1) As you may know, Houston traded Steve Francis, a 2009 second-round draft pick and cash to Memphis for a conditional 2011 second-round pick. Memphis’s end of this is simple – they got their pick back for free. Houston gave them Francis, enough money to pay him for the rest of the year (or most of it, at least), and Memphis’s own second-rounder next year, which they’d previously given to Houston while moving up in the draft this summer. In return, Memphis only gave them a conditional second in 2011, which will be like top 55 protected or something, so they won’t even lose it anyway. They can now either waive Francis without fear of reprisal, get a free look at him as a player (unlikely), or keep him as an expiring. But more importantly, they’re getting their high second-rounder back. for no cost. It’s a good move. As for Houston, they give up a second that they don’t need in order to get under the luxury tax. It’s a good move for them, too.
But here’s the real important thing: I TOTALLY called it. In a previous post, I wrote this:
(After Antonio McDyess’s buyout, Denver is now no more than a small dollop over their eternal enemy, the luxury tax threshold. If they waft a pick Memphis’s way, they should be able to dump Chucky Atkins, whose salary for next year is only $760,000 guaranteed, thus not affecting Memphis’s 2009 cap space plan much. This move gets Denver under the tax, finally, and it need only cost them the pick that they got from Charlotte for Alexis Ajinca to do it. Also note that I’m just an ideas man, not a soothsayer. Houston would be sensible to do much the same with Steve Francis, who is entirely surplus to requirements in both Memphis and Houston, and whose salary is keeping the Rockets in the tax territory. But his expiring is tolerable for the Grizzlies with apt sweeteners. With those two deals, Memphis could gain two picks without changing their long or short term plans, while Houston and Denver save lots of money on players and picks that they don’t need. To me, this makes sense. Does that mean it will happen? No. But, between now and February, I’d place a call. Boy, this bracket got a bit long.)
Get some. I wonder if the Grizzlies general manager reads what I write.
2) Oklahoma City signed Nenad Krstic – technically still a Nets free agent – to an offer sheet, one which the Nets will apparently not match. This offers up a variety of questions (such as, quite how scary is this supposed European exodus going to be, when even the European deserters come back within six months?), but most of all, look at their prospective depth chart with Krstic on it.
PG – Russell Westbrook, Earl Watson
SG – Desmond Mason, Damien Wilkins, Kyle Weaver
SF – Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Desmond Mason
PF – Jeff Green, Joe Smith, D.J. White
C – Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox, Robert Swift, Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene, Steven Hill
Now obviously, things will work out to be slightly different to this. For example, it makes sense for Green to now take on a sixth man role, and for some combination of Krstic, Collison and Wilcox to fill the starting power forward and centre spots. Steven Hill is also the logical man to be cut once Krstic arrives. But even so, the signing of Krstic makes the Thunder’s depth chart even wonkier. Why do you want six centres? Why would you draft D.J. White with so many players in front of him? Why would you then sign Hill and Krstic as well? Why would you also draft Serge Ibaka and DeVon Hardin with your other picks? Why can you only play for the Thunder if you can scratch your ankles while standing up? Why would a team with every hole to fill concentrate solely on the same? I realise the value of good big men, but the roster is ramshackle at the moment. And also, don’t sign Ben Gordon this summer, whatever you do. As far as you need to know, he’s a no-defence chucker with a humility problem. Let’s ignore the truth for a minute and run with that narrative. You don’t want him. Sign more centres. Spend your money elsewhere. There’s a good lad.
3) Devin Harris should be in the All Star game. And Allen Iverson should not. You know when Allen Iverson made that quotation fingers “magnanimous” gesture, when he first suggested standing aside to let Michael Jordan start in the All-Star game, even when Iverson was the better player? (Which, by the way, was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my time following the NBA. Someone owes Vince Carter a big apology.) Well, now is the time for another such gesture. It’s not meant as disrespect, Allen, but these other players are better than you now. You won’t lose fans if you did so, and even if you did, you clearly have many anyway. Let’s make this happen.
Similarly, if Yi Jianlian gets in, let’s boycott the damn thing.
5) Short baseball tangent: people out there are trying way too hard to put a negative slant on the fact that the Yankees just signed both the best hitter and the best pitcher on the market. You don’t have to like it any, but at least acknowledge that this is what they did. Like every team in the world, they needed an ace and a excellent slugger. Unlike every team in the world, though, they were able to get them.
6) If Sacramento trades John Salmons to Toronto for Andrea Bargnani and a first-round pick, as is rumoured, that is all kinds of good news for the Kings. John Salmons’ value physically cannot get any higher right now, unless he were to start averaging 30 points. He’s playing extremely well, tied in on a remarkably cheap contract, and in the prime of his career. This also isn’t a fluke – he put on much the same performance to start last year, when injuries again cleared the way for him. If John Salmons is not traded by Sacramento before the deadline, that’s a big old misstep they’ve made there. Particularly after committing so much money to the wing pairing of Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia.
8) Merry Christmas to you and yours. My life is in a good place right now, and I hope that yours is too. If it isn’t, it will be.