The 10 Worst NBA Drafts in the Lottery Era

The calendar now reads June. In the NBA that means it’s time to crown an NBA Champion. However among the biggest of NBA nerds, it also means it’s time to get ready for the NBA draft. We’re only two weeks and a few hours away from the 2011 NBA Draft. This year, it’s preparing for the likes of Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight to join the greatest basketball league on the planet that has us basketball geeks totally psyched.

Wait, what?

By Peter Christian

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Artest Joining Kobe in Hollywood

Rockets Lakers Basketball

by: David Kay

When it comes down to it, the Lakers and Rockets pretty much swapped Ron Artest for Trevor Ariza straight up.  Thursday, Artest reached an agreement with the defending champs on a 3-year deal worth about $18 million.  Houston responded by stealing the Lakers’ Trevor Ariza for the mid-level exception which will net him around $33.5 million for the next five years.  So who gets the advantage?

From the Lakers’ standpoint, signing Artest brings in a veteran defensive stopper who can also provide toughness and offensive firepower.  Yes, there is the whole “Artest is crazy” argument, but for the most part; he was the ideal citizen in his one year in Houston last season.  Snagging Artest at a VERY reasonable price increases the Lake Show’s chances of once again claiming the Western Conference crown and making a run at a second straight NBA title.

He was a thorn in Kobe Bryant’s side when the two teams met in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, so it will be interesting to see how Artest and the Mamba co-exist in Hollywood.  I would assume that Artest understands that by signing with L.A., he will play second fiddle to Kobe and must become more of a role player if he wants to win a ring.  If the Lakers are able to re-sign Lamar Odom (which may be more difficult now that Artest will steal some of his minutes), they will clearly be the favorite to once again be the best of the west.

83010071NG020_LAKRS_CLIPSWhen the Rockets realized they were likely losing Artest to the Lakers, they turned their attention to Ariza.  The five-year pro found a home in L.A. and was vital to the Lakers’ success in the post-season, which ultimately led to him becoming a sought after free agent this summer.  He is a tenacious defender, runs the break well, and doesn’t try to do too much on the offensive end.

I am not sure he is a better option for the Rockets than Artest though.  With Yao Ming’s career-threatening injury and Tracy McGrady’s brittleness, Artest provided an offensive ability the Rockets needed with their two big guns un-reliable.  Signing Ariza means Houston takes a hit on the offensive end, and if T-Mac cannot stay healthy this season, the Rockets might be one of lowest scoring teams in the NBA.  Also, giving Ariza their entire mid-level exception limits what Houston can do in the remainder of free agency in terms of finding a replacement for Yao.  They may have to find a suitor via trade for T-Mac’s expiring contract as to fill a couple holes on their roster.

Advantage: Lakers (unless of course Artest goes back to his old, “run in the crowd and punch fans” ways.)

NBA Western Conference Finals Preview

By: Andy Weise

This is what playoffs are all about – star power. Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Four of the top 10 superstars in the NBA lead their teams now. Kobe has three rings but has as many as the other three combined when Shaq isn’t on his team: zero.

In the west, it was only a matter of time before the Los Angeles Lakers finished off the Houston Rockets. Ron Artest did everything he could to keep the Rockets going after losing Yao Ming during the series but Kobe and his boys were just too tough. Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals? Wow! After thinking they would be the team to implode this year, a great trade that helped Mark Warkentien win the executive of the year award now has paid great dividends as the Nuggets have become the surprise story of the year.
In the West, Chauncey Billups has brought what Allen Iverson was supposed to: a complimentary guard to Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets are a completely different team with Billups rather than Iverson, but that’s not the only reason why the Nuggets are where they are now. Kenyon Martin and Nene have remained healthy while only playing a little more than 30 minutes a game during the regular season. Chris Andersen aka BIRDMAN has emerged as a capable defensive big for the Nuggets. The Nuggets gave up Marcus Camby in the offseason and without Andersen’s play this year, they wouldn’t have been here even if they would have gotten Billups.

How do the Nuggets matchup with the defending Western conference champs? Both teams have the dominant playmaker (Kobe/Carmelo), both teams have size on the block, both teams have really good sixth men (JR Smith & Lamar Odom). So where is the advantage? Bryant will be tough to stop whether it’s Anthony, JR Smith or Dahntay Jones guarding him. Trevor Ariza or Bryant will likely guard Anthony, which will make it a tough series for Anthony.

Billups and Anthony Carter are much better than Jordan Farmar and Derek Fisher. This is where the Nuggets have the advantage in the series and need take advantage. Fisher looked badly outplayed by Aaron Brooks in the Houston-LA series.
Andersen will have to be on his game as the energy guy off the bench too with Gasol, Bynum and Odom up front. Gasol is the most talented big man in this series, the Lakers need to take advantage of the Nuggets’ inability to cover Bryant and Gasol. If the Nuggets can slow down these two, they definitely have a shot but it’s much easier to talk about than actually do.

X Factor: Andrew Bynum. His minutes and play have been inconsistent, but all three times he played against the Nuggets this season the Lakers won.

My prediction: Lakers in seven. This series will be a good, back and forth but the Lakers are too tough upfront. It would be interesting to see the Anthony-led Nuggets get into the finals, especially if the Cavaliers also get there, but the Lakers are too tough at every position other than point guard.

The Economics of Basketball

By Brandon Robinson
With the current recession, it is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans—even for those working with NBA basketball. At least as far as making money they were accustomed to making a few years ago.

Additionally, the biggest effect will be on team revenue. “If you think about it, it’s one big cycle. The recession affects the fans, who will spend less money on tickets and merchandise. So the league will force the players to accept less as the pie shrinks,” says ESPN.com Senior Writer, JA Adande.

 Revenue from ticket sales and sponsorship will be down next season. Player payroll is based on a percentage of team revenue. This means the salary cap will go down, which means players that are not already under contract will have a difficult time getting the kind of deals they’ve gotten in the past.

Team owners are finding ways to cut costs in a shrinking economy.

“It already had an effect this season. Teams are anticipating lower revenue and were reluctant to take on expensive contracts at the trade deadline,” says Chris Carrino, Executive Director of Broadcasting for the New Jersey Nets.

Footlocker.com

Currently, the hoopla surrounding the summer of 2010 has been hyped as the year in which marketable a-list of superstars will become unrestricted free agents. This means that NBA squads can sign them to max long term deals without that price being matched by their current team or other teams. During that summer, it is believed that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, will bolt and sign with either the New York Knicks or across the Hudson with the New Jersey Nets. That summer has been dubbed by some as the “Summer of LeBron.” It will be very interesting to see what teams decide to do as the economy crumbles. Will people spend money?

Among that elite list of free agents: Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh, Phoenix Suns’ Amare Stoudemire, Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, New Orleans Hornets’ Tyson Chandler, San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili, Milwaukee Bucks’ Richard Jefferson, Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson, Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Michael Redd.

“This will come into play in the next collective bargaining agreement, which will certainly feature shorter contract lengths and average and maximum salaries. It will become more difficult for teams to afford multiple stars, or to fit them into a smaller salary cap. So if the teams are worse, the fans won’t want to come to the arena to watch them, and it starts all over again,” added JA Adande.

Footlocker.com

A lot has happened since the current NBA collective bargain agreement, was signed during the lockout shortened 1998-99 NBA season. Players have made a lot of money. The current collective bargaining agreement ends the summer of 2011 and owners want to make strict changes. According to the Indianapolis Star-News, the Indiana Pacers have lost money nine of the past 10 years. The Sacramento Bee reported that the Sacramento Kings are expected to lose up to $25 million this season. The Sports Business Journal reported that the Orlando Magic are expecting potential losses of between $15 million and $20 million. Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert Johnson has claimed losses of $50 million since he paid $300 million for the expansion franchise in 2003.

Clearly the owners and NBA commissioner David Stern want to lower the salary cap and with good reason. The NBA salary cap went down only once in 2002. It went from $42.5 million to $42.7 because they overestimated it. That was with no economic trouble.

“I think the game will be fine, but just like every industry it’s going to take some hits” says ESPN the Magazine’s senior writer, Chris Broussard.

“The superstars are still going to get paid: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dwight Howard are still going to get their money,” added Broussard. So who will take the biggest hit? “It’s always going to hurt the midlevel players, the midlevel salary will definitely drop” says Broussard.

What do players think about this? “Of course the current economic climate will affect the lengths of contracts and the amount of money people will make. Teams are tightening their spending since they are not making money the way they were before,” says Utah Jazz guard Brevin Knight.

One thing is clear, despite the economic woes fans will still need an outlet to get their minds off this economic crisis. They need something to cheer for.

”The game still is very popular. You have great young stars and rivalries in the Celtics and the Lakers. LeBron and Kobe have somewhat of a rivalry in regards to who is the best player,” added Broussard.
Something tells me, everything will be fine.