Transactions 8/18-10/15

Atlanta Hawks

10/1    Sign Antwayne Robinson, Steven Smith, Jamaal Tatum and Mario West

Not much here, just cutting of the fringe guys at the end of the roster.  In other Hawks news, Marvin Williams has looked quite good so far this preseason (19 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Speedy Claxton hasn’t (2 ppg and .222 FG% in 20  mpg so far).

Boston Celtics

9/27    Sign James Posey

9/28    Sign Esteban Batista and Dahntay Jones

The natural consequence of the Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen acquisitions was to make Boston bereft of depth.  Signing Posey gives them a very average player, which is a perfectly fine thing to have, especially on the cheap (2 years and $7 million).  Jones isn’t great (he can’t pass and fouls too much) but he shot okay and can jump and he’s even cheaper than Posey ($800,000 for one year).  Finally, Batista played very well in the FIBA games but he’s looked pretty bad with the Hawks.  The hope is that he can maybe show a decent little peak a la Primoz Brezec, another limited big guy who proved himself quasi-useful.  In all, this is a decent haul.  It doesn’t solve the Celts problems but Posey and maybe Jones will get some key minutes.

Charlotte Bobcats

9/29    Re-sign Jeff McInnis

Not sure I understand giving McInnis $1.2 million where he has been steadily declining.  At 33, he can’t really score anymore and he never could defend.  So how does he fit in on a young team like the Cats?  I suppose having a veteran back up for Raymond Felton makes sense.  But they already had a much better veteran in Brevin Knight, who they cut to save money.  Check their stats last year:

Knight 28.3 9.1 0.419 0.056 2.6 6.6 1.5 2.1 14.3
McInnis 18.5 4.3 0.392 0.125 1.6 3.3 0.4 1.1 7.7

And Knight has been significantly better for several years now AND he’s a year young.  Well, BK is now makes $2 million from the Clipps, as well as $1.5 million to NOT play for the Cats.  That just seems like poor roster management.  It won’t kill Charlotte but it is not a good indicator that the Cats know what they are doing.

Chicago Bulls

10/2    Re-sign Andre Barrett and sign Joseph Blair, Justin Cage, Thomas Gardner and Jared Homan

10/8    Waive Justin Cage

10/10  Waive Joseph Blair

The cuts aren’t really consequential to the Bulls’ success in 2007-08 but in reading up we did find a nice article by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that told a little bit about Blair, who is a pretty interesting guy.  In brief, Blair is your typical vet who had a short stint in the NBA in the mid-1990s and has played overseas ever since.  Blair has made the most of life overseas (check his own site here) and he certainly is a guy worth expending a little psychic energy to pull for in the future.

Cleveland Cavaliers

9/29    Sign Devin Brown

9/29    Trade David Wesley to New Orleans for Cedric Simmons

10/12  Waive Chet Mason

A very nice week for Danny Ferry.  He’s in the midst of stand off with restricted free agents Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic.  Both these guys want big money but have no leverage because no team is willing to attempt to sign them when they know the Cavs can match any decent offer.  As such, both players are holding out to create a little bad publicity for Ferry for keeping some key pieces out of training camp.

In this case, Brown is absolutely comparable to Pavlovic.  Yes, Pavlovic is younger and has the benefit of already showing he fits the Cavs system but Brown takes away any pressure to overbid or cave in.  This is much less true with Simmons replacing Varejao.  Simmons is a big young forward who was not great as a rookie in New Orleans.  Simmons can’t really replace Varejao but a 21-year old big man with a live body is always a nice player to invest in, especially when all it costs is the decrepit Wesley.

Dallas Mavericks

8/31    Waive Pops Mensah-Bonsu

9/12    Sign Devin Harris to an extension through 2012-13

9/29    Trade Greg Buckner to Minnesota for Trenton Hassell

10/1    Sign Darvin Ham, Jared Newson and Jamal Sampson

The biggest news is locking up Harris for five years at $42 million.  In looking Harris’ stats at age-23, they do not scream star (he averaged 15.6 pts, 5.7 asts per 40 mpg last year).  Harris does look at least an average point guard and more likely an above-average point.  In that respect, $8 or $9 million is the standard rate for a pretty good point, especially one who won’t hit 30 until after this contract expires.  In short, it’s the ideal contract–not ridiculous and invested in a player who is not likely to decline.

Trading Buckner for Hassell is one of those moves to make you shrug.  They both are solely defensive guys with Hassell three years younger and slightly more expensive.  Buckner is 31 and has four years left for a total of $16 million and Hassell is 28 and has three years left at $13 million total.  So the Mavs got the younger and cheaper (total deal–not per annum).  Of course, the victory is minor one, akin to a couple of brokers trading penny stocks that they both bought for dollars per share.  But a minor victory is still a victory.

Finally, Ham’s reemergence is a fairly surprising story.  He was working for NBA-TV last year after the Nets cut him in training camp and I was pretty sure he was done.  Avery Johnson has made some noise that Ham has a shot of making the team.  In reality, Sampson is the much better player (a very good rebounder) but it’s not clear that either will make the squad.

Denver Nuggets

8/31    Sign Anthony Carter

9/10    Trade Reggie Evans and the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez to Philadelphia for Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones

10/1    Sign Jelani McCoy, Anthony Roberson, Alvin Jones and Brad Stricker

10/3    Sign Stacey Augmon

Trading Evans for Hunter is one of those interesting trades in that there couldn’t be two more opposite power forwards.  Hunter is a string bean shot-blocker and Evans is the short, brawny rebounder.  Hunter seems to duplicate Marcus Camby’s skill set, albeit on a much smaller scale but he is a good deal cheaper than Evans (who is locked up for four years versus three for Hunter).  In addition, Evans is easily replaced by Nene and a theoretically healthy Kenyon Martin.  Presumably, Hunter passed a physical but I do recall that the Sixers tried to trade Hunter to the Hornets in February 2006 only to have Hunter fail the physical.  It’s not clear why Hunter failed the physical, though he did have some major knee surgery in 2002.  He’s been pretty healthy ever since and you don’t know the standard of caution the Hornets’ doctor used in his report but the knee issue is one that bears watching.

Carter is back after playing a few games with Denver last year, no doubt to be a defense first point who can blend well with Allen Iverson.  Augmon is another defensive-oriented signing, though I can’t imagine he as anything left at age-39.  No one picked up Augmon last year and he hasn’t been a real contributor since the early 2000s.  I don’t expect Augmon will make the team but it’s theoretically possible that the Nuggets could offer the worst offensive backcourt of All-Time of Carter and Augmon.  Hell, they would’ve been the worst offensive backcourt of the year 2000, seven years later the possibilities boggle the mind.

Detroit Pistons

10/1    Sign Gerald Fitch and extend the contract of Jason Maxiell

10/15  Waive Gerald Fitch

Maxiell is a young player with some promise and the extension is pretty cheap so this is pretty much a no-brainer.  The interesting point here is that Joe Dumars has been so remarkable with late picks and terrible with the lottery picks.  Check his drafting record:

Year    Pick

2000    14th overall, Mateen Cleaves

2001    9th overall, Rodney White

2002    23rd overall, Tayshaun Prince

2003    2nd overall, Darko Milicic

25th overall, Carlos Delfino

2004    No first-rounder

2005    26th overall, Jason Maxiell

2006    No first-rounder

The picks have been successful almost inversely proportionate with pick number.  Prince is the best pick and Maxiell could be pretty good (Delfino is okay).  The lottery picks, Cleaves, White, and Darko are an ugly trio.  Dumars has been so good in almost every other facet of his job but you have to wonder where the team might be if they cashed in on even one of the high picks.

Golden State Warriors

9/16    Sign coach Don Nelson to a new contract

9/20    Waive Sarunas Jasikevicius

9/24    Sign Troy Hudson

10/1    Sign Tierre Brown, Pat Burke and Carlos Powell

10/1    Re-sign Mickael Pietrus

Jasikevicius was bought out and is heading back to Europe for a big deal in Spain.  It’s a shame that he couldn’t find the right spot in the NBA but he showed himself to be what we expected, a pretty good shooter with little ball handling and defensive skills.  While you could note that Indiana and Golden State were bad places for him to ply his skill-set, Jasikevicius definitely could’ve cherry picked his team a little better.  It seemed Cleveland made the most sense when he was a free agent but he couldn’t resist Indiana’s bigger deal.

In a more general sense, it’s clear that bringing in Euros in  by their late 20s or early 30s doesn’t work very well.  For one thing, there is usually and adjustment factor for the player and the team.  Sitting for a year, without promise of playing time in the future is tough for a player to accept when he would be in the prime of his Euro career.  The NBA landscape is littered with fully veteran Euros who had brief cameos before leaving the U.S. frustrated.

With the notable exception of Arvydas Sabonis (who was so good he is an outlier), almost no Euros have had serious success in the U.S. when coming over after age 28.  Sure some of these older Euros were never great to begin with (see, eg, Antoine Rigaudeau, Zarko Paspalj) but Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Manu Ginobili, and Dino Radja, were all pretty young when they came over (none was older than 26 at the time).  I think the Euro stars may recognize this point when some of the big stars of the last few years (Dejan Bodiroga and Dejan Tomasevic) never came State-side.  On the other hand, Fabricio Oberto and Jorge Garbajosa were very average but earned regular playing time last year despite being older players.  So hopefully, NBA coaches are at least given these guys a shot more than they have (notwithstanding the Vassilis Spanoulis Affair).

Unlike Jasikevicius, Troy Hudson’s one-on-one kamikaze style will be a perfect fit with Don Nelson.  Hudson also comes at $1.6 million for one year.  By way of contrast, after their buyout, the Wolves are on the hook for over $12 million to Hudson for the next two season.  Guess they called the market for Hudson a bit incorrectly.

Finally, Nellie’s contractual dabbling with the Warriors is also finally over.  Nelson had an out on his three-year deal after last season and figured he had maximum leverage to get a raise after a great playoff run.  Nellie demand that his contract be raised in price and that the third year become guaranteed.  He got the raise (form $3.1 million per to $5.1 million) but the Warriors refused to give the guarantee for year three.  In the end, Nelson admitted that “I blinked.”  Naturally, the Warriors correctly intuited the Nelson wasn’t going to give up a chance to coach a team he had so quickly molded to his liking at an age (67) where this is likely his last shot to coach.  Still, Nellie was able to squeeze at least another $2 million from the team, which seems like a fair compromise.

For all his country bumpkin aesthetic, Nelson is very savvy on contractual and boardroom issues.  In fact, he rarely has ever left a job without boardroom drama.  Nelson first became an assistant coach with Milwaukee in 1976.  At the time, he had just retired and had no idea what he wanted to do and was organizing barnstorming games.  His old Celtic teammate and then Milwaukee GM gave Nellie a shot.  Nelson ultimately gained control of the team and coach and GM, a process that Embry swears was caused by Nellie backstabbing Embry.  By the time he resigned in 1987, he and owner Herb Kohl were at each other’s throat so much that Kohl was threatening to block Nelson from coaching elsewhere.  Nelson took a front office job with Golden State and Kohl was arguing that Nellie could not take any job as coach or make personnel decisions.  It took six months, but Kohl released Nelson for a second-rounder (and possibly some cash).

When Nellie was canned by the Warriors in 1994, owner Chris Cohan ended up suing him because he felt that Nellie’s New York Knick contract offset any money that Cohan might still owe.  Nellie ended up winning another $2 million at the end of that litigation.  Of course, Nellie’s time in New York and Dallas were also pretty eventful. Most notably, Nellie has litigation pending with Mark Cuban about whether the rest of Nelson’s Maverick deal is due and payable.  What do we learn from all this?  (1) Owners are pretty sophisticated and not particularly nice and (2) so’s Nellie.

Indiana Pacers

10/1    Waive Darrell Armstrong

10/2    Sign Lukasz Obrzut and Courtney Sims

Recognizing that the Pacers are entering a potentially painful rebuild, Armstrong had no place on the roster.  May as well give the older guy a chance to compete with a playoff team.

Los Angeles Clippers

8/20    Waive Will Conroy

8/29    Sign Ruben Patterson

10/1    Sign Marcus Douthit and Kimani Friend

10/2    Re-sign Yaroslav Korolev and sign Donell Williams

10/3    Sign Dan Dickau

10/8    Waive Donell Williams

10/11   Waive Marcus Douthit

Patterson is a nice fit here because the team has been so poor defensively, particularly at small forward.  Patterson is also coming off of a career-high offensive year, so it’s not like he’ll hurt on any end.  The only worries with Patterson have been extracurricular in nature (though his kept himself pretty clean for several years now).

Los Angeles Lakers

8/22    Sign Larry Turner

10/1    Sign Andre Patterson

This isn’t exactly the help that Kobe’s looking for.  Turner was a part-time center for Tennessee State last year, so making the Lakers is a pretty big stretch.  Patterson is a more old school addition.  Patterson is a forward out of Indiana from 1998.  He had a cameo with the Wolves in the late 1990s but hasn’t played a regular season NBA game since.

Memphis Grizzlies

9/28    Sign Dontell Jefferson and Kasib Powell

10/3    Waive Kasib Powell

Not much to discuss here either.  Jefferson played last year in the NBDL and was not great (9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.7 apg in 23 mpg).  He has little to no chance of making the Grizz considering their glut of guards.

Miami Heat

9/24    Sign Alexander Johnson

9/25    Sign Brian Chase

Johnson is a nice pickup for the Heat.  He’s a bona fide power forward and could probably start in the next year or two.  Here, he’ll play behind Udonis Haslem (another power forward find for the Heat).  Given Shaq’s injury problems and Antoine Walker’s general decline, Johnson should play plenty this season.

Milwaukee Bucks

9/11    Sign Ramon Session

9/18    Sign Royal Ivey

9/20    Matches offer sheet to Charlie Bell

9/24    Waive Lynn Greer and sign Michael Ruffin

9/25    Sign Samaki Walker

The bidding war over a decent shooting guard like Bell was a little surprising, but the Bucks decided that five years and $18 million isn’t a lot of cash but you never like to give too many years to a role player.  In the short-term future, Bell should be useful enough for the Bucks a la Luscious Harris or Kevin Edwards.

Minnesota Timberwolves

9/26    Sign John Edwards

9/29    Trade Trenton Hassell to Dallas for Greg Buckner

9/30    Sign Chris Richard

We went over the Hassell/Buckner swap up in the Dallas section.  To the extent that there is a winner on this deal, it ain’t the T-Wolves.

New Jersey Nets

9/10    Sign Malik Allen

10/1    Sign Mateen Cleaves, Rod Benson, Eddie Gill and Jumaine Jones

10/9    Sign Darrell Armstrong

There were questions coming into the season about Marcus Williams’ ability to backup Jason Kidd.  Now that Williams is out for 6-8 weeks or so, the Nets really need something.  Armstrong is an interesting attempt to fix the hole.  Armstrong had an uncharacteristically strong season last year at age-38.  He hadn’t broken 33% shooting in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and looked like he could no longer create a shot sufficient to score in the NBA.  Armstrong shot .414% from the field last year and raised his three point shooting to a decent .336%, his best three shooting since 2002-03.  The question is whether Armstrong can shoot somewhere near this percentage in 2007-08.  At age 39, Armstrong is in unchartered waters.  Most of his point guard comps at age-38 (Gary Payton, Terry Porter) didn’t make it to age-39 and the one who did (John Stockton) is clearly not anything like Armstrong.  So, another good year from Armstrong seems unlikely.

New Orleans Hornets

9/13    Sign Melvin Ely

9/29    Trade Cedric Simmons to Cleveland for David Wesley

10/1    Sign Ryan Bowen, Trey Johnson, Anthony Richardson and Eric Chenowith

10/11  Waive Eric Chenowith and Anthony Richardson

By dumping Simmons for Wesley’s non-guaranteed contract, the Hornets saved a bit of money but came to the conclusion that Simmons was not going to develop after only one season.  In the end, it just means the Hornets punted on a relatively high draft pick, which is a net loss at the end of the day.  As for the other moves, Ely is always a decent bench guy and he should.  Of the roster fodder, Bowen’s hustle actually seems to land him NBA gigs, despite an utter lack of offensive ability.

New York Knicks

10/1    Sign Nichols, Jared Jordan, Walker Russell, Jr. and Roderick Wilmont

10/2    Waive Dan Dickau

10/10  Sign Allan Houston

The Houston comeback has been a weird story from the get go.  Houston is 36 and, assuming he can still play, really only helps a finite number of teams.  The Knicks, a fringe playoff team with tons of guards, are clearly a terrible fit.  It appears that Houston’s desire is to only play near his family in Connecticut limited his initial choices to the Knicks and the Nets (who have no roster space since they signed Darrell Armstrong).  Houston seems to realize that his chances with the Knicks aren’t great.  It’s possible that Houston is using the Knicks as a chance to showcase his comeback for playoff contenders later in the year.  In the end, this is not too big a story.  The best possible outcome is that Houston ends up in Cleveland or Denver or some other good team that needs someone to shoot for 15-20 minutes per game.

Orlando Magic

9/24    Adonal Foyle

9/27    Sign Marcin Gortat

10/11  Waive Torrell Martin

Finally, Foyle is playing on a contract (1 year and $1.3 million) commensurate with his ability.  Foyle is actually a useful enough backup center at this point.  He won’t actually be great but he’ll be solid.  It’s a real stretch to start him, however, and the Magic may need that much time now that Tony Battie is out for the year.  They don’t have much to back up Foyle.  Gortat is a 7-footer from Poland who played well in the summer league but looks pretty raw.  It’s clear that Orlando needs another big man if they intend on competing into the second round.

Philadelphia 76ers

9/10    Trade Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones to Denver for Reggie Evans and the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez

9/11    Sign Derrick Byars and Herbert Hill

9/12    Sign Calvin Booth

10/9    Waive Shagari Alleyne

While Hunter for Evans is pretty even in terms of talent, Evans helps the Sixers a little more in that the team already has a lanky shot blocker in Samuel Dalembert.  Evans re-shuffles the deck and gives the Sixers a little more balance.  In addition, there is certainly a reduce in risk in sending Hunter’s potential trick knee elsewhere.

Phoenix Suns

10/1    Sign Brian Skinner

That’s a great snag for the Suns to get Skinner to replace Kurt Thomas at $1.1 million.  Thomas did the center-type work for the Suns because a real seven-footer was really too slow to play in their offense.  Skinner can defend better than Thomas at this point but lacks Thomas’ ability to shoot.  But with so many teams desperate for some cheap rebounding, Skinner is a great value.

Portland Trailblazers

10/1    Sign Chris Ellis, Brent Petway and J.R. Pinnock

10/15  Waive J.R. Pinnock

I don’t think he’ll make the team but Petway has some serious hops.  He can block shots and board a little bit but is very limited skill-wise.  He’s a poor passer, ball handler, and foul shooter.  The hope is he can develop into a stopper a la Bo Outlaw, who was so athletic that his awkward areas didn’t matter as much.  More likely, we see another dunking specialist like Darvin Ham.

Sacramento Kings

8/29    Sign Kevin Martin to a contract extension

8/31    Sign Orien Greene

Martin is the only good young player on the team and locking him up seems like a good idea.  It’s hard to know what Martin’s ceiling is as a player but his top comps the last two season are pretty encouraging (he was a dead ringer for Reggie Miller both years).

San Antonio Spurs

9/23    Release Vassilis Spanoulis and sign Ian Mahinmi

9/29    Sign Marcus Williams

10/2    Sign Kris Lang, Keith Langford, Anthony Lever-Pedroza and Darius Washington

10/7    Sign Bruce Bowen to contract extension

The Spurs have been watching Mahinmi for a while (they drafted him back in 2005) and apparently believe that he could end up being a useful NBA player.  While he definitely looks athletic, Mahinmi has shown himself to be anywhere near NBA ready (he put up 4.3 ppg and 3.2 rpg in 12.7 mpg in the French League).  Granted, he’s only 20 even now but this is still awfully speculative.

Toronto Raptors

9/30    Sign Darrick Martin

Martin played well enough to get one more shot with the squad as a third point guard.  He can’t really shoot at all (he last shot over 40% in 1996-97) but he passes well enough to be quasi-acceptable in a pinch, as he had an impressive 43 assists to only 12 turnovers last year.

Washington Wizards

9/24    Re-sign Roger Mason

10/1    Sign Tony Massenburg, Jamon Gordon and Willie Deane

10/11  Waive Willie Deane and Jamon Gordon

A Massenburg sighting?  He’s now 40 years old and hasn’t played in the NBA since 2004-05 but he still seems to have an uncanny knack of getting roster spots.  Where has Mass been the last two years?  He broke his ankle in a car crash after the 2004-05 season and hasn’t been back since.  Making the team would give Massenburg the record for the player who has played with the most franchises (13).  He is currently tied at 12 with Chucky Brown and Jim Jackson.  Massenburg is not any sort of long-term option but Etan Thomas’ heart problems may actually earn Mass a month or so on the roster.

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