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14 July 2005

Spurs Add Another Argentinian

The Spurs have come to an agreement with Fabricio Oberto, a compatriot to both Ginobili and Luis Scola.

Fabricio is a 30 year old (March) 6'-10" 243# C/PF who averaged 14 and 7 last year for Parmesa, a Spanish team. He was part of Argentina's gold medal winning Olympic team and put up 6 PTS, 6 REB and 4 AST in 18 minutes against the US before getting has hand broken by a Stephon Marbury chop.

According to DraftCity.com (and various other internet articles), Fabricio has good footwork which contributes to a quality low post game and he can also hit the 14-16 foot jumper. His best attribute on the offensive end is his passing ability. He's a physical defender and consistently gets good rebounding position. Like other Argentinians you may be familiar with, he plays the game with a high level of passion and intensity. His biggest weaknesses are his high foul rate and horrible free throw shooting (~50%).

The terms of his contract are unknown. A factor that hinders many foreign players is their contract buyout held by the European team they currently play for. NBA teams are only allowed to pay about $350 000 of a players buyout (above the contract value) which is typically much less than the buyout amount. Fabricio's buyout was apparently lower than average; around $750 000.

The consensus seems to be that his Spurs contract will be for around $1.5 million a year; about the value of the LLE. The LLE is separate from the MLE, which is what the Nets hope to use to sign SAR. In the previous CBA, the LLE could be used to sign a player for a maximum of two years. According to an article on RealGM.com, "All cap exceptions will remain unchanged" in the new CBA. Personally, I find it hard to believe a player would leave his European team for a total of ~$3.2 million for two years; especially when he has to pay about $400 000 for his own buyout. Therefore it's likely the contract is for more than two years and consequently uses part of the Spurs MLE, which obviously affects their ability to sign free agents such as Scola or Stephen Hunter. Note: I finally got around to reading Chad Ford's chat; he said the deal is for 3 years according to Oberto's agent.

This signing certainly reduces the likelyhood of adding Scola though the two certainly aren't mutually exclusive. Luis may want more of the MLE than the Spurs have remaining or are willing to pay. SA now has 5 big men signed: Timmeh!, Rasho, Horry, Nazr and Fabricio. Giving significant money to a 6th big man seems a wee bit redundant. Rasho and Nazr are trade candidates, but I don't see the former going anywhere before the season starts. The Spurs need to know exactly what they have in Nazr and Fabricio before shipping off The Solid Slovenian.

So what will the Spurs do? I, of course, don't know for sure, but I would guess they leave Scola in Europe. They could presumably trade his rights, but I'm not sure what they could get for him, which is a function of perceived value and CBA rules. I see them using the first half of the season to evaluate Nazr (both his abilities and value to other teams as a free agent) and Oberto and then attempt to trade either Mohammed or Rasho at the deadline (theoretically to fill a need).

What will Fabricio add to the team? Hopefully, at minimum, a more skilled and younger version of Tony Massenburg. If he can come off the bench and give us 15 minutes of passionate, aggressive and hard-nosed post play I'll be happy. Speaking of Massenburg...

The Spurs have been missing something ever since Rodman left, and I am not talking about the cross-dressing. Some people label it "toughness," but that's not quite right. I cannot put a word to what "it" is, but I have an example of a player demonstrating "it."

"It" happened during the PHX series; I cannot recall which game. If I recall correctly, the outcome had already been decided, which led to Tony Massenburg getting some playing time. For whatever reason Amare was still in the game was posting up Tony up. Stoudemire unleashed a wicked awesome spin move and easily got by Massenburg. Tony, having "it," hacked the ever living shit out of him, a borderline semi-dirty considering circumstances.

Basically, "it" tells the other team that there's at least a chance somebody gonna get fucked up. Just puts it in the back of their mind. A proverbial "shot across the bow."

So, uh, got a little sidetracked there. What does "it" have to do with Fabricio? Well, it sounds like he could have that in him. And, if you ask Sean Marks, he might say Oberto has "it."

If any of my European or Argentinian readers have seen Fabricio play please feel free to add your comments/thoughts/opinions.


Today Jerome James agreed to a 5 year deal with the Knicks worth $29. Here's what you need to know about JJ:

-He's never averaged more than 5.4 PPG.
-He's never averaged more than 4.2 RPG.
-He's never played more than 16.9 MPG.
-He's played more than 65 games once in his career.
-He turns 30 at the beginning of next season.
-He's perennially out of shape.
-He's lazy, lethargic, unmotivated and kicks puppies in his spare time.
-He has tremendous downside potential.

Why would the Knicks spend practically their entire MLE this early on Jerome James? Were other teams beating down his door? Offering him almost a max MLE deal like the Knicks just gave him? The Sonics, who currently don't even have a semi-reliable center, didn't even want him. Shouldn't that be a hint? Did Isiah's cable go out during the entire regular season?


06 July 2005

Money Talks

Nate McMillan is now the coach of the Portland Trailblazers, leaving behind a Sonics team he's been with for the past 17 years. SEA president and CEO Wally Walker had the following to say: "Our last compensation discussion detailed a proposal that on average would have made Nate one of the five highest paid active NBA coaches." Kevin Calabro, Sonics' television broadcaster (and one of the best), mentioned reading an article that stated Paul Allen went so far as to double SEA's offer, which was rumored to be $4-4.5 millon. Wow.

Some people may lambast Nate for forsaking his team; for following the cash. Personally, I think this was a total no-brainer. First of all, yes, I know that $4 million a year is a lot of money. But you know what? $8 million is a lot more. If you say you wouldn't take the extra cash you are either:

A) Lying.
B) Stupid.
C) Already filthy, filthy rich.
D) One of the few remaining ascetic monks in the Pyrenees of Spain. Which means you should stop indulging in the internet. Sinner.

What's even better is that there's no way McMillan can lose. Even if Portland continues to stink; even if their players continue to get arrested or suspended for disabordination; who's going to blame Nate? It will just be the same old Trailblazers. And if they turn it around? Actually manage to make the playoffs in the next two years? Nate's a damn genius. Plus, as Calabro pointed out on the local Fox affiliate, he's only 3 hours away from his home in SEA. He doesn't have to uproot his family or even buy a new house.

And let's be honest; it's not like he was leaving a team on the brink of a championship. Their best player is a 29 year old (30 before the next season starts) shooting guard who's merely an adequate defender and is getting paid $16 million a year for the next five years. They are hemorrhaging money due to a horrible arena deal they cannot get out of. They have a slew of free agents and their best big man as of now is Nick Collison (who I like, but still).

What's really interesting is the timing of the whole thing. Why did Nate wait until the Sonics signed Allen? Based on media reports it was pretty clear that the prevailing feeling was that Nate would return if SEA locked up Ray. Obviously not. What happened?

Did Paul Allen up the ante after Allen's deal was announced?

Or did Nate purposely hold out in order to help Ray get his deal? And if so, why? Out of respect for Ray? Because he was angry at the Sonics for not extending his contract before the season and wanted to make them pay through the nose? You always here that Nate is a defensive-minded coach. Ray Allen is not a defensive-minded player. I would love to believe that Nate didn't think the Sonics would ever win with Ray and therefore baited them into sealing their fate for the next five years. But then again I don't like Ray Allen, so that's probably just a wee bit far-fetched.

ANOTHER issue is that SEA lost their best assistant coach (Casey) to MIN last month. He almost definitely would have had the job (and probably would have wanted it, too). Now the Sonics are almost forced to going out and getting someone like Flip Saunders. It will be real hard to bring a rookie coach into this situation.

Wow. Intentionally or not, Paul Allen and Nate McMillan sure managed to throw a big wrench into SEA's plans.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the Spurs?

During today's ESPN.com chat Chad Ford said the following regarding SAR:

The problem is that several other teams like the Spurs are talking sign-and-trade with the Blazers. That allows them to pay more money. The Blazers are trying to work out a Rasho Nesterovic for Abdur-Rahim swap.

I will assume that, as Spurs fans, you are familiar with The Solid Slovenian and his abilities. Shareef is a 28 (Dec birthday) year old 6'-9" 245# smower forward. He is probably best known as being a good player on very bad teams. He's never been on a team with a winning record. Now, if we apply the same logic that some Spurs fans apply to Kevin Garnett we will come to the conclusion that his team's lack of success diminishes the relevance of his stats. He must not be a leader. He's certainly not a gamer. He's definitely doesn't want to win.

That, of course, is a load of shit. The truth, as I see it, is that SAR is a very good offensive player:

19.8 PPG on 15.2 FGA --> 1.303 PPFGA (Timmeh's career number is 1.324)
6.6 FTAPG / 81.6% FT
0.2-0.7 from 3 / 30.6%
46.9% FG
8.1 RPG
0.8 BPG
1.1 SPG
2.7 APG
2.8 TOPG

What stands out to me is how efficient a scorer he is. There is some truth that one should be wary of player that scores a lot of points on a bad team. That's why I like to look at points per FGA or shot attempt; it gives you a better idea of how good a scorer the player is. My favorite whipping boy, Antoine Walker, has a career PPFGA of 1.065 (please sign him Isiah; it would make my summer). Spot the difference folks.

I also like the fact that he gets to the line and shoots a high percentage from the charity stripe. He only averages 1.1 less FTA per game than Duncan. He's a good 3P% shooter for his size; which is a blessing when one takes less than 1 a game but a curse when one takes 5 a game (hi Antoine!).

I cannot say much about his defense, other than he's certainly not none for it. I don't think he can guard most 3s, which makes him a back up to Duncan (though Duncan could obviously play C when SAR comes off the bench). As long as he provides consistent effort and good rotations his offensive abilities will more than make up for any deficiencies on the defensive end.

So, assuming Chad Ford isn't full of it, should the Spurs make the trade? Well, it depends. On a lot of things. I'm all for it given the following conditions:

A) Pop and Company are reasonably certain that Nazr can and will improve his defensive rotations and pick and roll defense AND that they can extend him for a reasonable price (no more than $7.5 million a year).

B) Pop and Company are going to further emphasize fast break offense next season. A lineup of Parker, Ginobili, Bowen, SAR and Tim would be one of the fastest in the league (and loaded with finishers).

C) Pop and Company are prepared to deal with The Curse of the Solid Slovenian.

One obvious positive aspect of this deal is the fact the Spurs would still have the MLE available. Assuming this trade goes down, here's how they should use it (assuming Scola excepts the LLE):

Offer the entire MLE to Stephen Hunter. Yes, I'm serious. I love this guy. He has a lot of tremendous upside potential. He's 23. He's a legit 7'. He can run the floor. He's athletic. Freakish, even. He's got a little bit of mean streak in him. And he blocked 4.5 shots per 48 minutes last year. That's, uh, like a lot and stuff. Like, uh, 3rd in the NBA. Granted, Tim tore him apart in the playoffs, but I think you can at least somewhat teach one-on-one defense. You can't teach being a 7' gazelle-like ball swatting machine.

Maybe PHX matches. Fine. Make them use up their financial reserves. Now somebody get Danny Ferry on the horn and convince him to offer Joe Johnson a max contract.

05 July 2005

Keep Your Pants On

Last week you probably read about Horry's agent saying that Rob was considering playing for the Heat next season. This was enough to send a lot of Spurs fans into panic mode. It's one thing to lose him; but to the Heat? Shaq's team? NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT. Which, of course, I don't.

Thankfully Holt and Company took care of business and Horry has agreed to a 3 year deal. It's essentially a two year deal with a team option for the third. The rest of the terms are of course undisclosed at the moment. The contract length surprised me; the guy turns 35 before next season even starts. But, hey, he's Big Shot Brob. Considering...

A) The Spurs would never have beaten the Pistons without him and
B) He made only ~$1.2 million this season...

...I would have given him a 5 year contract if he demanded it.

The Spurs owned Horry's "Bird rights" which means they didn't have to spend any of the MLE to sign him. They will hopefully use some of that to bring over Luis Scola. I see the two guys as linked in the sense Luis, if adequate, will get some of Horry's regular season minutes. Got to keep him fresh for money time.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.