Smack / Aug 15, 2009 / 3:58 am

The experts pick LeBron & Shaq to win the East; Starbury is done

LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

This will get the LeBron haters’ blood pressure up. The Orlando Sentinel polled 11 “NBA experts” (a.k.a. media) to handicap the Eastern Conference for next season, and the Cavs were given the No. 1 spot. The Celtics ranked second, and Orlando third. Apparently replacing Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee with Vince Carter and Matt Barnes was seen as a step backwards for the Magic, while a healthy Kevin Garnett and the addition of Shaq helped pushed Boston and Cleveland to the top … The Orlando fans will be pissed and feel like their team is being written off, but also remember that losing Rashard Lewis for 10 games could be the difference between a No. 1 seed and a No. 3 seed. By bringing in Rasheed and retaining Big Baby, the Celtics’ frontcourt is stronger despite losing Leon Powe, and Rajon Rondo may be ready to make that All-Star leap … (And how good is Ray Allen still? Yesterday we pitted Ray against Michael Redd in our “Who’s Better?” series, and according to the readers, Ray is still on top of his game.) … The Hawks, Wizards, Raptors, Bulls and Heat finished 4th through 8th in that Sentinel poll. Atlanta made one of the only personnel moves in the League yesterday, signing Joe Smith to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. It’s Smith’s 10th NBA team; Quentin Richardson might catch him by the end of August, though … Notice how the Pistons weren’t on that list? Detroit hasn’t missed the postseason since ’01, but even with their big offseason additions, they’ve got a massive void in the middle … The Nets are supposed to be one of the worst teams in the East, but Devin Harris is ready to take them higher. “It’s my team now,” Harris told reporters at his basketball camp in Milwaukee. “Obviously they wouldn’t have moved Vince (Carter) until they felt I was ready. That’s kind of the burden I’m dealt with, but I’m excited about it. Any true point guard that has a chance to be the man on his team, he relishes that.” … Jersey has some talent, they’re just painfully young. Harris is gonna get his 20 and six every night, and Brook Lopez is on his way to being a legitimate beast. Terrence Williams and Courtney Lee can be solid on the wings in due time, and the bench could use some depth, but the biggest X-factor is Yi Jianlian. He’s been killing it with the Chinese national team this summer, and he’s also been putting in work on the NYC playgrounds. If Yi can give them 15 points, some boards, doesn’t get totally destroyed on D, and basically doesn’t go out there playing like Common, he’ll be alright … Dirk Nowitzki won’t be giving anyone buckets for his national team, as he’ll be sitting out the FIBA European Championships. Dirk has always been right up there with Pau Gasol as one of those guys who is the face of his country’s team and will play no matter what his NBA owners say, but the Mavs flexed their muscle this time and finally kept Dirk out … Having made a $27 million investment in Jason Kidd and bringing in Shawn Marion, Dallas is ready to make a run now, and Dirk is the key to everything. You can see where the franchise is coming from, but like we’ve always said, a basketball player who spends his summer playing basketball can get hurt anywhere. Just because Dirk won’t be suiting up for Team Germany doesn’t mean he can’t turn an ankle working out at the Mavs’ practice facility … So it looks like Stephon Marbury‘s NBA career is over. On the off chance there was some forgiving GM that didn’t already think Steph is batsh*t crazy, now with Steph’s admission that he smokes weed, nobody will sign him if he’s also a risk to fail a drug test. Marbury has been talking about the Euroleague for years, though — but unless there’s a team in Amsterdam who needs an experienced point guard, he might be stuck looking for some semi-pro team in New Jersey that’s sponsored by White Castle … With the NFL preseason kicking off, we made sure to catch the Dallas Cowboys’ game the other night to see our guy Jesse Holley, who won a spot with the Cowboys on the Spike TV reality show “4th and Long.” If you didn’t know, before deciding to focus on football at North Carolina, Holley was a walk-on point guard on the 2005 national championship team. And now he’s got just as good of a chance at making his mark on pro sports as Sean May … We’re out like Dirk …

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  • InFamous1

    First! And Cleveland should win the east again. Barring injuries of course

  • vcn

    .holly smith is hot

  • vcn

    .i mean really hot

  • BRUCE

    You have to feel for Joe Smith. He played at Maryland and HAD he came out of college early, he would made retire by now. He did not and the following year, ROOKIE contracts were mandated.

  • Jordi

    LOL @ the Amsterdam comment.
    Just recently the basketball team from Amsterdam missed out on the national championship because they had a guy playing who had been tested positively on smoking weed.
    They won the finals, best of 7, but they were suspended.
    And recently they got the championship anyway, not sure why…

    Anyway that’s a no go for Starbury as well.

  • http://bt.davka.info/ SparkyJ23

    Those ranking won’t gt the aters blood up its your proclaiming lebron the best ever

  • sh!tfaced

    blah blah blah… What do the experts know anyway? LOL

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    Cleveland is not good when they have to meet expectations. Unless you count destroying my soul every damn year good…

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    ^^^^that goes for all sports in Cleveland

  • K Dizzle

    We don’t just be hatin on LrBron for no reason. Why shouldn’t Cleveland be the favs outta the east? 66 wins, bring everyone important back and got Shaq…Don’t take a genius to see them winnin the east.

  • That’s whats up

    “and Brook Lopez is on his way to being a legitimate beast.”
    that made me laugh because I can’t remember if Brook is the gay one of the twins, or the gayer one

  • That’s whats up

    Marbury only smokes to come down off his binges

  • BRUCE

    Marbury smokes weed, the majority of Black/Colored people smoke too. When ya smokes, ya get the munchies! How the hell ya get all them muscles with the munchies?

  • elaly

    I dunno, they gotta make it work in cleveland…its not even about shaq or lebron at this point…. its who else is gonna step up… Anthony Parker and/or Mo Williams has to have a huge year.

    Boston’s season will come down to injuries for sure… if they are healthy who knows, but they are too old collectively

    Magic… well they got a good personnel coach, SVG just needs to make it work…all i know is they are now nowhere near as unorthodox as they were last season…outside of rashard, teams can matchup

  • Steve Nasty

    Why all the love for Yi? Yi is terrible. Even Marbury would rip it up for the Chinese national team.

  • IGP

    who doesn’t smoke weed at least occasionally?

  • That’s whats up

    ^^^ Mormons

  • robmo35

    Got to remember that Orlando plays in the most competitive division in the league. There will be at least three if not four teams from the division in the playoffs. Cleveland and Boston only play some of these teams three times. Four against Washington, Atlanta, Miami, and Charlotte is a lot different than four against Milwaukee, Chicago, Indiana, and Detroit, or against any of the teams in the Atlantic other than Boston

  • jzsmoove

    Tough words from Devin Harris, i like it even though a bit disillusioned. The Nets aint his team, its a transitional team without an identity. Kinda like the inaugural Raptors of the mid 90′s with Mighty Mouse manning the PG spot. The Raps became Stoudamire’s team eventually but got dealt soon afterwards. At least there is no Tapegate scandal from Devin when he got crossed by that white dude in public, he just laughed it off. It was hella funny, Youtube it.

  • Rodney Dangergfield

    First of all, Cleveland didn’t win the east. If you think they will this year, it is because you think that Shaq is as good as he was his first year in Miami, which I doubt. What is he like 100? How did that work out for Phoenix? Orlando will need time to build Chemistry, but as we saw last year, the regula season record is irrevelant. Boston is the favorite if they can stay healthy, because they have some some old farts on that roster. I think Orlando is imprpoved as all 3 in the east are, but I think winning the east this year should get more respect.

  • dial up

    Look, the “experts” would pick the cavs to win the east, even if they didn’t add anybody. That’s how much they seem to love lebron. I can’t be the only one who thought it was wierd seeing no one touching lebron when he got those 20ft average. It was ridiculous.

  • doc

    Yi stinks to me.And puff that ganja Steph.Fuck everybody u got ya mills already.

  • Young Money (R.I.P. BDub)

    @Doc at least he’s in the League.

  • ponky_alolor

    @14 elaly, agree with the orlando comment. SVG though may pull it off. got respect 4 him after winning east.

    biggest ? for boston is sheed. if he scores and defends more than talk and get techs, they will be tough.

    miami is the sleeper team depending on their personnel moves.

  • richblue11

    How is adding Shaq gonna make the Cavs better? It’s not like they’re getting the Diesel in his prime. With Shaq on the court, he’s just going to clog up the paint limiting Lebron’s driving lanes. It’s definitely the most overrated move this off-season!!!
    What the cavs need is a versatile 4 man who can guard quick and agile 4′s like Garnett, Odom and Lewis. See how they got dismantled by Orlando last year? Their slow-ass forwards and centers couldn’t keep up with Rashard and Hedo.
    With that hole in the 4 spot, how are they going to fare better against the celtics who have two premier versatile forwars in Garnett and Rasheed?
    You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or anything to see which one is better, but Varejao, a slow Shaq and Big-z against an emerging big baby, Garnett yet in his prime and the newly added Wallace.
    I’m taking the celts all day!!

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    Yi’s in the League on a rookie contract…lotsa players have been drafted that didn’t deserve a roster spot ((cough))((Cough)) Cedric Henderson, Sun Yue to name two.

    And I know Mormons that puff, and Mormons that drink…

  • Frank

    @5: That player was Orien Greene, formerly of the Boston Celtics.
    He got fired in the middle of the Dutch Playoff Finals because of violating the drugpolicies.

  • doc

    Its cool Young Money.At least I still get paid to play while cats like you wish they didnt have to flip that burger for a living.Whoever live in Philly come to Mallery for the Danny Rumph tourney.We play Hakeem Skinny Warrick and them at 1 in the semis.Come watch me drop a easy 30 while making at least 3 dudes fall.

  • doc

    And we dont know Bdub.So we dont care.

  • Bron42 aka Had Spings before Slamball

    @SparkyJ23, gotta agree with you here. No one cares if people pick the cavs to win…we will just get pissed when you blame only his teammates when they lose and give him all the credit when they win. Cuz lebron invented basketball to you guys.

    @BRUCE, ya cuz white people don’t smoke weed or anything…

    Yi is terrible..lets not even pretend.

  • SayItAintSo

    Boston is the new San Antonio

  • SayItAintSo

    Obviously with less court-cred though (fewer rings, but they got the whole “aging parts, work well together, and dangerous without question if they’re healthy” thing going on)
    Starring Rajon as TP
    KG as TD
    Doc Rivs and Captain Ahab
    Ray Allen as (upgraded) Michael Finley)
    etc.

  • SayItAintSo

    Oh and PP as Manu Raton obviously

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BERN BROGDEN aka BINO BROWN

    Cavs, Magic, Celtics – the order doesn’t matter.
    The east is set. They all re-upped, re-tooled and got better or deeper. Ditto with some teams in the West.

    The TOP GUNNERS RELOADED so it’s pretty safe to see the winningest crew easily capture the Eastern crown. They did it with Big Z and Ben/Andy as their startin’ frontline.

    Shaq is a upgrade. And upgrade is an understatement.

    So far, they picked up 4 lengthy, scrappy, defender types who can competently compete with the likes of — Wallace or Garnett or Dwight or…Artest or LO or…you get the point — Parker, Moon, Powe, Shaq, while presumbably keepin Z after signing Andy to an extension.

    If they get another stud to fit into that 4 spot, they should be representin’ the East come next June.

    @27 — Wow, that’s cold.

    Steph must’ve broke up with his girlfriend who he was extremely in love with. Then after he broke up, his best friend died in a car accident. Then his cousin got shot. Maybe lost another relative (for good measure) And now he just don’t give a f***.

    Seriously, he had a career. He probably could still have one. He’s always displayed questionable conduct. But who hasn’t? He’s rich. And relatively young. He’s not under contract. Let him live. Let him be a justin.tv star. It obviously is serving his utility, he’s gettin’ MAD attention.

    I think Yi’s a good ball player.
    However, I believe he’s only in the league because,
    he has tons of expectations on his shoulders because,
    he’s hyped beyond his capacity to be hyped (he’s not all that) because of WHERE he comes from…

    because of WHO comes from that same spot(notwithstanding the comparisons that follow)…

    because of the legions of fans and supporters and anyone else WHO EXTRACTS SOME KINDA CIVIC PRIDE from his success.

    I wish YI the best. I hope he over-exceeds those expectations. If he practices and focuses on his craft he can turn mediocre into decent, decent into good, good into great or better yet, great into legendary.

  • utahJZZ

    1.Celtics
    2.Magic
    3.Cavs
    4.Raptors
    5.Wizards
    6.Heat
    7.Hawks
    8.Heat

  • utahJZZ

    *replace 8 with the bulls

  • Dagomar

    Bern: that’s the most I’ve ever read without reading anything.

    For the Cavs much depends on two aging centres, each of whom have a recent history of injury problems. IF the team stays relatively healthy and with a motivated Lebron, they win the East. I like the Celts but think age is even more of a factor for them, while the Magic have the biggest adjustment to make because Turk ran their offense much of the time. Chances are they’ll finish Cavs first, Celts second and Magic third, just like last year.

  • Bron42 aka Had Springs before Slamball

    Once again Cleveland has disappointed through their mediocre offseason acquisitions. Lets be honest here Jamario Moon is a quality backup for LeBron which the team lacked last year but is he really a difference maker? I highly doubt it. Also Anthony Parker is not an upgrade over Delonte West besides being a few inches taller. Shaq will help the Cavs but he isn’t as agile as he used to be and the benefits he brings will be limited.I really doubt hes chasing anyone off screen and roles any better than Big Z and Side Show Bob. Overpaying for Varejao just makes things sting worse. He got how much? Cleveland had better options on the free agent market including David Lee and Glen Davis. LeBron is still surrounded by average talent and his persona is only gonna care him so far. Mediocre moves equal coming up just a little short in the playoffs which Cleveland is growing accustomed to.

  • jason

    in more important news…GILBERT IS BACK….

    check washingtonpost.com/sports the wizards blog and washingtontimes.com/sports outlet blog to read about him playing around at a summer league game…he isnt 100 percent…but looks to be around 90 percent…which is good enough for me if he can stay at that health the entire year…

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    @37…I’ve GIL”S BACK too many times…

  • jason

    truu but this time its from players like bron, AI2, qrich, and people like flip saunders and two different beat writers…so i think this would be a little different than gilbert himself proclaiming he’s back

  • JL

    Seriously who cares? The East will be hell tough from the get go…Not much is going to split the top 4 teams!

    Anyone else noticed that Artest has been on a tear on his twitter…Looks like he has a fire under his a$$ already. Happy days ahead for Lakers fans!

  • AB_40

    funny how you mention amsterdma and weed in the same sentence

    I’m from holland and amsterdam almost lost the championship because of one guy who played in the nba orion greene who smoked weed twice got caught once and almost cost his team the championship because the team let him play in a game where as the dutch leauge management said he couldn’t

    just a week ago it was finaly anounced that the chip is going to amsterdam. problem is they don’t have no money anymore because well their boss is an idiot and his companys went bankrupt.

    ah well and wasn’t that article about the regular season? they’ll probably win 60 to 65 games again next season.

  • Tim

    i was definitely expecting the Pistons to be 4th or 5th…oh well…looks like they’ll just have to surprise everyone…

  • Ian

    @18 if by competitive u mean they all suck ok then im with you take a look at the southwest and then again at those crappy teams u mentioned. big diff right?