Monday, April 30, 2012

NBA Playoffs Tip-Off: Injuries, Comebacks, and Chest Bumps

The condensed 66-game season spoiled NBA fans by giving them daily games to watch and triple-headers to wait for. The only costs were the other 16 games and Derrick Rose's ACL.

It wasn't worth it.

D-Rose is out for the playoffs.
To what extent the shortened season contributed to Rose's injury can't be proved, but one can't help but connect it to the injuries suffered by Rose, Dwight Howard, and Knick rookie Iman Shumpert; Rose and Howard have been iron men throughout their respective careers. With any luck, these young players can take advantage of advancements in medicine and return with their explosive athleticism intact.

Here are some thoughts after the first weekend of NBA playoff action:

  • The Miami Heat are making the NBA Finals. Chicago without Rose is like a declawed and toothless lion- it's still big, fast, and strong, but it lost its primary way of taking the game by the throat. The Knicks without Shumpert have no way to defend Dwyane Wade, which is fatal since they can't guard LeBron James either.
  • The Clippers comeback was for the ages. Reggie Evans's defense on Zach Randolph should make any and every basketball purist smile, and Chris Paul's competitive nature never shined through more. Still, L.A. needs to make major adjustments to get Blake Griffin off, because Memphis shut him down. Randy Foye, Nick Young, and Mo Williams will need to step up if Caron Butler can't go full throttle after breaking his hand- Young especially since he has good size.
  • If Andrew Bynum delivers the kind of defensive performance he did Sunday, the Lakers can win the title. It doesn't need to be 10 blocks per game; it needs to be consistently challenging shots in the paint. Denver's big men are three levels below Bynum and Pau Gasol.
  • The Indiana Pacers are still going to win their series against Orlando, but their flaw was exposed in game one. They couldn't adequately take advantage of Howard's absence even with Roy Hibbert playing, and they couldn't consistently score against an Orlando defense that has struggled without their anchor. Indiana could have made a statement to the rest of the Eastern Conference in game one; instead, they put themselves in a hole against an inferior team.
  • Rajon Rondo's suspension was warranted. He did trip, but he didn't even seem to care that he bumped the referee. If he didn't get suspended, the 2007 Phoenix Suns would roll in their graves for the letter of the NBA law not being enforced.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is an unstoppable offensive player. His Mavericks, though, are vulnerable without Tyson Chandler, and they're facing a team that will take advantage of that vulnerability.
Stay tuned for more action, and hope that no more injuries occur!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Western Conference First Round Playoff Preview

Here is a preview of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Utah Jazz (8)

Utah has youth, size, and dominant offensive rebounding (second in the league); it's easy to think Spurs vs. Grizzlies 2011 all over again. However, there are major differences this year: Utah is a below average defensive team (19th in the league), and the Spurs have a healthy Manu Ginobili.

One more time?
Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors will cause problems for the Spurs, but Jefferson is easier for Tim Duncan to guard than Zach Randolph. Jefferson is the best scoring option on the team, like Randolph was for Memphis, but Duncan was relegated to guarding a less important Marc Gasol last year because of Randolph's unrelenting face-up game. TD can handle Jefferson's low-post game.

As tempting as it is to make the call for an upset again, it isn't happening this year. Utah won't be able to slow down San Antonio's offense.

Pick: San Antonio Spurs

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (7)

Dirk and KD are elite offensive players.
In last year's Western Conference Finals, the Mavericks beat the Thunder in five games because the lineup of Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry meshed as perfectly as a five-man unit realistically could. Chandler is out of the equation now, and his supposed replacement, Lamar Odom, isn't going to play for Dallas anymore. Chandler occupied Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison last season, which allowed Dallas's perimeter threats to go off. Now, those bigs can help when Dirk or Jet drive.

The Maverick offense, normally a staple in the top 10, was ranked 22nd this year. Without an ultra-efficient offense, Dallas's defense, though supposedly improved from last season, will surrender too many fast-break points to the young Thunder. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden should be able to feast on Nowitzki's and Brendan Haywood's pick-n-roll defense.

Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder

Los Angeles Lakers (3) vs. Denver Nuggets (6)

Sessions needs to perform well.
If it weren't for Ramon Sessions, this would be a sure upset for Denver. Ty Lawson would have torched L.A.'s pick-n-roll defense while Arron Afflalo would have shadowed an overworked Kobe Bryant enough to win. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol wouldn't see the ball with Kobe gunning and Derek Fisher flopping.

Sessions changes the game. His ability to deliver the ball to the All-NBA-caliber 7-footers allows L.A. to dominate the inside matchup, which means less fast-breaking for the deep, energetic Nuggets. Denver doesn't have a single big man than can contend with Bynum or Gasol, and that's a damning matchup disadvantage.

Pick: Los Angeles Lakers

Memphis Grizzlies (4) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (5)

This is the most difficult matchup to assess because of injury variables. Is Zach Randolph back to form? Is Chris Paul's hamstring going to limit him?

CP3 's health is the most important variable in the series.
Randolph and Gasol vs. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is the frontcourt matchup of the first round; the teams are incredibly close when it comes to rebounding on both sides of the floor. The Clippers struggle stopping teams, but the Grizz are a below-average offensive team. Memphis led the league in causing turnovers (.163 TOV% for opponents), and Gasol can defend interior scorers.

But L.A.'s number four-ranked offense doesn't turn the ball over (.127 TOV%) thanks to CP3 (2.1 turnovers per game), and they don't rely on a post scorer. Instead, the Clippers attack with the Paul/Griffin pick-n-roll. If Paul is healthy, Memphis will have a hard time stopping the Clippers.

Pick: Los Angeles Clippers

Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Preview

It's playoff time in the NBA, a time for the team to shine. Regular season success matter little; it's all about matchups now. It's all about how one team matches up against another. It's "five as one" vs. "five as one", a social experiment of sorts; how does one team co-mingle with another?

Here is NBA Wired's preview of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Chicago Bulls (1) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8)

Rose will see plenty of Iggy in the first round.
Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday anchor perhaps the best perimeter defense in the league, a strength which on paper appears perfect for slowing Derrick Rose and the Bulls. Chicago specializes in shutting down superstar-centric offenses, but that doesn't matter against Philly's multi-polar offense. This series is ripe for an upset, right?

Well, it could have been if the Sixers weren't trending downward as the season progressed. Philly blazed through the first part of the season before struggling down the stretch en route to the eighth seed, whereas Chicago adapted to the absence of Rose. Chicago is going to win the possession battle: they take care of the ball better than Philly forces turnovers, and their dominant offensive rebounding corps will provide extra shots against a team without a singularly dominant defensive rebounder.

A major advantage for Chicago is their defensive depth. Philly's Louis Williams and Thaddeus Young anchor a potent scoring bench, but they'll be running into Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, who anchor arguably the best bench defense in the league.

Pick: Chicago Bulls

Miami Heat (2) vs. New York Knicks (7)

This is the most exciting matchup in the conference. The last time these two teams hooked up in the first round of the playoffs after a lockout was 1999, when Allan Houston got his $100 million shot to go down.

Talk about a marketable matchup...
These Knicks are a wildly different team than at season's start thanks to Mike Woodson's emphasis on defense. Tyson Chandler is possibly the purest anti-Heat weapon in the league, a center who can take advantage of Miami's small frontcourt with his length and movement. New York's explosive bench can push the pace against Miami's slower bench players. Iman Shumpert's defense against Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will be integral. On the other side, how will Miami defend Carmelo Anthony, who has been surging since the All-Star break and is out to prove himself against his 2003 draftmates?

In the end, Miami is going to have the two biggest matchup advantages on the court for 40 minutes per game. James and Wade are the two best players in the series and are on a mission to avenge last year's NBA Finals loss.

This series will go a minimum of six games.

Pick: Miami Heat

Indian Pacers (3) vs. Orlando Magic (6)

Should have just put Milwaukee in the sixth spot.

The Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic have no chance against arguably the deepest team in the conference. Danny Granger's play improved throughout the season; post-All-Star Break, he averaged 19.4 points per game on 45 percent shooting, 41.3 percent from 3, and 90.8 percent from the free throw line. Granger and Paul George should be able to bother Orlando's 3-point shooters, who don't have Howard opening the floor for them.

Pick: Indiana Pacers

Boston Celtics (4) vs. Atlanta Hawks (5)

Jeff Teague needs to prevent Rajon Rondo's penetration.
This is going to be a tight series. Boston is the better team, but Atlanta has home-court advantage, a rebounding advantage, and an improved Josh Smith. J-Smoove nearly put up a 20/10/4 season this year and carried Atlanta's frontcourt after Al Horford sustained an injury.

Jeff Teague vs. Rajon Rondo is the premier matchup to watch; if Teague can cause havoc and open up jumpers for Atlanta's shooters, they have a chance. But that's a tough task with Kevin Garnet manning the middle. With KG's move to C and Horford's absence, he'll be free to guard Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson, meaning he can roam and help out on Smith and Teague. Avery Bradley's development as a defensive stopper will prove handy against Joe Johnson.

Atlanta doesn't have the offense to score against the best defense in the league; Boston still has Paul Pierce for isolation scoring when a drought occurs.

Pick: Boston Celtics

Thursday, April 26, 2012

All-NBA Teams for 2012

Building on the NBA awards theme this week, here are NBA Wired's All-NBA selections. Team results are deemphasized; each player's sustained level of play and health weigh heavily.

CP3 and RW get the All-NBA nod this season.
All-NBA First Team

Chris Paul
Russell Westbrook
LeBron James
Kevin Durant
Dwight Howard

James and Durant were no-brainers. Westbrook's career-best season and superior health allowed him to leapfrog a pair of legendary shooting guards, and CP3 reestablished himself as the league's top point guard. Howard had the worst season of his prime thus far, but he's still the best center in the game. It's hard to ignore 20.6 points and a league-high 14.5 rebounds per game.

All-NBA Second Team

Dwyane Wade
Kobe Bryant
Kevin Love
LaMarcus Aldridge
Andrew Bynum

Bryant had one of the greatest "16th seasons" in NBA history, but it was also one of his least efficient years. Wade's play was up and down, and he missed too many games. Thus, Wade and Bryant were knocked off the first team by Westbrook and Paul. Aldridge proved the second half of last season was no fluke, and Bynum proved he is an All-Star when his knees hold up. Love's 26 points and 13.3 rebounds on an improved Minnesota team were good enough to edge out last year's Finals MVP and this year's dunk machine.

Nash and Williams were stuck in bad situations this year.
All-NBA Third Team

Deron Williams
Steve Nash
Dirk Nowitzki
Blake Griffin
Kevin Garnett

Williams and Nash faced similar situations this year; Williams had no frontcourt to work with, and Nash had too little talent to compete against the talented Western Conference. After a sluggish start, Nowitzki improved and took on his usual load for Dallas. While Griffin didn't improve as much as he could have from last season, he did develop chemistry with Paul and had a solid season. KG's move to center allowed him to post his best scoring numbers in years, and he summoned the energy and passion to anchor a great defense in Boston.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NBA Regular Season Awards for 2012

As the NBA playoffs approach, it is time to give out the 2012 regular season awards. The season provided some fantastic highlights, including a high-octane start by the Miami Heat, a riveting slam dunk contest, and the legendarily hilarious Charlotte Bobcats. Corey Maggette would have won the iMVP (ironic Most Valuable Player) award for shooting 37 percent and blocking one shot all season, but he did too much right by his team missing 32 games. Next time, Corey.

Here are NBA Wired's regular season award winners:

Most Valuable Player

LeBron James is seeking his third MVP award.
It was a three-way race between LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul. In the end, James takes it for being the best player in basketball and leading Miami to a 13-1 record when the team's other offensive anchor, Dwyane Wade, sits out. Wade also saw a decline in minutes played, meaning James had to do more work on both ends.

Kevin Durant's frontcourt scoring and defensive rebounding are incredibly valuable, but Durantula's right-hand man, an improved Russell Westbrook, was healthy all year. CP3 lifting L.A. after the team struggled without Chauncey Billups made Paul a legitimate contender. He's arguably the second-best player in the league after James.

LeBron James

Defensive Player of the Year

Dwight Howard can usually sleepwalk his way to this award. Howard's late-season injury combined with Orlando's slip to defensive mediocrity (and perhaps some voter fatigue as well; I don't claim to be immune) opens the door for other star defenders.

Tyson Chandler and Kevin Garnett are the favorites. Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng are also contenders, and their plus/minus stats- specifically RAPM (regularized adjusted plus/minus)- give them legitimacy. However, those stats paint a positive picture for Tyson and KG, too. Both centers- yes Garnet plays center now- are elite defensive rebounders and shot-changers who also defend their position well. Garnett slowed the likes of Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, while Chandler locked down Howard a few times.

Boston has the NBA's second-best defense thanks to KG, while New York has the fifth-best defense despite playing Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony at the forward positions. Garnett may be the best per-minute defender in the league, but Chandler bridges the gap playing more minutes in more games. Tyson gets the edge based on playing with worse teammates, but KG is deserving as well.

Tyson Chandler

Sixth Man of the Year

James Harden
James Harden would be one of the top-25 starters in the league. He's one of the league's best pick-n-roll guards, able to make cross-court passes, drive to the rim to draw fouls, and shoot 3's off the dribble. His 66 percent True Shooting Percentage ranks second in the league, remarkable considering he's a perimeter player. His production was instrumental in OKC's dominant season, and his beard was instrumental in cushioning the destructive 'bow of World Peace.

James Harden

Rookie of the Year

Kyrie Irving helped the Cavs overachieve this year. He averaged 18.8 points and 5.5 assists per game on excellent percentages, and he showed a combination of poise, skill, and underrated athleticism that allowed him to get anywhere he wanted on the court.

Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio displayed great play and potential as rookies, too.

Kyrie Irving

Most Improved Player

Andrew Bynum and Greg Monroe
Jeremy Lin would have been a lock had it not been for his regular season-ending injury. Andrew Bynum, Nikola Pekovic, Greg Monroe, and Avery Bradley are solid choices: Bynum's knees stayed healthy, Bradley turned into a defensive star by season's end, Pekovic became a forcible presence inside, and Monroe matured as a lead player.

Bynum edges out Monroe based on his transition into a big minutes/big responsibility player on the Lakers following the Lamar Odom trade.

Andrew Bynum

Coach of the Year

Tom Thibodeau, Frank Vogel, Doug Collins, and Gregg Popovich are all deserving candidates. Thibodeau lost his star, Derrick Rose, for nearly half the season, yet Chicago played well and even improved on a few facets from last year. Collins was an early-season favorite, but Philly's play declined throughout the season.

Tom Thibodeau

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Resurrection of Chris Paul

Four seasons ago, Chris Paul finished second in MVP voting. He was coming off a historic regular season, and he followed that historic season with a magical- well, Magic-like, actually- playoffs. Not since Earvin Johnson himself had a point guard combined such flawless playmaking with the ability to volume score on ridiculous efficiency. Smaller package, but similar results.

Yeah Steve, he passed right by you.
However, CP3 has been overlooked ever since those 2008 playoffs. The season after was marred by injury, and the New Orleans Hornets weren't the same thereafter. Furthermore, several other perimeter superstars either emerged or had their situations radically shifted for the better. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hooked up in South Beach. Kobe Bryant received two more rings. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook brought uber-athletic ability to Paul's position while still remaining smart enough to handle an NBA offense.

And Chris was put on the back burner, a player in basketball exile waiting to be moved, waiting to have his "Decision" summer.

Thankfully it came early when he was traded to L.A. And then it didn't when the trade was rescinded. And then it did again, to a different team in the City of Angels.

And thus, the public perception of Paul has ascended once again to acceptable levels. He still probably doesn't get the respect he deserves, but at least people are recognizing him again. Paul should be on the All-NBA First Team this year along with Westbrook (Wade and Rose have all missed more time), and he should be in the running for MVP as well. He is the best player on a high-level team, and he has assumed a large load on that team, especially since the season-ending injury to veteran Chauncey Billups.

Paul is leading the third-best offense in the NBA and orchestrates "Lob City" as the true mayor in town. Blake Griffin may get the highlights, but it's usually Paul setting him up for those dunks. Paul is averaging 19.4 points and nine assists (with just 2.1 turnovers!) per game while shooting 48.1 percent and 37.3 percent from 3-point range. His ability to handle the ball as much as he does, create the amount of offense he does, and play over 36 minutes per game while only turning the ball over 2.1 times is mind boggling.

When it's crunch time, Paul seemingly always recognizes the situation and takes the game by the throat. According to, Paul has the fifth-highest scoring average under its definition of a "clutch situation." He's also tenth in assists and ninth in FTAs while shooting a staggering 95 percent from the charity stripe in "clutch situations."

Perhaps more importantly, he's taught Griffin how to flop at an ALL-NBA level. It's not in the scope of this article to make fish jokes about Clippers and flopping, so do that on your own time.

But Paul is back and on a relevant team with weapons, and if history is any indication, he's going to go bonkers in the playoffs. He's arguably the second-best player in the league, and he's on a mission to prove it to NBA fans.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Windy City Systems: The Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is a performance-enhancing coach. More than any other leader in the NBA right now, Thibs understands that if his players are to maximize their collective potential, each individual must contribute in two ways:

1.) By making the appropriate swing passes.

2.) By making the appropriate closeouts after the opposition's swing passes.
Thibodeau and Rose can both claim to be Chicago's Most Valuable Person.

These are the two most important components of any legitimate championship contender. Thibodeau baked principle two into Boston's defense back in 2008, and he baked it into Chicago's collective defensive brain last year. It seems he has finally gotten a chance to institute principle one into his team's DNA, and his team is reaping the benefits of this newfound lifeblood so much that they've somewhat shaken their unsustainable reliance on their old lifeblood- superstar point guard Derrick Rose.

Last year, Derrick Rose won the MVP by being the offensive system that Chicago used to win 62 games. He was my MVP last year. This season, Rose is averaging 22.8 points and a career-high eight assists per game while lowering his turnovers and upping his eFG percentage (efficiency from the field). He's arguably playing better than he did last year- when he actually plays.

After missing only one game last year, he's missed 22 this year; Chicago is 28-7 with him, 15-7 without him, so he's still valuable.

The major takeaway from this is how Chicago's offense has improved from last year despite missing their MVP- an offense-oriented superstar no less- for such a large percentage of games. And it all comes back to Thibodeau's installation of a more structured system that facilitates passing with or without an on-court facilitator.

Chicago was ranked 11th in offensive rating last year, their only team strength being offensive rebound rate (they were fourth in '11). This year, despite the absence of Rose and a dip in eFG percentage (in both the actual number as well as relative to the league for each year), the Bulls rank 4th in offensive rating. Lapping the field in offensive rebound rate is part of it- Chicago is nearly as far away from the second-ranked Utah Jazz as Utah is from the league average- but another major factor is a much lower turnover rate. The Bulls actually rank in the top 10 in turnover rate despite not having Rose on the court as much.

Joakim Noah is a very good high-post passer.
How is that possible? The quartet of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik occupying teams on the offensive glass relieves pressure, and Chicago has better overall spacing this year thanks to Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Luol Deng and John Lucas collectively shooting above 40 percent from 3-point range.

Most importantly is that the Chicago players are moving the ball via the pass, and they're doing it without turning the ball over as much. They are 5th in the league in Assist Percentage (percent of field goals assisted) at 61.25 percent. Last year, with Rose creating for everybody, the Bulls ranked 9th at 60.06 percent. Players are moving the ball more, and the collective IQ of the team has improved. As a result, Chicago has been able to withstand the injuries to Rose enough to own the league's best record (43-14).

What does this mean for the Bulls in May and June? Last year against Miami, Chicago was beaten because they relied too heavily on Rose. However, the need for Rose's creative abilities isn't as dire now thanks to a strategic enhancement in offensive philosophy.

Thibs's version of the truest of all basketball team fundamentals- let's call it his "Windy City Systems"- will play come May.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Old Reliable: Tim Duncan

Kevin Garnett isn't the only oldie with game.

Tim Duncan and KG ruled an era together, and while we were robbed of seeing the two face off with even supporting casts in an epic playoff series- thank you, Minnesota management- at least we get to see them age together, and gracefully at that.

Tim is one of the 10 greatest players in NBA history.
Duncan's Spurs have the second-best record in the tough Western Conference thanks in part to Tony Parker's MVP-contender season, league-best depth, and Duncan's ability to be a presence inside. Timmy is the second-leading scorer on the team at 15 points per game, and while he isn't the post scorer he once was, he has gradually shifted into a role that resembles present Garnett: a stretch big man. Duncan could always hit the occasional jumper to keep defenders honest- his bank shot is an all-time classic- but he's evolved into a center who is the recipient of his slashing wings setting him up for shots.

According to, TD is taking 4.4 shots per game in the 16-23 feet range and making them at a 45 percent clip, both personal bests since morphing into an offensive role player. This change affects San Antonio in two ways: it allows Duncan to be an offensive threat without S.A.'s wing players needing to throw risky post-entry passes, and it spreads the floor for Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Gary Neal. These effects have contributed to the Spurs' ability to take care of the ball (second-best in the NBA at Turnover Percentage) and make shots (best in the NBA at eFG Percentage).

On the other side of the ball, Duncan's presence is still felt. He can't control the paint or block shots like he used to, and his pick-n-roll defense has reached Shaq-levels, but he can defend big centers and boasts the second-best defensive rebound percentage in the league (28.9 percent). As a result, the Spurs are the best in the league at cleaning the defensive glass.

If the Spurs have any shot at coming out of the West- I think they're a clear underdog against a few teams- they'll need a Big Fundamental throwback. They'll need Duncan to contend with Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol/Zach Randolph and make those frontcourts play both sides of the ball.

After 15 years of watching Timmy D, we probably don't have much time left with him. Post-All-Star break, he's giving us nearly 17 points, 10 rebounds, and a glimpse into the past every game. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dwight Howard's Hilariously Awkward Folly

Move over LeBron James- Dwight Howard is the new king of bad PR.

Taste Test: Lex Luthor used Coca-Cola. He failed.
Orlando's center- the same guy who tugged on the heartstrings of Magic fans up to the March trade deadline- created a classic scene when he abruptly walked into an interview session with Stan Van Gundy after SVG said that his superstar was lobbying for his removal from the coaching position. Superman proceeded to hug his coach and ask if the rogue journalist who reported on Howard's sabotage plan was present.

He was all smiles and was as confident as Van Gundy- that is, until Van Gundy left him on stage. What followed was an awkward mix of "I don't know" baby faces and backtracking that should give Howard the confidence he needs to pursue a career in politics after he retires.

What did we learn?

  • Stan Van Gundy should do Pepsi commercials. Seriously, the man spoke so candidly with reporters, and when his tormenter entered the fray- a good four feet taller than Stan, by the way- he stood his ground with a nonchalant smile before setting Howard up for a media session that nearly put "The Decision" to shame.
  • Howard is a malcontent who needs new PR people. He probably needs better people around him period. Michael Jordan's former agent, David Falk, recently said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that in today's digital age, players don't need to go to big markets to be marketable. Apparently, Howard doesn't get that.
  • The Orlando Magic franchise continues to crash and burn. Say SVG is done: what good coaches are willing to work under management so weak that it caves to a superstar's every demand? What good coaches and free agents want to work under management that can't even keep situations like this in-house? It's quite sad, because Orlando has a strong fan base in a great city. And they have some good, hard-working players like Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, too.
At this point, Orlando fans are clamoring for simpler times, when an incredibly overpriced contract for Rashard Lewis, an ill-advised trade for Gilbert Arenas, and a multitude of other poor moves by the team's inept GM, Otis Smith, were the only problems that existed for the franchise.

Simpler times they were indeed.