Thursday, July 24, 2008

Offseason Offtable: 7.24.08

News, notes, and other conundrums from the painful torture of the offseason...


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Panic! At The Euroleague

I'm very much of two minds on the European/Russian defections. When it was Jennings, I thought, "this just shows how unfortunate it is that we don't put more emphasis on a legitimate minor league development system in the D-League. Now we've got Rome doing our dirty work."

Then when it was Childress, I thought much along the same lines as Basketbawful, that this is no big deal, that it's not the first or last time an NBA player has made the jump, and for a guy like Childress it makes worlds of sense. Childress is the type of guy who would want to see the world, to experience new cultures, and was inevitably going to get screwed by his restricted free-agent status. Bully for him, on with our lives.

But now with Delonte West, Sasha Vujacic, and Carl Landry talking about it? Now I'm a bit concerned. Mabye McHale's right, and none of these guys will take off. But each of them have different reasons for it which make a lot of sense. Vujacic is European, it's not like the culture shock is a big deterrent. He was a crucial part of the Western Conference Finalist and he feels he should be paid accordingly, not too much, but enough to validate his efforts. The Lakers, in all their monster star glory, can't really afford to be doling that out to role player guys. They have to dole that money out to Euro Forward/Centers who can't play down low but are somehow better than David West, apparently. So it would make sense for Sasha to back where people appreciate him. West? West's a competent point guard with a habit of making some great plays, especially as he did in the playoffs. What, he's not Chris Paul so he doesn't deserve decent money? That's the scale? If you're Chris Paul or Deron Williams, you get paid, if you're competent but not amazing, you're screwed? West has to look at this as a "You don't want to pay the value for me, I'll go somewhere someone does." Landry is just a kid who's overestimating his own market value. That's his right. If some team is dumb enough to pay him that, good for him.

The issue I have is that these three, along with Childress and Juan Carlos Navarro (*slowly wipes tear from eye) are some of my favorite players to watch. I'm not interested in seeing one superstar surrounded by a bunch of scrubs and rehash players. I don't want to see Jason Collins in a high rotation.

I don't believe there will be a mass exodus, though. There seems to be this perception that people that are concerned about this trend thinks there's going to be a flood of players bolting for Europe. As Pure Point points out, most of the teams don't have the money to sign them. And as Al Horford forced out of the superstars yesterday, none of them are really going anywhere. Still, the fact that they originally said "For that money, yeah I'd go!" is a little alarming. (By the way, how much of a badass is Al Horford? Goes up to the best basketball players in the world and says "Would you go to to Europe?" They say "Yeah! Ha ha!" He says "Haha, that's funny, hahaNO SERIOUSLY." I love this kid. Somebody let us take over the Hawks, please?!)

The reason I don't believe there will be a mass exodus is pretty simple. Take you and two of your buddies. Now say someone says that they'll pay you twice what you're getting paid now, plus give you a house, a car, and various other perks, to work overseas. What will you say? I have a friend named Jason. And Jason absolutely loves to travel, does it constantly. If he were given this opportunity? He'd be buying new luggage before they finished their sentence. I have another friend named Jesse. Jesse's got a wife, a house, two dogs, the works. They could throw GOBS of money at him, and he wouldn't go for it. He's not uprooting his entire family so that he can make a few extra bucks. Now me? I love travel. Love it. But I'm not headed overseas. My family's here. My league is here. Hell, I'm not comfortable being this far away from Boulevard Wheat. I'd travel there for business, hell yeah. But I've got a life here, and I don't have the need to uproot that for money. It depends on where you're at. And a lot of NBA players are in the same position. Following the D-League, I run into a lot of guys that have, or are considering, playing in Europe. And I ask them how the D-League can even moderately compete. You're talking about a pay differential of up to $470,000 or more in some cases. So what's the thing that keeps them here? A. They want to play in the NBA, because it's the best league in the world, and B. because they don't want to upset their families and they can't imagine living in a foreign country. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with living abroad, in fact, I think it can be a very rewarding experience for many people. But some people have other priorities. On the other hand, a lot of younger players who are just starting out and who teams aren't willing to invest time and resources in to develop (*cough* D-League) could find Europe a very attractive place. Hey, if you were 20, wouldn't $20 million, brothels and legalized marijuana sound pretty awesome?



This whole phenomenon is not going to stop, though, despite many a blogger's "God, just chill out people, God!"/Napoleon Dynamite attitudes. Globalization is an event, not a theory, it's an historical turning point, not a conceptual attitude. It's happening in every aspect of our lives, and now it's begun to effect the NBA. You can tell that Stern has been trying to manage it on the League's terms with his efforts in China, with increased cooperation in FIBA, and the talk of a European team or teams. Unfortunately, especially with the way the American economy is right now, we don't get to dictate terms. The NBA may still be by far the greatest league in the land, but it no longer has governance over foreign interests. It doesn't outline the rules. It's an evolving state, and the best thing Stern can do is to try and limit the damage, develop a healthy minor league, and increase interaction with the foreign entities.

That all said, the thought of a league without Childress, Navarro, West, Landry, and Vujacic just makes me sad.

I've got one question in the middle of all this, though.

What the hell do Ben Gordon and Luol Deng, both with strong British ties, think of all this, given their current situations?

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Devin Hester and Making Money
In news that will certainly shock all of you, I do follow sports beyond the NBA. I'm a third generation Chiefs fan, so I still have tendencies to follow the NFL. Of course, that leads to tendencies of another sort. (See: suicidal. Adjective.) I do think about everything in terms of the Association, though, and something caught my eye that made me realize how differently I consider contract these days.

Devin Hester was in a holdout with the Bears after saying he wasn't going to be playing for $445,000 this year. Now, this morning he relented and got his happy ass to camp. But when I read the story yesterday, I had a different reaction than I may have previously had.

Whenever I learn of a contract dispute, there's an intial, involuntary, gut reaction that goes something along the lines of "You're unhappy that you only get paid multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars to play a game. Burn in Hell, you spoiled, spoiled man." Immediately afterwards, I understand that in today's society, what he's capable of doing physically has market value just like my abilities to do the things I do (not blogging, that has NO market value, apparently, unless you're a Canadian who just got his first iPhone or and Indianian(?) that loves PER and listens to a lot of obscure 70s and 80s music). And it's totally reasonable for him to want to get paid accordingly. What's interesting is that typically in football, I react with, "Well, yeah, you deserve a little bit more, that's crazy, even if you're a specialty player without a clearly defined position." But after so heavily following the NBA for a while, I said "Dear God in Heaven, how can they pay him that little? If this were translated to the NBA it would be like Monta Ellis making $35/hour! Pay him! Pay him now!"



It just struck me as to the difference between the NFL and the NBA, and as to the strength of the Player's Association. There's not just a small amount of distance between the relative dollar value of an NFL player and an NBA player, it's astronomical. Think about if a clear difference maker on your team, a guy that really was the difference between you winning and losing a third of your games, if that guy was getting paid $400k.

Wait, I've got it! Devin! Go to Europe!
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And I'm Free! Free Agency Falling!



Matt Barnes is so confusing. He was so terrific in 2006-2007, and when he was, it was confusing, because he shouldn't have been that goood. Then he was just gone in 2007-2008, and it was confusing, becuase he shouldn't have been that bad or buried that way. Now he's a Sun, and it's confusing because I can't see how much time he's going to get or at what position. That guy's jersey number should be a question mark.

Corn had an interesting point about Monta Ellis at 6 years, $67 million. Not only have the Warriors locked up the guy they had to lock up, albeit for a bit more money than I thought they would, but they also have done damage to other franchises with RFAs. Because if Ellis, at his age, with his production, got that much, how much does Ben Gordon demand? Luol Deng? Emeka Okafor? The Warriors just price gouged the RFA market.

 
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