February 22, 2008
Dear Danny Ferry,
Before I start, John Paxson wanted me to send this along:
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.)