January 27, 2011
Last season, Troy Murphy(notes) averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds for the Indiana Pacers, spread out over 32.6 minutes per game in 72 contests. He pulled in over 17 percent of the rebounds that were available for him to grab while on the court, a very good mark, and shot 38 percent from long range. His Player Efficiency Rating of 18 was a career high, as he worked through the entire season at age 29, usually the peak age for NBA players.
And while NBA types usually sustain that production at age 30, or slightly drop off, nobody could have predicted Troy Murphy's sudden fall from grace. Traded to the New Jersey Nets over the offseason, the double-double machine is off the team's active roster.
Why? Because of Avery Johnson. That's why.
Troy Murphy is staying home.
The on-going confusion regarding Murphy's status resurfaced when Nets general manager Billy King spoke about the possibility of Murphy rejoining the team. In the morning, coach Avery Johnson was unaware of any impending move and said he would address the matter with King. Last night, he claimed it's not happening.
"Billy said we're just going to stay along the same path,'' Johnson said of Murphy, who has been told to stay home in case the Nets try to trade him -- or hang on to him in case Denver calls back about Carmelo Anthony(notes). "He will not be joining our team."
Yeah, no sense in trying to make that work, Avery.
Murphy has played in just 18 games this year, and while he's shot terribly and turned the ball over too much, he's been completely out of sorts and this sort of fall off is to be expected from someone who has been tossed in and out of games (and team planes, apparently) like an afterthought. All because Avery Johnson ... well, what is Avery Johnson doing?
Because while New Jersey's roster isn't the best around, and the team has been dealing with trade rumors all season, the Nets are still on pace for just 25 wins. And the team isn't exactly in a good enough place to be deciding to shuttle double-double players away from consistent action, but that's what Avery has done to ... again, I don't know. Because Murphy doesn't play any defense?
Murphy isn't a good defender. But sending Troy home to protect that stellar 17th-ranked defense, is that worth it?
Because it would seem to me that a good coach gets his players to do exactly what they've done, for their entire career, and no more. But a great coach either works players out of their comfort zone and onto greater things, or manages to mix and match the positive contributions and mitigating factors inherent in every roster on a team's way toward being greater than the sum of its parts.
That is to say -- you're 28th in offensive efficiency, Avery. You can't find a place for Troy Murphy to drop some shots and create some spacing for Devin Harris'(notes) drives and Brook Lopez's(notes) oft double-teamed forays around the hoop?
But this is how it works in Avery's world. If it ain't perfect, send it home.