Monday, 7 September 2009

Fascinations


Growing up I gained a great deal of appreciation for certain bands. Mostly Rock bands. My ex-wife liked country. I started with a (great) respect for Johnny Cash and a wierd enthusiam for Kenny Rodgers 'story songs' and then found reasons to like the genre. Some of the songs are very watchable.

It was a fascinating time.

In Other News

Tanguay just signed a very (imo) reasonable contract with the Lightning.

I would have gone into rebuild mode with that team going into the draft, and hoped to scoop as many prime draft picks and prospects as I could to go with Hedman and Stamkos but, that said, the Eastern Conference isn't a stacked deck and if Lady Injurybug doesn't find this team it could surprise by both making the play-offs and making some noise in them.

The only sure team to miss in the East is the Islanders, and the most probables are the Thrashers and the Leafs, so the Lightning are in the thick of it with the whack of other teams that rely far too much on a goalie, or star forward, to make their team go.

Despite their ownership troubles the Lightning are making a solid push to put a solid team together, and management has done pretty well there (imo), individual contracts notwithstanding, so it will be fascinating to see if it amounts to much.

Still liked the full-rebuild model, for this team, better.

In the East:

Teams that will make the play-offs: Pittsburgh, Boston, New Jersey.

Teams that should make the play-offs: Washington, Philadelphia, Carolina

Teams that could make the play-offs: anyone not yet pegged plus the Lightning

Also, Sather may be stuck with Redden's contract but he did a nice job of picking up McDonagh (and Higgins) for Gomez. If we see Dubinsky sign a decent contract and Drury moved next year we will know that Sather has been given the green-light to rebuild the team.

Speaking of which...

The NBA

I have, I must admit, been fascinated by the NBA for the last couple of years. Not by the game itself but by the management moves that happen in the game.

i.e. twice, in the span of four years, Bryan Colangelo (BC) has completely re-worked the roster of the Toronto Raptors. I know that it is far easier to rework a roster in the NBA than it is in the NHL but still - that's pretty farkin' impressive.

Of course, it isn't like BC has ever had to unload players like Dustin Penner or Robert Nilsson.

Now THAT would be hard to do.

All kidding marginally kicked aside there are two teams that, to my eye, have a very bright future ahead of them: the New Jersey Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Nets are particularly interesting because they have the look of a team that will be successful, in the NBA, without any recognizable superstar

I won't do many (honest) NBA articles but there will be the odd mention here and there (given how my interest has been piqued). I am a Raptors fan (kindof) but this is about the:

New Jersey Nets

Playing Assets w/ Real Value

Devin Harris (PG) and Brook Lopez (C) anchor this team. As Point Guard is the most crucial position to get right and Center is the hardest position to adequately fill I have to say that, right off the top, they are doing well. Courtney Lee (SG) is a crucial fill here, he had a great play-offs with Orlando and if he can continue that level of play then the Nets are 3/5ths of the way there.

Terence Williams (combo-G and SF) projects to be a decent stopper across a few positions, and Chris Douglas-Roberts (SG) and Josh Boone (C) both look to be guys who can play their position effectively - which all means that the Nets should actually be stacked at the 1, 2 and 5. A lot of teams out there are lucky to have decent starters in two of those three spots (let alone have 'depth').

That leaves the Small Forward and Power Forward positions.

Of the two positions, the 3 should actually be easier to fill as the Nets don't really have any 'keepers' incumbent at that spot. Williams could play the spot (pretty athletic guy by all accounts) but he would need to dramatically imrove his offensive skills in order to be a solution there.

The 4 is a little tougher to deal with as Yi Jianlian (PF) is slotted in there right now. He has a long way to go to get to the level of 'effective' but his draft pick means he will get a lot of chances.

How the Nets fill the 4 will be key to the team's success going forward - the longer it takes them to get an effective player in there the shorter the window for success for this team will be.

Other Assets w/ Real Value

Budget Space - for 2010/11 the Nets have ~ $32 million committed to 10 players and most of them are on longer-term contracts. Barring the acquisition of a max-contract player this team doesn't really have any budget issues.

Draft Picks - the Nets have two 1st round picks in the 2010 draft. Their own and that of the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs pick is no big deal (in the 20-24 range?) but their own pick could easily be top-6.

Expiring Contracts - the Nets have ~ $26 million in expiring contracts (5 players) this year. Given the value of expiring contracts in the NBA (its huge) the Nets have fantastic trade flexibility.

Even Better - most of those expiring contracts are attached to players who other teams, come trade deadline, may actually want. This means that the return on those trades should actually be a little better than dollars alone would dictate.

Meh

Sean Williams (22 yr old PF) and Eduardo Najera (33 yr old PF) would have to have big bounce back seasons to be worth their contracts, that said, neither guy is making big dollars so their contracts could be unloaded in the right trade. As well, Williams is young enough to still learn and Najera is a veteran competitor so it isn't like they are stuck with a guy like Marcus Banks on the roster.

Keyon Dooling (combo-G) - admittedly I don't have a great handle on his value as a player but he seems to fit the role of 'mentor/decent depth player'. If so, an extension in the $2.5 to $3.5 mill range (after next year) would make him a useful, on-going, asset. Had hip surgery lately so recovery is an issue.

Disclaimer

I have to qualify this section by stating that I just don't know basketball well enough. What players work/would work best in what system? Don't know. I know the basics of full court and half court play but the nuances of each system isn't something I know, or even care to know, on anything but the most general level.

It does seem interesting that one of the big determinates is who the shooter is. Teams can be broken down by options: who is first option for a shot, etc. It is why the latest news out of Sacramento (truth to be determined) is that there may be an developing issue between Kevin Martin and Tyreke Evans. It isn't be a personal issue (not even between them per se), it is an option issue. Tyreke, the ostensible 'new' point guard, isn't a distributor of the ball while Kevin is a guy who needs the ball distributed to. It isn't hard to see where that could be considered an 'oops' at the draft table.

Right Now and 2010

A lot is made of the 2010 free agent grouping but, myself, I don't see a lot there that fits for this team. All the big money guys (LeBron, Wade, Amare and Bosh) will be going to where the heart/wallet is and the Nets, while not a backwater, won't be that interesting to them (imo). Don't see Boozer as an option.

So that makes the 'right now' a little more interesting. I have to admit I was a little surprised that they didn't go after David Lee. A rebounding powerforward looking for a big payday, but being completely undercut by his current team in terms of term, may have been a great opportunity for the Nets.

It isn't impossible to see where the dangling of a long-term deal would have gotten Lee on board and an offer to pick up Jeffries contract may have enticed the Knicks into a sign and trade. The trick would have been that of getting Lee at the right price point but if the deal started at $7 million** and looked like (in millions):

D. Lee (5 yrs, start at $7.x), J. Jeffries ($6.5 / 6.9P) and cash
FOR
B. Simmons (exp. $10.5) and S. Williams ($1.6 / 2.5T / 3.5Q)

it could make a lot of sense. The Knicks dump Jeffries salary without taking on any that compromises their 2010 UFA spending spree. The Nets get, at a very reasonable price, a PF entering his prime and it only costs them Jeffries contract (which they dump next year anyways). Lee gets a contract that may look pretty good given the Cap contraction anticipated next year.

So, IF Lee fits the Nets profile: do they target him and get the 4 they need... at the cost of a (probable) top-6 pick in the 2010 draft and money to spend on the 2010 UFA class?

(It is important to note that NBA rookies drafted in the low first round have guaranteed contracts and earn substantial dollars so unless you are getting a guy who can outright play (like Blake Griffin) it is often better to be drafting LATER in the round.)

Maybe I do. Even with the Lee and Jeffries contracts the team would have ~ $44 million allocated to 11 players; in the NBA that is a pretty efficient contract ratio. If they wanted to upgrade at SF in 2010 they could afford to do so. Also, as much as Lee could make them a play-off team they still have some valuable contracts they can dump at the trade deadline - pieces can be acquired as needed.

But here is where it gets really fun (and again, remember, I fully admit I don't fully know what I am talking about) - what about Eddy Curry? If the Knicks drop his contract then it doesn't matter how far the Cap drops in 2010 - the Knicks could afford two superstars if they wanted them.

So how about:

D. Lee (5 yrs, start at $7.x), E. Curry ($10.5 / 11.3P), W. Chandler ($1.3 / 2.1 / 3.1) and cash
FOR
B. Simmons (exp. $10.5), T. Battie (exp. $6.3) and S. Williams ($1.6 / 2.5T / 3.5Q)

Wilson Chandler can play good defense, if he can also play the 3 (I have seen some conflict there as some sites have him as a 2 and some as a 3) then in one trade the Nets could have a line-up kinda like so:

PG ... D. Harris / R. Alston / K. Dooling
SG ... C. Lee / C. Douglas-Roberts
SF ... W. Chandler / T. Williams
PF ... D. Lee / Y. Jianlian / E. Najera
.C ... B. Lopez / E. Curry / J. Boone

That's pretty sweet. Salaries aren't too high, still lots of expiring contracts available, play-off probable, still getting two draft picks in 2010, Alston is a desirable asset regardless of contract status and if Curry learns how to play again he becomes worthy trade bait in his own right (trading Curry is a must).

Like I said - fascinating. Fantasy gaming on steroids. Almost every rumour has to be seen as credible because almost every trade can happen or can be made to happen - and most of them can be made to make sense. The Hedo Turkoglu trade was off-the-charts.

heh. Anyways, that's it for my NBA posting for now. Maybe something next off-season.

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**Cribbing from the Stephen Jackson contract a viable David Lee contract could look like so (in millions):

$7.14 / 7.65 / 8.45 / 9.26 / 10.06

With his numbers that is a VERY reasonable contract.


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Have a great evening everyone.

7 comments:

Darren said...

I agree with you that the Nets look good going forward. but you can bet the Nets will be going very very hard for Lebron James this summer. James happens to be very good friends with the Nets part-owner (Jay-z is it? I think so). And all the rumors have been directing James toward a likely New York area team. Makes sense to me.

YKOil said...

And there's the rub. I don't think anyone is going anywhere pure UFA.

Sure I take LBJ no matter what. But he'll be going on a sign-and-trade imo.

So IF that shot is there why not have assets Cleveland actually wants? Easier deal for both sides if that is the case.

Ah well. Interesting trade deadline coming in the NBA. Have to admit - fun staff.

Wow.

Freud.

Darren said...

I disagree. Cleveland are not going to trade him. This is the only year they have left to try win the title. All their moves point to that. You don't trade for Shaq like they did otherwise. James wants to make a decision on his own, he won't be going out on a sign and trade. He has pretty much admitted that is what he wants to do. The Nets will be a player for him, or another big UFA this summer. I would love to play with Devan Harris... couldn't beleive Dallas traded him away!

YKOil said...

Cleveland doesn't want to trade him. And they won't right through this regular season and the play-offs.

But after that all bets are off.

LBJ will NOT only talk to teams that have the Cap space to sign him UFA. He would limiting his options far too much. He will talk to all teams and IF:

- that team isn't Cleveland, and
- that team isn't one of the teams with Cap space

then he will go to another team in a sign and trade.

Myself, why risk eveything on a LBJ signing? If the Nets don't come out of this upcoming season with, at least, one more major young talent - and I am not including the draft pick - then team management has wasted the year. imo.

Darren said...

"Myself, why risk eveything on a LBJ signing?"
They aren't. It's the biggest UFA season coming around the corner. Its' not just James. It's also Anthony (unless he extended, unsure) and Wade, and Bosh. There are probably more, 2nd tier quality guys as well. Personally, I like the way the Nets are going about business, not waste the cap space, signing quality guys, I can tell you right now, you do not want Jared Jeffries and his retarded contract for anything. The will contend for a playoff spot this year, and next year will be very attractive for the big UFAs. I could see James and Wade wanting to play with Harris. They have something going there

Darren said...

Oh, and I wouldn't touch Eddie Curry as well

YKOil said...

The point of the Jeffries or Curry contract isn't to get them - it is to get the other guys.

Personally I see the Nets picking 4 through 8 (Jazz have a lock on top 4 per the Knicks pick and Sacramento will be in that mix as well).

I also only see TWO of the big names moving - Amare to New York (I'll say 60% chance just cuz I need a number) and Bosh to Miami (50% chance - for the same reasons). I think LBJ and Wade will stay put.

I havce already said I don't like Boozer for the Nets.

Ironically, the longer Jeffries and Curry stay on the Knicks roster the lower the chance that ANY of the big names go to the Knicks. Which is good for the Raptors (I like Canadian teams - what can I say?).

Finally, even with Jeffries contract the Nets can make the Cap space they would need for a LBJ signing appear from somewhere. Remember, come next off-season Jeffries also becomes an expiring contract - and a couple of 1st round picks (Mavs in 2010 and Nets in 2011 maybe?) would grease the wheels for some kind of deal. Also, Yi Jianlian only has a team option next year.

I'm a big fan of the bird in the hand way of thinking.