Win-Win-Win

Will Gilbert Arenas be able to find his inner Agent Zero in Orlando?

Oh boy, a big blockbuster trade before the New Year even hits. What a nice early Christmas present for us basketball fans, making this already very intriguing season that much more interesting.

In case you don’t know exactly how this intricate trade between the Suns, Magic and Wizard breaks down here it is: The Washington Wizards acquired only one player, Rashard Lewis. The Orlando Magic acquired Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. Phoenix obtained Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat and the Magic’s 1st round pick in 2011.

This trade is an enormous change for all 3 teams, especially the Magic and Suns, and from the initial looks of it I think that it screams win for each franchise involved.

The Washington Wizards have been looking to dump Gilbert Arenas and his fat Albert Haynesworth-Vernon Wells-like contract of $111 million over 6 years. A couple of major injuries, the infamous gun incident, and Arenas not reaching even close to the level of play that he was at the season prior to signing his big contract has made former Agent 0 a very expendable player and one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA.

Moreover, the Wizards drafting John Wall #1 overall this past year has caused a lot of issues for Flip Saunders trying to figure out some way for Arenas and Wall to complement each other.

This trade should be great for the Wizards because it leaves John Wall as the starting point guard with no one breathing down his neck. John Wall has interchanged, partially because of injuries, between starting and the bench, but the departure of Gilbert Arenas gives the Wizards franchise a clear direction to where they want to go and who they want to build around.

Let’s be honest, the Wizards have a long way ago and just being able to get rid of Arenas was a step in the right direction. Not only do they free up the backcourt for John Wall, but they are also giving their franchise player a legitimate weapon in Rashard Lewis.

I’m not saying that Rashard Lewis is going to take this team to a bottom playoff seed or anything. What I am saying is that I think it’s good for the development of Wall to have a legitimate, non-ball dominating player that can theoretically assist in the scoring department and knock down shots from the outside. As I mentioned, the Wizards aren’t going to be winning too many championships in the next couple of years so I don’t think taking back the 3 years and $20 plus million each year left on Rashard Lewis’ contract is much of a concern.

Stan Van Gundy now has some new pieces to work with

For the Orlando Magic, their team looks to have reached its plateau and was in need of a change. Stan Van Gundy always seems under fire, but I guess the other option of change also presented itself. The Magic could quite possibly have added that little extra something that has been lacking since Vince Carter arrived last season. The Magic were not going to win a championship with their current roster and taking this risk should be for the best…right?

I think it was for the best for the Magic that they were able to get rid of Rashard Lewis, as well as Lewis himself, who has been in need of a change of scenery. He is currently averaging the lowest numbers of his career since his sophomore season.

Vince Carter did not play like the dynamic, isolation scorer that he has been in the past and that they hoped he would be. ,You add that to the fact that most of the time he looks like the same disinterested, talent can mask my effort kind of player and it was an easy decision for the Magic to realize he is not the guy to help lead them to the promised land.

This is the type of deal that could make General Manager Otis Smith the smartest man in the NBA or the biggest chump in the NBA.

Starting with the more minor part of this deal, the Magic were able to get Jason Richardson from the Suns who probably fills the loss Mickael Pietrus’, but I also feel he could do as good a job or an even better job than Vince Carter did starting in that 3 spot. Richardson knocks down shots, plays hard defence, is great in transition and maybe most importantly gives 100% effort on a night-to-night basis, something Vince Carter clearly did not.

Just saying his name makes me cringe but Hedo Turkoglu is going back to where it all the magic started (get it?). Turkoglu became an NBA fans household name with his highly overrated clutch play. He signed a big contract with Toronto, sat on his lazy, fat ass and was dealt to Phoenix in the offseason which did not work out as well, which I predicted.

However, if there is a situation that would work out for Turkoglu it is in Orlando. The fans actually like the guy as he is not known for being a lazy, fat ass and it could possibly shift his sorry self out of neutral gear.

Turkoglu is once again in a situation where he is comfortable and knows what is expected of him, which should help him out as he couldn’t carve out his niche in Toronto or Phoenix. Turkoglu is taking more 3’s than 2’s and is shooting a high percentage from beyond the arc, which should be a big help to the Magic as well.

The issues with him though are his lack of effort because he won’t be playing for another contract for a few years and the fact that he is getting a little older could also be contributing to his seemingly declining play.

The last and most important piece of this blockbuster deal for the Magic is taking on Gilbert Arenas. This is a big risk but it also entails big rewards if Arenas can get back to that thrilling, franchise-player level that we saw in Washington that seems like an eternity ago.

For a guy with attitude problems, moving to a contender for the first time in his career might be the jump-start that he needs to rejuvenate himself. The Magic have a very solid team so Gilbert is not going to be forced to carry the Magic and if he can just take some heat off of Dwight Howard this might be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

The Suns also did a hell of a job in getting something out of this deal, at least in my humble opinion.

They were obviously looking to deal Turkoglu as he was no more than a pure 3 point shooter in Phoenix and they were able to get a couple good pieces in return.

Marcin Gortat could be the center that the Phoenix Suns need

The Magic gave up Marcin Gortat, who has been under utilized in Orlando playing behind Dwight Howard. However, Gortat could be a legitimate starting center on a number of teams in the NBA and the Suns are very thin up front. The Suns could now bring Robin Lopez or Gortat off the bench and give some extra punch to the front end of the second unit.

The Suns are also able to replace Jason Richardson with Vince Carter/Mickael Pietrus. Vince Carter is most likely going to be the starter, but honestly I don’t see him being too much help to the Suns. Carter’s play is declining with his age and he can’t be too happy about moving to another franchise on the down slope of things. Although, you never know what Steve Nash can do with players, so we can’t count Carter out completely, and it can’t be any worse than the ridiculously stupid Hedo Turkoglu experiment.

Mickael Pietrus is pretty much just a cheaper, less dynamic player than Jason Richardson, but I think he also could add something to the Suns.

If Vince Carter is able to bring a bit more game than we saw in Orlando, I think this trade makes the Suns a better team as well relative to where they were at the start of the season. They added a good piece on the front end, and even though they lost Jason Richardson, they get back two pieces that each could fill his role.

Oh yeah, nothing wrong with a first round pick either, even if it is going to most likely be a mid-late round choice from Orlando.

I think that no matter the outcome of this trade, each team did the best they could given their respective circumstances.

In a deal filled with disappointment players, each team was able to gain/get rid of pieces that should improve their franchise right now and in the future.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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NBA Draft forcing major personnel decisions

John Wall is a lock to be the 1st selection in Thursday's draft

John Wall has been the consensus number 1 pick ever since he entered his freshman year at Kentucky. His explosiveness and instincts have put him at a level above the rest of the 2010 NBA draft class. However, with the Washington Wizards holding the 1st pick in the NBA draft there has been a lot of speculation as to what is going to happen at the point guard position. It is not just the Wizards though, a number of other teams with early lottery picks are going to have to choose between future and the present as well as needs and best available.

Washington Wizards. It is no secret that the Washington Wizards have had a lot of off and on the court issues with their players and especially Gilbert Arenas. On the court Gilbert Arenas has shown he can be one of the best players in the NBA as well as one of the best clutch shooters in the league. After receiving a big contract from the Wiz, Gilbert was hampered by injuries but last season was finally healthy. However, he had trouble getting back to his old form. Later in the season, after an incident where he brought guns into the locker room, Arenas was suspended for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to the present. The Wizards have the first pick in the 2010 draft and are no doubt going to select the 6 foot 4 point guard John Wall out of Kentucky. It just so happens that point guard is the position that Gilbert Arenas plays. What are the Wizards to do? The possibility of trading Gilbert Arenas is very low considering the massive amount of money that is still owed to him (Around 95 million over next 5 years), and his play which has been less than stellar to say the least. I think that the best and most obvious decision would be to move Gilbert Arenas to shooting guard and bring in John Wall to play the point. First off, there has always been a lot of criticism to the way Arenas plays point guard as he dominates the ball and mostly creates for himself rather than for teammates. It seems like a move to shooting guard could be suitable for Arenas. However, a problem that this poses is that both John Wall and Gilbert Arenas are players who dominate the ball. Although John Wall is a very unselfish player, he is going to need the ball in his hands a lot. Both Arenas and Wall are unbelievably talented players but meshing together is going to take time and force them to put their egos aside.

Evan Turner is widely regarded as the second best player in the draft

Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers hold the second pick in the draft and are a team that isn’t really being talked about right now. Shooting guard Evan Turner has been the consensus number 2 for as long as John Wall has been the talk of the town. Bringing in Evan Turner is the sensible pick but I also see it as a potential problem for the 76ers. Andre Iguodala is listed as a Guard/Forward, so he can play the 2 or the 3. Drafting Evan would mean an obvious move for Andre Iguodala to small forward. Now the transition to small forward isn’t the problem, rather the problem I see is that Turner and Iguodala are quite similar as players. Both players are slashers that are very good in transition but aren’t great outside shooters. Granted Iguodala is alright from beyond the arc as a career 32.1% shooter from back there, but by no means is he automatic. Evan Turner has a great mid-range game but is also not a polished outside shooter. I just don’t see this team, with their 2 star players being so similar, having great success in the future. A quick note also is that Louis Williams is probably going to see his role diminished as a result of Evan Turner’s arrival.

New Jersey Nets. The new owner for the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, has some mighty aspirations for a team that almost set the record for most losses in a season last year. For rebuilding teams, the draft is where it is all supposed to start but the fact that the lowly Nets did not get the #1 or #2 pick this year is causing some major headaches for the front office. The Nets need a top flight wing player but no player of that criteria seems deserving of the #3 pick. That leaves the Nets with probably having to take another big man to complement Brook Lopez. Now taking another big man is not the most terrible thing in the world but it is not ideal. The safest choice would probably Derrick Favours who has all the physical tools to be a great big man but is very raw. The other big man choice is Demarcus Cousins who is slipping in a number of mock drafts because of questions surrounding his maturity and work ethic. Having a two-headed monster could pan out great for the Nets, just look at the San Antonio Spurs when they had David Robinson and Tim Duncan. However, the inability of the Nets to find a franchise wing player in this first draft under their new owner could cause some issues in the future. The Nets do have a lot of cap room this year and there are a number of very good second and third tier free agents out there. With the Nets probably not getting the wing player they need in this draft, it is very possible that an opportunity for immediate success could have the Nets overpaying for lower level free agents.

Demarcus Cousins' draft stock has been falling

Minnesota Timberwolves. Another team with a number of personnel issues are the Minnesota Timberwolves and this draft is not going to help solve those problems. First of all, the T-Wolves made one of the most mind-boggling draft decisions ever last year by drafting two franchise point guards in Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn. Minnesota also has issues up front because the front office has decided that there is no way that the two power forwards Kevin Love and Al Jefferson can play together. There has been a lot of talk over the last few months about dealing Al Jefferson but nothing has happened so far. Like the Nets, the Timberwolves could use a good wing player, but again the question is whether there is one deserving of such an early pick. I didn’t mention earlier that Wesley Johnson is
probably the only guy that could be taken that high, but he may have limited upside on the offensive end. The guy that I would probably peg in that spot if he falls to them is Demarcus Cousins. Cousins is a legitimate talent as well as a legitimate center, which is something the Timberwolves could use. I think that all the talk surrounding his immaturity and work ethic can be changed if he is put into the right environment. This is a guy who could eventually be classified among the best big men in the league and it would be too hard to pass up on a talent like him. What they are going to do with their power forward situation is something we will have to wait and see. Minnesota needs a wing player but could use a center and Cousins fits the bill.

Sacramento Kings. A number of mock drafts have a big man pegged the Kings way but I just don’t see why the Kings would go in that direction given their current situation. The Kings already have young power forwards in Jason Thompson and Carl Landry. In addition to those two they acquired center Samuel Dalembert from the 76ers. Big man is not a need for the Sacramento Kings. After dealing Kevin Martin the Kings are another team in need of a wing scorer but alas there doesn’t seem to be very many quality ones in this draft. The Kings are going to have a very tough decision to make come Thursday evening.

Toronto Raptors. Well, I have to talk about the Toronto Raptors because I am a huge fan of theirs. The Raps have way too many personnel problems to deal with. Their point guard play has suddenly become very average, Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t want to play for them anymore, and who knows what is going to happen with Chris Bosh. In my opinion, the smartest thing for the Raptors would be to try and pick up a true center rather than try and replace Chris Bosh. The Raptors have lacked a real interior presence since Bosh has arrived on the scene and Andrea Bargnani could easily move to power forward. I have seen most mock drafts put Cole Aldrich into the hands of the Houston Rockets who draft at #14 right after the Raptors. Despite his limited upside, I think that Aldrich would be the safest and smartest pick. Like other teams early in the draft the Raptors need a productive wing player. Their first round pick last year Demar Derozan is still developing and as of right now Hedo Turkoglu is still around. Drafting a wing player in this draft would be almost pointless because there is no room on the roster for a wing player to get significant playing time and develop. Cole Aldrich on the other hand can block shots, rebound and play defence, which are none of the attributes that the Raptors had as a team last season.

The 2010 NBA draft class may not be one of the strongest draft classes of all time. Well, they said the last year too. But one thing that is for sure is that more than usual we will be seeing teams in the early stages of the draft having to make very tough decisions in choosing either for need or the best player available.