Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Are You Thinking, NBA Decision Makers?

David Stern

You are the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, not my Assclowns Fantasy League. What are you doing vetoing deals, especially a deal that seems to be fair for all parties involved. For my money, the Hornets would have actually made out better than the other teams involved, but who am I to say?

Neither the players nor the owners trust
you anymore. Time to go.

[Editor's Note: While we are at it, can't the Rockets and Lakers each send a second round pick to New Orleans so this trade can be processed? It won't solve our Commish issue, but at least we can all get on with our lives.]

Donnie Walsh

Walsh did a very nice job ridding the Knicks of their awful contracts, but I have two bones to pick with his recent work.

First, on April 28, 2011, New York re-signed Chauncey Billups to a one-year $14.2 million contract. Now, less than eight months later, Billups is being amnestied. This seems to be the white elephant in the room because I haven't heard anyone discuss the fact the team just threw all this money down the drain. To top it off, Billups is telling teams not to claim him through the waiver process in hopes he can double dip (get paid the full $14.2m from the Knicks plus whatever his next team agrees to pay him). In order to spite the Knicks, he has also reportedly discussed signing with the Miami Heat for the veteran's minimum, screwing the Knicks over yet again.

Second, Walsh just gave balky-backed Tyson Chandler a four-year $60m+ contract. Yes, the guy plays defense, something foreign in these NYC parts. But, are you really committing to TC instead of making a run at a legitimate franchise player next offseason? Is the Stat-Melo-Chandler trio good enough to win the East without a bona fide point guard? I just don't see it.

Daryl Morey

Morey is the Billy Beane of the NBA.

Vastly overrated "innovators" whose teams have
zero track record of any postseason success

On April 14, 2010, I wrote the following about the Rockets GM, and it still seems pretty accurate today.

As the Rockets' season comes to yet another disappointing close tonight, I am left asking myself a potentially blasphemous question: is Daryl Morey overrated?

On a personal level, I am enamored with Morey. I have met him twice while attending his MIT Sports Analytics Conference (each of the last two years) and came away extremely impressed both times. He's approachable, well-spoken, and genuinely likeable in a Seth Rogen kind of way. Bill Simmons christened him "Dork Elvis" for his popularity among statheads.

Professionally, Morey is credited with revolutionizing player analysis by using quantitative analysis to greatly supplement his and his scouts' views. Many in the industry believe him to be one of the game's brightest managerial stars.

In a recent edition of his "NBA Future Power Rankings Column" (Insider access required), ESPN's Chad Ford ranked the Rockets 10th, based largely on the team's "management." In fact, of all 30 teams, he rated Houston second best in this category. Granted, this category takes into account more than just the GM, but Morey clearly steers this ship.

So, where's the problem?

Simple. The performance of a GM's team, not his academic credentials (Morey received his MBA from MIT), should do the talking, and in this case, I am not wowed. Despite inheriting a 52-win team, Morey's teams have won only one playoff series in his three years.

Let's look at Morey's history.

Less than two weeks into his new role as front office boss in Houston, Morey fired head coach Jeff Van Gundy on May 18, 2007 (after the team's third first-round exit in four seasons under JVG) and replaced him with Rick Adelman. Aside from JVG's disastrous 2005-6 season, these two coaches have had virtually identical success in Houston. A lateral move for the most part - although ESPN greatly benefited since JVG has proven to be a great TV commentator.

Under Adelman, in the 2007-8 season, the Rockets finished with the sixth best record in the Western Conference and lost to the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

In the 2008-9 season, they finished with the fifth best record in the Western Conference and beat the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs before succumbing to the Lakers in the second round.

This year, they will not make the playoffs.

Morey might not have an open checkbook, but over the last three years, Houston has been in the top half of the NBA in terms of dollars spent on salary. Now, I understand injuries have played a role as Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady have missed significant time over the last three years for a variety of ailments. But again, the mark of success in the NBA lies in a team's performance, namely its playoff performance, and Morey's squads have failed in this regard.

Has he made good moves (his draft history includes the likes of Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry)? Yes.

Has he made great moves (ripping off the Knicks and Kings at the 2010 trade deadline)? Absolutely.

In the end though, just because a General Manager uses numbers in an innovative way, hires a dozen interns, and gets a nickname from a famous sportswriter, it does not make him great at his job.

Bottom Line: Morey might turn out to be one of the game's all-time greats. Unfortunately, thus far, the team has not markedly improved since he took over three years ago. Until that happens and the team makes at least one deep run in the postseason, I believe it is premature to call him one of the game's best.

[The Rockets missed the playoffs again in 2010-11.]

This proposed three-team deal would see the Rockets ship off Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic, and at least one first round pick for Pau Gasol. Call me skeptical of yet another lateral move for a team stuck in neutral.

Dan Gilbert

All goodwill this guy amassed when LeBron pimped him and the city of Cleveland last summer has evaporated in one year. Why are you complaining about the Lakers getting CP3? It's good for the NBA and might offer opportunity to your team. Anytime trades are made, there are other shoes that drop. Maybe one of the teams involved in this deal would have needed a piece to complete their new look team. Maybe they would be interested in doing business with you. Not happening now.

Your team is years away from contention. This just pushed you back further.

Geoff Petrie / Rod Thorn

Wasn't the point of the lockout to prevent deals like this from scrolling across ESPN's BottomLine:

Kings Sign Marcus Thornton for 4 years / $32m

76ers Sign Thaddeus Young for 5 years / $42m

Good Lord. What are GP and RT thinking?

(You know something is wrong when John Hollinger and I agree on something.)

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