Oly Sandor’s NBATake: Why the Harrington deal is significant, Chris Mullin is the Isiah of the West Coast, Riley’s return, Carter in Disneyworld, and more!
Harrington lands in Indiana, finally
On Wednesday, Atlanta officially traded Al Harrington and center John Edwards to Indiana in exchange for a lottery protected first round draft pick and a 7.5 million dollar trade exception.
Finally, some closure to this rather odd saga.
After all, this deal took months to complete. And during negotiations, Harrington changed agents, Atlanta and Indiana’s owners got involved, and other NBA franchises were bought and sold.
Believe it or not, the dysfunctional Knicks took less time to fire Larry Brown. Those forty days last spring now seem short in comparison to the Harrington soap opera.
Harrington, a talented combo forward, inked a four year deal with Indiana for thirty six million dollars.
This move is interesting. Harrington provides the Pacers with scoring, but he’s not the missing ingredient Indiana needs to win an NBA Title. There were also rumors that Indiana’s owners wanted to blow up their current team and rebuild around younger players.
Apparently, the rebuilding project is on hold. Harrington’s contract shows that Indiana’s ownership believes the current Pacer squad can compete with Detroit, Miami, and Cleveland for the Eastern Conference crown.
On the other hand, this move shows that Atlanta’s ownership group is only concerned with one thing-the bottom line.
Hawks GM, Billy Knight, wasn’t allowed to trade Harrington’s 19 points and seven rebounds per game for another player-ownership was too cheap to take back a contract. With fire sales like this, the Atlanta Hawks should change sports, move north, and become the Montreal Expos.
Nobody in Atlanta would care.
Mullin and Isiah are too similar
Golden State reportedly had some interest in acquiring Al Harrington. This got me thinking.
NBA heads fixate on the trials, tribulations, and plotlines that surround Knick GM Isiah Thomas, while the blunders of another front office executive go unnoticed.
Chris Mullin’s two year tenure as Warriors’ Executive Vice-President can only be described as terrible. The ‘Isiah of the West Coast’ has misjudged talent and overpaid players.
Let’s take a closer look at Mullin’s reign:
• He fired a promising coach in Eric Musselman and brought in Mike Montgomery from Stanford. Montgomery has struggled with the pro game.
• He gave Adonal Foyle a Jim Mcllvaine-like contract worth forty million dollars. Foyle is earning eight million dollars per season for posting career averages of 4.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
• Derek Fisher, an average combo guard and better known as Shaquille O’Neal’s former sidekick from their Laker days, was given a thirty six million dollar contract. Fisher is now with Utah.
• He acquired Baron Davis and his ‘max’ contract. Davis can’t stay healthy or run the Warriors’ offense.
• Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, and Jason Richardson were given long term contracts for a combined one hundred and seventy-five million dollars. These three are talented players, but none of them have won a single playoff game.
• He took ‘Euro’ prospect Andris Biedrens in the 2004-05 NBA draft, passing over solid pros like Sebastian Telfair, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Delonte West, Kevin Martin, Beno Udrih, and David Harrison.
The Warriors, who showed so much promise under Musselman just a few years ago, are tied to Mullin’s underachieving nucleus of Murphy, Dunleavy, and Richardson.
Mullin should be like Thomas in New York-under the gun to immediately produce a winner. But Golden State’s owners protect Mullin likes New York’s owners use to protect Thomas.
Riley to defend NBA Title
Pat Riley’s ability to motivate players makes him a great coach.
He’s Anthony Robbins without the infomercials. He’s Mr. Miyagi without Ralph Macchio-thankfully. And he’s Dr. Phil minus the excess girth.
For example, when the Mavericks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals, Riley cancelled the Heat’s practice, and gave his players a newspaper article about Dallas’ plans for a victory parade.
This provided Miami’s players with extra motivation. They won the series’ next four games, securing the franchise’s first NBA Title.
But these motivational tactics are nothing new for Riley. In June of 1987, Riley’s Lakers won the NBA Title, defeating the Celtics in a classic six game series. At the victory parade, Riley, with his slick hair and black shades, promised Los Angeles’ fans that they would win back-to-back NBA Titles.
At the time, back-to-back NBA Titles was unheard of. The legendary Celtics were the last team to accomplish such a feat in the late 1960’s. And those Boston teams had Hall of Fame players like Bill Russell, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones.
But ‘Magic’, Worthy, and Kareem responded to Riley’s challenge, winning the 1987-88 NBA Title in a tight seven game series with the Pistons
Count on Riley to keep the Heat focused and motivated. ‘Shaq’ won’t be allowed to put on weight and Riley will keep ‘D-Wade’ humble.
The Magic eyeing Carter
Right now, the Orlando Magic have enough cap space to take a run at Vince Carter in the summer of 07-08. And ‘Half-man, occasionally-amazing’ can exercise a player option on his contract after next season and for personal reasons may be interested in returning to his home state of Florida.
A message for Orlando’s front office: don’t do it. If Carter exercises the option clause, don’t sign him to a long term contract worth tens of millions of dollars.
Haven’t we all seen this song and dance before? An athletic guard/small forward, perhaps a little on the soft side, wants to come home to Orlando.
Flashback to July, 2000. Tracy McGrady, Carter’s cousin and teammate in Toronto, was tired of playing in the shadow of his own relative, so he signed with Orlando as a free agent.
At the press conference to announce his signing, ‘T-Mac’ declared that “a star is returning home.” Egotistical, yes, but at least he avoided referring to himself in the third person like most NBA players.
McGrady, the prodigal star, was eventually chased from his hometown of Orlando like a bad Lou Pearlman boy band.
Carter won’t work, either. Orlando needs tough, defensive-minded veterans to set a positive example for their young players.
Spurs have another excellent off-season
This summer, too many organizations overpaid free agents. There wasn’t a lot of talent available.
Teams would have been better off cutting salary and saving cap space. San Antonio must be applauded for replacing Rasho Nesterovic and Nazr Mohammed with cheaper parts like Fransisco Elson and Jackie Butler.
Keeping both Nesterovic and Mohammed would be very expensive, costing the Spurs 13 million dollars per season in total salary. This is too much money for a couple of role players.
Elson and Butler together cost about five million dollars per season. Both are athletic and hungry. More importantly, the Spurs shed salary and are in a better position to bid on free agents during the 2007 and 2008 off-season. These sorts of moves are extremely shrewd and are what keep the Spurs so competitive.
Point blank: Oly Sandor is the hottest NBA analyst in the game. His unique NBA takes have been featured in the most prominent basketball websites, magazines, and radio stations. Oly can be reached at [email protected] and more of his work can be found at www.olysandornbaanalyst.blogspot.com