Draft Lottery Hurts Warriors

Since the Warriors couldn’t get either one, it would have been nice to see Greg Oden land in Boston and Kevin Durant wind up somewhere in Milwaukee or something.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, both are landing in the West. I know some of you think the Warriors are a lock for the No. 4 seed, but I think they are going to have to fight to get in again unless they make a move to significantly improve their roster. New Orleans, if they stay healthy, will be formidable, and you know the Clippers will respond.
With Portland landing the top pick, that puts another team in the mix. Check out their lineup now, assuming they pick Oden. PF Zach Randolph (who is an All-Star caliber player), F/C LaMarcus Aldridge, C Joel Przybilla, PG Jarret Jack (who might soon be replaced by Segio Rodriguez), SG Brandon Roy, Martell Webser (who has been disappointing), G Juan Dixon, F Travis Outlaw, even Darius Miles, who will come back from injury next season. They certainly have enough pieces to go out and get a quality small forward.
They are going to be tough.
Don’t sleep on Seattle either. Check out their starting lineup: Luke Ridnour, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis (if they can resign him), Kevin Durant, Chris Wilcox. That leaves them a bench of Earl Watson, Nick Collison, Johan Petro, Robert Swift, Damien Wilkins, Mickael Gelabale, 7-footer Mouhamed Sene. That’s certainly enough to make a move.
Then there’s Memphis, which wasn’t as bad as their record. A healthy Gasol, a healthy Damon Stoudamire, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, plus maybe Al Horford or Brandon Wright or Yi Jianlian. They’re going to solid as well.
The Warriors, as currently comprised, might have a much harder time making the playoffs now.


LeBron Did the Right Thing

I really wish people would make up their mind. When I say people, I mean media. LeBron is getting killed for dishing the rock on that final play last night. But the same people saying he should have forced a shot in traffic instead of hitting the open man are perhaps the same people who are saying selfishness is killing basketball.
Which one is it? Should stars dominate the rock? Or should they play team ball?
You see the same thing with Kobe. When he jacks up shots, he’s a selfish ball hog. When he passes the rock, get his teammates involved, he’s being too passive, tanking the games.
Remember when Jordan was dogged for being a ball hog when he was younger. It wasn’t until he became more of a team player that he became really great.
LeBron is still young and already he sees the value of team ball. He should be celebrated, not faulted. How many young stars feel the need to take the winning shot, sans the open man in the corner? How many young stars would take the difficult shot instead of making the extra pass because they crave the title of clutch?
LeBron gets it. He understands his weakness, and the strengths of his teammates. On the road, you go for the win. At home, you go for overtime. That’s a unwritten rule in sports. The Cavs were going for the win, but LeBron knows he’s not the best 3-point shooter. What does he do? He creates a wide open look for a better 3-point shooter. Sounds like the smart play to me. If Donyell Marshall makes a gimmie of a 3-pointer, everyone else would think so, too.


Pistons Going Down

It’s that time for LBJ to take over.
LeBron James, and the Cavaliers, have taken a step forward since they drafted him. His game has gotten better and Cleveland has gotten better. They went from barely missing the playoffs, to reaching the East semifinals, to reaching the East Finals.
Now, they get the Pistons. As his commercials suggest, LeBron has been waiting for this — a chance to get over the Detroit hump. I say he does it this time. Detroit has no answer for him, Zydrunas is looking better than he did last year, and Larry Hughes isn’t dealing with the death of his brother. Plus, Daniel Gibson is better than Flip Murray was for the Cavs last year.
James has just enough help to dethrone Detroit. This is the year.
Of course, he’ll lose to San Antonio in the Finals, which means the Spurs will be mentioned in this summer’s commercials.


Blog Question

“Marcus, with all the fantasy trade talk and scenarios appearing in various blogs, is there any conventional understanding about trading within one’s own division or conference? For instance, folks talk about Reggie Evans of the Nuggets or even Arrest (I meant Artest) from Sacto? Assuming one of these players made sense to us, what consideration is given to giving our talent to a division or conference rival?” – commish

I think teams are genuinely weary of trading within the division. The goal of every team is to win a division, so strengthening foes is hardly ever an option. It would have to be a rare circumstance.
Last offseason, there was one inter-division trade: Kirk Snyder going from the Hornets to the Rockets. Before the trade deadline, Memphis traded Scott Padgett to the Rockets for Tsakalidis.
I have a hard time believing the Suns would help someone else win the Pacific by trading Marion to the Warriors or the Lakers.


Correction, Correction

I wrote in Wednesday’s paper that Baron Davis is up for a four-year, $89.9 million extension per the collective bargaining agreement. That’s not correct. Davis can only be locked up for a total of five years, not six.
Players having their rookie contracts extended can be under contract for up to six years, and free agents can sign six-year deals. But players already under contract seeking extension on non-rookie deals can only be locked up for five years.
So, Davis is eligible for up to a three-year extension worth $64.65 million, on top of the two years, $34.25 million he has remaining.
He can get up to a 10.5% raise on the last year of his contract, which is worth $17.81 million. So, if the Warriors were to lock up Baron for the maximum allotted time and the maximum amount of money this offseason, his contract would look like this:

2007-08: $16,440,000
2008-09: $17,810,000
2009-10: $19,680,050
2010-11: $21,550,100
2011-12: $23,420,150
Total: $98,900,300

How many years and how much money would you be willing to give Baron?


Funny Nellie Story

He showed up at the team’s practice facility today, strolling in with a hat and sunglasses, shortly after Chris Mullin’s season-ending press conference.
Nellie informed the remnants of the media throng that he had gone to the dentist. He told us that they gave him the gas, and — with just about more excitement than we’ve seen from him all year — he said it was the first time he’s been relaxed in eighth months.
“It was great!” Nellie said. “I’m going back!”


J-Rich Staying

Chris Mullin, pressed by my esteemed colleague Tim Kawakami, maintained his stance that Jason Richardson is off the market. He said flat-out “No” when asked would Richardson be traded.
So, let’s take Mullin at his word. If Richardson is indeed untouchable, can the Warriors still land the player they need? Sounds to me like he’s willing to trade Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Al Harrington — the only other desireable commodities. I’m assuming Baron is makes too much money for someone who you can’t expect to play a full season; Jackson’s legal and emotional issues assuredly scare away most GMs; and Mickael Pietrus and Matt Barnes likely aren’t enough to score the type of player the Warriors need.
That’s the entire rotation. The rest of the guys certainly won’t make another team cough up a rebounder-defender-inside scorer.
Maybe he thinks Pietrus or Harrington and the pick is enough to get it done for him, and it might be if they are targeting a smaller-named player. It might be at least be enough to move up in the draft to snatch a Horford or Wright, but unlikely. The likelihood is, if JR stays, and the Warriors make a big splash move, one of the youngsters will be gone.
My question(s) to you: Is Richardson worth losing Ellis or Biedrins? If so, which one?