Posted by: Kingsguru21 | June 24, 2011

Why I do agree with trading for John Salmons for now…….

It’s clear that a certain segment, if not majority, are not necessarily happy with the return of John Salmons. Let me use one of the best known fans, if not the best known fan, named Tom Ziller to illustrate my point.

While I’m at it, this isn’t a personal issue at all. It’s more of a style difference in seeing basketball. I definitely will never judge a trade based on terms of PER when it’s basketball related (if it’s a financial trade the issue is moot). I hate PER. Always have had in fact. I don’t need a statistic to tell me how much better LeBron James, Dwight Howard or Dwyane Wade are than the rest of the NBA. And, I have no way to really gauge who is more valuable in a context setting like John Salmons vs Beno Udrih. So here we go……

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Reading TZ’s piece on Sactown Royalty on the surface makes a lot of points. Beno Udrih had a better statistical season that in turn showed a higher measure of ability to make a difference in a victory.

Let me state one thing right off the bat: I’d rather win the trade on the court than in public perception. Public perception is fickle and is ever-changing; on the court is how NBA teams are ultimately judged.

And, for that matter, I get that this is about making the Kings on the court. That, things like PER, are not illustrating Salmons to be a better player than Udrih. All of which is good fine & dandy. I have no problem with any of these metrics in existence or being cited. I just don’t agree with concluding something off PER or Win Shares strictly as a reason to say that Beno Udrih is clearly better than John Salmons. This isn’t clear nor is it a foregone conclusion. Both have different strengths and weaknesses. Salmons is an upgrade for the Kings at the SF spot no matter how you look at him today. Much of the reaction that I seen that is negative is centered around 2 reasons: 1) Not maximizing a value of an asset like Beno Udrih 2) That Beno is still more valuable even if you take Jimmer with the 7th pick.

Regarding #1: I like Beno. I’ve stated as much here, other places such as StR and Twitter, and I’ve said multiple times I didn’t want to draft a 4th G. And, well, Geoff Petrie agreed. He traded the current 3rd G (Beno) for a newer cheaper 3rd G (Jimmer) and traded Beno for a SF in Salmons who will no doubt be better than, in all probability, the best SF the Kings could have drafted in Kawhi Leonard. It’s really that simple; it was never Beno & Jimmer in a 4 Guard rotation. It was Udrih/Leonard against Salmons/Fredette. The way I look at it, Jimmer is not necessarily a complete downgrade from Beno although I’d still be surprised if Jimmer Fredette has a better season next than Beno Udrih.

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If asked, I would say that I firmly believe that I think the Kings had Kawhi Leonard, Alec Burks & Jimmer Fredette as the top 3 on their draftable board (guys they would get wherever they drafted; in this case 10). Now, under different scenarios each provided something different. [UPDATE: I’m aware the Kings were debating Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson there as well. But, not necessarily because they were that much better than Burks or Leonard.] Of the 3, I believe Burks had the most talent, but questions of shooting/playing defense at the SF spot probably eliminated Burks pretty quickly from the discussion.

So the next question became: Do you get better next season by bringing in a veteran SF (Salmons or someone else) on the cheap until Kawhi Leonard is ready? Well, let me ask this question instead: Doesn’t Desmond Mason, Ime Udoka, Antoine Wright, and Francisco Garcia beg to differ with this conclusion? After all, haven’t the Kings tried this group of journeyman players at the SF spot with little to no variant results? A real upgrade was needed.

I think the real question then became who, between Fredette & Leonard, would be more likely to contribute to the team without the Kings taking a step back, as a rookie. Leonard’s weaknesses (namely perimeter shooting and inefficient offense while @ SDSU), probably made the Kings believe he would need some time to fully adapt to a role-playing like role. That time to adapt would cost them games, and they weren’t willing to select a player who really projected to be a role player, possibly a super role player, and wait for development on that front.

Jimmer Fredette has no real adaption of role to make at the NBA level other than he won’t get to shoot 25 times a game every time out. But, at the same time, when Jimmer does come on the court he’ll be expected to score the ball and make passes that really every NBA player should make every time they are on the court.

Which is more likely? Jimmer to succeed in a scaled down role that he had at BYU with the Kings or Kawhi Leonard scaling down his offensive role AND becoming a mid to high 30’s 3 pt shooter by next season?

I don’t think the Kings really felt that Jimmer Fredette or Kawhi Leonard really separated themselves; they were role players who just offered separate things. It’s just that Kawhi Leonard has a curve he will have to adjust to in the NBA, and I believe, note this is just my belief, that Petrie and his staff felt that this curve would be a lot to ask out of a rookie to make up for recent ills at the spot he’s being asked to shore up. Jimmer would be asked to play a role; Kawhi would have been asked to been the godsend at the SF spot and reverse a negative trend that had been happening for the last 2 1/2 seasons.

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Part of this is that John Salmons can shoot the 3 pretty well. (He’s in the high 30’s the last several years.) Part of this is that there will be no learning curve for Salmons in the NBA as he’s already been around the league 9 seasons. And, a real part of this I think is to let some of the excuses that had been hanging around Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins for their lack of mature or selfish play. There are less excuses now. Take the reigns or stop acting like a baby. Whether it’s said, or not, publicly makes little difference; that message is clear to both of them.

Paul Westphal specifically mentioned that he thinks Fredette won’t have much of a learning curve. Which is one reason I did say what I did above.

Petrie mentioned Honeycutt and I get the sense that he feels that both Honeycutt and Leonard are fairly similar to each other in terms of talent. (I can see that argument. Honeycutt has certainly had his share of fans in certain sects of Kings fans.) As far as Honeycutt goes, I feel more comfortable with him than I did with Hassan Whiteside a year ago.

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Which brings me back to my original part of my point: Mr Ziller himself. Make no mistake, we don’t disagree because of Salmons himself. It’s a bit deeper and fundamental than that; we just don’t see eye to eye in how we see basketball. There are some overlap’s, but I’m not nearly as committed to the statistical end as TZ is. Never will be.

Which is but one reason why we see the trade of Salmons for Udrih differently in this context. I see Salmons as a risk no question. But, I see Salmons as more of a risk compared to Kawhi Leonard and not Beno Udrih. Jimmer Fredette, if you’re going to consider taking him as a risk, then doesn’t it matter what position and player he is replacing? Wouldn’t this be true if you were considering drafting a player the same position that Salmons plays? That’s why I don’t see this as a Salmons for Udrih swap; I see it as a trading for Salmons instead of drafting Kawhi Leonard. Which, no question, I see as an upgrade any way you slice it for next season. Maybe for the next 2 seasons. If this is true for a 3rd season, it will mean Leonard flopped as a NBA player (which is always a possibility as there is no guarantee I get talent evaluations, based on limited information, accurately).

TZ has been on record in numerous ways against the recent Petrie tenure. He doesn’t agree with the lack of statistical analysis, he prefers to see the use of the NBDL more, and the Kevin Martin trade among other basketball decisions made. None of this is necessarily wrong, but, at the same time, a non-stathead & stathead are not likely to see the same viewpoints.

This isn’t an all or nothing deal. There’s going to be loads of perspective over the next 3 or 4 days from multiple sects in various ways. Here’s just one example of such from Akis at Sactown Royalty.

Make no mistake: I don’t care about what methods Tom Ziller chooses to use and analyze whether Geoff Petrie is doing his job correctly. Whatever choices are being made from TZ’s end, that’s his decision. I do not care one iota one way or the other how TZ goes about his decision making. That’s his problem. But what is the issue is the expectation of what’s value. Petrie does not have the same definition of values that TZ has. This Salmons-Udrih trade is not about stat-heads vs non stat-heads. It’s about viewpoint and basketball values.

There is no way a stat head would prefer Salmons to Udrih’s value even acknowledging that defensive value is not easily as captured with offensive numbers.

Here is the biggest thing I disagree with:

If they had drafted Jimmer Fredette at No. 7, they would have gotten better. If they had taken anyone at No. 7, they would have gotten better, just to varying degrees. The draft pick who doesn’t play up to the rookie scale’s first two years of salary is rare. Ultra-rare. Even Quincy Douby played up to his rookie scale salary. It’s hard to make a draft pick and get worse.

On the face of this particular argument, the premise is sound. But there is no way in hell you’re even going to convince me that drafting a 4th G, which decreases both Fredette and Udrih’s value simultaneously, while ignoring the gaping black hole at SF is a better value than John Salmons at the SF for Udrih. Fredette has the chance to hit the ground running and never stop. There is a possibility Jimmer’s value is similar to Beno’s despite the 7 years of age difference. (I’ve mentioned that before I think.) Again, as I mentioned further above, this is where the Kings saw the difference between John Salmons and Kawhi Leonard. That gap is pretty wide at this point where the gap between Jimmer and Beno is quite possibly really small right now. A risk? Sure, no question.

Here’s the kicker for me: You would have been in a similar position with Beno in 2 years without a natural built in replacement that you have staring at you in a draft, that doesn’t suit your immediate need (SF), with a player who compliments your best young player. With John Salmons, at least you are guaranteed better production at the SF spot next season and give yourself the chance to replace Salmons with a younger SF from future drafts, on the same type of contract, along with developing Honeycutt and possibly Casspi or Greene still (this is doubtful especially in Casspi’s case).

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I see this scenario of Salmons/drafting of Jimmer as maximizing Beno’s value and that 7th pick given the circumstances and team needs. Others see it very differently.

One thing is clear: Until this team flops on the court, it’s always possible that this team doesn’t have what it takes to even become a playoff team. Make no mistake, I’m not judging the Salmons trade on whether he pushes the Kings into the playoffs; that’s more or less on Tyreke Evans. I’m judging Salmons on whether he can maintain a competent level of play at SF that helps the Kings win games more consistently and more effectively than they have in the past 3 years. If this happens, the Salmons-Fredette drafting will be successful.

I think Petrie took a gamble. He took a gamble on a player who is not known for things that many fans, especially Kings fans of a certain style of play, are not fond of. Kings fans don’t like ISO players which is nothing new. (I’m indifferent to it. I just want the Kings to win. How they get there is up to them.) But the fact is that an European style passing team has never won a NBA championship, referee malfeasance or no, and ball movement is not necessarily the key to scoring against the best defenses in the NBA. I’m not arguing against ball movement; I think it’s rather necessary to win. I just don’t think it’s the end all be all of offense. It’s not like pairing Salmons and Evans together is the death of ball movement, and it’s not like Evans or Salmons are the only ball stoppers the Kings have had. While we’re on this topic, there were times the Kings had difficulties getting Kevin Martin the ball despite being Martin being an ultra efficient offensive weapon. Kevin’s style of play wasn’t as useful with 2 minutes to go.

Last night Geoff Petrie used the word “subjective”, and I wholeheartedly agree here. Right now, subjectivity such as it were, the sentiment against Salmons has as much to do with selling low on Beno Udrih. My opinion? That fan opinion of Udrih’s value being higher as a result of the last 2 seasons is vastly overblown. The truth is, 2 years ago Beno was untradeable. He was tradeable as a result of only having 2 seasons left (at most since the 2nd year is an option season) and having a quality previous 2 seasons. There is risk in this for Milwaukee, too, in that Beno may not be the same offensive player that he was under Westphal in Sacramento. It may not be seen this way today, but it’s quite possibly has a less effective season similar to what Beno Udrih had his first season in Sacramento.

The Kings need shooting and got that with Jimmer. An extra ball handler (or two if you count Jimmer), a perimeter defender that the Kings haven’t had since Salmons the 1st go around. There are holes being filled. Are these cosmetic moves? Not really, but they aren’t wholesale landmark changes either. It’s the business of being a franchise trying to improve itself. Without the ingredients out there to make a young SF like Leonard improve drastically, even if he had a chance of beating the odds, really work in the rotation immediately, you had to look at trades and Free Agency to shore up the SF spot. Of all the players the Kings had (because Francisco Garcia is realistically untradeable), Beno Udrih had value and teams were willing to take him in return for a player like Salmons. Is that ideal value? No, but what is?

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This deal is not about Jimmer. This deal is not about Salmons. This deal is about the overall dynamic of the team while attempting to move the team forward without taking a god-awful contract in return (which Salmons is categorized as and is not; I’d categorize Kenny Thomas as exactly that).

I think the difference between Tom Ziller’s Point of View here is rather simple: Value is what you find valuable. Sounds folksy and down home I know, but it remains nonetheless true. I don’t want value to look good in trade on paper; I want this to play out and translate to greater success on the court immediately. Value isn’t necessarily trading one efficient player for another because there is no such thing as equal value.

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Bottom line here for me is that I want the Kings to push the envelope when where & how they can. This is one of those deals that suggests there was internal desire to push said envelope.

Geoff Petrie never would have been a good GM, or considered that way for many years, if he didn’t have a general idea on when to push things a bit harder and when to ease off the gas pedal a bit. There’s a lot of disagreement as to how, what, where and when, but, that’s typically open to interpretation. I don’t think Geoff Petrie is incompetent or the game has passed him by. Petrie doesn’t do what David Kahn does which is guess, or simply project what he wants to see in a player, than goes out and makes a complete ass of himself in the media. Geoff Petrie has never been, nor will be, that stupid.

That said, I’m holding Paul Westphal and Geoff Petrie accountable for putting a product on the court that is capable, and ultimately achieves the goal, of making the playoffs. Not getting close, but actually getting in the dance.

That’s the deal here. Failure is not making the playoffs. Failure is not seeing your young players improve upon their games and take the team (and franchise) with them to that place where talk of winning is a lot more important than development of “talent”. I’m not upset about winning 17, 25 and 24 games in the past 3 seasons. Part of real rebuilding is losing games. It’s why rebuilding is so difficult to swallow and accept. I would be upset by a move that ultimately didn’t help the Kings make the playoffs like John Salmons.

I refuse to be upset over “perceived” value or whether or not Salmons has changed his attitude or ball pounding ways. I imagine we will see that very dynamic play out over the course of the season. If actions speak louder than words, than it’s probably true I expect John Salmons to show that he can work in the context of the offense and not pound the ball in tow.

I expect DeMarcus Cousins to give relative production somewhere around 18 pts and 10 boards a game. A 56-57 TS% from Cousins is not a bad idea. I expect Tyreke to be around 22 pts, 7 assists and 5 boards consistently. A 55 TS% sure wouldn’t hurt either.

I could keep going. You get the point. John Salmons doesn’t make you a playoff team. He doesn’t take you from a 24 win team to a 17 win team. He might take you from 24 wins to 27 wins if you’re lucky. What John Salmons is being paid to do, what he will be paid to do that is, is fill the gaping chest wound that was SF for the last 2 seasons. It wasn’t ideal, but anyone arguing that the ideal solution was imminent by signing or trading for so & so is simply issuing their own personal preferred conjecture. The truth is, whatever deal was made was not necessarily going to be a popular or one that made everyone happy.

There is risk here. There was risk if you drafted Jimmer and kept Beno. (And not the kind of risk I would have been happy with to be clear. 4th G’s named Jimmer or Beno? Bad idea. 4th G’s named Isiaah or Pooh? Good idea. Resource allocation yanno?)

This carousel masquerading as this post doesn’t change or define anything differently. I just expect different things from trades than certain individuals, like a Tom Ziller, especially in circumstances where a risk certainly needed to be taken. The first time a risk will be ideal will be the first time.

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Responses

  1. Ah. A pookeynovel. It’s been a while since I saw one.

    I’m not a stathead either, and I hate the idea of having Salmons on the team for one, and only one reason:

    John Salmons’ style of play is HORRENDOUS if you like a motion offense, which I do. Put him on the floor at the same time as Tyreke, and you have two guys that will dribble out the shot clock, then either drive into the teeth of the defense that has been sitting there waiting for 15 seconds, or jack up an off-balance desperation heave.

    I will be hoarse for six months (barring a lock-out shortened season) from screaming at those two players to pass the stupid ball. So not looking forward to that!

    • I get it. I do. It was never an argument about statheads vs non-statheads. I step in both worlds a bit so I can understand both sides. I used to be more of a non- stathead, but the truth is I like both sides. I prefer neither to the other.

      That said, it was more about the differences of a purely statistical approach and a purely psychological approach. Petrie doesn’t give rookies 120% of the scale because he doesn’t want to bother with the incentives part of the contract. Petrie understands incentives fine. He wouldn’t have given Salmons an incentive to come to the Kings in 2006 if he didn’t.

      He gives rookies 120% of the scale, and typically pays players what he deems fair value to the team for one reason and one reason only: Happy people perform better than unhappy people. Many things show this. The difference is that most Fortune 500 companies make more money for their board and top employees by getting 75% of the production. It doesn’t maximize output, but the costs of employees makes up for the lack of production with more profit for the people at the top who care about, shockingly, their own personal profit and little else.

      You know all this perfectly well. I’m just reminding you that I know it too. My point, which you don’t know, is that Omri Casspi can’t complain that he isn’t being paid or screwed by the team when he doesn’t get minutes if he has incentives. There are no incentives to get contracts here except by performing well. (Which is how you keep your job in the NBA in the 1st place.) There is no logistical incentive to score more points because of a contract to do so.

      That is not poor financial planning but a psychological ploy to maximize output in the most reasonable and logical way.

      By the way don’t kid yourself: You’re going to scream yourself hoarse anyway. You’re just going to use lack of ball movement as the reason this time. (That or when Kobe Bryant comes into town with a hanging chad.) 🙂

  2. […] than I have in the past. If there is a full season, I expect a playoff team. I don’t think it’s unrealistic or unreasonable to expect a playoff team right now. Playoffs or bust in […]


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