Lebron & Heat Embarrassed in Game One

This should be a really fun series.  New York Sports Today is officially endorsing the Bulls in this Eastern Conference Finals.  My prediction from the start was Chicago in six.  At this point, Lebron and the Heat may struggle to win a game.  I’m not in love with the Bulls and their fans, but they are by far the lesser of the two evils here.  Nothing would make me more glad to see the Whore of Akron take his talents home and miss the NBA Finals.

Sure, the Knicks and Nets aren’t in it, but seeing the Heat lose would almost make this whole season worthwhile.

DERRICK ROSE WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE!

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Arguing With Idiots Volume VI: Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony has recently been the subject of a number of rumors surrounding where he will play this year and next year. While the Knicks have been labeled as the clear favorite, many skeptics can’t help but to bash the Knicks and list reasons why Carmelo shouldn’t or wouldn’t come to New York. It’s time to disprove any theories surrounding Carmelo joining the Knicks.

The Knicks don’t have the trade pieces to acquire Carmelo.

They don’t have the best pieces, but they still have pieces. Gallinari and Chandler are two great young talents. Eddy Curry has value too because he is an expiring contract. While I don’t want the Knicks trading Randolph, he is another extremely valuable piece.

The bottom line is that Carmelo has all the leverage. If he says he won’t re-sign with anyone but the Knicks, no one will give up anything major for a one-year rental. That would leave the Knicks with the only offer on the table.

Carmelo has no leverage in this situation. He doesn’t have a no trade clause.

He doesn’t have to have one. If he says he will not re-sign for a particular team, they will not give up major pieces for him. It is up for Denver to make the trade, but there will not be any offers on the table if other teams know that Carmelo is intent on signing with the Knicks next off-season.

Why not go to Orlando, Chicago, or even Houston. All three of those teams give you a better chance to win than the Knicks.

I’m not going to argue that Orlando and Chicago would give him a better chance to win, but there is no way the Rockets would be better than the Knicks next year, especially since this is probably Yao Ming’s last season.

The real question is whether or not the Knicks (with Melo) would be better than the current Bulls and Magic.

Knicks
Felton
Chandler
Melo
Amar’e
Turiaf/Mozgov

Bulls
Rose
Brewer
Deng
Boozer
Noah

Magic
Williams
Carter
Barnes
Lewis
Howard

The Knicks are just as good, if not better than the Bulls in that scenario. While they aren’t currently as good as the Magic, adding a star point guard like Tony Parker or Chris Paul could change that. I truly believe that Chris Paul will go wherever Carmelo goes. If not, Tony Parker is a more than fine option next season.

The Knicks are rumored to have to give up Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, and a future first round pick. Isn’t that a bit too much to give up for one player?

No way. Carmelo is a franchise player that could attract other big names to the Big Apple. The trade isn’t even that bad.

You are losing Gallinari, who is the biggest piece in the deal. He will obviously be replaced by Melo himself, so you are gaining a whole lot at SF. At SG, Azubuike could easily replace Chandler as the starter.

Obviously, Eddy Curry isn’t a loss at all. At this point, he’s not even really part of the team. The draft pick isn’t worth crying over either, because the Knicks’ next first-round pick is in 2014. At that time, they should be good and the pick will almost definitely be a non-lottery pick.

Carmelo would not be much of an upgrade over Gallinari.

Really? Let’s look at some of each player’s advanced statistics from last year.

P40
Anthony: 29.5
Gallinari: 17.8

R40
Anthony: 6.9
Gallinari: 5.8

A40
Anthony: 3.4
Gallinari: 2.0

WARP
Anthony: 9.5
Gallinari: 3.2

So Carmelo destroys Danilo in points scored, rebounds, and assists. He also will win you over six more games than Gallinari would. That is more than a significant upgrade.

It is unknown whether or not Carmelo would fit into Mike D’Antoni’s offense.

Mike D’Antoni’s high paced offense will definitely suit Carmelo very well. The offense is built around superstarts like Amar’e and Melo. A scoring machine like Carmelo is exactly what the Knicks need.

With all of this said, there is no reason for Carmelo not to bring his talents to Broadway.

2010 NBA Free Agency Preview

You’ve been hearing about it for about two years now. “The Summer of 2010,” or “The Summer of Lebron,” is now on. Beginning July 1, the most talent loaded free agency period in the history of professional sports begins with a moratorium. Beginning July 8, teams can begin to sign free agents. Both the New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks have set themselves up in a prime position to make a huge splash during this summer. The most interesting part is that both teams have rebuilt in extremely different ways. First let’s look at how this all came about.

In July of 2006, Carmelo Anthony signed a five-year contract extension with the Denver Nuggets. His contract is set to expire after next season. That same year, many thought Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar Lebron James would agree on a similar deal. Instead, Lebron inked a three-year contract extension that started at the beginning of the 2007-2008 season. This deal expired after the 2009-2010 season. James has a player option for next year, but he isn’t expected to exercise it. Soon enough, players such as Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh signed similar deals that ended in 2010.

With this unbelievable free agent class set for the summer of 2010, many teams began to rebuild and trade away players with big contracts in order to get under the NBA’s salary cap. The NBA actually has two salary caps. One of these caps is the “hard cap.” The hard cap cannot be passed under any circumstances. The other salary cap can. This is called the “soft cap.” Teams over the soft cap cannot sign any free agents. For years, teams such as the Knicks have been over the soft cap. Because of certain long-term and expensive contracts, many teams have had a hard time maneuvering to get under the soft cap.

On May 18, the 26th annual NBA Draft Lottery was held. The Knicks didn’t have a lottery pick thanks to the Stephon Marbury trade back in 2004. Instead, they had two second round picks (38th and 39th overall.) The Nets were guaranteed to win at least the fourth pick in the lottery. Despite having a 25% chance to get the first overall pick, the Nets only received the third pick in the draft. The Washington Wizards won the first pick and the Philadelphia 76ers took home the second pick. Considering the Nets had the best chance of any team to win the lottery, this was extremely disappointing. The Nets now had to miss out on highly touted point guard John Wall and the versatile Evan Turner. Either player would have been a great fit for the Nets.

Before the draft, the Nets traded away swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts. I do not agree with this move because of CDR’s low salary this season. On the other hand, if saving another million dollars will make a difference in the end, I am all for it. With the third pick in the NBA draft, the Nets drafted Georgia Tech power forward Derrick Favors. I believe that Favors can start from day one. If the Nets want to use him in a sign-and-trade, they could potentially bring back a great player. The Nets traded their second two picks to acquire Damion Jones. Jones, drafted 24th, is a solid bench piece who can play both forward positions. After the draft, the Nets saved $3,000,000 by trading forward Yi Jianlian to the Wizards for Quinton Ross. They also bought out Keyon Dooling, saving even more money. The Nets now have tons of flexibility to work with in the free agent and trade markets.

By adding Favors, the Nets are adding to an already solid core of players. I personally feel that the Nets couldn’t have done a better job at rebuilding. The Nets started their rebuilding phase with an aging team featuring the “Big Three” of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson. Led by Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nets went into demolition mode by trading away all three of the players listed above for draft picks and young talent. The Nets brought in All-Star point guard Devin Harris from the Jason Kidd trade. Harris has turned into an unbelievable player. This was by far the best trade the Nets have made in recent memory. The Nets also acquired Yi Jianlian for Richard Jefferson and Courtney Lee for Vince Carter. Obviously the Jefferson trade didn’t work out, but Lee can be a great bench piece if he continues to grow. Is he a starter? No. But he still has some value. During this time, the Nets also drafted Terrence Williams and Brook Lopez. While Lopez is a future All-Star, Terrence Williams can definitely grow into a solid starter. T-Will can finish at the rim better than any other player on the Nets.

In May, Mikhail Prokhorov took over as the majority owner of the Nets. Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man, has vowed to turn the franchise around. Prokhorov even went as far to guarantee at least one title in the next five years. That is an awful lot to guarantee for a team coming off a 12-70 season, but it could very well happen. The Nets have the potential to be the next Boston Celtics. New Jersey has the cap space to sign one max free agent and enough room left over to sign various role players or to sign another medium priced player. The Nets have put themselves in a position where they don’t need to sign a premier free agent in order to contend next season. However, I do think Prokhorov will be extremely aggressive in the free agent market. If he lands one of the top free agents, New Jersey can be a very dangerous team next season. The Nets will say goodbye to the Izod Center and play in the Prudential Center next year, followed by their long awaited move into the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 season. New head coach Avery Johnson is a huge upgrade, and he should bring the Nets’ young talent to the next level. Rod Thorn will step down as team president in two weeks, and had rumored to be replaced by Maurizio Gherardini or Jerry Colangelo.

The Knicks have not had a winning season since their 2000-2001 campaign. Ever since Patrick Ewing left New York, the Knicks have been a disgrace of a franchise. Thanks to Isiah Thomas’ terrible general managing, the Knicks found themselves in salary cap hell. In 2008, Knicks’ owner Jim Dolan finally fired Isiah. Dolan then hired former Pacers’ general manager Donnie Walsh as president of basketball operations. Walsh began to trade players and draft picks in order to get teams to take on the bad contracts Isiah took on. This was done in order to hopefully get under the cap and sign one or two max free agents such as Lebron James or Dwayne Wade. Depending on the official salary cap, the Knicks will have about $33 million to spend in the off season. That is enough for two max contracts ($16-$17 million a piece) with barely any money left over.

The Knicks had a lackluster draft to say the least. The Knicks stretched to take both Andy Rautins and Landry Fields at 38 and 39. The front office angered many fans by not taking Lance Stephenson, a local prospect, with one of there picks. Rautins can be a decent bench piece at shooting guard, while Rautins will probably struggle to play at a high level at small forward in the NBA.

Because of the lack of talent already signed on the team for 2010, signing two max free agents is crucial for the Knicks’ success. Donnie Walsh will look at all of his options, including a possible sign-and-trade deal with the New Orleans Hornets for point guard Chris Paul. Paul would be the perfect player to run head coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system. He could end up being what Steve Nash was for D’Antoni while he was coaching the Suns. Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker is another name that has been thrown around in trade talks. If Donnie Walsh could trade away Eddy Curry’s contract (which expires after next season,) the Knicks would have even more flexibility this off season. The Knicks will do whatever it takes to get better this summer, even if it means letting star forward David Lee leave for free agency or using him in a sign-and-trade. The one thing I wouldn’t do is signing Joe Johnson to a max contract. Johnson is an above-average two-guard, but he is definitely not worth a max contract. As a matter of fact, Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are the only players worth a max contract this year.

Without a doubt, the biggest prize of this free agent class is Lebron James. The Akron native was drafted out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. The once-in-a-generation prodigy made an immediate impact by winning the Rookie of the Year Award in his rookie season. Lebron would lead Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals, but they were swept in the series by the Spurs. Despite his regular season success, Lebron has always been knocked for his lack of clutch play in the playoffs. Led by James, the Cavaliers had the best regular season record in the NBA for the past two seasons. Despite their regular season success, both seasons the Cavs failed to reach the NBA Finals. With a terrible 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against Boston, many have speculated that the star forward will not return to Cleveland.

There has been a ton of speculation when it comes to Lebron James’ next team. I say don’t count out the Cavaliers retaining Lebron. Because of the rules in the collective bargaining agreement, Cleveland can offer him more guaranteed money than any other team that can sign James. He would also be staying in his home state of Ohio. If Lebron is all about his image, then he will re-sign with the Cavs. If he is about winning, then he will probably sign with Miami, Chicago, or New Jersey. I think Miami will land Amar’e Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer instead, but Lebron playing aside Dwayne Wade is always a possibility. It wouldn’t work because each player needs the ball in their hands 80% of the time, but it would be an interesting combo. Chicago would present a strong supporting cast behind Lebron. Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose are the perfect players to play beside James. However, Lebron may not want to ruin his image by playing under Michael Jordan’s shadow in Chicago. James has already changed his number from 23 to 6 in order to avoid association with Jordan. For the Nets, Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and Derrick Favors could persuade Lebron to play for New Jersey. Lebron’s friendship with Nets minority owner Jay-Z doesn’t hurt either. The planned move to Brooklyn could help out the Nets’ chances at Lebron as well.

So where do the Knicks fit in this equation? Despite their talent shortage, the Knicks have a lot of things going for them. First, you have the city itself. New York City is the Mecca of basketball. Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena, has surely seen its share of great basketball games. Next, you have the passionate Knicks fans. These fans have waited a long time for winning basketball, and they may very well get it if Lebron arrives. Lebron would be adored like no other player in history if he were to sign with New York. Lastly, you have the marketing factor. Lebron is already extremely popular all around the nation, but playing in New York could take him to a whole new level. He’d be a global phenomenon. Just imagine how many more endorsement deals James would get just from playing in the country’s biggest market. This is exactly why Wayne Gretzky played for the Rangers at the end of his career.

Perhaps the second biggest name on the free agent market this year is Dwayne Wade. The All-Star shooting guard led the Miami Heat to an NBA Championship in 2006. Wade’s ring is the one thing he has over Lebron. Wade would be a perfect fit for his hometown Chicago Bulls, but he has already made statements showing that his heart is in Miami. Wade leaving Miami would be an absolute shock. I think it’s safe to cross Dwayne Wade off your free agent shopping list.

There are many other options in this free agent class. Being the deepest free agent class in sports history, there are tons of secondary options to choose from. Besides Wade, Joe Johnson and Ray Allen are the best options at shooting guard. If you want a power forward, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, or David Lee may suit your needs. I think Dirk will re-sign with the Mavs, but there is always a chance he could leave. The same can be said for center Yao Ming and swingman Paul Pierce, who both still may opt-out. Lakers’ future Hall of Fame shooting guard Kobe Bryant had a player option for next season, but he signed a contract extension during this season. An interesting option on the table is Memphis Grizzlies’ small forward Rudy Gay. Gay is a restricted free agent, meaning that the Grizzlies can match any offer sheet presented to Gay. The Grizzlies have stated that they don’t want to lose Gay, but anything is possible at this point. He would surely be a great alternative at small forward for teams that miss out on Lebron James.

The Summer of 2010 will be the most dramatic and unpredictable off season in the history of professional sports. What makes it even more exciting is the possibility of players such as Lebron James or Chris Bosh coming to the metropolitan area. If the Knicks somehow land Lebron, many fans will view him as the next Mark Messier. He is the player who can finally put the Knicks on top. Across the Hudson River, the Nets and their new owner have tons of talent and money to play with. You can easily make the argument that they have a brighter future than the Knicks. If all goes well, both the Knicks and Nets should be near the top of the Eastern Conference come next season.