Thursday, February 24, 2011

Even More NBA Trade Frenzy

Yesterday, I banged out a blog post about the Knicks and Nets moves, with one point I left out. Russell Westbrook would be the PG to compete with Chris Paul out West if Paul stayed there. That's not why I'm writing today, it's because of the moves Westbrook's team, and other made today just as the deadline passed. Let's recap as we take a breath.

The move that set the ball in motion was the Celtics trading Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. Both teams had more moves as Oklahoma picks up Nazr Mohammad from Charlotte for Mo Peterson and D.J. White. These moves just put the Thunder as a legitimate contender, if they weren't so already. Now, they have the size that they were lacking last year when they faced the Lakers. The Celtics weren't done unloading bigs as they traded Semih Erdem and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second round pick. To me, it seemed ridiculous for Boston to make all these moves to give up the size (even if they sign Troy Murphy after the buyout by Golden State) that puts them with every chance to win the title this year, until you look at how they have cap room for 2012, which is looking like another big year for free agents. Still, they are too much in the thick of this year's race to think to the future and now are dependent on a return by Shaq in the playoffs.

Houston was the other team that was particularly busy as they traded Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a 1st rounder, after trading Shane Battier to Memphis for Hasheem Thabeet and a 1st rounder. To me, Houston is taking a big risk by taking on Thabeet and hoping he shows any of the value that made him the second pick in the 2009 draft. Otherwise, Dragic and the two 1st rounders are good pieces. Brooks has fallen out of favor, so Dragic is an upgrade for this team. As for the picks, they can use the picks to move higher in the draft this year. If I'm Phoenix, I'd use the fact they picked up Brooks to explore trading Steve Nash, for Nash's sake. Especially with Phoenix trading another 1st rounder. As for Memphis, bringing back Battier puts them in the playoffs, of course, they couldn't finish their business as a rumored O.J. Mayo trade to Indiana fell through. If Mayo can straighten up the trouble he's had this year, it could be the best trade the Grizzlies never made.

Quick rundown of the rest of the trades: The Cavs are the clear winner with their trade with the Clippers, getting Baron Davis and a lottery pick this year for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. The Wizards trading Kirk Hinrich to Atlanta for Mike Bibby in a five player trade is more or less window dressing, though makes the Hawks backcourt younger. The other move today was the Bobcats trading Gerald Wallace to Portland for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and 2 1st round picks. Good move for Portland who became buyers and pick up an underrated scorer in Wallace. He can fill Brandon Roy's shoes and with the leap LaMarcus Aldridge made this season, the Trail Blazers can put a scare in one of the top 4 in the West.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NBA Trade Frenzy

For the first time since 2008, the NBA became frenzied with trades with the two biggest ones being Carmelo Anthony heading to the Knicks and the Nets, shockingly, trading for Deron Williams today. Both teams traded a lot to get their guys, though the Knicks are still a playoff team, while the Nets would be hard pressed to make it. But this year won't matter, the future is what will matter for both. 2012 in particular can tell you who wins between the two teams.

In terms of better player, the Nets have him, no question about it. Williams is a floor leader, who can defend. Anthony is a scorer, who takes off on defense and hasn't shown the ability to make his teammates better. The question must be begged, if Deron Williams was on the block (after that episode leading to Jerry Sloan's resignation), why weren't the Knicks on him? If Walsh was a sleep at the wheel, then he should leave when it's all said and done, since he should know better (especially with Mike D'Antoni coaching) that the PG is more important. If not, then it's pretty typical of Dolan to not have his eye on the prize. I'd take Williams over Anthony in a heartbeat.

However, the Nets still aren't guaranteed nothing with Williams. He would need to sign an extension in order for this trade to be a success, and add another star to join him. If that happens, the Nets are in better shape than the Knicks assuming Dwight Howard joins Williams, even if Chris Paul goes to the Knicks. And if I'm Paul, why would I go to the Eastern Conference when the East now has Williams with Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and John Wall. He would have an old Steve Nash and Tony Parker as his lone PG competition.

To sum up, the Knicks got the guy everyone assumed they would get. The Nets got the better guy no one thought they'd get.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Today is the big day as the Packers and the Steelers finally do battle. It feels like forever since both teams won their way to the Super Bowl, plus while the hype of the Super Bowl is there because it's Green Bay and Pittsburgh, there hasn't been much created in terms of these two teams, aside from Ben Roethlisberger's redemption. Quick question, what has taken place in the past two weeks that made you remember that the Packers are in the Super Bowl? Couldn't think of anything, did you, besides maybe Troy Polamalu over Clay Matthews for the Defensive Player of the Year.

Despite that, let's make sense of this game, which unlike Fox who will take four hours before the game to make sense of it, I'll just use about 10 minutes of your time. Which is plenty for you to watch Caps/Pens, Celtics/Magic and to go to or set up your own party for tonight. Here are the five things to look for as you watch this game, and none of those five include commercials or the Black Eyed Peas (sorry, no alternative halftime viewing recommendations by me, though I know people love the Puppy Bowl).

1. The Packers defense not only plays like the Steelers defense, they are actually better. The reason; because the Packers have Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, the best trio of CB's in the NFL. Add Nick Collins and it will be hard for Big Ben to throw against Green Bay. And that's not including Matthews, B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins, who can give Roethlisberger as much trouble as James Harrison, James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons can give Aaron Rodgers.

2. However, if Troy Polamalu is healthy and active, that advantage swing right back in the Steelers favor. I've used this space to show my praise for Polamalu, hell, he was my Defensive Player of the Year strictly because his presence makes the Steelers better. He hasn't played well through his injury, but the Steelers have been winning despite this because the Ravens and Jets both have inferior offenses and the games were played in Pittsburgh. Switch to a game with a great offense like the Packers with two weeks to study the Steelers defense on a neutral site and indoors, which the Packers play better, and Polamalu must be more than just on the field. If he is the game changer that you watched against the Ravens in Baltimore or the Cincinnati game, the Steelers will stop Rodgers from having another game like against Atlanta.

3. The kicking game swings the special teams advantage to the Packers. Tim Masthay had a great game against the Bears, and he needed to considering they have Devin Hester returning punts. Mason Crosby is one of the top kickers in football and he gets to play indoors. Shawn Suisham hasn't been bad, and though I'd worry about him outdoors, indoors he should be fine. However, Jeremy Kapinos is an injury replacement and isn't that good. Meaning the Steelers will need to set up punts from around midfield to avoid short Green Bay possessions.

4. Until proven otherwise, the Steelers are the better running team. James Starks has been great for the Packers this postseason, and if he plays well in the Super Bowl, this possibly be a performance like Timmy Smith (hopefully it translates into future seasons). However, the Steelers have a great run defense (despite no Aaron Smith) with the LB's mentioned earlier and LaMarr Woodley, plus Casey Hampton in the middle and Brett Keisel at DE. As for the Steelers, Rashad Mendenhall ran wild against the Jets two weeks ago, but the Packers are better in the front seven than the Jets because of Matthews and Raji. Steelers will also miss Maurkice Pouncey, but they can run right behind Flozell Adams, yes, that Flozell Adams, the Human Penalty Flag. So, yes, the Steelers can run, but if the Packers defense plays well, it won't be a great advantage.

5. The QB matchup is a wash. The reason, Big Ben's experience. Rodgers has the advantage in terms of dealing with the weaker secondary and gets to play indoors. However, if the Steelers get pressure on Rodgers, that advantage is taken away. Meanwhile, while the secondary will be tough for Roethlisberger, he still has Heath Miller to go to as a fallback look. Green Bay, while I think have the better WR's, are about even when you include the TE's (mainly because of no Jermichael Finley). The question is, what do you believe in more, Big Ben's 10-2 playoff record and two titles or this being the year Aaron Rodgers ascends to the top of the list of best QB's in football, like Drew Brees last year.

Prediction: I love Aaron Rodgers indoors, he seems to have control of the offense and their receivers benefit from a fast track. Meanwhile, I think Big Ben will have trouble against the Packers corners, particularly Charles Woodson, who will right things after losing in the Super Bowl as a Raider back in 2003. The Packers will 34-27 and the score is closer because the Steelers get a late TD to make it only 7. Otherwise, enjoy the Super Bowl.