Underrated moves of the NBA offseason
As the NBA offseason continues to evaporate, fans are beginning to rub their idle hands together in anticipation of finding out which personnel maneuvers may catapult certain teams into more advantageous predicaments.
We’re all heroically aware of the big moves.
But while it’s obvious that Shaq to Cleveland, Ron Artest to L.A., Vince Carter to Orlando, Rasheed Wallace to Boston and Richard Jefferson to San Antonio will inspire the most chatter, we’re interested in identifying which deals or hires may have greater impacts than many observers may expect.
Although most of our interst is aimed at potentially crucial acquisitions, there could be a memorable subtraction or two slipping onto the following list:
Boston Celtics sign Marquis Daniels
After the low-budget signing of Wallace (a move that very well could generate the greatest, title-related boost in the league), bringing in the former Indiana Pacer to spell veterans Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on the wings could extend Danny Ainge’s membership in the sharpies club.
With injuries permitting Daniels to receive 11 additional minutes per game last season, the defensive-minded, 28-year-old increased his per-game scoring average from 8.2 to 13.6. What he represents in Boston is a year-late answer to the departure of James Posey, who worked in the role of super sub during the Celtics’ 2008 championship run.
Unlike Posey, however, Daniels is a bricklayer from behind the 3-point line.
Cleveland Cavaliers acquire Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon
The deal that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Ohio from Phoenix certainly will yield plenty of hype (much of it from Shaq) during the coming season. But landing a couple of athletic wing players will enable Cavs coach Mike Brown to continue directing high-level defense when his subs are on the floor.
Parker, who averaged 10 points per game for the Toronto Raptors last season, is quite a defensive upgrade from Wally Szczerbiak and is a decent (40 percent) long-range shooter. Moon may not spend much time hovering over nearby Parma, but he’s athletic enough to defend near the rim and pick off quite a few offensive rebounds when LeBron James squeezes off shots from long range.
It’s too bad that even with O’Neal, Parker and Moon, the Cavs still could use an athletic post player to prevent more playoff doom. It also should be noted that re-signing slowpoke Anderson Varejao to a big deal may not be the best move of the year.
L.A. Clippers get rid of Zach Randolph
What’s wrong with having a double-double machine like Randolph? Well, he had two more years on a big contract, still hauls around more baggage than Jerry Tarkanian’s eyes and could have been an impediment to the development of rookie phenom Blake Griffin.
With Randolph no longer requiring minutes and shots along the Clippers’ baseline, Griffin is free to work in a three-player, inside rotation with Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman. The Clippers also moved the player they acquired for Randolph — Quentin “Welcome Wagon” Richardson — to Minnesota for a group of players that includes tough guy Craig Smith.
San Antonio Spurs acquire Antonio McDyess
Fourteen years ago, McDyess was drafted and traded by the Clippers before he could even suit up for them. But this late-career move to San Antonio may be even more of a blessing. What’s encouraging for the Spurs is McDyess still having enough physical gusto to average about 10 rebounds last season for the Detroit Pistons.
He also can defend reasonably sized players in the post, shoots well enough from mid-range to keep from crowding Tim Duncan inside and will be supported by rookie DeJuan Blair in a rotation that provides a lot more inside toughness than San Antonio received from Matt Bonner.
Right, the Jefferson move was big, too.
Orlando Magic add significant role players
The list includes sniper Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-10 part of the Carter deal. Anderson doesn’t offer the play-making skill of departed Hedo Turkoglu, but he can shoot it. Orlando also added swingman Matt Barnes and athletic inside worker Brandon Bass while managing to keep backup center Marcin Gortat.
Now if Vince can keep the Vin-sanity to a minimum …
New Orleans Hornets trade for Emeka Okafor
OK, Tyson Chandler did provide considerable leadership and defensive chops for the Hornets, but Okafor — while not exactly Kevin McHale down low — will provide five or six additional points per game without sacrificing defense or rebounding.
Although point guard wasn’t exactly a need on draft night, first-round pick Darren Collison could give Coach Byron Scott some fairly cool little-guy stereo options against other teams that do the same.
Portland Trail Blazers sign Andre Miller
The Blazers already had a leader (remember Brandon Roy?), so don’t expect the soft-spoken Miller to waltz in and take over. But he does possess the ability to initiate an offense, which frees up Roy to score.
Adding Miller does figure to subtract from Portland’s ability to prevent opposing point guards from penetrating at will.
Toronto Raptors acquire Jarrett Jack
The signing of Turkoglu and drafting of DeMar DeRozan provided the big news in Toronto, but adding Jack to share time with Jose Calderon means the Raptors won’t have to put Marcus Banks on the floor. That’s a fine argument for any talk about making a playoff run.
Los Angeles Lakers re-sign Shannon Brown
Yeah, I am serious. Sure, bringing in Ron Artest and keeping Lamar Odom are the important maneuvers, but having Brown around to help Jordan Farmar spell Derek Fisher and rest Kobe Bryant could be really wise. Brown is a premium athlete and has enough wisdom to find shots within the context of the triangle offense.
He also remains engaged on defense, with the ability to guard two positions.