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JetCityPersian

Eastern Migration

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Jet here,

The current NBA landscape reminds me of our country's youth, but reversed. Talent is crowded to one side, and wins are hard to come by if you're rubbing elbows with juggernauts named San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix, and ... Portland? Well, not in the immediate sense perhaps, but it might not take long for the upstart Trailblazers to blossom into the next great force in the West. And what about the Seattle SuperSonics? They're up to something for sure - they've stashed away the League's next prolific scorer and they roped in another stud (Jeff Green) to boot. Is this the next dynamic NBA duo? Green has all the skills to be a Pippen-esque Robin to Durant's Batman. Sonics GM Sam Presti is a smart man, and I can see a high-scoring, fleet-footed Sonics core coalescing here in the Emerald City (Jet City, if you're nasty). In a few years, they could be running teams off the court the way the Golden State Warriors did the top-seeded Mavericks in this year's NBA playoffs.

Is this increasing returns? The rich get richer, and the poor go hungry? This particular draft lottery certainly didn't tip the scales, and whiney Eastern GMs who bet the farm on the handful of ping pong balls might have you thinking that way... However, the league has other checks and balances that are now evening out the League in the wake of the draft. For players seeking greener pastures, the frontier is now the East. They might not be leaving in covered wagons, but make no mistake - players know that they can reap greater rewards for their hard work if they're facing weaker competition. And as the Cleveland Cavaliers proved this year, they also might just land on the biggest stage in basketball...

The draft didn't even need to complete for the balancing effects to begin. Before it had even begun, word was out that the SuperSonics were working on packaging their soon-to-be-former franchise player, Ray Allen, for Boston's 5th pick (Jeff Green). Allen is 32, but is coming off a career season in terms of averages. He'll make an immediate and huge impact in Boston. A bit later, we learn that Portland is shipping out the embattled Zach Randolph to New York in order to make room for its new twin towers, Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge. Any big man capable of putting up 23-24 points and 10 rebounds amongst the tall trees of the West is sure to wreak havoc in the East; the scales tip back a little further. Jason Richardson joins the migration East only hours later, shipped to the Bobcats for a package including UNC's young big, Brandan Wright.

The NBA free agency season kicked off this week with a few big names already tied to teams in the ... East. Rashard Lewis has reportedly agreed to terms with the Orlando Magic, while Chauncey Billups appears to be staying in Detroit (even though he's denying the report that he signed a new deal with them, it looks like he'll ink something with the Pistons soon). Gerald Wallace should be the next domino to fall, with 8 teams or more competing for his services. With Orlando's cap room now completely locked up by Lewis (for years, and years, and years...), it seems most likely to me that Gerald Wallace will remain a Bobcat.

All of this should put a damper on the cask-sized sluice of whine we saw after the Trailblazers and SuperSonics won the top 2 picks in the draft lottery in May. Munching on the sour grapes of Eastern GM's, analysts, and fans, you'd think that the draft lottery is the only way a team can improve in the NBA. The changes that we've seen since the draft show that this is far from the case. Trades and Free Agency will help to balance the league in the short and long term. Teams eyeing Portland as a rising power will choose to rebuild (Seattle), and in doing so they will most likely trade their veterans to the East (so they won't be seeing them all the time in a different uniform). Players who can choose their own destiny will be attracted to the East, where their stats and chances of making the NBA Finals will be improved. Teams in the East that don't decide to go for the Finals while the "gettin' is good" will land back in the lottery, where the odds are still in their favor to land a top pick.

I expect to see some more big names heading East in the near term. Teams in the West that appeared close to competing, pre-draft, must now choose to either strengthen themselves in order to compete with current Super Powers (San Antonio, Dallas, Phoenix), or begin rebuilding for the future - a landscape likely to be defined by rising powers in the NW. As the true difference makers begin disappearing from the free agent market, I suspect a few more teams will opt to rebuild. These events should send a few more talented veterans to the East.

-Jet out

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the analysts say that its all cyclical. but i dunno if FAs will in general flock to the east just to avoid playing in the stacked west. FAs first and foremost chase the money, then they go for familiarity, location and a chance at a chip. if they're willing to sacrifice a litte bit of cash for a chance at a ring, it doesnt matter where the best teams are, they'll try to migrate to them. almost all the best teams right now are in the west. why do you think KG, kobe and even grant hill want to play for PHX? yes, they play an exciting and fun style of basketball, but they also figure to be a contending team for as long as nash can play at a high level. only way i see a shift in the balance of power is if GMs in west keep trading some of their marquee players to the east. you can say that its already started with z-bo being traded to the knicks for peanuts and ray-ray being dealt to the celtics. but i dont think either of those moves makes their new teams a contender. both those players have questionmarks surrounding them. randolph with his behavior and allen with his age. the marquee players who CAN turn teams into contenders will likely be retained. there just arent that many attractive teams in the east. miami's losing its luster now that their stuck with a fading shaq, detroit's an ugly city, cleveland's a mini detroit, new york is new york but theyve been the laughing stock of the league for a while now, how many players (who can actually have a significant impact) really wanna play for zeke and co? the only really attractive place to come to is chicago becuz of the big market and the young, talented core.

BTW Jet, what do you think of the carlesimo hiring? i hate it. i know he's coached in college before, but he doesnt strike me as the type who'd have the patience to groom young talent.

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BTW Jet, what do you think of the carlesimo hiring? i hate it. i know he's coached in college before, but he doesnt strike me as the type who'd have the patience to groom young talent.

I don't like it either, I'm not a fan of Carlesimo and I think he tends to frustrate young guys - he can't connect with them. We've seen it time and again, he just tends to alienate these kids rather than motivate them.

Casey would have been better, but I don't think he's a great coach either. He confused me with a lot of what he did in Minnesota. You know, I'm biased though. I'm pretty pissed that Terry Porter hasn't even been interviewed for any of these open jobs. If I were Presti, I'd be talking to him. Young guys love him, and he'd be a good coach for a running team. He never really got a chance in MIL. He'd be good for the Sonics. I might be biased though, he's one of my favorite NBA guys of all time...

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