Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Marcin Gortat update post

Let the baseline have it's moment.

During the summer, RBTB chastised Orlando's decision to match Dallas' offer and resign Gortat for $34 million for 5 years as a back up center to Dwight Howard. An excerpt:

Matching Dallas' offer to Marcin Gortat makes absolutely no sense. It is of course, due to the long playoff run and extra exposure that Gortat received. Announcers were raving about how he's a great back up Center for Dwight. And he got to cash in with a a hefty $34 million and 5 years and a chance to start in Dallas. Now he'll ride the bench for 5 more years behind Dwight Howard. Here are some facts: Gortat for the season averaged 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12 minutes per game for 63 games. In the playoffs, he scored in double figures ONCE against Philadelphia in a game where Dwight Howard was suspended, forcing Gortat to start. Against the Lakers in the Finals, he scored 4 points in 4 out of 5 games. In the fifth game (game 3 - the only Orlando win), he scored ZERO points in 4 minutes.

You just don't pay 34 million dollars for someone who produces so little and will only stay a bench player (aka not get any more minutes than he did last season). At least in Dallas, he had a chance to START or get A LOT more playing time. Even Gortat was upset about Orlando matching the offer! This is not to take anything away from Gortat who may have all the talent in the world. But what good is that talent if it's going to ride the bench and only play 12 minutes a game? That's a lot of money for little production. But so goes the extra exposure that a deep playoff run gets you where, if you're in a contract year, you are almost bound to get a big raise. It happened to Sasha Vujacic last year. But he at least averaged some solid numbers for the season.
Well the Magic are 21 games in and after a win against the LA Clippers where Marcin Gortat played a solid 5 minutes scoring 2 points, an update is in order.

Gortat's season averages last year (63 games):
12:35 minutes, 3.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, .2 assists, .3 steals, .8 blocks, .4 TO, 56.7% FG, 57.8 FT, 1.8 Fouls.

In 19 games this season (out of the 21 the magic have played):
15:35 minutes, 3.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, .1 assist, .3 steals, .9 blocks, 1 TO, 51.7% FG, 65% FT, 2.2 Fouls.

Quick summary: More minutes, less rebounds, more turnovers, lower FG%, higher FT%, more fouls.

And since everyone loves the PER analysis, his last year PER number was 17.0, this year it is 9.6.

Quote the big man himself: "I love the organization, but I'm not going to stay here being a back-up player and playing five minutes a game," Gortat said. "I hope people understand that. I know I can have a bigger role on another team." (Orlando Sentinel).

We all know Gortat can play. That's why the Magic resigned him. But they might as well have signed a DJ Mbenga type player (who gets paid less than a million for one guaranteed year) if Gortat is gonna be putting up Tony Battie type numbers in bench warmer minutes. Dallas is doing well enough without Gortat, but there are plenty of teams out there who could use (emphasis on USE) Gortat's talents. But we'll save that for a later post. Until then, may Gortat find more playing time and may Orlando come up with all of the excuses in the world to convince themselves that these numbers and production is worth 34 million over 5 years. Again, DJ Mbenga gets $900,000 this year...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

NBA Practice Jersey Advertisements Update Post

(Photo from InsideHoops)
It's been about two months since the NBA announced it would let teams sell ad space on practice (not game) jerseys. We've already read the reasons and the possible travesties that may come if these ads transfer to in game jerseys in a previous post. And some teams have already taken advantage of the practice jersey ad space.

About a month after the league allowance, the New Jersey Nets were the first team to sell ad space on their practice jerseys. Last year, they had an operating income of negative .9 million dollars (Forbes).

A couple weeks after the Nets, the Phoenix Suns were next in selling ad space to The Annexus Group "that will pay a mid-six-figure amount annually" (AZCentral). That same article said that the Nets sold their jerseys for a "low six-figure amount from PNY Technologies." Last year, the Suns had an operating income of 28.9 million dollars, a lot better than the Nets did and good for 6th place last year in operating income (Forbes).

So far, it looks like these are the only two teams to have taken advantage of the increased revenue. As talked about in the previous post, the NBA fan just hopes that these ads STAY on the practice jerseys and not cheapen the traditionality of the in game jerseys. But if it needs to be done in order for there to even be a game to watch, then it will.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Allen Iverson a Grizzly Bear, oh my!

(Photo from cellphonewallpapers)
The Memphis Grizzlies beat out the Charlotte Bobcats in the Allen Iverson sweepstakes today. The New York Times reports that the two parties agreed on a one year deal worth about $3.5 million, a substantial decrease in pay for Iverson who made around $19 million last year with Denver and Detroit. But for Iverson, this wasn't about the money. While everyone is quoting Iverson's twitter about signing with the Grizzlies, let's look back to what he tweeted when he didn't have a clue where he was going:

July 2nd, 2009, 9:00 am pacific time - I'm a Free Agent, healthy again, and capable of signing with any team

July 2nd, 2009, 9:02 am pacific time -
my only preference will be to play for a coach that knows what I bring to the table and that I am going to bring it every night!

July 2nd, 2009, 9:03 am pacific time - someone that knows how to best utilize my skills to make our team the very best that we can be.

You can thank Twitter and their 140 character per tweet limit for the multiple tweets for one message. Take it for what it's worth, but with the signing of a "minimal" $3.5 million, Allen Iverson may be more interested in remaining a starter rather than championship piggybacking, coming off the bench for a contending team. As tweeted, he wants a coach who can utilize his skills to better the team.

Peace out, Mike!
(Photo from Memphis Flyer)
Iverson will start. Ditching Mike Conley to the bench, the number 4 draft pick in 2007, at least for the year that Iverson's on the team. Mike Conley had a good year, for a terrible, 24-win (rebuilding, however) Grizzly team. Playing in all 82 games, while starting 61 of them, he averaged 10.9 pts, 3.4 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.1 stl, 1.1 3ptm (on 40.6 3pt%) and 44.3% FG. But is he THE ANSWER? The answer is no.

Allen Iverson, as previously posted, is a diamond in the rough when it comes to popularity and realness, which in turn, helps sell his shoes, jerseys, and his teams' ticket sales.
The Grizzlies, who rank 27th in team worth and lost $3.2 million dollars in operating income last year (Forbes). The $3.5 million that the Grizzlies signed Iverson to is pretty much what they had left under the salary cap.

On the other hand, if you read between the baselines, Iverson putting up starter numbers on a bad team on a one year contract the year before the free agency of 2010 comes when many teams will have plenty of cap space to sign stars, Iverson could be pulling a Stephen Jackson (signed with the Atlanta Hawks after winning a championship, put up nice numbers, is now getting paid $7-10 million a year for the next four years) and expecting to cash in next summer, maybe even with a championship contender.

On the Grizzlies' end, this will boost ticket sales and spike popularity in the team, before giving the reigns to OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay. They can't expect a 34-year-old AI to stay long term and be there for when this team expects to start becoming competitive. After this year, they'll give the PG duties back to Mike Conley if he's still around.

Until then the one year probable lineup is probably gonna look like

PG: Allen Iverson/Mike Conley
SG: OJ Mayo
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Zach Randolph
C: Marc Gasol/Hasheem Thabeet (maybe vice versa)

That's a lot of scoring going on from two scoring guards, a scoring SF, a scoring PF, and a defensive center in Hasheem. Allen Iverson doesn't turn this bad team into a good team. Memphis still has no bench and is still rebuilding. AI will boost interest and sales, however. That's probably what the team wants, and that's probably what AI wants. There's little doubt that he will give it his all, whether it's because he wants to cash in next year, or because that's just the way he plays (when he starts, that is - Detroit Pistons...).

Now, will he make the all star team as a Grizzly? Fans vote, but he's more than likely not going to beat out Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant (although he beat out CP in 2008 when he was on a winning Denver team but we'll see how he plays this year...).

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Analyzing the off season moves by the San Antonio Spurs

(Photo from everyjoe)
The San Antonio Spurs did not win the Championship last year, breaking the cycle of winning one every other year (2003, 05, and 07) and the 33-year-old "Big Fundamental," who hasn't missed significant amounts of games since 2005, by the way, but needs one last thrust to win another ring before age, economy, and free agency kicks in to break apart a very good team. Therefore, the Spurs traded Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto for Richard Jefferson and signed big men Theo Ratliff and Antonio McDyess. Spurs' motto this year is "Go big or go home" (and of course the mainstay, "Go Spurs! Go!").

  • Richard Jefferson is a 29-year-old SF and averaged 19.6/4.6/2.4, shooting 43.9% and hitting 1.4 3pters for the Milwaukee Bucks last year. He is owed $14.2 million due in 09/10 and $15 mil due in 10/11. Free Agent summer of 2011.
  • Antonio McDyess is a 35-year-old PF and averaged 9.6/9.8/1.3, shooting 51.1% last year for the Detroit Pistons. He is owed $5.8 million due in 09/10, $6.3 mil in 10/11 and $6.7 mil in 11/12. Free agent summer of 2012.
  • Theo Ratliff is a 36-year-old C and averaged 1.9/2.8/.2 shooting 53.1% and blocking 1 shot per game last year in 12 minutes per game for 46 games for the Philadelphia 76ers. He was signed to the veteran minimum, owed $1.3 million in 09/10. Free agent summer of 2010.
Read between the baselines:

There's really not much to read between the baselines for the reasons the Bucks made this trade. They have a hefty payroll as of right now with Michael Redd's contract of $17 mil and Andrew Bogut's $10 mil (along with 4 years after that, increasing to $14 mil in 2014). They also have a bad contractin Dan Gadzuric ($14 mil next 2 years). Overall, right now after the trade, there is $67.5 million on the payroll, a lot for a small market team. With Kurt Thomas and Bruce Bowen's expiring contracts combined with the expiring contracts they already have, that number drops to $50 million in 2010/11. (Edit: The Bucks have waived Bruce Bowen) and may also waive Kurt Thomas. They have already traded Oberto to Detroit for Amir Johnson, and then traded Amir Johnson for Roko Ukic and Carlos Delfino but ANYWAY.

There's really not much to read between the baselines for the reasons the Spurs made this trade either. With the strong teams getting stronger (Cavs-Shaq, Magic-Carter, Lakers-Artest, Celtics-Sheed), the Spurs had to keep up and added an athletic scorer who can play above average defense.

What did the Spurs gain by getting Jefferson?

Richard Jefferson is 29 years old going into his 9th NBA season after spending his first 7 season in New Jersey with Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin. He helped them reach the finals twice, losing to the Lakers and Spurs in 2002 (his rookie year) and 2003 respectively. His best years were in the middle of his Nets years where he averaged around 20 points a game, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. Richard Jefferson can score, although he probably can't spread the floor that much given his 35% career 3pt shooting. However, last year on the Bucks, he averaged 1.4 3 pters made on 39% 3pt shooting...

What did the Spurs give up to get Jefferson?
  • One of their veterans and better defenders in 38-year-old Bruce Bowen, who had a significant drop in playing time last year (from 30 minutes in 08 to 18 minutes in 09), perhaps indicative that he had lost a step in his defensive step, although he's been solid throughout his whole career. After likely being waived by the Bucks, it would be more than likely that he'd re-sign with the Spurs.
  • Back up center Fabricio Oberto who only averaged 12 minutes a game in 54 games last year. Played good post defense and was an adequate center off of the bench for the Spurs.
  • Back up PF Kurt Thomas, who was traded for to help post defense against then-newly accquired Sun Shaq and then-newly accquired Laker Pau. (It worked, by the way, as the Spurs got past the Suns last year in the playoffs, but couldn't get past the Lakers who went on to the Finals). Thomas averaged 4.3/5.1/.8 and shot 50.3%. A good post defender with a nice jump shot from about the free throw line.
So these two back ups and sometimes starter defense specialist for Richard Jefferson. They then replaced their two lost bigs with, what else... TWO BIGS.

Antonio McDyess
(Photo from allposters)
Antonio McDyess is an upgrade from Thomas and has the capabilities to get a double double (he sure was close last year). He is the probable starter at PF. Although age may be catching up with him, he won't be asked to do more than provide defense while the stars, Manu, Parker, Jefferson and TD make up the bigger part of the team's contributions.

Theo Ratliff

Theo Ratliff is a shotblocker, plain and simple. He won't score a lot, but he can score on putbacks and block shots if players reach the paint. He will serve well for the price they are paying him. Matt Bonner, who started at center last year, will also be coming off the bench with Ratliff. (Although they could start Bonner at C again this year, and have McDyess be the main backup for Duncan).

2009 Draft Pick: Dejuan Blair

I am, by no means, an expert on the NCAA or their players, besides the big stars, but based on some internet research, Dejuan Blair was unjustly passed by many teams and fell to the Spurs in the second round. The Spurs have a history of drafting very well, even in the second round (where Manu Ginobili was drafted in 1999), and late first round picks (such was Tony Parker in 2001).

Scouts have this to say about 2nd rounder Dejuan Blair:

Consensus: DeJuan Blair was proven to be one of the most dominant players in college this year. However, his lack of athleticism and height are big time negatives in terms of the NBA. Still, undersized power forwards are making a bit of a comeback in the NBA nowadays, so he probably will stick around the League.
We see this a lot in the NBA where good big men in college don't quite do so well in the NBA (Sean May, Roy Hibbert, Greg Oden?) let alone someone who is deemed undersized as is DeJuan Blair. Perhaps the Antonio McDyess and Theo Ratliff signings are insurance signings/give time signings to give Blair some time to work on his game and work around his size. I don't see him making a big impact this year for the Spurs, at least as much as Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess.

Plain and simple, the Spurs boosted their scoring and interior depth. Last year, the Spurs ranked 12th in Off Eff, scoring 106.2 points per 100 possessions and 6th in Def Eff, allowing 102 points per 100 possessions. Richard Jefferson's offense (and for their sake) hopefully a healthy Manu Ginobili (44 games last year) should boost their Off Eff. Antonio McDyess' one on one defense should at least keep the Def Eff around the same number of 100-104 (along with the Spurs' defensive mentality and team identity).

Probable Starting Lineup:

PG: Tony Parker/George Hill
SG: Manu Ginobili/Roger Mason
SF: Richard Jefferson/Michael Finely
PF: Antonio McDyess/Bonner/Ratliff
C: Tim Duncan/Ratliff/McDyess/Bonner

Can this lineup compete with the recharged NBA elite like the Lakers, Cleveland, or the Celtics? Health permitting, yes, but it may not put them over the top. McDyess and Duncan are a somewhat twin tower action that can defend the post with very nicely. But can KG, Pau Gasol, Shaq, and Dwight score on them? Probably, yes.

But this team will compete and have a deep playoff run and could challenge for the western conference championship. In a weakened division with the Rockets without Yao and McGrady, and the Grizzlies who are not a good basketball team, this team should get a lot of wins and have a high seed in the West. Don't sleep on McDyess, he's not only a good defender, but can hit a midrange jumpshot (better than Kurt Thomas could) if teams collapse on Duncan. And along with Richard Jefferson, this team's offense should only improve (and be a little more exciting).

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Here's Richard Jefferson dunking on his new teammates.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The I Don't Care What You Think About Me Players of the NBA

(Photo from streetball)
This is a continuation to the "Message to NBA Player Twitter Users," regarding being politically correct and always saying the right answer. Fading fast are those players who simply don't give a lick what you think about them and they are going to do their own thing no matter what. Inspired by Slam Magazine's article in issue 131 page 34 titled "Final Answer?"

It was AI, the rookie, who signaled a new period in '96-97, when he crossed over MJ and said, "My heroes don't wear suits." Like he'd say years later regarding the dress code, "just because you put a guy in a tuxedo, it doesn't mean he's a good guy. It sends a bad message to kids. If you don't have a suit on when you go to school, is the teacher going to think you're a bad kid? I never wore a suit going in any park I ever went to when I was coming up."
-Dave Zirin, Slam Magazine

AI brought the hip hop culture to the NBA, and according to him, is the reason David Stern came up with the dress code. AI always wore what he wanted to wear with plenty of chains, du-rags to cover his cornrows, and baggy clothing. He did his own thing and didn't care what others thought about it.

Famous is his "practice" press conference in which he honestly felt it wasn't a big deal that he missed practice (in his 76ers days). Again, he was himself in the press conference and let his point be known without giving into the constant questions about his practice habits. This post isn't to defend AI about his practice habits, it's to show that he isn't afraid to let his real thoughts be known.

The NBA stars now are always saying the right things in press conferences, interviews, and the like. How many times have we heard after a game, "They played great defense, but we were able to come out on top thanks to some great play by our guys." One of the biggest stars to do this is Kobe Bryant. It seems like after every game, he always says what the player is "supposed" to say after a game. Here he is after Game 1 (win) of the Finals in the press conference.

"We need to forget about this win and move on."
"We had to work hard, we were very active."
"This team is extremely resilient." (The Magic)
"It's one game. No big deal."
Last question: "Do you feel like you can take advantage of this guy (Courtney Lee) at any opportunity that you so choose?"
"No I don't think so, I think that's doing him a tremendous discredit, cuz even though he's a rookie, he's a very very solid defensive player."

Here's Kobe after an exhibition win over Russia.

"We played with more energy."
"Just taking shots when they're there"
"I enjoy the challenge of guarding him, he's a great scorer"

Same kind of answers that almost any news article after a game quotes from any player. Granted, Kobe has been in trouble in the past and knows that every word he says and every move he makes is being watched by almost any fan or hater. That doesn't take away the same kind of answers that any other team's star says.

Lebron James after game 4 win over the Hawks last playoffs.

"Delonte was awesome. He's our glue to our whole team."
"You can't lose focus at any time"
"Certain fans think it's a great idea for them to get out of control sometimes."
"Celtics or Magic? Who would you prefer?" "We're looking forward to the challenge" (What NBA player has ever said they would prefer one team over another when they have to wait for the outcome of another series? Seriously, comment if someone has.)
"We were able to stay poised, this is a really good team" (The Hawks).
"Why should we celebrate? We're playing for a championship"

You see the similarities at least in approach to the questions being asked. Always being politically correct, always giving credit where it may not be due. Is Delonte really the glue that holds the team together? I think that credit goes to the speaker. And of course, probably any player would not take credit for himself, but the other questions where he carefully decides how he's going to phrase it shows that he knows he's being watched and knows how he must present himself. So goes the price of being one of the top super stars in the league.

But there are stars in the league who do have fewer filters and make for more enjoyable interviews where the fans can see how a player really feels and acts around a team regardless of whether or not there are cameras around.

#2 Rasheed Wallace

(Photo from bothteamsplayedhard)
Rasheed Wallace for the past decade seems to always speak his mind and not care what the media or fans have to say about it. Also doing his own thing with his free dress before the dress code, but more well known for what he says both on and off the court. No matter what, he's going to say what he wants to.

Here's Rasheed Wallace after a Piston win over the Mavericks:

Q: "Chauncey was getting his buckets as well tonight..."
Sheed: "'Bout time! Chauncey ain't hittin no damn shots, sike nah..."
By the way, Chauncey in his previous 4 games had shot 5-16, 5-17, 3-10 and 2-10. This win over the Mavs, he shot 8-14.

Q: "Looking forward to going home tonight and playing in front of folks tomorrow?"
Sheed: "Nah cuz now I gotta handle all these damn tickets."

Sheed was telling the real story and was candid and real about it. It is who he is to simply tell things how they are/how he sees it.

After a loss when he was a Blazer, and dealing with the usual open ended questions that any player would probably hate to answer after a tough loss, Rasheed did what any player wants to do after a loss and sidestep every question with the ultimate politically correct response, "Both teams played hard" and wrapped up with "God bless and good night."

Outside of the press, Sheed is known for being loud and obnoxious, and being a trash talker. He doesn't care how he's seen by the media. He's going to do his thing just like he's always done it. Whether it's trash talking to his teammates and the opposing team, trash talking the fans, or trash talking the refs' calls, Rasheed will make sure his real thoughts are known, which is becoming less and less common around the NBA. He also has fun with the TNT crew.

#3 Ron Artest

(Photo from hoopiquity)
Great defensive player, great competitor, doesn't care what you think about him. Shaving Tru Warier, the Rockets logo, or the Kings logo in to his hair, openly giving out his phone number on twitter, supposedly announcing that the Lakers needed to be hoodalized, are all components that make Ron Artest one of the few that don't care what you think about him. He's going to say what he wants to say, and do what he wants to do.

Made infamous for his charging the fans in Detroit a few years ago, he has since calmed down but hasn't censored himself in interviews. Here he is after getting ejected for getting in Kobe's face during the Rockets-Lakers series this past playoffs.

"I KNEW I was gonna get a technical."
"The point was to hopefully let the refs know that I'm pissed."
"I went there with the intention to tell Kobe you gotta relax, you're hitting the wrong person, don't you know you're hitting Ron Artest."
"The series has been physical, I don't know how much more physical it can get."
And even the TNT crew praises his candid answers. No sweet answers like "I over reacted and I deserved to get ejected." He instead let his point be known and lived with the consequences. Real, candid, Artest.

Even more candid is when he takes us back 5 years later to his point of view of what happened that night at the Palace:

Ron just giving you his thoughts for you to digest without caring what you think about him. He's living his life however he wants to, telling his story, saying what he wants.

Read between the baselines:

It's not like these guys are all talk with no game. AI has been an MVP and 2 time all star MVP and leading scorer of the league. Rasheed Wallace was a main part of the Detroit Pistons that beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the championship in 2004. Ron Artest is an all defensive team defender and has a Defensive Player of the Year award as well. They have the walk to back up their talk.

Granted, these aren't the awards that Kobe Bryant has, nor are they the player that Kobe is or Lebron is, who are always being taped, watched, and listened to. But Iverson has had his share of #1 jersey sales and his own shoe line. He has things to lose, but it is his image that he's lived that sells jerseys, shoes and tickets. These big three are REAL both on and off the court, and that's something that sets them apart from the rest of the league and gives them their own image.

But it seems that the new batch of players from Brandon Roy (no Kobe is way better), to Dwight Howard (Free throws weren't falling) to Dwyane Wade (Leave it all on the floor) are saying the "right" thing to say in interviews and post game press conferences. AI, Sheed and Ron won't be around for too much longer, and while appreciating their game, maybe we should appreciate their candidness and their willingness to be themselves.

Those are the facts, and that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recent quick hits of the NBA off season you might want to be aware of:

(Photo from lowposts)

Orlando Magic sign Jason Williams out of retirement for one year and $1.3 million. After trading away Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee and Tony Battie to the Nets for Vince Carter, the Magic were left with their PG position players at the start of last season with all star Jameer Nelson and Anthony Johnson. Between the baseline reason why the Magic felt they needed a playmaker in Jason Williams? Nelson and Johnson were the PGs before Rafer came. But when Nelson went down, Alston helped them get to the finals. Perhaps a playmaking guard off the bench is VITAL to the team's success when Nelson is on the bench. But if Nelson goes down and Williams leads them to the Finals... maybe Stan Van Gundy sticks with what gets him there this time around.

Quentin Richardson traded for the fourth time to the Miami Heat for Mark Blount from Twolves. Q Rich isn’t good. Isn’t going to be the sole reason Wade stays in Miami. With a PER rating of 11.6 and averages of 10.2/4.4/1.6 and 1.7 3ptm (4.6 3ptA), Q Rich isn't the Ying to Wade's Yang. Which is why you read between the baselines. Q Rich is in the last year of his contract and in the Free Agent class of 2010, the Heat will have $9.35 million off of their plate to get Wade some REAL help. Mark Blount is also in the last year of his contract but owed $7.9 million. So with Q Rich, they have more money to get rid of (?) for the FA class of 2010.

And what’s the deal with writers reporting that because two players are good friends, they will automatically be happy and have a good season? This happened two years ago when Kevin Garnett was almost a Laker and one of the selling points was that 3rd team pg bench warmer Shammond Williams was his cousin. Just because they are cousins, that will be the deal maker? (By the way, KG didn't go to the Lakers even when his COUSIN WAS THERE, who got cut from the team that year, anyway).

Leon Powe signed with Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course he won’t be able to play until after the All Star break. But this is a very nice addition if and only if Powe is able to play at the level he played at during the 2008 Finals. Powe provides energy and skill and can create problems for other teams. But he also has a knee issue. He signed for 2 years for the minimum a 3 year player can get. His reasoning, trying to get his knee back in shape and sign for more money in 2 years. This is probably why the Celtics didn't re-sign him. They’ll probably put a lot of money toward retaining Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins anyway and they'll need the roster space and can't afford (playing wise) to have a player take up roster space to sit on the bench. Cavaliers are thinking they need all the help they can get at a price they can afford for a playoff run to please King James.

The Clippers waived Mark Madsen. And if you read RBTB’s previous post regarding the Clippers, you’ll see that although Madsen is a “good locker room guy” (whatever that means), he was due 2.8 million that came off the books next year. If they could get him off the books sooner, even better for the Clippers. Good for Mark too because I doubt he'd get much playing time (even though he hasn't had decent playing time for almost his entire career) behind Griffin, Camby, Kaman and Deandre Jordan. But these are the fragile fragile big men of the Clippers we're talking about...

Amare Stoudemire is 50/50 about returning to the Suns next year. Can you blame him? The Suns aren’t good anymore. Steve Nash, Amare, Grant Hill and Jason Richardson is not greater than or equal to Steve Nash, Amare, Grant Hill, Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and one of Shawn Marion or Shaq. Amare hasn’t cemented anything about his legacy other than All Star appearances and a rookie of the year award. His future in Phoenix looks dim.

The Atlanta Hawks signed Joe Smith (his 10th team). Terms weren't disclosed but it would be safe to assume it's the league's veteran minimum like Jason Williams of the Magic ($1.3 million/1 year). Joe Smith is ol' reliable and averaged 6.6/4.6 last season for the Thunder and Cavaliers. He'll likely average the same in Atlanta behind Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.

Those are the facts. And that's a couple ways to read between the [base]lines.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Message to all NBA twitter users:

(Photo from laist)

Dear NBA players on Twitter, read between your own baselines.


Anyone who has dealt with social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace knows the risks, consequences, and vulnerability they take on when putting themselves out there into cyberspace for the world to see. And that’s essentially it, the WORLD sees everything you post onto your own personal online billboard of yourself. Once out there, it can never be taken back.

For the less computer savvy people who may try to prove that statement wrong, here’s an real world, recent example to help put things in perspective of how costly one post may be. Michael Beasley posts a picture of his new and very uncool tattoo with a plastic bag of something in the background. HERE IT IS. Lower right hand corner: possible marijuana bags.

(Super cool beas? Are you serious Mike? Anyway) His twitter followers see it, accuse him of doing drugs, and he says, “Oops” and deletes the picture. No one else sees it right? Wrong. It just takes one of those twitter followers to right click that picture, “save image as”, put it on their computer, and then email it to a couple friends, who email it to their friends, who put it on their facebook, myspace and twitter pages, for all of THEIR friends to see it and the virus goes all throughout the WORLD. Even though Beasley deleted it off of his site, it can still be produced and multiplied with a simple save command many internet users can do. (Photo credit: ALL OVER GOOGLE IMAGES including mashable).

For the past year, twitter has been gaining popularity among NBA players, who use twitter in a variety of ways. Kevin Love was in the news for breaking the story about his then coach, Kevin Mchale, not returning as head coach. His twitter followers knew before the team officially announced the news. Allen Iverson very recently posted that he was close to signing a deal with what many people believe to be is the Charlotte Bobcats. His agent didn’t break the story, nor did an NBA team, it came directly from Allen Iverson.

Another use for twitter is simply connecting with fans. Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay seem to just talk with their fans and answer questions. Rudy Gay has gone live on video while taking tweet questions from his followers and answering them live on his computer camera. And I’m sure you’re aware of Stephon Marbury’s more than personal, well publicized live feeds. In fact, you can watch him all the time at http://www.justin.tv/starburytv.

Probably the most popular NBA player to use Twitter is Shaq. High profile stars tweet high profile messages such as during the NBA Finals where Shaq tweeted that he wanted Kobe to win his fourth ring. After the Lakers won the final, Shaq tweeted:

As for the followers, Sports writers are using twitter as a primary source for their stories. What better source is there for a story other than a message coming from a player’s mouth/tweet (besides the player’s agent maybe). After Kevin Love’s tweet about his coach, sports sites, and radio shows were alive with the news.

NBA players are being held accountable for each tweet and for each picture. The world is seeing it. Few NBA players have private accounts, but if you request an add to see their tweets, they usually oblige. All you have to do is google “twitter” + “player’s name” (Shaq, Allen Iverson, Mark Madsen) and google will come up their twitter site for THE WORLD to see.

Read between the baselines:

The non celebrity facebook/myspace generation has been snowballed with warnings, commercials, and fail stories of how facebook and myspace lead to users being killed, raped, fired, and having their names’ ruined. We’ve seen sports players without the help of twitter get into trouble with the

law with strip clubs and guns, dog fights and DUI Manslaughters. We’ve seen sports stars candidly express their opinions on camera (a live tweet, if you will) about gays in the NBA (Tim Hardaway two years ago and Brendan Haywood more recently). How about Brandon Jennings right after he was drafted caught on tape and youtube saying a whole bunch of things about Rubio, the Knicks, and Scott Skiles. They didn’t know it was controversial and not politically correct, who’s to stop a player from tweeting something of the same nature?

Sports Stars who tweet frequently put themselves at risk of putting something out there for the WORLD to see that shouldn’t be out there. Today it starts with JR Smith using K’s instead of C’s to possibly distinguish oneself as a member of the Blood gangs opposed to Crips [side note: by the way, if a little 13 year old girl says “kute” instead of “cute” and “take kare” instead of “take care,” would she be accused of the same thing? I’m just saying…]. It starts with divulging team business before it hits the press. It starts with a plastic bag that might contain marijuana.

Where will it go from there? Think about it. If a plastic bag is seen in the background, what else could be found in the background of a room. What if a box of condoms is found in the background. White powder? Firearms? A poster of a swastika? What if a player tweets something about a teammate he wasn’t supposed to do. “In Vegas with Joe Schmoe with the team… he’s tripping out on E!” These haven’t happened yet, but could they? It’s hard to say it will never happen and with the examples above of players or ex players saying things they maybe shouldn’t live on TV or caught on youtube when they are just speaking their minds, thinking it’s innocent, who’s to say other players won’t do the same on their twitter pages?

Michael Beasley and JR Smith probably did the best thing after their controversies, which was to delete their accounts. Because every controversy is one picture, tweet, or youtube video away from being yesterday’s news. But that’s not to say that a controversy in the past is a controversy forgotten. All over the internet, Kobe is still labeled a rapist (but for the record, was never found guilty of said rape). Michael Vick will always be a dog torturer. Of course a bag of possible marijuana isn’t as big as these felonies, but in the future, we may see an escalated twitter incident. Or a twincident? Anyway…

Are NBA players perfect role models? No. No one is. We all have our vices but the media will eat a celebrity/sports star alive and that’s the price you pay for being a celebrity/sports star. It ruins endorsement contracts. What corporation wants to endorse drug users, promiscuity, racism or homophobia? Kobe lost endorsements after his rape charges. Michael Vick lost his job and had a rough time finding suitors to sign him again afterhis Dog Fighting Fiasco. Michael Phelps lost endorsements when he was photographed smoking marijuana (photo from hollywooddame).

What do they need to do? Honestly, when you’re a high profile celebrity as almost anyone in the NBA is, you need a publicist regulating what you put out. Is this a cry for fake tweet posts that are always politically (boringly) correct and taking away the voice of the NBA player? No. But maybe before a player puts out a tweet he’s not sure about, he runs it by a publicist beforehand. Maybe before posting a picture, they have some friends take a look to see if there’s anything controversial in the background. Maybe before they divulge team business, they ask their coach or a teammate if it would be okay.

Free speech is what makes America America and Twitter is a great way to use that free speech in a way that lets fans connect with their idols in a way no other sports star was able to do in previous years. When was the last time you could directly tweet Ron Artest (or let alone CALL HIM) and have him answer a question or simply say, “what’s up?” Two years ago there was a barrier between the fans and players. And the only time to talk to them was if you saw them driving by on the street in your hometown. Now fans from all across the world can say whatever they want to Dwight Howard or Chris Bosh. But that free speech comes with a cost. No they won't go to jail for what they tweet, but they can embarass themselves and put their jobs and professional relationships at risk. For example, although it’s legal to say, “I like drugs,” it won’t go over well the media, endorsers, and the team you play for.

Does RBTB care that Beasley may be doing drugs? Absolutely not. RBTB only reads between the baselines of what goes on in the NBA, we judge the players strictly by what they do: their play on the court (and their contract situations). But these players have to know who else is watching what they do. Answer, again, the WORLD. What they do in their private time is their own business. So NBA players, keep your own business where it’s supposed to be: in privacy. Think before you post. It’s easier for John Smith who works at Albertsons to tweet “Smoking weed” than it is for Shaq to tweet the same message (No, Shaq did not actually post “smoking weed”). NBA players-- nay, all celebrities are being watched by the media 24/7 for slipups and twitter gives said media (TMZ and the like) a window to the private lives of those celebrities, all from their computers, iphones and blackberrys, one tweet at a time.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ex Warriors who have made it to the NBA Finals

(Photo from NBAtradeJournal)

Most basketball heads talk about how the Warriors let great/pretty good players go such as Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, etc. And yeah, these guys are pretty darn good at what they do and yes, the Warriors have hardly been the team to beat since letting those players go. But while they've produced nice numbers and made the playoffs, they've never been to the Finals. Those that did leave the Warriors were mainly role players and no stars on the team they were representing in the said Finals. Just something to keep in mind. Read between your baselines.

Here is a list of ex warriors players who have made the finals since the 1999-2000 season. Bolded are the ones who actually won the championship. In parenthesis are how many years after they left the warriors they made it to the Finals. Listed in order of how quickly they made the finals after leaving the Warriors.

DJ Mbenga, 2008 and 2009 Lakers, 2008 Warriors (1yr)
  • Best year with Warriors: First half of 2007-2008, 1.2 pts, 1.9 reb, .6 blk, 39% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009, 2.7 pts, 1.3 reb, 1 blk, 47% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above
Mickael Pietrus 2009 Magic, 2004-2008 Warriors (1 yr)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2006-2007, 11 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.3 3ptm, 48.8% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2007-2008, 7.2 pts, 3.7 reb, 1 3ptm, 43.9% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009, 9.4 pts, 3.3 reb, 1.5 3ptm, 41.3% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above
Adonal Foyle 2009 Magic, 1998-2007 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2000-2001, 5.9 pts, 7 reb, 2.7 blk, 41.6% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2006-2007, 2.2 pts, 2.6 reb, 1 blk, 56.5% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2009 Orlando, 1.9 pts, 2.9 reb, .9 blk, 63.6% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Same as above

Erick Dampier, 2006 Mavericks, 1998-2004 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2003-2004, 12.3 pts, 12 reb, 1.9 blk, 53.5% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2004-2005 Mavs, 9.2 pts, 8.5 reb, 1.4 blk, 55% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2005-2006 Mavs, 5.7 pts, 7.8 reb, 1.3 blk, 49.3% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See 2004-2005 Mavs above

Derek Fisher, 2008 and 2009 Finals, 2005-06 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2005-2006, 13.3 pts, 2.1 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.5 st, 1.4 3ptm, 41% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2007-2008 Lakers, 11.7 pts, 1.8 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.0 st, 1.4 3ptm, 43.6% FG
  • Year on the finals team: see above and 2008-2009 Lakers, 9.9 pts, 2.3 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.2 st, 1.5 3 ptm, 42.4% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See 2008-2009 Lakers above

Josh Powell, 2009 Finals, 2007 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2006-2007, 3.5 pts, 2.3 reb, 52.6% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2008-2009 Lakers, 4.2 pts, 2.9 reb, 44.4% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2007-2008 Clippers, 5.5 pts, 5.2 reb, 46% FG

Brian Shaw - 2000-2002 Lakers, 1998 Warriors (2 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1998, 6.4 pts, 3.9 reb, 4.4 ast, 33.6 FG%
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2000-2001 Lakers, 5.3 pts, 3.8 reb, 3.2 ast, 39.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 1999-2000 Lakers, 4.1 pts, 2.9 reb, 2.7 ast, 38.2% FG, above 2001 Lakers, 2001-2002 Lakers, 2.9 pts, 1.9 reb, 1.5 ast, 35.3% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: See above 2000-2001 Lakers

Chris Mullin - 2000 Pacers, 1986-1997 Warriors (3 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1988-89 26.5 pts, 5.9 reb, 5.1 ast, 2.1 stl, 50.9% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 1996-97 14.5 pts, 4 reb, 4.1 ast, 1.6 stl, 53.3% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 1997-98 Pacers, 11.3 pts, 3 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.2 stl, 48.1% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 1999-2000 Pacers 5.1 pts, 1.6 reb, .8 ast, 42.8% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1997-98 season above.

Larry Hughes, 2007 Cavs, 2000-2002 Warriors (5 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 2000-2001, 16.5 pts, 5.5 reb, 4.5 ast, 1.9 stl, 38.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: 2001-2002, 12.3 pts, 3.4 reb, 4.3 ast, 1.5 stl, 42.3% FG
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 15.5 pts, 4.5 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.5 stl, 40.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 14.9 pts, 3.8 reb, 3.7 ast, 1.3 stl, 40% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2004-2005 Wizards, 22 pts, 6.3 reb, 4.7 ast, 2.9 stl (league leader), 43% FG

Kevin Willis - 2003 Spurs, 1996 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: Second half of 1995-1996 season, 11.3 pts, 7.8 reb, 43.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2002-2003 Spurs, 4.2 pts, 3.2 reb, 47.9% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1997-1998 Rockets, 16.1 pts, 8.4 reb, 51% FG

Damon Jones, 2007 Cavs, 2000 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: First half of 1999-2000 season, 5.2 pts, 3 ast, 46.3% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Sames as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 6.7 pts, 2.1 ast, 38.7% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 6.6 pts, 1.6 ast, 38.6% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 2004-2005 Heat, 11.6 pts, 4.3 ast, 2.7 3ptm, 45.6% FG

Donyell Marshall 2007 Cavs, 1995-2000 Warriors (7 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1999-2000, 14.2 pts, 10 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.1 stl, 1.1 blk, 39.4% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2005-2006 Cavs, 9.3 pts, 6.1 reb, .7 ast, .7 stl, .5 blk, 39.5% FG
  • Year on the finals team: 2006-2007 Cavs, 7 pts, 4 reb, .6 ast, .5 stl, .5 blk, 42.4% FG
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: Second half of 2003-2004 season on Toronto, 16.2 pts, 10.7 reb, 1.4 ast, 1.2 stl, 1.6 blk, 46.7% FG

Tyrone Hill - 2001 76ers, 1991-1993 Warriors (8 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors:1992-1993, 8.6 pts, 10.2 reb, 50.8% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2000-2001 76ers, 9.6 pts, 9 reb, 47.4% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team: 1994-1995 Cavs, 13.8 pts, 10.9 reb, 50.4% FG

Mitch Richmond - 2002 Lakers, 89-91 Warriors (11 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 1990-1991, 23.9 pts, 5.9 reb, 3.1 ast, 1.6 stl, 49.4% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2001-2002 Lakers, 4.1 pts, 1.5 reb, .9 ast, .3 stl, 40.5% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team:1996-1997 Kings, 25.9 pts, 3.9 reb, 4.2 ast, 1.5 stl, 45.4% FG

Tony Massenburg, 2005 Spurs, 1992 Warriors (13 yrs)
  • Best year with Warriors: 7 games of last part of 1991-1992 Warriors, 2.3 pts, 1.7 reb, 62.5% FG
  • Last year as a Warrior: Same as above
  • Best year after being a warrior on finals team: 2004-2005 Spurs, 3.2 pts, 2.7 reb, 40.7% FG
  • Year on the finals team: Same as above
  • Best year after warriors team on any team:1998-1999 Vancouver Grizzlies, 11.2 pts, 6 reb, 48.7% FG
Read between the baselines

None of these players were THE MAN on the team that made the finals. Most were role players not providing any real help with the exception of Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus, Derek Fisher, and a little bit of Donyell Marshall. The stars on the Warriors that made the Finals with other teams were mainly just along for the ride (Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin). Erick Dampier seemed to provide his Warrior-like numbers as a starting center for the Dallas Mavericks. Larry Hughes provided some nice scoring and defensive numbers for the Cavs, also as a starter. And Derek Fisher got some nice exposure this year during the Finals with his cluth 3 pt shooting, but still, not a star, but a nice role player to have.

As for the latest stars to depart from the Warriors? Baron Davis is rebuilding on the Clippers. Gilbert Arenas is cashing in nicely for being hurt most of the time. Antawn Jamison is watching him from the court on a losing Wizards squad. Jason Richardson is in Phoenix as the playoffs seem further away with the loss of Shaq and Amare talking about maybe leaving next year. Finally, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy are close to making the playoffs in Indiana, but Dunleavy's been hurt this past season. Good players, but what do they have to show for it? Don't be so quick to bash the Warriors. Hopefully, for their sake, Stephen Curry and Anthony Randolph can do some good things for the Bay Area Basketball fans.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dallas off-season moves, hello Shawn Marion!

(Photo from TutorialDog)
The Dallas Mavericks haven't really bounced back since losing in 6 games to the Miami Heat in the Finals of the 2005-2006 season. After that season they lost in the first round to the Golden State Warriors, and after that season, they lost in the first round to the New Orleans Hornets and this past season, they lost in the 2nd round to the Denver Nuggets. They had some decisions to make this off-season and they haven't thrown in the towel. Instead of letting the Lakers repeat, the Celtics retake the league, the Spurs and Richard Jefferson to come back or Orlando or Cleveland to win their first championship, Mark Cuban opened his wallet and let it rain.

  • Dallas trades Jerry Stackhouse (to the Grizzlies), Devean George and Antoine Wright (to the Raptors) for Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, and Greg Buckner.
  • Dallas signs F/C Drew Gooden for one year.
  • Dallas re-signs PG Jason Kidd for three years.
  • Dallas signs F Tim Thomas for one year.
  • Dallas signs G Quinton Ross (undisclosed details).
  • Dallas signed Orlando C Marcin Gortat, but Orlando matched the offer, keeping him in Orlando.
  • Shawn Marion was signed (and traded) for 5 years/$39 million (average $7.8 mil per year).
  • Kris Humphries is owed $3.2 mil with a player option for $3.2 mil in 2010.
  • Greg Buckner is owed $4 mil with a player option for $4.2 mil in 2010.
  • Drew Gooden was signed for $4.5 mil, FA in 2010.
  • Jason Kidd was signed for 3 years/$25 million (average $8.3 mil per year).
  • Tim Thomas was signed for the veteran minimum: $1.3 million.
  • Quinton Ross' details were undisclosed.
Read between the baselines:
(Photo from reclinergm)
The big deal here is for Shawn Marion who is nicknamed the Matrix. Anyone who has played in a fantasy basketball league knows exactly what Shawn Marion is capable of and why he is called the Matrix. His last 2 years in Miami and Toronto, he was playing on the fly, but if we go back to his last FULL year in Phoenix (granted it was a run and gun offense) he scored 17.5 points on 52% FG, grabbed 9.8 rebounds, 1 3pter, 2 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Short story shorter, he does it all. Here's what HoopsHype has to say about him:

"One of the best athletes in the league, outstanding leaping skills, jumps high and many times in a short period of time [pogo stick-like], drives to the basket without fear, runs the floor with the best of them, great defender, guards multiple positions, never gets tired."

He had 2 let down seasons when he was traded for Shaq to Miami, then traded to Tornoto for Jermaine O'Neal. Traded away from 2x MVP Steve Nash. Now in Dallas, he has a future hall of famer PG in Jason Kidd. It's safe to assume he will produce Matrix like numbers in Dallas. And for only $8 million a year, that seems like a great investment, even if he does fall off in the last couple years of the 5 year deal, but even that seems unlikely.

Greg Buckner and Kris Humphries were throwins in the deal, but that's not to say they can't contribute. Although Buckner isn't an offensive threat, he does have good defense. Humphries who's only been in the league for 5 years is a solid enough PF who could supply some decent bench minutes.

Tim Thomas, who seems to have been on every team in the league and is now a Maverick, can be a dependable 3 pt threat and has some offensive moves of his own. He's fallen off in the past couple seasons but he's played for the Clippers, Knicks, and only a handful of games for the Bulls. On a steady, solid playoff team like the Mavericks, he can contribute, if he knows his role.

Quinton Ross, another ex-Clipper, is known for his defense and can really lock on to players. He's been asked to guard the top scorers on opposing teams (at least during his time with the Clippers). He could be a very nice addition to the Dallas bench. The Mavericks are putting some D back in Dallas.

And last but not least, Jason Kidd, who at 36 years old can still produce close to triple double numbers. He's in the right situtaion with lots of offensive threats running alongside him. Another season of 9pts, 8 ast, and 6 rebounds with 2 steals, and a 3pter isn't out of the question. 3 years at 25 million is about what he's worth. And the Mavs couldn't let a player like Kidd go without having anyone to run the offense the way he does.

Last season, Dallas ranked 17th in DEF EFF, allowing 105.3 points per 100 possessions (next in line were Chicago, Indiana, Memphis and Oklahoma) The additions of Shawn Marion, Buckner and Ross could bring that number down a bit. Dallas didn't lose any key players (Jerry Stackhouse only played in 10 games last season, Devean George played minimal minutes in only 43 games, although Antoine Wright started at SG for a good portion of the season and playoffs, his loss will be reconciled with the new additions). Dallas may have to move around some positions to work out the details in the starting lineup, but they have versatile players who can play multiple positions.

Probable starting lineup/bench for the upcoming season:

PG: Jason Kidd/Jason Terry
SG: Josh Howard?/Jason Terry/Matt Carroll
SF: Shawn Marion/Tim Thomas
PF: Dirk Nowitzki/Drew Gooden/Tim Thomas
C: Erick Dampier/Drew Gooden/Kris Humphries

This is a deep team and Shawn Marion can fit in seemingly without disrupting any team chemistry. And with the supporting role players the Mavs have added, the team is deep with options on both offense and defense. Dallas hasn't gotten close to getting back to the Finals since the let down in 2006. Could Shawn Marion lift them back up? The Lakers, Cavs, Celtics, Spurs and Orlando are all the likely candidates for the championship for the next coming years, but stranger things have happened in the NBA and although unlikely, this could could COULD be a team that gives the league a lot of problems in the playoffs. Mark Cuban believes in this team and has given Dirk Nowitzki some quality supporting players. If he can play like an MVP, if Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion do what they do on offense and defense, and if Jason Kidd can put the pieces together, this team is scary. Oh yeah, and Dirk Nowitzki was first team all NBA last season.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Brief History of the Oklahoma Thunder's current rise from the ashes like a Phoenix Fire Bird

What makes the Oklahoma Thunder different from the other less than 20 win teams of the Wizards and Kings? The Thunder have a future.

(Photo from ESPN)
The Oklahoma Thunder (formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics) had a lackluster year wins/losses-wise but they have what any losing team hopes for to allow their fans to sleep at night: a future. Let's go back in time to see some facts about the Sonics history, starting with their draft history since 2001, leading into a season by season mini breakdown starting with the last time they made the playoffs in the 2004/2005 season.


Draft History:

2001: Vladamir Radmanovic (12th pick)
2002: Nothing
2003: Luke Ridnour (14th), Nick Collison (12th)
2004: Robert Swift (12th)
2005: Johan Petro (25th)
2006: Mouhamed Sene (10th)
2007: Kevin Durant (2nd), Jeff Green (5th)
2008: Russell Westbrook (4th)
2009: James Harden (3rd)

Season Facts:
  • In the 2004/2005 season, the Sonics finished at the top of the Northwest division with 52 wins, good for the 3rd seed in the Western Conference, led by Ray Allen's 23.9 points and Rashard Lewis' 20.5 points, Vladamir Radmanovic's 11.8 points and Luke Ridnour's 10 points and almost 6 assists. In the playoffs, they beat the Sacramento Kings in 5 games, but then lost to the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games. (By the way, Rashard Lewis did not play in those last 3 games).
  • In the 2005/2006 season, still led by Ray and Rashard scoring 25 and 20 points respectively with the help of Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour's 11.5 apiece and 5.4 and 7 assists respectively, the Sonics failed to reach the playoffs, winning only 35 games.
  • In the 2006/2007 season, again led by Ray and Rashard's 26 and 22 points per, the Sonics only won 31 games, not reaching the playoffs.
  • In the 2007/2008 season, the Sonics got some lucky bounce and landed the 2nd pick in the draft and with Portland going for Greg Oden, Kevin Durant aka Sonic Savior landed in their laps (and he turned out to be the rookie of the year). They also made a deal with the Celtics, sending Ray Allen and the 35th pick in the draft (Glen Davis) for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and the number 5 pick, Jeff Green. They ALSO completed a sign and trade with Rashard Lewis, sending him to Orlando for... nothing. The season was a fail with 20 wins led by Durant's 20.3 ppg (Jeff Green scored 10.5 per game). But with 20 wins, you're getting a high lottery pick as well which leads to this season:
  • In the 2008/2009 season, the Sonics changed their name and address and became the Oklahoma City Thunder, drafted Russell Westbrook (4th pick) and were highly questioned on that call when his UCLA teammate Kevin Love was still available (5th pick). The pick was not wasted as Westbrook averaged 15.3 points and 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals. The Thunder however only won 23 games. During the season, they put some more pieces together by adding Nenad Krstic and trading a draft pick (eventual Taj Gibson) to Chicago for Thabo Sefolosha.
The 2009 summer has been event for the Thunder:
Contractual information you should be aware of:
  • Etan Thomas is owed $7.35 million in 09/10 and is a FA in 2010.
  • Kevin Durant is owed $4.79 million in 09/10, team option for $6 million in 10/11, qualifying offer for $7.9 million in 11/12
  • Jeff Green is owed $3.5 mil in 09/10, team option for $4.4 million in 10/11, qualifying offer for $5.9 mil in 11/12
  • Russell Westbrook is owed $3.7 mil in 09/10, team option for $4 mil in 10/11, team option for $5 mil in 11/12.
Read between the baselines:

It's hard to fault their draft history just because they missed the playoffs a lot, but not by so much that they were guaranteed a high pick. This is kind of the worst position to be in because you don't have a shot at the championship, nor do you have a good chance for a lottery 1st, 2nd, or 3rd pick. The Sonics made due with what they had and drafted some OK players in Vladamir, Ridnour and Collison. But they also had some questionable picks in Robert Swift and Sene. They got lucky in 2007 and completely overhauled which eventually got them a "big" 3.

The "big" 3 of Durant, Green and Westbrook (with maybe a "big" 4 in Harden) are all in their rookie contracts. That's why they are paid so little when compared to other franchise players on other teams. Durant will more than likely sign a huge extension in the next coming years to keep him from leaving Oklahoma.

The Thunder though, have been very patient these past few years. They knew they had to rebuild from the ground up and with the help of Kevin Durant (pictured left) carrying the team, they've added some quality complimentary players around him. Instead of blowing the farm and over paying free agents who were available, they really stuck to giving these young guns quality minutes to get a feel for their game. If you want to learn Spanish, you don't open a text book, you go and live in Mexico for awhile and work out the kinks on the fly. If you want to be a starting QB star in the NFL, you get right out there and you get some playing time ala Peyton Manning. The Thunder is taking the same route, starting Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook, their future stars to lead them out of NBA early offseason purgatory and into the extended season of the playoffs. (Photo from Givemetherock).

The deal for Etan Thomas could be due to the fact that the Memphis Grizzlies drafted Center Hasheem Thabeet one pick before Oklahoma. Even so, the Thunder took what they felt was the best talent available in James Harden.

Oklahoma is only paying $50 million in salary to their players and are only on the hook for $20 million in 2010/2011 season. As stated, although this team has its problems in the whole WINNING category, the Thunder do have a future that it can work toward with improvements throughout the next couple years. They have the talent. Here's what Hoops Hype has to say about the big 3:

  • Kevin Durant: Great offensive repertoire, excellent shooter and ball handler for his size, very long and quite an athlete.
  • Jeff Green: Great versatility, good all-around skills.
  • Russell Westbrook (pictured right): A superior athlete, very quick, great first step, very good defender, plays both guard positions. (Photo from nicekicks)
Add to that Center Nenad Krstic's 9 points and 5 rebounds with the hulking Etan Thomas subbing in for him (and is off the books next year for an extra 7 million the Thunder can use to pay their future franchise players), and Thabo Sefolosha who is a good all around player with some nice defense, you get a team that is full of potential and is not costing an arm and a leg right now.

Probable starting lineup for the 2009/2010 season:

PG: Russell Westbrook/Shaun Livingston?
SG: James Harden/Thabo Sefolosha
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Jeff Green?/Nick Collison
C: Nenad Krstic/Etan Thomas

Is this a championship team? No. They most likely won't make the playoffs again this coming season with the Western Conference being so rough and the top teams looking to stay on top for another couple years. But this team should definitely win more than 23 games while making strides in the right direction as far as becoming a playoff team.

Patience and rebuilding are often annoying words to a team's fans but in the case of the Thunder, it figures to pay off down the road. It all started with them trading their franchise player Ray Allen, for a complimentary player in Jeff Green to go along with their new franchise player Kevin Durant. Adding Russell Westbrook and SG James Harden who keeping with the Thunder's theme of playing the young guys, should start right away, will only help these Thunder to keep improving. Other struggling teams should pay attention to how Oklahoma is turning things around, but how do you teach a team to get a lucky bounce in the lotto? Anyways...

As far as the future goes, Durant is likely to get some big money, maybe not more than $20 mil per year, but you never know. Green, Westbrook and Harden will get some nice paychecks but it's important to know that Oklahoma doesn't rake in that much money. According to Forbes, at the end of 2008, the Thunder ranked 24th out of 30 teams in how much the team was worth at $300 million and their operating income at -$9.4 million. Will they have enough to pay these guys as well as some average role players? We can only read between the baselines we have, we cannot read the future. What we do know is that their was a +12 million increase in the team's worth since last year, again, according to Forbes 2008 report. It would be a shame if this team is successful while together would have to be split up because the low market team who made the right decisions simply couldn't afford to keep it together. But so goes the business of the NBA.

But the big picture is that team does have a future. Fans don't have to live in denial about the team's potential. This team has a young core, which if everything goes right, can make some heads turn this coming season.

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reading between the baselines of Orlando's off season moves

(Photo from NachoFoto)
Orlando has been busy this offseason, but did they make some front office/financial mistakes (regardless of the talent they brought in)?

Contracts and ages/seasons for these new players:
  • Vince Carter: Owed $16.3 million for 2009/2010, $17.3 million in 10/11, and team option $18 million for 11/12. Carter is a 32 year old going Guard/Forward into his 12th NBA season.
  • Ryan Anderson: Owed $1.3 million for 2009/2010, team option $1.4 million in 10/11. Anderson is a 21 year old Forward/Center going into his 2nd NBA season.
  • Brandon Bass: Owed $4 million for 2009/2010, and $4 million for two seasons after that, with a player option for $4 million in 12/13. Bass is a 24 year old Forward going into his 5th NBA season.
  • Marcin Gortat: Owed $5.8 million for 2009/2010, $6.3 mil in 10/11, following years: $6.7 mil, $7.2 mil, $7.7 mil. Gortat is a 25 year old Forward/Center going into his 3rd NBA season.
  • Matt Barnes: Terms not yet listed but is signed for 2 years. Barnes is a 29 year old Guard/Forward going into his 7th NBA season.
Read between the baselines:

First things first: Why didn't the Magic re-sign Turkoglu? Turkoglu signed for 5 years and $53 million with Toronto. Instead, Orlando decided they want to pay at least $33 million for two guaranteed years for Carter. With Turkoglu in the lineup, the Magic got to the NBA Finals. Granted the Celtics probably would have beaten them in the playoffs had they been healthy (Kevin Garnett was out), but the Magic had a steady rotation and a game plan. Now they have Vince Carter, which could not work out at all. With Turkoglu, they for sure knew they would make a deep playoff run. Now without Turk and Courtney Lee (who started at SG) they have Vince Carter.

Second things second: The Brandon Bass signing makes sense. Bass will get some significant playing time at SF and had two successful seasons in Dallas. Last year he averaged 8.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in only 19 minutes a game. He's a banger who should fit in well with Dwight Howard playing alongside him. He's undersized at 6'8", but he's a physical player who can do some good things against some of the better PFs in the Eastern Conference.

Third things third: Matching Dallas' offer to Marcin Gortat makes absolutely no sense. It is of course, due to the long playoff run and extra exposure that Gortat received. Announcers were raving about how he's a great back up Center for Dwight. And he got to cash in with a a hefty $34 million and 5 years and a chance to start in Dallas. Now he'll ride the bench for 5 more years behind Dwight Howard. Here are some facts: Gortat for the season averaged 3.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12 minutes per game for 63 games. In the playoffs, he scored in double figures ONCE against Philadelphia in a game where Dwight Howard was suspended, forcing Gortat to start. Against the Lakers in the Finals, he scored 4 points in 4 out of 5 games. In the fifth game (game 3 - the only Orlando win), he scored ZERO points in 4 minutes.

You just don't pay 34 million dollars for someone who produces so little and will only stay a bench player (aka not get any more minutes than he did last season). At least in Dallas, he had a chance to START or get A LOT more playing time. Even Gortat was upset about Orlando matching the offer! This is not to take anything away from Gortat who may have all the talent in the world. But what good is that talent if it's going to ride the bench and only play 12 minutes a game? That's a lot of money for little production. But so goes the extra exposure that a deep playoff run gets you where, if you're in a contract year, you are almost bound to get a big raise. It happened to Sasha Vujacic last year. But he at least averaged some solid numbers for the season. Anyways...

Fourth things fourth: The Barnes signing is a solid pickup. He's a good athlete and can spread the floor with his 3pt shooting. Something they lost when Hedo left.

When it comes down to it, the Magic really bolstered their lineup this year, perhaps with the intent to keep up with the other top teams making moves (Spurs/Richard Jefferson, Lakers/Ron Artest, Celtics/Rasheed Wallace, Cavaliers/Shaquille O'Neal). The main questionable front office move is the retaining of Marcin Gortat for such a steep price for someone who didn't prove that much worth during the season or the playoffs, and will continue to produce at such a pace, thus making him continue to not really prove that worth. In Dallas he had a chance to prove that worth, but Orlando freaked out and matched their deal.

Please watch this video and listen to how the announcers speak so highly of Gortat after he gets some stats by getting some VERY easy rebounds and playing some solid defense. By the way, this is pretty much all he did for the entire game 1: 3 minutes of some easy rebounds and a nice dunk off a pick and roll with Jameer Nelson, something any pick up basketball player at a park can do.

Probable starting lineup for the 2009/2010 season:

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Vince Carter
SF: Mickael Pietrus/Matt Barnes/Brandon Bass
PF: Rashard Lewis/Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson
C: Dwight Howard/Marcin Gortat

Those are the facts. And that's one way to read between the [base]lines.