• The team-centric blogs at SB Nation are unveiling their choices for the greatest trade in the history of each NBA franchise today. Some links to the winners, with nice reflections on the motivations behind each: Houston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Sacramento, Dallas, Boston (with a bit of Red Auerbach spin), Portland (the ABA is involved), L.A. Clippers (an especially hilarious one), Utah and San Antonio — a surprising (but also fitting) nomination. Otis Thorpe, by the way, is directly involved in two of these trades.
• Brian Kamenetzky at ESPN Los Angeles has an extensive Q&A with Lakers’ coach Mike Brown, who touches on the pressures of his job, the differences between Los Angeles and Cleveland, the way he nearly injured himself upon hearing about the Dwight Howard trade and lots of other stuff. Those interested in the X’s-and-O’s of the Lakers’ new-look offense will hone in on this exchange:
[Kamenetzky]: How does the Princeton work with having someone like Nash? As my understanding, it’s not as much a heavy pick and roll offense, but more motion and ball movement.
MB: ‘The way that we’ll put it together, Steve’s going to have an opportunity — he’s going to quarterback the team — and so he’s going to have an opportunity to come down the floor every possession and in early offense play pick-and-roll if he wants to. It’s up to him, based on where he decides to take the ball or a call that he makes or an action that he does, it’s up to him to get us into some of the looks of the Princeton offense.
So again, with him quarterbacking, or making that decision, he’ll still have a chance to get the ball back after he moves or after bodies move. I don’t want to completely give away what we’re trying to do, but in a nutshell, he will have an opportunity to play pick-and-roll at the beginning of almost every play set coming down the floor in early offense. And if not, he can also choose to get to some of the looks out of the Princeton by making a pass or doing an action or doing a call or whatever.”
• Aaron McGuire reflects on Dirk Nowitzki’s 2011 playoff run and wonders if all the coverage of LeBron James’ 2012 postseason dominance has obscured what Nowitzki accomplished in 2011 (and what Tim Duncan did in 2003). Lots of interesting stuff in here.
• C.J. Miles explains why he signed with the Cavaliers. There’s a bullet point at the bottom about Dion Waiters’ conditioning.
• Graydon Gordian of the Spurs-themed blog 48 Minutes of Hell on the dueling realities that will define the 2012-13 Spurs: The younger players will get better, while the older players will get worse. Which one of those trends proves more dramatic next season will determine, along with some other factors Gordian addresses, whether San Antonio can hang on for one more year as a true title contender.
• Over at ESPN.com, about 100 writers are predicting win totals for every NBA team next season, and all of those individual predictions leave us with a mean projected win total for each team. Ed Kupfer took those win totals and used them project which teams have the toughest (and easiest) schedules based on projected opponent win totals. The result is a very user-friendly chart, with the Heat emerging with the easiest schedule. It’s easy to see why. They don’t play themselves, and the Magic’s giant step back makes Miami’s division significantly easier.
Jeff Van Gundy famously predicted that Miami would win 70 games in the 2010-11 season, the team’s first with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And Van Gundy wasn’t alone. But given what Miami discovered about itself during its title run — and the way it built its 2012-13 roster around those discoveries — and I wonder if this might be the year to predict the Heat could make a run at 70 wins. I wouldn’t bet on them to get there, especially since they haven’t even won the No. 1 seed in their conference over the last two seasons and they’ll surely pace themselves for a long playoff run. And even with a crippled Bulls team, the Eastern Conference still offers some tough regular-season opposition in New York, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, Indiana, etc.
But none of those teams is on Miami’s level, and the Eastern Conference on the whole is a step behind the West. This could be a special year for the Heat.
• Kelly Dwyer wonders about the future of Tyreke Evans. Stay tuned on this topic.
• Sean Highkin, writing at Hardwood Paroxysm, looks at player movement trends and the structure of rookie deal extensions. He wonders if the Blazers should at least begin thinking about trading LaMarcus Aldridge.