Some news and notes from around the league:
• Chris Forsberg at ESPNBoston.com makes an intriguing case for signing Shaq based on the fact that the C’s need rebounding:
Now the sobering reality: Of the top 25 free-agent rebounders (unrestricted and restricted) from last season (based on rebounds per game), only three remain on the market: Earl Barron, Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Tolliver.
Daydreams of Shaq in green started last week when Ainge said the Celtics had conversations with him. But Ainge also stressed that with the addition of Jermaine O’Neal, any Shaq deal was “very unlikely.”
I’ll revisit this topic tomorrow, and I’ve touched on Shaq before here. Some random musings on the Diesel:
• For the first time in his career, Shaq was a negative in terms of plus/minus last season. The Cavs’ offense scored nearly 5 fewer points per 100 possessions when Shaq was on the floor, the worst number among all Cleveland’s rotation players save for Jamario Moon. It’s tough for a guy who shoots 56 percent from the floor to be an offensive anchor, but Shaq pulled it off last season.
The key is: Why?
Did he slow up a Cleveland offense that was otherwise best designed to run the floor? That problem might not be relevant in Boston, where Shaq would be coming off the bench and thus playing in line-ups that do NOT include Rajon Rondo. On a Boston team that sometimes struggled to generate easy looks—particularly when four second-unit guys were on the floor—there is value in a player that can get a shot from within 10 feet of the hoop anytime he wants.
• Is a Shaq/Jermaine O’Neal front court viable defensively against the Magic (with Rashard Lewis at the four) or Miami (Chris Bosh)? What about a Shaq/Davis front court? Your instinct is to say the C’s would be fine with the latter, since Davis shared the court last season with another aging big man who can’t defend screen/rolls (Sheed), but keep in mind many of the C’s worst defensive line-ups included the Sheed/Baby front court.
Other notes from around the league:
• You Boston College fans can stop your dreaming about Craig Smith. He signed a one-year deal with the Clippers, terms (at this point) unknown. I am very curious to see what Smith got.
• The Milwaukee Bucks might end up being the most unpleasant team to play against in the Eastern Conference. They acquired Jon Brockman from the Sacramento Kings today in exchange for Darnell Jackson (an afterought) and a 2nd-round pick. Jackson’s contract is unguaranteed, meaning the Kings may just waive him.
But in Brockman, the Bucks are getting a nasty, nasty player. Nobody in the NBA—not one single player—rebounded a higher percentages of his team’s misses than did Brockman, according to Basketball-Reference. Throw in a front court that includes perhaps the 2nd-best defensive player in the game (Andrew Bogut), another true defensive menace (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) and a rookie (Larry Sanders) who is going throw himself all over the paint? The Bucks are going to make your life miserable on the inside.
Despite rumblings that Yao might miss the start of next season, the Rockets remain my pick for the most intriguing team outside of Miami. But the Bucks are close behind.
• Eddy Rivera at Magic Basketball has a thoughtful look at what Quentin Richardson will bring to the Magic next season. I’ll say this: If he can approach the 40 percent mark from three-point range again, the Magic could be even better offensively next season than they were in 2010—and they ranked 4th in the league in offensive efficiency in 2010.
The Celtics tilted their defense away from Matt Barnes during the Eastern Conference Finals, and Barnes, a career 33 percent shooter from three-point range, hurt them in just one of six games.
• The Bulls acquired a useful player in C.J. Watson from Golden State in a sign-and-trade. The Bulls will give up nothing a second-round pick. Watson is a point guard who can shoot threes and fill in at the two in a pinch. The Bulls will pay him $10.2 million over three years. Nice deal for Chicago, especially considering the Warriors turned down a better trade offer from the Magic last season.
Man, the Eastern Conference is going to be brutal next season.