The lottery changes nothing, on to more troubling things

Gilbert Arenas is surely celebrating the potential addition of Kentucky point guard John Wall

The Washington Wizards won the first pick in the 2010 N.B.A. Draft lottery last night, which means they won the right to select the most dynamic player in college basketball. At 6’4″, John Wall is a special player who has the size and athleticism to become an incredible point guard in the game’s best league.

What at first might appear to be a redundancy at the point guard position is anything but. The addition of Wall will allow Gilbert Arenas to slide to his more natural shooting guard position.

Arenas should be ecstatic. He’s always been something of a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s frame. He just doesn’t have that pass-first, help-my-teammates-become-better mentality a true point guard should have. Allowing him to roam free on the edges without the ball could unleash his talents to a level as yet unseen.

A backcourt of Gilbert and Wall instantly becomes one of the most feared in the NBA. Wall’s pure playmaking skills are a perfect complement to Arena’s outside touch and dynamic scoring ability. Although undersized, the two should be able to do a lot of damage.

The Wizards also possess an extremely raw but supremely talented frontcourt pairing of Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Add to that the more than $22 million in cap space Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is about to have this offseason and the Wizards are well on their way to resuscitating the image of that confounding and often embarrassing pro basketball team from last year. They’re not going to be able to woo the likes of LeBron James or Chris Bosh, but such cap space is nothing to scoff at. Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay could certainly be a target. If not, one season of development removed from the spotlight might be able to convince a Carmelo Anthony to join what could by then be a wide open Eastern Conference next offseason.

That’s certainly the dream in Washington anyway.

But for now, if Pat Riley cannot construct a basketball team in South Florida that can handily defeat a 26-win basketball team from one year ago that just received the good fortunate of a first overall draft pick, the offseason will by all accounts be considered a wicked failure.

So let’s instead focus on potentially more troubling issues.

We’re still a month and a half away from the beginning of free agency, so let me stir the pot with some ridiculous speculation. Today’s spotlight will be on Chris Bosh.

Faced with the loss of losing him for nothing, the Raptors will surely attempt a sign-and-trade possibility for their all star power forward who seems destined to seek a new home.

Around the time of February’s trade deadline, rumors of a blockbuster swap of Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Bosh shook the basketball world. The Raptors are certain to push hard with this swap as their preferred offseason alternative. However, a deep Lakers playoff run could nix those plans in an instant. Just seven more wins now stand in the Lakers’ way from the ultimate prize. One disastrous offseason alternative appears to have been diverted.

More troubling is the sudden collapse of the Orlando Magic. Once seemingly destined for an N.B.A. Finals rematch with the Lakers, the Magic are suddenly hanging desperately onto their playoff lives. What was once an Eastern Conference powerhouse committed to keeping its core pieces together into the foreseeable future could very well be a team searching for answers in just about a week.

If Orlando’s Larry O’Brian trophy dreams are not realized, how long do you think it will take for General Manager Otis Smith to start thinking he is one more piece away from turning his franchise into a dynasty?

The Magic appear to have lots of interchangeable pieces. With the development of J.J. Redick, the emergence of newly-acquired Matt Barnes and the solid contributions of veteran Mickael Pietrus, the Magic have three quality backcourt pieces who simply cannot get the minutes one would expect from a rotation player on a playoff roster.

Forwards Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass are in a similar predicament. Both are talented pieces doomed by the logjam of big men in the Magic’s rotation. And then there’s Marcin Gortat. Last offseason, the Magic decided to match Dallas’ mid-level offer for Gortat even though it was for far more than a 13-minute per game back up center should be paid. But what’s is done is allow the Magic to compile a bunch of coveted pieces.

Chris Bosh would give the Magic just what they have been missing – a true power forward who can score and rebound, a player defenses cannot leave to double team Dwight Howard in the post.

Perhaps the Magic are not the preferred team with which to deal, particularly given their status as Eastern Conference foes. But, devoid of Bosh, the Raports would be a team desperately in need of an infusion of talent.

In the Raptor frontcourt, Charmin-soft Andrea Bargnani would love the opportunity to shift back to the power forward position. In the backcourt, Sonny Weeks could most certainly benefit from a few more seasons of apprentice-ship.

In that regard, it would appear a compelling offer could certainly be made. An instant rebuild with Gortat at center, Anderson or Bass providing toughness at power forward, and Pietrus adding stability to the backcourt (both Redick and Barnes will be free agents who would need to consent to joining the hapless Raptors) could fit the bill.

It is perhaps not the best possible outcome for the Raptors in exchange for both, but Toronto General Manager Bryan Colango would be foolish not to at least consider the possibility.

Of course, it all remains rampant speculation at this point. But, clearly, the next month and a half has the potential to dizzy our minds with all the horrific possible outcomes. And while I continue to be optimistic about the Heat’s offseason approach, I’ve never been much of a glass-half-full guy.

1 Response

  1. TKO says:

    You’re right about the Magic. That 2009-10 Magic team was one deep team, stacked at every position. That entire 2nd unit could’ve started for any other team.

    Even so, I thought letting Turkoglu go was a mistake, even at the time that the Raptors offered him that ridiculous contract in the 2009 offseason, without the benefit of hindsight. All the media talked about was that the Magic essentially choosing Vince Carter over Turkoglu. I even did a search on the internet but couldn’t find any mention of the idea of Turkoglu and Carter playing together. Letting Turkoglu go came back to bite them when they got dominated (and nearly swept) by the Celtics.

    Yes, Turkoglu was overpaid by the Raptors but the Magic already was spending through the roof for that team (~$90 million team salary). Why not go all-in and keep Turkoglu? Him combined with Carter would’ve been an awesome wing combo and would’ve provided the playmaking and shot-creation that they lacked against the Celtics. Neither is great on defense but Howard could’ve compensated for that.

    That being said, that Celtic group was tough. They pushed the Magic to 7 games in 2009 even without Kevin Garnett. They pushed the Big3-era Heat to 7 games in 2012 without Kendrick Perkins.

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