New Jersey Nets
9/7 Waived Sean May
9/10 Signed Joe Smith
9/24 Signed Eddie Gill
The Nets initially took a flier on May but he looks like he won’t be healthy any time soon if ever. Instead, Smith comes to town. Smith had his worse pro season in terms of PER and minutes played. He wasn’t terrible and it is possible that the deep Hawks frontcourt relegated Smith to a smaller role and caused him to have a much lower shooting percentage than he would’ve had with more opportunities. For the Nets, getting a competent defender and decent player is a nice move. The upside here is negligible but keep in the mind the stuff that the Nets tried to pass off as forwards last year.
As for Smith personally, it is easy to forget that a few years ago he was the number one pick in the draft over Antonio McDyess, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, and Jerry Stackhouse. Smith also won’t be remembered as one of the great top picks either. At the time, he played Tim Duncan tough for Maryland and when TD declined to go pro, Smith took the lead over Wallace, who was considered too wacky. We know Smith hasn’t lived up to his billing but how does Smith actually compare to other top picks? Not too well. Here’s the list of top picks from 1985 (when the lottery began) to 2000 for some perspective (it’s a bit early to look at players after 2001):
(Bold denotes player is still active)
These raw stats don’t tell us everything we need to know but it does show only a few players with less value than Smith at the top spot. Olowokandi is by far the worst of the group and Ellison is the clear second-worst. After that, Smith and Kenyon Martin are battling for that third spot. There is an argument that players with really short careers like LJ, Manning, Daugherty, or Glenn Robinson are worth less than Smith, who has solid play and longevity on his side. But Smith was nowhere near as valuable as any of these guys at the tops of their games when you compare respective peaks, so you can’t rightly say that years of mediocrity is preferable to All-Star level play for a few years and then a flame out. This leaves us with Smith v. K-Mart, which is roughly a push. The outcome of competition will depend on whether Martin can play as much as Smith in his decline phase.
New Orleans Hornets
9/20 Signed Joe Alexander
9/23 Traded Craig Brackins and Darius Songaila to Philadelphia for Willie Green and Jason Smith
9/24 Signed Jannero Pargo
9/28 Waived Jannero Pargo
Depth has been a Hornets problem the last few years and this group doesn’t exactly inspire you. Green will play the role that Pargo once played for the Hornets. Whether Green can handle this catch and shoot role remains to be seen. Green is good at creating shots and not so much at making them. Green actually improved the shooting a bit last year but at the cost of his shot creation, his most effective asset. This isn’t a good bet but the hope is that Chris Paul gives Green easy enough looks to raise that effectiveness and shots at the same time.
New York Knicks
8/27 Signed Patrick Ewing Jr.
9/23 Signed Shawne Williams
Where will Ewing Jr. fit in the annals of sons of Hall of Fame NBAers? It wouldn’t seem that high. Ewing Jr. was slightly above average in the NBDL in 2008-09 but doesn’t shoot well enough to really play in the NBA. For the historical question, however, neither Michael Jordan nor any of the stars of the 1980s and 1990s have produced an NBA-level son yet so Ewing Jr. is near the top of the heap. Still, he hasn’t quite reached the level of Damien Wilkins (son of his father’s former teammate Gerald Wilkins). If Ewing Jr. is going to get a shot/cameo anywhere, it’d be in New York.
9/16 Signed Malik Allen
In his prime, Allen was a moderately useful jump shooting forward. Coming off of an awful year, it doesn’t look like he has nothing left to give in the NBA.
9/23 Traded Willie Green and Jason Smith to New Orleans for Craig Brackins and Darius Songaila
Philly has finally excised Green’s imprudent contract but only with one year left and only by taking on slightly more money in return. In terms of actual talent return, the Sixers take back Songaila, who has his own weaknesses. Songaila always could score in the low post but his rebounding has devolved from mediocre to unacceptable for a power (5.9 rebs/36 minutes). Songaila can still be useful in spots coming off the bench but Doug Collins almost always leans on defenders/bangers in the front court. Ironically, Brackins is another big guy who shoots more than he defends too.
San Antonio Spurs
9/27 Signed Bobby Simmons
9/28 Signed Kirk Penney
Penney looked good in the FIBA Games in the summer but his past history in the NBA is quite spotty. In his two seasons in the NBA, Penney somehow was able to pull off a negative PER both times. Of course, this was in six total games but it is still pretty impressive. As for Simmons, he always hustles but injuries and lack of shooting touch limit his use. He was terrible for the Nets last year but might look better as a defensive role player (a la Bruce Bowen) on a team with actual scorers like the Spurs.
9/15 Signed Francisco Elson
9/26 Signed Earl Watson
As replacement for Mehmet Okur, Elson is really not going to cut it. He’s already 34 and he was never actually that good to begin with. Watson can be the kind of tough-nosed back up that Jerry Sloan likes in a point guard. Watson still can’t shoot but Sloan has given a lot of run to such players back many years to Delaney Rudd and Howard Eisley, and they do play pretty solid for him.
9/25 Signed Mardy Collins, Adam Morrison, Sean Marks
I know they are better than I am but I figure a post-practice game of Horse between these three might take a while and not in a good way.