NBA Fans Do Not Suffice
December 17th, 2007

On Saturday afternoon, I went to a non-league football match. Football is a sport that we have in this country, which involves people kicking a ball with their foot (hence the name). It’s a tremendous sport of flair, innovation and foul language, which unites the whole entire world in its single-minded appreciation of how wonderful the beautiful game is. (There is an American variant out there called “soccer”, but it is marred by terrible broadcasting, stupid gimmicks, and a bad standard of play. It is not recommended.) The game was between Tonbridge Angels and Oxford United, an F.A. Trophy first round match. Oxford United were at home, which meant for us Angels fans a day trip out to a 12,000 seater stadium. For those unaware, Oxford United were good, back in the day. Then they went bankrupt. A man named Kassam saved them, bailed out the finances, and built them a new stadium. But it hasn’t done the team much good, and they have since fallen out of the Football League (and also fallen out with Kassam, although they are stuck with the stadium named after him). They’re also now flat broke again. Despite the team not befitting the stadium that houses them, the importance of the event and size of the stadium made it a highly entertaining day out for us visitors. The official attendance for the game was 1547, and if you don’t know what having 1547 people in a stadium that seats 12,000 looks like, then either watch the Florida Marlins at home, or look at the picture below: Of the 1547 people to attend, about 220 were Tonbridge Angels fans who had travelled a hell of a long way to support their team. These 220 people gave great voice, and showed the world (or at least, […]

Posted by at 8:08 PM

30 teams in 56 or so days: Minnesota Timberwolves
November 9th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Greg Buckner (acquired from Dallas) Michael Doleac (acquired from Miami) Antoine Walker (acquired from Miami) Theo Ratliff (acquired from Boston) Ryan Gomes (acquired from Boston) Al Jefferson (acquired from Boston) Sebastian Telfair (acquired from Boston) Gerald Green (acquired from Boston)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Corey Brewer (7th overall) Second round: Chris Richard (41st overall)   Players retained: None   Players departed: Mark Blount (traded to Miami) Ricky Davis (traded to Miami) Kevin Garnett (traded to Boston) Trenton Hassell (traded to Dallas) Troy Hudson (bought out) Mike James (traded to Houston) Justin Reed (traded to Houston) Bracey Wright (left unrestricted, signed in Greece)   Bobbins: You probably want me, or expect me, to burn Kevin McHale in this space, as I have done in the past. But it’s not going to happen. I actually think he’s done a nice job this offseason, all things considering. The reason I say “all things considering”, is that McHale has done a rather nice job of restructuring a team that, apart from New York, was about the hardest possible team to reconstruct. With multiple long and bad contracts, and also with first-round draft picks still owed to Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Timberwolves were roundly screwed. With only a couple of young players worth a damn and with only superstar Kevin Garnett providing any value worth a damn, McHale had only one option – to trade Kevin Garnett and start again. He could have gone the other way, signed a veteran, and made another playoff push, hoping that the impossible would occur and that the Timberwolves would suddenly have enough firepower to rival the West’s best teams. That would have been a stupid thing to do, though, It was also a stupid thing […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 56 or so days: Miami Heat
October 27th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Mark Blount (acquired from Minnesota) Ricky Davis (acquired from Minnesota) Smush Parker (signed, two years, $4,680,000) Joel Anthony, Brian Chase, Devin Green, Penny Hardaway, Alexander Johnson, Jeremy Richardson and Marcus Slaughter (all signed to the minimum salary with assorted levels of partial guarantees. If you include holdovers Earl Barron and Chris Quinn, you have eight players on the bubble, four of whom are going to have to be cut.)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Daequan Cook (21st overall, acquired in draft night deal) Second round: None   Players retained: Earl Barron (re-signed, unguaranteed qualifying offer)   Players departed: Michael Doleac (traded to Minnesota) Wayne Simien (traded to Minnesota) Antoine Walker (traded to Minnesota) Eddie Jones (signed with Miami) Jason Kapono (signed with Toronto) Gary Payton (put to sleep) James Posey (signed with Boston)   Bobbins: It seems fitting to “do” Miami next, given that they are a team recently in the news. If you are like me, and you’re the kind of person that tends to get so excited when a transaction is made that a little bit of wee seeps out, then you probably secreted when you learnt of the recent Miami/Minnesota trade. That move saw Miami trades Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien, Michael Doleac, a first-round pick and cash to Minnesota for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount, which potentially salvaged the offseason for Miami. Despite previous protestations about how the team would never be a taxpayer, last year’s capitulation at the hands of the incomparably superior Chicago Bulls awakened Riley, Pfund and the like to the fact that their team just isn’t that good any more. The Heat had committed themselves financially to a core that had a championship window of exactly one year. They capitalised on that, winning the […]

Posted by at 7:58 AM

30 teams in as many days as it takes: Dallas Mavericks
October 24th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Brandon Bass (two year minimum) Trenton Hassell (acquired from Minnesota) Eddie Jones (two year, full BAE)   Players acquired via draft: First round: None Second round: Nick Fazekas (34th overall), Reyshawn Terry (44th overall, unsigned), Reinaldas Seibutis (50th overall, unsigned)   Players retained: Jerry Stackhouse (re-signed, three years, $22,376,250, I think) Devean George (opted out, re-signed, one year, $2,369,111) Devin Harris (signed a five year extension) DeSagana Diop (exercised team option)   Players departed: Greg Buckner (traded to Minnesota) Austin Croshere (signed with Golden State) Kevin Willis (unsigned) Pops Mensah-Bonsu (waived, signed in Italy)   Bobbins: The Mavericks have one of the worst young cores in the NBA. With only Devin Harris, Juan Jose Barea and Maurice Ager as the only returning players under the age of 26, and with only one of those players able to crack any NBA team’s rotation, Dallas enjoys (if that’s the word) almost nothing in the way of prospects. There’s Josh Howard of course, but he’s 27 now, and while DeSagana Diop is still only 25, you’re an optimist if you think there’s some skills in there that he’s merely kept hidden for six years. (Incidentally, did you know that Mavericks training camp signee Jamal Sampson is only 24 years old, despite being around for what feels like a million years, and that commonly-accepted youngster Diduer Ilunga Mbenga is about to turn 27? Me neither. These things are worth noting. That is, they are worth nothing if you’re pathetic like me. If you are, hooray! We should hang out.) Dallas tried to add to this somewhat this summer. Without a first-round draft pick, they picked Nick Fazekas high in the second, thus once again ensuring that they have a tall forward who takes 85% outside jump shots […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 524 or so days: Charlotte Bobcats
October 20th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Jason Richardson (acquired from Golden State)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Jared Dudley (22nd overall) Second round: Jermareo Davidson (36th overall)   Players retained: Derek Anderson (re-signed, one year minimum) Jeff McInnis (re-signed, one year minimum) Matt Carroll (re-signed, six years, $26,900,000) Gerald Wallace (re-signed, six years, $57,000,000) Ryan Hollins (exercised team option) Walter Herrmann (exercised team option) Primoz Brezec (opted in)   Players departed: Alan Anderson (signed in Italy) Jake Voskuhl (opted out, signed with Milwaukee) Brevin Knight (waived, signed with L.A. Clippers)   Bobbins: In a recent debate with someone about who the eight playoff teams in the East are going to be this season, debate raged as to who would be the eighth team. We discussed the possibility of the eighth seed being Orlando, Washington, Milwaukee, and even Atlanta, before finally settling on one which I won’t mention (because it will spoil a later post). Neither of us debated the possibility of Charlotte being the eighth seed. This is because we had both already pencilled them as the seventh, with absolutely no contention from each other. There’s two possible conclusions that you can draw here. The first would be that the two of us basically don’t know what the hell we are talking about, which is a good point well made that I am unable to counter. The second would be to assume that, yes, Charlotte is a playoff-calibre team. And that point, I can defend. The franchise got off to a slow start after expansion, as you would expect, but slowly the Bobcats picked up pieces along the way. Starting around Emeka Okafor and building outwards, nothing much has gone right for the Bobcats before this summer. Mired deep in the lottery, and bound by the salary […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 88 or so days: New Orleans Hornets
October 16th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Morris Peterson (four years, $22.4 million) Melvin Ely (two year minimum) David Wesley (acquired from Cleveland, to be waived) Ryan Bowen (one year minimum) Trey Johnson (two year minimum)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Julian Wright (13th overall) Second round: Adam Haluska (43rd overall)   Players retained: Jannero Pargo (re-signed, two years, $3,806,400)   Players departed: Brandon Bass (signed with Dallas) Devin Brown (signed with Cleveland) Marc Jackson (signed in Greece) Linton Johnson (signed in Spain) Desmond Mason (signed with Milwaukee) Cedric Simmons (traded to Cleveland)   Bobbins: It’s hard to see quite what New Orleans planned to do going into this offseason. If their intention was to surround Chris Paul with shooters, as it probably was and definitely should have been, then it’s a job well done. In retaining Jannero Pargo while bringing in Morris Peterson and Adam Haluska to replace Devin Brown and Desmond Mason, the Hornets’ outside shooting takes another step forward. And when combined with the returning Rasual Butler and Bobby Jackson, as well as the return from injury of Peja Stojakovic, the Hornets’ outside shooting will be a strength this upcoming season. The backcourt depth in general is pretty strong. The frontcourt depth, however, is another matter. New Orleans seems content to roll with only four recognised big men, two of whom are Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely. Ely’s pretty bad despite one season of decency (and a contract season at that, how coincidental), whereas Armstrong is coming off of an incredibly raw rookie year. This seems to me as though it should be more of a pressing concern to Hornets management, given that the two players they’re backing up (Tyson Chandler and David West) haven’t exactly been the poster boys for health at any point […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: New York Knicks
September 29th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Zach Randolph (acquired from Portland) Dan Dickau (acquired from Portland) Fred Jones (acquired from Portland)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Wilson Chandler (23rd overall) Second round: Demetris Nichols (53rd overall, rights acquired from Portland, not yet signed)   Players retained: Malik Rose (opted in)   Players departed: Kelvin Cato (unsigned) Channing Frye (traded to Portland) Steve Francis (traded to Portland)   Bobbins: If he has not done so already, Isiah Thomas needs to write an autobiography. Actually, he needs to write about three. One about his time as a player, one as a General Manager, and one for amusing miscellany. I can safely say without a shadow of a doubt that I would buy all three. Not even a moment’s hesitation needed. And I think the same applies to about half of you. Maybe give him his own TV channel, and just run endless documentaries on him. I’d watch them. There’s just too much stuff going on at all times where Isiah Thomas is concerned. Win or lose (but normally lose), these Isiah-led Knicks have been an absolute fixture at the top of the NBA’s “did you hear this?” listings. From the moment he took over, ‘forfeiting’ the ‘future’ of the franchise by trading for Stephon Marbury (the notion that Milos Vujanic constituted most of the Knicks future is still funny), Isiah has continued to dumbfound, amaze and amuse in equal measures. Whether it be by making the type of trade for which they had to invent their own category (“A Trade Only Isiah Could Make”), or for one of many stories that come out about him (such as his role in instigating the brawl against Denver, or wanting to kill Bill Simmons, which is the Tarantino film they never made […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Memphis Grizzlies
September 28th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Andre Brown (one year minimum) Casey Jacobsen (one year minimum) Darko Milicic (three years, $21.06 million) Juan Carlos Navarro (rights acquired from Washington, signed for one year and slightly above the minimum)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Mike Conley Jr (4th overall) Second round: None   Players retained: Tarence Kinsey (exercised team option)   Players departed: Dahntay Jones (signed with Boston) Chucky Atkins (signed with Denver) Lawrence Roberts (signed in Greece) Junior Harrington (unsigned) Alexander Johnson (waived, signed with Miami)   Bobbins: Only three years ago, the Memphis Grizzlies surprised everybody (except me, and I can prove it in court) by winning 50 games in a season and making the playoffs, this ending the franchise’s entirely fruitless history up until that point. That year saw a line-up of General Manager Jerry West, head coach Hubie Brown getting his first full season with the team, and a 10-man rotation every night featuring some of my favourite players of all time: Jason Williams, Earl Watson, Mike Miller, James Posey, Bonzi Wells, Shane Battier, POW! Gasol, BO! Outlaw, Lorenzen Wright and Stromile Swift, with Jake Tsakalidis as the 11th man. Frickin’ awesome, it was. Now, apart from Pau Gasol and Mike Miller (and also Stromile Swift, who left but came back), it’s all change. From West to Watson via Brown and Bo, all of the above starlets have left the franchise, apart from those that haven’t. The 10-man rotation was partly to blame. Despite its awesomeness, it led to alleged locker room discontent from those who felt slighted by the limited minutes that it gave them (namely Williams, Posey and Wells, although it also led to Stromile Swift signing with Houston). That discontent led to Hubie Brown resigning, and some players moves to be […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Seattle Supersonics
September 27th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Kurt Thomas (acquired from Phoenix) Wally Szczerbiak (acquired from Boston) Delonte West (acquired from Boston)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Kevin Durant (2nd overall), Jeff Green (5th overall) Second round: None   Players retained: None   Players departed: Danny Fortson (unsigned) Mike Wilks (unsigned) Randy Livingston (unsigned) Rashard Lewis (signed and traded to Orlando for way too much) Ray Allen (traded to Boston) Andre Brown (signed with Memphis)   Bobbins: It’s rarely the correct move for an NBA franchise to blow the doors of the thing, jack it all in, admit failure and begin again. It takes a special kind of situation to justify it, and the team has to be a victim of a number of extraordinary circumstances. However, Seattle did exactly that this offseason. And entirely justifiably. After their fluke season in 2004/05 (oh please, yes it was), Seattle endured two years of nothingness after that, winning 35 and 31 games respectively. In all that time, the prolonged soap opera of the team’s ownership and arena continued to play out – the team was sold to new owners in 2006, who invested in the on-court product (giving Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour extensions totalling seven years and $44.5 million, which seems a bit much), yet who have not particularly well-disguised intentions of moving the team to Oklahoma City. One of the minority owners said as much in August, drawing a big fine from the NBA, but telling us nothing that we didn’t already know. With off-court turmoil and on-court mediocrity, the Sonics weren’t going anywhere, and they weren’t getting there very fast. But then in June, they won the #2 pick in the lottery. Suddenly, things were looking up. In a two superstar draft, Seattle just lucked themselves into […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Denver Nuggets
September 27th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Chucky Atkins (three years, $9.72 million) Steven Hunter (acquired from Philadelphia) Bobby Jones (acquired from Philadelphia)   Players acquired via draft: None   Players retained: Anthony Carter (waived, then re-signed, saving about $800,000) Eduardo Najera (opted in)   Players departed: Reggie Evans (traded to Philadelphia) Steve Blake (signed with Portland) DerMarr Johnson (signed in Italy) Jamal Samspon (signed with Dallas)   Words: When you spend $162 million on only three players in one offseason, you’re generally making a commitment to those as core players. Denver did this last offseason with Nene, Carmelo Anthony and Reggie Evans, investing in two power forwards despite also having the massive contract of Kenyon Martin firmly entrenched at the position, as well as Joe Smith and Eduardo Najera on hand to stand around looking sheepish. When you then trade your only significant expiring contract and both first-rounders this season (and Andre Miller) for soon-to-be-fading star Allen Iverson, you’re making a subsequent commitment to go for it all with what you have. You’re foregoing the few assets you have, placing yourself deep into luxury tax territory to try and put your team over the top. It’s noble. And they could not realistically turn down the Iverson deal because of the small price tag. But, in the short-term at least, it hasn’t really worked. Denver hasn’t had their shooting guard position solved for a number of years. The days of the Kiki Vanderweghe era saw such greats as Predrag Savovic and Vincent Yarborough blemish the position, and while Vanderwghe did pursue a number of options to fill the position (ranging from Manu Ginobili to Clyde Drexler, of all people), the best he could manage was a brief flirtation with Voshon Lenard. New GM Mark Warkentein picked up The Prodigy Formerly […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Cleveland Cavaliers
September 25th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: No one   Players acquired via draft: No one   Players retained: Ira Newble (opted in)   Players departed: Dwayne Jones (left unrestricted, unsigned), Scot Pollard (signed with Boston)   Recap: They didn’t do anything.   Next season: So they’re still not good enough.

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Chicago Bulls
September 23rd, 2007

Chicago Bulls   Players acquired via free agency or trade: Joe Smith (two years, $10 million)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Joakim Noah (9th overall) Second round: Aaron Gray (49th overall), JamesOn Curry (51st overall)   Players retained: Andres Nocioni (re-signed, six years, $45 million)   Players departed: Malik Allen (signed with New Jersey), Michael Sweetney (left unrestricted, unsigned), P.J. Brown (unsigned), Andre Barrett (made restricted, unsigned, may yet return), Martynas Andriuskevicius (left unrestricted, signed in Spain)   Some words: (The following entry may well be written with a small hint of bias. Or, alternately, it may be written with huge seething dollops of it. I’m a Bulls fan, just so’s you know.) Has anybody ever told you that you need a dominant post scorer to win a title? If not, then you’re not a Bulls fan. Since the dawn of time (or since the Eddy Curry trade, whichever), this edict has been hurled at Bulls fans and management alike by people of all backgrounds and IQ levels, and never more so than in the immediate aftermath of the Pau Gasol trade-that-never-was at the last trade deadline. Forget the fact that Detroit managed this supposedly impossible feat just three years ago: these people remain steadfast in their opinion. And why shouldn’t they? People say it on the TV, after all, so it must be true. After General Manager John Paxson did not pull the trigger on a deal for Gasol due to the excessive demands of Grizzlies GM Jerry West and the continued breakout of Luol Deng, talk of the Bulls’ need for a ‘dominant’ post scorer continued. “Experts” then shifted their attention to Kevin Garnett, ignoring for a moment the fact that such a move was never realistically possible due to the Bulls salary cap position. After […]

Posted by at 12:45 AM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Golden State Warriors
September 22nd, 2007

Golden State Players acquired via free agency or trade: Austin Croshere (one year minimum) Troy Hudson (one year minimum) Kosta Perovic (previous draft pick, three years, $5.832 million)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Brandon Wright (8th overall), Marco Belinelli (18th overall) Second round: Stephane Lasme (46th overall)   Players retained: Matt Barnes (re-signed, one year, $3 million), Kelenna Azubuike (re-signed, two year minimum)   Players departed: Sarunas Jasikevicius (bought out, to sign in Europe), Adonal Foyle (bought out, signed with Orlando), Mickael Pietrus (unsigned, restricted, will probably re-sign but I didn’t know which category to put it in), Zarko Cabarkapa (left unrestricted, unsigned), Josh Powell (left unrestricted, signed with Clippers), Jason Richardson (traded to Charlotte)   Bobbins: I would like to extend a hearty apology to Golden State Warriors Vice President of Basketball Operations, Chris Mullin. In the early part of his time as GM (I’m not typing “Vice President of Basketball Operations” every time, “GM” will do), I ragged on him somewhat mercilessly for his personnel moves. And it seemed justified. Inheriting a pretty poor team. Mullin did not do much to improve that, but did spend over a quarter of a billion dollars on re-signing his core players. In an 18-month period from his hiring in April 2004 to October 2005, Mullin gave out enormous contracts to Mike Dunleavy Jr, Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, Adonal Foyle and Derek Fisher, contracts which totalled a mindboggling $261 million for only five players, two of whom came off the bench. The only surprise was that he didn’t give a similarly insane contract to Erick Dampier, a free agent who did get an oversized contract, but with Dallas. Mullin’s excessive spending forced him to then cut some salary, making moves such as having to deal a first-round pick along with […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Orlando Magic
September 16th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Rashard Lewis (signed and traded from Seattle, six years, $112,753,504) Adonal Foyle (two year minimum) Marcin Gortat (two year minimum)   Players acquired via draft: First round: None Second round: Miroslav Rakovic (60th overall, unsigned)   Players retained: Keyon Dooling (opted in), Pat Garrity (opted in)   Players departed: Travis Diener (signed with Indiana), Grant Hill (signed with Phoenix), Darko Milicic (signed with Memphis), Bo Outlaw (unsigned, may yet return)   Bobbins: In a seven-day period in February 2006, first-year GM Otis Smith made two trades. One saw the expiring contract of Kelvin Cato and a 2007 first-rounder (later parlayed into Rodney Stuckey) dealt to Detroit for Darko Milicic and Carlos Arroyo, and one saw falling star Steve Francis dealt to New York – in a trade only Isiah Thomas could make – for Trevor Ariza and the huge expiring contract of Penny Hardaway. Within a week, the floundering Magic had been re-invigorated. Since the McGrady/Hill era had failed several years prior, the John Weisbrod era had made the Magic’s fortunes worsen further. Managing to do almost everything wrong, Weisbrod saw fit to end the McGrady in Orlando era by dealing him and Juwan Howard to Houston for Francis, Cato and Cuttino Mobley, a trade which vastly improved Houston but which didn’t do much for Orlando. Daring and skilled enough to somehow make the situation worse, though, Weisbrod subsequently traded Mobley to Sacramento for Doug Christie, a man who played only 21 games with Orlando, scoring 119 points. And that’s not to even mention the Varejao and Gooden for Battie deal with Cleveland that he also rustled up. Weisbrod then resigned. Which seems fair. Yet with these two trades in early 2006, Smith had managed to get some serious value for the two […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Milwaukee Bucks
September 15th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Desmond Mason (two years, $10.4 million) Jake Voskuhl (one year, $3 million) Awvee Storey (one year minimum)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Yi Jianlian (6th overall) Second round: Ramon Sessions (56th overall)   Players retained: Maurice Williams (re-signed, six years, $51.263 million)   Players departed: Ersan Ilyasova (signed in Spain, rights retained), Charlie Bell (unsigned, rights retained for now), Damir Markota (waived on general principle, see blog entry), Earl Boykins (opted out, unsigned), Jared Reiner (signed in Spain), Ruben Patterson (signed with Clippers), Brian Skinner (team option declined, unsigned)   Bobbins: It’s difficult to convey how I feel about the Bucks offseason and recent past without stealing too much directly from my own recent blog entry. So that’s exactly what I’ll do. After a poor 2004-05 season in which they finished with a disappointing 30-52 record, the Bucks beat long odds to win the lottery, and also had maximum cap room available to them. This offseason, they once again had potentially maximum cap room, and a high pick (#6) in a supposedly powerhouse draft. And once again, they have not taken advantage. 2005’s offseason yielded Andrew Bogut with the first overall pick, one of the better players of a weak draft but far from the best. The cap space was spent on re-signing Michael Redd to a maximum contract (decide amongst yourselves whether it was worth it), signing the Most Improved Player of the previous season (Bobby Simmons) to a $46.4 million contract only to then see him miss one season and disappoint in the next, and re-signing Dan Gadzuric to a considerably overpriced deal, all while letting the younger, cheaper and better Zaza Pachulia sign with Atlanta, unchallenged. This offseason brought much of the same. They signed another starting small […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Atlanta Hawks
September 12th, 2007

Atlanta Hawks   Players acquired via free agency or trade: None   Players acquired via draft: First round: Al Horford (3rd overall), Acie Law IV (11th overall)   Players retained: None   Players departed: Royal Ivey (unsigned), Slava Medvedenko (unsigned), Esteban Batista (unsigned)   Bobbins: The Hawks got lucky, I think they would admit that. The Joe Johnson trade of 2005 left the Hawks owing two first-round picks to Phoenix. One of these had already been conveyed, and was used to select Rajon Rondo last year, whom Phoenix then stupidly sold to Boston. The other pick was still outstanding headed into this summer, and was only top three protected, meaning that Atlanta had to win a top three spot in the lottery. They did this, despite only having the fourth-worst record and thus only the fourth-most chances of moving up (I say “only”, but that’s enough to make it a statistical improbability). For that, they should be thankful – had they not done so, they would have had a mediocre roster, with only an MLE and the #11 pick to work with to improve it. And that would not have been fun. Ironically, the three teams with worse records than Atlanta – Milwaukee, Boston, Memphis – all failed to move up, thus proving the worthlessness of statistical probability in the face of blind luck. (Incidentally, the #11 pick itself was also subject to changes in the lottery – the pick was Indiana’s as a part of the Al Harrington deal last summer, and had top ten protection on it. Had Indiana moved up in the lottery, Atlanta would not have gotten it, and had Indiana moved up into Atlanta’s place moving Atlanta out of the top three, Atlanta would have had no first-rounder at all this year. Which would have […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: Philadelphia 76ers
September 10th, 2007

Players acquired via free agency or trade: Jack diddly   Players acquired via draft: First round: Thaddeus Young (12th overall), Jason Smith (20th overall, acquired in draft night trade) Second round: Derrick Byars (42nd overall, acquired in draft night trade, unsigned), Herbert Hill (55th overall, acquired in draft night trade, unsigned)   Players retained: Louis Williams (exercised team option), Shavlik Randolph (exercised player option)   Players departed: Joe Smith (signed with Chicago), Alan Henderson (unsigned, might yet return)   Bobbins: Trivia question: Which player did Billy King either sign or re-sign this offseason for way too many guaranteed years and guaranteed money, as is his yearly custom to do at least once? Answer: No one. This is extremely unusual behaviour from the man who in recent years has given out or taken on the contracts of Aaron McKie, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Samuel Dalembert, Dikembe Mutombo, Todd MacCulloch, Greg Buckner, Kevin Ollie, Derrick Coleman, Marc Jackson, Keith Van Horn, Eric Snow, Steven Hunter, Jamal Mashburn, Glenn Robinson, Brian Skinner, Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, George Lynch and Willie Green, amongst others. Years of piling on payroll and trying to manoeuvre his way out of previous personnel decisions have left his team with a big tab to pick up, and not much to show for it. This, it would appear, has stymied King’s spending habits, if only for a bit (next year, the Sixers’ payroll predicts to be about half of where it is now). The offshoot from this, though, is that King has not improved his team in any capacity via trades or free agency. And this leaves him with all his eggs in one basket, having to address his team needs via the draft. Historically, this is where King does his best work. Having not had much in the way […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

30 teams in 36 or so days: L.A. Clippers
September 9th, 2007

This is the first of 30 instalments that will serve the dual purpose of being both offseason recaps and poorly thought-out predictions for next season, for all 30 NBA teams. These will be done in an order: that order is the order that I choose to do them in. There won’t be an alphabetical approach, nor one based on standings. They’ll be truly random. Randomness is the future. ___________________________________________ Players acquired via free agency or trade: Brevin Knight (two years, $3.3 million) Ruben Patterson (one year minimum) Josh Powell (three years, $2.6 million) Guillermo Diaz (three year minimum)   Players acquired via draft: First round: Al Thornton (14th overall) Second round: Jared Jordan (45th overall, unsigned)   Players retained: Quinton Ross (exercised team option)   Players departed: James Singleton (declined team option, signed in Spain), Jason Hart (signed with Utah), Yaroslav Korolev (initially agreed to re-sign with the team right back at the start of free agency, but hasn’t done it yet, and now reports are flying about him signing in Europe instead), Daniel Ewing (waived, signed in Russia), Will Conroy (waived, signed in Italy)   Bobbins: In amongst all the weird and strange things that have gone on throughout the league during this offseason, it seems to have escaped the attention of most people that the Los Angeles Clippers had one of the most economical and shrewd offseasons out there. After not getting ridiculously lucky and moving up in the lottery, the Clippers ended up drafting a consensus good pick, and also managed to draft a player in the second round who seemingly has trade value before he has even taken the court. Not stopping there, the Clippers waited for a while as other teams overspent for players, before making their own free agency splashes. Somehow, in Knight and […]

Posted by at 11:54 PM

Why aren’t NBA players loyal?
September 6th, 2007

Why aren’t NBA players loyal to their teams, such as how the fans are, and such as how the fans think that they should be? Ask Fred Jones. Jonesy signed with Toronto for three years and $9.9 million in July 2006, as a part of the Raptors’ cap room spending that season. The third year of the contract was a player option year, for $3.5 million. Upon being traded in February of this year to Portland in exchange for Juan Dixon, Jones agreed to forego his player option year as a part of the trade, a decision that, once made, cannot be recanted. Jones explained his acceptance to do this as such: “From seeing the team, knowing some of the players and knowing the direction they’re headed, I was more than happy to be a part of it”. Bless him. How sweet. Such gallantry and chivalry will serve him well in future life. Apparently, though, they aren’t good traits in this here NBA game. For it was barely four months later that Portland traded him once again, this time to New York as a part of the multi-player Zach Randolph deal. Still currently in New York, Jones is faced with the very real possibility of being waived by the Knicks, due to their present roster spots crunch and their desire to keep both Jared Jordan and Demetris Nichols. Jones was only included in the deal for his expiring contract, as was Dan Dickau – Dickau has already been waived, which doesn’t bode well for Jones. And if Jones does wind up getting waived, training camps have begun and most teams have full rosters. Barring a stroke of luck, the earliest return Fred would be looking at would be in early 2008. The irony is that Jones’ contract would not have […]

Posted by at 7:13 AM

The NBA bench player handbook
August 19th, 2007

For those amongst you who, like me, have a strange fascination with transactions, both those finalized and those possible, this is a bad time of year for you. This is late August, the draft is long since gone, and most of the juicy bits of free agency have passed us by. Of the remaining free agents, only a select few are good enough to be starters in this league – Ruben Patterson to name……one – and merely the journeymen remain. This is the NBA’s equivalent of what it’s like to try and completely scrape clean an almost-empty pot of jam – you can try and try and try to clean every last morsel out of the jar, and occasionally strike it lucky with a decent-sized chunk. But most of the residual jam offers up stubborn resistance, and is not even worth your time – even if there was a practical way of getting it off there, you wouldn’t garner anything useful from it anyway. Additionally, when writing these new player profiles for the site, I have had a very tough time trying to keep them interesting. How, for example, do you make the profile of JamesOn Curry read wildly different to that of Jannero Pargo or Salim Stoudamire, when they are similar players? It’s a quandary that has cropped up all too often. Too many players are too alike too many other players, and too many players conform to stereotypes. So, let’s look at those stereotypes and give them broad definitions based around the pioneer – the trendsetter, if you will – of that particular stereotype. Every team needs their role players, after all.   1 – The Jerome Williams: The athletic forward whose main skill is the fact that they are an athletic forward. They’re too small to play […]

Posted by at 4:13 PM

The Celtics compared to the Bucks
August 3rd, 2007

Consider what recent fortunes have been like for the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. Last year, both of these teams pulled the incredibly-unsubtle-tank-job routine, rivalled only in blatantness by that of the Minnesota Timberwolves. So obvious was it that then-Celtic Ryan Gomes essentially admitted to the tank job in an interview, saying, and I quote: “I probably (would have played), but since we were in the hunt for a high draft pick, of course things are different,” Gomes said. “I understand that. Hopefully things get better. Now that we clinched at least having the second-most balls in the lottery, the last three games we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if we can go out and finish some games.” Say what you really feel, Ry. Both teams put most of their eggs in one basket, trying their best to lose out, hoping for one of the top two spots in this year’s draft, and thus a chance at Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.┬áBut both were the victims of bad karma, and failed to move up, ending up with the fifth and sixth picks respectively. From there, Boston has gone on to trade for two All-Stars, one of whom is arguably the most talented player of his generation still in the back end of his prime. They are left with plenty of work to do, yet they have become instantly vaulted towards the top of the Eastern Conference and into title contention. Whereas Milwaukee is mired in the middle of a soap opera. Enough has been said about Boston and what they’ve done, but Milwaukee and GM Larry Harris seem to have been overlooked somewhat. After a poor 2004-05 season in which they finished with a disappointing 30-52 record, the Bucks beat long odds to win the lottery, and also had maximum […]

Posted by at 1:30 PM