What is Holding the NBA Back?

That damn salary cap.

What is it?

The salary cap is essentially a budget for teams, with a floor and a ceiling on what they can spend. Last season, it was set at about $94 million, and the luxury tax limit was about $113 million. This season, the cap is at about $99 million with the same luxury tax limit. The reason the luxury tax is in place is to allow teams to go above the cap limit if they’re resigning their own players. Thus, a player could sign for five years instead of four if they choose to remain with their respective team when they enter free agency.

The NBA salary cap is not a hard cap; it is a soft cap. This means that there are many regulations within the cap, such as max contracts, mid-level exceptions, trade exceptions, restricted free agents and veteran’s minimum contracts. All of these elements contribute to the salary cap. But do we need one?

Why do we have a salary cap?

The main reason the cap is in place is to prevent teams from becoming too dominant—to avoid a situation where a team signs all the best players. Another idea behind the salary cap is that it can breed competition among all 32 teams; that each year, all 32 teams will have an equal shot at winning a championship. However, we know that is far from how it actually works.

Is the salary cap useful?

The idea of even competition among all, or most, teams is clearly a farce. Take a look at the 2008 Celtics, where they signed Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett. Or the 2011 Miami Heat, where LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade. Or, more recently, look at the 2016 Golden State Warriors, when Kevin Durant joined a powerhouse built by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. A salary cap is very easy to work around, as these three examples over the last 10 years have demonstrated.

Let’s look at the competition element of the salary cap. Has this helped teams like the Orlando Magic, the Sacramento Kings or the Phoenix Suns? Despite the cap, they continue to suffer in part because they are small market teams, which indirectly encourages tanking since the idea of “stacking” is hard to emulate if your team is not in a big market like New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

What are the problems?

The soft cap in and of itself is a problem. At a minimum, the NBA should move to a hard cap, and eliminate max contracts, mid-level exceptions, restricted free agents and veteran’s minimum. A hard cap makes more sense and is far less restrictive for those who believe the idea of a salary cap is a good idea.

Pop the Top 

Due to the spike in the salary cap from the new TV deals the NBA has signed, lowly players are getting far too much money. Andre Roberson signed a 3-year, $30 million contract. His career stats are 5 points and 4 rebounds per game. John Leuer signed a 4-year, $42 million contract. His career stats are 7 points and 4 rebounds per game. Other examples of bad contracts due to the spike in cap are Brandon Knight (3 years, $44 million), Joakim Noah (4 years, $73 million), Allen Crabbe (4 years, $75 million), Chandler Parsons (4 years, $94 million) and Timofey Mozgov (4 years, $64 million) to name just a few.

Most of these guys aren’t great. Even though the rising cap means more money for everyone, the max contract still prevents superstars from earning the amount they are truly worth. LeBron James is getting paid $31 million this season, which makes him the highest paid NBA player on a per-year basis. However, is he really worth just over $30 million per year? Some would say his worth is $50 million, or even $100 million per season. From a business standpoint, LeBron James might be worth $500 million, based on the ticket sales he generates as well as the league-wide attention he brings to the Cavaliers.

Another example is Kevin Durant. Although many can (and should) argue that his move to the Warriors was “spineless” or “weak,” he had every right to do it. But, as the second-best player in the NBA, many of his fans feel he should make more than $30 million per year. The idea that as a team’s salary cap rises, the more “star-level” players they can sign is true. At the same time, it also means that the “fringe-level” players get significant pay raises, canceling out the idea of a super team.

End Tanking

Getting rid of salary caps would also help end tanking. Teams like the Sacramento Kings would be more willing to try and sign a superstar in free agency—and if they have a higher bid, they could grab him with no restrictions.

The cap has a lot of indirect effects on tanking, which doesn’t really work. The best example of this is the Philadelphia Sixers. They have “trusted the process” and have come out with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz. Okafor was a bust, Noel was ineffective, and we have yet to see how Fultz plays out. Saric has some potential, Embiid is a great talent but hasn’t proven he can stay healthy, and Simmons also has a lot of potential. And, after five years of being dreadful, the Sixers stand at 15-18 and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Teams that have miserably failed at tanking and got zero to two franchise players are the Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.

Of course, the salary cap is one of the many reasons why teams tank. Eliminating it is, therefore, necessary to strengthen teams.

Promote Free Competition 

People say they don’t like super teams. But think about it: would you rather have 4-8 super teams and 4-8 lousy teams, or have it like it is now, where the Golden State Warriors are the heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals for the next 3-5 years, with very little competition, unless another super team formed, which will be challenging due to cap restrictions.

Comparison to the MLB

If teams want to spend, let them—it works in the MLB where they have no salary cap. The idea of the competition aspect of keeping teams all on a level playing field with a cap does not work in practice. While baseball has more random variables than basketball which determine the outcome of the game, not having a salary cap really hasn’t hurt the MLB’s competitive nature. The last five MLB World Series winners are as follows: Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. No repeats.

Clayton Kershaw is on a 7-year contract for $215 million. Miguel Cabrera is on an 8-year contract for $248 million. Albert Pujols is on a 10-year contract for $240 million. The list goes on and on. Think the contracts are too long? That’s the organization’s problem, not the MLB’s, as they correctly assess. If your team wants to invest long-term in a player, that’s their prerogative. Monitoring teams’ spending is somewhat pointless. If management only cares about profits and shows an unwillingness to spend money to win, then the fans should take that upon themselves to protest management and demand results.

Scrap the Cap

The MLB does not have a cap, accountants don’t have a max contract, investment bankers don’t have a mid-level exception, and lawyers don’t have a veteran’s minimum. Sports is just like any other entity and should be treated as such. The idea of socialist-type structure in sports sounds good in theory, yet in practice does not work and only brings unnecessary obstacles.

 

What Eli Manning Being Benched Really Means

Yesterday evening, the New York Giants announced that they were going to bench Eli Manning and start Geno Smith. Everything about this points to the dumpster fire that this organization has found itself in.

This season, Eli Manning has had little to no help with three top receivers out, no real running game, a weak offensive scheme, and a lousy offensive line.

But let’s not pretend he was playing well. In this new age of quarterbacks, Manning’s suboptimal athletic ability has hindered his performance over the last few years. He is a statue in the pocket, and at age 36, his mundane 3-and-outs were really getting old. As a QB, you are supposed to be the leader of the team. It seems as though he has quit on this team, something I can’t blame him for doing.

 

Numbers Never Lie

This season, Manning was 16th in completion percentage, 15th in passing yards and 24th in total QBR. Not horrible, but not great either. He threw for 14 TDs and 7 Interceptions, and had seven fumbles this season. A net touchdown to turnover ratio of 0. Lame. Not all his fault, but he is at least a third of the problem. As they say, Father Time is undefeated.

At 2-9, the Giants have been eliminated from playoff contention and should be in full tank mode. Due to the pedigree and résumé of Eli Manning, he should have been given the option to “play it out” if he wants to—yet was not, as McAdoo dealt the final blow to the Giants offense, season, and hopefully, his job.

 

Webb Up?

So, now the Giants can play their 3rd round pick Davis Webb, who they stupidly picked instead of addressing the team’s needs. Nevertheless, due to the high round pick, Webb is presumably the next “face of the franchise,” so the Giants should give him a shot.

Except, instead, they’re playing Geno Smith. Sigh.

The Giants need to ask themselves, why the hell is Geno Smith even on our team, let alone an NFL team? Over his five-year career, he has played two seasons of “meaningful” games for the Jets. He threw 25 total TDs, 34 INTs, and had a 58% completion rate along with a broken jaw along the way.

Geno is a bad quarterback, an incompetent leader, and has no place playing these last five games—that duty should be left to Webb. The Giants drafted him so damn high, so what was the point?

While the Giants should be in full tank mode, aiming for a top-three pick in the 2018 NFL draft, they can’t even tank the right way. These five games should be an opportunity for Webb to show us what he’s got—to see if there was any legitimacy in taking him in the 3rd round.

 

Show the Idiots the Exit

Instead, the Giants need to focus on the legitimacy of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo which, unfortunately, there is not much of.

Let’s acknowledge that Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese should have been fired long before this move was made. The fact that they were both employed by this team at the start of the season should have given everyone cause for concern. Now that it’s unfolded, the fan base feelings about their fates are pretty unanimous. For the second season in a row, Reese has failed to address the offensive line. Other than Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh, there has been no legitimate replacement for the 2011 Super Bowl squad.

So, what about those “weapons” that everyone raved about during the draft? Yes, Evan Engram is indeed an excellent player. It’s not the fact that he was taken that upset me—it’s who the Giants didn’t take that upsets me. Unfortunately, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall went down early in the year, and that really put the nail in the coffin. Overall, Reese has miserably failed at constructing an offense that can win games at the highest level. He is to blame, and he should lose his job at the end of the season. But, so should McAdoo.

McAdoo wasn’t dealt a great hand, yet his offensive “scheme” has utterly failed (again), and it’s even more apparent now that without Odell, the offensive is abysmal. Just like the Packers, the Giants poor game plan was veiled by Odell’s great talent, as Green Bay’s was with Aaron Rodgers. Now that those two are gone, the respective offenses are struggling mightily.

The Giants are 28th this year in total offense, and a pathetic 31st in points per game, just ahead of the dreadful Cleveland Browns. Not to mention, they have played 11 games; only four times have they scored over 20. Ben McAdoo’s game plan is a joke, and he too needed to be fired at the end of last season…but since that didn’t happen, let’s say the end of this season.

 

Eli’s Fate

Now that Manning has been benched, for his sake, he should ask for a trade. A young up and coming team with a mediocre O-line isn’t a team for him—that’s more of a Russell Wilson or Carson Wentz thing. Perhaps a team like the Jaguars, with Tom Coughlin running the show, and a great running back and great defense, would be a better fit for him. Or maybe the Broncos with their solid running backs, excellent receivers, a good defense and a wise head honcho in John Elway, would be a better fit for him than the poorly run, train wreck of a team called the Giants.

 

Where Do We Go from Here?

First off, bench Smith. Play Webb. Next, fire McAdoo and Reese at the end of the season. After, try to shop Manning—if there are suitors, move him. If not, do not cut him. The Giants can then use him to mentor their potential new QB that they might draft. The draft priorities are the same as they were last year because they were not addressed. Quarterback, offensive line, running back and linebacker. It really shouldn’t be hard to find a hole in a wall—let alone a GIANT one like this.

 

What are your thoughts on the benching of Eli Manning? Please share your comments below.

 

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U. Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

What are your thoughts on the benching?

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U-Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

 

The Upcoming NBA Season: What to expect, offseason moves and their impact, standings, awards and more…​

What a wild offseason it has been! Starting off with the NBA Draft, we saw Markelle Fultz leave the board first, teaming up with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philly, followed by the most prominent name of the summer, Lonzo Ball, be selected by the Lakers at number 2. The Celtics traded down to 3 and snagged Jayson Tatum, potentially the most talented player in the entire draft. Josh Jackson went 4th to Phoenix, and De’Aaron Fox went to the Kings, rounding out the top 5 picks. With Jimmy Butler traded to the T-Wolves, the offseason was off to a wild start. We saw Chris Paul traded to the Rockets to join James Harden, and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony traded to the Thunder to team up with Westbrook. Paul Millsap joined Denver to speed up their rebuilding process. Gordon Hayward left the Jazz to join the Celtics, and shortly after, Kyrie Irving was traded in a blockbuster deal for Isaiah Thomas, a first-round pick and more. D-Wade signed a one year, $2.3 million deal with the Cavaliers, rejoining former teammate and good friend, LeBron James.

Big contract extensions were also a big theme this offseason. Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook all signed max deals with their respective teams.

So, what should we expect this season? Will Boston dethrone Cleveland in the East? Can anybody beat Golden State? Who will win MVP? Will the Lakers or Sixers make the playoffs?

Here’s what I’m thinking:

Five Hot Takes:

  1. Jayson Tatum will prove to be the best player in the draft (he will not win ROY).
  2. Joel Embiid will play at least 65 games and average at least 25 points a game.
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo will win MVP (accomplishing Kobe Bryant’s challenge).
  4. Brandon Ingram will win Most Improved Player.
  5. Damian Lillard will be an All-Star starter (accomplishing Kobe Bryant’s challenge).

 

Top Storylines:

  1. The steep decline of Dwight Howard and why he should not be a Hall of Famer.
  2. Why Westbrook’s extension means that LeBron to LA is no longer a given.
  3. Will DeMarcus Cousins team up with John Wall in Washington?
  4. Kyle Kuzma’s emergence as a draft steal—what does this mean for the future?
  5. When will Trusting the Process lead to contending for titles?

 

Players with the most to prove this season:

  1. Carmelo Anthony (needs to show an ability to defend, create offense in transition)
  2. Dwight Howard (needs to prove that he won’t create dissension in the locker room)
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge (needs to prove that he is tough enough to play for Pop)
  4. Lonzo Ball (needs to show the NBA why Lavar is so high on him as an overall talent)
  5. Kyrie Irving (needs to prove that he can be the primary option on a title contender)

 

Standings

Eastern Conference:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Washington Wizards
  4. Milwaukee Bucks
  5. Toronto Raptors
  6. Philadelphia Sixers
  7. Detroit Pistons
  8. Miami Heat

 

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Los Angeles Lakers

 

Awards:

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Brandon Ingram

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Whiteside

Rookie of the Year: Dennis Smith, Jr.

Comeback Player of the Year: Danilo Gallinari

Points Leader: Kevin Durant

Rebounds Leader: DeAndre Jordan

Assists Leader: Russell Westbrook

Blocks Leader: Hassan Whiteside

Steals Leader: Chris Paul

Most impact on a new team: Jimmy Butler

Least impact on a new team: Tim Hardaway Jr.

 

NBA Playoff Predictions

Eastern Conference Finals:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics: Cleveland in 7

Western Conference Finals:

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Golden State in 7

NBA Finals:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors: Golden State in 6

Finals MVP: Kevin Durant

 

What are your thoughts and feelings about this upcoming season?

 

Image via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByVvmw2bbSw

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U-Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

The Giants’ Disappointing Season

Hello Giants fans! SO glad to see you again.

I know it’s been hard. But now, you’re likely feeling the way I felt before week one even started: hopeless, confused, upset and angry.

But c’mon guys, did you really think we could win with no O-line?

Now at 0-5 with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandon Marshall out for the season, I guess we can’t lean back on the “weapons galore” narrative anymore. Eli Manning has been inconsistent, throwing for 1338 yards, 8 TDs, and 5 interceptions. The Giants’ main struggles have been on offense. While they’re ranked 14th in total offense, they’re ranked 30th in rushing yards per game, and 28th in points. Due to their offensive struggles, their defense has been on the field more, leading to their more recent struggles as well. They’re much worse defensively this season, ranked 28th in total yards allowed and 24th in points allowed. The loss of Johnathan Hankins has also hurt their run defense, as rookie Dalvin Tomlinson hasn’t yet caught up to speed.

While the Giants are currently 0-5, they have lost their last three games by less than one possession, which points to the coaching. Ben McAdoo has been absolutely horrendous. From play-calling to personnel decisions, McAdoo has shown sheer incompetence and should be relieved of his duties at the end of the season, despite the Giants’ playoff appearance last season.

As for Jerry Reese, he should have been fired two years ago. His lack of care for offensive linemen, linebackers, and running backs has bled the Giants’ offense dry and has forced Eli Manning to make up the difference—something he is too old and too slow to do.

Reese and McAdoo’s stance on Ereck Flowers is also appalling. The guy is apparently a bust and should be released altogether if not benched. Both Reese and McAdoo have overstayed their welcome, and it’s time for them to go.

So, where do we go from here?

Tank the season. Play Evan Engram at wide receiver and make him and Sterling Shepard primary targets, allow their stocks to rise, and get the most out of them. As for Davis Webb, give him a shot. And while I know Eli Manning will continue to be played, there’s really no point in him doing so.

The next two opponents the Giants will face are the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. For those of you who think we can go 11-5 and squeeze into the playoffs, I’m sorry to say, but it’s not going to happen.

What is more likely for the Giants from this point on is that they’ll probably go .500. In my opinion, that will be worse for them than going 0-16. Because if they go 0-16, they can hope for a top pick and grab one of the top QBs in the class, as well as rebuild their horrible offensive line. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg have been effective, but Bobby Hart, John Jerry, and Ereck Flowers need to go.

With that being said, ownership must clean house. It’s time for some new voices, and it’s time for Ben McAdoo and Jerry Reese to take a hike. It’s time to hire a coach who can bring discipline to the Giants locker room, and it’s time for them to hire a GM that understands the need for a solid offensive line, as well as good linebackers who is willing to build through the draft and free agency.

Whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U-Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

NFL QB Rankings

FullSizeRender.jpg 2.jpeg5 tiers of NFL Quarterbacks

Tier 1- Superstar

Qualifications can include:

  • Can singlehandedly win games despite inconsistent performance from offensive line, receivers or running backs
  • Can play well in any situation and does not need elite playmakers- can win with “no names”
  • Consistently shows up in the big moments, few weaknesses
  • Rarely to blame for a loss

Players who fit the criteria: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees

 

Tier 2- Star

Qualifications can include:

  • Can lead a team to victory with a just a single elite playmaker
  • Can win with subpar offensive linemen, receivers and running backs
  • Usually shows up when needed, seldom cracks under pressure
  • Once in a while to blame for a loss

Players who fit the criteria: Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger

 

Tier 3- Franchise

Qualifications can include:

  • Very talented player with star potential who can help a team win games
  • Not the single reason for a win, needs a few playmakers on offense
  • Not experienced/developed enough to be considered a star yet
  • Occasional inconsistency, sometimes the reason for a loss
  • Reliable in most cases and many teams would be happy to have this QB
  • Can be considered “elite,” or has potential to be

Players who fit the criteria: Matt Ryan, Phillip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith

 

Tier 4- Middle of the Road

Qualifications can include

  • Being a game manager
  • Can make plays but not the overwhelming reason for team success or failure
  • Frequently streaky, plays like a franchise QB and a fringe QB throughout the season
  • Helps a team win with great playmakers
  • Risk averse
  • Probably not on your fantasy team, age and attrition could play a factor too

Players who fit the criteria: Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Teddy Bridgewater, Eli Manning, Trevor Siemian

 

Tier 5- Fringe Starter

Qualifications can include:

  • Getting old
  • Not consistent at all, extremely streaky
  • Has potential but has not reached it
  • In and out of lineup
  • Can only win with great playmakers
  • Could be cut, not a solidified starter at all

Players who fit the criteria: Ryan Tannehill, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Blake Bottles, Case Keenum, Jared Goff, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Tom Savage, Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett

 

Full rankings (at this moment):

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. Drew Brees
  4. Ben Roethlisberger
  5. Andrew Luck
  6. Derek Carr
  7. Matt Ryan
  8. Philip Rivers
  9. Kirk Cousins
  10. Russell Wilson
  11. Cam Newton
  12. Jameis Winston
  13. Marcus Mariota
  14. Dak Prescott
  15. Carson Wentz
  16. Matthew Stafford
  17. Alex Smith
  18. Sam Bradford
  19. Tyrod Taylor
  20. Joe Flacco
  21. Teddy Bridgewater
  22. Trevor Siemian
  23. Eli Manning
  24. Carson Palmer
  25. Colin Kaepernick
  26. Andy Dalton
  27. Blake Bortles
  28. Brian Hoyer
  29. Josh McCown
  30. Bryce Petty
  31. Jay Cutler
  32. Jared Goff

*Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kaizer and Pat Mahomes have not taken enough snaps to be counted yet

**Injuries do not play a role in these rankings

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and all U-Miami sports. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Blockbuster Deal: Kyrie Irving to Boston

After a wild offseason, a blockbuster trade took place last night when Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets 2018 first round pick.

Who would’ve thought the 1st pick in the 2011 NBA Draft would be traded for the last pick in that same draft?

So, who won in the deal?

Well, the Cavs won the trade- for this season. They were able to fulfill Irving’s request for a trade and got a guy who averaged 30 points a game last season in Thomas, as well as a solid starting caliber player in Crowder.

To combine those two with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Derrick Rose, they should see themselves in another NBA Finals.

However, they don’t yet have the pieces to beat Golden State due to IT4’s poor defense and Tristan Thompson’s lack of offensive skills. So, what happens at the end of this season when James and IT4 are free agents?

The best scenario for Cleveland is for Thomas and James to re-sign, as well as signing a marquee free agent such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony or someone of that caliber to pair with them.

Of course, James and IT4 would need to take pay cuts in order for the team to have the cap space. Knowing that they’re on the clock, they would most likely trade the Nets pick for a star as well, maybe packaged with Kevin Love.

On the flip side, James could very well leave next season and join Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., and Julius Randle in Los Angeles, and maybe even Paul George or Russell Westbrook.

I’d be surprised to see James in a Cavaliers uniform at the start of next season. If James left Cleveland, IT4 would most likely leave as well.

So what did the Celtics gain?

Well, they acquired a superstar in Kyrie Irving. They made the rotation tighter by getting rid of Crowder, allowing Jayson Tatum to get more touches, as well as allowing Jaylen Brown to develop as a firm rotation player behind Tatum and Gordon Hayward.

With Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Gerald Green rounding out the rotation, the Celtics see themselves a piece away from being able to capture a title in the next 2 to 4 years.

Yes, the Celtics lost the Nets 2018 pick, however IT4 was most likely going to leave Boston, and Crowder made the rotation too crowded (no pun intended) for Brown and Tatum to be able to thrive.

I believe the Celtics won the deal long term, because James and Thomas will likely leave Cleveland after losing to Golden State in the NBA Finals, which will leave them with a top pick and Love as their franchise cornerstones.

I get the sense that Irving will enjoy playing for the Celtics because he is the best player on the team, and has a great number 2 option in Gordon Hayward, as well as guys like Horford and Morris who do not need to dominate the ball to be effective.

While they are still a piece away, they can address it next summer due to the plethora of star free agents on the market such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and others.

Not to mention, Kyrie Irving is only 25 years old, and it gives Boston a sense of direction for the future.

Who do you think won the trade?

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and Miami Hurricanes football and basketball. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

Why the NY Giants Season Will Be a Disappointment

Last season, the New York Giants were solid, going 10-6 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2011. With a great defense led by the newly signed Janoris Jenkins, Oliver Vernon, and Damon Harrison as well as returning players in Landon Collins, Jason Pierre Paul and Johnathan Hankins, they were able to dominate that side of the ball for most of the season.

The Giants were 10th in fewest total yards allowed, 3rd in fewest rushing yards per game allowed, and 2nd in fewest points allowed.

On the offensive end, things were different. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. were back, yet the very ineffective offensive line and poor running game made it extremely difficult for them to match the defense’s productivity. They were eliminated in the Wildcard round by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, as Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard had their worst games of the season- at the worst time.

Fast forward to this season. The Giants decided to sign WR Brandon Marshall, something many (including me) believe is a boom or bust move. But when draft time came around, they decided not to take a running back or an offensive lineman, and instead took a “tight end” in Evan Engram.

Then, in round 3, they decided to add a 4th QB to the depth chart in Davis Webb, instead of a desperately needed running back. Yes, the offense has a plethora of weapons in Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, but how effective will they actually be?

With really no improvement in the offensive line, you can expect similar results from last season on the offensive side of the ball. Offensively, the Giants were ranked 17th in passing yards per game, 29th in rushing yards per game, 25th in total yards, and 26th in points scored. Pretty bottom of the barrel.

So, what can we expect this season?

Due to the difficult schedule, I see the Giants going 8-8 this season and missing the playoffs. When you look at the Cowboys and Redskins, they do not possess the same talent defensively, but they have few problems on the offensive line.

Paul Perkins is a solid running back, but he is not a difference maker who can propel the Giants to the post season. I know, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and probably Evan Engram are super talented wideouts. The only problem is, Eli Manning will have to rush a lot of throws due to the little protection he has on that line, which will lead to more interceptions and eventually more sacks too.

No, the offensive line is not glamorous or exciting. But if you want to win games in the NFL, you are going to need one. And unfortunately, the Giants have failed to fill their holes on the line from last season, and will likely fall short this season.

Will the Giants make the playoffs this season? 

About Me: I’m Spencer Alexander Zied, a freshman at the University of Miami from New York, New York. I love to play basketball and tennis, and am a big fan of the Knicks, Giants, Yankees and Miami Hurricanes football and basketball. I’m also a big fan of First Take and Sportscenter on ESPN. You can email me at spencer.zied@gmail.com or connect with me on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram (szied713).

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