The Pau Gasol Gamble
By Moke Hamilton
In the most Tim Duncan way possible, the greatest power forward of all-time left the game the same exact way he survived within it. Unassuming, unpretentious, meekly and quietly, Tim Duncan’s announcement was delivered via email (just like I had predicted). There would be no season-long retirement tour, no gifts from past competitors and no public softening of the competitive spirit and fire that had many believing that the Spurs would somehow find a way to win the 2016 NBA Finals.
With Duncan stepping out of the picture, all eyes in San Antonio immediately turn to the man who has been employed as his replacement—Pau Gasol.
What’s In A Name?
By Joel Brigham
About 10 years ago, Utah Jazz ownership was forced to shop around the naming rights to their arena when Delta Airlines opted not to renew their deal with the team due to bankruptcy. What they landed on was EnergySolutions Arena, a name that came courtesy of a locally-based company that disposes of low-level nuclear waste – and that right there is everything that’s wrong with how sporting venues are named these days.
The Jazz have spent nine of the last 10 seasons playing in a building named after an organization that cleans up industrial sludge. But around this time last fall, they were gifted a re-brand. The only problem is the new name rolls off the tongue about as easily as sand: Vivint Smart Home Arena.
While not the most ridiculous sounding arena name in the league (Hello, Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix), names like EnergySolutions Arena and Vivint Smart Home Arena show just how silly things have gotten in the world of naming professional sports venues.
Players Poised to Return from Injury
By Cody Taylor
With the Olympic games officially in the rear-view mirror, things will largely slow down (at least in regards to the NBA). Players will continue their offseason training and then head back to their respective NBA teams toward the latter half of September.
By now, players have had the better part of the offseason to take some time off and recharge their bodies. All of the little nicks and bruises suffered last season have likely healed and most guys are closer to 100 percent.
As we look ahead to next season, several players will be returning from injuries that sidelined them for a significant amount of time. Here’s a look at several players who are poised to return to full strength next season:
Houston Goes as Far as Harden Takes Them
By Oliver Maroney
The Houston Rockets had a relatively disappointing 2015-16 season. Coming off of a trip to the Western Conference Finals, the team entered the year with very high expectations. But Houston got off to a slow start right away, dropping seven of their first 11 games. This resulted in head coach Kevin McHale being fired, which was just the beginning of a somewhat tumultuous campaign.
Fair or not, a lot of criticism and negative attention was directed at James Harden since he’s the team’s go-to player. However, there was plenty of blame to go around for the Rockets’ struggles. Injuries and egos played a big part in last season’s underwhelming results. Dwight Howard later admitted he was unhappy, Ty Lawson struggled to return to form so he was waived 53 games into the season and key contributors like Patrick Beverley, Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas missed a combined 88 games due to injuries.
All things considered, it’s pretty impressive that Houston was even able to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. After losing 4-1 in the first round against the Golden State Warriors, Houston decided to make some big changes. These moves included hiring head coach Mike D’Antoni, signing Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and giving Harden a four-year maximum contract extension. It’s clear that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is shaping their team around Harden and D’Antoni moving forward.
A Lot Of Talk, Not Much Substance
By Steve Kyler
In the NBA, they say you never say never because even the most ardent “no” can turn into a “yes” if the situation is right. That’s true in almost every facet of the game, from drafting and signing a player to hiring and firing a coach and, of course, deciding when to trade a player.
There are a few names that keep popping up in offseason rumors and while it’s always fun to speculate, there are some players who simply are not going anywhere (at least not yet).
Potential Position Logjams to Watch
By Jabari Davis
The start of the 2016-17 NBA is just 63 days away, and today we’ll look at some of the rotations that could face roster redundancy issues unless changes are made at some point. As a result of the draft and transactions made by the front office, each of these teams could wind up with the somewhat enviable “problem” of having too much talent at a given position.
Here are some of the rosters with a potential logjam:
Potential Trade Situations to Watch in 2016-17
By Lang Greene
These are the dog days of the NBA summer. Free agency money has dried up, rosters are essentially locked in headed to training camp and there is little to no activity on the trade front. Most executives won’t make a deal until after getting a firsthand view of how their rebuilt rosters look in action.
This is why the vast majority of NBA trade activity occurs deeper into the regular season. Executives are content at this stage of the process to see if their retooling efforts from the summer play out. It also gives them a chance to evaluate other situations around the league that may not be working out and formulate a more strategic approach to obtaining talent.
But even though all is quiet on the trade front headed into the season, this doesn’t mean there aren’t multiple potential trade scenarios worth keeping track of over the next few months.
$19.5 Million in Cash Swapped in 2015-16
By Eric Pincus
Prior to the NBA’s 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams could send up to $3 million in cash out in trade multiple times a season.
To level the playing field, limiting higher-budget franchises, teams are separately capped in the amount of money they can both send out and receive over the course of a season (from July 1 to June 30). Last year’s limit was $3.4 million; the maximum for the 2016-17 season is $3.5 million.
Teams include cash in trades for a variety of reasons, including purchasing draft picks, avoiding luxury taxes (by moving off unwanted contracts) or facilitating a deal that simply needs a little extra push.
Collectively, teams swapped $19,489,635 through the 2015-16 season (July 1 through June 30). That’s a $2 million increase over the $17,428,653 traded during the 2014-15 season.
E’Twaun Moore On Why He Joined Pelicans
By Alex Kennedy
When the NBA’s free agency period opened, E’Twaun Moore was one of the first players to find a new home. After a successful 2015-16 season with the Chicago Bulls, Moore agreed to terms with the New Orleans Pelicans on a four-year deal worth $34 million deal on July 1.
This is an excellent deal for Moore, who played for three teams in five NBA seasons and earned less than $1 million in four of those campaigns. Now, he’ll get a nice raise and have real security for the first time since entering the league.
Moore earned his payday by playing very well in Chicago. Last season with the Bulls, the combo guard averaged 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21.4 minutes per game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range. In 22 starts (including some out of position as a forward), his averages increased to 12 points, three assists and three rebounds, while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from three.
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