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News » Who may be moving up the NBA food chain?

Who may be moving up the NBA food chain?

Who may be moving up the NBA food chain?
Most of the teams residing on the wrong side of the NBA tracks have been flattened by the locomotive of misfortune during their commutes home.

But, through the miracle of transaction, some franchises will have the opportunity to cross back over and thrive. Last week, we presented cases for teams that — thanks to free agency and/or a slick trade — have managed to rise from rich to even more well off.

This week, let's examine which recent NBA lightweights have used these maneuvers and reasonable drafting to begin the march from have-nots to haves. In some cases, we've factored in the tricky variable of addition by subtraction.

Anyway, while acknowledging the fluid nature of pro basketball personnel moves in July, here's a list of teams that may not be so awful next season:

  • Los Angeles Clippers: Despite their history as the frog that no princess seems capable of kissing off the lily pad, the Clips certainly are poised to take a big hop forward.

    The obvious addition of first overall draft pick Blake Griffin should be a huge plus, but this potential improvement goes far beyond a lucky Ping-Pong bounce. That's because adding Griffin made it even more important to dump power forward Zach Randolph, whose seemingly unreasonable contract now resides in Memphis, where the Grizzlies are excited about the numbers he'll produce (good luck with that).

    Saving scoots in the long run is nice, but taking back shooting guard Quentin Richardson from Memphis also means there should be absolutely no earthly reason for re-signing Ricky Davis as the (cough) shooting guard mentor for Eric Gordon.

    All of this dandy karma may even encourage Baron Davis to live up to a least a part of his substantial paycheck.

  • Oklahoma City Thunder: We can consider this team upgraded by simply tearing another year off of the calendar.

    But the maturing Thunder also used the third overall pick in the first round to select a card-carrying shooting guard named James Harden.

    What Harden provides is a legitimate two guard whose presence will continue to discourage anyone affiliated with personnel groupings to put Kevin Durant back at shooting guard, where he couldn't defend a bear in a phone booth.

    Taking Harden also meant not choosing point guard Ricky Rubio and keeping second-year point guard Russell Westbrook from having a fine reason to be (at least temporarily) bitter.

    If the team doc had given his blessing to last year's attempted Tyson Chandler trade, this team really would be ready to roll. It should be noted that kid rookie B.J. Mullens (drafted by Dallas, then swapped to OKC) has the physical talent to be really good in the middle.

    We've heard that about other prospects before, but still ...

  • New Jersey Nets: He may be what's needed in Orlando, but getting rid of Vince Carter (and his contract) is always a move I'll endorse. The return includes Courtney Lee, who could be really good unless you want to throw him a last-second lob pass.

    Rafer Alston will provide a nice sub for Devin Harris or allow the Nets to play small and take advantage of the dribble-drive motion offensive set they sometimes use.

    Rookie Terrence Williams is a willing defender, tough rebounder and fantastic athlete; improving his shooting consistency is much less of a worry with those other attributes already on the table.

    LeBron James may never sign with the Nets, but I can't imagine him ever wanting to be party of Vin-sanity.

  • Phoenix Suns: Yeah, they had several big names (and contracts), but they didn't have quite enough to reach the postseason.

    Moving Shaquille O'Neal should help Coach Alvin Gentry in his quest to hike Amare Stoudemire's scoring average back among the league leaders ... if Amare's eye and fitness level cooperate.

    Phoenix also adds Channing Frye for a length-and-finesse system that probably won't be hurt by taking Louisville forward Earl Clark in the first round.

  • Golden State Warriors: With Don Nelson presiding, let's imagine the Stephen Curry-Anthony Randolph pairing turning into Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki.

    But make sure we exhale.

  • Author: Fox Sports
    Author's Website:
    Added: July 14, 2009


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