The NBA Draft has arrived. The moment of decision (and in some cases, the moment of truth for some executives) is upon us. Should be lots of fun. Only the beginning of a busy off-season of trades, free agent signings and amnesty decisions for organizations with the first true off-season under the newly ratified CBA in place.
1. Larry Bird (Pacers): Nice run as a coach and executive with the team. Not often do you see a great player also have a solid transition and success as both a coach and executive. They're on the right path because he made the right and bold decisions the past few years. Love the fact that Donnie Walsh is back as president and Kevin Pritchard is the GM. Walsh was terrific over the years in Indy and Pritchard did a nice job in Portland and got a raw deal there in their dysfunctional environment.
2. Houston Rockets: Wow! Get out your scorecard. They're dealing. Deals with Minnesota and Milwaukee already. Hold the 12th, 16th and 18th Picks and will be looking to make a lot more moves. Trying to get in on the action on Dwight Howard. Keep an eye out for them both on draft night as well as July 1. They'll be a player in lots of deals/rumors.
3. Ben Gordon (Bobcats): Needed a change of scenery in the worst way. Disappointing run with the Pistons after the big contract in free agency. He's a very good but streaky scorer who needs some of his shots in structure sometimes more than he thinks. Playing for a new coach/team will help him. Still think he can make a solid difference. For owner Michael Jordan, he was willing to take on a little more salary and move Corey Maggette with a year less on his deal. A little risky but I think it might work out for them.
4. Lamar Odom: You'll hear his name a lot in the near future. The Dallas experiment was a disaster and a big reason was his approach. Still highly thought of in many circles. Think back just a season before, he was terrific for the Lakers. Tremendous versatility and understanding of how to play and make others better. He can start or play major second unit minutes and can play at both the 3/4. Has lots of playoff/big game experience and knows how and what to do when the chips are down. He'll be well sought after.
5. Ersan Ilyasova: Free agent 3/4 man who continues to improve. I like his game and toughness. If I were the Toronto Raptors, I'd have him high on my target list as well as Steve Nash on July 1. I know he's Turkish and things didn't go well with Hedo Turkoglu but this is a different kettle of fish altogether. This young man has excellent potential and a good work ethic. His best days (the next 5/6 years) are ahead of him. I don't care a bit about adding more 'Euro's'. I want guys who can play and help you win and I think he'll be a good get for someone.