Tuesday, August 07, 2007

West Conf. Summer Transactions

Last week we examined the summer transactions of the East squads , this week we head out West. Below is a rundown of significant transactions made since July 1 by Western squads.

MAVS: Re-signed J. Stackhouse & D. George; Signed Ed Jones
No real surprise holding on to the two wing reserves, Stack & George. Even at 32 & with balky knees, Stack is still one of the better bench players in the league, and he really shot the ball well last year. Not really sure what necessitated the Jones signing since Cuban has plenty of wings (Stack, George, & Buckner), but it's a pretty low-risk deal since only the bi-annual exception was used. Still have to find themselves some sort of low-post threat. Webber is still on the market & CWebb has expressed his affinity for Dallas. CWebb obviously doesn't move like he use to, but the Mavs don't need a huge upgrade at this point, just someone who can back-up Dirk & hopefully provide some sporadic post scoring. CWebb also could help the Mavs improve their ball-movement, something that was lacking in the Warriors' series.

NUGGETS: Signed Chucky Atkins
Very shrewd move by the Nugs. They needed a PG who could knock down the open shots created by Iverson & Melo, and Chucky can hit from deep. He's a much better fit than Blake, but he still might be better suited for a back-up role at this time in his career. Do worry about the combo of Atkins & Iverson from a defensive standpoint--very small--and the Nugs could still probably use a defensive-minded combo guard to have on reserve.

WARRIORS: Signed Austin Croshere; Re-signed Matt Barnes
Croshere fits seamlessly into the Nellie-ball system by providing a 4 who can step out & drill perimeter jumpers. Though he does not really provide the answer to the Warriors' rebounding & interior defensive woes. From the Warriors' point-o-view, they got Barnes at a bargain rate after a breakout season & playoff run. From Barnes' point-o-view, he has to be super bummed out he could not parlay his strong play into a more lucrative deal this summer.

ROCKETS: Traded for M. James; Signed S. Francis; Traded for J. Butler & L. Scola
After having a questionable draft night, Daryl Morey has redeemed himself quite nicely by having the finest July of any NBA squad. The Spanoulis-Butler/Scola deal was a big win in Houston's favor where the Rockets filled two major holes (PF & back-up big) for basically nothing since Spanoulis is back to Greece. Scola's easily worth the full MLE, so to sign him for only around $3 mil per is a steal. Butler gives you a servicable reserve behind Yao, which was a must since Dikembe is almost kaput. All of sudden the Rockets have a crowded backcourt with the additon of Francis & James, and now have some viable trade options that were not available last year. Getting Francis on the cheap was a coup, and he could remedy the Rockets' other big weakness--a reliable 3rd scoring option behind Yao & TMac. You combine Francis with Bonzi & Mike James, and now the Rockets' auxillary scoring appears to be good enough to make a Finals push.

CLIPPERS: Signed Brevin Knight; Re-signed Y. Korolev
The Knight signing really ain't gonna matter now that the Clips' season is already a disaster. Even before the Brand injury, the Clips badly needed some more frontcourt help behind Brand & Kaman. For a team that would have been challenging for a botton playoff spot this season, just a swing of 5 games in the standings can make the difference. So with Brand missing at least 2 months, and very little frontcourt depth, the Clips' post-season hopes are pretty much officially screwed.

LAKERS: Re-signed L. Walton; Re-signed C. Mihm; Signed D. Fisher
Liked what the Lakers have done this off-season. Needed to hold on to Walton, who has developed into a valuable cog in the Laker machine. Holding on to Mihm was an underrated move (if he can stay healthy) to help strengthen their frontcourt depth & was retained at a reasonable price (2 years, $5 mil). Did overpay for Fisher's services, a guy they probably could've had at around the vet minimum. But can't quibble too much since Fisher provides you a combo guard who can hit perimeter jumpers (which is vital alongside Kobe) and he's very familiar with the Laker system after being a key role player in the early 2000s LA dynasty.

GRIZZLIES: Signed Darko Milicic; Traded for Juan Navarro
Needed frontcourt help desparately, and acquired arguably the best free agent big this summer. And they locked up Darko with a very reasonable deal. Then to acquire battle-tested Euro vet Navarro was another superb move by the Grizzlies. (BulletsForever.com excerpted our take on Juan--check bottom of post) Done a great job at identifying their weaknesses--PG & F/C--and filled them with the best possible candidates. Can't ask for anything more from the Grizz front office this summer. Smart move to target the PG in the draft since the free agent crop was very thin & they likely would have come up empty-handed.

TWOLVES: Traded for Juwan Howard; Traded for Al Jefferson, R. Gomes, G. Green, S. Telfair, & T. Ratliff
Things will not be pretty in Minny next year, but the TWolves have stockpiled a lot of young, promising assets, and could possibly have a nice chunk of salary cap space to play with next summer. This squad is still lopsided with way too many guards and not enough frontcourt depth. Have to imagine the TWolves are looking to move some of their deadweight contracts (Jaric & Blount) to clear even more cap space & build around their young assets.

HORNETS: Signed Mo Peterson
Still think they should have solved their SG issues by drafting Nick Young. Mo Peterson is a solid vet; just not sure he's starting-caliber at this point in his career. If the Hornets can avoid the injury bug that haunted the team last year they should be fighting for a 8-seed with Golden State.

SUNS: Signed Grant Hill; Traded Kurt Thomas; Re-signed S. Marks
Another shaky off-season for the Suns thanks to their owner being deathly afraid of the luxury tax. Oh yeah, they re-signed Sean Marks--if you think he solves some of their size issues, well, then you must be from New Zealand. Still have done nothing to answer their rebounding or interior defensive issues, and actually regressed some with the Thomas salary dump. Some people seem to think Grant Hill will push them over the top in the West, but I just don't see it. Grant basically just duplicates what Boris Diaw gives you at the forward spot, and really does not help the rebounding or interior defense. They seem to be angling for PJ Brown, which could soften the blow of Kurt's departure. PJ can probably come close to covering the loss of Kurt's rebounding & defense, but PJ's a slight downgrade because he can't drill 15-footers like Kurt could, especially valuable in the high picks with Nash.

BLAZERS: Signed Steve Blake; Re-signed Travis Outlaw
I guess after having a near-perfect draft night, wonderboy GM Kevin Pritchard proved he's not infalliable by throwing the MLE at mediocre Steve Blake. Don't understand offering Blake the full MLE, especially when the Blazers have a handful of promising PGs in-house already. Jarrett Jack is better than Blake is now, and Sergio has more potential than Blake. Bringing in Blake only hampers their development. On top of that, they just drafted another promising PG last month, P. Koponen. I guess on the bright side, Portland only signed Blake for 2 years; but why sign him in the first place?

KINGS: Signed Mikki Moore
What the hell has happened to Geoff Petrie in the last few years? First, he passes up players like Rondo & Farmar for another 2-guard in Douby in the '06 draft. Then he overpays for John Salmons last summer, and then grabs a slow 7-footer with dubious rebounding & defensive skills to pair with Brad Miller this draft. Sweet. So in free agency the Kings go add another 7-footer who rebounds poorly for his size. Moore does give the Kings' frontcourt some much needed athleticism, but I'm not sure he's provides them with defensive stalwart they're desparately lacking on their frontline. Also, still could use a viable back-up PG behind Bibby. Petrie use to be one of the shrewdest front-office operators in the game just a few years ago, but has really been underachieving the last few years. Now let me say Petrie might not be fully to blame because you hear rumblings that the Maloofs might be overruling Petrie on basketball decisions lately.

SPURS: Re-signed Fab Oberto, M. Bonner & J. Vaughn
The Butler trade was made so the Spurs stayed just short of the lux tax, but possibly made a tactical error by handing Scola's rights to a divisional rival. Especially since the Rockets were basically just a starting-caliber PF away from being a title contender. Holding onto Oberto & Vaughn was a must, but not so sure paying Bonner $3 mil per year was all that wise; probably somewhat overpaying for a guy of his talent.

SONICS: Traded for Kurt Thomas
Kurt's going into the final year of his deal, and could be a highly sought after piece come mid-February. Sure a lot of playoff contenders would love to have Kurt's defensive presence & veteran toughness for the stretch run, so Presti now has a highly valuable trade option at his disposal.

JAZZ: Signed Jason Hart; Signed Ronnie Price
After Derek Fisher's departure, the Jazz had a need for a reserve PG or combo guard, and Jason Hart has the ability to adequately fill that void. The Jazz also grabbed another ex-Kings' guard in Ronnie Price, who gives the Jazz another option off the bench in the backcourt.


At 8:30 AM, Anonymous padraig said...

fine work as always, but I would like to make one point about PJ Brown. Having watched a large number of Bulls games last year I can assure you that he is definitely capable of knocking down 15 fters like Thomas. One of the Bulls' favorite plays was running a high screen pick-and-pop with PJ and Kirk Hinrich. I think the real problem with PJ isn't lack of a mid-range J, but the fact that he's damn near 40. He was suprisingly effective (by which I mean adequate) last year but I mean, dude has to break down at some point, and I question whether he has the energy to run up and down the court with the Suns.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

Portland's signing of Steve Blake makes sense if you understand Kevin Pritchard's mind: Yes, Jarrett Jack has better stats than Blake, but is he a better point guard? Since Pritchard saw Blake up-close a couple of years ago, I think he'd be a better judge. He wants his point guard to run the offense efficiently, and work his bigs into the offense. Jack is NOT as good as Blake at those two things.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger jay aych said...

PJ is not a bad shooter, but he's nowhere near as deadly as Kurt from the mid-range.

Blake is a back-up NBA PG, that's what he is. Here's the deal with the Blazers--they should be in no rush to try in win now. They have a lot of leeway to try to develop their young core the next few years & deal with the growing pains. And Jack & Sergio both have a higher ceiling than Blake, and you should not bring in another mediocre PG to get in their way. To me, if you are gonna bring a PG in Port, he better be a significant upgrade over the guys you already have, especially if you are handing out the full MLE. And Blake just ain't that much better than Jack, if at all.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous JM said...

I don't believe that Blake received the full MLE.

He received 4 million/yr for 2 years (with a team option for the 3rd).

I thought the MLE was in the 5-6 million/yr range i.e what Kapono received. Am I wrong?

Is 4 million/yr too much for someone who was top 25 in assists last year (5/game)?
IF you look at his stats with the Nuggets he was at 6.6 ast/game which would be top 12 for the season.

If you want an ind epth reaction to Blake signing - pro&con. This one is good:

At 12:45 PM, Blogger jay aych said...

From what I've read, Blake got the full MLE ($5.3) for 2 years, 3rd year is a team option.

Like I stated before, this deal was just unnecessary. What was the crushing need for a PG of Blake's quality? Why not just save the money, or use the MLE to acquire a SF, a position that is much more in need in Port.

Think Jack is about the same as Blake now, the overall difference between the two is nominal either way. Plus, you have a very promising young PG alongside Jack in Sergio, who's ceiling is higher than Blake's in my mind.

Sergio averaged 3.3 apg in only 13 mpg this year--that's pretty impressive. Sure, he's makes some mistakes trying to be too flashy, but he's still young. And like I mentioned before, the Blazers can afford to let Sergio work out his kinks because their time is not for a few years & Port has time to wait. With Blake in the mix, you push Sergio down the depth chart. Just no need to make this deal & a waste of cash.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous padraig said...

jay aych: i concede that thomas is a better shooter than pj.

also agree with you 100% on the blake signing, which was one of the most befuddling of the entire summer. seriously, the Blazers have acquired 4 young PGs in the last 3 drafts. would a jack/rodriguez/taurean green trio really have been so terrible this year? it's not as if they couldn't go out and sign a FA of roughly Blake's caliber pretty much any off-season to serve as a backup for whichever young PG eventually emerges as their long-term starter. it might make more sense if there was any way blake fit into their longer-term plans but...oh well. I think pritchard and co. deserve a pass on this one after pulling off two amazing drafts back-to-back.

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous JM said...

According to the Oregonian, Blake got 4 million/yr

I haven't rean anywhere that he received the full MLE. I'm curious who reported that?

This article mentions one of the less-obvious / locker room reasons Pritchard wanted to bring Blake back to Portland:

"Unless you see Blake every day, it's easy to overlook what he does and what he is about," Pritchard said. "There couldn't be a more perfect fit for this team. He never says, 'I need this,' and he is never going to complain about playing time. That's going to be important on a young team, for the players to see that. He is a great example of a true professional."

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Wade Garrett said...

I'm confused as to why the Spurs made the Scola/Butler trade. The reason they traded Scola was because they feared he would be too expensive, and push them into the luxury tax. So, they trade him and Jackie Butler to Houston for 10 cents on the dollar, only to see Scola sign for $3 million per season, which is the exact same amount the Spurs had just offered Matt Bonner, who, though I like him, isn't anywhere near as good as Scola. Why buy out a guy for $7 million when you can sign a contributor for $6 million??

I think that Oberto contributed significantly to the Spurs' title run. In international play, Oberto is a 12 and 10 guy, while Scola is a 20 and 10 guy. Not to mention that, of all the teams in the NBA, Scola would best optimize his value on the Spurs, since he'd be playing with two of his teammates from the Argentinian national team.

I'm just puzzled by that trade.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Jeana said...

Steve Blake is an underappreciated player; he is a much better all around player than Jack currently is especially defensively. Blake lives in Portland year 'round which is a HUGE plus for Blazer fans! Jack’s collapses on and off last season was an indication that he had difficulty with the pressure of being a starter. I like Jack and think that he could become quite good but he won't unless he is pushed harder. Competing with Blake for the starting roll will do that. I think most of us in Portland understand and appreciate what Blake brings to the team. Pritchard knows...

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Correction Dept said...

Blake didn't get the full midlevel exception. Please issue a retraction.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the Blazers:

Jack is more of a combo guard than a point. Blake is a true point and a better defender than Jack. You say that Blake is just a backup. But, it looks like Jack's best spot on a good team will be as a combo guard off the bench. Jack looks to be trade bait at this point. Sergio is not ready to start yet. When the right deal comes along and Jack is moved, and Sergio still isn't ready to start, the Blake signing will make sense. Blake was only signed for 2 seasons, and did not get the full MLE, and what great SF were we to get with that same deal, so why all the confusion?

At 3:51 PM, Blogger jay aych said...

Well, I'll go check Blake's numbers again (my source is pretty reliable). But it doesn't really matter if he getting $4 mil instead, it was an unnecessary move. And he is by no means a better defender than Jack. Blake is nothing special of a defender, and most of the time is a liability. And Blake gets in the way of Sergio's natural progression.

If you're gonna spend $4-5mil this summer why not go after a SF instead? Makes a lot more sense to me.

At 4:55 PM, Anonymous JM said...

Just to clarify, the Blazers signed two SFs this summer(they resigned Travis Outlaw and they acquired James Jones in a trade). Can you think of any better SFs they could've gotten for $4-5 million. If so, I'd like to hear who you had in mind???

Summary of Dave's post from Blazers edge on the pros and cons of blake:
- He's a steady presence who gets others involved.
- He can play both half-court or fast-break style
- He can hit open outside jumpers
- He doesn't make many misstakes
- He doesn't need the ball much
- He's a great "culture guy", likable and he already lives in Portland in off-season.

- He doesn't provide much punch. Defenses won't fear or respect him much
- He's not a great defender. (though he is adequate and is a "willing" defender)
- He can't create own shot or make contested shot
- He doesn't have a long track record
- His presence could cause problems for J.Jack's confidence. (Flipside is that he may challenge Jack to reach his potential / earn a starting spot - rather than having it handed to him by default.)

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Wade Garrett said...

Everybody who has played with Stevie Blake likes him. As for whether he's the right fit for Portland . . . that's a little uncertain. Most people agree that Brandon Roy isn't a true "2" guard, though there are some people who think he'll become more and more of a point as he gets older (think Dennis Johnson) and others think of him as more of a wing (combo 2/3) player who will become more and more of a scorer as he matures. That's a big, open question.

Either way, with the two young spanish guards they've got in their system (even if one of them is staying in Europe for another year) and Jack, I just don't think they have a need for many minutes at the point guard position in the '07-'08 season, and they'll have even less of a need in the '08-'09 season.

At 2:37 PM, Blogger MaineHooper said...

As for the Suns - this will be the year Sean Marks shows he can play with the best of them - his final NBA season.
And yes I am from New Zealand!

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