Posted by: natehughart | June 18, 2009

Ripping Zach Harper a new asshole the size of the Enterprise (at least)

I hate ripping a guy whose only been blogging for 3 days on a particular topic. So, in a sense, I’m still interested to see what Mr. Harper of Cowbell Nation continues to do with it.

I can see some of the reaction coming. He’s a Wolves fan! What did you expect?

Something better than the column he’s written about trading Kevin Martin at least.

To be quite honest, I didn’t expect anything, and to be totally frank, I’m still withholding judgment of his worthiness until a full body of work comes in. (This is not a judgment of him either, so keep that in mind.)

That being said, that article he wrote is so outlandishly stupid and wrong I don’t even know where to begin. But, since you gotta pick a spot to start with, I’ll start at the top. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. It’s worth having a full reaction before reading mine.

******

The intro to the whole cockamamie thing

He mentions that Martin’s FG% declines, and his efficiency has as well. The injury question also cropped up. His premise is that Martin’s value may be at it’s peak.

First, whether Martin’s value is at his peak is a reasonable question, and I applaud anyone for asking that. Noone is a bigger fanboy of Kevin Martin. For me, it’s a lot like seeing that baby grow up, and in many ways, Kevin has.

That being said, if you get a much better player than Kevin, you have to trade him right? (Don’t worry, I will talk about this extensively in the deals he proposes.)

I will be fair, and mention that 1 of the 5 deals he mentions seems reasonable (Calderon for Martin–wouldn’t do it myself, but it’s reasonable).

But, this is only the intro I’m talking about here, and I have many problems with things said about this as well.

First quote:

The Kings did something similar (although with a much different team makeup) years ago with Peja Stojakovic. At the time, the Kings were worried about having to overpay Peja. But the Kings aren’t locked into a bad contract by any means with Martin. His $44 million left over the next four years is a bargain for someone that can average the taller side of 20 points per game. But if you can get the type of return for Kevin Martin now, like the Kings did with Peja in acquiring Ron Artest, you have to entertain the option of trading him in order to keep the rebuilding process going.

The situations were not similar. First, the Kings aren’t expected to be a playoff team this upcoming season. Second, Stojakovic’s value as a scorer was not as high as Martin’s because he didn’t get to the FT line nearly as often as Speed has. Third, none of these deals have an inferior player being dealt by the Kings (as was the case with Stojakovic) for a superior player (as was the case with Artest).

Now, here’s the other important difference, and something Harper mentions, that is important: Stojakovic only had one year left on his deal. Martin has 4 years left. That’s a huge difference at the very least, and a massive difference if you want to make a bigger deal out of this.

The idea that the Kings won the Artest trade is a fallacy. They may have gotten the better talent, but given the problems that the Pacers had with their own players, I would really say that’s it’s a draw because the Kings weren’t much better than the Pacers in the same time period.

The reality is that the Kings delayed the rebuilding effort by doing this deal, and it was a dumb delay. It kept the team from getting extra asset’s in potentially stronger drafts (07 or 08) than it did in this current draft (not that I’m really complaining about having the 23rd overall pick either).

I would like to believe that the move was made because A) the Maloof’s, with a dumb mis-reading of the situation, wanted better defensive players because they thought the Kings would win more that way B) would have not likely made the moves they did have with regards to the coaching searches, and C) they might be farther along towards becoming a better team at a team where finances are so crucial.

As is, this team is rebuilding, and getting to the point where shedding many of the bad contracts (Rahim is now medically retired; Thomas has one year left) are now coming off the cap after decisions were made to dump players at the right time. The perception has been that the Kings have lost these deals (Webber, Bibby and Miller), but the reality is that all 3 were financially motivated.

Webber was dealt to find 3 smaller contract pieces that would be easier moved. What happened is that the Kings also saved money on paying luxury tax as well during the 04-05 season by doing the deal. Which is why they were eager to make that type of deal despite the poison pill (Kenny Thomas had 5 1/2 years left on his deal) they had to take in return.

The truth is that deal saved the team quite a bit of money, and probably problems on the back end of Webber’s career. It’s still considered terrible for the Kings, but I think it’s a wash.

Bibby’s trade was a pure cap dump. It was a great thing for the Kings too as none of the players (with Shelden Williams barely being the exception) lasted beyond the end of the 07-08 season. People have screamed the financial angle, but the reality is that the team got so much cap relief that it made a ton of financial sense to pay an aging declining in skill PG 14 million dollars just because fans like him and what not.

Bibby being traded is not the reason Kings fans didn’t buy tickets last year. His being traded did contribute to the idea that this team would not be very good, and when the Kings started slowly, it only made that perception worse.

That’s why I dislike Harper’s piece so much. It feeds into this perception.

The Miller/Salmons trade was simple. It was to save money this season and next, while hoping that Nocioni’s deal is still tradeable at some point to get something in return.

I quite honestly think that deal is a wash despite the fact that the Kings will pay roughly 2 1/2 million more for Nocioni’s contract over the next 3 seasons compared to what the Bulls are paying Miller & Salmons this season alone. If Salmons doesn’t opt out, which he may not, after the 09-10 season, this deal will be a financial slam dunk for the Kings.

This holds even more weight when you consider that the Kings saved so much money while remaking the team with a younger group of players. Dumping salary is so important in the current NBA, and the Kings were one of the few teams that managed to do so despite a ton of teams attempting to do the same thing. I would say that’s been successful.

Which brings me back to Kevin Martin, and this intro.

First, outside of Beno Udrih’s signing last summer, Geoff Petrie has been pretty good at acquiring guys through free agency.

Uh, what? John Salmons has been a pretty good acquisition? Mikki Moore was a pretty good acquisition? Shareef Abdur-Rahim yielded a high return? Uh, sorry, they did not. Only Rahim added anything of great substance, and only Salmons even yielded positive trade value on his way out. If Rahim hadn’t medically retired, he would still be on the cap for this season.

So, umm, Petrie’s been good on the FA market? Uh, no, he hasn’t been. It’s his weakest, and his worst area as a GM. He’s always overpaid players who he thought was more valuable to the team.

He’s been able to straddle this because his trades have often traded many of these mistakes to other teams. (Like Doug Christie, Mike Bibby, Brad Miller, John Salmons (to a degree, and Chris Webber for instance.)

Assuming the Kings don’t overpay for a free agent this summer, they’re going to have an obscene amount of cap space in the vaunted summer of 2010. Adding an $11 million cushion to that already burgeoning cap space could be invaluable for someone like Petrie. Second, very few VPs in this league maximize the draft like Petrie has. So if you can acquire another high pick for Kevin Martin to go with the eventual cap space, why not do it?

Very few Kings fans really have a severe dislike of Petrie. He’s not perfect, but he’s far better than Bill Russell or Joe Axelson was. Kings fans, especially the one’s around since ’85 know this perfectly well. This isn’t a knock on Harper, either. I didn’t follow the Kings in those years myself.

But the point is if all you’re doing with Kevin Martin is getting more cap space so you can overpay a Free Agent who probably doesn’t fit as well with the current group of young talent that the Kings must at the very least raise their trade value to a realistic level to bring a championship level of talent back, then having Kevin Martin is a bigger part of trade value.

Trading him now is the worst possible time to get value. That’s the whole problem. Especially given how bad his ankle was (and it’s not like teams didn’t know it) virtually all season long.

What Kevin needed to remedy that particular issue was rest. He has it. He’s already working back in the gym, and he’s trying to get ready for the season. Even better, he’s doing it with Paul Westphal whom I think, among other things, will be great for Kevin. Adelman understood what Kevin was going through, and even though I think Reggie Theus did too, he also spent a ton more energy centered on Ron Artest for the bulk of his coaching time in Sacramento. It will be good for Kevin to have a new coach who will help him learn the little things, ask him to put the ball on the floor, run a cohesive offense that will make sense (that’s what Westphal does best after all), and he will likely ask Kevin to create in a way he hasn’t been asked to do before.

Which brings me to an important point. Kevin’s FG% has declined. And, we know this. Despite the tendency to say his ankle bothered him defensively, it’s easy to conclude that he had similar problems offensively. Except that all concerned, including Kevin, never believed that. It was mostly defensively where he had issue’s. Having a bad ankle has nothing to do with your ball handling, and it has nothing to do with how defense’s focus on you. Having that bad ankle probably only made that worse.

Once Kevin aggravated his ankle the final time against Golden State (after scoring 50 pts), I think he and the team knew he was done. He just had gone as far as he could. They didn’t want to take any more risks. When a team was as bad as the Kings were last year, you only compound them by playing Martin more on an ankle he shouldn’t play on.

With all that being said, his FG% went down because defenders are focusing on him more. It’s gone down, but not terribly down. Any team that would acquire him would actually be focused on making sure his ball handling got better anyway. Or, if they knew anything about him, they should.

The truth is that Kevin’s value hasn’t hit his peak because he hasn’t hit his peak as a player. There are so many holes, and so many problems, that trading him now is like trading him because the stock dipped a few hundred points last year, and traditionally it’s been higher. This is typically a stock with higher value, and that’s the issue. Will it continue to dip? Or, whatever. You get the point. That’s the problem the Kings have. Trading Kevin will not be a simple issue for at least awhile anyway. Equal value is not something that the Kings can get right now. Being a slumlord (to extend the bad analogy) is probably the wisest course of action because Kevin’s injury was in many ways a freak injury. I think he has worked to keep himself the healthiest he can. Yes, he’s had injuries. But, at the same time, I think he can remain relatively healthy.

I’m not saying that they absolutely should trade Kevin Martin. He’s obviously not over the hill or a part of the team that needs to be jettisoned. But in a situation like the Kings with the team having good picks, good cap flexibility and one of the best front offices in the league, keeping their options open to anything should be a must. And Kevin Martin is probably the guy that brings in the most value.

I agree and disagree with this. I agree with that he’s a valuable part of a mostly younger team and can grow and get better with them. What I disagree with is that he will bring the most value back. Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes likely fit that bill, and I would think the #4 pick overall would do the same kind of thing.

Maybe I’m being cynical.

As far as his shooting%’s, his FG% has gone down (significantly), but part of that, again, is how defenses have focused on him more. He has had moments, even with the ankle, where he did show he could be part of a cohesive offense.

His eFG% while going steadily down, along with his regular FG%, is not that big of a deal to me. It ignores that A) he shoots many more FT’s he did in his 2nd season, and B) he’s far more proficient at shooting the 3 now.

I might add the 2nd season was the last year Martin played for an offensive coach with a free flowing style. But, hey, what do I know?

Here’s the important part. His TS% (a far more realistic way of describing shooting accuracy and efficiency) is still above 60%, and it’s deviated a little bit from each year. And, this is with coaches who had far less ability to coach offense than Rick Adelman and Paul Westphal.

In otherwords, let’s have this conversation a year from now.

Breaking down the trade idea’s

The first trade is so stupid I don’t even know where to begin. Etan Thomas and the 5th pick for Kevin Martin? Harper even mentions this:

This trade actually wouldn’t be able to happen until after July 1st due to a trade restriction with Etan Thomas’ contract.

Actually that’s true. It also can’t happen because Kevin Martin is BYC until June 30th, and as such his trade value is only half his salary. That makes it impossible to get a deal done even if Thomas was eligible to be traded. But, hey, what do I know?

As far as the reasoning, would I much rather take the risk of Kevin Martin than James Harden? Uh, yeah.

As far as Jrue Holiday and Harden being a good pairing, I would rather think that Harden and Flynn would be a far better pairing as far as players go. But, maybe that’s just me.

The Kings trade Martin and the 23rd pick for Hinrich and the 16th overall pick.

I wouldn’t even consider this trade without the 23rd pick let alone the 23rd overall pick being included. There are so many problems with this I don’t even know where to begin.

First off, Hinrich makes as much money, has far less value than Martin, and all you’re doing with this is swapping picks and getting a worse PG at his position than Martin is, even hurt all the time, as a SG. That’s a unilateral backwards move. What intelligent team does that?

Cavs trade Delonte West, Ben Wallace, and the 30th pick to the Kings for Kevin Martin, Andres Nocioni.

Cap room, a reasonable young talented player in West, and the 30th pick in this year’s draft. What else is being included? LeBron James maybe. Seriously, and I’m being a smart ass saying this, but that’s the only player on the Cavs roster that I think would have actual value to the Kings right now. Why would the Cavs trade him?

Spurs trade Manu Ginobili to the Kings for Kevin Martin and the 23rd pick.

Harper admits it’s a stretch. I would take it one step further and say it’s criminally stupid for someone that smart. Even when you note how effective Ginobili is defensively, and that he expires as a contract in the summer of ’10. It doesn’t really make sense for the Kings tt o take thatype of gamble. Especially now.

Raptors trade Jose Calderon to the Kings for Kevin Martin.

I wouldn’t do this because I think it’s the wrong time to trade for a veteran player Calderon’s age, and the money he makes. I can kinda see doing this, but I think it’s not a very good time.

Summary

Ripping a guy 3 days into this whole deal is not particularly soothing for me. I said some things that questioned his intelligence (especially the Cavs deal) and I DO wonder why it’s so appealing to get into the 2010 FA game.

I’ve railed against that point, and think it’s dumb and unwise to expect anything good or productive to come out of that line of thinking. First, much of the league (maybe 2/3 of the total league–or 20 out of 30 teams) is angling for cap room at the same time Harper is proposing. How is that to be at a great Kings advantage? Especially when the Kings are not usually considered the top tier (bottom 5 would be my guess) of places a player could go to. Especially if they have their choice. Which, shockingly, they will next summer.

Harper’s piece is like many national writer’s who don’t know the team that well. It’s full of holes and erroneous assumptions. It’s also written from someone who is not a passionate fan of the team, and that hurts him (although not in my eyes).

What I really don’t like about the piece is that it A) assumes that someone like Kirk Hinrich has similar trade value to Kevin Martin (which I heartily disagree with) B) that the Kings playing in the 2010 FA game will net them something better C) that the young talent on this team doesn’t have more value RIGHT NOW, and D) that keeping Martin around, even hurt some of the time, while the Kings are rebuilding and trying to re-gain any financial advantage they had during the “glory” years could be had paying a guy of Martin’s caliber at the salary he is making.

Frankly, even at his current value, he is far more valuable to more teams than people nationally realize. He doesn’t make waves, and he didn’t kill a greatly inferior interim coach in the media. The worst thing he said publicly about Reggie Theus was to disagree that he couldn’t be a #1 option in an offense. I’ve heard players say that, and it’s totally ripped franchises apart. No-one nationally even noticed. (Other than the people who would pay attention. Even they didn’t feel the need to set the world on fire.)

He’s not a drama queen. He loves the game. He loves the Kings and the area (that’s a big deal if you ask me). He likes the young talent on this team currently. He likes Westphal (and I loved what he said about coaching and how it’s not really all that different from one coach to the other), and I thought the way he went about that was nice. Nothing inflammatory, nothing difficult, just typical Kevin Martin being a shy to the point of where you would think he would have gotten comfortable in front of the camera by now shy, but he hasn’t. In a lot of ways, he’s just a kid trying to grow up and is uncomfortable with certain situations. (I did think it was funny that Kayte touched his arm at the end of the clip. Something, umm, sensual was behind it. I’m not starting a Kayte/Kevin rumor. Be funny as hell if it was true, though.)

The point here, that I’m making, is that Kevin Martin is a great player to have on the court, in the community, with young talent, with veteran talent, around uncertain coaching situations, and the number of these kind of players in the NBA is something you can probably count on one hand. Especially when you account for the fact that Martin’s injuries have really done only one thing to his resume: Killed any chance of being picked for an All-Star game.

That all being said, I give Harper credit for trying to touch on a touchy subject with me (and a lot of people) in a reasonable fashion. Ripping over, sir. As I commented on Cowbell Kingdom, it had to be done.


Responses

  1. All fair and valid points, but I disagree with a few things you said.

    1) About Petrie’s free agency prowess, I think while you’re right about the recent signings (how many of those were soley Petrie’s decision?) if you look at his career, I think he’s had some significant signings to bring in players that contribute.

    Vlade, Vernon Maxwell (not as bad as people think), Jon Barry, Scot Pollard, Tony Delk, Bobby Jackson, Keon Clark, Anthony Peeler, John Salmons.

    All of those guys played significant roles with the Kings during their stay here. I think those are important signings that helped turned the losing culture around with guys like Webber and Christie. Maybe we just disagree there about their value. I think John Salmons was a good player for them that happened to play the same position as Artest.

    2) My point with the Peja trade being a similar situation was in evaluating whether or not these guys are at the peak of what they do. If they are and have plateaued then I think you maximize their value by dealing them. Perhaps, I didn’t express that properly.

    3) I think a big part of Kevin’s decline in shooting numbers is due to injury. He labored a lot last year. But that adds to the point that while he’s still good, if he’s only around for 60 games every year are you maximizing the situation?

    4) I disagree about Flynn and Harden being a better pairing. Flynn won’t be stopping anybody defensively. Holiday will. I think Holiday and Harden have the better opportunity to be a really good backcourt because of both sides of the court. But that’s all draft prospect speculation so who knows?

    5) I think Hinrich’s defense is underrated. While I even state that it’s risky and a bit of a stretch, the idea is you’re forming a more veteran, contending team. Part of that happens with defense.

    6) The Cavs one was just seeing how to clear the most cap space while retaining a decent veteran guard. I agree that’s a pretty terrible trade.

    7) The Ginobili one was bad too but worth noting because I even state that it would put them in position to be the team with the most power at the trade deadline. A’s fans know what I’m talking about.

    8) I think you underestimate how intriguing it is for NBA players who are free agents to play for an ownership like the Maloofs. They know they’ll be taken care of on and off the court. Having casino owners for NBA players is an upperhand that balances out the small market stuff in my mind. I think then it’s a matter of who has money to spend, which the Kings will/would.

    9) The one thing I take exception to is the fact that classifying me as a national writer who doesn’t know the team that well. I’ve lived in Sacramento most of my life. Watched every game possible. Read everything possible. Just like you guys. I just share a different view point on the motives and talent in the organization.

    Clearly, you guys don’t really know me so you’ll assume that I haven’t followed the team. Trust me; I’m too big of a basketball nerd to not have followed the hometown team extremely closely.

    With all that said, I did actually really enjoy this reaction. Very well thought out. Very well analyzed.

    • Of the guys Petrie brought in, I don’t think any have done much to raise their value other than Bobby Jackson.

      Maxwell left as a FA, the Kings gave up a 1st rounder to trade Jon Barry away, Keon Clark is like Barry only the Kings gave up 2 2nd rounders to Utah, and Anthony Peeler did what other than hit KG with his elbow?

      Obviously Bobby Jackson was a good FA signing. I was going on recent times only, because they only really matter. If I was going over all of Geoff Petrie’s resume, the piece would probably be 5 times longer. Do you want to read a 15000 word piece? Me either.

      The Peja point didn’t come across that way at all. I still greatly disagree with you that Ron Artest did much for this team other than yield a slightly higher potential return with his trade. Still, that was 2 1/2 years and a lot of bullshit later. Nobody hated the Ron Artest trade more than I (I even told an internet friend that I became a Laker fan because I hated the trade–you can judge for yourself why that is). Nobody. It was a terrible move at the time, it led to 1 terrible coaching search, and another poor coaching search in subsequent fashion.

      I don’t think Kevin’s shooting #’s have declined to injury. We greatly disagree with that. I think the quality of his 2 pointers have gone down because he’s gotten less contested looks as the team no longer sports an up tempo attack like they had in the Adelman era. That was the point.

      Martin has not played, or shot, that way since. Playing fast doesn’t mean you’ll get good shots.

      We can disagree about Flynn & Harden being a better pairing. I would be lukewarm at best having Harden anyway. I wouldn’t ever do that deal period.

      5 6 & 7 are what they are. Not rehashing that.

      As far as the Maloof’s being intriguing, I disagree. I dont’ think it has one thing to do with it. Haven’t heard that many players staying at the Palms in the off-season, and while I know it happens, it’s just as likely to happen at any other big resort in Vegas. The players that go to Vegas are not necessarily just drawn to the Maloof’s.

      I think players like Sacramento because they have a history of overpaying players. Which would you prefer?

      I wasn’t classifying you as a national writer, and that is my fault for stating it quite like that. I was going for a bird’s eye view of the Kings, and despite the fact that you live in Sacto, and I don’t, it doesn’t mean you’re any better suited to analyze the team than I am, or vice versa.

      The problem was that I think you believe that defense leads to more wins, and I definitely disagree with that. Always have, and always will. Have disagreed with that notion in many places.

      Our differences come down to philosophy and belief, and if that’s the case, it will likely be that way.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Did’nt Jimmy Jacksons stock rise w/ the kings?

  3. [...] not going to sit here and be a hypocrite though: I was just as resistant to a Kevin Martin trade as everyone else who was on the Kevin Martin [...]


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