It’s been less then a month since the 2009 NBA season came to an end with the LA Lakers hoisting the Finals trophy above their heads in early June, but that seems like an afterthought already. With the draft, this year’s class of free agents, and teams dealing away some big names, all the focus has shifted to next season. I highly doubt that we’ve seen the last of the off-season shake up, I mean, Allen Iverson still doesn’t have a place to “practice,” and yes, we’re talking about practice, but with all the player movement already, how can I not take this opportunity to weigh in on some pros & cons? Let’s deal out letter grades, yeah?
Shaq to Cleveland
Leave it to The Big Hollywood to announce his plans to head back east, literally moments after his former colleague and foe, now turned best friend Kobe Bryant won his first title without him. Ironic timing, wouldn’t you say? Whatever the case, despite the trade not yet being finalized (at the time), Shaq to the Cleveland LeBron’s kicked started this active off-season, which is still in the early stages, but is red hot! On paper, this seems like an easy win for the Cavs, but I can’t compel myself to buy into it … not just yet. There will never be the likes of another Shaq again, both on and off the hardwood. Despite his youthful persona, Shaq is one old dude. As far as NBA centers go, he’s nearing prehistoric. His production last year was fantastic, and at this stage in his career, a team like Cleveland seems better suited for him, but I believe it boils down to motivation. Shaq was satisfied with one ring in Miami, and didn’t push himself hard for another in Phoenix. If he truly wants to win a ring for the King, it starts with himself, mentally. I still give the Cavs a high grade on the trade because talent wise, they didn’t give up much for potentially the missing piece to their championship puzzle.
Grade: B –
Ron Artest to the LA Lakers
This wasn’t a trade, but it somewhat feels like one, since Trevor Ariza signed with Houston. If the Lakers can re-sign Odom, it will make the signing of Artest all the better. Actually, the signing is a home-run already, who am I kidding? If Artest is as hungry as he says he is, at this point, his actions speak louder than any words as he accepted the mid-level salary when he could have gotten more … but if he’s as hungry as he says he is, then the Lakers can book a return trip to the Finals for the third straight year. It’s a case of the rich getting richer, and they didn’t have to spend a lot of money on this particular investment, considering the instant equity provided by Artest. Defensively, Artest is a brute, physical, as well as intimidating. Kobe must be relieved that he won’t have to face him as the opposition for the next few years. A daunting task to say the least. Offensively, he is capable of being the go to guy on any given team, but that will not be his role for the Lakers. He may be the third or fourth option, depending on Odom’s return and or production. I am certain that individual statistics are not a concern for Artest, and if that statement holds true, the Lakers have a lot to be optimistic about next season.
Grade: A +
Sheed to Boston
I’m not quite certain what he signed for, mid-level or higher (can someone get me the details, I’m lazy), but whatever the case, Boston, along with the Lakers, might have ensured their return to the Finals next season, and another chapter in the Celtic-Laker rivalry could ensue in our near future. I honestly felt that if KG were able to participate in the playoffs, even at eighty percent, the Celtics would have repeat as champions. In all actuality, Pau Gasol didn’t toughen up or become a much more physical presence down low during the Finals, he merely didn’t have to play KG, who despite not being quite the physical presence as Dwight Howard, is much more of a polished player on both ends. Sheed brings size, balance, and shooting at the power forward position, sound familiar? It should, it’s the same way you’d describe freakin’ KG! They probably have matching tenacity and intensity as well! Although not similar in playing styles, the Celtics now have a modern day version of McHale and Parish. How would it be possible to think anything else but Sheed being a positive addition to this team? A genuine tight knit group of guys will welcome Sheed into the fold, and he will fit right in as he did in Detroit, which will lead to good production for the C’s. Boston only has another year or two to win a championship before rebuilding, and they took a major step in pursuing another ring with the signing of Sheed.
Grade: A –
(more to come)