Tuesday, July 31
Has one division ever gone through so thorough a transformation in the span of two months as the Northwest Division has?
Think about the players who have arrived or departed since June:
Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson, Zach Randolph
And those are just the big-name guys. The list doesn’t include Chucky Atkins, Ryan Gomes, Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Channing Frye, Stevie Francis, Taurean Green, Steve Blake, James Jones, Theo Ratliff’s contract, Corey Brewer, Derek Fisher, Morris Almond, Jason Hart, Juwan Howard, or Mike James.
And that’s just since June! Here’s a quick rundown on what has transpired since the NW Division flamed out with the Jazz’ loss to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals what seems like 7 years ago.
The Nuggets took a breath after picking up Allen Iverson mid-season, looked around, and decided, “What the hell, we’ve got Melo, AI, and Camby. The rest of our division hasn’t done squat since the mid-90s, why should we do anything?” Denver added Chucky Atkins, watched JR Smith get involved in a horrific (and fatal) car crash, let Steve Blake walk away, and now hopes that the Atkins/Iverson combo will be able to defend guards taller than 6’2”. Good luck with that.
Was last season a fluke? Hey, I’m not one to bet against Jerry Sloan, but when the highest-paid guy on your team (AK47), is publicly sparring with your head coach, that can’t be good for your future. The Jazz added Morris Almond and Kyrylo Feseneko in the draft, picked up Jason Hart to replace Derek Fisher, signed Ronnie Price, and may send Dee Brown away. In other words, they’re sticking with Carlos Boozer & Co., thank you very much.
Whew. Let’s see, they add Channing Frye, Greg Oden, Taurean Green, Josh McRoberts, Steve Blake, Rudy Fernandez, and Petteri Koponen, and deal away Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Freddie Jones. Got all that? Paul Allen’s hiring of Kevin Pritchard looks pretty good from here, and I’m guessing Nate McMillan will have quite a bit of fun beating up on the Sonics this year. Call me crazy, but a healthy Greg Oden puts the Blazers right there with Denver and Utah for the best in the Northwest.
Let’s assume the Garnett deal is consummated this week. The Wolves will have added Al Jefferson and the rest of the crapola, picked up Corey Brewer, traded Mike James for the always-reliable Juwan Howard (?) ... and extended Randy Wittman for the wonderful job he did of guiding the Wolves to a 12-30 record down the stretch last year. A lot of people will criticize Kevin McHale, but I love the guy. After all, if it wasn’t for McHale, the Sonics would probably be guaranteed to finish in the basement this year.
Like Portland, the Sonics keep nba.com busy updating their roster page. Gone are Allen and Lewis, incoming are Durant, Green, and Thomas, not to mention Wally World and Delonte West. This season is probably a write-off, and there are likely a couple of trades still to come as Sam Presti attempts to remake the roster. 35 wins is the best the Sonics can hope for this year. That, and the team to stick around past next spring.