career triple-double with 16 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds.

Becoming a restricted free agent after the 2008-2009 NBA season, Sessions signed an offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves on 4 year, $16 million dollar deal. The Milwaukee Bucks declined to match the offer and Sessions officially became a member of the Timberwolves. Little did Sessions know, the Timberwolves would draft three point guards in last year’s upcoming draft in Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, and Ty Lawson. Though Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn did trade away Ty Lawson, he held onto Jonny Flynn and the draft rights to Ricky Rubio.

Instantly it was clear that it would be hard for Ramon Sessions to be a piece of the Timberwolves’ future going forward. Fortunately for both Ramon

"I Heart PGs." -- David Kahn

Sessions and the Minnesota Timberwolves it looks as though his time in Minnesota is coming to end shortly. Not only did the Timberwolves sign free agent (and Sessions’ former backcourt partner in Milwaukee) Luke Ridnour but it looks as though the Wolves might have found a trading partner in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As far potential trades go, I have no clue what could be included in a package deal between the two teams. One would have to assume if the Cavaliers acquire Ramon Sessions that could mean Mo Williams could also be moved soon as well. One deal that works and makes sense in my opinion is Minnesota sending Ramon Sessions and Corey Brewer to Cleveland in exchange for Anderson Varejao.

For the Cavs, adding Sessions gives them a young point guard to run with that also allows them to begin their trading options with Mo Williams and what they possibly could receive in return for his services. As far as Corey Brewer goes, he’s an expiring contract who would be given a opportunity to play that small forward position with the Cavs next season.

He was from Ohio, so I guess that is a valid reason to want him? Just kidding.

For the Timberwolves, they add Anderson Varejao, a high energy power forward who can help fill the hole with Al Jefferson leaving via trade with Utah. Being able to start Kevin Love and having the luxury to turn to Varejao off the bench gives Timberwolves Head Coach Kurt Rambis options next season.

Be sure to continue to check in with the OuttaTownClowns (@outtatownclowns) and follow NBA Guru Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger for all your latest NBA trade rumors/updates!