The Teams That Need One More Player, and Who That Is
Teams have been extra busy this summer, positioning themselves to challenge the Lakers for the NBA Championship.
Teams have been adding players, subtracting players and seeking to find the right mix in efforts to reach the mountaintop and procure the Larry O'Brien trophy (at left).
Side note: Is there a Bleacher Creature who can name who Larry O'Brien was and why the championship trophy is named after him? No Google allowed.
Anyway, after seeing the many moves teams have made, I am going to look at six contenders who are very close, but still in need of that one player (whom I'll name) to push them over the top. These will not be the obvious "trade Tim Duncan to the Knicks" sort of moves (except one). They'll be more subtle, yet still critical to getting the ultimate trophy.
Hopefully, this will entertain you and show how close some teams are.
No matter how Heat apologists try to spin it, they are still clearly lacking in one area: center. They cannot win with the players they are asking to bang in the paint.
Chris Bosh cannot/will not do it. Udonis Haslem is not big enough. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is too old and slow, and no one else merits a mention.
However, if Pat Riley could somehow get Golden State to give up Andris Biedrins, a legit 6'11" center who does rebound, block shots, score a little inside and play with energy, then the Heat would be a lock to come out of the East.
I don't know what pieces could be traded to accommodate his salary—upwards of $10 million per—but if Riley can get the Superfriends together, maybe he can pull this one off.
Alternate: FA Center Sean Williams. He is playing overseas in China. I would have to think he would jump at the chance to play NBA ball and enjoy the game back here in the States.
A young big (C/PF) is needed in Denver. The crew manning those spots need someone else who can come in, throw his body around, catch and give out some rebounds and elbows, and mix it up.
Ideally, between Nene, Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen and Al Harrington, one could say it's all there. And maybe it is, but I would feel a little more comfortable with one more quality big in there.
I'm sorry, Shelden Williams, but you don't exactly fit what I have in mind.
Now, Jason Maxiell of the Pistons does, though.
He is undersized at 6'7", but as Glen Davis in Boston shows, if you play with enough force and strength, the lack of height can be minimized. In Davis' case, he uses his 280 lbs, in Maxiell's case, his 260 lbs are punctuated by his incredible athleticism.
He does not mind doing the dirty work for a few minutes, and his contract gives him some security. Now all the unnamed Denver GM has to do is parcel together a couple of contracts and a first-round pick—which would hopefully be low—to mitigate his cost.
Alternate: FA Power Forward Louis Amundson. A two-year deal could probably keep this active big in his native Rocky Mountain region.
San Antonio Spurs
A player that swings between PF and SF would be of good use in the Alamo city, someone that eats up 10+ minutes and allows Tim Duncan or Richard Jefferson to go on the bench without too much of a drop off.
Keep in mind: With Tiago Splitter and Antonio McDyess on the team, the center spot is well-manned, Duncan and DeJuan Blair have the PF positon on lock and Richard Jefferson is the SF for the team.
Every team has that point in the game, series, and season where a player that comes in and changes the flow is needed. A SF off the bench that posts up or a "stretch" big man that can stroke the jumper from outside: Those players can decide a key game or series.
With that in mind, I feel that Darrell Arthur, currently of the Grizzlies, would be perfect here. He has not been more than a small contributor in Memphis. Admittedly, I don't know if they would trade a young asset to a divisional foe, but Memphis has been known to make questionable deals.
With Arthur not exactly being a world-beater on Beale Street, perhaps the San Antonio brass can dangle Curtis Jerrells (PG), Garrett Temple (SG) and a first-round pick in front of Memphis.
Alternate: Portland forward Dante Cunningham. He is an ideal tweener who, as the fifth forward on Portland's roster, could be obtained if Arthur cannot be.
A very athletic wing is needed for Utah to balance out the solid, hardworking style employed by Jerry Sloan and co. They need a player who can take broken plays and turn them into phenomenal finishes. Think back about 10 years to how San Antonio looked without Manu Ginobili. You see what I'm saying?
Wilson Chandler could be just what the doctor ordered. The slasher deluxe from DePaul, would add the finisher that CJ Miles is sometimes, Andrei Kirilenko used to be, and no one else on the Jazz roster can be.
How could the Jazz pry Chandler from the Knicks? Let's start with a 2011 first-round pick. The Knicks will be in acquisition mode—gunning for Carmelo Anthony—ASAP, so moving another SF is not out of the question. At his salary, finding a match on the Jazz roster may result in moving C.J. Miles, perhaps Sundiata Gaines, and a future draft pick.
But it would be so worth it, as it gives the Jazz an ability they have not seen since the days of Darrell Griffith, Dr. Dunkenstein himself, a player who is a consistent threat to attack the basket at any point in the game.
Alternate: Cleveland Cavalier small forward Jamario Moon. As he was an acquisition sought to appease a former player now residing in South Beach, a future draft pick may be the only thing needed to procure this dynamic jumping jack who also defends like a madman.
The Magic have been to the Finals in 2009, lost to the Lakers, and then proceeded to go backwards by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A big problem was that aside from Dwight Howard, there was very little production from the frontcourt, and definitely little to no production from the wings, outside of the massive number of three pointers chucked from beyond the arc.
Enter Mr. Carmelo Anthony. A 20-ppg scorer when he falls out of bed, he can end the struggles that the Magic endured against both the Lakers and Celtics. A post scorer on other SFs, and a fourth quarter producer—fifth in the NBA in fourth quarter scoring—Anthony can produce where Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter cannot.
He surely, along with Jameer Nelson and D. Howard, would give any team in the Finals reason to be concerned, eh?
Alternate: N/A. Who else in the NBA can replicate what Anthony brings to the table? Maybe Danny Granger, but after the Darren Collison deal, I cannot see the Pacers moving him at all.
The Mavericks have talent dotting their roster from top to bottom. This team goes almost three deep at every position. From PG to C, the Mavericks stand as possibly the second most talented team in terms of their players.
The problem is they've got a similar type of player from number 1 to 15. Not enough of their players do the dirty, old school kind of grunt work. Needless to say, the majority of all championship teams need a guy like that in the trenches. They traded that away with Eduardo Najera, not that he always delivered in that area, anyway.
Enter one Reggie Evans. Not the most talented player by a long shot, but he does bring his hardhat, banging-in-the-low-post, almost dirty (ask Chris Kaman) type of power game. He can bring to the Mavs what Charles Oakley brought to the Bulls, Knicks and Raptors on a lower level, obviously.
I would think that trading out DeShawn Stevenson could/should do the trick. Stevenson's production can be assumed by Rod Beaubois, once he returns from his foot injury playing for the French national team.
Alternate: Cleveland Cavalier power forward Leon Powe. There appears to be a looming fire sale off of Lake Erie. The Mavs may be smart to inquire about his services, as his price tag (due to his low contract amount), would be less than Evans.
Teams Ready to Roll
As the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics comprise the last three NBA champions—and survived a seven game series that went down to the last five minutes of that series—they obviously are at the front of the pack and truly are not in need of another player.
That didn't stop them from adding parts like Matt Barnes, Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Steve Blake, but the need was not necessarily there. Those moves will continue to allow them to be in front of all of the other NBA teams, come playoff time.
The 28 other teams in the league are trying to get to where these two are, and will be for the next couple of years. Everyone is playing catch up to them.
I hope you enjoyed this brief show. As always, review, debate and enjoy!