About a week before the start of the 2010-11 NBA Season, David Stern dropped the bomb on us that eliminating some teams from the league, “has to be discussed n the context of collective bargaining”. What he really meant was, “Absolutely. There are definitely teams that we are looking at removing from the league in order to save some us some cash.”
Naturally we began thinking about what teams would be the most likely to be exterminated from the Association. What makes a good candidate for contraction? Any team that has a minute chance of succeeding in the NBA or generating some serious cash. Right off the bat we decided that the three obvious choices were: Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Bobcats, and Memphis Grizzlies. While Charlotte and Memphis have experienced an upward swing this past season, both are in two of the smallest markets in the League. Minnesota on the other hand, is in a small market and is a downright horrible team.
The last team was a little more difficult to choose. We had already selected two teams from the Western Conference, so we knew, for simplicity sake, we had to choose an Eastern Conference team. It came down to two teams that fell victim to the Miami Heat this summer: Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. Both teams are in smaller markets and both teams lost a major superstar during the off-season and are destined for the Lottery.
It came down to the fan base of each team. Cleveland had the second highest average home and road attendance last season; Toronto was 14th and 25th respectively. Even when they had Chris Bosh, the Raptors weren’t pulling in the fans. Even with the loss of LeBron James, Cleveland fans are showing why they are one of the best sports cities in the country. I know it is early in the season, but Cleveland has the third highest average home attendance this season; Raptors have fallen to 19th.
Let’s face it – the Cleveland fans are use to having to cheer for horrible teams: Indians and the Browns. Despite their losing ways, they consistently sell out their stadiums game after game. Sorry Toronto – say goodbye to the Raptors and any sign of the NBA in Canada.
Now that the Bobcats, Grizzlies, Raptors and Timberwolves have been eliminated, let’s focus on where their players are going. Enter the NBA Contraction Draft. An event that, should it take place, has the potential to shake up the landscape of the NBA. What follows are the results of the one-round, Hoopstopia.com NBA Contraction Draft.
The draft order was determined using the results from last season, as well as some predictions on behalf of Hoopstopia.com.
Hoopstopia.com NBA Contraction Draft
Cleveland: Rudy Gay – Top player from all four teams and a superstar in the making, he should help ease the pain of losing LBJ.
New Jersey: Gerald Wallace – Between Wallace and Love, but with Lopez and Favors, no need for Love. Wallace brings defense, scoring and versatility to a NJ team that needs it.
Sacramento: Kevin Love – A double-double machine that shores up their front court with Landry and Cousins.
Washington: Stephen Jackson – Tough, gutsy, veteran to team up with Wall, which provides one of the best backcourts in the L.
Golden State: OJ Mayo – Mayo’s ability to get up and down the floor, coupled with his love to shoot the ball, make him a perfect fit for the Warriors.
Philadelphia: Andrea Bargnani - The Italian Stallion gives them a pure-shooting center that is a nice complement to Brand.
Detroit: Zach Randolph - Big Ben, Hamilton and Prince are beyond old and Pistons have no scoring threat to speak of. Austin Daye will be nice one day, but they need an established 20/10 guy now.
L.A. Clippers: DJ Augustine - Baron Davis is falling even further out of favor with the Clips and they will need a new option at the #1 spot. With Augustine, you are giving Griffin a quality, young point guard for him to grow with.
New York: Leandro Barbosa – Barbosa thrived in D’Antoni’s system in Phoenix and is a natural fit for him again in New York.
Indiana: Tyrus Thomas - McRoberts, Hansbrough, Hibbert, Dunleavy, Foster – what’s missing? Athleticism. Thomas gives them an explosive, aggressive big man that plays with all heart.
New Orleans: Marc Gasol – The Emeka Okafor experiment has not worked out well for the Hornets. Gasol is a legitimate center that they have lacked the entire time CP3 has been in the Big Easy.
Houston: Darko Milicic - Who knows how much longer Yao will be able to survive? Milicic gives them another 7-footer. With Martin, Brooks and Scola on the team, the only thing Milicic has to focus on is defense.
Milwaukee: Michael Beasley - With a defensive-minded Bogut in the middle, an offensively-minded Beasley is a nice complement.
San Antonio: Corey Brewer – San Antonio needs a legitimate backup to Manu, Brewer is that guy. Freaky athletic, good defender and a much-improved shooter.
Portland: Johnny Flynn – Who knows how long Andre Miller will stick around, so you might as well have a backup plan in place with Flynn. He is a fantastic leader, who can create his own shot.
Atlanta: Mike Conley - Bibby is getting to the end of his rope and Teague has already dropped off with the Atlanta coaching staff. Conley is a guy they can pass the torch too once Bibby is ready to call it quits.
Denver: Martell Webster – We are planning on Carmelo being gone here, so the SF was the natural target. MW is a versatile small forward that fits in with Karl’s system.
Phoenix: DeMar DeRozan – Young, shooting guard that will fit in well with the run-and-gun system. DeRozan is a great athlete, shoots well and is a good rebounder.
Dallas: Jarrett Jack - A decent option to fill in the hole that will be created once Kidd retires. Jack is a very strong point guard who has no problem taking it to the rack.
Chicago: Linas Kleiza – This guy is a not a starter like he was in Toronto, but he is a great backup option. Kleiza helps firm up a thin bench for the Bulls.
Oklahoma City: Jose Calderon – Great distributor who is a prime suspect to be a legitimate backup to Westbrook in OKC.
Utah: Boris Diaw – One of the most versatile players in the NBA, Diaw can backup AK47, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
Boston: Darrell Arthur – It’s no secret that the Celtics are becoming older and older (the addition of the O’Neal boys didn’t help the average age either). Arthur is a young, power forward that should blossom under the supervision of KG.
Orlando: Wayne Ellington – A standout at North Carolina, Ellington is the guy to replace an aging, depleting Vince Carter.
Miami: Anthony Tolliver – Miami is in need of a young center to grown with the Fearsome Threesome of LeBron, Wade and Bosh – Tolliver can be that guy. He is super long, good rebounder and an efficient scorer.
L.A. Lakers: Amir Johnson – The Lakers backup power forward/center is Lamar Odom…unfortunately, with the season-after-season break down of Bynum, LO has become a starter. Johnson is a young, athletic, and, most importantly, durable center that they can rely upon each season.
Biggest Winners: New Orleans, Milwaukee and Sacramento
Biggest Losers: Bobcats, Grizzlies, Timberwolves and Raptors
Don’t be shy – let us know your thoughts in the comments section. What team made out the best? What pick did we absolutely screw up? Give us your thoughts.