Transactions 10/15-12/5

Atlanta Hawks 

10/25    Waive Antywane Robinson, Steven Smith and Jamaal Tatum 

No real shocks here.  Solomon Jones and Mario West won the battle for the last few roster slots, which is great for them, but really doesn’t affect the Hawks much in terms of wins and losses. 

Boston Celtics 

10/25    Waive Dahntay Jones and Jackie Manuel

I was a little surprised to see Jones get cut coming off of a useful year for the Grizz but the Celtics really like Gabe Pruitt and wanted to see what he had to give.  Pruitt has since been sent to the NBDL and Jones is still unemployed.  Jones can help a team that needs a live body and I expect some NBA team to give him a shot, though he’d be a perfect fit in Europe. 

Charlotte  Bobcats 

10/24    Waive Jameel Watkins and C.J. Watson

12/4      Sign Anderson Varejao to an offer sheet 

For whatever reason, the Bobcats did Varejao and the Cavs a favor by breaking the contractual impasse.  The Bobcats tendered a three-year $17 million deal, which is a far cry from Varejao’s original five-year, $45 million deal but enough of a middle ground from a one-year tender to let both the Cavs and Varejao save some face when the Cavs matched it. 

Of course, this entirely unnecessary contractual haggling was spurred on by Danny Ferry and Varejao’s agent Dan Fegan, neither of whom refused to budge off of less than reasonable offers.  Cynic that I am, I figure that someone called in a favor to the Bobcats to come up with the Solomonesque solution of tendering the offer sheet that the Cavs and Fegan could live with.  Thanks to HoopsHype, we see that there are quite a few Fegan clients in Charlotte (Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll, as well as Melvin Ely, who played for a few years in Charlotte).  If you happen to see a Fegan/Bobcat deal in the near future, the Varejao offer sheet should at least be in the back of your mind. 

Chicago Bulls 

10/22    Waive Andre Barrett and Jared Homan

Barrett is a guy I always liked and I would not discount his returning to the Bulls, especially if the team continues to struggles.  John Paxson has not been loath to bring in hustle guys to try to spark the club. 

Cleveland Cavaliers 

10/27    Waive Hassan Adams and Darius Rice

10/29    Sign Demetris Nichols

10/31    Waive Anthony Tolliver

11/1      Decline option on Shannon Brown

11/2      Sign Sasha Pavlovic to a multi-year extension

12/5      Match the offer sheet to Anderson Varejao 

Interesting bit of roster shuffling.  Adams was deemed to be a useful commodity by many commentators (me included) but the Cavs preferred new blood by snagging Nichols, who was just cut by the Knicks.  Lastly, I can’t say I blame the Cavs for declining the option on Brown, who didn’t do much last year.  He’ll still get a year to prove he can play but he’s really got to earn his keep to stay in the NBA past 2007-08. 

The Pavlovic deal is fair at three years and $12 million deal.  I don’t love Pavlovic as anything more than a solid rotation player.  He is athletic and can do a little bit of everything but doesn’t do anything above average, with the possible exception of getting steals (1.4 per 40 mpg) and shooting threes (40% last year).  Even so, $4 million is a league average in salary and he’s young enough to be worth the deal in the short term if he stays them same in talent.  There is even an outside chance that he can improve enough to be a slight bargain.  This won’t make or break the Cavs but it was the right move.

Finally, Varejao’s return ends a battle of attrition that really helped nobody.  The price is fair enough for both sides but jeez did anyone gain anything with these aggressive bargaining positions? 

Dallas Mavericks 

10/22    Waive Jamal Sampson

10/24    Waive Darvin Ham and Jared Newson

10/30    Waive D.J. Mbenga

11/1      Sign Juwan Howard 

I would’ve been interested to see what the youngsters (Sampson or Mbenga) could do but I can understand why the Mavs want the short-term boost of a quasi-useful vet like Howard.  Howard’s game has been steadily declining since hitting age 30 in 2003.  The decline should continue but not before he throws in a couple more decent years.  Indeed, Howard’s top comp in my mind (the equally useful but flawed Armen Gilliam) was useful through age-35. 

Denver Nuggets 

10/23    Waive Roberson, Stacey Augmon, Jelani McCoy, Brad Stricker and Mike Wilks

10/27    Sign Mike Wilks

11/28    Waive Mike Wilks

11/29    Sign Jelani McCoy 

The Nuggets are going back and forth with a couple of players I’ve liked.  Wilks is serviceable back up point guard.  He is short and doesn’t shoot well but if you pair him with a big scoring guard, Wilks can run an offense pretty well.  He was cut because of forward issues but there is talk that he’ll be re-signed at some point.  In the meantime, McCoy has reemerged as a player of interest.  He has been in out of the NBA for a couple of seasons and hasn’t really played much at all since 2002-03.  Since 2004-05, he’s been bouncing around the ABA, China, Europe (mostly recently in Spain), and was in the NBDL when Denver called.  McCoy can rebound and block shots at a decent clip and can definitely help a team short on the front court side.  McCoy won’t be here too long but he may be able to parlay this into another contract elsewhere given the lack of rebounding on several teams. 

Detroit Pistons

10/29    Waive Sammy Mejia 

A long shot to make the Detroit roster, Mejia sat for most of camp with a bad ankle. He has since came and went from the NBDL (because of the same ankle issue).  It’s not clear how long it’ll take to heal but this will obviously cloud his short-term future. 

Golden State Warriors 

10/21    Waive Tierre Brown and Pat Burke

11/17    Sign D.J. Mbenga and waive Stephane Lasme 

Interesting flip.  Lasme is a thin shot blocker the Warriors drafted out of UMass while Mbenga is a giant lumbering shot blocker who is recovering from knee surgery.  Given the way the Warriors play, you would think the much more agile Lasme would potentially fit Don Nelson’s schemes a little better.  Lasme is an odd duck because he presents some abilities (particularly shot blocking) that aren’t readily available and should get a shot somewhere.  As for Mbenga, he may fit somewhere as a shot blocker but this ain’t the place.  

Houston Rockets 

10/22    Waive Mike Harris

10/29    Waive Jackie Butler, John Lucas, Justin Reed and Bob Sura

Funny how quickly Butler has gone from intriguing prospect to washout, all before age-23.  He can still score but it’s not clear if he can rebound or defend.  It seems that he’ll have to hone his craft in the minors/Europe before he gets another shot because the disappointment that San Antonio felt is still palpable. 

Indiana Pacers

10/25    Waive Lukasz Obrzut and Courtney Sims

10/29    Sign Courtney Sims

12/4      Waive Courtney Sims 

Sims lasted about a month for the Pacers and played only two games but the stat could be worse for an undrafted free agent.  Incidentally, did you know that Sims has his own website

Los Angeles Clippers 

10/25    Waive Kimani Ffriend, Yaroslav Korolev and Guillermo DiazLet’s focus on Korolev, he is only the third first-rounder from the 2005 Draft to be cut but his original team (the other two being late first-rounders Julius Hodge and Wayne Simien).  Korolev barely played in his two years with the Clipps but he is still ridiculously young (he turned 20 last May) so it’s hard to know where his future lies.  It would be interesting to see what plans, if any, the Clipps had for trying to assimilate this really young player into their team. 

Los Angeles Lakers 

10/23    Waive Elton Brown, Andre Patterson and Larry Turner

11/20    Acquire Trevor Ariza from Orlando for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans 

For the Lakers, Cook was superfluous with Vlad Radmanovic on the team and Evans and Ariza are also very similar players.  So why not pare down the rotation and acquire a younger player with some potential in Ariza?  In addition, Ariza has only two years left on his deal, while Cook had a player option for 2009-10.  I am interested to see how Ariza fits into the Phil Jackson rotation.  Jackson is usually very particular about his players, freezing out guys you’d expect him to like (Rodney McCray, Ron Harper initially, and Mitch Richmond) and taking a liking to quirky guys like Randy Brown, Scott Williams, and Sasha Vujacic.  I expect Ariza to fall into the latter group but you never know with Jackson. 

Miami Heat 

10/24    Acquire Mark Blount and Ricky Davis from Minnesota for Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien and Michael Doleac, along with a first-round draft pick and financial considerations

10/29    Waive Brian Chase, Devin Green, Jeremy Richardson and Marcus Slaughter 

Yuck.  It’s always a bad situation when you take on Mark Blount’s deal to get out of a bad contract.  In this case, the Antoine Walker deal has proven to be foolhardy and destined to hamper the team for the rest of the decade.  Toine just never fit into a team like the Heat and no one should’ve expected that to happen.  Weight issues aside, a low efficiency chucker never made sense on a Pat Riley team.  In making this deal, the Heat had to bribe the Wolves to take Toine with a first-rounder and cash.  

Putting aside the bad decision in 2005 to sign Toine, the trade works.  The Heat lacks depth and Davis provides some depth while Blount is not quite as bad as Celtic fans remember.  His contract stinks but at this point he, alone, helps the Heat more than Toine would.  This is not to say that either Davis or Blount will help that much but there is some small incremental improvement.

In all, weighing the relative merits of washed up Antoine versus wildly overcompensated mediocre players like Blount or Davis really takes a Heat fan back to the limbo years after the Alonzo Mourning-Tim Hardway run of the 1990s and the Dwyane Wade-Shaq Era that started in 2004.  It was that three-year limbo that chased away Pat Riley in the first place when aging former somebodies got major minutes like Rod Strickland, Jimmy Jackson, Brian Grant, LaPhonso Ellis, and Travis Best.  Not a pretty picture and Riles is going to have get a little more dynamic to fix up the supporting cast now. 

Milwaukee Bucks

10/17    Waive Samaki Walker

Not sure what to say but Samaki also has a nifty website

Minnesota Timberwolves

10/24    Acquire Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien and Michael Doleac, along with a first-round draft pick and financial considerations from Miami in exchange for Mark Blount and Ricky Davis

10/29    Acquire Beno Udrih from San Antonio for a protected 2008 second-round draft pick

10/29    Waive Juwan Howard and Beno Udrih

Yeesh…The Wolves are following the proper blue print and gutting the roster but that still doesn’t make it that easy for Wolves fans to swallow these moves.  The Wolves are clearly headed to the pre-KG lows (29-53 in 1990-91 was the peak of those seasons) and this team could be every bit as bad as those squads.  For the sake of comparison, here are your 2007-08 Wolves matched up with their 1991-92 counterparts, who went 15-67 and were the worst team in franchise history:

1991-92 Wolves

PG P. Richardson 35.6 16.5 0.466 3.7 8.4 2.5 17.4
SG T. Campbell 31.3 16.8 0.464 3.7 2.9 2.1 15.3
SF D. West 31.8 14.0 0.518 3.2 3.5 1.5 14.6
PF S. Mitchell 26.2 10.1 0.423 5.8 1.1 1.2 12.0
C F. Spencer 24.3 6.6 0.426 7.1 0.9 1.1 11.2

2007-08 Wolves (so far)

PG M. Jaric 26.4 9.1 0.495 2.7 4.1 1.9 16.1
SG R. McCants 26.1 14.6 0.427 2.7 1.6 3.1 11.8
SF R. Gomes 25.6 9.3 0.392 4.1 1.8 1.5 12.5
PF A. Jefferson 35.9 19.6 0.506 11.0 1.3 2.4 21.6
C T. Ratliff 26.8 8.2 0.500 4.5 0.8 1.7 14.1

The Wolves are pretty bad this year but the mere presence of Al Jefferson makes this year’s edition somewhat better the older squad.  The 1991-92 Wolves did have a better backcourt but they are not better enough to overcome Al Jefferson versus old man Sam Mitchell.  The 1991-92 Wolves might’ve been an ordinary 20-win team but they traded off their only power forward Tyrone Corbin to Utah for Thurl Bailey, who was bigger but couldn’t really rebound or defend (though he was a nice scorer).  Corbin had been averaging 18 ppg and 8 rpg after 11 games when he sent off for the older Bailey.  It was a weird weird deal for the young Wolves team but it highlighted the futility of a team that drafted two mediocre centers in Felton Spencer and Luc Longley in consecutive drafts.  

New Jersey Nets

10/23    Waive Jumaine Jones

10/24    Waive Mateen Cleaves

10/25    Waive Eddie Gill

10/27    Decline fourth-year option on Antoine Wright

10/28    Waive Robert Hite

10/29    Acquire David Wesley from New Orleans in exchange for Bernard Robinson and Mile Ilic

11/1      Waive David Wesley

11/16    Sign Eddie Gill 

It’s nice to seem some symmetry in Wesley’s career and provides a nice opportunity to review his career.  He was acquired strictly to dump salary in the form of Robinson and Ilic but us historical types remember Wesley’s career.  He was undrafted out of Baylor 1992 and spent 1992-93 in the minors.  He made an entry into the NBA as a backup on the 1993-94 Nets, where he beat out the bigger name in Rumeal Robinson to become Kenny Anderson’s primary backup.  Wesley barely played (only 9 mpg in 60 games) that year but was pretty good when he did (he average 13.5 ppg and 9.1 apg per 40 minutes).  Even then, it was apparent that Wesley had some skill but his biggest weakness was ball handling (he averaged 3.8 turnovers per 40 minutes, by far the highest rate of his career).  Wesley was let go after the season so that the Nets could sign Chris Childs, who also blossomed into a good find. 

Wesley then signed with a Boston team that wasn’t too good and allowed him the opportunity to establish himself as a regular.  Over a three year span from 1994-95 through 1996-97, the team steadily declined but Wesley’s numbers went up (his ppg went from 7.4 to 12.3 to 16.8 in that span). 

I can’t find any proof anywhere but I vividly remember Wesley, when he was in Boston, swearing that he was a better player than Kenny Anderson, who was considered a star player at that the time.  At the time, I thought Wesley was crazy but he did go on to have a career that was roughly equal to Anderson’s career.

After 1996-97, the Celtics were awful and hired Rick Pitino, who decided that he didn’t need any holdovers from the weak 1996-97 Celts.  Wesley got a big deal from the Hornets, where he was a solid starter for eight years, maxing out at 17 ppg (in 2000-01) and shifting from point to two guard without any problem when Baron Davis emerged in 2001-02.  Wesley might be best remembered, however, for tragedy.  In January 2000, Wesley was racing teammate Bobby Phills when Phills was involved in a fatal collision.  Wesley overcame the tragedy and continued to play well for the Hornets (a Sporting News interview on the subject from 2001 can be found here.) 

More recently, he spent his decline years of 2004-05 and 2005-06 with Houston, who played him a ton despite the fact that he had very little left as a player.  Finally, he spent most of last year on the pine for the Cavs.  In the end, Wesley’s career was really the dream career for any fringe guy.  He went from off the NBA radar to a very respectable 14-year NBA career where made over $35 million.  

New Orleans Hornets 

10/25    Waive Trey Johnson

10/29    Acquire Bernard Robinson and Mile Ilic from New Jersey for David Wesley

10/29    Waive Bernard Robinson and Mile Ilic 

We never got to see much of Ilic but it’s safe to say that the big man hasn’t made an impression.  The big man is probably headed back to Europe because he really needs playing time to show if he has any NBA potential. 

New York Knicks

10/20    Waive Allan Houston

10/25    Waive Jared Jordan, Demetris Nichols and Walker Russell, Jr. 

So ends the abortive Houston comeback.  It wasn’t a shock that it would end this way.  He’s older and the Isiah Thomas didn’t really seem to want him around anyway.  Houston is making noises that he may take one more shot elsewhere.  I’d like him to make it but the odds grow longer with each day.

Orlando Magic 

10/25    Waive Kevin Kruger

10/31    Sign Jameer Nelson to a contract extension

11/20    Acquire Brian Cook and Maurice Evans from the L.A. Lakers for Trevor Ariza; Waive Bo Outlaw

The Magic took on a little extra salary for a little more depth with this deal.  Cook has been chained to the bench so far (in both L.A. and Orlando) but Evans has played quite a bit.  If Cook isn’t used, I’m not sure why Orlando would feel compelled to deal Ariza essentially straight up for Evans but it is possible that Stan Van Gundy had some personal preference issue to make the change work for him.

Philadelphia 76ers 

10/22    Waive Derrick Byars

12/4      Replace president and general manager Billy King with Ed Stefnaski

While there is ample reason to can King, I’m not sure why the firing was needed right now.   King’s worst moves are in the past and he was trying to clean up the mess.  I can only venture a guess that the Sixers had specifically targeted Stefnaski and were waiting for permission from the Nets to snag the local guy.  Stefnaski now gets the fun task of rebuilding with cap room and low expectations.  After this season, Chris Webber ($19 million), Aaron McKie ($7 million), and Kevin Ollie ($3.4 million) all come off of the cap, combined with the some other smaller contracts will shrink the payroll from $71.8 million this season to $39.4 million next year and be in a position to buy a good player or two and hit on a lottery pick.  It won’t be easy but Stefnaski can’t help to at least give the fans a bit of hope. 

For the short term, Andre Miller needs to be dealt.  The team doesn’t need to win this year and Miller has some value to a contender (only one -year and $10 million left on his deal after this year).  Given his favorable contract status and his ability to help a contender, Miller can bring back prospect and/or be used to dump a bad contract (i.e. Willie Green). 

Phoenix Suns

10/24    Waive Richie Frahm 

I’ve always thought Frahm could help an NBA team off the bench as a shooter but he couldn’t make a dent in Phoenix, which wasn’t exactly the ideal place for him to try to get back into the league.  He should be headed back to Italy as a second option.

Sacramento Kings 

11/1    Sign Beno Udrih

11/15  Waive Orien Greene 

Nice to see that Udrih’s weak 2006-07 was the outlier in an otherwise sold career.  So far, he’s looked quite solid in Sacramento (14.3 ppg, 4.0 apg in 35.2 mpg).  It ain’t exactly Mike Bibby production but Udrih at $500,000 looks a lot better than Bibby at $13.5 million.  Even if Udrih hadn’t looked good, the Kings were looking to dump Bibby’s contract.  Now, the Kings probably can’t wait to try to pawn him off on a desperate contender.

San Antonio Spurs 

10/19    Waive Anthony Lever-Pedroza

10/24    Waive Keith Langford and Kris Lang

10/27    Waive Marcus Williams

10/29    Acquire a protected 2008 second-round draft pick from Minnesota for Beno Udrih

11/2      Sign Tim Duncan to a multi-year extension 

Despite the fact that TD has two more years left on his contract after this year at a total of $43 million, Duncan and the Spurs came to an agreement to tack on two more seasons (2010-11 and 20011-02) at $40 million for ages 34 and 35.  That’s actually a pay cut off of his current pace but the Spurs assume the risk that Duncan doesn’t decline too much over the next two seasons.  It’s a nice little compromise that demonstrates how teams and players can work together, a nice counterpoint to the Vearjao-Cavs death match.

In terms of value, the deal isn’t without risk for the Spurs but most of Duncan’s comps for his current level of performance (Bob Lanier, Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) held value to age-36.  In fact, age-35 or 36 was exactly when some of the lost significant value.  This is a short way of saying that the deal, while not foolproof, is eminently sensible.  Even if it blows up in their face, the Spurs could do worse than committing to the best player in franchise history (apologies to the Admiral).

Seattle SuperSonics 

10/22    Waive Jermaine Jackson 

Yes, he’s still around trying to find his next NBA gig but at age 31, a return engagement is becoming harder to get. 

Toronto Raptors

10/29    Waive Luke Jackson

Jackson wasn’t the first 2004 first rounder to be out of the NBA (Pavel Podkolzin) but he’s the highest to be bounced out so far.  Jackson should still get another shot as he was decent for the Raptors last year.

Utah Jazz

10/22    Waive Damone Brown and Donnell Harvey

10/29    Waive Kevin Lyde

No big names here.  Harvey was respectable for a few years in the early 2000s but he hasn’t had a real gig in the NBA since 2003-04.  

Washington Wizards 

10/21    Waive Donell Taylor and Tony Massenburg

10/24    Waive Mike Hall 

We were all following Massenburg’s bid to break the record for most teams played for by a single player (he was tied with Chucky Brown and Jim Jackson).  Alas, Mass is apparently running on fumes, which isn’t surprising since he didn’t have that much gas to begin with.  It was a laudable (and quirky) goal.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone does give him a gimmick 10-day contract just to break the record a la Minnie Minoso. At that point, we will all be able to debate the legitimacy of Massenburg’s uber-journeyman status.

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