While the NBA has not been rocked by some four team, 16 player trade this off-season moves have been made which have changed the landscape of the league. October is just around the corner, 8 weeks away, and much can still happen. The market value for players has been relatively set by the offers and contracts signed by players like Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Baron Davis and so forth. There are a handful of interesting free agents left (Josh Smith, Andrei Iguodala, Ben Gordon, J.R. Smith and so forth), but with the NBA draft finished and most teams approaching luxury tax, the majority of moves will occur via trades. That said, what are some of the 5 top moves of the summer?
- Elton Brand leaves the Clippers and goes to the Sixers: First of all, this basically destroyed the Clippers, they will continue to suck for a while. Getting Baron Davis is nice; it's nice that they traded for Camby and gave up nothing for him; and it's nice that they got Ricky Buckets . . . but Philly is just so much better right now with Andre Miller, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert and most likely Iggy. The Sixers have to be considered a top 6 team in the Eastern Conference right now. Brand will probably be an All-Star in the East this season as well. Great move for him, even if it splits up the really cool idea of him and Baron in Hollywood making movies together.
- The European Evasion: NBA players are leaving the NBA to go play in Europe. When guys like Arvydas Sabonis or Sarunas Jasikevicius do it, no one really cares. When an American born kid like Josh Childress bolts everyone gets upset -- if for nothing else but the fact that Free Agents can now use real or imagined contract offers to use as leverage when negotiating contracts with NBA clubs. Other players who leave (or at least flirt with leaving) this off-season are Nenad Krstic, Sasha Vujacic, Primoz Brezec, Carlos Delfino, Jorge Garbajosa, Carl Landry, Jason Williams, Delonte West and others. Matt Moore postulates about a possible reaction by the NBA to this, methinks that this may come up in the next NBA Player's Association / NBA Team Owners meeting and a few tweaks of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) may occur. Let's not forget that plenty of NBA stars stole some money in Europe after their playing days in the NBA were done (like Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen and Dominique Wilkins . . . not to mention European guys like Sabonis or Vlade). Why can't mid-level NBA talent choose to go where the money is? They can, and apparently are!
- Golden State and Chris Mullin over-react to losing Baron Davis: First of all, they enlist some help from the Department of Redundancy Department and end up signing another swingman in Corey Maggette (what happens to Steven Jackson?); then they throw bags and bags of money at Andris Biedrins; they steal Rony Turiaf from the LA Lakers and then make a small move for Marcus Williams. All of this is still < Baron Davis. I take great pleasure in seeing this team do poorly, and love how all of their bandwagoning fans will be quiet on the Internet again. (Note: Not all "Dubs" fans are bandwagoners, but a large vocal majority of them that were loud during the 2006-2007 Playoffs were, deal with it.) At least they'll always have that one Baron Davis dunk over Andrei Kirilenko to keep themselves warm . . . oh wait! He's not even theirs anymore, he belongs to Clippers fans now. Well, now the Warriors are screwed money wise, just like they were when they paid Troy Murphy and Adonal Foyle tons of money a few seasons ago.
- T-Mac and Yao get a Tru Warrier: Easily the Rockets have been one of the worst playoff performing franchises that regularly get in the playoffs in recent memory. In the 11 years from the 1997-1998 season to this last one (2007-2008) they have been outed in the first round 6 times. They didn't make the playoff at all the other 5 times. While T-Mac gets a lot of the blame for this, I really thing the issue is Yao Ming's inability to be a big game player. Now they get some help by adding Ron Artest for the low low price of Bobby Jackson and some garbage. Artest is an expressive individual who probably can be the best player on this team on any given night. Houston is a lot more dangerous now. This is big news for a team that's had a top 4 record in the Western Conference the last two seasons. I also appreciate how he and Yao are having a verbal fight over the phone and Internet already. This is the omega trade for high risk/high reward.
BrooklynNew Jersey keeps making moves for LeBron in 2010: LeBron James is quite a catch. He would be the best player in this new NBA to be put in a large media market. Eventually the Nets franchise will move to Brooklyn, and the New York market is huge. LeBron becomes a free agent in 2010. Noted scandal rags have suggested that LeBron signing with the Nets really depends on who the Nets have on their team at that point. A quick look at their salary situation strongly points to a loss of swingmen on contract at the end of the 2009-2010 season, at the price of nearly $13 million dollars. Another issue to mull over for LeBron is the whole China market issue. Yi Jianlian is now a Net, and he's the only other guy in the NBA who is from China. The Milwaukee Bucks even focused part of their 2008 NBA Draft strategy on this point by drafting a guy who grew up in China and Taiwan and HK. Too bad for them, Yi is gone. LeBron could make a ton of cash if he was on the same team as Yi. He knows this. LeBron wants to be the richest man in the world -- if he wants to really be that guy, he's not going to do that in Cleveland. Let's not even bring up the whole Jay-Z thing . . .
Time will tell if these moves will improve their teams, or elicit other reactionary changes in the landscape (like the whole slew of trades that occurred in the Western Conference last season -- Kover, Kidd, Gasol, Shaq, etc). Regardless if they are good moves, they do make for a much changed landscape in the NBA. Philly is good again, Houston may finally make it out of the first round, Golden State is crap again and the Nets are making moves.