So I've been working pretty hard lately trying to make updates to my stats, in particular so that my Comparison Engine becomes more useful. I need to incorporate the new Wins Produced model and also add data for past seasons. Once that's done, I'll be using it extensively to prepare my season previews (and make predictions). In the meantime, I probably won't be writing articles as long as my recent post on Eric Gordon, which apparently convinced the Clippers that yes, they should give in to the Hornets demand to include him in a trade.
I will, however, chime in again to talk about one thing that confuses me: many, many Tweeps thought this was a better trade than the vetoed Laker trade not because the Hornets would win more (everyone agrees the Laker trade would have resulted in more wins) but because this offers the team "flexibility", "assets", "potential" etc. My stock answer for ages is that those things, together with five bucks, will buy you a coffee at starbucks. The reason you ammass those things is so that you have a chance at fielding a winning team later. Which makes sense if you suck right now. But Choosing between winning now (which a Martin/Odom/Okafor/Scola team most assuredly would have done) and amassing "assets" so that you can maybe win later is...dumb, frankly. I call this the "Hamster Wheel" strategy:
Understand, by the way, that I am not talking about choosing between being an 11th seed lottery team and tanking. I think clearly tanking is the smarter play if those are your choices. I'm talking about choosing between fielding a 50+ win team (ok, so 41 wins in a 66-game season) and tanking. Tanking so that you can get a decent lottery pick, maybe sign a free agent with some cap space, and then in 2-3 years.....field a ****ing 50-win team!?
Oh, I get the logic. "If you can't contend," they say, "you might as well compete." This is crazy on so many levels, including but not limited to:
- Fielding a team that goes to the playoffs, wins in round 1 every other year or so, is vastly more profitable than fielding a lottery-bound team. I don't know the NBA's new revenue sharing plan, but I find it hard to believe this has changed (unless, of course, you spend like the Knicks for a team like that)
- Tanking does not, and will never guarantee that you'll "contend" later. Since the weighted lottery was introduced, it doesn't even guarantee you a very good shot at the overall #1 pick, which is almost always the only one that really increases your championship chances.
- The argument that "you need a real superstar to win" is a valid one. But the chance of luckboxing into a real superstar is just about as good for 50-win team as it is for a 20-win team, either through an opportune trade (See Gasol from MEM to LAL, Garnett from MN to BOS*, Rasheed Wallace to DET in 2003, etc) or a draft (see the Sonics landing the #2 pick and luckily dodging Oden's health issues, the Spurs grabbing Parker/Ginobli very late, etc)
*Yes, I know that BOS was horrible the year before that but prior to the Garnett trade they had made a lot of moves and had a roster of Rajon Rondo (yes he was already very good, then, you just hadn't noticed yet, thank you very much), Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Al Jefferson (before his injury, back when he was a double-double machine), Kendrick Perkins and some cap space. In the weak East. Tell me that team does not win 50, PUH-LEASE.
And by the way, I hate to break it to you folks, but this is NOT the OKC strategy, lol. Nearly every move Sam Presti has made was one that made his team better. The only trade I can think of where Presti may have traded "for the future" was the Ray Allen trade. Which, by the way, he did not make during a year in which they had the potential to become a playoff team. The OKC strategy was not "let's blow shit up and see what happens", it was "let's try to make smart moves that incrementally improve us". And those smart moves are not about collecting trade pieces (so that you can make future trades for....more trade...pieces...? Oh, wait, that's the KAAAAAHN model!), it's about acquiring undervalued players (K. Perkins, Kurt Thomas, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha) and finding suckers to take your overvalued ones (Jeff Green). With Durant, OKC got very lucky; he was not part of "the plan". He's not in the business of hoarding assets like they are wealth; he's trying to make his team better. And they didn't go from 25 wins to contender in one leap, either.
One last point: the NBA keeps insisting a potential buyer wants a blank slate. Bullshit. You know what a potential buyer wants? To not have to be in New Orleans. The instant the NBA relents on the idea that any buyer needs to keep the team in NOLA, I guarantee the team will sell fast, even if the team had ME on the roster with a long term guaranteed contract.