This one’s getting crapped on a bit, but I don’t hate it. Here’s a few reasons:
– Does not harm flexibility much. It’s not a great contract, but the Nets still have wiggle room to take on other people’s mistakes in return for draft picks, splurge if a major star unexpectedly becomes available, etc. You can say it’s more than Outlaw is worth, but as long as it doesn’t harm flexibility then as a fan I just don’t care- if Prokhorov wants to pay it, good on him.
– Years on the deal. This is ages 25-30 or 26-31 on Outlaw, the prime of the prime for a guy who’s already a six year veteran. He missed a lot of time last year, but he hasn’t been historically injury-prone and shouldn’t break down in the life of the deal.
– Output and character. His career PER is just about average (14.9), he’s usually considered a solid if not outstanding defender, he has a few clear skills (boarding, shooting, shot blocking), and he’s been on winning teams and comes in with a reputation as a thoroughly decent, hardworking and likable guy. Assuming that’s accurate, he’s exactly the sort of player I’d like to have around my extremely young team: a veteran who’s still young enough to relate to them, who knows his role and performs it without complaint, who has the experience of being on a winning team and takes coaching well.
– Versatility. He can play the 3 or the 4, can give you serious minutes in the short term as you try to keep the team respectable and can transition to the bench as a 6th man/effective role player as the team improves. He’s also great Stupid Youngin’ insurance as Favors, Damion James, T-Will and whoever else in the next 5 years learns to play the 4 or 3; if they need to be brought off the bench, he can start; if they’re starting and need to be benched for some reason, he’s a credible threat to step in and take the minutes. Given that he’s a career role player and knows it plus the fact that he’s on a long term guaranteed deal, he’s unlikely to be selfish or whine much over being asked to do different things.
– He’s not Tyrus Thomas. And thank goodness for that. More on that guy if that deal actually happens.
If you were expecting the Nets to sign the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Chuck Norris and a Tyranosaurus Rex as a backup plan once the LeBron thing died, you’re obviously going to be disappointed; if you accept that the team has for obvious reasons a longer-term plan and this is a strategic move which fills certain roles as part of that plan, you can take it for what it is and be fairly happy with it.
EDIT: in case you thought I was just excuse-making about the Nets’ having a longer term plan to build like the Thunder, here’s a reported piece from today stating that that is precisely, by name, what they intend to do. This is the reason I have such hope for the Nets in the long term: they have an owner who has more patience than God gave a fruit fly, which is shockingly rare in this sport. In related news, I’m excited for the Nets’ season, and the idea of a LeBronless Knicks fills me with… well, sad apathy really. Give me hope, and I will give you money for tickets.
Unless something radical changes, it appears from all the reports out there that LeBron James is set to join Wade and Bosh down in Miami. For reasons I’m about to get into I don’t have the energy to write too much on this, but I’ll throw a bit out there and then move on. This decision effects 4 or so main things from my perspective and list of interests:
LeBron: I can’t criticize his choice, really. He’s going to get paid out the yin-yang in a state with extremely favorable tax rates and he’s about to win a bajillion consecutive titles for a team where he doesn’t have to be the clutch player. He’s never going to be An Immortal taking this path since he’s always going to be considered 1/3rd of a great thing instead of the leader of a great thing especially since everyone knows Wade is the clutch guy and the only one with a previous ring on this team, but evidently that doesn’t bother him. And if it doesn’t bother him, why should it bother me? I’m not going to watch a lot of Super Heat (Inferno? Firestorm? The Miami Cerberus? Team Voltron?) games, but I imagine a few of them should be fun. I wish him the best.
The NBA: At first blush and on paper this seems like an enormous win, and makes the Heat likely to be the first team in NBA history to have all 82 of their games telecast nationally on the ABCESPNasaurus. And for about 3 seasons it’s going to be MASSIVE. But given the inevitable work stoppage upcoming which may radically redesign the contract structure of the league plus the fatigue which is going to set in once it becomes clear that this team is totally unchallengeable, it’s not an obvious win over the long term for league-wide business. The NBA’s cultural interest level (and business, if you believe the pre-lockout propaganda) took a bit of a hit after the Jordan years and up until recently, partially I think because you had unchallengeable and eventually fairly unlikeable dynasties in LA and San Antonio; since then there’s been a tick upwards, partially due to independent economic reasons but partially also because there were so many interesting teams with a real shot to win it all. Now, and for the foreseeable future, there’s only 1. Once the curiosity factor fades, where are you?
I also worry that since the Celtics made their trade-based superstar grab which is obviously the model for this, we’re seeing a sea change in the way NBA players and stars especially see their options. There’s a real risk of the Old Firmization of the league where certain teams with ingrained advantages (like Miami with weather and local tax laws) will become havens for massive superstar gatherings independently arranged by the players themselves and sold as a package deal, essentially cutting out many other franchises from ever seriously competing. These days when an NBA team has zero chance of ever fielding a contender it’s usually a function of the stupidity of their ownership as with the Clippers or the Knicks; the league doesn’t have a Pittsburgh Pirates or a Caledonian Thistle, teams which because of innately limited resources can never hope to do much more than hang around.
In a superstar-driven sport like basketball, if stars get it into their heads to regularly gang up in one of three or four locations (LA, Boston, Miami, Chicago, maybe one or two more) that is essentially it for any form of competitive balance regardless of any salary-cap rules imposed by the league. If this pattern becomes entrenched (and players always, always watch what other players do) there’s no real brake to it, since the destination teams just have to keep cap room available and leave it to the players to collude their way into town. All of a sudden you move from a league which is closer to the NFL to one which is closer to the English Premier League- in existence for 17 years with only 5 champions, two of which (Blackburn and Leeds, since relegated) were one-year flukes. To put that in perspective the comparable number for the NBA is 7, with all but two (Heat, Celtics) being multiple-time champions and the Celtics also making a finals without winning, and the NBA is already a far, far more dynastic sport than most in North America. The Celtics were a special occurrence; this would be a special occurrence; 5 years down the line when Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are all heading to LA it’s going to be just another day in a league where the fans of a lot of teams which already claim to be losing money are feeling increasingly disenfranchised. A sport like baseball can get away with a version of this in which the AL East spends more on ballplayers than the European Union spends on defense and farm subsidies combined, because baseball has enough random noise and a diversified enough playoff structure to blunt a LOT of that impact; the NBA does not.
The Nets: No real effect, I think. Getting LeBron was always a massive long shot; now that that chance is formally over they can get back to the serious work of building a team from the foundations up to compete in 5-6 years. In 6 years Brook Lopez is 28 or 29, Derrick Favors is 24 or 25, James and Wade and Bosh are all in their 30s with a lot of miles on them and the Nets have had an extended period to build up talent around their front line using the resources of a billionaire owner. The Nets have the basic right idea of how to build a team it seems, and if anything this development out to help them stick to it: if you have no chance of competing in the mid-term and you’re stuck in Newark for the short term, why not build slow, stockpile assets, aim to be respectable by the time you hit Brooklyn and competing by the middle of next decade? I remain bullish on the Nets long term assuming they don’t lose their minds and try to compete before their time. If they do, well, skip down one section to the discussion of the Knicks.
Their best plan for next season is to sit on and stockpile their cap room, use it strategically to help add assets where available the way Oklahoma City has, concentrate on player skills development and don’t pay any attention to the record. If you get an incredible offer to add a true superstar- Chris Paul or someone of that caliber- take it, but don’t jump for any overpaid name someone calls about. If this team wins 15 games next year, that’s great- it means another high lottery pick’s worth of talent added. If you’re a Nets fan the things to care about this season are the degree to which Lopez, Favors, Damion James, T Will, Courtney Lee (I guess) and others develop and progress in attitude, skills and physical areas like, for instance, Favors’ filling out his frame. Have patience- even if you aren’t the patient type naturally, recognize that trying to finish in the 8th playoff slot in the near-term is the most Pyrrhic of victories in the East. And don’t weep over missing out on Carlos Boozer or David Lee; good players both, but neither was going to make the Nets any sort of a contender this year, in fact would have done little but draw them farther down the lottery.
The Knicks: And this is where the real disaster lies. Look back in the archives and you’ll see that I have said two things consistently about the Knicks’ plans: that they, meaning Walsh and D’Antoni, should not have been judged until after this summer, and that for this plan to have made sense they had to have some sort of back-channels guarantee from someone in the top 2 free agents, Wade or LBJ, that they would be able to use their cap room on this summer. Oops. The horizon broadened briefly with the Carmelo Anthony rumors, but with the news out as well that Anthony is re-upping in Denver and Chris Paul is no longer seriously available for trade, well, that’s the ball game. The Knicks now have Amare Stoudemire, a couple of interesting role-player prospects in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, assorted roster fodder, maybe something for D. Lee in a S&T, no draft picks worth the name for the next two years, and few if any other movable assets beyond Eddy Curry’s expiring. They’re fucked. Again.
I’d say I was frustrated, but I’m not; I was frustrated when Scott Layden was trying this stuff, I was frustrated in the early years of Glen Sather’s working retirement, I was frustrated at the towering insanity and inanity of the Isiah Thomas regime. Now when I hear that the Rangers have offered a 4 year guaranteed contract to Derek Boogaard or that the Knicks have managed to strike out on another get-rich-quick scheme, all I can really be is resigned since there’s no longer a disconnect between the awfulness of the joint ownership of these teams and my expectations for them. The people in charge of the Garden and these two franchises simply have no idea what they’re doing as the owners and operators of sports teams. They, and the majority of people they employ, are clowns; clownish behavior is not a surprise anymore. The Knicks could have gone down the same road as the Nets or the Thunder or the Blazers or the Kings or God knows how many other teams, but they’ve been telling themselves for so long that they’re one player away, one trade away, one free agent signing away and that New Yorkers will never accept rebuilding that they probably actually believe it at this point even though there isn’t a drop of truth in any part of it. And as a result the Knicks don’t mean anything today the same way they meant nothing yesterday and for the last 10 years, and won’t mean anything tomorrow or for the next 5-8 minimum unless something radical changes. They’re just a bad team run badly, and I don’t think that will ever change under these owners at this point; honestly, they’re not really a team worthy of support, just one which gets by on the abused loyalty of some of the best fans in the sport, fans who deserve a hell of a lot more credit and respect from the Garden hierarchy than they get.
Should Donny Walsh be fired? Yes, given that he invested all of his credibility in this failed move and is now faced with a rebuilding plan which it was his express purpose to avoid and which he is apparently unwilling or unable given health and age to take on. Will he be? No. And it doesn’t really matter, because based on track record whoever would have replaced him would have been another huckster with another get-rich-quick scheme whose first move would be to trade a 2017 and a 2019 first rounder to Minnesota for Al Jefferson or something similarly ludicrous. I don’t believe that under current ownership either the Knicks or Rangers can ever be anything more or other than what they are right now: sad, desperate, star-obsessed, flailing about without a realistic long-term plan, always willing to settle for second or third best as long as it’s quicker. In fact I expect that since this get-rich-quick scheme involved two years of losing, it’s likely going to discredit “rebuilding” in Jim Dolan’s eyes regardless of whether or not that was ever seriously attempted, and the GM- whether Walsh or someone else- will be under orders to go get a star, any star, no matter the price as soon as one is available. In fact, I would put money on the Knicks trading for Gilbert Arenas (for Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas & a future #1) in the next 2 months and finishing next season 30-52, putting the final stamp on this whole sad endeavor.
The Knicks depress me. They make me sad to be a sports fan, make me embarrassed to be a fan of theirs, make me not want to watch basketball, make me want to grow up and not follow pro athletics and read a good book instead. The Knicks are like socks for your birthday, an unwanted gift from someone who doesn’t understand you. And that’s really all I have to say about them, and all I expect to have to say for a very long while. I don’t think they’re trying as an organization; why should I try as a fan?
Bill Simmons: Fuck, sometimes he gets one right.
Obviously most of this is inoperative if all the reports turn out wrong and LeBron signs with [Not Miami], but I have my doubts.
And LeBron staying in Cleveland, since he can’t get anyone to join him elsewhere and there’s real questions about his ambition. Best thing about this: there’s no juggernaut team in the East this way, with even Miami having major injury concerns with their stars and a limited supporting cast. With the Lakers aging at least it leaves some air for the locals as they build. Also it’s 8:30 AM and I’ve been up since a long time ago o’clock so more in depth discussion later, but a thought: are Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh along with Shaq back when the three biggest free agent defections in NBA history?
Is this tweet accurate? Hell if I know. But it’s plausible, and ludicrous in its details (Jay Z is the guy you call?) the way something like this would be. That’s the Knicks for you.
I was going to write some sort of giant 2-part Knicks and Nets in free agency post, but between being distracted by real life and other sports I realized I really only had a few things to say about this, and they’re pretty general:
More importantly than anything else, both the Knicks and the Nets have to be sure of any contracts they sign and any players they acquire. If you can get one of the big two and a half (LBJ, Wade, Bosh), you do it at any asked-for price; if you can’t, then you need to be sure of every aspect of the deal. The worst thing any of the big players in free agency can do is panic if their wooing of the big names goes wrong and throw stupid money after second and third tier players. A guy like Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer can be very effective and valuable in the right spot on the right team, chiefly as the third best player on a real title contender where their skills compliment the big dogs on the team. But if you’re paying max money to either guy to be the centerpiece of the team you’re building for the next 5 or 6 years, as they age into their 30’s and a new CBA changes the financial landscape in unpredictable ways, you’re essentially spending huge amounts of money to gamble on a bet whose payoff- if everything goes right- is to lose in the second or third round of the playoffs. It’s a fool’s bargain.
The intelligent way to build a team is what’s been done in Portland and Oklahoma City, using the draft and building a core; the Nets can still do that, the Knicks probably can’t in the short term, but even if that chance is gone it’s not an excuse to lock yourself into mediocrity with contracts which will keep you in 35-47 hell until well past when you could have started rebuilding through the draft if you weren’t a mediocre late-lottery team. For the Knicks, that mark is 2013 as I understand it- they owe 2012 and a swap on 2011 to Houston, but after that they’ll finally, finally have their own picks back. So this is the question for them to ask: is what you could get right now on the market, taking into account cost, contract length, new CBA salary cap effects and other considerations going to A) have you closer to a title in, say, 2016 than the draft would, and B) will you make more or less money over that span by paying a ton for second-order free agents and losing in the first or second round, or by running a bare-bones team and then paying draft picks? If what you get now is LeBrosh this is a no-brainer; if what you get now is Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire and spare parts I think it’s also a no-brainer, the other way. I strongly doubt Knicks management sees it this way; time will tell. What scares me is that I don’t think the Knicks really care about going for a title, to be honest; I think they’re comfortable running the con of an “exciting, up tempo” loser so long as it keeps the Garden full.
For the Nets, it’s a bit more complicated. The LeBrosh home run option is still an easy yes, but I’m not sure it makes all that much sense for them to dip into the free agent market for a forward given the presence of Derrick Favors, who as of now is the only Net with what you might call breakout centerpiece potential. I like David Lee as a player for instance, but I don’t see the angle on paying him to play while Favors sits on the bench- especially considering that, let’s be honest, the next two years which will be taken up by Favors learning the NBA are already essentially wasted years for the franchise while they’re stuck in Newark, waiting on construction. They’ve already got a more or less competent deputy in Kris Humphries to help eat minutes at the 4. You can argue that adding a Lee or a Stoudemire potentially gives the Nets either a devastating 3-big rotation or makes Favors a useful trade chip, but I’m far from convinced on that one- the Nets need a breakout player, and as good as Lee is he’s never going to be that guy. Maybe Favors won’t either, but it makes sense to invest the time to find out.
If they can’t hit the lottery (again), the Nets’ best play is probably a limited grab for a wing player- someone who can hit kick out threes and do some ball-handling. Not that I expect this to happen, but I can see Joe Johnson as a potential fit here, actually- he does these jobs in Atlanta, and since I suspect the Nets are going to have to dump Devin Harris upcoming (ball-dominant dribble-drive point guard on a team organized around two bigs? No buys) he can act as partial insurance on that trade, whenever it happens. Prokhorov seems to want to get the team into the playoffs next year; Johnson + a healthier Harris + Lopez + some maturation and contribution from the younger players on the team + one or two tertiary or quaternary free agents to fill out the roster probably does it. It’s not the way I’d go (I’d rather see the team spend one more years sucking for draft purposes), but I understand where he’s coming from. As an addendum, I’d be hesitant about Rudy Gay here- yes he’s younger, but he’s a restricted free agent with a head case rep and questionable performance. He’s plateaued in the land of just-above-average offensively in recent years (PER: 17.34, 15.38, 16.30 in that order) and his defense is blah.
Bottom line for both teams- and the whole league really- is to recognize that team improvement is not a linear process in a salary capped sport, especially one like the NBA where players are clearly slotted into certain positions and figures. 90% of the work consists in finding one of the very, very few players in each generation who are what you might call legitimate max players- guys who can be the best player on a title winning team. There’s always quibbling about who exactly falls into this category, but I think everyone can agree that there’s two players in it in this free agency class: LeBron and Wade. Wade is 99% certain to stay in Miami; LeBron is the dream. If a team can’t get him however their focus- if they want to win a title- has to be on acquiring one way or another the sort of player who can fill this role. Joe Johnson will not do it, Carlos Boozer will not do it, Amare Stoudemire will not do it, Chris Bosh is an argument but in most people’s eyes will not do it, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce through a combination of age and other factors will not do it. If a team is signing players like that, they should either have a player who fills the main slot already (like Miami, maybe Chicago, and on a long shot the Nets) or they should have a realistic plan in place to acquire a player like that. Otherwise all a team does is lock itself intot he hopeless middle of the NBA where teams perpetually finish too high to get a decent draft pick and too low to be real contenders. That’s the worst fate for the NBA team and it’s a sure bet that at least one team and maybe several is going to condemn themselves to it this offseason. Here’s hoping it’s not one of the locals.
I love that the Wizards have become a dumping ground for everyone’s middling-contract, middling-talent mistakes. Look: YI Jianlian was massively, massively miscast as a foundation piece for both the Bucks and the Nets. He has NBA talent, but his best role is as a situational stretch 4, a roleplayer on a good team. In extended minutes his complete lack of basketball IQ was exposed far, far too often, mostly on the defensive end where he was one of the worst players I’ve ever seen at his level of athleticism. He tried, but after two years it was brutally obvious that he was not getting it and probably never would. He gives an honest effort though, and I’ll be happy to see him succeed in a better role for a team which isn’t as pressured to get something out of him to justify the expense of acquiring him.
If there’s any other import to this, it’s that the Nets seem to think there’s still value to creating cap space right now.
Look, if the mooted LeBron/Wade/Bosh team-up in Miami actually happens, I have to say: I’m not even going to be mad (with one exception). That team will have the most talent of any team put together at least since the Phase 2 Bulls (Jordan/Pippen/Rodman) and maybe ever, and will be a real threat every year for 3-5 years to be the best team in history. That is a once in a lifetime all-the-stars-are-aligned proposition which would produce some of the most amazing basketball possible; next year’s finals would be the LA Lakers vs. Team Voltron and would break every ratings mark in league history for a series of between five and seven 148 to 139 games. If both the Nets and Knicks are going to bomb out in free agency at least let it be for this and not some half-assed LeBron in Cleveland, Wade in Miami, Bosh in Chicago scenario. Let’s at least have the locals sacrificed on the altar of greatness.
That said, if this happens… everyone involved with the Knicks should be fired or forced to sell the team by David Stern’s gangsters. The team bet the last couple of seasons as well as the next two years’ worth of #1 draft picks (meaning rebuilding can’t really start until 2013) on the proposition that they could get at least one of these three players in free agency. They had to be sure, had to have essentially a back-channels commitment to make this worthwhile. If they didn’t, if they fail to secure one of these three, then they’ve wasted 5 years of the franchise’s time for nothing and invested the whole of their credibility as franchise leaders into a short term strategy which will have spectacularly and publicly faceplanted. Leaving lawsuits aside, how is that any different from what Isiah did? The only way they can make the situation worse in that instance is to go out and sign Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson, locking the team further into mediocrity in a conference where nothing short of an act of God is going to give Miami competition. Which is of course what I expect them to do. Compare to the Nets, who in this scenario at least still have the 4 and the 5 sorted out for 10+ years with a little luck, and can continue slow-building so that their team peaks around when Team Voltron starts to decline with age.
Again, it’s all an if at this point. But there’s a lot of smoke out there right now.
Meaning you lot: anyone who thinks Derrick Favors is going to be either the savior of the franchise or the doom of the franchise for sure at this moment needs to reevaluate their prognostication abilities- a lot. He’s a developmental pick who will take several years to reach his peak, whatever that peak is. That’s fine for the Nets who like virtually every 70 loss team in history are collectively years away from real relevance as well. With luck, the player and the team can grow together. There was a legitimate argument for Cousins in this slot and only time will tell which would have been the better pick, but anyone who thinks they know for certain is fooling themselves; a lot of what goes into developing a player to his potential has yet to be done on both of those gentlemen.
It’s worth remembering as well that the last two weeks before and one week after the NBA draft is one of the stupidest moments in sports. Every little thing about these guys is magnified far, far beyond its actual importance; rumors spread unchecked, often actively circulated by the team, players, agents and media; and many of those same sources engage in active misinformation to further their own ends. There’s probably 100 rumored trades for every one which is actually talked about, and 100 get talked about for every one which is completed. That’s just the nature of the league. Believe half of what you read and none of what you hear right now and you’ll save yourself a lot of irritation.
For my part, I’m satisfied with what the Nets did tonight. Favors has the chance to be something special, and if the Nets really are looking at him more as an asset than as a player (as per Chad Ford) than at least the Nets acquired the asset with the greatest perceived value at their draft position. The 27 & 31 for Damion James trade seems fine to me as well given that James was in the teens on many draft projections and is described as the kind of rugged banger-with-a-motor which a team can always use as a backup in the forward slots. People love to complain, but Rod Thorn has a generally solid draft record and as a fan I’m completely fine with what he did tonight. Both of the new guys should play meaningful roles on next year’s Nets.
Apparently no one is entirely clear on what the Nets are going to do. Chad Ford says it’s Favors, a couple of days ago is was Johnson, there’s a ton of trade rumors going on- at best there’s several smokescreens in play, at worst it’s total chaos and no decisions have been made. For my part, I think there’s two roads the Nets can take, either of which is defensible and one of which I don’t think fans can fairly judge yet. They are:
1. Take Favors. When you have a top-5 pick in an NBA draft, even more so with a top-3, you have to take the best player available regardless of position. I hate to invoke Sam Bowie/Michael Jordan 1984 here in which Portland passed up Jordan because they already had Drexler, but… well, there you go. The reality of NBA history is that you can count on one hand the number of champions in the modern (1980-) era who won it all without a top-5-in-the-league player leading the line for them, and trying to acquire such a player by any means other than the draft is incredibly hard. Once in a while you get a gift like Shaq to LA in free agency or Garnett for magic beans, but if you’re counting on that you’re counting on a microscopic chance. If the choice comes down to Favors or Johnson for the Nets, it has to be Favors- he has the potential to be That Guy for your team, and while Johnson may be more likely to be solid, by general agreement he’s just never going to be good enough to be the best player on a title winner. I would always rather a team swing for the fences and fail in the draft than stay safe, because if you swing and miss you’re at least trying to acquire the most necessary, really nearly essential, thing for a team to have. If you take Johnson you’re really not even trying to fill that gap. Let’s be ambitious for once.
2. Trade the pick, or draft Favors and trade him. I can’t evaluate this option because I (and you) have no knowledge of what is or is not on the table for the Nets. There are potential blow-away offers out there which could make a trade worthwhile, and I’ll have more ot say on those if and when they happen. But keep this in mind: those offers should have something to do with the Nets trying to acquire a guy who can be the best player on a title winner. If that means trading for a guy who LeBron wants to play with, great; if that means getting offered such a player in a deal, great; it does not mean trading down to a mid-lottery pick this year and picking up a late first-rounder or a rotation spare part in the process. When you have an ultrastar, filling in the gaps around him isn’t that hard; when you have guys to fill the gaps, adding the ultrastar in the middle is much, much harder.
Bottom line: the Nets have a chance to get a player who could be the best guy on a title contender or title winner. That’s what they should come away from tonight with. If they don’t, someone screwed something up.
Incidentally, as someone with great respect for stats I suppose I should briefly address why I prefer Favors to Cousins despite Cousins’ superior translated college stats. Two main reasons: first, because everyone else seems to regardless of what the numbers say; and second, because the Nets already went through the Derrick Coleman experience once. It’s not that malcontents and people with bad attitudes can’t win titles, but it is that if you’re going to use guys like that in your team you’d better be damn sure of what you’re doing. Adding a Rasheed Wallace to a strong veteran team a la Detroit ’04 is one thing; building a team from the ground up with a guy who most people think is crazy-go-nuts as probably your best player is quite another. Cousins seems to be one of those guys who, even if he completely pans out in terms of skill and athleticism, will always cause problems and set a negative tone for a team which will inhibit them over the long term. If you’re the Nets, trying to attract big name free agents and establish yourself in a new market while battling an ingrained reputation for incompetence and chintzy-ness, do you really want that guy as the face of your franchise and the focs of your marketing efforts? It’s just not worth the risk considering that most people don’t believe that over the long term Cousins will be better than Favors, only that he’s producing better right now.
It would have been nice if it could have worked out since he seemed to have real talent, but the bottom line for the Nets right now has to be to drag the entire team and club’s culture out of the muck and mire which was the pre-Prokhorov sections of last season. CDR by most accounts was not on the right side of that line attitudinally, and he’s not talented enough to get away with that. With luck, being traded for a second round pick to be used somewhere over the horizon will tell him that. He should slot in as one of the top backups to Redd and Maggette on the wings out there, although I don’t know how much burn there’ll be for him until/unless Redd gets traded or his knee packs up again.
Main point for the Nets here is that is solidifies the team likely using the 27 and 31 picks to go for wing players on Thursday, probably regardless of whether it’s Favors or Johnson at #3. They’ve been linked with some of the late first round shooting specialists of late on mock drafts, which seems just about right.
And for the record, I am strongly in favor of either Favors or Cousins over Johnson.