Orlando did some early holiday shopping, but will Gilbert be enough?
As 2010 comes to a close, it's the most wonderful time of the year...the season of giving.
As the NBA season is starting to take form, the contenders will have to start asking themselves, is this the team that can get us to where we want to be? And if not, are any of the lesser teams in the league in the giving mood?
The Orlando Magic have already answered these questions, making not one, but two moves over the weekend. This could create a domino effect, as teams will be looking to upgrade their teams.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to play the hypothetical role of Santa Claus, answering all 30 NBA team's holiday wishes. Here are the end-of-the-year NBA power rankings, along with every team's wish.
Cousins and the young Kings need a vacation.
The Kings are 5-20, and that's after starting 3-1. They seem to be tired and lifeless and surely would like nothing more than a month-long college-style winter break.
Maybe the break could allow for Tyreke to find his rookie form and Cousins to find himself a good psychiatrist.
To answer your question, James is the only reason you were ever relevant.
Maybe the past five months have been one long nightmare. Cavs fans will wake up tomorrow, it will be July and when they turn on ESPN, LeBron will announce "the decision" that he's keeping his talents in northern Ohio.
Hey, give Cavs fans a moment's break from their misery. This is a wish-list, after all.
Can the Nets convince Melo to sign on long-term?
The Nets have an uber-billionaire owner, and they're moving to Brooklyn. Yet, this summer, every All-Star free agent took a pass.
If the Nets can't convince Melo to accept a long-term deal to play for them, it could get ugly. Mikhail Prokhorov predicted a championship in five years.
So far, he's delivered Travis Outlaw, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar. I'm not sure this team could win a NCAA championship right now.
Rubio could make the Wolves a playoff team next year.
Kevin Love is a stud. Michael Beasley and Darko have been pleasant surprises. Yet, this team is only 6-22 as I write this.
This is a talented, young team in desperate need of a dynamic guard. They will likely have one next year.
But remember, this is a wish list, and I'm sure they would love to have him today.
No, Rashard Lewis wasn't the Wizards' wish.
Getting rid of Gilbert was a start. They can now put him in their past, and move forward with a young nucleus of Wall, Blatche and McGee.
Winning on the road before Jan. 1 would certainly help this team's confidence moving forward.
Darko wouldn't be spending much time on the bench if he were still in Detroit.
What, Darko?!?! Why would Detroit want to be reminded of one of the worst draft picks of all time? Okay, maybe I'm being slightly facetious here.
Sadly though, Darko would be the best big man on a soft-as-dough Pistons team, currently being led in rebounding by rookie Greg Monroe (5.2 rpg).
No one wants to be like owner-Mike.
You were the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, period. With that said...from Kwame Brown to Sean May to Adam Morrison, your personnel decisions have been atrocious.
This team barely seems like an NBA team, and you're not helping this, Mike. So quit playing owner and sell this team to someone who knows what they're doing.
What do Donald Sterling, Al Davis and Joe Paterno all have in common? They have all been dead for the past three years and holograms have replaced them. It's time for the Clippers (and Raiders and PSU for that matter) to hire living, breathing replacements.
Since the Clippers have been so bad for so long we're giving them a second wish: NutriSystem for Baron Davis. Maybe if his ass wasn't made of shortening, Baron could get the ball up the court and into the hands of Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon more easily.
Jones is one of many players who can help jump-start a much needed rebuilding process in Toronto.
Hear me out this one. I know "you play to win the game," but the Raptors can't afford to make the playoffs this season, which is quite feasible in the East.
This team is light on talent and really needs to start focusing on rebuilding, which is difficult to do when you have the 15th pick in the draft. It's time to start tanking, dumping salaries, and focusing on 2012.
With an incoming draft class likely featuring dynamic players in Kyrie Irving, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones, the Raptors will want/need a high draft pick.
Yes Evan, that is what a really good player looks like.
He's only played 26 games thus far in his career, but Evan Turner already looks like a candidate to be on a "biggest draft busts of all time" list in about 10 years.
Turner is currently averaging a measly 6.3 points and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field.
The Sixers are 6-3 since Jodie Meeks replaced him in the starting lineup. I have a feeling the Sixers wish they would have taken DeMarcus Cousins or even a project like Derrick Favors.
Acie Law leads the Warriors' NBDL bench.
Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee form one of the best and most exciting "Big Threes" in the league and Dorrell Wright has played well this season.
The problem: Players 5 through 12 make the Heat look like a deep team.
Biedrins has been awful and the bench is full of players who couldn't start for Duke. This team has a nice foundation, but needs to look at adding some NBA players to the roster.
Bucks' fans hope their team can once-again strike fear into teams come playoff time.
Fear the Deer! One of my favorite slogans in the last several years...it was simple and catchy.
There's not much to fear about the 2010-11 version of the Bucks, though. They have suffered several injuries to key players (Bogut, Delfino, CDR) and haven't been able to find last year's chemistry because of it.
I still believe this team can get healthy, make a run, grab the sixth seed in the East, and scare Orlando in the first round. If you look at this team's roster, they are legitimately nine-deep when healthy.
Maybe it's time for the czar to take a second stint in Memphis.
I want to make it clear that I am not one to blame a coach unless it's completely necessary. Look at the NBA standings...okay, now look at the rosters of the Grizz, Suns, Rockets, Blazers and Hornets (teams 7 through 11 in the West) and tell me which one should be the seventh seed in the West.
Gay and Randolph are All-Stars. Mayo could be (I'm sorry, but some of what's happened with him has to be put on head coach Lionel Hollins). Conley is actually looking like a starting point guard, and Gasol is an above-average NBA center.
Throw in the fact that these five guys have only missed a combined six games and it's unfathomable that they're 12-16. It might be time to talk to Mike Fratello or another experienced coach.
Seperate they are weak, but together these former ACC rivals could form a super-player!
Okay...so Indiana's wish isn't exactly possible. But imagine if you could take McRoberts' natural talent and athleticism and merge it with Hansborough's motor and determination.
Instead of having two subpar power forwards, you could have one All-Star.
Too often have we seen Yao looking depressed, watching games in street clothes.
It will more than likely never happen, but this is a wish-list and Houston fans can hope for a miracle. You have to feel just awful for Yao, the Rockets players, and the fans.
For the better part of the past six years, the perennial "20 and 10" center has suffered through injury after injury.
What the hell is happening to my team?!?!
If the Phoenix Suns had a time machine, they could go back and offer a max deal to Amare. Let's not forget, he wanted to stay in Phoenix, but they didn't want to pay him a max salary. So instead, they signed Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress.
Then they traded for Hedo Turkoglu, only to flip him and Jason Richardson for Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat. Hmm...who would you rather have Suns fans, Amare and J-Rich or the players mentioned above?
Better yet, ask any Knicks fan on the planet: Would you trade Amare to Phoenix for VC, Warrick and Gortat? Anyone out there?
I didn't think so.
Oden's injuries are one of many bad things to happen to a seemingly cursed franchise.
Can this franchise catch a break already? Oden makes Yao Ming look like Iron Man. Brandon Roy's injury transformed him from a top-10 NBA player to a 16-ppg scorer. Yet, despite all of this, they make the playoffs every season, only to lose in the first round.
To recap...no high draft picks, no playoff success, no luck. And I'm only talking about the past three years. We're not even getting into the Jail Blazers Era or the 2000 Western Conference Finals. I'm sorry to the fans in Portland.
Meanwhile, I just realized many of you are probably screaming, crying, cursing and/or throwing up while reading this, all while thinking, "I thought a wish list was going to make me feel good!"
Perhaps some day the fortunes of this team will turn around.
I'm sorry to NBA fans in New Orleans, I really am. The fact is simple, though. People don't care about basketball in New Orleans (the Hornets currently rank 28th in attendance), and they do in Seattle.
Just imagine..."at guard for your 2013 Sonics, Chriiis Paaulll."
I, along with every basketball fan in Seattle, get excited just thinking about the Sonics coming back.
Johnson, Smith and Horford are stuck in first round purgatory.
Let's get real here: The Hawks ARE NOT going to make it past the first round of the playoffs barring a series of cataclysmic events. Joe Johnson's max deal guaranteed that this team would make, but not advance in, the playoffs for the next four to five years.
Portland fans (the five of you who didn't exit this article after reading your team's slide) can rejoice...at least you're not the Hawks!
Carmelo anthony will be a Knick, some way or another.
Do I really need to explain this one?
The Nuggets need to make sure they get quality for Melo.
Carmelo Anthony WILL NOT be a member of the Denver Nuggets next year, and I think that much is obvious. Denver needs to acknowledge this, and do everything they can to acquire a combination of young talent, expiring contracts and draft picks.
If I'm Nuggets management, I'm aggressively looking at three-way trades, four-way trades, anything. You're not going to get equal value for a superstar like Melo. You can, however, get some quality talent
(see Danilo Gallinari above) in return.
The Bulls need a healthy Noah to be a contender in the East come playoff time.
Let's look at the Bulls season thus far. They start out 9-8, playing a rough schedule...they get Boozer back and reel off seven straight wins...and then Noah gets hurt? You can't be serious!
Fortunately for the Bulls, these injuries are occurring sooner rather than later.
Hopefully, Noah returns by early March and the team has a month to get on the same page for the playoffs.
They looked awfully good with their full lineup. In the meantime, how about an upgrade at the 2-guard position? Perhaps OJ Mayo can be had.
In order to become true contenders, the Jazz need an upgrade over AK.
The Jazz are a very good basketball team. Deron Williams has been a top-five MVP candidate and Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have been very good. With that said, if the Jazz want to be a great basketball team, they need to upgrade their wing-players.
AK47, CJ Miles and Raja Bell aren't the type of players at the 2 and 3 spots who can win you a championship.
As they are now, the Jazz are a good team that will ultimately lose to a better team. It's that simple.
Be patient Thunder fans, this team will contend for a title next year.
This is one of the few teams in the league that shouldn't make any moves. Remember, this team is still very young.
They have one of the best "Big Threes" in the league, including my No. 2 choice for MVP, Russell Westbrook. They have good role players. They have a sixth man in James Harden who is coming into his own.
So unless the Thunder can make a move without getting rid of ANY of their top six or seven guys, they shouldn't.
I urge fans in Oklahoma to be patient and enjoy your young, extremely fun-to-watch team. You're one piece away from being a very legitimate championship contender...next season.
Orlando was smart in dealing Vince, but they're still a move away from being a contender.
I was going to suggest ridding themselves of Vince Carter, but the Magic beat me to the punch in making two trades over the weekend. Despite what you may think of Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson or Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando upgraded their team in making these trades.
Simply getting rid of Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis is addition by subtraction. The Magic are better today than they were a week ago. The problem is, they're not better than the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat—and that is where they need to be.
I know a lot of fans love Jameer Nelson, but Gilbert can run the point. It might be a good idea to take a serious look at trading Jameer for a All-Star-caliber power forward.
The high-flying Iggy could take Dallas to the next level.
The Dallas Mavericks are like the Orlando Magic of the West. They win 50 to 60 games every year, but just don't have "it" come playoff time because they are a player away.
Jason Terry is a great as a No. 3 scorer. Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion are all nice complementary players.
So here's the solution: Trade Caron Butler's expiring contract, Rodrigue Beaubois and a draft pick to Philly for Andre Iguodala.
Fisher has five rings yes ... but he can't keep up with younger, more athletic guards like Rose.
Yes I'm aware, the Lakers have won the last two NBA championships with Derek Fisher as their starting point guard.
The difference this year: The NBA has gotten much better. Boston, Miami and San Antonio all look like better teams than the Lakers right now, and I would take all three in a best-of-seven series.
Getting Bynum back helps. Getting a legitimate starting point guard would help even more.
A win over Kobe and the Lakers would make Miami's Christmas.
With their recent success (12 straight wins) and the news of Mike Miller's return, Miami doesn't really need to make any other holiday wishes. I'm not saying an upgrade at point guard wouldn't be welcome, but a statement win on national television against the defending champs is what this team really wants.
Seriously, what more can you ask for in a regular season basketball game? You have four and a half superstars (Bosh doesn't get the whole vote right now) playing in an uber-hyped holiday game with a day to rest for it.
Whether you're a Miami fan, a Lakers fan, a Boston fan who hates them both or a casual fan, this one is a must see. I feel like a kid on Christmas Day talking about it, and I will be a slightly-drunk adult on Christmas Day watching it!
The Spurs have been great thus far, but can they keep it up?
The Spurs have looked phenomenal this season. They look even better that their 2007 championship team. There's just one problem, though: Will it last?
They are 23-3, putting them on pace to finish 72-10. No, I'm not suggesting they will tie/break Chicago's record. I'm simply pointing how good they have been through 26 games and questioning whether they can keep this pace.
I hear the team is old...but so are Boston and LA. I don't worry about age as much as I worry about health. Do you want to know how many combined games Parker, Ginobili, Duncan, Jefferson and Blair have missed this season? Zero...that's right, zero!
If the playoffs started today, this team would be virtually unbeatable. But they don't, and I can't help but wonder if they will be the same team come May.
A healthy Perkins makes an already dangerous Celtics the championship favorite.
The Boston Celtics are the best, deepest team in the league right now. Sure, that's my opinion, but it's a very strong one...one that would be very difficult to argue at the moment. The starting lineup is arguably the best in the league.
The bench? Also arguably the best in the league.
Add a healthy Perkins and it's hard to imagine Boston not hanging an 18th championship banner up come June. Imagine dealing with a front line of KG, Shaq, Perkins and Big Baby while they are all almost always well rested.