It’s been an eventful sporting weekend thanks to the NBA and NHL drafts, and there were some interesting tidbits in the gaming world as well.

Halo:  Reach Could Use Natal Technology?
According to an interview in The Seattle Times Bungie Studios own Harold Ryan noted that the upcoming Bungie project could be compatible with Project Natal.  While Ryan speculated that it certainly could happen, he never said that it would or that any plans to do so were in the works.  He merely made the comment while praising the Natal technology.  FPS fans should try to talk themselves off the ledge.  The idea that Bungie would release a shooter with any kind of motion control seems like folly given their loyal online community.

Xbox 360 Pro Could Vanish?

The rumor mill atTeamxbox.com is hard at work, speculating that the “Pro” SKU could disappear this summer and be replaced by a lower-priced Elite. This seems to me like a win-win for gamers and MS. Gamers get the Elite and it’s 120-GB drive (along with what seems to be sturdier hardware in general) for the same price while Microsoft lowers their number of different SKUs by 1, which should help their manufacturing costs.

Minnesota Drafts Rubio #5, Flynn #6

This is probably more fanfare than even the biggest Jonny Flynn fans would expect surrounding his selection, thanks to the fact that the Timberwolves selected Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio one pick before the Syracuse floor general.  This is puzzling because neither are big enough to guard two-guards in the NBA, nor are either of them the kind of outside shooting threat that can stretch a defense.  And we’re supposed to think they can play together successfully?  Sorry David Kahn.  Not buying it.  I’m not drinking the Rubio Kool-Aid the way most are, and if they can get a couple of nice pieces for him I’d deal him in a heartbeat.  I would expect him to end up elsewhere before he plays an NBA game.  Whenever that may be.

Islanders Make The Smart Pick

Kudos to the New York Islanders, who might just have saved their franchise by picking John Tavares with the #1 pick in the NHL Draft.  A franchise on the rocks in recent years, the Isles at least saved themselves from the scorn of their remaining faithful.  The pick was wildly applauded and rightly so.  That’s not a slight on Victor Hedman or Matt Duchene either.  Both have the potential to be phenomenal players.  I simply believe that Tavares is a cut above the same way that Crosby and Ovechkin have been in recent years.  Remember, Evgeni Malkin went #2 the year Ovechkin went #1.  A draft isn’t limited to one superstar.

Advertisements

It’s been a busy last 24 hours or so in the NBA trade market. Teams are not waiting for the draft itself to get deals done, in hopes of achieving whatever their goals for 2009-2010 might be with an early start. Contenders like San Antonio and Cleveland are attempting to add missing pieces while bottom-feeders like Milwaukee and rebuilding teams like Phoenix attempt to dump parts that no longer fit their vision.

Spurs, Bucks and Pistons Swap

Richard Jefferson to San Antonio.  Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Amir Johnson to Milwaukee.  Fabricio Oberto to Detroit.

An interesting three-way deal.  The Spurs come out the best obviously, picking up a 29 year-old Jefferson who can score 20 a night and play good all-around basketball.  He can shoot the three with ease, and will be more than capable at swinging the ball or getting it inside to Duncan.  He also does a good job getting to the line, and is a passable rebounder and defender.  He’s probably exactly what the Spurs need given the fact that they can’t depend on the health of Manu Ginobili. They also dump some aging and little-used talent, which doesn’t hurt for a team that has appeared short on athleticism at times.

Detroit gets a capable big body which they definitely need.  The Pistons only have one other roster player taller than 6’9, and that’s Kwame Brown.  With Rasheed Wallace off the books and probably gone, they have plenty of money to spend on replacement bigs.  Oberto isn’t a world-beater but he’s a servicable interior player.  They lose a nice role player in Johnson but the Pistons had pretty much decided to cut bait with him at this point.

As for Milwaukee… uhm… yeah.  Last year they traded Yi “The Chairman” Jianlian a year after picking him 6th overall to get Richard Jefferson.  Not a bad move for a team in need of scoring on the wing.  Especially considering The Chairman kind of sucks.  A year later, they traded Richard Jefferson for Amir Johnson and two expiring contracts.  Why?  Apparently they need cap space to keep restricted free agents Ramon Sessions and Charlie Villanueva.  Building around Ramon Sessions and Charlie V?  I think we might have pinpointed why the Bucks have struggled to find traction in the standings in recent years.

Minnesota, Washington Deal

Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Wizards.  Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, Oleksiy Pecherov and the 5th overall pick to the Timberwolves.

Seems like a no-brainer for Washington.  They get Foye who’s at least shown he can play in the league, which is more than you can say for anyone in the draft.  The only guy I personally would want to hold on to that pick to take is Stephen Curry, but rumor has it now that he’ll be gone before the 5 spot.  The Wiz also get three-point shooter Mike Miller, giving them a pair of new outside threats and making them one of the leagues more potent offensive clubs.  Are they going to have enough shots for Arenas, Butler, Jamison and Foye?  Probably, but it will be interesting to watch them mesh.  The Wiz at least have themselves another starting-quality NBA guard to pair with Agent Zero, something they’ve lacked in recent years.

Minnesota meanwhile trades away the reminder of their terrible Brandon Roy-Randy Foye trade a few years back, and gives themselves the 5th and 6th picks in the draft to go with their two other later first rounders.  The T’wolves actually have a lot of cap room and dead salary (Thomas, Brian Cardinal, Mark Madsen) that they could use to actually acquire some good talent.  Will they do that?  Who knows what the new Minnesota regime will do.  If they really want to shed their image as a franchise that’s screwed up for 15 years, they could display some competence.  We’ll see.

Phoenix, Cleveland Deal

Phoenix gets Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a conditional draft pick (2nd round) and cash.  Cleveland gets Shaquille O’Neal.

A smart move for both teams, but not as big as the press coverage makes it seem.  Phoenix saves some money and looks even stupider for their Marion-Shaq deal two years ago.  They just were not a good fit for Shaq, despite the best effort on all sides this past season.  They need to give their young bigs (Lopez, Dudley) some burn anyways. If Wallace retires they save even more money, and that’s apparently all Robert Sarver cares about.

Cleveland improves here no question, but not in leaps and bounds.  They have three legitimate bigs, which is something that most teams in the league can’t say.  Of course two of those bigs are slow, old and have injury histories.  But I digress.  Shaq can still score in the paint in bunches, and clog the lane.  He’s a definite upgrade over Wallace, and they got him for basically nothing.  As long as he’s just the start of their offseason moves, it’s a nice step.  But he is not a solution alone.

Mid-Day Update…

New Jersey, Orlando Swap

Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to Orlando.  Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie to New Jersey.

Jersey continues to tear down their old nucleus, getting a nice young talent in Lee and a pair of expiring contracts.  The Nets save around 16 million in cap space for that magical 2010 summer, and picked up a player who emerged throughout the playoffs as a guy who can make big plays.  They’re going to be pretty bad next season, but at least they’ll be young.

Orlando continues to demonstrate their commitment to winning.  Adding Carter to an already impressive lineup makes them the favorite to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions.  The question they will have to answer is about their depth.  They just gave up three rotation players to get one, and must still re-sign Hedo Turkoglu to prevent this from being a lateral move.  Anderson should be able to give them some post minutes, provided he can shoot better than 39 percent.

This could be an opportunity for Carter to answer a lot of questions about his motivations over the years.  One thing he has never shied away from is taking the big shots and the Magic definitely need more players willing and able to score when the chips are on the line.

Hot Trade Hopper

A ton of names and trades still percolating out there.  Guys like Vince Carter, Amare Stoudamire, Corey Magette, Rajon Rondo… so on and so forth.  We’ll see what becomes of it as the draft unfolds and beyond.  It’s interesting that a lot of the trades seem to revolve around teams fixing salary issues caused by past dumb trades.  A lot of clubs are going to learn that two dumb trades doesn’t equal a good one.