NBA ‘Arms Race’ Still Hot

January 8, 2012

When the big two or three got together in South Beach, speculation ran rampant that other stars would follow suit.  That speculation has been justified by subsequent player movement, and stoked by Dwight Howard, and it continues to be the favorite topic of the CBA-weary NBA world.  Amare and ‘Melo may be just Baron Davis away from competing with the Heat and Bulls for the best in the East.  Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have made the Clippers relevant.

Dwight Howard will not go to the Nets.  Would you ally yourself with the guy taking on Russia’s ex-KGB President?  D12 may not know his European history, but he or Dan Fegan, his agent, will know a Trotsky when they see him.  Plus, the Nets are bad.  He will go though, because like several other teams who were (or thought themselves) contenders a couple of years ago, the Magic are done.  The off-season Rondo rumours indicate that Boston knows what we all thought during last year’s playoff; they are done.  The Spurs are one injury away from being non-contenders, and Phoenix is a non-contending team with no clear future direction.

Add to those the teams who never were contenders, but need to rebuild (or perhaps more accurately; ‘build’), like Sixers, Raptors, and Rockets, and the few veterans on the leagues’ worst teams, and you have an idea of the potential for player movement between now and the March 15 trade deadline for this abbreviated season.  While it has been noted here before that the Heat may have a shorter window than first appeared, the one that comes even before that is the real long term threat.  Kevin Durant and his backpack are locked up until 2016, and with Westbrook still maturing, they have all the advantages of having developed together for the same team.  The Thunder could be buyers as soon as this year, and they will likely still be one of the teams the rest are gunning for in four more years.  Below are sportsvssports suggestions for and guesses at plausible in-season player movement.

Dwight Howard – Lakers for Bynum.   C’mon!  Just do it!

Steve Nash – Blazers, with Shannon Brown, for a first, Ray Felton and Wes Mathews.

Rajon Rondo – Houston, for Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry

Andrea Bargnani – Hawks for Joe Johnson.

Antwan Jamison – Thunder for Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward (both teams under cap)

Chris Kaman – 76ers for Spencer Hawes

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Where Nothing Happens

October 15, 2011

The above applies not to basketball as a whole, or even pro hoops, but rather the NBA.  That there is professional basketball that this does not apply to would have seemed, to many NBA fans not so long ago, a contradiction with the last statement.  Now we know better.  Sportsvssports will be proud to issue links to vendors who sell Besiktas jerseys if Kevin Durant joins DWill there.  Check out this list!  While things are happening in non-North American pro leagues, things are happening in the ‘labour dispute,’ or at least, the same thing is happening in it.

A lot of players have signed to play in Europe, China, or the Middle East.  There are pro leagues elsewhere, but NBA players, some of them significant, have been signed to teams in the traditional basketball countries of the Old World, plus apparently Denver Nuggets want to play in China.  I started making an ‘all-overseas’ team, but it really looks like two teams.  By my count there are currently 22 NBA players who have guaranteed rotation spots and name recognition who have bolted for ‘foreign’ squads, and almost as many who are close to inking deals.  Since there are only about 300 rotation players, who correspond almost exactly with the players who are known to fans*, this means there could easily be 13% or more of the league’s players who matter on overseas rosters by the time the first regular season game is actually missed.

This is very different from the last ‘labour stoppage,’ and sets up some interesting scenarios, including the only way sportsvssports sees the players getting anything out of the owners (here we go yo).  That best case scenario for the players involves a lot of them playing elsewhere, which the players union does not and cannot officially encourage.  If Durant signs with Besiktas, they will most certainly turn around and offer ESPN and/or competitors broadcast rights to the highest profile pro basketball games in the world. A network with the freedom to do so will jump all over it, and Euroleague basketball will ultimately end up on North American screens.  If this results in a big enough revenue jump to cause an ‘arms race’ in the European leagues, then the players may find themselves with the bargaining chip they needed all along: a paying alternative.

This is where I started ripping apart Chris Sheridan, before I realized that the first set of predictions on this blog was an unmitigated disaster, in which I pointed out even at the time that one of those predictions was completely obvious.  That’s the only one I got right.  The salient point is that no-one knows when it ends, right now.  Not Bill Walton (that grin is not because he knows something, it’s because he knows nothing), not Sheridan, and certainly not Hunter, Stern, or the rest of the nitwits at the bargaining table.  If they’re 3% off, which seems to be the case, then they are also $123 million apart for each year of the deal.  This is actually an overestimate, as basketball revenues will drop significantly as a result of this nonsense.  Also, there’s the minor detail of every other clause in the entire CBA, on which there is literally no indication that any binding agreements have been reached.  Gitmek Besiktas Gitmek!

*The exceptions are guys like Adam Morrison and Jimmer Freddette, who are not rotation players but live on in reputation as such because of ignorance.