TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on trade rumours involving Rudy Gay, the struggles of Michael Beasley, the development of Paul George, the future of Scott Skiles and the Raptors need for wins this week.
1. RUDY GAY (Grizzlies): Lots of chatter out there about this guy being on the trading block and the Toronto Raptors being interested. Bottom line, you take a look at the Raps and there is no doubt that they have a significant need at the 3-spot and he would be a nice fit. It will be interesting to see how the new Grizzlies ownership group handles this situation. I totally agree that they've got to make a big money decision regarding the salary cap/luxury tax hit, considering the size of their market and how it's perceived by the fans. My advice to them would be to go for it this season and give this group a chance to mix it up with the best teams in the West and see how it shakes out. After that, all bets are off. There will be a market for this guy, even though he's owed over $37 million the next two seasons. He's a very good player but a very expensive one, considering the more punitive luxury tax on the horizon. Lots of teams will look into it but believe me, finances will have a huge role in that decision by teams thinking of acquiring him. Is he a guy that puts you over the top and is he a day-to-day impact guy? Very expensive question to ask.
2. MICHAEL BEASLEY (Suns): On his third team after being the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat. Let's be real, it hasn't worked out yet. He averaging only 9.6 ppg and 3.5 rpg. He's shooting an abysmal 37% from the field and only 31% from 3-point range. Not good. Certain guys 'never figure it out'. Could he be one of them? Possibly. As a fifth-year player, he's getting closer and closer to that crossroads where he has to make a decision how he wants his career to be defined. Currently, it's underachievement. Time to get with it.
3. PAUL GEORGE (Pacers): His team is an impressive 21-14 without Danny Granger even playing a game; that's quite an accomplishment. A big reason is the fact that George has taken that next step as player. He's averaging close to 17 ppg and gets after it on the glass at 7.4rpg. He's become a very reliable and trustworthy player for head coach Frank Vogel. He's shooting the ball well from 3-point range at 38% and is a willing passer (3.7apg). He's got a solid mid-range game and competes hard each night. He has been given a bigger piece in the Pacers puzzle this season by necessity, it's force-fed his development and he's responded. I'm not sure if this team is Eastern Conference Champion material but they'll be a tough out come springtime and a big reason why is the growth of this guy's game.
4. COACH SCOTT SKILES: Fired this past week by the Milwaukee Bucks, the third head coach already shown the door this season. My recommendation to coaches - rent don't buy! Believe me, I know having lived it myself. I laugh about it now but it was NO fun living it. Skiles did a good job in all three places he coached (Phoenix/Chicago/Milwaukee), getting discipline established and a proper style of play. Yet as the clock ticked year-to-year, his effectiveness waned and his patience ran thin. Is he a good coach? Yes, definitely. Can every player play for him? You gotta be thick-skinned and tough. Will he coach again? I'd say down the line when a team is looking for a fix in a turnaround situation, he'll be considered. I've seen lot worse coaches working games in this League over the years.
5. GOTTA GET W'S (Toronto Raptors): I said it on Monday and I'll say it again. They need to go 3-0 vs. Philly, Charlotte and Milwaukee in the remainder of this homestand. They're five games back of the last playoff spot and that's a tall order indeed. Considering they started 4-19 (only one team in NBA history has come back to make the playoffs with a record like that) and have dug themselves a major hole, this week is a must to even have their names legitimately considered a slight possibility to miraculously secure a playoff spot. The Raptors are a woeful 0-5 in Atlantic Division games and 0-2 vs. Philadelphia. They're two games behind the Sixers in the standings and wins against them on Wednesday and next Friday in Philadelphia would be a huge help. The midway point of the season will arrive next Sunday after they play the Lakers at home. How time flies. To get into the hunt, another major push will be necessary. We're at that point here in the next few weeks.