Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bird Seed: Kwame Signs--But Not as a Hawk and RFA Signings (and Tradings?)

So how's everybody's offseason? Good?


Mine either--but let's get to it.

Kwame Brown signs with the Pistons

Ever notice how some organizations always seem to do the right thing?

OK, so signing Kwame Brown isn't the equivalent of drafting Joe Dumars over Jon Koncak, but signing the big guy to a 2 year, 8 million dollar deal would sure have looked sweet if it had the Hawks logo associated with it.

Instead, the home team will have to settle for the likes of Randolph Morris, who has not shown any athleticism or defense in his time at Kentucky or with the Knicks. His college/pro career to date makes Kwame Brown's seem accomplished.

Personally, I would have rather seen the Hawks save the money they spent on Mo Evans, and up the ante to sign Kwame, who still has the potential to be effective inside, if only on defense, blocking shots, and putbacks.

To be honest, this offseason so far has had the HHB wondering about the approach the team is taking to their payroll and acquiring talent.

The Cincinnati Reds, before the 2005 season, had some money to spend for free agency. They looked about at the high priced players available and decided that they couldn't spend "that kind of money" on a front line player. After the free agent season had subsided, they bragged about how they spent about 20 million dollars in free agency that offseason, but instead of purchasing one player, they were able to acquire 5 or 6 players. Much better, they said.

Eric Milton, Joe Randa, Ramon Ortiz, Ben Weber, Rich Aurilia, Kent Mercker, and David Weathers.

The Reds--not much better.

So, instead of getting an impact player, they wasted their money on 6 players who had little overall effect on the team, except for negative: glorified replacement level players whose main talent was that they were average for other teams at some point in their career.

So it is with held breath that we watch the Hawks attack this offseason with the same approach---taking the discount route, but still spending more than they should on replacement level players.

We will see if the Hawks do indeed sign Morris, if it's more than the 800K or so he earned with the Knicks last season. If it is, they likely will have overpaid, just like they did for Evans.

Personally, we would rather overpay big for a player that will make a positive difference on the team (Childress, Smith), than for a collection of replacement level players at a cheaper, yet more than replacement level pay.

Some teams don't go that route---we call them winners. Some teams, like the aforementioned Reds, keep on trucking down the same path---we don't call them winners.

Warriors are scared Childress; Sign RFAs Ellis, Biedrins

Count the Warriors as a team that blinked and quickly put away their two RFA's, guard Monta Ellis and center Andres Biedrins, in light of the departure of Josh Childress to the land of Far, Far Away.

Oakland obviously considered the pair to be productive and thus important to lock them down, and they were right.

Ellis put points on the board last year (over 20 ppg), but he was also efficient while doing so, scoring a 19 PER, according to basketball-reference.com, and taking down 21.3 offensive win shares to boot.

Biedrins was equally productive, putting a 19+ PER on the board as well.

Oakland paid about 21 million for the pair annually, a high price, but at least they paid folks who were making a seriously positive impact on the team.

So now the attention turns to someone who put up about the same level of productivity as Ellis and Biedrins---Josh Smith.

Will the Hawks sign their RFA to a similar 6 year 60-66 million dollar deal or attempt to go the Reds route, crying poor and dealing for a gaggle of less productive, yet still somewhat highly paid talent?

Sekou Smith of the AJC teased us over the weekend by running a blind item about a powerhouse Western team and a big team in the East having significant enough interest to have a couple of powerhouse deals out there to the Hawks in a potential Sign And Trade for Smith.

One name that has been floated out often enough is that of Mavericks forward Josh Howard. Two years ago, Howard's star was on the rise after his year 25 season, but now two years later, and one year into a 4-yr, 40 million dollar extension, he is on the block.

It would be an interesting economic move; acquire someone with 3 years left on their deal instead of having to be on the hook for 6 more years at the same prices.

Howard put up a similarly productive season as Smith, with an 18.2 PER and similar amount of win shares for the season. But looking closer one sees that Howard is 5 years older than Smith and two inches shorter to boot. Losing the flexibility that Smith provides on the court matchup wise by losing that height and the potential for growth that Smith still holds looks to be too much to lose for the Hawks.

It may surprise you that the Lakers' Lamar Odom is only a year older than Howard. But he has maintained a level of productivity that, while being helpful to the Lakers, is less than what Smith already provides for the Hawks.

Truth is, if the Hawks are indeed entertaining trading a 22 year old, already highly productive player, it had better be for something that the team really needs: A center or a point guard.

The Hawks can ill afford to make a deal involving a valuable asset such as Smith for 75 cents on the dollar, for older players that Smith has already matched in terms of production, and at positions that the Hawks really don't need (read: swingmen).


Unknown said...

You really believe that at 2.5 million we overpaid for Evans? I think we got him for a great price, but the real determination will come from what we do with the remaining 3 million leftover from the MLE.


Jason Walker said...

Absolutely, DF---He never made even 2 million a year prior to this contract and last season was probably his best season in his career, with some of his numbers looking a lot like an abberation.

For the Hawks to guarantee three years to a player who is going to be 30 this season, at a salary level he has never sniffed before---well, it smells like overpaying to me.

His career shows just above replacement level production and you just can't dedicate cap resources beyond those levels.