The Worst 2013 Free-Agent Fit for Every NBA Team
The one guarantee of the free-agent season is that there will be stupid—stupid rumors and stupid moves.
Some offseason decisions are inexplicable: A team fills a need it doesn’t have, spends way more money on a player than he’s worth or does something to land a “star” even if he’s a second-tier player who has never made an All-Star game.
For the most part here are all the worst free-agent fits for every team, with a smattering of exceptions.
In a few cases teams don’t seem to be pursing any movement on the free-agent front, but are effectively using trades in lieu of free agency. We didn’t discriminate. In those cases we included the trades.
There are a select few cases where it’s just hard to find anything teams have done wrong, or even are considering or have considered doing wrong. So we just put what they didn’t do wrong or what they did right.
But by and large, here is the rumor for every NBA team that should have local fans cringing and pleading, “No!”
Atlanta Hawks: Monta Ellis
According to Jeff Zillgit of USA Today, the Atlanta Hawks are interested in acquiring Monta Ellis.
The Hawks are likely to be losing Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia, their starting small forward, power forward and backup center. Their starting point guard, Jeff Teague, is a restricted free agent who is drawing interest as well.
Who they aren’t losing is Lou Williams, their 6’2” shooting guard. But since they have three starting spots they need to fill, they are running out and trying to fill one of the positions they don't have a need for.
It just doesn’t say Atlanta Hawks if you don’t have an overpaid shooting guard. I think they’re going through Joe Johnson withdrawal, so they’re rushing to do the dumbest thing possible. And this is why they haven’t gotten out of the first round this millennium.
Boston Celtics: Josh Smith
The way the Boston Celtics are conducting a fire sale, trading off Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets for bad contracts and first-round picks, it's obvious they have committed to rebuilding.
It looks like they want to hope for the chance to draft phenom Andrew Wiggins, which makes sense.
But, if you’re going to be wiggin’ for Wiggins, then go all in.
Don’t try for Josh Smith, who is going to help you win more games than you want to.
Of course, if you really want to go all in you could sign Smith and make Vinny Del Negro your head coach. Picture it now, Del Negro on the bench, yelling, “More long twos!!! We need more long twos!!!”
Smith replies, “Finally! A coach who gets me!”
If that’s the case, sign them both—to one-year deals.
Brooklyn Nets: Andray Blatche
Some teams ignore the whole “chemistry” thing when they’re signing players.
Case in point, Andray Blatche is coming back for another year in Brooklyn. The question is in regards to the wisdom of the signing.
They are aware Kevin Garnett and Blatche are on the team now, right?
Steve Aschburner, senior writer for NBA.com, tweets, “Once asked about Andray Blatche, Kevin Garnett simply furrowed his brow, pointed several times to his own chest. Translation: No heart.”
This is a car wreck waiting to happen, and the Nets seem to be oblivious. I get that Garnett is a leader and a winner. He’s the kind of player that changes a locker room and he’ll hammer Blatche into shape. That’s going to be the spin out of Brooklyn.
Charlotte Bobcats: Josh McRoberts
The rumor is that the Charlotte Bobcats are interested in re-upping Josh McRoberts, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who writes, "The Charlotte Bobcats are motivated to re-sign guard Gerald Henderson and forward Josh McRoberts, league sources told Yahoo! Sports."
Of particular interest is use of the word “motivated” here.
How is that not funny? Henderson I can understand, but McBob?
Because no one else quite says walking triple-single like he does.
I can see the scene in Michael Jordan’s office.
Jordan: How are we coming on McRoberts?
GM Rich Cho: Well, we’ve put some other priorities ahead of him.
Jordan: What!? How can you have a higher priority than McRoberts? Get him on the phone NOW!!!
Cho: Yes sir, Mr. Jordan.
And that’s how the Bobcats got “motivated” to keep McRoberts.
Maybe there's a deal with McDonald's in the works to rename the team the McBobcats.
Chicago Bulls: DeSagana Diop
The Chicago Bulls already used their minimum midlevel exception when they agreed to terms with Mike Dunleavy Jr. There probably wasn’t a more perfect player in their price range they could have gotten, so it’s hard to fault in that signing.
Dunleavy is a solid defender, excellent shooter, underrated ball-handler and a good-enough passer to play point forward. He moves well without the ball. He's basically the perfect sixth man for the Bulls.
They’ve also re-upped Nazr Mohammed, their backup center from last year, leaving them two roster spots to fill with minimum contracts.
It’s hard to have too much of a disaster with that, but there’s one way that the wrong signing could have lasting ramifications on the Bulls' season. That happens if they sign a player who isn’t going to make it on the court.
DeSagana Diop is such a player. He’s slow and not a great help defender, and as a result he’s not likely to fit well into the Bulls' system. After three years we know that if you’re not fitting into Tom Thibodeau’s system, you’re not playing.
With Joakim Noah’s history of plantar fasciitis it’s imperative that the Bulls have another center on the roster who can log real minutes. A player such as Jermaine O’Neal is more appropriate.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Daniel Gibson
Few players in the history of the league have ever milked a one-game explosion for as much or as long as Daniel Gibson has. His 31-point outburst off the bench in Game 6 of the Pistons series in 2007, his rookie year, was the best game he’s ever had, regular or postseason.
But the fact that it clinched the series made him a fan favorite who has since long outlived whatever goodwill that game earned him. In fact, since then he’s only cracked the 20-point barrier 12 times.
His career is in severe decline, too. Last year he shot a meager .340 from the field—not from the three, from the field. So, needless to say his reputation as a “shooter” is pretty outlived.
So, if you’re a Cleveland fan and you see Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweet, “Daniel Gibson and agent for Shaun Livingston, said they heard from #Cavs on Monday, 1st day of free agency. Neither sure what will happen,” you’re pleading for nothing to happen.
Dallas Mavericks: Tony Allen
Note: Since the completion of this article the Memphis Grizzlies and Tony Allen have reached a deal. However the same logic can applied to other defensive guards who may be on the Mavericks radar.
This whole Dwight Howard thing matters if you’re the Dallas Mavericks.
To put things in perspective, the Mavericks payroll for next year entering the offseason is $0. That’s right, as of July 1, they did not have a single player under contract for the 2014-15 season.
That is why it matters to the Mavericks where Howard plays this year, because potentially, literally everything depends on what he does. How they build their roster will be determined by his 11th or 12th decision (he hasn’t decided yet how many times he’ll change his mind).
If he signs, then Tony Allen makes sense, and it makes sense to be talking to Allen right now. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, if not the best period.
Promising Howard he doesn’t have to single-handedly carry a defense has to appeal to him. It would be a great pitch.
The problem is, if you strike out with Howard, you run the risk of building your new team around a shooting guard who couldn’t score if he was the only one on the court.
Denver Nuggets: Monta Ellis
There is a very rare and hard-to-diagnose condition that you can only contract if you live in the Mile High City and own the Denver Nuggets. It’s called Post-Carmelo Trade Disorder (PCTD).
Those who suffer from this malady long for the days when one player could be counted on to chuck up 25-30 shots a game, regarding personal success a greater priority than team success.
Perhaps this is the cause of this rumor reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports that the Nuggets are pursuing Monta Ellis.
Yes, the team that led the league in scoring last year has determined that a priority is acquiring even more scorers. What makes it even more fun is that if they land Ellis their defense is virtually guaranteed to be worse.
While some argue that Ellis is an underrated defender, pointing to his high steal totals, this is a classic case of steals being a lie. Ellis likes to gamble on passing lanes, and more frequently he loses and gives opponents an easy score.
This is validated by the on/off stats, which demonstrate the defense is more successful when he’s not on the court.
There is hope though. The treatment for PCTD is one surgically applied Gibbs-cuff to the back of the noggin, which will cause the brain to properly align, ensuring the head is “put on straight.” If Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke can be reached in time, the Nuggets season can be saved.
Detroit Pistons: Josh Smith
Some things are best explained by cartoons, because the very idea of it is just too comical to be expressed any other way.
Here’s the scene, an animated Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are taking turns dunking the ball and flexing their giant cartoon muscles while flashing even bigger smiles.
Then Joe Dumars' massive hand plops down Josh Smith. Smith tries to work with the other big guys but he just won’t fit in the paint. Every time he starts to get in, he gets “trampolined” back out by their giant cartoon muscles.
They look about, perplexed. Question marks pop over Monroe’s and Drummond’s heads. Then an exclamation point pops over Smith’s.
He takes the ball and goes out to the three-point line and proceeds to miss three-point shot after three-point shot. With every miss, Drummond’s and Monroe’s muscles deteriorate until they’re skinny, atrophied weaklings.
They smolder at Smith, exclamation points popping over their heads. Smith looks back innocently, and a question mark appears over his head.
Then Dumars' giant hand comes down in the form of a fist and crushes head coach Maurice Cheeks.
This all actually has meaning.
The Pistons have no need for the services Smith can bring, as valuable a player as he is.
However, Dumars, who has set the Pistons' course for a big free-agent signing this year, may think Smith might be the best they can do.
Because the Pistons already have plenty of inside scoring, Smith would end up working out of the paint more than he should. He’s bound to feed his penchant for bad shooting (no player in the NBA took more shots and had a lower shooting percentage last season). He’d chuck up endless long twos and threes.
Landing him hinders the development of what is one of the most exciting young frontcourts in the league, inevitably leading to hostility.
If that happens, the team will fail, and when it does, Dumars will blame Cheeks.
Golden State Warriors: Dwight Howard
The Golden State Warriors have finally reinvigorated their franchise after what seems like a generation. They are coming off a winning season, in which they made it to the second round, and gave the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs a run for their money.
There is a time to rebuild and there is a time to let the building process just continue. The Warriors have a promising thing going, particularly with their exciting young trio of perimeter players, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.
They have a veteran frontcourt presence in David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Lee provides the offense and Bogut the defense.
There’s a lot to be said for a filled-out starting five. Having quality at every position means balance, and that means that most games you’re going to have a mismatch somewhere that you can exploit. That means other teams are going to have a harder time finding a way to double-team you.
The Warriors plan to send multiple starters to land Dwight Howard could actually make them worse.
Their window is just opening, not closing. While Howard’s visit puts them on the proverbial “free-agent map” for the future, that he shopped there is good enough.
Houston Rockets: Dwight Howard
The team that looks to be the favorite in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Houston Rockets, would actually benefit if he kept his talents in Venice Beach. Josh Smith as their big signing would improve them more as a team.
I know that sounds appalling and I’ll add that Smith is not a better player but here’s why. First, Howard is going to command a bigger contract, so part of the equation is not just whether he’s “better” but whether he’s “enough better,” if you’ll pardon my butchering of grammar.
Smith fills every hole that the Rockets have. His athleticism and ability to collect steals and blocks would make him an outstanding high-low defensive counterpart to Omer Asik. Last year the Rockets were awful defensively, giving up the third most points in the league. Even adjusted for pace, they were in the bottom half.
The Rockets got little scoring from their post tandem. HoopsStats tracks “In the Paint” a little differently than other advanced stats sites. There, it’s an indication of scoring by position (power forwards and centers), not shot selection. (This has been verified a few ways, not the least of which is verification from the author).
The Rockets were 20th in the league last year in points from their “in-the-paint” scorers. Smith could help tremendously there, but obviously, so could Howard, right?
Finally, the Houston Rockets ran the pick-and-roll more than any team in the league last year. Smith is brilliant at setting screens.
Last summer, I was compiling some data on screens, and seeing which players' screens led to scoring more often. Josh Smith was the highest of any player I tracked.
His screens are rarely illegal and almost always effective, whether the ball-handler ended up scoring or not. They’re also, for lack of a better word, geometrically sound. He tends to set the pick in just the right angle to give the ball-handler the most freedom from his defender.
Smith would shore up the Rockets' weaknesses and improve their strengths even more. And the best part is that with James Harden and Chandler Parsons there, he’d be bottled up with his insane predilection to proving he can shoot. They have enough shooting already.
Clearly Howard could help the Rockets, but not as much as Smith and for the money. I realize I’m on an island here, but if you’re a Houston fan and you end up with your second choice, this might make you feel better.
Indiana Pacers: Chris Copeland
The league needs to start giving out the annual Jeremy Lin Award. The award would go to a player who did not start the season on an NBA roster, but ended up on one and put up prestigious numbers for a really small sample size.
The trophy given out would be called the Golden Couch, and it would come with an inflated contract.
This year’s winner would be Chris Copeland, who had prodigious scoring numbers, notching 20.3 points per 36 minutes while shooting a true shooting percentage of .583. But let’s not get carried away. He offers almost nothing else.
He averaged only 1.1 assists and 5.0 rebounds per 36 minutes, numbers so low that it makes you think the per 36 minutes need to be adjusted to per 36 minutes. If you want to put that in perspective, no other player in the history of the league has ever been so unbalanced.
He was also horrendous defensively, as his opponents managed a gaudy Player Efficiency Rating of 18.9.
On a team that emphasizes defense and rebounding as much as the Indiana Pacers do, he’d make a poor fit. He’s pretty much the the opposite of a Pacer, as they do everything well but score.
Los Angeles Clippers: O.J. Mayo
Note: Well, the Los Angeles Clippers went and ruined this slide by doing what I said they should before I published it. But since there really aren’t any more decisions for them to make, I’ll just say why they didn’t make the wrong decision anyway.
I am convinced that there is an unsolved Fringe episode where some unknown device caused the Chris Paul trade to be vetoed by David Stern, tearing a rift between this and an alternate reality, and now the Clippers and Lakers time lines are crossed forever.
There, they wonder why the Lakers are no longer the joke of the league.
Be relieved Clippers fans, be very relieved, and be happy. Your organization just made a brilliant move. (It just feels so weird to keep typing good things about the Clippers. Will my fingers become used to this?) The Clippers are the clear winners of this offseason.
First their upgrade at coach is roughly equal to going form a rusty Pinto to a shiny new Caddy. Doc Rivers is an elite coach in this league.
Second, they inked Chris Paul.
Third, they made a fantastic trade, acquiring J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Redick works much better than Mayo because of how they each generate their points.
Mayo is a better scorer, but according to Synergy about 60 percent of his points in set offenses come out of isolation or pick-and-roll with him as the ball-handler. Redick gets most of his offense on catch-and-shoot situations. And he scored at a rate of 1.27 points per play on spot-up jumpers.
When Paul is your point guard, you want the ball in his hands as much as possible. You want players who can play off him, not take the ball away. You want players who he can hit with the pass who will knock the shot. In other words, you want Redick.
The bottom line, O.J. “May-o” may not have made them better, but J.J. will make them Redick-ulous.
Los Angeles Lakers: Nick Young
Somewhere, someone had this idea that combining Kobe Bryant and Nick Young on a basketball court is a good idea. No, really.
Why? Why would anyone do that?
I can picture the scene already. The two players grapple with one another at center court, each trying to pry the ball away.
Intermittent and alternate cries of, “My turn!!! No, my turn” pierce the arena air.
Both teams stand watching, bewildered. The opponents unsure of how to, and whether to, defend this maneuver. The refs, whistles perched between pursed lips, decide against blowing them, uncertain as to whether one can foul his own teammate.
The horn sounds to indicate the expiring shot clock. The two players walk back on defense, glowering at each other.
There is ample evidence that both have some “ball-hogging” tendencies. No guard with 1,000 shots has ever had a higher career usage percentage and a lower assist percentage than Young, meaning that arguably no player has ever been as big a ball hog as he is.
And while Bryant is a more capable passer than many give him credit for, the willingness isn’t always there. He led the league in missed field goals per game last year—a less than prestigious “title” he’s held ever since the 2006 season.
So yeah, it’s tough to see those two working together.
Memphis Grizzlies: Tony Allen(ish)
Note: Since the completion of this article the Memphis Grizzlies and Tony Allen have reached a deal.
If Tony Allen was a soft drink, he’d be flying off the shelves right now. Everyone wants him. He’s the cool kid that all the other cool kids want to be. He’s arguably the best defensive perimeter player in the league.
The problem is that the NBA is all about supply and demand and when you get a player as seemingly popular as Allen is, you’re going to have a player who is going to get overpaid. Ken Berger of CBS Sports lists five teams pursuing Allen. And while there are a couple of teams some other writers have mentioned, the exact list isn’t the crucial thing. It’s just that there is a list, with anywhere between a sixth and a quarter of the league on it.
That’s a lot of teams.
The danger becomes a bidding war—a full-on auction—where Memphis gets the right to match the highest bid. Every team that wants him is going to offer him something that they think no one else will offer and that Memphis won’t match. The more teams involved in the process, the higher that number goes.
The Grizzlies ended up doing a preemptive strike of sorts, giving Allen a four-year, $20 million deal, which is on the high end for a player who doesn't score, but not too high for Allen. It could have gone worse.
Miami Heat: Greg Oden
When Greg Oden’s agent said there was mutual interest between Oden and the Heat, three things went through my mind immediately.
First, there was laughter. Second, the thought that free publicity is good publicity. Third, this will never happen.
A comeback player is going to be the answer to the Heat’s center problems! Now that is cause for laughter.
One of two things is true: Either Oden can really play or he can’t. As promising a talent as he was, he’s getting interest from lots of teams, including other teams that can offer him a lot more money than the Heat can, as they are limited to the $3.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception.
And if Mark Stein’s report that the Heat “need to be in the same ZIP code” is true then they don’t have any chance of getting there.
And this is where Miami, though two-time defending champions and owners of the best player in the world, LeBron James, needs to remember they did not exactly run away with the championship this year. They were taken to seven games twice. They came a second away from watching another team celebrate on their court.
This was also while arguably their biggest threat in both conferences was missing their superstar point guard, the Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose in the East and Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West.
In the NBA, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, and the Heat are in danger of having that happen if they spend too much time here. The last thing they need to do is wait around on Oden, have him go somewhere else and have every other center go elsewhere while they wait.
Milwaukee Bucks: No One
At this point there is no way that the Milwaukee Bucks cannot have this offseason be any more of a disaster. They traded Tobias Harris, a player who has done nothing but shine with the Orlando Magic since being dealt to acquire J.J. Redick, whom they turned around and traded for two second-round picks.
The prior year they traded Andrew Bogut to get Monta Ellis, which might have been a decent trade if they’d intended to keep him, but he’s walking for free agency, too, by the sound of things.
No one can be a bad “fit” on Milwaukee because the team is a shapeless, amorphous blob. How do you not fit into that?
It’s becoming apparent that John Hammond is among the worst GMs in the NBA. The worse they get the closer Hammond is to being canned, and the better that is for every NBA fan in Milwaukee.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Martin
Welcome back to the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves! It looks you’re finally ready to compete again.
There appears to be an annual rite in the Western Conference where every year one team climbs back into relevance after a sustained period of “rebuilding.” Could next year be the T’Wolves' turn? They’ve had a great offseason to do it.
O.J. Mayo was a better fit for two reasons. First, Martin has a slight build and he’s been fouled a lot in his career, 1,079 times to be specific. He’s missed time here and there due to injuries. In fact, he’s never played a full season. That’s concerning.
Next year he’ll be 30, so a four-year deal for $28 million could be the kind of deal that starts feeling pricey after a year or two, especially considering the battering.
That kind of money would have been better spent on a guy like Mayo, who hasn’t been quite so battered over his career.
New Orleans Pelicans: Tyreke Evans—Depending
The New Orleans Pelicans' offer to Tyreke Evans is hard to judge right now, primarily because we don’t know how honest they’re really being about keeping Eric Gordon.
If the Sacramento Kings match their offer, then they’re really in a tight spot.
There were already questions regarding how happy Gordon has been. If the Hornets now say, “We’re going to trade you” and then, “wait, no we’re not after all,” obviously, that locker room is going to get just a little bit awkward. So whether they are planning to trade him, you expect them to say they aren’t right now.
So let’s say they’re just lying to protect Gordon’s feelings and they plan to turn around and swap him to someone like the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger, then Evans makes perfect sense.
But if they really do intend on keeping Gordon, then that’s a problem. Evans made it pretty clear he didn’t want to go anywhere and play small forward, so if that’s what the Pelicans plan on doing, they could be asking for possible trouble.
Sure Evans might have even said he was OK with it, and he might have meant it—for now. But where will he be six months into the season, or two years into his contract? There’s a lot of potential for unhappiness to this deal, so until it works out, this goes into the bad fit column.
New York Knicks: Andrea Bargnani
Technically this isn’t a free-agent signing but it’s the biggest acquisition the Knicks are going to get, and it’s an awful one.
There is this bubble the New York media live in. In this bubble, Bargnani was a great deal for the Knicks. A talking head was on ESPN after the trade explaining that this worked great for the Knicks because he would help them stretch the court.
That’s right. The team that had just shattered the NBA record for three-pointers in a season gave up three draft picks, their best three-point shooter, a good chunk of their interior defense and absorbed one of the worst contracts in the NBA so they could “stretch the court.” That makes perfect sense.
Who cares that the real problem the Knicks had was scoring inside. According to NBA.com/STATS (subscription required), only four teams had fewer field goals less than 5 feet from the rim, or that they were in the bottom half of the league in offensive rebound percentage. Who cares that their opponents had the fourth-best field-goal percentage inside 5 feet.
What the Knicks needed was to add a jump-shooting power forward who can’t play defense, can’t rebound and, really, can’t shoot either. This was apparently a great trade for New York! He voided a strength and added a horrible contract while making fewer of those pesky drafts an issue.
The New York media will spin anything to the point it’s unrecognizable. You can’t get this kind of hard-hitting sophistry just anywhere.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Sebastian Telfair
Has the window already started to shut on the Oklahoma City Thunder dynasty? The team was being heralded by the media as the way for a small-market team to build not too long ago, but now they seem to be declining already.
Last year, after Russell Westbrook was injured in the postseason, they were exposed in terms of just how limited they were offensively. Sure, Kevin Durant did his best to do everything, averaging a monstrous line of 30.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists in the postseason, becoming just the third player (along with LeBron James and Oscar Robertson) in history to average numbers like that.
Still, his field-goal percentage fell off a cliff, from .510 in the regular season to .455 in the postseason. He had to play 44 minutes a night, too. And that was with Kevin Martin contributing 14.0 points a game. But now Martin has left for whiter pastures in Minnesota. (Well it is white for most of the winter! I lived there, I know.)
So who are they looking at to fill the void that Martin semicapably filled for James Harden? How about Sebastian Telfair, per Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld? Yep, that’s the same player who’s been averaging a whopping 5.9 points per game over the last four years. Well at least he’s done that in the 199 games he’s managed to get into.
The Thunder starters have basically two scorers, Westbrook and Durant, and three defensive specialists. They’ve gotten around this by having a designated scorer off the bench, be it Harden or Martin. Telfair does not fit into that mold. If he’s their sixth man, the Thunder will be doomed in the West.
Orlando Magic: Who?
The Orlando Magic have more or less a full roster and are at $72 million with a really weird cap situation that includes a potential buyout of Hedo Turkoglu’s $12 million contract with $6 million guaranteed. If they opt to do that then they can have a full midlevel exception for up to $5 million.
But if they do then they hard cap themselves to $74 million, which they probably don’t do anyway, because they don’t even look like they’re planning on using the exception.
Right now the Magic seem more intent on finding out what kind of assets they find for Arron Afflalo than on signing any free agents at all. In fact, I couldn’t find any reports that they’ve met with anyone or scheduled any meetings.
They were hoping to land Eric Bledsoe, but now that ship has sailed.
The Magic aren’t playing for this season, they’re playing for the future. Their intention this year will be to play their youth and give them minutes. Free agency seems to be the furthest thing from their minds. If they add anyone it would be surprising, unless it’s through moving Afflalo.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Bynum
There’s a certain irony to the fact that when it comes to player forgiveness, the most merciless fans in the country live in the City of Brotherly Love. That’s where they booed Donovan McNabb, a quarterback who got them to the Super Bowl.
That’s where they booed Roy Halladay, a pitcher who won them a World Series.
So how will the fanbase of the Philadelphia 76ers treat a player who got paid nearly $17 million to never step foot on the court, but still managed to go screw himself up worse by bowling?
This has nothing to do with basketball reasons. If the Sixers brought back Bynum, there’s a good chance that the first time he was introduced, the fans would not take it well. Now I’m not saying anything violent would happen, but if it did happen, no one would be surprised.
Phoenix Suns: Monta Ellis
Some people collect stamps. Some collect coins. Apparently the Suns collect point guards. Maybe the thinking is that if they gather enough them, they can throw them all into the old “change-o machine” and consolidate them into one Steve Nash.
What they don’t want to get though is a puppy brother. Oh sure they’re cute but they’re really not one thing or the other, which can be cumbersome.
Most importantly they do the things that both do that annoy you. They run around and pee on the carpet. Then they follow you around wanting to do whatever you’re doing.
Monta Ellis is a puppy brother. (I can guarantee you no one else has ever typed that sentence).
He’s kind of cute and fuzzy and he does all the running around you could want him to do. He gets in the lane and finishes like a pro. The problem is that he’s just not a real shooting guard. He doesn’t have the size to be one.
He’d almost make a better point guard, as he actually is an underrated passer. He’s not quite on the level of what Nash once referred to as “super guards” Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook though. Nash was distinguishing them from “combo guards” in that the latter can play either position but Rose and Westbrook play “both positions at the same time,” a la “super guards.”
But Ellis is kind of in this place all his own. He can’t play ether position, but he sort of plays both, and he sort of does both at the same time, but he’s not a combo guard, or a super guard or a tweener.
He’s a puppy brother. And with all the point guards the Suns have they need a shooting guard, not a puppy brother.
Portland Trail Blazers Samuel Dalembert
Shortly before the draft, numerous rumors begin circulating that LaMarcus Aldridge wanted out of Portland, particularly if they didn’t do something to become a contender. Many had Chicago as his preferred destination.
Then recently Aldridge denied that he’d demanded a trade, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian. When asked if he was happy to come back, Aldridge shot back: "I'm excited to see who we get in free agency to make us better."
You get the feeling that while Aldridge might not have “demanded” a trade per se, he maybe would be “hoping” for one if the Trail Blazers don’t do something fast.
So what do the Trail Blazers do? They run out and court the player who is low on the free-agent ranking list, Samuel Dalembert. Because nothing says stay like Samuel Dalembert.
How much longer before we start re-evaluating LaMarcus Aldridge’s trade value?
Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans
Whatever bridges were left for the Sacramento Kings and Tyreke Evans were burned the minute that Sacramento announced they had reached a four-year, $56 million deal with wing Andre Iguodala. The terms of the deal having been broken by, who else, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Then it seems that they inexplicably pulled their offer. It’s going to be really bad if they go back to Evans now.
The reason is that the Kings met with him Monday “to express their desire to keep Evans,” according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.
It feels as though this has been a large part of the process that the Kings and Evans have been going through together, with the Kings asking for commitments, giving none and backing away.
Now they’ve effectively sent a message to Evans that’s hard to ignore. It’s pretty rational thinking that they had every intention of making the offer to Iguodala when they were meeting with Evans, but never told Evans. That’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re Evans.
There’s just no way to see the Kings and Evans happily coexisting next year. The Kings are better off losing Evans than losing the whole team through a sour locker room. It’s better to let him walk.
San Antonio Spurs: Anyone but Tiago Splitter
Anyone but Tiago Splitter would have been a bad fit for the San Antonio Spurs, for all the right reasons.
You have to absolutely love what the San Antonio Spurs have done in re-signing him to a four-year deal. Someday they’re going to make a movie—nay, a miniseries (a movie would be too short)—about Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich and all the years they spent together. It will be titled, The San Antonio Spurs: A Love Story.
No, I’m not a big Spurs fan, but I’m a big fan of what the Spurs do. They had Duncan take a salary cut for the sake of the team. Tony Parker did so, too. And with it being presumed that Manu Ginobili will also, the Spurs had real money to go out and buy an “upgrade” at center.
So what reward did management show the players in return for the loyalty the players showed management? Get this! They signed Tiago Splitter to a four-year, $36 million contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The San Antonio Spurs are the NBA’s version of Costco, treating their employees right, and it makes you feel good about this deal. Probably everyone this side of Stephen A. Smith couldn’t be happier for Splitter. Anything else would have just been wrong.
Toronto Raptors: Charlie Villanueva
Someone has a sense of humor. Andrea Bargnani was traded on Canada Day, and the national holiday was the second biggest cause for celebration. If you were on Twitter when the trade was announced, the utter joy from north of the border was positively palpable.
But wait. Is that a rumor which hearkens to rob you of your joy? Is that old villain Charlie Villanueva coming back to his rookie stomping grounds and bringing his pal Rodney Stuckey with him? Well Detroit has offered Toronto those two expiring contracts for Rudy Gay, according to Mark Stein of ESPN.
So what makes Villanueva such a bad fit on the Raptors? Well, mostly there’s the fact that he’s himself. There’s a reason they get “expiring” contracts. Essentially what that means is its “bad” contract in its final year. And the reason it’s bad is that it’s big but the player is horrible.
But there is a beauty to this. If the Raptors took the deal, they’d have all kinds of cap space for free agency next summer, and Chris Bosh will be a free agent.
I jest. I jest.
Hopefully the Raptors will see the Pistons “offer” the same way.
Utah Jazz: Maurice Williams
Here’s the question about Maurice Williams you really need to answer before you sign him to any kind of contract. Is he the best you can do as a starting point guard for the length of the deal?
Wojnarowski reports that Maurice Williams demanded that the Utah Jazz start him or he wouldn’t sign. He doesn’t want to play behind Trey Burke. The next day Williams' agent denied the reports, according to Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune
OK. We’re sure it never happened.
But this is what you get with Williams. Everywhere he goes he gets a bit of a complex. He’s a middling point guard (but not a poor one) who thinks he’s a good one in the era of point guards. Truthfully, at least half the starting point guards in the league are better than Williams right now.
And most of them are considerably younger than Williams, who at 30 is already showing signs of decline.
Which is why you need to answer, how long do you want him to be your starting point guard? Because Burke won’t want to be, and shouldn’t be, held down for long.
If Williams can accept an inevitable backup role, and backup money, bring him back. If not, backup point guards aren’t that hard to find.
Washington Wizards: Robot Butler
It’s been a very weird offseason. While the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics look destined to dive for the basement, teams like the Washington Wizards seem to be doing everything right.
They added Otto Porter through the draft, giving them an attractive young lineup with a perimeter core of Porter, John Wall and Bradley Beal, all of whom were among the first three picks of their selective drafts.
The Wizards could be surprising a lot of people by competing for a playoff spot this year. Last year their dynamic young backcourt played just 10 games together, but even just in games where Wall played, the Wiz were 24-25, just a smidgen below .500.
They’ve also extended Martell Webster and, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, added Eric Maynor, an established point guard who has playoff experience. Maynor should be able to help John Wall to grow.
Given a full year together, and with Porter added, the team should make a playoff run, and perhaps even surprise teams by competing for the fourth seed.
The Wizards do have one roster spot left they may be tempted to use on Robot Butler. They shouldn’t do it. He is way too heavy, has very little foot speed (due to the absence of feet) and literally no vertical.