2012-2013 NBA Preview – 10 Questions

LeBron James and Kevin Durant

It’s almost that time of year again. Wait, is it? But football hasn’t even started its regular season yet? In less than three months, the NBA will be tipping-off the 2012-2013 season when the Boston Celtics travel to Miami to take on LeBron James and the Heat. With all that said, let’s take a look at 10 questions surrounding next season.

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Blockbuster NBA Trade CONFIRMED: Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis!

gilbert arenas trade

The NBA trade wind are blowing strong on this chilly winter day. Apparently, the Orlando Magic are looking to blow up their overpaid and underachieving roster.

The deals, which could come today, involve Jason Richardson from the Phoenix Suns, and possibly a new, fresh start for Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards.

(UPDATE: via Pro Basketball Talk:)

The Orlando Magic have traded Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus, and Marcin Gortat to the Phoenix Suns for Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark. The Magic have also traded Rashard Lewis to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas.

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Turkoglu Bringing More Euro to Toronto

hedo_turkoglu

By: David Kay

In recent years, Toronto has become the “Euro” team of the NBA.  That transformation began in 2006 when the club hired former Benetton Treviso general manager Maurizi Gherardini as the first European to hold a senior management position in the league.  With his knowledge of overseas basketball, the Raptors began to stock their roster with unfamiliar names like Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, Carlos Delfino, and Roko Ukic.  Now, Hedo Turkoglu is continuing that trend by bringing his Turkish roots to the Raptors.

After he opted out of the final year of his contract with the Magic that would have paid him about $7.3 million, everybody expected Turkoglu to join the on-the-rise Portland Trailblazers this off-season since Orlando already moved on by trading for Vince Carter.  Once the free agency period began, Blazers head coach Nate McMillan wasted no time in courting the Turkish star and a deal between the two sides seemed imminent.  Instead, Turkoglu spurned an all but done deal with the Blazers and agreed to a five-year, $53 million with the Raptors.  This decision was reportedly made because Turkoglu and his wife preferred living in Toronto where there is a larger Turkish population.

This is a huge get for the Raptors who were desperate to land an impact wing player.  Turkoglu proved to be a go-to scorer with the Magic this past season, especially during their run to the NBA Finals.  His size and shooting ability make him a difficult match-up for opposing teams.  Combine his versatility with Bargnani’s capability to step out and knock down the three-pointer and Calderon’s three-point range, and Toronto should be one of the most dangerous outside teams in the league.

hedo-and-wife1His signing is even more crucial with the likely departure of Chris Bosh, who is entering the final year of his contract.  If the Raptors decide to trade Bosh during the season (which they are likely to do as to ensure they don’t lose him to free agency and get nothing in return), Turkoglu can help fill the massive void he would leave.  If somehow Bosh ends up staying in Toronto past this season, the Raptors suddenly have an effective one-two punch of Bosh and Turkoglu with productive players like Bargnani, Calderon, and first-round pick Demar DeRozan who is loaded with potential.

The one major down-size that results from this signing is how thin Toronto will be on their bench.  Assuming they trot out a starting five of Bargnani, Bosh, Turkoglu, DeRozan, and Calderon, their bench will consist of Reggie Evans, Patrick O’Bryant, Kris Humphries, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Nathan Jawai, Quincy Douby, Roko Ukic, and Marcus Banks.  None of those eight projected bench players averaged more than 6 points per game last season.  And by signing Turkoglu, Toronto’s cap space shrinks making it more difficult to land any other free agents to strengthen their depth.

By the way, if you are a Blazers fan, you mind as well start referring to Hedo’s wife, Banu, as Yoko Ono for breaking up what could have been the missing piece in launching Portland to contender status in the Western Conference.

The top Free Agent Small Forwards

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By David K.
A list of the top 2009 NBA Free Agent small forwards. Here are the top 3, to read the complete list, click here. 

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbafreeagents2009sf.php

 

1. Ron Artest, Rockets (17.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.3 apg) Age: 29.
Houston rolled the dice in acquiring Artest last off-season and the risk definitely paid dividends. Artest was first and foremost very well-behaved, showing that he has matured since his days of rushing into the stands and fighting fans. More importantly, he played a major role in the Rockets success, filling the void left behind by the injured T-Mac, and nearly leading Houston to a second round upset against the Lakers. With T-Mac completely unreliable health-wise and in the final year of his contract, the Rockets should do what they can to bring Artest back. The only other teams with cap space that might interest Artest are Toronto and Utah (since I doubt the Pistons would ever consider signing him.)

Prediction: re-signs 4-year, $42 million with Rockets

2. Hedo Turkoglu, Magic (PO) (16.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.9 apg) Age: 30.
With his clutch play in the post-season, Turkoglu will undoubtedly opt out of his $7.3 million option for next season with hope of signing a long-term extension with the Magic. The biggest problem is Orlando has invested A LOT of money in Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard through 2013 and may not want to pony up to pay Turkoglu. However, he has been such an important piece to their puzzle that the two sides will have to settle on a reasonable raise.

Prediction: opts out, but re-signs 4-year, $41 million with Magic

3. Al Harrington, Knicks (PO) (20.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) Age: 29.
Harrington would be pretty foolish to opt out of his $10 million deal for 2009-2010. He won’t find near that amount on the open market and would be better off stomaching another year in New York and trying to cash in on a deal next off-season.

Prediction: stays with Knicks

A list of the top 2009 NBA Free Agent small forwards. Here are the top 3, to read the complete list, click here. 

http://www.walterfootball.com/nbafreeagents2009sf.php

More 2009 NBA Free Agent rankings coming soon.

NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview

By: Andy Weise

There will be a new NBA champion this summer and that’s a good thing. The Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics finally saw the quest to repeat come to an end Sunday night and the Orlando Magic now face LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs haven’t lost a game since April 15th, a game in which LeBron James didn’t even play. The last time they lost with James? A 29-point blowout in Orlando Magic on April 3rd.

The Cavaliers have been unstoppable, winning all eight playoff games so far, all by double digits. If there was a question about how real the Cavaliers are, they’ve definitely been the best team so far this postseason after posting the best record in the regular season. Wingman Maurice Williams has been the missing link for the Cavaliers. Williams is a player who makes you pay if you spend too much time focusing on the King himself. They had players like Daniel Gibson and Delonte West last year to do that but they’re not at the level of Williams.

Orlando’s play against Boston proves that the front line of the Magic might only be second to the Lakers in the NBA. Dwight Howard has established himself a dominant center and Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu provide the shooting that Howard lacks.

The Magic have survived a season that was once thought lost after all-star point guard Jameer Nelson went down for the season. Rafer Alston, acquired in a midseason trade has been serviceable but the backcourt of the Magic will have a hard time matching up with the Cavaliers. Williams, Gibson and West will be a handful for Alston, J.J. Redick, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus.

The matchup between these two teams is very interesting. The Magic will need Pietrus to help guard James because Turkoglu is not known for his defensive presence. The Cavaliers have good size underneath where the Celtics couldn’t keep up with the Magic.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao will be relieved at times by Ben Wallace and Joe Smith, not bad for a bench. The advantage in this series definitely goes to the Cavaliers once you look at the bench options. Former all-stars Wallace and Wally Szczberiak as well as Smith give them grizzled vets who have played in plenty of playoff games.

X Factor: Hedo Turkoglu. His game seven performance against Boston shows he can be a go-to player for the Magic. Now he must show he can play some defense in this series as well as be consistent on the offensive end. I won’t hold my breath for either.

My prediction: Cavaliers in five. I would say five or six but Cleveland should be able to hold their homecourt as they have done all year. James is destined for the NBA Finals this year and Williams was the sidekick he needed to get over the hump. The Magic will be back next year with Jameer Nelson but they don’t have enough in that backcourt this year to keep up with the Cavs.