Monday, January 28, 2008

Taking the Next Step

(Note: I would like to thank suckaflea for providing me the motivation to write this post. I don’t think I have enjoyed researching a post more than this one)

As those of you who read my last post regarding the Warriors player grades know, I think the Warriors have a glaring weakness down low that is keeping them from having a realistic chance to advance in the playoffs. The bottom line is we need someone who can rebound the basketball on both ends of the floor without disrupting team chemistry.

Here is how I define the player that fits our needs:

-- Can play the 4 or 5
-- Rebounds on both ends
-- Can run the floor better than me (I can run the floor better than Mbenga)
-- Doesn’t need a lot of offensive touches to remain happy
-- Would only take a three pointer if he had the ball with less than 2 seconds on the shot clock or game clock
-- Does not require the Warriors to trade Ellis, Baron or Biedrins

I have grouped the nine potential clients from least acquirable to most acquirable:

(Example: Dwight Howard would be in a group called Never Going to Happen)

Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
David Lee (New York Knicks)
Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Andray Blatche (Washington Wizards)

At the Right Price, You Got a Deal
Josh Boone (New Jersey Nets)
Jeff Foster (Indiana Pacers)
Ben Wallace (Chicago Bulls)
Samuel Dalembert (Philadelphia Sixers)

You Take Our Bum and We Will Take Yours
Zaza Pachulia (Atlanta Hawks)
Jamaal Magloire (New Jersey Nets)

I limited my choices to the Eastern Conference because I do not think anybody (even Seattle) is interested in making the Warriors better. Instead of going through endless scenarios, I have picked my 4 favorites and they are in order of least favorite to most favorite

Trade #4 – “We need to win NOW”

Al Harrington and a First Round Pick for Ben Wallace

The Salary Breakdown:
07/08 Season: $8,425,625
08/09 Season: $9,226,250
09/10 Season: $10,026,875

07/08 Season: $15,500,000
08/09 Season: $14,500,000
09/10 Season: $14,000,000

Net (I am not including the benefit of not having to pay a first rounder into the following calculation)
07/08: $6,574,375
08/09: $5,273,750
09/10: $3,973,125

Total: $15,821,250

Why would the Warriors do it?
I don’t love this trade but I really like it. You are basically paying a $15 mm premium (I know it is more like $10 mm but I don’t feel like doing the math) to have the following starting lineup THIS YEAR:

PG: Baron
SG: Monta
SF: Jackson
PF: Biedrins
C: Wallace

This lineup can make a run for the NBA Championship. Of course, Wallace is going to be worthless in two years but he would play some inspired basketball this year and next. He is sick of Chi-town and a change of scenery would be HUGE for him. You will be hard pressed to find a more rock solid starting line-up in the NBA (I don’t think there is one).

Why would the Bulls do it?
This trade is a no-brainer for the Bulls. They get rid of the “worthless to them” Ben Wallace and they get another first rounder to help them build around Deng, Heinrich and Gordon. They also save enough money which will help them afford those three players over the next three years. In addition, Harrington gives them a player down low that can score, which is a huge problem when your current low post players are Wallace, Joe Smith (yikes), Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas.

Trade #3 - “Don’t ruin team chemistry so keep it simple”

Pietrus for Zaza Pachulia

The Salary Breakdown
The money doesn’t make a huge difference in this deal as Pachulia has 2 years, $8 mm left while Pietrus is a free agent.

Why would the Warriors do it?
I like this trade because Pietrus is not crucial to the Warriors, so he is expendable. This trade would not make the front page of the Chronicle, but it does bring some balance to the Warriors roster without messing with any of the key players in the current rotation.

Pachulia would bring so much added toughness without needing a lot of touches down low. However, his offensive skills are far superior to Wallace, which could come in handy on the offensive glass.

Why would the Hawks do it?
Pachulia is not in their long term plans so why not save $4 mm next year.

Trade #2 – “All good trades start with Isiah Thomas”

Harrington, Pietrus and Belinelli (or Wright) for Jerome James, David Lee and Quentin Richardson

The Salary Breakdown
I know it may be shocking to you, but you’ll just have to trust me that Harrington and Q have almost the exact same contract, so they cancel each other out. Belinelli and Lee are basically the same, with Belinelli having a few more years on Lee (both in time on earth and length of contract). The big “this is why this trade works” clause is the Warriors taking James’ contract that pays him about $18 mm over the next three years.

Why would the Warriors do it?
Nobody - and I mean nobody - fits the criteria better than David Lee. Here is the bullet point breakdown:

* Rebounding machine
* Runs the floor like a young Rasheed Wallace
* Brings it every night
* Young and Cheap

The only hesitation on my part is that he may be a year away from making the impact the Warriors need right now. However, you never know until you put him out there.

The “icing” of this deal is Q. It is not a mystery that he has been lost since leaving Phoenix and he is a system type player (he only plays well in a certain system – think Stackhouse). Luckily for the Warriors, they run the exact system in which he thrives. In addition, he gives Nellie the “stretch the defense” threat that he might fear losing by trading Harrington.

The Jerome James contract is just the premium you have to pay to get Lee

Why would the Knicks do it?
In layman’s terms? Isiah Thomas has no idea what he is doing. Besides that, the Knicks dump one of their bad contracts and add a much more productive player (Harrington) in their system (if they even have a system) than Q. They get a look at Pietrus who plays some defense and could develop into a slasher which the Knicks desperately need. In addition, they get Belinelli as a throw in and you never know what he could turn into. I will admit that giving up Lee is still rather far fetched, even for Isiah.

Trade #1 – “Best Short-Long Term Move”

Harrington, Wright and a First Round Pick for Dalembert

The Salary Breakdown
Dalembert is making about $2 mm more than Harrington over the next three years, but he has an extra year on his deal for $12.2 mm. Wright has your standard rookie contract and the first round pick would get the fixed contract at the time.

Why would the Warriors do it?
This is the Warriors starting line-up for the next 3 years:

PG: Baron
SG: Monta
SF: Jackson
PF: Biedrins
C: Dalembert

I agree, we are at least the 4 seed in the playoffs for the next 4 years. I should not have to write anymore, but I will. Dalembert brings everything that Wallace does, but he is younger and about to hit his prime. The youth tax is Brandan Wright who we can all admit has a ceiling of 13 and 8. (I doubt he even gets that far). Dalembert’s biggest negative is his attitude, but winning and age has a way of fixing bad attitudes (see Randy Moss). This trade is the one that can, and will, propel the Warriors into the group of elite teams for years to come.

Why would the Sixers do it?
Who cares? The Sixers make this trade because Dalembert is a piece to a puzzle, not the cornerstone of a franchise. Harrington is a nice addition that makes their team more competitive, but the real value is in Wright and the draft pick. They have Lou Williams (the most underrated young player in the NBA) manning the outside and they are starting to position themselves to play a similar style of basketball to the Warriors. Two first-round picks only helps in that process. I am not going to deny that trading Dalembert hurts, but adding a top 10 pick (Wright) and another first rounder only increase their chances of building a strong young nucleus. Ultimately, Wright and a first rounder are too much for the Sixers to pass up.

There you have it. Four trades that all makes sense for all teams involved and improve the Warriors significantly. I am not going to hold my breath for them to happen, but for those of us that want to see an NBA Championship come to the Bay Area, either the Spurs move West, or one of these trades has to happen.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Warriors Player Grades?

I had an entire article ready to go until this gem came out in the Chronicle today by Janny Hu.

I am forced to scrap the three hours I put in yesterday because I have to rip these ratings. Sometimes I think Bay Area sports writers just do this because they know how excited I get. Thank you Janny Hu and keep up the good work.

Baron Davis: A

All-Star numbers, All-Star durability

I completely agree that Baron deserves an A. His game has never been better and his fourth quarter play has been Jordanesque (except for the missed lay-up against the T-wolves but we are willing to overlook that).

(What in the world is “All-Star durability”? Tracy McGrady has been hurt most of the season and he is going to the All-Star game so does he have “All-Star durability”? Of course, I know what she is trying to say but if you are getting paid to write about sports please make things clear for everybody).

RT Grade: A

Monta Ellis: B+

Meshing speed with midrange shooting

What exactly does he have to do to get an A or A-? He has done everything he has been asked to do and more. He almost never takes bad shots, he goes to the rim as hard as Dwayne Wade and he is half his size, and he never complains about getting too few touches or shots. If Ellis was on the [fill in the blank below .500 Eastern Conference team], he would be averaging 26 a night.

RT Grade: A

Stephen Jackson: B+

Excellent start slowed by toe injury

How can Stephen Jackson not be in A range!? Does a toe injury give you a bad grade? I guess single-handedly turning the team into a playoff contender isn’t good enough. His mental lapses on defense and bad threes make it hard to put him in Baron and Ellis range, but a B+ is insulting.

RT Grade: A-

Al Harrington: C

Still searching for his spot in Nellie-ball

I have a place for him – on the block getting rebounds on both ends. Because Al Harrington takes threes and does not fight for boards like the thinner Biedrins and shorter Barnes, the Warriors need to make a trade to even dream of contending for a championship. Besides one great game against Yao and a couple of random hot games, he is keeping the team from becoming elite.

This starting lineup should play 40 minutes a night and compete for the Western Conference Title:

Baron, Ellis, Jackson, Harrington and Biedrins

However, Harrington doesn’t hit the boards and is a liability on offense.

(Remember these comments when I talk about Nellie)

RT Grade: D-

Andris Biedrins: B

Less playing time, less impact than last season

I agree with the grade but this little statement does nothing for me. The only reason he doesn’t get an A is because he is too foul prone. Besides, he has been very good and he does everything he is asked to do. Not to mention, he has built a lot of chemistry with the big three at the top of this post. If he finds a way to stay on the court, he goes straight to an A.

RT Grade: B+

Don Nelson: A

Can't argue with results, but will thin rotation hurt team?

An A!? Really? Taking a team that was an eight seed and turning them into, well, an eight seed is not exactly A work. He also did a masterful job while Stephen Jackson was out. In addition, the fact that 1) he allows Harrington to play on the perimeter (which keeps the Warriors from taking the next step, and (2) he is not telling Mullin everyday that he needs a banger inside that can match up with Paul Millsap, Ronny Turiaf, David West etc. is inexcusable. He has the Warriors where they were last year which, in the minds of true Warriors fans – aka those who want to win a championship, SUCKS.

RT Grade: C

Kelenna Azubuike: B-

Could use more of that early-season aggression

He continues to play above expectations and is obviously playing hurt. His defense is really what keeps him away from an A and off the court these days.

RT Grade: B

Matt Barnes: C+

Huge play of late after emotional season

According to Janny Yu, if your mother dies or you get injured your grade goes down. This thinking seems logical enough. I hate Matt Barnes’ game, but he leaves it all out on the court and he brings it every night, for better or for worse. He continues to make ill-advised passes and chucks up shots that make me cringe, but his energy has made a difference on numerous occasions. Not to mention, he tries to get rebounds inside when he is often completely overmatched. A C+ for Matt Barnes is ridiculous.

RT Grade: B

Marco Belinelli: Inc.

Tough times for shooter missing his shot

No problem here

RT Grade: Inc.

Austin Croshere: Inc.

Looks good when healthy, but can't stay healthy

I agree with the grade. Without a trade for a rebounder, Croshere and O’Bryant are going to be critical to the Warriors ability to make the leap to the 6 or 7 seed.

RT Grade: Inc.

Troy Hudson: No Grade

Hip injury ended season almost before it began

No problem here.

RT Grade: Inc.

Patrick O'Bryant: Inc.

Every time Nellie praises him, he lands back in doghouse

The last time I checked he has been healthy and has had every opportunity to earn playing time. It is fine to give a first year or often injured player an incomplete, but this guy does not get a free pass in my eyes. We need a rebounding big man and this guy has been so non-existent, that we had to sign D.J. Mbenga (Why do I have a feeling that Kwame Brown is in our future).

RT Grade: D

Kosta Perovic: Inc.

Sure looked good against Andrew Bogut in lone appearance

No problem here.

RT Grade: Inc.

Mickael Pietrus: D

Undersized and uninspired at power forward

All Pietrus wanted was a trade (even though he never came out and said it) and the Warriors failed to trade him. Now he is stuck playing out of position while getting little to no playing time while watching his trade value plummet. I think I would be a little “uninspired” too if I were him. His level of play leaves something to be desired, but having him at the 4 is just stupid.

RT Grade: C

C.J. Watson: B

So far, so good for D-League alum

No problem here.

RT Grade: B

Brandan Wright: Inc.

Potential is staying just that for now

No problem here.

RT Grade: Inc.

VP Chris Mullin: B

Has set up a flawed roster with great team chemistry

How long has Mullin been the GM? Last time I checked, if the roster is flawed (which I don’t think it is), it is his fault! The team’s chemistry has a lot to do with Nellie, not Mullin. (This grade and comment got me the most worked up). Mullin completely screwed up by giving out huge contracts to Richardson, Murphy and Dunleavy when he first started and signed up Mike Montgomery to coach the team (Grade at the time: F-). He then made up for his mistake by trading them all away and getting some productive players in return and signed up Nellie (Grade at the time: C). He now has a team that is set to lose to the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and he is doing NOTHING about it. (The fans are to blame for this because they think exciting basketball is all the matters – I hate the smugness of the Bay Area sometimes). It seems as though Chris Mullin (like Nellie and Billy Beane) has ZERO interest in winning a championship. Maybe I am a little over critical of Mullin but there is nobody that can argue that this team has a chance to go to the Finals and that is his fault. Making the playoffs was nice, but this team should be looking to make the next step.

RT Grade: C-

Friday, January 11, 2008

What to Bet on

Here are my picks for the over/under competition of the sporting year. Let me know what you think.


# of tackles for Patrick Willis: 220

Over: You have to like the over on this one. He was only a rookie this year so imagine what this guy is going to do once he understands the game a little more. The defensive line is not exactly impressive, so running backs are going to run right through it which gives Willis every opportunity to set some serious tackling records.

While the Niners’ appalling time of possession was by far the worst in the NFL, giving the individual players plenty of time to lead the NFL in defensive statistics, Willis was the only one who took advantage. While all Niners fans can hope for a better offensive output equating to less time the defense is on the field next year, Willis will only get better, doing more in less time. The only way you can appreciate this man is to watch him on the field, and notice he is never more than 5 feet away from 90% of the plays.

# of touchdowns by Vernon Davis: 1

Push: It is really hard picturing this guy in the end zone with a football he caught or carried into the end zone while following all of the league rules. However, pure luck should get him there once because, after all, he is a physical specimen, looks like Predator, and was drafted as a can’t-miss prospect. Of course he is going to score one touchdown – right? Right?

***I am not a football genius but I do know that if you win the SEC defensive player of the year award while playing with one hand, you are probably good at football. If I have never heard of you (which is hard to do, given the 12 hours of college football I watch every Saturday in the fall) and all of a sudden on draft day everyone thinks you are the greatest thing in the world, I have to question your potential.

# of visits to Dr. James Andrews by Alex Smith: 3

Under: Dr. J.A. has to be expensive and Smith’s COBRA health care probably won’t cover three visits after he is let go by the Niners. Of course, you know the Niners won’t have the balls to cut him because they have seen how well number one picks perform when a team holds on to them and prays they didn’t waste a number one overall draft pick and the salary that comes with it – David Carr, Michael Vick and Eli Manning (oops) come to mind.


# of home runs by the entire outfield combined: 35

Over: 37

Rowand: 17
Roberts: 1
Winn: 5
Davis: 1
Schierholtz: 0
Ortmeier: 3
Lewis: 5
Field: 3

And you thought the Giants were not going to have a power drought in ’08. I will believe that when the Giants are perennial bottom feeders and the Rockies go to the World Series – this will never happen.

# of games started by Tim Lincecum in September: 2

Under: It is hard to pitch when you are frozen in carbonite because there is no point in your wasting time, energy and self-confidence on this season. However, this will never happen for the following three reasons:

1) The Giants PR team has the (what would be impossible in NY but somehow seems very easy in SF) task of convincing the fans that the Giants have a chance this year. As a result, they have to promise Lincecum pitches.

2) The only other option for the third starter is a batting tee or Trevor Wilson.

3) The Bounty Hunter was killed in “The Return of the Jedi” so the Giants/the world don’t know how to freeze people in carbonite without killing them.


# of playoff wins in 2008: 3

Under: For the record, I would have said under even before last night’s embarrassment at the Rose Garden. I still think the Warriors will make the playoffs because they have the easiest February schedule in the history of the NBA. However, the West is even better than it was last year and I cannot see the Warriors catching lighting in a bottle twice. They do not match up well with anyone except for Dallas and Houston so I will take my chances with 2 playoff wins this year.

# of years on Baron’s contract extension: 4

Push: I don’t know anything about the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, so don’t take this too seriously. 4 years would be the perfect amount of time for the Warriors. Baron seems to have plenty of magic (both the game displayed by the former Laker Johnson and the stuff used by wizards) left in him but he is not going to go the way of Steve Nash. His body will break down somewhere in the 4th year and the Warriors will let him travel down south to play one legged ball for the Clippers.

(You have to love that the chances of Baron playing for the Clippers at some point in his career is 100%. Too bad for the Clippers).


# of runs scored in the Friday night Giants-A’s game at Pac Bell Park (combined): 3

Over: Based on my sophisticated and uber-complicated model, here are the projected starters for this game:

Atlee Hammaker for the Giants: (Part of Sabean’s new youth movement)

Bob Welch for the A’s: (Beane signed him to what he calls “the Esteban Loaiza contract*”)

* to be explained later

The starters will keep both teams in check until they break down in the third inning. The bullpens are unable to keep the respective anemic offenses down. A combined 20 walks leads to an offensive explosion by both teams. However, Huston Street brings order to the chaos and closes the door on the Giants as the A’s win 3-1.

# of “Billy Beane has done it again” comments by an ESPN analyst: 4,000,000

Under: We will have to wait until next year as none of the current prospect acquisitions will be good enough this year to warrant 4,000,000 positive comments. However, when he trades 3 of the prospects for 10 more prospects next year and further proves that he has no interest in winning a world series – he will be hailed as a hero in Bristol, CT. While being a Giants fan is no picnic, at least the Giants front office (however feebly) is trying to win a world series.

# of times I tell an A’s fan this year about how bad the Chavez contract is; 4,000,000

OVER!!!!: Lock of the year. You want to know how bad this contract is!? Billy Beane cannot find any takers for it. Nobody will take this guy and his ridiculous salary. Anyone who argues that they are keeping him because he is the cornerstone of the franchise is CRAZY. All it would take is one 4 star prospect and Chavez is shipped out of town. However, nobody is in the business of getting a glorified Pedro Feliz clone for $2.50 on the $1. I hate the Bay Area media because they NEVER talk about this issue. Shame on them! (I need to calm down)

* There are two schools of thought on Billy Beane’s strategy when it comes to signing/acquiring terrible free agents/his own players to terrible contracts: Eric Chavez, Esteban Loaiza, Terrence Long, Jermaine Dye, Jason Kendall, etc.

(1) He cannot evaluate major league talent with any kind of accuracy

- While I would love to believe this theory, Beane is too smart to be this bad. Not to mention he has made some impressive signings like Frank Thomas and Mark Kotsay that have played very well.

(2) He signs/acquires these players with the intention of trading them away to his competitors so he looks like a genius to the national media. (Nothing like feeding your ego at the expense of A’s fans) **

- BINGO! We have a winner. Beane knows exactly what he is doing. Chavez is the first real significant contract that he cannot get value for on the open market. However, he did a masterful job of convincing Ned Colletti that Loaiza’s contract was worth taking and he has succeeded again in everyone thinking he is a mastermind. Congratulations lemmings (A’s fans), your fearless loser has done it again! His genius knows no bounds.

** Chris Mullin has done the exact same thing (See Jackson-Harrington trade) and he is going to take the Knick’s money and run out of town before he has to do some real GM-ing.


JaMarcus Russell is Jeff George II. There, I said it. You heard it here first.

Until next time


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Betting on 2008

Happy New Year to all of you Corner Dwellers!

While some of you may be sad to see 2007 go (by some of you I mean nobody), it is time for new beginnings in Bay Area sports. In this posting, I will be giving my over-unders on wins and various stats for 2008 and I would like your take on them. Next week, I will give which side of the over-under I am choosing and why.

The Niners started 2008 off with a bang by firing GM Mike Nolan but retaining Head Coach Mike Nolan. I have to say that I am very impressed by this move. The lack of creativity (not to mention production) on offense warranted another year of “since I dress really well and I look very serious, I must be a good coach” football in San Francisco. This guy is a clown and there are too many other good coaches out there to settle for another year of “Giorgio Armani” football.

(Note on work attire: My Mom always told me “you have to dress for the job you want and not the job you have”. Of course, the next day I showed up at work in a Patriots hooded sweatshirt from 2004. I was sent home. Thanks Mom)

2008 over-under on wins: 7

# of tackles for Patrick Willis: 220
# of touchdowns by Vernon Davis: 1
# of visits to Dr. James Andrews by Alex Smith: 3

The Giants are facing their worst season since 1996. They can’t score runs and the bullpen can’t stop the other team from scoring runs. The front office has built the worst farm system in the majors and to top it all off they still have a 40 year old woman doing “sideline” reporting during their telecasts. I have plenty to write on the Giants in the follow-up posting to this one

2008 over-under on wins: 65

# of home runs by the entire outfield combined: 35
Attendance at the second home game of the year: 18,000
# of games started by Tim Lincecum in September: 2

(% chance of me getting the extra innings baseball package: 0)

The best Warriors team in my life time might be an 8 seed in the playoffs. I hate the Western Conference.

# of playoff wins in 2008: 3
# of years on Baron’s contract extension: 4

Amount of money I will spend on plane tickets to see the Warriors in the playoffs: $450

The A’s would be as big of a nightmare as the Giants if it were not for the fact that their farm system remains productive. The Dan Heren trade was a good one and allowed them to reload again. However, this is a posting about 2008 so they are set to finish dead last just like the Giants

2008 over-under on wins: 72

# of runs scored in the Friday night Giants-A’s game at Pac Bell Park (combined): 3
# of “Billy Beane has done it again” comments by an ESPN analyst: 4,000,000
# of times I tell an A’s fan this year about how bad the Chavez contract is: 4,000,000

Who cares?

# of people who care about the Raiders that will read my postings in 2008: 0

Please post your answers to these challenging questions by next Wednesday.