The Western Conference Wave Goodbye To Carmelo & Deron With A Smile
While everyone is so enamored with the deals that have sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets, what everyone seems to forget is that while the Eastern Conference is headed for a star-studded playoffs, the Western Conference (specifically the Los Angeles Lakers) can breathe a sigh of relief that the road to the finals has become a lot easier.
LeBron James sings the praises of the Eastern Conference, but he’s got to be a little stressed that the playoffs will become a little bit tougher for the Heat to get through. The same goes for the Celtics, Magic and Bulls. That first-round playoff series that appeared to be a breeze, has no longer become a gimme. With the Knicks now sporting a diet big 3, they are a nightmare first or second round matchup.
Meanwhile, the Lakers and their season—which becomes more and more filled with question marks—have become somewhat easier. Currently, the six, seven and eight seeds are Denver, Portland and Memphis (with Utah a half game out of playoff contention). Denver is now a relative non-factor who will likely be overwhelmed in the first round. Portland has been decimated with injuries. Memphis is…well…Memphis. And Utah may have trashed their season by trading Deron Williams for Devin Harris. There are five teams in the Western Conference with legitimate shots: Mavericks, Spurs, Lakers, Thunder and Hornets. Of the five, the Spurs are aging (like fine wine), the Mavericks are still in need of someone to fill Caron Butler‘s void, the Thunder may still be a year away and the Hornets window is closing. That leaves the Lakers who may get a much needed cakewalk in the first round. The Spurs may get the same easy road.
These trades appear to only make the Eastern Conference stronger and more likely to beat each other up through the playoffs, leaving whoever makes the Eastern Conference champs a little more bumped up and bruised for a likely rested Western Conference team.
One thing is for sure—the second half of the season is sure to be exciting.