NBA Roundtable: 12/17 Edition!

Welcome to the NBA Roundtable!

This week DJ, Bill, EJ and Joao return, and are going by Zach Case to talk about the Rudy Gay Trade, is it time for Pau to move on, the Doc Rivers to Boston reaction, and should we dump divisions?

As always, if you have questions, post them in the comments for next week!

1. The Rudy Gay Trade: Thoughts?Rudy Gay

Zach: Honestly, this trade isn’t really worth the headlines. Rudy Gay had splashes of genius in Memphis, but didn’t really make an impact in Toronto (shocker). And furthermore, there has to be a legitimate reason why Memphis traded him in the first place. Because all they got for him…wasn’t really anything to talk about, either. At this point, it would honestly take a lot for me to think Rudy Gay could thrive in an environment where he is the scorer. Coming into Sacramento, with a string of young players will be interesting to see, but until further notice…don’t expect a whole lot from Gay.

DJ: They didn’t give up much but Gay is a chucker. Check out this excerpt from a recent Grantland story:

“The current version of Gay is basically a harmful player. He used 30 percent of Toronto’s possessions with a shot, turnover, or drawn a foul — a gargantuan usage rate reserved for the league’s biggest scoring stars. He’s also shooting 38.8% for the season. That is a historically rare combination of shot chucking and brick laying. Only three players in league history have used more than 30 percent of their team’s possessions while shooting below 40 percent: Jerry Stackhouse, Baron Davis and Allen Iverson (twice). This is irresponsible offensive play. Those other guys could at least point to heaps of free throws or solid assist numbers.”

Gay is basically Carmelo-lite. Gay doesn’t rebound like Melo either, Melo is averaging close to 10 rebounds per game. I could see a power struggle in Sacramento for control between DeMarcus Cousins and Gay and think it could be a bad fit over the long haul so I say it’s a bad trade over the long run.

For Toronto, they acquired:

Greivis Vasquez. Likely starting point guard once the Raps deal Kyle Lowry to the highest bidder.
Vasquez is a steady, if not spectacular, PG who can run an offense efficiently. He averaged 13.9ppg and nine assists last season for New Orleans but was traded  (as part of a package) to Sacramento for Tyreke Evans. Vasquez never fit in and was deemed expendable. He averaged 9.8ppg and 5.3apg for the Kings.
Patrick Patterson. He’s an athletic young 24 year old who can give the Raps a solid backup to Amir Johnson and possibly be moved if the price is right.
John Salmons. Veteran swingman who will most likely be bought for 1 million.
Chuck Hayes. Contract fodder who will likely be gone next season.

Bill: This is little more than a salary dump in my eyes. While Gay is still a supremely talented and athletic swingman, a shooter he most certainly is not. When evaluating the talent exchange, I think that TOR got the better end of this one despite taking on salary beyond this season. The particulars going to TOR: Patterson, Vasquez, Hayes, and Salmons are all decent rotation players as well as being in the early parts of their careers. Gay is still productive at 27 and will more than likely thrive in the uptempo offense being constructed in SAC. My only issue lies with the meshing of strong willed (re: arrogant) personalities. Will it mesh… or will it implode? The roster still hinges on Demarcus Cousins, and mixing Gay with him could be blissful or miserable. Only the season will tell.

EJ: Great deal from the perspective of the Toronto Raptors. The goal of General Manager Masai Ujiri is to tank. Why? The G.M. was aware that the team he inherited wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, but it also wasn’t bad enough to put it in contention to pick up the young assets needed to properly rebuild. The Raptors are now in a position to trade away even more players and pick up more assets going forward. The Kings? Adding Rudy Gay doesn’t do much for them. Yes, he’s another scorer but the Kings are now what the Raptors were. Not good enough for the playoffs, not bad enough to finish high in the Lottery, but they’ve also added a ton of useless salary. Win for the Raptors, and a loss for the Kings.

Joao: Toronto has lost its most recognizable player and, while many might think that that is a bad thing, it really isn’t. Gay is making $17.8 million this season with a $19.3 million option for 2014-15. He has also been shooting just below 40%. In other words: he is overpaid (or underachieving, as you prefer). With Gay, are the Sacramento Kings good enough to make the playoffs? That is a very unlikely scenario and, at the same time, the Kings have just lost much needed salary cap flexibility.

On the other hand, the Raptors have done a savvy move for three reasons: they get rid of their worst contract (and that has to be read along with the Andrea Bargnani move), they position themselves financially for the deep 2014 draft, and they also got a promising player in Greivis Vasquez.
Sacramento might win 10 more games than they would have without Rudy Gay, but looking at the big picture this trade made more sense for Toronto than it did for the Kings.

2. Should the Lakers look to move Gasol?Pau Gasol

Zach: Can we just please get this trade over with, already. PLEASE. The Lakers sound like a bad Katy Perry song when they talk about trading Gasol. I love you…no I don’t. You are Kobe’s right hand man…you’re on the bench. I’m not one to go for this kind of drama in the locker room. Showtime needs to move Gasol…or commit to him for eternity. Make your minds up already, because it must be driving Pau crazy!

DJ: Yes. Gasol recently spoke up in the media and head coach Mike D’Antoni fired back as well. Something has to give and despite his poor offensive performance so far, Pau still has some value as a big man that can average 15-16 points per game, 9-10 rebounds per game and 3-4 assists per game. If used properly, which is in the low post….not on the perimeter jacking up 3-pointers as a stretch power forward.

I’d like to see him go to Memphis for Zach Randolph and finish his career playing where it began and play with his brother.

Bill: No. Seeing as how there’s no guarantee that Bryant will return to his pre Achilles injury form, Gasol is really their only solid veteran and fall back player upon which to try and compete. Competing is all Bryant is about and without Gasol around to help him, there’s not going to be much of it happening unless we’re talking about competing for a better position in the draft lottery. Who the Lakers should genuinely look to move is… Mike D’Antoni. I’ve never been much of a fan of D’Antoni’s “method” and decision to pretty much ignore the importance of defense from both a team and/or individual standpoint. While not a Lakers fan nor one of Gasol per se, I can still recognize that Gasol is a very good player that probably every other team in the league would love to have as their “problem” too sort out. That said, Gasol isn’t the problem nor has he ever been. I was as shocked as anyone to learn the Lakers had hired D’Antoni after he parted with the Knicks and the Suns. Until they get a coach manning the sideline that has the right mix of coaching ability, personal humility, general understanding, and player rapport, the situation isn’t going to get any better anytime soon.

 
EJ: Should they? Yes. Will they? I honestly don’t know. There have been rumors of the Lakers trading Gasol for years now. It’s come to the point that I’ll believe Gasol has been dealt, when I actually see Pau suit up in another uniform.
 
Joao: The Lakers have to look forward, and potentially getting nothing in return for Pau Gasol and watch him simply walk a way at the end of the season does not make a whole lot of sense.

The Spanish big man isn’s as productive as he used to, with many arguing that he isn’t even the best “Gasol” in the NBA right now. But several contenders will eventually be interested in taking a chance and land interior help, in order to have more firepower to push for a deep playoff run, or even winning it all.
What the Lakers can get in return are young assets and draft picks. Even with Kobe and Pau Gasol the Lakers will struggle to make the playoffs, so it makes sense to shake things up before the trade deadline.

3. If you were a free agent to be, would you be worried about joining the Bulls with their medical luck?Derrick Rose

Zach: If I were a free agent going to the Bulls, I would be worried about a lot more than the medical luck. But to better answer the question, yes I would be concerned. One thing to consider, though…is that injuries are about luck (or lack there of). I’m not saying it is heavily reliant on luck, because you still need to have a solid training and medical staff. But think about injuries…is that it has to happen at just the right time. So you ask yourself…is it the medical staff? Or just bad luck? Regardless, free agents should think twice before suiting up for Chicago.

DJ: Derrick Rose is really the only player who has had serious health issues with his knees. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have just had the normal wear and tear injuries associated with basketball. And the Bulls are pretty much maxed out anyway, they aren’t in the market for free agents. But, if a free agent wanted to go there? I see no issues why they wouldn’t. I don’t think Rose’s knee injuries are a result of the quality of care provided by the training staff.

Bill: Not at all. I’m not much of a believer in “luck” and don’t think that the Bulls are any different in that regard than any other team in the league. As the saying goes, “Shit happens.” Injuries are simply bound to happen. Do I think that some teams have better medical staffs than others? Without a doubt. Look no further than my hometown Phoenix Suns for an example of the pinnacle of sports medicine should look like.

EJ: No I wouldn’t be. Even if Derrick Rose is never the same player, a prospective free agent that joins the Bulls will be playing in Chicago. One of the country’s largest markets. For that reason alone if I were a free agent to be, I’d consider the Bulls and I wouldn’t be worried about signing there.

Joao: Not really. A professional player has to assume that what has been happening with the Bulls is simply a string of bad luck. Ok, a lot of bad luck, I will give you that. But several other teams in the NBA have recurring problems of the same nature, it is part of the game.

4.Are you surprised at the reaction Doc Rivers got in Boston?Doc Rivers

Zach: Not really. Doc had a long-standing, emotional relationship with Boston and Celtics fans everywhere. He left because he saw an opening to try something new, and his Celtic squad was going downhill fast. This was an opportunity to jump ship and avoid a giant rebuilding process like Brad Stevens and Jason Kidd are enduring. Had he stayed in Boston…the embrace might have gone away. I supported his choice to leave, and I love Boston’s attitude towards his return.

DJ: No. It was a very classy response and something I expected. Boston fans are true basketball fans and I think they respect what he did for the organization. Not surprised at all.

Bill: As I missed this game, I can’t adequately comment. Despite that, seeing the coverage online and learning of the ovation he received isn’t all that surprising. Doc is a class act guy, straight up. He put in the best years of his coaching career in BOS and with Garnett’s help, he brought them a title. He continued on despite his aging stars and did the best he could before moving on. The fans gave him the respect he deserves and should harbor no ill will for seeing him move on.

EJ: No. Boston is a classy franchise, and Celtics fans are classy fans. They respect what Doc has done for them. His reception was well deserved.

Joao: Pleasantly surprised! The usual reaction is to boo a former coach of player, so that is always what you are expecting. But, in this case, I am happy to see that Celtics’ fans are able to see the big picture and to see what Doc Rivers meant to their storied franchise, and vice-versa. Doc Rivers was able to pick up a team in bad shape and to return that franchise to prominence, winning a championship in the process. He elevated the Celtics to their rightful status, and that process also elevated Rivers to elite coach status.

It was very classy and, let’s be honest, it’s not as if the Celtics and the Clippers are competing directly for conference seeds, or to win a division.

5. Do you think Dropping Divisions is a good thing?nba Divisions

Zach: My counter-question — Does it REALLY matter? If you look at the NBA right now…I’m not so sure it would even make a slight impact. Why be the first league to drop divisions? I think this is more a ploy to get everyone on an even playing field. Stern and Silver seem to be all about getting an evenly competitive league, referencing the CBA. To drop divisions is a head-scratcher for sure.

DJ: No.
It doesn’t make any sense just because the Atlantic is experiencing a down year as most of the Division are tanking to get good draft position for the top players available next year. I like the rivalries that the different Divisions offer. Not to mention, just a few seasons ago a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team made the playoffs and shocked the world as they beat the New Orleans Saints in the first round. It’s possible a .500 team (or worse) wins the Atlantic but I think a team will get their stuff together and take advantage of the other teams. Don’t drop the Divisions!!!!

Bill: No. It’s taken quite some time to get things to where they are now in terms of league alignment and seeing the division setup dropped (or being considered to be) is unnecessary. I can understand that Adam Silver is looking to make his mark on the league now that he’s in control, but I don’t see how this is the right move. If there should be any kind of movement made as far as the league goes, it should be related to better geographical alignment so that the divisions make more sense than they do currently. That might be a tougher decision to make than one related to dropping divisions, but it’s one worth considering.

EJ: Eliminate them! Look at the Atlantic Division right now. No one has a winning record. The season could end, and the winner of that division will barely be a .500 team. That’s just ridiculous. Drop the divisions, and let the best 8 teams from each conference make the playoffs, and be seeded by record. All the divisions are is an excuse to hang banners, and sell hats and t-shirts at the end of the season.

Joao: I do not think that divisions should matter as much in the NBA as they do, for example, in the NFL. But I also think that eliminating divisions might be a rash decision based on what has been happening this year. So we have unbalanced divisions this year; that doesn’t mean that eliminating divisions should be an automatic decision. I am personally against such an initiative. The problem is that the Eastern Conference is bad right now, and throwing away the divisional organization isn’t really going to change that.

 

 

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  1. Re the divisonal format: I wholeheartedly agree with EJ on this issue AND I think all the other sports should do a variation on the same theme. MLB, for instance, could take the top six in each “league” and then have 1 play 6, 2 play 5, etc…

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