The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

What The Trade Of Roy Hibbert Means For The Indiana Pacers And Los Angeles Lakers

Roy Hibbert is headed West to play with the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Roy Hibbert is headed West to play with the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Indiana Pacers were heading into next season with renewed optimism after the return late last season of Paul George. Even though he did not play the way he did before the leg injury, he showed glimpses of being his former self out on the court. And even though they were not getting a ton from center Roy Hibbert, there were some thoughts that the team would make more strides towards returning to what they were on the court. But the strides they would making, there was the realization that Hibbert would never be the same player that showed up in enough time to get a big contract from the Pacers. The team was probably hoping he did not pick up his player option for next season that would have paid him $15.5 million in 2015-2016. But on draft night, Hibbert exercised his option and took up the team on the last year of his deal. Immediately upon signing, many wondered if he would ever suit up for the Pacers again. And as time went on, it seemed to be a certainty that he was gone. The Pacers were shopping him around and hoping that anyone would take him off their hands. The results may have not came immediately, but the Pacers seemed to have found a match for Hibbert and his contract. The Los Angeles Lakers are willing to ship some pieces to their team to take a chance on potentially reviving Hibbert’s career. And for Indy, they seem to be content with letting HIbbert go.

Last season, the Indiana Pacers were a team that did not have much offense to go around. In fact, they ended the season 24th in scoring. But as bad as they are offensively, the Pacers were a top five defensive team. And despite what some may think of Hibbert, he was a part of that defensive strategy there in Indianapolis. But with the trade, he is no longer there to cover for the mistakes perimeter defenders may be making. So with Hibbert gone, expect the defense to drop down a level. But don’t be mistaken. The Pacers will still be a solid defense next season. Backup center Ian Mahinmi will be able to step in and make an impact defensively. Despite being shorter than Hibbert, who is 7’2”, Mahinmi is able to cover more ground. And with that, the Pacers defense will be quicker to the basketball and therefore be more versatile with the quicker Mahinmi. But the veteran backup is not the only player that will have an impact in the front court of the Pacers. Offensively, rookie big man Myles Turner will step in and add a different flavor for the Pacers offense. He easily is the most versatile big man on their roster and with his range shooting the basketball, he will be able to pull opposing big men away from the basket. And when that happens, that opens up lanes for newly-acquired Monta Ellis along with Paul George and Rodney Stuckey to attack the basket. With no one at the rim and with all three of these guys having great explosiveness to the rim, the pressure they would put on defenses without a big at the rim would give teams headaches. This move may change the Pacers, but it will make them better overall in regards to their team speed. And there may be some more pieces to add to this equation once the compensation has been agreed upon. The two most mentioned names are forward Ryan Kelly and center Robert Sacre. Of these two, Kelly would be the most help on this team due to his ability to shoot the three and his size as well. He would be a part of helping remake the Pacers offensively while still helping to maintain a solid defensive presence.

The Pacers look solid going forward, but the Lakers are somewhat of an enigma. They have struggled the last two seasons and it seems like big-name free agents are avoiding the Lakers like the plague right now. The Lakers added players like Lou Williams and Brandon Bass in free agency, rookie D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, who was lost last season after the first game. Add that group with a healthy Kobe Bryant and the Lakers look a little better than they did last season. The Lakers were a team that were porous defensively and before Hibbert, the Lakers are a porous defensive team. With the addition of Hibbert’s services, he can be a force defensively provided he does not have to move much or guard on the perimeter. And with the Lakers, he can be someone that can upgrade what they got defensively out of the center position despite his limitations. But for as much as he could help them defensively, he could be a non-factor when playing against the teams that can go small. When that happens, Hibbert is at a disadvantage due to his lack of foot speed. And that can cause some issues for the defense in Los Angeles. Offensively, Hibbert was a player that could make it happen at one point in his career. But over the last couple of years, it seems as if he has regressed and not taken advantage of his physical tools offensively. Sliding him into the Lakers lineup is something that will be hard to do because of the speed the Lakers will want to play at. Hibbert is best at a slow-paced game where he can post up. But with the Lakers, can we expect them to slow the ball down when he is out there? That is something that is yet to be determined but the best guess is that he will not fit what they want to do offensively at all. In the end, the Lakers traded for someone they could have a trial run with for one season and it will not hurt the development of their young players. Should Hibbert not fit, the Lakers could let him walk next season and gain back the salary cap space created by his departure. And as for Hibbert, he could go out to Los Angeles and help his value going into the summer of 2016. It could be a winning situation for Hibbert and the Lakers or it could go horribly wrong for one of them. This marriage for the 2015-2016 season will be something to watch.

Ultimately, the Pacers moved forward and got rid of a guy that was once considered part of their future. And as for the Lakers, they are taking a chance on the former Georgetown big man for one year. Both teams have some things they like and don’t like, but the Pacers just made themselves better while the Lakers are playing again for the future. Only time will tell is both of these teams win in this trade. But for right now, it looks like the Pacers are winning this one in the immediate future.

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The Impact Of DeAndre Jordan On The Dallas Mavericks And The Los Angeles Clippers

DeAndre Jordan is headed back to his home state after leaving the Clippers for the Dallas Mavericks. ( Photo courtesy of Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

DeAndre Jordan is headed back to his home state after leaving the Clippers for the Dallas Mavericks. ( Photo courtesy of Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The battle for the services of center DeAndre Jordan came down to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers thought they had the better chance of the two teams. After all, he had been a member of their team since he first entered the league and the chemistry he had with the rest of his teammates on the floor was good. But with Dallas, there was an option for Jordan to be able to get a chance to be a key cog offensively while replacing Tyson Chandler. Presented with a five-year deal worth over $109 million from the Clippers, Jordan decided to take the route that many did not expect. The athletic center decided to take the four year offer from the Dallas Mavericks worth $80 million. Since he made the unpopular decision to most, there have been rumors of his supposed beef he had with Clippers point guard Chris Paul and that being the main reason he left. Whether that is true or false we may never know, but what we do know if Dallas has landed an upgraded version of Tyson Chandler while the Clippers have now been left with a huge void in the middle.

Dallas had lost the services of Tyson Chandler this offseason and it was rumored that if they lost out on Jordan, that they would send guard Monta Ellis to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal that would land them the services of Pacers center Roy Hibbert. No offense to Hibbert, but there was no way that he stacked up to the play of DeAndre Jordan. Hibbert would have also slowed down the Mavericks offense, which tends to be a little bit more uptempo. With Jordan now in the fold, the Mavericks get an incredibly athletic center that can block shots, patrol the paint and also finish on the fast break better than most big men in the NBA. But even with all his physical tools, Jordan will be fighting a stigma that has been with him since Chris Paul has been tossing him lobs in Los Angeles. DeAndre is viewed as an extremely limited offensive player. Despite his physical gifts, he has not shown to be a solid offensive player in his career. And the feeling is he will not develop those skills. He wants to be more of a focus offensively, but he may want to realize that his game is not to be the offensive focus of a winning team. His game is to play defense, grab rebounds on the offensive and defensive ends and finish on the fast break. With him as an offensive focus, that not only exposes his bad offensive skills but his bad free throw shooting. Jordan has been known to build a few homes from the free throw line during his time in the NBA. The Mavericks better hope he gets it together somewhat at the free throw line, because if he does not, then he could be sitting on the bench in crucial times because of how bad he shoots form the line. He is a very good defender and can make it happen for the Mavericks defensively, but he is someone that could definitely cost the team if they use him as the focus.

Losing Jordan to the Mavericks is not only damaging but discouraging for the Clippers. They offered him the most money and more years, but he still decided to leave. He apparently wanted to be more of a focus of the offense, but that was something that could not have been promised with the presence of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and now Paul Pierce. And now without him, the Clippers have a huge hole in the middle and there are not many plans on how they will replace him. One thing the loss will do for the Clippers is make them a defensive team that will depend on their perimeter defense more. With newly acquired Lance Stephenson, he becomes even more important now because he is the second-best defender on the team now. There is now no one to cover up their mistakes on the back end in Jordan anymore, so they will have to be even more disciplined. But there is another option that’s out there for the Clippers and this player is as athletic as Jordan. The Clippers should take a chance and go sign center JaVale McGee. Sure, he has had issues in the past of losing concentration and making some head-scratching plays. But he is also a seven footer that can cover ground and can make up for mistakes defensively. The Clippers could get away with paying him not very much and get some good production out of him. Of course he is not as defensively intelligent and cannot finish as well as Jordan at the rim, but he would give the Clippers that athletic center they need to make their team work. And most importantly, he would give them the size they need to compete in the Western Conference. The Clippers defense will take a dip in production, but they will still be able to defend and make some things happen should they choose wisely how to replace Jordan.

Lob City died tonight with the loss of DeAndre Jordan. In a way, you could say he was the posterchild of Lob City with the way he finished at the rim when passes were thrown anywhere near the rim. But now he has moved on and will get to prove he is more than just a dunker, shot-blocker and finisher at the rim. He will now get the opportunity to show he actually has some game outside of the dunks. As for the Clippers, they have to move forward and make some moves to maintain some status in the Western Conference. They will undoubtedly lose some of the continuity and potential impact they would have had this season. But with Chris Paul and some of the crew still there, the Clippers still have a chance to make some things happen out West.

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What The Monta Ellis Signing Means For The Indiana Pacers

Monta Ellis is going West to East as he joins the Indiana Pacers. (photo courtesy of www.bleacherreport.com)

Monta Ellis is going West to East as he joins the Indiana Pacers. (photo courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com)

The Indiana Pacers suffered some offensively last season without the offense of Paul George. The talented small forward, who was coming off his best season heading into the 2014-2015 season, suffered a horrific injury when he went crashing into the support under the basket during a scrimmage in Las Vegas for Team USA basketball. The result of the crash had George immediately in the hospital after suffering a gruesome leg injury. And even though he came back at the end of this past season, it was noticeable that he was not the same guy he once was just yet. While he was gone, guys like Rodney Stuckey picked up the slack for him. But even in doing that, there was just not enough consistent scoring with this team. And despite being able to defend, they were just not able to make it happen on the offensive end of the court. Well, the Pacers upper management paid attention to this need they had and began to search out the perfect guy to give them some offense. Monta Ellis was opting out of the final year of his deal with the Dallas Mavericks. He and the Mavericks were reportedly not on the same page anymore among other reasons as to why he was ready to leave. Ellis was taking a chance on himself. He knew he could get some money from some team, but he also wanted to see if he could get a competitive situation also. The Pacers presented that situation he needed and now both are reportedly joining forces. Indiana and Monta Ellis have reportedly agreed to a four year deal worth $44 million. The deal also includes an opt out clause for the final year of the deal. He steps right into a void for the Pacers and the Pacers satisfied him financially. But what does this pairing ultimately mean for the Pacers organization?

Monta Ellis has been a scorer for his entire career. Everywhere he has gone, he has produced on the offensive end. By getting him there, the pressure is off Paul George some heading into next season. George can now take his time building back up his game with a scorer to the level of Ellis in there. And the thing that is so amazing about this signing for the Pacers is that they have never really had a consistent secondary scorer alongside their lead scorers in the past few years. When Danny Granger was there, they had a crew of people that chipped in but were never consistent. And when Paul George broke out when Danny Granger was injured, Lance Stephenson was the guy that could make it happen most of the time, but he was not always consistent either. And with Roy Hibbert, who the Pacers are paying serious money to, he has not always played as big as he is at all times. The inconsistency offensively always ate at the Pacers and eventually cost them when it counted in the playoffs. Ellis solves that issue with the signing of his name on the dotted line. Now George has another option with him and maybe point guard George Hill can slide into the third scorer role for them. Another thing that would be good for the Pacers would be if Rodney Stuckey decided to stay. If he did, then you could bring in Stuckey as instant offense off the bench to keep the offensive continuity going.

Ellis brings a lot offensively with him to Indiana, but he unfortunately does not bring the same things on the defensive side of the court. For years people have talked about the defender that Ellis isn’t. He has always been that guy that is a small shooting guard or an average-sized point guard in different lineups. In Indiana, he will be the guy that is counted on to guard opposing shooting guards. Imagine him trying to guard a guy like Jimmy Butler from Chicago on a consistent basis (Chicago is in the Pacers’ division). Butler, standing at 6’7”, would take him in the post at will and shoot right over the top of him. And this is just one of the players at that position that could cause him issues. With George Hill as the starting point guard, he may be able to switch onto playing the opposing team’s point guard, but that will not help as much either because Ellis is not a solid defender. He is a gambler and when a gambler gets caught, he tends to get burned. Imagine him trying to gamble on Kyrie Irving, another player within Indiana’s division in the East. Kyrie would put him on skates almost routinely and there would be nothing Ellis could do about it. For as good as he is offensively, Ellis can be a liability defensively and that can lead to more points being given up than Indiana is used to.

Ellis and Indiana needed each other, but they may end up being at odds with each other in some instances as well. Ultimately, Ellis and his offense is needed and the Pacers will just have to figure out how to incorporate him in defensively so they can hide him a little bit. The more they are able to shade help his way and camouflage him on the defensive end, the more they can keep him out there. If not, then they will have to sit him more than they want due to the defensive issues. And more importantly, when the fourth quarter comes, they are going to need him out there on the court to score buckets with Paul George, bad defense or not. For better or worse, Ellis is a member of the Indiana Pacers and they are moving forward with some firepower that they sorely needed.

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Greg Monroe Brings Increased Expectations For Now And The Future Of The Milwaukee Bucks

Greg Monroe has cashed in on a max deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.(photo courtesy of www.blacksportsonline.com)

Greg Monroe has cashed in on a max deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.(photo courtesy of http://www.blacksportsonline.com)

LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan have been the most pursued big men in the NBA this offseason. Both have been taking meetings with many teams and have had contracts thrown at them right and left. But the other big man that some forget about is former Detroit Piston Greg Monroe. The big man out of Georgetown has been with Detroit for all of his career and has been very solid there. But he seemed just a little bit out of place playing beside Andre Drummond and it was assumed he would find a new home in free agency this summer. The question mark to some would be where would he land? The Knicks and Lakers were making overtures for his services and there were others like the Portland Trailblazers that were looking to add him as well. But neither of these teams landed the services of Monroe in the end. The team he chose was one that many thought he would not go to. The Milwaukee Bucks and Monroe have reportedly agreed to a three-year, $50 million max deal (opt out option after the second year) to bring his talents to a young team on the rise. Some feel they may have overpaid for his services, but it feels a need for them that they had.

Some may question why he is even going to this team. But if you look at the Bucks’ roster, they are definitely the right fit for him. The Bucks have athletic wings and with Jabari Parker returning next season, the scoring punch would be added that much more to that group. Looking the lineup they could roll out there next season, they could have Parker along with Michael Carter-Williams, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Monroe to roll out every game. With a few things added to their bench, this team could be one to watch for in the East. The addition of Monroe helps the Bucks with post scoring tremendously. Monroe averaged 16 points per game when in a congested paint situation with Andre Drummond, so imaging what he will be able to do with more space to operate with the Bucks. Looking at the Bucks last year, they had the ability to defend anyone with their length, but they also had issues scoring. With Monroe there along with the return of Jabari Parker from injury, the Bucks now have some more consistent scoring. And if that defense, led by Antetokounmpo, stays at the same level, then the Bucks will be in a lot more games when it counts in the playoffs. Scenes like what happened in Game 6 of the 1st round against the Bulls would be something that should not happen with the offense the Bucks will be able to put out there on the court.

But along with the scoring that Monroe offers, he will also be another guy who can clean the glass for Milwaukee. Monroe averaged a double-double in points and rebounds last season. Imagine him being able to grab a rebound and pitch it ahead to players like Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams. The thought of the things the fast break for the Bucks could do are something that only dreams are made of. And with the shooters they have like Khris Middleton, OJ Mayo and rookie Rashad Vaughn, the Bucks can make teams pay in all aspects, not just at the rim like they did last season. The Bucks got inconsistent rebounding and performance from their centers last season. One thing that you cannot question about Monroe is his rebounding. That performance will be something that is consistent at all times from him. And even though he does not block shots, he can use his positioning and strength to root out opponents and clean the glass. After all, he has Antetokounmpo to help him out with the shot-blocking with his tremendous athletic ability.

This move makes Monroe a rich man, but it also helps the Bucks heading into the next two offseasons as well. The Bucks will have more salary cap room next year due to the jump in the cap. That will allow them to add more players to contribute to what they do after they are able to see all their pieces together this season. With Monroe in the fold, the Bucks may not be in need of much else, but that will reveal itself over time. But the biggest thing the Bucks have to think about is Giannis Antetokounmpo, better known as The Greek Freak. He is coming close to being ready for an extension with the team. He is one of the most versatile players in the NBA at 6’10”. He can pass, dribble and guard anyone on the court. With a little more work on his shooting, he will be one of the best players in the NBA potentially. And with the prices escalating for players and their worth, he will command a huge salary. With Monroe only signing a short deal, it allows the Bucks to be able to sign Antetokounmpo to a max deal that he will probably be getting at that time. And along with that, the Bucks will have enough room to sign back Monroe should he opt out and want a new deal in two years when the salary cap is astronomical. Antetokounmpo is a huge part of what the Bucks do and they do not want to let him get away.

The Bucks made a smart move and a necessary move for their franchise. And going into a new arena soon, they need to keep the buzz around their team at a high level. Adding Monroe and adding him at a short deal is something that will not only benefit their team on the court but off it as well. The Bucks now look like a team that is ready to make some things happen after their taste of playoff experience. And with Monroe there, the future looks very bright.

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Tyson Chandler Was A Wasted Signing For The Phoenix Suns

Tyson Chandler lands in Phoenix. But does his signing really make a difference? (photo courtesy of www.bleacherreport.com)

Tyson Chandler lands in Phoenix. But does his signing really make a difference? (photo courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com)

The NBA free agency bonanza caught fire early and often today. The teams that were thought to potentially lose players actually retained them instead. Kevin Love shocked many by staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers to the tune of five years and $110 million. He stated in his article in The Player’s Tribune that he was re-signing with Cleveland, that “it’s time to get back to work” and that “we (the Cleveland Cavaliers) have unfinished business”. But as much as some were shocked by that deal, there were others that may have been shocked by what happened in the Valley of The Sun today. The Phoenix Suns re-signed their trade acquisition of last season, guard Brandon Knight to a five-year, $70 million deal. That was to be expected as they gave up some pieces for him. But along with that deal today, the Phoenix Suns also signed a veteran big man that no one expected them to sign. Tyson Chandler agreed to a four-year deal with Phoenix to the tune of $52 million. It can be guaranteed that no one saw this deal coming for the 32 year old center in the NBA. In fact, some Suns fans are probably still shocked by this signing. But unfortunately, the shock will probably turn into disgust very soon for them.

When watching the Suns last season, they seemed to be a young team willing to go with their youngsters and gain experience. And although they did not make the playoffs, they still had some of the most talented pieces in the NBA. The thing that they needed was some veteran leadership, but they did not need it at the center position. Honestly, they needed to get a little bigger in the backcourt but with the signing of Brandon Knight to pair along with Eric Bledsoe, they will once again trot out there a small backcourt for some teams to take advantage of them. The Suns had their center to build with in Alex Len. The former Maryland Terrapin was showing some progress last season even though he has had some injury issues along the way. He was a guy that could block some shots as well as finish around the rim. But apparently, the former 1st round pick was not enough for the Suns and they went out and signed Chandler to be the starter in front of him. By doing this, Phoenix could potentially stunt the growth of their potential center of the future. Some may say that he is going to be able to help Len, but that kid needs playing time to get better. To give an example how Phoenix could stunt Len’s growth, just take a look at the Golden State Warriors. Harrison Barnes was great this season for them in the starting lineup, but last season he was bad when he was relegated to the bench when they signed Andre Iguodala last season. Barnes was awful as a sub behind Iggy and that seemed to stunt his progress. They switched the roles and let Barnes start this season and just like magic he played well and had a good season. The same could happen for Len with Chandler coming in to take his starting role. For the Suns’ sake, they better hope it does not faze him and that he continues to improve and get better.

Tyson also was signed to a deal that guaranteed him $13 million a season. But what is interesting about Chandler is that he cannot score at all. He was apparently part of Phoenix’s presentation to star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday and that could help them land him, as they have moved neck and neck reportedly with the San Antonio Spurs for his services. But what if they don’t land Aldridge in free agency? That means the Suns have just signed a player that will not bring anything to them offensively and may not be the difference-maker he once was at his current age in the NBA. The Suns brought him in to be an impact player defensively, but for $13 million a year, he has to be able to give them more than just defense. If that is all they are giving him, then the Suns just threw some money out the door with this signing and it will not make a difference at all. And one other thing Chandler might want to pay attention to in Phoenix: the point guards that he is playing with. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are not guys that are known to be distributors. In fact, both can be dynamic offensive players in different ways but not in the way of distributing to teammates. That relegates Chandler to a defense and rebounding guy, which the Suns could have got for cheaper with a guy like Robin Lopez, who is still out there in free agency right now. But now they are tied to Chandler and they will move forward hoping he is able to bring them Aldridge.

The Suns are a team that is trying to make the playoffs and they needed to make a few moves to make sure it happens. But with what they have done so far, they have not helped their chances on making the playoffs at all. In fact, there is nothing that tells me this team is ready to make a run for the playoffs at all with Chandler being added to the mix. Chandler has been a good veteran player in the NBA, but this fit with him in Phoenix is just not the right one. Phoenix may not recognize it right now, but they will definitely recognize it soon enough.

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Examining The Fit Of DeAndre Jordan With The Knicks, Mavericks And Clippers

DeAndre Jordan will be a very rich man after he signs his new deal in free agency. But where does he land? (photo courtesy of  Andrew Fielding of USA TODAY Sports)

DeAndre Jordan will be a very rich man after he signs his new deal in free agency. But where does he land? (photo courtesy of Andrew Fielding of USA TODAY Sports)

The Los Angeles Clippers had a disappointing finish. They were up 3 games to 1 on the Houston Rockets and some thought they were getting ready to make their first conference finals appearance in team history. But all that seemed to crumble right in front of their eyes when the Clippers fell three straight games to the Houston Rockets, including an embarrassing performance in Game 7. At the end of that series, there began to be questions in regards to how they would move forward. Would they blow up the team or would they try to make adjustments. Without having much salary cap to work with, head coach and president of the Clippers Doc Rivers has to make some minor miracles happen to better this roster. So far, he has shipped out power forward Spencer Hawes and starting small forward Matt Barnes for the services of Lance Stephenson. And that apparently is not the only move the Clippers are trying to make. Rivers is reportedly trying to bring Paul Pierce back home to the Los Angeles area to reunite with his former player. But all of these moves mean nothing if they cannot bring back center DeAndre Jordan. The freakishly athletic center is hitting the open market tomorrow with a ton of other free agents. The Clippers want to bring him back, but he also has some other teams that would like to obtain his talents like the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks. Jordan seems to want to be paid a hefty amount of money to sign somewhere, but where is the best fit for his services?

DeAndre has been known to be a very good defensive presence over his career. And if a team is needing defense and rebounding, it is definitely the New York Knicks. Their big men could not get the job done on the boards and they did not have any intimidating forces inside to deter shots. With the addition of Jordan, they would have exactly what they need on that end of the floor. Jordan has the unique ability to make up for others on the defensive end because of his athleticism and his explosiveness. That alone would make Carmelo Anthony a better defender and raise the level of New York’s defense. But unfortunately, there are two ends of the court and you cannot sub Jordan out on the other end. For as good as he is defensively, he has yet to show some consistency on the offensive end. He has shown flashes of being able to use post moves, but he has often bricked some easy shots in the paint if they were not dunks. In the Triangle offense, the center needs to be able to either post up and make things happen in there or be able to hit the midrange jump shot. In the case of Jordan, he has not proven he can do either consistently. And despite the talk of New York making him a focus offensively, that would only lead to Jordan becoming something that he isn’t and that could end disastrously for New York. The gesture to be a focus on offense is nice and surely the money would be as well, but the Knicks are not any closer to winning the East by acquiring his services. And the team as it stands does not fit anything he does. Plus, do the Knicks really want DeAndre getting fouled and going to the free throw line?

Dallas may not be the home city for Jordan, but it is close enough to home for him. Jordan, who hails from Houston, Texas, would be going to a veteran team that is looking to add pieces to get Dirk Nowitzki that second ring. Last year, the Mavericks brought back center Tyson Chandler via trade and he was so-so for them. He made some good blocks and had some games where he was rocking the rim off alley-oops, but he was not the same guy when it came to the playoffs. Harden and the Rockets ate their lunch money and Chandler showed his age a little. In signing Jordan, the Mavericks would essentially be getting a younger version of Chandler with more explosive ability around the rim. Jordan would definitely be able to cover up for some of the defensive deficiencies of that team, but he would also be a liability offensively for the Mavericks. And with Monta Ellis opting out, the Mavs need more offense on their team. If they do not add someone on the perimeter to give them something, the signing Jordan would not do much for their chances in the West at all. In fact, they may take a step back by adding him and losing Ellis via free agency. And we must also remember Jordan’s struggles at the free throw line. Chandler, although he has not been a stellar free throw shooter over his career, would be considered Steph Curry when shooting free throws compared to DeAndre Jordan. Jordan shoots an anemic 39% from the free throw line. That alone would be something that could scare Dallas, especially with the Hack-A-Shaq rule still in play.

The team that Jordan should stay with is the Los Angeles Clippers. They were one win away from the conference finals and they are in the process of making changes to make themselves better. Of course, if he leaves, the changes will be all for naught. But the changes made helped make them deeper on the perimeter and better defensively. Of course this is not the only change that is supposed to happen in Los Angeles though. The Clippers are reportedly looking to move guard Jamal Crawford and they could have found a match in Denver. They are reportedly looking to ship the veteran guard to Denver for the rights to small forward Wilson Chandler. This change would give the Clippers someone that can be good on the defensive end as well as very efficient offensively. With Jordan back in the fold, this team would be even more solid defensively considering the additional piece. And the potential addition of Paul Pierce for the playoffs, the Clippers could gain that grit they needed when they lost to the Rockets. DeAndre could get paid the amount of money he wants while being put in a winning situation. Jordan also wants to be more featured offensively, but he has to ask himself if that is more important than being who he is and trying to win a championship. When he asks himself that, he would probably be inclined to go with the winning and money instead of wanting to be a featured guy. And like mentioned before, he has to get better at free throws to be more featured. Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain were terrible free throw shooters, but they were dominant post players where DeAndre isn’t. He should be happy being the caddy to Blake Griffin and the anchor of their defense. And who knows? It could pay off for him in the end.

Jordan has a tough decision to make and he does not have the biggest of windows. The more he waits, the more other teams try to move forward and make some other things happen in the free agency bonanza. He has to make a decision what he wants to be remembered for at this point. It should be interesting to see what he does, but if he is smart, he stays a Clipper. And if he returns to the Clippers, they could be a team to look out for next season in the West if they get the pieces they need via trades and free agency.

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The Best And Worst Fits For LaMarcus Aldridge’s Services

It's decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

It’s decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

There are many free agents out there that have some decisions to make. Some, like Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, are only taking meetings with the team he has played for in the NBA and no one else. While others have decided to open up the field and take meetings from everyone. There are some enticing names out there, but one that rings a bell for many is Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Last offseason, the Portland Trailblazers tried to lock up the talented forward to an extension. And although it was believed by many that he would stay there and sign a more lucrative extension with Portland this offseason, there was some speculation as to him potentially leaving Portland this summer. This belief came to fruition a little bit more when Aldridge opened up his recruitment this summer as of the last few weeks. There are as many as seven teams that are reportedly interested in him and want to add him to their rosters. Aldridge, although he has not really won a lot in the playoffs, is a big man that many consider dominant and that can change a team’s fortunes just with a signature. And expectedly, he is the most coveted free agent out there (subtracting LeBron James from this one because we know he isn’t leaving Cleveland again). But where would be the best fit for him?

The list of teams interested in Aldridge are the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. Looking that list of teams, there are a couple that stand out in regards to his talents. If you have taken a look at Aldridge’s game, it is very versatile in terms of his range. The 6’11” power forward can post very well when he wants to. He can face you up and take the jump shot as well as drive the middle of the lane or the baseline to attack the rim. But what makes Aldridge even more special is his ability to stretch the defense for a man his size. He can shoot all the way out to the three-point line and he can also be a good pick-and-pop big with as well as he shoots the jumper. At times he can get too comfortable shooting the jump shot, but he is effective with it nonetheless. The team that would obviously benefit from having him the most is the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan is not getting any younger and with Kawhi Leonard getting ready to accept a big extension from the Spurs, San Antonio needs another piece to go along with him. By adding Aldridge, that helps stabilize the team down low once Duncan decides to hang it up. In essence, you would be replacing Duncan with a player that is very similar to him but more athletic. Add him to what they have coming back next year reportedly (Duncan and Manu Ginobli are reportedly coming back on cheaper salaries to help the team) and this team could be hoisting the trophy again in 2016 with Aldridge. And the good thing about the Spurs is that they can pay Aldridge as much as they want due to the sacrifices of Duncan and Ginobli. At this point in their careers, they know they are playing more for rings than salaries. And for Duncan, that can help them potentially get one more before riding off into the sunset. For Aldridge, it would help him add a crowning achievement to his career and also help the Spurs bridge the gap successfully into the next era of San Antonio basketball. Imagine the motion offense they run with Aldridge and Kawhi being the main options. But for the here and now, Aldridge and Duncan would remind many of the original Twin Towers that San Antonio had when they won it the first time with a young Tim Duncan and a veteran David Robinson. Amazing how things can change over time as Duncan would be the veteran in this scenario.

The Spurs would be an excellent fit for Aldridge and he could very well land there. But like there is a best fit for Aldridge, there is one fit that would be the worst for him. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are clamoring for the services of Aldridge. Both are looking at him as the missing piece to what they want to accomplish. But in reality, both teams are a tie for the worst fit for his services. In Dallas, the team there is a jump-shooting team for the most part. And even though Aldridge can shoot the jump shot, he would basically be asked to be the post presence for that team. That is fine and dandy on the offensive end of the court, but on the defensive end that would be trouble. Imagine Aldridge having to be the rim protector for the Mavericks. Even though Chandler is older, he is still far and away a better rim protector than Aldridge will ever be. The only way the addition of Aldridge could work is if the Mavericks can send Dirk to the bench and allow Aldridge to start with a guy like Chandler as the center alongside him. But the reality of that happening is slim to none and even if it did, the Mavericks still would not have enough in the West to win a title. As far as Houston, they seemed to be run by James Harden. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Harden is a playmaker on the offensive end of the court and a lot of the offense runs through his hands. But Harden has said that he would like for Houston to bring another playmaker in besides him next season. Looking at the Houston Rockets as they are (when healthy), there are devoid of another playmaker and need one sorely to take the load off Harden a little bit more. In the draft, they had the opportunity to add a playmaker and chose to add Sam Dekker instead. So with the addition of Aldridge, that would not address the need they had. Dwight Howard occupies the post and that would take away from the touches Aldridge would have in there. And as far as him pairing with Harden, he would become exclusively a pick-and-pop guy, and that would not be what the Rockets needed. Ironically, Josh Smith actually fits this team better than Aldridge because he has the ability to be a playmaker, although he is inconsistent at times. Aldridge going there would not make this team any more dangerous unless they got rid of Dwight Howard or he found a jumpshot, two things that are not likely to happen anytime soon.

Of course there are four other teams that fit in this scenario and the Lakers are reportedly the leading candidate for his services. The fit there would be nice, but with the fluidity of the situation there in regards to the potential trade for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, there is no telling what kind of team will be there. If they get Cousins, the team would be tough provided Kobe can stay healthy this season. If they don’t trade for Cousins, then he could potentially have to play center and that would not be a good thing defensively at all. In the end, Aldridge will get paid one way or the other. The decision is his ultimately, but if he is seriously thinking about getting a ring along with getting paid, San Antonio is the spot where he needs to go. They have the best coach, system and scenario for him to succeed immediately.

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The NBA Is More Than Just Basketball. It’s A Business

Monta Ellis is rolling the dice and going for more money. (photo courtesy of www.star-telegram.com)

Monta Ellis is rolling the dice and going for more money. (photo courtesy of http://www.star-telegram.com)

LeBron James made it official recently when he opted out of his two-year deal he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He now joins teammates Kevin Love and JR Smith on the free agent market. But while some are wondering where Love and Smith will land, there has been not as much talked about when it comes to LeBron James. When the best player in the current NBA hits the open market, there are many teams that take notice. Of course, when he left Cleveland the first time, he made The Decision and that landed him in Miami. But in this instance, there is something different going on. When he left the first time, he was seeking to win a title, something he had never done. In this instance, he is a two-time NBA champion and is the most experienced playoff performer on his team. And his experience is what carried them to the NBA Finals despite losing key parts like Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. But the totally different dynamic in this instance is that it is a forgone conclusion that he will be staying in Cleveland but just under a new contract. And even though some Cleveland fans and other fans of the NBA are thinking he could bolt Cleveland again, they all must take a look at the landscape of the NBA and then realize the difference between playing basketball and the business of basketball.

Kevin Love, LeBron James and JR Smith are not the only ones that have opted out of their deals. Many across the NBA have opted out in search of new money. And in most instances, it would mean that they would be heading to new teams. For example, Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis is expected to be on a different team after opting out of his deal. The relationship between Ellis and Dallas was reportedly strained as the season ended and it was evident that he would not be there. Monta is leaving $11 million on the table that he could have had next season in order to hit the open market. And it wasn’t like the Mavericks did not try to keep his services. At one point, they offered him a two-year, $24.8 million extension to stay in Dallas. More than likely Ellis will not get more than what he is being offered, but he is going to take a chance on what the market may hold for him. And Ellis, like many others, are taking this chance on gaining more money and more years from some team out there. It may not seem like a sound decision, but all it takes is one team to buy into what you and your agent are selling. And if that happens, the player wins the game of contract roulette. Ellis, along with guys like Thaddeus Young of the Brooklyn Nets, are banking on themselves and what they can get on the market. They may end up being wrong, but they at least went for what they wanted. And the thing that most fans fail to realize is their window is a short one and they have to make the money they have last over a lifetime.

In LeBron’s case, he has taken power over the Cleveland Cavaliers and that is a rare thing. In the NBA, players usually are the slaves to what the owners and the organizations want. And in most instances, the players get the short end of the stick, signing long-term deals that allows teams to throw any and everything out there with them while they are out on the court. When LeBron was first with the Cavaliers, he was playing with any and everyone on the court. The teams were successful during the regular season, but they just could not consistently get to the NBA Finals. He then left for Miami and a better situation for winning. But upon his return, it was evident that LeBron had the power over the organization. When he signed the two-year deal he did that had an opt-out after his first season back, he basically put pressure on the organization at that point. If all went bad, he could leave despite what the natives may have thought of him. But if it went well, he could still opt out to keep the pressure on the organization to make the improvements necessary to be competitive for a title. The opt out this offseason is also something that is the smart decision of a businessman. LeBron knows he is the best player in the NBA and he is also one of the most observant. He knows the cap is due to skyrocket in 2016 due to the huge television deal the NBA signed before last season. So instead of tying up his options like others have, he is patiently waiting until 2016 for his last big payday. At that point and time, he can make betwwen $30-40 million per season depending on the how much the salary cap rises. But until then, he opted out again to make sure and keep the pressure on the team and to also maximize the amount of money he can make. LeBron the businessman has figured out how to keep the organization accountable while making his money.

Many top players in the NBA may want to pay attention to the things that LeBron has done in Cleveland. Now there has been criticism due to his handling of his coach during the playoffs, but for the most part he has handled it like a smart businessman who knows he has the power. But there are others out there that are taking the calculated gamble to make more money. You may wonder what some of them are thinking, but who can blame them for making a run at more money that could potentially be out there for them. And even though the one year option some players opt out of may be better than the average per year a player signs for in this scenario, the player would end up with more years to make more guaranteed money. And that could end up being more valuable than the one year of big money. Gone are the days where basketball is just the game we see on the court. There is now a game going on off of it. We shall see this offseason who is playing checkers and who is playing chess.

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The Perplexing Presidency Of Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson as President of the New York Knicks has been an interesting experience so far. (Photo courtesy of William Pearlman of The Star-Ledger)

Phil Jackson as President of the New York Knicks has been an interesting experience so far. (Photo courtesy of William Pearlman of The Star-Ledger)

The New York Knicks were coming off of a season where tanking was their mission. The whole thought process behind doing so was to get the highest pick possible along with the money the Knicks would have off the books after dropping some high-priced contracts. Well, the Knicks tanking ended with them having the 4th pick in the NBA Draft along with the cap space. Some wondered who they would get. Would they get Duke big man Jahlil Okafor? Would they decide they need another guard and draft Justise Winslow or Emmanuel Mudiay? Well, the Knicks decided to shock everyone and go with a pick many did not expect them to take. With the 4th pick of the NBA Draft, the Knicks selected Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis. And immediately after the pick was made, the Knicks crowd started booing. Along with the booing, there was an image of a little boy that was crying. The image was emblazoned in the minds of many that watched the draft and was a symbol of the pain the Knicks have brought to the many that have followed them. The hope of the future of the Knicks while being run by Phil Jackson is not very high right now. And some wonder what will come from the rubble in Madison Square Garden right now. But others are currently wondering what Phil is doing as the man in charge of the team.

When Phil Jackson was first introduced as the President of the Knicks, plenty thought there was hope on the horizon. Of course, there was a lot that he had to clean up when he arrived. He had a bunch of contracts that were albatrosses, Carmelo Anthony was getting ready to hit free agency and there was a need for better talent. But there was the thought that the Zen Master would be the one to get that going in the right direction. He made plenty of moves, but his first move to get this started was the worse one. Phil made a coaching change this past offseason. Mike Woodson had made it happen for a second as the head coach of the New York Knicks, but he was not going to be the answer for them long-term. Phil Jackson knew that and got rid of him. But his replacement for him was one that had everyone scratching their head. Phil hired one of his former players, Derek Fisher, to be the new head coach of his team. Lots of media and fans of the team were left scratching their heads as to this decision. He was a coach that has never coached in the NBA before and he had just been a player the previous season. But due to the success of Jason Kidd in his first and only year coaching in Brooklyn, there were some that thought Fisher would be ok. But instead of him being ok, he looked like a fish out of water. It looked like he was trying to figure out how to be a coach while on the job. And for a team trying to build something, that was not the thing he needed to be doing. Going into his second season, many still don’t know what to expect from Fisher. He could get better but he could also be worse. And that is not a thing you want to be thinking about when a coach is trying to lead a team back to respectability. But Fisher should not accept all the blame in this situation. Some of the blame should go to Phil Jackson. He hired him knowing he did not have any experience as a coach and set him out there to look like he did on the sidelines at times: befuddled, confused and overwhelmed.

This was not the only decision that Phil made that had many scratching their head. He practically gave away a few players for cap relief and players that had no business playing in the NBA. But the main thing that many Knicks fans looked at was the offseason of 2015 where Phil could make his master plan come to life. The 4th pick was supposed to be the start of that plan and the process Phil had. When he drafted Porzingis with the 4th pick in the draft, he let the Knicks fans know loud and clear what his plan was. And even though the trade of Tim Hardaway Jr was viewed as solid because of the point guard he got back in return (rookie point guard Jerian Grant), there was some sense of disappointment. The general consensus on Porzingis is that he will be ready to play potentially in a few years. But for a team with a 31 year old star that is signed to a big deal and in his prime, does he had that type of time? Carmelo was talked to by Phil in the offseason about being a part of something and finishing the process when he signed back to play in New York. Of course the money didn’t hurt, but Carmelo bought in to the thoughts that Phil put to him. If Phil is starting the process, he started it off with a thud and then another one in the draft.

Going forward, Phil has to make some things happen in free agency to help the Knicks. There have been rumors of players like Greg Monroe and David West coming to New York, but the Knicks need more than that. The Knicks need bench players as well as starters to help them as well. And with what they currently have, they are lacking what is needed to make a push for the playoffs. Phil was viewed as the savior of Knicks basketball when he first arrived. Fast forward to now and he is being viewed as a man that committed highway robbery. He took the payday from owner James Dolan and is now operating in a way that have some scratching their heads in confusion. We may see more of the plan going forward. But for right now, the vision of the Knicks from the Knicks fans perspective is one of consternation.

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The Plan For The Charlotte Hornets To Build A Contender Has Begun

Michael Jordan meeting with the press. The Hornets plan for building a contender is underway. (photo courtesy of www.utsandiego.com)

Michael Jordan meeting with the press. The Hornets plan for building a contender is underway. (photo courtesy of http://www.utsandiego.com)

The Charlotte Hornets are a team that many thought would take the next step last season. They had made the playoffs in the 2013-2014 season and wanted to build upon it the next season. That offseason, they thought they added the missing piece in their equation when they brought in guard Lance Stephenson on a two year deal worth $9 million per year. The team also included an option to pick up Stephenson’s deal after the 2015-2016 season. Well, the deal for the missing piece in Charlotte ended up being a disaster. Lance was not the player they thought he was. He seemed like more of a round peg fitting in a square peg. And the scoring they thought he would bring was not there. In fact, Stephenson did not even average 10 points per game last season. So, going into this offseason, the Hornets were determined to change course. General manager Rich Cho started that one off with trading Stephenson to the Los Angeles Clippers. And in return, the Hornets received forward Spencer Hawes, who never seemed to fit in Los Angeles, and forward Matt Barnes. But if you take a look at the overall picture, this move was just the beginning of a master plan in Charlotte.

Michael Jordan has been the owner of the Hornets for a few years now. He inherited the team under the Bobcats nickname, but he them changed that to the Hornets once the New Orleans franchise abandoned it for their new nickname, the Pelicans. That first step helped bring back some credibility to the franchise along with them making the playoffs last season. And although he had a misstep this past season with the Lance Stephenson experience, the plan is still in place for the Hornets. The franchise has been rebranded to what it once was and that brought back the love of the community for the team to an extent. Jordan’s next step of the plan was to bring back some winning to the team as well. Even though they lost in a sweep to the Miami Heat in the playoffs in the 2014 playoffs, they made the playoffs and was expected to make a progression. They failed to do so in the 2014-2015 season, but the plan is in motion for 2016-2017 already. As mentioned, Stephenson is gone but he was not the only move made. The Hornets have also shipped out guard Gerald Henderson Jr. as well as last year’s draft pick, forward Noah Vonleh, in order to acquire forward Nicolas Batum. In doing this trade, the Hornets bring in a guy that can be a lockdown defender on one end and can do some things offensively that can help them spread the floor for point guard Kemba Walker to penetrate as well as give Al Jefferson a shooter teams have to worry about. Henderson was a solid offensive weapon for Charlotte, but they were never going to take the next step in their progression with him. And Batum actually does not need the basketball to be effective in a game like Henderson does. With Vonleh gone, the Charlotte Bobcats are admitting the mistake they made drafting him. Vonleh never really contributed and we still don’t know what all he can or cannot be. With Hawes now in place in Charlotte, he can do the things that Vonleh was supposed to do right now. And in Portland, Vonleh gets a fresh start and will get a chance for playing time should LaMarcus Aldridge leave this offseason as expected. This trade actually made sense for the Hornets and helps them be a more competitive team as well as a longer team defensively. The only bad thing that can come out of this one is the fact that one of their previous rookie 1st rounders, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, will be moved to the bench. But that move will actually help strengthen the Hornets and their bench actually.

The other move that was made already by the Hornets this offseason was pretty quietly done. The team traded Luke Ridnour, whom they acquired in a trade for Matt Barnes, to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the services of shooting guard Jeremy Lamb. Lamb has been a player that has shown moments in his career, but unfortunately has not shown up consistently on the court and in the scoring column. With his addition, it means he is in a sink-or-swim year with Charlotte. When Lamb first entered the league, many thought his sweet stroke was something that would pay dividends for whoever drafted him. He was picked by the Houston Rockets and then used as a pawn in the trade that brought Houston James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The expectation was that he would end up eventually being the guard starting opposite of Russell Westbrook once he got to Oklahoma City. Well, he has not exactly fulfilled those expectations. Lame has not had consistent playing time since he has been there and it has been inexplicable at best. He shoots the ball well and can make defenses pay when they crowd him, but somehow he did something that kept him buried on the bench for the Thunder. In coming to Charlotte, Lamb now gets reunited with his former college teammate, Kemba Walker. Both of these men played well beside each other when they won a national title together at the University of Connecticut. And maybe in reuniting these two together, there will be some chemistry started and Lamb will help space the floor for Walker and Jefferson. With the sweet stroke that he has, it’s going to be interesting to see how he is used by the Hornets in their offense. As far as Ridnour, he has been traded more times in 24 hours than probably any player in NBA history. And it is ironic that he has come back to the franchise that he began his career with when they were in Seattle previously. The end is near for him in his NBA career and many have recognized that. He made a good run, but the time is slipping on his career like the sands from the hourglass. And the last little bit of grains are sliding down as we speak.

The Hornets have all these new pieces in place along with the addition of Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky via the 2015 NBA Draft. Now some may be ripping into Jordan for the reported trade he turned down from the Boston Celtics that included numerous draft picks, but there is a method behind some of the madness, or at least Jordan thinks there is. Besides the contract of Spencer Hawes, the contracts that the Hornets inherited with Lamb and Batum expire at the end of next season. And with the cap about to be at an astronomical number in 2016, the Hornets will be sitting with only Kemba Walker, PJ Hairston, Hawes, Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller on the roster should all still be on the Hornets team past the trade deadline. Three of those contracts are still rookie deals and only Kemba’s contract is one that takes up a good percentage of the salary cap in Charlotte. With the All-Star game coming to Charlotte in 2017, they need someone that will be a representative for them there. And in the summer of 2016, they will have the cap space to go get that guy. Al Jefferson will probably be someone they bring back provided he wants to be there after the 2015-2016 season and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will probably get an extension with the team, but the Hornets will need someone that brings star power to the team. And there is one man that is out there that can b4ing that to them. No, LeBron James is not coming to Charlotte in 2016. He will more than likely be making over $30 million per season when his deal happens in the summer of 2016. But there is a guy out there that can bring star power to the team and his name is Kevin Durant. The scoring machine from Oklahoma City is up for a new contract and it seems as if he is preparing to leave the city. Charlotte is not the place many have him pegged to go to. Many see him returning home to Washington. With Wall, Beal and Durant, the Wizards would have one of the best trios in basketball if not the best. But the Hornets may have more money to offer him and also may be able to bring in another piece with him should they decide to jettison Jefferson instead of re-signing him. This year, if the Hornets make the playoffs, the arrow will be trending up just like it was for Miami the year before they signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And just like Miami, the Hornets could make a power play that could make them an instant contender. There are no guarantees that Durant will look at Charlotte in the summer of 2016. But then again, there were not many thoughts of LeBron going to Miami when he was a free agent until maybe a week before his announcement. The impossible has happened before and for the Charlotte Hornets, they are hoping it happens again. And it will all culminate with the summer of 2016.

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