Transactions 7/9-7/17

Boston Celtics 

7/16    Sign Patrick O’Bryant 

O’Bryant was predictably a washout for Don Nelson’s small man offense.  In fact, he barely played in Golden State in two years but did block a lot of shots.  His 2007-08 NBDL stats are also pretty good (16.8 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.5 bpg, 21.0 PER).  Given the fact that he’s still very young and not without talent, O’Bryant is still worth taking a flier on.

 Dallas Mavericks 

7/9    Re-sign Jose Juan Barea and sign DeSagana Diop

7/11  Re-sign Antoine Wright and sign Keith McLeod and James Singleton 

Not sure about this one.  I definitely like Barea.  He may not be a star but he’s a nice and cheap ($1.6 million for three years) player.  Wright has shown he can be a bit player defensively but just will never score enough to be worth much.  The mind boggling choice here is to give Diop five years and $31 million.  Granted the market for centers is inflated but Diop is a defensive specialist and not much else (he scored 6.3 points per 36 minutes last year, which is the second highest rate of his career). I can’t imagine the market for Diop was that competitive.  Also, Diop’s utility really only coincides with Dallas’ win-now strategy with Jason Kidd.  For that time, Dallas already has $35 million more invested in Erick Dampier.  There would’ve been tons of cheaper options for defensive specialist.  Hell, Kurt Thomas or Alonzo Mourning would’ve taken that money for much shorter time.  Granted, the Mavs are going to have cap problems regardless of this contract but why unnecessarily exacerbate them? 

Denver Nuggets 

7/15    Acquire the right to exchange second round draft picks with the Clippers in 2010 for Marcus Camby 

Yuck.  This deal is not quite as bad as it looks but that’s only because it looks ridiculously horrific.  Essentially, the Nuggets traded their center and best big man for nothing just to get under the luxury cap threshold.  Camby is due $16 million over the next two years for ages 34 and 35.  Yes, he just had a career high in rebounds and has been healthy and is blocking as well as ever.  But if you accept the premise that Denver wants to reduce payroll, he is a logical candidate to dump because he’s the oldest key player and the most likely to decline.  Moreover, the horrible contracts of Nene and Kenyon Martin make them less movable and, if they are healthy, they might be able to eat up some of his minutes.  

On second thought, this just sucks.  Camby’s contract is not a huge risk at this point and he was key to them remaining competitive.   Stan Kroenke doesn’t want to pay the luxury tax for a team that isn’t quite a contender, after paying nearly $14 million in luxury tax last year.  Denver’s payroll for 2008-09 is now about $69 million according to, which is right at the limit.  Still, it’s going to be hard for this team to get to the next level if they are contracting.  I’m not sure re-signing Allen Iverson next summer makes sense but it looks like a foregone conclusion that he will be gone.  If this is the path they are looking to take, trading AI now for younger, cheaper talent now makes a lot of sense. 

Golden State Warriors 

7/10    Sign Corey Maggette and sign Ronny Turiaf to an offer sheet 

After losing Baron Davis, the Warriors are looking to regroup.  Maggette and Turiaf represent a quick regrouping.  Maggette’s contract is pretty fair market value (five years and $50 million).  He’s good scorer and will improve the team’s averagish free throw attempts.  He’s also relatively healthy and is locked in for the rest of his good years (ages 29-33).  The only question is whether Maggette’s slashing style will blend with the Warriors’ desire to chuck, particularly because the team is still chock full of small forwards already.  Still, he’s a solid, if not, great player.

The Turiaf signing makes less sense.  Four years and $17 million?  Really?  Turiaf is a nice bench player but that’s a lot of coin for a big man, particularly for one who is established as a decent backup, and on a team where Don Nelson isn’t exactly excited to play big man.  Turiaf won’t kill the Warriors but this is not a good fit or a good value signing. 

Houston Rockets 

7/10    Sign Brent Barry 

 Two years and $3.9 million is a nice deal for a still potent three point shooter.  Barry will be 37 and 38 during this contract but he’s shown little slippage, essentially being the same players for the last five years–a great shooter who pass well but has trouble defending.  How long can a designated three point shooter last?  Let’s take a look at the career spans of some other three point bombers: 

-Reggie Miller has the most three pointers of All-Time by a large margin (460 over Ray Allen).  Miller was going strong when he retired at age-39 and might still be able to play as a designated three point guy.

-Dale Ellis seemed like he lasted forever but he last only as long as Miller (age 39).  Ellis was still great at age-37, leading the NBA in three point percentage (.464%).  He shot well the next two years but slowed down too much to play much by age-39.

-Glen Rice was dogged by injuries that prevented him from even shooting well from distance after age-33.

-Mitch Richmond and Dan Majerle also seriously fell off on three point shooting after their early 30s.

-Steve Kerr played through age-37 and really never changed much as a player in his 30s.  He was a luxury item for good teams but you couldn’t play him if you didn’t have players that demanded double teams.  Kerr likely could’ve played a few more years. 

Given the ample evidence of three point shooters who stayed useful until almost age-40, giving Barry a two year deal is a pretty safe bet.  He’ll also fit like a glove with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady for short stretches. 

Indiana Pacers 

7/9    Trade Jermaine O’Neal and the rights to Nathan Jawai to Toronto for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the rights to Roy Hibbert

7/9    Trade Ike Diogu and the rights to Jerryd Bayless to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts, the rights to Brandon Rush and cash considerations 

From Indiana’s perspective, trading O’Neal is a little sad because he represented the hopes and dreams of the franchise for much of the 2000s.  He was plucked away from Portland and revitalized the declining team.  But O’Neal is making a ton of cash and hasn’t been healthy for a couple of years now.  If healthy, O’Neal could keep the team quasi-competitive.  Instead, the Pacers are giving up and taking back some decent near term talent for the ability to pare off the $22 million owed to O’Neal in 2009-10.  

I’ve always been lukewarm on Ford but he’s turned into a pretty effective offensive player and he’s only 25.  If healthy (which is a huge if), he can be a good point guard at a good price.  I wouldn’t call this an exciting haul for O’Neal but reducing future payroll and getting a good young player is ultimately a successful deal.  The Pacers still won’t be good in 2008-09 but at least they can start rebuilding a little earlier. 

Los Angeles Clippers 

7/10    Renounce their rights to free agents Dan Dickau, Shaun Livingston, Boniface Ndong, Smush Parker and James Singleton

7/10    Sign Baron Davis

7/15    Acquire Marcus Camby from Denver for the right to exchange second round picks in 2010 

Quite a bit of mood swings in Clipper Land.  First it looks like they had a team going forward with Baron and Elton Brand.  Then they are completely jilted by Brand.  Now, they’ve poached Camby for nothing.  Several issues are raised by this frantic pace: 

Is the Baron contract a good deal? 

Davis got five years and $65 million.  He’s not particularly old (28) but he is not the best bet to age well.  While he did play in all 82 games last year, Davis has been hurt for at least 15 games ever years from 2002-03 to 2006-07.   On top of that, Davis has had weight issues and clashes with coaches in Golden State and New Orleans.  Given all that, Davis is significant risk going forward, particularly on a team that may require Davis to chuck.  All these risks should be tempered, however, with the recognition that the Clippers were so far under the cap Davis’ contract didn’t hamper them from making other moves.  So, Davis won’t hamper the Clippers if he ends up being a dud, but there is a pretty good risk that this deal could be hard to move within the next few years. 

How good would Baron/Brand have been? 

Frankly, not that good.  Brand is a star and Davis is an above-average point guard but the Clippers still stink at the shooting guard and small forward and they still are awful from the perimeter.  Had Brand been healthy and Davis played well, the Clipps could’ve peaked at a six or seven seed.  That’s certainly nice for the Clippers, who aren’t usually even that good, but it’s not like we lost a chance to see a dynasty here. 

How good will Baron/Camby be? 

Respectable.  Camby and Chris Kaman up front could be quite a tough defensive team but points will be really hard to come by and Camby isn’t a great scorer either.  As they are currently constituted, the Clipps are team with the potential to win 40 games (maybe).  The chances are, the Clipps may be decide to flip Camby to a contender for some young players/draft picks. 

Is Baron Davis mad at Brand? 


Memphis Grizzlies 

7/9    Sign Marc Gasol 

This Gasol is much bigger (7’1, 265 pounds) than his brother but is more of a bruiser than a skill player.  In the ULEB cup this year for Akasvayu, Gasol had 13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 1.4 bpg in 27 mpg.  Gasol even hits a few three (38.5% in the ULEB).  He should get some real playing time for Memphis this coming season.  

Miami Heat 

7/9    Sign James Jones 

Five years for Jones?  $23.2 million?  Yup.  The Heat obviously think they’ll be good again soon and that Jones will be one of those useful role players.  This is possible but it looks like Pat Riley over committing to decent players.  He’s a nice shooter and a decent defender but players like Jones are readily available for cheaper numbers. 

Minnesota Timberwolves 

7/9    Trade a future conditional second-round draft pick to Philadelphia for Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, a first-round pick and cash considerations  

Cap room…it’s a beautiful thing.  This trade was executed solely to create cap room for the Sixers to sign Elton Brand.  In exchange, the Wolves got Carney and a draft pick.  Carney hasn’t developed much but he’s worth the flier and the draft pick is really the reward here. 

New Jersey Nets 

7/16    Sign Eduardo Najera and Jarvis Hayes 

It’s clear that the Nets are taking contracts for vets to fill space between now and the summer of 2010.  Hayes got two years and only $4 million, which is a good deal for a solid role player.  Najera got four years and $12 million, which isn’t a ton but a surprising haul for a player turning 32 and really isn’t a hard player to find.  It is true that his has a lot of energy and is a good clubhouse guy but I wouldn’t think that Najera could’ve gotten such a long deal.  The contracts terms, oddly enough, have de-escalating salary.  According to the Star-Ledger, Najera will make $3.4 million next year but it’ll reduce to $3.1, $2.8, and end with $2.6 in the final year of the contract.  It’s a good idea but they are still slightly overpaying here. 

New York Knicks 

7/9    Sign Chris Duhon 

It’s not clear exactly the terms of this deal but it has been reported as a two-year contract for about $11 million for Duhon.  Duhon is supposed to spell the end of Stephon Marbury, who will probably be traded or bought  out (unless they decide to trade Jamal Crawford instead).  While the need to trade/dump Marbury may exist for a myriad of reasons, Duhon is clearly not the answer.  Duhon is a good defender and a decent passer but he is an absolutely awful offensive ball player.  He can’t shoot or score and it’s not clear that he can run Mike D’Antoni’s high octane offense.  I guess the theory is that Duhon doesn’t need the ball to be effective, which will allow Crawford to shoot a ton.  In addition, the Knicks (the Nets) have been careful to keep the free agent contracts short term.  It’s not a crazy idea but I just don’t think Duhon is passable offensively to play full time.  As a defensive guard off the bench, Duhon could work but would be overpaid.  In the end, the short term fortunes of the Knicks are not great no matter who the signed to play point guard. 

Orlando Magic 

7/10    Sign Mickael Pietrus

7/14    Sign Anthony Johnson

It’s hard to believe that Pietrus is a five-year NBA vet and 26 years old.  Perpetually, he has seemed like a potentially very good player, with the ability to do pretty much anything on the court.  In reality, Pietrus is at or near his peak and he hasn’t turned into much more than a nice role player who can defend and do some athletic things on the court.  For Orlando, Pietrus should be better than Maurice Evans or Keith Bogans.  The numbers do not reflect this fact but Pietrus looks like a more athletic players with a high ceiling than the pedestrian looking (but still solid) Evans and Bogans.  While Pietrus may not end up being better, at worst, he’ll be as good as Evans or Bogans.  It’s not a bad gamble.

Philadelphia 76ers 

7/9    Trade Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, a first-round pick and cash considerations to Minnesota for a future conditional second-round draft pick 

While not officially reported on the transactions path, the above trade means that Elton Brand has committed to signing with Philly.  I’m sure we’ll revisit this move several times over the next season but suffice it to say that the Sixers have significantly accelerated the rebuilding plan and are now bona fide contenders, assuming they can work out the Andre Iguodala free agency. 

Sacramento Kings 

7/9    Sign Sean Singletary and Patrick Ewing, Jr.

7/9    Re-sign Beno Udrih 

Value is always a relative concept.  League average production for the league minimum is great.  That same production at for five years and $32 million doesn’t seem quite as exciting.  Here, the Kings plucked Udrih off the waiver wire and got a decent guard.  With guys like Jarrett Jack and Luke Ridnour being freely exchanged right now, there was no reason to over commit to a player that isn’t likely to get much better and who could get worse.  The Kings are in a major rebuilding mode right now too.  Cap room is much mover valuable than a decent point guard.  Even if you did want him back, I would think that Udrih could’ve been re-signed on much better terms.  But the Kings have not done well on a free agent signing for quite a while.  

San Antonio Spurs 

7/11    Sign Roger Mason 

Toronto Raptors 

7/9    Re-sign Jose Calderon

7/9    Trade T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the rights to Roy Hibbert to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal and the rights to Nathan Jawai

7/16  Sign Roko Ukic to a three-year contract 

Sometimes having two point guards isn’t a good thing.  Clearly, neither Calderon nor Ford were happy with the arrangement and this fact resulted in diminishing returns from both of them.  For their part, the Raps did quite well to choose the right point guard to keep in the healthier and overall better Calderon.  The deal for Calderon was not cheap (five years and $45 million) but Calderon is not a cheap talent.  Calderon’s stats are pretty remarkable.  He’s a guard who shoots over 50% from the field and rack up assists without committing many turnovers.  The only comparison for a gut like this John Stockton.  Calderon isn’t quite Stock but check their stats at the same age:

Calderon 2007-08 26 30.3 4.5 8.6 0.519 1.0 2.2 0.429 1.3 1.5 0.908 2.9 8.3 1.1 0.1 1.5 11.2 20.5
Stockton 1988-89 26 38.7 6.1 11.3 0.538 0.2 0.8 0.242 4.8 5.5 0.863 3.0 13.6 3.0 0.2 3.2 14.7 22.9

The context of the players is different between the high scoring 1980s and the slower 2000s but Calderon is clearly on the right path to be an excellent player for the next five years and a great building block. 

As for O’Neal, he’s a clear upgrade over Nestorovic and Andrea Bargnani.  But the question is whether he can arrest the injuries and decline of the past few years.  2007-08 was a particularly bad year for O’Neal(13.6 ppg, .439 FG%, 6.7 rpg in 28.7 mpg) and I think he’ll bounce back a bit if he plays.  But the last three seasons O’Neal has played 51, 69, and 42 games respectively.  At the very least, a healthy but diminished J.O. is worth a few more wins and could push the team closer to 47-50 wins.  The only question is whether the Raps could’ve gotten more for Ford, which I frankly doubt because of his spinal issues and the fact that teams knew that Toronto had to trade him before camp or be faced with a complicated political issue with Ford and Calderon.  

Washington Wizards 

7/10    Sign Dee Brown to an offer sheet

7/13    Re-sign Gilbert Arenas

Six years and $111 million while Arenas is coming off another knee surgery?  I’m not a doctor but I’d want to be damn careful before I commit money in this context.  When healthy, Arenas is a dynamic player but if he’s not healthy, he’s not really Arenas anymore.  Hopefully, Arenas stays healthy going forward but that’s an awfully optimistic contract for him at this point.

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