Sunday, June 10, 2007

Roundball Rock

"And here we go, there's nothing left to choose
And here we go, there's nothing left to lose."

Doubling down today because, after watching "The Sopranos" finale, I find myself frustrated with how everything went down. Really, no resolutions were made. Sure, Phil got whacked, but I think he had that coming. I guess the surprise was that a federal agent got the assist on that, and also, the way Phil got made, by first getting blasted in the dome, and then getting his head crushed in by a moving that was interesting. Anyway, so apparently, I'm left to assume that Tony was about to get shot with his family present, and it was probably the right move for them to not show that because, well, you want to think that Tony could have withstood any kind of attack (he did survive two gunshot wounds throughout the series), so if he got shot, all hope would be lost. Now, I'm assuming he's about to get shot, but it was never made definitive. All I can say is that if the final show's purpose was to leave me wanting more, it certainly did its job. Again, I knew that not only would Paulie survive, but he would be able to go without ever getting shot at. Think about it. During the entire series, was Paulie ever in the middle of any gunfure (by the way, he may have been at one point, but right now, looking back, I can't remember anything like that happening)? Anyway, his ultimate demise probably happened when he agreed to take over his own crew after years of straying away from the idea due to past casualties. However, his undying allegiance to Tony, which was shown over and over again throughout the series, would probably spell his own demise ultimately as well. Well, another "dynasty" series is over, and it seems like we get this once every five years, with "Cheers," "Seinfeld," "Friends," and now, "The Sopranos." The next big "finale" will most likely be in the form of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," as Larry David has already said that this would be the last season of "Curb." The new episodes start in September, which is about when my free trial of HBO runs, thanks.

Ok, another reason I am double-dipping today (you know I had to) has been that there have been two major bombshells that have hit the hardwood today, and no, none of it has to do with the Finals. Game 2 is at halftime right now, and I think the Cavs are losing by like 25, so you can pretty much mark up a two game deficit for Cleveland as they venture back home for Game 3.

First off, something factual. Gilbert Arenas will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason. That's right..."Hibachi," "Agent Zero," the man himself will be out there for every team to make a bid at. When you are naming the top 10 players in the game right now, you would be remissed to not mention Arenas on that list. He is one of the very few players who, if he ends up in the right situation, could be an instant factor, and turn a team into an instant title contender. Ever since landing with the Wizards, Arenas has been a premier talent. Here are his numbers from his Washington days:

2003-04: 19.6ppg, 5.0apg, 4.6rpg, 1.9spg
2004-05: 25.5ppg, 5.1apg, 4.7rpg, 1.7spg
2005-06: 29.3ppg, 6.1apg, 3.5rpg, 2.0spg
2006-07: 28.4ppg, 6.0apg, 4.6rpg, 1.9spg

This presents a lot of possibilities in terms of possible destinations for Arenas. First, you have to consider the kind of compensation Arenas will be commanding once he hits the market. Right now, his contract is for six years and $65 million, so the numbers are definitely going to be north of that. You're probably looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million for the same amount of years. So, who exactly can afford that? Surprisingly, Charlotte could be a possibility. Sure, Arenas may want to land on a playoff contender, but the Bobcats have a strong nucleus, and if they were able to get a scorer in the backcourt like Arenas to compliment Felton at the point. They have Gerald Wallace locked up until the '08-'09 season, otherwise, you're looking at having Felton, May, Okafor, and Morrison tied up for at least the next two years. If the Bobcats would be willing to dole out the cash to keep their core players, and convince Arenas that they will do so, then Charlotte would actually be an intriguing spot for Gilbert to end up on. Remember, Charlotte has the eighth pick in the upcoming Draft, so if they go after a guy like Corey Brewer, then maybe the Arenas talks would die out. Keep in mind though that the 'Cats desperately need a face they can market, and Arenas would certainly make that happen. However, if I had to take a guess on where he would land, I would probably say Chicago. Sure, they have Ben Gordon, who had a monstrous playoff run against Miami in the first round this year, but when you have a chance to get a guy like Arenas, you don't take any chances. Plus, Gordon is only signed through next year, so having two marquee shooting guards on one team would not be out of the question. Chicago has a young core much like Charlotte, but the Bulls have already proven they can make a run in the East, so if Gilbert wanted to land on a team that could possibly make a run at a championship, which is something he clearly has not had before, the Bulls would be an attractive option. The Wizards do get first crack at him, and they have said, as of right now, that they are going to do everything in their power to re-sign him. Keep a close eye on this situation, as it could create a lot of waves in terms of who ends up where.

The other on-going situation happens to involve the men in green. The Celtics have hit the rumor mill hard, and with Oden and Durant off the board, seemingly, there's not a whole lot of guys that could step in and make the kind of immediate impact that one of those two would make. So, now may be the time to start shopping the pick. A scenario that has been brought up involves the Phoenix Suns. In the rumored deal, the C's would be sending the #5, Theo Ratliff, who has an expiring contract valued at $11.7 million (again, the reason that expiring contracts are so valuable is because it will clear cap room for the player's new team for the next season, and because, in the NBA, teams need to match salaries when trading with another team, so having a guy who makes a lot of money that is only under contract for a year is a huge advantage for a team looking to pull off a trade), and perhaps another player, like Delonte West, for Shawn Marion. If the C's were able to get a guy like Marion, it would be a huge boost to this team. Marion is signed for the next two years, and will make $16.44 million next year, and $17.18 million in 2008. Because the C's are in good financial standing (they sit at $62,248,536, which remains lower than the soft cap, which has been set at $65.2 million), the Celts will be able to not only keep Marion until the end of his deal, but have a chance to re-sign him once his contract runs out. This, again, will be dependent on how badly they want to draft Yi Jianlian, and also, if they believe that he will be available at 5. Yi is the only guy that would be remaining in the Draft that could potentially fill a need for the C's, because, although Big Al has clearly shown that he can be a double-double guy, they would like it if they could move him to the 4, and have another big man out on the floor with Jefferson. However, I would have to believe that, if given the chance to get a guy like Marion, the Celts would jump on it. The only trouble would be that Ryan Gomes would immediately have to be moved into a full-time power forward, and it remains to be seen if he can handle that kind of workload. The lineup would look like this:

PG Rondo
SG Pierce
SF Marion
PF Gomes
C Jefferson


So, they would be incredibly weak in terms of having size in the middle, but their starting five would be tremendous, especially if Gomes were able to play to his ability. The thing about the NBA is that, sure, in an ideal world, you would want as much depth as possible, but given the Walker/Pierce combo that ran through the Eastern Conference just a few years ago, all the Celts really need are two guys who can play at an All-Star level, and now, with Big Al coming into his own, they would actually have three guys who would be at that level. This would be lethal, especially in the Atlantic division, because if Vince Carter leaves the Nets, basically, the Raptors will be the only team of any comparable strength to the Celtics. The C's are in desperate need to bring in another star to compliment Pierce. They have already made an attempt to get Jermaine O'Neal from the Pacers, but the asking price apparently was a little too high (to give you an idea, the Lakers recently made a run at O'Neal, but the asking price was Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, who has been considered as a guy with perhaps the highest potential ceiling in the league, and the #19 pick in the Draft). With Marion, it would almost be like getting Durant. Sure, Durant will be in the league longer at this point than Marion would be, but you're talking about a guy who would make the C's a credible force in the East, and turn them from being bottom-dwellers into a team who would be able to make the playoffs in no time at all. Fans like myself have wanted to see a legitimate big man like Oden in the paint, but really, if they get another star, they would be vaulted back to the Antoine days, and even though he shot too many threes, and had a bit of an attitude problem, they were able to make the playoffs without a reliable big man (they had Rodney Rogers playing for crying out loud!), and I believe that if they follow the same formula, they will be rewarded ultimately. Once again though, the Bulls have been rumored to be involved with Marion as well. Chicago, no matter which direction they go in, will likely make a huge splash this offseason.

Thanks for reading guys. Take care. Peace.


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