Wow, the new NBA season is finally here. It seems like just yesterday I was watching Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and company duel against the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals in June.
Truly it has been an amazing off-season for the NBA. There has been some significant movement during the off-season; there were more than 100 players moved during the NBA off-season.
Shaquille O’Neal was traded during the summer to the Miami Heat, in exchange for forwards Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first round draft pick.
This trade on July 14 surprised NBA fans abroad, but it was not very surprising to me. It has been well documented that Shaq and Kobe have had a history of feuding. In his recently published book, The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul, former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson stated, “At times the pettiness between the two of them can be unbelievably juvenile.”
It will be interesting to see how Bryant will get acclimated to the new system of new Lakers head coach Rudy Tomjanovich, as well as new faces in the organization such as newly acquired center Vlade Divac, Chris Mihm and point guard Chucky Atkins.
It will also be interesting to see whether Karl Malone will return to the team once his knee has healed. It was rumored during the summer that Malone would join Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves. There has been no further word on that.
The trade between the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets was also great news for the summer. The deal included Steve Francis, Kelvin Kato and Philadelphia native Cuttino Mobley going to Orlando. In exchange, the Rockets acquired Tracy McGrady, Tyronn Lue, Reece Gaines and Juwan Howard.
This deal worked well for both teams. McGrady was frustrated with the Orlando Magic because of their lack of winning and competitiveness.
Comparatively, Steve Francis has grown very unhappy with the Rockets, as well. The Rockets figured that it would be a decent swap in the long-run because it was a strong chance the Rockets could lose Francis to free agency.
I think that the Orlando Magic gained the better end of the deal.
The Rockets gained an up-and-coming point guard in Steve Francis. Francis doesn’t mind sharing the ball as long as he has some athletic bodies and shooters to work with.
Cuttino Mobley is a plus. Having played with Francis in Houston, he knows what to expect from “The Franchise,” as Francis is called.
The Magic also benefited from the NBA draft as they nabbed high school phenom Dwight Howard with the first pick in the NBA draft. The Magic also picked up Chester, PA, native and College All-American Jameer Nelson out of St. Joe’s in Philadelphia. In addition, The Magic signed Hedo Turkoglu and Tony Battie this summer, adding depth to their roster.
I think that the most underrated acquisition from the summer was that of former slam-dunk champion Brent Barry. Barry signed a four-year $19.6 million free agent contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
Barry turned down a higher paying offer to re-sign with the Seattle Sonics, his former team. The Spurs will benefit by Barry’s great perimeter shooting accuracy. Barry, not just known for his great shooting, will also supply some time at the point guard position, telegraphing pinpoint passes to his teammates.
Without a doubt this off-season was full of surprises. It will be very exciting to see how this season works out.