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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shareef Likes It and Other Moves Rocking the NBA Casbah

The Clash once famously sang "Shareef don't like it" in their classic '80s hit "Rock the Casbah," but Shareef Abdur-Rahim certainly likes leaving basketball purgatory in Portland to play alongside Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter in New Jersey. Look at that lineup again--three players with All-Star Game experience and a fourth (Jefferson) who has future All-Star written all over him. Abdur-Rahim is a proven 20 ppg scorer who is also good for 8-10 rebounds per game. He replaces the rebounding that the Nets lost when Kenyon Martin signed with Denver before last season; while Abdur-Rahim is not as good defensively as Martin he is bigger and more versatile (can score inside or outside, shoots a better free throw percentage, is a better passer).

Houston hopes to "swiftly" become a contender by signing alliteratively named Memphis Grizzlies power forward Stromile Swift to play alongside Yao Ming. Tracy McGrady lobbied hard for this move and perhaps the change in scenery--and the opportunity to play with All-Stars T-Mac and Yao--will unleash the untapped potential in the freakishly athletic Swift. Most dominant centers who lead teams to NBA titles have a good/great power forward watching their back defensively and on the boards--for instance, Mikan and Mikkelson, Russell and Heinsohn, Wilt and Luke Jackson, Reed and DeBusschere, Walton and Maurice Lucas, Parish and McHale. Swift is not nearly as good as any of those guys, but he is more athletic than any power forward on the Rocket roster and provides a nice one-two punch at that position with savvy veteran Juwan Howard.

One other NBA related move may have flown under the radar but deserves mention--John Weisbrod signed with the NHL Dallas Stars as a scout. Yes, this is the same Weisbrod who recently resigned as General Manager of the Orlando Magic. Read that again--he quit his job as an NBA executive because he admitted that winning a Stanley Cup is more important to him than winning an NBA championship (a revelation that must have thrilled Magic season ticket holders) and the job he had waiting in the wings was to become an NHL scout. Weisbrod's trade of McGrady for Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley, soon followed by dumping Mobley for a broken down Doug Christie, will not likely be supplanting Boston's acquisition of McHale and Parish on the list of great NBA trades of all-time.

posted by David Friedman @ 1:41 PM

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