Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wade, Lance, SWAGGY

Miami Heat re-sign G Dwyane Wade: 2 years, $31.1 million

There is also a player option for year 2 of this deal. Wade opted out of 2 years/$42 million so he's losing about $11 million. Still, $15 million is a nice paycheck and I'm sure the Heat will take care of Wade beyond that year for his sacrifice. I like this deal for both sides. Wade gets his money and comes out as a "good guy" for giving up money (Wade is teflon). The Heat stay competitive now and keep cap space open for the summer of 2016 when Kevin Durant and LeBron James (Ha!) can become free agents.

Charlotte Hornets sign G Lance Stephenson: 3 years, $27 million. 


"Larry, dis Lance..."
I love everything about this deal. Everybody wins here, except the Pacers. They lose pretty badly. The Hornets fill a need on the wing. They get a 24 year old with considerable upside stepping out of what was commonly known as the Pacers """""""offense"""""". Stephenson gives the Hornets a secondary ball handler and another great perimeter defender, alongside beside Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist respectively. A two year deal also isn't long enough for Lance Stephenson to kick up his feet and do Lance like things. If he has a nice three year run, he can hit unrestricted free agency again at age 26 and really lockup a long term deal. As Zach Lowe has pointed out multiple times, guys as good as Lance Stephenson don't hit unrestricted free agency at that age. He has a chance to do it twice by age 26. He's not without his risks, but I absolutely think the upside is worth the risk on what could be a two year deal.

Los Angeles Lakers re-sign G Swaggy: 4 years, $21.5 million
                                   re-sign C Jordan Hill: 2 years, $18 million

Very kind of Swaggy to take less than the max to help bring other talent to Los Angeles. Very kind indeed.
Jordan Hill had a very solid year in LA last season. He averaged nearly 10 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1 BPG  in only 21 MPG. He played mostly PF with Pau Gasol in town, but I figure he will transition back to center with Gasol in Chicago. He and Julius Randle should form a solid frontcourt for the Lakers. A two year deal also keeps LA's cap space alive for the summer of 2016.

Cleveland Cavaliers sign F Mike Miller: 2 years, $5.5 million

The Cavs shot 35% from 3P last season, just short of the 36% league average. Miller hit 46% of his triples in Memphis last season, AND played in 82 games. You can do a lot worse than a rotation of wings that includes LeBron James, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters and Mike Miller. A very nice move for a Cavs team that could compete for the East now, even without acquiring Kevin Love, due to the Pacers and Heat being forced to shake up their starting lineup.

Washington Wizards sign F Kris Humphries: 3 years, $13 million

The Wiz are having a very good offseason. They retained Gortat, signed Pierce for cheap, picked up a trade exception for a fleeing Ariza and now, Humphries. Humphries came off the bench for the Celtics last year and gave them a 8/6 on 50% FG shooting in only 20 MPG.  He'll be a great first big off of the bench and very valuable when Nene misses his annual 15 games. I really like what the Wizards have going on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mo' Free Agency

Dallas signs F Chandler Parsons: 3 years, $46 million.

I like Chandler Parsons game. I don't like his $15 million dollars per year of his game. He's a young wing with a very nice all around game, and a three year deal for a 25 year old isn't terrible. But if you give me a choice of $15 million a year of Chandler Parsons or what Houston did to replace him, I think I like how the Rockets came out. Part of me thinks this was Dallas attempting to drive up Parsons price, knowing that Houston was going to match and now they have to pay him.

Houston Rockets sign F Trevor Ariza: 4 years, $32 million



Check the per 36 MPG numbers. Ariza shot better from 3P, FT, grabbed more boards and is a better defender. He's also 28 and just finished his 10th season so this is probably what he is at this point. Parsons shot better from 2P, dished more assists and is only going into season 4 at 25. There's still some upside, but would you rather pay $8 mill for Ariza or nearly double that for Parsons? I'd take Ariza.

Utah Jazz re-sign F Gordon Hayward: 4 years, $63 million

I don't want to pay $15 mill a season for Hayward either and I'm sure the Jazz agree, but you have to overpay to get/keep young talent to Utah so I get it. I really liked the potential fit of Hayward in Charlotte, but Utah is not in a position to let assets walk and get nothing in return. I also think Hayward's poor shooting year (41% FG, 30% 3P) was the exception and not the rule. I think he'll get those numbers up this season.

Charlotte Hornets sign F Marvin Williams: 2 years, $14 million:

I do NOT like this move for Charlotte. For what man? I won't pretend I watched a whole hell of a lot of Jazz games last year, but I also won't pretend that Marvin Williams is bringing $7 million dollars worth of veteran leadership of whatever it is the Hornets are using to justify this move. If they were looking to take a chance on a UNC guy that hasn't lived up to draft night expectations, I would have rather them signed Ed Davis and hoped he figured it out.

Memphis Grizzlies sign F Vince Carter: 3 years, $12 million

Another solid move. A shooter for a team that sorely needs shooting. I imagine that he and Jordan Adams will help lead the bench unit for the Grizz, though VC gives some versatility. He can start at SF over Tayshaun Prince, slide to the 2 and play alongside Prince, or go back to SF with Tony Allen occupying SG.

Detroit Pistons: sign G DJ Augustin: 2 years, $6 million
                            sign F Caron Butler: 2 years, $9 million

Augustin and Butler both had solid years in reserve roles for the Bulls and Thunder, respectively. I'm skeptical Augustin can duplicate what he did under the mask of Tom Thibodeau's system (sidebar: In the past three seasons, Thibs has gotten career years out of DJ Augustin, Nate Robinson, John Lucas and CJ Watson. Perhaps it's the system that makes the point guard and Derr...ah nevermind), but he should be solid off the bench for the Pistons. There's a team option on the second year of Butler's deal, so they won't be on the hook long if he can't provide much.

Phoenix Suns sign G Isaiah Thomas: 4 years, $27 million

The Suns are just going to run out Alex Len and four PG's next season. They have Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Tyler Ennis and just gave $27 million to Thomas. Dragic has a player option after next summer that he will almost certainly turn down in search for big money. Bledsoe is waiting for an offer in restricted free agency. Ennis is just a rook. This may just be the Suns collecting assets and figuring it out later, as $7 mill per for a 25 year old fresh off a 20 PPG/6 APG season is a steal. They have a ton of cap space so they may just run this season with Bledsoe/Dragic starting and Thomas as a supersub. If Dragic gets a crazy offer, they let him walk. If they can bring him back reasonably, they have Thomas as a trade chip.

San Antonio Spurs re-sign G Patrick Mills: 3 years, $12 million

I missed that one. I love this deal, even if Mills is expected to miss the first half of the season due to shoulder surgery. I would have loved for Orlando to throw this money at him. $4 million for half a season of Mills still seems like a better deal than $4.5 million for an entire season of Ben Gordon. Mills will get to take his time during rehab, work his way back into the rotation and pick right up where he left off as a spark off the Spurs bench.

Oklahoma City Thunder sign G Anthony Morrow: 3 years, $10 million

Morrow played nearly 19 MPG last year for the Pelicans and knocked down 45% of his triples. The anti-Sefolosha. Great move by the Thunder, as he'll have more than his fair share of open looks spotting up around Kendrick Perkins and Nicholas Collison.

Monday, July 14, 2014

LeBron and Some Other Guys!

Cleveland Cavaliers sign F LeBron James: 2 years, $42 million

I think that I, and a majority of the basketball world, are still reeling over the shock from this one. I will try to keep this brief, as I imagine that nearly everybody everywhere has said everything about this move. I think it was a good move for LeBron, life wise and basketball wise. It's a big risk as this Cleveland roster is not without fault. Varejao is old. Kyrie has played 60+ games just once in his three years. Wiggins is unproven. Thompson, Waiters and Bennett have been underwhelming. And still.

I think LeBron on his own adds 20 wins to any roster in the NBA. That would put a Cavs team that won 33 games last year in the 50s, and that's before you add in Wiggins value. I've heard talk of trading Wiggins for Love, or Waiters to clear space to sign Ray Allen and/or Mike Miller, and I don't know that I agree with them. I think LeBron chose Cleveland in part to grow with a flock of young guys. He does the heavy lifting now so that in a couple of years, he doesn't have to. Love is great, but he's missed 96 games in the last three seasons. I'm not a huge Waiters fan, but I wouldn't trade him for space to sign a 38 year old and a 34 year old. I understand the East is wide open this season, but if the Cavs pace themselves I think they can own it for the next several seasons. I let this season run, and pick up what I need as I need it.

New York Knicks re-sign F Carmelo Anthony: 5 years, $122 million

I wanted to see Melo in Chicago for basketball reasons, but I understand completely why he took the loot. This is his chance for a big score, and boy did he cash in. Melo may have had his best overall season last season. Melo is 30 now so the Knicks should be able to get a couple of good years in, but I would not want to be paying a 34, 35 year old Carmelo Anthony upwards of $25 million dollars. The beauty of this all, is that I don't have to. The Knicks do. So good for them.

Miami Heat: re-sign F Chris Bosh 5 years, $118 million
                       re-sign G Mario Chalmers 2 years, $8 million
                       re-sign C Chris Andersen 2 years, $10 million 
                            sign F Luol Deng: 2 years, $ 20 million

Like Melo, I wanted Bosh to switch teams for basketball reasons. A Howard/Bosh/Parsons/Harden/Beverly lineup in Houston would have been fun to watch, but again I understand why Bosh took the cash. He likely jumps from the third option from Miami to the first, with LeBron's departure and Wade's health. Do you want a 30 year old Chris Bosh as your first option? Probably not, but you could do a lot worse. He's a big that can shoot threes, neither of which will diminish in time so this contract shouldn't age too badly.

Like the Deng signing. $10 mill a year for a guy one year removed from back to back all star appearances is more than fair. I could do without bringing back Chalmers/Birdman for those prices. It probably depends on what Wade ends up signing for, but I think Miami would have been better served throwing a max offer sheet at a guy like Eric Bledsoe. $9 mill a year for Chalmers/Andersen or $15 mill a year for Bledsoe? Greg Monroe wouldn't be a bad pickup either. Maybe Detroit lets him walk as a solution to their Drummond/Smith/Monroe issue. I think I'd rather take a chance on a young guy like Monroe/Bledsoe than three vets like McRoberts/Chalmers/Andersen, even though the money is around the same. To be fair to McRoberts, he signed before LeBron skedaddled. I'd be tempted to break my verbal commitment if I was them but $23 million is $23 million and Miami is still Miami.

Chicago Bulls sign F Pau Gasol: 3 years, $22 million

I like this deal. A lot. Gasol averaged a 17/10/3.5 last season on a terrible Lakers team and even at 34, I think he showed he still has some gas left in the tank. I like this move because of the versatility it gives the Bulls. While Gasol has been spending more and more time at center as he ages, I think the defensive scheme the Bulls have will allow him to play more PF. He can play PF alongside Joakim Noah, or C with Taj Gibson at PF. Either way, the Bulls will always have another big to protect him defensively. He's also an excellent passer for a big and he and Joakim Noah immediately make up the best passing frontcourt in the league. Solid move.

Washington Wizards sign F Paul Pierce: 2 years, $11 million

Huh? I thought it was written in stone that Pierce was headed to Los Angeles to reunite with Doc Rivers? This move came out of left field, but I like it. Pierce fills the hole at SF that Trevor Ariza's departure made, and he showed in Brooklyn that he can play some small ball PF. This will come in handy when Nene misses his annual 20 games. Pierce gives them another option for John Wall to kick it out to and a guy that can create his own shot. More importantly, his two year deal keeps the Wiz competitive now and keeps cap space open for 2016 when they will surely try to bring Kevin Durant home. This move also allows them to slowly trickle a few more minutes to last years #3 pick Otto Porter, as Pierce is best suited playing 25-30 MPG. Problem is, Porter may be best suited playing 0-5 MPG.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

More Free Agent Signings!


Orlando Magic sign PF Channing Frye: 4 years, $32 million

An unexpected signing for sure. The Magic already had Vucevic, O'Quinn, Harris, Nicholson and Gordon fighting for frontcourt minutes and here comes Frye. Frye adds a legit shooting stroke a team that badly needs it so he will find his minutes. Bigs get paid. Bigs that can shoot get paid more so I don't really have an issue with the contract either. I do wonder what this makes of Andrew Nicholson, who I was hoping to see bounce back from a subpar sophomore campaign. I think this move also shows that the Magic see Tobias Harris best coming off the bench, which I agree with, and Aaron Gordon as more of a SF, which I'm still unsure about.

Miami Heat sign PF Josh McRoberts: 4 year, $23 million
Miami Heat sign SF Danny Granger: 2 years, $4.2 million

Yes. THESE are the moves that will bring James/Wade/Bosh back to town. I don't think Wade/Bosh minds taking a paycut to bring another heavy hitter to South Beach. I think they mind if it's to clear cap space for McBob and Granger. To be fair, McRoberts is a decent player. He's a big that can shoot and pass the ball very well. He can't rebound, which fits right in with the Heat, and I wouldn't want 4 years of him, but he's a solid player. Granger on the other hand, looked DONE in Indiana and Los Angeles last season. His shot never came back to him and he looked a step slow on both ends of the court. You'd hope playing with James/Wade/Bosh would help some of that, but the Pacers were playing some good ball the first half of the season and he struggled. The spacing that Paul/Griffin provided in LA didn't do much better. Throw both of these guys in the Spurs series and I don't think it helps Miami a bit.

Clippers sign PG Jordan Farmar Clippers: 2 years, $4.2 million

Listed below are the per 36 stats for a couple of backup PGs. Player A will make over $5 million next season. Player B, Farmar, will make a little over $2.1 million.


Player A is Darren Collison, who left the Clippers for the Kings. If he can stay healthy, he did miss 40 games last season, Farmar should be a more than suitable replacement for Collison as the Clippers backup PG and spot starter when Chris Pauls hamstring/knee/ovaries act up this season.

Clippers sign C Spencer Hawes: 4 years, $23 million

Hawes had a very nice season last year for the 76ers and Cavs. He averaged a 14/8/2.5 on 47/45/78 shooting. Contract year phenomenon? Perhaps, but he's 26 and will be the best backup big the Clips have had in seasons. Look at the guys that logged frontcourt minutes last season for the Clips, besides Jordan/Griffin: Antawn Jamison, Big Baby Davis, Ryan Hollins, Hedo Turkoglu, Byron Mullens, Danny Granger, Jared Dudley and Stephen Jackson. Hawes is better than any of those guys. Considerably. He'll help space the floor in a way that DeAndre Jordan can't for the Clips. Nice move.

Mavericks re-sign PF Dirk Nowitzki: 3 years, $30 million

The Tim Duncan special. Dirk quietly had a dynamite season last year (22/6/3 on 50/40/90 shooting) and the Mavs gave the champion Spurs the most trouble of anyone in the playoffs. By taking less, Dirk is counting on Cuban and Co to get him some help for one last championship run. If they keep monitoring his minutes like Duncan, I can't see any reason why Dirk won't age just as well as Timmy.

Blazers sign C Chris Kaman: 2 yrs, $9.5 million

Was shaky on this one until I saw that the second year of the deal is only partially guaranteed. The team can keep him on the roster, or pay him a million bucks and send him on his way. Very nice signing. When Kaman was healthy, he was solid....which you could really say every year of his career. He averaged 10/6 for the Lakers in just 19 MPG last season, but only played in 39 games. In theory, he'll form a nice tandem with Robin Lopez for the Blazers. In theory.

NBA Free Agency 2.0!

Orlando Magic sign SG Ben Gordon: 2 years, $4.5 million

Awful. Just awful. The second year of this deal isn't guaranteed so this isn't as bad as it looks, but I don't get it. Gordon has a reputation as a shooter but couldn't get minutes for a Bobcats team that badly needed shooting. He had spats with Bobcats Hornets head coach Mike Dunlap. So he played 19 games last year, where he shot 34% from the field and 28% from 3P, and the Hornets decided to stick it to him by waiving him last season after the deadline where waived players could be claimed by postseason squads. Sounds like a great pickup for a young team coming off a 23 win season that already has two young SG's that are better than Ben Gordon. I don't get this move at all.

Atlanta Hawks sign SG Thabo Sefolosha: 3 years, $12 million

Eek. Sefolosha still has value as a defender, but is routinely ignored offensively by good teams. He played 34 minutes in the 6 game series against San Antonio. Not 34 minutes in Game 6. 34 minutes in the total 6 Game series. The Spurs this year and Grizzlies last year beat the Thunder, in part, by abandoning Sefolosha completely and guarding others. I'm not sure how he fits on a Hawks team looking to be Spurs West, as far as fielding five guys that can dribble/shoot/pass all at the same time. His defense alone might make it worth it, but it seems hard to justify that to me for a guy teams delightfully choose not to guard.

Pacers sign SG CJ Miles: 4 years, $18 million

Huh? Guard plays 20 MPG on a 33 win team, scores $18 million dollars from team in conference finals? I don't see it. I think Larry Bird has an eye for talent (drafted George, Hibbert, Stephenson, Kawhi Leonard, Miles Plumlee) but has trouble signing deals (this deal for Miles, 5 yrs/$40 mill for George Hill, 3 yrs/$10 mill for one season of Gerald Green before trading he, Plumlee and a first rounder for Luis Scola. Yikes). Larry Legend's moves to shore up the Pacers bench have been less than stellar and I can't imagine this one panning out either.

Kings sign PG Darren Collison: 3 years, $16 million

I guess man. Collison has a nice enough season in Los Angeles, and he's only 26 but reports say they are only looking to give Isaiah Thomas $5-6 million per year over three or four years to stay in Sacramento. I'd take Thomas over Collison, especially for around the same price so I'm not sure what the Kings plan is. Word is, they want Thomas back as a sixth man but I don't know if a team that hasn't won 30 games since 2007-08 can be making those types of decisions.

Spurs re-sign PF Boris Diaw: 3 years, $22 million

No surprises here. I don't think Diaw was ever leaving San Antonio, and while $7 mill per sounds a little high to me, Diaw fits the Spurs system very well and his game, if not his body, should age well. He can also help tutor Kyle Anderson, as there are some similarities in their game.

Raptors re-sign PF Patrick Patterson: 3 years, $18 million

Always happy to see a Wildcat get paid. This is a very fair deal for Patterson, a young big who worked hard to add three point range to his game. After being traded to the Raptors, Patterson hit 50% of his two pointers, 41% of his three pointers and grabbed over 5 boards a game in his 23 minutes per contest. Very nice signing.

Raptors re-sign PG Kyle Lowry: 4 years, $48 million

Another nice signing by the Drakes. Despite being known for his defense, Lowry had a career year last season averaging a 18/5/7.5 on 42/38/82 shooting. It feels like he's been in the league forever, but Lowry just turned 28 so the Raptors should be locking up peak years from Lowry. He was an All Star snub last year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him make it this season.


Mavericks re-sign PG Devin Harris: 3 years, $9 million

Harris only played in 40 games last season, which isn't really a surprise as he's been battling injuries. He hasn't played 75 games in a season since 2006-07. You have to hope that he can stay healthy and bounce back from a career low 38% FG, but for only $3 million per, I think he's worth the risk.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

NBA Free Agency 1.0!

Rejoice! NBA free agency is among us. I anticipate plenty of terrible deals, with a couple of good ones here, and will take this space to give my thoughts on them. First up...

Detroit Pistons sign SG Jodie Meeks: 3 years, $20 million

As a fellow Wildcat, I think this is a steal and that Meeks had a legitimate argument for a max contract. Meeks was the third leading scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers this past season. Let me give you some names of past third leading scorer for the Lakers: Pau Gasol, Magic Johnson, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Elgin Baylor. Would you say that a little under $7 million a year is too much for any of THOSE Hall of Famers/future Hall of Famers??? I think not. #TorridSportsTakes

Seriously, Detroit overpaid for Meeks but that's a given. You have to overpay to get guys to undesirable markets/bad teams, and Detroit checks both boxes. For a team that shot 32% from 3P as a team (29th of 30 teams), Meeks and his 40% 3P shooting will be welcome. Stan Van Gundy values three point shooting and surprisingly a roster with Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith was unable to provide it. Meeks is also 26 and coming off his best season so there is a little room for upside here. Solid signing.

Golden State Warriors sign PG Shaun Livingston: 3 years, $16 million

The Warriors traded for Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford last year looking for a PG to backup Steph Curry, and didn't find a good fit with either. I think Livingston will fit that bill. He can come off the bench to relieve Curry, play off the ball with him or handle the ball and let Curry spot up around the arc. He'll also be able to help defend the Westbrook/Paul/Lillard/Parker types of PG that the West has to offer. The Nets went 34-17 after Livingston was made a regular in the starting lineup, and I'm thinking he provides some insurance in case Klay Thompson is included in a deal for Kevin Love. Livingston can't shoot threes, but he doesn't try them. He can create for himself and others and gives the Warriors some flexibility with their lineup. I like this move.

Washington Wizards re-sign C Marcin Gortat: 5 years, $60 million

Oh boy. I like Marcin Gortat. I've liked him since his days backing up Dwight Howard in Orlando and I like him now. I don't like him 5 years, $60 million much though. Gortat averaged a 13/10 on 50% FG shooting for the regular season/playoffs and played in 92 of the Wizards 93 games last season. He was durable, productive and a big man so he was going to get paid. The $12 million a season figure doesn't bother me. The five years does. Gortat is 30 and while he played nearly every game last year, he missed 21 games the season before. Do you want to pay a 33 year old Gortat $12 million dollars a season? How about a 34 year old one? Hell, 33? I know I wouldn't.

But I understand why the Wizards did it. Last year was the first time they made the playoffs since 2007-08. They have legit young talent in Wall and Beal and are trying to show that they are ready to compete in a weak East. It doesn't send a very good message to your fans to let a key piece of your team walk after reaching the second round of the playoffs. With this move, the Wizards have effectively locked themselves into a Gortat/Nene/Beal/Wall core for the next couple of seasons. You can do a lot worse than those four, but do they scare you? This doesn't even include Trevor Ariza who had a great season, but is a free agent. I imagine that after this deal, they let him walk and hope Martell Webster/last years #3 overall pick Otto Porter can give you similar numbers for a fraction of the price. But any time you can commit to paying a 35 year old Marcin Gortat $12 million dollars a season, you have to do it.

Orlando Magic claim SG Willie Green off waivers

Ugh.

Boston Celtics re-sign G Avery Bradley: 4 years, $32 million

Another solid signing. Bradley had a nice year last year averaging 15 PPG, hitting nearly 40% of his three pointers and playing his traditional excellent defense. This year, he figures to move back off the ball more with a full season of Rajon Rondo back. $8 million per sounds a little high but Bradley turns 24 later this year, so there's still a good bit of upside here too. Rondo/Bradley/Marcus Smart figure to provide a trio of guards that can struggle with their shot, but really lock down on defense. If they can't score, you can't either. A 23 year old Bradley with salary certainty for the next four years also provides a level of intrigue as a trade chip. The Meeks/Bradley deals also show you what the rate is going to be for a quality shooting guard. Remember this when you hear 100 stories about how weak the SG position is and Klay Thompson gets a max deal soon.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rob Hennigan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Smug bastard (pictured above)
I've defended Rob Hennigan many times in this space, and with good reason. He nailed the Dwight Howard trade when it was clear Howard was leaving. The haul as of right now, in terms of what we still have left: Vucevic/Harkless/Fournier/Payton/a 2017 first rounder still to come from the Lakers. He's shown a solid draft history. Three of the four picks (Nicholson, O'Quinn, Oladipo) he's made for Orlando coming into tonight have proven to be rotation players at least (Romery Osby, the fourth, is playing overseas). He fleeced the Bucks for Tobias Harris/Doron Lamb and only gave up JJ Redick, who was not going to re-sign in Orlando. He's just finally cleared the salary cap of Otis Smith's blunders. He got rid of Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and Jason Richardson's contracts in the Dwight deal. Last season was the end of paying Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. This upcoming year will be the last year we have to pay Al Harrington and Glen Davis. He's done a masterful job since taking over the gig in the summer of 2012. Which made everything he did today so baffling to me.

The day for Orlando Magic fans started with news that Arron Afflalo had been dealt. Awesome. Afflalo had a very good season last year, and I was surprised to see him finish it in Orlando. He had a legit argument to make the All Star game and I thought he'd be traded while his value was at its peak. Then the trade deadline came, no trade. Coo coo. Surely he'd move on draft day. There were rumors of him heading to Charlotte, Denver and Chicago for draft picks in tonights draft. When I heard he was heading for Denver, I assumed it was for the 11th overall pick. Boy was I wrong. It was for SG Evan Fournier and a second rounder that became SG Roy Devyn Marble (top/bottom 5 name all time. I haven't decided which). Fournier is a Frenchman that wears #94 despite playing shooting guard and not defensive end. I had decided I wasn't going to like him before I read anything else and that was that. In the effort of being fair, I decided to look up Fournier's scouting reports and was pleasantly surprised.

I now have to root for this man. Send prayers up.
He went the pick after Andrew Nicholson in the 2012 draft, so I'm certain Hennigan scouted him plenty. He's 21 and just finished his second year, so we get two more years to evaluate him before deciding on his future with the team. He played and defended PG pretty well his rookie year, but an injury that kept SF Danilo Galinari out for the year forced him into more SF duty. Per 82games.com, his PER was higher and his opponents PER was lower when he played PG for 2012-13 and 2013-14. He's also a career 38% 3P shooter in his two NBA years. It looks like he'll be able to fill in for two or three positions in Orlando and provide some much needed shooting, and we get a two year look at him. I had my hopes set on a lottery pick for Afflalo, but he can opt out after the year and giving up a top 14 pick for one year of just about any player is not the recipe for success. Basketball gawd Zach Lowe also attested that Hennigan does his due diligence. He worked the phones with every NBA team and this was the best deal he could get. My biggest gripe was that even if this was the best deal you could get, wouldn't it have been available at the 2015 trade deadline? Perhaps but maybe Afflalo gets hurt. Or no one wants to give up anything of value for three months of Afflalo. Fournier also gets to start with the team from the beginning of the year. I guess, I'm ok with this deal. I guess.

Athletic things.
I like Aaron Gordon. I think he is going to be a good NBA player. I wasn't prepared to have him at #4 though. The rumors of us trading up to #1 and hopefully grabbing Andrew Wiggins had taken over my mind. When Wiggins went to the Cavs, I had conceded to the fact that we were going to roll the dice on Dante Exum. NAH. Gordon. I was legitimately caught off guard. He's a 3/4 tweener. He's too frail for the 4, but his game isn't really suited for the 3. He's not a great ball handler. He's not a good shooter. Word to Kirk Goldsberry.

Note: Blue is bad
Gordon made 23% of his midrange jumpers last year and hit a ghastly 42% of his free throws. This is the guy going 4th? Well, yes. He's a freak athlete, laterally and vertically. You can't teach this.



And he hustles. Very scrappy. Coaches dream. All that stuff. I can't help but be reminded of the last time we took a freak athlete revered for his hustle. You know, last year when we took Victor Oladipo. That seems like it's working out well because those guys find a way to make themselves useful. Gordon is a very willing passer, and a solid ball handler. He doesn't turn 19 until the middle of September. At the absolute worst, he's going to be a great defender and once his body fills out, he's the type of guy you'll want guarding the LeBron/Durant/Melo types in the NBA. Though his block/steal numbers don't show it because of Sean Miller's conservative defensive system, I think he has potential to defend the rim from the 4 position like Josh Smith/Serge Ibaka/Andrei Kirilenko. Miller's system values guys being in the right position at all times, over going for steals and blocks explaining Gordon's pedestrian numbers (around a steal and block a piece per game). He also shot an encouraging 36% from 3P, which isn't great by any means but shows that there is hope for him. He shows that Hennigan is placing an emphasis on guys high motor guys that are known for their defense. I can't be mad at that. I reckon.

The #12 pick found us taking Dario Saric, Croatian star that just signed a deal overseas that will keep him there for at least two more years. We soon traded this pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Elfrid Payton. Cool. I've been reading quite a bit on Payton and like what I've seen. Another great athlete that has shown an affinity for playing defense, like Gordon and Oladipo. Like Gordon and Oladipo, he also can't shoot. Like, at all. He hit 26% of his three pointers last year. He hit 26% of his jumpers inside the arc last year. He shot 61% of his free throws last year. He lead the nation in turnovers. But the recurring theme, between he, Gordon and Oladipo, is that they can all affect a game without scoring. Payton averaged 19 PPG, but also had 6 RPG, 6 APG and over 2 SPG. He was also third in the nation in free throw attempts. He's a rare mix of youth and experience. He played three years at UL Lafayette, but just turned 20 in February. He's three weeks older than Joel Embiid, who finished his freshman year at Kansas. There are questions about whether he can handle his own jumping from the Sun Belt conference to the NBA, but I feel like athleticism, hustle and a willingness to play defense will translate. He won the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year award as well as the Lefty Driesell Award as the nations best defensive player. My biggest gripe here is how we attained Payton.

"Why DO we drive on parkways and park on driveways? Trippy shit when you think about it man."
Philly drafted Payton at 10, and I heard that he was headed to Orlando in a trade before the #11 pick was announced. Doug McDermott went #11 to Denver, in a trade that landed him in Chicago. Saric went #12 to us. We then traded Saric, a future first rounder (one we acquired from Philly in the Dwight trade) and a future second rounder for Payton and a future second rounder. I absolutely hate that we had to give up a first rounder to move up two spots to get a guy that probably would have been there anyway. With no trade, Philly probably takes Saric to stash again. McDermott still goes to Den/Chi. We get Payton at #12. Instead, we have to give a first rounder back to Philly, and they are clearly a team that is not trying to compete any time soon. That pick is top 11 protected for 2017 and top 8 protected for 2018, meaning Philly could still end up with a nice pick from us. Granted, this is a pick Philly owed us from the Dwight trade so we won't go without in those drafts, but I just feel like we got fleeced and gave up something we didn't have to. Still, the point of acquiring said picks is to use them to get the players you really want. Hennigan really wanted Payton, and did what he felt necessary to get him. Again, it's hard to fault him for that. I suppose.

To recap, we turned an expiring Arron Afflalo into a swingman with some upside. Drafted arguably the best athlete/defender in the draft at #4 and ended up with a player being favorably compared to Rajon Rondo at #12. You could do a lot worse than that. I imagine our depth chart next season looks something like this:

PG: Payton/veteran PG signing. I'm hoping for Patty Mills here.
SG: Oladipo/Fournier
SF: Harkless/Harris
PF: Nicholson/Gordon
C: Vucevic/O'Quinn

That's another likely trip to the lottery, but that's fine. There are some legit assets in that lineup, and I figure we will take one last visit to the lottery next season before we start shooting for playoff appearances in the following years. We've opened up plenty of cap space so if a team shooting for LeBron/Melo needs to dump a salary quick, we can take it on and pick up another asset for it. Ok, so maybe Hennigan's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day wasn't so bad after all. I guess.