The Dallas Mavericks completed a four-team trade that netted them versatile forward Shawn Marion, and Mavs fans are hoping this move isn’t another case of adding an aging name brand whose best years are behind him. That, combined with another year buying into Rick Carlisle’s system and the middling additions of Quinton Ross, Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas are the only causes for renewed optimism for this proud, aging franchise. Not around these parts, though.
In Houston, optimism is a little harder to come by after the news that franchise player Yao Ming will be out for the season and Ron “Snake Eggs” Artest left via free agency. There are some glimmers of hope though, as the rockets managed to sign Trevor Ariza, an ETB favorite and simply one of the best young two-way players in the NBA. That, combined with repeated proof that this team is more about system, defense, hustle, intelligence and unselfish play than stars means Houston fans can at the very least expect a respectable season – and perhaps another playoff upset.
My man Rick Kamla tweeted the other day, “If the Hornets (Okafor, Posey, Diogu) can get healthy, they will be a lot better than you think. Chris Paul’s motor is that powerful.” That’s one way to look at it for NO fans, because I thought this team was fundamentally flawed after that embarrassing playoff loss last season. That said, I think Okafor is a more complete player than Tyson Chandler – though both leave a lot to be desired. Okafor should bring more physicality and defensive identity to this squad, though. And I’m an Ike Diogu fan. Kid is underrated.
As much talent as Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo have, the Grizzlies seem intent on spoiling their young core with the additions of uber malcontents Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson. It’s a real noodle scratcher, because it’s not like this team is on the verge of playoff success, so adding two high-volume cancers getting on in years like this just seems like a misguided and desperate effort for ticket sales. It’s a shame. Still, a core of Gay, Mayo, Conley and rookie Hasheem Thabeet should be enough to keep the diehard rooting and hoping.
Unfortunately, all of that seems moot. The San Antonio Spurs, the clear cream of this crop, also had a maddeningly productive offseason. San Antonio added Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess and Theo Ratliff to a roster that was already built as a legit championship contender. We’re not fans of “Peanut” Jefferson, but the man can score, draw fouls and get to the line. McDyess is a consummate professional that brings veteran savvy, toughness, rebounding and scoring efficiency. Blair looks like one of the summer’s biggest steals. Ugh. They’re going to be good again. Really, really good. Just have the common courtesy to die already, will you Spurs dynasty?
Here’s the full list of the Southwest Division previews.
New Orleans Hornets
San Antonio Spurs
More 2008-09 NBA Blogger Previews
– Atlantic Division
– Central Division
– Southwest Division
– Southwest Division
– Northwest Division
– Pacific Division