Chicago's Meticulously Crafted 2011 Offseason Plan That Relies An Awful Lot Upon Guesswork
June 9th, 2011

Nothing cheers me up more than heavily contrived and extremely implausible hypothetical transactions for the Chicago Bulls.1 Taking a team’s cap situation, and attempting to maximize the basketball assets that they can get from using it, is what I wish to spend my life doing. It is this love of salary cap manipulation and amateurish talent evaluation that has in the past produced seminal works such as the four team 16 player trade that intended to bring Carmelo Anthony to Chicago whilst getting Denver under the luxury tax in the process2, as well as last offseason’s equally well-intended multi-faceted shake-up that sought only to avoid signing Joe Johnson, and which bizarrely predicted that the Bulls would end up with half of the previous season’s Utah Jazz rotation, but not the half that they actually wound up with. These are my hobbies. Ironically, Joe Johnson would be a somewhat perfect fit for Chicago right now. But unfortunately, Joe Johnson still has five years and $107,333,589 remaining on his maximum salary contract given to him by the Hawks, whom he just led to 44 wins and an ultimately rather purposeless second round exit. When the 29 year old fourth best player at his position gets the fifth biggest contract in the history of the sport, consider yourselves outbid.3 It’s a shame, in a way, for a player of Joe Johnson’s type and talent level would now be an exact fit to the major problem Chicago faces. Chicago isn’t exactly a team awash with strife. They just made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, had the best regular season record in the league, won 62 games, won the Most Valuable Player award, won the Coach Of The Year award, and somehow managed to come both first and third in the Executive Of The […]

Posted by at 10:26 PM

2009 NBA Training Camp predictions, revisited
October 29th, 2009

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 analyse 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 they decided 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 probably right. If ever Sweetney gets it together, loses all the weight and finds a mentor that gets him to dedicate himself to the game, […]

Posted by at 9:42 PM

Preview Sort Of Thing: Chicago Bulls
October 23rd, 2008

The Bulls are, quite possibly, the hardest team in the league to gauge right now. Every one of their significant players is a question mark. Other than predicting Larry Hughes will shoot a pull-up 18 footer on 85% of the fast breaks that he’s involved in, there’s nothing that you can say with any conviction about this current Bulls roster. It’s a poser. Theoretically, they could be great. This is still, essentially, the same 49-win second round team of the 2006/07 season, with only a few changes. The corpse of P.J. Brown has been replaced by Joakim Noah. The corpse of Ben Wallace has been replaced by Drew Gooden. And Chris Duhon has been replaced by Derrick Rose, which may or may not be an upgrade. (Sarcasm!) So, with those three upgrades, along with the return of Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich, plus the overdue-but-genuinely-forthcoming breakout of Tyrus Thomas, the Bulls should easily be able to usurp that 2007 team. Shouldn’t they? Well, no. The other change between then and now is the entire coaching staff. As outlined in the Milwaukee Bucks preview, Scott Skiles’s coaching jobs seem to always have a shelf-life, but until it goes wrong, he can make teams overachieve. The Bulls achieved what they did in 2007 despite having only the NBA’s 20th-best offence, purely because they had the best defence in the league. Skiles was directly responsible for that. However, after he lost the team last year – and after his replacement Jim Boylan proved to be about as much use as a surfboard with handlebars – the Bulls defence regressed to being middle of the road, and the offence was no better. It’s not known what new coach Vinny Del Negro will try to do, and it’s futile to guess. […]

Posted by at 6:29 AM

Preview Sort Of Thing: Milwaukee Bucks
October 23rd, 2008

The Milwaukee Bucks and their new head coach Scott Skiles are an eclectic mix. Recent Skiles-free Bucks teams have been capable of repeated instances of really bad defence, whereas recent Skiles-led Bulls teams (last year excluded) have been one of the best defensive units in the NBA. Make no mistake about it – Scott Skiles can coach defence. He really can. He even made Michael Sweetney and Eddy Curry into decent defensive players, briefly. In theory, therefore, a union of the two will bring the much-needed defensive improvement to an offensively strong Milwaukee line-up. Or at least, that’s one way to look at it. Alternatively, Milwaukee might have just hired a coach that them away from their strengths, further exposing the flaws in their personnel. This could go either way. For every Skiles strength, there is a Skiles flaw. While he’s shown that he can teach help defence to those players previously written off as futile, he also has a small offensive playbook. While he can coach guards onto better things, he can’t get the same results from big men, yet seemingly insists that he can. For every young player that thrives under his guidance, one more will be alienated and underwhelming. And for every amusing sarcastic comment he makes to the press, he’ll make someone hate him. Perhaps mercifully, the Bucks don’t have too many young players. Their identity as a veteran team looking for something to push them back into contention was cemented this summer, when they dealt the closest thing that they had to a promising youngster – Yi Jianlian – as the primary piece for an in-his-prime Richard Jefferson. In free agency, the Bucks picked up Skiles’s favourite, Malik Allen, as well as other veteran backups Tyronn Lue and Francisco Elson. Trading away Mo Williams saw […]

Posted by at 6:29 AM

Preview Sort Of Thing: Portland Trail Blazers
October 20th, 2008

I write this post while speaking from inside a pair of Portland Trail Blazers shorts. It’s not the smartest choice of garb right now, given that it’s essentially snowing outside. But I’m wearing them anyway, because I’m a maverick, who doesn’t play by the rules, a Mad Max gone maniacal, a man whose killing expertise and suicidal recklessness make him a Lethal Weapon to anyone he works against. Or with. I own these shorts for two reasons: 1. As a cutting edge fashionista, I firmly believe in the simplified yet magnetic beauty of novelty oversized black shorts. 2. When I bought them back 2002, I counted myself as a Portland fan. Over time, this feeling has dissipated. As my NBA fandom has gone from “hardcore” to “oh Jesus just shut up already”, my allegiance to the Bulls became firmer than a Kevin Lyde backscreen, before slowing dying away into more of a general NBA kinship. Through that timeline, any Blazers allegiance was left by the wayside. However, I never retracted the right to be able to crank that support right back up when I wanted to. The time for that is now. (Note: I’m not claiming to be a Portland fan, even if I do invoke The Shorts Clause as a defence of any such claim. Instead, I am an NBA fan. And right now, all NBA fans are Portland fans. Or at least, they should be.) Everything is coming up Milhouse in Portland. The team has the best collection of young talent in the league, and easily the best that I’ve ever seen. Not even the 2002/03 Denver Nuggets can rival these bad boys. Every position is three deep, with the only hole in their rotation being at starting small forward, and even there it’s all relative, as the […]

Posted by at 8:02 PM

Preview Sort Of Thing: Sacramento Kings
October 20th, 2008

As an aspiring GM with no qualifications or career prospects to speak of, and whose sole outreach into the world of the NBA is this distinctly amateur and unattractive site full of mild slander, I enjoy certain advantages. One of those is the ability to do what I want, to a half-baked standard, and then to abandon it prematurely. This explains what happened with last year’s “30 teams in 30 or so days” series of predictions, where I started well, fell behind early, and then gave up roughly half way through. Get in. This year, we’re going to do it again. There will be predictions, and by the power of Greyskull, they’re going to be woeful. Even better than that, it’s October 19th, and the season starts in just over a week, yet there are 30 teams to cover. So don’t be surprised if I only do about…oooh, five? ShamSports.com – run by an amateur. The few posts that will be made are to be undertaken in a completely random order, with no semblance of logic or reasoning. And with that in mind, we begin with the Sacramento Kings.   Sacramento Kings The Kings’ glory era ended a while ago. The days of the Adelman-era Kings, with Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie and friends, are over. Webber’s knee stopped working, Turkoglu surprised us all by actually getting good, Christie’s now the white Dame Dash, and Divac now works for the Serbian government. Other than the incumbent Brad Miller, the final player from those days – Mike Bibby – was pawned off to Atlanta earlier this year for a rather generous return. And that was that. With a end of an old era should come the start of a new one. “The King Is Dead”, and […]

Posted by at 12:02 AM

With apologies to Dwight Howard
January 6th, 2008

In my season preview of the Orlando Magic, written back in October and located here, I wrote something that looks a bit stupid in hindsight. At this point, I’d quite like to try and weasel my way out most of it. The following are some quotes that I stand by: It would be very difficult if not impossible to provide a commentary on the Rashard Lewis sign-and-trade while also managing to take an interesting or unique viewpoint, or to say anything that hasn’t already been said. So I won’t. But I will recommend that you look at the figure that he signed for (listed above), and think long and hard about whether he is worth it. And if you come up with any answer other than “no”, keep looking at it until you do. In 2013, a 33 year old Rashard Lewis is going to be being paid nearly $22.7 million.¬† So now, ask yourselves whether the trio of Hill, Milicic and Diener (who should, without a doubt, have played over Carlos Arroyo all of last season, and who is now nicely lined up for a breakout season) is going to help any more than Rashard Lewis on his own. It’s a tough answer, but either way, the Magic’s player personnel¬†did not improve much. If at all. Last season’s mediocre performance suggests that the good run to end the 2005/06 season was nothing more than an aberration. With better coaching and better performance this season, the Magic have the opportunity to show that it was last season that was the anomaly instead. If Orlando gets breakout performances from one or perhaps a couple of young players (specifically looking in the directions of Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick), they could contend for the open Southeast Division title. If you only read […]

Posted by at 8:04 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: 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: 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: 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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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