Why a Blake Griffin Trade Must Happen to Save the NBA

In the coming months leading up to the trade deadline you will see many articles such as 'top 4 best Blake Griffin Trade destinations' or perhaps 'top 5 trades that will definitely happen'.

I want to be clear. This is not one of those generic articles.

Yes – many proposals will come though the rumor mill and many will likely include the Clippers and Blake Griffin. There's really only a few legitimate 2 to 3 team deal that works for Blake and the Clippers and the most realistic one is more or less the following:

Clippers Trade: Griffin, Pierce
Clippers Receive: Gallinari, Barton, Crowder

Nuggets Trade: Gallinari, Barton
Nuggers Receive: Amir Johnson, Jerebko, 2017 Brooklyn 1st Rd pick

Celtics Trade: Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jerebko, 2017 Brooklyn 1st Rd pick
Celtics Receive: Griffin, Pierce

Now different variations of the deal could also make sense. Maybe Boston gives up slightly more assets such as a Memphis pick or Terry Rozier? Maybe Denver pushes hard to move Faried instead of Gallinari? But this is the general flow of the deal: Denver collects a Brooklyn pick, Clippers exchange Blake for more depth, Boston grabs Blake.

Will such a deal work for all parties? There are probably more squeamish reactions than not when looking at such a trade framework.

Will Gallinari be healthy enough to be effective long term in LA? Would Denver jeopardize a somewhat successful first half of the season (they are at the cusp of the west playoff race)? Could Blake and Horford even Co exist in Boston?

Every trade has questions like this, but the potential reward should out weigh some of the risks.

The Clippers need to be honest with themselves and understand that even at their best the current framework of the team won't come out of the 2nd round of the playoffs. The team is absurdly thin, particularly at the 3 where cast offs like Mbah a Moute and Wesley Johnson are netting significant minutes and 39 year old, playing like he's 49, Paul Pierce is starting most nights. On what other team would these three even be in a rotation?

Insert Gallinari who could actually fit well as a small ball 4 next to Jordan. Crowder would also be the perfect small forward compliment, essentially serving as a better version of previously departed Matt Barnes who is tremendously missed. Will Barton would also be a key piece who could emerge as a backup combo forward and help Jamal Crawford with more efficient offense off the bench.

Is it enough to beat the Warriors in a 7 game series? Probably not, but it could give them a fighting chance if everyone is healthy. At the very least it gives Chris Paul an opportunity to completely control the unit where the team has been most effective.

The Nuggets need to be realistic as well. While the team may be somewhat excited now about smelling the post season, they need to continue concentrating on the long term. The team is saddled with redundant veterans and a Mish mash of solid, but not superb talent, which needs minutes. Their wings: Chandler, Gallinari, Harris, Murray and Barton all need rotational minutes and it has been tough for Coach Malone to find rotation consistency.

With such a trade Denver opens their rotation more and allows for their young wings, Harris and Murray, to have an increased role. Wilson Chandler has played well as the small ball 4 and could remain in a similar capacity. Faried is another vet the team would rather move and the latter two could be interchanged somewhat and placed in this trade potentially. Of course the main crux of the trade is acquiring the Brooklyn 1st Rd pick.

Let's chat about the value of first round picks for a second. Remember before the recent CBA when the value of even middle to late first round picks were high? You could snag a top 10 starting center for a non lotto pick. The Wizards sent a lottery protected 1st Rd pick for Marcin Gortat. The Blazers acquired Mason Plumlee who was coming off a double-double season for the 23rd pick in the NBA draft.

Recently of course the value has flipped the other way. Danny Ainge experienced it first hand in the last few drafts. Two years ago the Celtics were offering Charlotte a slew of future 1st round picks, including a future Brooklyn pick, in the hopes of moving up from 16 to 9 just to select Justise Winslow. The Hornets rejected it. This past draft no one even sniffed at Boston's offering of the 3rd pick.

The truth is the value of a future 1st Rd pick is probably somewhere in between these 2 extremes. Right now the scale is on one end and any team who is able to make a deal with Boston and snag one of their Brooklyn picks will probably get the better end of a deal. In short, it would be extremely wise for Denver to unload 2 vets who will not be part of their future for the chance at building an extremely enticing long term foundation.

So now it comes back to Boston, why do the Celtics make this move? Speaking as a Celtics fan I can't say I'm thrilled about the scenario. Danny Ainge simply is holding onto far too many assets that he'd prefer unloading them in hopes of landing a vet who could move Boston to the upper echelon of the East and challenge Cleveland.

While the Griffin and Horford tandem could be awkward it also has the potential to really beat up teams down low. Looking at the state of the East there'd be no other 4/5 tandem who could endure such a combo battling underneath. Blake has also been quietly phenomenal for the Clippers in prior post seasons. He also gives the Celtics another needed go to option down the stretch of games which can open the floor more for Thomas. At his best, Blake Griffin could go in revenge mode and catapult Boston to the conference finals where they'd have a competitive series against the Cavs. Let's also not forget the additon of Paul Pierce which could add some playoff leadership although is more likely to be nothing more than cute.

Why is this good for the league?

Everyone is afraid to say it, but the NBA has a parity problem. You look across other sports and you could theoritically see several different teams winning a championship. The Cubs and Indians were somewhat surprising in baseball, in the NFL while the Patriots may be favorites, the Cowboys, Packers, and Chiefs are extremely scary. In the NBA, could you even theorize a finals which isn't another rematch of the Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers?

The NBA has recently been more about wake me up when May ends, of course until the finals happen which should be captivating. Both the Cavs and Warriors need at least one potential threat in hopes of engaging a larger audience prior to June.

Boston and the Clippers seem to be as good candidates as any at this point. LA has managed a top 4 seed over the past several seasons and on the brink of conference finals contention. A simple swap of talent for depth could be a change that takes the current team to new heights.

Boston is more likely to make the conference finals due to the lack of strength of the east. The hope is Griffin unleashes a revenge type mentality like none another to catapult Boston to contention.

There are other trade scenarios to look at as well, but funny thing is the ones that need to demolish parity to help save the league all involve Blake Griffin.

For example, other scenarios could include the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is the kind of high risk – high reward big Doc could be interested in and the Kings could either acquire Blake and pieces in return (would be closer to Cousins and Afflalo for Blake and Reddick) or look to Boston for a 3 team deal and net assets. Again in the latter scenario the Celtics and Clippers could catapult themselves to contention.

In the end Doc holds the card that can save the NBA. If the Clippers simply hang onto Blake, finish the season in typical 2nd round and out fashion we should be headed for a typical ho hum finish down the stretch.

The NBA has a parity problem, fortunately there is a Doc in the house.

Is Rajon Rondo Done?


Last night Jimmy Butler had a career night. The Bulls were facing a good 'test' game facing off against a likely top 4-5 seed playing at their peak in Charlotte. Oddly, the Hornets are also built in an opposite way of the Bulls.

Gleaning from the Hornets

Years ago when Charlotte was swept in the first round of the playoffs against then Lebron's Miami Heat, the issue with the team was a lack of spacing. As you may recall, Charlotte was then led by Big Al Jefferson who was dominant in the series. Yet despite his dominance, Miami was able to double team him at will since Charlotte lacked shooting. After the series, some reporters went as far to say that Charlotte screwed up the previous draft by selecting Michael Kidd Gilchrist with the 2nd pick over sharp shooting 2 guard Bradley Beal. The thought was just that additonal spacing could have catapulted the club to greater heights.

Charlotte clearly understood the issue with their current roster dynamic and shifted quickly. In a few short seasons, the team simply let Big Al walk in free agency, and focused solely on spacing – signing Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, Marco Bellinelli and acquiring Spencer Hawes for spacing killer Lance Stephenson.

In just a few seasons the Hornets went from being one of the league's worst spacing offenses to one of its best. They made a problem their strength. Charlotte is coming off an impressive 47 win season and as of this writing is atop the eastern conference southeast division.

The Chicago Bulls Short Sightedness

Chicago has fallen into the same issues Charlotte once had and we can't say we didn't see it coming. The Bulls clearly saw they had issues with a Jimmy Butler – Derrick Rose perimeter tandem. Both players were slash heavy, didn't love shooting the 3, and needed the ball in their hands to be successful. The Bulls realized these 2 didn't play well together so they moved Rose to New York, but perhaps they didn't understand why. If they had, Chicago would have tried pursuing a space friendly point guard to play alongside Jimmy Butler allowing the wing to dominate the ball and be successful. Such a move could've been even more lauded when the team signed Dwayne Wade.

The Rajon Rondo Opportunity

Instead Chicago not only doubled down, they tripled down. By signing Rajon Rondo after the New York move, the team essentially employed the NBA's most slash heavy perimeter trio in Rondo-Wade-Butler of all time. The Bulls also failed to realize in what situations Rajon Rondo would be most successful.

Rondo's career in Boston was magnificent. Rajon was entrenched as the up and comer for the franchise learning the nuances of the game from 3 potential hall of famers in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He kept improving in his first few season, culminating with a legendary performance in the conference finals vs. the Miami Heat.

Once the elder trio had all left; however, Rondo was handed the keys to the franchise. Rajon had an up and down first season with his new franchise leader title mixed with injuries dating back to the prior season where he experienced an ACL tear.

The Celtics made Rajon Rondo available on the trade market by the deadline. The move was less about any underlying issues Rajon and new Celtics' coach Brad Stevens had and more about Boston's current state. GM Danny Ainge made it quite clear that his agenda was to completely rebuild and acquire as many picks as possible. Jeff Green was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for a future first round pick and of course Rajon Rondo was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks for their upcoming first round pick and Jae Crowder.

There may have been more behind the scenes regarding Rondo and Coach Stevens relationship, but it was in Dallas that the wheels started coming off. Rondo and Coach Carlisle clashed tremendously with the point guard finally being benched towards the end of the team's first round series loss.

The Wheels Begin to Fall Off

That off-season, Rondo's cons were magnified. Everyone knew he was an extreme pass first point guard who at his best could control the tempo of the game like some greats including Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Magic Johnson. At his worst of course he would mix up the play calling, pound the dribble and pass up open lay ups for contested three pointers all in the hopes of stock piling assists.

Rondo got a second chance with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings were hoping to catch lightening in a bottle and find a competent PG to pair with DeMarcus Cousins. Shockingly, the modern jail blazer like Kings actually made sense for Rajon. He had free reign and even led the league in assists while shooting a career best 36% from 3. He was allowed carte Blanche play calling offensively and the flow looked great. Yet, the Kings were still the Kings and team didn't exactly bite at the chance to lock him up long term. Why? There could be a myriad of reasons, but the likelier is the NBA was moving towards more spacing not less. Having a point guard who couldn't only shoot well, but would pass up open shots would be detrimental to an offense. To be honest, that notion still may be true as you see similar struggles now with Ricky Rubio in Minnesota.

So, considering the league is essentially moving away from Rondo's type of style is he done? Does a scenario exist where Rajon Rondo can still be a very effective NBA player?

Headcases in the NBA

In the NBA if you are a big or even a wing…really any position besides point guard, you can get away with head case like tendencies as long as the talent is there. Guys like Dennis Rodman and Rasheed Wallace had stellar careers despite their head case tag. Even some swing men like JR Rider, Latrell Sprewell and JR Smith have had long successful NBA careers even if they weren't the classiest players. The point guard position is different of course – similar to football.

In the NFL if you had the talent like Terrell Owens or Deon Sanders you'd have yourself a career despite what a therapist may say about you. That's not always the case with QB; however, as Ryan Leaf can tell you. The same is the case with the PG position in the NBA.

Stephen Marbury, Gilbert Arenas, and even Allen Iverson had curtailed careers because they couldn't accept their fall from grace due to age or injury and not be the primary option for their respective teams. Rajon's scenario is actually a bit different since age or injury is not the issue. It's more about what the new generation of the NBA has become and Rondo is left awkwardly not knowing how to adapt.

Can Rondo Save His NBA Career?

The only feasible scenario left for Rajon is to embrace a 6th man role. He can dominate a second unit and even show flashes of brilliance and be inconsistent since that's what that type of role entails. Even then due to his emotional behavior he probably needs to be with a familiar style or coach and veteran personell. Really only the Clippers qualify, but a Doc reunion only makes sense in a buy out scenario.

Rondo's situation is more serious than others because it's head case combined with style of play. We call that the Lance Stephenson special.

If Rondo continues on this path, which is likely, and can't embrace a legit 6th man role in free agency the Lance Stephenson outcome is exactly what you should expect.

Stick a fork in him.

Last licks for the Knicks? What NY can do to increase its chances to contend

Carmelo Anthony
If you recently opened a sports section in a New York newspaper, you may think the Knicks are in contention. Sports pundits and fans in the area are extremely excited about the team's recent success, and rightfully so.

Knicks…Playoff Team?

The team's 11-9 record was its best through 20 games in four years, and the Knicks now sit at 14-13. Kristaps Porzingis is showing great progress and some say he may already be the best overall talent on the team. Kyle O'Quinn and Brandon Jennings have provided needed sparks off the bench. Finally, Derrick Rose has shown some signs of being at least a diet version of his former MVP self.

So what's the worry? Well, the fact is that this current unit, at least for the next several seasons, has a ceiling. That ceiling is more or less due to Carmelo Anthony. Now, let's be frank, Melo is a phenomenal offensive talent, but he is showing clear signs of aging and unfortunately slows down the development of Porzingis. There's also zero chance he waives his no-trade clause, so he is in New York to stay.

With Melo, plus a resurgent Rose and a developing Porzingis, the Knicks’ ceiling is a low playoff seed. Knicks fans may still take that outcome given the team's disappointing seasons in recent years, but we can do better New York!

First, we need to decipher what puts Melo in the best situation on this Knicks roster:

1. Melo needs to play more power forward. The small forward slot would be beneficial if Anthony were used more in the post. Defenses have gotten better in this regard, and considering he isn't as pass-friendly as he probably should be, it's relatively easier to defend him in the post even with a smaller defender. Having said that, Melo's most comfortable and effective move in recent seasons is the 15-18 foot jab fake/jump shot dance. By playing the 4, Melo should face slower defenders who he can take more advantage of in these iso sets. Defensively, there are issues here, so his time at the 4 may need to be staggered more with Noah at the 5 rather than with Porzingis at center.

2. Aggressive point guard play. Over the past few seasons, the Knicks have seen passive PGs like Jose Calderon and Raymond Felton defer to Melo at times. This creates less overall ball movement and more standing on offense. Now, when Rose is aggressive, it benefits the Knicks because it catches the defense off guard and opens the perimeter up for bigs and wings like Porzingis, Courtney Lee, etc. The issue the Knicks currently have, or at least can improve upon, is Rose's inconsistency. Additionally, Rose can sometimes get uber-aggressive, and his decision-making can be improved. Rose is a massive upgrade at the 1 for the Knicks. They just need a better and more consistent version of him.

So what can the New York Knicks do?

The Knicks need to look at a trade and find a way to get a better version of Rose as well as a strong defensive 3 who can space the floor, allowing Melo to play more 4.

A three-way deal with Minnesota and Phoenix could make sense. The Wolves have had one of the more disappointing starts in the league, and Coach Tom Thibodeau would benefit from having a familiar face back. The Suns still have a massive point guard quandary and are better off dealing talent for draft picks/future assets, continuing their rebuild. Here’s the proposed trade:

Knicks trade: Derrick Rose, 2017 1st round pick

Knicks receive: Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker

Wolves trade: Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, top 3-protected 2017 pick

Wolves receive: Derrick Rose

Suns trade: Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker

Suns receive: Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, 2017 Knicks pick, 2017 top 3-protected Minnesota pick

As noted earlier, Thibodeau would feel comfortable with Rose in place and probably needs to make this type of high risk/high reward move to get his season back on track. The Suns net two potential lottery picks to help their rebuild.

Why do the Knicks do it? Bledsoe would be an ideal fit next to Melo in this lineup. Bledsoe also has experience playing both guard slots (so he'll work with Jennings in those units) and has previously played well in Coach Jeff Hornacek's system.

Tucker is a staunch defender and gives the team that necessary extra defensive wing, which allows them to be more comfortable playing small ball.

Ultimately, the Knicks do need to make a trade to move to that upper echelon of their conference. These next two to three years will be awkward for New York, given that fans likely feel the torch should be passed to Porzingis, yet Melo will still lead the team in usage and possessions. The team needs consistent point guard play to hold down the fort and allow Anthony to play more off the ball, and to preserve him for iso sets only when necessary.

Phil Jackson needs to make such a trade to maximize his last licks from these Knicks.

Rising early in the East: All-Star predictions in September

Predicted Eastern Conference All-Stars Kyrie Irving (center) and Andre Drummond (right)
Labor Day is barely over, and as NBA nuts we are lacking the necessary daily fix of NBA fodder. But have no fear, predictions are here! Instead of starting with standings, however, we feel starting with All-Stars has more zing. Without further ado, the predicted 2017 Eastern Conference All-Stars:


Forward: Carmelo Anthony

With Kristaps Porzingis coming into his second season and what seems to be a rejuvenated Knicks team, Melo will likely keep his Eastern starting streak going. The Knicks, with health concerns galore, are likely to have a better-than-anticipated first half, but will probably catch the injury bug at or around the All-Star break to slide into a non-playoffs seed. Still, at the time of the break they'll be in playoff contention, which should guarantee Melo another starting appearance.

Forward: LeBron James

Just trying to get the obvious selections out of the way here. James should at least replicate some statistical line of 26, 7, and 7. His Cavs will probably have the conference's best record to boot, all of which equates to a starting slot. And they will no doubt be back in the NBA Finals this summer.

Center: Andre Drummond

Yes, not all 5 positions need to resemble your standard starting 5, which in seasons past has meant no center in the East's starting lineup. This year that won't be the case, as Drummond will easily be one of the top 5 players in the East—and fans will notice. Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy is poised to continue to assemble a Dwight Howard-like attack around Drummond, and Detroit is expecting a decent uptick in the W column with another season of that young core gelling.

Guard: Kyrie Irving

After his heroic Finals performance and his willingness to play second fiddle well to LeBron, Kyrie has quietly climbed up in recognition among NBA lore. What that exactly means for the remainder of his career largely depends on the Cavs' success in the next 2-3 years, and his ability to be slightly less selfish and improve as a defender. This is likely another starting lock, make that 4 in total, for your East All-Stars.

Forward: Paul George

As I write this, I honestly don't feel confident in any single selection. This slot could be Derrick Rose if New York has a truly great start and Rose throws up at least 17 and 7—not out of the realm of possibility, but not likely. It could be Jeremy Lin, if the Nets are even within 5 games of the 8th seed and Linsanity has returned to New York. Maybe Dwyane Wade if he somehow makes it work in a slash-heavy perimeter scheme in Chicago. Kyle Lowry is probably a somewhat safe pick here if Toronto is still among the East's top teams. In actuality, however, it may really depend on the starting lineup rules. If the NBA loosens the positional requirements, Paul George should be in the starting lineup. Yes, he is a forward, but the NBA tends to try and ensure that the best 5 for a conference start, and they'll make sure George gets in.


Forward: Jimmy Butler

A pretty decent chance at being a reserve lock, Butler is a coach's dream. He will likely ensure Chicago is within playoff striking distance, and given the lack of potential among reserve wings in the East (since the top 3 are starting), Jimmy is a near guarantee to snag the coaches' vote.

Center: Hassan Whiteside

Brace yourselves. We are going to witness the true uniqueness of Miami's center next season. Despite his contract this offseason and some gaudy stat totals, Hassan Whiteside is still underrated. His wins produced per 48 minutes make mockery of the metric, and Miami's record with him versus without him during the last few seasons is like comparing the Golden State Warriors to the Denver Nuggets. Pundits say he is purposely trying to compile blocked shot numbers, which makes his totals less impressive. That concept always irked me. I understand, as a player, how you could theoritically pile up points (volume shots – Kobe), rebounds (steal rebounds from teammates, rebound off missed free throws – Marcus Camby), maybe assists (pass up open lay ups and kick out for shots – Rajon Rondo), but defensively how do you stockpile blocks? More specifically, how does stockpiling blocks hurt your team? If the theory is that Hassan lets defenders blow by so he could then block them, he's still defending the rim and altering shots—also known as his job. With Chris Bosh likely to be out at some point and Wade gone, Whiteside's importance will finally show.

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo

In his 3rd season, the Greek Freak will make the All-Star team. The beauty of the East standings will be in their competitiveness, likely between the 3/4 – 13 slots. This is an important note, because many teams will appear to be in the hunt around the All-Star break. This will make coaches feel more inclined to get someone like Giannis in. He really doesn't have a specific position, but has as good of a chance as anyone outside LeBron to lead his team in all 5 major statistical categories.

Guard: John Wall

To reiterate the above, if you are on a team not from Brooklyn or Philly, you will be in the playoff mix. This is huge for John Wall, who is the best pure point guard in the conference and should make the squad solely as a result of that fact, regardless of team record.

Forward: Serge Ibaka

Yes! Another surprise! After Orlando swapped Victor Oladipo and rookie Domantas Sabonis for Ibaka, pundits were calling for Orlando GM Rob Hennigan's head. Ibaka is a fantastic defensive player with a developed offensive game who was begging for more scoring opportunities in OKC. Instead of incorporating him more in the offense, they picked up Enes Kanter and had more pick and roll plays involving center Steven Adams. Serge Ibaka wants to prove himself as a force in this league, and the Eastern Conference has been put on notice. Expect an All-Star nod for Serge and potentially a playoff appearance for Orlando.

Center: Al Horford

With the Celtics bound for 50+ wins, we need to select someone in green. Al Horford is a fine-tasting cookies and cream Chewy granola bar. You know what you are going to get and it's solid, with a little sugar. Horford is in prime position in Boston, likely sandwiched in a unit with some decent spacing (Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas) and no one really competing with him for boards. With the departure of Jared Sullinger, he is Boston's sole post presence. Expect healthy double-digit rebound averages and scoring flirting with 20 PPG.

Guard: DeMar Derozan

I'm not going to front, I don't love this prediction. Similar to Boston's scenario, coaches will feel compelled to select a Raptor given that they'll likely be a top 3 seed out East. DeMar likely gets a nod over Lowry or even Jonas Valanciunas simply due to the scarcity of talent at the wing slot. Coaches would probably be more compelled to select Wall in competition with Lowry and Horford/Ibaka/Paul Millsap/Whiteside for big men slots in competition with Jonas. I struggled here, as another wing seemed necessary to make this roster. The only other conceivable alternative options are Wade (potentially for nostalgic/respect reasons), Nicolas Batum, and probably rookie Ben Simmons. DeMar has a far greater chance than those 3 of making the squad due to team record alone. I do hope Simmons has an exceptional rookie campaign and Philly isn't awful enough to make coaches reconsider. I hope, but I doubt it.

Last slot: Chris Bosh (if healthy, otherwise Kemba Walker)

Okay, I could have played it safe here. Millsap, Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Lowry and maybe Reggie Jackson could have made a case here, but I'm predicting a sentimental vote. After blood clots and a series of Pharma ads with Arnold Palmer and Kevin Nealon, Chris Bosh seems ready to return to basketball. Given his health scare and Wade bolting, Chris should be able to put up good enough stats that the coaches will reward his return with an All-Star nod. Bosh will benefit from Whiteside's presence on the interior and with some lack of big man depth in Miami, he'll get the minutes and shots needed to return close to 20 and 10 form.

If Bosh does get hurt again, though, expect to see Kemba Walker suit up. You may think it has more to do with his escalation into pseudo-star status. I think it's more about Adam Silver feeling bad he took the All-Star weekend from Charlotte. As a means of gratitude, he will grant Kemba the injury-filler slot.

Up next….the West!

How do you fix the NBA D-League? Call it Summer League

d-leagueLast week was a very weak sports week on TV.

Baseball was approaching its All-Star break, football season is in deep preview mode, and the Olympics are only starting later in the summer.

If you did happen to try and find compelling live sports last week, it was likely the NBA Summer League, whose games were airing around the clock on NBA TV. Even ESPN 2 got in on the action, airing live games when the scene shifted to Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, if you were following Twitter trends, you may have noticed both NBA free agency and key players in Summer League consistently breaking the social platform's barrier.

The truth is that the rise of the Summer League may be occurring due to the genuine increase in social NBA following and a lack of other compelling sports on TV.

The Summer League actually started in the 1990s and took place in UMass Boston's facilities. Back then, only a handful of teams participated, but you could see the potential of a great sports avenue take shape.

Since then, the Summer League has continued to expand, including stops in Orlando and Utah, with all 30 NBA teams participating in some way. But the real testament to the success of the Summer League is the national attention. Never before in its existence was every Summer League game readily available live on cable TV.

Let's compare this progress to the NBADL—the NBA's developmental league, better known as the D-League. The past few seasons, NBA TV has aired several live D-League games, but with poor ratings. According to Nielsen, the ratings for those D-League games were so low nationally, they typically don't register a decimal point and are rounded to 0.0.

The fact is that the D-League has an extremely tough hurdle the Summer League doesn't need to face: timing. The D-League is literally competing with the NBA regular season, scheduling games aligning with their top-tier counterpart's schedule. What fan would tune in for a Westchester Knicks game over a New York Knicks game? It's simply not a fair fight.

Meanwhile, basketball junkies don't have an outlet in the summer. They pound the rumor mills over trades and free agency, hoping for both the next Durant or even Mozgov storylines until they get their next fix. The Summer League falls down from the heavens like manna at a time they miss basketball the most.

Another key difference between both leagues is talent. Typically, the majority of all rookies as well as a decent chunk of second-year talent, international hopefuls, and blasts from the past (hello Aaron Craft) compete for their NBA lives in the Summer League. It's the best form of reality TV. Compare that to the D-League, where the salaries and exposure are low, so you get guys who haven't made an NBA squad for some time and are still hopeful, but not good enough to play internationally. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, who played in the 2016 Summer League, would be the D-League's best player of all time.

So what can the NBA do? Consider turning the D-League into the Summer League. Imagine it—you make sure each NBA team is represented, keep the current D-League team locations, and each team would be filled with their affiliated NBA team's rookie class from the last two years among other NBA hopefuls. The league could run from July 1st to October 10th and be a mini NBA season, or roughly 40 games.

NBA teams could then stagger their rookie minutes accordingly, depending on who they want to see more development from and who could use more rest. For example, a team like Boston may not want to play incoming 3rd overall pick Jaylen Brown 30-plus minutes a night for 40 games, and instead could ensure that guys like James Young and RJ Hunter are tested more over the grind of a mimicked grueling season.

Additionally, the NBA could place stipulations on who is eligible to play in this new D-League/Summer League hybrid, to ensure that teams don't abuse the system. For example, the rosters could be limited to guys who have played two consecutive NBA seasons or less, and/or a minutes constraint could be tied to league eligibility, preventing those who have already logged plenty of NBA minutes from participating.

I would suspect that this revised league would take off immediately. Games would count a bit more, fans would get a genuine sneak peek on incoming young talent, and the social buzz would be through the roof. Odds are that both the ABC and Turner television networks would be all over broadcasting these contests.

The best part is it would give all NBA fans that extended summer outlet and ensure year-round basketball. Such a move could even propel the NBA further and make it the most-watched league in the U.S., a spot currently occupied by the NFL.

The current system is in place to mimic baseball's minor league system. When the NBA created the D-League, it envisioned a possibility for teams to randomly call up and call down players over the course of the season. That honestly doesn't happen nearly as much as it does in baseball, and those same NBA teams are likely to still call up said talent even without the prospect of the D-League. A better route is giving some of those players more exposure for a potential promotion down the line, whether that comes in the NBA or internationally.

There's really no way this idea would fail. The NBA has an opportunity to take advantage of the full calendar year and dominate this country. Adam Silver: make this switch and you'll be considered the greatest commissioner of all time.

Big move or not, the Celtics are closer to contending than you think

averyAll the talk surrounding the 2016 NBA Draft was on Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge and what he might do with the third overall pick. Pundits were saying the draft didn't start until we all knew where Ainge was standing at 3. Of course, without much fanfare, he delivered a surprise by selecting Jaylen Brown.

The outcry came immediately. Everyone from bloggers to ESPN regulars were dubbing the selection, and the overall failure of Ainge to pull off a major deal, as colossal failures. The perception was that Ainge simply had too many picks (eight in the 2016 draft alone) to warrant keeping all those assets. By not exchanging his change for paper money, the thought was that Ainge missed out on an opportunity.

Before we jump right into Boston's current roster, check back on last year, and determine the team's current trajectory, let's squash that notion that the team's 2016 draft night was a failure.

Going into the draft, GMs seemed to be playing a giant game of chicken. Everyone knew a team like the 76ers, for example, needed to move Jahlil Okafor and, it was assumed, the same could be said about a deal involving the Celtics consolidating their picks. So, the dance began. Sixers exec Bryan Colangelo would gauge Ainge's intentions and start with offering Okafor for the 3 pick. Ainge would try to get him off that stubborn stance, and the two execs would be at a standstill. The same thing happened with Chicago, who reportedly wanted the 2017 and 2018 Brooklyn Nets first round picks (both of which Boston owns) for Jimmy Butler. Ainge stood firm, maintaining that he didn't simply want to squander assets for the sake of forcing a deal that would have netted Boston an unfair return.

You don't need to do a deal just to do a deal.

In fact, by adding Jaylen Brown, the Celtics may have the greatest collection of defensive  perimeter talent since the '90s Bulls or late '80s "Bad Boys" Pistons. Sure, get your laugh in, but consider that Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder are all top 5 defensively at their respective positions (1-3), and that the incoming Brown is the embodiment of the modern pick-and-roll stopping talent. This team will create more turnovers than Kupel's Bakery.

The Celtics are also coming off a season in which they were one win away from having the East's 3 seed. They finished in a four-way tie for the conference's third-best record, but ended up with the 5 seed in the tiebreaker. They faced an Atlanta Hawks team with personnel that encompassed the worst-possible matchup for them. Yes, while Boston's perimeter defense is top notch, their interior defense and rebounding are works in progress—to be generous.

The Hawks' Al Horford/Paul Millsap tandem annihilated Boston on the glass, and the team simply couldn't make up the difference of roughly 10 additonal possessions per game. But as the old saying goes, "If you can't beat them, take their best player." Obviously there's no such saying, but by signing Horford this offseason, the Celtics have significantly upgraded their rebounding and defensive presence up front. In addition to his defense and rebounding, Horford gives Boston a bona-fide post presence who is unselfish in isolation sets and can bring opposing bigs outside the paint with his ability to hit the 3 ball.

In terms of other Eastern Conference teams that were part of the tight race for the 2-6 seeds, all of them lost a key rotational piece without making any significant gains. Toronto lost Bismack Biyambo. Miami lost Dwyane Wade. Atlanta lost Horford and Jeff Teague. Charlotte lost Al Jefferson and Courtney Lee. All of those losses will hurt those teams. Behind Boston in last year's standings, Indiana and Orlando did make significant gains, and Detroit should improve organically; still, those three squads are about a season away from title contention in their respective divisions.

While the Celtics should be optimistic, they should also continue to be patient. Besides owning Brooklyn's 2017 and 2018 first-round picks, they are already seeing strong progress from Terry Rozier, RJ Hunter, and James Young in the NBA Summer League. They simply should not be in a rush to make a monster move. But I would advocate for seemingly minor moves.

Boston has a unique opportunity to zig while everyone else zags. Other teams are focused on getting spacing and quicker bigs. Boston, meanwhile, is one of the few teams with the unique defensive personnel to stop a new-age team—did anyone play the Warriors better over the course of the regular season? All they really lack is an interior defensive presence next to Horford.

While LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook were critical factors in their teams' matchups with the Warriors in the playoffs, big men Steven Adams and Tristan Thompson were the true x-factors. Golden State simply had no answer for their prowess in the paint and on the glass. It's also noteworthy how significant Golden State's dip was without Andrew Bogut or Draymond Green in the lineup against Cleveland. The point is that interior defense is still a major component in today's NBA—one that execs are overlooking.

If the Celtics can add a pure interior defensive presence, you may be looking at one of the better defensive teams this league has ever seen. They could even acquire one without using a major asset.

Tyson Chandler is signed to a reasonable deal, and one would think the up-and-coming rebuilding Suns would be willing to move his contract for mediocre assets at this stage. But while Chandler may get Boston to the proverbial "next level" and comes with some valuable locker room experience, what Boston would really need to contend is his younger self: Hassan Whiteside.

It certainly seems far fetched now since he just signed a contract to return to Miami, but I'd suspect Whiteside to be on the market by next February's trade deadline. Miami will need to further rebuild and would probably want to clear cap in hopes of landing two marquee free agents in one coup next summer. Boston is one of the few teams that could give them the perfect package in such a venture. If Boston were able to acquire a talent like Whiteside without using the 2017 Brooklyn pick, they'd be in that upper echelon of contention.

Going into the season, the Celtics should test their current lineup of Kelly Olynyk/Horford/Crowder/Bradley/Isaiah Thomas with Smart/Rozier/Brown/Amir Johnson/Jonas Jerebko off the bench. Then I'd gauge the market as the season progresses and see if a team looking to rebuild possesses that interior defensive presence. Ideally, I'd hold onto the 2017 Brooklyn pick, unless for some miracle Utah's Rudy Gobert becomes available.

Besides Chandler and Whiteside, other trade candidates for an interior defensive presence include Milwaukee's John Henson, Minnesota's Gorgui Dieng, Philly's Nerlens Noel, New Orleans's Omer Asik (reluctantly), and Philly's Joel Embiid (not immediately, but if the Sixers can't land anyone for Okafor and Embiid garners a trade market after proving healthy and a force, Ainge can offer a package to help balance that roster for the future).

If the Celtics can continue to be patient and not force a trade, they'll be in prime position by next's February trade deadline. They won't even need to make a major deal to contend. Get excited Celtics nation!

Why Philly’s PG situation is BS—and I don’t mean Ben Simmons

Sam Hinkie resigned from tsimmonshe Philadelphia 76ers organization a bit prematurely. We all can recognize why he did it. It's one of those fairly classic work situations when the organization doesn't have the heart to fire an old-timer, but realizes a different direction is necessary. What do organizations do in these situations? They hire a new age of talent intended to supplement the work of the old-timer. After some time, however, the old-timer (if equipped with self-awareness) recognizes what's really happening around him. He sees the writing on the walls and resigns.

Of course, it's quicker and more efficient to just fire said old-timer. So why do organizations wait? To be frank, they don't want to look like a bunch of jerks.

This is the exact scenario that occurred with the Philadelphia 76ers…only it was the opposite. The organization, clearly bullied by the NBA and potentially other team execs, wanted to go in a different direction. The only difference is that their GM actually had a new age of thinking. Hinkie exploited the current system in the NBA. He understood the idiom of being in NBA purgatory: not good enough to contend and not bad enough to rebuild through the draft. He realized he had to choose one route to eventually field a contender.

Hinkie was an innovator with the guts to lead his team to defeat in hopes of future victory. In retrospect, while some of his draft day selections and deals can be questioned, his overall logic made and still does make sense.

But what did Philly decide to do? Let's force out the innovator and replace him with the old-timer. Insert Jerry and Bryan Colangelo: a duo dedicated to short-sighted development and quick wins, with the likely outcome of returning the Sixers to NBA purgatory.

All of Hinkie's strategy and planning led the franchise to 2016 draft day and the selection of Ben Simmons. The hope was the new father-son front office duo would not screw anything else up. Sorry, Sixers fans.

This all leads up to Ben Simmons now penciled in as the new face of the Sixers—at point guard.

Simmons's skill set is perfect for today's NBA big man. He can run the floor and is a tremendous passer and finisher. He's best used as a 4, so why on earth are you pushing him to be a 1?

Why? Because Bryan Colangelo screwed up. He didn't land a legit point guard in the draft or free agency.

Why specifically do I have an issue with this? Actually I have an Ish with it. More specifically, Ish Smith.

Ish is an NBA journeyman, but was dealt last season to the Sixers. Ish instantly became a daily fantasy stud and huge game-changer for the Sixers down the stretch. He organized the flow of their offense, held players accountable, and was overall the floor general the team had been lacking for several years. But he wasn't retained, and really there's no excuse.

Ish signed a deal with Detroit for $6 million per year, a figure Philly could and should have easily matched. First, the Sixers are still one of several teams who may have difficulty actually hitting their salary cap floor. Second, they spent $9 million a year on Jerryd Bayless.

Even outside of Ish, Philly missed plenty of chances to land a quality young point guard who could lead this team.

In their desperation to move big man Jahlil Okafor, they missed out on a potential move to swap him for Ricky Rubio or at least send him for mid-to-late first round Boston picks (16 and 23) to land a quality rookie point guard. Patrick Beverley and Trey Burke were also to be rumored available. The Washington Wizards got Burke…for a 2021 second round pick!

In free agency, Philly missed on overpaying (which they had the resources to do) and at least make an attempt for Jordan Clarkson. They could have also outbid the competition for other point guards who went for cheap, like Langston Galloway and Seth Curry.

Which all leads us to today—an extremely unbalanced roster and a risk to threaten the development of their savior, Simmons, by playing him out of position.

Sixers fans shouldn't fret just yet though. Bryan Colangelo still has time to swing a deal. Guys like Rubio and Beverley can still be had for potentially middling assets and cap fodder. There are also still some free agent holdouts like veteran Jarrett Jack who can at least help guide this young team.

The answer at 1 just doesn't need to be Ben Simmons. He's the team's one true jewel and should be treasured as such. Don't toy with him or perform Frankenstein-like tests. Please just have him do what he's meant to do—lead the team at the 4 slot and transform that position for the NBA, while simultaneously changing the trajectory in Philly. Just acquire a point guard, Bryan. Any point guard. Sam Hinkie left you all the tools and instructions. Just read the easily assigned steps and build this team appropriately.

Being lazy about it and just throwing Simmons at point guard—so that you don't have to do the hard work of sifting through deals for Okafor and others to land a PG—is just BS. Sixers fans deserve better.

Losing Wade may be a blessing in disguise for the Heat

wadeAfter hearing the news that Dwyane Wade decided to leave the Miami Heat, Pat Riley reportedly texted reporters that he was "so sad." That's verbatim. He may have used a lot more of the letter "D" in his text, but Riley's decision to not increase his contract offer to Wade may be an "A."

Wade will be a Hall of Famer. He is probably the best player in Heat history and is coming off a fantastic and healthy-ish season despite his age. So, why my optimism about Miami's move?

Miami can develop some youth

Losing Wade means more minutes for promising second-year wing Josh Richardson at the 2 and more importantly, more touches for Justise Winslow at the 3. Development requires both minutes and possessions, and now both wings—and even big man Hassan Whiteside—may acquire more possessions as a result.

Don't forget about Dragic

It all seemed relatively hopeless for Miami when Chris Bosh went down to injury last season, but we all forgot about the Dragon. Goran Dragic picked up more possessions in Bosh's absence and was potentially the Heat's most lethal offensive player in the playoffs.

The move forces Miami to get younger

This is something the Heat should've considered more swiftly in a post-LeBron world. If they had retained Wade, they would have at best been in the same position this coming season as they were last season—out in the second round of the playoffs. Yes, that's at best-case scenario. Realistically, after losing Joe Johnson to free agency and with Bosh possibly out for an unforeseen amount of time, they likely would have been a low playoff seed. Remember, seeds 3 through 6 in the East this past season all had the same regular season record (48-34); the Heat won the tiebreakers to get the 3 seed, but had the same record as the 6 seed (Charlotte).

Getting younger is the biggest reason why having Wade bolt is a blessing. Whiteside led the Heat in wins produced and was thankfully retained this offseason. Meanwhile, Winslow could be an Andre Iguodala clone in Miami. The team really needs to just get younger, add a piece who can help improve everyone's development, and—say it with me Sam Hinkie—"build through the draft."

Dragic is probably someone they should look to move more immediately. One idea is to send him to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio. After drafting Kris Dunn, Rubio seems to be expendable for the Timberwolves, and Dragic would be an incredible 6th man for that team. Wolves Coach Tom Thibodeau is looking to make a playoff run this season.

Another idea is sending Dragic to Sacramento in hopes of coaxing the Kings to move a future pick (the 2017 draft should be promising); Ben McLemore; and troubled, but solid point guard Darren Collison.

As it stands, though, Miami is in fine shape. Players will still like the South Beach appeal in free agency. The Heat could net a top-10 pick in the next draft and still have a top-2 center in the league on a reasonable contract. 

Right now, they just need to send out feelers for Dragic, build the offense around Winslow, and hope Bosh recovers from his blood clots. Not to throw shade on Wade, but were the Heat really going to even make it out of the first round with him? Be thankful Heat fans, there's nothing worse than riding the proverbial NBA treadmill, which you would have only continued to do with Wade. Riley shouldn't be sad—he should be optimistic. Wade just did South Beach a massive favor.

Edited by Jacob Kamaras

With Dwyane Wade in tow, how can we get Bullish about Chicago?

FlickrThe homecoming tour continues in the NBA, and now it’s Dwyane Wade’s turn. But this homecoming has a different feel than the others.

Dwyane Wade Returns Home to Chicago

When returning to Cleveland, LeBron James was essentially able to dictate the remaining Cavaliers’ moves and quickly built a team that could more or less fit around him. Kudos to GM David Griffin for quickly realizing that Dion Waiters was a horrid fit and getting some floor spacing in return.

But Wade comes to the Chicago Bulls with far less control—and steps into a situation that seems like a horrible fit.

Bulls' Backcourt Spacing Issues

The trio of Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Jimmy Butler just seems awkward. Where is the spacing? More questions arise regarding Coach Fred Hoiberg’s style of play and if he can make it work with this bunch.

The real problem is that NBA society forces us to believe all three of these perimeter slashing-oriented talents need to start and play exclusively together. That really doesn’t need to be the case.

Bulls' Rotation Minutes

All three could still get starter’s minutes, and Hoiberg can scatter the rotation to ensure proper spacing. For example, starting Wade alongside say Doug McDermott, with Nikola Mirotic at the 4, could mean nice spacing for that unit. Meanwhile, Butler becomes a superb 6th man who still plays more than 30 minutes per game and plays more with Jerian Grant.

Too bad for NBA society. That would never happen, because all three—Wade, Rondo, Butler—would see not starting as an insult. With all three then entrenched in the first unit, you now make Mirotic extremely important at the 4, but you still need more spacing pretty much everywhere.

Potential Trades

The Bulls could also explore minor deals to improve spacing. Dealing Robin Lopez and a future 2nd-round pick to Charlotte for Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lamb could work. The move would give you Hawes, an underrated talented high-post passer and shooter, as your 5. Meanwhile, Lamb provides good spacing to replace Mike Dunleavy Jr., who Chicago just traded to Cleveland to clear cap space for Wade. In Lopez, Charlotte would add a better interior defensive presence and replace some of what they lost in post play through Al Jefferson’s departure in free agency.

The "Big Three" Trade Value

The bigger question is, do you eventually move anyone from your awkward new “big three?” Rondo just signed and can’t be dealt until mid-December. His market value has already diminished, and after the Bulls would essentially show their hand, there’s no way he gets mediocre value in the trade market.

Moving Butler for more spacing is possible—maybe deal him to Boston in exchange for Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley, and a future Brooklyn Nets first-round pick. Still, wasn’t the whole point here to pair Wade and Butler? Also, sorry to break it to Dwayne, but there should be no question who’s team this is.

Yes, the Bulls need to at least keep Butler and Wade together, if for no other reason than to be bigger free agency players next offseason. At the same time, they’d like to ensure that they get to at least the second round of the playoffs this season. In the end, the best way to do so is by combining the first two ideas—making a minor move using Lopez and possibly Jerian Grant to get more spacing at the 5, AND convincing one of the “big three” to be a super 6th man.

Trade Rondo Already?

In the end, that candidate kind of needs to be Rondo. Let’s face it—Wade, your new hometown hero, won’t be willing to come off the bench. You could start Grant at point guard or try to acquire a spacing 1, and if somehow supplemented with a spacing 5, that suddenly becomes a sensible first unit. Meanwhile, Rondo could dominate the second unit, which could also include McDermott and Bobby Portis. The Bulls could maybe add old friend Marcus Thornton and roll with a nice second unit that could help them get a top 4 seed in the East. Of course, in the end, it comes back to getting a spacing 5—and the market is kind of bare. Besides Hawes, what other spacing 5 would even theoretically be available? Meyers Leonard? Enes Kanter? Not even.

The Milwaukee Bucks recently learned the lesson of not having enough spacing, and they added some much-needed help with stretch 4 Mirza Teletovic. Chicago must adjust fast—or else they quickly become the basket case story of this NBA season.

Edited by Jacob Kamaras

Why the Knicks’ Big Trade Isn’t So Rose-y

rose fixWith most of the dust now settled in NBA free agency, it’s probably as good of a time as any to look back at a trade that went down just weeks ago, but seems like months ago—Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls to the New York Knicks for Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, and Jerian Grant.

First off, there are a number of reasons to understand the Knicks’ point of view—plenty of pundits are articulating those arguments. They’re calling it a “low risk, high reward” move. Here’s why they’re wrong.

Derrick Rose's perceived upside

While Rose averaged more than 25 points per game during his 2010-11 MVP season and led the Bulls to the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference, he was actually in perfect position to be successful. Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls’ coach that year, had a quasi-Philadelphia 76ers approach (during the Allen Iverson era), with Rose anchoring a lineup featuring strong defensive players like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Ronnie Brewer. The entire unit was set up for Rose to dominate the offense, or more specifically, put up numbers. The bigger question to really ask is: How productive was Rose that year? The answer is that while he was productive, he wasn't even in the top 5 for his position in wins produced, trailing Kyle Lowry in that category.

The odds of Rose replicating anything near that overrated season

Pundits will say that playing with Jimmy Butler, another ball-dominant wing, hurt Rose’s productivity in recent years. This is true. Butler and Rose were somewhat counter-productive and redundant as ball-dominant perimeter players. But how exactly will that be different for Rose when he plays with Carmelo Anthony in New York?

The better question is: How will that not be worse? Melo has had a consistently high usage rate and isn't used to playing off the ball. Meanwhile, from Rose’s diminished play with Butler, we’ve already seen how subpar he can be in an off-the-ball role.

He has an expiring contract

Rose’s $21.3 million salary comes off the books after this season. Maybe the Knicks use the cap space to attract Russell Westbrook, who’s much more likely to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in a post-Kevin Durant era? Perhaps. But still, you'd think Knicks executive Phil Jackson wouldn’t need to move promising young guard Jerian Grant just to unload Robin Lopez for an expiring contract. Lopez had a solid season in 2015-16, demonstrating solid defense and a post-up game—skills that would have warranted a decent contract for him this offseason, especially considering the contract that Timofey Mozgov (!) just received.

The Knicks needed a point guard badly

Agreed on this one. But there was a more publicly rumored idea that would have made far more sense than opting for the Rose “risk.”

Before we dissect the deal further, we need to think about the concept of opportunity cost. The notion of what else the Knicks could have done is usually overlooked. There was a point guard everyone thought would certainly land in New York, especially after the hiring of Jeff Hornacek as the Knicks’ new coach. His name is Rajon Rondo.

Players’ market value takes funny turns through their careers. Certain players are so frequently discussed as being underrated that they become overrated, and then they’re so often touted as overrated that they become…underrated again. Other players’ careers have the same script, but in reverse. Perhaps no players may have had more instances of going back and forth between being so overrated or underrated than Rondo and Rose.

The Rajon Rondo Enigma

Rondo was extremely underrated coming out of college—he was a late first-round pick. He really didn’t get onto the national scene until the 2008 Finals, when we saw flashes of where his future might go while his Boston Celtics won the title. Flash forward a few more seasons to the 2012 Conference Finals series against Miami. Rondo was dominant, and on a national stage outplayed LeBron James during many stretches. The league took notice, and he was officially rated—not over or under just yet.

Flash forward a few more seasons and Rondo starts pulling unbelievable box score stats on national TV, so much so that he receives a stigma of only playing well in front of a larger audience. Then Rondo gets injured, and at the time, the Celtics were muddling around a low playoff seed. There’s more talk of Rondo not getting along with the coaching staff, and he gets traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas was a turning point for Rondo. He would now officially become overrated. We know what happens next. Rondo and Coach Rick Carlisle don’t mesh, and he falls out of the rotation in the national spotlight of the playoffs. The stigma on him now is that he’s not worth the trouble, and that his lack of shooting can really hamper a team.

Rondo gets a second chance in Sacramento, but unfortunately it’s overlooked. Without much national spotlight, Rondo has an incredible season with the Kings. He leads the league in assists and even shoots better than 36 percent from 3. That’s far better than Rose’s numbers from long distance…ever.

Yet Rondo is still perceived as overrated. Maybe people just discounted his play because it came with the Kings. Whatever it is, no one initially bites on signing Rondo, and he ends up signing with Chicago for two years at $15 million per season. Should the league’s leader in assists be paid at about the same level as Courtney Lee? Rondo is officially underrated.

Rose vs Rondo

He was also the alternative choice for New York. If you don’t trade for Rose, you’d sign Rondo. To be honest, he’s a heck of a lot better. Rose isn’t really a risk—you know what you’ll get. If healthy, he’s probably netting 14 points and 6 assists in 27 minutes per game. Solid numbers, but not enough to help New York rise past 38 wins.

With Rondo, the risk is smaller and the reward is far greater. Rondo had a terrific season last year. He has shown that he plays well with ball-dominant players, and he fits well with Hornacek’s style.

I’m all for rolling the dice on a high risk-high reward trade, but this wasn’t it for the Knicks. It was low risk, low reward. Phil didn’t even need to be so clever about it. The Rondo option was right in front of his face.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones not done.

Edited by Jacob Kamaras

Pod #3: New York Knicks 2015-16 Season Preview

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In this episode, we talk about the Knicks offseason, and whether or not Phil Jackson's moves will be enough to bring the Knicks back to contention. Some topics were:

1. Robin Lopez getting $54 million

2. Kyle O'Quinn sneaky good addition

3. Aron Aflalo on a very good contract

4. Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant NBA Draft discussion

5. Langston Galloway – why not lock him up for 4 years??

6. Will Cleanthony Early break out? 

Pod #2: Chicago Bulls 2015-16 Season Preview

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Some topics we discussed for our Chicago Bulls summer offseason review and upcoming 2015/2016 season preview:

1. Tom Thibodeou fired, Fred Hoiberg replaces him

2. Roster – Did the Bulls do enough this offseason?

3. Noah and Gasol – will they ever fit well together in the frontcourt?

4. Taj Gibson – happy with his role? Will he be traded?

5. John Paxson and Gar Forman – Do people hate Forman? He fired Ron Adams, people have negative things to say about him.

6. Nikola Mirotic is most likely player to be traded

7. What happened between Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler in game 6 against the Cavs in the playoffs??

8. Can the Bulls beat the Cavs next year come playoff time?

Guest: Eitan