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NBA Free Agent Madness: The Detroit Huskies, Puzzling Memphis, and Ariza to Where?

Briefly recapping a somewhat frenzied night in the NBA:

Zach Randolph of the Clippers traded to the Grizzlies

A dollop of optimism in the tiny universe comprised of all eight Clippers fans; Donald Sterling did the unthinkable and moved Zach Randolph’s horrendous contract. Three reasons this move is bizarre (slash OK!) for Memphis:

1) In early 2008, they dealt Pau Gasol to the Lakers for garbage. They didn’t want to pay Gasol. Randolph’s due $33 million over the next two years. Why?

2) How in the name of Ricky Davis will the Grizz run a cohesive offense with ballhogs Randolph, OJ Mayo, and Rudy Gay? Mike Conley must be soiling himself in fear. You think he can massage those egos?

3) Notoriously cheap Memphis is not going to be the top destination for any free agents (or even second and third tier players). So the only way to improve is through trades and the draft, and on paper, who can complain about acquiring a 20-10 guy and a 7-foot-3 shot-blocker? Not sure how Marc Gasol-Thabeet-Randolph divvy up the minutes, but that’s another problem for another day.

Lastly, who do you think made this call, the owner, Michael Heisley, or the inept GM, Chris Wallace? Wouldn’t surprise us if drafting Thabeet and then this trade were both the work of the owner.

Charlie Villanueva (5 yrs, $40 million) and Ben Gordon (5 yrs, $55 million) to the Pistons

Stats Hollinger thinks the Gordon acquisition exudes a nostalgia of the Isiah-Dumars-Microwave holy trinity that captured two titles. We’re not so sure. Two of those guys play zero defense, and Stuckey’s jump shot, at this point in his career, is unreliable. But given the alternatives, this isn’t a bad haul to begin with. (Of note: Seems like Detroit might be giving the Orlando Magic 1-4 offense a look; they draft a lithe 6-foot-10 guy who could play PF; Villanueva’s in the same mold. Otis Smith must be thrilled he started such a fad.)

The problems: The Pistons, a team historically known for defense, just landed two guys who often seem to be indifferent defending. If this is all the Pistons do – meaning they don’t get a center – then we’d project them as a playoff team in the 5-8 range. Potential 4th quarter lineup: Stuckey, Gordon, Rip, Prince, Villanueva. Thin, but quick, and versatile.

Trevor Ariza to … Toronto or Portland?

All that talk of him returning to LA? Squashed for now. The Lakers offered $5.6 million; Ariza wanted something in the $7-8 million range. Don’t scoff – even though he only played 24 minutes a game, he’s an ideal SF who only turned 24 last week: Decent 3-point shooter (31 percent in his first season really jacking 3’s), very good defender and solid slasher. It seems like Portland and Toronto are the front-runners for Hedo Turkoglu, and the loser gets Ariza.

The obvious word of caution: Ariza has been in the league for five years and didn’t show anything in New York … but he did in Orlando and LA. A benefit of playing with Howard and then Kobe?

Josh Childress … Back to the NBA Already?

Here’s a random note at the bottom of David Aldridge’s column: “… forward Josh Childress … will visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, according to his agent, Jim Tanner. Childress can return to the NBA, but his rights would still be owned by the Atlanta Hawks, who drafted him in 2004, as a restricted free agent — meaning the Hawks could match any offer from other teams for Childress. But Childress has not yet decided whether to stay in Greece for a second season or come back to the NBA.”

 

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