And Trade Deadline Review
This will go down as the wildest week in NBA trade-deadline history.
It's hard to imagine more headline players changing teams in such a short period of time as there were this week in the association.
After Carmelo Anthony muscled his way to New York, teams started seeing things very clearly.
The lack of a signed contract extension, or an expected tough negotiation, was rightfully taken by teams as a sign that the player didn't want to be there; and teams started unloading them left and right.
Deron Williams and Jeff Green were promptly booted, and it seemed everybody else jumped into the fray just because they could.
When it was over, we had a deadline day that was so crazy news sites could hardly keep up with the fast-moving transactions.
Looking at where we stand heading into the home stretch, very little has changed at the top or bottom of the league standings.
San Antonio and Boston are still the top two teams, and all of the top 10 teams from the Mid-Season Power Poll are still the same, only in a different order.
Dallas made the most ground. They were number seven in the last power poll and are now three. And the Lakers fell from three to six, the biggest fall of any team in the top 10.
(1.) San Antonio (48-10)
(2.) Boston (41-15)
(3.) Miami (43-16)
(4.) Dallas (41-16)
(5.) Chicago (39-17)
(6.) Los Angeles (41-19)
(7.) Oklahoma City (36-21)
(8.) Orlando (37-22)
(9.) Atlanta (35-23)
(10.) New Orleans (35-25)
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY POLL
I agree with everyone else that this looks like an extremely weak draft class.
My research hasn't been much, but I haven't seen a NBA-ready player yet, someone who has all of the tools to be successful before he enters the draft.
But that doesn't mean the draft is worthless, and no one will develop into a star with some good coaching, a strong drive and some good, veteran leadership.
The following teams will be competing to take that chance and hope someone can grow into the face of their franchise for many years to come.
(1.) Cleveland (11-47)
(2.) Minnesota (13-46)
(3.) Sacramento (14-42)
(4.) Washington (15-42)
(5.) Toronto (16-43)
(6.) New Jersey (17-41)
(7.) Detroit (21-39)
(8.) Los Angeles (21-38)
(9.) Milwaukee (22-35)
(10.) Charlotte (26-32)
The Carmelo Anthony trade was covered earlier in the week, so let's take a look at the rest of what went down as teams prepare for the final games of the season and the playoffs.
Jeff Green to Boston: Are you kidding me?
Los Angeles and Dallas can step aside because they now have some company at the top of the NBA. This move makes Boston as deep and as talented as anybody, the clear favorite in the East and possibly the favorite to win it all this year.
Not only that, it secures their future and gives them a possible franchise cornerstone to play with Rajon Rondo for many years to come.
Before this trade, Boston was looking at a closing window of opportunity as a serious title threat. Now they are as well positioned as anybody to compete for titles after the end of the 2011-12 season.
Jermaine O'Neal is better than Kendrick Perkins could ever dream of being, and it was reported during the game Thursday night that they expect O'Neal back one month before the playoffs.
So Boston has a potential franchise player coming off the bench now that they have traded Perkins for Green and someone better than Perkins coming back for a playoff run.
Green has been playing out of position as a power forward for a couple of years. Back at his natural position, he could end up being as good as any small forward in the NBA.
From the Oklahoma City side, this trade is so horrendous that it almost makes you question their sanity. Who in the world would trade a possible franchise player for a role player and a backup point guard?
Make no mistake, they will be better as a team because they are no longer starting a small forward at power forward but don't mistake that as getting anything close to equal value for Jeff Green.
Nate Robinson is the only thing which can prevent this trade from going down as one of the all-time worst in NBA history.
Because Russell Westbrook is big for a point guard, Oklahoma City can play Robinson at shooting guard, which may be best for him, and match him up against the other team's point guard on defense; and a lineup of Westbrook, Robinson, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka would give them one of the most athletic of any in the NBA of guys who can actually play.
Let's see the Lakers keep up with that. But other than that, this trade is more than a head-scratcher.
A huge Celtics fan growing up, Thunder general manager Sam Presti is doing his best to pass Kevin McHale and become the man who traded his beloved Celtics the greatest number of assets at the cheapest possible price.
And with the Ray Allen trade and now this one, he may have topped him.
In a separate trade with Charlotte, Oklahoma City picked up Nazr Mohammed to boost their front court; and Boston got Nenad Krstic from Oklahoma City with Jeff Green.
Knicks to Denver: Everyone keeps saying that you have to have superstars to win, but few have ever really tested that theory. I have always believed that there is strength in numbers and that a team of eight to 10 really good players could be just as good as, if not better than, a team with a few superstars but other players not as good as that eight to 10.
Don't forget that George Karl is an outstanding coach.
I won't call him great because he hasn't won two championships, but you give a really good coach a bunch of good players, and there is no telling what can happen.
As for New York, they'll be fine as soon as Don Nelson Jr., I mean Mike D'Antoni, stops playing small ball.
Amar'e Stoudemire is not a center.
The sooner D'Antoni makes this adjustment, the better off New York will be.
Gerald Wallace to Portland: Gerald Wallace is a really good player. He has a lot of skills, will fit in nicely with what they are trying to do ('We'll use him ...') and is good insurance for Brandon Roy.
It will be very difficult to score on a front court featuring him, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby, a definite step in the right direction for Portland.
Wallace puts them one step closer to contention.
Deron Williams to New Jersey: I'm not nearly as blown away by this move as others are. So New Jersey upgraded from a borderline-outstanding point guard to an outstanding one?
They still don't have any players and now, fewer draft picks. And I'm not even sure how much of an "upgrade" this really is.
Devin Harris can play.
Any boost they get from people wanting to come and play with Williams, assuming he is still there, could be offset by them not wanting to play for Avery Johnson, a coach who yells at his players like he's their daddy.
Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich: I've been down with the Jeff Teague Movement for a few weeks now.
Why these teams have talented players rotting on their benches will never be understood. Atlanta giving him more playing time was long overdue.
Hilton Armstrong is a nice prospect who should be better than any center on Atlanta's roster.
I'll believe Kirk Hinrich is an upgrade over Mike Bibby when I see it.
Baron Davis to Cleveland: This is the first mistake under Vinny Del Negro.
The Clippers should have traded for Jamario Moon and left Mo Williams in Cleveland. It's a bad sign because it is the first sign of the Clippers being the Clippers, meaning they were being cheap and made the move to save money and not win basketball games.
It does look like a weak draft, but in their position at this point in the season (no shot at the playoffs), you never opt out of the draft without seeing how the board lines up after the draft lottery.
And certainly not for Mo Williams, the guy who played about 12 good minutes in six games against Boston in the playoffs last year.
Marcus Thornton to Sacramento: This was a good move by Sacramento.
The last thing they need is a power forward with the front court that they have. They filled a position of need by trading a player who wasn't needed in Carl Landry.
I'm not sure what New Orleans was thinking here. Some games will have to be watched to find some answers.
Shane Battier to Memphis: Ishmael Smith, the throw in, may end up being the real key to this trade. He could fill Memphis' need at backup point guard.
What impact Battier will have on this team is unclear, but a talent upgrade always helps.
In Houston, this frees up playing time for Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee and Chase Budinger. I would have traded Kevin Martin too, but that's just me.
Hasheem Thabeet is a project, one most would say should be scrapped; but Houston has nothing to lose in seeing what he's got and trying to develop him.
Aaron Brooks to Phoenix: The impact of this trade can't be measured either.
Houston got Goran Dragic in return, one backup point guard for another. I need to see some games to come to any conclusion.
Finally, Chicago absolutely should have made a move for a shooting guard.
You don't go into the playoffs with just enough to try to win it all; you go in with more than enough, then you try to get some more after that.
Their margin of error is too close for comfort.
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