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News » Which contenders should wheel and deal?

Which contenders should wheel and deal?

Which contenders should wheel and deal?
In a move designed to elevate my stress level to an unsanctioned realm, I have become an NBA general manager.

But only for the duration of this column.

It should be noted that I will not be working for one of the many franchises seemingly interested in harpooning its payroll balloon before next week's trading deadline. An unfortunate number of those deals may make little, if any, basketball sense, which means several could resemble the trades we see every year.

Anyway, in this column I'll be the personnel drone for five teams considered favorites to slobber all over the O'Brien Trophy next June. That, of course, means I won't be pretending I'm Michael Jordan.

As a general manager representing these contending teams, it will be my responsibility to put each team in its best position to succeed. This may be accomplished by making a slick deal (Memphis Grizzlies on speed dial here) or being smart enough to back off and not avoid wrecking the team.

Based on performances by the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, it's obvious that a light touch is required before proceeding. But even if I become motivated to make an atrocious move, any substantial salary that could be used in a deal to destroy my team probably is attached to a player who has put my team in such nice, record-related shape.

As one wise general manager (I'm fairly certain it wasn't Kevin McHale) once declared, sometimes the best trades are the trades that aren't made.

OK, with that on the table, let's see how I can push your favorite team out of the spotlight and into the lottery:

Boston Celtics

Needs: Aside from a new shooting coach for Rajon Rondo, the Cs have more minor personnel issues than you'd expect on such an outstanding team.

We can start on the perimeter, where perimeter reserve Tony Allen (as expected by many) does not seem prepared to deliver what departed James Posey supplied off the bench in last year's playoff run.

Boston also could use a reliable backup for (point guard) Rondo, enabling ballhandling-challenged Eddie House to maintain his keen focus on knocking down threes.

Los Angeles Lakers

Needs: A hypnotist for Odom and a good luck charm for Bynum's knees.

Plan of Attack: As Mitch Kupchak, I now have enough assembled talent to screen my calls and chuckle whenever someone suggests Shaquille O'Neal's return to the Lakers.

But I also could call the Grizzlies and see if they're interested in another of my little-used post players with an expiring contract (Chris Mihm). I'm pretty sure they have a spare Gasol (Marc) with a long-term contract that matches up.

That really couldn't happen again, could it?

San Antonio Spurs

Needs: I'm R.C. Buford and I need a makeover for Gregg Popovich, a post player with a pulse and some length, and someone to shoot me if the reported temptation to acquire Vince Carter is real.

Our current inside players not named Tim Duncan are Matt Bonner, who actually plays outside (where he shoots the blood out of the ball), Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto. All three are incapable of handling Odom off the dribble and will be cooked on the post when matched against Gasol (if Bynum has returned in time for a Lakers-Spurs hayride).

I have read that Rasheed Wallace would like to play on our team, but (aside from the obvious irony) we lack the give-back salary. Putting together a multi-player package that includes rookie George Hill and sharpshooter Roger Mason would deplete the youthful gains we've made on the perimeter.

What about Carter? Gee, he's guaranteed more than $33 million over the next two seasons, and with Pop cryin' about a legitimate drop in defensive efficiency, that move wouldn't make much sense, would it?

Plan of Attack: Pop believes we (if healthy) can win it all again this season and I'm inclined to agree. I'm not callin' a bookie on this, but until Duncan is unable to put up 20 and 10 on a regular basis, our window remains open.

While it's true that not updating the dynasty (in terms of personnel) can turn a franchise into the Boston Celtics of the pre-KG days, we also believe the Western Conference (looking beyond the Lakers) may not be this open for a while.

I would reveal a bit more, but it also has been suggested that not showing your hand often makes it easier to complete a deal.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 14, 2009


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