Friday, February 15, 2008

Hawks & Horford Have Bright Future

Since 1990-91, only nine rookies have finished their first season averaging ten or more rebounds per game. Al Horford is currently in that group and assuming he will average more minutes during the second half of the season, he will most likely be the tenth player in the group.

The nine past players include: Shaquille O'Neal, Dikembe Mutombo, Tim Duncan, Larry Johnson, Emeka Okafor, Alonzo Mourning, Derrick Coleman, Dwight Howard, and Elton Brand.

So with Horford, the Atlanta Hawks clearly have a great, young player to start with. Besides Horford, the Hawks have a variety of other players:

Scoring Star
Joe Johnson - wrapped up through 2009-10 season

Promising Young Players
Marvin Williams - Signed through the 2009-10 season
Acie Law - Signed through the 2011-12 season
Shelden Williams - Signed through 2010-11 season

Long-Term Veteran Contracts
Speedy Claxton - Signed through 2009-10 season
Zaza Pachulia - Signed through next season
Solomon Jones - Signed through next season

Restricted Free Agents After This Season
Josh Childress - $4,844,355 Qualifying Offer
Josh Smith - $3,167,882 Qualifying Offer

Expiring Contracts
Tyronn Lue
Lorenzen Wright
Anthony Johnson
Salim Stoudamire
Mario West

Standing second-to-last in the NBA in three point shooting, the Hawks badly need another shooter. Both Mike Miller and Wally Szczerbiak can be had for the Hawks' expiring contracts - around $12,000,000.

Childress has shown that he can be a reliable, versatile reserve, but is probably nothing more than that. Shelden Williams looks like a complete mistake of a pick being chosen fifth overall by Atlanta.

So what do the Hawks need to do to reach their short-term (playoffs) and long-term (championship) goals? First, trade all five of the Hawks expiring contracts and a future draft pick to Seattle for Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. With a starting lineup of West, Johnson, Szczerbiak, Smith, Horford with Williams, Pachulia, Law, and Childress coming off the bench.

This upcoming offseason, the Hawks should look to bring back Childress and Smith, along with trying to deal Shelden Williams and Speedy Claxton. At the end of this season, the Hawks need to either resign the newly acquired Szczerbiak or bring in a similar type of perimeter score to space the ball in Atlanta.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thoughts from 2/12/08 New Orleans Hornets at Chicago Bulls

Tuesday night I went to the Bulls game and sat at center court in the second row. It was very really interesting to see the interactions between players, coaches, referees, and even players.

Some thoughts from the evening:
-Jannero Pargo is a great streak shooter and instant offense. However, when he is not making his shot, he is completely useless. He does not make the best choices with the ball in his hands, lacks size and strength, and is a mediocre defensive player. However, when he's got the hot hand, he's the ideal bench player.

-Aaron Gray played twelve minutes for the Bulls in the game and had three turnovers and four fouls. Tyrus Thomas only played eight minutes in the game. I would give all minutes of Gray's to Thomas.

-The Hornets lack the necessary depth to truly compete in the playoffs. Rasual Butler, Hilton Armstrong, Jannero Pargo, Bobby Jackson, and Ryan Bowen are their key contributors off their bench. None of these guys standout and the Hornets could use a boost off the bench, especially a big man.

-Chris Paul is just as valuable to his team as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash is to his team. The Hornets entire offense runs around and through Paul and when he is out of the game, they run their offense completely differently. This team will go as far as Paul takes them.

-Byron Scott seems like a pefect fit for this team. In the past, he was described as an ego-maniacal, long-winded coach with the Nets, but is not a hit with the Hornets.

-David West and Tyson Chandler have become great players in New Orleans, but I doubt they would have developed so nicely if Paul wasn't playing with them.

-Peja Stojakovic is still the best perimeter shooter when he is on. In this game against the Bulls, Paul spent most of the second half penetrating into the lane, drawing the defense, and kicking out to an open Stojakovic.

-The Bulls played a lineup featuring Chris Duhon, Thabo Sefolosha, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, and Ben Wallace. The Hornets struggled to matchup and Sefolosha scored several times in the post.

-Why didn't Kirk Hinrich start? Why did he come in after several minutes? He clearly was healthy enough, shooting three for five from the three point line.

Box Score:;_ylt=AkDvHNgJ8pZJSsuCCKeO0QuQvLYF?gid=2008021204


Trade Restrictions for Recently Traded Players

No Reacquiring:
Teams cannot reacquire a player that they traded during a given season (July 1- June 30) unless the player has been waived.

This rule was put in place to block teams from trading a player to make the salaries work with the understanding that the team would then release that player, so he could be resigned by his original team.

However, if a team waits thirty days, then they are able to reacquire that recently traded player. For instance, in the current proposed trade between the Nets and Mavericks, Jerry Stackhouse will immediately be bought out by the Nets, then will sit out for thirty days, and then will resign with the Mavericks.

On February 24, 2005, Alan Henderson was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks along with Calvin Booth for Keith Van Horn. The Bucks then waived Henderson the following day. On March 1, 2005, he re-signed with the Mavericks.

This also occured in a situation with Gary Payton. Like Henderson, Payton was also traded on February 24, 2005 to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that brought former Celtic Antoine Walker back to Boston. The Hawks then waived Payton immediately following the trade, and he returned a week later to Boston as a free agent. Payton started all 77 games he played for the Celtics and they won the Atlantic Division before losing in the first round to the Indiana Pacers.

If a team is over the cap and receives a player in a trade or claims a player off of waivers, they cannot trade the player in combination with other players for 2 months. The player can be traded by himself.

Some current examples of this include: Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'Neal, Kwame Brown, Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks, Stromile Swift, Jason Collins, Javaris Crittenton.

Devean George Blocks Trade to the Nets

The trade proposal:
Dallas sends 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse, the expiring contracts of center DeSagana Diop and swingman Devean George and guard Maurice Ager to New Jersey for Kidd and forward Malik Allen.

Sources say Dallas will also send the Nets the league-maximum $3 million, the Mavs' first-round draft pick this June and a first-rounder in 2010.

The Rule:
-1-Year Bird: Must receive consent to trade players with a 1-year contract, excluding options, who will become Early Bird or Bird free agents at teh end of the contract, or players who have accepted a qualifying offer for a 5th season following the 4th option season on the Rookie Scale. If the player consents, he will lose his Bird rights and become a non-Bird free agent at the end of the contract.

-George's "early Bird rights,'' which come from being on his second one-year deal, mainly give him a chance to sign his next contract for more than the salary cap allows. However, he's unlikely to command that much anyway. Another benefit is the veto power that's also part of those rights, as per the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.

-The Mavs have the right to sign Devean George, this offseason, even though they are over the salary cap. This means he has Bird Rights, named after a similar scenario that involved Larry Bird during Bird's playing days.

-Other 1-Year Bird players include: Derek Anderson, Jeff McInnis, Dwayne Jones, Anthony Carter, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Mihm, Earl Barron, Jannero Pargo, Sean Marks, Jacque Vaughn, Darrick Martin, C.J. Miles, and Roger Mason.

-Because George's current contract is for only one season, his rights are not transferable to another team (they would be transferable if his current contract were for more than one season). Since he would be losing those rights -- known as Early Bird Rights - he has to consent to the proposed Mavs-Nets trade.

The Block:
George's agent Mark Bartelstein told by phone: "We're not trying to block anything. The issue is that if he agrees to this deal, he has to give up his Bird rights. To lose that tool in today's world of free agency is a difficult thing to do. In this day and age, the sign-and-trade is a valuable tool that I don't want to lose for Devean. We're not trying to cause a problem. Teams have to do what's in their best interest. Sometimes players do, too. I hate to cause grief, but I have to do what's best for Devean. It's not a power play. My job is to protect him."

Video of George:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"The D-League: That's D as in Dreamers"

The D-League: That's D as in Dreamers
It actually stands for 'development,' but for the players who toil in pro basketball's minor league, the faint hope of getting to the NBA is what keeps them going.

By Jonathan Abrams
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

February 13, 2008

BOISE, Idaho -- Spacing is a concern now, possibly more so than it is on the court.

There is no charter flight for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers' Development League team. Abdoulaye N'Diaye and Jelani McCoy, both nearly seven feet tall, stake out a couple added inches of space by claiming front-row seats on the flight headed here for a two-game trip.

Their teammates scatter throughout the plane, most nodding to sleep as the sun seeps through the windows with no blinders.

This is a dream on a budget -- or life in the NBA D-League.

A budget that puts two players per hotel room, and offers a $30 per diem and salaries that top out at $26,000.

High school and college standouts are now tweeners and too-shorts, and the dream is maybe what gets players through trips -- be it here, Fort Wayne or Sioux Falls.

Some D-Fenders have played overseas, where the pay is more lucrative, but returned -- either subscribing to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind theory or weary of living far from home.

But the payoff of making it to the NBA with a minimum annual salary of $427,163 -- somewhat mystically referred to as "the league" -- outweighs any burden. Even a 10-day NBA contract almost matches the highest D-League salary.

So the dream trudges on.

The players shuffle off the plane. A fresh sheet of snow fell this Thursday morning, pushing a sunny Los Angeles day into the past.

The D-Fenders consist of McCoy (UCLA), N'Diaye (USC), Cecil Brown (Canoga Park High and UC Santa Barbara), Brian Chase (Virginia Tech), Errick Craven (USC), Stephane Lasme (Massachusetts), Sean Banks (Memphis), Brian Morrison (North Carolina and UCLA) and Wendell White (Redondo Union High and UNLV).

Some have attended an NBA training camp -- falling just short. Then there is McCoy, UCLA's all-time leader in blocked shots, who has 72 games of NBA experience spread among eight seasons.

The 14-team league, spearheaded by NBA Commissioner David Stern, is largely still searching for a way to manifest itself into a true feeder system for the NBA.

The D-Fenders are better off than most. They are owned by the Lakers and travel with a trainer and equipment manager.

There are some horror stories -- teams waiting for their jerseys to be washed -- all dependent on whether a reliable high school kid can be found.

Waiting for his luggage in Boise, N'Diaye talks of not having been home to Senegal in three years. Lasme, in Golden State Warriors gear retained from his six seconds of game action there, talks of seldom seeing his girlfriend. "It's tough, man. It's tough," Lasme says softly.

Most players are exhausted after a 6 a.m. roundup in Los Angeles.

Some grab food, a turkey sandwich from the hotel; the rest scatter for a quick nap. The shrieks of a fire alarm drill cut into it. Anyway, it's time for practice.

They shuttle off to Qwest Arena, a tiny downtown facility built with hockey in mind more than basketball.

The strategy is laid for the next day's game against the veteran Idaho Stampede. "If it's a pick-and-roll this side . . ." D-Fenders Coach Dan Panaggio begins.

"Then trap it," Chase finishes.

That's Chase -- a coach on the floor. The team's point guard and leader, he went to training camp with the Miami Heat and spent some time with the Utah Jazz last season. Listed generously at 5 feet 10, his size is an obstacle he's overcome at every stop -- college, the ABA, the CBA and here.

McCoy, 30, is first to enter the lobby for the trip to Friday's shoot-around. A maid mops around him.

Sometimes, when there are few fans in the arena for games, he imagines it packed.

An hour later, a lackadaisical shoot-around is stopped by Panaggio, a longtime coach who takes pride in having tutored at every level. He is part-time coach, part-time psychologist, full-time mentor.

"What kind of body language is this?" he asks his team, gathered at midcourt. "Am I asking too much? Do your jobs. If you don't want to be part of this, let me know."

These two games are a crossroads for his team. The Stampede is riding a 17-game win streak and has beaten the D-Fenders three times.

His players fall into five categories: Those who work hard, trying to reach the NBA. The talented player with character issues. The veteran in a holding tank waiting for his next call. And those either content to still be playing or simply not good enough for the NBA.

Meal. Nap. Ride to the arena. "Where's Abdoulaye?" Panaggio asks.

The center is running late and comes to the bus in sandals. "You are wearing sandals with no shoes," Panaggio says. "Do you know what the dress code is?"

He sends N'Diaye back to his room and tells him to take a cab to the game. The shuttle leaves.

"I hate to fine guys who can't afford it, but he is a repeat offender," Panaggio says.

N'Diaye is fined $25.

He arrives almost as soon as the shuttle does and heads to the court before requesting tickets. The trip is a semi-homecoming. He played at USC, but before that at the College of Southern Idaho.

"All right guys, let's get everybody together," Panaggio says. They gather in a cramped locker room. His game plan is scrawled on a whiteboard.

The D-Fenders stay close throughout the game, swapping leads before faltering late and losing by double digits.

"Get a nice hot shower, get a nice meal, get to bed and we are going to rally tomorrow," Panaggio says to his team, many with hands cupped on their chins and foreheads.

Shoot-around is canceled Saturday morning. Instead the team circles around a hotel conference room.

Panaggio lists areas of concern -- leadership, professionalism, dress code and cellphone usage among them. "It's a question of what's more important," he says.

Chase sees it as a personal knock against his leadership skills and asks for clarity. Others say the offenders should be approached one-on-one and not called out.

The coach wants to stem small issues before they grow. The players want to maintain their independence in a structured environment that provides little pay.

A couple of jokes are cracked. Some players only gaze downward. It is a difficult task, an attempt at stability in a league where players come and go.

Panaggio ends the discussion with a positive note, crediting Banks, Chase and McCoy for arriving early to Friday's game.

In the NBA, two buses leave for every away game -- the earlier one for players who want extra practice. If players want to arrive early for games in this league, they are on their own.

They finish with film and break. "We've got to get this one tonight," Chase says.

Before the game, the sun finally peeks out.

In the second quarter, Brown hits two quick three-pointers to push a growing lead. Brown, a smooth guard, considers himself lucky to be playing at all.

After leaving Canoga Park, he broke three vertebrae while lifting weights. He did not walk for five months and repeatedly was told his career was over.

The D-Fenders win convincingly. Banks, a former Conference USA freshman of the year, scores a team-record 42 points. They simultaneously end the Stampede's 18-game winning streak and their own long and sometimes frustrating weekend triumphantly.

The dreary faces a night earlier are now wide smiles. "It's crazy," Craven says. "We finally beat them."

There is a 4:30 a.m. roundup for the return plane to Los Angeles. Some don't bother trying to sleep. There is little time for this dream to rest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mike Miller On the Move

With the recent trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers, it appears the Memphis Grizzlies are in full rebuild mode. Miller is a 6'8" wing player, who at twenty-seven years of age, still has plenty of good years ahead of him. Miller has averaged double-digits every year of his career and is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. This season, he is averaging 17 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 3.7 assists per game. He certainly can help any team looking for an additional scorer.

With Miller having value, this is the perfect opportunity for the Grizzlies to stick Brian Cardinal's contract on someone else. Likely, the Grizzlies will be asking for someone to take on Cardinal with any trade for Miller. Cardinal is scheduled to earn $5,850,000 and is locked in for three more years.

Here are the five top trades, sensible for both teams, that would send Miller out of Memphis:

1) Golden State is always interested in shooters and have plenty of assets to make a trade. By using their trade exception, the Warriors could trade two disgrunteled players, for two guys who could help in Don Nelson's playoff push.

Mike Miller ($8,376,194, 3 Years Remaining) and Brian Cardinal ($5,850,000, 3 Years Remaining) for Patrick O'Bryant ($2,216,400, 1 Year), Mickael Pietrus ($3,470,771, 1 Year Remaining), and $9,999,999 Trade Exception (Jason Richardson)

2.) The Orlando Magic could acquire Miller and Cardinal without giving up key parts. Cardinal would get significant playing time on a team short with size and Miller would be an upgrade over existing talent. Concerns over Hedo Turkoglu and Miller being too similar may arise, though I would think Miller's ability to play and defend multiple positions would be of interest to Orlando.

Mike Miller ($8,376,194, 3 Years Remaining) and Brian Cardinal ($5,850,000, 3 Years Remaining) for Pat Garrity ($3,818,750, 1 Year Remaining), Carlos Arroyo, $4,000,000, 1 Year Remaining), James Augustine ($687,456, 1 Year Remaining), J.J. Redick ($2,000,160, 2 Years Remaining), and Brian Cook ($3,500,000, 2 Years Remaining)

3.) The Cleveland Cavaliers badly need another scorer next to LeBron James and Miller would be a great fit. The Grizzlies would have to take on two mid-sized deals to make the trade work, but would certainly still save money. Additionally, both players are 34 years old and would consider retirement.

Mike Miller ($8,376,194, 3 Years Remaining) and Brian Cardinal ($5,850,000, 3 Years Remaining) for Eric Snow ($6,703,125, 2 Years Remaining), Donyell Marshall ($5,566,965, 2 Years Remaining), Shannon Brown ($1,044,120, 1 Year Remaining) and Dwayne Jones($770,610, 1 Year Remaining)

4.) The San Antonio Spurs would be a strong pairing to make this trade with the Grizzlies. However, they would not be in position to take on Brian Cardinal as well. Therefore, the trade below swaps Miller and little-used Andre Brown for two replaceable players.

Mike Miller ($8,376,194, 3 Years Remaining) and Andre Brown ($770,610, 1 Year Remaining) for Brent Barry ($5,544,370, 1 Year Remaining) and Francisco Elson ($3,000,000, 1 Year Remaining)

5.) Like the Cavaliers trade, the Houston Rockets would also be interested in acquiring Miller, but would the Grizzlies would have to take on some multi-year contracts.

Mike Miller ($8,376,194, 3 Years Remaining), Andre Brown ($770,610, 1 Year Remaining) and Brian Cardinal ($5,850,000, 3 Years Remaining) for Kirk Snyder ( $2,358,433, 1 Year Remaining), Mike James, ($5,926,893, 2 Years Remaining), Steve Francis ($2,439,333, 1 Year Remaining) and Luther Head, ($1,122,000, 2 Years Remaining)

Trade Restriction for Newly Signed Players

The NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement includes a provision saying that after a free agent signs with a team, he cannot be traded for 3 months or until December 15, whichever is later.

This is in place so a team cannot just sign a player off-the-street and then include them in a trade to make the numbers work.

Some current examples include: Earl Boykins, Damon Stoudamire, Chris Webber, and DJ Mbenga.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Trade restrictions for “Base Year Compensation” players

If a team is over the salary cap and enters into a new player contract with a Bird or Early Bird free agent or an extension of a Rookie Scale Contract, that provides for a salary in the first year of the contract in excess of 120% of the player’s salary in the prior season, the player will be subject to a Base Year Compensation (BYC). If such a player is traded, his Base Year Compensation will be used instead of his salary for purposes of determining the amount of his Traded Player Exception. The player’s Base Year Compensation will equal the greater of the salary for the last season of his preceding contract, o 50% of the player’s then-current salary.

Some BYC players include:
Kendrick Perkins, Matt Carroll, Gerald Wallace, Kirk Hinrich, Andres Nocioni, LeBron James, Sasha Pavlovic, Anderson Varejao, Josh Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Amir Johnson.