NBA Trade Rumors:
Even with the season just starting, there are already trade rumors circling the NBA hemisphere. Although it is much too early to decipher which teams will target specific players, there are still likely scenarios to occur. Some teams just don’t have the fighting chance to make it to the playoffs and because of this, they will opt to trade one of their assets in the hopes to rebuild.
Three teams seem to come into mind that can potentially make deals before the February NBA trade deadline. The Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets seem most likely to pull the trigger come February. The Celtics might have a shot at making it to the playoffs, but more than likely will be without Rajon Rondo.
They just drafted Marcus Smart who is a more than capable point guard and it wouldn’t make sense for them to keep him buried in the depth charts. He is more of a defensive minded guard, but that is what makes him so special. If they want to get something in return for Rondo, then this would be the year. He is currently leading the league in assists and seems to have his ACL rehabilitation behind him. If they can get young assets or future first or second round draft picks, it is difficult to imagine Danny Ainge holding on to Rondo.
The Knicks have a similar situation except they have players that aren’t too desirable for other teams to want to pursue. Their best assets would be Tim Hardaway Jr and Iman Shumpert, but even then it’s a bit of a stretch. Ideally, they would want to get rid of Smith or Stoudemire off the books, but they won’t get much in return. Best case scenario is that they will be able to shed some big contracts off the books in the hopes to land great pieces in the offseason. I’m sure this was part of Phil Jackson’s vision that he proposed to Carmelo to retain him. If there is one GM who can make big promises, it would be Phil.
Lastly, the Denver Nuggets aren’t doing the greatest this year. Even with a healthy or soon to be healthy roster, they are struggling to win games. They have numerous players coming back from injuries that are just a shell of their former selves, so it will take time for them to produce for the Nuggets. Danilo, Javale, Nate and JJ are all coming back from some heavy injuries and are currently on a minutes restriction. There has also been whispers of the Nuggets’ dislike of emerging star Kenneth Faried. Apparently, even the head coach is not such a big fan of high flying Faried. Either they trade Faried or fire Shaw. One way or the other, someone is going to be moved.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: HOW BAD IS THE SEC?
With 6 teams already suffering bad losses this conference has about as much worth as your Beanie Baby and POG collections from the 90s. Florida being the only ranked team to lose to an unranked team this weekend looked particularly sluggish which is not uncommon for a Billy Donovan coached team. The Gators are still waiting on several key players to take the court including suspended Chris Walker, injured Dorian Finney-Smith and Duke Transfer Alex Murphy. Once roster depth is established Florida should be back into the top 10 shortly after conference play starts. They have a nice test in Georgetown, but will really know where they stand as a team when they match up with Kansas next month. At the end of the day Florida will be just fine and a clear #2 to Kentucky.
With their recent drubbing of Kansas, the Wildcats appear to be exactly who we thought they were - a dominant team with depth and experience who looks unstoppable on both sides of the floor. Feel free to pencil them into your final four bracket now as this team looks destined to make it rain for bracketology purists come March. The only hope for the rest of the Nation is that UK is lulled to sleep by the disastrous SEC schedule. Come March this team will have played 2 straight months without being adequately battle tested, a downfall that ACC or Big 10 teams won’t experience. So the question remains, will UK run the table? If they do, rest assured this will be no fluke as the Wildcats have a non conference schedule that more than makes up for their easy conference schedule. They made quick work of #5 Kansas tonight, and still have #6 UNC, #7 Louisville and #10 Texas on the schedule. UCLA is also mixed in and if UK can survive these games, they will be more than worthy of all the accolades they are currently receive. Time will tell as Louisville every bit as good as advertised and gets to host Kentucky this year.
As for the rest of the conference your guess is as good as any as to who is going to step up. Arkansas is overdue, and has many great pieces in place to capture 3rd place in the conference, but their non conference schedule should have its own stand-up comedy routine. Should they be a bubble team, that cake eater schedule will kill them. Bruce Pearl will have Auburn ready to roll, but that shouldn’t be expected this year. Tennessee lost way too much last year and Georgia and Ole Miss who both returned their best players have looked sluggish. You’ve gotta love what Frank Martin is doing in Columbia, South Carolina, and there’s not doubt this team can compete for a tournament spot in two years. The remaining teams don’t even come close to Florida let alone Kentucky. Arkansas should take 3rd, but keep your eye on Texas A&M to make a good run led by guards Alex Caruso and Jordan Green. Coach Andy Kennedy is in his 4th year for and undoubtedly feeling the pressure, but if non conference opponents Baylor, Kansas State and ASU become ranked this season, the Aggies will fall on the right of the bubble this year.
Three teams is nothing to brag about for SEC should they get more than two through, and the mystery of how the conference can be so dominant in recruiting football players, but so inept at retaining basketball talent continues to be one that has yet to be answered. With certain programs making the rise those answers should be coming to a blog page near you… just don’t expect it this year.