Saturday, August 2, 2008

MAX DEAL OPTIONS IN 2010

If the Golden State Warriors want to sign a superstar like LeBron James, they'll have to renounce ALL of their Free Agents and Team Option players (except Randolph) unless they could trade Maggette (difficult) and Azubuike (easier). That's also if Mullin only commits to low, short term signings for the next 2 years (minimum salaries, 1-year, not guaranteed, and draft picks only).


Estimated Max Salary for 2010 - based on estimated Salary Cap of $62.5M.

$15.63M (25% of cap) for player with 6 or less years in the NBA

$18.75M (30% of cap) for player with 7 to 9 years in the NBA (LeBron = 7 years by Summer 2010)

$21.88M (35% of cap) for player with 10+ years in the NBA


Option 1 - Hypothetical roster achieved by only renouncing players:

PG: Monta Ellis / Brandon Williams (2009 1st)
SG: LeBron James / Kelenna Azubuike
SF: Corey Maggette
PF: Anthony Randolph / DeMarcus Cousins (2010 1st)
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf

Assets renounced or traded for expiring deals, cash or picks: Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Williams, Richard Hendrix, and Anthony Morrow. That's a lot of 'wasted' assets (including the 1st Rounder traded in Marcus Williams deal)...but it's worth it if they are sacrificed for a player like LeBron. However, there are better ways to go about landing a Max player.


Option 2 - Roster achieved by trading Corey Maggette, renouncing Anthony Morrow and trading 2010 2nd Round Pick:

PG: Monta Ellis / Marcus Williams (re-signed starting at $5M)
SG: LeBron James / Kelenna Azubuike / Marco Belinelli
SF: Anthony Randolph / Earl Clark (2009 1st)
PF: Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix / DeMarcus Cousins (2010 1st)
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf

Loaded. I could also see a version of this scenario where Brandan Wright is traded for a high future draft pick resulting in a starting lineup of Williams, Ellis, James, Randolph, and Biedrins. The Warriors could use that future pick to land a defensive-minded backcourt player or additional help at Center.


By trading Maggette, the Warriors would be able to keep most of their young core and put together a formidable roster that adds a superstar talent. Option 2 would be a very attractive situation to any free agent that is looking for the maximum salary and a team that will have the talent to compete for a title right away.

The likelihood of landing LeBron is very small considering his apparent desire to play in New York, but this exercise should give you an idea of what sort of decisions Mullin will have to make if he wants to put together a team that could contend and not just hover around the late-lottery / 1-and-done playoff team, no-man's land.

SCOUTING REPORT FROM DRAFT EXPRESS

Here is a link to a comprehensive scouting report on most of the Warriors currently on the roster. Each player analysis starts off with a player overview, then goes into their offensive and defensives strengths and weaknesses.

NBA Scouting Reports, Pacific Division (Part One)

Friday, August 1, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 2

Continued from: GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 1


Drafting Richard Hendrix

With the #49 Pick in the draft, the Warriors selected the player I was hoping they would. Richard Hendrix was a huge steal based on my Warriors Big Board that ranked him as the 26th best player for the Warriors based on talent and team need. That's 23 spots later than I projected him to go, making him the steal of the draft, in my opinion.

What impressed me the most about Hendrix was his success and consistency in a tough conference like the SEC. When I did a study on Finding the Elusive Big, he consistently scored in the upper half of each category except age and just missed the median in blocks. Out of 11 of the top big man prospects in the study, he was ranked #4 in points, #4 in rebounds, #7 in blocks, #5 in TS%, #4 in assists, #6 in 3 pts made, #1 in steals, #1 in turnovers, and #5 overall (outscoring McGee, Hibbert, Hickson, Lopez, Jordan, and Arthur.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of Hendrix in Summer League, but what little I saw confirmed that he will be able to play in the NBA. Apparently, Hendrix has never missed a game due to injury, but bad luck struck in the form of a strained hamstring and later with a twisted ankle. Although he played at less than 100% he managed to pull down 21.2 reb/48 min, 2.23 blk/48 min, and 1.67 stl/48 min. He has the bulk, instincts, and tenacity to collect rebounds at a high rate as well as block some shots and bang with the bigs. A player like Hendrix will be a valuable compliment to the rest of the roster - a guy that you could throw out there to slow down the Boozers and Stoudemires of the league.

Grade: A- (only because I was hoping they could trade up in the 2nd to nab Mario Chalmers)


Richard Hendrix Highlights

From: DejanBodyroga




Warriors Pre-Draft Interview: Richard Hendrix

From: GoldenStateWarriors





Declining to use the Trade Exception

A couple of days after the draft, the Warriors opted not to use their $10 million Trade Exception picked up in the Jason Richardson deal. They could have used it in so many ways to bring in additional help in the form of a backup PG, an upgrade at PF, or future draft picks, but the Warriors and Chris Cohan were not going to risk the possibility of paying the Luxury Tax even if it was for 1 year (Baron was scheduled to come off the books the following year). The Trade Exception was a valuable asset that they just let go to waste. The justification for not using it was so they could re-sign Ellis and Biedrins without going over the Luxury Tax threshold. If the Warriors had an owner more concerned about building a winner rather than maximizing short term profits, the Trade Exception would have been used.

Grade: D-


Baron Davis Opts Out

The Warriors believed that there was no way Baron Davis would opt out of his contract this past offseason. Negotiations stalled because the Warriors didn't want to commit to a long term deal with Baron, and rightly so. Baron wasn't feeling the love and because the organization wasn't making an all-out effort field the best team possible for a title run, Baron Davis decided to forgo his final season of his contract, leave $17 million on the table, and agree to join the Clippers and Elton Brand (or so he thought).

The Warriors responded by reportedly offering a Max deal to Gilbert Arenas that got rejected. They then tried to sign Elton Brand for a 5 year / $92+ deal, but he decided to go to Philadelphia for less money. The Warriors reportedly increased their offer in a last ditch effort to keep Davis, but it wasn't enough to convince him to stay. In the long run this was a good thing for the Warriors.

Baron walks and the Warriors are unable to capitalize on yet another valuable asset. It wasn't entirely their fault, but had it been anticipated and pro-actively dealt with, the Warriors could have at least gotten something in return for Baron, perhaps a draft pick or young prospect from a team that was eager to land Baron like the Knicks or Cavaliers.

Grade: C


Signing Corey Maggette

Once the Warriors learned that Areans and Brand were not going to joining them, they quickly turned their attention to Corey Maggette. He's not a bad target, but with all the cap space to sign any of the top free agents for this and the next few offseasons, why blow a huge chunk of it on an injury prone, one-dimensional player who's not too far from turning 30? Maggette isn't a franchise player that will be able to lift your team into playoff contention. He's best as a 3rd option coming off the bench due to his limited game, lack of defense, and the fact that he doesn't make his teammates better.

Maggette was getting offers from several playoff teams for the MLE. That's a starting salary of around $5.8 million. Rather than risk getting reject for a 3rd time, Mullin threw down an offer with a starting salary of around $8.2 million. Over the life of the 5 year contract, the Warriors end up paying $48 million which is about $14 million more than anyone offering the MLE. They bid against themselves and paid too high a premium for an efficient, yet one-dimensional role player.

Mullin should not have rushed to sign Maggette at that price. He should have pursued a more worthy target like Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala or use part of it on cheaper emerging talent like Louis Williams. If he gets rejected again, so be it. Move on to the next target. Just don't settle for the easy kill if the player isn't a player worth building around. J.R. Smith is a comparable talent, but much younger, more upside, and probably cheaper. He has a poor attitude and needs to improve defensively, but with proper coaching and more maturity a high-risk play for J.R. Smith could lead to high reward. If Nelson could turn around the careers of Davis and Jackson, there might be hope for Smith as well.

This part of the offseason seemed to be an act of desperation to land SOMEBODY... ANYBODY, in the wake of Baron's departure. It was a band-aid to stop fan outcry and exodus of newly minted season ticket holders. This was a move with no vision for the future and one that won't get you deep into the playoffs, but rather stuck in the worst place possible - in the middle as a late lottery team. The pricey Maggette signing, although bringing in a good player, may have cost the Warriors a chance to land a true franchise player. If they can't find a way to trade him by February 2010, they will have squandered a golden opportunity to propel themselves into contender status.

From 2007-2008 ESPN Scouting Report:

Scouting report: Maggette has an amazingly quick first step going to his right, and is so powerful once he gets moving that it's difficult to thwart him without fouling. But it's tough to overplay him for the drive because he's also a decent outside shooter. Maggette has tended to shoot too many contested jumpers in recent years, but last season he refocused on attacking the rim and ended up with an even greater free-throw bounty.

Maggette's drives rarely result in passes, however. He gets tunnel vision once he puts it on the floor and has earned a rep as a selfish player. That said, he did post a career-high assist ratio last season. As you might expect for a player who drives so much, Maggette also makes a lot of turnovers.

Maggette's defense was what landed him in Mike Dunleavy's doghouse last season. He's an explosive athlete, but not the kind of nimble, quick-footed one who makes for a good defender. As a result, he was out of the starting lineup for much of last season. He also resorts to fouling quite a bit, ranking 11th among small forwards in personals per minute. Some of those are offensive fouls on his drives, but many are reaches and grabs after he's beaten on D.

Maggette's other issue has been injuries. He played 75 games last season, and that was the most he'd played since his rookie campaign. With all the contact he takes around the rim, it's perhaps inevitable that he's going to be out of the lineup for 10 to 15 games.

2007-08 outlook: With the injury to Elton Brand the spotlight is now on Maggette. The timing couldn't be better. Maggette is 27, he's entering his free-agent year, and he'll be the Clippers' go-to guy until Brand returns (and perhaps even for a time afterward). This is a great chance to showcase his scoring skills, but Maggette has to be careful to balance it with some team play as well. Otherwise, the selfish whispers might put a damper on his contract push. But if he's ever going to average 25 points a game, this would be the season it happens.

2007-2008 Game Log

Career Statistics

(click to enlarge image)

I tried so hard to convince myself that this was a good signing, but in the end I keep coming back to the realization that it may have cost us some big opportunities to build a contender. So much cap space, so many possibilities and the best the Warriors could do is Corey Maggette? There are ways to work around the signing, but this is a big step backwards and a detour in the journey to building a truly great team.

Grade: D-


Corey Magette Mix by Dwanewade75015
From: dwanewade75015




Next: Signing Ronny Turiaf, Trading for Marcus Williams

Thursday, July 31, 2008

CAP SITUATION FOR THE NEXT FEW SEASONS

I'm no salary cap expert, but I've tried to make sense of the upcoming cap situations for the next couple of seasons. Armed with Larry Coon's 'NBA Salary Cap FAQ' and hoopshypes salary breakdowns, hopefully I could shed some light on options for Mullin as the fabled Free Agency crop of 2010 slowly approaches.

Contrary to popular belief, the Warriors will not be blessed with a windfall of cap space in 2010 when Harrington and Jackson's deals expire. They will be under the cap but there will be significant obstacles to overcome in order to be able to sign a 'Max' deal for one of the top free agents.

2009-2010

Roster and salaries going into 2009 offseason:

Ellis : $11.0
Harrington : $10.0 (P.O.)
Biedrins : $9.0
Maggette : $8.9
Jackson : $7.7
Turiaf : $4.2
Azubuike : $3.1
Wright : $2.7 (T.O.)
Williams : $2.1 (T.O.)
Perovic: $1.9 (T.O.) (need confirmation on his actual salary)
Randolph: $1.8
Belinelli: $1.5 (T.O.)
Hendrix: $0.7 (T.O.)
Morrow: $0.7 (T.O.)
Foyle: $0.1

Total : $65.6M

They have 14 players signed but have several team options that they could exercise in order to get further under the Luxury Tax which may be in the range of $72M by next year. Wright, Belinelli, Williams, and Hendrix should be retained, Morrow might be retained if he preforms well next season (let's assume he does), and Perovic will probably be released. If this is the case, the salary total goes down to $63.6M.

Harrington has a player option, and might be willing to opt out if the Warriors treat him poorly and he decides to sign a longterm deal with another team starting at a lower salary. Chances are good, however, that Harrington decides to play out 1 more year since he is still relatively young and could go for a longterm deal in 2010 (so let's keep him on the books). Warriors would be smart to showcase him early on next season, so they could pump up his stock and move him by the trade deadline.

After releasing Perovic, that gives them 13 players and 2 open roster spots. They have an opportunity to resign C.J. Watson to another minimum deal, but let's assume they just let him walk and find a minimum salary player (Player X) to replace his open slot. That bumps up the total to approximately $63.8M.

Depending on how bad or good the Warriors are, their #1 pick could be anywhere between $4.2M and $1.3M. Let's assume it is somewhere in the middle (8th Overall Pick) and assign a value of $2.1M. Warriors do not have a 2nd round pick in 2009. That brings the total salaries to $66.2M - plenty of space underneath the Luxury Tax, but not enough make a splash in the Free Agent market of 2009 even if Harrington decided to opt out of his remaining $10.0M.

The Warriors will likely come out of the 2009 offseason with the same group of guys, sans Perovic and Watson, and with the addition of a #1 Draft Pick and a minimum salaried player (Player X).

2010-2011

Roster and salaries going into 2010 offseason:

Ellis : $11.0
Biedrins : $9.0
Maggette : $8.9
Turiaf : $4.2
Azubuike : $3.1 (P.O.)
Wright : $3.1 (T.O.)
Williams : $6.2 (cap hold)
Belinelli : $2.4 (T.O.)
2009 1st Round Pick : $2.2
Randolph : $2.0 (T.O)
Hendrix : $1.1 (cap hold)
Morrow : $1.1 (cap hold)
Player X : $0.8 (T.O.)

Total : $56.3M

Assuming the new salary cap for 2010 is set at $62.5M, the Warriors would be roughly $6.2M under the cap.

The Warriors will probably get a lower draft pick due to player development and better chemistry, so let's assume that they get a #14 pick valued at around $1.5M. They have a 2nd rounder in 2010, so tack on an additional $0.5M. That brings the total salary up to $58.3M. That's just a mere $4.2M under the salary cap.

Now comes the tough part for Mullin. How does he pair down the roster to get far enough under the salary cap to go after one of the top players of the free agent class of 2010 which could include:

LeBron James
Chris Bosh
Dirk Nowitzki
Kobe Bryant
Pau Gasol
Dwyane Wade
Joe Johnson
Michael Redd
Amare Stoudemire
Tony Parker
Caron Butler
Yao Ming
Tayshaun Prince
Josh Howard
Steve Nash
Jason Richardson
Mike Dunleavy
Richard Jefferson
Rudy Gay
Kyle Lowry
Tyson Chandler
Peja Stojakovic
Rajon Rondo
Ray Allen
Randy Foye
Zach Randolph
Samuel Dalembert
Jamal Crawford
Eddie Curry
Andrei Kirilenko
Tyrus Tomas
Amir Johnson
T.J. Ford
and many others....

Here's what might happen based on the likelihood of certain players developing as projected:

Team options include Wright, Belinelli, Randolph, and Player X who was picked up in 2009. Let's assume that Wright and Belinelli become very good players and are retained. Randolph is a no-brainer and will be retained. Player X is likely gone giving the Warriors a total salary of $57.5M.

There will be 3 players with cap holds: Williams at $6.2M, Hendrix and Morrow both at about $1.1M. I'm optimistic that all players will be worth keeping, but let's say Morrow is sacrificed to gain additional cap space and that Williams is re-signed to a 4 year deal with a lower starting salary than his cap hold, $5.0M. Hendrix's deal will be finalized after a free agent is signed in order to take advantage of his low cap hold. That reduces the total salary to $55.2M or $7.3M under the cap. Unfortunately, that's about the same salary other teams can offer with the 2010 MLE, giving the Warriors no clear advantage over any teams over the cap.

The bad news is that if the want to keep the young core together, they won't be able to compete for the best players on the market.

The good news is that the Warriors have a lot of young talent that could be moved for future picks and expiring deals. With the exception of possibly Maggette, all the Warriors have deals that could be attractive to other teams.

The best case scenario would be if they find a team (most likely a playoff team that's making a big push for a title) willing to trade for Maggette's sizable contract by February 2010. Azubuike could opt out of the final year of his contract saving the Warriors an additional $3.3M. Then the Warriors can keep all their young players (although they lose Azubuike) and be about $20.2M under the cap with a total team salary of $42.3M! That's max money for ANY of the top free agents with less than 10 years in the NBA.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of options for Mullin. Hopefully, he won't have to be forced to renounce or trade away some of the Warriors young core to get a quality player in the Summer of 2010. Don't get me wrong, I think Maggette is a very good player, but his signing could end up costing us the chance to land a true franchise player. He already cost us a chance at landing Josh Smith, in my opinion. The Warriors need to move Maggette, even if it means packaging him with one of our young core players in order to get a shot at LeBron, Amare, Yao, Bosh, Wade, Kobe, Dirk, Gasol, etc. If the Warriors are serious about contending, they will make a move in 2010 or 2011 before the young core is up for longterm deals that will send the Warriors over the cap for years to come.

JASON KIDD IN 2009?

The Warriors are loaded with young, emerging talent. Ellis is a star in the making - an unstoppable blur that can score at will. Biedrins is a future top 5 center capable of running in an up-tempo system. Randolph has superstar qualities and unique talents for a raw 6'-10" player. Wright has the athleticism, length, and smarts to eventually thrive in Nellie's system. Belinelli could be a deadly long-range threat and a guy who could help out with his great passing abilities. Morrow could turn out to be a special talent if he keeps working on his fundamentals and knocking down the long range bombs like we know he can. Marcus Williams has the potential to become a quality starting point guard as he logs in more experience and is allowed to let his natural point guard skills flow in an up-tempo style of play. Kelenna Azubuike has very good fundamentals, court awareness, and the potential to be a lock down perimeter defender. Hendrix looks to be the beast that every team needs - one that rebounds, blocks shots, and bangs against the bigs of the NBA.

The Core
PG: Marcus Williams
SG: Monta Ellis / Marco Belinelli
SF: Anthony Randolph / Kelenna Azubuike / Anthony Morrow
PF: Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins

Veterans that will aid in the core's development include Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington. Only Maggette and Turiaf are slated to be with the team longer than 2 seasons. Even with these veterans trying to teach and guide the youngsters, there is one big thing missing - a veteran PG that will guide the young team and make the game easier for his teammates. The Warriors are lacking a battle tested floor general that could bring the necessary chemistry to insure success and build confidence for this young team.

Enter Jason Kidd

At 35 years old, he's not going to give you any upside, but what he does give you is a floor leader that will elevate everyone's game to another level. If he could make Lamond Murry look like a lottery pick, Kenyon Martin look like an All-star, and Mikki Moore like a full MLE player, I'm sure the young guns would benefit greatly with him on the team. He'll get them easy baskets, throw the 3/4 court pass off of a defensive rebound, direct traffic, and be a calming force that will always make the right play when it's crunch time.

Sure he may have lost a step and some of his explosiveness, but what makes Jason Kidd who he is will be there for at least the next 4 years. His court vision, anticipation, basketball IQ, and passing skills won't go away. His rebounding numbers and points will decline, but with all the athletes running around him in an up-tempo style, he'll be able to challenge for the assist title just like the good old days. Because we have quick bigs with great hands, Kidd will be able to find them and deliver the perfect pass even in the tightest of situations. Biedrins will benefit the most from Kidd's presence on the floor, giving him easy baskets and increasing his scoring opportunities. The guards will improve as well playing under and learning from one of the best PG's to every play the game.

In addition to helping on rebounds and assists, Kidd will come in as the best thief of the team racking up 2.94 steals/48 min. while he was with the Mavericks last season. His quick, strong hands and impeccable anticipation in jumping the passing lanes makes him a great candidate for the hectic style of defense the Warriors like to employ. He could make up for the loss of Baron Davis in the steals department.

From ESPN's 2007 Scouting Report:

Scouting report: Kidd remains as dangerous in transition as any guard in the game, throwing quick passes ahead for easy scores and using this own rebounding skill to ignite many of the breaks. He's not as dangerous in the half court, where he's a mediocre outside shooter thanks to his line-drive flick shot and doesn't have the devastating first step of some of his contemporaries. He can overpower smaller guards in the low post, however, and his ability to see the court makes him particularly dangerous from that spot.

The coaches apparently intend to keep voting Kidd first-team All-Defense until he's 90, but he struggles to keep quicker guards in front of him. Where he excels is when he can switch onto a shooting guard and chase him through screens. He's also as good as you'll see at bothering low-post players without committing to a double-team, enabling him to get back to his man quickly. And of course, his rebounding makes up for the glaring deficiencies of the Nets' frontcourt in this department.

2007-08 outlook: Kidd is 34 but doesn't seem any worse for the wear, and big point guards who don't depend on their penetration skills historically have aged very well. So while the Nets have to be slightly concerned just based on Kidd's age, there's no reason he can't continue to compete at or near this level for a couple more years.

The bigger question at this point is whether he'll keep doing that in New Jersey, or someplace else. The Nets nearly pulled the rigger on a deal to send him to the Lakers at midseason, and should they struggle this year would have to consider rerouting him to a contender in order to start rebuilding.


2007-2008 Game Log

2007-2008 Career Statistics


The Warriors won't have any salary cap space next year, but what they will have is enough room under the Luxury Tax to offer Kidd anything up to the full MLE as the starting salary. Make it a front-loaded 4 year deal with incentives (games played and assist benchmarks). He could come back to the bay to a hero's welcome and retire in his hometown as a Warrior. Below is a snapshot of the team's current financial status:


(click to enlarge graphic)

Is it worth it to use up cap space to sign an aging vet? If you believe that the Warriors have a capable young core, then bringing in Kidd for a reasonable deal (4 yr/$20M front-loaded and with incentives?) to pull it all together is a great move, especially if they could land an athletic wing player like Demar Derozan, Tyreke Evans, or Earl Clark. The more athletic finishers the Warriors can collect, the more Kidd's talents will be utilized. Kidd, one of the best rebounding PG's in the history of the NBA, would pull down a rebound and deliver a perfect full-court lead pass to one of the speedy wings for an easy transition bucket. Kidd would also throw up pin-point accurate alley-oops to Randolph, Biedrins, Turiaf, and Wright.

However, if Marcus Williams or Monta Ellis look like they could become a very good option as starting PG or if the Warriors end up drafting Ricky Rubio or Brandon Jennings then the Warriors should take a pass on this sort of move. Nick Calathes might be another Class of 2009 PG to watch, but is he too much of a defensive liability? James Hardin could be drafted as a combo guard in Brandon Roy mold. That would force Monta and Williams to continue to share PG duties, thus making a Kidd acquisition as yet another backup PG unnecessary.



Before the League: A Jason Kidd Mix
From: TMcGradyHOU1






Jason Kidd 07-08 Mix
From: MJMK11



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 1


The Warriors were counting on one more year before delving into life without Baron Davis. They were set to make an attempt at one more deep run into the playoffs but were not willing to jeopardized their ability to do three things: re-sign Ellis, re-sign Biedrins, and stay under the luxury tax. With Baron slated to make $17M+ in 2008, they opted not to use the $10M trade exemption for a significant upgrade for the team, namely a big upgrade at PF or an incumbent to Baron at PG that would allow him to play less minutes and thus increase his productivity.

I believe one of the major reasons Baron decided to opt out was because the Warriors made no serious effort to turn themselves into contenders in 2009. With the expiration of the Trade Exception and the decision not to trade their current draft picks for immediate help (could turn out to be a very good thing), the Warriors basically said to Baron that they will try to win with the same group of guys and aren't willing to pay the luxury tax for one year even if it meant bolstering the teams chances at becoming a contender. Baron didn't feel that just re-signing some core players and picking up a different crop of minimum salary players was going to get the job done. The likelihood of using the MLE was not good either, because it would nudge them over the Luxury Tax if used. The willingness to invest in a contender just wasn't there.

As he gets older his stock naturally goes down, but the only way for him to raise his stock would be if he lead the Warriors deep into the playoffs again. He didn't feel like the organization was committed to a significant boost in contender status so he decided not to risk lowering his stock further with a potential injury or another disappointing finish. Why bother? Baron saw an opportunity to head home, so he signed a deal with the Clippers that would pay him more than what the Warriors were willing to pay (based on initial negotiations) and give him the security of a longterm deal.

The 'unexpected' opt out of Baron Davis dealt a crippling blow to any serious thoughts of reaching the Western Conference Finals, but at the same time, it thrust a slew of new options and opportunities to build the Warriors practically from the ground up. Mullin was given a clean canvas on which he could paint a masterpiece. This was Mullin's chance to shine and initiate his vision of what it takes to build a contender.

Here's a chronological breakdown of some of the transactions and important decisions since the start of the Warriors' offseason.


Drafting Anthony Randolph

Mullin chose to draft the best available player in their eyes and turned out to be lucky in getting their hands on what could turn out to be a future star at #14. Anthony Randolph is a 6'-10" versatile 'small forward' that could pretty much do everything. I had him ranked as the best SF/PF that the Warriors should target early on in the draft process, but never thought he would be available for them since he would probably be long gone by the time the Warriors drafted. Prior to the start of the pre-draft circuit, he was projected as high as the #5 pick, but because of reportedly poor workouts and psychological testing, coupled with his slight frame and lackluster statistics, he begin to drop like a rock in many mock drafts. What was probably the most damaging bit of information (which also shook my confidence in Randolph as well) was the Hollinger's Draft Rater which projected Randolph to be a complete bust. Hollinger, the leading statistical analyzer of the NBA, spoke with Chad Ford in this ESPN Interview and calls Randolph a 2nd rounder that is destined to for the CBA. Here is an excerpt from his ranking of the bigs that perhaps damaged his stock among decision makers (and countless others) that put too much weight on what Hollinger's analytical approach to projecting future success:

Between Me and the Scouts, One of Us Will Look Like an Idiot
Anthony Randolph, LSU, 9.85

Yes, this is true. Seen in many quarters as a high lottery pick, Randolph has virtually nothing in his statistical record to justify such a lofty selection.

In particular, his woeful ball-handling numbers are a major red flag. Randolph had more turnovers than any prospect except Beasley and Thompson, but those two players had every play run through them; I'm still waiting to find out Randolph's excuse.

Additionally, his 49.9 true shooting percentage is alarmingly bad for a guy who is supposed to dominate athletically.

He can block shots, and the fact his team was such a mess probably didn't help his numbers any, but gambling on Randolph with a high first-round pick looks like the basketball equivalent of hitting on 19 in blackjack. Hey, maybe the dealer throws out a 2 and everyone thinks you're a genius, but chances are you're going to bust.

It appears he's going to be drafted in the middle of the first round at worst, but even that appears to be a terrible mistake -- there is no track record whatsoever of a player rated this poorly achieving pro success.

Damning words, indeed. No one wants to pick a high-risk bust in the lottery, so team after team passed on Randolph for the 'safer' choice. To Mullin's credit, he trusted his scouting information and what he saw on the court and took him with the last pick in the lottery when mock drafts had him plummeting into the late-middle picks of the first round. Apparently, Don Nelson was very high on Randolph from the beginning. In this KNBR interview (draft talk starts at around 9:00 into the interview), Nelson mentions a player that he would take #1 overall, but no one has considered him to be projected to go anywhere near #1. That player turned out to be Anthony Randolph (14:00).

Judging from what I've seen from Summer League (I know, I know, it's just Summer League), Anthony Randolph has the makings of becoming a very special player. He looks like a young Lamar Odom with more competitive fire. It's amazing to watch how quickly he brings the ball up the court. Randolph is guard-like in his ball-handling and decision making. Although he's rail thin, he's wiry strong and very aggressive going to the rack. He's able to take contact and finish, as well as make his free throws. Pack that talent into an agile 6'-10" frame (still growing?) and you have the ultimate Nellie-ball weapon. If he can play with the same confidence at the NBA level, Randolph will be a mismatch nightmare for any team and a key piece to the Warriors future.

Hollinger's statistical analysis is a valuable tool, especially when the sample size is large (not just freshman season). But one needs to remember that its strict reliance on stats alone could lead you to jump to the wrong conclusions about a player. It should only be a tool in an arsenal of supporting data that will lead you to make the right calls in evaluation. There were several things that Hollinger's Drafter Rater didn't take into consideration:
  1. Randolph has the competitive juices of a champion. He absolutely hates to lose and he does not take kindly to incompetence among his teammates. If you say he can't do something, he'll do whatever it takes to prove you wrong. Warriors fans have to thank Hollinger for his bulletin board material in singling out Randolph as the biggest bust of the draft.
  2. Randolph did not start playing competitive basketball until he was in the 8th grade (6 years ago). He was more into football (WR) and had a later start than most prospects in the draft. Although the formula takes age into account, his true basketball age is much younger. The raw talent is apparent the second you lay eyes on the kid and knowing that he hasn't played the game seriously for too long, you can't help but be impressed at how quickly he has developed.
  3. LSU was a terrible team with no point guard and some injuries. As a result, Randolph had to take on a lot of the point guard responsibilities even as a raw prospect still in the early stages of learning the game. This inevitably resulted in lots of turnovers, uncredited assists from playing with less than stellar teammates, and the pressure to take over as the #1 option at such a young age.
  4. There was a coaching change midway through the season, and that hurt his development, instruction, and ability for the team to compete. Morale was probably low, affecting everyone's play, and stunting growth as a player.
If what I've seen so far is any indication of what kind of player Anthony Randolph will be, Hollinger will be the one looking like an idiot, not the scouts that actually watch prospects play instead of relying exclusively on statistics and data.

One thing to watch for in Randolph's development is whether or not he can manage his emotions. His ultra-competitive nature and demand for high standards among his teammates can be mistaken with an attitude problem. He needs to channel his frustrations and energy into positive, motivating actions rather than wearing his emotions on his sleeve and allowing his play to be negatively effected. Unless he checks his attitude, it might adversely affect his relationships with coaches and teammates. Other than that, I see a very bright future for Anthony Randolph.

Grade: A


Anthony Randolph Highlights (NBA TV)
From: DejanBodyroga




Warriors select Anthony Randolph
From: nes1us




Anthony Randolph Mix
From: Trophicose




2008 Draft Picks Introductory Press Conference
From: GoldenStateWarriors




Next: Drafting of Richard Hendrix, Trade Exception, Baron Opt-Out, Signing Maggette

Monday, July 28, 2008

DID MULLIN OVERPAY AGAIN?


Productivity is an elusive stat to pin down, but John Hollinger's 'Player Efficiency Rating' or 'PER' is as good as any in quickly evaluating NBA talent that has played a good sample of minutes. The following is an excerpt from Hoopsworld in which they point out that the Warriors are setting the bar high for player salaries if one was to convert PER to a dollar amount.


From Hoopsworld:

With the Warriors being the only buyers in restricted free agency so far, its relevant to revisit the valuations the Warriors have established in the marketplace. Again we'll use ESPN's end of season PER numbers to base the values. With Monta Ellis getting $67 million on a new six-year deal his 19.01 PER breaks down to $3.52 million per PER point on a six-year deal, Andris Biedrins' new six-year, $54 million deal put him and his 19.18 PER rating at $2.82 million per PER point. The Lakers inked Sasha Vujacic and his 15.06 PER to a three-year, $15 million deal, making his six-year value $1.99 million per PER point. CJ Miles got his four-year, $15 million offer sheet matched by Utah, making his 14.30 PER rating worth $1.57 million per PER point in a six-year deal. Based on the average of the restricted deals done, a restricted players PER point on a six-year deal is worth, $2.59 million. Here is where the remaining restricted free agents should fall:

Player PER Six-Year Deal Per Year
Carl Landry 21.56 $73.3 million $12.2 million**
Josh Smith 19.08 $64.9 million $10.8 million
Andre Iguodala 19.05 $64.8 million $10.8 million
J.R. Smith 18.15 $61.7 million $10.3 million
Emeka Okafor 17.46 $59.4 million $9.9 million
Luol Deng 17.07 $58.0 million $9.7 million
Louis Williams 16.71 $56.8 million $9.5 million
Ben Gordon 16.52 $56.2 million $9.4 million
Dorrell Wright 14.42 $49.0 million $8.2 million
Delonte West 12.13 $41.2 million $6.9 million
Nenad Krstic 8.53 $29.0 million $4.8 million
** Carl Landry's PER is amazing, but won't get anywhere close to $12.2 per year


Part of the justification for paying 1.5 times higher per PER point to Biedrins and Ellis is the perceived upside of both players. Both are young and are considered franchise building blocks in important skill positions. Although Monta has not proven that he can yet master the PG position, he has proven to be a unique talent by being able to use his combination of quickness, explosiveness, and mid-range shooting to score at will on opponents on a nightly basis.

Here are rough valuations of some of the top NBA players not on their rookie contracts. The salary per PER point is based on what they made in 2008, multiplied by 6 years, and divided by their PER.

Player - PER - $ per point of PER based on 2008 salary applied over 6 years

LeBron James: 29.23 PER = $2.68M
Amare Stoudemire: 27.61 PER = $2.99M
Kevin Garnett: 25.30 PER = $5.63M
Dirk Nowitzki: 24.66 PER = $3.98M
Tim Duncan: 24.41 PER = $4.67M
Manu Ginobili: 24.34 PER = $2.24M
Kobe Bryant: 24.31 PER = $4.81M
Chris Bosh: 23.88 PER = $3.28M
Yao Ming: 22.61 PER = $3.65M
Chauncey Billups: 23.61 PER = $2.54M
Carlos Boozer: 21.96 PER = $3.17M
Pau Gasol: 21.68 PER = $3.80M
Steve Nash: 21.16 PER = $3.23M
Carmelo Anthony: 21.16 PER = $3.70M
Dwayne Wade: 21.63 PER = $3.62M


Current Warriors based on 2008 salary:

Stephen Jackson: 14.94 PER = $2.66M
Al Harrington: 15.70 PER = $3.22M
Corey Maggette: 19.43 PER = $2.16M

Based on this information and comparative data, do you think Monta Ellis ($3.52M per PER point) and Andris Biedrins ($2.82M per PER point) are overpaid?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BIEDRINS RE-SIGNS

According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Andris Biedrins has agreed to a 6-year / $54 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. The contract can reach a total as high as $62 million if Biedrins can meet several incentives not yet made public. The 6th year is a player option and it puts the Warriors right up against the luxury tax this year. Without any serious bidders in the NBA, his agent, Bill Duffy, used the threat of signing with deep pocketed Russian teams as a way to get Mullin to commit to a generous contract.

If the contract is structured the same way as Monta Ellis' contract, the salary payouts could be equal throughout the 6 years of the contract. This is the approximate financial situation for the team if this is the case:


(click to enlarge graphic)

The potential windfall in capspace for the summer of 2010 takes a big hit, but 2013 could be the year Mullin makes a big splash again in the Free Agent market. The team will be pushed up against the luxury tax this year and will get a little relief the following year when Adonal Foyle's contract comes off the books (all except $100k according to Tim Kawakami).

POLL RESULTS: ANDRIS BIEDRINS

How much should Biedrins'starting salary be?

$7.0 mil - $7.4 mil: 11 votes (18%)
$7.5 mil - $7.9 mil: 9 votes (14%)
$8.0 mil - $8.4 mil: 11 votes (18%)
$8.5 mil - $8.9 mil: 11 votes (18%)
Over $9.0 mil: 19 votes (31%)