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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cleveland Cavaliers 2008-09 Season Preview

Cleveland's 2007-08 Record: 45-37
Key Losses: Devin Brown, Damon Jones, Joe Smith
Key Additions: J.J. Hickson, Darnell Jackson, Tarence Kinsey, Mo Williams, Lorenzen Wright

1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?

The Cavaliers traded Joe Smith and Damon Jones to Milwaukee as part of a three team, six player deal that brought point guard Mo Williams to Cleveland. The Cavaliers hope that Williams--who averaged 17.2 ppg and 6.3 apg last season for Milwaukee--will not only be the best playmaker that they have had at the point guard spot since Andre Miller but that he will also be a bona fide second scoring option who can create his own shot; no Cavalier other than LeBron James has averaged more than 17 ppg since James joined the team in 2003-04.

Rookie J.J. Hickson played very well in the Vegas Summer League (19.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, .534 FG%) and if he can be productive during the regular season then he will add some youth and athleticism to their center/power forward rotation, which currently consists of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ben Wallace and Anderson Varejao.

2. What are the team's biggest strengths?

LeBron James, rebounding and team defense. Even the most casual basketball fan knows about LeBron James. Many people believe that James is already the best player in the NBA but he still needs to improve his outside shot and his free throw percentage to surpass 2007-08 MVP Kobe Bryant. That said, James is a remarkable talent, a powerful and explosive scorer who also sees the floor brilliantly and can destroy trapping defenses with remarkable crosscourt passes. His defense has improved by leaps and bounds since his rookie year and he is on the verge of being an All-Defensive Team member.

James' brilliance is so obvious that it tends to overshadow the other two key factors that comprise the foundation for Cleveland's recent postseason success; the reality is that if all a team has is one great player then they will not go far in the playoffs and may not even earn a playoff berth at all: in 2006-07, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each failed to lead their respective teams to the playoffs but when they combined forces in Boston the Celtics won the 2008 championship. James played very well in his first two NBA seasons but the Cavaliers did not make the playoffs. In 2005, the Cavaliers hired Mike Brown to be their head coach and he brought with him the blueprint for success that he learned as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio: defense and rebounding. The Cavaliers have won five playoff series since 2006, more than any team in the NBA except for San Antonio (seven) and Detroit (six).

Teams tend to follow the example set by their best player, James deserves a lot of credit for buying into Brown's defense-first philosophy. The Cavaliers are a scrappy team that contests shots, tries to keep the opposing team out of the paint and rebounds very well on both backboards.

Media "experts" annually underestimate how well the Cavaliers will do. Last season, some pundits even predicted that the Cavaliers would miss the playoffs the year after going to the NBA Finals! Many people expect make the mistake of simply looking at the names on Cleveland's roster; they see LeBron James and little else that excites them and then they assume that the team is not that good. They fail to understand that Cleveland's commitment to defense and rebounding not only makes the Cavaliers a formidable team but that this style is even more effective in the playoffs, when the game slows down and each possession becomes even more important.

The Cavaliers extended the eventual champion Celtics to seven games in last year's Eastern Conference semifinals and everybody justifiably raved about James' wonderful seventh game performance (45 points, six assists, five rebounds in a 97-92 loss). However, the Cavs knotted the series at 2-2 even though James shot just 20-78 from the field (.256) and committed 23 turnovers in those first four games. How could the Cavaliers go toe to toe with the best team in the league with James playing so poorly? The answer is that the Cavaliers played excellent defense in those games, holding Boston below 90 points each time and twice limiting the Celtics to fewer than 80 points.

3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?

Even if Williams performs as well as the Cavaliers hope, the team still lacks players who can create their own shots as well as create shots for teammates. James shoulders most of that burden, Williams will certainly help and Delonte West can fill that void at times but in recent years the Cavaliers have not scored a lot of easy baskets, either in transition or in the half court.

The other main concern for the Cavaliers is that Ilgauskas and Wallace must remain healthy. They both have accumulated a lot of mileage but the Cavaliers need for them to be productive in order to continue to excel defensively and on the glass. Ilgauskas has a history of foot problems but he has actually been fairly durable in recent seasons; Wallace has a balky back that bothered him sporadically last season and he seems to have lost some of the athleticism that enabled him to dominate the paint as an undersized big man.

4. What are the goals for this team?

James led the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007 and to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008. As long as he is in his prime and surrounded by a reasonably good supporting cast, Cleveland's goal every year will remain the same: return to the NBA Finals and then complete the job by winning the championship.

5. Will LeBron James win his first NBA MVP?

Now that Bryant won an MVP award, James is the best active player who has not received that honor. As long as he is healthy, James figures to put up MVP-level statistics for at least the next 10 years, so the timing of him winning his first MVP has more to do with his team's overall performance than anything else. In effect, the "tiebreaker" last year that enabled Bryant to win the MVP was that his Lakers finished with the best record in arguably the most competitive Western Conference race ever. If the Cavaliers exceed the 50 win plateau and contend for the best record in the East then James will garner a lot of support from the MVP voters.

Predicted Record: 55-27

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:04 AM

53 comments

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53 Comments:

At Sunday, October 12, 2008 4:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

lebron and kobe best i say 1a 1b lebron being 1b kobe being 1a but cleveland is a contender and could beat boston if they continue defnse and rebounding lebron im prove outside shot and mo willams could be the number 2 guy that hughes and west havent i think if it is possible cleveland will win east 55 wins is alot i say 47-50 they won 46 last year dont know if willams is worth 9 wins maybe if lebron improve more than i think he will with his game and willams maybe 9 more 55 wins might be first in conference.

lakers vs cavs in finals lakers in 6 they play agian next year cavs in 7 kobe vs lebron will be one to one sordef like when micheal was playing magic magic was on way down jordan was on way up jordan had to beat magic to solidify his place magic already had rings and accomplishments jordan was trying to get there. kobe has rings and accomplishments lebron trying to get there.

 
At Sunday, October 12, 2008 7:28:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Reggie:

Don't forget that Varejao and Pavlovic missed the early part of last season; otherwise Cleveland would probably have won at least 50 games.

 
At Monday, October 13, 2008 12:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. Looking at last year's four factors, Cleveland was 2nd in both offensive and defensive rebounding last year. And the various frontcourt players they had at their disposal were a big part of that, although having Lebron as your small forward doesn't hurt.

Their defense actually dropped off quite a bit from 06-07, 101.3 to 106.4. I think you can credit some of that to injury issues.

Re Lebron, I agree that it's admirable that he has bought into what is very far from a star system. They play at a very slow pace, which makes his statistics, as extraordinary as they are, understate his impact, at least from a typical points per game perspective. Perhaps Lebron has noticed that Michael Jordan played most of his career at a lower than league average pace.

I think Mo Williams, who has been quite productive on a number of bad teams, should be an excellent addition, and I think 55 wins is an excellent estimate. Lebron should have an excellent chance to win the MVP although in my book David Lee will probably be the most deserving player in the league this year.

Just kidding...

 
At Monday, October 13, 2008 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Joel said...

I'm not sure how good their regular season record will be, but if Mike Brown finds a way to incorporate Mo Williams (time to tweak the "give-the-ball-to-LeBron-and-get-outta-the-way" offense a bit) this Cavs has more weapons than they've ever had in the LeBron era. Williams is explosive, Ilgauskas is still a good complementary scorer, and guys like Pavlovic, Szczerbiak, Gibson, and West can all keep defenses honest with their shooting. My only issue would be the lack of frontcourt depth, especially if Wallace continues to decline and/or Ilgauskas starts showing signs of slippage.

The thing to keep an eye on with this team is the possibility of another midseason trade. Szczerbiak has a huge expiring contract which could help them pick up a quality player from a team looking to dump salary (a la Memphis in the Gasol giveaw... er, trade). If they can find a way to bring in a legit, athletic PF to pair with Z they could easily end up coming out of the East.

 
At Friday, October 17, 2008 11:19:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

55 wins? That seems kind of high for a team that starts Ilgauskas and Wallace (who has nothing left). I'd say 50, especially if Lebron misses any games.

I'm not sure Williams will improve the team that much, although I've learned from past experience never to bet against a team w/ Lebron James.

And oh, the Cavs did not make it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008. They were eliminated in the second round by Boston.

And I don't see Cleveland earning anything higher than the 3rd seed, not w/ Detroit and Boston. And then there's Orlando, Philly, and Toronto.

Although, I do think Lebron wins the MVP this year, though Chris Paul will prove to be good competition.

 
At Saturday, October 18, 2008 6:21:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Cleveland won 50 games each in 2006 and 2007, then dipped to 45 last year because of the holdouts and injuries. LeBron has improved since 2006/2007 and the supporting cast is no worse--in my opinion, it is better--so 55 wins is a very reachable goal for the Cavs provided that they are reasonably healthy. Wallace is not the player that he used to be but Varejao will pick up some of that slack.

As I indicated in my Eastern Conference preview, even though I think Detroit will be better coached this year, it seems to me that the Pistons are on the decline: the vets are getting older and I don't think that the young guys are quite ready to replace them.

Toronto will almost certainly lose in the first round; the Raptors are not a viable ECF threat. Orlando and Philly are each a notch below ECF quality.

I have consistently maintained that the MVP should go to the best overall player but the media members who do the official voting have their own ideas. There is certainly a mounting sentiment that LeBron is "due" an MVP and that could be a tiebreaker for him over Kobe this time around. Unless something unusual happens or someone gets hurt, I suspect that Kobe will still be the best player in the league and that LeBron will be a close second. Paul will be the best pg but I would not take him over Kobe or LeBron. I don't pretend to know how all of that will shake out in the official MVP voting.

 
At Saturday, October 18, 2008 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

True, the injuries were a cause of their decline last year, but I honestly don't think Pavlovic and Varejao are that good, although that may have caused some chemistry issues. And yes, they did win 50 games two years in a row, but I think you'll agree that the Eastern (and Western) Conference has greatly improved since then.

I just think that they're incredibly thin in the frontcourt, in which no one (except somewhat Ilgauskas) can score.

Detroit may be on the decline, true, but they still put arguably the best starting lineup on the floor. Chauncey Billups is still a top five point guard and Rip Hamilton is an efficient scorer and defender. True, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess are getting older, but they're not going Ben Wallace on anybody (extremely sharp decline). As for the young guys we'll see. Rodney Stuckey is a stud, while the rest of the bench will be better than a lot of people think. Regardless I would expect to see the Pistons back in the ECF once again.

You're probably right about Toronto, that is, unless Jermaine O'Neal can time travel back 5 years ago. Orlando, and especially Philly, I wouldn't write off just yet. I'm looking forward to how Philly does with Elton Brand in the low post.

MVP voting is definitely a questionable thing. Some years it goes to the best player on the best team, other years it goes to the player with the best overall stats, and so on.
Yeah I'm not saying I'd take Paul over Lebron, I just believe that he might have a better season this year. Lebron's MVP will ride a lot on whether or not the Cavs are a top 2-3 team in the East and whether or not they can get to 50 wins.

I did enjoy article, by the way.

 
At Sunday, October 19, 2008 4:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Varejao is definitely an important player for Cleveland and he was sorely missed. Pavlovic is more replaceable but the Cavs did miss him last year, particularly in the early going when they had not yet traded for Delonte West. Gibson was also in and out of the lineup, so there was a cumulative effect on the Cavs' depth.

It is important to remember that LeBron is part of the frontcourt (small forward) and he led the league in scoring last year. At 6-8, 250 (and he is probably bigger than his listed dimensions) he is roughly the same size that Karl Malone was during his playing days.

Sheed and Billups have shown signs of decline, particularly in recent playoff series. A lot of this depends on injuries and seedings but I think that Cleveland will go farther than Detroit this year.

 
At Sunday, October 19, 2008 1:54:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

It did deem seem that whenever somebody got healthy, then someone else would go down. Very bad timing.

And Varejao may be important, but he isn't that skilled at anything other than flopping. He is an adequate rebounder, but has no offensive skills. Yes, I know about all the intangibles that he brings, but it's not like a team says "Oh well now we have Varejao, now we're going to win the championship!!"

Gibson is a good shooter, yes, but that's all he does. And he gets most of his open looks playing off Lebron, who draws the double teams. The Cavs overpaid for such a one-dimensional player.

Ahh yes, I actually meant the "bigs", the PF and C positions. Wallace and Varejao (aka The Flopper) simply can't score, and while Ilgauskas can somewhat, the other team will most likely be playing 5-on-4. I still don't understand the trade for Wallace. Didn't Cleveland see how he poorly he played in Chicago?

Yeah, supposedly Lebron is now 6'9". Just when you thought he couldn't get any better....

Sheed and Billups have not had good recent playoff series, although Billups clearly wasn't the same last season after Jameer Nelson tripped him, causing damage to his hamstring. And the year before that, Sheed's ankle injury was worse than what people think.

During the regular reason though they still excel. Billups does especially since his skills depend largely on his size and shooting ability (and not athletic ability), both of which are very good and shouldn't diminish that much with age.

I'm very familiar with the Pistons' roster and then I look at the Cavs' roster and I just can't seem the Cavs outperforming them this year. But perhaps I'm mistaken. The Pistons were clearly the better team in 2006 and 2007 and yet it took them 7 games to beat the Cavs, and then they lost to the Cavs the following year.

It will be nice to see when the season actually starts how it will all go down.

 
At Monday, October 20, 2008 6:14:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

You are selling Varejao short. He defends multiple positions in the frontcourt and is a good screen/roll defender because of his mobility. He is also a good screen/roll player on offense; Varejao setting a screen for LeBron and rolling to the hoop has been a very good play for the Cavs, particularly in the playoffs. Obviously, Varejao is not a franchise player or someone about whom one says, "We have him and now we will win the title" but he is an important part of Cleveland's seven man rotation.

Wallace played good defense against KG in last year's playoffs. He still has something left and the Cavs are not expecting him to anchor the team in the paint the way that he did for Detroit a few years ago.

A lot of observers think that the Cavs actually paid below market value for Gibson, who negotiated his own deal and seems to have accepted a discount to continue playing with LeBron. Gibson is an outstanding shooter and he is better in other areas than casual observers may think; that is why I compared him to B.J. Armstrong, a similarly underrated player.

The Pistons may have more "good" players than the Cavs do but they don't have anyone who can deal with LeBron. Come playoff time, the Cavs are at least as good defensively as Detroit, so in close, low scoring games I give the team with the best player the edge: LeBron will make sure that the Cavs get a good shot late in the game. In '06, when the Pistons had a younger Ben Wallace, they could sag off of LeBron and keep him out of the paint. Now that is not the case. Boston and San Antonio are the only teams that can do much with LeBron in the playoffs now because they have the personnel and discipline necessary to create a "wall" around the paint to take advantage of his balky outside shot. The Wizards just kept committing flagrant fouls and that is not going to get it done.

 
At Monday, October 20, 2008 7:25:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Yes, but Varejao’s lack of offensive abilities cancel out (at least somewhat) his defensive skills is my point. If he’s going to be on the floor with Lebron, then he has to be able to make a shot when Lebron’s doubled. That’s part of the reason I would take Jason Maxiell over Varejao. Maxiell is an excellent pick-and-roll defender and has developed some nice moves in the low post as well, not to mention a somewhat reliable jumpshot.

I’m not sure to what you’re referring to exactly. If I correctly recall, Garnett arguable played his best series in the playoffs against the Cavs. Wallace’s back is also something to take into account as well. I agree, I actually just read an article about him being ok with being a role player coincidentally. Nevertheless, he is definitely not worth what they’re paying him, which is something like $14.5 million. Also, Wallace is barely playing, he averaged somewhere around 25 minutes a game, which is an extremely low amount for his salary.

I’ll concur that in today’s NBA, his contract is fairly reasonable (see Diop, DeSagana) considering he does shoot well. However, he is essentially just a spot-up shooting guard. I’m not sure what other areas you’re referring to that he’s good at. He’s not an assist guy, he doesn’t create shots, he’s somewhat turnover prone, and he’s just a decent defender.

I agree, there’s really nobody in the NBA who can handle Lebron (Artest, Posey, and Bowen come to mind though). In the past teams could sag off him, but he appears to have greatly improved his midrange jumper. The Cavs are good defensively as a whole, but don’t really have good defenders like Detroit does (Billups, Wallace, Prince). And new addition Mo Williams is going to have to start playing some defense, because he barely did last year in Milwaukee. I’m really not sure he’s a right for this team, although I understand the need to surround Lebron with better players. And as I said before, I wouldn’t bet against a team with Lebron James on it. But I look at the Cav’s second unit, and I’m just not impressed. Yes, the Wizards’ “defense” on Lebron in last year’s playoffs was truly atrocious, as was DeShawn Stevenson’s trashtalk.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 5:13:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Varejao plays very effectively with LeBron on offense; one of Cleveland's best half court sets in recent years in the playoffs involves Varejao setting a screen for LeBron and then LeBron either driving to the hoop, feeding a cutting Varejao or making a cross court pass to an open shooter if the defense rotates to cut off the first two options. It is not necessary for Varejao to be able to shoot from outside the paint.

The Cavs inherited Wallace's contract. Acquiring him was one part of the massive roster restructuring that they have done, so you have to look at the total effect--Wallace, Wally, West, Williams in, Hughes, Gooden, Marshall out--to fairly evaluate if the Cavs should have done this or not. You can't just look at Wallace's contract in isolation; they also got rid of a pretty big contract (Hughes).

Gibson is a big-time shooter. I'm not saying that he is a superstar but he is a very good bench player to have.

Detroit barely beat Cleveland in the playoffs in 2006 and the Pistons mainly won that series on the basis of veteran grit/experience. Now the Cavs--and especially LeBron--have plenty of playoff experience, so that would no longer be an advantage for Detroit. If Cleveland and Detroit played in the playoffs I would expect there to be 6 or 7 close games but LeBron would make enough late game plays for Cleveland to win the series.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 5:02:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

That makes it sound like anyone could set a screen for Lebron and be just as effective. If that’s true, then Varejao is expendable. He does provide great energy and good defense, although I hate how much he flops in order to fool the officials.

Hughes’ ridiculously bad contract was the Cavs’ own fault. No one made the Cavs sign Hughes to such a large deal. He did have a good season the year with Washington before Cleveland signed him, but it’s not like they had to acquire him. Besides, Cleveland wouldn’t have even had the cap space to sign Hughes if they hadn’t had messed up the Carlos Boozer situation. I liked Drew Gooden, it’ll be interesting to see how they do a whole season without his services. And getting rid of Hughes was a priority, the guy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. But he was a decent defender. And to get back an equally bad contract in a 34 year old Wallace, well I’m not sure who got the better end of that deal. However, I do like that massive trade for the most part. West and Wally aren’t great, but they’re better than what the Cavs currently had. I’m not a believer in the Williams trade, not yet anyways.

Right, I have no problem calling Gibson a good shooter and, to a less extent, a valuable role player. My point was that all he does is shoot. He does however has good value for being a second round draft pick.

I don’t see the Cavs beating the Pistons in the playoffs as of right now. Of course a lot of things may happen between now and May that may affect both teams’ roster, but one superstar can’t do it by himself typically. Cleveland has one great player, Detroit has several good players. I just don’t see the Cavs winning unless Lebron pours in 50 ppg. I will definitely be watching their season series with great interest.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 6:56:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

If "anyone" could replace Varejao then the Cavs would not have been so mediocre when Varejao held out. Varejao's value is not easy to quantify statistically but that does not make it any less real.

It is important to remember that due to salary cap rules NBA trades have to be dollar for dollar (within 10%). So, the Cavs had to pick up a huge contract in order to get rid of Hughes' contract. As I said, one can debate who got the better of the deal but the Cavs did not simply decide to pay Wallace a boatload of money; they decided that they would rather have Wallace, West and Wally than Gooden, Hughes and Marshall, so the deal has to be looked at in that context and not simply framed as "Why are the Cavs paying Wallace so much?"

How many teams have a drop dead shooter who can score 30+ points in a big playoff game (like Gibson did versus Detroit two years ago)? Gibson is adequate in other areas and his one "special skill" is very valuable.

It is funny that you can't see Cleveland beating Detroit; just get the DVD--it already happened two years ago! LeBron did score nearly 50 (in one game) and the Cavs beat the Pistons. As I said, the Pistons only narrowly escaped versus Cleveland the year before. I see no reason to think that Detroit is a better team now than they were two years ago but plenty of reasons to think that Cleveland is better--for one thing, LeBron is an even better player now than he was at that time. The series would be close but I would pick Cleveland, as I correctly did in 2007.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:12:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Varejao’s worth is hard to peg, with all the intangibles that he brings. I’m not saying he’s not valuable to the Cavs, I just disagree as to how valuable.

I agree, that would be Chicago who decided to throw all their cap space at Wallace. Like I said, I like the trade overall for the Cavs, but Cleveland needs/needed to acquire a proven young big man. I know those are hard to find, but they had one in Gooden. That’s why their lack of bigs is concerning. I see them playing a lot of small ball this year, with Lebron at the 4.

Yes, I watched that game you’re referring too. He performed exceptionally well. If he starts doing that on a regular basis, then we have something, but until then it’s just a fluke. Tony Delk once scored 50 points in an NBA game, but that doesn’t mean he’s good, if you catch my drift. I like Boobie (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

I was referring to a potential playoff matchup in April/May of 2009. Well for one the 2007 Pistons did not have Rodney Stuckey on their team. That alone is something to think about. Amir Johnson has been inserted into the starting lineup. The Pistons bench is much improved from last year and especially two years ago and it could be argued that their second unit could start for a majority of teams in the league. Detroit’s bench is the deepest it has been in years. The Pistons’ starting lineup is arguably the best in the league. And supposedly Detroit is going to get back to their lockdown defense of the past.

Cleveland on the other hand has an improved Lebron James, and an interesting roster with a lot of question marks. Does Mo Williams or Szczerbiak play defense? How will the chemistry be? Will the Cavs get frontcourt for two older bigs with troubling medical histories? What if Lebron goes does for any length of time? Does Gibson improve with less playing time? That’s just too many question marks for me right now. Luckily the regular season will answer many of these.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 10:44:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Obviously, injuries could be an X factor for either team but assuming that both teams are relatively healthy come playoff time I give the Cavs a small but clear edge: bottom line, they have LeBron and Detroit does not. A deeper bench, incremental improvement by various players and other incidental factors cannot compensate for the effect that an MVP caliber player has on a game and a playoff series. In the playoffs, teams shorten their rotations and the top players play 40+ mpg; the reality is that you need a bench to get through the regular season intact but you need a star (or stars) to win in the playoffs.

The Cavs are not asking Gibson to carry the team or even be a starter. For a guy who plays 20-25 mpg he is very solid and the fact that he does not shrink away from taking pressure shots is important (he has had other good playoff games besides game six versus Detroit).

I agree that frontcourt depth could be an issue for Cleveland if one of the main three (Z, Wallace or Varejao) gets hurt; I mentioned that as one of my main concerns about this team.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:29:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

True, I thought about this as well. Cleveland has the luxury of being able to literally play Lebron all 48 minutes essentially every game in a playoff series. I actually just read an interesting stat over at ESPN.com that was along those lines: In the last four games of the Boston series James played 44, 45, 47 and 47 minutes, and the Cavs beat Boston by a composite six points in that time; in the nine minutes he sat out the Cavs were outscored 22-12. That's consistent with his massive on-court versus off-court disparities over the past few seasons; last year the Cavs were 11.1 points per 48 minutes better with James on the floor. Essentially without Lebron putting in that many minutes the Cavs have a small chance of winning a game and therefore a playoff series.

Yes the star system has been rude to the Pistons in recent years. The NBA’s changings of the hand-checking laws has hurt teams such as the Pistons’ 2004 championship squad (who I’m not sure could win a title in today’s league) and given more power to the perimeter based stars of the league.

I truly believe that Stuckey will give the Pistons a different, much needed look this year. I think he can become the “star” that the Pistons have lacked in recent years. Not that he’s the next Lebron or Wade, but somewhat similar.

So I think we both agree Gibson is good. Cleveland needs shooters around Lebron and he’s one of the best three point specialists out there, so more power to him. My point with him all along has been that he is just a shooter, albeit a good one. It just seems we’re going around and around on this point.

That you did. What makes it worse is that the Cavs’ bigs (at least Z and Wallace) aren’t exactly iron men. Chances are that one, if not both, are going to miss somewhat significant time.

 
At Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

The playoffs have always favored teams that have stars. MJ and Pip used to average 40 or more mpg during the Bulls' title runs and the same thing is true of most stars from earlier eras. Depth helps a team survive the regular season grind but it is only important during the playoffs if there are injuries and/or foul trouble; otherwise, teams ride their main guys. The relative value of Cleveland's 6-7-8 players versus Detroit's 6-7-8 players will not matter nearly as much as what LeBron does in the last five minutes and what Detroit does to try to stop him. Both Cleveland and Detroit are solid defensive teams, which is why I say that the games would be close (and low scoring).

 
At Wednesday, October 22, 2008 12:06:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

True, Detroit’s title win in 2004 was an oddity in some respects. Every championship team has had at least one star. My point is that Stuckey might become a main guy, or even the main guy for the Pistons. The timing of that might be difficult to predict however. Defense on James…..three little words, but so hard to accomplish. It’ll be interesting to see how Detroit defends him this year. Prince has been the primary defender in the past, but I suspect they’ll throw Rip at him (who was effective last year), Herrmann, and Afflafo. All 4 (w/ Prince) are very good defenders (Herrmann might be a stretch, although he guarded Nowitzki pretty good in one game). I think this year that Detroit will be better defensively (and offensively) than Cleveland, not just in stats, but in their methods as well.

 
At Wednesday, October 22, 2008 5:43:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

The most effective way to defend LeBron is to have a long armed wing player check him backed up by multiple mobile bigs who protect the front of the rim to prevent him from scoring easy baskets in the paint. The Spurs did this in the 07 Finals and the Celtics did it in last year's East semis. When the Pistons had a younger Ben Wallace--and when LeBron was also younger and less playoff tested--they squeaked by the Cavs in '06. The problem the Pistons have now with guarding LeBron is that they don't have a Ben Wallace (younger version) back there protecting the rim. If you remember in '07 in game five, LeBron posterized the Pistons with multiple dunks, something that he did not do in the '06 playoffs versus the Pistons. The guys you mentioned can all take turns guarding LeBron but if there are not bigs protecting the rim then LeBron will get past those guys and he will dunk (or get fouled).

The one new variable in this whole deal is Coach Curry. It will be interesting to see how the Pistons respond with him at the helm and it will also be interesting to see what strategic changes he makes, particularly in the playoffs when the Pistons have become notorious in recent years for losing focus under Flip Saunders.

 
At Wednesday, October 22, 2008 8:01:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I’ve always thought Prince guarded Lebron as well as anybody, but I think he’s just not big enough to deal with his size. It seems like all the defenders who attempt to guard him are either not big enough or not fast enough. But yes, I agree. The '06 Pistons has two very good bigs in the two Wallaces. Rasheed is still a good defender, and Ben is……anyways, both of them aren’t as good as they were two years ago. That was a crazy game, that Game 5 with the poster dunk on Rasheed. But yeah, it’ll be interesting to see which bigs the Pistons decided to play when Lebron is on the court, since they have so many. I suspect Rasheed and McDyess, since they are the best defenders.

Recent reports indicate that Curry is going to get a lot more respect than Saunders ever did, which might be enough in itself. And he supposedly will have them playing essentially all man-to-man defense, and just overall more vigorous defense. His new offensive schemes are a big change from Saunder’s philosophies. It will be very interesting to see how it all pans out under the new Curry regime. Perhaps after 20 or so games into the season we’ll get a feel as to how it is going. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Dumars pulled the trigger on a trade during the season if things aren't going his way, which could change everything. I’d look for Billups or Wallace to be traded, although I suppose it’s all speculation at this point.

 
At Thursday, October 23, 2008 5:54:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Prince probably does guard LeBron as well as anybody, though I would probably give Bowen a slight edge. Prince has said that LeBron is the toughest player for him to guard, which gives some insight of what he thinks of the matchup.

The important thing to understand about Detroit is that the Pistons simply have not been the same team since the departures of Larry Brown and Ben Wallace, neither of whom has been adequately replaced.

McDyess cannot replace the shotblocking and overall defensive energy that Ben Wallace provided.

I think that Curry will receive more respect than Saunders did but the problem is that Detroit wasted several of the prime years of this group with Saunders running the show. As I suggested in a different post, it is entirely possible that the Pistons will be better coached/organized this year and yet not make it as far as last year due to the decline in abilities of some key players.

My gut feeling is that Dumars will not make a trade unless the Pistons completely fall apart in the first half of the season or some kind of Kwame Brown for All-Star player deal falls into his lap like it did for the Lakers; obviously, both of those scenarios are pretty unlikely.

 
At Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I believe Prince recently said that Wade was also one of the hardest players for him to guard, when healthy obviously. Bowen does do a very good job of defending Lebron, as seen in the ’07 Finals. Battier is another name that comes to mind, although I believe Lebron played fairly well against him last season.

That’s very true. The Pistons have gone through several players, trying to replace Ben (Mohammad, Webber, McDyess, Johnson). I’m not sure they ever will, as he seemed to be one of a kind.

I think that they will be better coached this year, even with an inexperienced coach, but there does seem to be a sense of urgency and uncertainty surrounding them this year. They’re no longer locks for anything anymore, not with Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, and Philly, but maybe that’s what they need. They have performed their best when no one gives them a second thought, like when they won the title, so maybe that will be their motivation this year.

I don’t think everything needs to fall apart necessarily. Wallace is in the last year of his contract and I’m not sure Dumars will be able to resist such large trade bait. Stuckey’s development will also influence trade talks. If he outperforms Billups on a normal basis, then Chauncey might find himself on another team by March. I think the former is more realistic than the latter however.

 
At Thursday, October 23, 2008 4:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Another strategy for the Pistons regarding Sheed would be to let his contract expire, get that money off of the books and use it to sign another player or players. A team may be reluctant to deal for Sheed in midseason unless that team thinks that he is the missing link to win a title, that they can definitely re-sign him or that they want to have his expiring contract to clear cap space.

 
At Friday, October 24, 2008 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

True, that could happen. I don’t see them signing any of the free agent superstars, especially if they give a contract extension to Rip. But who knows, it could happen, especially if Dumars trades another player away for an expiring contact to get them way under the cap. I could see Dumars trading Sheed to a team that wants cap relief. But I want to see how he performs for the better part of this year. He is 34 and his age has been showing as of late.

 
At Friday, October 24, 2008 3:36:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

The likelihood that Sheed will be better this year than he has in recent seasons is exceedingly small. The only real question is whether the Pistons deal him because his expiring contract would be a tangible asset for which they can get something in return or if they decide to use that asset themselves. In other words, I can't see them giving him another big contract after this season. The Pistons' core group has about run its course; they fired Saunders too late and now, ironically, Curry may get blamed for a "decline" that actually began (in terms of postseason play, which is all that matters when you have a championship level team) when the Pistons jettisoned Coach Brown and Ben Wallace without adequately replacing them.

 
At Friday, October 24, 2008 10:19:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I didn’t mean to imply that I thought Sheed was going to improve, but if he could more or less provide last year’s stats for this season. And maybe not just in the stats, but in other ways as well, such as his defense and intangibles.

Right, I could see them giving him a somewhat modest contract, but certainly nothing as large as his last one.

I don’t think Curry will get blamed. Will he? Maybe, this is the NBA where the coach is the first to go when something bad happens. But Dumars is smart and he knows that the window is closing with this core group. Dumars is just tired of losing to hungrier, and for the most part inferior, teams. I think he’d be happy if they lost in the Finals in 6 games to a better team. But he won’t be able to take another loss in the ECF. He just can't, not with this same core group of guys.

 
At Saturday, October 25, 2008 2:48:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

I expect Sheed's stats and intangible impact to both continue to decline. He has the NBA's longest run of seasons with 100 blocked shots and 100 three pointers but even though that shows his versatility I'm not convinced that this is the ideal way for him to play for the Pistons to be successful; they need him on the block shooting high percentage shots, not drifting outside, even though he does have a good shooting touch.

It depends exactly what happens and how it happens, of course, but if the Pistons don't advance as far or farther than they did under Saunders I certainly think that Curry will be criticized--and the reality is that he could do a better job than Saunders (in terms of organizing the team and instilling toughness) and still get worse results due to a talent level decline on his team and a talent level increase on other East teams. Injuries could also be a factor with an aging roster that has a lot of miles on it.

 
At Saturday, October 25, 2008 6:23:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

As long as Sheed can still shoot, he should be somewhat effective. Right, Pistons fans have been calling for Sheed to get down low for years. I personally think that his ability to shoot the 3 stretches the defense and keeps them honest, but when that’s all he’s shooting, well then that’s a problem. Apparently this season Curry is going to have a few plays where Sheed is sort of a decoy when he’s behind the arc. It’ll be interesting to see how that goes. I don’t really expect to be on the block that much; he is 34 and that’s a lot of bumping and banging down there, but Curry is going to try and get him down there apparently.

Yeah, that’s true, but I think the thing is that the Pistons and Dumars are tired of losing to teams they know they should beat. In 2006 the Pistons were a better team than Miami and yet still lost to them. Even more so in 2007 with the Cavs. This past season they were not exactly better than the Celtics, but they gave away a pivotal Game 3 at home. So if the Pistons lose in the second round this year to simply a much better team while giving it their all, when then I think Dumars has nothing to be ashamed about then. It’s just the way they’ve lost the past three ECFs.

But I think Curry will get some slack for this first year, as he incorporating a new playing style and he’s going to be playing the younger players more than ever. Injuries could be a factor, as they have been for the last two ECFs, but I don’t think they’ll make that much difference in the regular season. The Pistons have an amazing health record due to many factors, and I don’t expect that to change this season. Now watch as Rip goes out and breaks his leg. That’d be ironic.

 
At Sunday, October 26, 2008 1:07:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

While Sheed is shooting the three to make the defense honest, who is posting up? Without someone posting up, spreading the defense is not as useful. Sheed is--or should be--Detroit's best post up player.

When the Pistons let Larry Brown go I said that they would not make it to the Finals or win another title and that prediction is well on its way to coming true even though the Pistons have arguably had the best starting five in the league for the past several years. I think that Curry will do a good job but I also think that he faces a very tough task in terms of what he is expected to do: this is not the Pistons team that Saunders inherited that was coming off of two straight Finals appearances.

 
At Sunday, October 26, 2008 4:31:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Very true. One would think McDyess, but he’s also 34. Even when he was in his prime, before all the knee surgeries, he really wasn’t much of a post up player. Maxiell has shown he’s capable of posting up, but no one is as good as Sheed in that category.

The thing with Brown was that he was planning on leaving Detroit anyways and becoming the head coach of the Cavs. So it’s not like Detroit just let him go for no reason. Obviously things haven’t worked out for either Brown (see Knicks, New York) or the Pistons since 2005. That’s somewhat of a bold prediction, especially with all the success Detroit has had in the past three regular seasons. Like I’ve said before, Detroit should have been in the Finals in 2006 and 2007 at least and they know it. Curry really only has one task. And it’s not to get to the Pistons back to the Finals or even win the Finals. That’s a lot to ask of a first year coach, even if he’s coaching Detroit. No matter what anyone else says, his one task is to not let the Pistons get beaten by, in their eyes, a hungrier but still inferior team. Whether that be in the ECFs, second round, or even the first round, then so be it.

 
At Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:21:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

It's probably not worth rehashing the whole Brown scenario now but part of the reason that Brown was exploring other options is that he did not feel secure in his position with the team. It is my opinion that he was a crucial asset and that the Pistons should have done everything possible to assure him that they wanted to retain his services. He is a great coach. The Knicks have been a disaster area for several years primarily because of their owner and Brown's brief time there does nothing to dent the HoF resume that he built up over the previous decades.

Perhaps you think that Curry's task is simply to not let Detroit lose to a hungrier team but I doubt that Dumars and management have such a modest goal; they want to win at least one more title with the remnants of the core group that won the 2004 championship. Anything else will be perceived as a failure.

 
At Monday, October 27, 2008 7:52:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Well you’re right in that it’s not worth reliving the summer of 2004 over again. It’ll always be a case of he said/they said. Anyways, I’m in no way saying that Brown isn’t a good coach, I’m just saying that his coaching career after the Pistons is essentially disastrous. We already know about the Knicks and I have serious doubts he can help the Bobcats.

Well yes, that has been their goal for the last 7 or so seasons. Part of the goal is making the Pistons the hungry team once again. Ever since the 2005 Finals loss to the Spurs (or even the ’04 title), the Pistons have just not looked like the hungrier team. The better team, sure, but not the hungrier one. And they’d be thrilled to win it all this year. I’m just not so sure it’s realistic with a coach with zero coaching experience. How many other coaches have led their team to the championship on their first season coaching job ever? Not that I don’t think Curry can do it, but like I said, it’s asking a lot of him, even with this roster.

 
At Tuesday, October 28, 2008 4:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Has any coach in the Dolan era with the Knicks not had a disastrous tenure? Anyway, the point is that in Brown led the Pistons to the Finals in '04 and '05--winning a title in '04--and they have not been back since. He installed and perfected their defense, which has not been the same since and really went downhill (in terms of the playoffs, which is all that matters for a contending team) with Big Ben's departure.

Pat Riley won a championship in his first season as an NBA head coach; of course, he had Magic and Kareem and a team that had won a title two years earlier with a different coach.

 
At Tuesday, October 28, 2008 6:54:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

No they have not, so I don’t understand why any coach would want to go to New York, if for no other reason for the money. Mike D’Antoni will have to learn this the hard way apparently. I agree, the Pistons’ defense hasn’t been the same since 2003-2005. Most of that is due to Brown’s departure, some of it is a result of the new handcheck rules. It will be most interesting to see if Curry can really get the Pistons back to playing ’04 defense. As for Ben Wallace, the Pistons were wise not to give him the huge contract he was asking for. They had offered something like $48 million over 4 years and he said no. And Detroit did try to replace Wallace, but can you really replace someone like that? There is no one else; he was perfect for Detroit’s system. But the stats have shown that Detroit is now just as good defensively as it was with Ben Wallace. Although stats don’t tell the whole story, as opposing players feared going into the lane because of Big Ben, and other such intangible things.

That it true. So if Riley, after just a season or so as an assistant coach he can lead a team to the title in his first season, then certainly Curry can, who is looking pretty seasoned for a new head coach. I just don’t think it’s likely since it’s apparently rare if Riley was the only one to do it so far.

 
At Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:42:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

I think that the money is a big part of the reason why coaches go to NY. Just look at how much Dolan has paid and/or will pay Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas. Plus, all of these guys have big egos and think that they will be the ones who can be successful there even if their predecessors were not. Brown is a great coach and Isiah is not as bad of a coach as people think but good luck convincing people about either of those things after they spent time with the Knicks. More power to D'Antoni if he can get out of there with his reputation intact.

 
At Wednesday, October 29, 2008 7:38:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Yes, especially Brown with that huge buyout. All you have to do is look at the Knicks' payroll the last few seasons. They've either been #1 or #2, with a payroll sometimes exceeding $100 million, and yet they can't win more than 25 games. It's gotten quite bad. Hopefully Donnie Walsh and D'Antoni can change their fortunes around, but I just don't see how at this time unless they find a taker for Zach Randolph and/or Eddy Curry. Maybe in 2010, but definitely not this season. I bet D'Antoni wished he would have waited just a couple more weeks before he chose his coaching destination. Chicago not only won the draft lottery, and with it a point guard who was born to play in D'Antoni's system, but it also has a more promising roster. I hope the extra $6 million D'Antoni received for coaching New York is well worth it.

But I agree, if D'Antoni can somehow escape from New York with even a little bit of his reputation intact, then good for him. I like D'Antoni and his Suns teams from the past few years. It's really a shame that they couldn't ever win a championship. And most of it wasn't even because of what happened on the court, but what happened in the front office.

 
At Friday, October 31, 2008 9:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

D'Antoni has the right idea by benching Marbury. I have long advocated waiving Marbury outright.

 
At Friday, October 31, 2008 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Yeah I agree. I was somewhat funny with their first game the other night, with Marbury and Eddy Curry on the bench. I mean, that's $30 million dollars sitting on your bench. Wow.

But I though the Knicks were going to try to improve Marbury's trade value, but obviously they can't do that if he's benched for the entire time.

 
At Friday, October 31, 2008 2:37:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Marbury has no trade value. He is toxic. I think that the only person who would trade for Marbury and that bloated contract right now is Isiah Thomas and he is not running a team at the moment. I never understood Thomas' fascination with Marbury; say what you will about Thomas, but he made a lot of good personnel decisions during his career, including drafting Damon Stoudamire, T-Mac, Camby, David Lee and Renaldo Balkman (a versatile defender who no one else seemed to know about). However, trading for Marbury was Isiah's worst move in NY, by far.

 
At Sunday, November 02, 2008 2:26:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Marbury does have no trade value, because he’s not playing. We all know about Marbury and such, but this is a guy with a 20 point per game and 8 assists per game average. And I’m sure there will be some desperate teams out there who will be in need of a point guard (Miami). His expiring contract only makes him that more appealing.

I agree that Thomas made for a good GM essentially. As a coach he was pretty good. As for the Marbury trade, I don’t know, I mean Marbury was putting up some pretty good stats in Phoenix and New Jersey, so it’s somewhat understandable.

I think that Thomas’ worst move in New York was trading for Eddy Curry and having two give up two first round draft picks for him. Draft picks that turned out to be very high in talent rich drafts.

 
At Sunday, November 02, 2008 10:20:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Marbury's stats may be the most misleading and deceptive in NBA history. He has the second most 20-8 seasons in NBA history, trailing only Oscar Robertson--and yet every team that Marbury joined became markedly worse and every team he left became markedly better. He is a talented individual but in a team setting he has proven that he is a loser. The Knicks should just waive him and eat his contract instead of hoping and praying that someone will be foolish enough to trade for him.

In his second year with the Knicks, Curry received some serious All-Star consideration at center. He is clearly subpar as a rebounder and defender and his hands are dodgy at times but when he catches the ball and moves under control he can be a very effective post up scorer. I disagree with Isiah's idea of pairing Curry and Randolph together but can somewhat understand why he traded for Curry. That said, if the Knicks had kept those picks they could potentially have drafted LaMarcus Aldridge but Isiah was operating on the premise that in New York you have to win now and there is no time to rebuild. Anyway, acquiring Marbury was a much worse decision than trading for Curry.

 
At Thursday, November 06, 2008 12:58:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I feel the same way about Jason Kidd somewhat, although not to the same extent. The Knicks will probably end up doing that in the end, but if there’s the slightest chance they can get some value in return for Marbury, then well, that’s something that’s better than nothing. It’s not like the Knicks are going to be winning a lot this year anyways.

Yeah but my point is that those drafts picks have come back to haunt NY, as they were #2 and #9 respectively in deep drafts. I know Isiah didn't think they'd be that bad, but still. Curry was good, but he wasn’t worth what NY traded for him. Let’s just agree that they were both bad moves. haha

And so now it appears NY is just going to let Marbury ride the pine for the whole season. Very interesting.

 
At Thursday, November 06, 2008 5:36:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Kidd is the exact opposite of Marbury: Kidd is much more valuable than his boxscore numbers suggest and every team that he joins gets better while every team he leaves gets worse. As the cliche goes, I'd take Kidd over Marbury seven days a week and twice on Sunday (I don't know exactly what that expression means or where it came from but it sounds good).

The Knicks should waive Marbury. I've said that all along and I'll continue to say it. Waive him, eat the contract and send a message that they don't want losers on the team. Like Mike Singletary said in his recent sound bite, "Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can't do it. I want winners. I want people that want to win."

With as much money as the Knicks have wasted in recent years I can't understand why they are so worried about Marbury's contract now. No one is going to trade for him, so the Knicks are just putting off the inevitable and creating a huge distraction. Waive him. Now. Period.

I'm not saying that the Curry deal was great or that I would have done it if I had been in charge. All I'm saying is that at least the Knicks received a player who can score on the block. That skill is not particularly useful to the Knicks now with D'Antoni running the show but bringing in Curry was not the total disaster that signing Marbury was.

As several outlets have mentioned recently, last year the other Knick players went to Isiah and asked him to suspend Marbury. What does that tell you when Marbury's own teammates don't want him around? In case I was not clear before, I think that the Knicks should waive Marbury now. Period.

 
At Sunday, November 09, 2008 1:17:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I’m in no way saying Marbury is anywhere as good as Kidd. I’m just saying that Kidd is extremely overpaid for a player that can’t shoot well (yes, I know he’s an okay three point shooter when his feet are set). I think people tend to focus too much on his rebound numbers, which are phenomenal for a 6’4” PG. I think he’s a guy who was severely overpaid because of playoff performances, a la Mike Bibby. And Kidd’s Mavs did not go that well once he arrived, although one could argue that there was more to the story than just the 16-13 record.

Yes, it does seem surprising that NY wouldn’t waive him. It obviously isn’t a money issue, since this is the Knicks we’re talking about. I believe that the Knicks are worried that if they waive him then Marbury will excel for another team.

All right that I can agree with. It’s ironic though that the best player to play in D'Antoni’s system is parked at the end of the bench--Marbury.

Yes I recall that story. It seems that quite literally nobody wants Marbury around.

 
At Sunday, November 09, 2008 6:36:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

Kidd is in the last year of a long term contract that he received based on being an MVP level, All-NBA and All-Defensive Team player who led the Nets to back to back Finals appearances. Obviously, Kidd is not the player he was when he received the contract but there simply is no valid comparison whatsoever between him and Marbury.

It seems like a big part of the problem in Dallas last season--rightly or wrongly--was that the players had tuned out Coach Avery Johnson, leading to him being fired after the season.

Somebody may take a flier on Marbury if he can be signed cheaply (i.e., after being waived or bought out) but I cannot imagine that anyone would deal for Marbury and have to pay his current salary.

Marbury had the talent to be an upper echelon player but never developed the right mindset.

 
At Tuesday, November 11, 2008 11:19:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Perhaps, but I wouldn’t pay $20 million for either of them. The salary system in which declining players like Kidd can earn that much, it’s not right. And there is one comparison at least: They were traded for each other, not that it’s important but it’s interesting at the least.

Yes that seems to be a common theme around the NBA these days.
It also apparently happened in Detroit and Chicago. We’ll see if that was the real problem, but the Mavs don’t look too good early on.

Right, and that’s what New York is afraid of apparently. They don’t want him being productive anywhere else. It’s really a bad situation. It’s taking the attention off the Knicks’ season which isn’t that bad so far.

 
At Wednesday, November 12, 2008 5:41:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

The structure of the contracts is dictated by the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and is a result of compromises that the owners and players made regarding how the league's revenues will be distributed. This results in some players seemingly being overpaid or underpaid at any given time. The bottom line with Kidd and Marbury is that Kidd is a productive player statistically as well as someone who has a positive influence on team chemistry, while every team that Marbury joins becomes worse and every team that he leaves becomes better. Just look at the Knicks this year--they have essentially gotten rid of Marbury and are playing better than they have in years.

I don't think that the Marbury situation is that big of a distraction. The Knicks are playing well. The only people who are "distracted" are some members of the media and some people who care more about Marbury than they do about the success of the team.

 
At Monday, November 17, 2008 7:27:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I understand how the system works, I’m just saying that I don’t like it. And this is the result of it. This is true, although I believe Kidd is past his usefulness at this point, while Marbury could be somewhat productive still (if he's in the right mindset). Dallas will regret (if they haven’t already) the day they traded Devon Harris, who’s lighting up teams, for Kidd.

Maybe. But it seems that everyday on ESPN.com that there’s a headline such as “Marbury benched” or “No buy out coming for Marbury” or “Marbury to practice with high school team.” Obviously these are paraphrases, but the message is the same. We’ll probably be seeing some headline like “Marbury bought out” and “Marbury signed by Dallas” very soon. And the Knicks are playing pretty well, although they haven’t beaten any good teams really, but some part of that is due to Zach Randolph. He seems to be doing quite well without Eddy Curry on the floor.

 
At Monday, November 17, 2008 10:52:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

I'd take Jason Kidd straight up over Marbury today, without question. Kidd is not the MVP level player that he was during his prime with the Nets but he is still one of the better pgs in the NBA. Marbury is a talented headcase whose teams always underperform when he plays.

That said, the Mavs may have made a mistake by trading a young, upcoming Devin Harris for an older Kidd, even if Harris is not a "true" pg. The Mavs thought that they needed a true pg to get over the top but their window of opportunity to win a title closed without them realizing it.

Just because Marbury's name is in the headlines does not mean the other players on the team are distracted--and, as proof of that, simply look at the team's record. As I have been saying for years, the first step in rebuilding the Knicks is getting rid of Marbury; although the Knicks have not literally gotten rid of him yet in terms of a buyout or trade, D'Antoni has in effect banished him from the team and the Knicks are much better off.

 
At Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:14:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Yes, but based on what? If you’re talking about character and being a team player etc., then yes, Kidd. But Kidd’s decline is concerning at this point. He’s 35 years old and has played more than 7,000 more minutes than Marbury (not including playoffs). In a perfect world I’d take Marbury. I guess what I’m saying is in a game of 1 on 1, I’m taking Marbury over Kidd. As you said, he has a lot of untapped talent, more than Kidd I believe. However this isn’t a perfect world.

I agree. Harris is only 25 and still has his best years ahead of him (in theory). Kidd is good, but not enough to justify the trade.

I didn’t mean that the Knick players were distracted, I’m just saying that it seems that the Marbury situation is getting more media attention than the Knicks’ mini success so far. But it seems that the Knicks might in fact buy him out so that will be an interesting story to follow.

I just realized that our current discussion has nothing do to with your original post of the Cavs season preview. The Cavs sure do look good right now though.

 
At Wednesday, November 19, 2008 5:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Steve:

I'd take Marbury over Kidd in a one on one game now but I would take Kidd to be my starting pg in a five on five game.

The only thing that matters to the Knicks and that should matter to their fans is wins/losses and the Marbury saga has not had any apparent effect in that area--except for the pretty obvious fact that they are indeed a much better team without him, as I have been saying for years. Isiah would still have his job if he had never signed Marbury or if he had gotten rid of him.

The Cavs are playing pretty much the way I expected/predicted that they would. They are definitely one of the elite teams and have a very good chance to make it to the Finals.

 
At Thursday, November 20, 2008 8:12:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

In today’s NBA yeah I would too, but not if Marbury decides to play like we know he can (not realistic, but still).

Yeah all they should care about is winning. If they keep it up D’Antoni will win coach of the year.

Yes they do look pretty good. I have some concerns (as previously noted) with the aging, injury prone front court and the undersized starting backcourt. But any team with LBJ will have a chance regardless of the quality of the supporting cast (see 2007 NBA Finals).

 

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