HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Ranking the 2013 Free Agents
By Alex Kennedy
With the trade deadline behind us, teams that want to make significant personnel changes are now looking ahead to free agency. This year’s free agent class features plenty of notable names and there could be a lot of movement this summer.
Last week’s trade deadline was rather anticlimactic, but that just means the upcoming free agency period will be even more fun. The players who have been surfacing in trade rumors for the last several months – such as Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, etc. – will once again be in the spotlight and potentially on the move.
Here are the top 20 free agents who will be available this offseason:
Chris Paul – Point Guard- Los Angeles Clippers
Nobody expects Paul to leave the Clippers. While the 27-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, most people around the NBA expect him to re-sign with the team that traded for him prior to last season. Paul seems to love the team and situation in Los Angeles. When the Clippers were pursuing several free agents last offseason, Paul helped recruit the players and they got the sense that the superstar point guard would be with the team long-term. He certainly hasn’t had his foot out the door, and it would be a shock to those within the organization if he decided to sign elsewhere. When Paul left the New Orleans Hornets, he wanted to join a contender and play in a large market. In Los Angeles, he has met both criteria.
Warriors’ Barnes Takes Lead Defensive Role
By Alex Raskin
Harrison Barnes went to North Carolina as one of the biggest recruits in school history, and when you roll that sentence over in your head, you realize what a big deal that is.
The 6-8 forward from Aimes, IA was ranked atop the 2010 recruiting class by ESPN and Scouts.com, and after some initial struggles with the Tar Heels, he averaged 15.7 points and 17.1 points per game as a freshman and sophomore, respectively.
But defense isn’t offense. Talent plays a factor, but so do size, athleticism, hustle, and all of the other things that Barnes brings to the table. That why coach Mark Jackson hasn’t hesitated to put Barnes on some of the bigger assignments in the league: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, etc.
The NBA’s Dead Money Dilemma
By Eric Pincus
Every team in the NBA tries to put together a productive roster, but along the way mistakes are made.
Injuries, a difficult inevitability in the league, happen during the year. It’s over the summer (or via midseason trade) when teams often inflict the most damage on themselves by spending foolishly.
The Charlotte Bobcats have two players who rarely see the floor. Tyrus Thomas has two more years on his deal at $18.1 million – in addition to the $8 million the Bobcats pay him to not play this season. DeSagana Diop is finally in the last year of his deal at $7.4 million.
The Bobcats still have their amnesty clause should they decide to purge Thomas from their books, but he’ll still get his salary.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier: Still Swishing and Dishing
By Tommy Beer
Amazingly, the 40-year love affair seemed destined to die before it ever began.
Knowing what we now know, seeing what we’ve seen, it’s difficult to even imagine Walt “Clyde” Frazier playing anywhere other than New York City, inside the World’s Most Famous Arena.
Yet, Walt Frazier and New York nearly never happened.
“I thought I was going to Seattle, man,” Walt Frazier recalls as he serenely sips an apple juice inside ‘Walt Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine,’ a sparkling new restaurant (and a spectacular shrine to the coolness of Clyde) on Manhattan’s west side.
NBA Rookie Watch: February 26th
By Stephen Brotherston
Raptors rookie Terrence Ross was starting to get noticed prior to the All-Star break and after winning the Slam Dunk contest, one might expect his profile was going to blow up, but maybe not. Ross has averaged less than six minutes a game since he returned to Toronto with his trophy. Such can be the life of a rookie.
However, as some teams surrender their hopes for the postseason and begin to value lottery balls more than wins, other rookies will be more fortunate in terms of playing time and those days are not far off. That is why some rookies’ efforts may mean more than others if their team is still in the playoff hunt, but Damian Lillard’s lead is probably too great to overcome.
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: 18.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.0 steals
Portland continued to slide out of the playoff picture by losing seven of their past 10 games, but Lillard maintained his outstanding personal pace with 18.5 points and 6.5 assists over the same period. While the Trail Blazers’ roster may not be deep enough for a post season run this year, Lillard’s presence suggests it will not be a long absence.
LeBron James’ Historic Season
By Alex Kennedy
For the last decade, we’ve wondered what LeBron James would look like when he reached his prime. Once his potential and upside were distant memories and James peaked, how good would he be? At 28 years old, we’re finally finding out. Not only is James the best player of his generation, he may go down as one of the greatest players to ever step onto a basketball court. This isn’t hyperbole. This is fact.
After leading the Miami HEAT to an NBA championship, winning a gold medal and taking home regular season and Finals MVP honors last year, James still found a way to take his game to another level this season. He has an incredible arsenal of weapons that allows him to pick and choose how he’s going to dominate each opponent he faces. He scores, passes, rebounds, defends, leads and, ultimately, wins. James may not be very good at announcing free agency decisions, but good luck finding many other weaknesses.