Tuesday, June 19, 2007

You Got That Right

"When my time's up, I'll hold my own
You won't find me in an old folks' home."

Thanks for stopping by. In today's installment, I'm going to branch out all over the place, so hopefully there's something here that you will be able to enjoy.

With the NHL Draft coming up on Friday (I'm still holding on), this calls for a Mock Draft. No, I basically don't know any of these guys, but from gathering up team needs and looking at some top prospect lists, I think I have a pretty good handle on it...just trust me on this one:
  1. Chicago - Patrick Kane, RW, London (OHL)
  2. Philadelphia- Kyle Turris, C, Burnaby (BCHL)
  3. Phoenix- James Van Riemsdyk, LW, USA U-18
  4. Los Angeles- Karl Alzner, D, Calgary (WHL)
  5. Washington- Alexei Cherepanov, RW, Omsk (RUS)
  6. Edmonton- Jakub Voracek, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)
  7. Columbus- Sam Gagner, RW, London (OHL)
  8. Boston- Keaton Ellerby, D, Kamloops (WHL)
  9. St. Louis- Angelo Esposito, C, Quebec (QMJHL)
  10. Florida- Brandon Sutter, C, Red Deer (WHL)
  11. Carolina- Logan Couture, C, Ottawa (OHL)
  12. Montreal- Ryan McDonagh, D, Cretin-Derham HS (MN)
  13. Toronto- Kevin Shattenkirk, D, USA U-18
  14. Colorado- Thomas Hickey, D, Seattle (WHL)
  15. Edmonton- Mikael Backlund, C, Vasteras (SWE)
  16. Anaheim- Nick Petrecki, D, Omaha (USHL)
  17. New York Rangers- Zach Hamill, C, Everett (WHL)
  18. Calgary- David Perron, LW, Lewiston (QMJHL)
  19. Minnesota- Tommy Cross, D, Westminster HS (CT)
  20. Pittsburgh- Brett MacLean, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
  21. Phoenix- Colton Gillies, C, Saskatoon (WHL)
  22. Montreal- Lars Eller, C, Frolunda (SWE)
  23. Philadelphia- Bill Sweatt, LW, Colorado College
  24. St. Louis- Max Pacioretty, LW, Sioux City (USHL)
  25. Vancouver- Logan MacMillan, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
  26. St. Louis- Maxim Mayorov, LW, Almetievsk (RUS)
  27. Detroit- Oscar Moller, C, Chilliwack (WHL)
  28. Washington- John Blum, D, Vancouver (WHL)
  29. Ottawa- Akim Aliu, RW, London (OHL)
  30. Edmonton- Brendan Smith, D, St. Michael's (OPJHL)
Speaking of drafts, the NBA's version (whose popularity I'm guessing somewhat outweighs the NHL's) comes up in two weeks, and rumors are abound about some big names that could be getting moved around, picks being swapped, and names moving up and down the draft board. Here's what's hot right now:

Of course we have to start with your Boston Celtics, who have been in the news a lot this off-season. First with the lottery, then in potential trades for Shawn Marion and Rashard Lewis (although Lewis is technically a free agent, the Celts could go into what's known as a "sign-and-trade" agreement, whereby Team A, represented in this case by the Sonics, agrees to re-sign one of their free agents, Lewis, to a deal that has already been agreed upon with Team B, the Celtics; in turn, the Celtics would trade player(s) and/or draft pick(s) to Seattle for Lewis; the reason this is done is because the Celtics currently do not have enough cap room to keep all their players and sign Lewis, so they would need to move some money around, which benefits the Sonics, because instead of getting nothing, they will likely get expiring contracts, and up-and-coming player, and a high draft pick), and now, in what is perhaps the biggest rumor yet, the C's have been thinking about moving Paul Pierce. Here's how I feel about this: If they don't have a back-up plan, or some kind of auxiliary move that they will pull off to replace Pierce's veteran leadership, then this is stupid. Sure, the guy is making a ton of money (signed a 3-year, $59 million extension, keeping him in Boston until the 2010-2011 season), but he has been a proven leader and a motivator. Simply put, the guy just needs a running partner to take some of the heat off of him. Were the Celtics anywhere close to being "great" when they reached the '03 East Finals? Absolutely not, but Pierce was not chucking 35-40 shots a game, because he knew he could count on Antoine Walker to handle some of the load, which gave Pierce a comfort level that he has not been able to get back to since Walker's departure. So now, we're going from getting Oden or Durant, to Marion or Lewis, to trading Paul Pierce. Please tell me there is something else in the works and that we're not going to give up on this season too. So, in saying all this, I'm going to lay out two scenarios: One trading Pierce, and one keeping him. Again, I'm not writing for "Insider" here, but I think that most of this is logical:
  • Trade Paul Pierce:
  • Paul Pierce ($15.1 million, five years remaining) and a second-round pick in the 2008 Draft to Utah for Derek Fisher ($5.88 million, four), Mehmet Okur ($8.25 million, four) and the 25th overall selection in the 2007 Draft.
  • Derek Fisher covers your leadership, even though he is likely coming in off the bench, Okur gives them a guy with remarkable flexibility, being able to play down low and shoot threes, and the C's also had on another first-rounder to a pretty deep draft, a draft in which the C's possess three of the first 32 picks (picking second overall in the second round).
  • In Pierce, the Jazz will get the scorer they lacked in their horrific series against the Spurs in the West Finals. Also, it puts much less pressure on Deron Williams, who will only be entering his third year next year. Williams was called upon to not only distribute, but put the ball in the hole, and there are very few guys who can do that and have their team be successful (Nash, Kidd, James...a little bit of Kobe). The Jazz also have a bunch of big men, and in limited action, Paul Millsap, entering just his second season, has showed that he has the ability to hang with Boozer and Kirilenko, again establishing a great front-court.
  • Let's say, to avoid complications, that the Celts keep both of their first rounders. At #5, the C's take either Jeff Green, Corey Brewer or Al Thornton (of course I'm obsessed with Thornton, but I have heard Doc is favoring Green, mainly because Green and Doc's son both played for the Hoyas together). This will cover up their hole at small forward/shooting guard. Then, with the 25th pick, I would expect the C's to draft a big man. I like both Nick Fazekas, 6-11 forward from Nevada, and Aaron Gray, a 7-1 center from Pittsburgh. If they play their cards right, the Celts could get both of them. Imagine boosting your front-court to go from the weakness of the team to the strength. In addition, you get two guys who both graduated college, meaning they will be able to get into the flow of the game a lot easier than an underclassman, and they will not be under any pressure, barring injuries, in terms of being heavily relied on for this season. Al Jefferson becomes a free agent in '08, and although I would be devastated to see him go (wearing his jersey as I type this), you have to face facts that Jefferson, a legitimate double-double a night big man, will be commanding a lot of money once he hits the market. So you add depth now for the present, and an insurance policy for the future.
  • Don't Trade Paul Pierce:
  • Move I: Celtics trade Delonte West ($1.08 million, two years remaining) and Wally Szczerbiak ($11.78 million, three) to Indiana for Ike Diogu ($2.14 million, two) and Troy Murphy ($8.29 million, five)
  • Ok, obviously this is not the high-profile trade Celtic fans have been clamoring for, but what it does do is add size to the lineup. Diogu is a fiend on the boards, and has been that way since he was in college (Arizona St.). I think Troy Murphy has been given a bad rap, and since he was traded to Indiana, it seems like he may get lost in the shuffle along the way. Basically, you're looking at a guy whose 6'11 who can shoot 18-foot jumpers with regularity. The reason this trade would be appealing to the Pacers is that they really don't have an established scorer like Szczerbiak in their lineup, and even though they acquired Dunleavy from Golden State along with Murphy last year. Also, Danny Granger will get bumped to power forward, where he can be more effective given his frame. However, all of this is dependent on if the Pacers decide to move Jermaine O'Neal, which is a very real possibility, but for now, I'll keep this one on the board.
  • Move II: Celtics trade the 5th overall pick in this year's Draft to Philadelphia for their 21st and 30th picks this year, and a future second-rounder.
  • It's clear that the Celts are not sold on Yi Jianlian, and even if they are, they may not even get a chance to take him. One team that will be interested in moving up is Philadelphia, who own three first-rounders this year. They have been rumored to be trying to do what they can to move up the draft board to draft Yi, as they are in desperate need of a big man, as Samuel Dalembert's effectiveness has been brought into question.
  • This move would require a long-term commitment to Al Jefferson, which is what they should do regardless in my opinion. Why let one of the most talented young big men in the game walk? Isn't this what the Celts have wanted all along? A big man in the middle who can get you a double-double a game and be a dominating presence? Well, here you go. In terms of point guard, Rondo would replace West, which would give you a lineup of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Murphy, Jefferson, with Gomes, Green, Diogu, and Perkins coming in off the bench. The C's should then focus on adding depth to their guard spots with their late first-rounders. First, at point guard, Gabe Pruitt from Southern Cal and Taurean Green from Florida are intriguing options, while at shooting guard, you're looking at Daequan Cook from Ohio St. and Aaron Afflalo. Sure, their are international prospects that will be available here, but for me, it just seems safer to draft a guy who is used to the American game.
So while the Pierce/Marion/Garnett rumors are abound, take these two different positions the Celts could take. I'm not saying that, if they were proposed, they would be accepted, but still, it's something to think about. Really, the Celts do have some pieces that could become attractive commodities to other teams, but there are four guys they cannot afford to move: Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, and Rajon Rondo. After that, I really think it's all up-for-grabs, especially Wally and Ratliff due to their ridiculously large contracts which are holding the team in cap handcuffs right now.

Well, I wanted to talk about more, but it took me so long just to do this that I think I'll hold off until next time. Take care everyone. Peace.


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