Posts Tagged ‘Memphis’

NBA Free Agent Rumors: Tracy McGrady To the Boston Celtics?

July 17th, 2010

Reports have been swirling that Tracy McGrady has considered teams in L.A., Miami, and even Orlando where he was a scoring machine. Well, the team with the most titles all time is reportedly interested as well now that Tony Allen has vacated the Boston grounds.

Allen, who played pivotal backup minutes against Kobe Bryant in the Finals, is in final negotiations for a three-year, $9.5 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. A head-scratching move for Boston players such as Paul Pierce who want to know what Danny Ainge is doing to keep up with the rest of the busy Eastern Conference.

The Boston Celtics were able to ink Jermaine O'Neal to a two-year deal with the uncertainty of whether Rasheed Wallace will retire this offseason. There are also still questions about the strength and durability that will be left in Kendrick Perkins’ knee.

They were also able to resign Nate Robinson in a backup role for two years and $8 million dollars. Those are decent pickups, but its's not what is going to get Boston back over the hump.

Paul Pierce took less money over the off-season to give room to sign a major player, and Ray Allen resigned for a two-year, $20 million contract.

With all these players going and staying, it makes one wonder what this crafty veteran team could look like next season.

Well, there have been reports that Matt Barnes might come in to take over the backup role that has been vacated by Tony Allen. However, these are just slight rumors at this present time.

With the confusion and angst in Paul Pierce's voice, his metaphorical throat lozenge could be none other than Tracy McGrady.

T-Mac is coming off a short stint with the New York Knicks this past season where he averaged eight points, three rebounds and three assists per game. Not gaudy numbers from a former All-NBA player, but he was still in recovery from his injuries.

Many have written McGrady off just as they have Jermaine O'Neal, which could lead some to speculate that picking up McGrady is not outside the realm of possibilities for Doc Rivers and his staff since they acquired O'Neal.

Rest assured, there is a little more life left in McGrady than there has been in O'Neal over the last three years. McGrady showed glimpses of his prowess this past season with the Knicks, and it will be a crap shoot to see where Tracy lands this offseason.

Michael Finley is most likely not going to be asked back, and McGrady could possibly be looking at a sixth-man role with the Celtics. With the tired legs of Ray Allen and Pierce, he could be an essential part of the Celtics force.

The Celtics could not acquire David Lee or any of the other premier free agents, so it comes down to a fill-in-the-holes scenario. Shaq is out there, but he is not what the Celtics need. They need a wing man to score off the bench and play stellar defense.

The lack of stellar defense could be the downfall in Boston acquiring McGrady, but odds say no. He would be an effective offensive player like Nate Robinson and could fill the wing man spot nicely. The Celtics could also go small and have a lineup of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, McGrady, and Garnett on the court which could run fluidly.

Nothing is set in stone at this time, but McGrady and the Celtics makes a lot of sense—assuming that he's willing to take a smaller monetary offer from the team.

Magic Match Offer Sheet From Bulls to Redick; Sign Brewer Instead

July 17th, 2010

After LeBron James made his decision to go play with Miami, the Bulls went after a shooting guard immediately in J.J. Redick. Redick is a terrific perimeter shooter and would have been a terrific pick-up for the Bulls, but the Magic decided to match the 3-year, $20 million front-loaded contract that the Bulls offered Redick in the offer sheet. Redick is reportedly glad to stay with the Magic.

After the Bulls could not get Redick, they went after another player, Ronnie Brewer.

Brewer started last year with the Utah Jazz before being dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies and suffering a season-ending hamstring injury.

"I think the Bulls are a great fit for him," Brewer's agent, Henry Thomas, said in a phone interview.

Thomas noted that Brewer chose the Bulls over several other teams including the Celtics because of the fact that he has the opportunity to start right away and play with Derrick Rose as well as former teammates Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer.

"He's excited about the opportunity," Thomas said.

Brewer didn't get a chance to bring the ball up the floor much in Utah because he played with former Illinois star Deron Williams, but Thomas believes that if Rose ever needs a breather, Brewer wouldn't have any problems handling the ball.

The Bulls turned their attention to Brewer immediately after the Magic matched the offer to Redick.

Who will the Bulls go after next?

Keeping Pujols, Wainwright Will Prove Cardinals Mozeliak a Worthy GM

July 17th, 2010
On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced they were extending the contract of GM John Mozeliak by three years.  Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. described it as a "well deserved extension" and it is indicative if Mozeliak's ability to balance payroll while continually keeping St. Louis competitive in the National League.
Mozeliak's biggest splash came this past offseason with the signing of free agent Matt Holliday to largest contract in club history.  The seven-year, $120 million deal came on the heels of a midseason trade with the Oakland Athletics for the slugging outfielder that catapulted the Cardinals to the NL Central crown.
Mozeliak was very active last season in tweaking the roster to provide manager Tony LaRussa with the pieces needed to turn a good team into a favorite for the National League pennant.  Those dreams died when St. Louis was surprisingly swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the GM had played his part well.
He dealt a package of prospects to the Cleveland Indians for veteran utility player Mark DeRosa and then landed the big fish in Holliday.  Though DeRosa injured his wrist shortly after the trade and didn't perform as hoped, the trades seemed to invigorate the clubhouse as the team went 20-6 in August and cruised into October.  Perhaps more importantly, the moves erased growing frustration amongst an agitated fan-base.

Mozeliak Provides Harmony in the Front Office
Before he was hired as GM after the 2007 season, Mozeliak served as an assistant to Walt Jocketty (now the current Cincinnati Reds GM). Mozeliak is credited with encouraging the club to sign oft-injured OF Ryan Ludwick and current closer Ryan Franklin.  Though neither were well-known at the time, they blossomed in St. Louis with both appearing in the All-Star Game during their Cardinal careers.
And in a fractious front office split in a power struggle between Jocketty and VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow, Mozeliak was often in the unenviable of position of go-between.
While Jockett chafed at the power and the sabermetric-minded Luhnow had been given by DeWitt, Mozeliak has embraced the new style of scouting.  He has provided harmony by balancing sabermetric analysis with old-fashioned, first-hand reports from scouts.
Despite initial fears that Mozeliak would be overpowered by the strong will of LaRussa, the two appear to have a good working relationship and mutual respect.  Mozeliak has provided the veteran role players the Redbird skipper prefers (Randy Winn, Aaron Miles) and LaRussa has worked well with young talent from the Cardinal farm system (Jaime Garcia, David Freese).
Last season's trades for Holliday and DeRosa depleted prospects from the top levels of the farm system, but most of the young talent involved had low-ceilings (Jess Todd, Shane Peterson) or simply duplicated players already ensconced on the big league roster (Brett Wallace, Chris Perez).  Despite being depleted at Triple-A Memphis, the farm system is accumulating high-end talent in the low minors, exemplifying a more cohesive approach to the draft than the Cardinals experienced under Jocketty.

The Khalil Greene Trade
Like any general manager that actively works to improve the roster, mistakes can be made.  Injuries and other unforeseen circumstances can unravel even the most sound decisions.  Mozeliak did a masterful job of adding Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny to the pitching staff, but now both are on the DL and their chances of making contributions this year seem to fade daily .
But there is one transaction that Mozeliak would love to take back.  In the winter of 2009, he traded minor league reliever Mark Worrell and a player to be named later to San Diego for shortstop Khalil Greene.  Greene was coming off a disappointing 2008 season , but had enjoyed a superb 2007 campaign .
There were some grumblings at the time of the trade because of his struggles in 2008 capped by having to go on the DL after breaking his hand, punching a clubhouse storage chest out of frustration. But Greene brought hope of an impact bat at SS, and it seemed the Cardinals got him for very little in return.
Greene was a flop with St. Louis.  His struggles with social anxiety disorder are well documented and his career is now in shambles.  If that wasn't bad enough for the Cardinals and Mozeliak, the PTBNL in that traded ended up being Luke Gregerson.  He has since developed into a superior middle-reliever with the Padres.
Mozeliak placed the blame for the failed trade on the Padres, telling The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "the team had no inkling of Greene's issues before they traded for him." He inferred that San Diego GM Kevin Towers was not forthright about Greene's anxiety issues.  Maybe Towers pulled a fast one on the Cardinals GM, but it is also clear that Mozeliak did not do enough research on Greene before pulling the trigger on the trade.
But Mozeliak has earned the benefit of the doubt regardless of that one mistake.  He has shown a gift for finding valuable players for very little investment.  Last season, he picked up Boston Red Sox castoffs Julio Lugo and John Smolz, who proved to be valuable pieces in the team's second half surge to the playoffs.  In spring training this year, he signed Felipe Lopez for a mere $1 million, and Lopez has filled in at many positions vacated by either injuries or poor performance.
For a franchise with big dreams in a small market, such bargains are crucial to the team's continued success on the field.

Now the Hard Work Begins
The contract extension shows ownership's belief that Mozeliak is a fully capable Major League general manager.  Such confidence is necessary because in the next three years, he faces more pressure than perhaps any other GM in Major League Baseball.
Priority number one is re-signing Albert Pujols before his contract expires at the end of next season.  Pujols is best player in the game and the face of the franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole.  Negotiating a contract that pays Pujols his worth, while fitting it into a budget that allows the team to remain competitive, will be tricky.  He will need to get this accomplished before being faced with the excruciating decision to either trade the Cardinals' best player in generations for a stockpile of talent or risk losing Pujols to free agency with only compensatory draft picks in return.
There is also the issue of retaining dominant starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
2012 is the final year of Carpenter's current contract the club is expected to exercise its option to retain him.  He is 10-3 this season, finished a close third in Cy Young Award balloting last year, and provides valuable veteran presence for the pitching staff while being a huge crowd favorite.  But Carpenter will turn 38 years old just after the beginning of the 2013 season and Mozeliak must decide how much to invest in an injury-prone, aging right-handed starter.
One of Mozeliak's wisest moves was one of his first.  In March 2008, he signed Adam Wainwright to a $15 Million contract good through 2013, including team options.  Now, the 28-year old right hander is one of the top starting pitchers in the majors with a 13-5 record and a 2.11 ERA.  
He finished second to Tim Lincecum for last year's Cy Young Award that many baseball insiders thought Wainwright should have won.  He signed his current deal choosing security over money, but barring something unexpected he would be at the top of the 2014 free agent class and ready to cash in a huge contract.  The pressure starts now on Mozeliak to keep room in the payroll to retain this superstar.
If Mozeliak is able to keep these core players and keep St. Louis competing for the National League pennant year after year, he will not only have repaid the club's faith in spades, but also emerge from the long shadow of his former boss, Walt Jocketty.

Bulls, G Brewer agree to 3-year contract (AP)

July 17th, 2010
The agent for Ronnie Brewer confirmed Friday the guard has agreed to a three-year contract with the Chicago Bulls. The deal reunites Brewer with former Utah teammates Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, who became Bulls earlier this month. Brewer finished last season with Memphis after being dealt from Utah at the trade deadline in February.

NBA Free Agency: New Chicago Bulls Guard Ronnie Brewer Future All-Star?

July 17th, 2010

For those who blinked in the past 24 hours, the Chicago Bulls immediately changed direction in their pursuit of a shooting guard, shifting from the Orlando Magic's J.J. Redick to the Memphis Grizzlies' (and formerly the Jazz's) Ronnie Brewer.

The Magic matched the three-year, nearly $20 million deal for Redick, which threw a wrench into the Bulls' plan of flanking star point guard Derrick Rose with two lethal shooters from long distance.

With the pool of available shooting guards so shallow, and the Bulls losing out on potential targets while Redick's offer sheet handicapped their cap space, it seemed as if Chicago would be stuck without a legitimate shooting guard.

It was a glaring hole last season and it would be a disadvantage in 2010-11 as well.

Rest assured, Ronnie Brewer is a more than satisfactory consolation prize.

In fact, Sam Smith of had this to say about Chicago's latest free agent addition:

"Because of his athletic ability and work ethic, he’s been regarded by some as a potential All-Star after being the No. 14 pick in the 2006 draft. He’s probably not quite at that level because of his lack of a long distance shooting stroke, but for the Bulls needs he seems an ideal fit because of his defensive proficiency and aggressiveness in the open court. "


A possible All-Star? For $12.5 million over three years? I'll take it.

Redick might be the hotter name, but Brewer is the better value. The Bulls could look back on the matched offer sheet as a blessing in disguise.

Redick dominates Brewer when it comes to outside shooting. That's a fact. Brewer, who has a unconventional shooting stroke because of an accident earlier in his life, doesn't even make close to 30 percent of his treys.

The comparison becomes much more interesting, however, when overall shooting percentage is taken into consideration.

In his NBA career, Brewer has shot 52 percent from the field and averaged more than 10 points per game. 

Redick, by comparison, is a career 42 percent shooter and averages seven points per contest.

Don't forget, shooting is supposed to be where Redick has a huge advantage over Brewer. Maybe from downtown, but not overall.

In terms of sheer size, Brewer has Redick beat. Redick is 6'4'' and 190 pounds, while Brewer is 6'7'' and 227 pounds.

While experts and scouts alike have praised Redick's improved defense, you can't teach size or length, and Brewer has them both. It's no surprise he was seventh in the league in steals in 2008-09, his last full season of play.

It's hard not to think about the potential matchup with the Miami Heat when making free agent acquisitions. Adding Brewer will go a long way in shutting down the Big Three.

Redick can't guard Dwyane Wade, and definitely can't guard LeBron James. 

Brewer can definitely guard Wade, and could make life difficult for James.

Look, if the Bulls need shooting, they can sub in Kyle Korver. A team can never have enough shooting, but the same can be said about defense.

Plus, if Rose is telling the truth, he has developed a consistent three-point shot of his own, which could potentially be set up by the slashing of Brewer and Luol Deng.

Which leads to the final reason Brewer may ultimately be better for the Bulls than Redick: He can handle the ball.

In fact, Brewer was considered a combo guard coming out of college, where he was in charge of a lot of Arkansas' ballhandling duties.

He's not going to be a backup point guard for the Bulls. He will never be asked to be the primary ballhandler on the floor.

However, he can play the same role as Kirk Hinrich did alongside Rose, and that is occasionally bringing the ball up the court. Brewer should be comfortable enough to start the fastbreak on his own.

Brewer has all the tools to be a successful starting shooting guard with the Bulls, and if he commits to improving his jumper like Rose did this offseason, he won't have a glaring weakness in his game.

Saying he's a potential All-Star is premature and unsubstantiated. 

Still, he has shown he can score given the opportunity (13.7 points per game in 2008-09) and is a proven lockdown defender.

The only knock on him is he can't shoot well from three-point range.

Is that really such a bad tradeoff?

If the Bulls can use the money they saved to add more quality pieces, Gar Forman and John Paxson should send a thank-you to Magic General Manager Otis Smith for matching the Bulls' offer to Redick.

Because they not only got an arguably better player, but now they have even more room to make their young team a threat in the Eastern Conference.


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