Friday, March 12, 2010

Roundball Roundtable of... Roundness - Part 2

You liked Part 1 of Scribe's first Roundball Rountable of... Roundness? Of course, you did. Here's Part Deux. Once again, the previous questions and bios for those who've come upon this post first.

Everybody JUMP!

Of course, the final two are always assumed, but who are your final four in both conference finals? Why?

Johnson: I see (and want) a rematch of Lakers/Nuggets because Denver was only a few bounces away from playing Orlando in the finals last year. The Nuggets were really their own worst enemy in 2009. I don’t see them beating themselves again so the Lakers have to be perfect against them. For the Eastern Conference, it will probably be Cleveland and Orlando again with the Magic surging into the series with more confidence than ever after beating the Cavs last year.

Moralde: Tough question but I'll go with the same Final Four from last year. Cleveland and Orlando in the East. And Lakers and Nuggets in the West. Of course, anything can happen in the last month.

Hoffman: Cleveland and Orlando in the east. In the west I see Dallas and Los Angeles. As to why I just can’t see anyone stopping Cleveland in a seven game series, LeBron is going to be LeBron in the playoffs, that alone guarantees them a spot in the east finals. Orlando will make it there because they have Dwight Howard and nobody else does, if Vince Carter shows up it will only help. As far as the west, Los Angeles will make the conference finals simply based on their talent and a guy named Kobe. It’s really that simple, much the same as LeBron being in Cleveland. Bynum is finally staying healthy, which will only help in the playoffs. Plus, they have that guy with 10 rings on the bench, Phil Jackson, you may have heard of him. I see Dallas there simply based on the additions they made. Caron Butler has been a huge addition. Brendan Haywood helps them up front. They have the size and depth to match up with anyone.

Boston and San Antonio. Is it finally over for the Celtics and Spurs this year or can they milk out another run?

Johnson: I always thought that the Celtics were a one-shot deal the minute they got Garnett and Allen. They got their championship and I never expected them to go back. San Antonio will always be in the conversation as long as Tim Duncan is healthy and a force at power forward. That’s a well-coached team and I see them at least hitting the second-round (with an occasional conference final appearance) for many years down the line.

Moralde: Boston is not done yet this year. If everyone from Boston makes it to the postseason healthy, they're as good as any East team. I won't be surprised if they even make it to the Finals but they're clearly not a Top Two team in the East as of right now. As for San Antonio, they haven't played well all year. Tony Parker is pretty much out for the regular season, too. Logic tells me never to count the Spurs out but chances are they can't milk another run in 2010.

Hoffman: I think it’s finally safe to stick a fork in the Spurs and Celtics. Age and injuries have finally caught up with both teams. Everyone knows you can’t count out San Antonio because of Duncan and Coach Pop, but with Parker being in and out of the lineup all season; it’s going to hurt them. Ginobili is no longer Ginobili and he’s hinted his days may be done down in Texas. There’s also little depth on that team.

Boston has really taken a steep decline to me. They’ve cashed in on their 3 year window in year one when they won the title. Kevin Garnett is really a shell of his former self and it’s really sad to watch him play, you can clearly tell he’s not the same. Pierce and Allen have both been in and out of the lineup all season. Rasheed Wallace has been a disappointment as well. I just don’t think the Celtics can hang with Cleveland or Orlando in a series. The tough hard nose Celtics defense is no longer there, that was what fueled them to their title.

Many consider the New Jersey Nets the direst situation in the NBA today. Though they will be Newark-bound next season (let’s hold off on those Brooklyn dreams, please) and flush of free agent cash, this is a team that is a long, long way from those NBA Finals appearances of almost a decade ago. So if you were in charge of basketball operations, how would you handle the Nets in 2010-11?

Johnson: I would’ve just moved the team to Newark permanently. It’s a great location, anyone can get to it and the Prudential Center is a beautiful arena. The traffic in Brooklyn is going to be ridiculous. Other than that, work the draft, the D-League and overseas for the hidden talent. Anything less would be uncivilized.

Moralde: Pray that the Nets win the lottery. If John Wall falls into their laps, I'd trade Devin Harris (who is an attractive asset) for a starting 4. I'm sure some good role players would love to play with John Wall. Maybe even superstars. You never know.

Hoffman: First thing I look to do is hire Avery Johnson as coach, he needs another shot in the NBA and will bring toughness to this team.

Draft wise the Nets are guaranteed no worse than the #4 pick. So they have options at who to take. You hope and pray that you’re ping pong ball hits so you can get your franchise player in John Wall. If you don’t get the #1 pick you take Evan Turner, that kid is going to be special. He can do it all on the floor. He may not be a franchise player but that’s okay. He’s going to be legit. If I get the #3 or #4 pick I will look to trade it. I just don’t trust many players after the top two. Everything hinges on the draft for my rebuilding. Now I look to trade Devin Harris simply because I feel Wall will be better and neither Harris nor Wall is a 2 guard. I let all the expiring contracts expire and I pick up the option on Chris Douglas Roberts. In free agency I look to sign Joe Johnson to pair with John Wall in the backcourt. To fill in the roster I’d try and get players that fit with the others.

Finally, since this is the most talked-up free agency period in recent memory, where would you like to see these big name players go (not just where are they speculated)?

Johnson: Even though I’m a Knicks fan, I think the league would look really bad if LeBron comes to Madison Square Garden. I want LeBron to remain a Cavalier. Lord knows that city deserves a champion. I would like to see a combo of Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh come to NY. The Knicks need some toughness on that team and someone needs to teach David Lee (and I like him) how to play better defense.

Moralde: I hope everyone stays. Sorry, New York.

Hoffman: I’d like to see LeBron James stay in Cleveland and build a legacy. He’s a hometown hero there and is loved by that city. Screw all that big market bull, stay in Cleveland and make that city big when it comes to basketball. Dwayne Wade would look great going to Chicago and pairing up with Derrick Rose! How fun would that backcourt be to watch? The team would lack three point shooting but nobody is stopping them from getting to the basket. Chris Bosh would be the piece that really thrusts Oklahoma City into the promise land. Moving forward with Bosh, Durant, Westbrook, and Green would make that team legit. I think Joe Johnson should stay in Atlanta since he helped make that team relevant down in Atlanta.

Truly finally and truly, the most important of all: You need a haircut and you have no choice but to get the same style as Ron Artest. What are your colors and foreign text?

Johnson: I’m dying my hair dark blue (since I did for Halloween in 1994….sorry no pictures) and getting a combo of Chinese, Arabic and Hieroglyphics symbols that all read “Satan’s Spawn.”

Moralde: I'd probably go the same as Ron. I'd go blonde with purple symbols. How do you write TNLP in Japanese?

Hoffman: I am getting the words Fer Schizzle in Latin, German, and Chinese. I am gonna go with pink and lime green. Why? I have no idea! Would just make me look crazy!
Many, many, many thanks to Stephon, Rey and Kyle for taking part in this roundtable.

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