Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Musings

-  I was actually intending to make this a report on the Gopher hoops recruiting so far for 2013, but it turns out there's pretty much nothing to report.  There are still zero commitments, which I knew, but the list of names is really underwhelming, if you believe the recruiting services.  According to ESPN the Gophers have nine offers out, but the highest ranking ESPN gives any of the players who they say have received one is an 79.  To put that in perspective, 2012 signee Wally Ellenson is a 90, and Oto Osenieks was an 87 as was Justin Cobbs.  Which means that according to ESPN Tubby is currently looking to get guys who are at the same level of Dan Monson type recruits.  Now, these recruiting gurus aren't always right because they had both Al Nolen and Devoe Joseph ranked in the 70s and they turned into contributors at the very least, but still it's not exactly an exciting list.

Rivals has it a bit different with the Gophers having extended 18 offers, and there are two players of interest who they give a rank of 4 stars who remained uncommitted:  G Juwan Parker (#94 overall) and G Xavier Rathan-Mayes (#66).  Of course, Parker has already narrowed his list to Memphis, Georgia, or Stanford and Mayes has teams like Kansas, Texas, Arizona, Memphis, and NC State after him so the odds on the Gophers are pretty negligible.  I'll stay more in the loop when things pick up, but man there's is just nothing to report right now.  A couple of names of interest are G Martez Walker and F Nick Fuller who are both lefties and shooters (Walker is a guard, Fuller a small foward) who ESPN lists as "considering" the Gophers, however neither site lists the Gophers as having made an offer to either of them so I don't know.  In short, there's nothing happening and that's super uplifting and makes me really, really happy for the future of the team.

-  So the NBA Draft happened without the Wolves involvement.  I actually watched the entire first round and was typing up a live blog type of deal but then I got behind and then I realized I was writing a paragraph for each pick and that was way too many words to read or type and also I got bored so I quit.  A few quick NBA thoughts, however:
  • Outside of the top 3 picks, who were the right guys and right situations I thought, the pick of the draft was pretty clearly Perry Jones to the Thunder at #28.  Once again, OKC proves their front office is better than most.  Let's see, Jones was a top-3 pick if he came out last year, had a so-so sophomore season at Baylor where he shrunk from the pressure in big games, but was still expected in the late lottery and then slides to the end of the first due to a knee injury?  When nobody really knows how serious it is?  I get that if you had a lottery pick you'd rather not roll the dice here, but Fab Melo?  John Jenkins?  Miles fucking Plumlee?  It's ludicrous to me that someone would rather have those guys with almost zero upside than a guy like Jones.  Plus, Jones probably needed one of two things out of the team drafting him to succeed - either an athletic team that likes to get up and down where he can use his athleticism to be a big-time asset in transition or a team with one or two established alpha stars so he wouldn't have to face the pressure of being a savior.  And guess what?  He got both.  And bless the Thunder for not being as dumb as everyone else and realizing it makes infinitely more sense to roll the dice that a big-time talent like Jones will be healthy than burning the pick on Festus Ezeli or Jae Crowder.  I mean seriously.
  • Speaking of Jones, even though the Wolves would have had their pick of him, Jared Sullinger, or Terrence Jones if they had kept #18 I still think the trade for Budinger was the right call.  First, you probably couldn't have guessing any of those three would have been there at 18.  Second, they all have serious question marks where you know you're getting a decent scorer who can shoot in Budinger, and thirdly, they all play PF and Kevin Love is probably going to be pretty good for the next 3.5 years before he demands a trade and says he'd never sign another contract with Minnesota after the slapped him in the face by offering him a 4-year deal instead of a five.  So yeah, I like the pick-up.
  • Hopefully the Wolves can get Batum as well.  He's a restricted free agent so Portland may match the 4 years and $50ish million the Wolves have offered, but the Blazers have also, ridiculously, offered a max contract to Roy Hibbert which I can't imagine the Pacers matching (especially since they just drafted his replacement in the awesome Miles Plumlee).  Batum, Love, and Rubio are a pretty solid foundation (Batum's only 23) for the next few years.  And Derrick Williams, if he ends up figuring it out.  And speaking of....
  • I'm really not sure what to think of this Pau Gasol heat we're hearing.  I can see why the Wolves might want him.  Skilled big man who can play next to Love, excellent high post passer whose unselfish game will translate well with the kind of culture Rubio breeds just by playing with him, him and Ricky can get tacos together or watch bullfighting on tv or whatever, which will only make Rubio more comfortable, which can only be a good thing.  I'm not really sure why they're so hot to move on from Derrick Williams already but if Rick Adelman is done with him that's good enough for me.  I have gotten a distinct whiff of "loses the necessary weight to play the 3 but turns himself into nothing but a 3-point specialist" at the same time.  It's either that or he figures out how to be an undersized 4, and I'm just not seeing it.  I guess I'm in favor of trading Williams and getting Gasol back.  I just think Gasol, Rubio, Batum, Love, Pekovic, Ridnour, Barea, and Budinger make this a really fun team, and now that I type that out I look like a racist.  Great.
  • So since I'm on board with getting Gasol and trading Williams, and Dwight Howard has managed to completely destroy his own image in Orlando, and the Nets just traded for Joe Johnson and his ridiculous contract, resigned Gerald Wallace, and want to resign Deron Williams so they're probably not in the Howard discussion anymore, tell me how much this makes sense:
    • Wolves trade Derrick Williams, Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster, Brad Miller, and Wes Johnson and receive Pau Gasol and Jason Richardson
    • Lakers trade Gasol and Andrew Bynum and get Dwight Howard, Martell Webster, and Luke Ridnour
    • Magic trade Howard and Richardson and receive Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Brad Miller, and Andrew Bynum
  • It works under the salary rules, and everybody gets what they want.  The Wolves get Gasol and a veteran shooting guard they could certainly use in Richardson.  He isn't the athlete he once was but he still averaged 12 points per game and shot 37% from three last year and could take over for Wes Johnson's minutes, especially with Barea playing more point with Ridnour gone.  The Lakers get Howard, who they covet, but also pick up Ridnour to play the point - a major weakness for them this past season.  They also get Webster, who can give them some bench scoring which is another issue for them.  And the Magic get two great pieces to build around in Williams and Bynum, as well as a young guard in Johnson and cap relief in Miller.  It's not perfect - Richardson's contract sucks for the Wolves and the Lakers are maybe giving up a tad too much in both Bynum and Gasol, but I really think this trade makes good sense for all three parties (if you're on the Gasol train).  Really, it's pretty much a genius idea by me.  
  • Back to the draft quick, I thought their were two really poor moves - one in the lottery and one late.  The Meyers Leonard pick baffles me because I never thought he'd be a first round pick let alone a top 10 guy, or at least not after last season.  He's athletic for a 7-footer and can shoot free throws, but Tyler Zeller is a rich man's version of Leonard and John Henson is basically guaranteed to be a rotation player at worst because of his defense.  Both were available, and either would have been a better pick than Leonard.  The other move was the Heat trading Arnett Moultrie.  A defensive and rebounding specialist who led the SEC in rebounding last year and was 9th in the country, and despite averaging a double-double last year he wasn't remotely an offensive player.  He could patrol the paint for the Heat and grab rebounds and block a few shots and score off put-backs every once in a while.  He was perfect for that team, yet they traded him to Philly for Justin Hamilton, a poor man's Arnett Moultrie.  They got a future first as well, but dude was a perfect fit.  Reminds me a lot of when the Wolves traded Mario Chalmers even though they desperately needed a PG.  Buncha clown shoes running' teams these days.
  • I should also mention Tony Wroten to the Grizz is a really nice pick that late in the draft (at #25).  Odds are he flames out, as most late firsts do, but he has a whole lot of potential and is a sick athlete.  He had some troubling numbers in college, namely 58% free-throw shooting, 16% 3-point shooting, and 3.8 turnovers per game, but if you watched him play at all it was clear he had an NBA body with NBA athleticism and just couldn't harness himself within the college game (which is why Circus Ball U was a perfect fit for him).  That certainly doesn't guarantee NBA success as Corey Benjamin, DerMarr Johnson, and Jerome Moiso could tell you, but it's better than taking Miles fucking Plumlee.
  • Keep an eye on the Hawks right now.  They just dumped Joe Johnson's contract to the Nets and then followed that up by sending Marvin Williams and his awful contract to Utah for Devin Harris.  Johnson is owed something like $100 million over the next four years (I'm not exaggerating) while Marvin is owed $16 million over the next two.  Atlanta suddenly has a ton of cap space, is Dwight Howard's home town, still have Josh Smith (good friend of Howard's) and just acquired Anthony Morrow (another Howard buddy) in the Johnson deal.  So they'll have tons of cap space plus retained some tradeable assets (Al Horford, Jeff Teague), two interesting rookies (John Jenkins, Mike Scott), and picked up a future first rounder (protected) in the Johnson trade.  Suddenly a Howard and Chris Paul pairing is a realistic possibility.  If Howard can wait it out and he and Paul sign you're looking at Paul/Morrow/Smith/Horford/Howard.  That's pretty whoa.
- That was certainly a lot of words about NBA things.  I certainly didn't see that coming.

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