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Wilson Mui
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Posted: July 16 2015 at 6:29pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Josh Smith is leaving the Rockets for the Clippers for the league minimum. I have to say I'm impressed with the moves Doc Rivers has made. The Clippers look like a much improved team next season. 

Is this a big blow to the Rockets? Smith was great off the bench.


Edited by Wilson Mui on July 16 2015 at 6:33pm
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 17 2015 at 9:27am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Certainly a coup for LA but surprising b/c Smith is taking a big paycut to join a team his current team just BEAT in the playoffs.  Also, he's joining a team that just loaded up on new forwards looking for time and touches (Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson).  They already have a premier PF in Blake Griffin.  I'm not sure he's going to get all the minutes he's hoping for, though he's certainly a solid addition and valuable insurance. 

I'm not quite sure why he's leaving Houston, where they went farther in the playoffs, offered him more money and where his usage rate was second only to Harden.  As for Houston, basically it means they have no margin for error at PF.  Howard is going to have to stay healthy, along with Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones.

Edited by Rick Senger on July 17 2015 at 9:37am
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: July 17 2015 at 10:36am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

With Matt Barnes gone I think I would look for Josh smith to slide right in and start at small forward for the Clippers.  That allows Pierce, Crawford, Big Baby, Aldrich, Stephensen and Rivers to come off the bench.  That's probably the deepest team in the league!


Edited by Joe Hollon on July 17 2015 at 10:36am
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 17 2015 at 2:48pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

That's probably the deepest team in the league!
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On paper, certainly top 2 or 3.  It's a good day for Clippers fans. Fleshing out my concerns, though:

Last season minutes:

Paul Pierce  26.2 minutes SF

Lance Stephenson 25.8   SF

Josh Smith               25.5   SF

These were career low minutes for each player since getting established.  Pierce is slowing down and gets it so I'm guessing he'll be fine with reduced minutes.  Let's say he gets 19 a game.  The other two players likely want and expect more minutes than last year as they're both on one year deals and want to use this year as a showcase to get bigger deals next year (Clips have a team option on Stephenson for a second year but if he plays well, they'll try to re-sign him.) 

19 minutes for Pierce leaves 29 minutes at SF split between BOTH Stephenson and Smith.  Okay, Stephenson can fill in at a bunch of different positions, but he's most natural at SF.  Yes, they can spell Blake for some of the 12 minutes he sits a game, so there are ways to add to the pie.  However, Stephenson and Smith both have their likely deserved reps as headcases.  And we're not even mentioning the other forwards that Doc has to somehow occasionally get in the lineup just to keep them from drying up.  I'm predicting it's going to be a major headache for Doc to manage the SF minutes and I doubt either Stephenson or Smith will be happy.  A ring might help that, of course.


Edited by Rick Senger on July 18 2015 at 10:31am
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 20 2015 at 7:45am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Ty Lawson to Houston... Denver gets a bunch of guys you've never heard of and a future protected 1st rd pick.  Lawson was a 15.2 / 9.6 assist PG last season but 2 DUIs in 6 months apparently was enough for the Nuggets.  Lawson is friendly with a bunch of Rockets so this could be just the change of scenery he needs and if the gamble pays off, he'll be a nice upgrade to Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry.  Denver is also gambling that rookie PG Emmanuel Mudiay's good play in the summer league will translate to the league.  Both bets could pay off, we'll see.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 21 2015 at 10:53pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Ouch... Richard Jefferson also goes back on his word to re-sign with Dallas and is headed to Cleveland. 

There are four with a legit shot at the title next year.  Two are in California. 

Cleveland:  loaded and clearly better than last year if they get healthy.
SA:  Aldridge and West plus all the resignings mean dynasty reborn.  Summer league MVP Kyle Anderson will be much more impactful this year.
LA Clippers:  new faces Stephenson, Smith, Pierce and Wesley Johnson plus DeAndre Jordan mean tons of wins.
GS Warriors:  NBA champs haven't done much but they didn't need to

There are other very good teams (Memphis, OKC, Houston, Chicago) but I don't see any of them getting by the four mentioned above barring major injuries. 
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: July 22 2015 at 4:37am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

If Durant is 100% I would put OKC right in that mix. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 22 2015 at 8:45am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I'm worried he may not be.  Also, Ibaka has cancelled his appearance in the NBA Africa game on Aug 1 because his right knee has apparently not healed yet either.  We'll see.
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Andy Meyers
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Posted: July 24 2015 at 4:48am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Just some thoughts...

-It's crazy that OKC's window is pretty much closed
-Are the Clippers and Cavs following the model of Heat and getting lots of over the hill vets on their bench (a la Bill Walton with the Celts)
 
Denver is also gambling that rookie PG Emmanuel Mudiay's good play in the summer league
-I'm thinking he will be the rookie of the year. Point guards have an advantage because they have the ball so much and Okafor doesn't jump well (Porzingis blocked him three times in one game).

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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 24 2015 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

It's crazy that OKC's window is pretty much closed
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It's definitely a team that's been discounted after last year.  However, I agree with Joe that if Durant and Ibaka can get back 100%, OKC is viable.  Durant missed much of the season and Westbrook and Ibaka also had issues (Westbrook and Durant were only on the court together 27 games!) yet OKC still went 45-37. 

Durant is surely as motivated as he'll ever be entering a huge contract year with possibly close to $200 mill on the line.  The problem is that his Jones fracture appears to be serious and sometimes sheer will isn't enough.  They do still have Westbrook and Ibaka (if healthy) and Kanter and Waiters and a reasonable bench.   But Durant's fate is OKC's fate.

getting lots of over the hill vets on their bench (a la Bill Walton with the Celts)
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Clips and Cavs are both in WIN NOW mode and I can't argue with many of their moves this off season given how hamstrung they are by the salary cap.  Generally older vets are the only ones willing to sacrifice paychecks for a grab at a ring.  And Walton averaged 7 rebounds in 19 minutes for the '86 World Champion Celtics... he was helpful!

I'm thinking (Mudiay) will be the rookie of the year.
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He's looked very good, certainly better than the more heralded D'Angelo Russell.  Towns and Porzingis haven't disappointed, either. 
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Rick Senger
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Posted: July 27 2015 at 3:45pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Matthew Dellavedova takes a $1.2 million dollar qualifying offer. This means Cleve gets their b/u insurance point guard for cheap and if Delly exceeds expectations, he has the chance to get more money next year as an unrestricted free agent.  I don't know that he plays that much assuming Irving and Mo Williams are healthy, but he certainly gets a shot at a ring.  So Cleve only has Tristan Thompson and JR Smith left to resign.  I hear JR Smith may cave and go for a 1 year deal as well, possibly for less than his opting in would've provided.  I can't imagine Thompson not getting re-signed, though his deal will be costly, probably a bit north of $80 mill.   Cleve traded away Haywood and now has a $10 mill exception available to use next year.  Pretty effective offseason for the Cavs assuming people get healthy.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: August 03 2015 at 10:00pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I love reading the articles on Phil Jackson on ESPN.com.  It is great getting his candid assessment of players.
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