Wow oh wow… NBA Free Agent Movement!

Offhand, I can’t remember an NBA trade season opening with such a flurry of activity.  Most seasons end, and it’s humdrum… or the wait with bated breath whilst your favourite team does absolutely nothing.
Or very little.
But this season?
There have already been some incredibly high profile moves occur already, and we’re not even to the July 8th end of the moratorium on FA signings.
Let’s recap the major points of what’s happened in the past few days…
  • Carlos Boozer & Mehmet Okur decided to forego free agency.  As did Kobe.
  • Richard Jefferson heads to the Spurs.  Bit of a shock – Jefferson isn’t really my idea of a ‘Spur’.
  • Unsurprisingly given the way they exited the playoffs, Shaq goes to Cleveland.  Title or bust for the Cavs.
  • Seemingly in response, Vinsanity takes up residence in Orlando.
  • Marcin Gortat heads to Dallas.
  • The Pistons get both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villenueva.
  • News on Yao is not good… probably done for next season, maybe forever.
  • Ron Artest signs with the Lakers.
  • Trevor Ariza goes to Houston. Two guys basically switch franchises via free agency. I cannot remember this ever happening.
  • Hedo Turkoglu is headed for Portland Toronto. 
  • Key unsigned guys: Lamar Odom, Paul Millsap, David Lee (not the agent!), Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Andre Miller, Mike Bibby, Andersen Varejao, Ramon Sessions, Nate Robinson, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace, Grant Hill, Drew Gooden.
Quite a few of these moves are rather surprising, some not so. Boozer/Okur I get from their perspective, but it must be gutting for the Jazz.  It basically means that they’ll be waving bye-bye to Paul Millsap.
I don’t get Richard Jefferson as a Spur.  Just don’t.  His defense is somewhat questionable, and he just doesn’t read as hard-nosed enough.  I guess Pop sees it differently, and he certainly has a track record of getting good results from players.
Shaq now a Cav, #33.  This isn’t surprising at all given that Superman.2 bounced Cleveland out of the playoffs, LeBron demanded that Ferry get Superman-classic.  The Big Shaquisition.
Hmmm… not a good move.
Well, let me qualify that: if it’s Shaq-classic it’s not.  If they get the healthy version that PHX was able to put together, then it won’t be quite so bad.  But Shaq ends up quite a dominant factor in any offense, and whatever happens, he’s going to take up a helluva lot of space in the paint.  Time will tell whether Shaq can put his ego aside for this one, but I don’t see it happening.
Vince Carter to Orlando I like.  It was always likely that Hedo was going to get stupid money thrown at him (which is … ummm… ‘stupid’), and Orlando were never going to pay him that sort of cash.  Simply not worth it. Hedo was good last season, but at least in part because of the presence of
But Vince is.  Carter brings a more diverse game to the Magic than Hedo did.  This is an upgrade, as much as Hedo was loved in Orlando.
Pistons getting Gordon/Villenueva isn’t going to put them in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference, let alone the NBA.  Gotta be honest here, I have no idea what Joe Dumars is thinking on this.  Two guys who are defensive liabilities?
Hedo burns Portland in favour of Toronto, for a few extra million.  Apparently it’s his wife’s fault. Get ready for some hate when the Raptors travel to the Rose Garden, the fanbase is not known for their forgive and forget attitude… something “Hedo-n’t” will soon learn.
Of the unsigned guys,
  • the Mavs are apparently throwing busloads of money at Jason Kidd… who still seems somewhat uncertain. 
  • Lamar Odom is almost certain to stay a Laker… probably in the vicinity of $10 million per.  The money the Lakers save with getting Ron Artest over Trevor Ariza (amazing that) will pretty much ensure that LA have enough to spend on LO.
  • Sheed is drawing attention from the Spurs, Cavs and Celtics.  He’d bring an upgrade to each… along with his own particular brand of insanity.  How motivated is he?
  • I cannot believe there’s not more buzz about Mike Bibby.  Quality at the point.  Atlanta will probably not pursue him now that they have Jamal Crawford, but that’s a downgrade. 

All this serves as a reminder that the off-season has just begun – it promises to be one that’s interesting… and not just marking time to the beginning of the next NBA season.

Ron Artest going to LA.  So the story has it, this only occurred once Ariza’s agent David Lee (not the player) started footstamping about being shown some ‘love’ (read ‘cash’). Once that happened, LA put out the feelers to Artest, and Artest is now destined to wear purple & gold (if you believe the stories out there, this is something Artest has wanted for a while).
Gotta feel sorry for Ariza in this.  David Lee made some very bad judgment calls, and now his client is getting the same money LA offered him, but he has to leave his hometown and defending champions.
For LA?
artest-bryantLA win here.  Don’t get me wrong – Ariza was one of my favourite players on the roster, but I think that people are forgetting a little that we’re talking about a guy who averaged a little under 9 points, and a little over 4 boards per – in a season that was considered his ‘breakout’.  Largely, he got to where he was because he was the 4th-sometimes-5th option on a team with a system that suited his skillset perfectly.
In Artest, if can be the guy he was in Houston behaviorly, then it’s an upgrade for LA… and he comes cheaply.  Hell, 3 years/$18 million for one of the best defensive presences in the game?  The screaming (from other fanbases) has already started.
Sure, Ron-ron won’t be able to help out on PGs the way Ariza could, but he is one of the best on-ball defenders in the entire league.  He brings toughness, intimidation and a bit of unpredictability to the team.
Artest would be an incredibly bad option in a team where he’d be the #1 option (he clearly isn’t), where there isn’t a superstar (there clearly is), or a strong coach (again – clearly is).  LA should be a good fit.  That said and done, he has to stop the stupid shot selection… and did I mention that the guy with the words carved into the back of his head is somewhat unpredictable?
If this works, and I think it can, g’luck other-29-NBA-teams… you’re going to need it.