Playing the NBA Stock Market: Buy or Sell
by Josh Nagel - 02/23/2009
Coming out the All-Star break, most NBA teams made some final moves that indicated their intentions for the rest of the season.
Some, such as the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, showed that they intend to improve their clubs right away and contend this year. The Magic added veteran point guard Rafer Alston to make up for the loss of Jameer Nelson, while the Heat acquired post presence Jermaine O'Neal and dumped malcontent Shawn Marion.
Others have moves that showed they are surrendering for the season and looking for brighter days down the line. These include the Toronto Raptors, who were the recipients of Marion and the Sacramento Kings, who got rid of one of the league's best values in John Salmons.
So while some teams are buying and others are selling, here is a look at the prospects of a few teams in this week's NBA Buy or Sell.
Utah Jazz - The good news for Jazz fans is that, between a superstar point guard in Deron Williams and a resourceful coach in Jerry Sloan, they have held things together enough to preserve a playoff run while awaiting the return of forward Carlos Boozer from injury. Since Boozer's return appears imminent, you can only expect that things will get even better for the Jazz, who have won and covered in eight of their past 10 outings.
Golden State Warriors - It might be a case of too little, too late for fans of this defense-challenged club, but the injury-plagued Warriors are finally showing signs of why they had such high expectations at the start of the season. When they have a full complement of players, they are dangerous on any given night and capable of beating superior teams simply with their relentless and potent offense. Golden State has covered in six of its past seven games.
Orlando Magic - The Magic showed they were determined to not let their breakout season slip away by acquiring a veteran point guard in Alston, who happens to be similar to Nelson in many positive ways. He's also improved his passing over the past few seasons. The Magic have responded with wins and covers in their past two games to reverse a brief slide. The Magic have upcoming road games against the Knicks, Bulls and 76ers, and there's a good chance they will build on their 18-8-1 road mark against the spread.
Detroit Pistons - A disappointing season has gone from bad to worse for the Pistons, who have never recovered from two major transitions. The trade for Allen Iverson backfired, as did the hiring of inexperienced coach Michael Curry. In order to salvage the franchise's immediate future, the Pistons might have to cut ties with Curry in the same manner Phoenix did with Terry Porter, then decide on their next move. In the meantime, performances like their dreadful blowout loss to Cleveland on Sunday show how far Detroit has fallen. The Pistons have won just two of their past 10 games, and have covered just once - by a half-point - during that span.
76ers - It looks as though the 76ers held on as long as they could without free-agent prize Elton Brand and, although they have sometimes played better without him, it's clear the 76ers are just handicapped personnel-wise when it comes to competing in the Eastern Conference. This is catching up to them more on a daily basis, and they have failed to take the cash in four straight games.
Los Angeles Clippers - Although it's never exactly a waltz on a limb to suggest your money is better off supporting a team not named the Los Angeles Clippers, their recent run of futility deserves special mention. There seems to be no spread large enough to justify a wager on the Clippers of late, as their scoring defense reached record proportions in two straight blowout losses to the Suns in which they gave up at least 140 points. They responded by losing to an improved - but far from elite - Portland team by 29 points in their next outing, and haven't sniffed a cover in five straight games.