Monday, July 8, 2013

Noble's Weekly Notables: Monta Ellis Destination, Trading Rajon Rondo, And The Jazz Future

The offseason in the NBA is not much of an offseason at all. These few months are used by front offices to evaluate players, whether their own players or not.  All sports are 24/7/365 and basketball is no different.  Currently we have the free agency period underway (teams and players can sign on July 10th), the summer leagues underway and the speculation of 2014.  Let’s take a look at some of the hot stories around the league today.

Where Will Monta Ellis End Up?

This is where we are in the free agency period.  Wondering where Monta Ellis will end up signing.  Monta declined his player option with the Milwaukee Bucks for $11 million dollars to join the free agency pool this year.  This could be looked at a couple different ways. The first is, he was wise to join a weaker free agency class, especially in terms of guards.  Next year will have more talent at his position.  The other aspect is will he be able to get $11 million or more per year in his next contract? Probably not.  As of today, Monta has not signed a contract but there are three teams in play, the Hawks, Nuggets, and Kings.

Why would Sacramento decline to resign Tyreke Evans who is younger with more upset and go after Monta Ellis is beyond me.  This option for Monta appears to be the weakest but it has been mentioned by the water cooler at work.  Someone brought up the possible combination of DeMarcus Cousins and Monta could be very good.   I don’t think so because Monta’s range is fair at best.  He shot a dismal 28.6% from three-point land last year.  Being a career 31.8% isn’t anything to write home about.

The Hawks are offering the money.  They seem to be transitioning into a high-powered offense with their free agency signings of Paul Millsap and resigning Kyle Korver.  Not much of a high-powered offense but adding Monta will help that philosophy I believe.  Even more interesting are the reports that the Hawks are working on a trade with Milwaukee for Brandon Jennings for Jeff Teague.  This would turn the Hawks in the Atlanta Bucks. 

The best spot for Monta would be the Denver Nuggets.  I don’t think it would be the best situation for Denver but they would continue to have one of the better offensive teams around the league.  Monta pairing next to Ty Lawson will create two penetrating guards.  The Nuggets need a 2 guard who has a better outside shot.  There is no doubt that Monta will put the ball in the bucket, maybe even more than his average due to the increase volume with Denver.  Where Monta ends up will be interesting to say the least but it appears he is heading to one of these three teams.

Should Boston trade Rajon Rondo?

By now you know the story.  The Celtics have departed with Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Sorry, Jason Terry, no one is missing you much.  Now it’s evident that Danny Ainge is going to try again at building a championship caliber team in Boston.  He acquired tons of draft picks for the future and sentiment around the city is he will have the Celtics competing for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes.

This leaves us with Rajon Rondo. 

Before I get into the pros and cons of moving the young superstar, I want you to understand that you will never find a bigger Rajon fan than I.   I love his competitive nature and his naturally born talents (He didn’t start playing basketball until high school).  Rondo has a lot of intangibles that do not show up in the box scores. 

Of course every player has negatives in their game.  We know Rondo’s stigma of being a terrible shooter, despite his improvement over the past few seasons on his range.   Many question his shooting without the help of Hall of Famers around him, and those questions are valid. 

There is also the character issue.  We know the stories about locker room fights and arguments.  Ray Allen apparently didn’t like him.  What I always ask to the people who find this quality of Rajon Rondo to be a negative is “What are they arguing about”.  Rajon wants to win.  He is one of the most competitive players in the league.  He’s also stubborn but there is never a question about his effort (except in those boring regular season match ups with the Bobcats or Kings). 

The attitude that Rondo has is the same of many great legends.  Ask Michael Jordan’s or Larry Bird’s teammates how much they liked them?  We know of the Jordan-Steve Kerr fight and the many legends of Larry Bird.  On top of their teammates issues, opponents and anyone who crossed their path did not like Jordan and Bird.  Those dudes were bad men.  I feel like Rajon’s attitude is a breathe of fresh air, he brings back that old school attitude.

Now, I think the Celtics should move Rondo.  His value is at an all time high right now.  If Rondo plays a full season for the Celtics, they will play themselves out of the lottery in my opinion. The Boston roster is not garbage.  Rondo could carry that team to an 8th seed in the weak Eastern Conference.  Since it appears Ainge’s plan is to acquire a lottery next year in the deepest draft since 2003 then he needs to move Rondo. 

Tankapoloza 2014 – Utah Jazz

It seems like you are either going for the title next season or gutting your roster to tank for the 2014 NBA Draft.  The caviar this year is the 2014 Free Agent class, which could include the three players in Miami.   Every team that is heading towards the rebuilding process is either going for salary cap clearing for the free agents or collecting draft picks for the drafts over the next few years.  One team seems to be doing both and that is the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz helped Golden State clear some space as they chased Dwight Howard. Utah took on two expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins.  In doing this favor, they acquired two first round draft picks.  The Jazz will have 6 first round picks in the next 4 years. Perfect for a team with young players all around and a lot of cap space. 

Letting Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap go was a move by Dennis Lindsey to give minutes to the young big men who have patiently waited their turns (Kantar and Favors) and to preserve cap space.  Millsap and Jefferson would have cost roughly $22 million annually combined.  First year General Manager Lindsey will have to show his talents come the 2014 draft because he has already shown he knows how to wheel and deal.  Keep an eye on the Jazz next offseason. 


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