Upsides and downsides

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - November 25, 2020 - 12:00am

The free agent merry-go-round had most of the available talents remaining with their mother teams or finding new homes.   Technically, these two significant names are still free agents and had remained unsigned up to this date, but they are widely expected to re-sign with their teams – Anthony Davis (LAL) and Brandon Ingram (NOP).

First, the Lakers.  They lost five rotation players in Danny Green, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee and Avery Bradley.  In comes Dennis Schroeder, Montrezl Harrel, Wesley Matthews, Marc Gasol and Alfonso McKinnie.

LAL got really loaded with the reigning 6th Man of the Year in Harrel and runner-up Schroeder, and with Matthews, they improved their point production and ease the scoring load off LeBron and AD.  Gasol, whom the Lakers picked in 2007 but was dealt to Memphis in exchange for brother Pau, will probably start at center.   Wider bodied but slower than Howard and McGee, he will be a major upgrade at the post with his intelligent defense, excellent passing and well-selected 3-point shooting.  

It was reported that Pau would like to be signed by the Lakers for the coming season and then retire as a Laker.   Inactive for more than a year due to a foot injury, Pau, now 40-years old, played six years with LAL and won two titles.

The Toronto Raptors lost Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who signed with the Clippers but they quickly filled the void when they agreed to terms with the vastly improved Aaron Baynes and the when-can-he-improve Alex Len.  More importantly, they kept Fred VanVleet.  Nick Nurse cannot be underestimated with handling his resources.

The Atlanta Hawks, with the deal for Bogdan Bogdanovic still pending, are setting their sights to a meaningful run by adding Rajon Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, Kris Dunn and Clint Capela.  Youngsters Trae Young, Cam Reddish, John Collins and Kevin Huerter will be looking forward to a playoff appearance, especially if the Bogdanovic deal pushes thru.

Rondo has two championship rings and at 34-years old, a bigger paycheck is better than another ring.  The 2-year, $5.1m deal he got from the Lakers is pittance compared to what he is getting now from the Hawks, which is $15m for 2 years.   Like what he often did with the Lakers, he will also be an on-court coach for Atlanta’s young crew.

Joel Embiid now has a legit back-up in Dwight Howard in lieu of the ineffective Al Horford.   Their lineup improved from last season with the addition of Danny Green and Seth Curry.   If only Embiid and Ben Simmons can stay healthy.  With the way other teams are stacking up their rosters, Green will not get his fourth championship with his fourth team.

The Charlotte Hornets had only made the playoffs three times for the past 16years and had made the strangest move yet by giving Gordon Hayward a 4-year, $120m contract.  If not for his injuries, Hayward would probably had remained in Boston.   The Hornets had become a retreat home for All-Star caliber players nearing the end of their careers.  Remember Tony Parker?  As a player, Michael Jordan is unrivalled but how to run a team is not yet on his playbook.

The Thunder is now but a whimper in Oklahoma with the departure of Gallinari, Chris Paul and Steven Adams.  We won’t be seeing them in the playoffs for a few years but their rebuilding process had just begun.   OKC will now be Shai Gilgeous-Alexnder's team.

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