11/16 Traded Raja Bell and Valdimir Radmanovic to Golden State for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law
As dysfunctional as the Warriors may seem, the Bobcats have a good bit of weird in their moves too. In this case, the Bobcats clearly win the talent exchange and there is a rational basis for the trade but something still seems odd here. Jackson is pretty good all around player and better than Bell in most areas (except defensively). In exchange for getting the better player, Charlotte has agreed to assume Jackson’s contract extension ($28 million over the next three seasons after 2009-10) while Bell is a free agent after the season and Radmanovic only has a player option for $6.8 million in 2010-11 (which he is sure to exercise). Moreover, the Bobcats definitely need scoring and, as a hapless expansion team, they have more reason than most teams to pay a little more cash to make a push for the eight seed if only to show the fan base some tangible improvement.
But Jax is really not a great offensive player and investing in from age-32 to age-34 seems risky. If scoring was the issue, the Cats could have just kept Jason Richardson last year (he’s due $14.4 million next season, the last year of his deal), who is younger and better than Jax. Hell, they also could’ve kept Emeka Okafor too, who was dumped precisely because the Cats didn’t really want to spend money on salary. So, frankly I don’t quite understand how the Bobcats got to Jackson considering what they had before in talent and the previous stance to avoid adding payroll. Putting that aside, however, it’s a decent deal but it is vexing that the Bobcats organizational philosophy changes by the day.
The other questions (which is largely academic) is whether Jackson is leaving Golden State with his reputation intact. It’s easy to see why Don Nelson’s apathy might goad Jackson into such angry public responses. Nellie is obviously mailing it in and seems not to care whether the teams wins or not. But Jackson was bestowed a ridiculous extension by the same apathetic coach and the pot shots SJax and his agent took at Nelson to force an quick trade were probably not worth the collateral damage. Jackson ended up on a mediocre Bobcat team anyway and his whining when viewed in conjunction with his issues in other venues make look worse than even the lamentable Nelson in this case.
Golden State Warriors
11/16 Traded Stephen Jackson and Acie Law to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic
As mentioned, Jackson’s whining after an extension was less than classy. But this isn’t what Warriors fans should be talking about. No, they really should be asking why the hell management decided to give a decent player with a spotty behavior history the extension to begin with? The Warriors can act indignant but this was a pretty bad idea even if Jackson had been a good soldier, which he obviously is not. The fact that the Warriors were somehow able to get out of most of the deal by taking on favorable contracts doesn’t mean this never happened. The decision making process here ain’t looking pretty.
11/13 Waived Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Mensah-Bonsu didn’t play much on the Rockets, who are loaded with undersized center types already, and he is reportedly heading back to Toronto.
11/14 Signed Jamaal Tinsley
11/16 Waived Allen Iverson
We touched on this a few days ago but AI’s flameout in Memphis was not pretty and there is a reasonable shot that no other NBA team will want him. The lesson here is that a team’s willingness to accept a difficult player is directly related to that player’s ability to contribute. When Iverson was playing at an All-Star level, the teams were able to accept his demands for shots, playing time, and his skipping practices but that leeway disappeared as soon as AI was merely an above-average player. Other players have learned this the hard way too (Stephon Marbury and Latrell Sprewell) and have had their careers end while they still had ability to play. Iverson may end up elsewhere but his complaining will make it unlikely that a non-desperate team will take a chance on him and he will have to have an epiphany about his current place in the NBA Universe.
Tinsley is the beneficiary of Iverson’s decision making. Tinsley had a similar useless battle of attrition with the Pacers last year, where he was paid to stay away from the team, even though he was relatively good NBA player. Can he still play? When Tinsley last played in 2007-08, he had a bad year (11.9 ppg, .380 FG%, 8.4 apg, 12.8 PER). Now he is 31 with over a year having elapsed since his last NBA game. If the time off didn’t effect him adversely, Tinsley should function as a decent point guard, something that can help a team where Mike Conley has been awful so far. Tinsley’s pass-first inclinations should also fit in well with the chuckers in the Grizz lineup too. This all assumes that the time off hasn’t hurt Tinsley because there is also a chance that Tinsley is shot as an NBA player. Remember that Marbury was in the same situation last year and had nothing left when he came back. Still, the cost for Marbury then and Tinsley now is minimal so both signings were/are no-lose situations.
New Orleans Hornets
11/12 Fired Byron Scott and named Jeff Bower head coach and Tim Floyd assistant coach
Scott was on a short leash after the Hornets didn’t really compete in the playoffs last year. Once the team got off to a slow start, Scott’s fate was sealed. While I thought two pretty good seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09 bought Scott a little more of a chance to turn the team around, I can’t argue too vehemently with the decision. Scott had been in town quite a while and the team did appear headed backwards for a variety of reasons (some of which were outside of Scott’s control, notably the decision to overpay for three mediocre small forwards). The odd thing here is that the Hornets are replacing Scott with GM Bower and bringing back Floyd, the man Scott replaced in 2004-05, indicating that they were more concerned with firing Scott than finding a coach going forward. If Floyd will be the ultimate successor to Scott, we’re not sure what they see in Floyd now that they didn’t in 2003-04, when he was fired after a single 41-41 season. If not, hopefully the Hornets will find a coach who can work on their defense, which has been terrible so far this year.
As for Scott, his tenure in New Orleans should be looked at as mostly successful. He picked up the Hornets at the absolute bottom (18-64) and knew enough to ride Chris Paul immediately, which lead them to the most wins in a season in franchise history in 2007-08. Unlike in New Jersey, Scott had no vocal enemies in New Orleans at the end but with a feeling that he was a pretty neutral factor to the team’s chances. Coming off this tenure, Scott should be in the pipeline for another job at some point, even if he’s not a red hot candidate.
Finally, Scott’s firing prevented him from notching the career franchise victory mark, as he leaves only a few wins short of Paul Silas and Allan Bistrow. For those curious Hornets fans, here is the W-L list:
Paul Silas 208-155 .573
Allan Bristow 207-203 .505
Byron Scott 203-216 .485
11/4 Signed Ime Udoka
11/5 Waived Desmond Mason
The Kings’ misadventures with Mason as a starter didn’t make much sense to begin with. Mason doesn’t score nearly enough at this point in his career to be more than a role player. The Kings cut the cord really quickly and really hard. Rather than just keeping Mason as a bench guy, he went from starter to released. I can only remember one other instance of a player going so quickly from opening day starter to the waiver wire. That was in 2003-04 when Doc Rivers decided to try a 24-year old rookie Britton Johnsen as his opening day forward. Johnsen played poorly (2.1 ppg, .288 FG%, 2.6 PER in 14.5 mpg) after four starts. He played 16 more games before Rivers cut him. Johnsen had a cameo with Indiana the next season but hasn’t been in the NBA since (he’s currently playing in Europe).
As for Udoka, he is also a defensive specialist and pretty much the same age as Mason. Udoka is not really as athletic as Mason but can shoot a little better, particularly from three (Mason hasn’t made a three-point shot since 2005-06 and hasn’t made more than one three-pointer in a season since 2003-04). The difference is marginal but Udoka is probably a better choice for Sacramento.
11/12 Waived Quincy Douby
Douby shot well in his short time in Toronto in 2008-09 (55%) but management obviously considered this a fluke, given his career .389% shooting in Sacramento. He was not given any playing time this year before being cut last week. Douby is young enough to get another shot but will have to improve his shooting if he really wants to stick.
11/11 Signed Earl Boykins and waived Paul Davis
Boykins return is a welcome surprise. He spent last season with Virtus Bologna in Italy, riding the waive of European clubs offering competitive salaries for NBA bench players. In Italy, Boykins was his usual self (14.4 ppg, 48 FG%, 42% 3FG%, 5.5 apg), scoring and running. He did not get an offer from an NBA team this off season and I had figured that once he left the NBA in his 30s, he wouldn’t be back now. Boykins has his weaknesses (too small to defend most guards for long periods of time) but if DeShawn Stevenson and Mike James continue to shoot horribly, Boykins might earn some time here.