A few items we haven't talked about yet:
I'll refrain from analyzing the same thing that you all have heard 1000 times ... that Portland wants a first round draft pick from New Jersey and the Nets aren't willing to give it. I expect Shareef to end up in New Jersey one way or the other, and it's an interesting storyline to watch. And that's really the only prominent rumor surrounding Portland right now. They've got plenty of young assets and plenty of time to figure out how to shape the roster, so I'm fine with Nash and Patterson sitting back , giving Nate a chance to evaluate exactly what the team's got, and get more aggressive come August.
In other Blazer news, Travis Outlaw has looked fantastic in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Telfair and Outlaw have both looked good as well. I can't decide whether this is funny or unfortunate, but Ha Seung-Jin (who's father's name is Dong-Ki; don't get me started on that) will miss the remainder of the camp with tendonitis in his left knee. We reported here earlier that Ha was out of shape, and the tendonitis injury would seem to jive with that. And in case you're wondering what's up with Sergei Monya, he did secure his VISA - but not in time to join the team for the summer league. He'll be there for fall training camp ... shame.
I think you've got to view their offseason as a success thus far. True, they missed out on Michael Redd -- but they recovered very nicely by adding Larry Hughes. Hughes has had an up-and-down career, but he truly blossomed into one of the NBA's top-tier scorers last year, and he's a very nice defender. He won't give them that deadly outside shooter they'd hoped for, but he'll contribute in many other ways and will look very nice alongside LeBron. Additionally, Cleveland re-upped Big Z, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ilgauskas, when healthy, is one of the more underrated centers in the league. He's good for 16 and 9 every night, and although the 5 year contract is too long, it's not a terrible deal and I'd probably rank Ilgauskas as the second best center in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers probably got taken in their trade, dealing a veteran backup point guard and Caron Butler to the Wizards for Kwame Brown, but it's impressive that they were able to only sign him to a two-year guaranteed deal, with a team option for a third year. I'm 100% sure that Brown could have received more money from a team like Atlanta or New York, but this is an interesting trade. I'm not sure that Butler was ever going to reach his full potential in LA playing next to Kobe and Lamar Odom, and if Brown doesn't work out, LA has got Will Bynum who will probably be ready to start in a few seasons. I hate saying it , but I think it's a nice deal for the Lake-show.
Another terrible move by the worst GM in sports: Isaiah Thomas. The Knicks are all set to give Jerome James a 5-year deal worth $29 million.
James' career highs, yes that's right not average, but highs, are 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game. Brutal. I guess that Isaiah figured that since he'd traded one of his centers last season - Nazr Mohammed - and traded another this offseason - Kurt Thomas - and had reached in the draft for a highly overrated center - Channing Frye - that he needed to overommit way too much money to a guy who essentially played two decent games all year, the two playoff games vs the Kings where James claimed he had "finally arrived". Isaiah Thomas is such an absurdly bad GM that I'm baffled Knicks fans are accepting this. Fortunately for him, Nate Robinson has looked fantastic in summer league play (though I'm curious to see how he does when real NBA players are patrolling the paing), masking his mistakes.LA Clippers
The other team in LA is making some noise, the Clippers. I'll tell you something: I really like that team. It's too bad Shaun Livingston missed most of last year with injuries, or I'd tell you that they could compete for a playoff spot. The clips missed out on Bobby Simmons, but they did land Cuttino Mobley -- who's less of a complete player but more of a pure shooter. The Clippers' starting lineup now looks like this, assuming they resign Marco Jaric: PG - Jaric SG - Mobley SF - Maggette PF - Brand C - Kaman, with Livingston and Wilcox the first few guys off the bench. That's a nice young squad; it's too bad the franchise's history of losing takes over the attitude of all involved. But if they can get some development out of Kaman and Livingston ends up as good as we all think he can be ... watch out.