Monday, July 21, 2008

Damn you, Hotlanta!

So, there's a rumor that Josh Childress is considering leaving the NBA for Greek team Olympiakos. There is so much to digest, so I'll resort to bullets:

  • The selfish part of me wants to say, "Wait, no Greece! Please, take Kwame Brown, but leave Childress here!" Childress is a wonderful all-around player who deserves somewhere around 5 years and $40-45 million. He is a terrific offensive rebounder, for one. Further, he knows where to be on the court without the ball to make himself most effective. This leads not only to the aforementioned offensive rebounds, but to a plethora of assisted baskets around the hoop, leading to 57.1% FG% last year (and, considering his tendency to get to the free-throw line more often than most, a whopping 64.7% True Shooting percentage, which takes into account 3-point shots and free-throw attempts). He is a passable outside shooter (36% from 3 for his career), a decent defender, and a pretty good passer. He is just smart and makes good decisions, and, well, he just "belongs in the NBA."
  • Remember when I wondered whether players would be leaving the NBA for Europe? Sounds pretty prescient now, doesn't it? Tiago Splitter, Carlos Delfino (who left for Moscow), Juan Carlos Navarro . . ..
  • At Yahoo, Kelly Dwyer has an excellent breakdown of the entire situation. Of note, the link back to Rex Chapman and the history of the mid-level exception, and the introduction of the notion of the NBA's upper-middle class, who is underserved by the mid-level exception, and yet undeserving of a superstar free agent contract paying $12-15 million a year. This is the group that is left to rot year after year, getting at best a mid-level deal when they, like Childress, deserve better and would receive better in a competitive market. Really, just read the article, it is excellent.
  • At freedarko they're wondering if NBA/Europe becomes NBA/ABA. The situation could threaten the league, or "these could be the first steps, or falling dominoes, toward a unified international league."
  • A random connection: to what extent can Childress' possible departure be blamed on the summer of Lebron? With teams positioning themselves for the apocalypse 2 years from now, only Philadelphia and Memphis had any cap room at the beginning of this summer. Philly spent their room on Elton Brand, and Memphis doesn't appear to have any interest in spending anything this year. The Warriors and Clippers got unexpected cap space, but the Clippers have spent all of theirs on Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, and (potentially) Kelenna Azubuike, while the Warriors already signed Corey Maggette, making Childress redundant. In any case, in a more normal year, without the looming two-year horizon, is it possible that there would have been some other suitor willing to offer more than the mid-level to a player as valuable as Childress? Probably not -- last year's trials and tribulations of Sasha Pavlovic, Anderson Varejao, Matt Barnes, and Mikael Pietrus proved that this situation is probably the norm for modern restricted free agency, rather than an anomaly.
  • Given the above point, maybe Dwyer is right in that Childress' move, or at least his threat of a move, can put some more bargaining power into the hands of restricted free agents who are worth more than the mid-level. In which case, GO GET THAT MONEY JOSH! But come back soon, I love your game.

Look, this is all a bit premature. He may not go anywhere. He may go for a bit and come back. Who knows. But it's something to keep an eye on.

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