Each of yesterday's Conference Semifinal games saw a torch being passed. The Suns sweep over the Spurs saw Tim Duncan pass the torch of the best power forward in the league to Amar'e Stoudemire. In four previous playoff meetings, Duncan's Spurs ended the Suns season. Three of those years (03, 05, & 07), the Spurs beat the Suns en route to a NBA Championship. This time around Duncan was unable to handle Stoudemire's athleticism and quickness. Duncan will likely go down as the greatest power forward to ever play the game but he's 34 and his time at the top is ending. Amar'e is 27and is in his prime. Amar'e should remain the top power forward in the game, the only question that remains is where Mr. Stoudemire, who has an early termination option on his contract this summer, will be playing in the future.
As for the Spurs, their run is coming to an end as well. The average age of their 10 man rotation is exactly 29. 7 of those 10 players are locked in through next year including Duncan, Manu and Tony Parker. However the Richard Jefferson trade did not work out the way they hoped and George Hill is proving to be every bit as good as Parker so their could be some changes made in San Antonio.
Yesterday Rajon Rondo put on one of the greatest single game performances in NBA playoff history. Rondo had 29 points 18 boards and 13 assists in the Celtics key win over the Cavs in game 4. The 6-1/171 pound point guard had more rebounds than Shaq, LeBron and Anderson Varejao combined. If there was any doubt on who the best and most important player on the Celtics roster was, the doubt was removed yesterday. Rondo is the best player in Boston. At only 24, he is the Celtics future as well. KG is still the heart and soul, Paul Pierce is still the team's best scorer and Ray Allen is the still the best shooter on the team if not the whole NBA.
Rondo makes everything work together. With all respect to Boston's big 3, Rondo has proved over and over that he is the best player on the court. He made his first all-star game this year and has made the NBA All-Defensive Team the past two seasons. He finished fourth in the NBA in assists and led the league in steals this year. But it's what he's doing this post season that has the rest of the league and casual basketball fans taking notice. He might be the best point guard in the league right now. Steve Nash, Deron Williams and Chris Paul all put up better offensive numbers than Rondo but the impact Rondo has on the defensive end and on the boards makes him every bit as good as Nash, Williams and CP3. I am not ready to say that he is indeed the best point guard in the NBA, but I'm not afraid to say he's the best player in Boston. The torched has been passed.
I might be the only one who sees a very similar comparison in Rondo to what Tom Brady has done in Boston. in Brady's first season as the starter he came out of nowhere to quarterback the Patriots to a Super Bowl win in 2001. On that Patriots team, Brady was more of a game manager and not a star QB. The defense and veterans led that team that team to the victory. Two years later Brady proved he was the superstar in the Patriot's Super Bowl wins in 2003 and 2004. In Rondo's first season as the starter, he came out of nowhere and was the "quarterback" to the Celtics championship run. Like Brady, somewhere along the lines young Rondo became the star on a veteran team competing for championships every year. Folks in bean town hope Rondo can do what Brady has done.
- Watch tonight's games closely as it could be the last time we see Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson is their respective uniforms. Both will be unrestricted free agents this summer and will garner a lot of attention. Both player are 28 years old and can get themselves one more major long term deal before they hit 30.
- The Jazz are prepared for life without Boozer as they have his backup Paul Millsap locked up through 2013. Boozer could land in Miami or Chicago this summer and remain playing for a contender. His game doesn't fit D'Antoni's system in New York. One interesting destination could be New Jersey especially if the Nets get the top pick and draft John Wall (who in a few years could be every bit as good as Boozer's current point guard Deron Williams). The Nets would have a great young point guard and already have a very talented 7 footer in Brook Lopez. Boozer, Wall, and Lopez would make the Nets a force in the East for many years to come.
- I LOVE Joe Johnson's game. I loved his game at Arkansas, I loved his game in Phoenix, and love his game now. But Johnson would be better as a #2 option with another star. He has proved in this series that he's just not a go to superstar. He could be a great Pippen, but he's not a Jordan.
- To me Johnson is the most intriguing free agent of this summer. LeBron will either stay in Cleveland or jet to the New York metro area. DWade will likely stay in South Beach but could go to his hometown of Chicago. Johnson could literally land ANYWHERE this summer from ATL to NY to MIA to NJ or even Chi-Town. But the dark horse could be the Clippers who only have 4 players under contract next year big men Chris Kaman and Blake Griffin along with point Baron Davis and combo guard Eric Gordon. Johnson would be the perfect fit with those guys assuming the Clippers miss out on the Lebron sweepstakes.
- Chris Bosh is crazy. He says he wants to remain the number one option yet still compete for a championship. Chris you can't have your cake and eat it too. If Bosh wants his cake to be a championship ring he needs to play alongside a guy with the last name James, Wade or Durant. If he doesn't join Wade in Miami or get swayed by the lights of New York and a possible chance to play with either Lebron or Joe Johnson Bosh could end up in Chicago. In Chi-Town he could play with a great young point guard in Derrick Rose and still be the number one option. The Rockets have a lot of interest as well. Bosh could also return to his hometown of Dallas if Dirk leaves this summer. However I doubt he'll be playing for a title in Houston or Dallas.