The NBA is finally here! Finally! It has been way too long, but the wait is over. Every team in the division has gotten their first game under their belt, so naturally it is time for some first game reactions and hot takes.
Pelicans will win the division.
Anthony Davis may actually have a supporting cast for once. Davis will be free to spread his wings and do as he pleases on offense this year. He also possibly only just entering his prime.
Sure winning the first game of the season against the Houston Rockets is not an indicator that the New Orleans Pelicans are a better team, that’s why this is a hot take. What is obvious is that the Rockets got worse this year. Losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute will have a bigger negative impact than Carmelo Anthony will have a positive one.
The Pelicans have the best player in the division and perhaps their best team in franchise history. The Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks do not look ready to compete for the throne. The San Antonio Spurs don’t have any point guards left. While the Rockets are the defending champs, this could be the Pelicans division to lose.
Marc Gasol will be traded
The Grizzlies looked every part of a dumpster fire in their opener against the Indiana Pacers. Sure, they have several new pieces and everyone is learning a new system from new head coach JB Bickerstaff, but woof. This team will struggle to score, and if that is what their defense will look like consistently, then hope will fade before the calendar hits December.
Marc Gasol wants to win, who doesn’t? If the Grizzlies don’t play their cards right it could be Tyreke Evans 2.0 (losing a player in free agency that you could have gotten return for). There is no indication that Gasol will definitely walk in free agency, but if the Grizzlies are headed to another tank-a-thon, Gasol will probably look for a winning situation.
As the trade deadline approaches, the Grizzlies front office will be forced to determine if they want to risk Gasol walking or to go ahead and try to get something in return from a team in contention this season. If the Grizzlies are smart, which they have proved several times they aren’t, Gasol will be moved before the deadline.
The Rockets trade the bank
The Rockets currently constructed are not a threat to the Golden State Warriors. Ariza’s value to the team last season was greatly underrated. The Rockets’ brass will be forced to make a major move at the deadline to have a chance in this championship window.
I do not think the Rockets have the assets to bring in Jimmy Butler, but he would be the piece that could put them ahead of the Warriors. It may be more realistic for them to acquire a Thabo Sefolosha or Iman Shumpert, but those players do not move the needle enough.
The only young assets currently on the roster are Clint Capela, who would only be traded for an upgrade at his position, and Marquese Chriss, who looks every part of a bust. Would they be willing to part with sixth man Eric Gordon? In order to pull of the miracle Butler trade, Gordon’s contract would have to be included because Minnesota will not interested in taking back oft-injured Brandon Knight.
The Rockets will be active, but how big of a splash will they be able to make?
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