Friday, February 25, 2005

A post-deadline deal

Today is a big day for the basketball community, and while it is due to someone changing teams, it is not any of the big names that were mentioned yesterday at the trade deadline. It is the acquisition of writer John Hollinger by John, as you probably know, has written the fantastic Pro Basketball Forecast (formerly prospectus) for the past few years, and was most recently writing for At ESPN, even in its for-pay-only 'insider' capacity, he will have his largest audience to educate his readers on statistical analyses of basketball. Getting off to a great start, John spends his debut article explaining defensive efficiency.

Hollinger is not only a guy with great ideas and analysis, but also an enjoyable writer. His sense of humor will undoubtedly help soften any barriers that some readers may have put up while questioning his methods. As Rob Neyer has become the voice-to-the-masses in terms of baseball sabermetrics, Hollinger can do the same for basketball. That will only help those in the same community like Kevin Pelton and Knickerblogger (And on my good days I can include myself?) who write in the vernacular of Hollinger (and Dean Oliver). Congrats to John and even moreso to ESPN for getting in on the revolution.


As far as the Bulls are concerned, they have the Wizards tonight, and then travel to Charlotte to face the Bobcats the following night to close out February. I wish those games were reversed, since any back-to-back makes me leery, even if it's the Bobcats.

If you haven't already, check out my trade deadline comments for some weekend reading. And the return of the 'Carnival of the NBA' will be up by Sunday, so if you have written (or read) something that you want mentioned, just send me an email.

Grading the trading

Lots of moves today, some big names, a lot of big contracts. For the full roundup, go over to NBAFanBlog, and keep scrolling.

Like I mentioned in the comments of the previous post, I thought a lot of these deals were win-win for both teams involved, with the exception of the Knicks (and to a lesser extent the Celtics).

I continue to giggle with glee to see Isiah fumble his way into being so bad as a GM it has made everyone forget how bad a coach he was. And the fact that he's doing it to the Knicks makes it even better. Actually though, my Knick hate is tempered since I really don't want Knickerblogger to jump off the Chrysler building or something. Maybe more minutes for his pet project Michael Sweetney at Center will help his pain.

Big Winners: Sixers, Warriors, Mavericks, Spurs, Kings. For the first 4, they are teams they got more talent than they gave up, which for teams hopelessly over the cap like these is really all that matters. The Kings take back less talent, but not as much as you'd think. I'm really down on Chris Webber now, and his contract will only rise as his leg will only continue to fall off in the next few years. Plus it will be easier for the Kings to move whoever they got back separately than it would be with Weber. Most importantly, whatever problems Peja Stojakovic had with the Kings probably left with Webber. Remember at the beginning of last season when Peja was an MVP candidate? It seemed like once Webber came back later in the year the offense revolved around him and Peja got lost. Now with Webber gone and replaced with the more athletic Thomas, the Kings should be able to run more than they used to, with a still-potent core of Bibby, Miller, Mobley, and Peja.

Slight Winners: Cavs, Rockets. Both got rotation players for nearly nothing. I'm especially high on the Rockets' acquisition of Mike James. After trying out Tyron Lue, Charlie Ward, Reece Gaines, Rod Strickland and Bob Sura (now injured), James is the best pure point they've had all year. Maybe Moochie Norris can be a serviceable backup again, and all of a sudden the PG spot isn't as big of a weakness for the Rockets as it has been.

Hording cap space: Bucks, Hornets. Sure it seems that teams like the Hawks and Clippers always have cap space and never get to use it, but I figure if you're bad: 'tis better to be with cap room than without it. The Hornets have been really impressive in dealing away veterans for cap space and prospects this season. Baron Davis is a top-flight point guard when healthy, but do you ever see him being fully healthy again? If he isn't he'll still be paid like he is, and while Davis has shown little problem playing hurt, the injuries still limit his game. For the Warriors this is a gamble they can make since they're capped out regardless, but the Hornets didn't need that on their payroll. With Claxton coming from Golden State and backed up by the improbably productive Dan Dickau (another recent acquisition), they will not lose much from the point guard spot, and all at a fraction of the cost Davis was. Add that with Jamaal Magloire, JR Smith, David West, Macej Lampe, and a top5 pick in this year's draft, the Hornets' future looks at least interesting, which was better than what a Magloire/Davis/Mashburn future could bring.  The Bucks will definitely miss Mike James if TJ Ford never returns, but they were going nowhere fast and cap space this summer at least provides some hope of being a player in the free agent market while convincing Michael Redd to stay. Look for the Bucks and Hornets (to go along with the perennial Hawks and Clips) to be players for Tyson and Eddy this summer.

Undecided: Celtics, Raptors. I am not an Antoine Walker fan at all, and like Webber seems to me like the type of overrated high-volume player whose stats mask their true contribution. And the fact that Jiri Welsch was the main piece of the deal that sent Walker away, and that same Jiri Welsch was traded to facilitate bringing Walker back, its a head-scratcher at best. My main problem is that they had to deal Gary Payton to get Walker, leaving them with no established point guard. The guys at Celticsblog think that Delonte West is ready right away, and they'd better be right because we've all seen the Marcus Banks experience and left wanting our money back. I hope that the Celtics got some sort of approval from Payton before this was done, since there is no way he will report to the Hawks. On the one hand Payton should be happy now that he can sign with any team (after a buyout), including perhaps the Celtics again. But this will mean a paycut, and the second time his 'title discount' contract with the Lakers was used to deal him to a place he didn't want to be. The Raptors, meanwhile, made no moves, but I won't rush to declare it a loss because as much as one would like to think that they should've gotten anything possible for Donyell Marshall, its not for lack of trying. In some ways it's better to just let the contract expire off of your own books. It's certainly better than packaging it for Malik Rose.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

All quiet on the trade front

Doesn't look like much is happening at this year's trade deadline, and for the first time in years I'm not looking around scrounging for some miracle trade to save the Bulls. Despite a loss tonight in Cleveland, the Bulls are for once content with their squad. There was talk of a Chandler swap for Vlad Radmanovic (and that seems like complete BS to me), but don't look for GM John Paxson to trade anyone from his rotation(and with Skiles, that's a big group) by the afternoon deadline tomorrow.

Possible trade fodder include Frank Williams, Janerro Pargo, and Jared Reiner, all making little money and giving little production. So I wouldn't expect anything useful coming back except perhaps a 2nd round pick, which wouldn't be too bad an idea since the Bulls do not have a second-rounder for the next two years. I'd be happy to see Williams get traded for his sake, since I still believe he is to talented than the 12th man treatment he's received so far in Chicago.

In the realm of possibility is trading Othella Harrington, Adrian Griffin (both in the last year of their deals) or Eric Piatkowski. I just don't see much happening with them though, since with all the talk this season of veteran presence and chemistry it'd seem that those responsible for such an atmosphere would be safe. In other years those would be the players who could help the other teams around the league. But for once, the Bulls are looking to get stronger at the deadline instead of dumping players. And if that means doing nothing, unlike in years past I'd be fine with that.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Steal that win and don't look back

Wow, what a night at the United Center, packed and ready for the Eastern Conference leader Miami Heat. In the Bulls' first possession Curry had a shot swatted back at him by Shaq, and it looked like the Bulls could be in for a long night. But soon after Shaq was clutching his knee after stepping on a fallen Othella Harrington, and would not return that night.

I didn't take joy into seeing Shaq leave the game, but then again you knew that this would be a whole new setting with him out. The Bulls didn't play particularly well, and at one point in the 4th quarter I had written them off. Ben Gordon came into the game with about 5 minutes left, and hit a shot but soon missed a layup, which had me thinking that maybe its too much to count on Ben to bail out the Bulls every time out.

But it seemed like he didn't miss a shot the rest of the night. Ben finished with 29 points, 6-9 from 3 and lead the Bulls to a 105-101 victory in overtime. Gordon had 20 points in the 4th and extra period, and Tyson Chandler chipped in with some big defensive stops and rebounds on the other end. Solid albeit unspectacular play all-around, with Gordon once again being the hero. (and if not for Ben, I'd probably be talking about the game Wang Zhi-Zhi had)

Recap here, box score here. Bright spots tonight include Harrington's rebounding in the first half, and Curry chipping in a quiet 16 before Skiles went away from him and stuck with the 3-guard lineup that closed out the game. One of those 3 guards, Kirk Hinrich, had perhaps his worst night of the season, shooting 4-19 and perhaps still feeling the effects of his hand injury. Gordon shows no signs of slowing down, but its too much pressure on the rookie to be expected to continually bail out the team. They still need Hinrich healthy and shooting well.

Bottom line, the Bulls are now 5-3 in a month where they were to struggle, and winning a game against the Heat without Shaq can be considered stealing, but judging by the reaction at the UC tonight, nobody felt too guilty about it.

The Bulls travel to Cleveland tomorrow, so the road isn't getting any easier...


Monday, February 21, 2005


Shaq v. Curry, Wade v. Gordon, Hinrich's good fingers v. his injured ones, Eddie Jones v. the front of the rim.....

Big game Tuesday night at the United Center, where I am proud to say I will be in attendance. And yes when I bought the tix it was to see Shaq. But if the Bulls can give the East power a good game, it'll be a big confidence booster before they set out  afterwards for 7 of 9 on the road.

As far as analysis goes, I'll just say I hope that Hinrich (and his bum hand) is up for chasing Wade all night, and that Duhon/Gordon don't have to help Hinrich to the point where they're ignoring one of the top 3-point weapons in the game. And that the big men don't have to help so Shaq is on the receiving end of many an lob pass. And that Hinrich doesn't get in foul trouble.

Let's just say that Wade's homecoming has me worried in general. That infamous '2-guard defensive specialist' that could be coming at the trade deadline would sure be useful.

So now I'll open up the floor, and if you haven't been to the NBA carnival yet, scroll down.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Carnival of the NBA - inaugural edition

I'm watching the new dream job and wondering why ESPN didn't put Tim Hardaway through that process before that disaster of a tenure...

But no time for that, onto the Carnival. For those don't know about blogging carnivals, it basically takes a subject and looks around the blogosphere to gather what the people are saying, er...blogging. So away we go...

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the guys at Celticsblog look at the C's expiring contracts and young talent and wonder if GM Danny Ainge has something major up his sleeve, or at least something with Gary Payton...

Knickerblogger is one step away from bringing a 'Free Michael Sweetney' sign to the Garden, seeing that his per-minute production exceeds those playing ahead of him. But then there is the question of how much we can trust those pesky per-minute statistics

According to the general public, per minute stats are bad way of assessing a player's ability, but are more important than per-game stats. They are a useful measurement that changes with a player's minutes, and are ridiculous and meaningless.

Also, looks like he picked the All-Star MVP right...not bad.

Maverick Blog (not to be confused with that blog) is also having fun with stats, tying the subjective (all-defensive team votes) and the objective (+/- stats) to rank the NBA's best defensive players...

Forum Blue and Gold looks at the race for the last Western Conference playoff spot, with the Lakers currently holding it with Denver and Minnesota on the outside looking in. But Kurt believes chances are good they'll keep the spot:

I’d rather be the one being chased rather than the chaser. For all the problems the Lakers have had thisseason — lack of a team identity, losing a coach, Kobe missing 14 games — they are still in the playoffs and can make a push. I like our chances.

On the other end of that 'chase', Timberwolves blog is still trying to pick up the pieces of the Wolves' shockingly disappointing season so far. GH is unimpressed with a recent win over the Nets, while Petey looks at Chad Ford's trade scenarios for the likes of Sprewell, Cassell, and Sczerbiak, suggesting maybe a trade with the Celtics would work out better...

Speaking of Spree and Cassell, Spurs Blog is pretty angry at them(to put it lightly) for tanking on a team with someone like Kevin Garnett, who as shown by his recent TNT interview is pretty much the anti-Sprewell in terms of where his priorities lie:

At this point I'm getting emotional-- some sadness but mostly anger. I need to get some things out in the open, things that no sportswriter has the guts to write, and I'm going to be as blunt as possible.

SuperSonicSoul gives props to those Sonics in the all-star game, which allowed me to see that they've given point guard Luke Ridnour the nickname Lil' Frodo. But that suggestion of bringing back the old-times time? I hope (and think) it was a joke...

As I mentioned last week, Scott at Raptorblog has some kind words for the Bulls... has an extended baselines column, which points out that that the Bobcats and Hawks may actually be worse than his Hornets...

The recently updated Les Bullez wonders aloud what kind of excuse for a halftimeshow he just witnessed during the All-Star game. I personally didn't watch it, but the musical selections seen odd at best. Like it is writing about the Bulls, it has to be fun writing about the Wizards, a team that is having a great season and growing every game...

Another East power is Miami, and David Eisenberg over at Crazy from the Heat is rolling out the red carpet for the return of Alonzo Mourning, but kind of wishes that Wes Person will get released instead of (as reported) Wang Zhi-Zhi.

Would you rather have an over-the-hill shooter or a 27-year old 7-footer sitting on IR? Seems to me an easy call.

Like Sweetney, Wang shows great per-minute production...

NBAFanBlog has spent the past couple of weeks giving midseason status reports for all teams, and is now relaying all the trade-chatter surrounding the aforementioned deadline...

BlazerTalk, where I first learned of the Darius-Miles-suspension-payoff-gate, looks like its taking a break from the hoops and taking some scenic pictures of Oregon. With the way the Blazers have been this season, hard to blame them.

Hey! that was fun, hope you take some time and check out the links mentioned in this week's carnival. That's right, I'll try and do this weekly, although I've noticed that other carnivals are rotated among bloggers(hint hint).