A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Trade

Predicting the Kevin Love trade

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Here is my prediction for the Kevin Love trade. I believe the following deal is legal:

Minnesota trades:

Kevin Love – 15.7 million
J.J. Barea – 4.5 million

(19.9 million outgoing)

Minnesota gets:

Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st

(14.9 million incoming)

Cleveland trades:

Andrew Wiggins – 5.5 million
Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
Highest of CLE 2015 1st, MEM 2015 1st, MIA 2015 1st

(11.1 million outgoing)

Cleveland gets:

Kevin Love – 15.7 million

(15.7 million incoming)

Philadelphia trades:

Thaddeus Young – 9.4 million

(9.4 million outgoing)

Philadelphia gets:

Anthony Bennett – 5.6 million
J.J Barea – 4.5 million

(10.1 million incoming)

WHY for Minnesota:

The vibe I’ve been getting from Minnesota this whole time, is Flip’s dream is to come out and win 45 Gs next year. That’s why they were coming so hard after the Klay Thompson and David Lee package over one like Boston was offering.

Now Andrew Wiggins may be their “offer they can’t refuse” when it comes to accepting youth/prospect power instead of win now vets. But by flipping Young for Bennett, they still move in the direction of their original plan of a winning record next year. Minnesota could envision Wiggins and Young as a productive two way SF and PF combination immediately next year. The lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Nik Pekovic is a balanced starting lineup, with some shooting off the bench in Mo Williams and Chase Budinger, some athletes like Zach LaVine and Corey Brewer and some defense in Luc Mbah a Moute and Gorgui Dieng’s promise as the 3rd big. I’m not saying this is necessarily the right plan from my point of view, just that it could be what Flip would be happy with.

WHY for Cleveland:

It appears they are already offering Wiggins and Bennett so not much is needed to delve into here. The move is a no brainer from the Cavs end to put the best possible team around Lebron right now. Trying to plan for a window years in the future is dicey because Lebron could decline or Wiggins and Bennett’s development could disappoint or someone could get injured. This way contention is guaranteed, now. And if Love signs long term eventually, they’re still a longevity-friendly core.

A very important part of this deal for Cleveland is they keep the John Lucas III/Erik Murphy/Malcolm Thomas unguaranteed contracts they got from Utah, which allows them trading power to find supporting role players around their stars.

WHY for Philadelphia:

It was reported after the 2013 draft Philly would’ve done the Holiday trade if any of Noel, Oladipo or Bennett were available at #6. While it’s hard to take Philly of all teams at their word about draft targets, after the draft was over they’re less likely to have been smokescreening.

Either way, there’s a solid chance Philly likes Bennett who had a productive and analytics-friendly UNLV season and who’s rookie year was marred by injury. He would both be a decent fit with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid long term because of his perimeter spacing, or just puts up enough statistics to be good trade bait. For an expiring Thaddeus Young who they appear to have no chance or interest in resigning, picking up Bennett’s talent and upside is probably as favorable a return as they can ask for. Barea is just an expiring contract who they may buy out if they’re too worried about him winning games next year.


Written by jr.

July 29, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Minnesota should consider Oklahoma City as a Kevin Love trading partner

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Despite a strong point differential, by sitting 6 Gs behind the 8th seed Warriors and in 10th place, Minnesota’s season is all but over. With Kevin Love a season and a half until free agency, they have to start considering trading him now or this summer, to get full value for him instead of dealing from a position of weakness.

If Kevin Love for Blake Griffin is not a possibility with the latter’s surge in play recently, the team I love for Minnesota as a trade partner is Oklahoma City. Say the Thunder are willing to offer a package such as:

Serge Ibaka
One of Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb
2014 Dallas 1st (protection: top 20 2014, top 20 2015, top 20 2016, top 20 2017, unprotected 2018)
2014 Oklahoma City 1st

While Kevin Love is better than Serge Ibaka, the drop-off may not hurt the Timberwolves as much as it seems because of Ibaka fits such a need. Ibaka’s shotblocking and floor spacing is a pitch-perfect fit beside Nik Pekovic, who’s defense has improved himself. Between the two of them the Timberwolves frontcourt would still be set as a two way force for the future.

In addition the Timberwolves get what they’ve lacked for years, a young blue chip 2 guard in either Jackson or Lamb. Jackson is the currently more productive player, but Lamb’s shooting and floor spacing is a better compliment to Ricky Rubio. Both appear to have a high upside.

The draft picks are also of course important. In addition to their likely lottery pick this year, if Dallas makes the playoffs the Wolves would get two other 1sts around the 21st or 22nd pick and 29th or 30th picks to fortify their team. If Dallas misses the playoffs the pick becomes an even more interesting asset, as their odds of finishing in the top 10 teams in the league by 2017 will go down once Dirk shows his age. If retired by 2018, there is no floor for how poor the Mavericks could be, or how high a pick the Timberwolves could get from them. By adding young players to a core including Rubio, Lamb/Jackson, Martin, Budinger, Ibaka, Pekovic, Shabazz, Dieng, the Timberwolves would have a talented team post Kevin Love. The model would be the Denver Nuggets, who after trading Carmelo Anthony for a group of players including a blue chip Danillo Gallinari and others like Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and draft picks, continued to win and even set a franchise record a few years later. The Timberwolves would provide a fast brand of athleticism and skill that could not only compete for a playoff spot but be marketable to fans. It is hard for me to envision them doing better than the above.

However, the deal isn’t a no-brainer for the Thunder. At least not this trade deadline, where the team is rolling along and may not want to disrupt their chemistry. Still, especially if they once again fall short in the playoffs, it’s hard to turn down teaming Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Championships have been typically won in the NBA by having a stacked top 3 players and then the pieces fitting in around them. The Thunder have typically been one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the league in the Durant era, helping them play great D despite Kevin Love’s average play on that end. It also bears mentioning that Love may improve as a defender if needing to spend less energy on offense, just as Chris Bosh has been unrecognizably superior as a defender in Miami than he was in Toronto. On offense his floor spacing is a perfect fit to Westbrook and Durant’s driving, as is his offensive rebounding. The Thunder would likely be the most devastating offensive team in the team and impossible to match up with. While they would be giving up a lot in the above deal, it may be worth it to recapture the “3 star” model they gave up when losing James Harden. Despite paying a high price for Love, they wouldn’t empty out their young store of assets. They’d keep one of Jackson or Lamb, in addition to Steven Adams and Perry Jones III. It’s enough to continue Sam Presti’s history of young, cheap infrastructure around his stars.

Overall, this seems like the best fit for a Kevin Love deal because of how complimentary  to the Timberwolves lineup a return package like Serge Ibaka and Jeremy Lamb would be to help the team keep chugging along, Nuggets style. The Thunder truly go for a multiple title era.

Written by jr.

February 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

On why the Knicks should trade Carmelo Anthony & the Derrick Williams pick

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On http://www.morningpickup.com I wrote a few articles

The case for trading Carmelo Anthony


Can Derrick Williams find his niche in Sacramento?


Why I don’t like the Andre Iguodala move for the Warriors

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Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Warriors swooped in at the last minute to sign Andre Iguodala to a 4 year, 48 million contract, one of the summer’s biggest free agent fishes. To do so of course, they used 2 1sts, 3 2nds and Brandon Rush to trade Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins’ contracts to Utah in what ended up a 3 way S&T with Denver.

The more I think over this move, the more awful it looks for the Warriors.

My first concern is that the Warriors essentially paid a tax for a cash advance. Jefferson and Biedrins were set to expire next summer, giving the Warriors tons of capspace. The Warriors essentially said “We want to spend that capspace a year early” – and paying the 2 1sts, 3 2nds and Rush, was the tax for immediacy.

Do the Warriors need to be paying for immediacy? Stephen Curry’s youth gives them a long window of relevance, while Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are years from their prime. While a team like the Timberwolves are desperate to end a playoff drought and appease the fans, the Warriors magical 2nd round season last year, should’ve given them a grace period to take a step back next season. The Warriors fans have supported far, far worse. Patience was a luxury the Warriors had. There was nothing wrong with barely holding onto a playoff spot next year, then using capspace and draft picks next summer, to try and best 2012-2013.

The motive for improving in 2013-2014, is if it gave them a chance at the championship next year. But with San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston, Memphis and Los Angeles Clippers potentially all challenging 55 wins or more next season, the Warriors may a longshot to even finish higher than their 6th seed this season. In fact it may be as likely that they fall back to 7th or 8th due to a team like Dallas or Minnesota, then move up. It does not appear that the Warriors are a true title contender. If the Warriors believe this move can make them a 2013-2014 Finals or title contender, it is a deep, hail mary throw that’s likely to be batted down.

One of the reasons why, is that they didn’t add Iguodala to the team who ended last season. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry’s expected departure, counteracts part of the value of adding Iguodala. Iguodala should improve the Warriors defensively, but he is worse than either Jack or Landry are offensively, let alone both of them combined. They are more efficient scorers than Iguodala and Iguodala’s lack of spacing on the wing, may hurt the Warriors offense. I would argue the impact of the Iguodala acquisition is it prevents the Warriors from taking a big step back next season, not that it moves them upwards in the Western ranks. And is that worth the price they paid to Utah?

A counter to the “cash advance” criticism of the Iguodala trade, may be that the advanced-metrics heavy Warriors management really, REALLY wanted him, to the point of figuring if they let the opportunity to sign him now pass, as good of one wouldn’t be there when the capspace came in 2014. But this is dangerous. Iguodala is a good player, but how good? They spent 12 million a year on him. For them to feel “Iguodala is so good that we have to get him now”, it would imply that the 12 million spent next summer wouldn’t match up to him in value, or that essentially, Iguodala for 12 million a year is a must have bargain. Even for the most advanced-metrics heavy teams, is Iguodala with his offensive flaws, really the caliber of player that 12 million a year is a bargain? He would have to be a maximum caliber player if not and then some, for that to be true.

Especially considering my other major concern with signing Iguodala, is that he’s 30 next January. The history of free agents getting paid huge to produce in their 30s, is dicey. Iguodala also relies on athleticism far more than skill, meaning he may be a player who ages less than gracefully. When a somewhat comparable SF in Gerald Wallace was traded from Charlotte to Portland in 2011, he was 5 months younger than Iguodala is now. Wallace played like a star his first half season in Portland, slipped a bit but maintained a above average caliber of play in 2011-2012 split between Portland and Brooklyn, then totally fell apart in 2012-2013. Scarily, Iguodala has actually played more total minutes in the NBA than Gerald Wallace – not the Wallace at the time of the 2011 trade, but Wallace as of today, 2 and a half years later. Iguodala is not necessarily Wallace – he’s arguably a more cerebral player and has a closer to respectable jumpshot, but Iguodala is a major risk to decline at some point during this contract. He’ll turn 32 halfway through his 3rd season and 33 halfway through his 4th. Iguodala may be a contract where the value is in the 1st or 2nd year of his contract, while living with the last few years are a price paid for that value provided early. This isn’t a huge problem, but it further disputes the idea of Iguodala on this contract being such a valuable get that they had to pay the steep cash advance-tax just to sign him now.

The Warriors having 12.3 million of capspace to spend in the summer of 2014, would’ve given them a fair chance of replicating Iguodala’s production in 2014-2015, whatever it ends up being. Or if there’s any difference, certainly not one worth the cost of losing 2 1sts, 3 2nds and Brandon Rush. Thus you have a case where the return on investment of the package they sent to Utah, is almost solely in improving their team in 2013-2014. Unless the Warriors seriously surprise by becoming a contender next season, I just don’t see how supercharging next season, is at all worth it for them.

There are times when sacrificing long term assets for wins in the short term makes sense – such as arguably what Brooklyn did this summer, arguably giving them a real chance at the NBA title. But at least by my reading of their roster qulity, I don’t see next season as the right year for Golden State to sacrifice their assets for. In a few years losing that cap and asset flexibility to do so just so they could further guarantee themselves a playoff knockout season this year, could hurt them and be regrettable. To use a poker analogy cliche, the Warriors pushed a lot of chips in the pot while holding a decent, but not great hand. If they folded their cards this season, they may have left themselves more chips to bet on better hands. A key to NBA success is knowing what seasons to spend your chips on and what seasons to be conservative. The assets the Warriors spent now could’ve been saved for a more realistic title window when their young players hit their late 20s. While the season remains to be played and Iguodala has his fans, I don’t like this move for the Warriors whatsoever.

Written by jr.

August 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Predicting a trade: Amar’e Stoudemire to the Raptors

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Amar’e (Photo credit: SportsAngle.com)

Last summer I predicted the Raptors would trade for Rudy Gay, based on Bryan Colangelo’s history – favoring highly priced, big name players who fills the latest “biggest hole”, which at the time was wing offense. I had the trade right, but the timing wrong – Gay ended up in Toronto at the trade deadline, not before the draft.

This post is the sequel. I’m predicting Toronto trades for the biggest, baddest (not in a good way) contract in the league, Amar’e Stoudemire’s. Here’s why

– Toronto can construct a deal with little financial hit or burden to them. Dealing Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields and Aaron Gray for Amar’e, adds 2.0 million in salary this season and 5.65 million in 2014-2015, both likely inconsequential to a free spender like Colangelo. Replacing Fields with Kleiza in that deal, makes their salary increase in 2013-2014 3.6 million and in 2014-2015 11.9 million – a bigger hit, but easily believable with Colangelo’s history, especially if ownership is willing to pay the luxury tax.

Because Bargnani and Fields are so unproductive for the Raptors, they do not take much risk on in that deal at all. If the worst case scenario happens for Stoudemire’s production, by the season after next, he’s a huge expiring contract which gives them flexibility at the deadline or in the summer. The long term damage of trading for Stoudemire if it doesn’t work out is NBD. Also since Bargnani and Fields’ contracts are such embarrassing mistakes for Colangelo, managing to dump them both will appeal to his PR side.

– As I mentioned, a signature of the Colangelo era is plugging the biggest hole from the season before, in as much a “big media splash” way as possible. The team lacks offense from the frontcourt right now, which makes Amar’e fit like a glove. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas compliment him, as energy rebounders who have the effort to cover his lapses defensively. With Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Terrence Ross as perimeter offensive players next to that frontcourt, the Raptors easily have the talent and look of a playoff team in the East if they stay healthy – they’re already expecting to compete for the playoffs next year, by adding Amar’e even if he only plays 50 or 60 Gs, Colangelo may see the Raptors ending their playoff drought next year a foregone conclusion, with the biggest question as whether they’ll finish top 6. After missing 5 straight years, if Colangelo is extended for another season it’ll be by promising a playoff season next year. Without capspace or a draft pick, making a big Amar’e move will be one of his biggest options to try and have a booming season. The key to figuring out how interested Bryan Colangelo will be in a deal, is to ask “What is the best case scenario for this trade – if I just ignored the possibility of it failing?” The best case scenario for this roster is very very high. It’d presume Amar’e stays healthy and plays like an all-star, Gay breaks out to an all-star caliber season, Lowry plays like a top 10-15 PG, Derozan takes another leap as a scorer with the pressure taken off him efficiency wise, Amir has even better year statistically, Valanciunas and Ross both make leaps forward and prove to be blue chip young players. If all that happened the Raptors would be looking at a top 5 or 6 team in the East. With a strategy defined by ignoring the downside and presuming “I can get out of a mistake if I screw it up”, this should appeal to Colangelo.

I consider a straight up trade of Amar’e for Bargnani, Fields and Gray to be a near no-brainer for the Raptors, considering the lack of financial risk or assets given up, for a high upside acquisition in Stoudemire. The better question is whether the Knicks will ask for the pot to be sweetened. They would dump Amar’e to get more cap friendly and healthier players. With Bargnani’s injury history and his and Fields’ contract, that doesn’t do much for them. With Melo and Steve Novak, finding more stretch 4 play isn’t a pressing need for them. Fields played well in New York, but there’s a reason they didn’t match his offer sheet at that price.

My take: More would have to be given from the Raptors. Here’s the deal I predict:

Toronto gets:
Amar’e Stoudemire

New York gets:
Andrea Bargnani
Landry Fields
Aaron Gray
TOR 2014 1st (lottery protected, until 5-6 years from now when it becomes unprotected)

Toronto gives up a real asset in a future 1st round pick, even if it’s lottery protected. The logic by the bullish Colangelo may be that he projects the pick to be outside of top 18 based on the quality of the new roster, thus a pick he’s willing to give up value wise. By rolling out Lowry, Derozan, Ross, Gay, Amar’e, Amir, Valanciunas, Colangelo does his best to make a big enough splash, to get the Raptors to a top 8 seed next year with an upside higher than that. He gets to sell the team is the most talented the Raptors franchise has seen and has the upside to win now and then progress up the East. As the league’s signature hype man, it fits his profile.

New York gets value back for Amar’e via that pick, as well as fills out their bench with two players in Fields and Bargnani, hoping the latter breaks out with a fresh start. They move on from the injury history of Amar’e and the eventual problems that would come from playing him as 6th man and they clear a little money in 2014-2015. For a guy that most agree has the worst contract in the whole league, this is as fair value as they can expect.

Written by jr.

March 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Basketball

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Ramble mode activated: Why the Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay trade is a fail

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Yesterday Memphis, Toronto and Detroit completed a trade with Rudy Gay and Hamed Haddidi getting traded to Toronto, Jose Calderon getting traded to the Detroit and Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis, Austin Daye and a 2nd from Toronto, headed to Memphis.

The obvious winner is Detroit. They moved a poor long term contract in Prince, for a PG in Calderon who’s not only an upgrade in production but fits their needs with two bigs in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond on the team. If they don’t resign him this summer, it’s a good trade for the capspace alone.

I might have a follow-up article on Toronto’s end, but I like it for them. They were a team in an undesirable, mediocre position due to the mistakes of GM Bryan Colangelo, so taking a chance on a talent as great as Gay without paying a crippling price, seems a decent move. The main problem the team faces is the unbelievable amount of bad contracts handed out by Bryan Colangelo recently to Demar Derozan, Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, Aaron Gray and others, hampering their flexibility. But this is unrelated to the Gay trade.

But for now I want to talk about Memphis’ side in the trade and it’s a fascinating one. Rudy Gay this season is caught in the middle of statistical vs practical analysis battle. Memphis is a 54 win pace team despite Gay shooting a way below average .478 TS% (league average TS% is .532) on an estimated 18 shooting possessions (FGA + 0.44*FTA). If Memphis is a tier 2 team, what’s holding them back from contention is their offensive rating only ranking 18th of 30 teams, while their defense is 2nd. For this reason a statistical argument could be made that Memphis making the leap from pretender to contender could happen by simply taking away Gay’s below average shots and redistributing them to the rest of the Grizzlies. Putting Tayshaun Prince in Gay’s place is as close as you can get to testing that hypothesis, because in skillset he’s almost a dead ringer for a version of Rudy Gay that simply doesn’t shoot as much. He’s a big small forward who’s as underwhelming a 3 point shooter as Gay and who occasionally likes to use his size in the post or take midrange shots. On the defensive end he’ll be expect to perform to a Gay-like level – respectably, but not elite. If all goes to plan, the Grizzlies with “lobotomized Rudy Gay” in the form of Prince of would redistribute the bad shots taken from Gay by above average shots on the rest of the roster, thus elevating that ORTG to top 10 instead of #18 and turning the Grizzlies into a contender.

But of course, there’s a strong argument to be made that things don’t work out this way. Taking away the pressure Rudy Gay puts on defenses as a slasher, may make it easier for defenses to load up against Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. This is especially true considering Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince provide as little offensive value as any SG and SF combination in the league, with no help coming from Wayne Ellington or Quincy Pondexter off the bench, it will be easy for teams to neglect guarding them in favor of double teaming Memphis’ stars. Furthermore I’m a believer in the concept of energy distribution in basketball. By having a high usage player like Rudy Gay on the court offensively, not only does it give his teammates more space, but it gives them more energy. It allows them to save their energy not only for the offensive plays called for them, but for the defensive end and on the glass. Memphis’ offensive stars will now essentially be playing 3 on 5 for large portions of the game on the offensive end. Might this put a damper on how much they have left for defense?

Finally in regards to shot redistribution, I’m not sure if evaluating a player like Gay is as easy as taking his TS% as a whole and comparing it to a league average replacement shot. Gay’s shots can be split essentially into two categories, good shots and bad shots. According to hoopdata.com, Gay takes 4.1 FGs at the rim a game at 65%, to go along with 3.7 FTA (about 1.6 shot attempts) at the FT line at an even better 78%. Thus he “creates” about 5.7 excellent efficiency shots a game. The problem is he takes 2.1 shots from 3-9 FT at 36.3%, 2.2 shots from 10-15 FT at 45.9%, 3.9 shots from 16-23 FT at 35.0% and 2.9 3s at .457 eFG. This is a combined 11.1 shots at a poor efficiency. Thus it’s easy to see where Gay’s way below TS% comes from. While creating good shots, he takes twice as many bad ones. That is why replacing all of his shots with league average ones theoretically would increase his team’s offensive efficiency.

The question however, is how responsible Gay is for his good shots and how responsible he is for his bad shots. The problem with assigning him blame for the latter, is that many bad shots are a result of the team’s imperfection. Teams don’t WANT to take the worst shot in basketball, contested 2 pointers, but they have to when the shot clock is nearing 0 and they have no better shot to take. When Rudy Gay takes one of these shots, converted at a poor efficiency, his shooting % is taking the weight for the failure of the team’s offense as a whole. Removing Rudy Gay from this play wouldn’t prevent this contested 2 point shot from happening. If he’s not there, someone else has to take that bad shot and their efficiency gets worse. My favorite analogy to show this is Allen Iverson. On the early 2000s Sixers, he played on teams with dreadful supporting offensive talent, lacking either shooting or post scoring. Their job was defense and rebounding. In Iverson’s incredibly inefficient 01-02 season (.489 TS%), Iverson took an incredible 18 shots a game from either 3-9, 10-15, or 16-23 FT and all at < 40% shooting, way below league average for TS%. The assumption that Iverson is hurting his team by taking these shots, relies on the assumption that they wouldn’t be taking them anyways. In reality, due to the lack of offensive talent on the Sixers, it’s likely that removing Iverson would cause them to take MORE bad mid-range shots. Iverson was the only one who could be relied upon to create shots at the rim, FT line or from 3. Removing those shots likely forces the team into even more “dead sets” and contested 2 point jumpers. Thus it doesn’t make sense to replace Iverson’s bad shots with average shots when evaluating how well his shots would be replaced, because in all likelihood not only would his bad shots be replaced by his teammates, but his good shots would be replaced by bad ones.

Likewise the danger for Memphis is that by trading away Rudy Gay, they lose the 6 or so “good” shots he creates at the rim and FT line, but the 11 “bad” shots he takes a game are simply replaced by teammates. This would leave them with 6 less “good” shots than they were getting before. It’s possible that Rudy’s 6 good shots and 11 bad shots, end up replaced by 17 bad shots – which would make their offense worse, not better. Rudy takes 8.2 FGA a game combined from 3-9, 10-15 and 16-23 FT, while Conley Jr. only takes 2.2, Tony Allen 3.5 from those ranges. All 3 shoot brutal percentages from those zones. If the responsibility of taking “dead set” shots simply transfers from Gay to Conley and Allen, it doesn’t make a lot of sense punish Gay’s shooting % for those shots as much as it does to credit the ones he creates by slashing to the basket.

Or put it this way: Allen Iverson was one of the best slashers in the game (defining slashing as, getting to the rim, then scoring at the rim). Rudy Gay is a very good slasher. Slashing is how a team gets field goal attempts at the rim and free throw line. If you remove these guys, barring a unique situation, you’re probably going to have a team that is less capable at creating shots at the rim. Now if Memphis traded for a sharpshooter at SF, they could’ve justifed the deal by becoming worse at slashing, but better at 3pt shooting, which is another way to score efficient shots. The problem is that they didn’t improve their 3pt shooting either, with the similarity ability Prince and Gay have in that area. So you have a team that got worse at slashing, without getting better at 3pt shooting. Chances are that team will be worse offensively and at creating good shots.

No, it simply does not make sense to me for anyone to believe that simply removing Gay with such a non-offensive element as Prince, is going to make them BETTER offensively. The Grizzlies now become indisputably easier to guard than they were with Gay. They now have to play with virtual non threats offensively all game at SG and SF which puts a big toll on their offensive stars.

To me the big problem with the Grizzlies offense before, was twofold: A lack of 3pt shooting/spacing and a lack of offensive support off the bench. Trading for Prince, who is as mediocre a 3pt threat as Gay, certainly does not help their spacing. It makes spacing worse because despite Gay’s lack of range, he still attracted attention from Conley, Randolph and Gasol, which Prince won’t. They did improve their bench scoring by adding the talented Ed Davis, but he the 2nd unit needed much, much more offensive support. To me it’s pretty clear that the team got worse offensively.

The timing of this trade for Memphis is also puzzling. After paying a price to get under the luxury tax last year in the trade they made with Cleveland, why the rush to trade Gay? Memphis was still on pace for their best season ever by record and in the mix for a top 5 seed in the West. Trade offers for Gay would’ve still been there this summer, if not greater offers if teams became desperate after a failed playoff run. Toronto has been desperate to add Gay since last June and likely would’ve been this summer as well offering an identical deal. Furthermore while the Grizzlies cleared flexibility this summer, they are not under the cap enough to sign anyone but their own player Tony Allen this summer. It seems the only reason to make this trade now was because they actually thought replacing Gay with Prince and Davis would make them better immediately and give them a better chance at winning the title these playoffs – while improving their long term future with Davis’ talent and the extra flexibility. And in my opinion, they are very wrong about that so called improvement.

Finally, one more side point about Rudy Gay and the Grizzlies. Right now, the two dominant players in the league are both physically freakish small forwards, Lebron James and Kevin Durant. If the Grizzlies want to win the NBA title, those two stars are likely to be standing in their way. In a playoff series with the Heat or Thunder, might it be a good idea to have a Rudy Gay to match up with those players? Not only is Rudy one of the few players who has the size and length to stick on them, but one can make the case that making them defend Rudy Gay on the other end, has some value. Not only could Gay physically tire them out or force them into foul trouble, but mentally, the toe to toe battle with Gay is one more thing Lebron and Durant would have to worry about. On the other hand they can rest physically and mentally if they only have to guard Tayshaun Prince. When playoff series are decided by inches, this could make a difference.

The Grizzlies as a whole took a big step backwards in talent level by trading Gay. This is a huge red flag because having more talent than the other team is everything in the NBA. I believe a better move may have been if trading Gay, for someone with equal “blue chip” status. The perfect trade would’ve been flipping him for Paul Pierce or Danny Granger, two star SFs who fit their lineup. Grabbing Arron Afflalo from Orlando would a respectable mid level wing replacement. If those teams weren’t interested in Gay, perhaps Toronto could’ve rerouted Calderon and Davis to Indiana, Boston or Orlando. But to not even get a sharpshooting 3pt shooting role playing SF in return for Gay (such as Jared Dudley from Phoenix, as rumored), is just an immense failure. If Memphis was to go with a “trade Gay for a lineup that fits more”, they HAD to get an elite 3pt shooting spacer. By only getting Prince, they took a clear step back in the immediate future offensively which defeats the purpose of trading Gay this quick.

Written by jr.

January 31, 2013 at 2:56 am

Posted in Basketball

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Should the Celtics trade for Amar’e Stoudemire?

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Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks addre...

Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks addresses fans at the team’s open practice session in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With Amar’e Stoudemire coming back from injury, all the talk is of what to do with him. The Knicks have clearly been successful without him, starting 21-8. A key to this is Carmelo playing at the 4 beside Tyson Chandler, the two providing a perfect harmony of offensive spacing and mobile defense. Carmelo and Amar’e have never been able to win while on the court together. The offensive chemistry and synergy between them is impossible with their style of ball-needing play. While Amar’e seems destined to come off the bench when he returns, this does not fix the issue. Carmelo, Amar’e and Chandler will need to play together a certain portion of the game – and I suspect Stoudemire will want to finish games and play the end of 4th quarters. Coming off the bench is one thing, but being benched in “winning time” is arguably an even bigger slight to star player’s egos.

Trading Amar’e is the natural move, the problem is he has the single worst contract in the league. At 2 years/45 million owed after this season, if his health issues prevent him from playing at a star level, he will be a massive albatross.

Here’s the team I like for Stoudemire: The Boston Celtics. Boston has started a disappointing 14-14 and looks in no way like a title contender this year. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are still effective, the problem is the rest of the team. All of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger are performing poorly. The Celtics frontcourt in particular has been ineffective aside from Garnett. I’m of the belief that when you have old stars like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, you should push all in to try and win the title. Because having players that effective is a scarce asset and it can take decades to contend for a title again after they’re gone. The Celtics only being a .500 team in a year they expected to compete for a title is a huge failure from that perspective.

The thing about the Celtics is that they’re loaded with long term deals. Jeff Green is owed 3 years/27.1 million after this season and may be a below league average player, Brandon Bass is owed 2 years/13.7 million after the season, Courtney Lee is owed 3 years/16.3 million after this year. Combine those 3 poor contracts together and financially, it’s almost an exact match for Stoudemire’s salary. The Green, Bass and Lee combination is owed 19.6 million in 2012-2013,  20.65 million in 2013-2014, 21.6 million in 2014-2015 and 14.9 million in 2015-2016. Amar’e is owed 19.5 million in 2012-2013, 21.7 million in 2013-2014, and 23.4 million in 2014-2015. Because the Knicks do not likely have room for 3 extra players in their rotation, especially an extra wing defender like Lee, a logical swap would be sending back Ronnie Brewer and 1.1 million expiring contract. Brewer has been losing minutes lately due to his lack of shooting and would be replaceable by Lee.

So the Knicks move on from their Amar’e conundrum and get a legitimate backup big who’s OK being a backup in Bass and give Green a try at SF and PF, while replacing Brewer with Lee. All of these pieces are more moveable in upcoming years than Amar’e himself. The important part though is avoiding the potential chemistry nuke of an unhappy Amar’e returning and being benched in 4th quarters.

As for the Celtics, they hope Amar’e can spark them to contention this year. With Terry, Pierce, Amar’e and Garnett, the Celtics would have tremendous offensive spacing for Rondo to play with. They would have an extra scorer to match up with Miami, Chicago and New York’s tough defense in the playoffs. Defensively they would have to hope the team thank to Garnett can get back to the heights they were in previous years. Getting Ronnie Brewer back may help that as well. Overall, it’s a gamble, but one that doesn’t cost them anything financially and they’re in a position where they need to take chances, if they want to compete for a Finals berth again this year. With Rondo, Pierce and Garnett on the team they can’t be far away from contending again. One more big gun could do it.

Written by jr.

December 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Predicting a trade: Rudy Gay to the Raptors

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Rudy Gay watches the Drew League vs Goodman Le...

Rudy Gay watches the Drew League vs Goodman League game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve cheered for a sports team who’s had the same general manager for a long time, you can usually sniff out exactly what types of moves fit his style or not. I’ve cheered for Toronto for some time and have followed the Bryan Colangelo era since his hiring in 2006 and I feel I understand the way this man operates, for better or worse. It is for that reason that I am expecting Rudy Gay to be on the team by the end of June. While I am a speculative person in general about NBA team’s future moves, this trade crosses a threshold to me where the more I look at it, the more I become assured that it will in fact happen. There are two trades for Toronto in the Colangelo era I sniffed out and prepared myself for months before they happened – one was a minor trade of Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans, at a time when Toronto had many shooters but no rebounders and Philadelphia had many rebounders but no shooters and both players had the same contract, making it a swap so logical that it had to happen. The other deal that seemed inherently obvious was  Jermaine O’Neal being traded for Shawn Marion’s expiring contract, allowing the team to attempt a final hail mary in the Chris Bosh era (that ended up being Hedo Turkoglu’s dreadful contract). I feel nearly as strongly about a predction that Rudy Gay will be a member of the team by the end of this month.

My proposed trade is that Memphis will deal Rudy Gay and Toronto will trade back the 8th overall pick, Linas Kleiza, and depending on the negotation, possibly Ed Davis. Toronto can make this trade on draft day because after dealing Leandro Barbosa’s contract to Indiana, they now have just enough capspace to legally exchange the difference between Gay and Kleiza. Colangelo literally stated after the deal that giving himself this flexibility to deal before July 1st in uneven financial terms  made him “giddy”.

First, this is an exceedingly good trade for the Memphis Grizzlies. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

June 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Make this trade: Steve Nash to the Orlando Magic

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Steve Nash

Image via Wikipedia

This trade deadline should be a bundle of fun. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash getting traded is definitely in play – and if Howard doesn’t end up on the Nets, Deron Williams for the 2nd straight year will be too.

You know how in detective movies or books, there’s that scene where the 2 detectives working on their individual crimes have that “Wait, our cases are connected!” moment. That’s where I feel these Howard and Nash situations could be headed.

Here’s what we know. Half a year of Steve Nash before his UFA is unlikely to garner as big a return as the Suns want. Would the Pacers give up young PG Darren Collison for such a short return? Probably not. Even with Nash they’d be longshots against the Bulls and Heat. Dallas would want Nash, but what do they have to give up? Rodrigue Beaubois alone wouldn’t cut it. The Portland Trailblazers? Like Indiana, giving up young players like Wes Matthews or Nic Batum for an improvement that wouldn’t take them over the top would likely be a misguided option.

What if Orlando offered something like: Jameer Nelson, JJ Redick, Ryan Anderson, Justin Harper, and 2012 ORL 1st for Steve Nash and Channing Frye? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

February 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm

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Thoughts on the Rejection Part 2 and another revised deal to make Paul to the LA Lakers work

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English: David Stern, commissioner of the Nati...

David, what ... have... you ... done? (Image via Wikipedia)

The mess the NBA got itself into in rejecting the Chris Paul to the LA Lakers trade got bigger yesterday when the NBA rejected the 2nd offer submitted by the Lakers, Rockets and Hornets.

The problem with the 2nd offer is it was by most reports, insulting similar to the 1st one. Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Hornets “revisions” included sign and trading Jason Smith and Marcus Banks to the Lakers in the deal. Which changes nothing for the Hornets – it just adds to the luxury tax bill the Lakers would pay.

If Dell Demps thought that’d be enough or that the PR mess of veteoing this trade again would pass the same trade on the 2nd try, he was incredibly naive. He tried to put lipstick on a pig.

What Stern actually came out and said yesterday before this 2nd veto, is that he rejected the initial deal because it’s non-beneficial to the future of the Hornets financially. The NBA is trying to sell the team – and thus the most logical move in the post Paul era is to have a team full of young players on rookie contracts and a salary floor payroll. This trade leaves the Hornets with multiple long term contracts for veteran, short term players.

The Hornets didn’t make the trade the owner(s) wanted. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

December 11, 2011 at 11:55 am