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10 storylines heading into NBA Free Agency

It seems as if the 2015 free agency period has the potential to flip the league on its axis. Some teams with restricted players will have to dish out some serious cash to keep a key player. While some playoff teams will no longer be playoff teams after major subtractions.

  1. What will happen in Cleveland? Coach LeBron James is now using the “wait-and –see” approach as if he doesn’t know what he will do. James will stay with the team and he will put his general manager cap. He obviously wants David Blatt gone and more depth added to the team. It doesn’t look like James wants to team up with Kevin Love anymore as the experiment did not work. (Sidebar: Love is capable of getting 20 points and 20 boards each night. He cannot do that by playing on the wing. Just because he can shoot from the perimeter, inaccurately, does mean you should put him there.) James has gone on the record saying that he wants to see Tristan Thompson come back and be a Cavalier for live. For the record, LeBron has not been a Cavalier for life. It is Cleveland after all. That city can screw up a 911 call dialing 119. BTW we will be previewing all 32 NFL teams in 31 days. The first team up is the Cleveland Browns. There are so many great things to not say about this franchise.
  1. Jimmy Butler has singlehandedly carried the Chicago Bulls in the absence of Derrick Rose. Butler is developing into a superstar shooting guard who will have the ability to make another team an instant threat if he were to leave the Windy City. Most likely he will be offered a max salary that Chicago should match. The Bulls would be placed in a tough position if he were to leave. They already are in need of shooters. This team could go from a championship contender to a middle of the pack team. It is the East where a .500 record can get you in the playoffs.
  2. In the past two seasons Portland has had its best record since the Nate McMillan days. The Blazers will lose at least one star. LaMarcus Aldridge has already put his home up for sale and informed the team he won’t be returning. He will become a max player early in free agency. Wesley Matthews is also an unrestricted free agent who happens to be recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. If he is 100% healthy he can make a team better over night. The only notable player that may be left in Portland is Damien Lillard who happens to be going into his final year of his contract.
  3. The Los Angeles Lakers will be spending George Steinbrenner money this offseason. Rumor has it that they will be making a serious push for Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, LaMarcus Aldridge, amongst others. Can they become ShowTime again? Who knows? Expect Kobe to still put 40 shots a night.
  4. My favorite NBA owner, Mark Cuban, will also be looking to spend some dineros this offseason as he is still trying to win another championship for Dirk Nowitzki. It is rumored that they also want Aldridge, C DeAndre Jordan and PG Goran Dragic. It is safe to say the Rajon Rondo will not be returning to the team as he was a bud Rick Carlisle was happy to nip (People thought the Rondo addition would guarantee them a title. Silly rabbit). The team will most likely not get Monta Ellis back.
  5. Then there are the New York Knickabockers. I, like everyone else, have no clue as to what this team/Phil Jackson is attempting to do. It’s clear Carmelo Anthony does not care about winning. He proved that last year when he decided to resign. It was no surprise to see the team perform to horrifically. It appears as if Greg Monroe is going to join the team and continue to be a part of a below .500 team. It’s a shame to see a team with such a good fan base be so irresponsible.
  6. The Spurs will be resigning Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan and hoping that they have enough left over to go after Aldridge. Remember Kawhi Leonard is a restricted free agent. It’s not often San Antonio has to make salary and personnel decisions during the offseason.
  7. Boston is going to look to get bigger. Last season they tried unsuccessfully to get Kevin Love. Expect them to land a big name person to go in the post. Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge have done a great job thus far of putting this team together. They came a long way in such a short period of time.
  8. I want to see the Charlotte Hornets pick up someone. Anyone. This team was the biggest disappointment last season. There is a lot of talent, but they can’t put it together. When Michael Jordan, THE GREATEST NBA PLAYER OF ALL-TIME, at age 52 says that he can beat every player on his team there is a serious problem.
  9. Will Dwayne Wade stay in Miami? It would be hard to see him a different jersey next season. Would it matter if he left though? Yes, if Chris Bosh would have been healthy at the end of the season the Heat would have been a playoff team. However, Wade will be one year older this season and if healthy he can give a team a maximum 50-60 games? D-Wade should leave to try to win another title. He should join a team where he would need to play about 30 minutes a night.

Bonus: The Philadelphia 76ers will be looking to add Slava Medvedenko, Nick Young, Mark Madson, Brad Miller, and Kwame Brown. You can never have to many centers and other worthless players, right?

Other bloggers talking about free agency:

Instant Sports Net 

Off My Podium

Pistons Nation

The Athletes Hub

Hoops of America

Blues of Nine

Smirfitts Speech

Photo: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

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Conference Semi-Final Preview

We come into the second round of the playoffs after seeing one of the best NBA series’ in the past decade. What a series between the San Antonio and LA! That series showed exactly what playoff basketball is. It’s about three things: the team must play defense, the must get rebounds especially offensive ones, and the team must play as a TEAM. Individual players get their teams to the playoffs, but I’m sure you notice they never win it all. You may want to go ask Allen Iverson or the LeBron in his first trip to Cleveland.

Three teams in the first round earned my respect and have me excited to see them next year. New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Boston have all made strides that frankly no one thought was possible.

Jason Kidd has had both a coaching turnaround and has led his team to one as well. Though the Bucks were under .500, they did make the playoffs after finishing without their best player, Jabari Parker. The squad was able to push the Bulls to six games before being destroyed. This team showed spunk and tenacity that I expect will linger into next season.

I, like most people, thought that the Celtics were beginning to tank once the trade of Rajon Rondo happened, but in reality they cut out a cancer. They got rid of a very talented plaayer that ruined his career in Dallas. Brad Stevens is already making his mark in only his second season. They also finished under .500 but in the final three games they pushed Cleveland to the brink. Next season expect them to finish above .500 but not much more. The East should be more respectable as the Indiana Pacers will be healthy and the Charlotte Hornets will be back off of their year long vacation.

The New Orleans Pelicans have a nucleus that will soon be tough to contend with. Anthony Davis is already the best big man in the game that can play around the basket and make jump shots. He also has talented players around him. Jrue Holiday has been a great addition to the team. If you pair them with Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson the team will sure be a top tier team in the loaded West.

Enough of the past, let’s look at the teams that will be playing in the second round.

Washington v Atlanta

Let’s be blunt, Washington killed Toronto. Now we do not know if the Wizards are just that good or if the Raptors played that bad. John Wall continues to lead this team. I must say that I thought he was an overrated player his first few years in the league, but he has grown into being one of the best point guards in the league.

Atlanta comes into the series hobbling after just getting past the Nets. It is clear that the Hawks are not as good as their record indicates. However, in the second round they will have to come out with more energy than they displayed in Brooklyn.

Chicago v Cleveland

Will this be the best matchup of the semi-finals? No, but these two teams will throw down.

Chicago proved how good they were when in game 6 they defeated the Bucks 120-66. The Bulls showed they could be dominant if they play within themselves. They have to limit their turnovers and exploit the depth of the team. They will need to steal one of the first couple of games on the road.

The Cavaliers have all but said that Kevin Love has been no help to them all season. Now they will get a chance to prove themselves. This is why LeBron went back home. Can he lead this team to the Conference Final? We will have to see, but they will have to play the first couple of games without the pain in the arse, JR Smith.

Memphis v Golden State 

The Grizzlies took advantage of the hurt Trail Blazers and will now have to play the best team in the league. Frankly, it will be tough for them to defeat the Warriors, but they will have to utilize their height inside and prevent GS from getting into a shooting groove, which is nearly impossible.

Golden State was challenged in the final three games of their first round series against the Pels. Steph Curry played like the MVP. Like all season long, the team was able to make jump shots from everywhere. However, the old phrase is you live by the jump shot and you die by it.

Los Angeles v Houston

This will be the best series. The Clippers are coming off of a franchise defining series. They were able to defeat the defeat the defending champs back to back to clinch the series. They also had to win two games in San Antonio, which does not always happen. We do not know about Chris Paul’s hamstring, as he was able to play after appearing to pull it. De’Andre Jordan will have to stay away from the line if the Clips want to win.

Should the Hack-A-_____ be outlawed?

The Rockets took advantage of the old and depressing Mavericks. James Harden continues perform at a high level. Josh Smith showed up and has become a phenomenal sixth man and spark off of the bench. Dwight Howard averaged a double double in the first round and will have to resume his great play.

Regis Mike
Washington v Atlanta Was 4-1

WAS 4-3

Chicago v Cleveland

Chi 4-2

CLE 4-2

Memphis v Golden State

GS 4-1

GS 4-1

Los Angeles v Houston Hou 4-2

LA 4-2

Photo: Reuters

Thoughts from other bloggers

Moore 2 The Story

GrindGrindRambleGrind

ICGower

Winners Win On Sports

NBA 1st Round Series Predictions

I have to say that I have not been this excited about the NBA playoffs in a long time. No one knows who is going to take the title home.

The Eastern Conference seems to be more chalk as compared to the West.

The teams out west are so comparable any team can represent the side in the championship series.

Western Conference:

8 New Orleans v 1 Golden State

The Pels may have saved Monty Williams’ job by making it to the postseason for the first time in four years, but I’m sure they did not want to go against the best team in the NBA in the first round (record). New Orleans is young and they have a great nucleus, but it is not enough to defeat the Warriors.

(Photo: Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports)
                                                (Photo: Howard Smith, USA TODAY Sports)

7 Dallas v                         2 Houston

Earlier this season, Dallas put all of their eggs in one basket so that they could win a title this year, but the experiment flopped. Rajon Rondo never became that spark plug that was going to distribute to Dirk, Parsons, and Ellis.

James Harden has had to lead the Rockets past a lot of people’s expectations. No one thought that they would get home court advantage and the number two seed with Dwight Howard only playing in 41 games. This series will be highly contested as both teams want to make the claim as being the “Best in Texas”.

6 San Antonio v 3 LA Clippers

The defending champs will have to start each round on the road if they want to repeat. The Spurs would have had the number two seed if they had beaten the Pelicans in the regular season finale. This team is experienced and rested enough to make a push this postseason.

The Clippers have solidified their position as being the best team in LA and will try to make it to the second round. Chris Paul played in all 82 games this season for the first time in his career. This team will be seen as a failure if they can not get over the hurdle once again.

4 Portland v 5 Memphis

I believe this will be the most compelling series in the Western Conference. Though Portland is the higher seed, they will not have home-court advantage as Memphis won their division.

The Blazers will need to have a healthy LaMarcus Aldridge to contend, but if he can’t they stand no chance. He missed three of the last six games because of a foot injury. Portland comes into the playoffs losing five of their last six contests.

Memphis is not healthy either. Mike Conley and Tony Allen need to get well for them to continue. I would think that Memphis will try to win this series by going to the paint.

Eastern Conference
Demar-Derozan-1
                                         (Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports)

5 Washington v            4 Toronto 

Both teams enter the postseason warm and it seems that they’ve hit their stride at the right time.

Paul Pierce is using is veteran knowledge to call out his young teammates who need his guidance. John Wall has worked his way into the discussion of the best point guard in the league.

The Raptors seem to be happy just making it. This team is deep. They are also winners of 4 out of 5.

Note: Toronto also has Drake on their sideline. (Hey, he’s better than Spike Lee.)

We may look back at the end of this series and say it was a classic.

The bottom three teams in the East are not over .500 and do not deserve to be mentioned, however congratulations on making to the playoffs by beating the Knicks and 76ers. Expect no upsets here.

To the picks
  Regis Mike
New Orleans v Golden State

GS 4-0

GS 4-2

Dallas v Houston

Hou 4-2

Dal 4-3

San Antonio v Los Angeles

SA 4-2

SA 4-3

Portland v Memphis

Mem 4-3

Mem 4-1

Brooklyn v Atlanta

Atl 4-0

Atl 4-1

Boston v Cleveland

Cle 4-0

Cle 4-1

Milwaukee v Chicago

Chi 4-1

Chi 4-0

Washington v Toronto

Was 4-3

Was 4-2

What did other bloggers have to say:

Mark Broussard Report

Swingman

It’s All About Sports

Cover Photo: Getty Images

2014-2015 NBA Preview, LeBron, Championship, Lakers, and more

nba

by Regis Welch @regisjwelch

Down the Line Sports

Well the NBA season returns this week, and I must say that I am extremely excited. I’m excited because this has been an extremely long offseason that has only had a few storylines that have been covered for far too long by the media. C’mon you know what I’m talking about.

  • Where’s LeBron going?
  • Can D. Rose come back healthy?
  • Is Phil Jackson going to return as the head coach of the Knicks?
  • Are the 76ers going to win five games in the 14-15 season?

For the most part we already knew how those questions were going to pan out. Am I surprised that LeBron went back to Cleveland? Not really. He has a much better chance to win an NBA title and he can bring glory to his home city. Cleveland has not celebrated a championship since 1964. Jim Brown led the then Cleveland Browns to the NFL Championship.

Let’s examine the teams:

Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Media Day

As previously mentioned, LeBron James did return home. He is team up with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. I believe Love is the best big man in the NBA because he can rebound and he can score from anywhere on the court. However, Chris Bosh was also a deadly big man as well who took a minor role to play alongside LeBron. I don’t see Love putting up the same numbers that he did when in Minnesota just because he doesn’t have to. I can hope that he is still effective on both sides of the court. Kyrie Irving is arguably the best point guard in the league. He can score and stretch the court. The Cavs also have a great bench who is made up of good scorers.

However, on the bad side the Cavs do a have a rookie coach, David Blatt. He is a respected coach. Blatt comes with a great resume. He’s a four time Israeli League Coach of the Year, six time Israeli Cup Champion, Italian Cup Champion, and Euroleague Champion. It will be interesting to see him bring an international flair to the NBA and see how he reacts to the nuances a new league.

Miami Heat 

For all of the friendly folks who pretended to be Miami Heat fans, please know that your presence will not be missed. It was just a few years ago where the Heat were in this same position. The leader of the team was Dwayne Wade and he had a mediocre supporting cast. Now players who actually have talent will surround Wade. Chris Bosh can be a beast within the paint again. He does not have to be on the perimeter to stretch the defense. I believe that Luol Deng is one of the most disrespected players in the league. He can score, play defense on log major minutes.

The million-dollar question with this team is their health. Wade must play in at least 70 games. If Danny Granger can return healthy they may have a chance at a playoff spot.

With all that being said the next time that the Miami Heat win a championship will be when LeBron James has a full head hair. It’s not gonna be anytime soon.

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose appears to be back and playing like Derrick Rose. He’s making cuts and driving hard to the basket. My only concern about this team is the health of the former league MVP. Rose has had an ACL tear in the past and a torn meniscus. To play this sport you must have a good foundation and hopefully he has that.

The Bulls brought in a Pau Gasol during the free agency period. It will be hard for teams to matchup on the Bulls double-headed monster in the post. Gasol will play side by side with Joakim Noah. Noah carried the Bulls all of last season in the absence of Rose.

Chicago reminds me most of San Antonio. Meaning that this group of people plays great together. If and only if Rose is healthy will this team win the NBA title.

Indiana Pacers

Paul George broke his leg while playing for team USA during the offseason. He will be out the entire 2014-2015 season. George says that he can possibly be back for the playoffs if needed. This team has no chance of making the playoffs in the easiest conference. The Pacers were disgusting in the postseason last spring. Roy Hibbert, proved his worth as he had games where he did not record a basket or a rebound. A 7’2 you can’t get a rebound. I have a great aunt over 80 who can play better. David West is the only person on this team that I trust. He will play hard, too bad his team won’t.

New York Knicks

ny_a_knicksts_600x400

We found out over the offseason that Carmelo Anthony cares more about money than winning a championship. He signed a five-year $124 million to stay in the Big Apple. It is understood that Melo does not pass the ball. It is also understood that he has no one to pass to. Amar’e Stoudemire is supposed to be his help, but Stoudemire can’t stay on the field. He has played in 55 games per season since signing with the Knicks. That ain’t gonna cut it. Derek Fisher is they’re new head coach. Oh, he knows absolutely nothing about coaching. He knows the triangle offense, but does he know that he has no talented players on his team. If New York makes the playoffs it will be in a very low position.

Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant is the Los Angeles Lakers. If Kobe Bryant stays healthy the Lakers can win 30 games. If he is not healthy the Lakers win 12. It’s as simple as that. The team sucks, and there is nothing that Bryant can do about it. Then there’s Nick Young. Who cares about Nick Young? Carlos Boozer is washed up! Steve Nash is out for the season. Truly, that’s a good thing. He would have made them worse. Jeremy Lin is overrated and the owners are delusional. Here’s a clip of Jeanie Buss on First Take last week. She thinks her team will make the playoffs. Excuse me. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

San Antonio Spurs

The defending champs will look to do the same thing they do every year. Except, this year they will catch no one by surprise. They’ve been to the finals the last two season and many are expecting them to go back there again. There really is no story here. This is a great team. Expect them to be in the mix.

Oklahoma City Thunder

kevin-durant-russell-westbrook

Kevin Durant will miss at least the first month of competition. When he comes back the Thunder return to be the force that they truly are. But instead of talking about the league’s second best player let’s talk about Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is one of the best young players in the NBA. I believe that he has a very bright future in front of him, but he really needs to know his role. He is not the best player in Oklahoma City and never will be. I believe he is the modern day Penny Hardaway. Hardaway just knew he was better than Shaq and got a rude awakening once he found out he was not. Shaquille O’Neal went on to get four titles. Durant will get his championships with or without the help of Russell Westbrook.

Eastern Conference Standings

  1. Chicago
  2. Cleveland
  3. Charlotte
  4. Washington
  5. Toronto
  6. Brooklyn
  7. Miami
  8. Detroit

Western Conference Standings

  1. Los Angeles Clippers
  2. Houston
  3. San Antonio
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Golden State
  6. Portland
  7. Dallas
  8. Denver

In the East, may the Knicks will play their way in. Look out for Orlando. They are a young talented team that will be on the way this year. The West is stacked. Memphis and Phoenix both made compelling arguments for being my eighth seed. I believe in Brian Shaw as a head coach and he will lead the Nuggets to a top eighth seed.

Finals: Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Clippers

Chris_Paul_CP3_next_to_Derek_Rose

Champs: Chicago Bulls (If Derrick Rose stays healthy.)