Finding A Big Man For The Washington Wizards
I was on a break outside the other day, catching some fresh Penn Quarter air, taking a stroll around Freedom Plaza, when this little kid came up to me, and said, “Hey Mister … don’t you know that the Wizards need another big man? Haywood, Jamison, Blatche, McGee, and McGuire aren’t going to cut it.”
“Easy lil’ fella,” I told him. “We’ll keep looking around to see if we can add someone else, but we feel comfortable about what we have currently and the depth of our ballclub.”
The kid then kicked me in the shin and ran away.
I suddenly woke up from my slumber and realized those weren’t my words, those were Ernie Grunfeld’s words. I had a mission …
Finding the perfect big man for the Wizards … how is it done? Well, with a dose of stats and a bit of guts. I first started this post/research before the Wizards made the Miller/Foye trade, and then had to keep adjusting given circumstances.
First, I wanted to narrow the field to target not only free-agents (restricted and unrestricted), but other big men who are reasonable targets (using “reasonable” loosely). I’ve also eliminated some targets.
For instance, in the narrowed field, you will not see the following:
- Chris Bosh – Toronto is not trading him this summer … check back at the trade deadline.
- Zydrunas Illgauskas – Nope. Cleveland loyalty and we don’t want to give the Cavs anything in a trade, nor his contract.
- Paul Millsap – No way the Jazz are letting him go. They’d rather keep Millsap over Boozer and/or Okur. Of course, Boozer and Okur decided NOT to opt-out/early terminate … so the Jazz might not be able to keep Millsap. But if the Wizards were to go after him, it’d probably have to be a sign-and-trade. I’d LOVE to have this guy (so he’ll actually be on the list for comparison purposes).
- Emeka Okafor – Shaky back and over $60 million and 5-years left on his contract … no, thanks.
- Lamar Odom – Yea, riiight. That dude is not playing for our MLE, nor is he worth a sign and trade with LA.
- Amare Stoudemire – That ship has sailed.
- Michael Ruffin – Bad Toronto memories … horrendous offense … maybe if he weren’t going to be 33 in January.
- Others who aren’t in the list below – Just because.
That leaves us with this set of 24 players (in alphabetical order):
- Chris Anderson
- Brandon Bass
- Marcus Camby
- Tyson Chandler
- Samuel Dalembert
- Francisco Elson
- Jeff Foster
- Channing Frye
- Drew Gooden
- Marcin Gortat
- Andrei Kirilenko
- David Lee
- Antonio McDyess
- Paul Millsap
- Rasho Nesterovic
- Zaza Pachulia
- Joel Przybilla
- Zach Randolph
- Joe Smith
- Anderson Varejao
- Charlie Villanueva
- Rasheed Wallace
- Chris Wilcox
- Shelden Williams
I know what you’re thinking …. there’s no way some of these guys end up on the Wizards. Bad contracts, cancers, injury risks, and your “ain’t no ways” are all there (looking at you ‘Sheed, Dalembert, Chandler, Z-Bo, etc.).
Just bare with me. All of those guys are “available” per se. Stats will eliminate some, intuition others.
Ok, so how shall we measure this set?
I’m going to go with some aspects of the much vaunted plus/minus.
We obviously want said big man to be a good defender AND rebounder, so I will use the following (all stats from this past season 82games.com):
- Net +/- for points allowed for 100 possessions on defense.
- Net +/- for effective FG% allowed
- Net +/- % total rebounding
However, we (me and Flip Saunders) would also like said big man to be able to shoot a little bit … spread to the floor for others. To measure that, I will use:
- eFG% on jump shots
Finally, as a general rating, I’m going to use the Roland Rating, which is defined as (via 82games.com):
The main components of the ‘Roland Ratings’ are a production measure (a variant of John Hollinger’s PER rating) for a player’s own stats versus the counterpart player on the other team while he is on the court, as well as a simple on court/off court plus minus.
Ok, moving on to a spreadsheet of players and numbers … “yay” …
- Players in GREEN are unrestricted free-agents
- Players in YELLOW are restricted free-agents
- Players in ORANGE will have to come in a trade, their contract deets:
- Jeff Foster: 2-yrs, $12.7 million
- Zach Randolph: 2 yrs, $33 million
- Sam Dalembert: 2 yrs, $25 million
- AK-47: 2 yrs, $34.3 million
- Marcus Camby: 1 yr, $9.65 million
- Joel Przybilla: 2 yrs, $14.3 million (early termination option)
- Tyson Chandler: 2 yrs, $25.4 million (eto – doubt he uses it)
Other Things to know:
- You’ll see each measurable columned colored light blue. The ‘R = X’ number at the bottom of each column represents the range between the ‘best’ player rating and ‘worst’ rating in each category.
- The R% helps determine how each player’s rating performs against the entire range [formula = rating/range*100 — (also adjusted when negative ratings are better)]
- The RK is simply the ranking of each player (against each other) in that category … 24 to 1 … the higher the ranking, the better.
- Not only am I trying to measure how well each individual performs with +/-, but also how each perform in relation to each other.
- I’m not a stat head … so some of this stuff could be effed up, i.e., this is obviously not a perfect measurement of these players; no ‘stat’ is.This is why I wouldn’t use a statistic to say, “These stats mean that Player X is a bad defensive player.” Rather, I’d say, “These statistics possibly indicate that Player X is less adept at playing defense.”
(the three column headers in yellow – you’ll have to scroll right to see them)
- R% Totals = the sum of each R% column
- D&R % TTL = Sum of R% columns for defense and rebounding (sans Roland Rating and eFG%)
- Rank Totals = the sum of the straight ranking of each player in each category
- Green squares reflect those within the top 7 of each ‘final tally’, red in the bottom 7.
*Players are currently listed in order of R% totals.
Elimination Time (again, listed in alpha order) via intuition:
- Chris Anderson – It’s not about the money with the Birdman, it’s about a comfort zone (mostly due to his past issues). He’ll give Denver the hometown discount and will stay where he is loved, and where he’s blossomed/reinserted himself as a defensive force in the NBA.
- Brandon Bass – Very nice offensive player, and ranks 8th in R% overall (5th in rank total), but his defense and rebounding total (9.82), in addition to the fact that he’s a bit undersized, reflects that he might not exactly be what the Wizards are looking for. Overall, I think he’d fit in Saunders’ system … and that’s why I hesitate to cross him out. But he’s considered a ‘keeper’ by the Mavs and is receiving a ‘ton of interest’ otherwise, perhaps seeking the full MLE.
- Marcus Camby – Could be a possibility, if Grunfeld is willing to gamble … see trade ideas below.
- Tyson Chandler – Injury prone and too expensive. I’d only want him as a sixth man and the goods are definitely not worth the price.
- Samuel Dalembert – This guy doesn’t give me a good feeling. Too unpredictable, too expensive, not enough offense.
- Francisco Elson – Y’all realize this guy weighs less than JaVale McGee, right? He once called Kevin Garnett “gay” for a crotch shot that K.G. dished out. Elson slightly rebounded from a very poor 07-08 last year in Milwaukee, but the Wizards should want a guy who can throw his weight around … moving on.
- Jeff Foster – Not the best offensive player, but defends, rebounds, and is deceptively quick. Foster is similar to Songaila in that he has contagious hustle, but is also two inches taller and a much better rebounder, statistically, than D-Song. However, turning 33 in January, and past hip/back problems might be a deterrent. Foster will do what it takes, once scavenging for food in the media room before a game at the Verizon Center (relayed by Steve Buckhantz), and by tripping some lil’ jerk who ran onto the court … so I wouldn’t mind having him on the Wizards. See trade option below.
- Channing Frye – Could/should be a very cheap option, but ranks low … in fact, dead last in both overall categories. Frye’s got range on his jumper, but is not someone who can protect the paint, and the Wizards need the latter more. Channing blocks shots slightly better than Songaila … enuff said.
- Drew Gooden – Not the best defender (mentally), but adequate. Gooden has the ability to score inside and out, and is a decent rebounder. However, with teams like San Antonio, Boston, and Houston probably able to offer him more minutes than the Wizards, the chances of him coming to DC are slim. He’s “boys” with DeShawn Stevenson … all the more reason to move on … unless you’re Dan Steinberg and you like intra-team Beard Growing Contests.
- Marcin Gortat – His numbers don’t rank him highly among the group, but his play in the playoffs really impressed and increased his value. With Tony Battie gone, and Orlando going ‘all in’ over the tax (but disregarding Turkoglu), bet that they match almost any offer for Gortat. However, with Rockets GM Daryl Morey recruiting Gortat via FaceBook, Twitter, the Rockets’ official website, and created gmail accounts expressing how much Rockets fans love him, look for Houston to try to overpay Gortat (especially with the status of Yao and the retiring Mutombo). Chad Ford reported that Gortat could receive $4-5 million a year (or 4-years, $16-18 million), but will probably get a larger offer, and thus be out of the Wizards’ MLE price range. Ford reports that the Knicks, Mavericks, Pacers and Raptors could also be interested.
- Andrei Kirilenko – He’d be a very intriguing piece, but he’s a prima donna and the price tag over two seasons is too much.
- David Lee – His status as a restricted FA makes joining the Wiz improbable and unreasonable. Plus, his stats don’t impress. That being said, I’d love to have him, but it’s a pipe dream.
- Antonio McDyess – I’m not completely sure I see him leaving Detroit, but could be a bargain possibility. However, McDyess will be 35 in September and is in the ring-chasing phase of his career (remember, he arrived in Detroit the year after they beat the Lakers for the title), and the Wizards might not fill his requirements. Chad Ford is reporting that he could command $3-5 million a year … which could be slightly too expensive for Abe Pollin’s $2.5 million for a 2nd round draft pick lined pockets.
- Paul Millsap – Even with Utah’s money crunch as a result of both Boozer and Okur returning, they still might match any reasonable offer for Millsap (in upwards of $8-10 million a year). This obviously puts him out of the Wizards’ price range and I cannot fathom a sign and trade, which would still put Utah deep in luxury territory, working.
- Rasho Nesterovic – Too old, too immobile, and likely going back to Europe. Jake of Bullets Forever makes a decent case for Rasho, so I won’t call him an absolute no.
- Zaza Pachulia – I’d love to have this guy, especially when he’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with a-holes like Kevin Garnett. However, it’s highly improbable that we see him in DC. For one, he’s probably high on the list of priorities for Atlanta, in line with Marvin Williams and in front of Mike Bibby. After that, more championship experienced squads in San Antonio and Boston are very interested in bringing him in. Pachulia could also be a target of Orlando should they lose Gortat. The only way I could see Zaza in a Wizards uniform would be if we offered the full MLE for something like 4-years (say $22 million) — there’s no way Grunfeld will do that.
- Joel Przybilla – Another guy I’d love to have, but the Wizards aren’t getting him … even if Grunfeld offered Andray Blatche and Mike James for Przybilla and Travis Outlaw. A future first rounder might get Portland thinking … but at the same time, such a move doesn’t bring a ton of value to the Wizards. With both Raef LaFrentz and Channing Frye likely gone, the Blazers will be content with keeping Pryzbilla on the payroll.
- Zach Randolph – Ranks highly, but D.C. gun laws could be his best friend and/or worst enemy. No, thank, you.
- Joe Smith – Doesn’t make mistakes, decent all-around player, local college hero … but turning 34 in July. He’d be a good locker room presence, and would not complain being in a role where he rarely sees the court. Might be a good last-ditch, cheap option.
- Anderson Varejao – That goofy S.O.B. on the Wiz? No thanks. He opted out of 1-year, $6.2 million with Cleveland … Washington is not paying him more.
- Charlie Villanueva – The guy can shoot, but his defensive/rebounding numbers are dead last. Combine that with what it might cost to get him and I’ll pass. As Ric(k) Bucher puts it when talking about the ‘right system’ for Charlie: “Any that can put four quality defenders on the floor, because a winning team can’t afford more than one bad one and Charlie has that locked up.” Yea, I just spit up my drink too.
- Rasheed Wallace – Flip Saunders does not want this headache again … good luck Orlando or San Antonio. ‘Sheed will give Stan Van Gundy an ulcer, or Gregg Popovich more pockmarks on his face.
- Chris Wilcox – If he can bring back the Wilcox of Seattle fame, then maybe … but too many people think he’s an inferior defender (partially evident by the above numbers). He’s also said to give less than full effort, and has issues with staying in shape (we already have Blatche in that department). He’s worth a look, but just not a lot of money. (*Wilcox’s numbers above are from his time in OKC where he played 719 minutes before heading to the Knicks to play 330 minutes.)
- Shelden Williams – Could be a very affordable option. Williams has muscle, is a willing, Coach K trained defender, and has the ability to block shots. Unfortunately, his offense close to the basket makes Ben Wallace look like Tim Duncan.
Sean May (please … too fat, injury prone), Johan Petro (defense? can’t play it), Robert Swift (don’t need another ‘project’), Chris Mihm (he’s done), Mikki Moore (see: Mihm), Collins Twins (never have impressed me), Jamaal Magloire, (washed up aka also done), Juwan Howard (defense = nope), Calvin Booth (been there, done that), ‘Big Baby’ Davis (Boston will keep him now that Powe is a goner), Theo Ratliff (he’s turning 57 next April).
Camby is obviously rated highly across the board … and he’d be great to have, but would he be able to play alongside Brendan Haywood? Would he take a bench role? Would he grow dreads so B-Wood could rip them out? Who knows.
The first trade I tried at Real GM was DeShawn, Javaris & Mike James for Camby and Ricky Davis. It works, but it might not ‘work’ — problem is, the Wizards are losing PG depth and a prospect in Crittenton. On the other hand, Javaris is not that much of a prospect to make it worth LA’s while to not only give up Camby, but also take an extra year of DeShawn’s contract money.
The second trade with LA I attempted was Nick Young, Stevenson, and James for Camby and Mardy Collins (and perhaps a second round pick). Sure LA gives up Camby, (which they’d like to do anyway with their glut of bigs), and takes on an extra year of Stevenson, but they get a better prospect back in hometown LA boy Young, who can swing between SG and SF. The Wizards keep a decent backup PG in Javaris and gain the 24-year old, 6’6″ Collins, who is a TERRIBLE offensive player, but a decent wing defender, and can play positions 1-3.
It’d be tough to give up Young in exchange for ‘renting’ Camby for a year, but if Grunfeld wants to shed future salary while improving size and defense, this might be the trade for him.
The @BulletsForever twitter account proposed a trade of Mike James and Javaris Crittenton for Jeff Foster and Travis Diener.
The Pacers would get a PG (behind T.J. Ford) to push the ball in their up-tempo style … talking about Crittenton, not James. James becomes a trade-deadline asset for Indiana. They also get out from the $6,655,000 on Foster’s contract in 2010-11.
The Wizards, as evident by Foster’s numbers, get a very capable 32-year old veteran who’s willing to play off the bench and knows what hustle is all about.
Upon first hearing this, I’m like “sign me up!” Everybody wins, right?
Not exactly. The Pacers are losing fans and money, and are looking to shed salary, evidenced by them not picking up Marquis Daniels’ option. But do Larry Bird & Co. want to head into next season with Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts, and Tyler Hansbrough as their only options in the post?
Perhaps this works if the Pacers can find a better, cheaper alternative to Foster.
But the more I think about this trade, the more fair I think it is for Indy, but less ideal (in the long-term) for Washington. I’d still do it though.
Guys I should have mentioned:
Stromile Swift – PHO ($201,741) – Will he ever fulfill his potential? What kind of sign is it that Hollinger says that Etan Thomas is the “most similar at his age”? Should the Wizards take a chance on this guy? It’s hard to say … I’d much rather have a proven vet in Joe Smith.
Leon Powe – BOS ($797,581 … Celtics decided not to issue a qualifying offer of $1,030,189) – If Grunfeld was scared of DeJuan Blair and his knee issues then he definitely shouldn’t throw caution in the wind and go after Powe. Stet Sports seems to believe that Powe would be a good addition … but after tearing his ACL in late April, his 6-8 month recovery time might not get him back on the court until late 2009 or 2010.
Ike Diogu – SAC ($2,912,822 … Kings decided not to issue a qualifying offer of $3,946,874) – I like this guy. And he used to tear it up years ago … on offense … when he saw the court. But his turnovers and lack of defense kept him on the bench for Portland and a crappy Sacramento team. Is there potential for this four team player going into his fifth year? Definitely. Do the Wizards need a guy still in his development phase? Highly unlikely.
Who’s Left (and what they made last year):
- Joe Smith ($1,200,000)
- Chris Wilcox ($6,750,000)
- Drew Gooden ($1,410,441)
- Rasho Nesterovic ($8,400,000)
- Shelden Williams ($3,395,760)
I wouldn’t mind having any of these guys … just not for much more than the bi-annual exception of about $2 million dollars, or perhaps a 3/5 portion of the $5.8-6 million MLE. Gooden, with his age (28 in September), might command more money, and as mentioned, might desire an opportunity for more minutes elsewhere.
Otherwise, in terms of potential contributions, statistics, gut feeling, and financial implications, I’d rank the remaining four as follows:
1) Shelden Williams
2) Joe Smith
3) Rasho Nesterovic
4) Chris Wilcox
As reported by Mike Jones of the Washington Times, Grunfeld is going to bide his time and see what crumbs slip through the cracks.
[translation: Grunfeld will not be using the full MLE, otherwise he’d be trying to lock someone in now — Mike Prada at Bullets Forever translates this the same way, and is frustrated as hell … can’t blame him].
This is what we’ve come to expect from the patient Wizards president of operations working under Abe Pollin.
Of course, Wiz fans are hungry for winning, and crumbs might not do … but that’s the state the franchise is in, desiring to have a three-way with ‘Win Now’ and ‘Save Money’.
Sometimes the early bird gets the best worms, and sometimes those who patiently play a hand squeeze their opponents, and come out on top in the end.
I found this quote from a Cleveland Plain Dealer story by Brian Windhorst interesting:
Warren Buffett, a friend of LeBron James and a rather established expert in making acquisitions, can certainly relate to the situation the Cavaliers are now in.
One of the billionaire’s core philosophies and known quotes is to “attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”
In listening to sources within the organization and across the league, despite being in a challenging climate for professional sports that has prompted fear with good reason, the Cavs fully intend to be greedy.
It seems the team is expected to act quickly to add to their already well-heeled roster in an attempt to win their first title next season, which is famously the last on James’ contract.
Clearly the pressure to retain a superstar, upon whom the emotional state of all of Ohio seemingly depends, creates a different, yet tumultuous environment for the Danny Ferry and Cavaliers.
I still am adamant about my trust in Ernie Grunfeld. But the scrutiny on him is as high as ever and I’ll be very curious to see what moves he makes.
All of this being said, Grunfeld will probably sign Mikki Moore. Damn.
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