No matter which side you claim in the ongoing LeBron-to-Miami argument, one thing you cannot dispute: The Eastern Conference is going to be a PROBLEM for the West next season. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are (at worst) a phenomenally talented group that should maraud through the regular season; Carlos Boozer gives Chicago the low-post scorer they’ve needed to go with Derrick Rose, who is a full-on superstar at this point; Amar’e Stoudemire makes the Knicks dangerous at least; Atlanta kept status quo by re-signing Joe Johnson; Boston brought back Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to keep its core intact; Milwaukee added wing scorers and frontcourt muscle to go with Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings; Charlotte is bringing back most of its playoff squad; and of course Orlando still has Dwight Howard and its title-contending core. Whether it’s Kobe or Carmelo or D-Will who leads his team out of the West, they should hope their opponent in the Finals is bruised from a tough playoff run, because they’ll certainly be battle-tested … Everybody had their say about LeBron yesterday, and some views were plain ridiculous. Majority opinion in the Dime office is simple: LeBron had six options laid out in front of him, and he picked the team that to him looked most ready to win a championship as soon as possible. But a lot of people don’t see it that way. You’ve seen know how hard Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is screwing his own franchise by making sure no other NBA player will ever want to play for him, but did you hear Orlando GM Otis Smith? “I thought (LeBron) was, I guess, more of a competitor,” Smith said. “The great ones do and usually stay in one location. This is a new era. It’s a little different than my time.” Yeah, this is the same Otis Smith who was a certified role player during his brief playing career and happily took his turn eating off Chris Mullin, Alex English and Nick Anderson. The fact that Smith praised Kobe for winning rings “on his own” shows how little even some experts really know … (And remind us again why LeBron is getting criticized for going to a team where he’ll possibly be the No. 2 option, but nobody is getting on Bosh for happily accepting a clear-cut No. 3 role after failing to make a playoff dent in Toronto?) … How crazy was the LeBron/Wade/Bosh intro to Miami last night? Packed gym, thousands of people outside the arena, and it started with the big three dropped from the sky on a forklift … With the news that LeBron and Bosh will head to Miami via a pair of convoluted sign-and-trades — ‘Bron and Bosh have signed for six years, $110 million apiece while D-Wade is getting $107 million over six — the rest of the League was able to move on. The Knicks are close to a deal with Ray Felton, the best PG available barring a Chris Paul or Tony Parker trade. He’s not Steve Nash, but Ray’s been one of the more underrated PG’s in the League for a minute. No more playing under the radar now, though. Felton is gonna be reminded he’s not Nash with every turnover and every NY loss. But hey, he’s the Knicks’ best point guard since Stephon Marbury … The Bulls could go from having no shooters to having it rain buckets. Kyle Korver signed with Chicago for three years, $15 million yesterday, then the team signed J.J. Redick to an offer sheet for three years, $20 million. If Orlando doesn’t match, the Better Basketball film crew should just set up shop at Bulls practice for their next instructional shooting tape … When you call Al Jefferson a “rebound” guy, apparently it has nothing to do with him grabbing 10 boards a night. First he got to be the guy carrying the sorry Wolves in the immediate post-KG era, and now if the trade rumors are true, he may end up headlining the sorry post-LeBron Cavs. Reportedly Cleveland is looking to acquire Big Al in a trade. Could a team led by Jefferson, Jamison and Mo still make the playoffs? … Lots of summer league action Friday, as the Orlando league wraps up and the Vegas league gets started: Derrick Favors had 23 points and 11 rebounds in Jersey’s win over Boston, including a career-ending dunk over one of the Celtics’ unidentified plodding big men; Paul George put up 22 points and 12 boards in the Pacers’ loss to OKC; Gordon Hayward scored 14 to lead Utah past Philly, while Evan Turner had 13 points and 6 boards; Sherron Collins dropped 32 points and 7 threes on Orlando in a Bobcats’ loss; Summer league vet Coby Karl had 16 points, 7 boards and 5 assists to lead Denver past Dallas; Patrick Patterson scored 18 in Houston’s win over Phoenix; Greg Monroe had 8 points and 4 steals as Detroit beat the Lakers, while Derrick Caracter posted 20-and-10 and Devin Ebanks went for 21 points; and Marcus Thornton (no idea why he’s playing summer league) scored 23 in the Hornets loss to G-State … We’re out like Al Jefferson ever playing on a good team …
Smack / Jul 10, 2010 / 6:17 am
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