Getting Team USA Right

Kurt —  July 20, 2007

Today, Team USA is taking part in part of its “grueling” tryout camp in Las Vegas leading up to its participation in the FIBA Americas Championship next month, an event conveniently also taking place in Vegas (only because the president of Venezuela can be a little nuts).

This upcoming tournament matters because the USA has to earn a 2008 Olympics berth by finishing in the top two in the event. The thing is, the talent of the other teams in this tournament is horrid — the only other team of note is Argentina (who will be without Nocioni and other key players). Brazil has had a decent team, but they will likely be without Anderson Varejao and others, so they shouldn’t be a threat. After that it’s the Canadas and Puerto Ricos of the world. Well, maybe I shouldn’t dis Puerto Rico.

The point is Team USA should roll to one of the two automatic Olympic berths. But this mini summer season needs to be about more than that, it needs to be about laying the groundwork for Beijing 2008. Team USA’s results in the World Championships last year in Indianapolis showed some improvement over previous outings — particularly in terms of team makeup geared toward international style basketball — but also showed some key weaknesses.

It is those weaknesses that need to be addressed. Let’s look at three big problems from last summer and how to deal with them.

Defense. This was Team USA’s biggest weakness last summer, and it may be the most difficult to address. Of the final four teams in last summer’s tournament (USA, Greece, Spain and Argentina) the USA had the best offensive rating (of points per 100 possessions) by a whopping 9.1 points. (And that was despite the offensive concerns.) But Team USA’s defensive rating was 9.2 points per 100 possessions worse than the next worst among the big four, which happened to be Greece. And we remember what happened when those two met.

This time around the USA has individual athletes on the wing who can defend — Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier, Kobe Bryant — but the challenge will come on defensive rotations. That starts in the paint, last summer the USA team seemed to count on Carmelo Anthony to provide the inside presence, and he’s not a defensive powerhouse. I think a combination of Howard/Bosh/Amare improves that somewhat, just in terms of athleticism, but inside presence could still be an issue.

On the whole, international teams (particularly the better ones) move well without the ball and all the players — even the bigs — can shoot the three. American players coming out of the NBA aren’t used to seeing that.

Building team trust in defensive rotations is something that does not happen overnight, it takes time. And that’s one thing the USA and its schedule do not have. It’s a challenge for Coach K and his team, but in part he may need to count on an overwhelming offense and decent defense. If they can start playing that.

Outside shooting. Team USA’s overall shooting percentage was the best at the World championships last summer, but nobody that watched them play thought their outside shooting was consistent. For the tournament they shot 36.8% from beyond the arc (not what you’d hope for a 20-foot line), and they shot just 32% against Greece and 25% against Germany the their second to last game.

Here is one area where this summer’s personnel could help. Last summer we dreamed of a Michael Redd like player on the squad, this year Redd is there. So is Kobe, who can shoot 40% from the international three point line with a couple hands in his face. Plus Mike Miller is in Vegas and if he makes the squad that’s another shooter. This is an area I expect we should see improvement this summer, although that may be dependent of factor number three.

Movement without the ball. Last summer, if the USA could not get into transition (they played at the fastest pace of the tournament, averaging 98.4 possessions per game), it looked like they wanted to go with the Phoenix “set the high pick and let the ball handler create” offense. Except that the USA didn’t have anyone with the experience and savvy of Steve Nash. And that meant guys stood out at the three-point line and let Paul/Wade/LeBron/Anthony drive, and they watched from a nice vantage point.

This summer, movement without the ball and better spacing will be the keys to an improved offense. The USA should keep the pace up and try to take advantage of their athletic superiority. But when forced into the halfcourt there needs to be more than the individualistic drive-and-kick we see in the NBA regular season. There needs to be guys moving without the ball, guys making the extra pass within the offense. I think if Billups is running the offense that is a plus, he will be more the facilitator and director rather than a scorer.

The USA has the talent, the question is execution.

———————————————————–

Maybe that’s the key to everything, executing a game plan that fits with the International style of game. Certainly the USA puts forth the most talented team, even if there are weaknesses, but the lack of playing time together and a certain casualness (at times) has derailed talented teams in the past.

I do have some concerns about the makeup of this team inside, in terms of getting rebounds and providing a strong defensive presence. There is no question about the athleticism of the guys up front, but Amare and Bosh are really fours masquerading as fives. Howard is the one true center on the team, but he is green and his game doesn’t seem suited for the international style (working from the high post, hitting the midrange jumper and longer consistently).

But that is a problem the USA can overcome. It’s one they need to overcome by next summer. And they need to lay the groundwork for that in the next six weeks.

Kurt

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51 responses to Getting Team USA Right

  1. That would be, “Puerto Rico, featuring ‘NBA Legend’ Daniel Santiago.”

    Four people will get that.

    Great post.

  2. Did your spell check change some misspelling of athleticism to Catholicism? Sorry for the pun, but holy crap!

  3. 2. Thanks for that, it must have been an accidental spell check thing. Change made.

    Although, to be fair, the Pope has a 42-inch vertical and is a great shot blocker coming from the weak side.

  4. THat struck me as odd, too. I thought we were venturing into Free Darko territory.

  5. I just assumed Kurt had a clever running joke going with Kelly.

    Great post.

  6. kurt, you know this stuff better than me: this phoenix trade baffles me. how do the strict trading rules allow the suns to give seattle kurt thomas, a first-round pick, and a second-round pick in exchange for a second round pick and the trade exception? and what, exactly, is a trade exception.

    forgive some elementary questions from a guy who probably spends too little time studying the general management side of the league.

    also: is that trade purely a salary dump, or is it setting the suns up for a big move?

    dammit kurt, i want to know!

  7. Great post, and I agree about the big men; Tyson Chandler was added to the list for his D and rebounding, and there are some other bruisers (Amare, Boozer, Bosh, Brand) who can score and rebound. Chandler and Howard are both excellent defenders and shotblockers, and will be able to protect the rim.

    I see something like this team going:
    PG: Kidd/Billups/D. Williams
    SG: Kobe/Redd
    SF: LeBron/Marion/Melo/Prince
    PF: Stoudemire/Boozer/Bosh/Brand
    C: Howard/Chandler

    Addresses the playmaking, 3pt shooting, and defensive issues we had last year. Now if Coach Krap will not show up, they’ll have an even better chance.

  8. All the post players discussed are alI either poor defenders (Stoudemire) or good on-ball (Howard) defenders. I think the team needs a terrific off-ball defender in the post such as Theo Ratliff circa 2002. Greg Oden? The problem, of course, as Kurt states about Howard is that these players generally on the offensive end are also poor mid-range offensive players. However, it would allow the team to sacrifice a little offense for some defense.

    Another thought…how about a player like Gerald Wallace? A terrfic defender whose offense thrives on slashing and movement. His size and athleticism also allows him to guard international big men all over the court. Again, he is a poor shooter but a player that always seems to get his points. Would his presence with Shawn Marion be redundant?

  9. Derek Banducci July 20, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    6. I’m fuzzy on the whole trade exception thing as well. It seems very complicated. Here’s a link to an explanation that is available at Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ:

    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm#69

    Here’s part of what it says:

    “In some cases, teams have up to one year to acquire the replacement player(s) to complete a trade. These trades are considered non-simultaneous trades….

    “Here is an example of a non-simultaneous trade: a team trades away a $2 million player for a $1 million player. Sometime in the next year, they trade a draft pick (with zero trade value itself) for a $1.1 million player to complete the earlier trade. They ended up acquiring $2.1 million in salary for their $2 million player — they just didn’t do it all at once, or even necessarily with the same trading partner.

    “In the above example, after the initial trade of the $2 million player for the $1 million player, it was like the team had a “credit” for one year, with which they could acquire up to $1.1 million in salaries without having to send out salaries to match. This credit is often referred to as a Traded Player exception or a trade exception, but be aware that the CBA uses the name “Traded Player exception” to refer to the entire exception which allows teams to make trades above the salary cap (including simultaneous trades, non-simultaneous trades, and base year compensation). “

  10. Dan(#6),
    When teams trade players there can be a difference in salaries. The team that trades away more salary gets a Trade Exception equal to the diff. The TE cannot be combined w/other exceptions and cannot be used to sign free agents,only players under contract. It’s a way for teams over cap to make trades. The TE wasn’t used too often in previous yrs as most teams were under the cap. Now w/almost every team over the cap the TE is a nice way to pick up a player or dump some salary. Indiana kinda opened everybody’s eyes to the value of a TE when they created one for the purpose of getting back Al Harrington. Houston used a TE to pick up Snyder last yr.

    Kurt,
    I don’t think Dwight’s offensive limitations are quite the liability you seem to imply. having him hang around the basket for offensive rebounds and dish-dunks would seem to me a better fit than another jump-shooter on the perimeter. Amare is the one I have my doubts about because of his poor defensive skills.
    The most important factor in the team’s success-or lack thereof-will be chemistry. Will LeBron be a playmaker or try to get his numbers and prove he’s the best in the world. There was the troubling story last time around of Dwight yelling at Lebron to pass him the ball and LeBron alledgedly freezing out Dwight afterwards.Whatever the truth,everybody assumed it was in LeBron’s character. Throw Kobe into the mix and who knows what will happen.
    Based on nothing I admit,but I have this feeling Kobe detests the attention LeBron gets. Kobe feels he is Jordan’s heir not the kid who hasn’t won anything yet,who seems more about the fame than the game. It was immediately after LeBron’s so-called “one of the greatest Play-Off Games ever!” that Kobe came out w/his trade me cry,effectively dominating the basketball world and I find the timing suspicious. Watch the last All-Star game again if you can. It turned into Kobe against Lebron-or LeBron against Kobe if you prefer-and the rest of the players were props. So the dynamic between the two will be interesting. I would love to be the fly on the wall at the practices and on the bus.

  11. Derek Banducci July 20, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    So, here’s my question about the trade exception after reading and re-reading the NBA Salary Cap FAQ:

    What happens if a team does not use its trade exception? For example, suppose that Phoenix does not use their trade exception in the Kurt Thomas deal within the next 12 months, what then? Is the 8 million dollars just tacked onto their cap number regardless of whether they use it or not? That would seem to make sense, but I’m not sure from reading the FAQ.

  12. Derek(#11)
    You snooze,you lose. Sorry,couldn’t resist,
    Seriously,if you don’t use the TE w/in a yr of the original trade it disappears.The TE,like other exceptions,has no cap value of it’s own.If you use it,the salary you acquired becomes just another salary,if you don’t use it you don’t use it.

    On a more personal note,I just want to thank everyone here,and esp Kurt. As I’ve stated all too often,I’m a Rockets fan now living in LA. But I come back to this Forum several times a day because I appreciate the love,enthusiasm and knowledge the various participants bring. I love that you have an owner who WANTS to win Championships,who wants another star-or two-and that you constantly discuss ways to bring that star here-even if you may sometimes disagree on who that star might be.
    I hate that my team’s GM seems determined to corner the market on shoot first,pass last,who needs to play D PGs. But maybe there’s some master plan at work.
    Anyway,I just wanted to say thanks to one and all for creating another little piece of hoops heaven.
    Stephen
    (aka tisbee when work computer used another password of mine here-oops!)

  13. Stephen, thanks for answering the trade exception questions better than I think I could have. The trade exception confuses me some too.

  14. Theres something wrong with my messages?

  15. Looking at it, it made me realize several things:
    1. That this is a part of a grander scheme that puts us into the running of a JO or KG trade while not losing the valuable things Lamar provides the team.
    2. Mitch has indeed focused on defensive strategies to further improve the team.
    3. That another trade is surely on the way had this gone through. (We will be getting a 6M trade exception from Charlotte)

  16. Taking those 3 assumptions, is it safe to assume that the
    Lakers are in the running for another pitch at KG or JO? Otherwise, it is not a welcome sight to trade away a player who has learned the triangle quite well for someone younger and with less experience in Wallace.

    Trade exceptions seem to be a growing trend these days… after GSW got a 10M one from Charlotte from a Draft Day trade and Seattle acquiring Kurt Thom + picks from Phoenix for an 8M exception. In GS’s case, they might be plannign on another KG pitch. For Phoenix, they just sold 2 more 1st rounders to Seattle to stay away from the luxury tax.

    That being said, Why not explore one ourselves? Why not do an Odom for Wallace trade straight up?

  17. Guys, pardon the flood. I cant seem to paste my post so I did it in 2 posts… 16 and 17.

  18. News
    ===
    Bryant will be wearing No. 10 this summer when he makes his debut in international competition for Team USA.
    Word from USA Basketball, however, is that there are no guarantees about what number Bryant will wear next summer on the grand stage of the Olympics. Chris Paul wore No. 10 last summer, but isn’t playing this summer because of foot surgery — so Bryant was issued No. 10 for the upcoming FIBA Americas Championship.

  19. In light of the recent talks concerning JO, KG and Pau, I’d like to propose several other trades to make us better and be a real contender.

    http://lakers.topbuzz.com/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&p=47684#47684

  20. Warren (20) I like Battier very much. I think he is one of the best role players in the League. But I do not think Houston will trade battier. That would be a horrible trade for them. I think they will try to move a PG and acquire another PF. I read a rumor of Alston for Haslem trade. That would be the trade I would make if I were Houston; then Houston would have Haslem and Scola to share time at the PF position. I think that would be a very daunting line up for them, one that would make them contenders.

    I do think a wing defender is a need for the Lakers. Posey is probably more realistic than Battier though. But I do not know who the Lakers have that would interest Miami in a sign and trade. It would probably have to be Farmar or Crittenton plus Filler for Posey (S&T).

    I did like the Camby trade. If the Lakers did that trade, then maybe Houston would do a Head + Cash for Cook trade. That way we would still have depth at the guard position.

  21. Don’t underestimate Brazil. They underachieved last year, but they have good overall athleticism & nice size upfront. Last I heard, Nene was considering playing & Barbosa will play if he is healthy, not sure about Varejao. And even though Arg. is missing plently of players they are still somewhat dangerous with the way they can get their offense flowing. So if the US has to face either team in a Semi, the outcome is not a done deal.

  22. The Suns thing kills me to no end. When you have cap problems and an aging point guard, wouldn’t picks and an expiring contract be exactly what you need? Your key to get past SA is give up the one guy who could sorta defend Duncan? And you’re going to make it worth the other team’s while by throwing in picks? How is anyone applauding Kerr for this.

    (when that trade exception is somehow swung into a massive KG trade forget I ever spoke)

    More on the topic, I do think Kobe will be the difference. He’s the only one on the roster who never treats All-Star games as All-Star games.

  23. ChopperDave,
    I couldn’t agree more w/you on insanity of Suns recent actions. Having cheap(!) rookies locked into 3 yr contracts would seem ideal for a team looking to fill roster and keep overall salary down. And esp silly when they could draft talented youngs and let them develope in Europe for a yr or two. W/the 24 pick they scould have drafted Splitter,wait a couple of yrs then bring over a quality starter locked into a rookie contract for several yrs.
    They will be the poster child for overpaying after 1 yr-it’s the Diaw contract that’s killing their cap for yrs to come.Heh,heh,heh.

  24. Placing Kerr beside applauses is sarcasm to the highest exponential degree. They should have just traded Marion to Seattle for a trade exception and that’s it.

  25. Renato Afonso July 22, 2007 at 6:43 am

    Bosh, Marion and LeBron will hardly fit well in the international game… But I’m not explaining why yet ;)

    See the games and let me know what you think of these players…

  26. Derek Banducci July 22, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    I’ve been thinking more about this trade exception thing and my understanding doesn’t make sense b/c I can create trade exceptions out of thin air, which doesn’t seem right. Here goes:

    1) Suns trade K. Thomas to Sonics for a 2nd round pick. Suns get an $8 mil exception + Sonics’ 2nd round pick.
    2) Sonics trade K. Thomas to Lakers for Lakers’ 2nd round pick. Sonics get an $8 mil exception + Lakers’ 2nd round pick.
    3) Lakers trade K. Thomas to Suns for Sonics’ 2nd round pick. Lakers get an $8 mil exception + Seattle’s 2nd round pick.
    4) Lakers trade Seattle’s 2nd round pick to Seattle for Lakers’ 2nd round pick.

    Everybody is back where they started except Sonics and Lakers now each have $8 mil exceptions that were created out of thin air.

  27. Uh Derek, I’m sure the same player can’t be traded within 60(?) days.

  28. Derek Banducci July 22, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    28. So, if we space the deals 60 days apart and use a guy, like Brian Grant, who is totally useless, then it’s okay to create trade exceptions out of thin air?

  29. 29 Uh…I have no idea what you’re talking about. The Sonics had that trade exception from the Magic deal, I believe.

  30. Derek Banducci July 22, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    30. What I’m talking about is the fact that if you’re sitting on a contract for a worthless player with a big salary then you can trade that player around the league and create trade exceptions along the way. I agree that I am wrong because it doesn’t make sense that the NBA’s lawyers would leave this sort of loophole in the CBA. My question is, why am I wrong?

  31. 31, you missed the part in step 3 where the Suns just used their trade exception to take Thomas back. Now the Suns have no trade exception, and the Lakers and Sonics do. The last team in the chain (or the starter if it’s a circle) gets stuck with a useless contract or lose an exception relative to everyone else in the chain. Some GMs are incompetent, but not THAT incompetent.

  32. 31, Actually, teams involved in the chain would just lose 8 mill cap space/go into the LuxTax, etc. when they accepted the Thomas contract. The exception they gain when they trade Thomas away just lets them absorb an 8 mill contract later, but the cap damage is already done. So in this case the Suns benefit by saddling the Lakers and Sonics with an 8 mil cap hit while not causing harm to themselves

    You know, unless I got it wrong again. But I’m pretty sure I’m less wrong this time than when I posted 32.

  33. Derek Banducci July 22, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I understand that the Suns would be back exactly where they started while making the Sonics and Lakers better off. However, being a broker in this way could be useful for the Suns because they’ve created value out of thin air and could be compensated for the trouble.

    I was trying to keep the hypo simple, but suppose the Lakers and Sonics agree to each give the Suns their 2nd round picks in exchange for the Suns playing broker.

    Or, if you want this to be more realistic, substitute the Knicks and Celtics for the Sonics and Lakers b/c the Suns are not likely to want to make the Sonics and Lakers better off. I’m sure Isiah would pay a 2nd round pick for some cap flexibility.

  34. Derek Banducci July 22, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    33. That could be the answer to my problem. I thought the exception was something that could be used to reduce a team’s salary cap figure. If that’s wrong, then problem resolved.

  35. Watched the USA scrimmage twice and several things caught my eye.
    I tend to forget just how good Jason Kidd is.
    Stoudemire has no clue on defense.
    There was no offensive rebounding outside of Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler.
    LeBron would get a C- on “Plays well with others”.
    The “A-List” stars better come thru because the roster is going to end up unbalanced again-or somebody better stay “injured”.

    Assuming all recover from injuries,we can assume
    PG… Kidd,Paul
    SG…Kobe,Wade
    SF…LeBron,Carmelo
    PF…Duncan,Bosh
    C…Dwight
    Stoudemire will prob make roster because of Colangelo,but I’d take Chandler over him because Duncan and Bosh give enough offense out of the bigs.
    Since Wade can play some PG,the team is okay w/2PGs,but I’d prefer Billups over Paul but I’m not trying to market future stars.(That’s why I think Williams will replace Paul if he can’t go.)
    Which brings us to the wings. Miller or Redd for the shooter and Battier or Prince for defense.
    Battier gets the nod off ability to play some PF-as team only has 4 bigs-and Coach K is coach. Miller/Redd is tossup-may be only true battle of camp.
    So the team ends up w/only 4 bigs unless they wish to leave off defensive specialist-very iffy w/Kobe and Wade only decent defenders-or they do w/out a legitimate 3pt shooter,which they cannot do w/out getting massively ripped.

  36. I didn’t get to watch the team USA scrimmage Sunday, anyone see it? Thoughts?

  37. Stephen, thanks. (You must have hit submit just before I did.)

  38. Thoroughly enjoyed the US scrimmage. A few random thoughts:

    Kobe’s will to win, even in fairly meaningless scrimmages, is astounding. As I said before, I think his intensity will be the main difference. He should have a field day from the international 3. When he commits to being the best on-ball defender out there, he absolutely can be. A slightly more critical note, off-ball on both sides of the ball he looked sloppy and disinterested. If he’s guarding a 3-pt specialist like Miller he can’t get lazy and sag. Similarly, on offense he looked way too prone to just stand around when the ball wasn’t in his hands.

    The biggest story of the game for me was definitely Durant. Playing with the best talents in the game, he didn’t look out of place at all. For all the fuss made about his strength, his offensive repertoire is already among the best out there. And on D his length and speed will cause problems immediately. I think rebounding is the one area he’ll really need to get stronger to improve on. But I won’t be at all surprised if he averages in the mid-twenties (mainly because on that team he’ll have no choice).

    Finally, I know I already said Kobe will be the difference, but allow me to designate Kidd as the co-difference maker. His playmaking ability, especially with finishers like Howard/Lebron/etc out there, will but unlike anything the foreign teams are used to. He’s the perfect guy to unselfishly set up all the athletic youngsters for tremendous plays and keep all the egos happy.

  39. I only saw the fourth quarter, but Kobe looked like he was trying to prove something. Nothing rare there, but he was the star of the team and the player of the game. He made a few key baskets at the end of the game. I think he’ll truly be the team’s leader.

    Durant isn’t all hype. Durant-Green is going to be a DEADLY combo in a few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of that this year.

    Kobe played some nice defense on LeBron at the end of the game. Looks like his lateral quickness has improved.

    After watching this game, it reminded me that the thought of seeing Kobe leave the Lakers makes me cringe.

  40. Derek Banducci…

    From what I understand, the trade exception was created because the Sonics accepted Kurt Thomas’ contract with virtually nothing in return. This TE emanated from the Rashard Lewis to Orlando deal wherein, Orlando used its available cap space to “accept” Lewis who has a huge salary, also trading NOTHING in return.

    In the loop you asked for, Seattle cannot trade Kurt Thom to LA because LA is capped out and is not under the cap. Thereby making the trade illegal for starters.

    This also happened in the Charlotte and Golden State, wherein GS traded Jason Richardson for #8 pick Brandan Wright. During the trade, Brandan Wright had no trade salary value thereby creating a $9,999,999.00 trade exception for GS.

    In summary, this is what happened to Orlando, Seattle and Phoenix.

    Orlando trades 15M trade exception to Seattle.
    Seattle trades Rashard Lewis to Orlando.

    Phoenix trades Kurt Thom, 08 and 10 firsts to Seattle.
    Seattle trades 8M trade exception to Phoenix.

    At the end of the day, Seattle still has 7M trade exception at their disposal while Phoenix too has 8M. It looks most likely that Phoenix will make this exception expire to stay away from the luxury tax.

    Hope my explanation helped.

  41. Re the scrimmage.
    Blue squad started Carmelo as a PF and the White squad dominated inside and on the boards.
    Simple 2-3 Zones gave both squads problems.
    The refs didn’t seem to call some of the fouls the way International refs would. There were some traveling and push-offs that I think International refs would call.
    There were an awful lot of quick hands on the floor w/alot of deflections,steals.

    Dwight was only big who was routinely contesting shots and he was doing alot of jumping on high screen/rolls and often was able to recover on his man.
    Stoudemire has developed a nice mid-range jumper but to me looked horrible on D.
    Chandler did a good job on boards.
    Bosh is an incredible athlete for his size,but his numbers didn’t seem to impact the game.
    Kobe can guard LeBron,Lebron can’t guard Kobe.(Duh!)
    LeBron killed ball movement much too often,dribbling pointlessly too often. I never felt any of his outside shots were going in,even when they swished.Could be because he’s more explosive than other players so I haven’t mentally adjusted to his shot,but I believe it’s because he hurries his shot,is too abrupt and his body rarely squares up. On the other hand he is devastating on the break.
    Kobe did as much one-on-one,but he seemed to do it so much smoother. Kobe would make his move immediately-he knows what he wants-whereas LeBron seemed to be thinking about what he wants to do.
    Anybody who wouldn’t want Kidd on their team is a fool. Young players should watch where he delivers the ball-always in the hands in a position where the receiver can immediately go into his shot.
    Miller was firing 3s from 4-5 ft beyond the line and made it look easy.
    Even tho Durant has Manute Bol’s arms he can score.

    CA-Born,
    This will be Kidd’s team. Kobe will be the designated scorer. Duncan will be thw other focus. The rest had better accept being role players or there will be problems. One problem right off the bat is the probable starting line-Kidd,Kobe,Lebron,Duncan and who gets the other spot? Carmelo for outside shooting or Bosh/Howard for inside defense/rebounding?

  42. In relation to that Trade Exception thingie…

    I was greatly surprised upon reading that Odom was supposed to be shipped out to NJ in a 3-way while Gerald Wallace (signed-and-traded) to LA. This was not a trade I was expecting but I was disappointed it did not happen.

    Had the deal gone through, we would have accepted a trade exception from Charlotte worth 6M, valuable for a JO pitch. We could now trade Bynum and Kwame + the 6M TE to Indiana for JO without hampering our lineup. We will then have 2 new players (JO and GW) traded indirectly for Odom, Kwame and Bynum.

    Farmar / Fisher / Crittenton
    Kobe / Evans / Sasha
    Wallace / Walton
    JO / Radmanovic / Cook
    Mihm / Turiaf

    Defensively, this is an excellent team. We will be well rounded on offense with a 3-man attack while being stellar on defense. Since JO plays center at times (many times in Indy), we can move Turiaf to the 4 and JO at the 5. I’ve also noticed that GWallace sometimes shifts to the 4 spot. He is essentially a 2-3-4 type of player.

    This would have made an instant contender – the right way. Balance, defense, systematic offense and hustle.

    In my opinion, we could stil deal with Charlotte on this one. Making it an Odom for GWallace trade.

  43. I watched the whole game (they have been playing it non stop on NBA TV, and on fox sports west) and I thought it was exactly what you would expect of a bunch of incredibly talented players who have only played together for three days, and probably many after shaking some rust off. When either team slipped into zone defense there were still some issues offensively adjusting. And fifteen players who were invited were not there (Wade, Brand, etc.)

    As for Kobe, he had 26 pts. on 10-22, 5 assists, and five rebounds… (that is from memory so it may be wrong..) He also had something like 6 steals compared to only three turnovers. He had a great shooting touch and hit some pretty killer and very deep threes earlier in the game. At the end with the game on the line he was the one everyone on the team deferred to, and scored the last 7 pts of the blue team, making the go ahead jumper with Prince guarding him and 6 seconds remaining. He then played pretty good defense on Lebron to end the game. I don’t know if “he had something to prove” or that he was just a veteran player whom the other players look to, but you def. noticed him playing a leadership role.

    Carmelo, Durrant, and Kidd also all played excellently. Although Kidd was playing for the other ‘team’, watching him gave me visions of what he and Kobe could have looked like.

    Watching Kobe and his on court magic and simultaneously thinking of the scenario where he isn’t wearing a laker jersey also makes me cringe.

  44. Warren (40) I do not think a trade exception can be used to match salaries for a player worth more than the trade exception. I could be wrong but I thought I read that when reading an article on GS trading for Garnett after they got the trade exception in the Richardson trade. I think if you wanted to use the 6M trade exception to acquire JO you would have to trade for a player worth 6M, wait the 60 days then trade that player to Indiana.

  45. indianapolis was the 2002 world basketball championship — 2006 was in japan.

    last year’s semi-final games between argentina and spain was a game for the ages — beautiful off-ball movement with plethora of cuts and backdoors, tough-as-nails rebounding and defense. the other national teams have been playing together for 6-8 years, while team USA is still treating this as a game of individual talent. I’m not sold on their chances for the 2008 olympics at this point.

  46. Thanks for the clarification ryan… perhaps so too. I will have to read the CBA again to confirm that one I said in contradiction to that of ryan’s …

    I guess the idea for Phoenix was to give up Kurt Thom’s salary to stay away from the tax. They had the 2008 and 2010 1sts as the deal sweetener. What a way to mortgage the future. Suppose Amare gets crippled this year? What now?

  47. I agree. The Thomas trade was done solely to save money. I think it was a horrible move, especially for the future of that franchise. But it was fantastic for Seattle PHX would have been better off keeping Thomas for 1 more year and let his contract expire. That way they save money next year and get to hold onto their picks. But I am not paying the 6M in luxury tax that they are saving.

    How many more years before Nash starts to decline and the team with him? .Once Nash starts to decline they will not have any picks to rebuild. That 2010 1st round pick might not be that bad of a pick if Nash gets injured or starts to decline after next season.

  48. Sorry for the double post but I wanted to add one more thing.
    PHX trading future 1st round picks becomes really bad if ATL makes the playoffs next season. Then PHXs first round pick from ATL in the next draft will not be that good. If ATL is bad again and that pick is in the top 3-4 then they might be able to get a replacement for Nash in Mayo or Rose if either are in next years draft. Then the Thomas trade would not be too bad. But I think ATL has a chance to make the playoffs so their pick might not even be in the lottery.

  49. 39. International basketball is not about having a great playmaker and good finishers.
    maybe the US team will have enought with that fro the Americas Tournament but in the Worlds? nah

    the exemples to follow lately are Spain, Greace and Argentina.
    They all play a well rounded game offensively, where all players can create plays for the others more thant creating its own bucket.
    That’s where moving without the ball is so important in FIBA’s rules.
    the defense is played in a diferent way, zones are allowed and teams usually shift diferent styles of defens during the game. I can tell you that these guys have been doing that since they started playing basketball.

    there is where US team fails. Lebron can’t defend in all the ways international ball plays to, neither he knows how to atack them.

    They rule the NBA, but they are rookies in international ball. How hard have you talked about all those NCAA stars who hasn’t been able to adapt his game to the NBA? Morrisson, Redick most recently…

    It’s all about adapting. Gasol is by far the best international player in FIBA rules nowadays because he knows them and take every little advantage of them. He’s even more valuable than new nba-MVP Nowitzki, because Nowitzki never was an important force in Europe and jumped from a 2nd division team to the NBA. But then in the NBA, Nowitzki is more adapted to the style of game and rules where Gasol is getting used to them and being more of an all-star NBA player.

    US team has the talent. now its time to absorb what international ball is about

  50. Kurt,
    This will be long so forgive me.
    There seems to be a little confusion about Trade Exceptions. They can only be created in “legal” trades.
    Teams above the cap that trade players HAVE to take back salary roughly(w/in @ 25%) equal to trade salary. Teams under the cap can pretty much do anything they want,until they go over the cap.
    Both Seattle and Orlando were under the cap by an amount large enough to “trade” away a player for nothing thus creating the large TE. Same w/Charlotte and Golden State.
    The NBA decided they needed something to help teams trade large contracts,esp the grandfathered in ones. Suppose a team over the cap traded a star making $23mil for 3 players whose combined salary came to $20mil.The team trading away the star can justify they got young talent to build on/trade away,draft picks and the $3mil(or $6mil if over lux tax) in salary reduction will cover an awful lot of $40-50 tickets not sold because the star is gone.
    The team getting the star has stripped their roster and being over the cap has nothing but vet mins and the MLE,which may have been used to resign a player. So the CBA created the TE which is an imaginary salary that can be used to trade for another player-in this case $3mil. It cannot be combined w/anything else,and it can only be used in a trade for a signed player.
    Suppose a second trade was reported as the team getting $5mil and a $2.75mil players in exchange for the TE and a $4.5mil player. That is bad/lazy reporting/editing. What really happened is 2 trades were made,but announced at same time=the 5 for the 4.5 and the 2.75 for the TE.
    Most TEs are very small and often are not worth using. For instance a team in the lux tax gets a $1.25mil TE. The vet min is about as much and the League pays 25% and doesn’t count the Leagues portion on the cap.Using the TE instead of the vet min may get the player a few extra thousand,but costs the owner half a mil…what do you think the wise GM will do.
    It’s very difficult to create a large TE. If the Lakers traded away Kobe,Lamar for the max allowed,they’d only create @ an $8mil TE.
    Hope this was of some help.