Tagged: 2010

Boshtimism Up. LeBroptimism…Up!

We don’t have a Chris Boshtimsim-o-meter, but if we did, it would surely skyrocket with Bosh’s recent statement that he intends to opt-out.

“[When] I signed a three-year [extension in 2006]… I had a goal in mind, and that was to put myself in the best position [in 2010] … I’m thinking I just want to stick to my goal, stick to what I was doing,” Bosh told reporters. “That’s a part of the plan … I just want to address things [after] next season. There’s a reason why I did things the way I did them back then.”

LeBron James signed a contract with an identical opt-out, and ostensibly the reason would also be to put himself “in the best position” in 2010.

“There’s a reason why I did things the way I did them back then.”

[Moment of silence to let that sink in].

Look, is the reason because everyone wants to sign with the Knicks in 2010? Are Bosh, James, and Wade going to do battle for the honor of playing in New York? Or is it just because those players and their agents know that the current collective bargaining agreement expires after 2010, and they want to lock in long term, max contracts before an expected lock-out, and maximize the payout under the current CBA’s pay rules?

Either way, Bosh isn’t signing an extension. And I don’t think LeBron will either.

LeBroptimism Up.

All the King’s Men

Now that it’s become popular to bash the Cavs’ “supporting cast”, I’d like to gratuitously draw attention to what I’ve been saying for some time now. This is from a month ago…

As for the supporting cast argument, I think that having LeBron on your team is good for around 20-30 extra wins. Take the King off the current Cavs team and replace him with say, Al Harrington, and the Cavs win what, 35-40 games? You put LeBron on a lot of teams and suddenly the Cavs “supporting cast” isn’t all that impressive. And lets not forget that come 2010 the Cavs will have only a handful of guys under contract, a similar situation to the Knicks. Both teams will be on equal footing in building a supporting cast, except the remaining players on the Knicks will be younger and have more upside than those on the Cavs. For example, the Knicks will have Gallo, Chandler, and their pick this summer on the team come 2010. The Cavs will have Mo Williams and Boobie Gibson. By 2010, it wont be up to the Cavs to assemble a solid supporting cast. It’ll be up to LeBron to choose where he wants to go, and bring a supporting cast with him.

Mock Draft 1.0 – Part Two

As promised, here are picks 15-30 of our first mock draft (Picks 1-14 are here. As always links are to DraftExpress.com):

15. Detroit Pistons – James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest. Everyone knows that the Pistons are in the market for a banger this summer and they’re surely disappointed in this scenario that Blair is already off the board. Johnson is a pretty good consolation prize, though. He’s a hybrid forward that can do a little bit of everything and players like him are enjoying a lot of success in the league these days.

16. Chicago Bulls – Jeff Teague, G, Wake Forest. Like the Pistons, the Bulls are also hoping that one of Blair, Clark or Johnson slips to their spot. Personally, I don’t see it happening, as too many teams above them need size and good big men tend to rise in the draft process, not slide. So they settle for a Ben Gordon replacement in Teague, a sharp shooting combo guard who can really light it up.

17. Philadelphia 76ers – Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina. The Sixers have a choice to make as to whether to pay free agent PG Andre Miller, who’s been the key to their playoff runs the past two seasons, but is 33 years old and will command a large salary on the open market.  While it would be a backwards step, we think the Sixers opt to let Miller walk and move forward with Lawson. Lawson, while small, is lightning fast and a capable distributor.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves – BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State. The Wolves have already struck gold with their first pick in Harden. With three picks in the first round and a need for some size up front, they take a gamble on a project in Mullens, a raw but athletic big man with a very nice upside.

19. Atlanta Hawks – Nick Calathes, PG, Florida. With Mike Bibby a free agent and Acie Law appearing to be a bust, the Hawks are in need of some help at the point. While we think Bibby ultimately resigns in Atlanta, Calathes would make for an excellent understudy. He’s a pure point but, at 6’5 with good shooting skills, can spell both Bibby and Joe Johnson. Calathes is a personal favorite and we think he’s going to someday emerge as one of the better players from this draft. If he was a 19 year old European with his skillset who had played against SEC caliber competition overseas, he’d probably be a top 10 pick.

20. Utah Jazz – Austin Daye, G/F, Gonzaga. The Jazz are yet another team that needs help up front, what with their entire front line entering free agency this offeseason. UNC F Tyler Hansbrough feels like a Jerry Sloan type of player, but he’s just not worthy of this pick and the Jazz already have a better version of him on the roster in Matt Harpring. The bet here is that the Jazz bring back Millsap and Okur and take Daye, a super-talented wing who can’t seem to stay healthy or produce they way his talent suggests he should. Still, in a couple of years, he could develop into a version of Tayshaun Prince. Gerald Henderson would also be a good fit here.

21. New Orleans Hornets – Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke. Of course, the Hornets need help up front (Who doesn’t?) considering Tyson Chandler’s physical stuggles and their general lack of frontcourt depth, but this is not the draft for that. Luckily, the Hornets also have a big need at the 2 and Henderson and Louisville wing Terrence Williams are still available. Henderson is a perfect fit with the Hornets as an athletic 2 who can finish in transition, has a developing jump shot, and shows some surprising ability to create shots for his teammates.  Chase Budinger would also make sense here.

22. Dallas Mavericks – Chase Budinger, G/F, Arizona. Josh Howard struggled to stay healthy this season and, in his absence, the Mavs showed that they’re a little thin on wings. Budinger would be a nice compliment to what Howard and Antione Wright already offer and he’d be good insurance in case Howard has trouble with injuries in the future.

23. Sacramento Kings – Terrence Williams, G/F, Louisville. While the Kings remain devastated that they’ve missed out on Ricky Rubio (unless they do the trade I suggested in Part I of this mock in which case this pick would belong to the Grizzlies), things aren’t shaping up that badly for them. After having shipped John Salmons off to Chicago at the trade deadline for cap space and Andres Nocioni, the Kings get a steal here in Williams, an NBA-ready wing who does everything well except score.

24. Portland Trailblazers – Gani Lawal, PF, Georgia Tech. The Blazers don’t need any more rookies and should be shopping this pick for some veteran help up front or at PG. However, if they’re unable to do so, Lawal is a raw, athletic 4 they could stash at the end of the bench and try to develop.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder – Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina. The Thunder chose a defensive anchor over a wing with their first pick. This time, they go for the 2-guard in Ellington, a finesse guy, but one with loads of experience who can rain jumpers from anywhere in the gym.

26. Chicago Bulls – Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina. Back to back Tarheels. Hansbrough isn’t a great athlete, and he doesn’t project as more than a role player at the next level, but he’s all steak. Hansbrough is about heart and grit and he’d make a good addition to the Bulls’ already versatile frontcourt.

27.  Memphis Grizzlies – Omri Casspi, F, Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Hakeem Warrick’s a free agent and the Grizz get a versatile replacement in this tough, gritty forward. Pittsburgh F Sam Young would make some sense here as well.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves – Darren Collison, PG, UCLA. Having already selected Harden and Mullens, the T’Wolves now take a floor general to run the show. Collison is a terrific on the ball defender, competent distributor and is ready to help right away. St. Mary’s G Patrick Mills is a possibility here too.

29. LA Lakers – Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh. With Lamar Odom’s and Trevor Ariza’s contracts both expiring this summer, the Lakers get some insurance in Young. Young entered Pitt as an interior player but has expanded his perimeter game to the point that he’s a very capable 3. He’s also a strong defender. I suppose the Lakers could also look at Patty Mills, but he doesn’t have the size Phil Jackson typically covets at PG.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers – DuJuan Summers, F, Georgetown. The Cavs get their Lebron James replacement for when he bolts for the Knicks in 2010.

Draft News: John Wall won’t be a Knick…

Top point guard prospect and part time burglar John Wall has committed to Kentucky to play for John Calipari. I’m guessing he’ll be in the draft next year, so unless the Knicks finagle a lottery pick for next year’s draft he won’t be a Knick. Even if John Wall stays in school for the next four years, you’d hope that this is the Knicks’ last visit to the lottery for a generation…

Knicks + LeBron > Cavs + LeBron?

People who don’t think LeBron James would leave Cleveland often use the argument that LeBron wouldn’t leave a team that has in place for him such a solid supporting cast.

In my opinion, LeBron’s supporting cast is extremely overrated.

Ignoring the fact that by 2010, Cleveland will only have 4 guys under contract (Mo Williams, Delonte West, JJ Hickson, Darnell Jackson), is Cleveland’s current supporting cast really that special? Replace LeBron with Al Harrington and how many games do the Cavs win this season? 40? If they’re lucky?

Replace Harrington with James on the Knicks and the Knicks probably go from 32 wins to at least 60. I’ve blogged about this before, and now the cognoscenti are hoping aboard

Life Will Go On After 2010

I’ll preface the point I’m about to make with the caveat that I still strongly believe that Lebron will be signing with the Knicks in 2010. As we’ve said here ad nauseum, much will be revealed this summer when Lebron does or, far more likely, doesn’t re-sign with the Cavaliers.

However, it’s crucial that the Knicks realize that, should Lebron do the unthinkable and ink an extension with the Cavs, basketball won’t simply draw to an end and the world won’t explode. The Knicks will still have the cap space they had set aside for the King and there will still be plenty of players out there that the team can sign that could place them in contention (with Lebron) for an NBA title. Have no fear because life will continue.

What the Knicks (and we fans) should fear is that, while wallowing in the depths of the disappointment they’ll surely feel as a result of missing out on Lebron, they’ll take the money they’ve saved up and insist on blowing it on players from the 2010 class who are stars, but not superstars and, as a result, that the end game will be a perrenial playoff contender, but one that has no hope of winning a title. Knicks FanBlog reader EZ framed the issue very well in our comments section yesterday:

If the knicks don’t sign wade or lebron i think they should be patient and wait for the opportunity to present itself down the road to land a superstar. Any other combination of mere mortal stars (bosh, redd, dirk, johnson etc) would almost certainly make the knicks a solid playoff team right away, however history has shown that more often that not you need the superstar to win titles. I for one am interested in winning titles, and am willing to be patient provided the knicks continue to bring in solid young players to rebuild.

Now, while I don’t necessarily agree with EZ about Bosh (I just think a big man with that kind of versatility, defensive prowess, and character is worth paying for even when you know that he alone isn’t good enough to win you a title, a la KG.), I think his larger point is exactly right.  The worst sin NBA franchises commit, and they do it all the time is blowing their cap space by doling out huge contracts to second tier players.

There is something about the allure of cap space that just seems to burn a hole in the pocket of the typical NBA GM and he invariably ends up maxing out the first decent player who bats an eyelash his way.  Ben Wallace, Rashard Lewis, Elton Brand. All boneheaded, cap-crushing max contracts handed out by GMs with fresh cap space that actually ended up pushing their respective teams further away from championship contention even though, on paper, the moves upgraded their teams’ talent.

Lewis is my favorite example simply because it’s so obvious how he’s killing his team. He’s a good player who could probably be the third best player on a championship team. But by paying him $110 million, the Magic gave up all their cap flexibility and locked themselves into a roster structure that rendered the team incapable of meaningfully upgrading the talent on their roster. And since he makes so much money, Lewis himself is also untradeable. Thus, unless the Magic “luck into” a situation like the Spurs enjoyed when David Robinson missed the season and they won the Tim Duncan lottery, the Magic are pretty much stuck for a while in this purgatory of being a playoff team but not a true title contender.

If the Knicks were to miss out Lebron, Wade and Bosh, and instead sign, for instance, Dirk Nowitzki and/or Joe Johnson to big contracts, they would be making the same kind of costly error that the Magic made. Sure, the Knicks would probably contend for a top 3 seed in the eastern conference playoffs every season but, as fans, do we root for the Knicks to win top 3 seeds? The goal should be to build a team that can win titles.

So if the Knicks do miss out on the elite talent in 2010, the players that are capable of taking home championship trophies at the end of the year, they need to bide their time and simply continue to upgrade the roster and develop young talent. Maintain cap flexibility and amass assets. And then, when the chance to add a truly transcendant player emerges whether it’s in 2011, 2012…strike.

2010 Cap Competition

By now everyone knows the Knicks are trying their hardest to get under the cap for 2010. The free agent class is terrific, so why wouldn’t they. Trouble is, everyone knows the free agent class is terrific, and lots of teams are employing the same strategy. Here are the teams that represent the Knicks main competition (in alphabetical order):

Atlanta:  The Hawks have Josh Smith signed to a big contract that extends past 2010, Al Horford, Mo Evans, and Acie Law also extend past 2010, but their contracts are not cap destroyers. The Hawks should be able to make a run at 2010 free agents.

Cleveland: The Cavs have Mo Williams, Delonte West, Boobie Gibson, JJ Hickson and Darnell Jackson under contract in 2010. They should be able to make a run at a top free agent.

Houston: The Rockets have Shane Battier, Joey Dorsey, Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes and Aaron Brooks signed through 2010. Not a lot of cap space eaten up by those guys.

Miami: The Heat have James Jones, Michael Beasley, Mario “super nintendo” Chalmers, and Daequan Cook signed through 2010. Watch out for the Heat.

Minnesota: The T-Wolves should have some cap room, with Al Jefferson and several guys with smaller contracts extending through 2010 (Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love, Ronnie Brewer, Sebastian Telfair).

Oklahoma City: The Thunder have Nick Collison, Nenad Kristic, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green under contract through 2010. Most of these are rookie contracts. They should have space.

Portland: The Blazers only have a few guys under contract through 2010, but they probably wont have cap space, since they have to make decisions on Aldridge and Brandon Roy.

Spurs: The Spurs have basically only a couple marginal contracts on the books past 2010. Except of course for Duncan and Parker, who are already their two max guys. They might have some room, but I don’t see them as major competition for the top prizes.

Utah: If the Jazz can move Kirilenko for an expiring deal, they’d be in real good shape, with just Deron Williams taking up significant cap space in 2010.

Of course, some teams are still jockeying for position in the 2010 race and can get themselves in good position through trades (Toronto – if they trade Kapono for an expiring – and Chicago – if they can move Hinrich – for example). Some, like the Clippers, Warriors and Pacers, have not shot.

Should the Knicks Go Get Tay?

Newsday’s Alan Hahn and I had the following exchange during his chat this afternoon:

[Comment From Jon]
Hi Alan, With the rumors that the Pistons are planning on blowing [up] their core, do you think the Knicks might be able to put together an offer for Tayshaun Prince. He’d be a great fit with his skill set and veteran know-how. What about an offer built around a resigned Nate and Chandler?

AH: I like Prince and I agree he would be a good fit here. You might have to give up Wilson Chandler in the deal, which shouldn’t be a problem. But what else? The Pistons would want more to show for and I don’t see Nate Robinson in the equasion. We already saw how a shoot-first, one-on-five undersized guard failed in that system there.

[Comment From Jon]
I’ll take a second crack: How about a signed and traded Lee with Chandler for Prince and the Pistons’s pick (no. 15)?

AH: Ahhh….now you’re thinking! Tayshaun’s contract goes into 2010-11, so you’re impinging the plan a bit. But he does give you something you need. Does he make you that much better tho? I might want to see if I can get something more for David Lee, if I’m going to move him. Remember, if you trade Lee, you now have to replace him with someone who can rebound.

I agree with Hahn that using Lee to get Prince is a high price to pay. That’s why I suggested Nate and Chandler first. But even if the Knicks had to use Lee to get him, I still think it’d be worth it. Prince makes the Knicks a much, much better team.

I don’t agree with Hahn’s take on the salary cap implications, though. Unless the Knicks were planning to let Lee walk or trade him for an expiring contract, any sign and trade deal they could enter into with Lee is probably going to cost the same as it would have to resign him. So a deal for Prince would essentially leave the Knicks in the same position, cap-wise, as they find themselves in right now: capable of adding one max free agent in 2010, but having to trade Jeffries or Curry if they want to sign two.

Not only that, but the deal I suggested would give the Knicks two picks in the top 15 which they could use to totally revamp the backcourt. (How about Curry at 8 and Jrue Holiday at 15?)

P.S. Hahn had a hilarious take on the Lebron situation:

I still say LeBron is thinking about New York like you think about that hot girl across the room who keeps looking at you, even tho she knows you’re with your girlfriend. Just my feeling. Knicks are singing that PCD song, “Don’tcha”…know what I mean?
LeBron knows he shouldn’t look. But he does.

Lee and the Qualifying Offer

Alan Hahn speculates today that David Lee might take the qualifying offer from the Knicks this summer. Then, when he’s an unrestricted free agent, “for the Knicks, who have his Bird Rights, he could be signed up to a max deal, even if they are over the cap.”

Sure, this is true, and I’ve speculated as much before (like in January, and yes, I know the linked analysis is somewhat flawed too).

Problem is, under the CBA, the Knicks have to sign their own guys first, before signing any outside free agents, or completely renounce their own guys, and lose their bird rights. We know the Knicks won’t be over the cap in 2010 if the plan proceeds as we expect, but in considering the strategy Hahn set forth today (and I set forth in January), you have to factor in the fact that you need a significant amount of space to sign LeBron (or whoever) first, and then sign Lee (enough to fit Lee’s cap hold under the cap after signing LeBron).

The bottom line is, don’t overpay for Lee, bird rights or not.