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Kegboy
07-18-2007, 06:38 PM
I think Hollinger's pretty dang worthless, but he makes some good points here, and thankfully left his abacus at home. As he says in the intro, he's looking at next season only, not long-term ramifications.

Regardless of his opinions, this and tomorrow's article should give us a nice reminder of how the rest of the league is scurrying for what they can get before the Stanko invasion.

Link (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasonwinners&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba %2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dholling er_john%26page%3doffseasonwinners)

2007-08 outlook: Who's improved thanks to offseason moves?

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/columnists/Hollinger_John_55.jpg (http://x.go.com/cgi/x.pl?goto=http://search.espn.go.com/keyword/search?searchString=john_hollinger&name=SEARCH_m_archive&srvc=sz) By John Hollinger
ESPN Insider
(Archive (http://x.go.com/cgi/x.pl?goto=http://search.espn.go.com/keyword/search?searchString=john_hollinger&name=SEARCH_m_archive&srvc=sz))


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<!-- end story header --><!-- begin left column --><!-- begin page tools -->Updated: July 18, 2007
Comment (http://myespn.go.com/conversation/story?id=2940622)
Email (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasonwinners&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba %2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dholling er_john%26page%3doffseasonwinne#)<!-- end page tools --><!-- begin story body --><!-- template inline -->• Coming Thursday: Hollinger's offseason losers
Improvement. That's the name of the game in the offseason, and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Teams can get better in a variety of ways -- through holdover players raising their games, through trimming dead wood from the previous season's roster, or by adding talent through the draft, trades or free agency. And sometimes, it doesn't even take any of that -- it just takes a different general on the sidelines pulling it all together.

But one thing remains constant: Standing pat is a formula for failure. In a business in which careers tend to be brief, it's imperative to constantly bring in new blood. Just ask the Miami Heat (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mia), who were so giddy about winning a championship in 2006 that they brought back the same roster last season -- and watched their aging crew fail to win a single playoff game in one of the weaker title defenses in league history.

Fortunately, half of the league's teams have made additions to their rosters that should prove quite helpful in the coming season, and that's the group I'll be discussing today. While not all of these moves were in the teams' best long-term interests ($24 million for Jason Kapono (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3734)!?!?!?), what I want to do today is focus on how those maneuvers affect each team for this coming season in particular.

And if we're only looking at the upcoming season, even a fairly reckless move can have positive short-term effects.

With that as the background, here's a midsummer update showing the teams that have made themselves more formidable than they were a year ago:

(Major additions and subtractions are given in parentheses)
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1. Houston Rockets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=hou)
(added Mike James (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3577), Luis Scola, Jackie Butler (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3909) and Aaron Brooks (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4304); lost Juwan Howard (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2628) and Vassilis Spanoulis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3867); replaced Jeff Van Gundy with Rick Adelman)

While you're focusing on the San Antonio-Dallas-Phoenix triumvirate in the West, don't sleep on Houston. The Rockets have quietly put together a roster that very well could be the last team standing in the Western Conference in 2008.

Start with the decision to replace Van Gundy with Adelman -- a change in direction that will likely make the team more up-tempo and offensive-minded. They'll miss Van Gundy's defensive genius, but given the offensive stagnation this club showed in 2006-07, it's not a bad trade.
Moreover, hiring Adelman was especially important in this case because it basically adds another player to the roster. Bonzi Wells (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3254) bristled under Van Gundy after showing up out of shape, and hardly played last season. But he seems excited by being reunited with Adelman, who coached him to a strong campaign in Sacramento two years ago.

From there, add in two vastly underrated trades. The first one pilfered James from Minnesota for Howard, giving the Rockets a do-over on the disastrous James-for-Rafer Alston (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3282) trade two years ago. The second nabbed Scola and Butler from San Antonio in return for Spanoulis.
Scola, a skilled Argentinian who has been one of the best players in Europe for the past half-decade, will make an immediate impact as a starting power forward. Butler, as a young center with strong scoring skills in the post, should energize a second unit that was bereft of offense last season.

In the big picture, the Rockets aggressively addressed their three main problems: stagant offense, point guard and power forward. Between the coaching change, the additions of James and first-round pick Aaron Brooks at the point, the pickups of Scola and Butler up front, and the de facto addition of Wells, this team suddenly looks loaded. At this point in the offseason, nobody has upgraded more than this club.






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2. Charlotte Bobcats (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=cha)
(added Jason Richardson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3515) and Jared Dudley (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4300); lost Brevin Knight (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3186); replaced Bernie Bickerstaff with Sam Vincent)

While cynics will claim that frugal Bobcats owner Robert Johnson only signed off on the Richardson deal because he had to get over the minimum salary floor, there's no question that the deal addressed a huge weakness that has plagued the Cats throughout their existence.

Richardson is a reliable scorer and rebounder -- one that will help push rookie bust Adam Morrison (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4131) out of the rotation if he struggles again -- and gives the Bobcats a much-needed go-to guy late in games. It also allows sharpshooter Matt Carroll (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3785) to shift to a more suitable sixth-man role, in which his defensive shortcomings won't be so glaring. As a late first-rounder, Dudley could be surprisingly effective too -- don't be shocked if he's earning important minutes by season's end. Add it up and a playoff run doesn't seem far-fetched at all.






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3. Phoenix Suns (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=pho)
(added Grant Hill (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2626), Alando Tucker (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4307); lost James Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3752))

The Suns sold one of their first-round draft picks (uh-gain) but they also used one to grab Tucker, a tweener who should be able to fill in a lot of the minutes played by Jones. But their big grab was Hill, who is as brittle as they come but still a star when he's healthy enough to go.

He should thrive in Phoenix's running game and take over Boris Diaw (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3724)'s role as the de facto point man when Steve Nash (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3103) is out of the game. Plus, his willingness to sign on the cheap means the Suns might not be done maneuvering just yet. After four decades they're still looking for a title in the Valley of the Sun; Hill might be the guy to get them over the top.






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4. New York Knicks (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=nyk)
(added Zach Randolph (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3531), Wilson Chandler (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4301), Dan Dickau (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3625) and Fred Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3612); lost Steve Francis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3325) and Channing Frye (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3934))

I'd rank this higher if I had any faith in the ability of Curry and Randolph to defend with even a smidgen of enthusiasm or competence, but I don't. The two will combine to give the Knicks the league's most defensively disinterested frontcourt, and that should put them in the bottom five or so in defensive efficiency.

But offensively, the Knicks might be good enough to play .500 ball anyway. Randolph is a beast in the post, and he can play the high post and float in his feathery left-handed jumper if he needs to clear the lane for Curry. Adding Chandler, Dickau and Jones also helps in the depth department, especially if it gives Isiah Thomas the stones to finally cut Jerome James (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3279).
However, the Randolph deal didn't help the Knicks nearly as much as it did the rest of the league, who now can rejoice in several more years of expected luxury tax payments from Zeke's spendthrift regime.






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5. Atlanta Hawks (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=atl)
(added Al Horford (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4245), Acie Law)

Throw in two more lottery picks to a cast that already includes rising stars Joe Johnson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3520) and Josh Smith (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3834), and suddenly the Hawks look a lot more like a real basketball team. Horford was one of the top talents in an extremely strong draft, and at his size he'll probably be able to play some center -- a spot where the Hawks have been badly undermanned in the past.

I'm less bullish on Law's prospects, but he can't be any worse than the gang that manned the point for Atlanta last season. As with Charlotte, it's possible this team's lottery days are coming to an end. Too bad nobody will be in the stands to see it.






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6. Boston Celtics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=bos)
(added Ray Allen (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3080); lost Wally Szczerbiak (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3329) and Delonte West (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3841))

Long-term, I have grave doubts about whether this was the right move for Boston; as I've mentioned before, unless they're about to use Gerald Green (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3944) and Theo Ratliff (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3020)'s expiring contract as bait to bring in another star, I hardly see the point of acquiring Allen.

But in the short-term, Allen will be a big upgrade on the Wally/West combo that manned a lot of the shooting guard minutes for Boston last season, and that should be enough to pull the C's out of the cellar in the Atlantic.






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7. Memphis Grizzlies (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mem)
(added Mike Conley, Darko Milicic (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3705); lost Chucky Atkins (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3391); replaced Tony Barone with Marc Iavaroni)

The Grizzlies added two coveted young talents in Conley and Milicic, with the latter being hugely important because of the lack of a dependable frontcourt sidekick for Pau Gasol (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3513). Conley also figures to make an impact, but given his youth, it may come more in future seasons than the present.

Besides, he's filling some big shoes: Unbeknownst to many, Atkins played out of his mind a year ago. Conley will be hard-pressed just to match those numbers this season, let alone exceed them. But with these two additions, Grizz fans at least can see some light at the end of the tunnel.






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8. Washington Wizards (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=was)
(added Nick Young (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4294), Oleksiy Pecherov (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4146); likely to add Juan Carlos Navarro)

Can it be? Do the Wizards finally have a bench? Adding three young players to the mix (their last two first-round picks plus whomever they trade for Navarro) certainly makes last season's feeble second unit seem much more imposing for this go-round.

As those who read my draft preview know, I'm hugely skeptical of Young. But if all he has to do is improve upon Roger Mason Jr. (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3628)'s play last season, I'm guessing he can handle that. Similarly, Pecherov is something of a mystery meat, but he can't be any worse than Jarvis Hayes (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3713) was last season. And Navarro will be a solid No. 3 guard wherever he ends up, though right now the Wizards seem intent on a trade.






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9. New Orleans Hornets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=nor)
(added Morris Peterson, Julian Wright)

The Hornets filled their hole at the wings with free agent Peterson and first-rounder Wright, who should be a big upgrade on the Rasual Butler/Desmond Mason combo that filled the slot last season.





Peterson gives the team a legit perimeter threat, something it lacked a year ago once Peja Stojakovic went on the shelf, while Wright's all-around game should provide a nice complement off the bench. Between those two and Peja's return, the Hornets impotent offense of a year ago should be a thing of the past. <hr>

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10. Sacramento Kings (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=sac)
(added Spencer Hawes (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4288) and Mikki Moore (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3308); replaced coach Eric Musselman with Reggie Theus)

I have no idea if Theus can coach or not, and I think Musselman could do a pretty good job in the right situation. But nobody doubts that the wheels were coming off by the end of last season and that a change would be for the better, so in this case the Mussleman-for-Theus swap should be for the better.

Moreover, the Kings addressed their horrid frontcourt by adding two centers in Hawes and Moore. Neither is going to be great, but right now the Kings will settle for "adequate," especially given the price they paid. These moves may not keep them out of the lottery, but it will at least help stop the bleeding.






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11. Los Angeles Lakers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=lal)
(added Javaris Crittenton (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4297), Derek Fisher)

I'm not sure if this is enough to make Kobe rescind his trade demand, but it helps. The Lakers point guards were disastrous last season, so adding the veteran Fisher to take over for Smush Parker (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3662) should pay immediate dividends (although the Lakers overpaid and will hate themselves for this two years from now, that's in the future -- remember, we're just looking at the impacts for 2007-08 today).

Crittenton was supposed to be a long-range pick, but he played well enough in summer league that folks may reconsider that position -- especially since at 6-foot-5, he has the size that Phil Jackson craves in the backcourt.






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12. Chicago Bulls (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=chi)
(added Joakim Noah (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4287) and Joe Smith (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3003); lost P.J. Brown (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=814))

Maybe power forward isn't the weak spot on the roster anymore. Already possessing a promising stud at the position in Tyrus Thomas (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4132), the Bulls added the energy of Noah and the veteran smarts of Smith to their roster, shoring up a spot manned by a fading Brown last season. No, none of these guys can score in the post, which is where the Bulls really could use help, but they'll add another jolt of energy to the frontcourt. Plus, they give Chicago yet more assets to throw into a trade for the likes of Kevin Garnett (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3007) or Pau Gasol.






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13. Toronto Raptors (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=tor)
(added Maceo Baston (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3301) and Jason Kapono; lost Morris Peterson)

Kapono might not even be as good as Mo Pete, the man whose spot he takes at greater expense. But the big picture in Toronto is that they have three deadly shooters surrounding T.J. Ford (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3711) and Chris Bosh (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3707), so defending the latter two on the pick-and-roll will be a pick-your-poison proposition. Additionally, the more important comparison was improving on Joey Graham (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3942) -- who inexplicably became the starter last season after the team soured on Peterson -- and Kapono is more than up to that challenge.

In the meantime, don't sleep on Baston. The former Michigan star was a Euroleague stalwart for several years but didn't get a chance to show his goods in Indiana. That's likely to change in Toronto this season, where he'll provide an inexpensive source of frontcourt offense off the pine.






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14. Detroit Pistons (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=det)
(added Rodney Stuckey (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4293) and Arron Afflalo (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4305))

I'm not sold on Afflalo at all, but Stuckey looks like the real deal, and should give Detroit a second-unit guard who can actually score once in awhile. After watching Flip Murray (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3639) and Lindsey Hunter (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=1281) hoist brick after brick the past two seasons, Pistons fans are going to think this guy is the second coming of Dave Bing.






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15. Philadelphia 76ers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=phi)
(added Thaddeus Young (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4290) and Jason Smith (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4298); lost Joe Smith)

Joe Smith was one of the keys to the Sixers' strong second-half run last season, so losing him leaves a dent. On the other hand, they added two first-round picks in Young and Jason Smith, and my guess is the contributions of those two will offset what has been lost.
Not that you'll see much difference in the win column -- I suspect the Sixers will be terrible -- but these moves didn't make the news any worse. Given some of the previous offseason maneuvers by the Billy King regime, that's a victory in itself.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here (http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/mailbagESPN?event_id=7936).

Pacersin2033
07-18-2007, 06:43 PM
Haven't the Rockets won the offseason like 3 years in a row now? And my I am shocked not to see the Pacers, NOT.

JB's Breakout Year
07-18-2007, 06:45 PM
1 month into a 3 month off-season, he should have written this thing in September.

Gotta find something to talk about though. It's been a quiet week.

SoupIsGood
07-18-2007, 06:46 PM
No Stanko??

Kegboy
07-18-2007, 07:15 PM
No Stanko??

Well, while you could argue that the goodwill of drafting Stanko would have a positive impact (thanks Jay), I bet he argues that the entire Pacers organization will be so distracted by dreams of Stanko supremacy that they blow off the season.

DgR
07-18-2007, 07:17 PM
What an a$$!!!! This top 15 improvements chart is rediculous!!!
What's the point of ranking short term moves that have no chance of bringing in a championship and only ruin their team's future in the long term?!?!

Is he trying to make the other 15 teams' fans envious??

He's an idiot.

Oneal07
07-18-2007, 08:13 PM
So Baston is a Raptor now? I haven't seen any updates on that

Hicks
07-18-2007, 08:25 PM
I believe today was the last day we had to match his contract offer. I'd say if there is no report tomorrow, he's a Raptor for sure.

DgR
07-18-2007, 08:27 PM
That's a shame because he's a good up-tempo player...:(

bulldog
07-18-2007, 09:17 PM
What an a$$!!!! This top 15 improvements chart is rediculous!!!
What's the point of ranking short term moves that have no chance of bringing in a championship and only ruin their team's future in the long term?!?!

Is he trying to make the other 15 teams' fans envious??

He's an idiot.

Overreaction much?

I generally like Hollinger. Have to say I agree with most of this, although a few of those teams seem to be a stretch.

And I never even thought of the Adelman/Bonzi angle. Remember how much trouble he gave the Spurs and Manu in the playoffs a few years back when he was on the Kings? If he returns to his old form, Yao and TMac stay healthy, and Scola lives up to hype, that's one heckuva of a team. A lot of if's though.

Kstat
07-18-2007, 09:40 PM
Amir Johnson is flying under everyone's radar....

Yes I realize he isn't new to the team, but we've been developing him in the NBDL for the last two years, and he's still only 20.

After Stuckey, Amir is the biggest addition to the team.

Overall though, I agree that #14 is about right. We got better, just not anything earth-shattering.

idioteque
07-18-2007, 09:44 PM
What the **** is up with everyone calling Adam Morrisson a bust after his rookie year? People weren't even damning Darko this early and we're constantly hearing about waiting for these European prospects to develop.

If he learns how to play average defense and improves his shot selection, he'll be a good player?

HE WAS A ROOKIE LAST YEAR HOLLINGER, A ROOKIE!!!

Shade
07-18-2007, 10:49 PM
What the **** is up with everyone calling Adam Morrisson a bust after his rookie year? People weren't even damning Darko this early and we're constantly hearing about waiting for these European prospects to develop.

If he learns how to play average defense and improves his shot selection, he'll be a good player?

HE WAS A ROOKIE LAST YEAR HOLLINGER, A ROOKIE!!!

Morrison is the second coming of MDJ.

bulldog
07-18-2007, 10:51 PM
HE WAS A ROOKIE LAST YEAR HOLLINGER, A ROOKIE!!!

I agree with you to a certain extent, but did you actually watch him play last year? He wasn't bad, he was abysmal. He'd have stat lines like 14 points on 5/17 shooting, while playing no defense and just generally looking lost.

And honestly, with Charlotte re-signing Gerald Wallace and Matt Carrol and grabbing Richardson, it doesn't look like they're holding their breath waiting for him to develop.

But, hey, I'm one of the few who believes Darko still has a shot to turn it around. So I can't exactly condemn Adam quite yet. And he at least has the passion and drive to work on his game, which I can't exactly say about Milicic.

VF21
07-19-2007, 12:07 AM
Gotta admit - the Houston Rockets are really starting to make me nervous. I generally HATE teams from Texas but watching what they've done to rebuild their team is nothing short of impressive.

Bonzi Wells should flourish - and if it means watching him embarrass the Spurs and the Mavs, I'm all for it.

I'm not really convinced the Kings should be #10 on that list, as I simply do not believe 20 teams in the league have done worse than we have this off-season so far.

Y2J
07-19-2007, 01:01 AM
Amir Johnson is flying under everyone's radar....

Yes I realize he isn't new to the team, but we've been developing him in the NBDL for the last two years, and he's still only 20.

After Stuckey, Amir is the biggest addition to the team.

Overall though, I agree that #14 is about right. We got better, just not anything earth-shattering.

Amir Johnson has 67 more career points than I do.

11 career games, 67 career points. Javaris Crittenton is pretty much as proven as Amir Johnson is.


What the **** is up with everyone calling Adam Morrisson a bust after his rookie year? People weren't even damning Darko this early and we're constantly hearing about waiting for these European prospects to develop.

If he learns how to play average defense and improves his shot selection, he'll be a good player?

HE WAS A ROOKIE LAST YEAR HOLLINGER, A ROOKIE!!!

"one that will help push rookie bust Adam Morrison (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4131) out of the rotation if he struggles again"

He didn't say bust, he said "rookie bust", implying that Morrison's rookie year was a bust, which it was. He then went on to imply that Morrison would be a part of the Bobcats rotation to start the season, so he clearly hasn't written him off as a complete bust just yet.

Trader Joe
07-19-2007, 01:20 AM
Morrison is the second coming of MDJ.

Morrison doesn't have Dun's bball IQ.

Smashed_Potato
07-19-2007, 01:57 AM
Gotta admit - the Houston Rockets are really starting to make me nervous.

Why would the Kings worry about the Rockets their not going anywhere next year. in fact i will be surprised if the Kings win 30 games next year they are in a total rebuild rampage.

Kegboy
07-19-2007, 12:56 PM
And here's the second half:

Link (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasondecliners&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba %2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dholling er_john%26page%3doffseasondecliners)

2007-08 outlook: Whose moves have made them worse?

http://assets.espn.go.com/i/columnists/Hollinger_John_55.jpg (http://x.go.com/cgi/x.pl?goto=http://search.espn.go.com/keyword/search?searchString=john_hollinger&name=SEARCH_m_archive&srvc=sz) By John Hollinger
ESPN Insider
(Archive (http://x.go.com/cgi/x.pl?goto=http://search.espn.go.com/keyword/search?searchString=john_hollinger&name=SEARCH_m_archive&srvc=sz))


http://assets.espn.go.com/i/insider/insider_free.gif
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<!-- end story header --><!-- begin left column --><!-- begin page tools -->Updated: July 19, 2007
Comment (http://myespn.go.com/conversation/story?id=2941767)
Email (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasondecliners&action=upsell&appRedirect=http%3a%2f%2finsider.espn.go.com%2fnba %2finsider%2fcolumns%2fstory%3fcolumnist%3dholling er_john%26page%3doffseasondec#)<!-- end page tools --><!-- begin story body --><!-- template inline -->Greetings again, and welcome to part deux of my look at how the current offseason will have an impact on teams in 2007-08. To reiterate a key point, we're looking at how the teams' moves affect this coming season only -- judging from the comments on Wednesday's piece (http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasonwinners) I'm not sure everyone followed that. So for example, the Raptors might regret paying so much for Jason Kapono (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3734) three years from now, but it undoubtedly will help them for the 2007-08 season.

Wednesday we looked at the teams whose moves made them better for 2007-08; today we're looking at the other side of the coin. I dinged several of these teams for essentially standing pat because, as I pointed out Wednesday, the way this business works is that you lose ground if you don't bring in new blood. Meanwhile, a few teams made moves to make themselves legitimately much worse -- usually with a larger strategy in mind.

I'll pick up where we left off, at No. 16, and work our way down to the team that's hurt itself the most so far this offseason. Once again, key gains and losses are in parentheses:
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16. Orlando Magic (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=orl)
(added Rashard Lewis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3275); lost Grant Hill (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2626), Darko Milicic (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3705) and Travis Diener (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3964); replaced Brian Hill with Stan Van Gundy)

They overpaid for Lewis, but picking him up undoubtedly will pay some short-term dividends. Fair enough. But is Lewis enough to offset the losses of Hill and Milicic? I dunno. Darko's departure leaves the cupboard looking awfully bare in the frontcourt, and I don't think signing 6 foot, 11-inch Polish import Marcin Gortat (rumored to be imminent) changes that picture much.

Also, I'm still completely bewildered that the Magic failed to do a sign-and-trade with Milicic, which would have netted the team a large trade exception that it would have had a year to use. The Magic could have killed two birds with one stone in this case by trading Milicic for Alexander Johnson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4173) -- a frontcourt player whom the Grizzlies ended up waiving.
One other thing to look at is how the Lewis signing has an impact on Hedo Turkoglu (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3415). Both Lewis and Turkoglu are 6-10, defensively limited and like to shoot jumpers from the corner. It's not clear to me how both can be on the court at the same time, at least for long stretches, and I'd like the Magic's offseason a lot better if they could trade Turkoglu for a decent big man.

However, one positive is the addition of Stan Van Gundy. He was one of the best, if not the best, coaches available on the market, and his track record suggests he might improve the Magic's defense quite a bit.
All in all, there are a lot of additions and subtractions to weigh here, but the end result is that it looks pretty close to a wash.



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17 Denver Nuggets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=den)
(added Chucky Atkins (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3391); lost Steve Blake (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3741))

The Nuggies pretty much stood pat this offseason, with the one change being the swap of Blake for Atkins. I like it for two reasons: One, Denver is desperate for shooting and Atkins can shoot the lights out; and two, even though Atkins is unlikely to repeat his performance of a year ago, the same can be said of Blake.

Nonetheless, compared to the moves made by other Western contenders like Phoenix and Houston, Denver can't be thinking it gained ground here. You still get the impression it will take one more decisive move to put the Nuggets into the West's top three; it might be February before we see it though.



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18. Portland Trail Blazers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=por)
(added Greg Oden (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4243), Josh McRoberts (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4314), Steve Blake, Channing Frye (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3934) and James Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3752); lost Zach Randolph (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3531), Fred Jones (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3612), Dan Dickau (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3625) and Jamaal Magloire (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3418)).

I love what the Blazers are building and am as high on their future as anyone, so you might be surprised to see me rank Portland so low on this list. The reason is that I'm not sure whether those moves translate into much of a change in the win column for 2007-08.

The biggest loss is Randolph -- whatever you think of his attitude or his contract, he was fantastic last season. So even if Oden is equally fantastic, the Blazers only break even. On the positive side, swapping Magloire for Frye is a small improvement in the frontcourt second unit, and the changing of the Joneses on the wing has a similar effect.

But two other moves look like a step back. First, there was the decision to sign Blake, which seemingly would necessitate the trading of Jarrett Jack (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3948) -- an odd move given that Jack is younger, better and makes less. Another loss I didn't put above because it isn't official yet is Ime Udoka (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3501). The Blazers have the maximum 15 players under contract, including three at Udoka's position, so it's a good bet that last season's defensive stopper will have a new home. Essentially, Portland gave Udoka's money to Blake instead.

Like I said, long-term I like this team as much as anyone. But two of the Blazers' key draft picks -- Rudy Fernandez (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4302) and Petteri Koponen (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4308) -- will be in Europe this season. Plus they just traded the centerpiece of their offense and they're about to lose their best defender. So Year 1 of the Oden Era might not produce much of a shift in the win column.



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19. Minnesota Timberwolves (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=min)
(added Corey Brewer (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4285) and Juwan Howard (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=2628); lost Mike James (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3577))

Obviously, this ranking goes to No. 30 if they deal Kevin Garnett (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3007) and start over. In the meantime, their moves to date don't exactly get my heart racing. A lot of draftniks liked Brewer but I don't see him as more than a role player -- he's a poor shooter and a poor dribbler, which makes me wonder how he'll score more than 10 points a game or so. And in terms of 2007-08 impacts, Brewer just adds to the Wolves' hordes on the wings, along with Ricky Davis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3264), Marko Jaric (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3429), Trenton Hassell (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3539) and Rashad McCants (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3940).

As for Howard, he filled a need because Minnesota's frontcourt was a mess, but the trade of James leaves an arguably larger void. The point now looks to be split between the moderately capable hands of Randy Foye (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4135) and the utterly incapable ones of Troy Hudson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3235). Losing James also takes away their best shooter and, on the rare occasions when Randy Wittman deigned to play him in the fourth quarter, one of their best crunch-time shot makers. To lose that for a No. 4 big man (no way he's better than Craig Smith (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4164)) doesn't strike me as a step forward.



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20. New Jersey Nets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=njn)
(added Sean Williams (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4295) and Jamaal Magloire; lost Mikki Moore (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3308), Hassan Adams (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4182) and Clifford Robinson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=287))

Moore's 2006-07 season was a fluke so the Nets were wise not to match Sacramento's offer. That said, I'm a little puzzled by the succession strategy. The Nets chose to pursue the declining Magloire, and managed to pay him just enough that they had to waive Hassan Adams to avoid the luxury tax.

Look, I know Magloire still has a big name and all, but did the Nets see this guy play the last two seasons? He's become slower than a Galapagos tortoise, to the point that I'm not sure I'd trade Adams for him straight up. To end up having to waive the guy just to get Magloire, when offering a mere $400K less would have avoided the whole problem, seems positively reckless.

That's doubly so when losing Adams means committing minutes to überbust Antoine Wright (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3941). I'd rate the Nets lower but at least they drafted Williams, who should replace a lot of the energy plays that Moore provided a year ago.



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21. L.A. Clippers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=lac)
(added Al Thornton (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4292); lost Jason Hart (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3448), Daniel Ewing (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3958) and James Singleton (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4055))

I'll bump up this rating a little if they can nab Steve Francis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3325). But only a little, because Elton Brand (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3324) would never see the ball again. He'd just wave his hand helplessly in the post while Francis and Cuttino Mobley (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3284) relive their monogamous passing routine from their Houston days ("Francis, back to Mobley … over to Francis … change sides and dishes to Mobley … back over to Francis who dribbles out top … two on the shot clock … Francis kicks to Mobley, his jumper from the corner is up and …"). The other three guys might as well play with their arms inside their jerseys.

In the meantime, the Clips find themselves without a point guard after losing Hart to Utah and dropping Ewing. They also needlessly cut Singleton loose, even though he sure looked like an NBA talent during his limited opportunities with the Clips. As for Thornton, the fact that he was at least a year older than everyone he played against in college -- and in many cases several years older -- apparently hasn't caught on with everyone yet, but I don't have high hopes for him in the pros.



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22. Utah Jazz (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=uth)
(added Jason Hart, Morris Almond (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4303); lost Derek Fisher (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3125))

Fisher did the Jazz a huge favor by walking away from the final three years of his contract, and it might be even more of a favor if it persuades Jerry Sloan to play Ronnie Brewer (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4142) once in awhile.

But in the short-term, it leaves a dent. Hart will take over the minutes behind Deron Williams (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3929) and should do a decent job, especially at the defensive end. And Almond fills a need by giving the Jazz another true shooting guard, one whose strengths and weakness pretty much offset those of Brewer. But in terms of 2007-08, losing Fisher makes the difficult task of getting back to the conference finals even harder.



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23. Dallas Mavericks (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=dal)
(added Nick Fazekas (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4312))

Lots of smoke and no fire from the Mavs so far, which isn't the way we thought they'd proceed after their 67-win season went up in flames during a first-round loss to Golden State. Give Mark Cuban credit for not hitting the panic button, but I don't think re-signing Devean George (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3346) is going to be the answer here. We keep hearing whispers about their interest in Kevin Garnett or other star talents, but so far they've come up empty.



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24. Indiana Pacers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=ind)
(added Kareem Rush (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3618); lost Maceo Baston (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3301); replaced Rick Carlisle with Jim O'Brien)

I like O'Brien and think his focus on the longball might help Troy Murphy (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3524) in particular. But the Pacers' implosion at the end of last year called for radical surgery, and so far we haven't seen Indy break out the scalpel.
Losing Baston was unfortunate -- the guy can play -- but inevitable given this team's frontcourt logjam. Of far greater importance is finding a real, live NBA shooting guard -- they can't possibly try to pass off Mike Dunleavy (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3601) as a solution again, can they? We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop on a Jermaine O'Neal (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3120) trade as well, but nothing has come to fruition thus far.



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25. Cleveland Cavaliers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=cle)
(no activity).

With the team saddled with bad contracts, no draft picks and limited trade assets, it's been crickets on the shores of Lake Erie this summer. At least the Cavs won't sustain any losses, as the wonders of restricted free agency are likely to keep Anderson Varejao (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3847) and Sasha Pavlovic (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3722) in Cleveland for at least one more year.

But the Cavs are desperate for point guard help and will need it to get back to the Finals -- the East can't stay this pathetic forever. If you're wondering, I don't think Mike Bibby (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3245) is the answer either, especially if it involves giving up Drew Gooden (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3602) to get him.



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26. Milwaukee Bucks (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mil)
(added Jake Voskuhl (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=0879); might add Yi Jianlian (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4284); lost Ersan Ilyasova (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3962))

It's questionable how much Yi would contribute this coming season even if the Bucks can strong-arm him into joining the team. And it will be downright embarrassing if he calls Milwaukee's bluff, sits the year out and tries to leave the Bucks empty-handed.

In the meantime, the Bucks already lost a promising forward in Ilyasova, who got a nice deal to play in Spain. Below the radar, it looks like they're also losing Ruben Patterson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3274) -- who was arguably their best player last season. Even if they sign Desmond Mason (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3416), something that's been rumored to be imminent, that doesn't come close to filling the void. At least they avoided a full-scale disaster when Mo Williams (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3750) agreed to return to the Bucks by signing a six-year deal.

Also, they signed Voskuhl to shore up their frontcourt. That changes everything.



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27. San Antonio Spurs (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=sas)
(lost Jackie Butler (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3909) and the rights to Luis Scola)

I understand why San Antonio made the trade it did with Houston, but I think the Spurs might regret it given how powerful it makes the Rockets. Nonetheless, the realities for the Spurs were that they wanted to drop Butler's contract and get under the luxury tax, and that letting Vassilis Spanoulis (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3867) out of his contract provided an avenue to do that. They also had a clock ticking on the rights to Scola -- his buyout had only a few days left when the deal was struck, and after that date the value of those rights would have been practically worthless.

Additionally, the cash they got from Houston could have a very important benefit -- it essentially might pay for Ime Udoka, whom they are trying to woo away from Portland. Udoka is a high-character guy, defends well and can shoot 3s from the corner -- if you're thinking "Bowen succession strategy," award yourself a point. Obviously, if the Spurs get Udoka, they'll move up this list.

But I can only rate teams based on what they've done to date. For now, San Antonio's moves have made a key competitor stronger while doing nothing for itself, and until or unless the Spurs make an addition, they haven't addressed the serious age problem on the wings.



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28. Miami Heat (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=mia)
(added Daequan Cook (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4299), lost Jason Kapono)

The Heat have taken a big swing and a whiff in the free-agent market, getting played by Mo Williams and in the meantime seeing all the other decent point guards sign with other teams. Even now, whomever they end up with can't be any worse than Gary Payton (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=259) was last season, but that's not the only area that needs fixing.

Kapono's departure takes away their most reliable shooter, an important commodity given all the attention Dwyane Wade (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3708) and Shaquille O'Neal (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=847) command. Another wing shooter, James Posey (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3341), might be following him out the door -- which would have Miami scrambling to replace both of its small forwards.

Throw in the news that Wade's recovery from offseason knee and shoulder surgery might last into training camp and beyond, and it's hardly been a stellar summer for the Heat -- and they're the one team whose age problems make it most imperative that they add new blood.



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29. Golden State Warriors (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=gsw)
(added Brandan Wright (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4286) and Marco Belinelli (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4296); lost Jason Richardson (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3515))

The Warriors can salvage their offseason if they can pull off a deal for Kevin Garnett or leverage their assets to get a similar wattage star.
But at the moment it seems they'll have an awful lot of trouble replicating the magical ending to last season. Richardson was hurt much of the season but his return was one of the biggest keys to Golden State's awesome stretch run. Now the Warriors are without him and might lose two other key wings in unsigned free agents Mickael Pietrus (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?playerId=2173) and Matt Barnes (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3643).

Folks are talking up Belinelli as a quality replacement for Richardson after his scorching hot summer league effort. However, his European numbers say he's not all that, and I trust those results a lot more than five pick-up games against the league's B-listers. Maybe Belinelli will be the exception who blows away his translated European stats, but I wouldn't bet on it. As for Wright, I like him as a prospect but his time is likely a couple years down the road, as his body fills out and he better learns how to tap his undeniable potential.



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30. Seattle SuperSonics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=sea)
(added Kevin Durant (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4244), Jeff Green (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4247), Delonte West (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3841) and Wally Szczerbiak (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3329); lost Ray Allen (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3080) and Rashard Lewis; replaced Bob Hill with P.J. Carlesimo)

Durant is going to be amazing, and getting West in the Allen trade was an underrated coup for new Sonics GM Sam Presti. But Seattle's moves have been made with the idea of blowing up the old crew and starting anew with this one, and it seems inevitable that this will set Seattle back in the short-term.

Allen and Lewis are two of the deadliest shooters in the game, and allowed the Sonics to have one of the league's most efficient offenses. Durant, no matter how good he is in five years, is unlikely to replace that kind of production as a rookie, which means the Sonics have to get much better defensively just to tread water.

Figuring out how to improve their deficient defense might not be easy, since it's an area where most young players learn the hard way. The return of Robert Swift (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3829) should at least shore up the interior a bit, but in terms of what they gained and lost in the offseason, the 2007-08 Sonics don't appear as strong as the 2006-07 version.

That's OK in this case -- it's the 2009-10 Seattle Sonics (or Las Vegas Rollers or Oklahoma City Tornadoes or whatever they're calling themselves then) that other teams should fear, and Seattle's offseason was a strong step in that direction. Again, we've just been looking at 2007-08 here -- if we're rating long-term impacts, Seattle zooms way up the list.

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here (http://sports.espn.go.com/chat/mailbagESPN?event_id=7936).

Oneal07
07-19-2007, 03:30 PM
It's not about who's looking worse. . It's all about how you do in the regular season!!

JayRedd
07-19-2007, 04:06 PM
Pretty surprised as well that the Magic didn't do a Darko for Alexander Johnson trade. Were they to busy to do the paperwork and then waive the guy? Did they even pick up the phone and call Memphis? Bewildering.

gph
07-19-2007, 04:07 PM
What the **** is up with everyone calling Adam Morrisson a bust after his rookie year? People weren't even damning Darko this early and we're constantly hearing about waiting for these European prospects to develop.

If he learns how to play average defense and improves his shot selection, he'll be a good player?

HE WAS A ROOKIE LAST YEAR HOLLINGER, A ROOKIE!!!

Slow down, you misread the article. He called him a rookie bust, and yes, he was a bust as a rookie. The qualifier he used, rookie, changes the statment, and even Pornstache's mama would call him a bust his rookie year. Year 2 or his career is still TBD.

gph
07-19-2007, 04:09 PM
Amir Johnson has 67 more career points than I do.

11 career games, 67 career points. Javaris Crittenton is pretty much as proven as Amir Johnson is.



"one that will help push rookie bust Adam Morrison (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=4131) out of the rotation if he struggles again"

He didn't say bust, he said "rookie bust", implying that Morrison's rookie year was a bust, which it was. He then went on to imply that Morrison would be a part of the Bobcats rotation to start the season, so he clearly hasn't written him off as a complete bust just yet.

oops saw this after i posted. exactly, rookie bust. Unlike say...Dajuan Wagner who is (injuries or not) a bust.

JayRedd
07-19-2007, 04:17 PM
Unlike say...Dajuan Wagner who is (injuries or not) a bust.

You try playing basketball when you need your colon removed.

ChicagoJ
07-19-2007, 05:25 PM
Much to my surprise, Hollinger makes a few good points.

gph
07-19-2007, 07:47 PM
You try playing basketball when you need your colon removed.

Nope, not buying what you are selling. He was a bust, and so was Bender. If you are only trying to define busts as a guy that had talent and wasted it, like JR Rider, ok...I could take that. But once you put in guys who are missing talent, you gotta put in guys with health or injury issues.

JayRedd
07-19-2007, 10:11 PM
Nope, not buying what you are selling. He was a bust, and so was Bender. If you are only trying to define busts as a guy that had talent and wasted it, like JR Rider, ok...I could take that. But once you put in guys who are missing talent, you gotta put in guys with health or injury issues.

That Shawn Respert sure was a bust too.

:rolleyes:

gph
07-19-2007, 11:21 PM
That Shawn Respert sure was a bust too.

:rolleyes:


I expected you to roll the Len Bias route...

pwee31
07-21-2007, 08:52 PM
It's all opinionated, based off last season, and name popularity! Doesn't really take into effect all the parts, or reasons for last seasons outcomes, or moves this offseason.

JB's Breakout Year
08-01-2007, 07:29 PM
Moved up 5 spots based on signing Travis Diener alone.

No.

Really.

LINK:
http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=offseasondecliners

19. Indiana Pacers (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=ind) (formerly No. 24)
(added Kareem Rush and Travis Diener; lost Maceo Baston; replaced Rick Carlisle with Jim O'Brien)
I like O'Brien and think his focus on the longball might help Troy Murphy in particular. But the Pacers' implosion at the end of last year called for radical surgery, and so far we haven't seen Indy break out the scalpel.

Losing Baston was unfortunate -- the guy can play -- but inevitable given this team's frontcourt logjam. Of far greater importance is finding a real, live NBA shooting guard -- they can't possibly try to pass off Mike Dunleavy Jr. (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3601) as a solution again, can they? We keep waiting for the other shoe to drop on a Jermaine O'Neal (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/players/profile?statsId=3120) trade as well, but nothing has come to fruition thus far.

However, one truly good idea was signing Diener. Darrell Armstrong is unlikely to repeat what he did a year ago and Jamaal Tinsley will be pulling a hamstring any day now, so getting a quality backup at low cost was smart.

madison
08-01-2007, 08:03 PM
Now there's something to bet on. Which comes first, a pulled hamstring or a sinus headache? Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Shade
08-02-2007, 12:50 AM
I would assume the Celts (who likely prompted this update) are up to #1 now.

JB's Breakout Year
08-02-2007, 07:45 AM
I would assume the Celts (who likely prompted this update) are up to #1 now.
Yep. Knocked Houston out of the number one spot.

1. Boston Celtics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=bos) (formerly No. 6)
(added Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett; lost Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green and Theo Ratliff).

There's little doubt which team will see the biggest gain in wins this season. Boston had only 24 victories last season but is likely to double that total with the additions of Garnett and Allen. It will collapse in a heap in three years, but in the meantime it should be a fun ride.
However, they paid a huge price to get Garnett and have virtually nothing left on the roster outside the Big 3. With our Marc Stein reporting that the C's are looking at minimum contracts from here on out so they can sidestep the tax man, I can't see them adding enough pieces to win the East.

Here's what I'm wondering today: Would Boston have been better off setting their sights lower, keeping Jefferson, and using the combination of Ratliff's expiring deal and Gerald Green to get a lower-wattage star (say, Philly's Andre Miller or Dallas' Jason Terry, and yes, I'm just throwing names out)? Food for thought as we see Boston try to fill out its roster in the coming weeks.