In this week's edition of the Friday 5 with Ken Berger, the CBSSports.com NBA Senior Writer talks the biggest trade of the summer, Team USA's gold medal and who gained the most, and, what we learned from the Dwightmare.
1. So... that happened (Lakers got Howard). Does it ever cease to amaze you how the Lakers can pull off these moves with this regularity?
KB: Pretty incredible turn of events. Getting Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the span of five weeks surely trumps the Pau Gasol trade, which of course didn't turn out to be as lopsided a deal as we thought at the time. The weird thing is, it isn't as though the Lakers purposely positioned themselves for this. They weren't creating cap room or any kind of flexibility. All they had was a lousy $9 million trade exception, and boom, they got a Hall of Fame point guard and the best center in the game. It helps to be in L.A., for sure.
2. So... that happened (the U.S. won gold at the Olympics in basketball). Who do you think got the most out of that experience, in terms of learning how to make their game better?
KB: It should be Carmelo Anthony. Not that he's going to be coming off the bench for the Knicks, but embracing that role and thriving in it should translate to him being more of a team player next season. And more of an all-around player, too. At the Olympics, Melo defended, Melo rebounded, Melo moved the ball and moved without the ball, Melo didn't use up half the floor with his isolation game. I see no reason why the same Melo shouldn't show up at MSG in a couple of months.
3. So... that happened (the Sixers traded for Andrew Bynum). Does this move them into that tier with Boston, Indiana, etc, in the East beneath the Heat?
KB: No question. Though they'll miss Iguodala's all-around game, they're young, deep and athletic enough at the wing positions to make up for it. There is no substitute for an All-Star who is 7 feet tall, especially since interior play was Philly's biggest weakness. Now, let's see if defensive guru Michael Curry can get Bynum to defend and if Doug Collins can get him to mature.
4. So... that happened (Orlando self-destructed). Are they going to be able to move Glen Davis and/or Jameer Nelson in their rebuilding pursuits?
KB: Davis would be easier to move -- he's younger and on a more reasonable contract, and a contender could make use of his intangibles (which aren't always positive, but on a net basis probably are in the right environment). At $8 million a year, Nelson theoretically is more difficult to move. But the third year is only partially guaranteed, and point guard is such a premium position that you have to believe Rob Hennigan thought the contract would be moveable at some point. Otherwise, why sign him to it?
5. So... that happened (the Dwightmare is over). What, if anything, can we learn from this whole ordeal?
KB: Well, we learned that a prospective free agent should never ... EVER ... waive a forthcoming early-termination option in his contract. It just made the whole thing messier than it had to be. We learned that despite -- and in some ways as a result of -- changes in the CBA, a team with a highly valued asset who wants to leave can wind up with much less leverage than you would imagine. And we learned that we'll have to wait to find out if a star with wanderlust will ever actually put his money where his mouth is and take a pay cut to play where he wants to play. LeBron, Bosh, Stoudemire and Anthony didn't under the old agreement. And the Magic chose not to push Howard to that breaking point under the new agreement.