Avoiding the Rebuilding Process
Scrapping a team is an undeniably hard thing to do, which is why so few teams actually have the gumption to go through with it. From a business standpoint it’s incredibly risky because by trading away stars for draft picks and cap space you’re essentially telling them it’s going to be a few years before the team will be competitive again. Owners want to make money, and bad teams have a hard time filling arenas. From a financial standpoint, it does make sense to keep a hopeless team together as long as the fans still love them.
But from a basketball standpoint—and the game itself is the reason the fans pay for those tickets—sometimes sucking it up and rebuilding from scratch is just the right thing to do. You luck into a high draft pick or two (and use it correctly), amass some young talent and cap space, then make a run at a big free agent if your fancy is tickled. It worked for the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as countless other teams in the league’s less recent past.
Watching Ty Lawson on Christmas Day only reiterated the fact that the Denver Nuggets are one of those teams that probably needs to make the moves to begin the rebuilding process. As it stands, Denver is a playoff team in the West, but with Lawson playing so well and with Carmelo Anthony having one foot out the door, it seems like it would make sense to cash out Melo and Chauncey Billups for as many assets as possible—draft picks, cap space, and young studs. If you can do something with J.R. Smith and Nene, too, why not?
Denver, however, isn’t the only team whose time has come for some serious remodeling. In fact, they aren’t even close to being the organization in the direst need of such a thing.
The Detroit Pistons very well may be, though. With some very nice young pieces already on the roster, the smattering of expensive veteran talent should have long been cashed out by now. While there’s certainly a significant amount of loyalty from Joe Dumars towards Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton from the title year, those two are more valuable to the franchise as trade chips to put alongside all the young guns that team has collected the last few years.
Phoenix is another team with a need for moving veterans. They aren’t a horrible team, but they certainly aren’t winning a title this year, so trading Steve Nash makes sense not only for the Suns, but also for Nash, who may get a better opportunity to win a ring with someone else before he’s too old to keep up his break-neck pace.
And finally, there’s the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have already started the process of a post-LeBron Ohio by designing new uniforms for this year, but embracing the youth movement by finding a taker for Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison is the logical next step. That roster as constructed has no real future, so they might as well use their trading chips to make that future a little bit brighter.
Will that be easy, for Cleveland or any other franchise mentioned above? Of course not. It never is. But rebuilding isn’t about what’s easy. It’s about doing what’s best for the club over the long-term.
Orlando Snapping All Sorts of Streaks
Between December 4 and December 21, the Orlando Magic lost 8 of 9 games, made two major trades, and looked primed to be one of the most disappointing teams of the 2010-2011 season.
Now, they’re on a two-game winning streak, which doesn’t sound like much until you consider the level of difficulty in those two games.
On Thursday night, the team snapped a ten-game winning streak by the San Antonio Spurs, who at that point were 25-3. On Christmas, they snapped a 14-game streak by the Boston Celtics, dealing them only their fifth loss of the season. Combined, Orlando’s last two wins came against teams that were a combined 48-7 with a 24-game winning streak.
It’s amazing the changes a team can undergo in just the span of one short month.
"You see what the possibilities are," Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy said after Saturday’s game, adding, "You see that you have a chance to be a really good team. We’re not there yet by any means, but you have a chance to be a very good team. And I think that right there, that belief and that confidence that if we will stay with it, we can be very good."
They might not have any depth at the center position, or hardly any size at all, but the Magic are proving once again that they can beat the best teams in this league. They’re a deep club with a lot of veteran leadership, and that tends to be what goes the furthest come playoff time.
In the meanwhile, there really are no impressive win streaks left in the league for the Magic to break. The Mavericks and Rockets have both won four in a row, but snapping those would hardly be credible. But they do have the Mavericks in a few weeks, and that will be another test of just how good these Magic actually are.
However that question gets answered, it’s fun to watch in the meantime. All of a sudden, the Orlando Magic look as for real as they’ve always supposed to look.
McGee and Blatche Continue to Disappoint
Washington Wizards big men JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche will both miss today’s game against the San Antonio Spurs due to conduct detrimental to the team, further signaling that Washington’s once-promising frontcourt of the future may not ever pan out the way many around the organization expected.
"After further investigation into an incident on Thursday night, we concluded that Andray and JaVale conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner," said team president Ernie Grunfeld, but the Washington Post said the two men got into a spat outside a D.C.-area club that eventually led to punches being thrown. Apparently, the police had to be called in to break up the fight.
Wizards coach Flip Saunders has shown absolute exasperation for these two players at points this season, mostly due to a lack of rebounding and consistency. Blatche had a fantastic statistical season last year, and McGee made a name for himself during his flirtation with Team USA this past summer, but neither player has come close to approaching the level of play they were expected to reach before the season started.
Both remain in the starting lineup, but that probably won’t last long now that Rashard Lewis has been added to the team. Blatche is averaging a team-high 16.8ppg as well as 7.7rpg, while McGee is averaging 9.2ppg and 8.3rpg.