Source: Wizards very pessimistic about re-signing Trevor Ariza

Ariza

The Washington Wizards have become increasingly resigned to the fact of losing Trevor Ariza, believing that the free agent will likely end up taking a more lucrative deal elsewhere, a source familiar with the thinking of the Wizards front office told the DMVTrifecta.

It appears that Ariza’s primary motivation is obtaining the best salary he can, likely with the understanding that this will be his last “major” contract in the NBA (he recently turned 29 years old). Ariza has shown little inclination to take any type of “discount” to play for a contending team.

The Wizards have reportedly “capped” their offer to Ariza at approximately $9 million per year, and have appeared to be unwilling to go above that number. Ariza’s salary demeands have been reported to be at least $11 million per year.

Based on various reports, several teams could aggressively pursue Ariza in the coming days, with LeBron James finally having made his free agency intentions official. The Dallas Mavericks, who are likely to lose out on restricted free agent Chandler Parsons (with the Houston Rockets matching the offer sheet) could shift their focus to Ariza.

The Los Angeles Lakers, who appear to be the odd man out in the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, could be another team that chases Ariza, given that they’re flush with salary cap space. Likewise for the Miami Heat, who just lost LeBron James and could use Ariza in a rotation with the newly signed Danny Granger.

NBA Draft 2014 Recap: Five Thoughts

28ec095021c82c14bc92da3864ad601e_crop_north

1. Just after 11:30pm yesterday evening, when I realized I had spent the past 30 to 45 minutes hearing names of which 75% will never be stitched on an NBA jersey, the Wizards made their first (and only) pick in last night’s NBA Draft (in the 2nd round, 46th overall). After which, the following sequence of events took place:

  • I legitimately debated who I was more angry at: the Wizards, after drafting another backup point guard (Jordan Clarkson from Missouri) with said pick, namely after announcing they’re retaining the services of Professor Andre Miller for that very same backup point guard position (let’s not talk about the facts that they traded a future 2nd round pick to get Miller, or that the last backup point guard they drafted — Sheldon Mack — is playing meaningful minutes for another team after the Wizards let him); or myself, having stayed up that late, thinking the Wizards — and namely Ernie Grunfeld — would do anything else besides raise my blood pressure as a result of the pick he’d make.
  • And then, before I could even convince myself into liking this Clarkson guy that they took, the Wizards sold the pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for the ever ambiguous ‘cash considerations’ (which turned out to be about $2 million).

Thanks a lot, Assholes. This team is likely going to let two high draft picks — Chris Singleton and Kevin Seraphim — walk in Free Agency this year, so it chose to sell off the one asset they had (in one of the most loaded drafts in years) for a quick cash grab. Because, hey, why would you do something with a long-term plan and vision in mind, when you can just take the cash and run back to doing the same thing you’ve always done in the past (or, as I like to call it: the Ernie Grunfeld school of General Managing)?

If it were up to me, I would’ve package the Wizards 2nd round pick, and perhaps a 2nd round pick next year, perhaps with some ‘future considerations’ of some sort, and move up to the early part of the second around to take CleAnthony Early, a 6’7 ‘tweener forward with a 40″ vertical (one of the best in the draft), who could contribute immediately with scoring, toughness, and offensive rebounding (think of him as a poor man’s Thaddeus Young). But alas, no, that would’ve made far too much sense.

Knowing Grunfeld’s penchant for (drafting and stashing) European’s, he could’ve even taken Alessandro Gentile, a 21 year-old wing from Italy who’s a bigtime scorer (despite lacking the requisite athleticism) that could’ve provided an offensive spark off the bench for this team (think Marco Bellinelli).

Instead, the Wizards just walked out of one of the deepest drafts in years with nothing to show for it but a wad of cash, which they’ll likely use to overpay someone who really doesn’t deserve that much money. Because, hey, that’s life as a Wizards fan.

2. At the end of the day, sports are nothing more than highly organized and monetized versions of the games we played as children. Professional sports teams are really just large business who are profiting off the organizing and exhibiting of these games. Accordingly, the bottom line for any professional sports franchise — akin to any large business or corporation — really comes down to two things: are you producing a good product (ie is the team winning), and are you making a profit (ie are you putting butts in seats?)

So, the way the Philadelphia 76ers have approached the rebuilding process of their team is startlingly sadistic, masochistic, and yet genius in its own evil way. They have no interest in being a winning organization anytime soon; they’re happily eschewing today wins and fan attendance, with the hopes of bigger returns later. It’s very debatable whether the starting five the 76ers will likely trot out come opening day of the 2014 season would’ve beaten the 2013-2014 University of Kentucky Wildcats team.

It was no secret that Philadelphia was hoping Andrew Wiggins would fall to the 3rd overall spot, so they could take him. But that didn’t happen. So instead of panicking — and reaching for someone who makes you better five minutes from now but won’t be the best decision for the team five years from now — they stuck to their MO. They’ll continue waiting, with the patience of a Zen Monk, for the moment to strike. They ended the evening with even more highly coveted assets that could be used down the road: the reigning (albeit overrated) rookie of the year in Michael Carter-Williams, the player whom people thought was the best in last year’s draft (Nerlens Noel), the player whom many thought was the best in this year’s draft (Joel Embiid), and one of the best European prospects in a while (Dario Saric).

I’m fascinated by the ruthlessness of which 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie has approached this process, while simultaneously keeping the team’s ownership (and notoriously restless fan base) at bay with this master plan.

3. Speaking of moving assets: I honestly thought we’d see a lot more trades last night. The overall lack of “impact” trades — especially after last year, when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were dealt on draft night — felt a bit anticlimactic and disappointing. Talks involving the trade of Kevin Love, Josh Smith, Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young, Kyle Lowry, and Michael Carter-Williams swirled all week, but nothing ended up happening.

However, given some of the picks in the top 10, it seemed like the “trade dominoes” will still fall, just later than anticipated/hoped for. The Celtics drafted Marcus Smart (a point guard) and James Young (a small forward), which leads you to believe they’ll actively be shopping Jeff Green (everyone knows they’re already actively shopping Rajon Rondo anyway, so taking Smart probably expedites their efforts to trade him).

Sacramento drafted Nik Stauskas, whom they intend to keep at this moment in time, even though he brings the same thing(s) to the table — fearless shooting and scoring prowess — as Ben McLemore, the Kings lottery pick from the year before. So it wouldn’t be surprising if McLemore was dealt in a trade that brings back Smith or Rondo, two players the Kings have been rumored to covet.

Also, in a Tweet that i’m surprised didn’t get more buzz, Ric Bucher (formerly of ESPN) dropped this bit about the Miami Heat trying to acquire Lowery in a sign-and-trade deal — which would involve Chris Bosh going BACK to Toronto — in a ‘plot’ to construct a new “Big 4″ of Lowry, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony in South Beach. Now, given that nobody else has corroborated this rumor, and the fact that Miami traded with the Charlotte Hornets to acquire the rights of (LeBron James’ favorite) point guard Shabazz Napier from the University of Connecticut, who really knows whether this trade has any legs. But if legit, it’s another trade to watch out for.

4. My favorite trade that did take place yesterday was the Chicago Bulls trading the #16 pick (the rights to Bosnian Center Jusuf Nurkic) and the #19 pick (Gary Harris, the shooting guard from Michigan State) to Denver, for the #11 pick (the rights to Doug McDermott, the small forward from Creighton).

I’ve spent enough time chronicling the offensive woes of the Bulls last season (and the potential interest in Carmelo Anthony). McDermott — better known by his fantastic nickname, “Dougie McBuckets” — brings instant offense from a sizeable wing player (6’8) to Chicago. He lead the nation in PER among all of this year’s draft choices, and hit 44% of his three point attempts. He can hit a consistent jump shot from anywhere on the floor, and maybe one of the smartest players (basketball-wise) in this year’s draft (his dad was his high school basketball coach).

But just as importantly: the trade allows the Bulls to save the money they’d have to devote to the second first-round draft pick, as they attempt to clear cap space to lure Anthony to Chicago. Yes, the Bulls had to take back Anthony Randolph as part of the deal — he’ll make a palatable $1.75M next year, which is the final year of his contract — but maybe there’s a buy out in the works.

Regardless, I totally applaud this win-win move for the Bulls. They walked out of the draft with a lottery pick that addressed a major need for the team, and somehow managed to clear a little more cap space to make a run at ‘Melo.

5. It’s been discussed plenty — and rightfully so — since last night, but I also wanted to commend the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver for the incredibly classy gesture of recognizing and “drafting” Isaiah Austin, the Center from Baylor University.

Austin was likely going to be a first round pick in last night’s draft, but during the pre-draft physical examinations, a blood test revealed that he had tested positive for Marfan syndrome. The condition affects the body’s connective tissues, and in Austin’s case, produced an enlarged aaorta (the main artery in the human body which originates directly from the left ventricle of the heart) that left him in danger of dying if he continued his basketball career.

Imagine that for a second: you’re four days away from being taken by an NBA team, with your name being called and your face being shown on national television. You’re days away from becoming a certified millionaire and a local (and maybe someday, national) celebrity. Then, boom; all of a sudden, it’s all gone. Your entire future, and your entire life, has changed in a matter of hours.

That’s not even getting into the fact that Austin also recently revealed that he uses a prosthetic eye because of a childhood accident that left him with a detached retina in his right eye. He’s legally blind in that eye, and had to teach himself how to play the game, accounting for space and angles, after essentially losing 50% of his peripheral vision.

Yet, even with that, he was still able to redevelop himself into a bonafide top NBA prospect… only for this to happen. For someone who’s already been through so much, the Marfan diagnosis is heartbreaking, even to someone who’s never met Isaiah Austin. One can only imagine the emotions that have run through him over the last week.

In addition to the draft night recognition, it’s been reported that the NBA and Adam Silver have offered Austin a job with the NBA, once he completes his degree. If that’s true, I’ve gained even more respect for this league, especially in light of how other leagues (the NFL and MLB) have openly disregarded the health of their own players (Concussions, Steroids, etc) just to ensure maximum profit levels.

Your post-group stage World Cup reflections

Courtesy of the DMVTrifecta’s Contributor, Ryan Gracia. Gracia is a center midfielder for SC Balma in France. Gracia is a local product from Thomas S. Wootton high school in Rockville, Maryland and continued his playing career at George Mason University. He is also a passionate Wizards fan who would like the Wizards to draft a Center from Latvia in the 2nd round tonight. 

Breathe a sigh of relief: the United States is through to the knockout stage after the best loss in American history. Despite falling 1-0 to Germany, the Americans advanced after Portugal defeated Ghana 2-1. The good guys will play Belgium next on Tuesday, July 1. As for the rest of the World Cup…

Be honest with yourselves. If anybody – and yes, I am including even the most passionate die-hard Costa Rican soccer fan – had Costa Rica, not only advancing out of the group stage, but actually winning their extremely difficult Group D, please contact me to fill out my next lottery ticket.

It seems as if the reign of European teams may be coming to end, although France looked dominant  in their Group E matchups. If you were expecting the same embarrassing spectacle that they showed in 2010, it’s time to wash away those memories because Les Bleus are for real this time around.

The squad isn’t full of the same divas as in the last World Cup. Head coach Didier Deschamps seems to have straightened the ship with his emphasis on toughness and discipline. He made headlines with his semi-surprising choice to leave the talented but egocentric Samir Nasri at home and received a blessing in disguise when Franck Ribery pulled the plug on his World Cup hopes due to his nagging back injury. Many felt the team is better off without him and his “me” attitude, and it is really showing so far.

Surrounding the oh-so-skillful youngster Paul Pogba is tough-nosed, hard-working players like Blaise Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko. Their team-first attitude allows superstar Karim Benzema to display his magic up front without any conflicting issues in the build-up to the attack. In addition, Nate Robinson’s miniature soccer-playing twin is the glue keeping this team together. Mathieu Valbuena is playing way beyond his tiny stature. A work horse whose passing and vision allows those around him to look even better while still getting “his?” I’ll take that any day over height.

We saw the almighty victors of the 2010 World Cup, Spain, disassembled incredibly easily by Netherlands and Chile in their first two games. We watched Costa Rica shock the tournament by eliminating England and Italy to advance on top of the group with Uruguay following along behind them. We witnessed a Mexican side progress in the tournament, along with the host nation Brazil, in Group A. Yes, the same Mexican team that had to rely on a Graham Zusi goal to tie a meaningless game for the USA against Panama in World Cup qualifying just to give Mexico the aid they needed in order to even qualify for the World Cup. Enough about the USA and France – my two “home” countries, let’s get to the surprises of this World Cup.

Surprises:

Spain – It is really not all that surprising that Spain was eliminated so quickly. So many Spanish players play for FC Barcelona and look at how they struggled this past season. But it’s not just the FCB players who struggled – it was every Spanish player. The real surprising part of it all was how ineffective every single one of them were throughout the tournament. You would think they would show a little extra pride while wearing their national team jersey, but nope. They struggled to adapt to the pace and tenacity of the modern game, instead opting to continue the slow ball movement that has plagued Spanish players recently.

Costa Rica – Italy. England. Uruguay. And Costa Rica? No one in their right minds would have thought Costa Rica would have had a chance in this group. The Italians are too strong defensively. The English have such a storied history in the game. The Uruguayans have such incredible talent all over the field. Yet the tiny country of Costa Rica proved none of that matters when you simply want it more than the others.

Central & South American teams – Specifically Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, and Colombia. These teams are showing that maybe the time is now for South American teams to prove their worth on the international stage. And why not? So many European teams were slow on and off the ball, didn’t fight for 50/50 balls, didn’t create enough chances to win. These teams, however, showed exactly the opposite. They battled for every ball, they fought for one another, and they were dangerous in attack and strong on defense. Of course the Uruguayans are probably done after Luis Suarez’s bite and penalty, but alas, the Liverpool fans will surely feel the impact of that.

Disappointments:

England – Not because they were eliminated from the World Cup after just two games, but because they came into the tournament expecting to do great things. That in itself is a disappointment to me, because they are not as good as they think they are. At all. Okay, so the English Premier League is potentially the best in the world…but look at the amount of foreigners who play there compared to the amount of Englishmen.

Italy – This was the last tournament in an Italian jersey for the magical Andrea Pirlo and they couldn’t make a run at the trophy for him. “They” meaning his teammates, although after the first match vs. England, Pirlo did nothing for himself either.

Argentina – Yes, Argentina is going to move onto the next round at the top of their group. But they sure played some uninspired soccer for the majority of their games. Messi, despite his unbelievable goals, was virtually nonexistent for both of their first two games, walked around the field and showed a lack of interest at times. His teammates, meanwhile, didn’t show much more. Lack of movement plagued them and they didn’t create chances because of it. But thank goodness for the brilliance of Lio Messi..

 

2014 NBA Mock Draft

With Joel Embiid’s injury, the NBA Draft was thrown into chaos that can only be eclipsed by Lebron and Carmelo opting out of their contracts…oh wait, but that’s for another day. Now my 2014 Mock:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Andrew Wiggins, SF, Kansas

The Cavs are apparently torn between Wiggins and Jabari Parker, but Wiggins’ potential is too good to pass up. While Parker might be more NBA-ready than anyone else in this draft, the prospect of Wiggins and Kyrie Irving flourishing in new head coach David Blatt’s free-flowing Princeton offense is too much to pass up. The Utah Jazz are apparently offering the #5 pick, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks for the #1 pick to potentially pick Parker and bring the Mormon to his people in Utah.

2. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

Parker will come in and help the Bucks win immediately, which is desperately needed for a fanbase that is losing interest. The Bucks have to get help and get it now. They don’t have the luxury of going through a massive rebuild yet again, which apparently has been going on since the Ray Allen-Glenn Robinson-Sam Cassell-Tim Thomas days.

3. Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

A lot of you are going to disagree with me here, but with Embiid sliding out of the top spot with his injury concerns, the 76ers take Embiid and pair him up with Nerlens Noel to create one of the most imposing frontcourts in the league.

4. Orlando Magic: Dante Exum, PG, Australia

Picking Exum will allow the Magic to slide Victor Oladipo into his more natural shooting guard spot. With the trade of Arron Afflalo to the Nuggets, there will be plenty of backcourt minutes for the two young guards to do their thing. The Magic would love to have Embiid fall to them to pair with Nikola Vucevic.

5. Utah Jazz: Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

Vonley was a power forward in college, but I see him sliding down to the 3 in the NBA to better utilize his athleticism. He not only helps with spacing the floor for a Jazz frontcourt that desperately needs it, but gives them a scoring punch that is going to be lacking after Gordon Hayward leaves via free agency.

6. Boston Celtics: Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona

I’m not a huge fan of Gordon’s game, but his athleticism definitely gives the chance of him becoming the next Blake Griffin. The Celtics are probably in tear-down mode after efforts to land Kevin Love fell apart. Rajon Rondo, who has been on the trade market since he was born, might be headed to Sacramento in a package involving the #8 pick.

7. Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

Randle falls for his injury concerns right into the laps of Mitch Kupchak who begins “retooling” the team around the last two years of Kobe Bryant’s career. Randle is going to be good, his low post moves are advanced for his age and he has a NBA body.

8. Sacramento Kings: Doug McDermott, PF/SF, Creighton

Dougie McBuckets would be a great fit in Sacramento’s starting lineup, but that only happens if the Kings keep this pick. With rumors swirling about Rondo heading to Sactown who knows. McDermott would space the floor with Demarcus Cousins, but there it seems as if this isn’t happening.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Nik Stauskas, PG/SG, Michigan

I’m a huge fan of Stauskas’ game and with a new/old name, Charlotte will look to improve on their playoff season. With Stauskas, Kemba Walker, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the wings complementing Al Jefferson inside, the Bobcats could rise fast in a relatively-weak East.

10. Philadelphia 76ers: Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

Harris slides right into the starting lineup alongside last year’s rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams. How good Carter-Williams really is, remains to be seen, but Harris definitely provides a scoring punch and shooting from the perimeter that the 76ers desperately need.

11. Denver Nuggets: Jusuf Nurkic, C Bosnia & Herzegovina

I really have no idea about this pick, other than the fact that the Nuggets have been rumored to like the fast-rising big man.

12. Orlando Magic: Dario Saric, SF/PF, Croatia

After drafting one international prospect with the 4th pick, the Magic draft another, except this one won’t be playing till probably 2016. Saric is one of the most highly rated talents in the draft, but will have a delayed NBA debut after signing with his European team.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

The biggest dropper in the draft gets snapped up by the Timberwolves, who seem to just love drafting point guards. Whether Smart gets to play with Kevin Love remains to be seen, but I totally expect him to play next to Ricky Rubio until he supplants Rubio as the starting point guard.

14. Phoenix Suns: Adreian Payne, PF, Michigan State

The Suns need to add more muscle inside and they do that with Payne without losing much of their identity. Payne, like the Morris twins, has both an inside-out game, but is also fierce inside.

15. Atlanta Hawks: TJ Warren, PF/SF, NC State

Warren’s athleticism and game were on full display for two years in Raleigh. Whether he has the discipline to play within a NBA system, especially one as rigorous as Mike Budenholzer’s, remains to be seen.

16. Chicago Bulls: Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana Lafayette

Payton is the small-school prospect that everyone falls in love with before the draft. There are rumors now that Payton might go as high as #5 to Utah, but in this scenario, Payton slides into the Bulls’ laps and into the starting lineup. This is how you decrease wear and tear on Derrick Rose: Move him to shooting guard and let Payton distribute. Simple.

17. Boston Celtics: Zach LaVine, PG/SG, UCLA

The Celtics’ get Rondo’s replacement – whether it be this year or down the road – and LaVine, the 6’6 guard from Westwood  pairs up with Aaron Gordon to give the Celtics one of the most athletic drafts in recent memory. A Lavine/Bradley/Gordon/Sullinger/Olynyk lineup looks good for the future.

18. Phoenix Suns: Rodney Hood, SF, Duke

The Suns pick up another wing and three-point shooter to space the floor even more and do what they do best.

19. Chicago Bulls: Kyle Anderson, SF, UCLA

I love Anderson’s game and he’ll probably go higher, but he gives the Bulls a capable bench player or even a replacement for Taj Gibson if the Bulls deal him in a package for Kevin Love.

20. Toronto Raptors: Shabazz Napier, PG, UConn

The Raptors probably won’t want to admit it, but Kyle Lowry is probably headed to a contender this offseason (maybe the Rockets) and the national champion and Final Four MVP is ready to start in the NBA. The Heat are reportedly interested in Napier so there could be a trade-up for him.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Adams, SG, UCLA

It’s obvious that the Thunder require another scoring threat. It’s also obvious that Scott Brooks can only draw up isolation plays. Adams is a player who can score by himself, so this pick makes sense, no?

22. Memphis Grizzlies: James Young, SF, Kentucky

Young adds athleticism to a Grizzlies’ team that desperately needs it. Sure, they would love add another shooter (Young can definitely stroke it from outside) or a big man who can bang heads, but this is a need pick which gives them an offensive counterpart to Tony Allen.

23. Utah Jazz: Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse

The Jazz already picked Trey Burke last year to be their starting point guard, but Ennis might be better. Only a freshmen, Ennis carried the Orange to a #1 ranking through much of the season and fell only because of the talent-level of this draft.

24. Charlotte Hornets: PJ Hairston, SG, Texas Legends/UNC

After leaving North Carolina, Hairston took his talents to the D-League where he had a great season last year. Michael Jordan takes another North Carolina player who can score. The Bobcats need all the help they can get on the wings and with Stauskas and Hairston, they just got a lot better.

25. Houston Rockets: Mitch McGary, C, Michigan

After trading Omer Asik to the Pelicans, the Rockets need another big body to take the stress off of Dwight Howard. McGary, who made a horrible decision deciding to stay another year, is coming off injuries, but he can still make an impact on the court.

26. Miami Heat: Jordan Clarkson, PG, Missouri

The Heat have other problems as everyone knows about, but replacing Mario Chalmers is a must: not because Chalmers is so good, but exactly the opposite. Clarkson can come off the bench behind Norris Cole and play big minutes for a contender.

27. Phoenix Suns: Dwight Powell, PF, Stanford

The Suns add more muscle to their team and allow for more versatility teaming with Payne, Alex Len, and Miles Plumlee.

28. Los Angeles Clippers: Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Serbia

The Clippers don’t really have any pressing needs on their roster so stashing a shooting guard overseas for a few years till they need him definitely makes sense.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: Glenn Robinson III, SF, Michigan

I think Robinson is going to be the biggest steal in the draft so I’m a little saddened to project him to the Thunder. This just means he’s going to sit on the bench like Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones and never play meaningful minutes.

30. San Antonio Spurs: KJ McDaniels, SF, Clemson

World, meet the next Kawhi Leonard.

46. Washington Wizards: Sim Bhullar, C, New Mexico State

Bhullar, the 7’5 behemoth who was raised on butter chicken, was already drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters so being drafted by the Wizards would only be the second best thing to happen to him. Get ready, America: the Indians are coming.

 

 

Carmelo Anthony, and a new “Big 3″ in the Eastern Conference

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

I’m man enough to admit that, when the 2014 NBA Playoffs started, I thought the Chicago Bulls would beat my hometown Washington Wizards in six games. If you knew anything about basketball, if you knew anything about the Bulls, and if you knew anything about the history of Washington DC professional sports teams in the playoffs, even the staunchest of homers would’ve had similar thoughts.

Few people thought that the Wizards would come together and play their best stretch of basketball since the day John Wall arrived in the nation’s capital. Even fewer would’ve predicted that Nene and Marcin Gortat would repeatedly go out of their way to defecate on Joakim Noah, the best player on the Bulls, and his newly-crowned Defensive Player of the Year status, as often as they could. If it’s possible to have even fewer people than nobody, that would be the amount of people who would’ve correctly (and sanely) predicted that Randy Wittman would thoroughly outcoach Tom Thibodeau.

But that all happened. What was mostly revealed, though, in Washington’s 4-1 series victory over Chicago was the fact that the Wizards beat the Bulls because they were legitimately a better team, from a talent-perspective. There wasn’t a guy not named Joakim Noah on the Bulls roster that would’ve started for the Wizards.

Outside of the basketball mastery of the San Antonio Spurs and their thorough dismantling of the Miami Heat, talent almost always trumps teamwork in the NBA; if their five is better than your five, it’s going to be really difficult to beat them.

So it makes all the sense in the world that the Bulls would go into this offseason and target Carmelo Anthony, who is reportedly going to opt out of his contract with the New York Knicks and test the Free Agency waters. According to sources, the Bulls are one of several teams with whom Anthony would consider signing with, if and when he became a free agent.

Carmelo-to-Chicago would be a fascinating story. His addition would instantly make the Bulls another ‘superpower’ in the weak Eastern Conference; even without Derrick Rose, Anthony on the Bulls makes them one of the three best teams in the East (and arguably better than the Indiana Pacers, too).

You have to wonder that, with the Heat suddenly looking vulnerable, does Anthony see the possibility of winning the East alongside Joakim Noah and Rose (with the monumental assumption that the latter stays healthy)? That trio is almost as good as what the Heat’s Big 3, and Chicago’s supporting cast is definitely better than the barnacles surrounding LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.

For Chicago, it was painfully evident that they actually needed that “irrationally confident” scorer who wasn’t afraid to shoot at any time from anywhere on the court. In their playoff loss to the Wizards, the Bulls offense in the fourth quarter might has well have been on the back of a milk carton; outside of Taj Gibson putting the team on his back (at least offensively) and a random incident of Mike Dunleavy going bananas in Game 3, the Bulls were brutally inept at putting the ball in the hoop when it mattered most.

Sure, ‘Melo might seem like a detriment to the pass-first, play-as-a-team style of the Bulls, but he still immediately makes the entire team better by taking the pressure off of Rose to be super human each night. At 30 years old, he’d be joining a team that’s markedly younger than the one in Miami, giving him a longer window of opportunity to win a title, especially in light of the fact that the Heat don’t appear to be getting any younger.

Plus, even without Caros Boozer, who very likely would be amnestied for the Bulls to secure the services of Anthony, he’d be joining a Bulls team isn’t the slightest bit afraid to go toe-to-toe with Miami. Unlike Indiana, the Bulls have the mental resolve to hold their own in a long series against Miami. Unlike Brooklyn, the Bulls would have the youth, athleticism, and depth to compete with Miami. And unlike anyone else in the East, with Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls would have the talent and experience to match up with Miami.

As much as signing with Chicago might sound like a no-brainer, it’s far from that. There are plenty of on-the-court and off-the-court variables in play. Is Anthony willing to share the spotlight with Derrick Rose? What if Anthony foresees an “alpha dog” battle with Rose, like LeBron and Wade during the early days of the Big 3 era? Is Chicago, a notoriously blue-collar city, going to be “glam” enough — especially over New York or South Beach — for LaLa Anthony, Carmelo Anthony’s influential wife? And ultimately, will Anthony turn down the opportunity to play with James, Wade, and Bosh, all of whom he’s close friends with?

There’s still a huge part of me that’s completely resigned to Carmelo taking a 50% pay cut and joining forces with the Big 3 in Miami. But you have to admit that there are plenty of compelling reasons for Carmelo Anthony to choose the Bulls over the Heat or the Knicks. As a Wizards fan, I’d love to see Carmelo stay in New York, because that means he’ll be stuck on a team that’s not going anywhere for at least another year.

But as an NBA fan, I’m fascinated by the possibility of Carmelo Anthony tilting the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, and creating a worthy and formidable foil to the three amigo’s in Miami.

Pick Your All-2000’S NBA Team by Dollar value

Several hours before the Heat and Lebron James attempt to save their legacy as the dominant team of the 2010′s, it’s time to reminisce on the 2000s as a decade. Name your All-2000′s NBA Team by position and dollar value. You are not to exceed $15.

  PG SG SF PF C
$5 Jason Kidd Kobe Bryant Lebron James Tim Duncan Shaquille O’Neal
$4 Allen Iverson Dwayne Wade Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett Yao Ming
$3 Steve Nash Tracy McGrady Carmelo Anthony Dirk Nowitzki Dwight Howard
$2 Chris Paul Ray Allen Shawn Marion Chris Webber Ben Wallace
$1 Tony Parker Vince Carter Peja Stojakovic Amar’e Stoudemire Dikembe Mutombo

Since i limited it to five players per positions, there were certainly deserving players left off of the list including: Gilbert Arenas, Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Jermaine O’Neal, Pau Gasol, and Rasheed Wallace.

Post your teams in reply to this blog or respond to @DMVTrifecta on Twitter along with an explanation if you choose to do so.

The 2014 NBA Finals: We’ve Seen This Story Before

BKN-NBA-FINALS-SPURS-HEAT-GAME 7

Note: this column was written and supposed to be posted yesterday, before Game 1 of the NBA Finals began. Given the outcome last night, with it likely being known as “temperature-gate” or “the Air Conditioning Game,” it puts a rather ironic twist to the gist of the column written. Given that, I still stand by my prediction of the outcome of this series; remember, Oklahoma City beat Miami in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals, San Antonio beat Miami in Game 1 of last year’s Finals, and Utah beat Chicago in Game 1 of the 1998 Finals.

To borrow a line from the great Yogi Berra: the 2014 NBA Finals is like Déjà vu all over again.

The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will square off in the NBA Finals. So much for the Pacers challenging the Heat’s supremacy in the East. So much for Dallas potentially pulling off the shocking 8-seed over the 1-seed upset in the first round, or Oklahoma City being too athletic for the Spurs to handle. Despite all of those never-came-to-fruition story lines, it just seemed like we were destined for the rematch between these two teams after last year’s seven-game classic.

For the first time since 1998, we’ll have a rematch of the previous year’s NBA Finals, which is rather ironic considering the 2014 finals seems eerily reminiscent of the 1998 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz. The wily Utah veterans secured the top seed in their conference, but many in the outside world predicted that other younger, upstart teams with burgeoning superstars would end up in the conference finals instead. The Jazz were taken to an elimination game in Round 1, before quickly dismissing a team featuring a big man coming into his prime (San Antonio) and the team who was supposed to be more athletic and talented than them (the Los Angeles Lakers).

Sound familiar?

It would follow then, that like Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1998, it just seems we’re destined to see LeBron James three-peat. Sure, there are plenty of people who are willing to predict that San Antonio is going to beat Miami in this year’s finals, but whether they believe that, or whether they’re just trying to earn more airtime or clicks remains to be seen, but it’s been said and heard more than once. In 1998, there were also plenty of people who believed that the Jazz would beat the Bulls. They had home-court advantage during the NBA Finals, in the near-deafening (then) Delta Center. Karl Malone supplanted Jordan as the league MVP. Utah had already beaten Chicago in both regular season matchups. The Bulls were running on fumes, and were destined to be broken up after the season was over.

Sound familiar?

Fast forward to 2014. Everyone agrees that this year’s Spurs are deeper and better prepared for Miami than they were last year. This year’s Heat features a cast comprised of a breathtakingly-dexterous seven footer who fancies himself a three point shooter, a long-revered shooting guard who is merely a shell of himself, and rag-tag players who wouldn’t start on more than half the teams in the NBA.

But like Jordan in 1998, LeBron James single-handedly makes the Miami Heat almost unbeatable in a seven game series, because nobody on God’s green Earth can stop him when he decides to put the Heat on his back, on the road to victory.

We’ve waited for the next Michael Jordan since the Bulls beat the Heat, and as Pacers coach Frank Vogel mused, we’re likely seeing the Jordan of our era at work. LeBron surely lacks Jordan’s borderline-homicidal will to vanquish anyone who stands before him. But LeBron’s combination of size, athleticism, and pure basketball skills may be the best we’ve seen in generations. Bill Simmons described LeBron as Bo Jackson being stretched to a six-foot-eight frame, with Tracy McGrady’s streaky jump shot, Scottie Pippen’s defensive prowess, and Larry Bird’s brain (he also mentioned Jordan’s competitiveness, but I’d personally replace that with Magic Johnson’s passing ability). There is simply no player in today’s NBA who can consistently slow him down, let alone stop him. You may get a game, or two at most, from LeBron akin to Game 5 in the Miami-Indiana series, but you almost expect a virtuoso, “eff you” response in the following game.

When LeBron James was in Cleveland, Nike told us that “We [were] all Witnesses.” Detractors scoffed and then laughed at that when the Heat failed to win a title in the first year of the “Big Three” era. But since Game 6 of 2012 the Eastern Conference Finals, Nike was proven right: we are all witnesses to LeBron’s greatness, whether we like it or not. He’s become the George Washington of the post-Millennial sports Mount Rushmore, alongside Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and Floyd Mayweather.

Let the record show that I have no personal vested interest in seeing LeBron James succeed, and in no way, shape, or form do I root for the Miami Heat to win anything. As a Washington Wizards fan, I take no personal joy in the Heat winning a god-damned thing. Though I was well aware of the odds being damn-near bupkis of it happening, if I had my druthers, Kevin Durant (the DMV’s Finest) and the Oklahoma City Thunder would’ve won this year’s NBA title.

But as a fan of the game of basketball, and as a fan of witnessing sports played at its highest levels, i’m well aware of LeBron’s performance. He’s unstoppable right now; there’s just no other way to put it. Since ’98, we’ve waited to anoint the heir-apparent to Jordan’s league supremacy. We thought it was Kobe Bryant, but since a generationally-talented LeBron wore the #23 on his jersey at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron, he just seemed to be the prophesized carrier of said mantle. There were surely a few (or more) missteps on his path, but, as Nike says, we’re witnessing it.

Unlike Jordan in 1998, James is nowhere close to walking away from the game of basketball. At 29-and-a-half years old (his half-birthday is June 30th), he has at least five in-his-prime years of professional basketball ahead of him; matching Jordan’s six rings, if not surpassing them, are very much in the conversation for LeBron, whether we like it or not.

And so, it’s not my wish, and it’s not my choice, but it is my prediction that the Miami Heat will win this year’s NBA Finals and pull off the three-peat. It just seems like this story sounds a bit familiar.

The only chapter of this epic storyline that won’t repeat itself is Miami winning Game 7. Because the Heat will win in Six.