12/22 Fired Larry Brown and named Paul Silas interim head coach
Did Brown deserve to be fired? The answer to this question really depends upon how you define success. Objectively, Brown was successful in Charlotte. He took a weak roster and turned them into a competitive team and a playoff team. The Bobcats handed Brown mostly crap and he got the players to play. In terms of acquisitions/transactions, the roster was systematically eroded of talent since Brown took over:
-Despite having Raymond Felton at point, the team drafted D.J. Augustin over Brook Lopez: Felton was an average point and they clearly needed a real center. This draft pick made no sense at the time unless one thought that Augsutin was a really good prospect (which no one really thought).
-Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley were traded for Raja Bell and Boris Diaw: J-Rich has his weaknesses but he was/is an above-average two guard. Bell was injured, older, and average. Diaw was overpriced based upon one good season and Dudley would end up being better very quickly. A net big loss in talent.
-Emeka Okafor was traded for Tyson Chandler: This was a controversial trade since Okafor looked better on paper. Chandler was not healthy but had a much shorter contract and was more explosive as a leaper. In the abstract, you could make the argument for Chandler but most would’ve preferred Okafor.
-Traded Chandler for Erick Dampier: After one season, Chandler was traded for Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract. Dampier was promptly cut, saving the Bobcats $12.75 million for 2010-11.
-On the positive side of the ledger, the Bobcats did flip Bell and Vlad Radmanovic for Stephen Jackson and obtained Tyrus Thomas last year for trinkets but the general direction of talent flow on the roster has been negative for Charlotte. Continue reading Transactions 12/21-1/16…
1. Good Player, Bad Team: Pretty much the only news in the NBA these days is the perpetually pending trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Nets. There are compelling reasons for both the Nets and Nuggets to get this trade done but some have questioned why Anthony would want to go to a lottery bound Nets team when Denver is a pretty good team already. The speculation has surrounded the fact that Anthony wants to return to the East Coast where he grew up and where his wife can pursue a recording career. Also, Anthony wants to lock in a contract extension before the lockout might change the ceilings on max contracts.
All this makes some sense but still does not explain why he is so desperate to get to Jersey, other than the fact that he wants to get near New York and the Nets are the only team with the assets to get a deal done before the inevitable lockout of 2012. As with the LeBron move last summer, there may be more here than meets the eye. We’ll wait for the actual deal to happen before teasing out all the angles but, in the meantime, I thought we could look at other big trades of young stars who forced trades and how it turned out since 1990 and whether they regretted it. While plenty of lottery draft picks were traded, I could only find two who were big stars who forced their team to deal them:
-Chris Webber, 1994: I won’t review the circumstances of this deal for the millionth time but most remember that Webber was able to force a trade from Golden State after his rookie year. The team Webber preferred was the old Washington Bullets. This made little sense from a talent stand point. The Bullets were not a good team or well run by management, which had not been to the playoffs since the 1980s at that time. What they did have was Webber’s old buddy from Michigan, Juwan Howard. Webber obviously thought that the two young forwards would make a contending team. There were a few problems with this: Webber and Howard weren’t nearly enough to make a good team when the rest of the starting line up was Scott Skiles, Calbert Cheaney and Gheorghe Muresan. The Bullets did add a little more talent but Webber couldn’t stay healthy and rest of the team just wasn’t that good. It’s not clear that Webber would’ve been better off staying in Golden State, which had talent but was poorly run. The lesson here was if Webber wanted a trade, he should’ve chosen a better destination.
-Alonzo Mourning, 1995: Zo was the Hornets anchor and he wanted a huge money extension. The Hornets balked at paying too much after Larry Johnson’s back injury left them on the hook for millions that were not well spent. Mourning and his agent David Falk brokered a trade to the Heat. In this case, the Heat weren’t a great team but offered a chic city, a Pat Riley-led team, and promise that they would spend money. The Heat lived up to their bargain and Miami acquired Tim Hardaway, Dan Majerle, Jamal Mashburn, and PJ Brown and formed a serious contender. They never won a title with Mourning in Miami (until Shaq and Wade came to town) but Mourning chose well. (It should be noted that the Hornets were no slouches after Zo left town and he would’ve contended with him).
Without knowing the precise motivation/goals of Anthony, it’s hard to speculate why he wants the Nets but he should look at the Webber situation carefully. CWebb wasted four years of his prime before moving on to Sacramento and contending. Going to the Nets isn’t as bad as the old Bullets. Jersey appears to have a real front office, some talent, and a sharper owner. Indeed, there is some indication that another star may be on the way at some point but, for the moment, Anthony-to-the-Nets does not seem like an ideal solution for Carmelo at least.
2. Return of Ason: When he first came up with the Mavs years ago, Jason Kidd was known as the best player without a jump shot in the game. Kidd shot .385% as a rookie and .272% from three. He improved his threes to .336% his second year but still struggled from the field. Kidd’s three-point shot varied wildly in Phoenix (37% his first year and floundered around 31-32% in other seasons) but his two-point shooting began creeping up above 40%. The net effect was to push Kidd’s true shooting percentage above 50% most years and make him one of the most valuable points in the NBA in Phoenix and later in Jersey.
When the Mavs re-acquired Kidd from the Nets in 2007-08, Kidd re-made his shooting strategy. Kidd usage rating, which had peaked up at 26% with the Nets immediately fell down to 13.5% in 2008-09 with Dallas. Kidd essentially turned into a spot up shooter. His last two years in Jersey, Kidd shot took 11 shots per 36 minutes and 4.6 of them were threes. In Dallas, he got off about eight shots per 36 minutes but but still took the same amount of threes. Somehow, Kidd was able to hit 42% of his threes, which was a bit above his career average.
This year, the bottom has fallen out. Kidd is shooting .343% from the field and .329% from three, despite the fact that he is still averaging about the same amount of shots per-minute. Moreover, Kidd has stopped getting to the line, averaging only one free throw per 36 minutes, a career low. The other parts of Kidd’s game (passing, boarding, and stealing) are intact but the question is whether this huge drop in shooting prowess is a random cold streak or a permanent drop. Kidd has had cold three-point seasons before (2003-04, 2001-02, and 2000-01) but back then he could score other ways. Moreover, the track record of point guards in their late 30s and shooting slumps are not good. Virtually every single guard who started to lose his three-point shot (or his regular shooting stroke) after age-35 did not recover. Kidd is cut from a different cloth than most players but it is more likely than not that he Kidd won’t see 40% shooting in his career.
1. Spuriffic: The best team in the NBA right now by both conventional win-loss, and SRS is the Spurs. The Spurs actually don’t have the best point-differential in the NBA (at +8.8 the Spurs are second to the Heat, who have +9.4). Going into the season, the conventional wisdom was that the Spurs were pretty good but a little long in the tooth. I viewed them as a potential contender if the Lakers faltered but no more likely to win the West than several other good teams. The 29-4 start, however, is pretty impressive. How are they doing it? Let’s take a quick look.
The Spurs are now an offensive juggernaut. This was highlighted by the Spurs running the Lakers off the court last week. The Spurs victory featured their ability to score more than anything and, for once, they looked like the more spry and athletic team. The Spurs have basically flipped their usual deliberate defense-first formula on its head. Check out the offensive, defensive, and pace ratings for the Spurs since Tim Duncan came to town:
|Year||W-L||SRS||Off. Rtg.||Def. Rtg.||Pace||Playoff|
As can be seen, the 2010-11 are a polar opposite of years past. Sure the Spurs have had good offensive teams occasionally but they were always plodding and slow. The new Spurs are not superfast but are way quicker than any previous Spur team.