I haven’t written much about the NBA recently, and with good reason -- it’s the preseason. Preseason NBA games are about as meaningful as a Britney Spears lyric (and I love both the NBA and Britney, but let me tell you, those are not meaningful). That said, we are less than a week away, so time to get some ramblings out of the way. I’ll have my Eastern and Western conference previews this weekend, and I’ll try to have a separate post weeding out the pretenders and picking my 2007-08 NBA Champion (and remember, last year I predicted a Spurs-Cavs finals at the start of the playoffs, so I know what I’m doing).
• Kevin Durant sprained his ankle playing very late into a meaningless (there’s that word again) preseason game against the Warriors. I understand P.J. Carlesimo is trying to win games, but why? He might be a new coach, but he’s not a first time coach. He doesn’t need to prove himself in the preseason. As for Durant, he’s supposed to be ready for the start of the season, but if I’m a Sonics fan, I’m worried. The history of No. 2 overall picks in the NBA of late has not been good. LaMarcus Aldridge (2006) and Marvin Williams (2005) both missed almost 20 games last season. Emeka Okafor (2004) has been a walking injury. Darko Milicic (2003) is one of the biggest punchlines in league history. Jay Williams (2002) hasn’t played since his rookie season. Tyson Chandler (2001) has never averaged double-figure scoring, and likely never will. Stromile Swift (2000) is a certifiable bust at this point. And Stevie Franchise (1999), when not killing the Knicks, is just crazy (plus he demanded a trade immediately from the team that drafted him). Not exactly the history I’m looking for if I’m a Sonics fan.
• The Timberwolves, meanwhile, continue to trade away anyone that ever played for them. After Wednesday’s trade that shipped Ricky Davis and Mark Blount out of town, they’ve got only 5 players left on the roster who were there last season. Hell, they’ve got just as many guys on the team who spent last season on the Celtics (and one of the guys who DIDN’T play for Boston last year is Randy Foye, who was DRAFTED by Boston). As this team is currently constructed, they look like they’ll be lucky to win 25 games.
• The flip side of that trade is that Davis and Blount are now members of the Heat. Miami had to “give up” Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, Wayne Simien and a future 1st round pick. Now, based on what the players involved did last season, the Heat easily got the two best players in this trade (yes, last year, Mark Blount was better than Antoine Walker -- look at the numbers). Of course, that’s not the key point here. The main thing to take away from this trade is that the Heat, WHEN HEALTHY (and that’s a huge qualifier) have the best 3-man combo in the East. That’s right, better than the Celtics. I’d take a healthy Shaq, Wade and Ricky Davis over KG, Ray-Ray and Paul Pierce any day. Of course, the over/under on number of games the Heat’s big 3 play together this season is probably 35.
• At least the Heat are making moves. The Cavs, who are now 1-4 in the preseason, haven’t done shit. Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic remain unsigned. Cleveland’s “big” move this offseason was to pick up Cedric Simmons in a trade. To quote the immortal Derrick Coleman, “whoop-dee-damn-do!” To me, Pavlovic would be a tough loss, but the Cavs could get over it. Varejao on the other hand brings so much to the table. The problem is his retarded agent thinks he brings $9-million worth to the table for the next 5 years. Um, not a fucking chance. As one of my co-workers put it today, “let him prove he can give the ball back to LeBron on a give-and-go in the final seconds of an important game, instead of spazzing out, then he can get paid.” Or, maybe, just prove you’re better than Drew Gooden before asking for a contract worth twice what he got (that link is their career comparison through their Age 24 season -- Gooden’s resume was much more complete at that point, and that doesn’t even include last season for him).