Transactions: 2/21-3/5

Atlanta Hawks

2/20    Signed Erick Dampier to a second 10-day contract

3/1      Signed Erick Dampier for the remainder of the season

With Jason Collins having injury problems and a general lack of big bodies in Atlanta, the Hawks have decided to try to squeeze a little value out of Dampier.  Dampier looks close to done as an NBA player, unless you want to use him for short spurts.  Atlanta seems to recognize this and he doesn’t get more than 6 mpg so far.  Just for fun, here’s is Dampier’s per/36 minute production versus the similarly talented Collins this season:

-Collins: 3.4 pts, 1.3 FGM/4.2 FGA (.313 FG%), 5.5 rebs, 0.8 assts, 0.8 stls, 0.3 blks, 1.6 TOs, 3.7 fls, 2.3 PER

-Dampier: 1.7 pts, 0.9 FGM/5.1 FGA (.167 FG%), 12.9 rebs, 2.6 assts, 0.9 stls, 0.9 blks, 0.9 TOs, 2.6 fls, 8.5 PER

There you have it, Dampier, even shooting 17% from the field, does a bit more on the court than Collins.  Neither player is asked to do much more than muscle big men and stay in the way on defense.  Collins does get some extra credit for his work on Dwight Howard, though you’ d be hard pressed to see his work actually help stat-wise.  Collins’ plus/minus is a team low -11.8 this year and Dampier is a respectable +7.8 (both in limited minutes obviously). 

Cleveland Cavaliers

2/21    Signed Manny Harris to a 10-day contract

3/2      Signed Manny Harris to a second 10-day contract

Harris is a good athlete and actually got some burn with Cleveland last year.  He does many things well (boarding, passing) but alas shooting has been a problem.  At 22, he certainly is a candidate to improve and the Cavs rightly are letting him hang around in hopes that he might develop into a cheap shooting guard solution for the future.

Los Angeles Clippers

2/27    Signed Bobby Simmons to a 10-day contract

Hard to believe that Simmons is only 31.  His nice year with the Clipps (2004-05) that led to the big Milwaukee contract feels like 20 years ago.  Simmons hasn’t been an NBA regular since 2008-09 with the Nets.  As a player, Simmons’ never quite played as well as he did in that one career year when he he shot well, boarded and was a nice all-around player (putting up a solid 16 PER).  He fell off from that career year and hasn’t been able to do much since.  I question whether Simmons is the best bench option on a team that has a chance to really make a run in the playoffs.  He hasn’t been as bad as Brian Cook or Ryan Gomes but a little imagination might’ve yielded something better.

Finally, estimates that Simmons has made about $49 million in his NBA career.  What a country!

Miami Heat

2/28    Signed Mickell Gladness to a second 10-day contract

Gladness is a a more extreme version of Joel Anthony, an undersized big man who can rebound and block shots but has almost no other skills.  Gladness blocked tons of shots in college at Alabama A&M and swatted almost four blocks per 36 minutes in the NBDL, yet he was not able to get much playing time (15 mpg) in the minors because of an utter inability to score.  Such a raw player probably can’t play a role on a title contender at this point.  Clearly, the Heat are a candidate for a vet like Rasheed Wallace to come in and offer some decent minutes come playoff time.

New Jersey Nets

2/27    Signed Gerald Green to a 10-day contract

In desperate need of depth, the Nets have turned to former first round washout Green.  Green was a superior athlete coming out of high school but never could quite stick.  His stats from the early years were not terrible for a high schooler.  Still, he was too raw for most teams and he left the NBA in 2009-10 to play in Russia and China.  At 26, he might still be a viable role player in the NBA.

In case you are wondering, Green is not actually the biggest washout of the 2005 draft.  Martell Webster didn’t go abroad but has basically been the same undeveloped athlete that Green is.  Quite a few first-rounder have actually played less in the NBA than Green.  Here is the list of fewest NBA games played but first-rounders from the 2005 Draft:

Fewest NBA Games for 2005 First Rounders through 3/8/12

-Fran Vasquez, 0 (11th overall)

-Yaroslav Korolev, 34 (12th overall)

-Wayne Simien, 51 (29th overall)

-Sean May, 119 (13th overall)

-Ian Mahinmi, 125 (28th overall)

-Gerald Green, 186 (18th overall)

Of this group trailing Green, only Mahinmi (who spent time abroad and in the NBDL) is likely to catch Green.  Korolev and Simien have been out of the NBA since 2007 and May’s injuries probably have ended his career.  As for Vasquez, he was an Otis Smith special, who was drafted without checking to see if he wanted to actually come over to the NBA to play.  Vasquez may come to the NBA someday but he is already 28 and his numbers look solid enough this year (8.1  ppg, .653 FG%, 4.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg in 17.1 mpg) but he is no star.  This busted pick could’ve been Danny Granger or David Lee, which might’ve made a big difference in Orlando keeping Dwight Howard now.

New Orleans Hornets

2/27    Signed Solomon Jones to a second 10-day contract

Generic filler for a generic team.  Jones isn’t anything special but is competent enough.  He actually may stand to be getting some real playing time if the Hornets trade Chris Kaman and Emeka Okafor doesn’t come back from injuries.  Jones won’t be a star but if he plays okay, he could be looking at a shot at yearly contracts, instead of 10-day deals.

New York Knicks

2/16    Waived Renaldo Balkman and signed J.R. Smith

Smith is truly a weird player.  An amazing athlete whose stats look quite efficient on paper but when you watch him, Smith looks like a little bit more…umm…undisciplined.  Smith hasn’t played well so far but, if he puts up his usual stats, he should fill a serious need, as the Knicks have been unnaturally bad from three this year.

The Knicks are currently .309% from three (27th in the NBA).  This is even more astounding because that includes Steve Novak is shooting .477% from three.  Take him out of the equation, and the rest of the team is 209-748 from three (.279%), despite the fact that they are fourth in the NBA in attempts.  To truly gety a sense of this problem, check the individual breakdowns from three:

Steve Novak, 62-130 (.477%) (career. 429%)

-Bill Walker, 36-112 (.321%) (career .380%)

-Carmelo Anthony, 33-108 (.306%) (career .319%)

-Toney Douglas, 24-102 (.235%) (career .356%)

-Landry Fields, 23-86 (.267%) (career .357%)

-Iman Shumpert, 23-86 (.267%) (career .267%)

-Mike Bibby, 14-53 (.264%) (career .379%)

-Jeremy Lin, 17-52 (.327%) (career. 316%)

-Josh Harrelson, 16-47 (.340%) (career .340%)

-J.R. Smith, 10-37 (.270%) (career .369%)

-Amare Stoudemire, 5-20 (.250%) (career. 246%)

-Baron Davis, 3-20 (.150%) (career .320%)

-Jared Jeffries, 3-15 (.200%) (career .253%)

So, the number of Knicks shooting way below career three numbers is astounding.  It’s not clear if this is a fluke or whether there is some sort of problem with the offensive design.  Given Mike D’Antoni’s past success in this area, you have to think this is one big fluke for Walker, Douglas, Fields, and Smith (Bibby is probably just done).  One would have to think that this bad luck will eventually even out and the Knicks will get some sort of dead cat bounce improvement here.

In case you were curious, the last time a team shot under 30% from three was the awful 2002-03 Nuggets, who were 17-65, who had no Novak to raise the average.  That Denver team was built to lose but shot a shockingly bad .278% from three.  The most frequent thee-point shooter was legendary Nikoloz Tskitishvili (37-152 for .243%).  Only two frequent shooters shot better than 30%: Shammond Williams was 37-102 (.363%) and Chris Whitney was 43-128 (.336%).

Portland Trailblazers

2/27    Waived Armon Johnson and signed Joel Przybilla

Why bring back Przybilla?  The team is below average in overall rebounds (18th), particularly on the offensive glass (20th).  That isn’t the whole story though.  Last season, the Blazers actually had the lowest amount of total defensive rebounds but their pace was the slowest in the NBA and they still were 4th in the NBA in offensive rebounds.  In 2011-12, Portland is about average in pace but the offensive boards have plummeted.  To put it this in prorated terms, the 2010-11 grabbed .295% of offensive rebounds and .720% of defensive rebounds.  This season, the offensive boards are down to .258% but defensive boards are actually up to .737%.  Przybilla is not an incredible force on the offensive glass but he has been pretty good historically.  Combined that with the fact that he’ll be the only seven-footer on the roster and Przybilla’s does bring some skills to the team that it lacks.

Sacramento Kings

3/5    Exercised the option of Head Coach Keith Smart for 2012-13

It’s very hard, from the outside, to discern how to evaluate a coach on a team that is bad.  Few coaches could make this group competitive now.  Smart has earned another year by being cheap to pay and by getting some progress out of DeMarcus Cousins.  The other feather in Smart’s cap is finding Isaiah Thomas and turning him into a pretty good looking point guard.  I figured that Smart might’ve gotten some heat for bailing on first-rounder Jimmer Fredette to get Thomas playing time but pragmatism has won out for now.  This is Smart’s third shot as an interim coach and it’s nice to see him finally get a second year out of it.

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