Transactions 7/10-9/22 Part II

Golden State Warriors 

7/27    Waived Jermareo Davidson

7/30    Traded Marco Belinelli to Toronto for Devean George and cash

9/2      Signed Mikki Moore

9/15    NBA fines Stephen Jackson $25,000 for making public statements detrimental to the NBA 

On the surface, Belinelli for George is a “who cares” type of trade.  Their salaries are pretty close but Belinelli is young and potentially useful as a designated shooter, while George is the definition of filler.  It’s not clear why the Warriors would want to trade even modest potential for George but we can only assume Don Nelson decided that Belinelli didn’t interest him as a player.  Similarly, Moore has not been a useful bench player for a few years now.   These moves are not the makings of great depth in Golden State for 2009-10. 

The other issue here is the fine of Stephen Jackson.  This fine surprised us a bit because Jackson’s statement did not seem like an NBA issue.  Jackson’s exact words?  According to Dime Magazine, Jax was a speaker at a party in New York and was asked about Golden State’s chances of making the playoffs.  Jackson responded : “Um…I don’t think I’ll be a Warrior next year. I’m looking to leave.” 

Later, Dime interviewed Jackson one-on-one and he told them that:  “It’s not about a decision I made. It’s just things are in the air right now. I really can’t get too much into it right now, but I’m just looking to go somewhere where I can go and win a championship.”  Jackson went on to say that he wouldn’t mind playing in Cleveland, Texas, or New York. 

These statements are completely mundane.  While Jackson looks a little wishy-washy making such statement right after he signed an extension, players look for trades all the time.  Moreover, this is usually an internal team issue.  What is the NBA’s interest in knocking Jackson?  Apparently there is a rule that prohibits players from making such public statements.  I’m not sure if this rule was collectively bargained or just imposed by the NBA.  If it is was collectively bargained, I would hope the Union received a meaningful concession.  If the NBA has imposed these rule without any agreement, I would think that a player might want to challenge it as outside the scope of unilateral rule making power of the league. 

As for whether Jackson will get traded, I wouldn’t hold my breath.  While Jax is coming off of career highs for the Warriors, he’s owed $35 million over the next four seasons, he’s already 31, and has some past issues that limit the number of GMs willing to take a chance.  The contract isn’t ridiculously huge but it’s a little rich under the circumstances.  Unless Isiah Thomas gets another GM job or a team needs a shooting guard/small forward as a final piece for a title, Jackson probably won’t be moving. 

Houston Rockets 

7/14    Traded a second-round draft pick, cash, and future considerations to Atlanta for David Andersen

8/12    Signed David Andersen

9/22    Traded draft rights to Axel Hervelle to Denver for James White 

The Hawks have owned Andersen’s rights since 2002 and never brought him over.  In the meantime, Andersen has been an effective forward for top Euro team leagues like CSKA Moscow and, most recently, FC Barcelona.  His raw numbers are efficient enough (11. ppg, .544 FG%, 4.1 rpg in 21 mpg).  In watching some his game film, he looks fast and active and can shoot (.404% from three).  His low post moves, however, often seem to end up in fadeaways to the right side.  He can make them in Europe but we’ll see how well it translates in the NBA.  On the negative side, Andersen’s “athlete stats” (blocks and steals) do not look great (0.4 spg, 0.6 spg).  In all, he looks like a potentially decent backup forward but not a hidden gem.  At the very least, the Rockets are filling a bench slot in a creative and cheap manner.  In terms of Australians in the NBA, Andersen has reasonable shot at hitting the third slot behind Andrew Bogut and Luc Longley and an outside shot of overtaking Longley if Andersen outplays his projections. 

Indiana Pacers 

7/14    Signed Dahntay Jones

7/22    Re-signed Josh McRoberts

7/28    Signed Earl Watson

7/30    Signed Solomon Jones 

I have no clue what the Pacers’ plan is.  It seems like they need a rebuild and not take on contracts for the long-term that don’t drive them to that goal.  Jones is a decent defensive role player and not much else.  He was a fringe NBA player coming into the year and looked okay as a defensive specialist with Denver and now the Pacers signed him to a four-year deal worth $11 million.  It’s not a cap killer but what’s the point?  Jones is already 29 and one regular NBA season where he wasn’t even that good doesn’t merit this kind of commitment.  In a best world, Jones plays 20 minutes a game, doesn’t score, improves Indiana’s slightly below average defense to average and the Pacers win 40 games, allowing them to be road kill in the playoffs.  The deal isn’t totally toxic but definitely makes fans wonder what management is doing. 

Los Angeles Clippers 

7/17    Traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson

7/20    Traded Quentin Richardson to Minnesota for Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and Mark Madsen

8/12    Traded a conditional second-round selection in the 2016 NBA Draft to New Orleans for Rasual Butler

8/21    Waived Mark Madsen

9/16    Re-signed Brian Skinner 

Yup, three teams have now traded for Randolph since he signed that unnecessarily big deal.  The fact that the Clipps were able to dump Randolph for cap room is pretty damn astounding.  It’s not entirely clear where the impulse came from to acquire him in the first play but we can all pretend it never happened now. 

Memphis Grizzlies 

7/10    Waived Jerry Stackhouse

7/17    Traded Quentin Richardson to L.A. Clippers for Zach Randolph

8/7      Traded a future second-round pick to Denver for Steven Hunter, a 2010 first-round pick, and cash

8/28    Signed Trey Gilder

9/10    Signed Allen Iverson 

Grizz fans, on the other hand, have to live with the reality that they dumped Pau Gasol for cost only to replace him with the costlier (and much worse) Randolph.  As much as people criticize Chris Wallace, this deal was reportedly ownership’s call.  Putting aside the poor decision making that caused Gasol to be morphed to Z-Bo and the fact that Randolph is owed $33 million the next two seasons, the team did need some scoring (28th in offensive efficiency).  But the problem here may not be scoring as much as passing.  This is is a really crappy passing team.  No one on Memphis averaged more than 4.3 apg (Mike Conley) and the team was dead last as a team, with 170 less assists than the second-worst assisting team, Orlando at 1,593.  To put that spread into perspective, if you added 170 assists to Orlando’s total, they would jump up from 29th in the NBA to 10th.  So, the Memphis passing game is operating a different level of depth (in a bad way) than any other team. 

So rather look for useful players who don’t need to score to be effective, Memphis add Iverson and Randolph to a line up with O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Marc Gasol.  This is not a good team but it’s definitely worth watching how four huge chuckers mesh.  In 2007-08, Gay averaged 15.4 shots per 36 minutes, and Mayo averaged 14.8 shots per 36 minutes (Marc Gasol had a more modest 9.4).  Iverson, in a diminished role in Detroit still put up 14.3 shots per 36 minutes (his previous career low was 16.1) and Randolph hoisted 17.9 shots per 36 minutes.  This year, all five players, if healthy, should get near 36 mpg (if not more).  They  put up 71.8 shots per 36 minutes last year as a group.  Memphis, as a team, put up 77 shots per game last year.  Obviously, someone is going to lose shots here when they are put together but the question is who loses shots and how he (or they) will react to it.  One would think the older vets might pull back a little but these ain’t ordinary vets.  AI wasn’t exactly happy to give up shots on a better Detroit team and it seems physically impossible to get Randolph to stop shooting.  It’ll be messy but fun to watch in a mad scienctist experiment kind of way. 

The only situation that I remember that remotely compares to the 2008-09 Grizz was the the 1996-97 Sixers.  Those Sixers were not expected to be good but had a couple of young gunners in Jerry Stackhouse and Iverson as a rookie, coupled with Derrick Coleman (an interesting comp for Randolph at this stage of their respective careers) and Clarence Weatherspoon.  How did that turn out?  Here are their per 36 minute shot attempts for 1996-97 versus the previous season:

Player 1995-96 1996-97
Iverson      N/A 17.8
Stackhouse 14.5 14.9
Coleman 14.4 14.3
Weatherspoon 11.8 9.9

It seems that the young guys/guards dominated the shots and the most efficient scorer (Spoon) lost the most shots.  The experiment failed miserably too as the team went 22-60 and were 21st in offense (though up from 28th the previous season).   

Miami Heat 

7/20    Re-signed Joel Anthony

7/22    Re-signed Jamaal Magloire 

Magloire bounced back from a 2007-08 where he wasn’t playing at an NBA level to playing like a middling back up again.  He can still rebound but the scoring is weak and he fouls so frequently now that he couldn’t really play much if he was even handed the opportunity. 

Milwaukee Bucks 

7/23    Signed Ersan Ilyasova

8/1      Waived Bruce Bowen

8/18    Traded Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems to Toronto for Carlos Delfino and Roko Ukic 

It’s not clear how good Ilyasova can be but it’s nice to see that the Bucks haven’t given up on him.  He was decently solid as an NBA player at age-19 for the Bucks before heading back to Europe in 2007-08.  I was pretty sure that we wouldn’t see him in the NBA again, let alone so soon and back with Milwaukee.  I imagine that Ilyasova must have been assured a chance at meaningful minutes.  With Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson gone, small forward is very much up for grabs between Ilyasova, Joe Alexander, and Luc Mbah a Moute.  Interestingly, Ilyasova compares pretty favorably to Alexander, last year’s hyped lottery pick.  Ilyasova is actually a six months younger than Alexander and had better numbers in his one NBA season as a 19-year old.  Each of the three small forward candidates have only one NBA season under his belt and here’s how they looked: 

Player Year Age MPG PPG FG FGA FG% 3s 3As 3% FT FTA FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TOS PER
Alexander 2008-09 22 12.1 4.7 1.7 4.2 0.416 0.3 0.8 0.348 1.0 1.4 0.699 1.9 0.7 0.3 0.5 0.9 10.1
Ilyasova 2006-07 19 14.7 6.1 2.1 5.5 0.383 0.8 2.2 0.365 1.1 1.3 0.787 2.9 0.7 0.4 0.3 0.8 12.1
Mbah a Moute 2008-09 22 25.8 7.2 2.8 6.0 0.462 0.0 0.4 0.000 1.7 2.3 0.729 5.9 1.1 1.1 0.5 1.2 12.3

All three are pretty close but if Ilyasova has a little more room for growth considering that he was at least as good as a teenager.  Ilyasova’s 2008-09 stats for FC Barcelona also look solid (in 21 mpg, 10.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 46% from the field and three).  Based upon these stats, Ilyasova looks like he’s in line for some decent playing time in 2009-10. 

Minnesota Timberwolves 

7/20    Traded Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and Mark Madsen to L.A. Clippers for Quentin Richardson

7/27    Traded Etan Thomas, a second-round selection and a conditional second-round selection in the 2010 NBA Draft to Oklahoma City for Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins

8/3      Signed Ryan Hollins to an offer sheet

8/10    Named Kurt Rambis head coach

9/11    Signed Ramon Sessions

9/17    Signed Sasha Pavlovic

9/18    Waived Chucky Atkins

Sessions at four years and $16 million is a very nice signing, though it really makes the Johnny Flynn pick seems unneeded.  The Wolves apparently figured they would draft the best players available regardless of position.  This is generally a good philosophy, though some disagree whether Flynn was actually the best player available to begin with.  With no real two-guard on the roster, Flynn might actually play in the backcourt with Sessions and Sessions will be asked to score more than initiate an offense.  We’ll give David Kahn the benefit of the doubt that he’ll re-balance his roster when the team is a little closer to contentions (and that he’ll eventually find a way to get Ricky Rubio here) but all you can say for right now is that this is very much a work in progress. 

New Orleans Hornets 

7/28    Traded Tyson Chandler to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor

7/29    Signed Ike Diogu

8/12    Traded Rasual Butler to L.A. Clippers for a conditional second-round selection in the 2016 NBA Draft 

We covered this trade pretty thoroughly in the Charlotte portion of the article.  The Hornets won the deal on talent (not to mention Chandler’s health issues) but you wonder how Okafor will mesh with David West on offense and whether there is room for both of them down low.  Both are smart players and should be able to work this out but Chandler, when healthy, fit in pretty naturally.  

New York Knicks 

9/17    Signed Sun Yue 

I don’t expect Yue to make the team.  He barely played for the Lakers last year and even his NBDL stats weren’t great (in 33.3 mpg, 9.8 ppg, .397 FG%, .381 3%, 3.3 rpg, and 3.7 apg, 11.4 PER).  Interestingly, at 6’9, Yue is the shortest NBA player from China outside of Tom Meschery, who was a solid forward for the Warriors and later the Sonics in the 1960s and early 1970s (career 12.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg and averaging maxing out at 16 ppg and 10 rpg in 1962-63).  

Meschery bears remembering as a player and his story is told very well by Terry Pluto in “Tall Tales.”  Meschery’s father was Russian and was an active member of the 1917 Revolution.  He had sided with Lenin, however, and had to flee the country when Stalin won the power struggle.  He went from Siberia to northern China, where he met his wife and they had Meschery in 1938.  Meschery’s father went to American to try to amass enough money to bring over his family but the plan was foiled by World War II.  Instead, Japan seized China and placed Meschery in a internment camp as a young child.  He finally came over to American after the war and picked up basketball growing up in California.  Meschery started out with the Warriors and was Wilt Chamberlain’s power forward and the team’s enforcer.  He later became a published poet.  Despite being technically born in China, Meschery is remembered as being the first Russian NBA player and a bit of a hot head. 

According to “Tall Tales,” Meschery had several memorable brawls: 

-He got into fight with Tom Heinsohn where Jim Loscutoff held Meschery and Heinsohn punched him in the side of the head.  Meschery required eight stitches but returned to the game.  His coach Frank McGuire tried to prevent Meschery from returning to the game: “I stood in front of him and said, ‘If you’re going to play you have to go through me.’  Tommy had that wild look in his eye, and then just pushed me aside and went back into the game.” 

-Meschery also lost it and went after Wilt Chamberlain at one point.  According to Rod Thorn, Meschery attempted to shoot over Wilt and Wilt continually blocked the shot and hilarity ensued: “Tom went nuts.  He dropped the ball and and started throwing punches at Wilt, swinging from the floor.  Wilt and Tom were friends and Wilt was talking to him, try to cool Tom down.  At the same time, Wilt had his hand on Tom’s head and was holding him off.”  Chamberlain’s perspective: “I looked at Tom and said, ‘Who are you kidding?’  Tom would get mad as hell, but he didn’t know what he was doing.  He was blinded by his Russian temper.” 

Meschery acknowledge as much in a 2007 interview with the Seattle Times: “I threw all the punches and Wilt just held my head at arm’s length, while I was throwing all these punches. I was totally enraged and Wilt was laughing at me. I think I grazed him on the shoulder with one punch. Really, it was pretty hilarious.” 

-Meschery also had a famous fight where he reportedly went after Zelmo Beatty with a chair, though Meschery had no memory of using weapons.  He only remembered that they ended up in the stands.  Despite all the fighting, Meschery wasn’t really a calculated enforcer.  As he told Sports Illustrated in 1995: “I lost most of my fights….I hated fighting, and I wasn’t any good at it, but I went over the edge because I was so caught up in the game. But there were players I knew better than to take on.” 

Meschery is currently retired after spending years teaching in high school and writing poetry. 

Oklahoma City Thunder 

7/17    Waived Earl Watson

7/27    Traded Chucky Atkins and Damien Wilkins to Minnesota for Etan Thomas, a second-round selection and a conditional second-round selection in the 2010 NBA Draft

8/1      Signed Kevin Ollie 

Letting Watson go for Ollie doesn’t seem like a net gain.  Watson had a very poor offensive year, basically a typical year for Ollie.  But Ollie will be 37 and Watson only will be 30 and has usually been better offensively.  In fact, I can’t really remember a career backup still getting an opportunity to play at this age.  

Orlando Magic 

7/10    Signed Brandon Bass

7/13    Matched the offer sheet to Marcin Gortat

7/21    Signed Matt Barnes

8/6      NBA suspends Rashard Lewis 10 games for violating anti-drug policy

8/19    Signed Jason Williams 

Interesting choices by the Magic.  Orlando played Dallas by luring them into letting Bass go and then matching Gortat’s offer sheet from Dallas anyway.  Bass is probably the better long term deal.  At this point, Bass can finish and rebound a little and has a shot at being a regular power forward. He’s only 24 and on a reasonable deal (four years and $16 million).  The real question is what will become of Gortat.  Dallas paid him on the assumption that he can be a useful starting center and Orlando doesn’t really need him making five years and $34 million.  The Magic are hoping Gortat continues put up solid per minute states as a backup for Dwight Howard  (11 pts, 13 rebs and 2.4 block per 36 minutes and a 17.2 PER in 2008-09) so that they can flip Gortat for value.  It’s an interesting decision to hold onto to Gortat when he is decidedly less valuable to Orlando then to most teams.  Most owners wouldn’t be willing to sink salary into a back up center to make sure they don’t lose him for nothing, particularly in this weak economy but apparently the NBA Finals run has inspired the Magic to take some chances.

2 comments for “Transactions 7/10-9/22 Part II

  1. October 13, 2009 at 8:12 am

    What do the Thunder gain at all by waiving Watson and signing Ollie? $? Watson a cancer in the locker room disrupting Westbrook? Ollie’s veteran leadership?

    It’d be interesting if you did a comparison of how career backup PG’s like Ollie age, like you did with Nash + Kidd.

    P.S. Nice Meschery story. You always do an excellent job of bringing basketball history into the discussion.

    When you link to old articles are you just finding those as you research? Or do you take them out of a dossier?

  2. October 17, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Charlie,

    Watson was pretty abysmal last year and Ollie’s a good guy. I think it’s that simple on that side.

    There are a fair amount of backup points who made it to the late 30s but they were usually once good/great players. I’ve haven’t seen someone like Ollie really stick around this long.

    As for Meschery, I usual find old stuff through research but “Tall Tales” (and “Loose Balls” both by Terry Pluto) is an essential book for any big historical hoops fan.

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