Tuesday, January 22, 2008

20 Players To Be Freed From Captivity

Let My... Cameron... Go...

Now, Hardwood Paroxysm comes to you, oh mighty vaunted GM's in the sky, playing God with our beloved guards, forwards, and centers. We ask that you free our players, so that they may reach their full potential. Do not keep them on the bench, cheering with towels on their heads. Nay, do not relegate them to single minutes, cursing them with the fear of the dreaded trillion! Do not lay waste to such untapped potential because of your fascination with X veteran player, making $7 Million more than they're worth, and slurping your offensive and defensive efficiency ratings into the toilet (yes, we're talking to you, Paxson)! Free them! Let them prosper in other, slightly less cap-strained pastures! Let them frolic on championship contender squads! Let them go where they can be seen, can be needed, can be loved! Free my players! Or suffer the plague of incessant blogger nagging! Be warned!

But don't fret, GM's, we have gone ahead, and in our infinite mercy and generosity, made a whole list of players we want to see freed from their contractual bonds. Not all of them are held on the bench, some would just be happier elsewhere. But all need to be freed.

Hardwood Paroxysm presents...

The Top 20 Players That We Want Delivered Elsewhere

20. Alando Tucker-F-Phoenix Suns:
What do you do if your team is led by veterans in desperate need of in-game breathers, with no significant help available on the bench? I know! Play seven deep! Here are some things you may not know about Alando Tucker. He's the all-time scoring leader at the University of Wisconsin. He's a former Big-10 Player of the Year. He's only played 23 minutes this season, but he's scored 12 points in that span. That puts him on pace for 20.9 per 40. But let's ignore that. The Suns have no size. They need bodies. Especially bodies to foul. Yet, Alando keeps annihilating people in the D-League. This guy could be a legitimate contributor on a team that doesn't hate rookies.

19. Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko:
AK's got it all. Size. Speed. Touch. Youth. Photogenic face. And a coach that thinks he's an absolute waste of human space. He's been better than last year, but not back to 05 form. He needs to go somewhere that will embrace his unique nature. Somewhere he can be a part of a dynamic system and where he's not just another big white guy. He could be terrific somewhere else, but Sloan has neither the minutes nor the patience for the Big Gun. Sell him at the gunshow! Two of him and a stack of rock candy for a nickel!

18. Danny Granger: Granger got bumped to starter essentially because of the Warrior trade. He's averaging 19.7 per 40, right between Nash and Turkoglu among players over 1000 minutes so far. He's got a great combination of skills, he's shooting 45% from the field and pulling almost 7 boards per 40 minutes. Look. The Pacers need to rebuild. You need to scrap the thing and start over. You didn't even want him, you were stuck with him and he worked out. Let him go somewhere he can be a key scorer. Free him, Basketball Jesus!

17. Josh Smith: Oh, no, we know. The Hawks are way better. We totally agree. And Josh Smith is the alpha dog. We agree with that, too. The problem is that Joe Johnson is also the alpha dog. And you can't have two number ones. That'd be 11. Meanwhile, if they traded Smith, the Hawks could pick up a veteran or two and solve the problem that Josh Smith wants to get the hell out of Atlanta. This one carries a huge caveat:

  • IF they can't get Smith to chill the f*ck out.
16. Yi Jianlian: Hey, we cheer for small markets. We like the Bucks. Good beer. Good brats. Nice HOF quarteback. Great bloggers. But not a whole lot of Chinese people. We just think it would be infinitely more amusing if Yi were to end up somewhere like Golden State. Or Houston. Or New York. And really, that's all we're in this for. Amusement.

15. Andre Miller: We know it's going to happen. You can't put a premium on veteran point guards, especially ones that can still produce. So quit toying with us. Send him on, scrap the season, rebuild around the young guns, and let's go to town. Don't tease, Ed. Don't tease.

14. Carlos Arroyo: Speaking of point guards, Arroyo's in quite a pickle down in Orlando. He's playing too well to bench, but not well enough to put in front of Nelson's big fat contract. This is in a league where Jason Williams starts for a team. This must be remedied. The Magic will be happier. They can put Nelson and the contract in the slot and let him run the show. That'll settle the rotation down.

13. Jermaine O'Neal: For the love of God, move him. It's no longer entertaining. And his value is going faster than a Delorian. He's a big man, he can move, he has nice touch. Get him out of the Pacers. You're about five years overdue for a rebuilding, and the guy wants to play for a champion. We'd love to see what O'Neal does on a team where he's motivated and feels that he has a legitimate shot at winning. Also, we'd like him to get away from Jamal Tinsley before he gets shot.

12. John Salmons: We're spotting him here in the interim. Salmons can go as high as top-5, or can drop off this list entirely, depending on the Kings' roster moves. It's simple. They can keep Bibby and Salmons goes to top 5. They can trade Bibby for interior help and he'll drop out off this list entirely. Keep the Moss-Covered, Three-Handled Family Gredunza, and we're shooting him to the top of this list. Veteran guards with scoring abilities don't exactly fall off trees, you know. Okay, they kind of do, but we still love his game. Don't give him a huge contract, though, you don't want to get schooled.

11. Damon Stoudamire: End it. Just end it. It's like watching your uncle you don't care about get divorced and having to read about it on the ESPN ticker every day. End it.

10. Nick Collison: We know. WTF, right? Thing is, Power Forwards in this league are at a premium. You don't find many that can score, rebound, and play pretty good defense. We don't necessarily think he's good enough to start, and Seattle is going to want to rebuild. Move Collison so he can use those young legs to help a contender. Those big men are at a premium right now, and Collison has a nice set of skills. Let the rebuilding begin, for real.

9. Pau Gasol: Gasol's not a number 1 option. Rudy Gay is. And by keeping Gasol in Memphis, you're limiting both Gay's potential, and your cap space. He's valuable enough to get the kind of assets you need to run the system Iavaroni wants. You have a ton of talent, but Gasol is the hold-out from the older regime. Move him and let him go somewhere he's needed. There have been enough offers. Pull the friggin' trigger.

8. Shawn Marion: Big contract. Wants more money. We've been over this before. Let's just get the thing going. Again, it's not that we feel Marion's a bad player, or a bad fit with the Suns. We just don't necessarily agree that this team has the pieces to win a championship. Last year's? Definitely. But it turns out Kurt Thomas is a much bigger piece than any of us thought. We hope we're wrong and the Suns win the championship this year in the name of all that is entertaining. But we still feel that he best thing for Marion is to go somewhere he can either be the man, or find out he's not. And the Suns need to start building a more complete set of components before Nash ends up as the Canadian, non-jackass version of Jason Kidd.

7. Tyrus Thomas: You knew the Bulls would be on parade, here, didn't you? Corn is less than impressed with the youngster out of LSU. I, on the other hand, think he's got a tremendous set of talents that haven't been allowed to develop, because, well, the coaches' must hate him. Really, that's the only answer I have. He's brash, and undeveloped, but how's he going to get that way if he never sees the floor? It's obvious the Bulls' regime thinks that the future of success lies with Ben Wallace (tee-hee) and Joe Smith. So go ahead and go that route. Go only with guys over 28. But let the kids go. And Thomas is a great trade piece. If he's as bad as you think he is, let him suck up roster space somewhere else. But the kid deserves to at least get floor time.

6. Ronaldo Balkman: Can you imagine being Ronaldo Balkman? Realizing your lifelong dream, being drafted in the NBA. Playing basketball professionally. Except, only kind of. Because you were drafted by the Knicks. You show up and here's what you come into. Geez. Talk about being careful what you wish for. He, along with every decent player on the Knicks, deserves better. He's got a longer contract (through 2011), a great set of skills, and averages 12 minutes a game. Use him to start a real rebuilding project.

5. Joakim Noah: We're still stunned at how the kid's getting treated. So a coaching staff that's already been beheaded this season, that is playing Ben Wallace and Joe Smith in huge minutes, that's overseeing one of the most disappointing seasons in Bulls history, that coaching staff is really without fault? And really, Noah's a "punk" because he got pissed that Wallace was laughing off another loss? Isn't that what leadership is all about? Setting an example? Really? This after Wallace stabs a fellow teammate in the back? The point is, things are messed up in Chicago. Seriously messed up. And Noah is actually producing when he gets time, he's got heart, passion, and annoying as he is, he's actually trying. How many guys in the league, especially young guys, do that? This kid needs to be applauded, not degraded. Send him to a team that wants guys that actually care.

4. Kirk Hinrich: Yeah. He's having a bad season. We don't deny that. It's pretty clear that he's just having one of those season where nothing goes right. If you watch the games, he keeps having threes rattle halfway down, and rattle back out. He gets turnovers because Ben Gordon has absolutely no abilities outside of one-on-one this season, and Hinrich is obviously banged up. We personally don't believe that he's done, or that he's not that good. He's a tremendous true point, that can actually run the offense, and play defense. In a league where point guard may be the most valuable position on the floor, having a competent one that you don't have to pay $10 Mill a year is a blessing. And in Chicago, he's the bearing the brunt of the team's failures. We guarantee you that if he were to go to Houston, the Clippers, or any number of talented frontcourts, they're immediately going to improve.

3. Elton Brand: We're hoping for a Clippers resurrection as much as anyone next year. We think there's a fantastic blueprint there. We like Shaun Livingston. We're digging the Caveman. After Cassell's gone, they can improve the bench. But Brand is too good. We want to see him in a situation where he's not potentially cursed. The guy has too much heart, too much talent, and is too good of a guy. We're not fans of the whole "Good guys are cursed for the majority of their careers" thing. That's not cool. We really admire Elton for sticking with the Clips. But at some point, maybe the Clippers need to just start completely over, and maybe Elton needs to go somewhere people will actually know who the hell he is.

2. David Lee: Great effort. Young guy. Great skill set. Genuine effort. Movable contract. The biggest crime about the Knicks are the guys that aren't self-absorbed, over-paid, bloated wastes of space. David Lee is such a guy. You can put this guy on any small-market team and he's a friggin' hero. You can put him on any championship contender and he's the kind of guy that other teams loathe because of his small contributions that just kill teams. He's fun to watch and he's got a ton of talent. Move the guy. Free Lee!

1. Dwayne Wade: Shocker, huh? Congratulations, Riley. You got your championship. You got rid of one of the best young three-player combos in the league at the time (Odom, Butler, Wade), and in return you got your one in a million shot and you made it. But now, you're trapped. You're losing $20 mil in cap space next year, which is good. But you don't have any pieces. You have Udonis Haslem, who's only 27, but that's $14 million. Getting a taker for Shaq is going to be rough, and you won't be getting much of value back. Wade is in the prime of his career. Add on top of the ineptitude your team is miring in, the fact that because you refuse to look out for the kid's well-being, he keeps playing when he needs to be rehabbing surgical injuries. He's a warrior. But he's got to be somewhere he can take care of himself without feeling like he's abandoning his team's hopes. Wade is one of the best players in the league, and he gives it 100% every time he steps on the court. He got you a championship, he's done right by you. Do right by him. Trade Dwayne Wade.

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