Sunday, November 26, 2006

On Player Movement

I find it amusing how certain rumors about impending trades and free agency moves seem to take on lives of their own -- reported as conventional wisdom without people taking even a moment to note flaws in basic common sense underpinning the rumors.

These are currently my favorites:
VINCE CARTER WILL SIGN WITH THE MAGIC AS A FREE AGENT

All of the stories which swirl around Vince Carter's impending free agency seem to pivot on the question of whether Vince might be willing to opt-out and take a little less to go to Orlando (or possibly go to Charlotte).

Yet no one ever seems to probe this question: Would it really be a good idea for the Magic to sign him?

I certainly don't deny that the Magic could use a scoring wing, but this is a team building a strong young nucleus - is it really the best idea to sign a guy who will be 30 in January to a max or near-max deal? I can't imagine he'll be worth anywhere near that at age 34.

Also, I think Vince is aided greatly by the fact that Jason Kidd is NJ's unquestioned leader. I simply don't believe that Vince is a max-quality player is terms of being a guy who is a team leader with the mental toughness to carry a team deep into the playoffs. On such a young team, he would have to take on such a role. I think he could torpedo this young team's chemistry just as easily as his scoring could lift it.

One of my favorite notes this season was this quote that Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News-Tribune picked up from a scout: "I bet no player in the history of the league has gone to the locker room and come out again more than Vince Carter. In the history of the league."

I'm not saying that I definitively feel this would be a bad move for ORL, just saying that it seems there are enough question marks on even a surface analysis that it's worthy of being a topic. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

KEVIN GARNETT COULD POTENTIALLY BE TRADED TO THE LAKERS

I know, I know, you can't quite warm the heart of the rumor mill quite like suggesting that KG and Kobe might be united. And there's even some logic to it - Odom and Bynum would be some nice pieces for Minny to pick up.

But it all misses an obvious point: Kevin McHale despises the Lakers! If push comes to shove and MIN is forced into a Big Ticket trade, I would only imagine that McHale would do everything in his power to avoid moving the Lakers back toward championship contention. Beyond the deep-seated animus vs. the purple-and-gold, I don't think the Wolves would want to trade KG within the Western Conference. I think that, if he goes, he goes East.

[As a side note, I'd like to credit the Bergen Record with the first appearance of one of my favorite annual traditions - proposed trades by the New York media which are ridiculously one-sided in favor of the Knicks, conveniently avoiding even a hint of a suggestion that the trading team might not have any interest in such a deal. These things used to make me angry, but now they just make me laugh out loud:
    If the Knicks were to pursue a trade for Garnett (who's making $21 million this season and is due $46 million the following two, but can opt out after next season), it would almost certainly require dealing Francis ($15.1 million), Channing Frye ($2.3 million) and at least one other salary in the range of Quentin Richardson's $6.9 million or Jamal Crawford's $7.2 million.

    And if the T-Wolves did decide to move KG, it's likely they would demand that the Knicks (or any other team) take on the long-term commitments to players such as Marko Jaric (five years, $33 million), Troy Hudson (four years, $23.5 million) or Trenton Hassell (four years, $17.2 million) in a larger deal.]

I also have some random comments about moves or near-moves past:
BIG BEN OR TYSON?
When do the Bulls start questioning whether they'd rather have a 32-year-old Ben Wallace on the payroll for four years/$60 million instead of a 24-year-old Tyson Chandler for five more years/about $53 million?

Here are the numbers so far:
Wallace: 5.5 pts, 9.2 reb, 1.54 blk, .417 FG, .457 FT, 13.41 PER
Chandler: 5.8 pts, 11.5 reb, 0.85 blk, .667 FG, .364 FT, 14.94 PER
I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.
I know it's still early, but again, the age difference is *eight years*.

And now we have this story about Skiles benching Big Ben b/c he violated a team rule against headbands:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/basketball/bulls/cs-061125bullsgamer,0,6478093.story
I can't decide if the most bizarre aspect of this story is:
1) That Skiles has a team rule against headbands
2) That Big Ben would so flagrantly violate a basic team rule
3) That Skiles would bench him for doing so
All in all, it don't seem like the coach and the max player are on the same page.

NEAR-STEAL FOR THE SPURS
This feature on Brent Barry's mini-resurgence gave me a startling reminder:
http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/stories/
MYSA112606.01C.BKNspurs.barry.3078835.html

The Spurs nearly acquired J.R. Smith from New Orklahoma City at the deadline in February before things fell through!

I know that Bones is playing great - 19.98 PER and shooting the hell out of the ball (.542 FG, .581 3PT, .917 FT) - but Smith would have been (in my mind) the perfect infusion of youth for this quietly aging team.

Again, it's all about the age - Barry will be 35 on New Year's Eve while J.R. just turned 21 and is sitting at 17.43 PER while draining a league-leading 3.0 threes a night on .388 3PT%. I love Bones, believe me, but who do you want on your franchise in three years (Manu's 29, don't forget) - 38-year-old Barry or 24-year-old Smith? Even though it didn't work out - what a smart organization.

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