Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts aren't perfect, but could be just what the Bucks need

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It’s been said that if given the right touches and opportunity, most NBA players can be transformed in 20-point scorers. Move such a claim within the limits of reason however (come on, is any team really going to give Jarron Collins 35 shots a night to hit that mark?), and the pool of players in the L with the ability to score big shrinks a bit. It’s obviously tough to get into the league without considerable scoring abilities, but to put up points against NBA defenders? It’s not easy, even for premier athletes that have been playing the game their whole lives.

At least that’s what the Milwaukee Bucks were banking on when they acquiring two scorers who offer little else: Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

It’s not that Milwaukee gave up all that much in their two trades on Wednesday; the price to attain CDR was a 2012 second rounder, and the Bucks only lost Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric in grabbing Maggette. That’s because both players come with their own risks, and Maggette in particular could prove to be far more trouble than he’s worth.

Milwaukee just traded for the right to pay Corey almost $31 million over the next three seasons. That’s how much this team wants to improve immediately, and that’s how much they value Corey’s scoring abilities. It’s probably not the right move in the long run, and it should be…interesting to see how Maggette fits into Scott Skiles’ defense.

The Bucks locked themselves into three years of a player with a rather singular focus, and rarely does that turn out well. Yet I still appreciate this move for what it does — and says — about the Bucks.

Spending money to acquire talent screams of win-now, but it’s more than that. After all, a commitment to win now is still a commitment to winning, and the Bucks reviewed their season, figured out their weaknesses, and traded for a player who can help to fix some of them. The Bucks had the eighth worst offense in the NBA last season, yet made the playoffs due to a late-season push and a terrific campaign by Andrew Bogut. Maggette will slide into the rotation in place of the outgoing John Salmons, and while they don’t have identical skill sets, Maggette can do much of what Salmons did, only better.

Maggette and Salmons’ offensive ratings last year were identical, and they’re comparably effective on long two-point jumpers, a staple of Skiles’ offense. Will Corey kill countless possessions throughout the season by putting his blinders on? Of course. But the Bucks know that, and are willing to still invest this much money in him because of what he can do (score in bunches, get to the line) and what their current roster can’t (umm, score in bunches, get to the line).

Douglas-Roberts is also a pretty interesting get for the Bucks, especially because of his clear need for discipline. Not to play psychiatrist from miles and miles away, but reports from New Jersey last season pointed to CDR’s mental and emotional immaturity as a reason for his benching and struggles. Sounds like a Scott Skiles project, to me.

At Memphis, CDR was a solid scorer, particularly from mid-range. He could do the same in the NBA with the right coach both backing him and challenging him. Skiles could be that guy, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Douglas-Roberts fill in for Jerry Stackhouse next season. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see him sulking on the bench for most of the year, so you never know. If Milwaukee can figure out the CDR riddle, they could have a fairly competent scorer on their hands whose game is tailor-made for Skiles’ offense, and if not? Well, they’re down a 2012 second round pick. I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to get by.

The logic behind these moves is obviously eclipsed by the result; if Maggette and CDR are failures, then the trades are too. If not, then they were intelligent low-risk, decent-reward moves by John Hammond. The Bucks are jumping to contending status, but they may have just gotten a bit better by correctly identifying their weaknesses and doing something revolutionary: acquiring players specifically to negate them.

Just a reminder, Russell Westbrook has a max extension sitting out there

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Russell Westbrook is entering the final year of his contract, he can be a free agent in the summer of 2018.

On July 1 the Oklahoma City Thunder offered Westbrook a designated player “super max” contract extension of an expected $200 million, which would kick in after this coming season. It’s a massive offer that would lock Westbrook into the Thunder through his prime.

He has yet to sign it.

He may not sign it, he doesn’t lose much waiting it out. However, the Thunder remain optimistic he will sign, according to Fred Katz at the Norman Transcript.

The deadline for him to sign is the day before the regular season begins, Oct. 16.

 No other team could offer the same deal if Westbrook were to hit free agency. He could still receive a contract that starts at 35 percent of the cap if he chooses to become a free agent next summer but would receive only five percent raises per season and could sign for up to only four years.

Yet, the reigning MVP has made the Thunder wait almost a month, already. And it could end up being longer — maybe forever, though the organization remains cautiously optimistic about the prospects of Westbrook signing for the long term before the start of the season.

Why Westbrook should wait is that this contract doesn’t make him that much more money than simply waiting the season out, then studying his options next summer and signing a max deal next summer.

The Thunder can offer Westbrook 35 percent of the cap right now thanks to the new designated player provision (that deal would start at just under $35 million a year),  however, after this season Westbrook will have been in the NBA 10 years, which means every team can offer him that  same annual salary starting next summer. What OKC can offer are slightly larger raises and one more guaranteed year. That year is nice if Westbrook doesn’t think he can get maxed out in five years, but he likely can. So the real advantage is the larger raises, and that has not been enough to sway guys in the past because it’s not that much money.

Westbrook and Paul George should make the Thunder very interesting next season — this will be an elite defensive team trying to figure out the offense. If they do, this team becomes dangerous, but that is still a big “if.”

If Westbrook and George lift OKC deeper in the playoffs than expected, both could choose to stay in OKC. If, however, this doesn’t work out as planned, Westbrook has more options if he doesn’t sign the deal yet — he and George, also a free agent next summer, could leave together or go their separate ways. Also, not signing the keeps pressure on the Thunder ownership to keep spending and moving to make the team better now, rather than cut corners and save money.

Westbrook can make the Thunder feel good and sign this deal, but if he wants you can’t blame him.

Important news: Nick Young has gotten over his fear of dolphins

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Where NBA players really make improvements is over the summer. They can get in better shape, work on their jumper, improve their handles…

Or get over their fear of dolphins.

Which is what the new Wizards guard did this summer. Remember these tweets from Young’s then fiancée a couple of years ago?

He’s gotten past that fear.

I gave these dolphins another chance we cool now

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Next, just needs to pick up a right with Golden State and show that to the Dolphins — they respect titles.

Report: Mikhail Prokhorov ‘warmed’ to selling controlling stake of Nets

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Mikhail Prokhorov bought 80% of the Nets in 2010. A couple years ago, he tried to sell his stake, but decided to keep it. Then, he bought 100% of the franchise and its arena. After last season, he said he was selling 49% of the team.

Now?

Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, while focused on selling a minority stake in the franchise, has warmed recently to the possibility of offering a controlling slice of the team, sources close to the situation said.

The change of heart comes after the initial reaction to the minority stake sale was weak — and with interest in the Houston Rockets sale heating up, one source said.

The Rockets’ sale could shake out potential Nets buyers, and Prokhorov selling a controlling stake could also help. It’d cost more money than the 49% he’s offering now, but people with the money to buy an NBA team tend to value control.

This might be a good time to sell for Prokhorov, who lost a ton of money as the team paid major luxury tax for an all-in championship pursuit that flopped spectacularly. The NBA’s popularity is rising, and the league is reaping huge revenue from its national-TV contracts.

However, he shouldn’t assume the Rockets’ sale price will predict the Nets’. Buyers might prefer a good team with James Harden and Chris Paul to a bad one short on young talent after years of mismanagement. At least Brooklyn’s payroll is now tolerably low.

The big loser here: Leslie Alexander, who’s trying to sell the Rockets. The supply of NBA teams now available might have just doubled, and unless there’s no overlap in demand for those franchises, that can only drive down Alexander’s eventual sale price.

Report: Clippers paid $3.2 million – second-most ever – for draft pick (Jawun Evans)

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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The Warriors set a record by paying $3.5 million for a draft pick, buying the Bulls’ No. 38 pick and using it on Jordan Bell this year.

That eclipsed the $3 million spent by each the Thunder in 2010 (to the Hawks for the No. 31 pick, Tibor Pleiss) and Nets in 2016 (to move up 13 spots for Isaiah Whitehead).

So did the Clippers’ purchase of the No. 39 pick (Jawun Evans) from the 76ers this year.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

The Clippers also paid the Bucks $2 million for the No. 48 pick (Sindarius Thornwell).

I rated Evans a low first-rounder due to his speed and drive-and-kick game, so getting him in the second round is good value. I’m not as keen on Thornwell, who’s already 22 and built so much of his success at South Carolina on being more physical than younger opponents.

But the more swings the Clippers take on young players, the more likely they are to find long-term contributors. More power to owner Steve Ballmer for greenlighting this expenditure.

Importantly, as players acquired through the draft, Evans and Thornwell will count for the luxury tax at their actual salaries. Players signed otherwise, even if their actual salaries are lower, count at at least the two-years-experience minimum.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can spend $5.1 million in cash this season. That amount will increase (or decrease) in proportion with the salary cap in coming years. So, expect the previous record for draft-pick purchase price – $3 million – to fall again and again.

There’s just more leeway now for the NBA’s haves to separate themselves from the have-nots.