Tuesday, July 31

Northwest Upheaval

Kevin Garnett has left the building, and the Northwest Division
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.


Anonymous said...

I love it. Thank you Kevin Mchale. Dumbass. Although KG only plays 3qtrs a game. Still if you can't figure out how to build around a guy like that, you shouldn't have a job in the NBA.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....i don't think that's all that bad of a deal for the Wolves.

They can now throw out a lineup like that....


...and bring guys like Green, Smith, Gomes, Blount, Jaric and McCants off the bench.

I think if they can add a solid pg and/or center(both should be available where they'll pick) they'll have a solid young group that can do some damage in 2 - 3 years.

Though, them and us should battle for last in the division, as long as we don't make any other moves that upgrade our roster.

Rian said...

i think you mean paul allen, not steve allen.

PN said...

You mean that the former Tonight Show host DOESN'T own the Blazers? Thanks for the heads-up.

Dave said...

Portland didn't keep Francis, he doesn't count as a change in the NW division. If we can land one more piece in a 2/3 for 1 deal I think we could be top two in the division. Utah will slide a fair amount, Denver "may" self destruct, Oden WILL dissapoint (but Roy won't) and the wolves look a whole lot different.

Anonymous said...

I don't see Utah falling that much this year. Deron Williams isn't going anywhere, and Derek Fisher was going to decline this year anyways, so they're probably better off without him. Jason Hart doesn't have Fisher's experience, but he's probably a better player right now. You also can't disocunt the experience the Jazz picked up by reaching the WC Finals last year - they've had a taste and now they'll want some more.

Anonymous said...

Who is Steve Allen? Is that Paul's long lost brother?

Anonymous said...

Just as a warning, the Jason Hart signing and the Ronnie Price signing by Utah should NOT be underestimated. Price and Hart are Sloan-type players. Hard nosed, earned everything they get type players. As a 1-2 in the Utah system, they will produce great backup minutes and allow Deron Williams a chance to sit down and breathe. 37 minutes a game is still a little much for just a second year player. Next year, expect him to play around 32 minutes a game and have tons of gas left in the tank for the fourth quarter. As for the foreign brigade of Giricek, Okur and Kirilenko, they are proof that foreigners should keep playing in their own country and not in the NBA. Other than Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (both Spurs), there have not been many good players that win championship rings. I PRAY TO GOD that Okur and Kirilenko pull their heads out and figure out how to play within the Sloan system. As for Giricek, trade him away before he plays a minute. We need a REAL two-guard.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Portland will have too many more wins this next season. I am not a big Zack Randolph fan, but he got a huge amount of production for that team, which a rookie Oden will not replace immediately.

Seattle needs to pull a trade like Boston did - sending multiple players for an upgraded big man (PF or C). The Sonics are too deep. We could lose Wilkens, Wally, Petro and Sene without much impact to the rotation. We have tons of draft picks next year (2 #1's and 3 #2's) and, if necessary, we can include one of our point guards or power forwards. (Giving credit to Dave, who said the same above)

Does anyone know

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with what quasi was saying.

If the question is who could they trade up to get, I'd think they have to have thought thru Gasol.

Jamison is potentially attractive way to clear cap, whether they keep him or not but not sure what Wizards think of him and whether they want to keep. Gilbert's extension would take more caproom. Jamison probably doesnt move until near trade deadline so Wiz can see what their playoff prospects are.

Harrington isnt ideal but I wouldnt completely rule out either. At 27 and as a support piece not star his salary is reasonable. There are others but I won't do a launry list.