View Full Version : 2004-02-20

02-20-2004, 01:59 PM
What happens next in the NBA?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Thursday, February 19
Updated: February 20
9:34 AM ET

Eighteen hours after Joe Dumars pulled off the trade of the year, NBA GMs were
still picking themselves up off the floor.

"Unbelievable," one GM told Insider.

"I've never seen a more lopsided deal in my career," another moaned.

"They're morons," claimed another executive referring to Danny Ainge and Billy
Knight. "I can't believe they just did that."

"Detroit just shifted the balance of power in the East," another said. "I think
they just became the team to beat."

The reverberations from the last blockbuster in what has been an enormously busy
trading season were still being felt as the night wore on. Two Eastern
Conference teams in particular, the Pistons and Knicks, have fortified their
teams while another East team, the Hawks, called it quits.

What do you bet that Knight is hanging out with Howard Dean in Vermont tonight?
The Hawks, with all of their assets, will walk into the summer with Jason Terry,
two first-round picks and a large pile of rubble to rebuild. Our guess is that
Knight won't be there to see it.

What's gone down in the past few weeks will not only have ramifications on the
playoff race, but on what's shaping up to be one of the busiest offseasons in
NBA history.

Now that the hangover has subsided, here's the breakdown . . .


The East is now wide open. With Ron Artest now out indefinitely, the Nets
surging under Lawrence Frank, the Hornets getting healthy and the Pistons,
Knicks and even the Bucks fortifying their positions, we should be in for a real
treat the last trimester of the season.

Much is going to depend on how quickly the Pistons, Knicks and Bucks can
integrate their new talent. The Pistons are six games back from the
conference-leading Pacers, but have a favorable schedule and a new low-post man
(Rasheed Wallace) to fix their only real weakness.

The Hornets are sitting nine games behind the Pacers, but should be much
stronger with Jamal Mashburn back in the lineup. The Bucks will also improve
with Keith Van Horn in the lineup, but again, there will be an adjustment

The Knicks have been adjusting on the fly, but with the trade rumors now over, I
think they'll settle down and really start playing inspired basketball.

Those six teams seem like a lock for the playoffs at the moment. Good luck
trying to pick which one comes out of the East. I think you could make an
argument for all six teams, though I'm leaning toward the Pistons at this point.

The bottom is going to get ugly. The Magic didn't do enough to turn their season
around. Is it just me or does Tracy McGrady look likes he's ready to kill
someone? The Sixers are in the same boat with Allen Iverson. If the Hawks win
another game . . . I'll be stunned.

The West, on the other hand, did relatively little. The Jazz probably helped
preserve a .500 season by adding Gordan Giricek and Tom Gugliotta. In my mind
the playoff race there is almost over. There's a pretty big gap between the
eight seed, Denver, and the ninth seed, Seattle. The Sonics had a chance to
really improve but balked at several interesting trade scenarios. The Blazers
are coming together at the right time, but I have a feeling that the dissension
with Zach Randolph isn't going away any time soon.

Chris Webber's return should have a major impact at the top of the standings.
The Kings have the best TEAM in the NBA right now, and Webber's ability to fit
in should make the transition pretty seamless.

The Lakers are getting healthy again, which makes them pretty dangerous, but
will they have played together long enough to make a difference?

Minnesota will have chemistry issues once Wally Szczerbiak and Michael
Olowokandi return. The Grizzlies probably missed an opportunity to become more
dominant by adding Erick Dampier, but I don't blame Jerry West for balking at
what the Warriors were asking for Damp. Jeff Van Gundy still has to find a way
to get along with Steve Francis, but our guess is that they get that taken care

The bottom won't be nearly as bad in the West. The Suns, Clippers and Warriors
will jostle for last place, but with little remorse. Both the Suns and Clippers
will have windows to improve dramatically this summer. The Warriors? Well . . .
they feel at home at the bottom anyway.


There have already been a record number of coaches fired and it doesn't look
like the end will come soon.

The Hawks' Terry Stotts may have just been handed the worst team ever. He has
more tenure than any other coach in the East, but there's about a 99.9 percent
chance that he'll be looking for work this summer. Billy Knight should probably
join him.

The Sonics' Nate McMillan has grown frustrated with the direction his team is
heading in. McMillan was holding out hope that GM Rick Sund could move Vladimir
Radmanovic, who has no business playing the four, for a real power forward. Will
the frustration get the better of him? The players could revolt and Sund may
have to send Nate packing.

The Magic insist that Johnny Davis is their man, but with the rest of the
Titanic about to sink in the next 30 or so games, it's hard to believe anyone is
going to survive in Orlando. GM John Gabriel is going down with the ship, and
unfortunately, Davis will probably be right there with him.

The Celtics' John Carroll is as good as gone. The Celtics are getting shakier by
the day, and you know that Danny Ainge is itching to bring in his guy to start
putting together the pieces.

The Sixers will try to get permission from the Blazers to land Maurice Cheeks
this summer. Chris Ford is already in Allen Iverson's doghouse. AI is so tough
to move, it probably makes more sense to bring in a coach who can co-exist with
Allen. Billy King, on the other hand, probably won't be around long enough to
make that decision. The Sixers are a mess and his inability to get something
done by the trade deadline just emphasizes it.

The Mavericks are the other team to watch. They have supersized expectations and
Mark Cuban won't hesitate to pull the plug on Don Nelson if he feels there's a
guy out there who can get more from his team.

Who's going to replace all of those guys? Jim O'Brien, Doc Rivers and even Byron
Scott will probably land jobs this summer in the coaching ranks. Possible
replacement GMs? Pistons V.P. John Hammond (who turned down the Portland job
last summer), and Pacers assistant GM David Morway are at the top of the class.

The Pistons and Pacers have become models of how to rebuild without blowing
things up and both guys played a big part in their team's success. Both will be
getting long looks from a couple of teams contemplating a change.


Start with the expansion draft set to be held on June 22. Every team is allowed
to protect only eight players, meaning that several teams are going to have some
tough choices. For teams that have eight or fewer players on their roster, they
must leave one person unprotected. Expect a lot of side deals with the Bobcats
as teams try to wiggle and get more cap space.

You could definitely see a team like the Suns (with Jahidi White), the Wizards
(Christian Laettner) or the Pistons (with Elden Campbell) try to move a player
in the expansion draft to get more room. What is the Bobcats' incentive?
Promises of picks, players or both. They'll be in the driver's seat and could
really shake things up just days before the draft.

The Celtics now have three first-round picks (their own, the Mavericks' and the
Pistons'). The Jazz have three (their own, the Rockets' and likely the Knicks').
The Blazers have two (their own and Memphis'). They now become the power brokers
as the draft approaches. With so many young players and international players in
this year's draft, it makes little sense to have all of those picks. Expect them
to use the picks as bargaining chips this summer.

This is a good year for bigs in the draft, if you don't mind them coming so
young. There will be Emeka Okafor (6-foot-9), Dwight Howard (6-11,
18-years-old), Pavel Podkolzine (7-4, 19 yrs), Kosta Perovic (7-2, 19 yrs),
Andris Biedrins (7-0, 18 yrs), Peja Samardzski (7-0, 18 yrs), Ivan Chiriaev
(7-1, 18 yrs), LaMarcus Aldridge (6-11, 18 yrs.), Robert Swift (7-1, 18 yrs),
Rafael Araujo (6-11, 23), Ha Seung Jin (7-3, 18 yrs.) and possibly big guys like
Colorado's David Harrison (7-0) and Michigan State's Paul Davis (6-11). That's
good news for a lot of vertically challenged teams in the lottery.

Expect the theme of this year's draft to center on the high school kids. As many
as eight of them could slip into the first round this year -- a record. Scouts
are also predicting another 10 international players to make it into the first
round. That really puts a squeeze on the college players who could be looking at
a record-low eight spots this year. What does that mean? With no LeBron in the
high school class of 2004, this is a prospect draft, meaning no first-year
impact players this year with the possible exception of Arizona's Andre
Iguodala, St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson and possibly Duke's Luol Deng, if he puts
his name in the draft.


Several GMs are now predicting that with the increased revenue the league is
seeing this year, the cap could raise to $46 or $47 million next year. They also
believe there will be no luxury tax for the 2004-05 season, which frees folks up

The players in free agency? Assuming there's a $46 million cap, the Jazz will
have roughly $28 million in cap room. The Hawks are looking at around $20
million. The Nuggets will have between $17 million and $24 million depending on
what they do with Marcus Camby. The Clippers will have around $15 million. The
Spurs should come in at around $12 million. The Pistons are now looking at
roughly $9 to $11 million in cap space. The Suns could are also looking to be in
that $9 to $11 million range. And don't forget the Bobcats, who could have as
much as $24 million under the cap.

What does this mean? We'll probably see some intense bidding wars and see higher
contracts this year than in the past few offseasons. With so much money out
there, it's going to be a lot easier for free agents to leave the nest and much
tougher for teams to match their restricted free agents.

The Pistons may be the center of the universe again. All eyes will be on Rasheed
Wallace and Mehmet Okur in Detroit. Both are top-six free agents this year.
Here's the bad news for those thinking that Thursday's trade means that one of
them is available. Pistons president Joe Dumars wants to re-sign both Wallace
and Okur this summer if they both get along over the next 30-plus games.

Sources claim that Wallace has already sent out feelers about staying in
Detroit, quashing the notion that he'll only play for the Knicks next season.
With the Pistons looking at between $9 and $11 million in cap room, can Joe D
get it done?

The Pistons probably have the cap space and flexibility to work something out.
If they can get Okur to sign for the mid-level exception (expected to be around
$5.1 to $5.5 this year) then they can use their Bird Rights to get Wallace. If
Okur is commanding more money on the open market, the Pistons can always try to
package a few more players to a team with cap space to get far enough under to
sign them both this summer.

That's bad news for just about everyone in the East.

The Kobe Bryant situation is going to be a mess. If the trial isn't over by the
summer, does a team really risk throwing a huge contract his way if he's headed
off to jail? It could really slow things down, and who has the patience to wait
around for a long shot?

Other top free agents like Steve Nash, Antoine Walker and Emanuel Ginobili are
probably staying put. Kenyon Martin will probably be the best guy who's actually
available on July 1st. After that guys like Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford
and possibly Erick Dampier will be the best available.

Looking for some mid-level free agent bargains? Here's an early list of who
might sign with your team even if it's over the cap: Vlade Divac, Gary Payton,
Marcus Camby, Stromile Swift, Antonio McDyess, Brent Barry, Carlos Arroyo,
Gordan Giricek, Etan Thomas, Rodney White and Adonal Foyle.

02-20-2004, 04:25 PM
No luxury tax this year or next.

Has there ever been a worse GM than Danny Ainge? Maybe Ted Stepian but he was an owner and that was 20 year ago

02-20-2004, 04:43 PM
No luxury tax this year or next.

Has there ever been a worse GM than Danny Ainge? Maybe Ted Stepian but he was an owner and that was 20 year ago

Maybe Stu Jackson with Vancouver?

02-20-2004, 05:15 PM
No luxury tax this year or next.

So does that mean we are going to admit that keeping Brad would not have put us in LT?