Plan B Time

So it looks like Kevin Garnett is going to back off of his “I don’t want to go to Boston” stance, which killed the first deal Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge had in place. Garnett gets to play with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the lowly Eastern Conference. Those three should have a field day.
So what does that mean for the Warriors? How can they address their huge void inside since Garnett is headed for Beantown?
The Warriors, one would think, need to address that weakness somehow, especially considering a league source told me they are opening the season (Oct. 30) on TNT against Utah. Carlos Boozer bullying the Warriors on national television to start the season certainly wouldn’t be a good opener for the Warriors.
There are quite a bit of options out there, though none are as exciting as Garnett, who seemed to be a perfect fit for the Warriors’ needs. The Warriors have a $10M trade exception to play with from the Jason Richardson deal, and perhaps a lottery pick they may not want (if you believe the rumors that the Warriors didn’t want Brandan Wright, but just wanted to use Charlotte’s No. 8 as a pawn to get KG). Which would you prefer?:


DREW GOODEN would be easy to get because he fits under the trade exception and the Cavaliers wouldn’t mind parting with him. He’ll bring some strength and physicality to the Warriors frontline. He showed during the playoffs that he can hit the baseline jumper. Whether he can thrive in the uptempo and give the Warriors offense down low is the question.


CHRIS WILCOX seems to have been built for the Warriors style of play. He may be much more dangerous if turned loose, let his athleticism take over, instead of the structured systems he’s been a part of. From everything I’ve been told, he doesn’t have a high basketball IQ and doesn’t have the offensive skills Nellie likes for his big men.


UDONIS HASLEM isn’t really a Nellie big man, though he does have a pretty nice midrange stroke. Still, the fact remains is that the Warriors need to defend the paint. They need help on the boards. They need someone with enough strength to move people around in the paint, not just be moved around. Haslem could fill that role, though he may not be a good fit next to Andris so he would have to come off the bench.


ZAZA PACHULIA, first off, is the one on the right. Secondly, he is a hustling big man who will mix it up in the paint. He’s got a little bit of offensive skills, but not nearly enough to tickle Nellie’s fancy. He could come in handy off the Warriors bench.


RASHEED WALLACE is supremely skilled, can shoot from the outside, a great low-post defender and he’s got the perfect temperment to put next to Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson — that way if the Warriors don’t win, the crowd will still be entertained, and Nellie can line his pockets with the fines from all their ejections. Wallace is expensive (two years, $25 millio left), but he is a champion.


STROMILE SWIFT doesn’t do it for me, but if there ever was a system he could be productive in, it’s the Warriors’ system. He is all athleticism, and that’s what the Warriors rely on. He’s a big man who can finish, and that’s one of the Warriors’ needs.


When CHARLIE VILLANUEVA is not partying with co-eds, or on the shelf with an injury, he’s a pretty good player. At 6-11, he’s got some size to go with his well-rounded skills. He won’t be much of a defensive presence, but he’s got something to work with on offense. The Bucks are overloaded at the four, so they might be willing to listen. Charlie is still on his rookie contract, so he’s cheap and the Warriors hold the option. If the Bucks aren’t willing to part with him, maybe they’d be willing to part with …


YI JIANLIAN could be the Warriors next target. If they don’t like Brandan Wright, they could make a move to get this headache off of Milwaukee’s management. I don’t buy the Bucks’ public stance that they’re keeping Yi. They have to do that to get the offers as high as possible.


MP2 Coming Back?


My colleague, Tim Kawakami blogged that Mickael Pietrus is likely to come back for the $3.4 M qualifying offer the Warriors extended to him (which they had to do to make him a restricted free agent and have the right to match any offer he received). I’d take Pietrus at this price, though I wouldn’t mine just letting him walk anyway. That’s still a lot of money for what he brings, and I’d just as soon let Kelenna Azubuike try to fill that void for much cheaper. My opinion would be different is MP wasn’t the same player he was two years ago. But he is.
But, this might help the Warriors in the KG move because that is still pretty cheap. Pietrus, if Minnesota likes him, could now be a part of a KG deal because he’ll be either an expiring contract or cheap, young talent. He was pretty much out of the deal if some team would have thrown too much money at him. But no team bit, and Pietrus is going to have to settle for a small raise and no long-term security. So he becomes valuable to the Warriors on the trade market if Kawakami is right, which he almost always is.
Is $3.4 million to expensive for Pietrus, or would you love to have him back at that price?


Donaghy Helped Warriors?

You may have seen the article written in the New York Times about a suspicious move by Tim Donaghy in the Warriors game against Chicago on Feb. 9. (The link: http://www.realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/47291/20070723/did_donaghy_help_warriors_in_game_versus_bulls/) Pretty much, the Warriors went into the game as two-point favorites. They were tied and Bulls had the ball in the waning seconds. Chicago was dribbling for the final shot and Andris Biedrins was camped in the key for several seconds. Of course, that’s a defensive three seconds penalty, which is a technical foul free throw. But instead of making the call, which would’ve given Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich a potential game-winning free throw attempt, Donaghy tapped Biedrins on the hip, pretty much telling him to get out of the key.
The Warriors got the stop and the game went into overtime. The Warriors won by two, 123-121.
Have sat courtside during games, I know for a fact the referees help out players and coaches sometimes instead of slowing the game down with calls. I’ve heard “get your hands off” when a defender is hand-checking and stuff like that in several instances. But it’s hard to tell whether Donaghy was just doing his part to let the players to decide the game or keeping alive his chances at winning a bet.
Interesting, huh? What do you think?


Do Fans Really Care?

Everybody has been saying that this is a major blow to the NBA, that the NBA may never get over this. But I wonder about that. I wonder if fans will really abandon the NBA because of this. In fact, I think the controversy might draw more fans.
The fact is, the sports world isn’t the huge billion-dollar entity it is because of the die-hard fan, the one that values purity of the sport and integrity of the game. The mega nature of leagues like the NBA and NFL and MLB is a product of the casual fan, the one that merely wants a few hours of entertainment and are not true lovers of the sport. The puritans are looking at this Tim Donaghy situation as a dispicable act and a monumental step back for the league. But puritans don’t run the league. The dollars of the puritans isn’t what make the NBA the NBA.
Aren’t we seeing that with the steroid controversy? Fans have almost unanimously downplayed the steroid era by its continued support, nevermind the media’s never-ending doomsday predictions and dramatic coverage. Barry Bonds still sells out AT&T. Tickets are still being sold at ridiculous rates.
As sports grows into pop culture, the emphasis on integrity and the pure love of the sport has become less important. Back in the day, when the Black Sox scandal hit, and when college hoops was damaged with the point shaving and game fixing of the 50s and 60s, the sports world was dominated by puritans and die-hard fans. Not any more. Casual fans dominate the scene now. Bandwagoners and thrill seekers and drama lovers elevated sports to another level. Ask any NBA executive and they will tell you selling the good seats isn’t hard, it’s the upper levels that’s hardest to sell. If puritans and die-hard basketball enthusiasts were enough, who would need all the extra that goes on at sports events now? It’s all about drawing the casual fan.
That’s why the deterioration of pitching hasn’t damaged the popularity of baseball. That’s why the lack of fundamentals hasn’t limited the global explosion of basketball. That’s why celebratory antics and hot-dogging doesn’t bother football.
I think, no matter what, people are going to go the games, people are going to follow the NBA, and people are going to spend money on the league. As long as the NBA continues to run the dynamic talents and personalities like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on the floor, people will flock. Because the emphasis is on entertainment, not integrity. The desire is for drama and thrill, not purity and poetry.
Sports is too intertwined into our culture and our love of celebrity, especially the NBA. One cheating referee won’t come close to changing that.
That’s my opinion anyway. What’s yours?


Poor Donaghy


How would you like to be referee Tim Donaghy? This poor guys is going down in history as a sports villian. The league is going to have to come down hard on him just to send a message at how serious this is. The feds are going to have to come down hard on him if not just to justify the whole Bonds stuff (if they’re going after Barry for steroids, what does Donaghy guy deserve?).
It’s kind of ironic that this is happening to the NBA. David Stern is so concerned about the image of the league, he instituted a dress code, an age limit and replaced the new ball the players hated. Now it comes out that the NBA knew about the gambling problem and investigated him, but still let him ref games.
Turns out ghetto young black men aren’t the league’s only eye sore, certainly not its worst. A middle-of-the-road referee with a gambling problem is making Allen Iverson look like a Good Samaritan. It’s easy to say, what can you do about it? Not much. Shady people do shady things, and they are generally good about hiding their shady-ness.
For starters, refs have to be paid more. That’s across the board in all sports — especially the NFL, which have part time referees.
Secondly, the refs need to be accessable to the media. It is the media who finds these things out. It is the media that gets close to public figures and find out the dirt in their lives so they can reveal it. Imagine if the media had a chance to interrogate referees about their calls and their decisions. Referees would be much more apt to be sure about their whistle. As it is now, it is just accepted that they make terrible calls (I don’t care how much they are tested and watched), so their is no accountability.
This is going to hurt the league, and it better put the NFL and MLB on guard. If you think Donaghy’s the only one, you’re crazy. Gambling is a major problem in this country, and sports’ participants aren’t immune.



Blog Question

“Just what in the world is steve kerr doing? Trading Kurt Thomas and a 1st in ’08 and ’10? That ’10 pick is a potential lottery pick, even top 5. nash is not getting younger and probably have two more yrs left in the tank. if this trade helps the suns to get kg, meaning amare will be gone, there is no way they can compete in 2009. he’s basically mortgaging the future for this year’s title run. stupid, in my opinion. are they trying to be the florida marlins of the nba? i hope mullin doesnt do the same thing. and this brings to my question: would you rather have one title run and years of irrelevance (florida marlins style) or years of playoffs without getting a championship (utah jazz style)? if i were a gm and an owner, i would much rather have the latter since i know the stadium is going to be packed every night. as a fan, i would still have the latter. it’s much more fun to root for a winning team years in and years out rather than one high year and years of low.” – manhattanproj

Definitely the latter. Though the Marlins have won two tites that way. It is still more profitable to be consistent with winning. If the Warriors win a title in next year, then miss the playoffs for 12 more years, that would be much worse than not winning a title in the next 13 years, but making the playoffs every year.
I don’t think Kerr is doing that, mortgaging the future. He expects to be a playoff team for years to come, which means those picks will be in the bottom half of the draft. Even when Nash is gone, Barbosa is still around, and he’ll at least get them into the playoffs with Amare is around. I don’t think they’re setting up to trade Amare, they are just under so much financial strain that they have to move salary. You can tell how desperate they are to dump salary by how much they gave up just to get rid of Thomas’ salary. They tried to move Kurt on draft day. Since it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to move Marion (though Marion and the $8M exception [in a seperate deal for Ricky Davis or whoever] is a pretty appealing offer for KG, now that I think about it), they had to chuck Kurt’s $8 million some how. Seattle, knowing how bad Phoenix needs to cut salary (owner Sarver is a baller, but he’s not trying to be Cuban), they milked it for what it was worth. I think it was a good move by Kerr considering the pressure he was getting from on high to trim salary.


Blog Question

“Looks like bad news for the Warriors. The Suns traded away Kurt Thomas and now have an $8 mil trade exception to use. With both the Warriors and the Suns having similar trade exceptions, the Suns have to be the front runner with a guy like Amare to dangle in front of the T-Wolves, right? Is it plan B time for Mullin?” – EJ

I don’t think so. Phoenix is not going to give up Amare. The know they need KG next to Amare in order to dethrone San Antonio. I was told for sure that the Suns are not going to give up Amare. (Of course that means he’ll be dealt by October!)
It wouldn’t make sense to get rid of Amare for a few years of KG. Amare can be better than KG if he maxes out. I’d rather keep Amare and Marion and add a proven scorer at small forward (Is Grant Hill that anymore?). They aren’t THAT far off.