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Monday, February 28, 2011

Rookie Retrospective

Jordan Crawford had to deal with being traded in his rookie year, part of Washington's bountiful haul for an aging Kirk Hinrich, who then got injured anyway. Once he got to Washington, Crawford found the freedom amongst the rubble to play a lot of minutes and, essentially, to freelance on offense. And Crawford is good at freelancing on offense, so this suited him, as demonstrated in his 16.3 points per game. This would have second only to team mate John Wall (16.4) in true rookie (i.e. not Blake Griffin) points per game had his 4.2 ppg average in 16 games with Atlanta not dragged him down; as it is, his aggregate average of 11.4 ppg sees him settling for third. (Additionally, per Hoopdata.com, Crawford tied for fifth with Andrea Bargnani for the most shots taken per game from 10-15 feet away at 2.7. No one ever really shoots from 10 to 15 feet; a step further in and you're at the basket, while a step further back gets you a jumper without a help defender. But there are a few exceptions, and the top three of Elton Brand (4.0), Dirk Nowitzki (3.6) and Kobe Bryant (3.2) are ahead of the pack by quite a long way.)

The first season of Pape Sy's career is over, and it was not a good one. Sy was signed by the Hawks to a multi-year minimum salary contract with only the first year guaranteed, yet he played only three games for the team, scoring 7 points in 21 minutes. He actually appeared in more playoff games than regular season ones, getting garbage time minutes in all four of Atlanta's losses to Chicago. He spent 23 games on assignment with the Utah Flash, yet he averaged a seriously disappointing 8.0 points and 3.4 rebounds on 42% shooting, hitting only 15% from three. And while he was slightly better than this defensively, he didn't exactly wow there. Sy was a startling draft pick because no one except Rick Sund ever previously thought he had NBA talent. They still don't.

After waiting sufficiently long that any signing would not push them into the luxury tax, the Hawks filled their 15th and final spot a couple of days before the end of the season when they signed Magnum Rolle from the D-League. After being de facto drafted by the Pacers, Rolle lost out on a roster spot to the 15 incumbent guaranteed contracts, and then missed much of the year due to injury. Not playing between November and March with a knee injury, Rolle totalled only 15 games for the Maine Red Claws, averaging 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, and he has yet to appear on the Hawks's inactive list. Nevertheless, Rolle both started and finished the season in the NBA. That's an achievement. Next year's aim is to stay in it throughout.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tax Payers, Trade Kickers, And Other Deadline Day Bookkeeping

He looks happy. And why shouldn't he.

That was one of the most interesting trade deadline weeks you'll ever see.

Fourteen trades, one kind of funny near trade, 50 players traded, 3 players signed, 4 players waived, 16 draft picks traded, 1 rights to swap traded, and two absolute Stone Cold Stunners of trades that no one expected. And these weren't trades like Sam Cassell and cash for a 2016 top 55 protected second rounder, either. These were trades that changed teams significantly, and altered the landscape of the entire NBA.

(Well, except for the Marquis Daniels one.)

Superstars Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams were dispatched from teams they didn't want to stay with. Shane Battier and Mo Williams were dispatched from teams they didn't want to leave. Draft busts Brandan Wright and Hasheem Thabeet were shipped for minimal returns; recently drafted rookies Derrick Favors and Jordan Crawford were shipped before even completing a season. And while my T.J. Ford for Dan Gadzuric idea never got done, Gadzuric did move to the New Jersey Nets, where he can grab as many rebounds as Brook Lopez in a third of the minutes.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Mike Hall Wants You To Know That Things Are Different In Europe

Do a Google image search for "mike hall." The third and fourteenth results are hilarious.

Former George Washington forward Mike Hall has played the majority of his professional career in Italy. After going undrafted in 2006, Hall caught on with the Washington Wizards for training camp, and joined the D-League upon being released, angling for a midseason call-up. The strategy worked; the Wizards called up Hall to a ten day contract in late February 2007, retained him for a second one, and then signed him for the remainder of the season. This eventually became an 8 month stay; the team extended Hall a qualifying offer the following summer, which he accepted, and was eventually the team's last cut in 2007 preseason. Hall played only 2 games and 13 minutes with the Wizards, and has not returned to the NBA since that time, yet his lengthy try-out showed him one side of the coin.

In the four years hence, Hall has been witnessing the other. After spending the whole 2007-08 season in the D-League, angling for another call-up that never came, Hall left for Italy in the summer of 2008, and spent two full seasons with perennial Serie A contender and Euroleague team AJ Milano. Hall left Milano this summer, but stayed in Italy and moved a few hundred miles south to Teramo, where he joined a rebuilding Banca Tercas team. He was released in December, however, and returned to American shores to play for the D-League's Dakota Wizards.

This week, Hall left the D-League to return to Europe, joining struggling Turkish team Erdemir as a replacement for former UNLV forward Dalron Johnson, who moved to Israeli side Maccabi Ashdod. His brief American recrudescence gave way to the need and/or desire for better paid work; the relative comforts and security of the NBA D-League have their place, but they also just don't pay well.

However, his decision to return to Europe must have been a conflicted one.

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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."