This has been an offseason filled with change for the New Orleans Pelicans. The franchise not only ditched its nickname but also overhauled its personnel through two trades and one surprising free-agent signing. Out with the Hornets moniker were Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez — two players responsible for more than 60 combined minutes a night last season. Taking at least some of those minutes will be All-Star guard Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. With such a shift in the roster, finding a scheme that can incorporate both the Pelicans new acquisitions and holdovers (Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, and Ryan Anderson) is priority no. 1 for head coach Monty Williams.
Everyone in Sonics-less Seattle wants to watch and play some hoops — including the mayor. Jamal Crawford and a bevy of his baller buddies put on a show, to the delight of the crowd. The game went down to the wire, with host Mr. Crawford giving his guests, including opponents Tyreke Evans and Isaiah Thomas, a parting gift of a last-second 3 from deep to win it for his team.
It's mid-July, the offseason is two weeks old, the second (or third?) Dwightmare is officially over, and we have at least three teams who vaulted themselves into the title contender conversation. This summer's especially fun because teams who were good last year (Nets, Rockets, Warriors, Clippers) have gotten much better, and then you have a separate group of teams who are going into scorched-earth tanking mode already. In a normal year, you're not technically tanking until you bench your best players for the final three months of the season, but what the Sixers just did has gotta qualify. Ditto for the Suns, Magic, and especially the Jazz, who let Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk and then replaced them with Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. INSPIRED.
The offseason is always great, but this one's been especially fun as two sides of the league do everything they can to either contend for a title or gut their roster and lose 50 games. In the middle we have the Lakers, reloading with Chris Kaman and Jordan Farmar and Nick Young as Kobe's wingmen for next year. Again, the offseason is GREAT.
Anyway, to celebrate the season, let's check out a handful of teams and hand out grades for what's happened thus far. We begin with the trade that kicked everything off back on draft night …
It's the most wonderful time of the year. NBA free-agency season is officially got under way. Consider this a clearinghouse for all the rumors floating around. Loose lips may sink ships destroy cap space, but they also sure as hell make for interesting reading.
This Year's Model
The Subject: Tyreke Evans
The Players: The Pelicans, the Kings, the Pistons, the Hawks, Tyreke Evans's business manager, that guy who was hoping Tyreke Evans would invest in his Korean BBQ taco truck
The Gist: This seems like seller's market hysteria to me. The Pelicans reportedly offered Evans a four-year deal between $40 million and $48 million. Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Greivis Vasquez, and Austin Rivers. Keeping Austin is an obvious decision, but someone else has to go. Eric Gordon has shown nothing but Pelican passion and Greivis is named "Greivis," so I guess that means amnesty Jrue. In the meantime, the Pelicans' interest in Evans has sparked a little bit of a bidding war, with Detroit, Atlanta, and Evans's current/former team, the Kings, all wining and dining the combo guard.
On today's show, The Basketball Jones discuss the Western Conference playoff race, whether Doug Collins is done with Philly, memorable Madison Square Garden moments, Derek Fisher's return to OKC's bench, LeBron James's pregame dunking, and Tyreke Evans's "Wanker of the Week" moment.
All that, plus new TBJ Army recruits, horrible birthdays, Dennis Rodman visiting Kim Jong-un in North Korea, and crazy panels we'd like to moderate at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
Keith Smart is in the stretch run of another disappointing Sacramento season, his first full year in charge after taking over for Paul Westphal seven games into last season. (Hey, remember Paul Westphal? Or did you kind of forget he ever coached the Kings? You did, right?) Smart is a defense-first guy presiding over the league’s worst defensive team and perhaps its most volatile player — DeMarcus Cousins, a promising big man who can’t control his temper or commit himself to playing hard on defense for an entire game. Smart’s a great guy with whom to talk hoops, and he sat down for a one-on-one with Grantland in Dallas before the All-Star break.
The Sacramento Kings may begin play as the Sonics 2.0 in Seattle as early as next season, though Sacramento — its mayor, Kevin Johnson, and the fans who supported the Kings when they were a team worth supporting — has not given up its years-long fight to keep the only pro team in town. But if the NBA wants the duplicitous, bumbling Maloofs to sell the team to a big-money group from Seattle, that is probably going to happen. The owners of the Kings would have to file relocation papers by March 1 if they want to begin play in Seattle next season. The trade deadline is February 21, setting up an awkward period in which teams wishing to deal with Sacramento may have to go through multiple and haphazard layers of approval to get a deal moving.
New ownership, whether it's formally in place or in de facto control of the team, will want a say in any big decision — whether to trade DeMarcus Cousins, add long-term contracts, or cut as much salary as possible.