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NBA Weekly Roundtable: Blockbusters and Wild Cards

Jacob Freedman, Bo Kwan, Law Murray |
February 7, 2013 | 8:31 a.m. PST

Staff Writers

Canada welcomes Rudy Gay with open arms, but did the Raptors really get the best end of the deal? (Game Face/Flickr)
Canada welcomes Rudy Gay with open arms, but did the Raptors really get the best end of the deal? (Game Face/Flickr)
The NFL season is over, and National Signing Day is also in the rearview mirror. That means the NBA season is in the spotlight and the sport to follow, unless one has an undying love for hockey or the NFL Draft. The trade deadline is quickly approaching, and waves are already starting to be felt. Here's that, and the other issues from last week in the NBA.

1) Last week we saw the first blockbuster trade of the season. Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddadi head to the Raptors, José Calderon goes south to Detroit, while Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye arrive in Memphis. Which team(s) do you think won this trade, and why?

Jacob Freedman: They lost the best player in the deal, but I think Memphis ends up in the winners’ circle. The trade gives Mike Conley a bigger opportunity to shore up his three-point abilities, while Prince gives the Grizzlies the NBA’s best defensive perimeter trio when Tony Allen is thrown into the mix. Meanwhile, Ed Davis is a supremely efficient rebounder who will replace the traded Marreese Speights as the first big man off the bench, and Austin Daye will replace Wayne Ellington in the “25 points tonight, benched tomorrow” role as a long-distance threat. The Grizzlies might slow down their pace with Prince replacing Gay, but they’ve given themselves a better crew to go to war when the playoffs roll around.

Bo Kwan: I think all three teams won this trade. Memphis gave up a star that they don’t necessarily need and got three valuable role players in return. Detroit got better contracts, while Gay and Haddadi will bring more leadership to the young and immature Raptors. 

Law Murray: I wasn't crazy about this trade for either team, but I guess I liked what Detroit did the most since Calderon is the best point guard the Pistons have had since trading Chauncey Billups in 2008. The Pistons are also trying to clear room for free agency, so there's that. The Raptors look exciting, but I'm expecting them to make another move. Neither the Raptors or Pistons are expected to make a postseason run, but the Grizzlies are. While I don't think Rudy Gay was their MVP or anything like that, I don't think anyone is scared to play them this postseason with Conley, Allen, and Prince on the perimeter.

Greg Oden could be back in the NBA next season, but where? (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Greg Oden could be back in the NBA next season, but where? (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
2) Greg Oden met with the Celtics on Saturday, and is rumored to be receiving interest from the Heat and Cavaliers as well. After taking the entire year off so far, Oden looks like he could become a hot commodity in the offseason. What team would be the best fit for Oden, and what kind of player do you expect him to be if signed?

Freedman: Thanks to Anderson Varejao, Cavaliers fans right now are all-too-familiar to big men with injury risks. A subtler issue from Oden’s days in Portland was that he was a fish out of water in the Great Northwest, rehabbing away from his teammates in a city not conducive to a young player from the Midwest. With Cleveland, he’d be returning home. Not as a savior, but as a role player. Oden might choose comfort over success, and on an improving, but inexperienced roster, he would easily find himself 15 to 20 minutes a game as a rebounding and blocked shot machine off the bench. 

Kwan: Oden really has a lot of talent, but what I (and everyone else) is really concerned about is his health. I think he would fit the Celtics because they have a traditional line-up and playing style, and Doc Rivers would allow Oden to become a defense-oriented player, just as Oden should be wherever he chooses to sign.  

Murray: Oden has played in 82 games since being the first overall draft pick in 2007. I think Oden's ceiling is Bill Walton (considering Walton missed full seasons due to severe lower leg injuries), and therefore, seeing him give the Miami Heat 20 minutes a game should be a no-brainer for him. Imagine the Heat with a big man who can grab a rebound or two! Oden did have 21 double-doubles for the Trail Blazers, but the man hasn't played a single game since 2009. I'm not going to pretend like I know what kind of player he is after four years off.

Life without Rondo is going to be no honeymoon for Doc Rivers (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
Life without Rondo is going to be no honeymoon for Doc Rivers (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
3) As a continuum from last week, the roller-coaster ride that is the Celtics is riding upwards as Boston is 5-0 since Rondo's season-ending ankle injury. Now that we've seen a (small) preview of the Celtics sans Rondo, how far do you see this team going in the Eastern Conference Playoffs?

Freedman: Check back in a month. Ten of the Celtics’ next 14 games are against opponents with winning records, and will challenge Paul Pierce, who has suddenly turned into the team’s best facilitator. But at the end of the day, Courtney Lee can’t lead this team deep in the playoffs, no matter how much he channels his playoff performance from his rookie year, where he was an integral part of the Magic’s run to the NBA Finals. The Celtics are currently tied for the seventh seed, and a first-round matchup with the Heat or the Knicks means a one-and-done effort for Boston.

Kwan: Rondo’s injury has been a big influence to Celtics because there is no capable player on Celtics’ bench to even begin to make up for his absence. Rondo plays a central role in Celtics system on both sides and his absence might stop Celtics from Eastern finals.

Murray: The Celtics are so well-coached that they are able to survive without their All-Star point guard. They're not a better team, but they aren't hopeless either. I think their ceiling is still the Eastern Conference Finals, though they're going to have to keep winning to climb the standings.



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