Salvation or Damnation… what’s the off-season hold for YOU?

27 06 2007

Going up… up… up…

 

Hope. It springs eternal (apparently)… And just prior to the NBA Draft, it’s something that oh-so-many basketball fans cling to like a piece of drift-wood in an ocean of mediocrity. It’s just prior to the NBA draft where the deals will get done… where the movers ‘n’ shakers of the upper echelons of NBA-dom will consign their fans to realising their hopes, or squash ’em like bugs.Going down… down… down…

At the same time, I both love and hate this time of year. I love it, because maybe, just maybe we get the deal done that will make us a force to be reckoned with this year. I hate it, because there’s every chance that no trades will happen… or worse… we trade for crap & we get worse! I speak about this for all fans… for just prior to the draft, and the next season beginning, we are all in the same frame of mind… just to different degrees. This season, pretty much only fans of San Antonio can sit back and be relaxed, for the rest of us… uncertainty retains a grip on us. Certainly all Eastern Conference teams’ fans have to be wondering “is the divide that great?” after San Antonio’s demolition of Cleveland… supposedly the best the East had to offer. Once-proud franchise Boston are getting rebutted by star-after-star-after-star… In the West, 67 win team Dallas have to be pondering their future. What’s it going to take to improve? For despite the win/loss ratio, Dallas were sorely out-played, out-coached & out-thought by the Golden State Warriors in the first round. Phoenix too… everything seems to be conspiring against them even getting to the Finals. And whilst they were one injudicious decision away from probably making the Finals, when the trade-talk’s flying (like it is now), they have to be wondering. Then the Lakers… man… not quite in the Boston situation, but still a case of ‘how-the-mighty-have-fallen’. Mis-managed and drama-ridden… Even as I type, the Lakers are trying to get Kevin Garnett (a player who matches Kobe for work ethic) – and yet the word we get from Rick Bucher (my, does he seem more and more like a chattel of Kobe’s at the moment?) is that even that may not satiate Kobe. What does he want? The Second Coming? At the end of the 2002 finals, a three-peat complete, who would’ve foreseen where they find themselves now? Perhaps the only two fan-groups out there not beside themselves with mixes of trepidation/longing/hope are those of Portland & Seattle. The twin pillars of salvation, Greg Oden & Kevin Durant beckon… most folks I know who support those two teams are salivating at the prospect of who-goes-where. Even so, once they’re there – the pressure will mount, expectations will be raised, and in a year, they’ll probably be back with the rest of us… oscillating between joyful anticipation, and agitation. The pendulum swings…
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Finals? Bah… Bring on the Off-season!!!

6 06 2007

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Ok… I know the NBA finals are going to be exciting now. I get that. Lebron “Luke-the-force-is-with-you” James vs the San Antonio “Deathstar” Spurs (who really thinks the good guys are going to win this time?) – great viewing.

But the off-season this year is looking so… interesting! First, the draft. How karmic was it that Boston & Memphis did not get a top 3 choice after two of the most obvious tanking performances I’ve seen by a professional sports team?!! I heard that in the morning on my way to work, and could not stop smiling all day!

We got Portland getting the first pick – and are almost certain to take Greg Oden & take a big step in the turn-around of the franchise once known as the ‘Jail Blazers’. The only alumni left from that group is Zach Randolph, and trade rumours surround him galore. Sure, the rebuilding of Rip City started before now – and the addition of Brandon Roy/LaMarcus Aldridge last year was a coup – but with Greg Oden in the mix, the sights will be set much, much higher. And deservedly so. Exciting times ahead for Portland.

With the losses (all surprisedly so?) of Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix, we can expect at least some retooling to occur within those rosters.

With Flip Saunders expecting to stay with the Pistons , that will probably ensure that fairly significant changes will occur to the roster. Rasheed Wallace has probably received his last technical in a Detroit uniform, Chris Webber’s probably due to retire, and the changes that occur might mean that Chauncey Billups departs too – via free agency.

Even with Mark Cuban declaring unconditional support for Dirk, I’d expect changes in Dallas. Dirk’ll stay, but Jason Terry is destined for somewhere else, Devin Harris deserves to have the ball. The Warriors exposed the deficiencies the Mavericks have at close to the basket – Dirk is simply more touch than brawn, and Eric Dampier’s ever-growing-contract is an elephant for the team to carry. Jerry Stackhouse is a free agent, and it will depend on the offers he gets. But bottom line: Dallas need a big guy, who can provide muscle… and not just talk about it like Dampier.

Phoenix are interesting. But for a hit by Robert Horry…

then maybe the Spurs aren’t in the finals.

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