Eric: Welcome to the first edition of Hoop76 Chat. Or whatever we end up calling it. The following is a loosely edited gchat convo. Charles is checking in from Houston where he watched Jrue Holiday at the All-Star game on Sunday. And Tom — u just got back from a fire?
Tom: Indeed, unfortunately it wasn’t a fire sale that originated in the Wells Fargo Center offices. We’re all disappointed that the Sixers weren’t more aggressive at the deadline–correct?
Charles: I don’t know if I would say I’m disappointed; I’m okay with riding it out with this bunch and seeing what the team looks like if/when the big man is back.
Tom: I guess at this point, my feeling is that Bynum is unlikely to play basketball this season. And even if he were, the nature of his knee malfunction is such that he can’t be trusted going forward. I think the best move for the team would have been flipping any and all valuable pieces–Nick Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes all drew varying degrees of interest around the league–and losing their way into a decent lottery pick this June.
Tom: And even if they think Bynum is a part of the team in the future, this approach still would have made sense. Is this team, with Bynum, one that can compete? I still think they’re a few pieces away. They need to get a little worse before getting those pieces and they passed on an opportunity to do that.
Charles: My general feeling on that sort of strategy is that ET will have similar value this offseason as he did now, and I have a hard time seeing the team change its lottery chances/draft position much. I’d rather the 10th pick to the 12th pick, sure, but ultimately I think that’s what they forfeited by not completely blowing it up.
Eric: At the rate they’re going, they could be near the top 5.
Tom: I’m not convinced Turner would have similar value this offseason as he does now (not that his value is terribly high at the moment.) Teams, in all sports, get a bit of deadline fever, where they feel like they absolutely HAVE to add someone.
Charles: But that was the thing with this deadline: there didn’t appear to be much of a fever pitch at any point.
Tom: Well, you’re probably right. If there was one, it wasn’t reported. I think teams may have just played it closer to the vest this year than in deadlines past. Really interesting point though Charles: why was there so little movement this year? I know in baseball, once the “Moneyball” movement took hold across the league, teams were a lot more reticent to trade minor leaguers for big league talent, which was SOP previously. Are we seeing something like that happen in basketball?
Charles: Well, for what it’s worth, there were two huuuuuge trades earlier this year. (Harden, and I’m not sure if it counts but I’m gonna count Gay as a huge trade.) So there was an element of the big moves getting done early that made for a less active deadline.
Eric: Is it possible that borderline playoff teams are a little smarter? Understanding the reality of their playoff chances?
Tom: I think it may be that playoff teams are getting smarter, but it also might be that teams are starting to value draft picks over marginally productive veterans like Hawes and Turner. You can get about 80 percent of the production Hawes and Turner give you from a kid from Michigan on a rookie contract. Especially with the new cap structure, you really have to save your dollars for big ticket acquisitions (i.e. superstars) and fill in the rest of the team with young, cheap talent. There might not be a place for mid-tier guys on $8 million deals in this league anymore. The NBA might become America: a top, a bottom, and very little middle class to speak of.
Eric: (insert witty line)
Charles: Where the Sixers exist to shoot midrange jumpers full of midlevel exceptions
Eric: That works, I guess. So … the Sixers weren’t 100% quiet. In fact they made, IMO, one of their smartest moves in the Doug Collins era. Let’s get some Charles on Charles analysis — does the Charles Jenkins trade fall under category 1 of your pre-deadline article: Trading some flotsam for a legitimate backup point guard?
Charles: Definitely. Moved a protected second round pick for a backup pg. A low-risk, medium reward sort of move – I’m probably about as happy about that trade as one can be about a move for Charles Jenkins.
Tom: Jenkins might be, for what it’s worth, high-quality flotsam. He was borderline excellent at Hofstra (yes, at Hofstra) and in the last five games of the year for Golden State last season, he played a lot and was very good. He averaged like 15 and 9.
Charles: Yeah, agreed. He was about as good as the team could have hoped to pick up. He showed real flashes last year, and was only squeezed out of the lineup by the annually underrated Jarrett Jack.
Tom: Underrated and excellently named. If I was a headline writer for a Warriors blog, we’d have some variation of “New Jack City” at the top of the site every couple days
Eric: Sounds like he’s an upgrade over Royal Ivey?
Tom: Yes. He’s absolutely an improvement on Royal Ivey. I think it’s going to be interesting to see how Collins juggles playing time between Jenkins and Pargo. While JP is more explicitly a backup point guard and Jenkins is more of a combo guy, based on what little I know of him, it seems like they would play broadly similar roles.
Eric: So many borderline second-string pgs, yet so little time.
Charles: By all accounts Jenkins is a plus defender, which makes the prospect of him and Jrue on the court intriguing, and could help alleviate some of the pressure on Holiday from being the only one capable of getting into the paint.
Eric: He was also was one of the best long 2-point shooters in the league last year.
Tom: He shot 45% from 16-23 feet last year and is at 46% this season. If you’re going to take them, and god knows he will, I guess you might as well make them.
Charles: Who knows: he and Moultrie might even appear in a game together.
Tom: Once Thad Young comes back, we’ll never see or hear from Arnett Moultrie ever again. Which is the sort of minor mishandling of personnel that explains everything that’s wrong with Doug Collins. There are people with myopia who are less shortsighted than Doug Collins. It’s always about NOW, NOW, NOW, with him.
Eric: But how he’s handling Moutrie (DNPCD vs. Minnesota) isn’t even a win now move, right?. At least based on Moultrie’s brief PT, isn’t he as good as the alternatives?
Tom: Moultrie is much better actually. All small sample size caveats apply, and it’s hard to quantify how he plays defensively compared to Hawes, Lavoy, and Kwame, but Moultrie has been Philly’s best non-Thad big man this season. He actually leads the team in WP48 (the Wages of Win valuation) and per Win Shares has a .151 WS48 (well above average)
Charles: What’s even more strange to me is that the team sent away a future first rounder for his rights; this wasn’t a case where they picked the best available player, they made a point to acquire him.
Tom: Collins insists he had him top-10 on his draft board. And he’s not one of those players that the numbers insist are excellent, but just look dopey and incompetent on the floor–like Reggie Evans or something. He’s springy, energetic, and seems to have a pretty keen sense of his offensive limits.
Eric: Interesting. Maybe he’ll help out tomorrow night against the Heat (who dismantled Chicago last night).
Tom: Miami is going to win the title this year, then probably two or three more times before LeBron joins the Lakers. We’re all in agreement on this point, I imagine?
Eric: Maybe jumping ahead a bit, but tomorrow he’s going to have a three-quarter feast.
Charles: I imagine the odds that he plays in the fourth are off the board.
Tom: He’s the best player in the sport, playing at his absolute zenith. He’s like a video game player at this point. Like when you create a player in Madden ’07 and just jack him up to 99 in every attribute. that’s LeBron
Eric: But did you see that shot last night?
Charles: He probably thought it was too easy.
Tom: Yeah. I think he’s gotta do something like that just to keep the Sixers guessing. If he played too perfectly, man-god suspicions would start floating around. That kind of attention doesn’t help.
Charles: Maybe he just wanted to stay in the game longer.
Tom: Did you see the President when he met him? Barack Obama was like “Oh my god, I’m meeting LeBron.” That’s basically where LeBron is at this point, as far as pop-cultural/historical significance and flat out dominance. I think you could fashion an argument that LeBron is playing basketball right now better than anyone else alive is doing anything
Charles: I actually told my sister that exactly last night
(after she asked me what team he was on…)
Tom: There’s a line in this great old Arthur C Clarke book Childhoods End where, long story short, this small group of people build a little colony on an island to break free from a utopia they think has become oppressive, and a reporter goes to interview them and see what they’re up to. The leader tells her, and I’m paraphrasing, “We’re here to accomplish one simple goal. To each do something, however small, better than anyone who has ever lived.” That line makes me think of LeBron
Eric: So … no shot tomorrow night. What about Sunday against the Knicks?
Tom: I’d bet on Hugh Jackman to win the Best Actor Oscar before I’d pick the Sixers over the Bockers on Sunday.
Charles: It’s just hard to imagine the Sixers taking down the Knicks on the road sans Thad, no matter how many threes the Knicks may miss.
Eric: That’s all for the first edition of Hoop76 chat. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your comments in the thread.
Tom: Good talk guys.