Friday, March 11, 2011

On Gerald Wallace, and recent free-ish agents

In the past year, there's been much hand-wringing over players having "too much" power. Lebron James set off the talk, by choosing to move to Miami to work while he was not under contract with any other employer.

In response, Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavs, wrote an angry missive in Comic Sans calling James a "traitor" and various other names, and posted the letter to the front page of the Cavs website. Dan Gilbert, (ostensibly) an adult, directing other adults to be angry at an adult who was completely free and had no unfulfilled obligations, for exercising that freedom.

Message: players are supposed to be loyal to their teams.

Sidenote: Carmelo Anthony didn't "force" a trade. He was decent enough to give the Nuggets warning that he might leave as a free agent (which Lebron was criticized for not doing), and used his impending free agency as leverage in trade and future contract negotiations, like any responsible smart person ought to do.

So what does all of this have to do with Gerald Wallace?

In the summer of 2007, Gerald Wallace signed a contract for 6 years and $57 million with the Charlotte Bobcats. This was the same summer that Rashard Lewis, who wasn't then and isn't now as good or productive a player at the same position as Wallace, signed a 6 year contract for $118 million. It was clear to observers that Wallace could have made much more as a free agent than the contract he signed with the Bobcats, and even that he could have received a bigger contract from the Bobcats, had he insisted. At the time, Wallace stated that he just enjoyed living and playing in Charlotte, and was interested in staying and not making a big fight over the contract.

It was loyal. It was admirable. It was understandable (not everyone likes moving). I'm sure Wallace thought that he could stay in Charlotte for the rest of his career.

In the years since signing that contract, Wallace has done everything a fan could ask from a favorite player. He's improved his game and become an all-star. He's played harder than anyone else. Even when he got injured, the injuries were from playing too hard, too often -- he didn't get wear and tear injuries, pulled muscles, etc.. No. He accumulated a collection of concussions, collapsed lungs, broken ribs, separated shoulders, and other violent injuries that resulted from his recklessly throwing his entire body and being into every small moment of play, for no other reason than to hopefully help his team, and to entertain the people of Charlotte.

Gerald Wallace showed us what it looks like for a professional athlete to love his team, his job, and his city.

Last week, the Bobcats traded Wallace to the Trailblazers. Understandably, sad Gerald is sad:

"I felt like it was a stab in the back, something I that I totally didn't see coming," Wallace said. "I was comfortable here. I thought everything was good. We were starting to get guys back healthy and we were starting to make a push.

"My heart was here. My heart and soul were here and it's always been here for the last seven years."

Pay attention Cleveland. "I was comfortable here." Gerald Wallace is the down-to-earth, passionate player who wanted to stay. He was everything you said Lebron was not. If this had been the Cavaliers, would you be out expressing your anger by yelling and booing, by burning things, by writing hateful letters in absurd fonts?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Welcome to 2009-2010

Hello, world!

Fruithoopz is back, having put on 15 pounds of muscle in the NBA offseason. I apologize for the long time off, but it was much needed for a variety of reasons.

Before I get to any other business, I would like to recommend that you take in this important book from the good people of Basketball Prospectus as a way of preparing yourself as a fan for the upcoming season -- I've gone through it cover to cover, and still continue to page through it as a reference. It's a must-read. And it provides a better preview than anything I could put together.

Other notes:

- There are a couple of pretty interesting statistical issues to watch this season. The first is the "usage experiments" being carried out by Houston and Memphis, which should hopefully give us some pretty good data on the relationship between usage and efficiency, which we're always talking about.

- The second is Kevin Durant, whose ongoing development should teach us something about boxscore-based productivity metrics and plus/minus-based metrics.

- Joey had a pretty thoughtful reflection on the upcoming season, and the seeming changing of the NBA guard.

- Kobe Bryant is a fan of Ambrose favorite, Anthony Parker.

- I've expressed some appreciation of Andre Iguodala's game here, and have enjoyed him as a player since his rookie year. This post did a pretty good job of breaking down a lot of what makes Iggy good, statistically.

As far as fruithoopz, for the upcoming season, I'd like to spend more time doing game-by-game analysis. Overall, we'll stick to a similar schedule as we had last year -- with the first third of the season or so dedicated to looking at young or surprising players, the next third spent on under-the-radar teams that might find themselves fighting for a low playoff seed in the spring, and finally the last third of the regular season will focus on the contenders. I hope we have a great season together, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I'm currently compiling some material for a proper offseason post, but I happened to run across a little something that seemed worth sharing. Shannon Brown (pictured above) does not lift weights, sticking "mostly to push ups and [doing] little to nothing with his legs":

In fact, late in the season, Brown explained to us that while he did do some lifting in high school and at Michigan State, he has basically stayed away from weight training since entering the NBA.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Making moves

In un-composed bullet format:

  • From what I've seen, pundits love Minnesota's move to get the 5th pick in the draft for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. I am a little confused, though. All I've heard about this draft is that it's exceptionally weak. Now, I know the Wolves weren't going anywhere with Foye and Miller, but the Wolves actually picked up longer-term salary obligations, while sending away their best perimeter scorers, for the 5th pick in a supposedly weak draft and some serviceable bigs. I don't hate the move, but I'm not completely sold, either. I guess it all depends on what they do with #5?
  • And now the Wizards are really stocked with dudes who can score a lot and don't really defend -- Foye, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison . . .. Flip Saunders has had some productive teams at both ends of the court -- this could be a fascinating team to follow next year if they're healthy.
  • I started out really disliking the Shaq move for Cleveland. And I still have issues with it. But last year, I said that Cleveland needed someone to create offense besides Lebron, and then Lebron went and had the highest usage rate of his career. One thing we know Shaq can still do at this point in his career, is create offense. Lebron could use the break.
  • Since I began writing this post, the draft started up. So, a couple of random draft thoughts: 1) Minnesota, enjoy the Ricky Rubio era. (and just as I write that, they pick Jonny Flynn also. Interesting . . .) 2) James Harden is going to be a great pro. I like him in Oklahoma City, I've decided. You heard it here first!
  • This required it's own bullet: I understand having concerns about Dajuan Blair's injury history, but his height? We know this: rebounding is a skill that transfers seamlessly to the pros. Also: Girth and wingspan can be just as (if not moreso) important to defending the post as height (Chuck Hayes, anyone?). If I know this, GMs should know this.
  • Does Sergio Rodriguez get minutes in Sacramento?
  • Get well soon, Yao.
  • So, my initial reaction to the Magic getting Vince Carter is very positive. It'll be interesting to see what happens with Hedo Turkoglu and Marcin Gortat, but Vince should work well on that team.
  • Apropos of nothing: I thought this was a useful case study regarding contract rules and the salary cap, particularly considering that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire in 2011. It is an explanation of Kobe Bryant's contract options written by the always informative Larry Coon. (via Ramona Shelbourne)
Enjoy the draft, people!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remains of the day

The first rumors I saw this morning had to do with a proposed trade sending Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to Detroit in return for Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. Like Kelly Dwyer, I was mighty confused that the Pistons would turn down such a deal, and I continue to be confused by the ongoing assumption that the Celtics are looking to move Rondo. Why would they be trying to get rid of the conference's best point guard?

But then the real moves happened. Milwaukee moved to acquire Amir Johnson and Kurt Thomas (along with Bruce Bowen's contract, which is only partially guaranteed until August 1), with San Antonio picking up Richard Jefferson, and Detroit taking Fabricio Oberto (whose contract is also only partially guaranteed until July 1). These moves make a ton of sense for Milwaukee, who needed to clear up space in order to potentially re-sign Ramon Sessions (a very promising young point guard, who I've written about several times here) without going over the cap. They got rid of, essentially, an average but overpaid wing in Richard Jefferson. In other words, the Bucks are cleaning up after a mistake they made last year, when they inexplicably traded for Jefferson in the first place. The Bucks' financial outlook, and options, are laid out really clearly in this well-written piece. A couple of additional points: 1) I am one of the handful of people who still really likes Amir Johnson, and think the Bucks made a solid move in picking him up -- it's a low-risk move that could pay off huge if Johnson can get some minutes and play without foul trouble this year; 2) While the Bucks probably have enough room under the luxury tax limit to sign Sessions and still have money left over (not Charlie Villanueva money, but some money), I wouldn't be surprised, if the Bucks go over the tax line this offseason, to see them make moves to get back under the tax before the trade deadline. If that's the case, watch for a smart contending team to go after Charlie Bell: he's the sort of player - a versatile guard who can play either backcourt position and who defends - who contenders can really use down the stretch.

I was sort of down on the San Antonio side of this move at first -- mostly because I've never particularly cared for Jefferson's game. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Because of their smart planning and management, the Spurs have the luxury to overpay an average player for a couple of years. Meanwhile, given the ages of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, it makes no sense for this team to be planning for any kind of future -- they are looking to win now. So, they pick up Jefferson, a capable defender who can hit the open 3's he'll see in the Spurs' offense. Additionally, Jefferson can still create his own shot -- not with a ton of efficiency, but still adequately -- and is the only Spur outside of the Big 3 who can do so. An inability to generate offense during stretches of games has plagued the Spurs for several years now, so Jefferson should provide a big boost (particularly if Manu Ginobili happens to miss some time again). And Richard Jefferson's tendency to stay on the court -- he's played in 78 or more games in 6 of his 8 seasons and all 82 games in each of the last two years -- shouldn't be overlooked as an asset to his team.

So all in all, a good trade for both teams. I'll try to put up some thoughts about the Wizards-Wolves deal tomorrow, once I've had a chance to digest the details.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Many Things

I got punched in the face yesterday. The way it happened was instructive. I was sparring, and my opponent threw out a quick jab towards my head. I slipped it without a problem, shifting my hips and shoulders just enough to hear my opponent's glove whiz past my left ear. But then I made a mistake. See, I saw him throwing a second punch right behind that jab, and I just assumed it was coming towards where I was at that moment, so I moved back in the other direction. And Whack! See, my opponent saw the way I was anticipating, so he took advantage by throwing a punch not where I was, but where I would be. As it turns out, I should have just stayed where I was (and thrown a hook, but that's another story), and responded to the actual punch rather than trying to anticipate it.

So why is that informative? During this time of year, just before the draft, as basketball fans, it's easy to get caught up in unsourced rumors and speculation. For a couple of weeks it seems like everyone is going everywhere (Al Jefferson to Phoenix, Josh Smith to anywhere, and so on and so forth), and when everything settles, it's often the case that most of those players didn't get moved. It's better for us, then, not to chase every possibility, but rather to let things unfold and respond to things that actually happen, rather than to rumors. And that's what we'll do here. I'll respond to the occasional rumor when a writer makes a point that seems blatantly wrong, or, on occasion, something insightful, but if there's nothing to learn from a rumor, then it'll be ignored here.

Ok, so what's up in the league? Congratulations to the Lakers, first of all. Further, a couple of quick links:

This seems important, as a continuation of the narratives begun by Brandon Jennings and Jeremy Tyler in the men's game.

This basically summed up my own response to the "Shaq to Cleveland" rumros. Except that I would add one other complaint: if you claim to be looking for someone who can defend Dwight Howard without help, why on earth would you go after someone who can't defend the pick and roll?

I know nothing about the NCAA, and I readily admit it. That might be why I'm rooting for Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings to succeed. In general, though, the source I trust most for draft-related information is draftexpress. I recommend going there before the draft. For no particular reason at all, the players I'm most curious about seeing in the NBA are (and have the highest hopes and expectations for): Ricky Rubio, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Earl Clark, Omri Casspi, and Rodrique Beaubois. I also see no reason why Dajuan Blair and Darren Collison won't be solid pros, at the very least. What do you think?

Random musing on the Reggie Evans - Jason Kapono trade: good for both teams!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hey reporter! Do your job!

No more cliches!