Los Angeles Lakers: Trading Kobe Bryant To The Knicks

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

Lakers Trade: Kobe Bryant

Knicks Trade: Amar’e Stoudemire

Dear readers, I would like to tell you that I am coherent and although this trade was thought of at 3:30 in the morning this is a trade that can make the Lakers a contender in 2 seasons… If you would like to call me names for even thinking about trading the best player in the Lakers’ incredible history, you can email me at mkelworth@gmail.com, but please read this article and actually consider that this is a smart trade…

Kobe Bryant would like to win his 6th title, but it won’t be the Lakers. Because of poor management and Kobe’s ridiculous contract, they just lack the pieces to build a contender while Kobe is still a functional player, is still in the NBA and isn’t a decrepit skeleton like Steve Nash. Ironically if they were able to trade Kobe, even just for cap space, they could be a contender in 2 seasons. They would have to go through a season that would be arguably the weakest the Lakers have had, but this trade would give them the chance to be elite in 1 year.

Kobe and Amar’e Stoudemire have the 2 biggest contracts in the NBA, but Stoudemire is a free agent next offseason while Kobe still has 2 seasons and almost 50 million on his contract. If the Lakers were to make this trade, they would have more than 50 million in cap space in the offseason if they say no to the team option for Jordan Hill. That can get them 2-3 max contract players, where they can make themselves a contender in 1 offseason. They could sign Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, how’s that for a Lakers core? Regardless, they could make themselves one of the best teams in the NBA and give them a chance to win a title with just 1 smart offseason. That sounds better than 2 seasons of mediocrity because of Kobe taking 40 percent of their cap.

How Amar’e plays means little and the Lakers would be pathetic this season, but that is actually a positive, because a team with Jeremy Lin as their best player would compete with the 76ers for the least amount of wins in the NBA this season, which is excellent, because if the Lakers have one of the 1st 5 picks in the draft they get to keep it. They can sign 3 elite players and get a 2nd premier young talent to go with Julius Randle. 1 season of being porous and this team can become contenders, just consider that.

Yes, I get what it would mean to the Lakers trading Kobe Bryant, it is hard to imagine him in a Knicks uniform, but with this trade Kobe would have a chance at a title playing with Carmelo Anthony, he would be playing for arguably his favorite teammate in Derek Fisher and be with Phil Jackson. With this trade, the Lakers get a chance to make their team far better, but also see their legend win. It is a win-win for each party. This is a trade that makes perfect sense and a trade that should be made this offseason.

Boston Celtics: What is the Core of the Celtics?

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

The Celtics are the richest team when it comes to assets in the league. With a ridiculously young team of talented 1st round picks, with their own draft picks, picks owed to them and 1 elite trade chip in Rajon Rondo, it’s difficult to say which players are franchise cornerstones and which are just expendable assets. Well I am going to try and separate the 2, so bare with me, as this is basically me thinking aloud, but this is who I believe are the true core players of the Celtics and who are just assets.

The Core Players

Marcus Smart

– I believe that the Celtics will be trading Rajon Rondo by mid-season and that the 6th pick in the draft, Marcus Smart will become their best player, even as a rookie and will become their next franchise player. He is the key player for this franchise, is NBA ready and an elite 2 way prospect. He is a big and athletic point guard who is an excellent defender, scorer and rebounder, who is a 3 point shot and some better distribution skills from being an All Star and will be an All Star in 2-3 seasons. At 20 he is about to be given the keys to the franchise and he has the talent to meet his expectations. He is about to join the ranks of the best point guards in this league and will be their franchise player, he is that excellent.

Avery Bradley

– They showed that he is a big part of this team by signing him to a 32 million dollar extension, the most money they have given to any player in multiple seasons. Many think that they gave him too much money, but he was already an excellent-elite defender and he has become an offensive weapon for them, as he just averaged 14.9 points per game, shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from 3. He is still just 23 and keeps getting better and could become one of the best 2 way shooting guards in the NBA. He and Smart, their 2 young guards will be the main pieces of this team once they trade Rajon and one of the best guard duos in the NBA. They will be an excellent offensive-defensive duo and whether you like the contract (most hate it), Bradley is a very big part of this franchise.

Jared Sullinger

– Sullinger was an elite college player for 2 seasons and was an excellent NBA prospect, but his back concerns made him go from a 5-10 draft pick to getting selected 21st by the Celtics. Lucky for them, as in his 2nd NBA season he became their best big man, averaging 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in only 27.6 minutes per game. His per 36 minute numbers were elite, as he averaged 17.3 rebounds, 10.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.9 blocks. He is just 22 and is going into his 3rd season and assuming he plays closer to 32 minutes per game there is no reason why he cannot average 15+ points and 10+ rebounds per game. Is he a franchise big man? No, but he is an excellent starter whose health and shooting percentage are his only weaknesses. As long as he is healthy, he will be a key player for this team.

James Young

– Young could go in the asset category, but they had their choice of numerous excellent prospects with pick 17 in this draft, but chose Young, who can become a go-to perimeter scorer for the Celtics. His freshman season wasn’t by any means excellent, but he has the talent to be a very big part of the team. He is too young and has too much potential to be considered an asset when he can give them the elite scorer on the perimeter they lack.

Assets

Rajon Rondo

– Rondo is 28, one of the 10-15 best players in the NBA, is no fit with their young core and is an excellent trade chip that can give them more assets or 1 or 2 core pieces. He will be traded and the only questions are when and for what. I believe that they would be wise to trade him for a young elite talent like Greg Monroe.

Jeff Green

– Green is another strong veteran starter, that can help a number of teams, but his 16-5 game and his 2-19 contract aren’t too attractive. Regardless, he has value and they can at the least get an expiring contract and a couple of 2nd round picks for him and maybe another young talent. He is just taking minutes from the young players. This team isn’t making the playoffs and Green like Rondo is no fit on this team.

Tyler Zeller

– Zeller is probably going to start at center and he is a very productive and hard working big man who is an excellent 2nd string center or 3rd big man and is just 24, but he isn’t going to be a starting center on a playoff team. He has value for this team this season, but if putting him in a trade helps them get a big fish, then they will trade him with no problems.

Evan Turner

– Turner is 25 and has played like a scrub and an All Star in the NBA. He just averaged 17-6-4 for the 76ers, but just 9-3-3 for the Pacers and although on a solid team his numbers are likely in the middle at 13-4-4, he has value on the court and if he proves himself this season in what role he is given, his production and talent could help them in a trade. Signing him to a small, short-term contract was a smart decision as he is better than his contract, which makes him an even more valuable asset in a trade.

Kelly Olynyk

– Yes he is only 23 and the Celtics traded for his rights, but he just isn’t that strong of an NBA talent. He is a big man that can shoot and score, but is he an NBA starter? I would say no, he is a role player in the NBA. Him being a talented stretch 4, which is arguably the most valued role player position in the NBA makes him a hot commodity, but he is just that, a role player and they shouldn’t consider him more than that.

They also have picks a lot of picks. They have their own 1st round picks and 2 more 1st rounders from the Nets, who because of age and financial problems will become a lesser franchise each season, so they will become valuable picks. They can use these picks for themselves to bring more young talent to the franchise or use them in a trade. I believe that this team has to make some trades to add more premier talent because besides Rondo and Smart, they have strong players but no potential elite players. They can trade Rondo for more assets or a premier talent, the 2nd of these options being a much smarter proposition and with their picks and young players that aren’t part of their core, they can conceivably add another premier talent. With cap space coming and a ridiculous amount of assets for trades, this team in the next 2 seasons can bring some big time players to town to help them become an elite franchise. If I was Danny Ainge I would trade Rondo to the Pistons for Greg Monroe and re-sign him giving them a franchise big man and then bide their time and by next offseason make a trade for another big talent. With a core of Smart-Bradley-Monroe-Sullinger-Young and another established elite talent, they can become a modern version of the Oklahoma City Thunder who used their picks and assets to build a contender. They have the assets to become one of the best teams in the league.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers: 5 Reasons They Won’t Win The East

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

Cleveland fans, I admit that I am a Chicago Bulls fan and I believe that the Bulls will win the Eastern Conference, but I say that with no (maybe some) bias. I just believe that the Cavaliers have too many obstacles to face to win the East this season, even though they are the most talented team in the league. Look at the San Antonio Spurs, they aren’t the most talented team, but they are the best team in the NBA. The Cavaliers have the players to win a the East and a title, but for 5 reasons they won’t win the East this season.

1. Chemistry

– Yes, they have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the best Big 3 in the NBA, but with James, Love, Shawn Marion, James Jones, Mike Miller, Brendan Haywood and John Lucas III, each added this offseason and likely rotation players, it’s a different team and getting so many players who haven’t played together to win a conference or a title is just too much for a team to ask. Chemistry takes time and is something the Bulls have and the Cavaliers lack.

2. Defense

– LeBron James is one of the NBA’s best defenders, Anderson Varejao and Shawn Marion are excellent and Tristan Thompson is strong, but their rotation is very weak when it comes to team defense. They are capable of scoring 120 points each game, but their defense will be mediocre at best and defense wins championships.

3. David Blatt

– The Cavaliers’ biggest weakness may be their head coach and that is a problem no contender should have. Blatt may be an excellent coach, but we just cannot say what kind of coach he will be in the NBA. Having the NBA’s best roster and a rookie head coach in this league makes little sense and yes, they hired him when LeBron and Love weren’t on the roster, but this team would be better with a proven coach and to me, the hiring was a mistake and the fit isn’t strong.

4. Different Roles

– Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have played in the NBA as 1st options, but with the Cavs Kevin Love will be the 2nd option and Kyrie Irving will be the 3rd. For Love that isn’t a problem, as he will still get as many shots as he pleases and will be a 20-10 player, but for Kyrie Irving, a 2 time All Star, an All Star MVP and a World Cup MVP who is 22 and will have to go from scoring as much as he likes to being the 3rd option and having the ball in his hands far less than he has in his 1st 3 seasons. It was difficult for Chris Bosh, but he was a veteran, while Irving is young and confident. Irving will have a lot of trouble playing a different role for the Cavaliers this season and so could Tristan Thompson who will go from the Cavaliers’ 2nd or 3rd best player to playing off the bench. Young players who had all the minutes they could handle and as many shots as they liked having to play lesser roles for the 1st time isn’t as easy as it sounds.

5. The Heat Couldn’t Win A Title And They Aren’t Them

– When the Heat made their Big 3 of Wade-Bosh-James, the 3 were friends, had played together on multiple occasions for their country and they came into the NBA together. They were also each very experienced, while Irving is just 22 and Love is 25. They also had Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, when they were still excellent. Basically, they were a veteran team, a better team, a trio who already played together, but even that team couldn’t win a title their 1st season. Yes winning a conference and a title is different, but that team had a lot of trouble during their 1st season and they were better than the Cavaliers, a team that won’t win a title or the East this season.

Chicago Bulls: 5 Reasons They Will Win The East

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

Yes I am a Chicago Bulls fan, but I believe that they will win the Eastern Conference with no bias. The Cavaliers have the most talent in the conference, but the Bulls are the better team and here are 5 reasons why they will win the East this season.

1. Derrick Rose Is His MVP Self

– In the 10 games that Derrick Rose played for the Bulls coming off his ACL injury, he lacked the confidence and the spark that made him the MVP, but in the World Championships he proved that he has his confidence and athleticism that made him one of the best players in the NBA. His jumper has to get better, but it looks like he is even healthier than in the 10 games he played. If Derrick Rose is healthy and confident he will be one of the best players in the NBA this season, which will make the Bulls elite.

2. An Incredible Offseason Made Them Better

– The Bulls had one of the best offseasons of any NBA team. They signed Pau Gasol to be the 2nd option offensively they lacked, they drafted Doug McDermott who can be their go-to perimeter scorer even as a rookie and give them the 15 point per game perimeter player which the offense was desperate for, they re-signed Kirk Hinrich who is an elite role player, they signed Aaron Brooks to give them the small scoring guard that is essential for this team and Nikola Mirotic gives them another excellent offensive big man. Because of their offseason they are a much better team and that isn’t counting getting Derrick Rose healthy.

3. Their Defense Is Still Elite

– The Bulls just had the best defense in the NBA and with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich, they have a group of elite defenders, they have Tom Thibodeau who might be the best defensive mind in the NBA and Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol are 2 of the best offensive players in the NBA, but very strong on defense too. They have the same group that was just the best in the NBA, but Pau Gasol is better than Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose is better than D.J. Augustin, meaning that they can have an even better defense this season.

4. A Much Better Offense

– With Derrick Rose, their offense will be far better regardless and they won’t be close to the 30th ranked offense they just were, but Pau Gasol gives them an excellent 2nd option and is taking Boozer’s role, yet is a much better player, Nikola Mirotic gives them more offense from their big men and Doug McDermott gives them the go-to perimeter scorer to take the place of Deng. When Jimmy Butler is your best perimeter scorer that is a problem. They are basically adding an MVP point guard, one of the best offensive big men in the NBA, an excellent rookie scorer and an elite foreign player to the league’s lowest scoring offense, so they should at least be average this season.

5. They Are The Best Team

– With the best defense in the NBA, a better offense, excellent chemistry and one of the best coaches in the NBA, the Bulls are the best team in the conference. The East is going to be better this season, but the Cavs and Bulls are the only 2 elite teams and the Cavaliers have a much different team that has no chemistry, a rookie coach and likely a mediocre at best defense. The Bulls have the best team in the East this season and should win the conference for the 1st time in 17 years, when I was 9. As a fan and a journalist I believe the Bulls are the best team in the East.

Miami Heat: Why The Heat Can Win A Title

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

Yes, the Heat are still contenders. Thanks for reading. Jokes aside, the Heat can still win a title this season. Yes, LeBron James isn’t on the team, but they had an excellent offseason regardless. If Dwyane Wade is healthy, he is still one of the best players in the league, Chris Bosh was a 20-10 player and can be one with the Heat with a bigger role, Luol Deng is an elite 3rd option and one of the better small forwards in the NBA, Danny Granger can still be a 15 point per game scorer if healthy, they have a strong set of role players and they have one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Many will say that Dwyane Wade isn’t an elite NBA player, but he just averaged 19 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in just 32.9 minutes per game. Yes, he misses games to rest, but when he plays he produces like one of the best players in the league and this season he will again be the number 1 offensive source for the Heat and his numbers will be no less than 21-5-5. When Chris Bosh became a member of the Heat and the team signed LeBron James, he was well aware that he was going to be the 3rd star for the team. He was still an All Star for each of his 1st 4 seasons with the Heat and it isn’t like he failed as their 3rd option, but as the 2nd star he should be averaging far more than the 16.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1 block per game he just averaged and he is likely to play more than 32 minutes. He can average 20-10 for the Heat this season and he is just 30, so he isn’t fading as a player. Luol Deng has made 2 All Star games and that number would be 3 if he had stayed with the Bulls, as he was playing excellent for the Bulls when he was traded to Cleveland. He isn’t LeBron James, but he is still one of the best small forwards in the NBA and like LeBron is one of the best 2 way players in the NBA. He will give them 16 points and 6 rebounds per game, elite defense, strong shooting and he has the intangibles and qualities that the Heat will love, as he was the captain for the Bulls for more than a half decade. He will give them a 3rd option offensively, a perimeter stopper on defense and excellent character on the court and in practice.

Free agent signee Danny Granger is the Heat’s biggest question mark this season. He is still just 31 and 3 seasons ago he averaged 18.7 points per game for the Pacers, but he hasn’t played healthy since that season. However, he should be healthy going into the season and he can have a big season for the Heat as a sixth man. Their starting point, Mario Chalmers may just be one of the most fascinating players in the league this season. Yes, he has started for them for a half decade, but with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, he hasn’t really played point guard in the NBA. He was basically a small shooting guard, who shot the ball, played defense and ran the offense occasionally. However, this season he should have the ball more than he has in his 6 NBA seasons. He is an excellent shooter and on defense, which is why they re-signed him and seeing how he plays as the actual point guard will be fun, as he is much better than he is given credit for. Likely starting power forward and offseason signee Josh McRoberts is a very nice piece for the Heat. He is a shooting big man, who is also one of the best distributing big man in the NBA and is a versatile offensive player that Erik Spoelstra can use to make their elite offense even better. Their starting 5 of Chalmers-Wade-Deng-McRoberts-Bosh is one of the best in the NBA.

When it comes to the rest of their rotation, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole’s talents and their production aren’t a secret to Heat fans, but rookie point guard Shabazz Napier is a very strong young player, who is a winner and can play a role for the team, as he is a talented scorer and is clutch. He was just the best player on the UCONN team that won a title and can become a starting point guard for them or an elite sixth man.

Erik Spoelstra is a yet another asset for the team. Yes, he had his Big 3, which any coach could have won with, but he still has won 2 titles and won the East 4 times in 4 seasons, so he is an elite coach in this league. He will get this team to play offense and defense and play to the best of their abilities. LeBron or no, Spoelstra is one of the better coaches in this league.

With their 2 elite players in Wade and Bosh, Erik Spoelstra, excellent depth and offseason signees Deng, Granger and McRoberts, the Heat can win a title this season. Will they? They are the 3rd best team in the East and they can beat either the Cavs or Bulls in the playoffs and if they can win the East, they can win a title, however they probably won’t be wining a title this season. Regardless, they have a chance. Yes the best player in the NBA isn’t playing for the Heat and is a Cav, but they have the elite talent, experience, role players, offense, defense and coaching to be in the title hunt this season.

Los Angeles Lakers: Steve Nash Or Jeremy Lin?

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

The Lakers have a couple of questions about who to start, but their biggest starter question is Steve Nash or Jeremy Lin at point guard? Steve Nash has won 2 MVP’s and is one of the best players in the history of the NBA, but he’s 40, injury prone and is no longer that effective, while Jeremy Lin is young, productive and a perfect fit starting at guard with Kobe Bryant. This seems simple, but Steve Nash is likely to be the starter which would be a mistake, as the man for the job is Jeremy Lin.

Why is Nash going to start? Well he has the name recognition, the 10 million dollar salary and it is difficult for a player his age to go through the stretching, running and all of the things that players have to work on to get ready for a game and sit on the bench. However, it makes no sense if the Lakers would like to win games this season. Jeremy Lin is an excellent scorer, a strong distributor and his talents pair with Kobe incredibly well. They would win more games with Jeremy Lin starting at point guard this season and Lin-Kobe is just a better duo at guard.

Lin is an excellent scorer and can better share the ball handling with Kobe than Nash, as he is used to playing with a ball dominant shooting guard, as he just played with James Harden, however Lin is a better fit with Kobe than Harden. Lin and Harden are very similar players, while Lin has a different skill set from Kobe or at least Kobe at 36. Kobe at 36 is going to stick to the perimeter, the mid range and using his size and skill to abuse fellow guards in the paint, but he isn’t going to be cutting to the rim for dunks like when he was an MVP and get to the basket numerous times per game. He is going to rely on skill instead of his athleticism, which would allow Lin to play the role of penetrator.

Together Kobe and Lin can combine for 40 points and 10 assists per game, while with Nash they would have a starting guard duo with no athleticism and with 2 players who must have the ball in their hands to be effective. At this point Nash is just a shooter and a distributor, but with Kobe the main ball handler, Nash is just ineffective playing with Kobe. This team won’t be in the playoffs, but they will be much better with Jeremy Lin at point guard this season.

Golden State Warriors: Grading Curry and Thompson’s Performances for Team USA

By Josh Morgan: VP and Director of Content at Hoopstuff…

During the World Cup only two NBA franchises had multiple players represent Team USA and they weren’t two marquee organizations like the Celtics or Lakers or even new “it” teams like the Cavaliers or the Heat, they were the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors. The Kings had center DeMarcus Cousins and late addition Rudy Gay and the Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry represented Oakland. While Curry showed at times why he is one of the best point guards in the league, scoring and showing his added ability to distribute the ball, Thompson to me showed why the Warriors were right in not adding him to the package offered to Minnesota for Kevin Love and also why they should extend him when they have the chance and not allow him to get to restricted free agency.

As for grading their performances let’s start with Stephen Curry. He started off slow in the opening game of the tournament against Finland, with just 4 points in 18 minutes while going just 1 for 6 from the field, not the type of shooting we’ve come to expect from Curry, 5 assists and 3 rebounds. They would go on to crush the overmatched Finns by 59 points so it’s not as if Curry’s disappointing game was much to write home about but my job here is to grade his performance and this opening game combined with his 3 for 11 performance with just 9 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists against Turkey doesn’t go far in a positive review. He did however come up with five steals against Turkey when the rest of the guards had plenty of trouble guarding the ball handlers in this game, especially in the pick and roll. His offensive game would improve starting with the game against New Zealand but he turned the ball over five times here with just three assists in 24 minutes. He would shine against Mexico in the round of 16 when the rest of Team USA struggled on the offensive end, as Stephen carried them in scoring with 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 4 assists and no turnovers in what was his best game of the tournament by far. In two of the final three games he would find himself in foul trouble, thanks in large part to the inexplicable officiating from the FIBA referees who seemingly left the rule book up to their own interpretation during the entire tournament, and this would limit his production with just 19 total points against Slovenia and Lithuania. Curry was seemingly the only USA shooter that did not have his shot in the Gold Medal game, going just 2 for 7 from three while hitting all four free throw attempts to finish with 10 points. With Paul George, Kevin Durant and the rest of the big names out of the World Cup for various reasons Curry was someone I expected to step up and play very well but other than the game against Mexico where he was the offense, those expectations were not met. He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA but in eight of the nine games that counted in Spain Curry did not bring his A game, it was his C game at best.

Thompson on the other hand was truly impressive to me. He finished second on the team in points per game at 12.7 while shooting 52.3 percent overall with 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and just 1.1 turnovers. What really stood out was his defense. On the ball no one played the pick and roll better, not allowing himself to be screened and fighting over when the screener got there. He showed a great knowledge of rotations, coming over and helping on penetrators to cut off their angle to the basket and allowing a teammate to stick a hand in for a steal or picking their pocket himself. Perhaps he was a little too aggressive on this end, averaging 2.1 fouls per game with three fouls each of the last four games, but as I mentioned above the FIBA referees were impossible to get a handle on. A foul one game may or may not be a foul the next game, so it’s hard to knock him for this. He is a great shooter, with picture perfect form and range beyond the three point line, but if he puts in the effort on the defensive end with the Warriors that he did in this tournament he could easily be one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. He is somewhat thin yes, but the energy and ability to move his feet to keep a ball handler in front of him that I saw during the entire World Cup was impressive. They were right not to add him into that rumored package they offered to Minnesota for Kevin Love because even though they would have acquired one of if not the best scoring big in the league in Love, Thompson’s two way potential is simply too much to trade away. This was his breakout performance in my opinion and my expectations for him during the upcoming NBA regular season have skyrocketed because of it.

Grades

Curry: C

Thompson: A

 

Dallas Mavericks: Why They Can Win A Title

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

The Mavericks had the 2nd best offseason of any NBA team, the 1st being the Cavaliers. Today I wrote an article of the 9 NBA teams that can win a title this season and the Mavericks were team 8 and this is because of the incredible offseason that Marc Cuban and Donnie Nelson had. They re-signed Dirk Nowitzki to the best contract of the offseason, as he will be making around 7-8 million dollars per season for 3 seasons, they traded Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin for center Tyson Chandler, one of the best defenders in the NBA and a solid point guard in Raymond Felton, signed small forward Chandler Parsons, a young All Star talent, signed Jameer Nelson, easily the best point guard on the roster and a player that can start for a contender, signed Al Farouq Aminu, a very strong perimeter defender for the minimum, signed Richard Jefferson and Ivan Johnson to minimum deals for depth and re-signed point guard Devin Harris who may start, but is an elite sixth man. They paid too much for Chandler Parsons, but besides that their offseason was perfect.

So because of their offseason they can put a starting 5 on the court of Jameer Nelson-Monta Ellis-Chandler Parsons-Dirk Nowitzki-Tyson Chandler and have a bench with Devin Harris, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Wright, Al Farouq Aminu, Raymond Felton and Ivan Johnson. That is a championship caliber team. Dirk Nowitzki is still an All Star and one of the best offensive players in the NBA, Chandler isn’t the player he was when the Mavericks won a title, but he is still an elite defensive center, Ellis is one of the best scoring guards in the NBA and a strong distributor, Parsons can score, defend, rebound and distribute very well and with their collection of role players, they are a deep team. They can score a lot of points, but they are a far better defensive team and a deeper team. This team could challenge the Mavericks team that won a title, they are that talented, although the league is far better.

Are they going to win a title? It isn’t likely, but they can compete for a title, which is more than they could say for the season they just had. They have spent a lot of money, but they can put a team on the court this season that can beat any team and they will be a difficult series for any team in the West. They took the champion Spurs to 7 games and they are better, so they have a chance to win a title this season and that is what matters. Management was excellent this offseason, excellent.

San Antonio Spurs: 5 Reasons They Are The NBA’s Best Team

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

1. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker Are Still Elite

– If Gregg Popovich can keep Duncan and Parker’s minutes around 25-30 per game in the regular season then they will be fresh for the playoffs and if they can stay healthy, the Spurs have 2 of the NBA’s better players on their team, 2 players that are winners, 2 players that are champions and 2 players who are still incredibly productive. There is no reason that with an offseason of rest they aren’t playing like All Stars this season and if they are healthy, the Spurs are still elite.

2. Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter Will Be Better

– Kawhi Leonard is about to become an All Star just like Duncan and Parker and this should be the season that his regular season numbers match his incredible playoff play. He is one of the best 2 way players in the NBA, is just 23 and he is ready to have a bigger role on the Spurs. Splitter may be 29, but this is just his 5th NBA season and he keeps getting better. He just averaged 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes, but has become a much better defender too. He is an excellent 2nd big man for the Spurs and this should be the season he gets the 25+ minutes per game he deserves.

3. Their Bench Is Still The NBA’s Best

– Yes, Patty Mills will miss part of the season, but they just had the best bench in the NBA and should again this season. Manu Ginobili is still one of the best sixth men in the NBA, as is Patty Mills, Boris Diaw is an elite 3rd big man and a versatile weapon for the Spurs, Marco Belinelli is one of the better shooters in the NBA and a very productive reserve perimeter player, Matt Bonner is still one of the best big man shooters in the NBA and the physical Jeff Ayres is still there. The only question is if the young Cory Joseph can fill the Patty Mills role while he is getting healthy, however Joseph is very talented and has played a big role for the Spurs.

4. Gregg Popovich Is Their Coach

– He is the best coach in the NBA.

5. They Are The Champs Until They Aren’t

– This is easy, you are the champions until someone dethrones you and they are still on their championship throne.

Yes 4 and 5 weren’t very descriptive, but you get the message. The Spurs are the best team in the NBA and should win another title this season. They are the NBA’s best team and it isn’t close, although Cleveland is getting there.

The 9 NBA Teams That Can Win A Title

By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…

1. San Antonio Spurs

– The Spurs still have a healthy Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard will each be better, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw are still on the roster and their head coach is Gregg Popovich. If they aren’t the team with the best chance to win a title, who is? Their only problem is that Patty Mills is injured and will miss a portion of the season, but the title is the Spurs’ to lose this season, as they are the best team.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

– There is no doubt that the Cavaliers have the best roster in the NBA. However, they have a rookie coach and just like the Heat Big 3, they could have trouble gelling as a team in their 1st season and this Cavaliers team is younger. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will have to take secondary roles for the 1st time, which could be a problem, but this team has just too much talent to be less than excellent. They are likely to fight with the Bulls to be the best team in the East, but the LeBron James factor gives them the edge.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

– The Thunder have the best player in the conference in Kevin Durant and like LeBron James in the East, having the best player on their team is an incredible asset for them. With a 2nd member of the 10 best players in the NBA in Russell Westbrook, a 3rd elite player in Serge Ibaka and with young talent in Steven Adams, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb who should each be better, they are just too talented of a team to be ignored. Each season the Thunder have a very strong chance to win a title and this season isn’t different and they have the best chance to beat the Spurs and win the West this season.

4. Chicago Bulls

– The Chicago Bulls could be 2 or 3, but Derrick Rose’s health concerns makes them 4th. Rose looked healthy and athletic at the World Championships, so there is a strong chance that he will stay healthy this season. The Bulls have an excellent chance to have the best defense in the NBA again, but they won’t be 30th in offense. With Derrick Rose healthy, they are adding one of the best offensive players in the league to their offense and with Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic signed or drafted, they should have a much better offense this season. With an elite defense and an offense that should at least be average, if Rose is healthy, they will be one of the 2 best teams in the East this season and have an excellent shot at winning the conference. The Cavaliers may have the most talent in the East, but the Bulls are the best team.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

– The Clippers are arguably the 2nd best team in the Western Conference, but they just haven’t played well in the playoffs. They are a better team this season, as they have signed Spencer Hawes to go with 2 of the 10 best players in the NBA in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and elite role players in J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford. The Clippers can win the Western Conference, but they have to show that they can win in the playoffs to be better than the 1st 4.

6. Memphis Grizzlies

– Memphis has the best defense in the Western Conference, gives fits to the rest of the West and their offense is better. With an elite big man duo in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, one of the better point guards in the NBA in Mike Conley and an excellent collection of role players in Tony Allen, Kosta Koufos, Courtney Lee and Vince Carter, they have the roster to challenge for a championship. They would be one of the three best teams in the East and they just seem to be a better team when they get to the playoffs, meaning that they have to be in the title discussion.

7. Miami Heat

– The Heat no longer have LeBron, but a healthy Dwyane Wade is still one of the best players in the NBA, Chris Bosh was a 20-10 player in Toronto, will have a bigger role and can average those numbers as a 2nd offensive option, Luol Deng is an elite 3rd option and an excellent 2 way player, Danny Granger if healthy can have a big season and Josh McRoberts and Mario Chalmers are strong role players. This team still has a lot of talent and they can win the East if Wade stays healthy and Bosh plays like one of the best big men in the league. If they win the Eastern Conference, they have a chance at the title.

8. Dallas Mavericks

– The Cavaliers had the best offseason when it comes to making their team better, but the Mavericks were 2nd. Yes, they paid far too much money for Chandler Parsons, but he is a young, versatile player who is one of the better 3’s in the NBA. They also traded for a defensive captain in Tyson Chandler who helped them win their 1st title, they signed a strong starting point guard in Jameer Nelson and they re-signed Dirk Nowitzki to arguably the best contract of the offseason. They can have a starting 5 of Nelson, Monta Ellis, Parsons, Nowitzki and Chandler and a bench with Devin Harris, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Wright, Al Farouq Aminu and Raymond Felton, which is a roster that can win a championship.

9. Golden State Warriors

– The Warriors have one of the best starting 5’s in the NBA with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut and have a much better bench, as they signed Shaun Livingston, Brandon Rush and Leandro Barbosa to go with Fesus Ezeli, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. They have the talent to win a title, but they are a team that gets injured far too much, lack championship experience and have a rookie coach in Steve Kerr. Regardless, their offense is so strong, their talent is so excellent and with one of the 5-10 best players in the NBA in Stephen Curry, they must be on this list. Their chances are low, but they have a team that can win a title this season.