Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thoughts on the European "Vacation."

With all of the recent NBA emigration, one has to ask what kind of impact this trend will have on the future of the league.

David Stern and the rest of the mainstream have been quick to dismiss the growing number of mid-level NBA and NCAA talent leaving for Europe, but there is certainly relevant information and warning signs that they are either consciously or unconsciously ignoring.

Looking at the list of NBA players who chose the European basketball during this free-agency period, there is one common thread.

Josh Childress, Jannero Pargo, Carlos Delfino, Earl Boykins, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Arroyo, Dan Dickau, Bostjan Nachbar, Taurean Green.

All of these players are versatile perimeter players in some capacity with basketball IQ. They’re solid NBA starters at best and solid bench players at worst. And, the simple reality is that without such players, the NBA fails to function. The San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and most NBA Championship rosters rely on roleplayers.

This is where the problem arises. Despite the immense value of these players, the nature of the NBA salary cap system makes it very difficult for teams to pay players the money that they believe that they deserve. The salary cap benefits a star system that a majority of roleplayers are not a part of and rarely get the opportunity to experience. Sizeable contracts or even full mid-level exceptions were not available to Josh Childress and so he went to a team that could pay him a full salary. That team just happened to be Olympiacos in Greece.

Is Ben Gordon making an empty threat when he says that he’d rather sign overseas than a qualifying offer with the Bulls? Considering the overseas success of American coached combo-guards such as Will Solomon, Will Bynum, and Sarunas Jasikevicius, Gordon has the potential to be a tremendous player in Europe. He is the ideal for most European rosters and he will likely see a larger contract than he would in the NBA. Because he has played successfully in the NBA, GMs know how well he is capable of playing and his stock should not drop during his time away.

Aside from the brand name that the NBA brings to the table, what does a 6’3 trigger happy combo-guard like Gordon have to lose by going to Europe?

People will surely argue that such players are easily replaceable and that the NBA will always have access to mid-level players. They will also say that while these established veterans are exceptions to the rule and that young players will never follow suite.

But, the facts suggest otherwise.

Earlier this summer Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings decided to forgo college and spend a year in Europe before he entered the NBA draft. Whether or not this was a good decision is not the point. In past year’s, players who could not qualify for the NCAA colleges spent a year or two at prep schools or junior colleges. But, Jennings’s decision suggests that Europe is becoming a legitimate option.

Then, last year, junior-college star Keith Brumbaugh, who was a one-time Oklahoma State recruit and NBA prospect, decided against conventional wisdom to declare for the NBA draft. When he went undrafted, rather than exploit the draft loophole and go to college as an unrestricted free-agent, he bolted overseas. He spurned the NCAA system for a paycheck and a European pedigree.

More recently, Arkansas sophomore guard Patrick Beverly, who is considered to be a potential NBA prospect, was suspended from his team for a season. He immediately decided to hire an agent and pursue options overseas. In the press release, Beverly stated that he would enter the NBA Draft next year.

While some people will still stand by their dogma that the NBA is the be-all and end-all of the universe, there are a lot of young players who do not think similarly. Young players will begin looking elsewhere for greater contracts, more playing time, and a level of respect that simply does not exist while playing in the NCAA, NBDL, or sitting at the end of an NBA bench.

Whether for rookies or for veterans, a certain reality has emerged pertaining to the NBA. The NBA is no longer an attainable dream for most players. The goal is to make a living playing basketball and more importantly, as entrepreneurs such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have taught us, to make a business out of your basketball abilities.

The dream has expanded past the bounds of the NBA. After all, Willie Solomon and Will Bynum were the toast of European basketball. Now, as they’ll find out and basketball enthusiasts will surely witness, they will be roleplayers. International basketball will become a legitimate option because players are beginning to understand the limitations of the NBA or bust mentality and how limited of a future it provides for a majority of players.

The NBA dream has reached its tipping point and there is a strange ethical struggle occurring between two groups of people. The first are the xenophobes of the basketball world who believe that the NBA and NBDL are actually superior in a moral sense as well as a matter of talent. People who prescribe to this group are likely to support any form of domestic basketball from the NBDL to the CBA to the ABA as preferable alternatives to international leagues. A recent college graduate or a high school phenomenon that cannot make grades should stay local, in the eyes of such supposed purists.

But, if there is anything that enthusiasts can learn from recent trends, it is simply that more and more young players are realizing the following statement: “It’s not as if the D-League pays players enough to raise a family.” This second group of basketball mind realizes the limitations of the NBA dream and it’s side-effects: the monopolization of NBA as the only mainstream brand of professional basketball, the destruction of amateur and college basketball, and the corruption of basketball culture and its outlying influences.

This new trend signals a sort of revolution comparable, at least on one level, to politics. Before the age-limit was instituted, the NBA was a two party democracy. High school-aged players and college players were granted admission and international players could sneak in like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader and spoil the party for the big candidates. Once the age limit was established, however, the NBA became a dictatorship, with only one party and one option. Just like that, the dream seemed to be dead. Recent drafts have seen a growing frequency of “experienced” players, and ultimately have condemned the “wait and see” philosophy that made the draft so interesting in the first place.

The reality of the situation is that there is a sense of reality to this situation. There is clearly a desire amongst the mid-level talent in the NBA to play where they will be respected in playing time, contract money, and as human beings. The NBA is quickly becoming a hostile environment for such players and as international economics continue to favor lucrative and untaxed European contracts, it will always be an option for NBA players. The interesting situation that may arise, though, is definitely the possibility that the mid-level emigrants will influence the domestic market to the point where the basketball economy will be more international than ever before and the right to emigrate and immigrate are held to the same standard.

It seems as though it is only a matter of time. Or, it might just be a trend. You decide. We've made our decision.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Return of the Complete 2008 Free Agency and Pre-Season (Updated 10/10/2008 4:39 a.m.)

Summer is almost over and the NBA regular season looms ahead, just three months away. There has been a lot of post-season movement thus far and we have been tracking it throughout the playoffs. In case you haven't been following our coverage, always featured on the right hand side of the screen, we're reprinting the Complete 2008 Free Agency and Pre-Season updated as of this evening. Enjoy!



During this off-season, some of the most high-profile players in the NBA are free-agents in some form. Players like Gilbert Arenas, Elton Brand, and Baron Davis all opted out of their contracts in order to pursue maximum contracts from their teams or elsewhere. While the potential 2010 and 2011 somewhat dwarfs the importance of this summer's free-agency, there are a lot of good, difference-making players out there and we will be following the process every step of the way. Enjoy and feel free to post any new developments in the comments section.

Unrestricted Free-Agents:

Top 15 Guards:



1. Baron Davis, Golden State (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: 5 years/$65 million)
2. Gilbert Arenas, Washington (RESIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: 6 years/$111 million)
3. Corey Maggette, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: 5 years/$50 million)
4. Jason Williams, Miami (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: 1 year/$1.3 million- RETIRED)
5. Beno Udrih, Sacramento (RE-SIGNED WITH SACRAMENTO KINGS: 5 years/$33 million)
6. Jannero Pargo, New Orleans (SIGNED WITH DYNAMO MOSCOW: 1 year/$3.8 million)
7. Chris Duhon, Chicago (SIGNED WITH NEW YORK: 2 years/$11.6 million)
8. Sebastian Telfair, Minnesota (RE-SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: 3 years/$6.6 million)
9. Ricky Davis, Miami (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: 2 years/$4.7 million)
10. James Jones, Portland (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 5 years/$20 million)
11. Jarvis Hayes, Detroit (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: 2 years/$4 million)
12. Maurice Evans, Orlando (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: 3 years/$7.5 million)
13. Devin Brown, Cleveland (SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: 2 years/---)
14. Michael Finley, San Antonio (RE-SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: 2 years/$2 million)
15. Carlos Arroyo, Orlando (SIGNED WITH MACCABI TEL AVIV: 3 years/$5 million)

More Guards:



Roger Mason Jr., Washington (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: 2 years/$7.5 million)
Tyronn Lue, Dallas (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: 2 years/$3.9 million)
Antoine Wright, Dallas (RE-SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 2 years/$4 million)
Darrell Armstrong, New Jersey
Anthony Carter, Denver (RE-SIGNED WITH DENVER: 1 year/$1.26 million)
Yahkouba Diawara, Denver (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 2 years/$1.8 million)
Fred Jones, New York
Keyon Dooling, Orlando (RE-SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: 3 years/$10.8 million)
Quinton Ross, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS: non-guaranteed)
Shaun Livingston, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 2 years/---)
Smush Parker, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed)
Dan Dickau, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: ---/---)
Anthony Johnson, Sacramento (SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: 2 years/$3.8 million)
Casey Jacobson, Memphis (RIGHTS RENOUNCED BY MEMPHIS- SIGNED WITH ALBA BERLIN: ---/---)
Blake Ahearn, Miami (SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: non-guaranteed)
Royal Ivey, Milwaukee (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 2 years/$1.7 million)
Kirk Snyder, Minnesota
Adam Haluksa, New Orleans (SIGNED WITH HAPOEL JERUSALEM: ---/---)
Kevin Ollie, Philadelphia
Gordan Giricek, Phoenix (SIGNED WITH FENERBAHCE: 2 years/---)
Eric Piatkowski, Phoenix
Brent Barry, San Antonio: (SIGNED WITH HOUSTON: 2 years/$3.9 million)
DerMarr Johnson, San Antonio (SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: non-guaranteed)
Damon Stoudemire, San Antonio
Mickael Gelabale, Oklahoma City
Derek Anderson, Charlotte
Earl Boykins, Charlotte (SIGNED WITH VIRTUS BOLOGNA: 1 year/$3.5 million)
Shannon Brown, Chicago (SIGNED WITH CHARLOTTE: 1 year/$826,269)
Juan Dixon, Detroit (SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: 1 year/1 million)
Lindsay Hunter, Detroit
Flip Murray, Indiana (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: 1 year/$1.2 million)
Kareem Rush, Indiana (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 1 year/$998,000)
Eddie House, Boston (RE-SIGNED WITH BOSTON: 2 years/$5.6 million)
Tony Allen, Boston (RE-SIGNED WITH BOSTON: 2 years/$5 million)
Sam Cassell, Boston (RE-SIGNED WITH BOSTON: non-guaranteed)


Top 15 Forwards/Centers:



1. Elton Brand, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 5 years/$82 million)
2. Eduardo Najera, Denver (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: 4 years/$12 million)
3. Mickael Pietrus, Golden State (SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: 4 years/$26 million)
4. James Posey, Boston (SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: 4 years/$25 million)
5. deSagana Diop, New Jersey (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 5 years/$31 million)
6. Kurt Thomas, San Antonio (RE-SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: 2 years/$8 million)
7. Bostjan Nachbar, New Jersey (SIGNED WITH DYNAMO MOSCOW: 3 years/$14.3 million)
8. Matt Barnes, Golden State (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: 1 year/$1.2 million)
9. Kwame Brown, Memphis (SIGNED WITH DETROIT: 2 years/$8 million)
10. Bonzi Wells, New Orleans
11. P.J. Brown, Boston
12. Theo Ratliff, Detroit (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 1 year/$1.3 million)
13. Adonal Foyle, Orlando (RE-SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: 1 year/$1.3 million)
14. Dikembe Mutombo, Houston
15. Alonzo Mourning, Miami


More Forwards/Centers:



Scot Pollard, Boston
Othella Harrington, Charlotte
Dwayne Jones, Cleveland (SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: non-guaranteed)
Devean George, Dallas (RE-SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 2 years/$4 million)
Malik Allen, Dallas (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: 1 year/$1.5 million)
Juwan Howard, Dallas (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed)
Jamaal Magloire, Dallas (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 1 year/$1.3 million)
Austin Croshere, Golden State (SIGNED WITH INDIANA: non-guaranteed)
Patrick O'Bryant, Golden State (SIGNED WITH BOSTON: 2 years/$3 million)
Paul Davis, Los Angeles Clippers (RE-SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: ---/---)
James Singleton, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 1 year/$798,000)
D.J. Mbenga, Los Angeles Lakers (RE-SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: non-guaranteed)
Ira Newble, Los Angeles Lakers
Andre Brown, Memphis (RIGHTS RENOUNCED BY MEMPHIS- )
Earl Barron, Miami (SIGNED WITH FORTITUDO BOLOGNA: 1 year/$2 million)
Jake Voskuhl, Milwaukee
Michael Ruffin, Milwaukee (SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: non-guaranteed)
Michael Doleac, Minnesota
Chris Andersen, New Orleans (SIGNED WITH DENVER: 1 year/$998,000)
Ryan Bowen, New Orleans (RE-SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: 1 year/$1.2 million)
Pat Garrity, Orlando (RETIRED)
Louis Amundson, Philadelphia (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: 2 years/$1.7 million)
Herbert Hill, Philadelphia
Shavlik Randolph, Philadelphia (SIGNED WITH PORTLAND: non-guaranteed)
Linton Johnson, Phoenix (SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: non-guaranteed)
Sean Marks, Phoenix (SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: 1 year/$1.3 million)
Brian Skinner, Phoenix (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: 1 year/$1.3 million)
Lorenzen Wright, Sacramento (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: 1 year/$1.3 million)
Robert Horry, San Antonio
Ronald Dupree, Oklahoma City (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: non-guaranteed)
Francisco Elson, Oklahoma City (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: 2 years/$3 million)
Primoz Brezec, Toronto (SIGNED WITH LOTTOMATICA ROMA: ---/---)


Restricted Free-Agents:

Top 15 Guards:

1. Monta Ellis, Golden State (RE-SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: 6 years/$67 million)
2. Jose Manuel Calderon, Toronto (RE-SIGNED WITH TORONTO: 4 years/$50 million)
3. Ben Gordon, Chicago (RE-SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: 1 year/$6.4 million)
4. Josh Childress, Atlanta (SIGNED WITH OLYMPIAKOS: 3 years/$32.5 million)
5. J.R. Smith, Denver (RE-SIGNED WTIH DENVER: 3 years/$16.5 million)
6. Daniel Gibson, Cleveland (RE-SIGNED WITH NEW YORK: 5 years/$27 million)
7. Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles Lakers (RE-SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: 5 years/$15 million)
8. Louis Williams, Philadelphia (RE-SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 5 years/$25 million)
9. Delonte West, Cleveland (RE-SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: 3 years/$12.7 million)
10. Rudy Fernandez, Portland (SIGNED WITH PORTLAND: 3 years/$3.3 million)
11. Kelenna Azubuike, Golden State (RE-SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: 3 years/$9 million)
12. Carlos Delfino, Toronto (SIGNED WITH BC KHIMKI: 3 years/$13.5 million)
13. C.J. Miles, Utah (RE-SIGNED WITH UTAH: 4 years/$14.8 million)
14. Chris Quinn, Miami (RE-SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 2 years/$2.0 million)
15. Jose Juan Barea, Dallas (RE-SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 3 years/$4.8 million)


More Guards:



Mario West, Atlanta
Salim Stoudemire, Atlanta (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: 2 years/$1.5 million)
Demetris Nichols, Chicago (RE-SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: 1 year/non-guaranteed deal)
JamesOn Curry, Chicago (WAIVED BY CHICAGO- )
Bobby Jones, New York (WAIVED BY NEW YORK- SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed-WAIVED BY MIAMI-SIGNED WITH SACRAMENTO: non-guaranteed)
Alex Acker, Detroit
Andre Owens, Indiana
Marcus Williams, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH CHARLOTTE: non-guaranteed)
Roko Leni Ukic, Toronto (SIGNED WITH TORONTO: 3 years/$3.3 million)
Juan Carlos Navarro, Memphis (SIGNED WITH FC BARCELONA: 5 years/$20 million)
Kasib Powell, Miami (RELEASED BY MIAMI- )
Awvee Storey, Milwaukee (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: non-guaranteed- CUT BY NEW JERSEY- )
Von Wafer, Portland (SIGNED WITH HOUSTON: non-guaranteed)


Top 15 Forwards/Centers:



1. Antwan Jamison, Washington (RE-SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: 4 years, $50 million)
2. Josh Smith, Atlanta (RE-SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: 5 years/$58 million)
3. Luol Deng, Chicago (RE-SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: 6 years/$71 million)
4. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia (RESIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: 6 years/$82 million)
5. Emeka Okafor, Charlotte (RE-SIGNED WITH CHARLOTTE: 6 years/$72 million)
6. Andris Biedrins, Golden State (RE-SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: 6 years/$63 million)
7. Ryan Gomes, Minnesota (RE-SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: 3 years/$9 million)
8. Carl Landry, Houston (RE-SIGNED WITH HOUSTON: 3 years/$9 million)
9. Dorrell Wright, Miami (RE-SIGNED WITH MIAMI: 2 years/$4.8 million)
10. Nenad Kristic, New Jersey (SIGNED WITH TRIUMPH MOSCOW: 2 years/$5.7 million)
11. Craig Smith, Minnesota (RE-SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: 2 years/$4.8 million)
12. Ronny Turiaf, Los Angeles Lakers (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: 4 years/$17 million)
13. Walter Herrmann, Detroit (RE-SIGNED WITH DETROIT: 1 year/$2 million)
14. Marc Gasol, Memphis (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS: 3 years/$10 million)
15. Robert Swift, Oklahoma City (RE-SIGNED WITH OKLAHOMA CITY: ---/---)


More Forwards/Centers:



Jeremy Richardson, Atlanta (SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: non-guaranteed)
Ryan Hollins, Charlotte (RE-SIGNED WITH CHARLOTTE: 1 years/$1 million)
David Harrison, Indiana (SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: non-guaranteed)
Kosta Perovic, Golden State (WAIVED BY GOLDEN STATE- SIGNED WITH PAMESA VALENCIA 3 years/---)
Nick Fazekas, Los Angeles Clippers (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed)
Josh Powell, Los Angeles Clippers (WAIVED BY LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS-SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: ---/---)
Stephane Lasme, Miami (WAIVED BY MIAMI- )
Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee
Chris Richard, Minnesota (RE-SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: 1 year/$711,517)
Melvin Ely, New Orleans
Randolph Morris, New York (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: 2 years/$1.7 million)
James Augustine, Orlando (WAIVED BY ORLANDO-SIGNED WITH GRAN CANARIA: ---/---)
Jorge Garbajosa, Toronto (BOUGHT OUT BY TORONTO-SIGNED WITH KHIMKI MOSCOW: ---/---)
Donyell Marshall, Oklahoma City (WAIVED BY OKLAHOMA CITY-SIGNED BY PHILADELPHIA: 1 year/$1.3 million)



Other Pre-Season Signed/Waived Players of Interest



Othello Hunter (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: non-guaranteed)
Thomas Gardner (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: non-guaranteed)
Frank Robinson (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: non-guaranteed)
Marcus Hubbard (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: non-guaranteed)
Olumide Oyedeji (SIGNED WITH ATLANTA: non-guaranteed- WAIVED BY ATLANTA- )
Darius Miles (SIGNED WITH BOSTON: non-guaranteed)
Donnell Taylor (SIGNED WITH CHARLOTTE: non-guaranteed)
Elton Brown (SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: non-guaranteed)
Roger Powell Jr. (SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: non-guaranteed)
Darius Washington Jr. (SIGNED WITH CHICAGO: non-guaranteed)
Tarrance Kinsey (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: 1 year/$797,581)
Jawad Williams (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: non-guaranteed)
Michael Dickerson (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Lance Allred (SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Vernon Hamilton ((SIGNED WITH CLEVELAND: non-guaranteed)
Billy Thomas (WAIVED BY CLEVELAND- )
Gerald Green (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 1 year/$998,000)
Keith McLeod (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: 1 year/$798,000)
Cheyene Gadson (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: non-guaranteed)
Charles Rhodes (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: non-guaranteed)
Jajuan Smith (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: non-guaranteed)
Reyshawn Terry (SIGNED WITH DALLAS: non-guaranteed)
Dahntay Jones (SIGNED WITH DENVER: 1 year/$998,000)
James Mays (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed- WAIVED BY DENVER- SIGNED WITH VILLA DE LOS BARRIOS: ---/---)
Mateen Cleaves (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed)
Jamont Gordon (SIGNED WITH DENVER: non-guaranteed)
Will Bynum (SIGNED WITH DETROIT: 1 year/$700,000)
Alex Acker (SIGNED WITH DETROIT: non-guaranteed)
Anthony Morrow (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: non-guaranteed)
Justin Williams (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Dion Dowell (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: non-guaranteed- CUT
Rob Kurz (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: non-guaranteed)
DeMarcus Nelson (SIGNED WITH GOLDEN STATE: non-guaranteed)
Marcus Campbell (SIGNED WITH HOUSTON: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Josh Davis (SIGNED WITH INDIANA: non-guaranteed)
Dontell Jefferson (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: non-guaranteed)
Curtis Sumpter (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: non-guaranteed)
David Noel (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: non-guaranteed)
Jelani McCoy (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: non-guaranteed)
Sun Yue, Los Angeles Lakers (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: 2 years/non-guaranteed)
Dwayne Mitchell (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: 1 year/442,114- WAIVED BY LOS ANGELES LAKERS)
Marcellus Kemp (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: non-guaranteed)
C.J. Giles (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: non-guaranteed)
Brandon Heath (SIGNED WITH LOS ANGELES LAKERS: non-guaranteed)
Hamed Haddadi (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS: 2 years/$3 million)
Brett Pettway (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS: non-guaranteed)
Malick Badiene (SIGNED WITH MEMPHIS: non-guaranteed)
David Padgett (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed)
Jason Richards (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed)
Eddie Basden (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed)
Matt Walsh (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed- WAIVED BY MIAMI- )
Omar Barlett (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed)
Tre Kelly (SIGNED WITH MIAMI: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Kevin Kruger (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: non-guaranteed)
Ron Howard (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: non-guaranteed)
Matt Frieje (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: non-guaranteed)
T.J. Cummings (SIGNED WITH MILWAUKEE: non-guaranteed)
Rafael Araujo (SIGNED WITH MINNESOTA: non-guaranteed)
Jaycee Carroll (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: non-guaranteed)
Julius Hodge (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: non-guaranteed)
Brian Hamilton (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: non-guaranteed)
Eddie Gill (SIGNED WITH NEW JERSEY: ---/---)
Jared Jordan (SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: non-guaranteed)
Courtney Sims (SIGNED WITH NEW ORLEANS: non-guaranteed)
Anthony Roberson (SIGNED WITH NEW YORK: 2 years/$1.6 million)
Allan Houston (SIGNED WITH NEW YORK: non-guaranteed)
Dan Grunfield (SIGNED WITH NEW YORK: non-guaranteed)
Taurean Green (WAIVED BY NEW YORK-SIGNED WITH CAI ZARAGOZA: ---/---)
Chris Alexander (SIGNED WITH OKLAHOMA CITY: non-guaranteed)
Derrick Byars (SIGNED WITH OKLAHOMA CITY: non-guaranteed)
John Lucas III (SIGNED WITH OKLAHOMA CITY: non-guaranteed)
Mike Wilks (SIGNED WITH ORLANDO: non-guaranteed)
Antywane Robinson (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: non-guaranteed)
Cory Underwood (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: non-guaranteed-CUT BY PHILADELPHIA- )
Jared Reiner (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: non-guaranteed)
Maureese Rice (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: non-guaranteed-CUT BY PHILADELPHIA- )
Andre Emmett (SIGNED WITH PHILADELPHIA: non-guaranteed-CUT BY PHILADELPHIA- )
Luke Jackson (SIGNED WITH PORTLAND: 1 year/non-guaranteed)
Steven Hill (SIGNED WITH PORTLAND: 1 year/non-guaranteed)
Jamaal Tatum (SIGNED WTIH PORTLAND: 1 year/non-guaranteed)
Goran Dragic (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: 3 years/$6 million)
Coleman Collins (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: non-guaranteed- CUT)
Jiri Hubalek (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: non-guaranteed)
Robert Hite (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: non-guaranteed)
Trey Johnson (SIGNED WITH PHOENIX: non-guaranteed)
Bobby Brown (SIGNED WITH SACRAMENTO: 2 years/1.1 million)
Zhang Kai (SIGNED WITH SACRAMENTO: non-guaranteed)
Noel Felix (SIGNED WITH SACRAMENTO: non-guaranteed)
Anthony Tolliver (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: 2 years/$899,692)
Darryl Watkins (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: non-guaranteed)
Dasmon Farmer (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: non-guaranteed)
Devin Green (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: non-guaranteed)
Brian Morrison (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: non-guaranteed-CUT)
Charles Gaines (SIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO: non-guaranteed)
Hassan Adams (SIGNED WITH TORONTO: 1 year/$798,000)
Will Solomon (SIGNED WITH TORONTO: 1 year/$774,000)
Jamal Sampson (SIGNED WITH TORONTO: non-guaranteed)
Gerry McNamara (SIGNED WITH UTAH: non-guaranteed)
Kevin Lyde (SIGNED WITH UTAH: non-guaranteed)
Britton Johnson (SIGNED WITH UTAH: non-guaranteed)
Dee Brown (SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON: 1 year/$798,000)


Notable Extensions:

Chris Paul, New Orleans (4 years/$68 million)
Deron Williams, Utah (4 years/$70 million)
Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers (---/---)
Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee (5 years/$72.5 million)
Danny Granger, Indiana (---/---)
Francisco Garcia, Sacramento (5 years/$30 million)


Post-Season Trade Destinations:



1. Portland (Ike Diogu and Jerryd Bayless) & Indiana (Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush, and Josh McRoberts)

2. New Orleans (cash considerations) & Portland (Darrell Arthur)

3. Portland (Nicolas Batum) & Houston (Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey)

4. Memphis (Darrell Arthur) & Houston (Donte Greene)

5. Oklahoma City (D.J. White) & Detroit (Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted)

6. Indiana (T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Roy Hibbert, and Maceo Baston) & Toronto (Jermaine O'Neal and Nathan Jawai)

7. New Jersey (Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons) & Milwaukee (Richard Jefferson)

8. Miami (Mario Chalmers) & Minnesota (two 2009 second round picks and cash considerations)

9. Boston (Bill Walker) & Washington (cash considerations)

10. Los Angeles Clippers (Mike Taylor) & Portland (2009 second round pick)

11. Memphis (O.J. Mayo, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, and Greg Buckner) & Minnesota (Mike Miller, Kevin Love, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins)

12. Chicago (Omer Asik) & Portland (Three 2009 second round draft picks)

13. Minnesota (Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, and a future first round pick) & Philadelphia (future second round pick and $2.8 million dollar trade exemption)

14. Los Angeles Clippers (Marcus Camby) & Denver (Future draft considerations)

15. Orlando ($3.3 million dollar trade exception) & New Jersey (Keyon Dooling)

16. Golden State (Marcus Williams) & New Jersey (Conditional first round draft pick)

17. New York (Bobby Jones, Taurean Green, and 2010 second round draft pick) & Denver (Renaldo Balkman and cash considerations)

17. Los Angeles Clippers (Jason Hart) & Utah Jazz (Brevin Knight)

18. Houston (Ron Artest, Sean Singletary, and Patrick Ewing Jr.) & Sacramento (Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene, 2009 first round draft pick, and cash considerations)

19. Los Angeles Clippers (Steve Novak) & Houston (Future draft considerations)

20. Oklahoma City (Kyle Weaver) & Charlotte (2009 second round draft pick)

21. Cleveland (Mo Williams), Oklahoma City (Desmond Mason and Joe Smith), & Milwaukee (Luke Ridnour, Aidrian Griffin, and Damon Jones)

22. Houston (D.J. Strawberry) & Phoenix (Sean Singletary)

23. Houston (Frederick Weiss's draft rights) & New York (Patrick Ewing Jr.)

24. Dallas (Shawne Williams) & Indiana (Eddie Jones)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Examining Off-Season Trades: Draft Day Trades

INTRODUCTION:

Rather than harshly judge off-season trades and deals without the benefit of hindsight or discretion, at The Boris Diaw School of Leisure, we chose to wait to begin our debate about the plethora of off-season trades until some time had passed and the some context has developed. Perhaps the most dangerous thing in sports is unjustified and unintelligent analysis, and as we’ve seen with the endless stream of careless reporting courtesy of sports “journalists,” nothing is less productive than irresponsible and uninformed opinions. This was always the mission of The Boris Diaw School of Leisure.

That being said, we will continue our extended coverage of this NBA off-season with a conversation about the many trades that have occurred thus far. As more trades are made, we will revive this article. With 17 official trades down, one pending league approval on August 14, and a host of trades remaining in the future, however there is plenty for us to tackle in the meantime.

DRAFT-DAY TRADES:

The days leading up to the 2008 NBA Draft were filled with rumors of blockbuster deals, trades, and swaps, but this season's NBA Draft featured expected player movement with no less than twelve official draft night trades occuring. Though some were minor, the deals made were, for the most part, amongst some of the most ambituous of this off-season and surely will impact the NBA landscape next year. These trades consist of players, picks, cash considerations, and more, and often explain some of the more confounding elements of the NBA Draft once they are finally deemed official. Without further ado, let's analyze these trades.

THE BRILLIANT BLAZERS:

The spotlight of the draft-day trading landscape undoubtably, and perhaps unsurprisingly, belongs to Portland Trailblazers GM and wunderkind Kevin Pritchard. He pulled the trigger on five deals, which ultimately helped the Blazers reach the title of Best Draft for the second year in a row.

Their first move was perhaps their most important from a personnel perspective. The Blazers traded Jarret Jack, Josh McRoberts, and the rights to 13th pick Brandon Rush to the Pacers for Ike Diogu and the rights to 11th pick Jerryd Bayless. Jack never displayed the poise to emerge as a starter at the point guard position in Portland and both he and McRoberts represented players who the Blazers lack the future cap-room to resign. Brandon Rush would have been a perfect fit for the Blazers on the wing, but considering their returns, his loss is not at all tragic. Bayless, who was the MVP of the NBA Summer League, looks like a steal and a perfect backcourt-mate for Brandon Roy. While he isn't a pass first point guard in any definition of the term, he can get to the basket at will, and should immediately be an important spark on the bench. At best, he could emerge as the best player from this draft and at worst, he should be a solid contributor and roleplayer. Diogu is a former lottery pick who lacked direction and a favorable system for his skillset during stints at Golden State and Indiana. He's going to have to fight for minutes, but he is a versatile and talented post scorer and could be a contributing member of the post rotation if he begins to achieve his potential.

Portland's next two moves are directly related as Pritchard convinced owner Paul Allen to buy the Hornets' 27th pick, which allowed them to draft Darrell Arthur, who miraculously fell to the end of the first round. Arthur was one of the most coveted players in the draft and the only reason he dropped so low was an allegedly faulty medical report which was deemed untrue after the draft. The Blazers then traded the rights to Darrell Arthur to the Houston Rockets for another highly regarded lottery pick, the young and versatile French wing Nicolas Batum. In order to acquire Batum, the Blazers had to give up the rights to Arthur and Joey Dorsey, one of their three second round picks. The Blazers had to sacrifice a rookie wing in order to gain Bayless's draft rights, but they managed to acquire another top wing prospect for a pick they bought for less than three million dollars and a second round pick. This is yet another example of Pritchard's draft day genius. In Batum, the Blazers add a developing young wing player to their roster who does not require immediate playing time and has the potential to develop into a Bruce Bowen-style roleplayer in the future. Losing Arthur and Dorsey, despite their low post abilities, doesn't hurt that much considering the loaded frontcourt filled with elite young talent already present in Portland.

Then, the Blazers cemented their future draft day dominance by acquiring four 2009 second round picks by dealing two borderline NBA prospects. Chicago overvalued the right to Turkish prospect Omer Asik to the tune of three second round picks and the Clippers accepted 6'1 D-League combo-guard for the price of a 2009 second rounder. Considering the fact that there is a decent that neither player will ever amount to much in the NBA, Portland now has four 2009 second rounders and possess even more ammunition to make a significant and similar impact on the 2009 NBA Draft just as Pritchard and company accomplished for the past two seasons. Simply put, the Blazers have one of the premier GMs in the league and he should help this team achieve elite status in the near future.

THE SURPRISING SUCCESSES:

Contrary to popular belief, other teams made draft day deals besides Portland. The other big winner, and definitely on Portland's level of achievement, was the Indiana Pacers GM Larry Bird. While the Jerryd Bayless deal happened first, the most significant trade that the Pacers engaged in was a blockbuster deal sending Jermaine O'Neal and the rights to second-round pick Nathan Jawai to Toronto for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and the rights to first round pick Roy Hibbert. O'Neal didn't contribute as much to the Pacers record last season as he did to their payroll. He has since admitted to sitting out the rest of last season because of how negative his time in Indianapolis had become. In return, the Pacers received a starting point guard in T.J. Ford and post-depth in the likes of NBA starter Rasho Nesterovic and rookie Roy Hibbert. Neither is a particularly exciting player, but both are solid post-defenders and should help make this team more formidable and gritty on the defensive end. Ford is injury-prone, but considering the fact that Travis Diener was starting at point guard for stretches last season, he is an immediate upgrade over the likes of Jamal Tinsley and Keith McLeod. Maceo Baston shouldn't make much of an impact, but he is a cheap and hard-working 12th man should the Pacers retain his rights.

Their earlier move, trading Ike Diogu and the rights to Jerryd Bayles to the Blazers for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, and the rights to Brandon Rush, makes more sense in the context of the aforementioned deal. McRoberts is a local product and still has a world of potential should he gain confidence in his game and Jack should add solid point guard depth behind T.J. Ford. He can even start if Ford's injury woes reemerge as they often do during the extended NBA regular season. Rush should provide an instant upgrade defensive at the shooting guard position. In fact, he could emerge as a solid starter in due time because of his basketball IQ, perimeter shooting abilities, and commitment to defense. Bayless's addition would have been redundant, but in return, the Pacers received some very nice players.

NETRUAL, BUT CERTAINLY NOT NEGAITVE

Toronto's end of the aforementioned deal is largely unknown at this point. O'Neal is getting older, is sporting a maximum contract, and is extremely injury prone. If healthy, however, he could be a nice compliment to Chris Bosh in the post, particulalry on defense. Assuming O'Neal can stay healthy, this deal looks fairly good considering Toronto's desire to win now and make a deep run in the playoffs. If O'Neal gets hurt, which happened during his past three seasons in Indiana, Toronto looks to have gotten a very raw deal for some nice supporting players and a young center prospect. While we've let this deal marinate in our minds for quite some time, we really have no idea who got the upper hand. Thus far, however, you can quote us as siding with Indiana until proven otherwise.

The last significant deal is important for a couple reasons: 1) it marks the first decent trade Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale has made in recent memory. 2) neither the Grizzlies nor the Timberwolves, despite their reputations, hurt themselves with this deal. The Grizzlies sent Mike Miller, Jason Collins, Brian Cardinal, and the rights to Kevin Love to the Timberwolves for Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and the rights to O.J. Mayo.

The immediate winner of this trade seems to be the Timberwolves, who, despite popular criticism, had a very good draft. Mike Miller is a very talented scorer and one of the best perimeter shooters in the NBA. He should start from day one and is a big step up from Rashad McCants, who should have been in a reserve role anyway. Kevin Love is a versatile post player with big time potential as he showed in summer league when he silenced his critics that said he wouldn't be able to score against more athletic competition. He plays the same position as Jefferson, but should be able to play both post positions, whichever the incumbent does not want, efficiently. He could emerge as the best post-prospect in this draft when it is all said and done and considering the fact that they acquired Miller in this deal, also, the Timberwolves seemingly got very good value with the pick. The other players aren't spectacular, but should be able to contribute: Collins is a good team defender in the post, which compensates for Jefferson and Love's inability to play post-defense at the NBA level, and Brian Cardinal, whose massive contract expires in the near future, is a nice end of the bench guy who can step in and stretch defenses with his perimeter jumpshot.

The Timberwolves second draft day trade was more of a gamble and less commendable in an immediate context, but, if Mario Chalmers does not succeed as an NBA point guard, trading his draft rights to Miami for two 2009 second round draft picks, then does not seem like such a stretch. Chalmers is a defensive mastermind, is a very good perimeter shooter, and is a competent point guard who could thrive in Miami's system and make the Timberwolves look foolish. Considering the fact that they just drafted Randy Foye to be their point guard and re-signed Sebastian Telfair after a solid trial run, the Timberwolves did not desperately need a point guard that may not develop into a talent better than the aforementioned pair. This is yet another pick that will have to wait until later to be analyzed, though at least in the beginning, Miami seems to have received a future starter and defensive specialist for next to nothing in NBA Draft terms.

Going back to the original trade, which brought Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner, and the rights to O.J. Mayo to Memphis, it is difficult to say, but GM Chris Wallace may have proved his competency through this draft. Jaric and Mayo, while adding to the glut of lead guards in Memphis, are both better scorers than exist and Mayo has the potential be to develop into a superstar if he continues to improve offensively. Walker is a scorer to come off of the bench, but probably won't see many minutes in Memphis's youth movement. Same goes for Buckner, who could be an excellent role player on a contender, but likely won't last the entire year on this young roster. The contracts aren't pretty either, swapping Cardinal's massive contract for Jaric's equally unyieldy one; the only difference is that Jaric can actually play. The Grizzlies received a lot of talent, though losing Miller and Love certainly hurts. They came out merely lukewarm because despite the fact that they received a very talented young player, their financial situation leaves a lot to be desired because of Jaric's long-term contract.

Then, the Grizzlies drafted Donte Greene, which seemed to be redundant considering the emergence of Rudy Gay. Then, Chris Wallace showed that a basketball brain actually exists in his head. He traded the rights to Greene to Houston for the rights to Darrell Arthur, a move that bolstered the Grizzlies' weak and undersized frontcourt as well as giving them a versatile post-scorer. Arthur might not be the toughest player around, but he is a low-risk, high-reward type player who could turn into a key member of the rotation in the youth movement. Overall, Chris Wallace and Grizzlies had a very productive draft and even though the results are somewhat inconclusive pending Mayo and Arthur's NBA careers, it looks like the Grizzlies hit a home run on both fronts.

Houston is another team that did well, but nothing overly spectacular. Acquiring Greene will give them a versatile option at either forward spot to back up Battier, McGrady, or Artest. As proven by his 40 point game in Summer League, if Greene's shot is falling, he can be a very effective scorer. In the very beginning, he should be a very rich man's Steve Novak and could develop into a Rashard Lewis type scorer at the peak of his potential. At the very worst, the was a very low-risk pick and considering how highly he was once regarded, if he develops into a starter, he could be one of this draft's biggest steals and a solid rotation player should Artest run into any trouble.

Houston also broke San Antonio's hearts by drafting Nicolas Batum, but then turned the deal on its head by trading Batum for Arthur and the rights to Portland's second round pick Joey Dorsey. Basically, they traded the 25th pick for the 28th pick and the 39th pick. While that doesn't seem like the most genius thing in the world, it is worth considering that this lineup is absolutely loaded with talent and roleplayers are exactly what this team is lacking at the moment. Dorsey is a solid defender and rebounder and should be a solid third string center in a Ben Wallace role. Though he's offensively limited, he thrives as a scrappy roleplayer, not demanding shots, but making his presence felt just about everywhere else. The Rockets came out of the draft with more talent than they did coming in and though they did nothing to wow anybody, they certainly didn't hurt themselves.

INCONSEQUENTIAL OR JUST PLAIN BAD

To end this marathon analysis, we'll turn our attention to some trades that did very little to improve either team. Whether or not this was the intention behind each trade differentiates these last three deals, but the fact is that none of these trades accomplished much. We'll start with one of the most mutually confusing trades in recent memory.

Milwaukee acquired Richard Jefferson and in exchange, dealt Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons to New Jersey. This deal simply makes no sense. Consider it from Milwaukee's perspective. They acquired Jefferson right before the draft, and the trade was made official during the draft. If the trade was going happen and the front office knew that, why did they draft Joe Alexander, a raw forward who plays the same position as Jefferson and recent free-agent acquisition Desmond Mason? Somebody call the redundancy police. Please. We all knew the Bucks management had no idea what it was doing when it tried to strong arm the entire nation of China during last year's Draft, but this takes it to the next level. In the past two years, the Bucks have traded away a lottery pick and a player who they overpaid for a player that plays the same position as their lottery pick this year and their top-rated free-agent last year. And, what of Charlie Villanueva. Milwaukee is a mess and next year that looks like "a mess" will remain the status quo.

Equally confounding is how this deal benefits New Jersey. And, yes, we're taking into consideration their desire to emerge a frontrunner in the LeBron James sweepstakes. The Nets had one of their better drafts in recent memory this year in which they acquired the rights to Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson, and Chris-Douglas Roberts. That being said, by acquiring Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons their number of soft forwards increased dramatically. Now the roster contains a plethora of forwards and centers: Josh Boone, Sean Williams, Brook Lopez, Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons, Ryan Anderson, Eduardo Najera, and Stromile Swift. If that's not a logjam, we're not sure what is. And, again: we realize that the Nets want to sign LeBron in a couple years. All the Nets did this off-season was do their best to confuse their roster and fans alike. Here's to hoping that somebody in New Jersey knows what's going on; we certainly don't. Milwaukee is just a bad organization, the Nets are not making any sense.

These last two trades are very minor, but for the sake of completion, we'll include them anyway. First, Boston bought Washington's second round pick, which turned out to be Bill Walker. We believe that Walker will be a much better player in the long-run than J.R. Giddens, partially because he has a basketball brain in addition to a lot of ability. Washington has more money, which is not the most interesting gain, but certainly essential for an organization on the cusp. They also have no use for a player like Walker because of their depth on the perimeter. Boston got a potentially nice player; Washington got some financial flexibility, which they likely put towards resigning Gilbert Arenas or Antwan Jamison. Both sides won, which is a rarity in the modern post-Pritchard NBA trade.

Last but not least, the newly christened Oklahoma City *** pulled the trigger that sent the rights to two long-term second rounders, combo-forward Walter Sharpe and center Trent Plaisted, to Detroit for the rights to first round pick D.J. White. White is a solid, albeit defensively limited and undersized, power forward who displays a shooting touch out to the former college three-point line and is a good position rebounder. He's not the sexiest prospect in the world, but he's a player in the same vein as Carl Landry, Leon Powe, and Paul Millsap and has a decent chance to succeed in the new NBA. With the 29th pick, the ****s couldn't haven't done much better than one of the most solid post players the NCAA had to offer.

The Pistons might not get help right away with their end of the bargain, but with Kwame Brown, Amir Johnson, Cheikh Samb, and Jason Maxiell waiting in the wings, they might not need immediate assistance in their rotation. Their primary concern was to find an end of the bench post prospect and a back-up for Tayshaun Prince. In Walter Sharpe, they may have discovered their future Prince. At 6'9, Sharpe has superb size for the wing and for those of you who followed our coverage of summer league, you're well aware of his potential and downright remarkable skillset for a player with as little experience as he has. If Sharpe can overcome his concentration issues and work hard to improve, we're talking about one of the biggest steals from this draft. If not, he's a low-risk, high-reward type player. Plaisted is a couple years from being considered a legitimate NBA player, but his solid size, mobility, and athleticism make him a tantalizing prospect. He likely won't develop into a starter, but he could become a useful roleplayer if he gains a greater understanding of his role on the floor and drops his unaware demeanor. GMs, especially those as talented as Joe Dumars, don't get fired for these picks.

After that marathon... We're finished with this installment of Examining Off-Season Trades and should have the last update posted in the near future.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Examining Off-Season Trades: Salary Dumps

INTRODUCTION:

Rather than harshly judge off-season trades and deals without the benefit of hindsight or discretion, at The Boris Diaw School of Leisure, we chose to wait to begin our debate about the plethora of off-season trades until some time had passed and the some context has developed. Perhaps the most dangerous thing in sports is unjustified and unintelligent analysis, and as we’ve seen with the endless stream of careless reporting courtesy of sports “journalists,” nothing is less productive than irresponsible and uninformed opinions. This was always the mission of The Boris Diaw School of Leisure.

That being said, we will continue our extended coverage of this NBA off-season with a conversation about the many trades that have occurred thus far. As more trades are made, we will revive this article. With 17 official trades down, one pending league approval on August 14, and a host of trades remaining in the future, however there is plenty for us to tackle in the meantime.

SALARY DUMP TRADES:

With all of the journalistic mudslinging and the oft-reckless pursuit of “the story”, people seem to forget that the NBA is a business and trades often reflect the business-side of basketball in addition to the talent-side of the game. With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the most controversial trade of the summer, a salary dump featuring the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Camby.



The Denver Nuggets sent starting center Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks in the 2010 NBA Draft. At first-sight, this is an incredibly lopsided deal. And, if you’re the Denver Nuggets, it very well may be despite the financial advantages. By dumping Camby’s salary, the Nuggets supposedly were saving valuable cap-space that they could use in order to re-sign their young talent and add some quality veterans to the roster. Looking at what they have done since, however, leads us to believe that they had no idea what they were doing when they dealt Camby. The acquisitions of Renaldo Balkman adds some perimeter defense and versatility, but they had to give away their 2010 second-round draft pick in the process. They also signed Dahntay Jones, but he likely will be a low-end rotation player and he is not being paid more than a league minimum.



Last but not least, this deal has to sting for Denver fans because as of now, J.R. Smith has still not re-signed with the team. In fact, his contract situation looks bleaker than ever and even if Smith signs for cheap, the chances that he has a future in Denver are not looking very likely. In addition, without Camby’s gaudy numbers, they are among the worst defensive teams in the NBA. This deal was supposed to give the Nuggets more cap flexibility and a better second-round pick in 2010. They have received neither and are now firmly on the cusp of missing the NBA playoffs next year in a competitive Western Conference. Camby was rightly shocked, a feeling that his teammates and fans are beginning to experience, as well.



Denver’s competition for that eighth spot this past season was Portland and Dallas.. By trading Camby, the list of has expanded. Now, the Los Angeles Clippers are legitimate playoff contender and have one of the more formidable defensive frontcourts in the league with Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby anchoring the middle. Not only that, but because Camby has such a reasonable contract, the Clippers’s cap will be fully recovered by the time the 2010 free-agency season begins. Now, a team that looked to be among the worst in the Western Conference looks to, at least, contend for a playoff spot. With Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, and Eric Gordon as the principal guards and Al Thornton and Tim Thomas pitching in on the wing, this team has one of the more solid eight-man rotations in the league and should be in solid salary cap position going into 2010. Though the Clippers lost franchise-luminary Elton Brand and leading scorer Corey Maggette, the additions of Camby and, later in free agency, Ricky Davis, should help to make their departures hurt less.

While the Clippers look to have bested Denver with the Camby deal, it is not the only trade made in the name of dumping salary. It will not be the last either. That being said, one of the most important deals of the off-season had little to do with the players drafted. Enter Philadelphia GM Ed Stefanski.



When Philadelphia traded Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, and a future first round pick to Minnesota for a future second round pick and $2.8 million dollar trade exemption, it was not even remotely close to big news in the national press. It should have been. By dumping the salaries of small-time rotation players Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth, the 76ers were able to find the cap-space to sign All-Star power-forward Elton Brand. In return, the 76ers got some very good value in an almost three million dollars trade exception and a future second rounder. The largest gain, however, was acquiring the cap-room to sign Brand. In that respect, Philadelphia won a significant battle despite the fact that it took a seemingly small deal to make it happen.



Minnesota got two nice end-of-the-bench reserves. Carney hasn’t developed the ball skills to be an NBA caliber scorer, but he is a decent defender and can spot up on the perimeter. If he makes the final roster, he could play small minutes every night and is a nice addition to Minnesota’s youth movement. Assuming Booth sticks around, he could be a solid addition to a team that lacks a true center. He doesn’t offer much offensively, but he is a decent defender and rebounder. Most importantly, however, for their complicity in this deal, Minnesota will receive a future first-round draft pick from Philadelphia. Considering how bad GM Kevin McHale’s trading record has been, this summer is probably his most successful and one that certainly has helped out the rebuilding Timberwolves.



While the two aforementioned trades at least equal when they were made, the New Jersey Nets pulled the trigger on one of the most lopsided deals of the summer when they traded young point guard Marcus Williams to Golden State for a conditional first-round draft pick. In principal, the move makes sense. It is no secret that the future Brooklyn Nets are cutting payroll in order to have the cap room to make significant moves during the summer of 2010. It was also no secret that the Nets did not believe that Marcus Williams was a long-term answer at the point guard position. That being said, they could have and should have waited for a better offer to come to the table. As the trade stands, Marcus Williams was dealt to Golden State for a conditional 2011 first round draft pick that is lottery protected in 2011, top-11 protected in 2012, and top-10 protected in 2013. If these provisions are upheld and the Warriors remain a lottery team, then the Nets do not even receive a first round pick. Instead, they receive the Warriors’ second round picks in 2013 and 2015. The only course of action that the Nets can take now is to pray that Marcus Williams blossoms in Oakland and brings the Warriors out of the lottery by 2013. Judging by the current roster make-up, this could be a pipe-dream in the stacked Western Conference. The Nets may have cut their payroll by removing the future possibility of overpaying Williams, but they received very little in return.



Even if Williams continues to regress and never becomes a starting point guard in the NBA, the Warriors will likely not give up much to in order for his services. At best, they lose two second picks and get a quality back-up or average starting point guard for their rotation. At worst, Williams flourishes, the Warriors win a lot of games, and they lose a first rounder. Either way, this trade works out positively for the Warriors, which considering the majority of GM Chris Mullin’s moves this summer, could emerge as the bright spot for the Warriors’ summer.



We talked briefly about New York trading Balkman to the Nuggets, and it does not deserve that much attention, but it was another example of a curious salary dump situation. While Renaldo Balkman does not really fit into Coach Mike D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense, he is a versatile perimeter defender and a solid reserve who will never demand a lot of cash. That being said, like New Jersey and just about every other team in the NBA, the Knicks want to be in a favorable salary cap situation during the summer of 2010. In Donnie Walsh’s mind, Renaldo Balkman represents a future salary that the Knicks cannot afford not to mention unneeded depth on the wing. From a practical standpoint, however, Balkman really does not make that much money and he is a good hustle player for a rotation that lacks quality team defenders. So, while this is a fairly insubstantial move, it does really does not make much sense. There are simply too many bad contracts on this team to consider this a legitimate salary dump. Zach Randolph, Jerome James, and Stephon Marbury are far more detrimental to this team’s future than Balkman was.

In return, the Knicks received Taurean Green, Bobby Jones, and a 2010 second-round draft pick. After waiving both Green and Jones, the Knicks essentially traded a former first round draft pick for a second round draft pick. The Nuggets, as explained above, have done just about everything to sabotage their team’s future. Balkman is a nice addition, but they essentially gave up Marcus Camby and a future second-round pick for Renaldo Balkman. This has not been a very good summer for the Nuggets.

In the next few days we will publish an article examining draft-day trades as well as an article looking at the impact of the less heralded trades that will continue to occur until late October. Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Analyzing Group B: Team USA's Path to the Olympics

When the United States qualified for the Olympics by steamrolling through the FIBA Americas tournament, spirits were high and many believed that the Dream Team had returned. Despite realizing that the lower-level competition from the likes of Mexico, the United States Virgin Islands, and Panama was just that--lower level--every talking head in the country jumped the gun and claimed that the golden age of United States basketball dominance had returned.



Then, the groups for the Olympic Games were announced and the United States landed in Group B and all of the positive speculation seemed somewhat premature.

First, let's introduce the teams: The United States of America, Spain, Angola, Greece, Germany, China.

Why is this the more competitive of the two groups in the Olympics? We'll state our case and then let you decide...

You know Team USA; let us introduce you to the competition:



Spain
FIBA Ranking: #3

The Spanish National Team consists of the following players: Jose Manuel Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez, Jorge Garbajosa, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, and Raul Lopez. That is a remarkable eight players who have played, are currently playing, or will play on an NBA roster. This team is extremely fundamental, deadly from inside and outside and has both the experience and talent to challenge Team USA. The last time these two teams met, it took a perfect performance by the United to defeat the Spaniards. Will Team USA have the focus to repeat? Don't be deceived by the third ranking, Team Spain is the clear cut favorite, if there is a favorite, to beat Team USA.



Greece
FIBA Ranking: #6

Right before Team USA swept the FIBA Americas Tournament, they claimed Bronze at the FIBA World Championships. We bet that you can guess who they lost to... Greece's National Team features a less star-studded, but even more disciplined roster than that of the Spanish. Behind a backcourt led by Vassilis Spanoulis, Dimitris Diamantidis, and the legendary Theodoros Papaloukas lies one of the stronger frontcourts including Antonis Fotsis, Andreas Glyniadakis, and former Baby Shaq-candidate Sofoklis Schortsanitis. Don't expect anything flashy out of this team, but they will make some noise in Beijing and no team in Group A or B can afford to sleep on Panagiotis Giannakis's team.



Germany
FIBA Ranking: #9

There are only two reasons why the German National Team can be considered a threat to the United States: Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman. Nowitzki is one of the most unstoppable basketball players in the history of FIBA and can score against just about anybody from anywhere; his NBA MVP award shows that he's capable of outplaying Carmelo Anthony, Tayshaun Prince, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, or whoever gets the misfortune of having to guard him. Chris Kaman only adds to a stacked frontcourt. Kaman is certainly not on Nowitzki's level, but frontcourt depth is clearly Team USA's weakness and Germany has one of the deeper frontcourts in Beijing. Germany has very few consistent perimeter scorers to match up with the many elite backcourts in Group B, but they will not go down quietly, especially since achieving an Olympic bid during a miraculous run in the qualifying tournament in Greece.



China
FIBA Ranking: #11

China is a very weak team compared to the rest of the Group, Angola included until further notice, but that does not mean anything with the likes of NBA caliber players Yao Ming, Yi Jianlian, Wang ZhiZhi, and Sun Yue, as well as NBA prospects Chen Jianghua who is a favorite of Coach K, Mo Ke, and Zhang Songtao. There is not much of a backcourt to speak of as there are very few true-facilitators on the floor at any given time, but the Chinese frontcourt looks very good. Just like the one-two punch of Nowitzki and Kaman, Jianlian plays away from the basket while Yao anchors the paint, which can make things difficult for a team potentially lacking in post-depth and defense. China likely won't make much noise this year, but this is a talented team not to be taken lightly.



Angola
FIBA Ranking: #14

Angola, the FIBA Africa champion, has the potential to be a Cinderella team if the cards fall in the right way. This team beat a very strong Serbian B-Team, a less-strong, but not insignificant Russian B-Team, and the Chinese National Team. There aren't many stars on this team, but this is a tough and determined group of players eager to steal a game from the basketball elites in this conference. For teams like the United States and Spain, who have lacked focus in the past against weaker teams, Angola is a threat because of their continuous energy. This Angola team, after all, has already beaten the Chinese National Team and while they shouldn't pose much of a threat to the Americans, this is a continental champion and a tough team looking to make a name for itself on the national stage.

So, if you did not believe that United States will be experiencing anything but a cakewalk during the Olympics, this article will hopefully inspire you to reconsider. While Team USA is very good, has the best roster in the world, and certainly worthy of the top world ranking, they are not invincible. There are six worthy competitors in Group B that makes it, in this blog's opinion, the tougher of the two groups. The United States has to take the form of the Dream Teams of the past if they want to find an easy way out. If not, these games will be quite entertaining and far more interesting than every paid basketball pundit previously assumed.

The Debut of Team USA: Thoughts

Team USA (120) vs. Team Canada (65)

Top Performers:

Carmelo Anthony (USA): 20 pts (7/12 FG, 0/3 3FG, 6/6 FT), 6 reb, 3 ast, 1 TO
Michael Redd (USA): 20 pts (6/8 FG, 6/8 3FG, 2/4 FT), 2 reb
Dwayne Wade (USA): 20 pts (7/10 FG, 1/1 3FG, 5/5 FT), 3 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 4 TO
Chris Paul (USA): 11 pts (4/5 FG, 2/2 3FG, 1/2 FT), 2 reb, 8 ast, 2 TO
Jermaine Anderson (CAN): 18 pts (6/9 FG, 3/6 3FG, 3/4 FT), 1 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 TO



The United States Men's Senior National Team succeeded in its first of five pre-Olympic exhibition games with a 120-65 victory over the reeling Canadian National Team, which missed the Olympics after a defection by star center Samuel Dalembert. To make matters worse, the Canadians only shot 33% from the field and managed only seven assists alongside of 24 turnovers.

Team USA simply clicked, and even though the Canadians are not nearly in the same league as the likes of China, Angola, Spain, or Greece (all of whom Team USA will face in their Olympic division). The Americans shot an incredible 66% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, which begins to answer past questions about how well this team will fare against zone defenses. Carmelo Anthony's ability to get to the rim continued his reputation as one of the most consistent members of Team USA. With LeBron James returning shortly from injury, the slashing corps will be in full effect by the time Team USA arrives in China to take on the deceptive Russian National Team.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, yet again, was the pristine play of Chris Paul (now to be known as CP13). He hit two perimeter jumpshots to go along with 11 points and eight assists in 23 minutes. He did not start and was behind both Jason Kidd and Deron Williams in the rotation, but proved that he is the best distributor on the American team.

BDSL Presents... The Best of the Rocky Mountain Revue

By the time that the Rocky Mountain Revue concluded, we were exhausted from watching summer league basketball. Though the games were sloppy, ugly, and, for the most part, very difficult to watch, there were some bright spots.



Gerald Green, despite possessing a guaranteed contract for next season, needed a string of games to showcase his scoring ability and he delivered in Salt Lake City much to the happiness of Mavs GM Donnie Nelson. Similarly, the Utah Jazz were relying on Morris Almond to dominate and though he did not shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter, he showed that he could be more assertive on offense. The re-signing of C.J. Miles might mean he did not play well enough, but we felt as though he looked much improved rom last year.



Anthony Tolliver, after earning a guaranteed contract with the Spurs, showed that their investment paid off, hitting over 50% from beyond the arc and thriving in whatever role was asked of him. Anthony Morrow played out of his mind, shooting almost 70% from beyond the arc, and earned a non-guaranteed contract that will provide him the opportunity to make the opening night roster for the Warriors. Similarly, if the Hawks have not yet offered Othello Hunter a roster spot, they really should consider... After all, Hunter is younger, more athletic, and flat-out better than current back-up big man Solomon Jones, who has struggled to break into the rotation.



This is Thomas Gardner's second impressive summer league season, as he impressed last year with Chicago and, even though he does not have much of a chance of making Atlanta's roster, he surely impressed teams. The same is true for Reyshawn Terry. Terry looks like a completely different player this year after a year playing overseas. In addition to being a perimeter gunner, his ball-handling and defensive abilities are both much improved. He could develop into a solid player for the Mavericks in the future.

And, without further ado...


The Boris Diaw School of Leisure All-Rocky Mountain Revue First Team:



G Morris Almond (UTA)
-18.5 ppg (45% FG), 2.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg

G Anthony Morrow (GSW)
-21.0 ppg (69% 3FG), 6.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 bpg

F Gerald Green (DAL)
-17.7 ppg (46% 3FG), 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.0 spg

F Anthony Randolph (GSW)
-17.5 ppg (81% FT), 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.8 bpg

C Othello Hunter (ATL)
-13.2 ppg (67% FG), 6.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 spg


The Boris Diaw School of Leisure All-Rocky Mountain Revue First Team:

G DeMarcus Nelson (GSW)
-12.5 ppg (47% FG), 4.8 rpg, 5.0 apg, 1.3 spg

G Thomas Gardner (ATL)
-16.3 ppg (47% 3FG), 2.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg

F Reyshawn Terry (DAL)
-11.3 ppg (46% 3FG), 6.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 bpg

F Anthony Tolliver (SAS)
-11.5 ppg (53% 3FG), 3.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.8 spg

C Rob Kurz (GSW)
-12.5 ppg (63% FG), 6.8 rpg, 0.8 apg, 2.3 bpg, 1.0 spg