As hard as they will try, not every team in the NBA is like defending Champion, the Golden State Warriors; that is not to say every team can have a perfect blend of versatile selfless talent on its roster.
Neither does it mean teams like Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs or Boston Celtics are bad too.
They are super good and one of them could upstage the Warriors later this season especially the Rockets whose backcourt combination of James Harden and Chris Paul looks dynamite irrespective of the limited time they have shared on the court together.
NFL outfit New York Giants has accepted its fate as a team heading nowhere and addressed it by benching star quarterback Eli Manning this week with young studs Geno Smith and Davis Webb replacing him.
A few teams in the NBA could do same to improve its future prospects; after missing the chance to hit the reset button this past offseason, another chance presents itself with midseason trading coming around.
Early tomorrow, two of such teams, Los Angeles Clippers will engage Utah Jazz on the road with neither team impressing this season. The Clippers have been hit by the injury bug so bad it heads into the game without its starting backcourt of Milos Teodosic who is out till mid December and Patrick Beverley who is out for the season.
Forwards Danilo Gallinari and Blake Griffin face some weeks out of the lineup too with the latter injuring his knee recently in the Los Angeles showdown with city rival Lakers.
After failing consistently to reach the Western Conference Final with Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the best Point Guard in the last decade Chris Paul, Clippers time to regroup was there for the taken in the offseason following Paul’s move to Houston. With Jordan heading to the final season of his contract and Griffin moving into free agency, management should have struck a sign and trade deal with Griffin to another team in exchange for draft picks just like Paul’s deal with Houston.
Teodosic and Gallinari shouldn’t have been signed at all. In exchange for Paul, Clippers got back a boatload of role players who can fill the salary sheet as the team grooms the next generation of top tier talent. Rumors surrounding Jordan’s future should be seriously considered and even buy out the remainder of his deal should he fail to land the right returns. A situation like this creates an ideal situation to battle with Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns for lottery spots in the draft.
Utah on the hand needed to rebuild around Rudy Gobert rather than retool around him as they did by bringing in veteran players who can’t improve on the team’s 50 wins recorded last season. Much worse, players recruited in the offseason, Ekpe Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha and Ricky Rubio aren’t particularly good fits for Gobert. At best, Udoh, Sefolosha and Rubio are average three point shooters who fail to give Gobert a lot of space to wreck havoc in the paint.
After losing Gordon Hayward to free agency, the remaining top talents on the roster like Derrick Favors, Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles should have been moved too. Playing Alec Burks, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell for extended periods increases experience, improves confidence of such young players and gives Utah another shot at landing future gems. This would have worked well for a team with little upside and significant financial commitments to Ingles and Co.
While the Clippers and Jazz had one major player leave town to signal a rebuild, in Memphis Grizzlies case, the team had two players leave. Though their time on the court waned as they grew older, Tony Allen and Zach Randolph’s contribution to the Grit N’Grind era that sparked seven straight postseason runs impacted greatly on the franchise. After Allen moved to New Orleans Pelicans and Randolph signed with Sacramento, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol ought to be moved too. Neither of the latter pair is short of major offers from rival teams to keep Memphis asset hold brimming with positive moves in the future.
Conley can easily step in the starting role on any team in the league and make them better. As such Orlando Magic would have little issues getting him by shipping out Elfrid Payton, Mario Hezonja and Jonathan Isaac. Boston Celtics and Manager Danny Ainge have blinked at Gasol for a while making their admiration known to the Spaniard and won’t mind offloading draft picks and rotation players to Memphis for him.
Chicago tried and failed miserably last season with a retooled roster better suited for a rebuild and these teams should do same to avoid a prolonged barren future run.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter