NBA Extensions

Midnight marked the deadline for rookies from the 2009 NBA Draft to work out an extension with their teams. The Thunder couldn’t reach an agreement with James Harden and now he’s in Houston. In less publicized news, however, several other notable players from that draft class worked out deals just before the deadline.

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: 4 years, $40 million

DeRozan’s reputation around the NBA has largely remained constant since his days as a draft prospect. He is blessed with tremendous physical tools, can be an explosive scorer, and if he ever makes the jump to being a 22 ppg guy and do it while being more efficient, he could be the starting shooting guard on a decent team. However, none of this has happened. He remains a talented young player, but without almost any indication he will become more efficient, he is more likely to end up like an early-career Jason Richardson than the centerpiece (or even second option) on a good team. If he doesn’t make the jump this year with an outstanding point guard (Kyle Lowry) and solid supporting cast, he may not go to any level beyond that.

Judging the contract is a little hard since post-Lockout GMs/Owners seem to be just as dumb with contracts as pre-Lockout GMs/Owners. In free agency, DeRozan likely would have received this offer from someone. The Raptors re-signing him likely means that the Raptors were also unwilling to find a trade partner. Just off the top of my head, there are a few teams that would at least field serious offers about DeRozan. The Bucks would likely be interested in re-uniting their current franchise centerpiece (Brandon Jennings) with his childhood running mate. There are certainly enough pieces to make this work, but I think the bottom line is that Toronto wants to win now. They aren’t interested in re-shuffling the deck in hopes of a better mix. Frankly, I agree with them. I have little to no interest in paying DeRozan 10m per year, but they are a pretty solid team right now and they will likely make the playoffs this year.

Jrue Holiday, Phildelphia 76ers: 4 years, $41 million

Jrue is in a somewhat similar situation to DeRozan. He is still young, still has plenty of upside, but he hasn’t made much progress year-to-year. He is a fairly important part of the 76ers plans moving forward, and I suppose continuity is worth some extra money, but he just doesn’t do the things you think he’d do. He is extremely athletic but doesn’t get to the rim in the halfcourt often or get to the line (1.8 FTA/game last year). The Sixers offense liked to run a lot last year, but he still didn’t rack up assists in those minutes. Stats are not everything, but on a team that struggled offensively last year, you’d think he would take a bigger role.

Maybe the best way to view Jrue is alongside two point guards who did not get their extensions: Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings. In Indiana, Collison was a speedy, smart point guard who (until the Orlando series) was slightly subpar on defense and was just kind of underwhelming. He would have magnificent stretches where he would hit his mid-range jumper and be aggressive and make the Pacers offense unstoppable. But for much longer stretches he’d struggle with his mid-range pull-up jumper, lose his aggression and find ways to not make full use of his skill set. When the Pacers swapped him (indirectly) for D.J. Augustin, they got a player who was not as good, but who could utilize his skill set more efficiently than Collison did. I do not watch enough 76ers games to state this outright, but Jrue strikes me as another guy with a skill set he doesn’t use efficiently.

Brandon Jennings didn’t get his extension either. He is a quick, sometimes explosive, guard with a very underrated game as a creator. The defensive-reputation of the Bucks sometimes overshadows that for long stretches last season, the Bucks were an outstanding offensive team, particularly with their passing. Jennings’ inconsistent jump shot and inability to finish in the lane (probably a height and loss-of-hops problem) have been well-documented but not nearly as well as his consistency in running the offense and being a productive player. BUT, once again the issue is efficiency. Can Brandon Jennings do his job on this team? Absolutely. Could a lesser player execute the same sets and bring similar skills at a much lower price? Yes.

That’s what it comes down to for Jrue. This contract is a hope that he becomes a player who can utilize his skill set better and jump up a level in the point guard hierarchy, but if that doesn’t happen, this contract will look fairly bad in 3 years.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: 4 years, $32 million guaranteed w/ 6 million in incentives extra possible (thus the reporting of 4/38m)

Gee, I wonder who has been teaching Gibson how to yell……

Taj Gibson’s deal is a complete departure from the last two guys we talked about. The Bulls frankly couldn’t afford to let Gibson go, and yet they took a very hard line with him. It is no secret that Bulls fans hate Carlos Boozer and that the Bulls have very little interest in keeping him around. Gibson is probably the better player right now even though Chicago’s likely offensive struggles this year will be slightly ameliorated by Boozer’s presence. On the open market, I would think Gibson could get a Millsap-type deal. His offensive game isn’t as refined as Millsap, but his defense is much better and the value of each is likely similar in free agency. I think Bulls fans would have been happy to extend him for 4 years, $48 million, but they got a discount, so a small round of applause for the penny-pinching Reinsdorf.

Other Things I Wanted To Comment On

All-NBA 2012 Second Round Draft Picks

PG: Tyshawn Taylor (BKN)- There weren’t a ton of PGs in the second round that will see significant minutes and I didn’t see Isaiah Thomas (SAC) on this list.

SG: Doron Lamb (MIL)- Plenty of minutes and I am betting on a Monta Ellis trade.

SF: Jae Crowder (DAL)- Hustle, muscle, decent shooting. Marquette connections had to influence on this pick.

SF (because I didn’t want to pick a PF): Darius Miller (NO)- Should see minutes on an exciting team. If I had to pick a PF, it would be Kris Joseph, but he won’t see enough time.

F/C: Kyle O’Quinn (ORL)- Someone has to play well for them, right?


College Football Week 7

The Red River Shootout

Landry Jones lost this game. I understand that he was not slated to start and that the game would have ended a bit more like I expected had Bradford stayed healthy, but he didn’t and Jones faded down the stretch. I will give Landry Jones all the credit in the world for keeping the Sooners in the game and really playing pretty well up until about 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. I was to make this very clear. I do not care what string QB you are, you cannot throw 2 picks on potential game-winning drives. Colt McCoy even bailed him out by throwing a red zone pick right after Jones’ first pick, but the second pick cut even deeper. You cannot do that if you expect to win games, especially against competition as good as Texas.

Texas proved it was not on the same level as Alabama and Florida, floundering against a stout Oklahoma defense and just struggling generally to move the ball. They probably should have lost this game, but they didn’t and will march on to meet their demise another week.

Buckeyes Bucked

Terrelle Pryor did his best Rex Grossman impression fumbling twice and throwing two picks in a somewhat embarrassing loss to the Boilermakers. Of course, this upset came on the road in conference as most upsets do but it is still no excuse for a team vying to be nationally viable. Pryor played so badly that even ESPN was asking if he should be starting elsewhere on the field. Even some die-hard Buckeyes fans think Pryor would be better off as an elite TE than a QB. I will not go as far as to say there is serious trouble in Columbus, but there are probably not too many happy campers on campus tonight.

Conference Upsets

Georgia Tech bested the Hokies at home, Florida almost dropped a conference game at home, Colorado rocked the Jayhawks and Texas Tech made losers out of Nebraska in Nebraska. All of this was very exciting, but honestly, not unpredictable. Once again, the conference road game strikes and all it leaves in its wake are wondering where it went so terribly wrong. The only truly shocking result of the bunch is that Florida almost dropped a game at home, again, to a dangerous Razorbacks team. Some weeks, Florida looks untouchable (like last week at LSU), but then looks extremely vulnerable at home. I am not sold on them as Championship contenders though there are not a ton of teams that can fit that billing. Alabama is putting together a pretty compelling case, but they will meet Florida in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. This is shaping up to be an extremely exciting year and yet another year when multiple teams will be able to lay claim to BCS bids and potentially get denied. Boise State and TCU are putting together solid bids, Virginia Tech lost, and Texas has looked extremely shaky all year. Alabama has been the most impressive, but it will be a lot of fun to see the BCS squirm as they try to defend who makes what bowl game.

It pains me to talk about this next one but it has to happen

Irish fall to Trojans………… Again.

Some thought this would be the year. Those some were wrong. USC went up big in the 3rd quarter, but the Irish showed a ton of heart and fought back, eventually leading to 3 plays from the 4 yard line with 9 seconds left. For a second, it looked like Kyle Rudolph hauled in a tipped ball in the end zone, but it looked like his knee was down out of bounds as he caught it. The next two passes were incomplete, including a slight slip on the final play by Duval Kamara, making Clausen’s errant pass irrelevant. So close, yet so far away. As an admitted Notre Dame fan, I was not expecting good things to come from this game without Michael Floyd and with a suspect defense. I would not say that the Irish played extremely well, but they were advantageous in cashing in on the opportunities given to them by USC. It was a valiant fight back, but it should not have been as close as it was. Maybe the Irish will be able to beat them when they get a defense capable of stopping teams not named Nevada. Until then, my Notre Dame fan-hood will be without reward. At least I have a Heisman candidate I can believe in Jimmy Clausen. If only he had a real defense behind him, maybe they would be 7-0 right now. If only… if only…

On the other hand, I know it gives Notre Dame Haters everywhere reason to rejoice so I guess it is whatever is best for the greater good, right? Although USC might be the only program more reviled, Notre Dame remains number one for most. Get ’em next year Irish.

The only other big game worth talking about was the Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech game, but I will let you reference my previous thoughts on it (as shown here) as they have not changed on the matter. A win for VT would make them a legitimate contender; a loss would confirm they are just another team that is good but not elite.

Good week of football, only one more week until we get to do it again.

CLOWN OF THE WEEK: This one is a little Marquette-centric, but I need to call out MUTV’s coverage of Marquette Madness (our version of Midnight Madness). I understand it is done by students, but I am not sure if it could have got more amateur. Tons of technical difficulties, weak reporting, and commentary completely unrelated to what was going on on the court. In the words of Lou Williams of the 76ers, “C’mon Son”!