Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bonzi Wells to Sign With Houston

Ric Bucher reports that Bonzi Wells' agent, Merle Scott, says that Wells and the Rockets have agreed to a 2 year, $5 million contract.

This is a great deal for the Rockets. That's obviously great value for a player of Wells' talents (Sacramento reportedly offered a 5 year, $36 million contract that he turned down earlier this summer) and not so much money that they'll be damaged if they have to tell Bonzi, as Memphis did, to go away.

At this point in Tracy McGrady's career, the Rockets must assume the need for a pretty good player to step in on the nights when McGrady can't answer the bell. Before signing Wells, the Rockets were looking at Kirk Snyder, Vassilis Spanoulis, or (his body willing) Bob Sura to play heavy minutes in the 10-15 games McGrady must be expected to miss. Wells is an obvious upgrade over that trio.

Houston still needs to figure out who is going to play the important minutes at point guard. Rafer Alston is at his best with the ball in his hands but he's unlikely to find himself in that circumstance too often playing alongside McGrady and Yao. Little John Lucas doesn't figure to be more than a decent backup at best, and one whose value skews to the offensive side of the ball. Houston's best hope is that Luther Head proves he can play the point passably, at the very least when McGrady is doing most of the ballhandling.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Breaking Down Guys Who Will, In All Likelihood, Soon Be Cut

Sekou Smith went to the Hawks' practice facility Monday to check out who has gained weight (Josh Smith, weighing in at a muscular 240, how gaining muscle will improve his jump shot is an unanswered question), lost weight (Tyronn Lue, down to 177), and who is going to training camp with little or no chance of making the roster.

There are some interesting guys participating, a couple of whom could be useful should they get to play in games that count. Obviously, Joe Johnson, Speedy Claxton, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Lorenzen Wright, Josh Childress, Tyronn Lue, Shelden Williams and Salim Stoudamire are making the team. Future Arkansas RimRocker Solomon Jones, probably will also. So the Hawks can keep up to four more guys, with useless duo Royal Ivey and Esteban Batista both already under contract.

Greek center Andreas Glyniadakis played reasonably well in the D-League last year (22.2 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.2 bspg, 53.5 fg%, 81.6 ft%). His size (7-1, 280) and Esteban Batista's ineptitude make him the most likely to stick.

Lionel Chalmers shot the ball horribly in limited minutes with the Clippers in 2005. His college career leads one to believe that he has the ability to do better than that. He played pretty well for Phoenix's summer league team and is (like so many others) undoubtedly a better point guard than Royal Ivey. The Hawks will probably find some dumb reason (like not wanting another small point guard) to keep Ivey over Chalmers.

Cedric Bozeman was once better point guard than Ivey, too. Injuries have severely limited Bozeman's athleticism and versatility to the point where he didn't even rate a draft bio (there were 120) on this summer.

Shawnee Mission West product Matt Freije can shoot, or at least he could in college. His 57% true-shooting percentage at Vanderbilt didn't translate in his brief trial with the Hornets in 2005 where his TS% fell to 35.6. He'll never get to the line in the NBA as often as he did in college and he'll probably never rebound enough to survive a cold shooting week.

For reasons I don't understand, Sekou Smith is enthusiastic about Kaniel Dickens, a small forward with the game of a college power forward. I doubt there's room for him behind Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Josh Childress, and Marvin Williams.

Andre Brown is basically Shelden Williams if Shelden Williams didn't block shots or make free throws. Unlike Batista and Solomon Jones, the franchise has nothing invested in Brown and won't keep him around.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hawks May Start Another Season Without a Decent Point Guard

Speedy Claxton broke a bone in his left hand and is out for 5-6 weeks.
The Hawks do have other options at the position. They have a veteran in backup point guard Tyronn Lue, one of the league's best pick-and-roll players. Third-year point guard Royal Ivey started 66 games last season and could also fill in.
Billy Knight, if you're reading, I haven't had an NBA team to root for in over twenty years. I would like to become a Hawks fan. I cannot, however, become a Hawks fan if you continue to waste a collection of intriguing young wing players by employing Tyronn Lue as your point guard. His entire NBA career is built upon getting away with holding onto Allen Iverson's jersey as he ran around screens in the 2001 NBA Finals. I used to watch Ryan Robertson dominate Lue regularly in college. Lue's only skill is shooting the ball. He does that with far less effectiveness and panache than his teammate Salim Stoudamire.

Also, there are at least 15 freely available short men who would make better 3rd point guards than Royal Ivey.

Heal fast, Speedy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Transaction Roundup: September 11th

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics sign Kendrick Perkins to an incentive-laden, four-year contract. Perkins is young and injury-prone but he's an impact rebounder and shot blocker when he's on the court.

Jeff Clark at CelticsBlog calls it "a no-lose situation" for the team. I'll go one step further and say that both sides have minimized their risk while still creating for themselves a potentially advantageous deal. Perkins should share minutes with Theo Ratliff at the 5 this season.

Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte adds Argentinian forward Walter Herrmann for the 2006-07 season. Herrmann is 27 and shot the ball well from the international three-point line in the World Championships. hpanic7342 at APBRmetrics calculated Herrmann as having the 29th best PER in the World Championships, right behind his teammate Andres Nocioni.

Herrmann had 7 points, 4 rebounds, and one turnover in 18 minutes in an appearance for the Bobcats' Summer League team in Orlando. He will compete with Matt Carroll, Bernard Robinson Jr., and Alan Anderson for minutes backing up Gerald Wallace and Adam Morrison.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland officially takes the necessary step of re-signing Drew Gooden. At 3 years and $23 million, Gooden is a bargain assuming they don't give too many minutes to the Brazilian Ryan Bowen. I think Nikos Zisis and I are on the same page regarding what Varejao takes away from the game of basketball.

All credit to Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst for honestly discussing in the blog entry linked above Varejao's tendencies for both flopping and taking cheap shots:
"I feel like I know Andy and his game. I know that sometimes it appears he plays absent minded, but actually I think he's fairly sharp. If you remember last season he took a shot at Rasheed Wallace and got ejected in Detroit and did it without looking like he was trying to. I've watched the Zisis video numerous times and I think that play in Detroit is comparable. I don't think Andy wanted to inflict such damage to Zisis' face and certainly he didn't mean to him (sic) him as hard as he did. But I there's a good chance he came in high with his elbow to send a message."
Danny Ferry was himself quite adept at landing some innocuous looking cheap shots in his day. I continue to presume that this is a root cause of the Cavaliers' unhealthy fascination with turning an adequate backup who can play both the 4 and the 5 into a co-equal of Gooden and Ilgausaks.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Transactions, News, Notes Finally Sputters To a Conclusion

Toronto Raptors

Bryan Colangelo has certainly made a successful first step toward constructing an unrelentingly up-tempo attack. I think the Raptors lack the shooters to score a lot at this point but they should still be interesting to watch for the following reasons.
  • Kris Humphries' odd brand of selfish finesse play and rebounding might actually succeed in a wide-open attack featuring lots of missed shots.
  • The multi-faceted non-finesse of PJ Tucker's game rendering Joey Graham unnecessary.
  • Early indications as to whether or not Tucker is a better basketball player than Andrea Bargnani.
There, I said it.

PJ Tucker will be a big presence on Hoopinion for the next 9 months.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz will reap the benefits of Orlando, New Orleans/OKC, and Philadelphia inexplicably passing up on Ronnie Brewer. The crowded backcourt situation (Question for Jazz partisans: Does trading for Derek Fisher at all undermine your desire to believe that Deron Williams is the equal of Chris Paul?) will likely impede Brewer's Rookie of the Year campaign but less violently than Brewer will impede CJ Miles' professional basketball career.

Dee Brown undoubtedly has a place as a good bench player in the NBA. I seriously doubt that that place is on Jerry Sloan's bench. Free Dee Brown!

Washington Wizards

The Wizards will be decent again and Gilbert Arenas sublime. Not much has changed. Darius Songaila has been brought aboard to make some 18-footers and match Jared Jeffries' near-total lack of rebounding for a man of his size. DeShawn Stevenson and His Amazingly Improved SAT Score will improve on Jeffries' performance as the guy who doesn't score, rebound, or pile up assists so he must be a defensive stopper. Unlike Jeffries, Stevenson (at times) actually is a defensive stopper.