Posted Aug 2 2010 9:08AM
With most of the league either on vacation or about to go, the dog days of the NBA are upon us.
But in the last month, you've sent in dozens of e-mails asking questions about this team or that, and asked where Shaq is going next season (nowhere, unless he comes down from what he's asking teams), and pointed out my mistakes (yes, Bosh and LeBron got the $110 million, and D-Wade got $107 million, not the other way around like I wrote, and thanks to those who let me know).
So let's answer some of your questions from the mailbag.
• AI, AWOL? From Ricardo Vaz:
I'm a big fan of Allen Iverson, but is there a realistic chance of seeing him in an NBA uniform ever again? I know his baggage isn't getting any smaller and contenders are far from willing to take that big a risk. I have no idea if Iverson can embrace the "veteran" role, but I admit it's hard to imagine ... Last season you said Charlotte was the best destination for him. What has happened since then?
What's happened is Stephen Jackson did a lot of the things that I thought Iverson could do for Charlotte, and Gerald Wallace showed he had the leadership skills that weren't there previously, and the Bobcats became a terrific defensive team, and they made the playoffs. Charlotte is a different team now, and while AI's scoring could still help, the Bobcats proved they could win 80-point games. As for Iverson, I don't know. Can't see too many teams with the inclination to take on his headaches, or give him the shots he seems to still desire. But one guard injury in someone's training camp and I'm sure someone will pull the trigger.
• Unfamiliar With The Concept, Part I. From Glenn Derricotte:
I hope you bet your house on that stupid ranking and end up homeless.
• UWTC, Part II: From Steven Gordon:
DA, you are a joke! You give the Champs NO respect and give the Heat, which has no chemistry or experience playing together, the Larry O'Brien trophy already. The Heat has dubious starters beyond the "3", NO bench depth and Spoelstra can't carry Phil's jock strap. And neither can Riley! Compare records and wins before you boost Riley...
Kobe's desire, skill and experience count for nothing, appearantly (sp) to you. With some time for his injuries to heal, he'll come back with a renewed vengence that leave you with your mouth agape! The Lakers are a Championship Team. The Heat has 2 1/2 great players and only one with killer instinct--D. Wade. LBJ is potential UNfullfilled.
• UWTC, Part III: From Sanchit Gupta:
After reading your top 10 NBA teams, honestly, I chuckled a bit. I love your analysis on each team, thank you, but do you really think the Bulls will be above Lakers, the World Champions? Where are the Thunder? Why are Spurs that low? Spurs should be above Celtics.
Let me try to explain this again.
The offseason rankings were for THE OFFSEASON. The. Offseason. I do not think the Bulls will be above the Lakers. I did not "give" the Heat the Larry O'Brien Trophy, as I did not say they were going to win the championship. I thought I made it pretty clear that the Lakers, and the Magic, and the Celtics aren't afraid of Miami. Of course the Lakers are the favorites going into next season, as the two-time defending champions should be. But Miami, which had further to go, and was taking one of the biggest gambles in the league's history by getting rid of all but two players, had the better offseason. When you add LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Eddie House, and keep Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, you've had a better summer than signing Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff (and I think Steve and Matt and Theo would be the first to agree). That does not mean I think the Heat will beat the Lakers if they met in the Finals. Though it would be a heck of a series.
• Age ain't nothing but a number. From Daniel Siegal:
Nice article man -- Bynum's younger than I am -- He's only 22 still, not 24. He'll be the 2nd team all nba center by the time he's 24 (I'm an optimistic laker fan, but I'm not delusional -- he's not unseating Howard).
Glad to find a Laker fan that doesn't think only in Forum Blue and Gold, Daniel. And thanks for the correction.
• Clipper Nation will be avenged! From Jon Keller:
Mr. Aldridge, you complimented the Clippers several times in your analysis, but still put them in the bottom 10. I wholeheartedly disagree. They have four talented rookies in Blake Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Bledsoe and Willie Warren. They also acquired some decent free agents in Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye. Eric Gordon is a future All-Star. Chris Kaman is an All-Star and Baron Davis is a former All-Star. Please re-consider your analysis of the second-best team in L.A.
The point in ranking the Clips in the bottom 10, Jon, was not a critique of their young talent, which is substantial. The point was that on July 1, the Clippers had almost $19 million in cap room (based on the final 2010-11 cap number of $58 million), with a once-in-a-generation crop of free agents available, either through a straight sign, sign-and-trade, however they wanted to do it. Gomes and Foye are decent free agents, as you say, but they're not James, Bosh, etc. The point was that L.A. could have done much more than it did this summer. It doesn't mean the Clippers won't have a successful season, but again, these were offseason grades, not season predictions.
• How does a 7-foot-1, 320-pound man disappear? From Adefioye Adenuran:
Please help me out: where do you think Shaq will end up?
A very good question, Adefioye. Assuming he gets realistic about the money, there still are a handful of teams that would make sense for the Big Fella. Denver has no size to speak of, and while the Nuggets' fast-break style certainly is antithetical to what O'Neal is good at at this point in his career, big is big. For the Nuggets to have any chance at competing in the West, they'll need someone who can put a body on Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming and others. Boston won't have Kendrick Perkins back for several months, and maybe Jermaine O'Neal can step in and give the Celtics all they need. But one more big body wouldn't hurt. Shaq would likely be a better fit with a veteran team that wouldn't put up with any nonsense. And, now, isn't Cleveland in need of someone who can put the ball in the basket? Just saying.
• Can you ever get tired of patriotism? From Sven Obermeyer:
Could you please explain something to me? Why is it that it sounds more like a formal routine (for most players, at least) when they say it is an "honour to represent their country" -- but at the same time gives the impression that it is worth a lot less than playing their 82 games in the regular season, on their "normal" rosters?
Should it not be the greatest honour there is, and should it not be faintly convincing coming out of the players mouths? I know there isnt much (is there any?) money involved - but that shouldnt even be the issue.
Even if it is not being said directly, it is obvious that star players really do not care as much about the world championships (Wade, LeBron etc. should be way fired up to play for the U.S. Team every. Single. Time.). This comes across as arrogant and narcissistic. (At least the NBA stopped calling the NBA champion the "world champion." )
I admire Amar'e Stoudemire, for example, for his determination to be on that roster, just as much as I understand the Knicks for not letting him. But these are obvious and pragmatic reasons ... not playing for your country when youre clearly the best player in the world ... I'm not even American, but I think thats not very patriotic.
You're being a bit unfair, Sven. Wade, James and Kobe all have been in several Olympic/World Championship rotations the last few years, starting in Athens in 2004, Japan in '06 and Beijing in '08. And each has had a Finals run for their NBA teams during that time. They're whipped. Kobe is exhausted. There's only so much that a guy can give for his country. Obviously other countries have different ideas about international competition and some players spend more than a decade playing for their country, and that's a compliment to them. But the NBA, to me, remains the hardest league in which to play, and those whose teams excel might be a bit more tuckered out than others around the world. Just one man's opinion.
• Is there another fuel available besides Diesel? From Mark Veal:
Do you really think the Hawks are done with free agency? Yes, I know they do not want to exceed the luxury tax and I'm not too disappointed in over-paying for Joe Johnson. Josh Powell may be a nice pick up for the price, but surely the big they are going to keep is not Jason Collins as has been reported. Can't they at least get Kwame Brown, Kurt Thomas or even [Rasho] Nesterovic for the minimum? They've got to have someone to bang with [Dwight] Howard.
Well, Thomas signed with Chicago, and it looks like Rasho is going back to Europe to finish things up. We're in the Chicken (no pun intended) phase with the Hawks, Mark. Atlanta isn't likely going over the veterans' minimum for another big.
(Final rankings, including offseason moves)
1) L.A. Lakers: Kobe keeps his friends close and his perceived enemies closer. (Please note, again: these are the actual rankings of the teams, not offseason grades. Rankings. Not grades.)
2) Boston: Von Wafer is going to help the Celtics next season.
3) Orlando: Gave Otis Smith, Stan Van Gundy and head exec Alex Martins new titles -- and, presumably, raises -- keeping the Magic's braintrust together.
4) Miami: Eddie House? Sure, why not?
5) Dallas: Mark Cuban reportedly bidding on the Rangers after dallying with the Cubs the last couple of years; he's always said that baseball is his true love.
6) San Antonio: Gave swingman Gary Neal, who starred on the Spurs' summer league team, a three-year deal.
7) Oklahoma City: A July poll in The Oklahoman gave Kevin Durant the nod as the most popular athlete in the state, ahead of Sam Bradford, the University of Oklahoma quarterback who was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.
8) Atlanta: Good to see the Hawks add Kenny Gattison to their staff as an assistant. Gattison was on Byron Scott's staff in New Orleans before being unceremoniously dumped before the start of last season.
9) Utah: One never wants to make assumptions for good or ill about anyone without knowing them well, but Greg Miller seems like the kind of owner that every small-market team dreams of having.
10) Phoenix: Suns release Taylor Griffin, Blake's older brother, after one season.
11) Portland: Blazers stlll likely to deal Rudy Fernandez to either Celtics or Bulls.
12) Chicago: McGrady comes, and goes, without a contract following his workout last week. Don't expect Bulls to revisit him unless they have an injury.
13) Milwaukee: All that remains for the Bucks is the endgame for Michael Redd, who is no longer in the team's plans and will come off of the cap after next season. Here's hoping a buyout is in order and that Redd can come back from his latest injury to help someone else down the stretch next season.
14) Denver: Chauncey Billups in for the long haul for U.S. world championship team.
15) Houston: Just a guess that Yao's "retirement" quotes from China may have been misinterpreted. Rockets continue to insist that he's right on schedule to return next season.
130 -- Estimated top speed of Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans when he was driving down Interstate 80 in May, according to California Highway Patrol officials. The CHP released the video of Evans last week. He pleaded no contest to reckless driving and lost his license for 30 days.
$5 million -- Fine teams will pay if they're found to have violated the NBA's anti-tampering rules by discussing a trade for Chris Paul with him or his representatives without getting permission from the Hornets, according to a memo sent to all teams by the league last week.
$470 million -- Estimated value of the Detroit Pistons, who are looking for a new owner, according to a story in The Detroit News this week. The impending sale, which owner Karen Davidson hopes will be done before the start of next season, has no doubt hamstrung the ability of the basketball operations side of the franchise to make deals or bigger free agent signings this summer.
1) Tuesday should be fun. By the way, the first game on Opening Night has to be-- has to be -- Miami at Cleveland. Do I really have to explain why?
2) With Amare in Israel this week researching his roots, a Facebook acquaintence passed this along. My friend Jeanne already suggested "Amare Stoudemeyer."
3) While it was disappointing there were assistant coaching openings in Portland, it was great to see Nate McMillan bring Buck Williams back to town, along with veterans Bernie Bickerstaff and Bob Ociepka.
4) Well, next Saturday in Akron should be quite interesting.
5) Good luck to the happy couple. And, seriously, did anyone really expect the Obamas to be invited? Or to care? Besides, looks like the President found something worthy to do with his time this weekend.
6) Happy for Jamahl Mosley, the Nuggets' scout and assistant who has worked his tail off for the last few years learning from George Karl and Tim Grgurich -- Mosley coached Denver's successful summer league team in Vegas last month -- and who parlayed that hard work into a full-time assistant coaching job with the Cavaliers last week.
1) RIP, Lorenzen Wright. He was a genuinely good guy, and no matter what had happened to him after his playing days ended, no one deserves the fate he unfortunately received.
3) This World Championship team will be really fast and talented. But without Stoudemire and David Lee, it won't be very tall. That's going to be a problem.
4) Don't think there has been the groundswell of support for Tim Donaghy that the former referee had hoped for when he wrote his book last fall.
5) While you're upgrading your building for the high rollers and the players, Utah, could you please put a little more space between the rows on press row? We're not all built like jockeys, let's put it that way.
At dinner with wifey!!
"He did not request a trade."
-- New Orleans general manager Dell Demps, detailing the Hornets' meeting with disgruntled star guard Chris Paul on Monday. Paul's people had put the word out at the end of last week that he wanted to be dealt from the Hornets, and had given the team a list of possible teams that he'd like to go to.
"On the back of my jersey it says 'Bosh.' The Boshes are hard workers. We have a lot of pride in what we do, in our jobs and in life."
-- Heat forward Chris Bosh, in an interview with Canada's Rogers Sportsnet Thursday, refuting assertions made earlier in the week by Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo that Bosh, during his last season with the Raptors, could have returned sooner from injuries than he did, and that he may have "checked out" on the team down the stretch.
"Brooklyn is a country unto itself. Even the Americans say that."
-- Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, as translated by his team's website, in the August issue of Forbes Russia magazine, talking about his franchise's new home in two years. Prokhorov was on the cover of the magazine's "Stars and Money" issue, and gave this little nugget during the interview: he said he only spent $200 million to buy the Nets, and hopes the team will be worth $1 billion within five years.
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