HOOPSWORLD Week in Review
The NBA’s Worst Contracts
By Jason Fleming
As the NBA looks forward to a new set of parameters surrounding the way players are paid, some teams will find the players they signed under the current rules could hamstring them for years to come.
Of course, at this time we don’t yet know exactly what the new CBA will look like. However, there seems to be general agreement it’s likely new contracts will be shorter and maximum salaries will be lower than those currently. It’s also possible there could be fewer exceptions to the salary cap and the cap itself will be lower.
With that in mind the longer and more expensive the contract, the more likely it will become an albatross. Bonus points if the player has a checkered injury history or maybe isn’t even living up to the contract today.
Sloan Searches for Answers
By Alex Raskin
Jerry Sloan has had only one losing season in the 22-plus years since he became Utah’s head coach. So when HOOPSWORLD asked what he’s seen defensively from the Jazz in their successive losses to the Wizards and Nets, he responded with unmatched expertise.
"What have I seen? It looks like a lack of effort," Sloan said after Wednesday’s 103-95 defeat in Newark. "We really struggled because [our] energy just doesn’t look very good to me… In the last couple of games it appeared we didn’t have a great deal of enthusiasm to play."
Few people are as equipped to diagnose the Jazz’s problems as Sloan, but that doesn’t mean he has the antidote. He knows his team has just been outrebounded 88-64 by two lackluster squads. He saw his defense get torched for the umpteenth straight night. Finally, Sloan speculated that the problem isn’t about basketball at all.
What’s Next for the New Jersey Nets?
By Alex Kennedy
Mikhail Prokhorov and the New Jersey Nets decided to remove themselves from the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the team will stand pat before February’s trade deadline. Once the team realized that obtaining Anthony’s services was out of the question, they immediately started working the phones and letting their interest in other players be known.
In the twenty-four hours leading up to Prokhorov’s announcement, rival executives fielded calls from the Nets and realized that the team was moving on from their pursuit of Anthony. With the trade deadline thirty-five days away, the Nets are now focusing on more realistic options but remain committed to making changes that will improve the team.
After gauging interest in their roster and seeing what players were available around the league, the Nets began planning their next move early Wednesday morning. Troy Murphy was excused from the team after requesting a trade, news of Prokhorov’s announcement began leaking out, and the Nets zero
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Franchise Players: The Next Wave
By Lang Greene
As age continues to rob the youth from some of the league’s best performers over the past decade, the next wave of talented players continue to emerge as stars of the future. But which guys are bona fide franchise players and who’ll likely end up in a supporting cast role down the line?
Here are the current franchise players. These guys are either already established, entering their prime or former franchise level talents nearing retirement.
Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan. The below list takes a look at the next wave of potential go-to players of the future. Some will make the jump, others will not. Leave your comments below.
Top 5 Lottery Trades
By Joel Brigham
The lottery has been used for the NBA Draft since 1985, designed to keep bad teams from completely tanking their season in the hopes of getting the best player available in that particular year’s crop of incoming rookies. For the first several years, teams drafted the guy that best fit their system, regardless of what pick they ended up with, but by the mid-90s a trend started to form in which lottery picks were used as bait in big trades.
However, in a handful of instances over the last two decades, lottery picks have actually been traded for each other. This has been done for a number of strategic reasons, usually sparked by a team wanting a player that was going to be drafted higher than they’d have the opportunity to take him.
Today’s Top 5 looks at the most interesting lottery pick-for-lottery pick trades in the last twenty years, giving special consideration to those that benefitted one team much more than the other. Beyond that, you’ll be reminded of some stars who were traded for each other on draft day, and wonder to yourself how their careers (as well as the destinies of their teams) might have played out differently had those trades never happened…
Thunder’s Mixed Playoff Thoughts
By Susan Bible
The Oklahoma City Thunder is on a mission. Last season’s first-round elimination in the playoffs was a learning experience, and the mission this season is securing home court advantage. The OKC arena still plays like a college atmosphere; few can forget how loud the hometown fans were in the playoffs, even registering 109 decibels at one point (the human pain threshold is 110 Db). And few doubt this crowd has been a factor in pushing the team towards wins.
The Thunder’s current record is 27-14, which ties them in first place with the Utah Jazz atop the Northwest Division of the Western Conference. If the season ended now, the Thunder would have home court advantage locked up; however, there are still 41 games left to play.
Let’s recap the franchise’s first postseason experience last season. With an ending record of 50-32, the Thunder was tied in sixth place in the Western Conference with the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers. With a 1-3 record against both the Spurs and the Blazers during the regular season, OKC was relegated to an eighth-place seeding and faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Ilgauskas Feels Cleveland’s Pain
By Joel Brigham
When the Miami HEAT played their first game in Cleveland after LeBron’s infamous Decision, there was never any question as to whether or not he’d get booed. He would, of course, but there was another former Cavalier on the Miami roster for whom the crowd reaction wasn’t quite as clear.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas spent twelve years in Cleveland, playing through everything from nightmare lottery seasons to a trip to the NBA Finals, and when he was announced as part of the opposing team’s starting lineup for the first time, Cavs fans thankfully cheered. Fans seemed to understand why Ilgauskas left, and his unassuming way of leaving made it easier to swallow.
What hasn’t been particularly easy is watching the Cleveland Cavaliers’ demise in the wake of losing both players—something Ilgauskas says has been painful.