A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix Suns

Greg Monroe for Eric Bledsoe would be a solid S&T for both teams

leave a comment »

It’s late August and Greg Monroe and Eric Bledsoe are still not signed, which is turning into a mess for Detroit and Phoenix. Either Monroe or Bledsoe taking the qualifying offer is the worst case scenario for both teams, as if they walked in unrestricted free agency they wouldn’t receive value in return for their asset.

I like the idea of just swapping Monroe and Bledsoe personally, even if this idea seems unlikely due to the lack of momentum in the press about it.

Detroit’s end

The Pistons suddenly teaming up Eric Bledsoe and Andre Drummond’s elite athleticism would give them an exciting direction going forward. In the drafts since acquiring Drummond, they took Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and had to surrender their lottery pick to Charlotte in 2014. Although I’m a big fan of their 2014 2nd round pick Spencer Dinwiddie, they’re lacking the supporting young talent to go around Drummond. Getting it through trade with Bledsoe may be the direction to go.

The argument against is fit, as Detroit has Brandon Jennings 2 year 16.3 million contract, which is already one of the most unmoveable contracts in the league, a situation that would get worse if backing up Bledsoe. Presumably giving Bledsoe the max contract he wants could also scare them for the same reason it did Phoenix, because of some injury issues so far in his career.

Nevertheless, Jennings problem is a short term problem. Within a year it’s an expiring deal and easy to move on from. Jennings and Bledsoe may also be able to share time in a small backcourt, like Dragic and Bledsoe did this year in Phoenix. I see it as the right move to grab the talent upgrade in Bledsoe and wait for the opportunity to move on from the Joe Dumars mistakes Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith. Stan Van Gundy’s Pistons won’t be rebuilt in a day and don’t have to be a perfect fit immediately. Yet with Bledsoe and Drummond along with pieces like Jodie Meeks and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the pieces seem in place. It would also make the Pistons expected to make the playoffs next year, which may be important to ownership after disappointing seasons lately.

Phoenix’s end

There’s a few reasons why Phoenix may be lukewarm on this deal. First Monroe is not a perfect fit as they have two young centers in Alex Len and Miles Plumlee who’d move down the depth chart, with Len’s minutes especially unguaranteed. In the meantime however Monroe starting at C beside Markieff Morris is an upgrade, giving them passing and post skills to compliment Phoenix’s perimeter penetrating and shooting skills. Some minutes could be opened up for Plumlee and Len by playing Monroe at power forward in some matchups.

Financially Monroe may be asking for upwards of 11 or 12 million to do this deal for a player who’s game has stagnated in recent years. For his strengths like post scoring, ability to drive past defenders with ballhandling skills and passing, he neither spaces the floor especially well or provides defensive impact, a combination that is scary in the modern game. Monroe is a poor man’s Al Jefferson or Zach Randolph, the question as he goes into his prime is whether that’s still enough to pay a premium contract.

However, signing Monroe to a long term deal may also give Phoenix some needed stability. The core of their team last year in Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe is in doubt long term. In addition to their Bledsoe issues, because Dragic is so underpaid right now, the Suns can’t offer him an extension high enough for him to consider taking – Toronto faced a similar dilemma with Kyle Lowry last year. Although Dragic clearly likes Phoenix enough for him to return there last time he was a free agent, it’s never easy to see a player enter unrestricted free agency where any matter of large offers from contenders could be thrown at him. Toronto was able to have a division winning, franchise record season, promising Lowry a slew of winning seasons in upcoming years. Phoenix is in danger of becoming an also-ran non-playoff team next year, making it less appealing to Dragic. By trading for an established player like Monroe instead of S&Ting Bledsoe for draft picks or young players, it may help them resign Dragic next year, or give them a fallback option of an Isaiah Thomas-Greg Monroe core to rebuild with if he leaves.

Although it depends on what Phoenix’s other offers for Bledsoe are, I’d say you can certainly do worse than acquiring a starting big in Greg Monroe and then going from there.

For now this trade is a fantasy, but I’d say for both it’s certainly preferable to their player taking a qualifying offer.

Written by jr.

August 21, 2014 at 3:59 pm

How the Marcin Gortat trade shows once again the Wizards don’t get it

leave a comment »

English: Gorat, 2011

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wizards and Suns made a fun trade this week, the Suns sending Marcin Gortat to Washington for injured Emeka Okafor and a top 12 protected first round pick. The Suns also sent Kendall Marshall, Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee to Washington, but they are expected to be waived.

Gortat is a good center despite his off season last year. He’s 7 foot, athletic, can rebound and can hit the midrange shot. With Okafor’s injury, the Wizards were left shallow at the C position. With Gortat they undoubtedly have a better chance at making the playoffs.

The problem for the Wizards isn’t Gortat’s caliber of play, it’s that he’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. Therefore as soon as this season is over, the Wizards will have nothing in return for the first round pick they gave up. They traded a long term asset for a short term asset.

Now you may say, if they re-sign Gortat, doesn’t that give them long term value for the 1st round pick? Not entirely. The Wizards were already set to have over 15 million in capspace next summer, meaning they already had the capspace to sign Gortat. Even if having Gortat now increases their chance of re-signing him if he likes the team situation, there is not necessarily value in this. Signing Gortat for a presumed over 10 million a year contract, comes with an opportunity cost of other free agents signings for the same amount. The only way having this “dibs” on re-signing a 30 year old Gortat becomes valuable, is if for the presumable over 10 million a year long term contract he produces at a level that can’t be replicated on the free agent market. If re-signing Gortat doesn’t have any more value than the next best option for their capspace, that eliminates the value of securing him early.

In my opinion, there’s no reason to believe that Gortat’s UFA contract will provide a better bang for your buck than the alternatives for the same price. This is especially true considering that with Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Rudy Gay if he opts out, the Wizards may prefer any of these FAs to Gortat. The Wizards may find themselves having reserved a table in the middle of the restaurant at the cost of a 1st round pick, only to walk-in and find the window seat is free, making their reservation unused.

For the most part, the value of the trade for the Wizards will be felt in 2013-2014 and no later. By next summer they will have one less positive value asset than if they kept the pick. The Wizards under Ernie Grunfield have proven to me they don’t understand asset strategy and why increasing asset value over time, not decreasing it is how you win. It’s not as much about the chance of the 2014 draft pick turning into a core player for the Wizards, it’s that the pick is a trade asset. For example if all went well, without this trade the Wizards may have spent their capspace on a Gortat or a free agent like Deng, Gasol, Randolph – then in addition, been able to trade the 2014 pick for an upgrade on Gortat’s level. In other words, you may get two Gortat caliber starters for the price of one by waiting. Or another example, perhaps if shopping both Otto Porter and the 2014 pick by next summer, the opportunity to trade both for an all-star comes. But by not having the pick and only offering Porter, they can’t make the deal.

By trading away the 2014 pick for a short term asset, the team will have less trading opportunities heading into the 2014-2015 season. This is of course all in addition to potential value of hitting on the 2014 draft pick. For example when the Toronto Raptors traded away a late teens pick in a short-sighted move for Jermaine O’Neal, they lost an opportunity to draft Roy Hibbert or other eventual starters available like Nicolas Batum or Serge Ibaka. In that same draft the Wizards made a successful pick in taking Javale McGee, eventually having enough trade value to be dealt for Nene when he was a strong asset.

With moves like a 1st for a rental Gortat, franchises like the Wizards live paycheque to paycheque. They buy short term gratification like chasing after a playoff spot they may not even get, but sacrificing assets hurts their potential in the long term. The two moves perennially struggling franchises make in all four major sports, is overpaying players and trading first round picks for short term veteran contracts. Unfortunately for the Wizards fanbase, only half a decade after disastrously giving a post surgery Gilbert Arenas 6 years, 111 million and trading a 5th overall pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye in a calendar year, they’ve once again made similar mistakes by giving John Wall a maximum contract and trading a 1st for half a season of Gortat. I guess when you keep the GM that gave the Arenas deal and made the Miller/Foye trade, you’re inviting the losing into your house and giving it a glass of wine.

Written by jr.

October 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm

NBA Franchise Power Rankings: #29 – Phoenix Suns

with one comment

Steve Nash dribbling the ball

Image via Wikipedia

Previous rankings:

#30 – Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)

#29 – Phoenix Suns

Total Trade Value Ranking – #28 (Feb. 2011 ranking: #29)

Best assets: PG Steve Nash (Old superstar), C Marcin Gortat (legitimate starter), 2012 1st, 2013 1st, PF Markieff Morris (rookie, projects as borderline starter), C Robin Lopez (borderline starter), rights to RFA PG Aaron Brooks (borderline starter), SF Jared Dudley (borderline starter)

Bad contracts: SF Josh Childress (3 years, 20.9 million), PF Channing Frye (3 years, 19.2 million)

Other chips: SG Mikael Pietrus (expiring)

Financial trade: C-

Managerial grade: D

Estimated record next year: Bottom 14

Overall assessment: The Suns are in a transition mode between the Steve Nash era and whatever comes next, except they appear to want to have their cake and eat it too, by rebuilding for the future while keeping Nash to compete and sell tickets. The longer they wait to move on from Nash, the bigger hole they leave for themselves to climb out of it. Nash is both 37 and an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he is not traded this year, Phoenix will get nothing for him. Furthermore, trading him early helps by putting them in prime position to get a top 5 draft pick in a highly regarded 2012 draft, rather than winning enough to get a #13 type pick like they did this draft, but likely not making the playoffs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

July 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Silly superstars, Treys are for Kicks!

with 2 comments

Image via nba.com

As the Dallas Mavericks progressed through the playoffs it was noted how well their offense was faring, and how strong the team’s 3-point attack was. The team shot 39.4% from 3-point land in the playoffs while shooting more than 20 3’s per game. This is devastating and obviously deserving of attention. Of course with Dirk Nowitzki, one of the great shooters of all time leading the way, would you expect anything less?

Yes, actually you would if you’ve been paying attention.

First off, Dirk has never shot 3-pointers like a mad man. While Ray Allen and, ahem, Antoine Walker shot in excess of 600 3-pointers a season Dirk peaked in the high 300s. Still though, when you’re shooting about 5 3-pointers per game, that’s a serious focus of your game.

It’s fascinating then to see how unimportant 3-pointers have become to Dirk’s current game as they’ve become more important to the Mav team as a whole. Dude’s been averaging about 2 3-pointers per game the past few years. How low is that? Well obviously it’s a heck of a lower than the amount that guys like Kobe, Durant, and Rose shoot, despite the fact none of them is the level of shooter than Dirk is (though admittedly Durant is getting close). Even superstars criticized for their lack of outside shooting like LeBron and Wade shoot 3s more than Dirk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

June 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

6 Finals thoughts and a prediction

with 2 comments

Alright, I’m running way behind schedule, so this will be right quick.

Loved reading Julien’s piece analyzing the Mavericks and the Heat. He made some points I’d have made had he not beat me to it, and some other great points I wouldn’t have made.

Here are some other finals previews I enjoyed reading.

On my mind:

1. Miami certainly appears to have played the tougher playoff schedule by a good amount, and they’ve looked more in control as they’ve done it. Not to take anything away from the Mavs who are 12-3 in the post-season just like the Heat, but they were a few bounces away from being down 2-1 in the Laker series instead of up 3-0, and maybe a single bounce away from losing 2 of 3 at home against Oklahoma City. Add in that the Heat clearly have more talent and have home court advantage:

If Dallas wins this series, it will be a pretty staggering achievement and a substantial upset.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

May 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm

A Parable of Noah and Solomon

with 2 comments

Joakim Noah

Image via Wikipedia

And so it came to be that not long after the foul word used by the man they call Kobe, Noah himself did use the same word. From on high, the Association gave the decree to punish Noah as had been done before to Kobe. But from the crowd came an cry after it became known that the penalty for Noah would be only one half that of what Kobe was made to suffer. In response, the man in the high castle known only as Stu spoketh to his people:

He was provoked, and he used a statement to a fan that passed by him. So it’s different circumstances. We’ll continue to evaluate each one of these incidents separately and make a determination. But we felt in this case a higher fine wasn’t warranted.

Wise Stu

(Okay I’ll drop the bad Biblical language now) The comeback to this statement by the league that struck me came from Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN’s telecast of Game 4 between the Mavericks and Thunder: “They should have explained that in the initial fine of Kobe Bryant.

Obviously, if the league had laid out precisely how much every kind of fine was to start with, and then followed those rules, they’d have a bit more credibility when faced with criticisms of bias.

Personally?  Let me give my Huzzah to Stu Jackson and the NBA on this one as it shows them performing with a wisdom they didn’t show previously.

Read the rest of this entry »

My choice for MVP: Howard over Rose just barely

with 6 comments

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic, 2008–09

Image via Wikipedia

After having Derrick Rose at #1 on my MVP list for the last month heading into the last stretch of the regular season, I have to give Dwight Howard the final nod. I don’t make this switch lightly – I’ve actually been changing my mind regularly for the past two weeks – but in the end Howard’s got the argument I cannot refute.

On Rose

Let’s start in defense of Rose, whose candidacy has been repeatedly assaulted by the stat-oriented minds of the internet. The root of the argument against Rose is that his stats are weak compared to other stars in the league. Of course, Rose averaged 25 points per game and nearly 8 assists per game – a quite rare combination, that’s exactly doesn’t scream “unworthy”. So what’s the issue? Well the advanced all-in-one stats like PER and Win Shares simply prefer other players. If you put enough stock in these stats and their precision, then this is a strong argument for others above Rose. Do we truly have a sense the advantages in play here are significant relative to the precision of these stats though?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

April 19, 2011 at 1:00 am

Examining Steve Nash trade possibilities and the oversaturated PG market

with 2 comments

Steve Nash 00054121

Image via Wikipedia

The Phoenix Suns need to trade Steve Nash this summer. At age 37 he has about one more year at this level and is an unrestricted free agent after the 11-12 season. Thus his is the last chance for the Suns to get value in return for their star. Virtually the only reason to keep him is ticket sales, which may be why Robert Sarver keeps him. But the Suns desperately need to take this oppurtunity to add young trade assets and start rebuilding. The longer they wait, the bigger the hole they create to climb out of.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, this is the worst possible trade market for Nash. With his age only teams looking to win a title now will be interested. But contenders like Boston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Chicago have PGs in place like Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, and Derrick Rose and won’t be interested. The win now teams where Nash fills a need like Dallas, Miami, the LA Lakers and Orlando have minimal trade assets. The lack of buyers for a PG Nash’s age and the lack of quality offers available on good teams diminishes Nash’s likely return. We are in the PG era.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Nash Disequilibrium, or Why I Use +/- Statistics

with 9 comments

Image by OakleyOriginals via Flickr

I felt the need to write this as a result of the article I wrote on Kobe Bryant and his adjusted +/- statistics this season. That article showed my perspective as someone who uses these stats – this one gets into why one should use them.

I’m a math kind a guy. I’ve been making statistical rankings of basketball players and other such trivia for forever. When the internet was first reaching prominence, many did see how they would use it, though they actually did end up using it obviously. I was dying for it though from the start. To have access to data like basketball-reference.com has is like a geek nirvana for me.

Now, I always knew that in basketball, the stats didn’t cover everything, but I always figured that what they missed was relatively small and not ridiculously biased. And then in ’04-05, I found myself utterly fascinated by the Phoenix Suns and Steve Nash. Every metric I’d ever come up with or ever seen said that Nash wasn’t the best player on that team, but my common sense just found this absurd. He was the one directing that offense, not the scorers. The team had launched forward far beyond what anyone expected because of an improvement in team offense that was completely unbelievable, and the team had made but one major change and one other major decision: Sign Nash, and put the ball & decision making in his hands.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

March 26, 2011 at 12:04 am

Not so fast: Major discrepancy in quoted “clutch” performance.

with 3 comments

This is a quick post in response to some more of the details in Henry Abbott’s last post on TrueHoop about Chris Paul‘s clutch performance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

February 21, 2011 at 11:24 am