Does Not Compute

I'm trying to make sense of some of the big offseason moves in the NBA... and so far, I'm not having much luck. Let's review:

The Pistons reportedly sign Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon
The transformation of the Pistons from one of the most physical teams in the league to one of the least is really stunning. I suppose Villanueva will replace some of the "shooting big man" offense Detroit will lose with Rasheed Wallace's inevitable departure... but who's replacing 'Sheed's presence on D? Not Austin Daye... who weighs in at around 190 pounds despite being nearly seven feet tall.

As for Ben Gordon -- didn't we learn last season that adding a scoring two-guard who fancies himself a starter doesn't really work when Rip Hamilton is your incumbent at the two?

The Magic Trade for Vince Carter
If the Magic can retain Hedo Turkoglu, I love this deal. Carter -- who may very well rejuvenate his career returning to his native Central Florida -- steps in as backcourt scorer and end-of-game big shot guy, making Orlando the favorite in the East.

But if Hedo's gone...

Orlando made it to the Finals, in part, because their unconventional "two 6'10" forwards who can shoot the three" lineup created matchup nightmares for the opposition. If Carter simply replaces Turkoglu, the Magic suddenly look a whole lot more conventional.

Is a starting five of Jameer Nelson, Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard significantly better than Nelson, Courtney Lee/Pietrus, Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard?

I don't think so.

Orlando should still coast to a top seed in the East -- I don't see any of the other Southeast teams taking a huge step forward in 2009-10 -- but it's hard to say they're well set-up to repeat as Eastern Conference champions over the Cavs or Celtics, isn't it?

The Grizzlies Trade for Zach Randolph
This one's the biggest head-scratcher of the bunch. Take a young, athletic team with a couple of key players that have less-than-stellar reputations for focus (Rudy Gay) or off-court associations (O.J. Mayo) and add one of the biggest distractions in the NBA... a guy whose reputation for off-court butt-headedness is exceeded only by his reputation for on-court selfishness.

Good plan.

The Randolph acquisition doesn't make much basketball sense -- he's a plodder best-suited to the halfcourt, the rest of the Grizzlies are gazelles -- or financial sense, either. Quentin Richardson's contract expires after this season - Randolph will make over $17 million in 2010-11.

Now, I understand the Memphis roster is short on low-post scoring and rebounding... and those are two things that Randolph does well. And they do have the cap space to absorb Z-Bo without batting an eye. But c'mon -- is this really the best move for the long-term health of the franchise? Wouldn't a offer to, say, David Lee make approximately 100 times more sense?

The Cavaliers Trade for Shaq
I'm inclined to reserve judgment on this one until I see what else the Cavs are up to. There are reports that they're in the mix for Trevor Ariza or Ron Artest -- either of whom would go a long way towards addressing their need for a player who can match up with combo forwards like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.

If this is their only move, I'd be inclined to pan it. But I don't think they're done.


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