July 20, 2010
If there's ever been a consistent theme to NBA offseasons, whether they're somewhat temperate as things were last summer, or wildly over the top as we saw both this summer and in 2004, it's that money often causes a lose-lose situation. Sometimes for the players and sometimes for the teams that are fighting for the players.
And though the Utah Jazz have had a pretty sound summer overall despite losing Carlos Boozer(notes), Wesley Matthews(notes) and Kyle Korver(notes), the team's replacement of Mathews with the veteran Raja Bell(notes) is a bit of a lose-lose.
Not because Bell isn't as good as Matthews. If Raja is healthy, even despite his age, he might be a better player than Wesley this season.
But, really, it should be Matthews that signs a three-year, $10 million deal with Utah, not Bell. Because Matthews is worth that much. And despite his age and potential, Matthews is not worth the five-year, $32.5 million dollar contract he signed with Portland. Wesley tries hard, and the deal will pay him up to his prime, but this front-loaded contract just seems an extreme overreaction by a team without a signed-upon personnel boss that was desperate to make a move. Matthews can play in this league, but he's not worth that kind of dough.
Bell? Even at 33, he might be. That's not the point. What would have worked best is for both of those players to return to Salt Lake City at about the rate that Bell is making. And Jazz fans are right to worry about how well Bell will return to action next season.
Because Raja, for all his smarts and talent, missed 76 games last season with a left wrist injury. And while he shoots with his right hand, this can't be the easiest thing to return from for someone who will turn 34 a month and a half before the season starts. Now, this deal will be for about half of what the average salary is, expiring before he turns 37, and the Jazz are hoping Bell ages like Bruce Bowen(notes). Bringing the defense, still hitting two out of every five 3-pointers he takes. But wouldn't it be nicer to bring Matthews along with Bell still in hand?
OK, so it's not exactly "lose-lose." The Jazz don't have to pay Matthews' crazy salary, and Bell isn't exactly breaking the bank (signing with Utah, I'm sure, because they're offering the third year that most other teams weren't) for a guy working on smarts and guile. Bell has dropped below the 40 percent mark just once since 2003 from behind the arc, so it's possible he could sustain for the next three years.
And Matthews gets paid. Cigars for everyone.
Chicago's deal for C.J. Watson(notes) works. The team badly needs backcourt depth, and picking up a passable backup who can run the show and score in transition (because it's the offseason, and 30 out of 30 NBA coaches swear up and down that "we want to try and push the ball this year"), without costing too much.
Three years and just over $10 million for Watson. He's not much of a passer, averaging under four assists per 36 minutes over his three NBA seasons, even while working on an up-tempo team like the Warriors; but he's also not Jannero Pargo(notes). This is a bad offseason for teams looking to find backcourt depth, so securing the rights to someone like Watson without much left to glom onto in the open market is a small coup.
Ronnie Brewer(notes)? The Bulls should be happy he's on their team. The guy defends like mad, he's a hard worker, and despite his nicks and scratches he should be ready to lock down on opposing wings in a way the Bulls haven't really seen (with the exception of Thabo Sefolosha's(notes) short stints) since the Michael Jordan-era turns.
It's a bit of a bummer that Redick's all-around skills (which would have worked perfectly on a team like Chicago) will be heading back to Orlando with the Magic's contract match, but Brewer isn't the worst fallback option. Derrick Rose(notes) swears he can shoot 3-pointers now, but if Rose continues to clang as he did last year from beyond the arc, Chicago will suffer offensively. You just can't have a backcourt (and, with Luol Deng(notes) starting, a team) that can't hit 3-pointers in today's NBA.
Keyon Dooling(notes) can hit 3-pointers. The veteran struggled with his long-range game over most of his career, but he's hit a combined 40.3 percent from behind the arc over his last two seasons in New Jersey, and this will hopefully sustain in Milwaukee now that he's signed a two-year deal with the club. At a rate that is half of what Luke Ridnour(notes) signed with in Minnesota, in terms of both years and cash per year, the Bucks should be pretty happy with the pickup.
And they should be quite happy with grabbing second-year big forward Jon Brockman(notes) for a song. A sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks napped the burly forward, who grabbed nearly one in five available rebounds last season (a sterling mark), and weirdly endorses Swedish automobiles on his Twitter account.
The best thing a GM can give coach Scott Skiles is depth, and though Milwaukee GM John Hammond's moves could fall short in the long run, he's done well to at least give his coach a chance with this newish rotation. Sound summer for Milwaukee.
The uncertainty regarding Matt Barnes'(notes) potential move to Toronto might be best for both sides. Matt's in his prime and could be a killer reserve forward for a championship contender. Does he really want to work for the next two seasons in Toronto?
And the Raptors? Do they really want to splurge on someone like Barnes? I can understand thinking defense-first while trying to retain a bit of perimeter touch, but going "win, now" in the potential final year of Bryan Colangelo's contract just smacks of desperation to me.
It's a good deal for the Raptors if the two sides eventually figure things out. I just wonder if they both might want to take a step back. You just lost Chris Bosh(notes), Toronto. It might be time to start over.