NBA Free Agency: Rudy Gay could be the Grizzlies' latest huge mistake

1 Comment

nba_gay.jpgAmong this year’s free agent class, there are the can’t-miss prospects (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh), the impressive consolation prizes (Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire), and then a third, less illustrious subgroup: those destined to be overpaid.

Carlos Boozer seems a likely candidate as any, as a team with cap space and money to spare will probably end up throwing entirely too much money at a power forward that can score and rebound, but little else.

The same may be true of Rudy Gay, who as a young, talented, free agent, is sure to draw some interest this summer. That last sentence however, comes with a bit of a caveat: whereas guys like LeBron, Joe Johnson, and Carlos Boozer are unrestricted free agents, Gay’s restricted free agent status essentially ensures that if Rudy is going to find himself on a different roster next season, someone will have to overpay him. Otherwise, that team risks the Grizzlies matching their offer to Gay and keeping him at a reduced cost.

There’s just too many teams with available cap space this summer for someone not to take a swing at Rudy Gay. The LeBrons and Wades of this class can only go to so many teams, which will inevitably leave someone out in the cold with no star to call their own. Then, in their moment of vulnerability, a team could conceivably look to invest in Gay as a long-term pillar of their franchise, and they’re doomed to regret that decision down the line.

Rudy Gay is a fine player, but he’s far from an NBA star. He’s a dynamic talent, but whether or not he’s capable of making the jump from good to great is certainly in question. At present, he’s simply well above average, which is nice, but not quite centerpiece material.

No one bother to inform Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley of that apparently, who is posturing going into the free agency period. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

The Griz are preparing for the June 24 draft with the need for more shooting, versatility, point guard help and their talented, soon-to-be restricted free-agent forward in mind.

Heisley continues to insist that he is prepared to retain Gay at all costs.

“Rudy is going to be out there. But here’s the No. 1 thing: The option on what we pay him is mine,” Heisley said. “So when I say we’re going to have Rudy next year, that’s a pretty good indication that we’re going to have him.”

It’s tough to validate free agent talk at this point in the year, but if Heisley really is intent on retaining Gay no matter the cost, the Grizzlies are in some serious trouble. At present, their best move is likely to let Gay walk and try to move forward while building around O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, and locking Rudy up with a long-term deal would eliminate much of their financial flexibility going forward. 

Kevin Garnett: Thon Maker “is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down.”

Getty Images
1 Comment

Not to get to inside baseball on NBA journalism, but one fundamental truth is player trainers pump up their guys. There usually is some truth in what they say, but it is in their interest to spin the player the best way possible. On and off the record it happens. It’s like asking a political campaign manager about his candidate, you will only get the positive.

Kevin Garnett worked out and helped the Bucks’ Thon Maker this summer.

In just his second season, Thon Maker has been in and out of the starting lineup for the Bucks at center, and he’s struggled this season with a true shooting percentage of 48 getting him 4.5 points a game, and PER of 9.3. (Bucks fans are understandably disappointed, but this is a second-year player, some patience is required).

Garnett had Makers’ back in a Q&A with Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams.

Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself. He loves the game. He’s a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools—he has touch; he has agility; he has really, good feet. He has a really good shot from three-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say.

Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that.”

Garnett may have the wrong young-stud Buck with an MVP in his future.

Maker has gotten KG comparisons for years, he’s a very mobile and athletic but thin big who can shoot from the wing… but the physical similarities are not enough. Maker is no KG. Not yet. Maker showed promise against the Raptors last playoffs but has not taken a step forward off that progress this season, looking far more prone to fouling than defending. The effort is there, but the maturity of game has a long way to go to catch up.

Garnett is right that Maker has the tools, and he is just in his second NBA season so patience is required, but there were concerns around the league before the draft if he had the makeup to put it all together and become a quality NBA player. That question is still out there, let’s get past it before we heap on accolades.

LeBron James all good with Reggie Jackson’s free throw gamesmanship, “I’ve done it before”

Getty Images
1 Comment

Let’s set the stage: Sunday night, the fast-rising Pistons led the fast-rising Timberwolves by three with  6.2 seconds left when Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer. Butler drained the first two free throws. Before the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit held on to win 100-97. Here’s the play in question.

It was a bit of gamesmanship by Jackson.

LeBron James was asked about the move at Cavaliers shootaround and endorsed it with a smile on his face.

“I’ve done it before. I won a playoff series before doing that actually. So, I’m all for it.”

That series was in 2007, overtime of game 6 of a first-round playoff series against Washington, and the victim was the Hibachi, Gilbert Arenas. The Cavaliers were down 1, Arenas had two free throws, missed the first, then LeBron stepped in. Arenas missed the second, and the Cavs went on to get the win.

Is interrupting free throws about to become an NBA thing? If it works, players will do it.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
3 Comments

Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
2 Comments

Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.