By Craig Kwasniewski
Not even one week into the negotiation period and there has been plenty of player movement. Free agent negotiations began on July 1 however contracts cannot be signed until July 12. I never understood the 11 day delay. Maybe this prevents GM's from getting buyer's remorse after some crappy deals. We'll call it the Isaiah Thomas Corollary (or coronary for you Knick fans).
So let's take a look at a few of the early player movement. Barring any Carlos Boozer back-stabbing situation, we'll assume that the verbal agreements are final.
Ben Wallace to Chicago: Pretty much this has been beaten to death by all the NBA "experts". I just recall reading a Sam Smith piece back in 04-05 predicting that the Bulls were mimicking the Detroit Pistons in their roster moves. While this is a good move, this is not going to make the Bulls an immediate contender. They still lack a low post scorer and that clutch swingman that you need for the playoffs (Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Ginobili, etc.). They were headed in the right direction, but then they brought in Jim Paxson as a consultant. (???) Nothing beats some good old fashioned nepotism! Why not consult your flunky older brother? What type of "consulting" can a former GM who's record was 185-307 and zero NBA playoff appearances in six years do?
Nazr Mohammed to Detroit: Not a bad pick-up for a 4-year deal for $25 million. Losing Wallace was big for team chemistry (was mostly satisfied with take little or no shots), defense (one of the top help defenders in the game) and rebounding. Getting Mohammed is a smart move, Detroit gets a decent big who'll come off the bench and they didn't have to move any key players. Still Detroit is no longer one of the top four teams in the league.
Vladimir Radmanovic to the Lakers: If Lamar Odom is considered a poor man's Pippen and Kobe is Jordan, then Radmanovic is Toni Kukoc. Outside shooting and satisfactory handles off the bench over the next few years. This signals the end to the Lakers preposterous notion to freeze all summer transactions and clear cap space for 2008 (all key free agents will be gone by then). I'm still shocked that the bulk of Laker fans bought into this. "Hey Jerry Buss led us to 8 titles, he knows what he's doing!" But Mitch Kupchak DOES NOT!!!!
Tim Thomas to the Clippers: Suckers!!! Sure he had an awesome 2006 playoff run, but that may have something to do with Steve Nash and the Phoenix system. Just ask Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New York and Chicago about Tim Thomas. Nice to see Elgin return to 2002 form, we all missed you. Still, re-signing Cassell may convince Thomas to play a full 82 in 2006-07. I doubt it.
Milwaukee gets Villanueva from Raptors for Ford: So Toronto couldn't keep two good bigs on their roster? Which is more intimidating, Villanueva and Bosh coming at ya or Andrea Bargnani and Rasho Nesterovic? Golly, that's a toughy! Andrea needs to get a hard-ass nickname, something veryyy Sopranos if you know what I mean. Andy "Two Balls" Bargnani or something mafia-like. Anyway, Ford is injury-prone and Villanueva was improving with a serious chip on his shoulder (which now will definitely grow). Couldn't Toronto keep Villanueva and re-sign Mike James?
Eric Piatkowski to the Suns: Wow! I guess the Colangelo's were the real geniuses in Phoenix. Sans Brian Colangelo, Phoenix trades off two first round picks for movie passes to Pirates of the Caribbean and now they sign Piatkowski. Let's see, slow white guy who couldn't crack the lineup for the 8th seeded Bulls (check); guy who had career lows in games played, minutes played and three point shooting percentage-his specialty (check); the guy is 35 years old and is entering his 13th season (check). With all that upside, how can you NOT sign him?
Sebastian Telfair to Boston: He's waaay overrated! His lone move is the cross-over and predictably he spends every possession setting up for it. (The glazed look in this pic tells it all!)
Speedy Claxton to Atlanta: Only good if it means that Tyronne Lue (the WORST point guard in the NBA!) is cut.
Tyson Chandler to NOOCH: Good in the fact that they got rid of J.R. Smith, who did not get along with coach Scott. Bad in the fact that they still haven't addressed the lack of a low post offensive player.
Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic to NOOCH: Jackson is injury prone and Stojakovic is a pussy in the playoffs. However, they will improve NOOCH in the regular season. They STILL need a low post scorer!
Check in later next week for Player Movement, Part 2. There will be a lot of activity this summer, hopefully we'll see a superstar or two get traded and Chris Wilcox will be a Laker (Do your job just once Kupchak!).