Welcome back to everybody, and I hope you all had an excellent 4th of July.
On the NBA front, it’s been an exciting few days, as free agency is starting, and we are getting some moves. I’ll take a look at some of these moves in a basically random matter. For other thoughts on how things are going, check out The Gatorade Dump.
- First, the biggest deal so far this offseason – Ben Wallace signing with the Chicago Bulls. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about the deal, as there are positives and negatives for both sides. For the Bulls, they are obviously getting a defensive and rebounding force. Sure, they overpaid a little to get him, but they had the cap room and Big Ben can anchor the D down low, and you know he won’t be intimidated at any times. On the other hand, we have different fingers, and more importantly, Wallace is starting to show his age. He’s 32, and his rebounding and blocking numbers have started to decrease, and he doesn’t quite have the energy he once had.
- For the Pistons, I’m a little perplexed, because I thought that the reason they gave up a promising young player in Darko for basically nothing was so that they would have the money to resign Big Ben. Instead, they gave him an offer that Chicago was almost sure to beat, and they lost him. Although they did recover to sign Nazr Mohammed, who’s superior offensively, gone are the days the Pistons dominated the game defensively (although those days may have been gone these playoffs). Dyess and Nazr are going to have to log a lot of minutes, and they’ll still have little depth in the front court unless they make some more moves. Reactions from the deal are varied, even among Pistons fans, as some thing Detroit did what they had to do while others are angry at Big Ben. But whatever you want to say about it, one thing is clear: Chicago is a contender in the East.
- Meanwhile, the Bulls signing of Wallace allowed them to unload Tyson Chandler, which they did to the Hornets for PJ Brown and JR Smith. (officially ending the “Let’s draft a couple of promising high school guys, let them play early and grow together, and hope for the best” Experiment). With Smith they add another guy with the potential to be a big-time player, but one who was in the Hornets doghouse last year. They’ve got young guards (Hinrich, Gordon, Smith), young forwards (Deng, Nocioni, Thomas, Sefalosha), the best defensive Center in the game, and almost certainly a good draft pick next year. It’s a good time to be the Bulls.
- The other team in the deal, the Hornets, has been doing some good things themselves. Looking at things now, they have one of the top 2 “pure” PG in the NBA, athletic wing players, a deadeye shooter at SF (in Peja), and a young, talented, athletic frontline (David West, Tyson Chandler, Cedric Simmons, Hilton Armstrong). The Western Conference just keeps getting tougher and tougher from top to bottom. The only thing that concerns me about the Hornets' offseason is that they overspent by a lot to get Peja. $65 million over 5 years and he's on the decline? Yikes.
- In the big trade of the offseason, the Bucks sent PG TJ Ford to the Raptors for Charlie Villanueva. If Ford stays healthy, this is a deal I like for the Raptors. The Raptrs have Chris Bosh and just drafted Andrea Bargnani, and realistically they couldn't play all three. Plus, it's easier to get a combo forward then a PG that can push the ball with vision as good as Ford's (Nash, Kidd, Paul... am I forgetting anyone?) Of course, Ford does have struggles shooting the ball, and Villanueva was pretty darn good last year. Again, it all depends on the if Ford can stay healthy, which is a very large concern, without a doubt.
- It was a good deal for the Bucks as well. Maurice Williams did a very nice job at PG for the Bucks, and Villanueva will add needed frontcourt scoring to complement Michael Redd and his abilities. With the way the Bulls and Bucks improved, the Central Division could very well be the best in basketball.