Nets Of the Round Table X: Melo, Shaq, Lottery No More

Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Sebastian, Mark, Devin, and myself will answer questions regarding the L.

1) The rumor goes that Carmelo Anthony won’t sign the $65 million extension offer from the Denver Nuggets and become an unrestricted free agent next year. Of the rumored teams and teams that will have cap space, which is the best fit for Melo?

Sebastian: I am going to be biased here and say the Nets. The Nuggets just aren’t going to give Carmelo away for expiring contracts like Eddy Curry (despite what Knicks fans will try to tell you). The Nets have the most tradeable young talent, and I can see the Nets sending over Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and picks for Carmelo. This gives the Nets a real solid front court in Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, and Carmelo Anthony. Not too shabby.

Mark: I’m going to let the NYC media influence me and say either the Knicks or the Nets. Unless Pat Riley found a way to create more cap room for talent in South Beach, both NY-area teams will have the cash on hand to make a big push for ‘Melo and as Brooklyn native, I can see him being sold on either franchise. That’s why I think it’s important for the Nets to become a functional franchise this season because as we learned this past summer, the all-stars aren’t just looking for money… they want a good shot of winning it all.

Devin: I’d love to see him on the Nets, obviously, but I doubt he comes to Newark. Personally, I think it’s between New York and Denver. He’s spent his entire career there and he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to just skip town like that, but if he was going anywhere it would be to the Garden with Amare and potentially Chris Paul.

DV: If the Denver Nuggets go the trade route, I’d say the New Jersey Nets because they’ll probably want Melo out of the conference and the Nets have some solid supply to meet the Nuggets’ demand. If it’s a free agency situation, the Knicks because they’ll have the money after Eddy Curry comes off the books. With the Knicks, Melo would get to play in a high-scoring offense again and have a high-caliber (albeit with an injury history) big man in Amare Stoudemire and a very good point guard in Raymond Felton. Melo would fit right in.

2) Shaquille O’Neal continues to chase that ring to tie Kobe Bryant as the Diesel has signed with the Boston Celtics. Thoughts on his production for the season?

Sebastian: I think the Celtics have a very specific strategy for dealing with the Miami Heat. They are adding guys who can defend the paint and take fouls on the inside. Say what you will about Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, and Kendrick Perkins on the offensive end, but these guys are going to have 18 fouls between them to take on guys attacking the basket, and this is going to be most effective when dealing with the Celtics.

Mark: I don’t see how he fits in Boston, a team that has made its hay with a team-oriented defense. Shat notoriously does his own thing on defense. I also have a hard time figuring where Shaq fits in the rotation with Jermaine O’Neal also on the roster, especially with Kendrick Perkins comes back from his injury.

Devin: Low at best, but it was still a good move by Boston. With Perkins out for the first half of the season, they needed someone to complement Jermaine O’Neal at the 5 spot. Once Perk comes back, the 48-minute rotation the three of them run could potentially be very effective. If The Big Shamroq accepts his role as second/third-string center and really works towards winning above all else, the Celtics could overpower a team like Miami whose weakness is at the 5 spot.

DV: First of all, Shaq will need to understand that he won’t be a starter much on this team, especially when Kendrick Perkins comes back. If he can accept about 20 minutes a game then he’ll be fine. It can be assumed that Shaq has an ego and coming to the Celtics he won’t be in awe of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce’s ONE ring because, well, he has FOUR. So, I think a lot of his success will be dictated by his mentality. Physically, Shaq will give the Celtics a bruising force down low that can still rebound, alter shots, and make anyone that attacks the rim pay for it. Also, should there be an NBA Finals re-match, the Celtics just added another big to counteract the Lakers’ bigs.

3) Which lottery team from last season has the best chance of becoming a playoff team this coming season?

Sebastian: The Jazz? Seriously though the Kings. They added a very good center in DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and the crew are going to be another year wiser, and you have a guy like Pooh Jeter who can be a spark of the bench. This team can make a pretty big splash in the West.

Mark: I’ll be a homer and say the Nets. I honestly do think there was a lot of talent on the roster last season, despite the horrible record. The team undoubtedly added quality depth to the roster this season, and with real coaching and ownership supporting them, I can see the team floating around .500 all season long and challenging for one of the bottom East seeds. And you know what? I would absolutely take that.

Devin: The Rockets. I know it’s an easy choice since they were the best lottery team last year, but with Yao coming back and a lot of great assets in Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Aaron Brooks, and rookie Patrick Patterson, Houston is poised to bounce back and into the playoffs next year. Despite the injury to Yao last year, the Rockets still finished with a record above .500 (42-40) and can only go up from here. In the East (and I know you didn’t ask), the Knicks are a likely choice to slide into the playoffs as well. They’ve seriously improved their roster with the additions of Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton and I’d be shocked to see them fall back into the lottery this year.

DV: I think the Nets and Knicks both have a shot of playing in the postseason next year, but the team with the best chance has to be the Rockets. They have the talent already there that went 42-40 and now you add Yao Ming. Not too bad, is it?