This is a section of my column no. 59 that was just published at the new independent Blazer blog, Pinwheel Empire. Owing to a register-to-read system at the new site, which makes linking via a FanShot difficult, I've decided to extract the Jazz-related section, with a bit of snark to set the table, and to post it here. Hopefully that is okay with the management.
Perhaps this outsider's take on the Williams trade will be of interest. —timbo
Trade Deadline Hilarity.
I was planning on having a snark-a-thon breaking down the winners and losers of every NBA trade hitting the fan during the recent trade deadline frenzy. Bill Simmons the Sports Guy produced a hilarious 7,000 word treatise on the topic for ESPN though — which you can and should read by following THIS LINK FOR PART ONE and THAT LINK FOR PART TWO. After that Pulitzer Prize-worthy mega-rant, it's time to go small or not at all...
Still, I do have a physical need to get my digs in at some of the stupidity, headlined by Memphis' dump of their #2 Overall Catastrophe Hasheem Thabeet to the Houston Rockets along with a first round pick (!!!) in exchange for Shane Battier — a long-in-the-tooth glue guy who already spent 5 full seasons in team colors. Battier has averaged less than 10 points and 5 rebounds a game over the course of his career, which seems to be in decline. Ummmm, not very good value for that elite lottery pick, eh?
Memphis GM Chris Wallace, unquestionably the most incompetent front office executive in the entire NBA, never stops entertaining, that's for sure. Was his choice of Thabeet the worst draft pick ever? The 2009 Draft Class will never be the stuff of legend, for sure, but going all in for the obviously scrawny and inept Thabeet over the likes of Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozian, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison, Tyler Hansborough, James Harden, DeJuan Blair, and Hall of Fame lock Omri Casspi certainly has to rankle. Even Kevin Pritchard's wasted 1st Round draft pick of Victor Claver doesn't look so bad next to the Memphis mess.
Adding to my draft day mirth was International Super Genius Wallace's inability to dump OJ Mayo for former Blazer scrub Josh McRoberts and a future 1st Round draft pick, a deal which was so close that it was officially announced and then embarrassingly rescinded when the teams failed to come to terms ahead of the 3 PM EST deadline. What time zone is Memphis in again, Chris? "Doggonit, I coulda swore we had another hour..."
The free agent-to-be Mayo has been coming off the bench for the Grizz, a team with no chance in hell of being able to sign the scorer with the sweet stroke that I liken to a poor man's version of Kobe Bryant. He's not in the budget, not in the plans, and now not gonna bring anything to the table in the wake of his inevitable departure from the hapless Grizzlies. Tee hee.
The exile of one of my least favorite players in the NBA, Baron Davis, to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers was also Comedy Gold™... Enjoy your stay in America's Wonderland, Baron! The Davis Dump was a brilliant piece of addition-by-subtraction by the Clips, who managed to land Mo Williams and Jamario Moon from the Cleveland train wreck in the switcheroo, at the cost of a future 1st Round Pick for which the already-too-young Clips have no need.
The big, ugly contract for the portly chucker is now off the books of the San Diego Clippers of Los Angeles. Now if the team's long-suffering fans could figure out a way to accidentally knock racist greedhead owner Donald Sterling into a brush chipper, all would be be right with the world...
Deron Williams and the Finances of the Utah Jazz.
I was snorting around last night trying to assess how the Deron Williams trade was playing in Utah, particularly in the aftermath their team dropping a close one to the shorthanded chemistry catastrophe known as the Detroit Pistons. One thing I uncovered in the course of my Salt Lake Schadenfreude was a debut podcast by the TrueHoop Jazz blog, Salt City Hoops.
Lead blogger Spencer Hall managed to get a little face time with team Prez Greg Miller and addressed worries among the Jazz fans that the team was being streamlined for a future sale and move:
Q. "What is your response to fans who, with the talk from Stern of contraction and the relocation of teams, ...are saying that this is a downsizing move to package the team. What is your response to those kinds of things?"
Greg Miller: "Anybody who has that mindset isn't paying attention because we're the 5th smallest market in the NBA with the 6th highest payroll, and that should say enough in and of itself. You look at what we did this year to go way beyond the salary cap, into the luxury tax realm — it's unprecedented. I mean, I could really get on a soapbox here, but I won't."
The Williams deal was financial, it would seem — the club less worried about being given the LeBron treatment or the Carmelo treatment by its future free agent superstar than it was worried about its immediate financial viability as a big payroll, small market team with shallow-pockets ownership.
Deron Williams was already scheduled to make $16.4 Million next season and with a player option for $17.8 Million the following season. The Jazz managed to turn him into a well regarded replacement Point Guard and a promising young big man earning a combined $13.7 Million next year and $13.3 Million two years hence.
The salary differentials enabled the Jazz to save $1.8 Million in luxury tax payments this season, $5.4 Million in salary and tax next season, and $9 Million in salary and tax in 2012-13. In total, Utah dumping Deron Williams to the Nets represented a savings of $16.2 Million to the small market, shallow pockets Jazz over this and the next two seasons.
It is through this prism that the sudden and surprising Williams deal must be viewed. As a two time All Star and highly desirable player, Williams would have required a max money extension that the Jazz could ill afford. Utah faced its future immediately rather than deferring the difficult decision for another day and thereby helped maintain its financial viability.
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