Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day One of the Real NBA Draft: Rudy and Joe

I'll start with Rudy. I like Rudy. I think he's a gamer, as he showed in the NCAA tourney with UConn. I like the fact that the organization is showing some loyalty and some intestinal fortitude when facing with a receding cap line (unlike whatever they were thinking when they traded Pau). I think 5 years and 80 million (which amounts to an average of 15 million a year) is about right for a player of Rudy's talent. I think the Grizzlies are smart to keep their core, try to develop a winning philosophy by gunning for the playoffs, tanking for a year when Randolph's contract expires and then nabbing a draft pick and another free agent, or just making a run for it right after he expires (maybe at Nene or even Kaman, though both are unlikely to leave their teams), and then making a run at contention just as Rudy is hitting his prime. In that scenario, you have a core at the end of 2011 of Mayo, Gay, Conley (probably will be traded), Gasol, Thabeet, Henry) that is costing you around $35 million a year. And that's what I like most about this contract: you have a team that could potentially contend when he is 28-29, and if you're not in a good position by then, you jettison him and start over. I like it.

Joe Johnson, I do not like. Kelly Dwyer posted a great blog on Y! that explains it all (;_ylt=AvkgyR7cx6iIoL_2lRXqV.C8vLYF?urn=nba,252877">link): Joe Johnson is 29 years old. Next year, you will pay $35.5 million to three players that play two positions. Your payroll next year with Joe's $20 million is sitting north of $67 million, all for a team that was not in serious contention to win a title. I mean, they're paying the tax for a second round playoff team? With really no room for growth? I mean, Horford will get better, but I don't see Bibby/Crawford/Joe really carrying your team. I like Josh Smith, but he is limited. In crunch time, how are these guys gonna score? And they're paying the tax! If this were me, I would try like crazy to trade Joe with Bibby/Marvin (you probably have to package Joe to get rid of those contracts), start Jamaal Crawford, and rebuild with your core of Horford and Smith. I know that is extreme, basically throwing away 2010-2011, but the good thing is your bigs are still young! If you start over, you can conceivably be a team on the rise with good rookie talent in two years when you re-sign Al. Then, you'll have  around $25 million tied up in two fringe All-Stars (both of whom play the post) who are just entering their primes. That is workable. Or if they're really smart and can stomach a year of losses, you trade Jamaal's expiring at the trade deadline, draft a rookie PG, and rebuild around Smith, Horford, Trade Deadline Guy, lottery Draft Pick Guy, and Free Agent signed next summer. I don't know. Atlanta's fan base is fickle and I don't know if they can survive a Nets-like tank year. But to pay the tax for a non-contender? That is unconscionable.

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