7/14 Signed Josh Childress and traded him to Phoenix for a 2010 second-round pick
7/24 Signed Josh Powell
7/29 Re-signed Jason Collins
The Hawks flirted with Shaq but ultimately passed on him. This gave Collins a shot to comeback as a third center. It is hard to believe that Collins is only going to be 32, since he has always moved like he was 82. Collins has very little left, basically designated to come in and use a couple fouls on big men in a pinch. He’s probably not quite as bad offensively as he looked in 2009-10 (0.7 ppg, .348 FG%, and 0-2 from the line for the season) but how could he be that bad? No doubt, Collins good nature has kept him around longer than most players with similar skill level would.
7/15 Re-signed Paul Pierce
7/19 Re-signed Nate Robinson
7/24 Re-signed Marquis Daniels
8/3 Signed Von Wafer
8/4 Signed Shaquille O’Neal
8/10 Waived Rasheed Wallace
The Celts are doubling down hoping for another title run. In this case, the price isn’t too steep. Robinson, Daniels, Wafer, and Shaq are all pretty useful and will make make less than $10 million combined next year. Pierce’s deal is a bit rich (four years and $61 million). He’ll be worth it for 2010-11 but it’s anyone’s guess how he’ll play when he hits his mid-30s. Still, Pierce is a Celtic Emeritus and that combined with Boston’s immediate need to contend in 2010-11 makes the deal acceptable, despite the inevitable downside.
As for Shaq, his numbers look much better on paper than an objective observation of his play on the court for the Cavs. O’Neal looked ponderously slow at times and totally useless in the running game. Shaq can still help but there is a very good shot that his minutes will decline from a career low 23.4 mpg in 2009-10. Some will surely decry this part of O’Neal’s career since it is worlds away from his “Most Dominating Man on the Planet” run. Indeed, how many inner circle Hall of Famers had such a nomad phase? This will be Shaq’s seventh team. The only comparable situation is Moses Malone, who played with seven NBA teams (including two tours in Philly) and two ABA teams.
The funny thing is that Shaq doesn’t really get a bad rap for bouncing around teams much more often than the other greats. While LeBron was rightfully criticized for his narcissistic television announcement when he signed with the Heat, you might recall that Shaq put the Magic through a similar ringer in the mid-1990s. After the Lakers outbid Orlando in a huge back in forth negotiation in 1996, Shaq’s introductory press conference showed some of the same self-absorption that LeBron’s recent show did. When asked about the bidding process at the press conference, Shaq used the opportunity to plug his endorsers and look like a hypocrite, telling the reporters: “I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” O’Neal also took the time to criticize Orlando, coach Brian Hill, and Anfernee Hardaway for no apparent reason. But that’s Shaq. Even when he’s coming off as a less than genuine or nice, he just has a likability that other players do not, no matter what he actually does or says.
7/20 Signed Shaun Livingston
7/22 Signed Dominic McGuire
Fun facts about Livingston:
-Despite being a high Lottery pick back in 2004, he’s still only 24
-Livingston still can’t shoot the three (6-32 for his career)
-His time with the Wizards last year was his best statistical run as a pro.
-There is reason to believe that the run is a bit fluky. Most of Livingston’s rate stats were in line with his Clipper years but he somehow shot .535% from the field, while still being totally unable to shoot threes. It’s highly unlikely he can sustain that rate of accuracy.
-Charlotte might not be the ideal location for Livingston. Larry Brown is not known for his patience at the point.
In all, Livingston remains in the category of interesting player to take a flier on but still unlikely to totally pan out.
7/19 Signed Ronnie Brewer
7/21 Traded a 2011 second-round pick to Golden State for C.J. Watson
7/24 Signed Kurt Thomas
8/11 Signed Keith Bogans
The Bulls went very defensive with this group of signings. Brewer is the only one with any real upside. He is still quite young (going to be 25 this season) and looked like a respectable player on Utah. The only problem with Brewer is his biggest weakness, shooting threes (and shooting in general), was the Bulls’ biggest problem last year and may limit his playing time to bench player.
As for Bogans, he’s an older and worse version of Brewer. Bogans is also coming his worst season to date. He’s still only 30 but he won’t be playing much unless things go very wrong for the Bulls.
7/26 Traded Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota for Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions, and a future second-round draft pick
7/30 Signed Joey Graham
The post-LeBron hangover is going to be ugly but I like the Sessions’ move. He is young and was a legitimately solid player before last year. As in Minnesota, Sessions might not have a clear shot at playing time because another point is in town (in Minny it was Johnny Flynn and here it’s Mo Williams). This is less of a problem in Cleveland because given the options at two-guard (Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson), a Sessions/Williams back court might be their best regular back court anyway.
7/14 Signed Ian Mahinmi
7/18 Re-signed Dirk Nowitzki
It was a pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Mavs would bring Dirk back. The extension is big (four years and $60 million) and is a necessary step for the Mavs who are living for the here-and-now. Dirk’s numbers have been steadily but slightly declining since his MVP peak a few years ago but he is still a star and should be an All-Star for most of the extension.
As a side note, Dirk is unquestionably the best player in Mav franchise history. That got me wondering, how many other such players each franchise has on its rosters right now or even how many have a top ten player in franchise history. When one considers statistical output, tenure, and accomplishments (i.e playoff success and awards), who are the best “franchise players” on each franchise right now? When we play this game, remember that accomplishments are on a franchise level, so a good player who has declined might rank ahead of a younger player who been in town a short period of time. For example, Paul Pierce, who has been a Celtic for a decade, beats KG for Boston, even though KG has been better for most of the last few years. So here is our unscientific knee-jerk analysis by franchise of top ten franchise players currently on NBA rosters:
-Boston: Paul Pierce is the obvious answer (see above). On most other franchises, Pierce would be a top three player. On Boston, however, Pierce is clearly below Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird. In addition, Bill Sharman, Jo Jo White, Sam Jones, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish all have arguments over Pierce (not to mention Boston favorites like Tommy Heinsohn and Dennis Johnson). At best, Pierce is the fifth best Celtic ever and could rank as low as tenth. I would put him seventh right now (behind Jones and McHale) with a shot of overtaking them if he ages well the next few years.
-New York: Absolutely no options at this point. They hope Amare Stoudemire cracks the list in a few years.
-New Jersey: The Nets are not exactly a storied franchise but neither Brook Lopez nor Devin Harris are in the top ten yet. If Lopez has one more good year, though, he’ll be close to the mix already (if we don’t count ABA years).
-Philadelphia: Andre Iguodala is definitely not in the top ten, though he’s been around for six years and is pretty good. If he can log ten good years in Philly, he could stake a claim.
-Washington: Take away the gun play and the shoe dumps and Gilbert Arenas is plausibly within the Wizards’ top ten. True, the Wiz haven’t had too many great ones over their long history but the only players clearly on top of Agent Zero are Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, and Gus Johnson. Given Arenas’ problems, you could make a good argument that he ranks below good players who lasted a while and had no problems like Greg Ballard, Kevin Loughery, Phil Chenier, Walt Bellamy, Jeff Malone, and Antawn Jamison. Then you have players who lasted short periods of time but were pretty effective but were injured or had their own personality issues (Rod Strickland, Jeff Ruland, Bernard King, Chris Webber, Bobby Dandridge). Arenas is probably in or around the back of the top ten, though I wouldn’t contest Wizards fans who think he doesn’t belong there because of all of his crap the last year or so.
-Miami: Yup, Dwyane Wade is the Heat’s best player already. Alonzo Mourning was good but was hurt often enough that Wade has played nearly as many games in Miami, while also leading the team to a title and being a Hall of Fame guard. It’ll be quite interesting to see where LeBron James fits into this list.
-Orlando: He’s not as good as Shaq was but the fact is that Dwight Howard has already played several more games in Orlando than O’Neal (or Tracy McGrady). By hanging around town and dominating, Howard is number one by far.
-Atlanta: It’s still a little early to put Joe Johnson or Josh Smith on the list. Check back in two years.
-Charlotte: Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor were close but Okafor has been traded and Wallace has continued to excel.
-Chicago: No one. Derrick Rose should be their soon though.
-Cleveland: They had a pretty good player last year…the name escapes me but no one on the roster right now.
-Detroit: Both Ben Wallace and Rip Hamilton are near the tenth spot. I would say that Wallace may get the nod since his talents were a bit harder to replace when they were in their primes. The catch here is that Hamilton is still pretty good and could pass him. Both are fringe top ten guys.
-Indiana: Danny Granger is already in the fifth or sixth slot and still rising. He should be in the top five by the end of 2010-11.
-Milwaukee: Michael Redd is pretty done as a player but he is still on the roster (for $18 million next year!) and he had a nice run in the 2000s. His longevity and consistency place him close to the fifth slot in franchise history. Andrew Bogut is also ascending but needs a few more years.
-Toronto: It hasn’t been a great time for fans when Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are in your franchise top ten. But in Toronto, some of the names on the list include Morris Peterson, Alvin Williams, and Doug Christie. In this context, Calderon is probably a top five talent (though he probably will be traded soon).
-Dallas: As mentioned above, Dirk is number one in Dallas history.
-Denver: Excluding ABA years, Carmelo is probably the second or third best Nugget behind Alex English and Dan Issel. (David Thompson had a shorter NBA career in Denver and Carmelo hasn’t had the off court issues that Thompson did). The Nuggets depth chart is pretty slim and Nene and Kenyon Martin have an argument to come in the weak end of the top ten, though I wouldn’t quite put them in. Chauncey Billups is also relatively close.
-Houston: Hopefully, Yao Ming can overcome his foot issues. As it stands, he’s in the five-to-ten range in Houston.
-Memphis: A very weak franchise. Rudy Gay is already in the top three (behind Pau Gasol and Shareef Abdur-Rahim) and O.J. Mayo and Zach Randolph already have claims for the top ten.
-Minnesota: Give Kevin Love one more good season and he’s clearly in the top ten.
-New Orleans: Chris Paul is the best Hornet ever already. David West is about seventh in the franchise and moving up.
-San Antonio: David Robinson has a strong argument but Tim Duncan is the best Spur ever. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are also both in the four-to-six range.
-Utah: Stockton and Malone rule the roost but Deron Williams is already passing everyone else. Andrei Kirilenko is about sixth or seventh.
-Golden State: Combine a rich past with a pathetic present and you get no contenders on the current rosters.
-L.A. Clippers: Chris Kaman is much higher up the list than he deserves to be on most teams. He’s eighth or ninth right now.
-L.A. Lakers: The age old question is how good Kobe Bryant is compared to the Laker greats. At this point, he’s really close to the top. I still think Magic Johnson is on top but Bryant is one good season from being the undisputed the champ. (I know Shaq was better but Kobe already has played over 1,000 games as a Laker versus 514 for O’Neal).
-Oklahoma City: Give Kevin Durant a few years and he’ll be number one but the Sonics had enough very good players who played for a long time to knock KD back to about fifth so far.
-Phoenix: Another deep franchise but Steve Nash has a claim for the number one spot. Nash is no worse than third Sun now (Alvan Adams, Walter Davis, Shawn Marion, and Kevin Johnson still were very good and had longer Sun careers). Nash will be the undisputed number one within a year at this pace.
-Portland: Brandon Roy is excellent but he’s been injured and he really needs to accrue some more good years to crack this squad. Roy is arguably in the eight-to-ten range now.
-Sacramento: No one here. Way too soon to talk about Tyreke Evans.
So there you have it, most of the NBA has a player on its roster who is a franchise elite, though only five are arguably the best in franchise history.
7/15 Re-signed Anthony Carter and signed Shelden Williams
7/15 Signed Al Harrington
Harrington will either be a nice bench player or a replacement if Denver trades Carmelo. Speaking of Melo, what should be done about his prospective free agency? The ideal for Denver would be to convince him to take an extension now. He’s apparently refusing and the Nuggets’ best hope is to play out the season and hope to convince him to stay during the free agency period. The Nuggets are not a young team outside of Anthony and if he really is going to leave, there is an argument that they should play out the season and risk his leaving and hope that they do well enough in the playoffs to either convince him to stay or to make enough cash that it’d be worth it anyway.
But the Nuggets should not be afraid to trade Anthony. Remember, Anthony is quite good but he is a more of a scorer than an all-around star, closer to Dominique Wilkins as a player than the uberstars like Michael Jordan. Hell, Anthony hasn’t quite done as much as Nique yet (Anthony’s best PER so far is 22. 2, while Nique broke that number seven times–MJ and LeBron are in another stratosphere). Melo’s a great talent but not once in a generation and trading him will not wreck the franchise.
Having no insider knowledge on Anthony, it seems to me that they should not be afraid to trade or keep him. Pragmatically, they must assess the key questions: (1) how well they are playing and (2) how much they could get in trade for Anthony. I don’t see the Nuggets likely as serious contenders and I don’t think Anthony is good enough that Denver should desperately load up on payroll like the Cavs did with LeBron in an attempt to convince Melo to stay. So, the situation is quite fluid and Denver needs to keep a level head and react when the clouds clear in a few months. If I had to guess, it seem most likely that some team will overbid for Anthony in the trade market and Denver won’t be good enough to resist the deal (Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and picks?). Of course, George Karl is not know for wanting to give up his stars. Given the Nuggets recent front office strife, it’ll be interesting to see if they play this one correctly.
7/30 Re-signed Will Bynum
8/4 Re-signed Ben Wallace
8/16 Signed Tracy McGrady
Having watched T-Mac last year, it just didn’t look like his body could make it through an 82-game season. The legs were not there and the athleticism was not what it was. Hopefully, McGrady comes back with a little more than he did right off of rehab. I’m not too optimistic and Detroit is a poor place to take a shot since they have a bunch of two guards already.