College Football Hodge Podge

There is but one game in the college football season, afterwards the amount I care about football will dip considerably. There’s still a few debates out there though.

The great Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota argument

Marcus Mariota

If I was the GM of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I would take Mariota and hire someone from Oregon, starting with Mark Helfrich and working my way down, to teach the team the Oregon offense.

Now, I do think the system quarterback criticism is interesting. Mariota throws to a lot of open receivers — I’m not going to act like he doesn’t. On one hand, Sam Bradford was called a system quarterback and I’m very open about my dislike for the former Oklahoma QB. However, the No. 1 criticism against Aaron Rodgers was that he was a system quarterback. This just in: Aaron Rodgers is the best QB in football.

My point is that the system quarterback stuff is bull crap and if teams are that worried about it install the system for your particularly offensive challenged team.

I don’t think Winston is going to bad. If I was taking Winston I would run the same offense Baltimore used with young Joe Flacco, which is pound the ball on the ground and throw deep, The one place where Winston is undoubtedly a better quarterback (other than attracting off the field attention) than Mariota is his ability to throw bombs.

Who I would hire to be my NFL coach

jim_harbaugh

I swear this will lead to a college football point. Here’s my top NFL coaching candidates:

  • Mark Helfrich
  • Urban Meyer (especially if Ohio State wins)
  • Art Briles
  • Kevin Sumlin
  • Hue Jackson
  • Teryl Austin
  • Rex Ryan

What I would avoid like the plague is any guy who was an NFL coach and now is not, except for Sexy Rexy who had some unfortunate circumstances. Any one who wants to give Mike Shanahan a job deserves to have their young star quarterbacks ruined. So there’s no way anyone would give Mike Martz or Brian Billick a job, right? Why isn’t Mike Shanahan looked at as Stegosaurus? Sure Brian Billick was lucky to have the greatest defense of all time. Shanahan had John Elway and road Terrell Davis into the ground. And that was 15 years ago.

The problem with my list is that college coaches may not want to leave the friendly confines of their local campuses. Jim Harbaugh is showing everyone that you can make just as much money and not have to deal with as much crap. Win-win. Brian Schottenheimer just left an offensive coordinator position with the Rams to take and o coordinator position at Georgia. Normally that’s a big step down, but these days …

Who I like in the national title game

oregon_ducks

I think a concept that does not get discussed enough by ESPN types is the idea of having a deserving program. I understand that it is a subjective and fluid though. But, Oregon has paid its dues as a program. The Ducks have progressively gotten better and better since the Joey Harrington days in the early 2000s. It’s undoubtedly the power program in the Pac 12 and it would take a fat recruiting scandal to ruin that. They should have a national title.

While it was wonderful that the Buckeyes defeated Alabama, I know their fans will be the biggest of beat downs if Ohio State wins the title. Even though 2002 was a dozen years ago, it’s not long enough to bring a title back to Columbus. They need to wait another decade.

The NFL’s Biggest Problem

russell_wilson

Every five years or so the NBA goes through a philosophical revolution. These days the association is about spacing the floor, perimeter defense and hitting corner 3s. At this point, having two low-post oriented big men is a detriment. Probably in five years, the league will swing back the other way — possibly spurred by the glut of big men coming from college this year.

Baseball also undergoes these changes in attitude, with, I think, one emphasizing speed and contact on the near horizon. Their philosophical changes just happen to be 10 or more years apart.

The NFL, in the past anyway, usually had their philosophical modifications happen naturally through coaching or personnel. The NFL is in dire need of an attitude adjustment.

I think the League is in a very similar situation as the NBA in the early 2000s. Back in the era of Allen Iverson and young Kobe Bryant, the NBA was viewed as bereft of likeable stars and rife with troublemakers. However, the style of play was also consistently frustrating. The knuckleheads were gradually weeded out of the league and rule changes encouraged a more entertaining, offensive style of play. For awhile LeBron was the most hated and popular player in the league, and he’s never been in any criminal trouble.

Yes, player conduct is a huge issue for the NFL. Yes, concussions are a threatening long-term issue. But the reason the NFL is getting beat in the ratings by The Walking Dead is that the NFL has been extremely boring this year.

The problem, I feel, is that teams are far too dependent on quarterbacks and there just aren’t enough good ones in the league. Here are the winning quarterbacks in the league:

  • Aaron Rodgers
  • Tom Brady
  • Peyton Manning
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Tony Romo
  • Phillip Rivers
  • Andrew Luck
  • Russell Wilson
  • Drew Brees (hanging on)
  • Matt Ryan

And some borderline guys:

  • Matthew Stafford
  • Cam Newton
  • Colin Kaepernick
  • Eli Manning (maybe it’s unfair for a two-time super bowl winner but he needs to stop throwing so many picks)
  • Joe Flacco
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Andy Dalton

I would put Carson Palmer in that second group if there was an indication he was actually going to come back and play. Let’s examine that list. Ten teams every week have an offense that works because of their quarterback alone. Seven more teams have an offense that works about 50 percent of the time because of their quarterbacks. There are 15 more teams that are varying degrees of unwatchable because of their quarterback play.

Now that last sentence is not entirely accurate, because the Eagles are competent in spite of their quarterback play. And there in lies one of my fixes. Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh are two of the best coaches in the league coming from college. For most of NFL history, college coaches have struggled to transition to the pro game, with exceptions like Jimmy Johnson. But the NFL drastically needs injections of new blood. All the open jobs at the end of the year should go to college guys, Art Briles probably first.

Second why are so few quarterbacks transitioning successfully into the league? Is that defenses are just so talented? Here’s the elite defenses in the league:

  • Seattle
  • Arizona
  • San Francisco
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Buffalo
  • Houston
  • Cincinnati
  • Miami
  • Baltimore

Actually there’s more quality quarterbacks in the league than defenses. That makes sense because it’s harder to play defense than it used to be Also, none of the defenses this year could hold a candle to the best units from a decade ago.

NFL offenses are too complicated. I think back to Robert Griffin III’s rookie year. Part of the reason he was so successful is that the offense was simplified and modified to his strengths. Granted, Griffin’s injuries have been a big factor in the decline in his play, but why did they change the scheme when it worked like gangbusters the year before? Let’s look at Russell Wilson. Wilson has endured sustained success in Seattle because he doesn’t try to do too much and he isn’t asked to do too much.

I think coaches go out of their way to make these offenses so complicated as a testament to their genius. Then they complain the quarterbacks can’t make the reads. Maybe if there weren’t five reads on each play it would be easier.

Another solution, treat running quarterbacks like running backs and change them out every three to four years. Sometimes you’ll have an elite talent like Mariota, Newton, Wilson or Griffin, maybe you try to get five years out of one of those guys. But you could also run a Tebow or Dak Prescott into the ground. You just don’t pay them as much.

While I’m solving NFL problems, I’ll tackle the concussion issue as well, and it might very well help the style of play too.

Positional weight limits, combined with softer helmets (I believe there is a style that has foam outside of the shell).

  • Offensive lineman: 300 pound maximum
  • Defensive tackles: 290 pounds
  • 3-4 Defensive ends: 270 pounds
  • 4-3 defensive ends: 260 pounds
  • Linebackers: 240 pounds
  • Pass rushing linebackers: 250 pounds
  • Cornerbacks: 200 pounds
  • Safeties: 210 pounds
  • Tight ends: 230 pounds
  • Wide Receivers: 210 pounds, unless their over 6-4 then they can be 220
  • Running backs: 230 pounds
  • Quarterbacks: 240 pounds (because many of them are so tall)

Seriously, do any of these positions need to weight more than this?

been in seri

In appreciation of Gary Pinkel

Insight Bowl - Missouri v Iowa

Brian Phillips, my current favorite writer, was questioning fans in Stillwater for wanting Mike Gundy’s head after two mediocre seasons. I have to agree that they should hold off to bringing the ax to Mr. “I’m a man; I’m 40” for at least a couple of seasons.

Two years ago, I wanted Gary Pinkel fired. My rationale was that I’m tired of coming up just short and that it might be time for a change … well, unless he delivers one of those magical seasons. Low and behold, last year, the Tigers only have one loss in the regular seasons (admittedly a total gut punch to South Carolina at home) — wins include: stomping Georgia on the road and ranked Florida, Texas A&M and Ole Miss teams. Mizzou played in the SEC title game in just the Tigers second year in the best college football conference in the nation and actually played Auburn pretty tough for three quarters. If they had the playoff last year, Mizzou might have been in the running for one of those spots, probably not because I think there were a few one loss teams that year but I think a two-loss team might make it this season.

I’m going to put my disclaimer here, we can easily lose to Arkansas. We play them the day after Thanksgiving, which is kind of a funky situation. The Razorbacks are a team we have not played and they just blasted two ranked SEC West teams. Still, the fact that Mizzou is in the situation that we could go back to the SEC title game two years in a row is mind boggling, considering we lost our top three receivers, our top two defensive lineman and our best corner from the previous season.

Gary Pinkel is the best coach in Mizzou history and it’s not even close. Here is what Tiger fans can expect every year:

  • The Tigers will have a dominant defensive line. I believe this trend goes back to Ziggy Hood. Mizzou churns out lightning fast lineman — Aldon Smith begot Sheldon Richardson who begot Michael Sam and Kony Ealy who begot Shane Ray and Markus Golden. Having a good defensive line basically ensures that you will have a good defense every year. It’s a lot easier to contend with a good defense.
  • The Tigers will produce at least one NFL player each season. From the 2013 team, Ealy was drafted the highest but EJ Gaines plays regular minutes for the Rams. From the disappointing 2012 team, Richardson has been a beast for the Jets and Zavier Gooden plays for Tennessee. From the 2011 team, Michael Egnew was the only guy to get drafted (and the history of Missouri tight ends in the NFL is not good). From the 2010 team, Aldon Smith, when not having problems with the law has been a world beater for San Fran and Blaine Gabbert, uh well he was drafted in the top 10. From the 2009 team, Sean Weatherspoon, who when healthy is one of the best linebackers in the league. The 2008 team produced Maclin, an all-pro caliber receiver, Hood, who was an NFL starter and William Moore, who is one of the better defensive players for the Falcons (he has been good in the league, but that descriptor does not say too much). So in the six drafts, only 2012 was the outlier. Hey, high school recruit, you want to play in the NFL? Missouri’s a pretty good place to be.
  • Especially, because of those players, only a handful were high level recruits. The only five stars were Gabbert and Richardson. On defense in particular, Mizzou develops players. I’ll use Aldon Smith as an example. People knew he was a freak athlete when he arrived in Columbia, but he was super skinny, which is why he was a three-star recruit. Pinkel and staff redshirted him a year and just yoked him up in the weight room. He was virtually unblockable after that.
  • On top of a great defensive line, the defense will have at least two other high quality play makers. That might actually be an understatement. Michael Scherer and Kentrell Brothers are at the very least extremely competent college linebackers. Braylon Webb, Kenya Dennis and Josh Gibson have all been pretty good in the secondary. I really like Dennis.
  • Mizzou will have at least two quality offensive play makers. This year it’s the running backs — both Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough. Last year it was the three wide receivers — Dorial Green-Beckham, Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington.

Dorial-Green-Beckham-has-been-arrested-again-no-charges-fil

I was ready to punt this season after the DGB fiasco. At the time, I wanted us to keep him and just let his transgressions play out. Now, I wonder if the karma gods are rewarding Mizzou for letting him go (I really hope he leaves for the NFL without ever playing a down for Oklahoma). He’s a bastard if he actually pushed that girl down a flight of stairs.

All of this is predicated on Mizzou beating Arkansas but I want to throw out a couple of scenarios. Alabama is not the force of nature it was two years ago. It’s offense is young and just not as talented. If they win the Iron Bowl, which they could easily lose, could Mizzou’s defense keep the Crimson Tide down enough for the Tiger offense to capitalize.

In the case that Alabama loses the Iron Bowl and Mississippi State beats Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, hasn’t it seemed like everything has worked out pretty much perfect for the Bulldogs this season? I think they might be due for a big stumbling block game.

Regardless, if Mizzou makes the SEC title game, they’ll be the team with A. a chip on its shoulder and B. nothing to lose. Even more than making the SEC title game in consecutive seasons, the perfect F-you to the conference would be to play spoiler to one of the SEC west powerhouses.

Again, I have Gary Pinkel to thank that the Tigers are even in this position.

Transaction Traction

heyward

It’s become about a every other month tradition. The Cardinals make some type of trade. I don’t like it and whine but eventually except it.

It’s a little bit different this time though. With this most recent trade I really do understand the logic, even though I’m still not completely on board.

The trade with the Atlanta Braves was that the Birds sent Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins to Atlanta for Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Waldon.

Let’s just throw Waldon out right now. He was the extra cheese on this trade pizza. Any reliever (any reliever) who is not a closer is only so valuable. But, Heyward is the type of guy you take a chance on. He’s only 25 years old and his numbers aren’t awful — .262 average, 20 homers, 153 hits and 87 runs, nothing to scoff at. He’s been disappointing considering his pedigree, especially taking into a account that he’s a power hitter playing in a hitter’s park. In comparison, Justin Upton’s numbers are only marginally better.

The trend recently with baseball is that pitching is the more available resource. Teams have scratched together competent rotations without having a bonafide ace. I would say both teams in the ALCS fit that bill. God help me because I’m about to say something positive about the Cubs, but the Cubbies, under the tutelage of ace GM Theo Epstein, have a smart franchise building strategy. With a variety of great starting pitchers in the league, the Little Bears have stocked up on hitting prospects. Everyone suspects the Northsiders will now use their molding mounds of cash on any one of the available starters on the market — Max Scherzer or Jon Lester as just two examples.

Heyward is also just like Oscar Taveras, smooth lefty power hitter, pretty good fielder. Obviously the Birds don’t think Randal Grichuk is ready to take over in right full time (plus he’s center field insurance if Jon Jay regresses). The downside (or upside if you think Grichuk just needs one more season of incubation) is that we only have Heyward locked up for just one year.

Still, the baseball traditionalist in me does not like the Cardinals giving up on young starters with good stuff. Miller wasn’t great last year but he wasn’t bad either. It was a decided advantage going forward that the Redbirds could throwout Miller and Wacha for years to come. With Jenkins, who was drafted the year after Miller, the Cardinals have three opportunities to get burned by pitchers; that includes Joe Kelly in Boston.

JD_drew

This current trade with Atlanta reminds me of another swap with the Braves back in 2003. That offseason the Cardinals traded young, talented, power-hitting, smooth-fielding right fielder JD Drew and backup catcher Eli Marrero for two pitchers. Those pitchers were Jason Marquis, who won 15 games multiple times as the Cardinals built a NL Central winning machine in the middle aughts, and Adam Wainwright, who has now won 20 games twice. I think the Braves wish they could have that trade back especially because Drew only played with them one year (albeit a very good season for the oft injured pretty boy).

Adjusting a little bit for the difference in eras, Drew and Heyward’s numbers at that point are very similar. Pluses though for Heyward is that he is younger and has been injured less.

Tyrell Jenkins is not as lauded as Adam Wainwright. Waino was the Braves best prospect at that point and was already in double A. Thus far Jenkins has not risen above single A, but was impressive in the Arizona Fall League. There is a very good chance, that with a new team, Miller is at least serviceable if not ace level. If Jenkins hits too, the Cardinals lose that trade regardless of what Heyward does.

Well, I’ll qualify that. If Heyward hits .300 with 30 homers and the Cardinals win the World Series next year, I won’t care what Miller and Jenkins do. If Heyward can hit 30 home runs, again somewhat dubious because he’s moving to a pitcher’s park, it’s worth resigning him — although, hopefully at something reasonable.

Obviously no one knew Taveras was going to die in the Dominican before the World Series even ended but I think it’s worth mentioning how all these trades relate. Although John Lackey helped the Cardinals get to the playoffs and past the first round, he is what he is. As Jalen Rose always says, Father Time remains undefeated. Lackey is only going to get worse. Along with Kelly, the Cardinals also gave up Allen Craig, who could play right field.

NBA underrated team

I’m going to try to put together a team that could contend but not break the bank.

C – Marc Gasol

Marc-Gasol

I know he won defensive player of the year honors two years ago, but I still feel like his offense, especially his passing, is underrated. He’s the better of the two Gasol’s in my opinion and Pau is a borderline hall of famer.

PF – Channing Frye

Channing+Frye+Phoenix+Suns+v+Los+Angeles+Lakers+QjL5J1D-ab-l

With Gasol occupying the block, it’s nice to have a stretch four to create spacing. I think Frye’s defense is overlooked because he’s regarded as a turn style on that end of the floor. Gasol would make up for some defensive liabilities.

SF – Trevor Ariza

trevor-ariza-washington-wizards-2013-nba-draft

Can go the bombs away route with corner 3s but is also a decent off the bounce creator. Really he’s pretty good at everything but not especially gifted at any one skill. Probably would get eaten alive by LeBron and Durant but so does everybody.

SG – Bradley Beal

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards: Game Four

If he can stay on the court, he’ll challenge as one of the best 2 guards for years to come. Can defend, shoot and drive, which is everything you want.

PG – Kyle Lowry

kyle_lowry

Everyone else so far is more of a clinical technician, Lowry is a pitbull, playing with extreme heart and power. He’s just now starting to get regular playing time and some credit as one of the best point guards in the league. He’s a poor man’s version of Chris Paul.

Back up SF – Luol Deng

luol-deng-santa

He starts for Miami but this team needs a plus defender to come off the pine. I would say he’s slightly worse than Ariza as a offensive player.

Back up PF – Taj Gibson

taj_gibson

Two nights ago Reggie Miller said Gibson would start for 25 NBA teams. Reggie overestimated quite a bit but Gibson is a talented defender and extreme hard worker.

Back up guard – Kirk Hinrich

hinirch_rose

Even though he played for Kansas, I can’t help but love Heinrich because he’s white guy who plays great defense and can play either guard position.

Back up guard – Greivis Vasquez

20.vasquez

Speaking of a guy who can play either guard position. Vazquez is the type of passer that allows second units to thrive.

Back up Center – JaVale McGee

OCTOBER 4, 2012-DENVER CO JAVALE MCGEE PHOTOGRAPHER: CODY PICKENS

He’s a total head case, but this team needs cheap rim protection. I would rather take a chance on McGee than someone like Samuel Dalembert.

Back up guard – Danny Green

Danny-Green

Every team somebody who is just a lights out shooter.

Head coach – Brad Stevens

brad_stevens

He’s already one of the best coaches in the league. I feel he’s one of the rare guys who is both an X and Os master and a skilled motivator.

Brady vs. Manning

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning

I will not accept Peyton Manning as the greatest quarterback ever, unless he wins the Super Bowl this year.

And that’s completely doable because the Broncos’ offense is loaded and their defense is about equally stacked. However, I think a smart team, maybe the Chargers or the Patriots, will challenge Manning to throw deep and grind out the game on offense. That’s the blueprint to beat Denver. When Manning has the ball, do not let them dink and dunk you to death and keep him off the field whenever possible because with all of their pick plays they will find a way to dink and dunk you death.

Manning’s arm has looked better at times this season. He had a pass a couple weeks ago to Emmanuel Sanders that was a bullet 30 yards down field. Eventually, the Demaryius and Julius Thomas will get open or Sanders or Wes Welker. But, this is Manning’s third year in Denver. There’s no way he avoids playing one brutally cold and possibly snowing game in the playoffs. Can he throw deep in those conditions? It’s hard to make a Super Bowl, as Manning would attest.

I don’t think Manning is the greatest quarterback of his era. I’ve made the case that Brady should be considered the greatest quarterback of all time. It went something like this: Brady won three Super Bowls with terrible wide receivers. Past his prime Corey Dillon was the best offensive player he played with until Randy Moss. The one time Brady plays with another hall-of-fame offensive player, he sets the single season yard and touchdown records, completes a 16-0 regular season and should have completed a 19-0 perfect season except for one of the craziest plays in NFL history. Quick side note, it’s amazing in the clip of the helmet catch how bored Joe Buck is. Jesus Joe you just saw perhaps the greatest play in Super Bowl history; can you get a little more excited than calling a sacrifice bunt on a Saturday afternoon?

Anyway, The Patriots can’t keep that team together because Randy Moss was a head case and got old. A few years later Brady takes his fifth team to the Super Bowl with Welker and two great tight ends. They can’t keep that team together because of the Patriots’ stubborn refusal to pay Welker (even though Brady was practically screaming at Bellichick to keep him) and Aaron Hernandez murdered a guy.

At least later in his career, Montana had Rice. Elway had Terrell Davis and Rod Smith. Manning had Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James and Reggie Wayne and then went to this Denver squad, which is the most stacked either quarterback has had the privilege of guiding. Excluding Moss, has Brady played with a hall-of-fame player? I don’t think Richard Seymour is going to Canton and he’s the only guy who’s close. Maybe Gronk has a chance but he has to stay healthy, a tenuous proposition at best.

Throw all the numbers at me you want; I think the numbers that still matter are three and five, as in the Super Bowls Brady has won and played in. If Manning wins another, he’ll have two and four and all the stats that matter. But as long as Peyton has fewer rings than Eli (who, the last couple seasons, has shown he is the Frank to Peyton’s Sylvester Stallone), he can’t be the best ever. I’d still take Brady.

Ideal locations for Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony

Rajon Rondo is one of my favorite NBA players ever. His highlights, especially his palm the ball fake passes, are bonkers. I understand he can be hard to reach, kind of like the way Dennis Rodman is kind of described. It’s hard to call a player so talented at dishing out assists selfish but it almost seems that way. I think he’s got another championship run or two in him.

And his days in green and cream are probably numbered. The Celtics seem determined about to rebuild through the tank-to-a-superstar method. That puts Rondo, who’s 28, on the outside looking in. Her are some trade locations.

New York Knicks

This is Bill Simmons preferred destination because of the package the Knickerbockers could offer. Rondo would be the perfect complement to Carmelo and instantly the best point guard he’s ever played with (Chauncey Billups is Rondo’s equivalent as a player but not really a point guard). The roster isn’t great, but not completely devoid of talent. A back court of Rondo, Iman Shumpert, Pablo Pigroni, JR Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. is not bad (it’s not good either). Their front court is just a dumpster fire of guys who are either washed up or less-than-talented young guys, except for Carmelo of course.

The other issue is that the triangle is not the best offense for traditional(ish) point guards and Boston would have to trade him within the division. Let’s keep looking.

Los Angeles Lakers

Not many teammates have meshed well with the Black Mamba and Rondo’s temperament does not seem to be a good fit, but he’s a pass first point guard who can take some of Bryant’s tougher assignments on defense. Kobe would probably kill half the Lakers roster if it meant Rondo was on the way.

As long as the one guy he doesn’t murder isn’t Julius Randle. I like Jeremy Lin but there is so little upside on this Laker roster. Kobe is going to have to score 25 a game to have them sniff .500. Plus, it’s even less likely that the Celtics would trade with the Lake show than the Knicks.

Charlotte Hornets

Rondo would make an interesting young team even better, possibly pushes them to a place where they’re fighting with Washington for second place in the east. It would also be a crappy-Celtics reunion with Al Jefferson.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings need to get a little lucky. They need Ben McLemore (STL!), Derrick Williams, Nik Stauskas, and perhaps even Ray McCallum to show that they are competent NBA rotation players. If three out of the four hit, I think Sac-town’s new owner might pull the trigger on a trade. But, that’s a lot of juries out on quite a few players. Still, the Rondo, Boogie Cousins and Rudy Gay big 3 is an intriguing triumvirate.

The Cousins-Rondo combo would inspire a psychological study. I think the two former Kentucky Wildcats are emotionally similar and thus will either be best of friends or hard-boiled enemies.

Golden State Warriors

Adding Rondo would make an already good team into a potential juggernaut. Ideally you would play Rondo, Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Bogut at the same time and bring Andre Iguodala off the pine. However, it’s a question of what the Warriors can give up. Would they need to part with Thompson, something they were unwilling to do when Kevin Love was on the table, who in fairness is a better overall player than Rondo?

Oklahoma City Thunder

To make this work, where the Celtics would accept it from a basketball perspective, the Thunder would have to give up Reggie Jackson and probably two other young players — candidates include Mitch McGary, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson (?). The Thunder do not have a lot to offer. And they would have to play Russell Westbrook at the 2.

I suggest this because I think playing Westbrook at the 2 is exactly what the Thunder should do, even with playing Jackson at the point. A. It gives Westbrook a break from time to time. B. It cuts down on the oh my God what the Hell did Westbrook just do moments. And if Rondo was the player taking over the point, he would snap Westbrook into shape:

“Do you know what you have? Kevin Durant is a scoring machine; German scientists couldn’t genetically engineer a person better suited to put basketballs through hoops. We’re giving him the ball and we’re going to win games.”

Imagine how beastly the Thunder would be with Rondo, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka on D? It would be like a Chinese finger trap with teeth.

Miami Heat

The Heat really don’t have any trade chips. Their starting five — Mario Chalmers, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh and Josh McRoberts — is interesting but their bench does not offer much. However, I think Rondo could get them back to title contention territory and maybe squeeze just a little bit of life out of Wade’s tired legs with some easy buckets. Side note, I hope Wade isn’t completely done.

Houston Rockets

What I believe is the best option. I think Houston, with the players they have, can put together some type of package the Celtics would accept. Rondo adds the last piece of the big three the Rockets have been searching for and is better fit than Carmelo would have been. Of course to get the most out of that three, they would have to run … a lot, something I’m not sure Dwight Howard wants to do. Maybe it would work if you lined the rim with candy.