Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Dear Danny Ferry, 

Before I start, John Paxson wanted me to send this along:


Sorry I hurt your field, mister.  

(2:17 in.) 

Over and Audi, 


I've no idea. It was definitely John Paxson who sent that to me, and not Jim Paxson. Jim has all these lame Jack Johnson lyrics quoted at the bottom of his emails. Sad, really. 

Anyway, from someone who's watched entirely too much of the Chicago Bulls this season, and probably not enough of the Seattle SuperSonics (that Kevin Calabro is smooth), it's probably best that I tell you what you're getting into.

Actually, before that, it's probably best that I use this forum to defend you a bit. We know you tried to sign Ray Allen and Michael Redd back in 2005, and that they spurned you for more money with their crummier teams. Larry Hughes, at the time, was a fab pick-up. About to enter his prime, coming off an All-Star season, and you paid him what was his market value back then. Same with grabbing Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones

Signing those guys was the right move at the time, and anyone who says that they thought any differently back then are lying. Calling Hughes "injury-prone" isn't wrong, but it doesn't tell the whole story: he picks up freak injuries. It's not as if he has some recurring knee or ankle issues, like a Kenyon Martin or (yikes) Wally Szczerbiak. He's just unlucky: drives into the lane, and someone chops down on his finger. Could happen to anybody. Always happens to him.

That said, these recent moves ... you need a bit of warning. 

The guy who is playing the best ball out of anyone in this entire deal is Joe Smith, shockingly. His PER of 17.3 is the highest of anyone included in the trade, and it's his highest PER since ... well, ever. Right now it's nosing out the 17.2 he put up in his rookie year.

His rookie year, that occurred 12 years ago. 12 years ago. I've nothing but nice things to say about this guy, his touch is great, he works hard, always ebullient; but the stank of "fluke" is there. He could fall back to earth next week, or it might sustain the rest of the year. It won't sustain next year. PREPARE!

Ben Wallace was awesome for the Magic and Pistons for the first half of this decade. 

Ben Wallace was hideous for the Chicago Bulls this year. It makes sense. He's 33. He's an undersized center who has been playing deep into the playoffs since 2002, and there's not a lot of tread left on the tired. I mean, "tires."  

It's not his fault, he works hard, but he's getting consistently lit-up defensively this year (Eddy Curry, Brad Miller, and Sam Dalembert have had great, maybe season-best, games against Wallace), and his rebounding rate of 15.2 is actually worse than Drew Gooden's rebounding-rate of 15.4. 

And -- you know what? -- let's scratch some of the "aww" off that "it's not his fault" line. A lot of it is his fault. Ben still thinks he can guard all comers, so he chases guards off the pick and roll, and can't get back to his guy in time.

Or he'll try to cover and harass big men who don't deserve the attention, some 20 feet from the hoop, and watch as the big guys drive by him, or something else happens in the lane that he should be there to prevent. You can say, "oh, he'll be allowed to roam with Big Z down there;" but he'll roam too much. And he gets beat in the post, now.  

He also wants to shoot. More than you'd like. He's also shooting 37 percent from the floor. On mostly two-footers. And you could probably beat him at thumb-wrestling at this point.

Wally Szczerbiak's a great fit, because LBJ needs a shooter beside him. I wouldn't want to pay him 13.3 million bucks next year, but then again I didn't want to spend that sort of money on the new love seat, but my girlfriend was all, "if I'm going to have Chris Kaman in my living room every other night, I'm at least going to get a better couch to sit on." Yeah, she knows who Chris Kaman is. No, she doesn't want to know who he is, but that's how it flows livin' with the KD. 

I don't like the idea of Wally World chasing shooting guards around, but you might just have Mike Brown crossmatch him with James' guy at small forward.  

So, you're on the books for over 80 million next year, and that's a pretty penny. Kudos for the move-os, but don't get too excited, yet. Oh, forgot: teams don't really guard Ben Wallace at this point, they just sort of leave him alone and let him miss two-footers if the ball finds its way into his hands.

Hopefully your coach is smarter than the two mugs in Chicago who kept sending Ben out to the three-point line to set screens for the shooters, then acted surprised when Ben Gordon kept getting double-teamed behind the three-point line. Mike Brown doesn't look like a man who can be surprised. 

(Actually, he can, but I thought it would be cool to throw that line in there. Make you feel a little better about the extension you threw his way. Don't throw anything Ben Wallace's way, by the way, he'll find a way to put it over his head and drop it. About 63 percent of the time, in fact.) 

Have fun!  

Cleveland rocks

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