Wednesday , Jul , 21 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Summer Heat

It’s not every off-season two of the elite players in the NBA get traded but with Shaq and T-Mac both on the move, this off-season has been busy and more rumor filled then usual.

First off the Lakers no matter how they try to spin this are the top losers of the summer, no more Shaq & Kobe means no more Pacific division titles or high playoff seedings. Sure the Lakers are still a playoff caliber team but without the big fella, San Antonio, Sacramento, Dallas, and a quickly growing Denver team have more muscle then LA right now. Getting Kobe to re-sign was absolutely necessary just to keep their fans happy and keep a star player on the roster that the Lakers can put the new guys (Brian Grant, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler) around.

Summer Heat

Many are saying what a big loss Derek Fisher will be to LA but I don’t see it, I think you’ll see a rejuvenated Gary Payton without Fisher behind him and not playing in Phil Jackson’s system anymore.

The Lakers will also have added competition in their own division, as Phoenix going out and getting Steve Nash helps them to have a veteran leader for their young guns Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, and Amare Stoudamire. Though singing the 30-year-old Nash for 6 years is a bit of a gamble but in the short term will improve the Suns.

Kenyon Martin didn’t sign for any K-Mart type sale price, but Denver got the power forward they wanted to go with Camby, Nene, and Carmelo giving the Nuggets one of the top front courts in the NBA.

The three future first round picks New Jersey got for Martin will likely help the Nets very little, and in the short term Jersey just dropped from title contender to another Atlantic team who gets Shaq 4 times a year.

A little talked about trade that may have a bigger then expected impact is Al Harrington to Atlanta for Stephen Jackson, giving Indiana another consistent scoring threat that they really needed. Sure Harrington was solid off the bench but Jackson has proven that he can score and shoot, something Indiana needs more of rather than defense at this point.

Carlos Boozer went to Utah instead of re-signing with Cleveland. That’s as far as I’m getting into that odd and tangled situation.

And finally what I think is the biggest off-season maneuver so far, T-Mac to Houston. With no more Shaq, Yao is now the best big man out West and adding a McGrady caliber of player; well you can already here all the comparisons to Shaq & Kobe starting up. Letting Steve Francis go wasn’t all that big considering how uncomfortable he seemed in Jeff Van Gundy’s system, have to wait and see if McGrady minds all the dump downs and shots Yao will get but this is what T-Mac said he wanted, someone else to help him carry the load. For Orlando they’ll be a young possibly exciting team to watch but their win total from last year may look very similar to the one they get in 04-05.