Every week Vivek throws five questions at our crack analysts. Here’s this week’s batch of questions and answers! This week’s analysts
- Dre Alvarez – Editor Wages of Wins
- Patrick Minton – The NBA Geek from The NBA Geek
- Ben Gulker – The man behind the numbers at Pistons by the Numbers
- Devin Dignam – Stats ambassador to Canada and co-editor at Wages of Wins
- Vivek Netrakanti – Nets expert and the man in charge of 5 on 5!
1. Thoughts on the minor trade between the Cavs and the Grizzles? Who won?
Dre: This is a pretty meh deal. First, it appears the Grizzlies did it just to shave cap space. The Cavs gained a mediocre to bad big (http://www.thenbageek.com/players/256-marreese-speights) and a draft pick. The rest of the players are pretty bad. The Cavs kind of won but not by much. This is a mistake on the part of the Grizzlies if they just needed to clear cap. The better move is of course to trade Rudy Gay, which they had been discussing. That is, unless no one was interested.
Patrick: This is a decent deal because it is addition by subtraction. Ellington and Speights were not worth the money at all. They’ve flipped this for two much cheaper players. Leuer is not much better than Speights but also doesn’t make much. The pick will be much more useful in future trades than any of these pieces were. It was a minor robbery by the Grizzlies.
Ben: Because the Grizzlies sacrificed a draft pick, I’ll say Cleveland won over the long-term. In the short-term, the Grizzlies got under the luxury tax, which was their most pressing goal, without giving up pieces that impact their ability to contend in the Playoffs. Presumably, Hollinger is still shopping Gay, but the urgency to do that by this year’s trade deadline – at least from a financial perspective – is mitigated.
Devin: The Cavs won the trade because they got three young prospects in exchange for one, plus a draft pick. The Grizzlies won because they saved $6 million and got under the luxury tax line. I don’t think it’s very likely that any of those four players will end up affecting an NBA team’s wins in their careers. The most valuable asset was the draft pick, but that depends on who’s doing the drafting. The real winner of the deal was probably Jon Leuer, who has been rotting on Cleveland’s bench all season long after a decent rookie season.
Vivek: I’ll say that the Cavs won the deal, but mainly because they received a draft pick in return. Otherwise, they just took on 6 million dollars of salary and it’s all tied up to players that are below average. They didn’t give up anything in return and there’s a chance that Marresse Speights can become a decent big man off of the bench so the edge goes to them.
2. How much worse will the return of Raymond Felton make the Knicks? (might be back this Saturday)
Dre: Interesting one. That Prigioni kid is playing well and Kidd can easily play SG well. Oddly, the return of Iman Shumpert seemed to have limited his minutes and I’m guessing Felton will even more. Not a huge dip, but it won’t help the Knicks unless the Felton from the start of the season shows up.
Patrick: He probably won’t have that big an effect. They’ll be worse, but Kidd will still get plenty of playing time anyway. And he was mostly a non-factor anyway. As long as the Chandler-Kidd-Melo/Smith engine is running, Melo and Smith’s efficiency will be the driving factor in winning and losing. I think Amare is the much bigger concern.
Ben: Not nearly as much as Amare Stoudamire will. Historically, Felton isn’t a terrible player. At worst, at least he’s not putting losses on the board. Furthermore, I don’t see Felton’s role as guaranteed. Prigioni and Shumpert could just as easily get more minutes as the season progresses.
The real issue for the Knicks isn’t the regular season rotation; it’s the Playoff rotation. Anything between now and then will be good enough to get them home court in the first round, and from there, the real games begin.
Devin: I think Felton will make the Knicks a little bit worse, but not by all that much. He’s splitting time with Kidd, J.R. Smith, Ronnie Brewer, Prigioni, and now Shumpert. The Knicks’ real worry should be the dropoff they’ve experienced since going from Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby to Amaré Stoudemire and Chris Copeland.
Vivek: I think he’ll make them significantly worse. Felton is one of the worst players on that team, and he takes away major minutes from Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni. As a Nets fan, I can’t wait to watch a lineup that combines Felton, JR Smith, Melo, and Amare.
3. How much better does Derrick Rose make the Bulls?
Dre: Uh-oh, way to get us into trouble area. Derrick Rose has been a good but never great player. He was actually kind of valuable to Chicago at one point because they had nothing at the Point Guard spot (http://wagesofwins.com/2012/05/10/chicago-loses-its-top-three-and-the-series/). This year both Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson are playing decently there. As a result, he’ll help but not a lot.
Patrick: A healthy Rose propels them from “good” to “top 5″. But look at Ricky Rubio’s struggles this year. ACLs are big nasty injuries. Do not expect Rose to be the old Rose this season. We’ll maybe see flashes of it but he’s not going to be the savior.
Ben: I am not at all surprised that the Bulls sans Rose are a good team. Noah, Boozer, Deng, and Gibson have been looked over in favor of Rose but are all quality players who help teams win.
What is a little surprising is that Nate Robison and Kirk Hinrich have been able to produce at a respectable rate, and Rose will be taking minutes from one or both of those players when he returns.
My guess is that in the short term, Rose’s return is disruptive. He’s not likely to play well immediately. Over the long term, I’d much rather have a healthy Derrick Rose in the Playoffs than Kirk Hinrich or Nate Robinson, though, so it’s obviously worth any short-term struggles.
In the regular season, Rose doesn’t make the Bulls better. In the Playoffs, though, he could be the difference between a second round exit and a trip to the Conference Finals.
Devin: Similar to the Knicks, I don’t think having Rose back makes the Bulls that much better. As long as he’s himself — and coming off such a serious injury, that’s certainly not a guarantee — he’s not that much better than Hinrich and Robinson have been so far to affect the team’s W/L record that much in the remaining games. Now, as for the playoffs, that’s a different story. Having a healthy Rose makes a decent enough difference in the playoffs, because your top six players are more important.
Vivek: Derrick Rose makes the Bulls much better. The Bulls currently have a point guard rotation of Kirk Hinrich (below average), Nate Robinson (below average), and Marquis Teague (terrible). In the last season that he was healthy, Rose had a WP48 of .161. If he’s able to return to a similar level, the Bulls get a significant upgrade at the PG spot and have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA.
4. What are your thoughts on the Kings’ probable move to Seattle?
Dre: Man, you’re aiming for full out posts with these questions. Also, you now HAVE to be on the podcast this week. You’ve sealed your fate. Ok, let’s run this down.
- Good – The Maloofs aren’t owners any more. Instead, a charismatic tech guy is an owner. See Dallas for why that’s good.
- Even – The market move isn’t that hot. Sacramento is a decent market and Seattle is actually pretty saturated (stole that point from Devin. Blame Devin!) I mean a smarter move might be to move like Charlotte or OKC…
- Stadiums – This will be the interesting part. Bit of truth, both Seattle and Sacramento’s current stadiums suck. Even when the teams were winning 60+ games, they couldn’t crack top 10 in attendance. And the Key arena was lacking. The question is, who will pay for either upgrades or a new arena? If it’s the taxpayers, right after the ownership ponied up $500+ million? That’s kind of a slap in the face.
- Stats – loss. Ok stat geeks, life just got confusing. It turns out Seattle retained the rights to the Sonics name and records. So, that means that life just got a lot more confusing for players like Kevin Durant.
- Arguments against the owners – Yeah, will see if the players wise up in the next lockout, but Bron did have it right. And coming just a year after the lockout? Pretty silly.
Patrick: I live in Seattle. The only bad thing about this, really, is how NBA League Pass BB is going to **** me with blackouts.
Ben: Cynicism with a pinch of anger. As Devin wrote earlier this week, the NBA owners successfully fleeced the Player’s Association and the general public in the most recent lockout. In spite of their claims to the contrary, the owners are making money hand over fist, all while exploiting the players even more than in the past.
As a fan who cheered loudly for the Sacramento teams that challenged the Lakers during the last decade, I’m saddened to see that fanbase robbed of their team because of unfettered, unashamed greed.
Devin: I was shocked that the Sonics were allowed to be moved to OKC in the first place, so this almost makes up for that. The problem now is that the NBA is letting another team move out of a market that supported it quite well for many years, and the fact the neither Seattle nor Sacramento are the best markets available. But really, the news is not surprising. We’ve known for a while that the Kings were likely to end up somewhere else in the near future, and we knew that Seattle has been looking to nab a different franchise to resume the Supersonics.
Vivek: As much as I feel for Kings fans, I must say I’m happy for Seattle. The Sonics were taken away from Seattle right before their team became good and it must still sting to watch Kevin Durant and the Thunder. That being said, the Kings are a mess right now and probably won’t contend for the foreseeable future.
5. It is now the halfway point of the season. Predict who will be in the Finals and who you think will ultimately win.
Dre: Going historical man. The finals in the NBA pretty much repeat (http://wagesofwins.com/2012/02/03/ive-seen-these-finals-before-a-difference-between-the-nba-and-nfl/) I’m going with OKC vs. Miami. I’m going with OKC, just to tick of Mosi.
Patrick: The Thunder vs. The Heat, with the Thunder winning. The West is the tough one to predict; I thought losing Harden would make the Thunder worse, but Kevin Durant’s just like, “Relax, I got this” and has made up for it by getting better in almost every facet. Which is crazy. The East is a little tougher; the Heat look a lot more vulnerable than I thought they would, largely because of Wade’s health. I still think they are a notch above the Knicks and Bulls.
Ben: I don’t see anyone in the East capable of stopping the Heat. Ray Allen is playing well, and Dwyane Wade is rounding into form. And, LeBron James is LeBron James.
OKC is still the West’s powerhouse. In Kevin Martin and Thabo Sefalosha, the Thunder have found a way to replace Harden’s production, which was the important pre-season concern.
The Clippers have a shot at dethroning the Western Conference champs, but ultimately, I’ll go with the Thunder and Heat in a rematch, and the Thunder over the Heat in the Finals.
Devin: The Eastern conference is easy: the Heat seem like the clear favourites. The West is a lot more difficult. In the end, it probably comes down to injuries and playoff matchups. The Spurs, Clippers, and Thunder are clearly the best teams in the conference, and we’d expect them to be ranked #1, #2, and #3 in some order. But that means that two of these teams will have to play each other before the conference finals, and one (whoever gets that #1 seed) gets off relatively easy. So I’ll cheat a bit and pick whichever teams ends up #1 in the West. Fine, I’ll pick the Spurs due to their easier schedule the rest of the way. And I think that whoever comes out of the West has a better chance of winning it all, so I’ll go with the Spurs there too.
Vivek: I think the Heat shouldn’t have too many problems shaking the Knicks, Nets, Pacers, and Bulls in the East. As Arturo has pointed out, a team’s top 6 accounts for 99% of their playoff wins and the Heat have too solid of a top 6 to lose to any of the pseudo-contenders in the East. As for the West, it could be the Spurs, Clippers, or Thunder. I’ll pick the Spurs just because I’m wary of Chris Paul’s health and of Kevin Durant keeping up this kind of crazy production over the course of the next half of the season and the playoffs. I’ll pick the Spurs over the Heat ultimately in the end.