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The Grizzlies Roar…

April 30, 2011 Leave a comment

If we believe that the best team over 82 games, should get to play the worst (qualifying) team over 82 games, then nobody actually would have picked the Memphis Grizzlies to play the Western Conference champion Spurs.  Of course, the Grizzlies liked their chances against the Spurs more than their chances against the Lakers, so they tanked a few games near the end and thus spat at the feet of the Spurs.  In the past, spitting in the direction of the Tim Duncan-Greg Popovich Spurs would be tantamount to sticking a knife in your own belly, but these aren’t your older brother’s Spurs.

As it turns out, the Grizzlies were right to want San Antonio, whose silver regular season turned to brass last night when the Bearscats knocked the Four time Champs from the postseason.  For some reason, I feel some vague sense of satisfaction about this.  Maybe this makes sense: the Grizzlies do – after-all – still hold the name given to them when they were Vancouver’s own, but then I doubt too many Minnesotans claim the Lakers’ success as their own.  No, I think mostly it’s just that the Grizzlies seem like such misfits and I’m the kind of guy who likes misfits.

Memphis is led by Zach Randolph who had become such an overpriced league joke that in the span of eight months he was traded first for Tim Thomas and a retiring Cuttino Mobley, and then for Quentin Richardson; hardly blue chip talent.  Their second best player is Rudy Gay and he’s been injured since the middle of February.  After that, they have the Frank to Pau Gasol’s Sylvester; they have Mike Conley who was drafted at least ten spots too early; they have OJ Mayo who at the deadline this year they basically tried to trade for a broken dishwasher and an expired book of coupons; and – of course – they have Tony Allen!  Like I said, misfits.

In the last ten months they have overpaid to retain Gay, Conley and now Randolph.  They gave away the second pick in the draft, a year and a half after making it.  Last year they even signed up the circus, when they brought Allen Iverson on board.  And yet, the Grizzlies have somehow assembled a team that made them a trendy pre-season playoff pick.

It’s as though they followed the Atlanta Hawks model of how to build a playoff team.  The Hawks you will remember, returned to the middle of the playoff pack, despite butchering the 2004, 2005, and 2006 drafts.  Despite incompetence, the Hawks eventually acquired enough lottery picks to buoy them upwards.  The Grizzlies have basically done the same thing.  Despite drafting Mike Conley over Joakim Noah, OJ Mayo over Russell Westbrook, and Hasheem Thabeet over Steph Curry, the Grizzlies have scrapped, clawed, and bitten their way from 22 wins (two years running), to 24, to 40 and a bare miss of the playoffs last year.

The Grizzlies started the season –  as young teams do – inconsistently, winning a couple games in a row, but then losing four or five.  On December 6th they were 8-14.   After that, they went 23-11 until the Gay injury.  For an inconsistent, immature team, that might have been the end of their run, but… these are Grizzlies, not bear-cubs.  They finished off the season by going a respectable 15-8, including their two game no-show to ensure that they met the Spurs in the first round, not the Lakers.  If not for Gay’s injury, the Grizzlies might have climbed all the way to the fifth seed and set up a first round battle against Oklahoma City.  Yet, why meet the Zombies in the first round, when you can instead meet them in the second?

Something tells me that despite the Grizzlies’ mistakes, this isn’t the last time that we will witness a bizarro all-Northwest playoff battle between the Zombies and the Grizzlies.  Too bad that instead of Seattle-Vancouver, these games will take place roughly 2,500 kilometers away.  Sigh…

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Memphis Grizzlies: Two Top Three Picks Away From Being Really Good…

March 4, 2011 1 comment

You might not realise this – and I couldn’t blame you if you didn’t – but over the last six weeks, the best team in basketball hasn’t been the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, or San Antonio Spurs, it’s been the Memphis Grizzlies.  Ok, maybe not quite the best (that’s probably the Dallas Mavericks, see below), but pretty freaking close.  In their last 20 games, the former Canadian franchise has won 15 times for a sterling .750 winning percentage.  Over the course of the season, that winning percentage would have the Grizzlies tied for second with the Celtics in the NBA.  It’s a winning percentage that translates roughly to 62 wins over an entire season.  Or, in other words, a winning percentage that is, very, very good.  Basically, what I’m saying, in my long winded, non-lyrical way, is that Memphis has a surprisingly strong team.

Memphis, like Phoenix, is making a late charge for the playoffs and unlike the Suns – who look like first round fodder, the Grizz, could actually take a bite out of any first round opponent.  I don’t think it’s likely that they’d beat San Antonio, Dallas, or the Lakers, but the point is that with Zach Randolpoh playing the best basketball of his career, solid production from the overpaid Mike Conley, and superlative wing defense from Tony Allen (Seriously go read some Grizzlie fan pages, he’s apparently the best cover guy since Deion Sanders.  It’s a bit insane…), the Grizzlies are a foe nobody wants to meet.

What’s interesting to me about this, isn’t that the Grizzlies are good, but rather that the Grizzlies are good despite getting virtually nothing from the second overall pick in the 2009 draft and the third overall pick in the 2008 draft.  Seriously, nothing.  This season the two top picks have combined to score 658 points for the Grizz, while grabbing 205 rebounds and blocking 34 shots.  That’s 10% of the Grizzlies points, 8% of their rebounds, and 10% of their blocks.  It’s a pittance for two top three draft picks, and frankly I was cherry picking their three best categories.

Of course, the Thabeet pick was so bad that it not only cost Memphis a chance at a productive player, but, when they had to send a pick to Houston to get the Rockets to take the clueless center off their hands, it cost them a pick in this year’s draft.  Two years after picking Thabeet the Grizzlies had to give up a first round pick to UN-pick him!  That’s basically unprecedented for a top three pick.  It’s so bad, that in a recent BS Report, Bill Simmons (2/25) postulated that it was the worst pick in NBA history.  His argument centered on what a team ultimately received for a terrible pick (ie, Kwame Brown might have been horrific, but at least he was eventually traded for Caron Butler) and I think Simmons certainly has a case.  For me, Bowie and Darko are still worse because of who was picked just after them, but I concede that Bill’s point about the absurdity of it costing you a pick to dump the number two choice in the draft, has merit.

The OJ Mayo pick wasn’t quite as bad, but they still were trying -desperately it would seem – to ship him to Indiana on deadline day, in a deal that might have gone through if Mark Cuban hadn’t complained about collectively owned New Orleans taking on money in a previous trade.  What’s worse, is that the second or third best player from the 2008 draft was actually selected by the Grizzlies, when they picked fifth and took Kevin Love.  But then, in typical Chris Wallace fashion, they traded Love and Mike Miller for third pick Mayo.  Hard not to dream about what would have happened if they’d just kept Love.  They could have kept Gasol and had a front-line of Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, and Pao Gasol.  I’m not sure what defense they’d have played but they sure would have been pretty to watch.  Of course, if the Grizzlies had really desperately wanted to deal with Minnesota, they could have had the Wolves pick Russell Westbrook, who went fourth…

Anyhow, If the deadline day deal with Indiana had been completed, that would have meant that just three years out from two top five picks, the Grizzlies would have nothing to show for them.  Actually, they’d have worse than nothing, because they owe Houston that pick.  So, they’d have a first round debit to show for two top three picks.  That’s pretty shocking.  Absurdly shocking even.  Clipper-esque one might say.

Look, there’s no doubt that Michael Heisley is in the pantheon of bad NBA owners (and it’s starting to become something of a squishy club), so it’s possible that he thinks that’s what you’re supposed to do with great draft picks, but if I owned that team, I’d be pretty damned pissed that I didn’t have Kevin Love (or Westbrook) and Steph Curry to show for my 2008 and 2009 drafts.

Of course, if I owned the team I wouldn’t have Chris “The Yang to Red Auerbach’s Yin” Wallace as my GM… and the Grizzlies would also still be playing in the most beautiful city in North America… So, yeah.

Unrelated… and possibly only interesting to me (and Mark Cuban)

Did you know that when Dirk Nowitzki went down with his knee sprain against the Oklahoma Zombie Sonics, the Dallas Mavericks were 24-5.  That was two days after Christmas.  On New Year’s Day, having already lost two straight without their best player, Caron Butler went down to a season ending knee tear.  Thus began a streak where the Mavs, largely without their two best players, lost 10 of their next 13 games.  Things looked bleak in Mavs-ville, but then Dirk finally convalesced and the Mavs rattled off 10 straight win.  They finally lost at Denver on February 10th, but then they recovered to win another eight straight.  If you eliminate that 13 game stretch in which they were missing either Dirk, Caron, or (mostly) both, the Mavs have won 42 of 48 games.

That boys and girls is a .875 winning percentage.  Do you know how many teams in history have had an .875 winning percentage?  One.  You might have heard of them.  They were the 1996 Chicago Bulls and they won 72 games.  I’m not saying the Mavs would have won 72 games if Dirk and Butler don’t get hurt, I’m just saying it might be time to sit up in class and pay some attention to the Dallas Mavericks.  They are good, perhaps crazy good.

Whenever  we – the collective infinite “we” – list the potential title contenders in the NBA, the Mavs are usually on the outside looking in, or at best they’re the “and, oh maybe, I guess, the Mavs…”

Everybody loves the Spurs, because they actually have the NBA’s best record; everyone loves the Celtics and Lakers because, obviously, they’ve won the last three titles; they love (or, more accurately, love to hate) Miami because they’ve got two of the five best players; and they love the Bulls and the Zombies, because they are shiny, new and young, but man, you had better keep an eye on those Mavs, because even without Butler, they are playing ridiculously good basketball.  Watch out for them.

And for the love of all things holy and sacred, would somebody outside Dallas please start mentioning Dirk in the MVP conversation with Derrick Rose and LeBron James.  Seriously, without him in the lineup, the Mavs are 2-7, with him they are 43-9.

Just sayin’

NBA Losers Part Two…

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

So, last week David “I used to be with “it,” but then they changed what “it” was, and now what I’m with, isn’t “it,” and what’s “it” is weird and scary to me” Stern complained about people spending all their time talking about the NBA offseason, while the playoffs were ongoing. Since I’m sure that Stern is a regular reader of Sports on the Brain, I know that that was really just a pointed comment at me. So, I decided to stop my NBA Losers Series after just the Eastern Conference.

Or, maybe not… Sorry David, but your league is just too much fun to play ‘God’ with. Look, it’s partly your fault. I mean the NBA has this ridiculously convoluted salary structure, which makes it complicated and fun to ponder the future. But it’s also the nature of basketball. The other three major sports have such large rosters, that it’s hard to see how one guy drastically improves your team. I mean, if you’re cheering for an NFL team, obviously you hope they acquire Tom “Two Girls, Two Babies, why oh why does my sperm have to be as golden as the rest of me?” Brady, but short of that it’s hard to sit down with a trade machine and say, ‘ok, if I trade Albert Haynesworth for a right guard and a backup strong safety my team will be better.’ In hoops on the other hand, the roster’s are small enough that you can look at them and say, “If I trade Leandro Barbosa and Earl Clark to Cleveland for LeBron James, the Suns would be better…

So, David, while we here at Sports on the Brain hear your protests, we counter that in this day of laptops on every couch, PDAs in every hand, and two sided beer hats on every head (what, that’s not how you start your day?), it is entirely possible to be engaged in the NBA playoffs whilst simultaneously making over the rosters of every NBA loser from the Western Conference.

So, lets get on with the 3,500 word explosion…

Houston Rockets (42-40):

The Rockets were the team left out of the West’s merry-go-round playoff race, falling out with a 9-16 start to 2010. Still, GM Daryl “Dork Elvis” Morey made a great play at the allstar break, sending Tracy “Quitting on my team came naturally, I’m Vince Carter’s Cousin” McGrady’s expiring deal to the Knicks for Kevin Martin, Jared Jeffries, and seven hundred Knick draft picks. It was a slick piece of work from one of the NBAs top GMs.

Morey has shown himself a master of finding fringe players to play important roles. Of course, this has been imperative for the Rockets, because in McGrady and Yao “I’m actually a 7’5” robot operated by a 3’4” Irish guy” Ming, they’ve had two superstars incapable of playing a full season. With TMac departed and Yao in the final year of his deal, the Rockets are firmly entrenched in turning over their roster from the ‘Careful Contents are Extremely Fragile’ era.

Getting a healthy Yao back will certainly improve the team, but with every injury that the giant Chinese pottery dish sustains, he becomes a little more fragile. That’s why I expect that the Rockets will be one of the 27 teams who kick the tires around for Chris Bosh. The Rockets could put together a package that involves the expiring deals of Shane Battier or Jared Jeffries, with young pieces like Jordan Hill and Kyle Lowry. They also have established players in Kevin Martin and Trevor Ariza who could entice the Raptors in a sign and trade.

If I’m Toronto GM Bryan “I made one smart move – signing Steve Nash – and have parlayed that into a sterling reputation” Colangelo I’d be tempted to accept a deal with the Rockets of a re-signed Bosh for Hill, Lowry, a draft pick and Battier (whom, I’d try and flip to a contender). Obviously, if I’m the Rockets I’d rather keep Battier and give up Jeffries, but… actually, who am I kidding, this is Dork Elvis trading with an organization that once traded Vince Carter for Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, and Alonzo Mourning and then when Mourning refused to report, instead of forcing his hand by suspending him without pay, they bought him out. Yeah! Of course Colangelo’s going to let the Rockets include Jeffries over Battier.

That gives Houston a strong roster for next year:

PG – A. Brooks,
SG – K. Martin, C. Buddinger
SF – T. Ariza, S. Battier
PF – C. Bosh, L. Scola
C – Y. Ming, C Hayes

A backup point guard, another shooter, and maybe another post defender and the Rockets are contenders. And you know that Dork Elvis can find those guys off the scrap heap.

Memphis Grizzlies (40-42):

Most pundits (including this one) had the Grizzlies strung up and hanging over somebody’s fireplace before last season, but somehow their disparate castoffs bounded together like some “lovable losers” movie and instead of winning 25 games, they won 40 and remained in the playoff hunt well into March.

Still, despite the positive play that the team experienced this year, there’s no disputing that the Grizzlies have terrible, terrible karma. In the fifteen years since this franchise was created, they’ve won 50 games once, they’ve never finished higher than fourth in their division and they’ve never made it out of the first round. On the flip side, they’ve won fewer than 25 games an incredible ten times. Seriously, TEN times in 15 years. It’s almost like they’re cursed…

So, while this season was exciting for fans of the Teddy Bears, it’s hard not to see that everything broke just right. Zach “I’m like a Chimera, I’ve got the body of a man and the head of a sheep” Randolph was having a eureka moment and salvaging his career, but it’s even odds that he falls back into the habit of making dumb plays and hotboxing his car after games. Likewise, Rudy Gay could sign an offer sheet that makes owner Michael “Do I get some sort of plaque for being the cheapest owner in the NBA? No, well I’ll make one myself then. Wait, it costs how much? Oh no, that’s far too expensive” Heisley curl up in bed and suck his thumb until the seven day matching period has passed. And the grizzlies could use their second overall pick in the draft on a stiff like Hasheem Thabeet. Wait, what?!? They did that? Last year? Wow…

Anyhow, put like that, it’s not hard to see how this seemingly exciting season for the Teddy Bears could quickly turn back to another 24 win season. Why? Well, as I noted before, I think this team is cursed. I think that when the Grizzlies were founded, it’s fairly even odds that Orca Bay Sports broke ground on a Native burial ground in Vancouver. The Coast Salish people surely responded by cursing the franchise. It’s really the only logical conclusion. So, the Grizzlies need to reverse this curse, they need to improve their Karma. As I see it, there’s clearly only one way to do this…

BRING BASKETBALL BACK TO THE NORTHWEST.

That’s right. It’s time for Heisly to sell the team and the new owner should pick up this crumbling foundation, shed the Grizzlies morbid history and return to Seattle where the Supersonics championship banner and rich history are just waiting for someone to claim them. In this way, the Grizzlies could remove the curse, right a Karmic wrong, and go further towards improving their team than any offseason move the front office could conduct.

New Orleans (37-45):

The Hornets are a mess. They might have one of the five best players in basketball, on the other hand, they might just have a guy who was really great until his body became star crossed and he couldn’t stay healthy. On top of that, even if we assume that Chris Paul comes back to full health, the Hornets’ roster looks a lot like Meg Ryan’s plastic surgery.

They’ve made a series of terrible decisions, that have left them saddled with an old, misshapen, expensive roster. It really started with offering Peja Stojakovic a 60 million five year contract, followed by thinking that because James Posey had won two titles with two different teams, that he was the second coming of Robert Horry. I like Posey and he was instrumental in the Celtics 2008 championship, but he’s no Big Shot Rob. They traded for Tyson Chandler’s big contract and bigger medical history, which meant that they eventually had to swap him for Emeka Okafor’s equally outsized contract.

The result of all these moves, is that the Hornets, who in 2007-08 seemed to be a comet ascending to the NBA’s penthouse, are rammed right up against the luxury tax, paying almost two million per victory last year. Aggravating the situation, they continue to be owned by one of the worst owners in sports and he remains unwilling to pay the luxury tax. Things this year became so bad that the media started speculating the Hornets would trade Chris Paul… Whoa… There… Tiger. Lets not get all crazy here. There’s smart ways to save money and then there’s franchise suicide. You trade Paul when you’re committing the later.

So, if you read the bulging, steroid induced part 1 of this column, then you know that I think the Hornets can be enticed into swapping bad contracts or giving up young stud point guard Darren “Chris Paul Lite” Collison as long as they save dolla, dolla, bills y’all. So, if you’ve got deep pockets (cough-jamesdolan-cough) and you’re willing to absorb James Posey and/or Emeka Okafor’s contract, you might well be able to get Collison as a prize.

If I’m the Hornets brass, I talk to Knicks GM Donnie Walsh about swapping Okafor and Collison for Eddy Curry’s (finally) expiring contract and Wilson Chandler. If the Knicks strike out on the free agent market, then this might not be a deal they’re interested in, but if they come away with any two of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, or Amare, then they are going to need to surround them with a) bodies, any freaking bodies, b) someone to play the point, c) someone to play center, and d) more bodies.

Obviously Curry’s useless and would immediately be bought out, at which point like Keyser Soze the NBA public would probably never see him again, but shedding Okafor’s salary would leave the Hornets in a very enviable position for 2011. I think that the Hornets are basically stuck for this year, but if they clear off enough cap space they could become players in 2011. Who’s available in 2011 you ask?

Well, actually almost nobody, except Carmelo Anthony. Could the Hornets get Anthony? I don’t know, but they have three factors in their favor: 1) They play in New Orleans. 2) Bringing a winner to post-Katrina New Orleans is gold for a player’s national profile. 3) Chris Paul. Paul is the kind of player that every guy wants to play with. He’s a natural point, who understands how to get easy buckets for his guys, and he’s also a dynamic talent in his own right.

If the Hornets signed Carmelo, re-signed David West, added two lottery picks (since they’d definitely be in the lottery next year) and had Paul return to health, well, then you would see a shooting comet back to the NBA’s penthouse.

Los Angeles Clippers (29-53):

Oh the Clippers… what in the world to do with the Clippers. I mean besides having aliens come down and abduct Donald “A racist in a mostly black league” Sterling? The reality is that for all of his coaching faults, over the last couple years Mike “Wait, you fired me just because I was in the middle of my sixth losing season in my seven years on the job? That’s unfair, I just needed a little more time” Dunleavy, or whomever was operating the front office for him, actually made some solid roster moves. The Clippers have a decent core (Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon), a mercurial, but talented point guard, Baron “This kids is how you grow a beard” Davis, and 20 plus million in cap space. The Clippers problem is that no matter what happens, they’re owned by Sterling, so… yeah. There’s really no point in suggesting anything here. They will probably drastically overpay for Rudy Gay, trade Davis to New York for Curry and then subject their fan base to another 29 win season. The NBA, where racist, meddlesome owners who ruin a franchise for 30 years happens…

Golden State Warriors (26-56):

Well, the news this spring that Chris Cohan is going to sell the team is good. That it hasn’t happened yet is bad. Cohan is a problem, Bob Rowell is a problem, and sadly Don Nelson is a problem. The solution is in Steph Curry, Anthony Randolph, and what should hopefully be a top five pick. Of course, knowing the Warriors they will come away from the draft with Derrick Cousins, who has million dollar, prodigious talent… and a ten cent head.

If I ran the Warriors, then the object of the summer would be to move Monta Ellis, focus the team around Curry, Randolph and Anthony Morrow, and try like a madman to draft Evan Turner. For instance, lets assume that the Warriors can trade Ellis to the Timberwolves for a package built around Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Minnesota GM David Kahn seems like exactly the type of guy to be enamored with Ellis’ gaudy point totals from last season and he has to do something with Rubio. Which makes him a good mark.

Now, Rubio’s still under contract in Barcelona, but, I’m just going to assume that Larry Ellison is the guy who buys the Warriors and that he makes some sort of under the table sweetheart deal to extricate Rubio from that contract. I know, I know, it’s a violation of NBA rules, but if you think Ellison became one of the 20 richest men in the world without knowing how to bend some rules, well…

Then I’d trade Andris Biedrins to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich. This is a risky trade, because Biedrins is still relatively young with decent upside and Hinrich’s overrated, but I like Kirk’s defense and I think (hope) that a change of scenery will help him find his shooting touch.

Finally, I’d flex Ellison’s fiscal muscles, by taking on the onerous contract of Emeka Okafor. This is of course incredibly risky as we walk unbound towards the end of the NBAs collective bargaining agreement, but… sometimes in life it’s just a chance you gotta take. Vladimir Radmanovich’s expiring contract and Brandon Wright add up to enough to get Okafor. For New Orleans, this clears around 42 million off of their payroll and gives them Wright who may or may not have some upside.

That’s a lot of switching, swapping, slashing, and other words that start with ‘S”, but after all of that, you have a young explosive roster:

PG – R. Rubio, K. Hinrich
SG – S. Curry, A. Morrow
SF – E. Turner, C. Maggette, K. Azubuike
PF – K. Love, A. Randolph
C – E. Okafor, R. Turiaf

I’m not going to lie, of the sixteen shitty rosters I’ve overhauled in the last two weeks, this might be my favouite. You’ve got: shooters Curry, Hinrich, and Azubuike; magicians Rubio and Love; defenders Hinrich, Okafor, and Turiaf; an upside youngster in Randolph; and a potential superstar in Evan Turner. I’d hire a young up-tempo coach, who would get these horses running by deploying a D’Antoni “shoot it from anywhere” style offence. They’d be young, exciting and they’d bring some buzz back to Bay Area hoops.

Sacramento Kings (25-57):

Draft Derrick Favours. Use your cap space to acquire a point guard. Move Tyreke Evans to the two, where he can be a destructive offensive force, without worrying about getting others involved. Linse, rather, repeat. What? I’m nuzzled right up against the 3,500 magic barrier I swore to myself I wouldn’t pass. Do you really want me to drop 750 words on the Kings? Didn’t think so.

Minnesota Timberwolves (15-67):

Well, for starters they could fire David Kahn, who so horribly botched last year’s draft, and offer the job to Simmons. After that, it really comes down to what draft pick they get. Just for the sake of amusement (and because the NBA playoffs are in their month long hiatus… the NBA, where TV scheduling ruining the momentum of the playoffs happens!), I played the lottery thingy-mahooty ten times and the T-Wolves average finish was 2.5, which didn’t help me much. So, I played it an eleventh time and they finished… 2nd. Yup, that was a great use of time. No wonder I’m 43 years old and working for McDonalds.

So, with the second pick, and assuming that whomever drafts first takes Wall, then the Wolves instantly become better by taking… Derrick Cousins! No, just kidding, they obviously draft Evan Turner. The Wolves also have the 16th and 23rd picks, so I’d probably use those on Gordon Hayward and someone to stash “Spurs like” overseas for three years.

Step number two is to decide which front court player you want to build around. For me, I’d trade Al Jefferson, because the Wolves need so much and Jefferson will bring a better return. Charlotte desperately needs some low post scoring and they always seem to be willing to move Gerald Wallace. I love the defender that Wallace was this year and Minnesota could use his athleticism on the wing. I’d also have the Bobcats toss in the underrated Nazar Mohammed into the deal, in exchange for Wayne “Of course Michael Jordan wants me on the Bobcats, I went to North Carolina” Ellington.

Third is the dousy. The Wolves are rolling around in cap space, but also play their home games in Minnesota, so what exactly should they do with the money? Basically, you have to use it to take a player from a team that can no longer afford him, or that doesn’t want him anymore for personnal reasons. Thus, I pick up my phone and call Ernie Grunfeld and say, alright, send Gilbert Arenas over this way…”

Kidding, seriously it was a joke, I prefer my shoes without poop in them. I’d call the Lakers. We all think that they have endless resources, because, well, they’re the freaking Lakers, but Jerry Buss isn’t Paul Allen. His pockets have bottoms and the word out of LA was that this year’s 100 million roster was really dragging the bottom of Buss’ pockets. I’d offer youngster Johnny Flynn (see below) for Lamar Odom. Then I’d try to acquire Golden State’s Corey Maggette. This team needs some offence and Maggette is an absurd scorer. He’s also strangely underrated at this point and I think the Wolves would basically just be happy to clear him off their cap.

Finally, Minnesota’s biggest problem is what oh what to do with Ricky Rubio. Hey, wait, I’ve got a good idea, why not draft Rubio with one pick and then with your very next pick, take another point guard, then draft a third at 17, and a fourth in the second round. But why stop there when you can… wait for it… wait… just wait… sign a point guard, Ramon Sessions, to a four year 17.5 million contract. Whooo… the David Kahn era, feel the dysmorphia.

So, now whomever is running the Wolves this offseason is stuck with a phenomenal point guard in Europe, who wont come stateside for at least another year and seems fairly determined not to play for the Wolves. What do you do with him? Beats the heck out of me, that’s why I recommended giving the job to Simmons. Cop out answer? Well, yes I guess it was.

Actually, the answer is pretty easy. You fly to Barcelona, eat some tapas, drink some sangria, take a little stroll on the beach where the women will make your head explode and then go and find your future allstar point guard and convince him that he wants to leave one of the five coolest (not literally) cities in the world and move to one of the five coolest (literally) cities in the world.

Basically, you take flowers and a box of chocolates and you woo Rubio. You tell him that it was the previous regime that drafted Flynn and that you’re trading the other dude. You tell him that you’re fully committed to his success and that he will start. You tell him that Minnesota has some of the best ice fishing in the world… Seriously, Rubio is a big time talent. Pair him in the backcourt with Turner and you have the NBA’s best guard pairing for as long as you can keep them. You tell him whatever you can to get his ass on a plane to Minneapolis.

Add all that up and here’s what you’ve got:

PG – R. Rubio, R. Sessions
SG – E. Turner, C. Brewer
SF – G. Wallace, C. Maggette, G. Hayward
PF – K. Love, L. Odom, R. Gomes
C – N. Mohammed, D. Milicic

Need a stop? Send out Turner, Brewer, Wallace, Odom, and Darko. Need a basket? Rubio, Tuner, Maggette, Love, and Odom probably get you one. Want wicked ball movement? Well, you’re getting that from Rubio, Tuner, Love and Odom. Want to play small? Rubio, Sessions, Turner, Odom, and Love, play small but with absurd length. Want to play big? Tuner, Maggette, Wallace, Darko, and Mohammed, ok I have no idea why you’d play Darko more than 4 minutes a game, but you get my point. Want versatility? Turner, Wallace, Odom, and Gomes are all switch army knives capable of playing multiple roles and multiple positions. That’s the beauty of this team, versatility. I like it, maybe not quite as much as that Warriors roster, but it’s certainly no coincidence that they share four players in common. I think this is a playoff team in 2011, but at the very least it’s a hundred times better than the 15 win poo-poo platter the Wolves sent out there this year.

Well, with that… I’m spent… Only 200 words over my magic number. Look for part three, NBA first round losers, some time around 2018.

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