Mike Miller’s Monkey and Web Reactions
Coming off last night’s trade snap reactions from this very site, here are some initial quotes from ’round the Internets (and I’m sure there will be more), but first….
Mike Miller has a monkey … or at least he used to.
Back when he was with the Orlando Magic, Miller had a Java Macaque, which is one of those tiny lil’ monkeys that’s almost like having a kid. Miller would change its diapers, attempt to wean it off the bottle and onto people food, etc.. The monkey, Sonny, had his own mini-playground and would sleep in the bed with Miller every night. The story on the Orlando Magic website even says that Java Macaques can grow to have the intelligence level of a six year old human baby … strange.
But alas, don’t expect to see ‘Sonny’ at Ben’s Chili Bowl or sitting on Abe Lincoln’s lap any time soon. True Hoop’s Henry Abbott, who wrote about Miller’s monkey long ago for HOOP magazine, reported on TH in December of 2007 that Miller had to let Sonny go because he was trying to raise two real babies, his sons Mason and Mavrick.
No word on if Miller’s sons have gotten old enough to get a new monkey. I’m sure that after reporting about Randy Foye’s reverse organs and Oleksiy Pecherov’s farewell, Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog will be all over it.
I’m not completely sold on getting Randy Foye and Mike Miller, but I’m willing to give Ernie the initial benefit of the doubt, because if there is one area where Grunfeld has succeeded in during his time in Washington it is making shrewd deals. He landed Antawn Jamison for the No. 5 pick in 2004 and got Caron Butler for Kwame Brown a year later.
I would feel better about the deal if the Wizards had secured one of the Timberwolves’ late first round picks, particularly No. 18. But I heard from a source that Minnesota wasn’t going to give up that selection in this deal.
Washington’s pro basketball team gets two scoring swingmen who like to have the ball in their hands, and gives up a onetime starting center, a banging veteran forward, a young 7-footer and the fifth pick in tomorrow’s NBA draft. Hey, at least Brendan Haywood will never have to worry about his minutes in the pivot being cut again.
In an apparent ongoing attempt to run, gun and mirror the pre-Shaq Suns, Grunfeld, the Wizards’ president, dealt away that depressing No. 5 selection and three contracts to Minnesota for Mike Miller, Mr. Outside, and Randy Foye, Another Mr. Outside, last night. Which, given that Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Nick Young also want and need shots outside the key, looks a little odd on paper.
Both players are helpful, but they improve the team’s depth, not its top-flight talent. They don’t do all that much to fix many of the Wizards’ biggest weaknesses (namely, defense), and by cashing some of his chips (the fifth pick, Etan’s expiring deal) to get them, Ernie Grunfeld has created a major roster imbalance that he must now solve, except now he has far fewer assets available to do it. It’s not taking a risk as much as it is maintaining the status quo and making slight upgrades without going all the way.
So in making this trade, the Wizards are really trying to have it both ways — winning now even while cutting salary. This is clearly the most creative trade Ernie could make to have it both ways, but that’s not how success is measured. It’s measured in championships, and I’m dubious that this really got us much further on that front.
For the Wizards? “Stay the course” I guess. If you can just… get… healthy… you can win… with this nucleus!
In the process of trying to chant that, three Wizards were lost for the season.
Regardless of your thoughts on the merit of this take, the bottom line with the Wiz/Wolves deal, at least from a Wolves perspective, is that they gave up two dead-enders for a top 5 pick. The Wolves were able to grab a top 5 draft pick without giving away any part of their Kahn-based core.
It should be noted that this deal puts an end to Kevin McHale’s biggest blunder: Foye for Roy. It also sends Randy back to Randy Wittman, who is an assistant in D.C. Also, I think we now all have a good sense of what Kahn was talking about when he said that McHale probably wouldn’t be comfortable with some of the moves coming around the bend.
As for Miller and Foye I think they just weren’t the best fit here. Miller struggled with injuries this past year and without a distributor to get him the open looks he’s so good at converting he saw previously in his career. He still has plenty of game left in my opinion and I think he will do well in Washington with Arenas and Butler getting him the ball. Foye as well I think is moving to a better situation. He never was the cornerstone point guard the Wolves needed and after being taken out with a knew injury two years ago has failed to progress like the guy he was traded for in Brandon Roy. Personally I think he will do very well as Washington’s 6th man combo guard off the bench in the Leandro Barbosa/Jason Terry mold. He definitely has the ability to score in bunches and should be penciled in for 12-14 points off the bench in 25-30 mins. I wouldn’t be shocked if he played well enough that he was in talks for the 6th man of the year award. That being said I think it was right for the Wolves to move him as he only has 1 year left on his rookie contract and hasn’t lived up to what we needed him to be.
But by adding these two players, the Wizards certainly have made themselves a fearsome offensive team. If Arenas is healthy, they could very well lead the league in offensive efficiency, and if that happens, new coach Flip Saunders just needs to coax an average defensive effort from them to win a ton of games. Neither is likely, I should point out, but both are certainly possible, so as long as they’re painted into a corner anyway by the foolish contracts they gave Arenas and Jamison a year ago, that appears to be where the Wizards will focus.
On the surface, this is team that could really run the floor. The rotation now has two primary shooter/ball-handlers (Arenas and Foye) plus a bunch of 6′8”-type wing players with varying degrees of perimeter shooting skill (Butler, Jamison, Miller, McGuire). They have the potential to be very, very tough to guard.
It makes you wonder if the Wiz have another deal planned for a big man, or if they will be competing for the mid-level type big men on the market. (Mikki Moore may be available for the right price, Wiz fans). Miller and Foye both have expiring contracts (worth about $13.5 million combined), so the Wiz still have trade chips to play with even though they just unloadedThomas’s deal. (They also managed to unload Songalia’s contract, which contains a $4.8 million player option for 2011. Nice work by Ernie Grunfeld).