Despite there not being any Lakers games since Thursday’s game against Boston, their have been a few interesting developments around the league over the past couple of days – especially in regards to some of the guys that changed area codes before the Thursday trade deadline. So, here are a few random thoughts on what we’ve seen in their first games with their new teams…
*How about that T-Mac? He was quite impressive in his debut for the Knicks as he looks completely healed from his knee surgery (I think Doc Brown performed his micro-fracture surgery) and was in better condition than I would have expected for a guy that has only played a handful of games over the past season and a half. If McGrady can play well down the stretch of this season for the Knicks, some team is going to want him and maybe even a contender. If money really isn’t an issue for him, I could see scenarios where he stays with the Knicks or moves on to another team that is in contention for a championship. There are plenty of teams that could use a player with his skill set and if he really can adjust to being a secondary player on a good team, he will surely help out with his ability to score and handle the ball.
*T-Mac wasn’t alone in looking good for the new look Knicks, though. I was quite impressed with Sergio Rodriguez and his comfort in D’Antoni’s schemes (they are a natural fit) and was also happy to see Eddie House doing his thing for a team that can’t really hurt the Lakers in the post-season. Like Phil Jackson, I believe House is a dangerous player and I think Boston let go of a player that really can change the game with his shooting. House is a threat and can change the momentum in a game. However, coaxing those types of performances out of Eddie is seemingly much easier when he’s upset and playing with chip on his shoulder (as he is after this trade) and while playing in a shooter friendly system that he has history in.
*Lots of other players had good performances for their new teams over the past couple of days. Hakim Warrick and Flip Murray performed quite well in their debut for the Bulls and fit in like they’d been playing with the team all season. Ty Thomas stepped in with the Bobcats and played well in his first game under Larry Brown’s coaching as the Cats continued to terrorize the Cavs. He then followed up that performance with a double double against the Bucks the next night. Speaking of the Bucks, John Salmons has given them the scoring punch and playmaking they need on the wing. These are small sample sizes for these players and keeping up the strong play will be something to monitor, but getting a boost from a trade is a always a good thing because it’s not always a smooth first impression for these guys.
*Like Antawn Jamison’s 0-12 debut for the Cavs. Or Carl Landry’s ten points on eleven shots for the Kings. Or Ronnie Brewer tearing his hamstring in his first game with the Grizz. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and players don’t perform well in their debuts, making it easy to think the worst. However, just as you can’t get too high because of a strong performance from a newcomer, you also can’t get too down on a player because they played poorly. Jamison and Landry are good players and they’ll be better than they showed in their first games with their new teams. I thought Matt Moore had a good take over at ProBasketballTalk on Jamison’s debut:
To think that Jamison’s career in Cleveland will be marked with failure because he had difficulty on his first night after lots of traveling, rearranging his life, and trying to integrate into a brand new system is just plain silly, and ignores one significant factor in this outcome: the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Bobcats defense is one of the best in the league, beset by talented, versatile defenders, especially bigs. They operate well in man, man-help, zone, and hybrid schemes, meaning essentially they can affix their approach to any opponent. Throw in their effort and ability and it’s not at all shocking that Jamison struggled. Throw in the other factors and a cold shooting night, and it’s simply one of those things that happens. Let’s wait to see how Jamison responds for the remainder of the season before sounding the panic alarm.
However, even though I agree with everything said, I do think Jamison will need to have a strong performance soon just to relieve the fans of the Cavs. They’ve lost two straight games (one without ‘Tawn and one with) and that is a rare thing for this years Cavs. For a team that was coasting along on a 13 game win streak and in possession of the league’s best record, a couple more losses or bad performances from their new acquisition may induce some panic.