Monthly Archives: August 2010

How good does Collison’s arrival make the Pacers?

Wednesday’s 5 player, 4 team trade which saw Darren Collison and James Posey go to the Indiana Pacers, Trevor Ariza jump from the Rockets to the New Orleans Hornets, Troy Murphy go back home to New Jersey and Courtney Lee jumping ship from the Nets to the Rockets, definitely spiced up an offseason which has been, frankly, dragging since Lebron announced his “decision” and all the free agents that can actually help a team (apart from Allen Iverson) signed up. But how can Wednesday’s trade help the Indiana Pacers? Can they make the playoffs for the first time since 2006 or are they destined for another trip to the lottery?

The arrival of Collison addresses the Pacers main weakness: the point guard spot. With rookie Lance Stephenson not ready to be a full-time starter, AJ Price coming off a serious injury and TJ Ford permanently in Jim O’Brien’s doghouse, Collison provides scoring and defense at the 1 and can grow into the role and make it his own for years to come. Posey’s arrival, while eating into the Pacers cap room for next summer, gives the team a veteran presence off the bench with a winner’s mentality who can defend the perimeter.

The Pacers have a number of players that are either not there yet in terms of development and are firmly in the “potential” category, or players that are over the hill with franchise-killing contracts. But if Danny Granger can rediscover the form that earned him an All-Star appearance in 2009 and can stay healthy, if Roy Hibbert can continue to develop his offensive game, and Brandon Rush can have a breakout year, the Pacers have a core of Granger, Hibbert, Collison, rookie Paul George and second year forward Tyler Hansborough that could do well in a few years.

So will the Pacers make the playoffs this season? While the East has got stronger due to the arrivals of players like Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer to New York and Chicago respectively, some teams in the East have got considerably weaker (Cleveland being the obvious example). With teams like Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Atlanta and Milwaukee considered almost-certs for the playoffs, that leaves teams like the Bobcats, Knicks, Nets and the Sixers fighting for those last two playoff spots.

Wednesday’s trade certainly puts the Pacers in that group with the Bobcats and the Knicks to fight for those last playoff places. If Granger and Hibbert can stay healthy and Collison can continue to build on that excellent rookie season he had while deputising for Chris Paul, the Pacers have a chance. I’m not saying they will win a playoff series, because they probably won’t and it will be a few more years and they will need to sign a couple of effective free agents next summer, but the Pacers are definitely on the right track with a nice young core to develop.

Shaq’s arrival gives Celtics one last shot at glory

It’s finally happened – Shaquille O’Neal is no longer stuck in the free agent wilderness and has signed with the Boston Celtics on a one or two year deal (depending on where you read), believed to be around the $1.4 million mark annually and joining a veteran team consisting of KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, new arrival Jermaine O’Neal and youngsters like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins.

Shaq has reportedly agreed to coming of the bench in Boston, backing up Jermaine O’Neal at center until Perkins returns from his ACL injury he sustained in the Finals defeat by the Lakers. Shaq said all summer that he wanted to move a contender this summer to chase a fifth championship and put him on the same level as former arch-nemesis and teammate Kobe Bryant. But after unceremonious and bitter exits from the Heat, Lakers and Magic in the past, the Spurs not wanting to get older and the Hawks preferring Jason Collins (???), Shaq was running out of options.

So what does a team that is already aging quickly want with a 38 year old former superstar with an ego as big as his former talent? Firstly, Celtics GM Danny Ainge and those in the front office realise that this year is possibly the last chance for the current crop to win a championship in Boston. KG is a shadow of his former self and there are concerns surrounding his dodgy knees, Ray Allen has become increasingly inconsistent, Paul Pierce is the same Paul Pierce and JO was only signed as a short-term replacement for the injured Perkins.

Adding Shaq to that veteran core adds more toughness and size to Boston’s frontcourt. A frontline with a mixture of KG, Shaq, JO, Perk and Glen Davis could match up with any team in the NBA. They may not have the skill and quickness that the Lakers trio of Gasol, Bynum and Odom possess but they will be able to dominate teams like the Bulls, the Magic and the Heat with their size. Even Shaq at his age can get buckets against the likes of Joel Anthony, Big Z or whatever ring-chasing veteran the Heat wheel out at center.

What I’m saying is that Shaq going to B-Town is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Celtics. If Shaq is willing to come off the bench, won’t interfere with team chemistry and play a role, then O’Neal may get that elusive fifth ring he so desires. If it doesn’t happen, then this season will likely be the last hurrah for a Celtics team that will likely start over and rebuild when KG and Ray Allen’s deals expire in two years time.