Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The NBA is back!

It seems like the 2011 Conference Finals was like 5 years ago doesn't it? Watching the Bulls go down in 4 straight games was a little too hard for me to swallow so excuse me for not writing about it. You throw a really nasty 5 month lockout on top it and your motivation to be an NBA fan just goes down the crapper. Anyways, here we are 4 weeks before the NBA season starts and I'm just starting to come out of my no-NBA coma.

Like last season's Carmelo Anthony debacle that swallowed every bit of media coverage for 4 straight months, 2 free agents will swallow this year's. Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are this year's Carmelo story all over again. It's no secret that both players want out of the teams they're currently on. However, since both Howard and Paul are arguably the best players at their position, getting a fair deal is going to be hard for the Magic and Hornets.

Over the summer, in an interview for GQ, Howard was quoted saying:

"There's more you can do in a bigger place. I'm stuck in a tough position because I feel like right now, where I'm at, I've done so much. And I just don't know what else I can do. I can't live for everybody else."

That quote was the nail in the coffin for Orlando fans. While the Magic front office has tried their best to build a great team around their center, Howard obviously wants to move on. Howard can sign anywhere next season, and you can bet Orlando will try to trade him this season if they're positive he won't return. The problem Orlando is going to run into is somehow getting fair value from any sort of trade. The Nets are said to be offering Brook Lopez (who last season had a very lackluster year) along with multiple first round draft picks and other filler. The only other 2 teams that could top that offer are the Lakers (Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and filler) and possibly the Bulls if they were willing to part with Joakim Noah. The problem with any trade is that the team vying for Howard is going to need assurances that he'll sign a contract extension and it's obvious Howard wants to play in a bigger market. L.A., Brooklyn and New York are said to be the options Howard prefers however, New York has absolutely no assets they can part with at this time that would be worth it to Orlando.

I'm not too sure the Bulls wanna stir the trade rumor pot by putting Noah on the block especially with how much this squad feeds off his energy. Yeah, D-Rose and Howard wear the same shoes but that doesn't mean anything. Chicago rarely takes chances like that so I wouldn't be getting my hopes up for a Noah for Howard trade. My guess is that Howard will be a Net, Laker or just stay put in Orlando by the end of the season.

Chris Paul will not be a Hornet by the end of the season, absolutely no way he's going to stay in New Orleans. Paul not so quietly prophesied at Melo's wedding last year that they were going to start their own big 3 with Amare' in New York. With Melo already on the roster, and Chauncey Billups as the odd man out, it's safe to say that New Orleans is going to get screwed in the end. The Boston Celtics are said to have already offered the Hornets Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul, however, Paul has no interest in signing an extension in Boston. Why would he? The Celtics are going to start to look like that 1993, old musty Boston team that were too loyal to trade away their old talent. The Lakers would be an interesting destination for Chris Paul. Due to the depth in L.A.'s front court, I could definitely see the same sort of trade scenario that's going to be offered for Dwight Howard as I could with CP3. Regardless, by the end of the season, Chris Paul will not be a Hornet.

Putting all Dwight Howard fantasies aside, the Bulls' real need is a quality shooting guard to pair with Derrick Rose. Because of the new "Derrick Rose rule" in the CBA agreement, Rose will be making more $ because of his recent MVP season and All-Star appearances. While Rose is now a superstar and deserves a bonus for his outstanding year, this alters the salary cap and leaves little room to sign a quality free agent. I've read the Bulls *could* use the the mid-level but Reinsdorf still has probably no interest in going over the cap to sign someone like Jason Richardson or Caron Butler when the Bulls were so close to the NBA Finals last season with their current roster. It's being said that the Bulls will keep their eye out for any amnesty drop offs from other teams but it's looking more and more like franchises aren't going to go for that option this early in the game. Should Rip Hamilton or Brandon Roy pop up on the free agent market, you can bet the Bulls will be very aggressive trying to woo those guys to Chicago but this is once again, probably another fantasy. There's also talk about possibly moving CJ Watson to SG and picking up a cheaper back up point guard like T.J. Ford. I think this would be a rather risky option but CJ has proven in times that he can score pretty well so it could work.

With all that being said, the questions to be answered of the 11-12 NBA season are: Will Derrick Rose come out of the gates like the MVP he was last season, or was it fluke? Who will be the Bulls starting SG? Will Dwight Howard and Chris Paul be dealt by the end of the season and does everyone STILL hate the effing Miami Heat?

This is definitely going to be a very interesting season.