Thursday Bolts – 4.2.09

Update: David Thorpe has a really cool Rookie Watch out – which player should each rookie study? For Russell thunderbolt231Westbrook, he says Dwyane Wade: “When Wade is at his smoking-hot best, he’s both a dynamic athlete and a skilled midrange shooter. That combination is necessary for Wade to be special, because some teams often build a wall around the rim and force him to make jumpers. Westbrook is incredibly athletic with and without the ball, so imposing his will on most possessions by using that gift gives him an advantage almost every time. And he is learning to do that now. But if he also gets his midrange game to work efficiently, he’ll be headed to the All-Star Game and the Thunder will be playing in late spring.” Also interesting is who he has O.J. Mayo studying.

Good to see P.J. Carlesimo has found work: “I can’t remember the last time I saw Carlesimo on-air, but I don’t remember him being that bad. He always seemed to have a surly disposition to me, but maybe a fun environment like TNT Basketball is what the former coach needs. We shall see.”

In the comments of Darnell’s blog he says he’ll have a Serge Ibaka update Monday in the paper and had this interesting note: “Basically, the front office loves how he’s developing over in Spain. The plan is to bring him over to join the team for summer league play and evaluate him in an NBA-type setting. It’s still unclear if the team will bring him over for next season. My guess is no. But again, that’s just my guess.”

Kevin Durant evidently bruised his hip against the Spurs, but he acts like he’s OK: “I couldn’t run like normal,” Durant said. “I just wanted to stick it out and fight through it. After I get some treatment [Wednesday] hopefully I’ll be all right.” Oklahoma City’s next game isn’t until Friday against the Blazers.” He did it early in the second quarter and he went on to score 15 more points so yeah, I think he’s OK.  

Sporcle is a great time waster and here’s a good one: Name all the NBA Jam teams. I did better than I thought I would.

David Thorpe’s rookie rankings: Westbrook still sitting tied (I guess), and there’s no updated thoughts. So I’ll give you some of my own: He had an excellent week leading the charge against San Antonio on the road as he controlled the game for 48 minutes. His shooting numbers were particularly low last month, but a lot of that was due to Kevin Durant being out and Westbrook having to take over more of the offensive load.

The Lost Ogle on Shaun Livingston: “The thing is, he’s only 24 years old.  He has time to recover, and luckily, his primary abilities were not tied to him having freakish athleticism.  The court vision, passing craftiness, and basketball IQ were unaffected.  Just watch the highlight video that appears right after the jump.  Doing his thing does not require him to have freakish leaping ability.”

The Suns could be looking to lower their payroll this offseason. Which is good because OKC has that 2010 unprotected first rounder. So lower away Steve: “Kerr said the front office has a “pretty good idea of what we’d like to do” but carrying it out is another matter. A financially strapped league puts few teams in the role of being buyers to trade for high-salary Suns such as Amaré Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal, who were part of trade talks in February. Asked if the Suns must make a move to bring down their payroll this summer, Kerr said, “Maybe.” “The biggest thing is we’re working from a position of strength because we do have a lot of talent,” Kerr said. “We have some gifted players. Because of the circumstances, it hasn’t clicked.”

Updated 2009 free agent list: Anybody really jump off the page at you there?

Sam Presti on Shaun Livingston: “We’re not looking at it as a project,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti. “We’re looking at it as an opportunity to work with a talented player, someone that continues to have a great focus about getting back to where he wants to be. And we’re excited to have him.”

SI roundtable talking about offseason moves: “I’ve been hearing whispers that the losses being incurred by many teams are a lot more substantial than what is being reported, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few players with sizable contracts are unloaded for cheaper alternatives. Especially since there will be a few buyers out there, specifically Detroit, Oklahoma City and Memphis.”

 Tyson Chandler talking about his injury: “I’m in a walking boot now and I’m traveling with the team. The plan was to put me in a cast for a week and for me to completely stay off of it. And then come out of the cast into a walking boot and stay in that for another week. Then, start rehabbing. So, I’ll probably stay in this boot for a little bit less than a week and then start rehabbing to come back. It’s super frustrating, because it’s that time of the year. When I came back, I felt like we had an opportunity to make a push for the second spot and also win our division. Back-to-back division titles. We went on the road and won seven straight.”

Pictures of the Thunder coaching staff doing a community service project. I know they are doing good deeds and that’s wonderful, but seeing Sam Presti in that situation made ne chuckle a bit.

2009-04-02 08:15:21
I envision Sam Presti as that miserly old rich guy who goes to the garage sales and picks over the stuff other people have discarded, then goes on "Antique Roadshow" and smirks when the guys tell the viewing audience that he has "found" a one-of-a-kind treasure worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! I don't think he is going to be signing any fat checks for aging "marquee" players like Amare` or Shaq. What I DO think he will do in the off-season is aquire a few more second-tier Thabo Sefolosha-esque players who we scramble to watch you-tube clips of, and then sit back in amazement while they blossom under the gentle nurturing rain of Scottie Brooks' coaching. All while coming in WELL under-budget, and making sure that the new players are "good people" to boot! I heart Sam Presti!
2009-04-02 08:20:03
<blockquote cite="#commentbody-4242"> <strong><a href="#comment-4242" rel="nofollow">okiefunk </a> :</strong>I envision Sam Presti as that miserly old rich guy who goes to the garage sales and picks over the stuff other people have discarded, then goes on “Antique Roadshow” and smirks when the guys tell the viewing audience that he has “found” a one-of-a-kind treasure worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! I don’t think he is going to be signing any fat checks for aging “marquee” players like Amare` or Shaq. What I DO think he will do in the off-season is aquire a few more second-tier Thabo Sefolosha-esque players who we scramble to watch you-tube clips of, and then sit back in amazement while they blossom under the gentle nurturing rain of Scottie Brooks’ coaching. All while coming in WELL under-budget, and making sure that the new players are “good people” to boot! I heart Sam Presti!</blockquote> When I first started reading this, I thought this was in reference to the pictures of him working at that community service project. I've got a couple of guys I definitely like on that list. I'm sure Presti does too.
2009-04-02 08:29:25
LOL- He doesn't really look that comfortable with a paint brush though does he?
2009-04-02 08:46:41
Honestly, the only individual I can see worth getting that would make an immediate impact and fill a need (and one we could actually get) is Paul Millsap from the Jazz, but the likelihood of them allowing Boozer and Millsap to walk is very low, if not impossible. In terms of free agency, I don't see this being a great year for the Thunder in terms of filling immediate needs. Now second-tier, younger talent that can help and develop...sure, and it should be done to shore up our depth issues. But unless Presti can work a wondrous trade, which is a very good possibility since only Memphis, Detroit and OKC have enough cap space to eat contracts this summer and alleviate the financial strains of other teams, I think the Thunder will have to get their big signing coups from a trade.
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-04-02 08:47:42
There are a lot of players on that Free Agent list that I wouldn't mind having. I like the defense that Shawn Marion plays, but he is 31 years old and probably too expensive. I like the defense that Ariza and Jamario Moon play, but I don't see those guys leaving their current teams. It'd be fun to see Chris Anderson blocking shots for us. I've always like Ben Gordon's offense, but he's too expensive and wouldn't fit well being second fiddle to Durant. Plus he doesn't play great D.
2009-04-02 08:51:55
Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass would both be decent pick-ups, but I'll wager that the Magic and Mavs will try to re-sign both of them, and I don't think they're worth overpaying for. Walter Herrmann and Channing Frye are two more realistic options.
2009-04-02 08:56:22
I also like Chris Anderson. He'd be a solid enforcer off the bench. And it would be big, but Chris Bosh is having trouble in Toronto. Say we don't get the top pick... a package deal sending draft picks and maybe something else. You don't get Blake Griffin, but you could maybe make up for it nicely... Probably unlikely but who knows.
2009-04-02 09:07:28
I would love to get Marcin Gortat, Vega, he would fill our biggest need almost perfectly, but I just can't see the Magic letting him go. That's the biggest issue this year, there are certainly players available but I just don't see the Thunder actually being able to get them without some unforeseen event taking place (like trading for an all-star quality player that other free agents want to play with alongside a KD, Green and Durant core). And Royce, if we could get Bosh without giving up any current starters and only giving up our draft picks from two "weaker" drafts...I'd definitely say go for it then.
2009-04-02 09:08:55
<a href="#comment-4248" rel="nofollow">@Royce</a> Probably unlikely but quite possible. Look at what they got for Carter... and that was when the world wasn't in a huge recession. Bosh cleary wants out, they know they only have a year left, Bargs is playing great at Bosh's position... who's to say we couldn't lure him away!?!?
2009-04-02 09:13:37
To lure free agents generally you have to have playing time. Can Presti offer any PG playing time now? Not without dropping Watson and Atkins and moving Livingston to 3rd string or Westbrook to half-time or more at SG. He probably has to go rookie and maybe not this summer. Can he go SG? He certainly should but he wants Thabo in the lineup half time or more and some Weaver too. Very few players - especially shooters- are going to want to do a 3 way share of a position. So either he goes vet happy to still have a job or rookie probably. No way any SF comes in. Little chance any PF of consequence comes in. C, yeah they could maybe fit someone if anyone was interested.
2009-04-02 09:25:20
Bosh would make a very interesting line-up with Westbrook, Durant, Green and Krystic. In my view he would start ahead of Thabo, who would share minutes and come in for sniper defense when necessary. Bosh is a better outside shooter than Thabo or Westbrook, but nowhere near the defense of either! Hedo would make a nice addition at the 5 if we think we need another big gangle white Euro to battle Krispy for minutes! (I am ALL FOR abandoning this Swift experiment--IQ or not!) Jarrett Jack might be interesting as a 2nd or 3rd string PG because his 3P% are nice and God knows we NEED a 3 ball shooter somewhere on our team whose name is not Durant! I think it is premature to hand over the back-up PG or SG position to Livingston just yet, but that's just me....
2009-04-02 09:25:35
I don't think we're going to be very active this offseason in the free agent market. At the conclusion of the next two weeks, I think I'm going to try and write-out a breakdown by our roster--but there's just not too many spots available, especially when you consider the 2 first rounders we have this year and Ibaka potentially coming over. Be prepared to hear lots of "the Thunder are being cheap" and "their ownership just doesn't have any money left." But that's just plain wrong. Ask any Sixer fan this year if the Elton Brand project has worked out. How'd Jermaine O'Neal workout for Toronto? So many examples, but the main point is that spending money just to spend it makes no sense. Especially when you have a core like we have that will need big deals in 2 years. So I caution everyone to think of Kristic, Thabo, Livingston and perhaps Ibaka as our FA class of 2009. We just did our homework a little early.
2009-04-02 09:25:54
Hedo is gangly--not a gangle! No offense.
2009-04-02 09:36:56
<a href="#comment-4254" rel="nofollow">@jk</a> VERY true!
2009-04-02 09:49:33
The Thunder don't need any big names. What we need are solid role players like Channing Frye, Walter Herrmann, or Keith Bogans. They need to have as much cap space as possible so they can give Durant, Westbrook, and Green big contracts in the future.
2009-04-02 10:00:48
I'm big on Marcin Gortat. Yes we could get him because he is a restricted FA, meaning only that ORlando has the right to match. If you offer something outside of their budget (they have a 70 million payroll, and have to be ready to re-sign Hedo and Tony Battie) you would get him. Statistically, he is in many ways everything that these other, bigger names on the list are, but will come cheaper.;sum=1&amp;p1=powele01&amp;y1=2009&amp;p2=millspa01&amp;y2=2009&amp;p3=gortama01&amp;y3=2009&amp;p4=leeda02&amp;y4=2009
Jax Raging Bile Duct
2009-04-02 10:19:05
<a href="#comment-4253" rel="nofollow">@okiefunk</a> You have Bosh and Hedo mixed up. Bosh is a 4/5 and Hedo a 3. I saw Gortat mentioned in an ESPN Chat as one of the most under-rated players in the NBA. Someone will take him from Orlando, it might as well be us.
2009-04-02 10:21:26
In my opinion the Thunder could use a pretty big name if he's got game-team game- at PG, SG, PF or C or 6th man. If you goal is playoffs 2012 or beyond ok stay with the youth movement. If you think you're going to get in the playoffs in 2010 or 2011 without adding a more significant free agent I doubt it. The clips I've seen of Ibaks he dunks. shoots a mid-range jumper shot and does nothing to enhance the team on offense or defense. More like Petro than different.
2009-04-02 10:25:47
Probably fair to say far less defensive intensity than Petro. Gortat would be a good target and Orlando might not be able to match if they do enough to keep Turkoglu.
2009-04-02 10:28:01
<a href="#comment-4262" rel="nofollow">@Crow </a> I'd hold off judgement on Ibaka. All of those clips of Ibaka are over a year old and by just looking at his box scores, he has steadily improved this season at Ricoh. He was drafted as a project, but one with an upside much greater than Petro. He had the best vertical of ANY player in last year's draft! Also, signing a big name won't guarantee playoffs next year, but it can guarantee difficult basketball decisions later because of finances. I really believe that we will be in the hunt for the 7th or 8th spot next year in the West. Further, is there a FA player this year that makes us a title contender? I don't see it at all. In addition, we're going to add one of the top 5 players in this year's draft to our team, so that's like signing a big name free agent.
2009-04-02 10:31:50
Ibaka rebounds but I don't think he would be elite at that in the NBA. I still think it is somewhere close to 50/50 he ever comes over to take $1-2 million a year for up to 4-5 years.
2009-04-02 10:40:31
If he came over next season would he play more than 250 minutes all season? I doubt it but even for 500 minutes (best case scenario) do you buy yourself out of a contract and make the same or less than you would to stay put, getting more playing time? Some guys would but it is not a certainty. With the Euro dunk title he is a mini-celeb or future star. In the NBA he begins as deep bench.
2009-04-02 10:47:04
You might as well just put David Lee in the unrestricted free agent list...the Knicks are going to match too much on him. They're trying to save money for Lebron and one more star... I say we go after David Lee..(if we don't get Blake)
2009-04-02 10:49:08
I will have to admit that I hadn't even thought of Gortat. What about Anderson Varejao?
2009-04-02 10:51:36
David Lee is a good player, but I don't think he solves our defensive woes, and his numbers have been inflated by the D'Antoni system . . . pass . . .
2009-04-02 10:52:57
Since Jan 1 they are 17-25. That is a .400 team during their best stretch. To be in hunt for 7th or 8th seed they have to get to near .600. I am not expecting that next season and even the season after that sounds pretty optimistic to me. A 5th - 7th pick is often like signing a role player. It can be different but I don't think it will be this time.
2009-04-02 10:55:47
Varejao would be pricier and ultimately Cavs probably pay to keep.
2009-04-02 11:00:00
The only player I'd be really interested in signing is Paul Millsap. As it's been mentioned, Green is really a tweener and still shoots too many of his shots from low-percentage spots. Millsap proved he could be an 18 and 10 guy on slow-paced Utah, he could easily be a 20 and 12 guy starting here (more than replacing what Green brings). He is a hard worker, inside scorer, and unselfish, all perfect compliments to the Thunder. Also, I think the Boozer comments from hoopsworld are way off. Boozer has never been a max contract guy and has been seriously injured all year. He's more likely to sign an extension this summer than opt out. I just don't see the market for a guy who wants big money and who may never be healthy. Gortat seems ok, but two big factors rub me wrong. One, his per minute numbers are seriously skewed by his low minutes and situation. He plays on a team who has a single primary rebounder. It's not hard to guess that he has good rebounding numbers giving that guy a rest. Also, I don't like projecting guys who play 10 minutes a game to be starters. There is absolutely no way he is as good suddenly playing 35 minutes a night on a totally different team. Gortat is a great backup, but I don't see him as a starter. He has too limited a game while also having very little experience. If we can sign him away as a backup, more power to us and our thin front line, but I can't see how Orlando doesn't match such an offer.
J.G. (formerly Joey)
2009-04-02 11:03:27
<a href="#comment-4259" rel="nofollow">@Joe </a> Absolutely, Joe, Gortat would/could be the steal of this free agency if the Magic don't/can't match offers. He's only 25 and only in his second year, currently making only $797,000 per. If you toss in the fact that he had a 10 point, 11 rebound, 3 block and 2 steal performance in only twenty-four minutes last week against the Bucks...and you know Presti is salivating right now. He's pretty much a double-double machine waiting to happen when he gets the minutes and he loves to/actually can block shots. I mean, could we dream up a better fit for the Thunder's biggest need in free agency? [Side note: I think I'm going to change my handle to J.G. to avoid confusion with Joe from now on.]
2009-04-02 11:05:01
note: if we aren't looking to sign Gortat as a starter, there's no way he leaves Orlando. If we are, we're banking on a third year player who averages 10 minutes a game to be better than Krstic, Collison, or a high pick in the draft.
J.G. (formerly Joey)
2009-04-02 11:09:32
<a href="#comment-4277" rel="nofollow">@Keith </a> I think Gortat's in his second year in the NBA and, when given the minutes this season, has performed extremely well. And also, the argument that "when Dwight Howard sits anyone else will rebound and block shots because of that hole" doesn't hold water at all. You're telling me that if you plug Petro in as Dwight Howard's backup that he's going to get a double-double and get three blocks a game? You think Petro or swift would even get 5 points, 5 rebounds and 1 blocked shot as Howard's backup? I'm not buying that argument at all. If you perform well as a backup, it's because you're good. It has nothing to do with who you're backing up. Case in point: Thabo Sefolosha. He seems to be working out nicely with those extra minutes, wouldn't you say? :)
2009-04-02 11:19:04
From that list, I like Gortat, Birdman, and Ariza...
2009-04-02 11:21:43
<a href="#comment-4276" rel="nofollow">@J.G. (formerly Joey)</a> First, I'm not saying Gortat is bad (unlike Petro, Sene, and Swift), just that singular performances do not make a player. Gortat is a great backup, as I said, but DOES benefit from the team on which he plays. Orlando is a three point shooting team with one interior defender/rebounder. Gortat gets more rebounds because there are fewer people to fight for them, on his and the opposing team. He gets blocks because the team defense is designed to funnel players right to him (just like with Dwight). He is certainly using his minutes well, but you can't simply expect him to do all the exact same things when the situation changes completely. Also your Thabo case is flawed. He played nearly twice the minutes of Gortat per game. He's always been just as good a defender, but his shooting numbers are actually the worst of his career in OKC. The comparison isn't too hot since he always played more and could arguably be said to be playing worse in his increased minutes here.
2009-04-02 11:30:47
The Thabo case is one where his strengths are emphasized and weaknesses hidden by the situation. The Thunder have been a poor defensive team who don't shoot well. Add a guy who plays great defense and our defense looks better. Switch out guys who can't shoot for someone else who can't shoot and the offense doesn't appear to suffer. It's a net gain for the Thunder (obviously, it seems to be helping a lot), but it doesn't mean Thabo is really a starter on a good team. Gortat would suddenly be on a team with 3 other rebounders that need help scoring inside. His defense would make us look better (our interior defense is bad), but overall he wouldn't have the opportunity to be as good as he is in Orlando. Chandler was a better fit because he's used to playing a more rounded role. Chandler has other rebounders around him and knows how to get to ball anyway. He also is much better roaming the paint to pick up slashers/bigs than Gortat, whose team forces the opponent to come to him.
J.G. (formerly Joey)
2009-04-02 11:38:11
<a href="#comment-4280" rel="nofollow">@Keith </a> I might be mistaken here, but aren't you the one who said that the Thunder are built almost exactly like the Magic, just without Dwight Howard? I'd say Gortat would have the best chance to duplicate exactly what he does with the Magic with the Thunder more than any other team, if not improve upon them. Regarding Thabo, I don't understand how playing twice the minutes of Gortat is representative of flawed logic or relevant. My point was that when a good player who averages solid stats with limited minutes is given more minutes, his influence on the team is increased and thus his overall effect on the team is a very positive one through greater production. And, as we all know, Thabo's contributions have never been about shooting or stats (I'm on board that his shooting % has gone down a miniscule .015 percent since joining the Thunder cause...I can't argue against it). But to say he's playing "worse" in his increased minutes in OKC is maybe the craziest thing I've ever heard. And fortunately, here are the stats to prove it: Thabo with the Bulls: Averaged .8 steals, .4 blocks, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 4.5 points in 17 minutes per game Thabo with the Thunder: Averaging 1.8 steals, 1.2 blocks, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 9.3 points per game in 32.9 minutes (or just under double the minutes). All that to say, he's outperforming his Bulls stats by more than expected (if you were to double his minutes) in every category except rebounds and assists. He's tripled his blocks per game average, increased his free throw shooting percentage and despite the almost double minute per game average, is only turning the ball over .3 more times a game. I'd say it's quite clear that he's playing better than ever in his career.
J.G. (formerly Joey)
2009-04-02 11:50:48
<a href="#comment-4282" rel="nofollow">@J.G. (formerly Joey) </a> Okay, so his defense would help us out immediately since our interior defense is bad, and would make the entire team look better and improve his own stats, but he would be a bad pickup? We don't need a more rounded center, we need precisely what Gortat would bring, a defensive rebounder and shot blocker. All this "other rebounders competing for the ball" makes no real basketball sense. If you don't think other members of the Magic are going for rebounds (or the other team for that matter) while Gortat is in...then I don't know what to tell you. Oh, and 3 point shooting teams usually have long rebounds because of the force of the shot against the rim or backboard, which would hurt his numbers if he's "the only one down there." My argument is, if someone can help you rebound and block shots (or, in other words, fill the exact starting void your team has) you get them. Period. End of story. I mean, right?
2009-04-02 11:59:40
<a href="#comment-4282" rel="nofollow">@J.G. (formerly Joey)</a> I did compare the Thunder to the Magic sans Dwight. Of course, that didn't take into account the scheme we run, just the personnel. And in this case, the scheme is more important for comparison. The logic in comparing Thabo's minutes to Gortat's (twice as many) is that it proves Thabo has been competing much more consistently with more minutes. Human beings (as much as I want them to be) are not math formulas. You can't simply multiply Gortat's stats by 3 to figure out how good he'll be as a starter. The added fatigue of playing 3 times as much will certainly diminish his impact (it's as much mental as physical). Also, if he is as good as claimed, he would play more. The Magic don't have Don Nelson making the calls and screwing over young guys, they just want to win. There are roughly 24 minutes of backup time behind Dwight and Rashard, yet Gortat only plays 11. I'm not going to pretend I know more about this guy than the team who sees plays with him in games and practice everyday. There are numerous examples of players who play worse in increased minutes. My favorite free agent, Paul Millsap, is actually better per minute as a backup than starter. Amir Johnson on the Pistons put up huge per minute numbers in Gortat minutes, but has been terribly ineffective as a starter. Jason Maxiell on the Pistons took 2 years to acclimate himself to 6th man minutes after playing 10 a game beforehand. Sene had insane per48 numbers in his limited minutes, should we have made him our starter? The best example I can give is to tell you to look at Hollinger's PER stat list. Make sure you click "All" instead of "Qualified," and you'll see a lot of players who seem to be way better than they are due to situation and low minutes.
2009-04-02 12:03:29
This is what I'm saying. I would love to have Gortat play 20 minutes a game for us. I just don't think he's worth starter time or money. And if he's not getting starter money, Orlando won't let him go.
J.G. (formerly Joey)
2009-04-02 12:09:57
<a href="#comment-4285" rel="nofollow">@Keith </a> All right, I see where you're coming from now. Thankfully, because my mind was literally racing to try and see it from some kind of perspective other than, "I think Keith may have actually lost his mind." Per minutes stats certainly are misleading (hence why Speights has the best rookie PER, aka, if he does anything good in his playing time it skews the system), but what I'm talking about is if you look at the games in which Gortat has either started for Howard or has had to log a lot of time due to foul trouble or other factors, he actually improves his low-minute numbers considerably. Most nba personnel don't expect a perfect multiplication of minutes played x more minutes played = twice the stats, but that's why I'm so high on Gortat's numbers when he has had to play more minutes this season. And, you could be right, he could come here, average 30 minutes a game and stink...but from everything I've seen (and it certainly has been limited), he looks like a diamond in the rough for an $800,000 legit center. Hey, maybe Presti will just get Millsap and we'll both be happy. :)
2009-04-02 12:19:09
<a href="#comment-4287" rel="nofollow">@J.G. (formerly Joey)</a> What a good time we would have with Gortat and Millsap in the frontcourt, eh? And you're very right that Gortat is an absolute steal at 800k, just as Millsap is. It will be tricky tricky to figure out how much they cost to steal away from their respective teams, but if anyone can do it with a careful hand, it's Presti. How much better would we become? Hard to say, but I'd guess it's a lot easier to go way up than down from here.
2009-04-02 12:35:00
Varejao is only good because of his situation. Put him on a different team, and he won't be nearly as productive. Gortat is a nice option, but I think the Magic will probably match any offer that he gets. Millsap is staying in Utah. There is no question about that. The Knicks are probably going to sacrifice Nate Robinson in order to re-sign David Lee and still have cap space for '10, so he's not an option. Even if Presti goes stupid mode and trades for Bosh, there is no way he is going to re-sign here when his contract is up. Boozer is injury prone and will quite possibly be next year's Elton Brand for whoever (Detroit.) signs him. Nate Robinson doesn't fit our system at all, and Bridman and Ariza are both going to be re-signed by their respective teams. Basically, everybody needs to stop thinking so big. We need role players that fit our needs. We need a backup center, like Channing Frye. We need a three-point specialist, like Walter Herrmann. We need a scorer at the two, like Keith Bogans. Think role players, people.
2009-04-02 13:20:36
Of course, the free agents we sign depends on who we draft. If we draft a scoring two like Curry/Warren, we won't need Bogans. If we get a big man like Griffin/Monroe/Hill, than we don't need Channing Frye. Our rotation could possibly look like this: PG: Westbrook SG: Sefolosha/Bogans/draftee SF:Durant PF: Green C: Krstic/draftee 6: Sefolosha/Bogans/draftee 7: Frye/Collison/draftee 8: Livingston 9: Weaver 10: Herrmann There are a lot of possibilities, but I would be happy with most of those rotations.
2009-04-02 13:35:17
The reason I like Gortat over Milsap is simply the size factor. I do like Milsap a bunch. He got a raw deal in the draft because he measured short, like 6'7", but he has heart, he led the NCAA in rebounding three years in a row. Milsap is like a young, more atheletic Malik Rose. Lot's of heart, but not so much height. He has shown the ability to overcome it. But, Milsap is definitely a 4 and not a five. We currently have Nick for two more seasons and DJ for three more (likely, assuming Presti picks up the options)and maybe even Ibaka, who are all 4's. Gortat is a 5. He's a five who has great, great rebounding%, blocks % and he finishes around the bucket (even though he doesn't have a lot of offensive moves). The best way to guage somebody with limited minutes is with the percentage route. How many rebounds did Gortat snare, of the available rebounds while he was on the court. Same with blocks, assists etc. Look at this list:;sum=0&amp;type=per_minute&amp;per_minute_base=36&amp;year_min=2008&amp;year_max=2009&amp;season_start=1&amp;season_end=-1&amp;age_min=0&amp;age_max=99&amp;height_min=0&amp;height_max=99&amp;lg_id=&amp;franch_id=&amp;is_active=&amp;is_hof=&amp;pos=&amp;qual=&amp;c1stat=blk_pct&amp;c1comp=gt&amp;c1val=3.0&amp;c2stat=mp&amp;c2comp=gt&amp;c2val=500&amp;c3stat=trb_pct&amp;c3comp=gt&amp;c3val=15&amp;c4stat=&amp;c4comp=gt&amp;c4val=&amp;order_by=pts_per_mp It lists all the players from the last two seasons who block at least 3% of the opponents shots, snare at least 15% of the available rebounds, and played at least 500 minutes. Notice Gortat? He's doing very well. you take out the big names that Presti would never over pay for and you are left with a skinny list. On it, you see Gortat comparing nicely with Chandler, Noah, Dalembert, Camby etc. If you can get him for 3 mil a year, you just have to do it.
J.G. (Joey)
2009-04-02 13:47:14
<a href="#comment-4304" rel="nofollow">@Joe </a> So, Joe, chime in on the debate: Is Gortat a starting 5 for the Thunder and should he be paid like one? Or is he a glorified backup?
2009-04-02 13:50:11
Personally, I think Gortat brings the same things to the table as Nick Collison. So long as we have Nick Collison, I don't think we need Gortat.
J.G. (Joey)
2009-04-02 14:23:30
<a href="#comment-4310" rel="nofollow">@Vega </a> True, but Gortat is a true 5 (size, length, true 7 footer in shoes) while Collison is an under-sized 5 who really should play as a 4 at 6'10.
2009-04-02 17:01:58
<a href="#comment-4304" rel="nofollow">@Joe</a> Check out another name on that list, one who actually played more minutes than Gortat: Amir Johnson. I mentioned it earlier when arguing with J.G., but there is a huge difference between playing 10 minutes a game and playing 30 minutes a game. Amir was given a starting chance in Detroit for a while and was extremely hot and cold (he's had 20 and 10 nights himself) before wearing down quickly and finding himself on the end of the bench. I'm not saying that's a sure thing for Gortat, but it makes me very very leery. Also, while 3 million a year would be great to have him as a backup, why would Orlando let him go for so little? There are way less productive players making twice that all over the league. Orlando, of all teams, should know Gortat's value.
2009-04-02 17:15:27
Just a thought, but with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge likely to sign big extensions this summer, Blake and Outlaw in contract years, as well as the impending 9 million hit from Miles' contract, what would you say are the chances we could steal Przybilla from them? He'll actually be their highest paid player next year, and one that they hope isn't in the long term future of the franchise with Oden in the wings. Probably a pipe dream with the way he's playing this year and Oden's perpetual injury status, but I'd feel better putting him in the starting lineup than any of the free agents this year.
2009-04-02 17:40:59
<a href="#comment-4308" rel="nofollow">@J.G. (Joey)</a> That's tough to say. I don't have a crystal ball, but Gortat has great numbers for a small minute guy. I think he is somebody who can protect the paint and be a defensive 5 for us. We basically have no defensive 5. What we have is Krstic and Collison, who are useful in the middle, but certainly not dominant. Collison seldom blocks shots. Krstic gets a few more, but not really his strength.
2009-04-02 17:50:06
<a href="#comment-4322" rel="nofollow">@Keith</a> I saw that you mentioned Amir. Honestly I haven't seen Amir play that much. I do like Pryzbilla. I have seen him play a bunch and he is very very busy defensively around the basket, and he is a great per minute rebounder. I'm not saying that we should throw the bank at Gortat by any means, just that with DJ, Collison, Ibaka and Green all fours, Paul Milsap and the money he would command would be very "un-presti" like in it's cash outlay and redundancy. Gortat is a five, and if you can get him cheap, it's worth a shot. Comparing the two since they are both RFA's. Over on the Orlando blog one commenter was comparing him to Jim McIlvane (a small minute backup who Wally Walker threw Millions at because he thought he would be a big minute star). It wrecked the franchise because Shawn Kemp resented being paid less than a scrub, and demanded a trade. I am willing to guarantee that Gortat is no McIlvane, but I am not ready to give him big money in case I am wrong... which I am a lot. :O)
2009-04-02 18:02:24
<a href="#comment-4326" rel="nofollow">@Joe</a> We need a five, to be sure. Is Gortat that guy? Maybe, maybe not. He's not someone I'd throw money at, and that alone makes him unlikely to be here next year. UFAs are hard to steal away, and nearly impossible without overpaying them. The reason I like Millsap better is because Utah is worse off and I think Millsap would be a bigger upgrade over Green than Gortat would over Krstic. I don't think Boozer is really opting out, since he knows there's not much market for such a huge injury risk, especially a year after the Brand fiasco. Boozer is more likely to cash in during the 2010 extravaganza when some eager team loses out on one of the big names and settles for Boozer instead. I think if we're going to get a good, starting-caliber-on-a-playoff-team type center, we'll have to get him in the form of Griffin or in a trade to take on salary. Griffin is going to measure up as tall as Horford, who was nearly ROY at center over Durant, and can play center for our otherwise already very tall/long team. But if not him, we'll have to hope someone with an excess of bigs (I'm looking at you Clippers) will need to put a good center on the block.
2009-04-02 19:23:52
Do you really think Griffin is a starting 5 in the NBA? I am not so sure. It would be nice to get him and find out, but I wonder...
2009-04-02 20:18:17
<a href="#comment-4329" rel="nofollow">@Joe</a> The only reason Griffin couldn't play center in the NBA is if he's as tall as Michael Beasley with the same standing reach. There are a good number of starting centers under 6'11" in the league. Dwight Howard, perhaps the best center in the game, is only just over 6'10" in shoes (6'9" without). Amare, Horford, and Jefferson are 6'8.5" without shoes. I doubt Griffin comes in shorter than Amare, Horford, or Jefferson. Also, I don't think there's going to be an issue about having short arms or small hands (or as I like to call it, Kwamebrownitis). His game is a center's game. He rebounds like crazy, is super athletic, and is a better defender than he's given credit. He may not block 3 shots a game, but I could care less as long as he forces a miss (blocks are highly overrated without listing which team then gains possession).