By Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
The 2012-13 NBA season opener is just 60 days away.
Just think about that for a second. Just a few weeks ago, we were putting the final touches on Team USA beating up on Spain in the Gold Medal game of the 2012 Olympics in London. About six weeks before that, we had the 2012 NBA Draft as Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were introduced to The Association. Three days before that, LeBron James led us on a roller-coaster ride of an NBA playoffs that finished off with his Miami Heat winning a five-game series over Kevin Durant and the young guns of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 2012-13 NBA season opener is just 60 days away.
One of the biggest storylines will be class of pending free agents that could hit the market at the end of the 2012-13 season. I’ve talked plenty about James Harden’s desire to stay in Oklahoma City, but if the financials don’t work out then he will be mightily coveted by everyone with available funds. Another will be Chris Paul, as he has just one year remaining with the other pro basketball team in Los Angeles, as he decides if The Blake Show and Co. is worth sticking his flag in the ground for the foreseeable future. Then there’s the Andrew Bynum show in Philly that’s absolutely worth monitoring as shenanigans and tomfoolery is sure to ensue.
Kurt Helin at Pro Basketball Talk highlighted some of the marquee free agents that will be discussed a ton this season, but here are the five that could make a general manager think twice if a player happens to be available for the picking.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks: In my opinion, and I’m fully prepared for the slander that comes with this statement, I believe that Josh Smith is the best power forward in the Eastern Conference. Let that sink in for a minute.
Yep, you struggled to find someone who’s better than him didn’t you? Chris Bosh might have a ring with the Miami Heat, but his production isn’t worthy of such a title. Amar’e Stoudemire of the Knicks? Please. Kevin Garnett? He’s a center these days, and offensively he doesn’t produce nearly like he used to.
Entering his 9th (!!!) NBA season at age 26, he put up a strong 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks a game. Incredible production for a player some feel is a tweener forward. Yes, he still shoots those long jumpers, and yes he occasionally has that look on his face, but you’re telling me a guy with that production is about to hit the market as he’s about to hit his physical prime? Scary thought.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: One of the biggest enigmas in the NBA right now might be Stephen Curry. The man with the golden touch from long range has a plethora of issues that surround him. One, how’s that ankle of his? Two, what position does he play? Three, how much is he really worth?
Even if his ankle holds up, I’m still not convinced he’s a starting point guard. In fact, I think he’s destined to be a 6th-man of the year candidate on a winning team. I mean, there are teams that can overpay for someone who puts up 17 points, 6 assists and 4 boards a game and try to make him a leader on their team, but imagine him as a sixth man on a team like the Chicago Bulls who outside of Derrick Rose can’t seem to score if their lives depended on it.
(That sound you heard was Chicago Bulls fans’ heads exploding.)
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: He’s not going anywhere. Next player.
He’s not going anywhere!
HE’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE!!!
Okay…I’m just saying, if he WERE to go somewhere…and this James Harden thing doesn’t work out…couldn’t OKC just squeeze a few years out of Ginobili and rekindle a relationship with his former assistant coach Scott Brooks and former general manager Sam Presti of the Thunder? I know for a fact that No. 20 is still available…
Yep, Ginobili’s still going anywhere. Next player.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz: The man is easily the most underappreciated big man in the NBA. The man has quietly been putting up 20 and 10’s for the moribund and decrepit Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz for the last five years and nobody outside of diehard hoopheads give a damn.
A few years ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves offered Jefferson straight up in a trade for Indiana Pacers swingman Danny Granger. Made sense to pair Kevin Love with a top-flight swingman, and it could’ve made sense to make Jefferson and Roy Hibbert a dynamic big man combination. Larry Bird nixed the trade, and while the Pacers are better, I’m not sure how much better that Indiana team gets with Granger as their best player.
Swingmen seem to come around from time to time. Big men, don’t.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: I can’t honestly say that I’ve watched DeMar DeRozan play an actual game of basketball more than 3 times in my life. One of those times was when he played one season at USC. The man plays for theSiberia Toronto Raptors and they’re not a good team.
Yet, the man is 23 years old and still figuring out how to be a dynamic player in this league. On a terrible team, he’s lifted his average to 17 points/game and has shown that he’s one of the most athletic wings in the league. How much do you pay a guy like DeRozan? Would DeRozan benefit in getting the most money he can get right now, or sacrificing a little to play on a team that’s actually worth a damn?
Either way, lets see if we can get DeRozan back in the Slam Dunk contest, because that’ll be the last time a Toronto Raptor gets close to the All-Star Game again anytime soon.