I don't know about anyone else but the NBA off season is usually about the time that I experience the case of the summertime blues.
It typically lasts from mid June around to the start of pre-season.
Which is why I'm always disappointed when an NBA Finals doesn't go 7 games.
The idea of waiting almost 4 months for any kind of quality basketball is painful.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't watch summer league, I do.
Although it gives me a chance to check out the sleeper guys trying to make a roster spot and some of the top rookies in action.
It's still not the same.
The idea of having unlimited fouls doesn't work for me.
That's not real NBA ball!
If unlimited fouls were a part of the game then maybe my new favourite player, Mickael Pietrus, AKA The Kobe Stopper (hehe) would have been able to stay in Game 2 of the Finals and give Orlando a chance to even up the series.
But I digress.
I'm still crossing out dates on my calendar waiting for the season to start but there's a different feeling these days.
It has to do with the bevy of player movement that's re-energized me and I find myself Xing out dates with much more vigor.
As my Twitter compadre, The Human Highlight Blog put it "this is an interesting off season---an appetizer for the flurry next summer"
But let's stay in the present and breakdown (pun intended) SOME of the action we've seen to date:
The Soft Spot Moves
It was nice to see a couple of retired players added to the coaching staff of their former teams.
The Raptors brought back fan favourite, Alvin Williams as an assistant coach to work with players on skill development.
I remember where I was the night he hit a deciding-game jumpshot clinched the only playoff series Toronto has ever won against the New York Knicks in 2000.
Thanks for the memories Alvin.
It was also good to see the Chicago Bulls give their former defensive minded back-up point guard, Randy Brown a job. The guy desperately needed it.
He recently filed for bankruptcy and was forced to auction off his three NBA championship rings. Ouch.
I'm Going To Disney World
Here's a skill testing question for you. What's the one thing Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Tony Battie, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and Alonzo Mourning all have in common?
At some point in their careers, these guys were involved in some kind of package deal for some dude named Vince Carter. For the second time in his career, the guy formerly known as ACC (I ain't madatcha) was the centre piece of trade.
This time we saw the 8 time all star him head off to the Orlando Magic on draft day deal in an attempts to bolster their squad. Everybody knows that back in the Finals, the Magic were offensively challenged in the Lakers close-out game for the title.
We also know that although he ain't jumping over people anymore, VC can still score a ton of buckets in a hurry.
Having said that, I don't believe this move has necessarily made the Magic a better team. They basically lost four rotation guys in the deal if you include Turkoglu who all contributed to the squad in a variety of ways.
So now the Magic are forced to make a more moves to fill in a bunch of holes. Their starting squad is definitely talented and if they all play up to their potential, they'll give Mickey Mouse a reason to smile. (like he needs one)
However, if they have to go their bench because of injury or foul trouble, I'm not sure who SVG can turn to.
Stay tuned - More moves to be made.
A Shot In The Arm
RJ got his prayers answered and now has a serious shot at a title.
I'm a big fan of the Richard Jefferson trade for the Spurs. He immediately injects energy into an aging offense that sorely needed it. I kept seeing images of Sean Elliot hitting a corner 3 throughout the presser.
He'll make a big difference and immediately take the scoring load off of Parker and Timmy D. This move puts them back into the title conversation where they belong.
Sure, they lost some role players in the rebounding and defence department but Coach Popp has some good young talent that can contribute and I'm pretty certain he'll find a way to make-up.
Ron-Ron is on the Move
I'm sure most people chuckled when they heard Ron Artest was heading to the Lakers. We know that Artest and KB24 have had some pretty physical on court battles and now people are wondering if they can co-exist.
Don't waste valuable mental energy on this one folks. It can and will work.
These guys will do just fine together.
Ron will fall in line and play for whatever team he's on and Kobe will focus in solidifying his legacy as the best ever. Despite Barack Obama saying that he's still nowhere near a guy named MJ.
By the way, with that comment. Obama becomes the most quoted US president on NBA related matters, ever.
Artest essentially takes Ariza's spot and can admiraly do most of the things that Trevor did, minus the athletcism. Ron will also throw in a bit more offence despite the fact that his low post game is reminiscent of a bull in a china shop on roller blades.
I like the move.
I'm lukewarm on the moves Detroit made by picking up Ben Gordon and Charlie V. I'm not convinced that these pick ups improved the team dramatically. Both these guys remind me of younger versions of Iverson and Rasheed. These are good moves for the Pistons who quite frankly had to do something but again, I don't think they have catapulted themselves to the top of the Eastern conference standings.
We'll have to wait and see.
The Turkish Raptor
The acquisition of Vince Carter pretty much spelled the end of Hedo's career in Orlando. This was a strange one because initial reports suggested that the Trailblazers had the versatile power forward all but locked up. But then something amazing happened and the Hedo had a change of heart and verbally committed to the Raptors.
I've been tweeting how much I'm on the fence on this once ever since I heard the reports. It's supposed to be making somewhere in the vicinity of $60 million according to TNT Analyst David Aldridge but that's not where my real struggle lies.
In the process of making room for Hedo, the Raptors had to renounce the rights of Shawn Marion and guards Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino.
It's not so much Marion because I never believed he'd be a long term Raptor. In fact there were rumours that when he arrived to TO in a mid season trade, the only thing he brought with him was his tooth brush.
I'm in the opinion that the Raps paid a heavy price to get Hedo by saying good-bye to Delfino and Parker.
But the deal breaker for me all depends who they get to fill one or both of those positions. So, it's a wait and see for now.
The Big Witness
So now that we've run through this once, let's try another skill testing question. What do Caron Butler,Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks, Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic (whew) all have in common?
You got it.
They were all part of deals that saw the Big Diesel, the Big Aristotle and now the Big Witness change zip codes. He's already intimately familiar with Cavs GM Danny Ferry so he shouldn't have a problem fitting in.
Shaq joins his fourth team of his illustrious career and can also boast that he's played alongside some of the best players.
First there was Penny Hardaway (say what you want but this guy was good before injury), Kobe Bryant (nuff said), D-Wade (Shaq nicknamed him The Flash), Steve Nash (nothing wrong with a little Canadian content) and finally, the most intriguing match-up, LeBron James.
He of course in typical Shaq-like fashion is talking about winning a title and why not, that's why this move was made. Despite Shaq claiming that he'll play until he's 40, the Cavs want to win now and not the future. I thought this was a great move for the Cavs particularly since they didn't have to give up as much as the Magic did. Wallace was contemplating retirement and Pavs days as a Cav were numbered anyways.
The Big Z (pronounced ZED in Canada) will be moved to the bench or it could be vice versa. Whichever one it is, you've got a pretty expensive back-up centre.
I think it could work because Shaq understands the stage of his career he's in.
For years, he referred to himself as the MDE (Most Dominant Ever) and now he's not. But he's OK with that. We saw him concede to Wade in Miami and that translated into a championship.
So I fully expect him to allow James to continue to run the show and he'll play second or even third fiddle depending if the Cavs can pick another perimeter player.
His new motto year is "Win a Ring For The King"
That's it for now...
So if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm pretty excited about all the new scenarios created because of player movement. If you want proof of it, check my Twitter account. I've had more updates in the last few weeks then I've had in the prior 6 months.
There's no question that next summer should be even more delectable with all the big names but I've always been the kind of guy that likes to enjoy the moment and this one is pretty good so far.
Gameday: Raptors @ Knicks, February 28
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