Thursday, October 29, 2009

Training camp predictions, revisited

At the start of the month, over the course of three posts united by the overused theme of Alec Baldwin's monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross, I attempted to anaylse and predict the training camp rosters of every team in the NBA.

For the hell of it, here's the monologue again:

Preseason is now over, and rosters have been set. Here are my predictions again, along with a depressing look at their whimpering inaccuracy and some half-baked excuses for my own failings as a person.

- Atlanta Hawks

Signings: Juan Dixon, Othello Hunter, Mario West, Frank Robinson, Garrett Siler, Courtney Sims, Mike Wilks, Aaron Miles

Predicted to make it: "Dixon, Wilks, Siler. Or any two from three."

Actually made it: Hunter only.

Excuses: The Hawks needed an extra guard, hence why they signed four of them. So expecting them to sign at least one of them seemed logical. I guess Dixon hasn't enough left. As for the Siler/Sims thing, it never did make a whole lot of sense for the team with Randolph Morris at fourth string centre to be bringing in two more for training camp, but Siler and Sims represent two of the best American centre prospects not currently in the NBA, so I figured one of them had a chance. Guess not.

- Boston Celtics

Signings: Lester Hudson, Michael Sweetney

Predicted to make it: Hudson.

Actually made it: Hudson.

Excuses: Reports came out that stated that the Celtics really liked Sweetney, and tried to find a way to keep him on the roster, but they eventually decided that he wasn't worth eating someone else's guaranteed money for. And they're right. If ever Sweetney gets it together, loses all the weight and finds mentor that gets him to dedicate himself in ways he's never done before, some team will have themselves a frigne starter/quality backup, the kind of player that shouldn't be readily available. But it's not happened yet. Not even close.

- Charlotte & Bob Katz

Signings: Stephen Graham, Antonio Anderson, Dontell Jefferson

Predicted to make it: "Neither."

Actually made it: Graham.

Excuses: When I said "neither," I was referring to Anderson and Graham, and hadn't factored in Jefferson. I should have done, really, especially after the Bobcats signed Ronald Murray. Why they want Stephen Graham, I don't know; they already have enough small forward options, and Graham will do no better of a job masquerading as a power forward than the rest of them. But at the very least, he's the most talented of the bunch.

- Chicago Bulls

Signings: Curtis Stinson, Derrick Byars, Steven Hill, Chris Richard

Predicted to make it: "Byars or no one."

Actually made it: No one.

Excuses: Byars made it briefly, but was waived on opening day. He still hasn't appeared in an NBA game. He did as much as he could do in preseason, and played well enough to win the spot, but the finances of the situation got the getter of him. And they were always going to, in fairness.

- Cleveland Cavaliers

Signings: Luke Nevill, Andre Barrett, Coby Karl, Russell Robinson, Rob Kurz, Darryl Watkins, Jawad Williams, Danny Green, Darnell Jackson

Predicted to make it: "Jackson gets cut, Williams and Green survive, Karl and Kurz make the team."

Actually made it: Williams, Green, Jackson, Karl.

Excuses: Three for four's not bad, but the Cavaliers decided to keep Jackson over the rangier power forward Kurz. I'm not sure they should have done, since Kurz fills a role that the Cavs don't otherwise have, while Jackson somewhat replicates a slower and crapper J.J. Hickson. But since they're vying for the 14 man spot, it's probably not important anyway.

If Antonio Daniels joins the Cavs, it doesn't look good for Karl.

- Dallas Mavericks

Signings: Jake Voskuhl

Predicted to make it: None.

Actually made it: None.

Excuses: Dallas apparently wanted to keep Voskuhl, and tried to open a roster spot for him. They got halfway there when they traded Nathan Jawai to the Timberwolves, but they didn't complete a trade/buyout of Shawne Williams's contract in time, so Voskuhl lost out. He's rumoured to be headed to the Kings.

- Denver Nuggets

Signings: Joey Graham, Keith Brumbaugh, Kurt Looby, Dontaye Draper, James White.

Predicted to make it: "Only White."

Actually made it: Only Graham.

Excuses: The Nuggets need an extra shooter, and Graham is a terrible one. White isn't much of one either, but he's comfortably better at it than Graham, and would have cost the same. Graham also doesn't really bring anything different to what Renaldo Balkman does, and so that's why I didn't fancy his chances. But then the story came out about how the Nuggets were at one time willing to trade Linas Kleiza for Graham. And at that point, it was over.

- Detroit Pistons

Signings: Chucky Atkins, Maceo Baston, Deron Washington

Predicted to make it: "Probably neither, unless Atkins shows there's still a spark on the fire. If there is, he needs to throw a log on it."

Actually made it: Atkins did, Washington didn't.

Excuses: As described here, Washington shouldn't have been a candidate to be waived. But he was, as Atkins apparently showed there was still a spark in the fire, enough of one for Washington to be needlessly waived.

- Golden State Warriors

Signings: Diamon Simpson, Shaun Pruitt

Predicted to make it: "Neither."

Actually made it: Neither.

Excuses: This one was a bit obvious. The Warriors' only non-guaranteed contract is that of Anthony Morrow, and not even the dysfunctional Warriors could get that wrong. By the way, have you noticed that their four acquisitions via trade and free agency this summer were Mikki Moore, Devean George, Acie Law and Speedy Claxton? Can it get much worse than that?

- Houston Rockets

Signings: Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Garrett Temple, Will Conroy, Romel Beck

Predicted to make it: "[Brent] Barry waived, Pops makes the team."

Actually made it: Barry was waived, Pops made the team.

Excuses: The downside to this, as mentioned, was that it leaves the Rockets with only two point guards, and none of the players on the roster can really masquerade as one. Shane Battier did it a tiny bit in his rookie year, but that was a long time ago, and it wasn't a good idea even then. Nonetheless, that's not a need until it's actually a need. And since the Rockets are a team made up of glue guys with very little offensive creators anyway, what good would keeping an inactive list point guard do for that?

- Indiana Pacers

Signings: Rod Benson, Demetris Nichols, Lawrence Roberts

Predicted to make it: "None of them will make it, because the Pacers already have 15 contracts."

Actually made it: None of them made it, because the Pacers already had 15 contracts.

Excuses: The only possible way in for the camp invites was if they could outplay Luther Head and/or A.J. Price, whose contracts are not fully guaranteed. But a slew of injuries at the guard spots saw those two play big minutes in preseason, and play them rather well. So even though Rod Benson did well in his audition, the numbers were against him once again.

- L.A. Clippers

Signings: Anthony Roberson, Kareem Rush, Taj Gray, Jerel McNeal

Predicted to make it: "I'd like McNeal to make the team, but suspect that Rush will."

Actually made it: Rush.

Excuses: Rush didn't shoot the ball well in preseason - then again, he doesn't often shoot the ball well - yet seemingly he was tall enough to win a roster spot. That's how it works, apparently.

- L.A. Lakers

Signings: Thomas Kelati, Tony Gaffney, David Monds, Michael Fey, Mickael Gelabale

Predicted to make it: "If Gelabale proves his health, he will make the team. If he does not, none of them will."

Actually made it: None of them.

Excuses: Tony Gaffney put on a damn good charge for the spot, but unfortunately, his minimum salary was deemed to be too much. Here's the thing, though; the Lakers stated their intentions early to have only a 13 man roster this season, due to them currently having the biggest payroll in the league. As such, the camp invites never really a had a chance. Why, then, did they bring so many in? What was the point? Even when someone (Gaffney) won you over enough to want to keep him as a player, you still couldn't do it, because the finances dictated the situation. So then why bring in players like Fey, who have no chance of making the roster, since all they can do is get injured and hamstring your finances? Don't get this.

I also don't get why a team that absolves itself of all youth chooses to own its own D-League affiliate; the Lakers currently have no players eligible for assignment down there. Whatever, though.

- Memphis Grizzlies

Signings: Thomas Gardner, Trey Gilder, Mike Taylor, Leon Rodgers

Predicted to make it: "If they [buyout Marko Jaric], I predict Gilder will make it; if they open a second spot, I predict Gilder and Taylor make it."

Actually made it: They didn't buyout Jaric, thus keeping on only 1; Gilder.

Excuses: Sorry about completely missing out on news of the Thomas Gardner waiving for the best part of three weeks. I'm not as good at this as I was in my youth, and am just simply not eighteen years old any more.

Also, it appears that Steven Hunter is actually healthy to play, appearing in multiple preseason games and playing 9 minutes on debut tonight. He hasn't played well at all yet, but he's playing, thus making me responsible for yet more misinformation. Sorry about this as well.

- Miami Heat

Signings: Shavlik Randolph, Andre Brown, Alade Aminu, Anthony Tolliver, John Lucas

Predicted to make it: "I'm predicting none of the 5 to make it; however, if any of them do, I vote Lucas, Randolph, Tolliver, Aminu and Brown, in that order."

Actually made it: Carlos Arroyo and Randolph.

Excuses: I chose that order pretty much solely on the basis of the Heat's depth chart; they needed help at the point guard and power forward spots, and while Randolph was the best power forward option, Lucas was the only point guard option. The Heat clearly saw that, and surprised us all by bringing in Arroyo partway through preseason. Didn't see it coming. A good move, though.

- Milwaukee Bucks

Signings: Charles Gaines, Marcus Hubbard, Mark Tyndale, Dominic James

Predicted to make it: None of them.

Actually made it: None of them.

Excuses: Cheated slightly here, since all of them had already been waived before I wrote my prediction. But I'm claiming it anyway, because I need all the success I can get.

- Minnesota Timberwolves

Signings: Jared Reiner, Jason Hart, Alonzo Gee, Mustafa Shakur, Jack McClinton, Devin Green

Predicted to make it: "If and when the buyouts with [Antonio] Daniels and Mark Blount are finalised, the Wolves will have two roster spots. At that point, they'll need a point guard, which bodes well for Hart. Releasing Blount will leave the Timberwolves with only five big men, two of whom are Brian Cardinal and Oleksiy Pecherov (whom, since they're expiring, are also slim possibilities for being released, as is Damien Wilkins). So that gives Reiner a chance. I'm predicting him and Hart."

Actually made it: Hart and Nathan Jawai

Excuses: Apparently I can't count; they needed only to release Daniels to open two spots, which they did. A buyout of Blount wasn't finalised in time, but my logic was at least right; Minnesota opted to keep a point guard and a big. They kept Hart, but decided to bring in Jawai over Reiner. Hadn't considered that a possibility at the time. But it's probably best.

- New Jersey Nets

Signings: Brian Hamilton, Will Blalock, Bennet Davis

Predicted to make it: "None of them."

Actually made it: "None of them."

Excuses: The Nets didn't have any roster space, they won't spend any money this year, and none of the three has NBA talent. They liked Hamilton, in the same way that all teams love defensive minded athletic forwards, but they didn't have any roster space. So this one was self-explanatory.

- New Orleans Hornets

Signings: Earl Barron, Larry Owens

Predicted to make it: "The Hornets could use someone with centre size, particularly if they're going to pawn [Hilton] Armstrong off to the Clippers as I'm predicting they'll do between now and February. As such, they could use Barron, and any and all frontcourt offense is welcome. But despite all their cost cutting moves this summer, the Hornets are still over the tax (hence the Armstrong suggestion). So even if they freed up a roster spot by salary dumping Devin Brown or whoever, any additional signing would then cost them double. And is Earl Barron worth that? No. So for that reason, he's out. (Owens is out too, and I guarantee I'll be right about him this time. Hopefully.)" [A long-winded way of saying 'neither of them.']

Actually made it: Neither of them.

Excuses: Same as the Nets; the Hornets have no roster space and no money.

- New York Knicks

Signings: Ron Howard, Marcus Landry, Chris Hunter, Joe Crawford, Sun Yue, Warren Carter, Gabe Pruitt

Predicted to make it: "Crawford and Pruitt."

Actually made it: Landry only.

Excuses: Strangely, the free spending Knicks opted to keep a roster spot open instead of keeping an unguaranteed 15th man. This was kind of unexpected. Also unexpected was Marcus Landry's blazing hot three point stroke; he first demonstrated in summer league, but after a four year career of only decent shooting on few attempts at Wisconsin (with the shorter three point line), him being such a fine shooter is perhaps unexpected. But it's what's kept him around.

- Oklahoma City Thunder

Signings: Ryan Bowen, Mike Harris, Michael Ruffin, Tre Kelley

Predicted to make it: "It should be just Harris, but for some I suspect it'll be just Ruffin. Maybe I'm too cynical."

Actually made it: Bowen only.

Excuses: Not cynical enough, apparently. I respect Ryan Bowen, because any man who can keep getting jobs in a field where he's so badly underqualified is clearly doing something so very very right. But why he keeps getting these gigs, and why NBA executives are so enamoured with players who understand the nuances of defence in lieu of having any discernible talent, I will never understand. Good luck to him, though.

- Orlando Magic

Signings: Morris Almond, Linton Johnson

Predicted to make it: "I'm going to go ahead any say they'll keep them, even though they probably won't. (If that makes sense.)"

Actually made it: Neither of them.

Excuses: No idea what I just said here, but apparently Orlando isn't willing to spend any more on luxuries after all. And why should they? They've got enough talent right now to win the NBA title. A strong inactive list will change nothing.

- Philadelphia 76ers

Signings: Brandon Bowman, Rashad Jones-Jennings, Sean Singletary, Stromile Swift, Dionte Christmas

Predicted to make it: "In spite of needing a shooter more urgently, they've got to keep Swift. It matters not that they have [Primoz] Brezec, Marreese Speights and the returning Jason Smith: you can never have too much frontcourt depth. And even if he didn't show it for the Suns, Stromile is great frontcourt depth. This is more of a plea than a prediction."

Actually made it: No one.

Excuses: Stromile was injured in preseason, which will have factored, but seemingly the Sixers don't rate him as much as I do. Apparently not many people do. Has he really fallen off this much between the ages of 28 and 29? I find it hard to believe. We'll wait and see, though.

- Phoenix Suns

Signings: Carlos Powell, Dan Dickau, Raymond Sykes

Predicted to make it: "None of them."

Actually made it: None of them initially, but then they picked up Jarron Collins off of waivers.

Excuses: All brothers jokes aside, I don't understand the need for Jarron Collins. Robin Lopez is injured, and the Suns are short of quality size, but Jarron Collins isn't quality size.

- Portland Trail Blazers

Signings: Quinton Hosley, Ime Udoka, Donell Taylor, Jarron Collins

Predicted to make it: Collins.

Actually made it: None of them, as Patrick Mills was unexpectedly signed towards the end of preseason.

Excuses: Nate McMillan wanted to keep Udoka really badly, and if the Blazers had been able to foresee Nicolas Batum's injury, then maybe Udoka would have stayed. As it is, Mills gets a spot, despite currently being injured and having no short term role on the team. (I still think it's possible that Mills accepted his tender offer without the Blazers wanting him to, as this would explain the very weird timing of the signing. If this is true, or even if it's not true, please let me know.)

- Sacramento Kings

Signings: Lanny Smith, Melvin Ely

Predicted to make it: "As a result, neither player will make the team, as the Kings are already carrying the minimum of 13 players. It also doesn't help that neither is NBA calibre."

Actually made it: Neither of them.

Excuses: Once again, I can't count; the Kings had 14 players at the time, and still do. Desmond Mason made the team even in spite of his unguaranteed contract, and although he joins a stacked small forward rotation (weakened a bit by Francisco Garcia's freak physio-ball injury, he always had the talent to make it. Unlike the others.

- San Antonio Spurs

Signings: Curtis Jerrells, Dwayne Jones, Malik Hairston, Marcus E. Williams

Predicted to make it: "There's not enough room for Jones, and after the signing of [Keith] Bogans, the Spurs wing positions just got full as well. Jerrells might be the least skilled of the bunch, but the depth chart is most in his favour, so I vote for him."

Actually made it: Hairston.

Excuses: Jerrells' position and amount of guaranteed money certainly made his chances look promising. Instead, though, it seems he's going to join Hairston and Williams in the Spurs' juggling act between the big league team and the Austin Toros, getting paychecks here and there as incentive to hang around with the Toros and essentially extend the Spurs' roster to 18 players. It's sneaky, but it's totally legitimate. This, Lakers, is how you're supposed to use an affiliate.

- Toronto Raptors

Signings: None.

Excuses [theirs, not mine]: "Our roster is already full." Maybe so. But it's also got Quincy Douby and Marcus Banks on it. You can always improve.

- Utah Jazz

Signings: Wesley Matthews, Goran Suton, Ronald Dupree, Alexander Johnson, Spencer Nelson, Paul Harris

Predicted to make it: "If [there's] only 1 [spot available], I vote for Matthews. If it's 2, I vote for Matthews and Suton. If it's 3, I vote for Matthews, Suton and Dupree. If it's 0, shame."

Actually made it: It was 1, and it was Matthews.

Excuses: Utah had the same sort of thing going on as the Lakers - open roster spots, but a huge payroll, and not a whole lot of incentive to keep someone on. However, unlike the Lakers, the Jazz had injuries; Matt Harpring will almost certainly never play again, and C.J. Miles is out for a while after thumb surgery. As such, they needed an extra player, which is where all the auditions came in. And Matthews did enough of everything

It's going to look like I'm just saying this because he's made the team, so please trust me that I'm not; I always thought Matthews was underrated at Marquette last year. Maybe he does nothing exceptional, but he does everything pretty well, and he doesn't look as athletically disadvantaged as advertised. There should always be a place for players who are solid at everything. There should be less places for players who are only good at the defensive "little things."

- Washington Wizards

Signings: Vincent Grier, Paul Davis

Predicted to make it: "Neither. The Wizards already have 14 players and are in the tax, so taking on extra players for the inactive list won't be done unless they're hit by their usual injury bug."

Actually made it: Davis only.

Excuses: Antawn Jamison got injured again, and I'm fully prepared to count that as being "hit by their usual injury bug." It suits me to do so.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Purpose Of Waiving Deron Washington Was....I Don't Know.

Yesterday, the Detroit Pistons waived 2008 second draft pick and flopper extraordinaire, Deron Washington. They had initially signed him back in August to be their 14th and last man, giving him a two year minimum salary deal with $250,000 guaranteed in the first season. Yet after bringing in Chucky Atkins on an unguaranteed one year deal for training camp (a move that they won't have foreseen prior to the Washington signing), the Pistons began to feel that Atkins was more deserving of the 14th man spot, and so they waived Washington to allow them to keep Chucky.

That's the official line, at least. It doesn't really make a lot of sense though.

Disregarding the respective talent levels and fits on the roster of the two players, the finances of the situation seemed to dictate that Deron stayed on. Washington's large amount of guaranteed money (over 50% of his overall contract for this year) meant that the Pistons could have kept him on until the league-wide contract guarantee date of January 10th, without having to pay him a single extra penny outside of meal stipends. Waive him yesterday, and he'll cost $250,000; waive him on January 6th, and he'll still only cost $250,000.

Therefore, why waive him?

The Pistons aren't pressed for cash - after a summer of cap room, they rock a payroll of only $58,597,137, 25th in the league. They've run out of cap room and exceptions, hence the need for all the minimum salary deals, but they'll spend what they can anyway. They can afford to swallow Washington (giggidy) without any repercussions coming from it; they'll lose very little from it. They've lost a player that wasn't in the rotation, and no extra money than what they had already committed. But they'll also gain absolutely nothing from it. Even if Washington only played about 14 minutes between now and the guarantee date, it's 14 minutes more than an empty roster spot will fill.

Yet for some reason, they really want that extra spot.

Detroit said from the start, even before bringing in Atkins, that they only wanted to keep 14 players on the roster this year. They signed Washington with that in mind, and signed Atkins more in hope than expectation. Yet after Atkins (seemingly) showed that he had enough left in the tank at age 35 to be a more worthwhile investment than the 23 year old athletic project, they switched the two while sticking to that plan of keeping 14.

Why they're so staunch about keeping the fifteenth spot clear remains a mystery; even if they're planning to accommodate a midseason pick-up at some point, they don't need the spot until they need it, and they don't need it right now. (They don't need Washington, either. But he's a free player. How bad can that be?) So what they've done is open a roster spot for a possible move that isn't even scheduled, without saving any money in doing so.

I don't see it. Even if you really need Chucky Atkins - and they don't - why not keep Washington as well?

The only risk to keeping Washington would be if he were to get seriously injured, at which point Detroit is bound to keep paying him until he's healthy again. This annoying if justified stipulation caught out Miami and Orlando last year, who became stuck with paying fully guaranteed contracts to Jason Richards and Mike Wilks respectively after they both suffered bad knee injuries in training camp. But that risk is minimal, and it's even smaller if you consider that Washington was only scheduled to be an inactive list talent.

Now, since Washington has been waived, he can't be traded. He can't play for the team. They no longer have any rights on him of any sort. And they still have to pay him $250,000.

Maybe this could be a similar situation to the one that the San Antonio Spurs have going on with Malik Hairston and Marcus E. Williams. (Wink wink.) Maybe it's a precursor to a two-for-one trade in the next few days, as unlikely as that seems. Maybe Washington asked for his release for some reason, and the Pistons were feeling remarkably generous. Or maybe it's just not something that's been thought through.

Detroit used a draft pick on Washington, stashed him for a year, let him develop, then gave him some guaranteed money, yet now they've cut him before they see a single minute's return on that. They've not cut him for a salary saving, and they've not even cut him for Chucky Atkins; they've cut him for a roster spot that they don't need yet, and may never need.

It may have only been a 59th pick and $250,000, but it's all now gone to waste. And it needn't have done. Just think of what Deron Washington could achieved between now and early January.

(As always, if there's some logic or crucial information point here that I've missed, do please let me know. But if there is, I don't see it right now.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sam Presti's Survival Strategy In A Post-Apocalpytic Dystopian Nightmare

Simple question: Did the tough economic climate affect NBA team's spending plans as much as MSM scaremongerers would have you believe?

Not-so-simple answer: Kind of.

This summer saw a team that could have had nearly 8 figures of cap room opt not to use any of it. The Oklahoma City Thunder did pretty much nothing with their offseason once draft day was completed, and having won a total of 23 games last year, it's justifiable to ask why that was. There follows some exploratory maths, which get a bit dull and confusing.

If the Thunder had completed their buyout of Earl Watson (saving them $3.125 million; for argument's sake, let's assume that it could have been done earlier than July 17th), not signed James Harden, B.J. Mullens and Serge Ibaka until their cap space had been used, renounced all these guys that they don't want, not bothered to trade for Etan Thomas, kept Chucky Atkins and waived him, they would have had the following payroll:

Nick Collison - $6,250,000
Nenad Krstic - $5,160,832
Kevin Durant - $4,796,880
Russell Westbrook - $3,755,640
Jeff Green - $3,516,960
Earl Watson (waived) - $3,475,000
Damien Wilkins - $3,300,000
Thabo Sefolosha - $2,759,628
D.J. White - $1,036,440
Shaun Livingston - $959,111
Kyle Weaver - $870,968
Chucky Atkins (waived) - $760,000

Total = $36,641,459 for 10 players.

To that total, add the cap holds of $3,336,800 for Harden and $933,500 for both Mullens and Ibaka, take away all the cap holds linked to above (which at the start of the offseason also included cap holds for unwanted players such as Desmond Mason and Mickael Gelabale) and the Thunder would have had themselves a total team salary of $41,845,259. Against a salary cap of $57,700,000, that would have meant cap room of $15,854,741. And that's pretty much the max.

(If bits of that don't make sense to you, such as the talk of cap holds for draft picks and free agents, don't worry about that for now.)

Had they done this, the Thunder would have the second biggest free agent player this past offseason, second only to the Pistons. However, the Thunder didn't use their 8 figures of possible cap room. They didn't use any of it, in fact. They didn't make a single move this offseason that required any cap space, which is why they continue to rock massive cap holds on such seminal names as Danny Fortson and Malik Rose (over $21 million added to the cap in those two alone).

What they did instead was trade Wilkins and Atkins to Minnesota for Etan Thomas, taking on an extra $3,846,088 of salary this season just for the joy of getting future second round picks. They then followed tradition by signing their three first rounders to 120% of the scale, boosting those earlier figures of $3,336,800 and $933,500 to $4,004,160 and $1,120,200 respectively. Finally, they made their only two free agency signings of the summer:

Kevin Ollie and Ryan Bowen.

They could have had as-near-as-is max cap room. Instead, they got the two least talented players in the league. No offense. (They tried to make it three when they also signed Michael Ruffin, but roster numbers got the better of him. Sadly.)

The Thunder still have the lowest payroll in the league, a modest $48,383,101, and could have nearly $9.5 million in cap room tomorrow if they can bear to parted from The Fortson and friends. But they still haven't done so. They've shown no intention of doing so all summer. And until over-the-tax teams starting waggling cash and picks incentives towards the Thunder for them to take on their bad contracts when the trade deadline comes around - just like teams did with Memphis all of last year - then they're not going to use their cap room any time soon either.

The obvious question is why. Why would the Thunder not use this massive potential asset? Why would they turn down the opportunity to be one of the few buyers in such a seller's market? Why weren't they in there soliciting players like David Lee, Paul Millsap and Ben Gordon, using this prime opportunity to add one more significant piece to an already impressive young core? Did they whiff on an opportunity? Were they mismanaged?

No, I don't think so. As far as I see it, it was a combination of two things;

1. Truly quite a crap free agency class. The three aforementioned players were probably the pickings of the market, and two of them were restricted, which would have made the Thunder heavily overpay to get them. They also would have had to bid outrageously to outbid the Pistons for Gordon, since Detroit themselves overpaid him, and while there's no real evidence to suggest that Oklahoma City attempted to get Gordon, there's also no real evidence that they should have done.

2. They don't have a whole lot of money. Having cap space and having money are not really the same thing.

Oklahoma City aren't a big budgeted franchise. As mentioned above, they have the league's smallest payroll, and spent all of last year trimming the remnants of Seattle's payroll. Attendance for the new franchise has been impressive in the early going, but the $75 million that it cost to move the team - combined with the $325 million that it cost to buy it - seems to have stymied the Thunder's spending on players. They've signed Nenad Krstic for three years and unsuccessfully tried to trade for Tyson Chandler's big contract, but that's been about it. And it isn't long until they're going to have to pony up for Kevin Durant's max contract. (That is, unless they trade his plus/minus-killing arse away before then. Although that might be hard to do, since apparently he's difficult to give way for free.)

But is this unwillingness to spend limited to the Thunder only? Quite what is the difference between spending during this summer's recession and during last summer's honeymoon period? Let's look at some more numbers.

Listed below are the future salary commitments for all NBA teams, including this season, but not including luxury tax payments. Note: for the purposes of consistency, all options and partially guaranteed contracts are assumed to be being paid in full. Even those that won't be.

1st: Orlando Magic - $317,268,369
2nd: Los Angeles Lakers - $256,433,829
3rd: Toronto Raptors - $244,926,542
4th: New Orleans Hornets - $238,288,724
5th: Golden State Warriors - $234,876,874
6th: Dallas Mavericks - $228,559,817
7th: Philadelphia 76ers - $225,715,686
8th: Washington Wizards - $217,956,499
9th: Detroit Pistons - $216,397,593
10th: Utah Jazz - $211,782,244
11th: Denver Nuggets - $209,996,915
12th: Cleveland Cavaliers - $197,756,154
13th: Portland Trail Blazers - $197,607,482
14th: Indiana Pacers - $189,539,684
15th: Sacramento Kings - $182,546,117
16th: Milwaukee Bucks - $181,912,234
17th: Atlanta Hawks - $181,775,571
18th: Charlotte Bobcats - $180,263,002
19th: Boston Celtics - $172,718,480
20th: Chicago Bulls - $169,916,272
21st: Phoenix Suns - $169,532,243
22nd: San Antonio Spurs - $168,787,128
23rd: Minnesota Timberwolves - $165,310,707
24th: Los Angeles Clippers - $157,306,417
25th: Houston Rockets - $147,199,150
26th: Memphis Grizzlies - $127,671,869
27th: New York Knicks - $124,240,768
28th: Miami Heat - $121,060,368
29th: New Jersey Nets - $118,253,823
30th: Oklahoma City Thunder - $109,551,956

Total = $5,565,152,517. Or, to put it in words: five billion, five hundred and sixty five million, one hundred and fifty two thousand, five hundred and seventeen dollars.

(Makes you feel a bit weird to see it all totalled up like that, doesn't it?)

And now, the same statistic, but from this time last year. The following is the future salary commitments for all NBA teams as of October 26th 2008;

1st: Orlando Magic - $294,700,756
2nd: Washington Wizards - $289,258,879
3rd: Philadelphia 76ers - $280,843,432
4th: Golden State Warriors - $266,578,475
5th: New Orleans Hornets - $259,494,157
6th: Dallas Mavericks - $256,486,158
7th: Charlotte Bobcats - $241,276,414
8th: Milwaukee Bucks - $240,182,828
9th: Sacramento Kings - $238,980,548
10th: Chicago Bulls - $233,647,431
11th: Cleveland Cavaliers - $230,050,946
12th: Boston Celtics - $227,210,745
13th: New York Knicks - $223,651,682
14th: Los Angeles Lakers - $218,983,731
15th: Denver Nuggets - $218,283,798
16th: Utah Jazz - $216,382,116
17th: Phoenix Suns - $215,488,477
18th: New Jersey Nets - $213,824,140
19th: San Antonio Spurs - $196,644,633
20th: Toronto Raptors - $194,241,647
21st: Los Angeles Clippers - $193,352,090
22nd: Minnesota Timberwolves - $192,651,934
23rd: Indiana Pacers - $178,713,794
24th: Miami Heat - $174,614,367
25th: Houston Rockets - $170,637,835
26th: Detroit Pistons - $165,711,468
27th: Atlanta Hawks - $157,119,737
28th: Memphis Grizzlies - $146,551,493
29th: Portland Trail Blazers - $133,235,971
30th: Oklahoma City Thunder - $121,422,133

Total: $6,390,221,815

Difference between 2008/09 and 2009/10: $825,069,298

[Note: none of these figures are guaranteed to be 100% accurate, because I've reverse-engineered them, but at worst it's 98.5%. Also note: the $158,312,000's worth of extensions given to Danny Granger, Jason Maxiell, Martell Webster and Andrew Bynum were signed after October 26th 2008, and therefore weren't counted towards their team's totals above. Nor is the $18 million that reappeared on Portlands's cap for Darius Miles. Similarly, LaMarcus Aldridge's extension from last week is not included, because I don't know what it is yet.]

$825 million is a lot of freaking money, even when split over 30 big money franchises. That figure alone highlights the difference in spending between this year and last. But here's another way of looking at it.

This summer, $1,275,302,921 of new player salary was given out. That total includes minimum salary deals, rookie scale contract, extensions......everything.

Last summer, however, $1,885,122,482 of new player salary was given out. That's an decrease of $609,819,561 in new expenditure from one summer to the next. And that's a lot.

Of course, there are mitigating factors for that. The crappy 2006 draft class has had something to do with it; as I mentioned here, only three players have gotten extensions from that draft class, and only a couple more have a chance of getting one. The 2010 free agency market is another huge factor (one that you may not have heard of, due to the minimal press coverage its received), and many teams are trying to avoid clogging their cap in eager anticipation of the impending free agency anti-climax coming up next offseason. When that day comes, spending should ramp up again, and the current contingency plans for it may well explain some of the decline in salary expenditure.

But more than anything, it appears that the economy's affect on player spending has not been overstated. Working purely on averages, NBA teams have $20 million less on players this summer than they did last summer, a large amount of money regardless of the number of years that it is spread over. Times are tough, and we're all having to make small sacrifices right now. (Personally, I'm forgoing all haircuts. They're too expensive anyway.) The NBA is no different; as we've now seen, it's stopped spending like it used to as well.

And so that might explain why the Thunder picked Ryan Bowen over Paul Millsap.

(The picture that opened this post had literally nothing to do with the rest of it.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How I Lost My Virginity - The Bulls/Jazz Story

It seemed purposeless to re-post it, so I'll just link to instead.

On Tuesday night, I attended my first ever NBA game. It was only a preseason game - the Jazz versus the Bulls in London's o2 Arena - but it was something. I had to pop my cherry somewhere sometime, and this was it.

I wrote a 10,000 word write-up of the day. View it here, here or here. Perhaps you will find some enjoyment from it.

But it's not really a feel-good story.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Third prize is you're fired.

Continuuing the round-up of training camp invites.

- Phoenix are going to run with 13 players, because they always run with 13 players. And they already had 13 players before training camp started, so the prospects of their signings were slim to none before they even started. Regardless, the Suns brought in three more, just in case; Carlos Powell, Dan Dickau and Raymond Sykes.

Dickau joins one of the few teams that he hadn't previously on. For those counting, he's now up to 10; Kings (drafted by, but never signed), Hawks, Blazers, Warriors, Mavericks, Hornets, Celtics, Blazers again, Knicks, Clippers, Warriors again, and now the Suns. It's not bad going, that. Last year he was in Germany, averaging 17.6 points in only 5 games for Brose Baskets Bamberg, doing the Dickau thing of shooting jumpshots and not much else. The story's been told on him by now; he is what he is, and what he is is perpetually on the cusp. Well, except for that time Danny Ainge gave him $7.5 million.

Carlos Powell has put up very big numbers in far smaller leagues, including one frankly awesome season in the D-League when he put up 22.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for the Dakota Wizards. Last year was similar, when he put up 25.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game for Black Slamer in South Korea. He also led Australia's NBL in scoring back in 2007, averaging 28.2 points per game. Those numbers are big, regardless of the context, and Powell's scoring talent speaks for itself. He drives, shoots off the dribble, exploits the mid range game, and his three point range has gotten a bit better over the years. However, there's also a reason for them; Powell completely and totally dominates the ball, in a way which is great for his own numbers, but not always beneficial to the team. He's a complete ball stopper, who's very good at being the guy on minor league teams, but who can't (or won't) do shit without the ball. And since this is the NBA we're talking about here, somewhere where he'd only ever be a role player, he needs to change that. But he hasn't, and so the fringes are where he remains.

I only got to watch one Clemson game last year, which is a shame, because I wanted to watch more. Partly because I liked the novelty of the press, but also because I think Trevor Booker is the next Paul Millsap (with less rebounding, obviously). Raymond Sykes was in the game, but he wasn't exactly impressive. He looked for his offense more than he should have, looked more keen than skilled, and didn't have NBA size. His numbers weren't good either, averaging 7.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 turnovers and 1.0 blocks in 21.7 minutes per game. There's nothing NBAish there. More importantly, you can tell that he's viewed as a 'hustle' player, because he has big hair. Why are all players with big frizzy hard considered hard workers? Do we just think that they are because their hair is so bouncy and vibrant, and it confuses our tiny minds? Or are they actually all hard workers? Because they do all seem to be. Sykes, Joakim Noah, Anderson Varejao, Mikki Moore......had it not just ended, the list would have been endless. (NB: Robin Lopez should shave his head so as to not confuse the issue.)

Prediction: None of them. Money talks, and even if we can't explain why Taylor Griffin has been signed to a $175,000 guaranteed contract, we just know that he has. So he's here until at least Christmas.

- Portland brought in five players for training camp, although we're already down to three. They brought in long term NBA veterans Juwan Howard, Ime Udoka and Jarron Collins, as well as former Wizards guard Donell Taylor and rookie forward Quinton Hosley.

Udoka has spent the last two years with the Spurs, playing the Bruce Bowen role behind Bruce Bowen himself. However, even though it should have been a perfect fit, Udoka didn't play very well for San Antonio. This was particularly true last year when he didn't shoot the ball well, shooting only 38% from the floor and 33% from three point range. Considering that the man's job on offense is largely limited to catching and shooting, that level of inefficiency is pretty poor, and Udoka needs to catch a second wind to get back into the NBA. He's not been in it for especially long, with only three full seasons under his belt, but at aged 32 this might be his last chance for a contract.

Howard looked all kinds of done in the 2007-08 season, flumping round the court like a damp box of new born puppies and playing the worst defense since Stallone in Rocky II. He sported a white hot PER of 4.4, had more fouls than points, and only just had more rebounds than that. Last year saw a slight redux, though, as Howard had a slightly better season for the Bobcats. He found some touch on the midrange jumpshot again, and even though his 171 total points came on an inefficient 145 shots, that was good enough for the highest single season true shooting percentage of his career at .534%. However, Howard's rebounding, always bad, was worse than ever last year, grabbing only 7.2 per 48 minutes, and his 0.1 blocks per game was right on line with his career average of 0.2. He was only ever a scorer, and not a very efficient one at that, and now that he's hurtled past 36 and 1,000 games played, he's basically done.

Taylor is a good sized combo guard who plays good defense. He's fairly athletic and fairly strong, and he has quick hands to go with that. However, on offense, he's more awkward than your granddad's skidmarks, permanently stricken with massive limitations on that end. Taylor can't create for himself or for others, and all forays to the rim when facing any kind of traffic usually results in some kind of wild turnover. He's also not a good outside shooter, and that carries over to the free throw line. Taylor can finish at the rim, but since he can't get there unless it's in transition, that's not worth a whole lot.

Jarron is the lesser known of the Collins twins, but he might be better than Jason. He's spent the last 8 years with the Jazz, despite the fan's patience with him running out five years ago, and his last three years have been utterly forgettable. He suffers from many of the same flaws that Jason has; Jarron is not a scorer, who takes only easy shots, yet still manages to score inefficiently (a career eFg of .459%). He also rebounds badly, averaging less than 9 rebounds per 48 minutes for his career. If you rebound badly and score worse, you'd better be a good defender to make it this long, and Jarron's all right at it. But even at that end, Collins mimics his twin brother quite strongly. He takes plenty of charges, can stay in front of similarly slow face-up orientated big men, and does a reasonable job in the low post, but he's not a shot blocker, fouls a ton, is not quick or athletic, and not especially strong. If it sounds harsh to say that he's disadvantaged in some way in every facet of the game, then I apologise, but he's had 8 years to disprove that notion and has not done so.

Hosley started last year with Real Madrid before being released and replaced by Kennedy Winston. He's hardly the most unique player in the world, being a classic example of the collegiate power forward who has to try and make the transition to small forward to make it at the next level because he's too small for the pros. Unfortunately, Hosley's never done a great job of developing these perimeter skills; he's still turnover prone and not a great ball handler, and the jumpshot is still under par, even though he uses it as often as ever. He didn't have a great year last year, but in his defense, Hosley did average a huge 22.9 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in the Turkish TBL in 2007/08, and after being released by Real Madrid he went back to Turkey, averaging a further 15.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for Galatasaray. For a guy whose major strength may be his defensive versatility, those are good numbers.

Prediction: Udoka is the better player than Collins, and in a way he fills a need for the Blazers. They could use the extra defender, and you can never have too much shooting. Unfortunately, the depth chart is totally against him. The Blazers already have Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster and Nicolas Batum at the small forward position, the latter of whom ranks somewhere between the next Scottie Pippen and the next Michael Curry. Meanwhile, they only have Ghostface Przybilla and Greg Oden at centre, and even though those two will swallow all the rotation minutes, they could use a third option for insurance. This tips matters into Collins' favour. (Note: I'm also assuming that Howard is a lock to make the team, and that seems to be a safe assumption considering that it's one the Blazers themselves have essentially publicly stated. Hosley and Taylor have already been waived.)

Since the inclusion of the occasional picture breaks up the otherwise monotonous drone of all this text, here's a picture of former Raptors forward Uros Slokar throwing up a gang sign (sort of):

- San Antonio finalised their camp roster early. After the McClinton thing happened, they brought in Dwayne Jones and Curtis Jerrells on unguaranteed contracts to compete with Marcus E. Williams and Malik Hairston (who were already there).

I saw a lot of Jerrells for Baylor last year, and I have to say that if he's making it in the NBA, it's as a specialist shooter. That's not to say that other aspects of his game are bad, because they're not. He's pretty solid. But he's also pretty ordinary, and his size at 6'1 isn't helping his cause any. The jumpshot is a good one, though, and he's fast enough to get by.

Hairston and the Spurs couldn't decide how they thought of each other last year. The Spurs traded the rights to Goran Dragic for him, and then they waived in training camp. Then they brought him back again midseason. Then they waived him again at the end of the season. And then they signed him again at the start of this offseason to a minimum salary contract with a $50,000 guarantee. Strange. In the times Hairston wasn't on the Spurs roster, he was on their D-League affiliate, the Toros, scoring a crazily efficient 23.7 points per game. He can shoot and he can score, and he's of the size that makes those skills worthwhile. But until the Spurs can decide what they think of him, I'm not sure that any of us can.

Williams is another Spurs second rounder that they can't quite decide on. They drafted him high in the second round in 2007, signed him, then cut him in training camp. Then they brought him back midseason. Then they cut him again. Williams went to the Clippers for a bit, then attended training camp last year with the Bobcats, but was waived and went to the D-League. Inevitably assigned to the Spurs-owned affiliate, the Austin Toros, Williams put up massive numbers; 23.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in 45 games. This as a 22 year old in the NBA's premiere minor league. Not bad. The Spurs brought him back in April and signed him through 2010, where he'll compete with Hairston for a camp spot. Who will win? Will it be Williams? Will it be Hairston? Or will it be Keith Bogans?

Dwayne Jones is a personal favourite, who rebounds and blocks shots at a good rate wherever he goes, but whose offense is thoroughly bland. Last year shows this as well as any: Jones averaged 17.2 points and 13.5 rebounds for the Austin Toros, plus 14.3/10.3 for the Iado Stampede, and also spent some time with the Bobcats (6 games) Efes Pilsen (2 games) and the Iowa Energy (1 game). He's well travelled and keeps on rebounding, but never developing.

Prediction: There's not enough room for Jones, and after the signing of Bogans, the Spurs wing positions just got full as well. Jerrells might be the least skilled of the bunch, but the depth chart is most in his favour, so I vote for him.

- Sacramento were set to bring in Jermareo Davidson to camp, but he bailed at the last minute to go and sign in Turkey. In his place, the Kings brought in former Hornet Melvin Ely, as well as D-League player Lanny Smith.

Ely is has been overrated by NBA fans for years, but the fact that he's been reduced to signing unguaranteed training camp contracts now reflects that the league has him finally pegged him about right. Ely was genuinely decent for one year, but the other six have been poor. He's not a scorer, he's not a rebounder, he's not a shotblocker, he's not really centre what is he? An inefficient foul prone 31 year old wannabe-scorer. It's up to you if you want that.

As for Lanny Smith, I knew nothing about him, so I asked. Here are the thoughts of Scott Schroeder, the Dakota Wizards' director of public relations:

.....pass first point guard... can knock down open jumpers... one man press break... good size as a point.. very good in open court and passes well on the move... solid size defensively... competes......I'm pretty good friends with him, also, so that's probably too nice. He's planning on playing in Idaho again this season.

It's good that he has a contingency plan, because Smith isn't going to be playing in the NBA in this or any season. He is in camp with the Kings as a Jones-Jennings-esque depth move, mainly because the head coach of last year's Idaho Stampede (Bryan Gates) was hired by the Kings as an assistant this summer. Smith played for the Stampede, on a team that also featured former fringe NBA players Jamaal Tatum and Kevin Burleson, and he averaged only 6.0 points and 3.0 assists per game, shooting 40% from the field and 31% from three point range alongside 1.9 turnovers a contest. Smith used to be a decent scorer and solid prospect from the University of Houston, but he badly broke his foot in 2006, and hasn't been the same player since. As evidence of this, he averaged 14.7 points and 4.2 assists per game in his sophomore season of college, numbers which capitulated to 5.5 points and 3.7 assists per game (on 31% shooting) in his senior season. That must have been a bad old break.

Prediction: The two have signed with the same franchise that gifted away John Salmons and took on the long term commitment of Andres Nocioni, just to be able to save some money on Brad Miller's salary this year. They could have had 8 figures worth of cap room this summer, but they let it all sit there instead, signing only Sean May for the minimum and trading for Sergio Rodriguez on draft day. That's how fearsomely committed they are (or have to be) to saving short term money right now. As a result, neither player will make the team, as the Kings are already carrying the minimum of 13 players. It also doesn't help that neither is NBA calibre.

- Toronto didn't sign anybody for training camp, and that's not cool. They rarely play the training camp game - last year's offering of Jamal Sampson was a mere token gesture equal to that of Dallas' signing of Jake Voskuhl this year, and 2007 saw only a camp battle between Luke Jackson and Jamario Moon, a battle that wasn't even close. But those two underwhelming years were still better than this year, when they brought in nobody at all. They didn't even bring in anybody to battle for Quincy Douby's roster spot. A team staring down an inactive list lineup of Douby, Marcus Banks and Sonny Weems can't claim that it has no way of improving the roster, so there's no real excuse here. I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.

- In contrast, Utah played along suitably, bringing in Ronald Dupree, Wesley Matthews, Alexander Johnson and Paul Harris, as well as bringing back their camp signing from 2005, Utahian legend Spencer Nelson. They also signed their second round draft pick Goran Suton earlier this month to an unguaranteed contract, from whence he will have to fight to make it on a team already kitted out with lots of foreign size.

Matthews is a virtual lock to make the team. I wouldn't have said this had I written this post on time, but it's become obvious that Jerry Sloan wants Matthews inside him. He even started the preseason game versus the Bulls, and while it isn't unlike Jerry Sloan to start a third stringer over a second stringer when a regular starter is out, there was also no reason why he couldn't have started Dupree or Ronnie Price instead (especially since Jannero Pargo started at two guard for the Bulls). That counts for something. What also counts for something is Matthews's solid all around game. He excels at nothing, and he isn't the best athlete, but he's athletic enough, big enough and skilled enough. The jumpshot's solid, too, and if he ramps it up a bit he could make it for several years as a specialist shooter.

Had the Matthews situation not transpired as it did, I would have picked Doop to make the team. He has NBA calibre defense, and always has, and even though he seems to leave his scoring ability behind in the D-League on every call-up, he does enough on that end to cover for all the missed 6 footers. With Matt Harpring inevitably retiring, C.J. Miles out with a thumb injury and Kyle Korver always afflicted with something or other these days, the Jazz could use an extra wing defender. I thought Doop was going to be it. But now, it doesn't look like. Matthews is a better shooter, younger, and - perhaps most importantly - cheaper.

Nelson starred during a 4 year career at Utah State between 1998 and 2005 (I'll explain later), and made the Jazz summer league and camp rosters in 2005 as a result of that. After being waived from there, he's spent one year in Germany, two in Italy, and then last year in Greece, where he averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.0 fouls in 27 minutes per game for Aris Thessaloniki. The rebounding's good, but Nelson remains a 6'8 and 230lb power forward without a complimentary good three point shot. He posts up and faces up OK and can hit from mid range, but it's not easy to be a 6'8 post-up offensive player in the NBA. He's not Tyler Hansbrough, sadly.

Johnson has played two years in the NBA. The first was with the Memphis Grizzlies, for whom he averaged 4.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and a whopping 2.1 fouls in only 12.8 minutes of 59 games, including 19 starts. The Grizzlies then waived him before his second season became guaranteed (which is never a glowing endorsement), and Johnson went on to join the God-awful 2007-08 Miami Heat, playing in 43 more games and averaging only 1.9 fouls in the exact same amount of minutes. So that's an improvement. Less of an improvement was the fact that the points and rebounds dropped as well, to 4.2 and 2.2 respectively, with the rebounding being particularly bad. Johnson spent last year in Germany, where he averaged 11.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 23 minutes per game, but the reason he only played 23 minutes per game was he once again couldn't stop fouling (3.4 per game, and they foul out with 5 over there). He's now 26, and still hasn't remedied the problem that has plagued him for his entire collegiate and professional careers. Until he does so, he's on the outs.

I've covered Harris a lot recently and can't be bothered to do it again. He's like Dupree, only 5 years younger, 4 inches shorter and with a shorter history of success. And a worse shooter. And with one more conviction for intent to sell crack cocaine.

Suton's a personal favourite, but only because I favour people with big noses. (I'd explain why, but it's too close to home.) He's a tad short for a centre and isn't a leaper, but he's quicker than he looks, is strong, plays good post defense, can shoot the jumpshot and rebounds fairly well. I can't tell if the fact that he's a bit like other players the Jazz already own works for him or against him; it might mean that they see some potential in him (which would explain why they drafted him), yet it might also mean that they'll see him as superfluous and let him go (in which case, why draft him?) But as the only real size in camp, he has a chance.

Prediction: The Jazz are on for their biggest ever payroll by miles. If Harpring retires and they waive him, that cuts them down to twelve players, meaning there's a maximum of three sports up for grabs. But it also means there's a minimum of one, and given the size of their payroll, I wouldn't be shocked if 1 is what they went with. If it's only 1, I vote for Matthews. If it's 2, I vote for Matthews and Suton. If it's 3, I vote for Matthews, Suton and Dupree. If it's 0, shame.

- Finally, Washington's painfully quiet offseason triumphed into a rousing crescendo when they made two training camp signings; former Clippers big man Paul Davis, as well as Vincent Grier, who's tried out for assorted NBA teams and who got some guaranteed money from the Heat back in 2006.

Davis re-signed with the Clippers last offseason for his third season with the team, but was waived before his contract was to become guaranteed. He averaged a highly inefficient 4.0 points and 2.5 rebounds in 12 minutes per game before his waiving, which isn't very good. Davis only does three things; shoot mid range jumpshots, offensive rebound and foul. The first two are positive virtues, no doubt, but they're not enough. Davis' defensive rebounding is terrible, his defense is soft and clumsy, and his scoring is highly inefficient, as evidenced by his career eFG of .400%. (See earlier discussion about the mid range jumpshot. A man's got to do more.) Davis has had 3 years in the NBA and done little with them, so his time may be up by now. His main contribution to the world last year was this video:

Grier is a 6'4 slasher out of Minnesota (the university, not the T-Wolves) who shoots about as badly as a 6'4 player can. Like Ron Howard from earlier, Grier not only doesn't shoot three's; he simply can't. Evidence of this can be found all over the show, but for example, last year in France, Grier played in 45 games for Cholet and hit only two three pointers all season. Grier can slash, will happily rebound and racks up the steals, but the lack of a jumpshot is a crippler, and the measurements aren't great either.

Prediction: Neither. The Wizards already have 14 players and are in the tax, so taking on extra players for the inactive list won't be done unless they're hit by their usual injury bug.

That ends the 2009 NBA Training Camp Round-Up Thing. All training camp rosters are archived here. And now, the story of how I lost my virginity.......

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"The brain behind ShamSports could have been featured in a number of these Twitter lists, but because his website often spends our entire working day lodged in one of our browser tabs we decided to take the boring route and place Mark amongst the professors. Deeks might be the funniest man you've never met, he does exhaustive work with the NBA's salary minutiae and transaction follow-ups, and he's a stone-cold must-follow. Stone-cold fox, too, ladies. Or, some gentlemen."