Transactions 4/14-7/1

Atlanta Hawks

6/28    Draft Al Horford and Acie Law IV

Horford looks like a nice pick.  He should develop into the power rebounder that the Hawks don’t quite have.  The only question is whether he develops into a solid pro (a la Otis Thorpe) or whether Horford will do some scoring.  The pick renders last year’s high power forward pick, Shelden Williams, as nothing more than a reserve.  Of course, Williams does not look like he was ever as talented as Horford to begin with.

As an aside, Horford’s father was Tito Horford, who came out early from Miami 19 years ago.  Tito, a 7’1 center, was bigger than Al but not nearly the player.  Tito ended up playing mostly internationally for 15 years (he only recently retired).  In 63 games, mostly with the Bucks, Tito blocked some shots but was inept offensively (he shot 33-110 from the field for his career).  For kicks here’s how Al and Tito compared as 21-year old collegiate players:

Tito 1987-88 32.1 0.540 0.579 9.0 1.1 0.4 2.7 3.5
Al 2006-07 27.8 0.608 0.644 9.5 2.2 0.7 1.8 1.8

Even if you assume that they played against the same level of competition, which is highly unlikely given that Al was in the SEC and Tito played for Miami when it was an independent and was not affiliated with a conference, Al is a vastly superior player in every respect but shot blocking.  This is not a shocking turn of events but it was interesting to check.

By drafting Law, the Hawks have accomplished a couple of things.  First, they finally snatched a point guard.  Next, they have selected the second NBA player with a first name consisting of initials that is actually spelled phonetically (remember the great Acie Earl?).  As a pro, Law looks more likely to be solid than anything else but the Hawks haven’t even had a solid young point guard so often since Mookie Blaylock left town.  The most intriguing thing about Law is that he shoots very well, which is rare for a college point guard.  While there is little star potential, Law can be a starter at some point.

The more interesting question about the Hawks is whether, as Peter Vescey reported, they really could have gotten Amare Stoudemire for the picks that turned into Al Horford, Acie Law, as well as Marvin Williams and Zaza Pachulia.  Vescey further stated that it was Billy Knight who quashed the deal and that this was never an ownership issue.  I don’t know the truth of this deal but you have to think that the Hawks would be seriously scary on the break with Stoudemire and Josh Smith.  Of course the team would still be without a point guard but that is not a deal I would’ve turned down.

Boston Celtics

5/10    Sign head coach Doc Rivers to contract extension

6/12    Sign forward Leon Powe

6/28    Draft Jeff Green and Gabe Pruitt

6/28    Acquire Ray Allen and draft rights to Glen Davis from Seattle in exchange for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and draft rights to Jeff Green

Yuck.  It’s hard to know that the number five pick will turn up but what I don’t like is the obvious sense of desperation in this move. When Danny Ainge came to Boston in 2003, he was openly critical of a Celtics team that was ugly but quasi-effective.  Ainge was determined to create a more long lasting competitive team through youth.  Well the young players are developing decently but the last two years have been so bad that the Celts clearly feel pressure to have some short-term success.  That makes some sense when you’re trying to get Kevin Garnett or maybe even Shawn Marion but Ray Allen is not quite the same difference maker at this point.  With Allen the short-term success will be, at best, modest and long-term the Celts lose a solid young player in West and the fifth pick in the draft.

I like Allen very much as a player but this is not a great fit.  The Celts could use another scorer but they really need defense up front and a real point guard.  Allen has only two years left on his contract and missed 30 games last year with ankle issues.  How will Allen do these next two years?  Well, Allen is bizarrely similar to another one of my favorite players, Mitch Richmond.  According to, Allen’s most similar player at ages 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and last year at 31 (at ages 26 and 27, Richmond was in the top three comps for Allen as well).  Richmond was still pretty good at age 32 but really dropped quickly at age 33.

So what we have trading a decent young player in Delonte West and losing four or five years of Jeff Green or some other draft pick (Joakim Noah might’ve been a pretty nice fit) for one more star year from Ray Allen on a team that can’t defend and has no point guard.  And yes I know that the Celts were able to dump Wally World’s crappy contract as part of the deal but Wally was a mistake of his own making (that can be traced back to signing Mark Blount to a big extension).  Ainge did the same thing last year when he dumped Raef LaFrentz’s deal on Portland as a condition of bestowing the Blazers with Brandon Roy.  I guess it’s good that Ainge is smart enough to cut bait on his mistakes but don’t Celtic fans want to see moves that are actually designed to improve the team long-term?  Allen’s acquisition represents the Celts’ scaled down low ceiling goals.  At the end of the day, the Celts have dumped top lottery picks two years in a row for the hope of getting to the second-round of the playoffs in 2007-08.  That result is far from certain and Celt fans won’t be thrilled with that result anyway when 2008-09 means a return to misery as Allen and Paul Pierce enter their decline years.

Charlotte Bobcats

5/25    Name Sam Vincent head coach

6/28    Draft Brandan Wright and Jared Dudley

6/28    Acquire Jason Richardson and the draft rights to Jermareo Davidson from Golden State in exchange for the draft rights to Brandan Wright

6/29    Waive Brevin Knight

Richardson had a rough season trying to come back from knee surgery but he looked pretty healthy by the playoffs and he fits the Bobcats’ needs, a team that actually has big forwards and needs scoring guards.  You could quibble with Richardson’s contract, which has $61 million due over the next four years but he’ll provide the team some backcourt scoring that it needs and the contract, while a bit rich, does not go into Richardson’s decline years.  Finally, the Cats’ are so far under the cap that they actually can afford the cap hit.  It’ll be interesting to see if the team will also try to re-sign Gerald Wallace, who had a great season and could make the team pretty formidable.  But the Cats have generally been pretty cheap so the feeling is that they will let Wallace walk and try to plug in Dudley and Adam Morrison, which will be a bit of a comedown in terms of talent.

The hiring of Sam Vincent was also an interesting story.  I know he’s worked his way up as a coach but he actually played with Michael Jordan for a couple of years in Chicago in the late 1980s.  He came to the Bulls from Seattle in the middle of the 1987-88 season and was handed the starting point job.  Vincent played well (13 ppg, 8.4 apg) that year and the Bulls went 19-8 with him at the helm and the team went 50-32 overall.  The Bulls and Vincent slumped a bit the next year and the Bulls let Vincent go in the expansion draft to Orlando.  Didn’t think that Vincent had left much of an impression on Jordan in that time but apparently it their time together wasn’t so bad.

Chicago Bulls

6/28    Draft Joakim Noah, Aaron Gary, JamesOn Curry

Noah wasn’t exactly what the Bulls needed but he was the best player available at that slot and you know he will fit into a Scott Skiles team.  It won’t be long before Skiles employs a Noah-Ben Wallace front line for uber-defense.  Ultimately, Noah’s emergence could lay the ground work to trade Wallace but for the short term it’ll be fun to watch.

Dallas Mavericks

5/11    Exercise contract option on center Desagana Diop through 2007-08

6/28    Draft Nick Fazekas, Renaldas Seibutis, and Miolvan Rakovic

6/28    Trade draft rights to Milovan Rakovic and cash considerations to Orlando for the draft rights to Reyshawn Terry

The Mavs were essentially out of the drafting, taking some fliers on second-rounders.  Fazekas is obviously the best known name.  He probably has a chance to stick as a role player.  As Ed Weiland noted, however, Fazekas rebounded quite well in college and well above the big man shooting specialists he has been associated with like Matt Bullard or Brad Lohaus.  In fact, Fazekas does have some ability and may get to fill Austin Croshere’s role next year.  Seibutis and Terry are less likely to be on the roster next year.  Seibutis is sure to be stashed over in Europe and Terry has some ability but how many role players in college actually make it in the NBA?

Detroit Pistons

6/15    Acquire second-round draft picks in 2009 and 2001 from Toronto for Carlos Delfino

6/25    Chauncey Billups opts out of his contract

6/28    Draft Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, and Sammy Mejia

Stuckey and Afflalo are brought in with a clear mandate to make the team younger and more athletic.  Will they actually play on a team like the Pistons?  It’s hard to say.  We certainly remember that Tayshaun Prince got to play but besides Prince, the Pistons have not drafted a player who became a regular starter with Detroit since Grant Hill back 1994.  My sense is that Stuckey should get some real playing time, replacing Flip Murray.  Afflalo has it a little tougher time because he doesn’t board, pass, or block shots very well.

Finally, dumping Delfino puts an end to the Pistons’ overseas drafting program from the early 2000s.  In 2001, the Pistons nabbed Mehmet Okur with a second-rounder in 2001.  Okur had two solid years as a bench player for the Pistons but they let him go because they didn’t want to match the big deal that Utah gave him in 2004.  The rest of the Pistons’ foreign excursion was the 2003 draft when they famously took Darko Milicic second overall but also drafted Delfino later and even took a flier on Greek seven-footer Andreas Gliniadakis.  As we all remember, Darko was buried on the bench because he was so young and raw and the team was pretty deep up front.  Gliniadakis was just a gamble on a big body but he never came over and actually spent some time in the NBDL last year.  Delfino actually steadily developed with the Pistons.  Just like Okur and Darko, however, the Pistons did not feel comfortable to consider paying him for a non-rookie contract.

The Pistons were pretty gung ho about drafting Euros back in 2003 but haven’t grabbed one sense.  Do the Pistons’ reflect a larger NBA trend away from drafting foreign players?  The last time no foreign players were drafted in the first two rounds was 1988.  Since then, the number of draftees has varies.  Here’s the list of non-American trained players drafted the last few years:

Year Lottery Late 1st 2nd Round Total
1989 0 1 1 2
1990 0 0 2 2
1991 0 0 1 1
1992 0 0 1 1
1993 0 0 2 2
1994 0 0 3 3
1995 0 0 3 3
1996 0 4 0 4
1997 0 1 5 6
1998 1 3 1 5
1999 0 1 3 4
2000 1 4 5 10
2001 1 1 4 6
2002 3 2 8 13
2003 2 7 12 21
2004 1 5 8 14
2005 1 2 9 12
2006 3 3 10 16
2007 1 4 8 13

As one can see, 2003 was the apex of foreign draftees for the entire NBA and not just the Pistons.  We’ve seen a little retreat since then but there are still plenty of talent to be found overseas the only question is how best to find it.

Golden State Warriors

6/28    Draft Marco Belinelli, Jermareo Davidson, and Stephane Lasme

6/28    Acquire the draft rights to Brandan Wright from Charlotte for Jason Richardson and the draft rights to Jermareo Davidson

Do not be shocked that the Warriors would dump a playoff hero so quickly.  As we noted a month or so ago, Nellie has been quick to trade stars, even shortly after their best moments.  From Sleepy Floyd to Mitch Richmond, Nelson has been happy to make changes.  Of course, both the Floyd and Richmond trades both ended up badly (receiving an injured Ralph Sampson and an overrated Billy Owens).  In this case, the rumor was that Wright was going to be used as a barter piece for Kevin Garnett or Yi Jianlian.

Assuming that Golden State keeps Wright, he’ll improve team size greatly.  Unfortunately, his college stats have him pegged as poor boarder and shot blocker and much more of a scorer/slasher.  So, it’s an open question whether Wright, even if he ends up as a good player, whether he gives the Warriors something that they don’t have.  Still, it’s a good deal for the Warriors in that Richardson made a ton of cash and the team has plenty of cheaper two guards.  So the deal is a nice low-risk proposition for the Warriors.

In addition, I really think Lasme can help the Warriors.  He is a monster shot blocker and, while no star, can at least be a Lorenzo Williams-type presence for a small offense-only squad.

Houston Rockets

5/23    Name Rick Adelman head coach

6/28    Acquire the 54th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft for cash considerations

6/28    Draft Aaron Brooks and Brad Newley

The Rockets just went from one coaching extreme to the other.  Adelman’s always been known as an offensive guy versus Jeff Van Gundy’s slowdown attack.  How true are these perceptions?  Let’s take a look at each coach’s resume.  Here’s a list of each coach’s points scored and allowed per game, as well as their per 100 possession numbers, and their pace factors:

Rick Adelman

Year Team PPG P/100 OPPG P/100 Pace Factor
1989-90 Blazers 114.2 110.9 107.9 104.0 4th in NBA
1990-91 Blazers 114.7 113.0 106.0 104.0 4th in NBA
1991-92 Blazers 111.4 111.6 104.1 104.0 6th in NBA
1992-93 Blazers 108.5 108.7 105.4 104.8 8th in NBA
1993-94 Blazers 107.3 108.6 104.6 105.1 3rd in NBA
1995-96 Warriors 101.6 108.8 103.1 109.5 6th in NBA
1996-97 Warriors 99.6 107.3 104.4 112.1 7th in NBA
1998-99 Kings 100.2 102.6 100.6 103.2 1st in NBA
1999-00 Kings 105.0 104.6 102.0 102.6 1st in NBA
2000-01 Kings 101.7 105.6 95.9 99.7 2nd in NBA
2001-02 Kings 104.6 108.9 97.0 101.3 1st in NBA
2002-03 Kings 101.7 105.8 95.2 99.2 1st in NBA
2003-04 Kings 102.8 110.1 97.8 105.1 4th in NBA
2004-05 Kings 103.7 110.6 101.6 108.1 8th in NBA
2005-06 Kings 98.9 106.6 97.3 105.2 9th in NBA

Jeff Van Gundy

Year Team PPG P/100 OPPG P/100 Pace Factor
1996-97 Knicks 95.4 105.0 92.2 100.4 15th in NBA
1997-98 Knicks 91.6 103.3 89.1 99.9 24th in NBA
1998-99 Knicks 86.4 98.8 85.4 97.3 24th in NBA
1999-00 Knicks 92.1 102.4 90.7 101.0 29th in NBA
2000-01 Knicks 88.7 101.2 86.1 98.1 29th in NBA
2003-04 Rockets 89.8 100.9 88.0 99.1 25th in NBA
2004-05 Rockets 95.1 106.2 91.0 101.6 24th in NBA
2005-06 Rockets 90.1 101.6 91.7 103.3 25th in NBA
2006-07 Rockets 97.0 106.6 92.1 100.0 21st in NBA

Isn’t it great when our perceptions are 100% confirmed by the data.  Adelman never had a team lower than ninth in the NBA in pace.  Oddly enough, Adelman’s best teams were the faster ones.  That might’ve been interesting information to consider when the Kings insisted that he slow things down two years ago.  As for Van Gundy, slow is the operative word.  If there is any common denominator between the two it is that Van Gundy’s last Rockets team was actually his fastest team since his first full season as coach of the Knicks.  Perhaps that’ll be a good place for Adelman to start out in ramping things up even more.

Indiana Pacers

5/31    Name Jim O’Brien head coach

6/28    Trade a 2009 second-round pick to Miami for the draft rights to Stanko Barac

6/29    Waive Orien Green

O’Brien’s an interesting choice.  He did quite well in Boston with a pretty weak team (including a thrashing of a much more talented Indiana team in the 2002-03 playoffs).  He was then chased out of Boston by Danny Ainge, who wanted his own coach.  O’Brien then had a year with Philly that was okay in 2004-05 but he was fired ostensibly for failing to get along with Allen Iverson.  In Boston, O’Brien leaned really heavily on the vets and got some good work out of decent players like Eric Williams, Tony Battie, and Kenny Anderson.  He also has a rep for ignoring young players.  Not sure that this truly deserved but Indiana is probably headed towards a youth movement so hopefully he will adjust to whatever Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh deem the future.

Los Angeles Clippers

6/28    Draft Al Thornton and Jared Jordan

6/29    Waive Daniel Ewing and decline option on James Singleton

Thornton looks like he’ll be a pretty good scorer.  If he can show any ability, he’ll make Corey Maggette obsolete.  Thornton also reputed to be the most NBA-ready player in the draft because he’s already 23 and looks pretty mature physically.  This raises an interesting question…is it really better to draft an 18-year old who will be ready to hit the free agent market at 22 or 23.  In theory, drafting a great player at 18 let’s you have a potential start for 20 years.  In reality, you might be better served getting a 22 or 23 year old and letting him go five years later as a free agent after already getting his prime years.  I mean weren’t the Bulls and Pistons kind of screwed by drafting Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, and Darko really young and not being sure what they had when free agency loomed and having to make a decision on whether to gamble huge money without knowing the player they had. The counter to this is that many of the greats look pretty good by age 20.  Of course, there is no true answer and were talking in the abstract here. It still bears considering that there are times when drafting an older player can be much more financially safer bet for a franchise.

Los Angeles Lakers

6/28    Draft Javaris Crittenton, Sun Yue, and Marc Gasol

Crittenton looks like a nice point for Phil Jackson to play with.  He’s big and can play off the ball okay.  I could see him jumping Jordan Farmar on the depth chart pretty quickly.

Memphis Grizzlies

5/31    Name Marc Iavaroni head coach

6/18    Name Chris Wallace general manager

6/28    Draft Mike Conley

Three rather major moves for Memphis.  Let’s go chronologically.  It’s always a little weird when you hire your coach before you hire the GM.  You figure that the GM, as the coach’s direct boss, would want some input on picking the coach.  In this case, hiring Iavaroni before Wallace was either an oversight or they Grizz somehow got Wallace’s blessing, perhaps tacitly, that it was a good choice.  Can Iavaroni coach?  You never know with new head coach’s but Iavaroni has a nice pedigree.  He was a heady player for the Sixers and the Jazz in the 1980s.  Iavaroni did a good job of being the “fake starter” for both squads, being replace quickly by Bobby Jones and Thurl Bailey.  Indeed, in Philly in 1982-83 and 1983-84, Iavaroni started 148 games but averaged only 20 mpg.  It was even more absurd in Utah in 1987-88 when Iavaroni started 71 games but averaged only 15 mpg.

As a coach, Iavaroni has paid his dues.  He was an assistant with Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy Miami and has spent the last five years with Phoenix.  Iavaroni has built a nice reputation in this time and came across as an engaging person in Jack McCallum’s “Seven Seconds or Less,” a book detailing the 2005-06 Suns.  McCallum gives a nice encapsulation of Iavaroni as a coach: “It is, however, difficult to out-detail Iavaroni.  His father was for many years the supervisor at Kennedy Airport, a man with an organizational mind who made sure the runways were kept clean, and the son has that king of mind, too.   He had a seven-year NBA career as a cerebral, overachieving forward and cur his coaching teeth on Pat Riley’s uber-prepared staff in Miami.  Phrases such as ‘Indiana’s 42 Fist is our quick curl punch’ tumble easily out of his month.  ‘I think even Marc would agree that, left to his own devices, he would spend more time in the room than any of us,’ says [fellow assistant coach Alvin] Gentry.”  None of this tells us how exactly Iavaroni will handle his players and adversity as the man in charge but he’s certainly got some of the job down already.

Wallace is much more of a known quality.  He was the Celtics GM for several years, coming over with Rick Pitino in 1997.  His time as the main decision maker in Boston was short.  From 1997-2001, Pitino dominated and from since 2003 Danny Ainge has ruled the roost.  Wallace’s two-year stint as the man was not entirely impressive.  He drafted Joe Johnson, Kedrick Brown, and Joe Forte.  Johnson ended up being quite good but he was dumped for vets early on so that the Celts could make a playoff run in 2001-02.  The only really memorable move that Wallace made was the putrid acquisition of Vin Baker and his huge contract. Every GM has a bad day but Wallace certainly doesn’t have an impressive a resume as Iavaroni.

Notwithstanding all of the above, Wallace’s first draft pick looks pretty good.  Conley was the most impressive point guard in the draft and the Grizz nabbed him without messing around, filling a huge need.  The Grizz have played around with rookie point guards before to um…varying degrees of success:

1997-98, Antonio Daniels: AD was drafted third overall by the Grizz.  Daniels was a four-year college player but he struggled greatly as a rookie (8 ppg, 4.5 apg, 42% from the field) and really showed no point guard instincts.  The Grizz, being the great run organization they were, dumped Daniels after one season for Carl Herrera and a late first round pick (which ended up being Felipe Lopez).  Daniels has ended being a pretty useful pro, if not an above-average starter.

1998-99, Mike Bibby: Of course trading Daniels wasn’t so bad because they replaced him with the better Mike Bibby.  Bibby came in as a 20-year old rookie and was a solid pro for three years.  Bibby was then traded for Jason Williams for some unknown reason and the Kings reaped the rewards.

1999-00, Steve Francis: Yup.  The Grizz took three point guards three years in a row with top three picks each time and saw little value for it.  Francis patently refused to go up to Vancouver, preferring to play in beautiful Houston, Texas.  This was yet another failure of management.  Francis had no leverage but the Grizz acceded to his demands.  It wasn’t so much that the Grizz agreed to trade Francis as much it was that they got pretty much nothing for him (Michael Dickerson, Othella Harrington, Antoine Carr, Brent Price, and a couple of second-rounders).  Dickerson was a decent young player but Harrington was a bench player and Carr and Price were done.  For such a return, the Grizz would’ve been better off letting Francis holdout and see what happened.

2003-04, Troy Bell: Yuck.

2006-07, Kyle Lowry: Lowry had a nice first month but broke his wrist before Christmas and missed the rest of the year.  It appears that Conley will kill any shot Lowry had at being a possible long-term starter.

Miami Heat

6/28    Draft Jason Smith and Stanko Barac

6/28    Trade draft rights to Jason Smith to Philadelphia for draft rights to Daequan Cook, a 2009 second-round pick and cash considerations

6/28    Trade draft rights to Stanko Barac to Indiana for a 2009 second-round draft pick

Cook is an intriguing prospect.  He did some big thing for Ohio State last year but was so raw it was almost impossible to tell what he’ll be.  For the Heat, he’s got some potential to be a very good player.  The biggest challenge is that Pat Riley hasn’t been huge on integrating young players into his system.  Given how ancient the backcourt has been, Cook may force his way into the rotation and give someone for Dwayne Wade to run with a little bit.

Milwaukee Bucks

6/12    Sign guard Lynn Greer to a multi-year contract

6/28    Draft Yi Jianlian and Ramon Sessions

Hear Yi, Hear Yi….I’m outta here.  Yes, Yi allegedly wants no part of playing in Milwaukee, preferring a larger city.  The Bucks assumed they could avoid this holdout by promising Yi a starting job and immediate playing time, something he might not get in Golden State or Boston.  If reports are to be believed, Yi (and his Chinese reps) are dead set against compromise.  We rarely get such impasses in the NBA.  Most American players aren’t willing to give up actual season games to force a deal.  Francis might’ve threatened it but he was never really tested.  Yi is a different story.  Going back to China isn’t such a huge risk for him (and may not even be his choice).  The Bucks will have to be careful on this one.  They need to create a market for Yao (Boston and Golden State are already suitors) and get some value.  The trade does not have to happen before the season starts but Milwaukee should jump at the first good offer they get lest Yi evaporates back into the 2008 draft.

Minnesota Timberwolves

6/28    Draft Corey Brewer and Chris Richard

Well, Kevin Garnett is still in town and now they got a player who can actually play too.  Might they try to keep it together to see if Brewer plus KG equals a decent team?  Knowing how little that Kevin McHale wants to trade KG, there is a decent shot that he could go into the season billing the Randy Foye and Brewer will be the nice young cast that Garnett needs to win.  Problem is that even if you assume that Brewer and Foye will be good (and that’s no sure thing) they have no point guard (Troy Hudson and Marko Jaric?) and little depth (Craig Smith and Bracey Wright look okay) and then you realize that the team is up against the cap and McHale has allowed Jaric, Mark Madsen, Mark Blount, and Trenton Hassell have contract through the end of the decade.

McHale has actually made some good moves in his time and the Cassell/Sprewell gamble can’t be considered a failure but McHale has been at his worth in the aftermath of 2003-04.  Hassell, Madsen, and Jaric didn’t need five or six-year deals.  With some salary cap room, the situation now would be much more salvageable.  At any rate, KG will be traded if they can get some good young players but you have to think McHale is tempted to take the long shot that Brewer is some sort of instant star.

New Jersey Nets

6/28    Draft Sean Williams

Well, we’re not sure that Williams can board or whether he’ll stay clean but we know he’ll block shots.  This will help.  The Nets have had virtually no shot blockers since trading Shawn Bradley in 1996-97.  Check out the Nets’ shot block leaders since that time:

Year Player Block BPG
2006-07 Mikki Moore 60 0.8
2005-06 Nenad Krstic 63 0.8
2004-05 Jason Collins 71 0.9
2003-04 Kenyon Martin 82 1.3
2002-03 Kenyon Martin 70 0.9
2001-02 Kenyon Martin 121 1.7
2000-01 Kenyon Martin 113 1.7
2000-01 Aaron Williams 113 1.4
1999-00 Jim McIlvaine 117 1.8
1989-99 Jayson Williams 60 2.0
1997-98 Kendall Gill 64 0.8

At the very least, Williams should be able to get them 100 blocks next year.  If he could do anything offensively, the Nets would have a dimension they haven’t had since Kenyon Martin was ambulatory.

New Orleans Hornets

6/28    Draft Julian Wright and Adam Haluska

A nice draft for the Hornets, who nabbed a multi-talented player pretty late.  A Tyson Chandler, David West, and Wright frontline could be quite athletic.  Throw in Chris Paul and you have a solid team.  The Hornets are young and probably won’t contend but they have some very nice building blocks.  Now they just have to hope that Peja Stojakovic can come back healthy and productive.

New York Knicks

6/28    Draft Wilson Chandler

6/28    Acquire Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau and the draft rights to Demetris Nichols from Portland in exchange for Steve Francis, Channing Frye and a 2008 second-round draft pick

This is not a bad move on the Knicks part.  They give up basically Frye for Randolph.  As a talent exchange, this is a winner.  There is some downside.  First, Randolph’s contract is another double-down maneuver, as he has four years left at big money–as opposed to the two years that Francis had.  Big money isn’t a problem, so long as Randolph is asset in proportion to his salary.  Randolph was excellent last year but he has had knee surgery, weight issues, and personal/legal issues the last few years.  Someone wrote in the local New York papers that the big risk is that Randolph might fail a drug test.  That, of course, is dead wrong.  It’s a little heartless but a drug implosion doesn’t kill the team.  Hell, Randolph won’t be paid for that time.  No, nagging injuries, weight issues, lethargy, or just plain lack of ability from a player who is owed $60 million (plus luxury tax exposure on top of that)–those are the issues that absolutely destroy a team. I’m sure any GM would’ve taken preferred being stuck with Vin Baker’s bad contract than, say, Juwan Howard’s old bad deal.  The good citizen Juwan was the true millstone.

The other problem with the Randolph deal is that he really duplicates Eddy Curry.  Both guys are nice low post scorers, who do not defend.  Can you really play them together AND commit $100  million to the same player over the next four seasons?  Here’s how they looked last year:

Curry 35.2 19.5 0.576 7.0 0.5 0.8 3.6 17.0
Randolph 35.7 23.6 0.467 10.1 0.2 2.2 3.2 22.8

Curry is an unnaturally poor boarder for his size and Randolph is an unnaturally weak shot blocker for a freaking guard.  The two players didn’t average a block per game even if you add their blocks together.  If Randolph and Curry play together, that slots David Lee into the small forward and he can’t block shots either.  This means Renaldo Balkman will have to play (he had, by far, the most blocks per 40 minutes at 1.7 with Frye second at 0.9).  In short, the pieces don’t seem to quite fit and it’s an open question how movable Curry (big contract and heart issue) and Randolph (big contract and that stuff we mentioned up top) are.  I’m not saying the deal is bad for New York but clearly more tweaking might be needed.

Orlando Magic

5/23    Announce Brian Hill will not return as head coach

6/1      Name Billy Donovan head coach

6/6      Grant Billy Donovan permission to break contract as head coach

6/7      Name Stan Van Gundy head coach

6/28    Sell the 54th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft to Houston for cash considerations

6/28    Draft Reyshawn Terry

Weird time for the Magic.  First, Hill gets an axe in his back from management to match the one they buried ten years ago.  But the canning was meant to pave the way for Donovan to come to town and create an excitement that had been missing in Orlando for quite some town.  Then the Magic have to go through Donovan’s reneging.  At the end of the day they end up with the solid Stan Van Gundy–who is probably a better NBA coach than both Hill or Donovan.

Watching Donovan’s quick retraction reminded me of other college/NBA coaching misadventures in the NBA.  The Nets suffered through two of those situations in the 1980s and 1990s.  In 1985, Rollie Massimino was fresh off winning a title with Villanova and planned to jump to the Nets.  After reaching oral agreement to a ten-year $2.1 million deal, Massimino backed out saying that he was too emotionally tied to Villanova.  Was it a good move for Massimino?  Well, the Nets fell apart with injuries and Micheal Ray Richardon’s drug problem but Villanova didn’t quite excel either.  Massimino bolted Villanova in the early 1990s for UNLV, which also ended without success.  In the end, no one won but Massimino would probably have come out richer in Jersey.

Six  years later, the Nets attempted to hire Jim Valvano, formerly of North Carolina State, as coach.  Valvano accepted but the offer was withdrawn because the Nets’ offeror, Joe Taub, did not have the consent of the other owners.  The Nets settled on Bill Fitch and then Chuck Daly, which was probably a better option as the two coaches led the Nets to a modest level of success in the early 1990s.

Philadelphia 76ers

6/22    Shavlik Randolph exercises his player option

6/28    Draft Thaddeus Young, Daequan Cook, Petteri Koponen, and Kyrylo Fesenko

6/28    Trade the draft rights to Kyrylo Fesenko to Utah for the draft rights to Herbert Hill and future draft considerations

6/28    Trade draft rights to Daequan Cook, a 2009 second-round pick and cash considerations to Miami for the draft rights to Jason Smith

6/28    Trade the draft rights to Petteri Koponen to Portland for the draft rights to Derrick Byars and cash considerations

A lot of movement here but, at the end of the day, nabbing Young and Smith were the only moves that mattered.  As a mid-first rounder with scoring ability Young could be useful but he will blocked by Andre Iguodala at small forward and will have to settle for scorer off the bench at this point.  Smith is a player that a lot of scouts complained about but he has NBA-size and that will give him a shot to play next year.

Phoenix Suns

6/28    Draft Rudy Fernandez, Alando Tucker, and D.J. Strawberry

6/28    Trade the draft rights to Rudy Fernandez to Portland for cash considerations

Not sure that giving away draft picks is a great policy long term but the Suns continue to do this between, giving quality guards (Rajon Rondo and Sergio Rodriguez last year and Fernandez this year) just to dump cash obligations.  This wouldn’t be terrible but they sunk the savings into Marcus Banks.  Tucker and Strawberry, however, are both decent players and could have NBA futures.  Strawberry matches nicely to a young Raja Bell–tough defender who they hope develops a semblance of an offensive game.  Tucker looks like a college player who can’t make the next level as he really struggled in the tourney.

Portland Trailblazers

6/28    Draft Greg Oden, Josh McRoberts, Derrick Byars, Taurean Green, and Demetris Nichols

6/28    Acquire draft rights to Rudy Fernandez from Phoenix in exchange for cash considerations

6/28    Acquire Steve Francis, Channing Frye and a 2008 second-round draft pick from New York for Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau and the draft rights to Demetris Nichols

Isn’t it great when one day can change your franchise for a decade?  The night couldn’t be bad with Oden but they also took fliers on Fernandez, McRoberts, and Green for essentially nothing and dumped Randolph’s contract.  They are now set up with Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, some decent points in Sergio Rodriguez and Jarrett Jack AND they will have a ton of cap room the next few years.  If the young players develop and they make one or two good buys, Portland will be a title contender.  At the very least, they’ll be a perennial playoff team and the city’s excitement for the franchise will return.

Sacramento Kings

6/19    Name Reggie Theus head coach

6/28    Draft Spencer Hawes

I guess Mark Olberding wasn’t available to coach…Of all the original Sacramento Kings, Theus would probably have been pegged least likely to return 20 years later as coach.  Still, Theus has shown himself to be serious about coaching and I guess the Kings know what they’re doing.  There is always a perception that scorers can’t make good coaches because they are so concerned with their own stats that they can’t look at the team’s interests as a whole.  I’m not sure this is true.  There have been plenty of good scoring coaches (Jerry West) but has there ever been a coach who, as a player, was perceived as a scoring-concerned player than Theus?  It’s really hard to find one.  We’ll exclude Wilt’s sham experience as a coach in the ABA.  Of the rest, Tom Heinsohn had a similar rap of a gunner but he was far from the pretty boy that Theus was considered.  Doug Collins, Fred Carter, Kevin Loughery, Gene Shue, Rudy Tomjanovich, or Paul Westphal were all also scorers first.  Of the bunch, I don’t think any of those guys had quite the rep that Theus did.  They were all fiery while Theus sported a famous perm.  I’m rooting for Theus to change the perceptions about who he is as a coach but he definitely is a unique personality for an NBA head coach.

San Antonio Spurs

6/28    Draft Tiago Splitter, Marcus Williams, and Giorgos Printezis

6/28    Acquire a 2008 second-round draft pick from Toronto for the draft rights to Giorgos Printezis

Splitter is a nice big man to stash away in Europe for another year or so when the cap clear up.  As an aside, did you know that the Spurs have no salary commitments on the payroll after 2007-08 besides Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili?  Granted, they’ll give up a few more contracts this off-season but they are in the position to nab another good player next off-season.  Pretty scary….

Seattle SuperSonics

6/7    Name Sam Presti general manager

6/28  Draft Kevin Durant, Carl Landry, and Glen Davis

6/28   Acquire Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and draft rights to Jeff Green from Boston for Ray Allen and draft rights to Glen Davis

There have been a lot of bad feelings between the Sonics and the city the last few years but Durant is potentially the type of player to heal some wounds.  Frankly, it would be great if he becomes such a big star that Seattle feels they have to keep the team.  Franchise business aside, the Sonics are looking really good on talent.  They are filled with young players and they snagged Green to make things even better.  Now the team has a potential starting line up of:

PG: Luke Ridnour

SG:  Delonte West

SF:  Kevin Durant

PF:  Chris Wilcox/Nick Collison

C:    Robert Swift/Johan Petro

The team also has plenty of depth (Earl Watson, Jeff Green, Damien Wilkins, and Mickael Gelabale).  I would’ve liked to see the Sonics possibly keep Allen around to see how he works the youngsters but it was quite understandable that they would not want to risk paying Allen as age and surgeries creep up.  The Sonics should be fun to watch next year and they may need to fill in with a vet if they get off to a good start.

Toronto Raptors

6/15    Acquire Carlos Delfino from Detroit for a second-round draft pick in 2009 and 2011

6/28    Acquire the draft rights to Giorgos Printezis from San Antonio in exchange for a 2008 second-round draft pick

Getting Delfino for nothing is a nice move.  He’ll presumably replace Mo Peterson, who is a free agent after the season.  As we noted, Delfino is an improving young player.  The chances are that Peterson will be better next year but he’ll be 30 and is likely asking for a big deal.

Utah Jazz

6/28    Draft Morris Almond and Herbert Hill

6/28    Trade the draft rights to Herbert Hill and future draft considerations to Philadelphia for the draft rights to Kyrylo Fesenko

The question the Jazz are wondering is whether Almond can shoot.  His NCAA numbers suggest that Almond will stick the three better than Gordan Giricek.  Almond will, however, have to prove that he can defend enough to play for Jerry Sloan.  Besides Deron Williams, who was a high lottery pick, the last Sloan drafted guard to break 20 mpg his rookie year was Blue Edwards back in 1989-90.

As for another quick trivia note, the only player out of Rice University to break 2,700 career NBA minutes was Ricky Pierce.

Washington Wizards

6/28    Draft Nick Young and Dominic McGuire

Young is scary because he has the same vibe as Jarvis Hayes, a capable scorer but with no other NBA-level skill.  He’ll be pressed to get time behind Caron Butler and Antonio Daniels next year.

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