Not too hard to understand, but for those of you who don't know what the stock market is: we look at a number of players, executives, teams and more, and report whether that [noun] is trending up, as in positively, or trending down. Traditionally, you would "buy" stocks as they're rising, and "sell" as they're dropping. I'm not going to get into Benjamin Graham and the nuances of real defensive investment, so just go with it. Okay?
De-listed from the market: The Kings, George Karl, Vivek Ranadive, and pretty much everything in the 9-1-6 not named "Boogie"
Don't think this needs a ton of explanation. Hopefully they earn their way back in by next season. It's not even funny anymore.
Stock Up: The Los Angeles Lakers
Wait, what!? Believe it or not, the Lake Show counts itself as one of the lucky franchises which took a significant step forward this off-season. To start, they smartly drafted D'Angelo Russell instead of the next Enes Kanter (Disagree? Tell me about it in the comments). They struck out on the big name guys, but they quickly moved to add worthy contributors like Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert on short term deals that won't hurt the franchise long term. This team won't sniff the playoffs, but with redshirt-rookie Julius Randle returning, and Kobe Bryant's contract one year closer to expiring, there's finally some light at the end of the tunnel. Expect them to take a pretty big leap forward in another year.
Stock Down: Ty Lawson
I used to tell people that one DUI is a rotten accident. Two is just a problem. Until I found out that my friend's wife has two. Well, welcome to the club, Ty Lawson. The 27 year old used to be one of the great young point guards in the league. Now, his stock has fallen so much after last season's "one-two-three-six-weeks!" debacle that Denver nearly gave him away to Houston. Denver managed to get a lottery-protected first rounder from Houston, which will probably end up in the 25 range. Well, at least he didn't get stuck in Sacramento, so there's that.
Stock Up: Stephen Curry
Call him Apple because his stock couldn't possibly get any higher. Regular season MVP, two-time dad, an ESPY for being the NBA player of the year, and the male athlete of the year. Not a bad 2015 for the Golden Child. And the year is only halfway finished.
Stock Down: Mark Cubanomics
This isn't about DeAndre Jordan going dark on the billionaire superfan. This is about Cuban's largely failed free agency approach to team-building. Back when LeBron jilted the Cavs for Miami, fans and writers all over cried foul in large part because they felt that players were dictating the results of the game off-the-court in free agency. But it turns out that isn't very accurate. Teams built through major free agent acquisitions don't have a whole lot of success to speak of, outside of the Miami superteam. Dallas, the Knicks and the Lakers have repeatedly come up snake eyes, despite going "all-in" every single off-season.
Even a cursory glance across the league suggests that the major contenders are all built on strong draft classes. The closest exception is Cleveland, and even their best two players were drafted by the Cavaliers. Other teams like Oklahoma City, Golden State and San Antonio are undoubtedly built on homegrown studs like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan. Until Dallas commits itself to developing their post-Dirk Nowitzki future, they'll be lucky to stay relevant in the west.
Stock Way Up: Latvian Rap
Those guys who booed him on draft night? Biggie fans.
Stock Down: The Portland Trailblazers
It's annoying how the entire NBA outside of Oregon spent the past eight years or so disregarding LaMarcus Aldridge as essentially a slightly better David Lee, only for them to do back flips as soon as he joins the San Antonio Spurs at age 30. I'm not a huge fan of the move, but that's a story for another day. For now, let's focus on R.I.P. City (get it?): Wes Matthews only has one leg as far as we know, and still got paid in Dallas. Highly underrated center Robin Lopez is also out, along with longtime wing Nic Batum. They even struck out on their near-max contract offer to Oklahoma City's big, Enes Kanter. And just now, former Cal Berkeley standout Allen Crabbe is out for a month or two with a severe ankle sprain.
But let's not get it twisted: the Blazers got dealt a terrible hand, and they made the most of it. Aldridge wanted out, regardless of their efforts, and it was clear that this middling playoff team had no long term future as presently constructed. General Manager Neil Olshey correctly decided to press the rebuild button, bringing in young prospects like Noah Vonleh and Mason Plumlee. Olshey also picked up Orlando's Moe Harkless for a second rounder, signed forward Ed Davis for a reasonable sum, and re-acquired Al-Farouq Aminu. On top of all of this, they extended franchise player Damian Lillard for five years and $120 million. Their only misstep was the max offer for Enes Kanter, but fortunately, OKC fell on that sword for them (more on that later). Things will be better in Portland in a few years. But for now, the team undoubtedly took a big step back. So with much respect, we're downgrading their stock.
Stock Up: Andre Iguodala's sense of humor
Then trade me... https://t.co/eahYRKAKYf
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) July 16, 2015
Stock Down: Thunder GM Sam Presti
Yeah, you may think I'm all alone in this line of thinking, but I'm pretty sure this is justified. As Zach Lowe pointed out in a recent podcast, the Thunder shot into the luxury tax to retain restricted free agent Enes Kanter. The same Enes Kanter who ranked as the 47th best center in the NBA by Real Plus-Minus (-2.72). Yeah, he gets box score stats, but he's proving to be a text-book stat cannibal who compiles numbers while actually making his team perform worse. Anyway, the Thunder just matched Portland's massive four-year, $70 million offer sheet--that's not the end of the world, right? Well, try to keep in mind that this is the same team that couldn't be bothered to pay the tax to retain James Harden just a few years ago. Ouch. Ooooouuuuccccchhhhh.
Stock Surprisingly Up: Clippers GM Doc Rivers
Well it was pretty close, and not without a lot of unintended comedy, but the Clippers and "general manager" Doc Rivers managed to improve the squad this off-season. Jamaal Crawford remains unsigned, but even if he's gone, the team still added Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith and Paul Pierce. And against all odds, they managed to retain DeAndre Jordan at the 11th hour. They're a better, deeper team next year, even if they remain a rung below the real contenders in the west. Speaking of which...
Stock Down: DeAndre Jordan's cellular service
Because he couldn't even manage to get a tweet out to spurned-owner Mark Cuban until the next day. I mean, dang. Get your ish together, mysterious carrier network.
Stock Up: The Houston Rockets
Daryl Morey leads the league in acquiring very good players who you still don't feel great about, like ever. Picked up Ty Lawson for spare parts, giving them their own "super team" that will win 58 games and likely lose in the second round. Which is about as much as you can hope for when Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are a thing. Still, the Rox are a better team for adding a reliable ball handler, something they sorely lacked last season when Harden sat. The jury's still out on how these guys will fit together, but they certainly upped their ceiling. Essentially trading Josh Smith for Motiejunas is a big boost, too.
Stock Down: Josh Smith
I mean really. If I told you Player X was leaving his current team, the Houston Rockets, for the team they beat in the playoffs (the Los Angeles Clippers) because he wants to win, wouldn't you assume I'm talking about Josh Smith? Of course you would.
Stock Up: Paul Pierce
For not discriminating at all. We made it.