Tag Archives: Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Bucks get Salmons from the Bulls… Cavs load up with Antawn Jamison

Salmons_blog  TNT’s David Aldridge is twittering that the Bucks will send Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson to the Bulls for G-F John SalmonsFrank at Brewhoop has been tracking trade rumors this week.

JSOnline has confirmed the news. Salmons is headed to Milwaukee but there’s no note on who the expirings from Milwaukee will be.  Kurt Thomas is apparently NOT part of the deal, some sources said. 

Chicago Tribune reports that a deal has been reached “in principal” and that it’s Thomas and Elson for Salmons, but that the Bucks could “substitute” Hakim Warrick for Thomas.  Problem is, Warrick’s $3 mil. contract can’t be substituted for Thomas’ and have the deal fit under NBA trade rules. Carlos Delfino‘s contract would work. 

Ball Don’t Lie has a trade deadline post that will be updated through 3pm tomorrow. Apparently the trade may be expanding, but Salmons is definitely headed for Milwaukee.  The Bulls official blog is also keeping tabs.

The 6’6″, Salmons, a 20-pt. scorer when he was with the Kings last season has been odd man out fit in the Derrick Rose-Kirk Hinrich-Luol Deng mix in Chicago.  The Bulls  needed to clear some cap space to be in the summer 2010 free agent market (D-Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire etc.), and Salmons had an early termination option for 2010-11. It would have been no surprise if he had opted out of Chicago. 

In Milwaukee, Salmons would start at shooting guard, with Charlie Bell likely to return to a reserve role.

Salmons came to the Bulls last season as part of the Andres Nocioni-Brad Miller deal right before the trading deadline. With Deng sidelined, Salmons filled in at small forward and averaged 18+ pts per game as the Bulls drove past the Bucks and Pistons into the playoffs.

With Deng healthy and playing 38 mins per game, Salmons is playing shooting guard, but shooting just 10 times per game and scoring 12 ppg. He’s shooting well from Downtown, which never hurts a Scott Skiles team coached to launch ’em. Unless Salmons is little more than a less prolific version of Michael Redd, this trade improves the Bucks and doesn’t help the Bulls — especially if KT and Elson are the two involved. Somehow, I think Carlos Delfino’s name may come up, Hak Warrick’s already has. 

No matter which of the expirings are used (Luke Ridnour’s name has not come up), this looks good for the Bucks and not so good for the Bulls … for now.  However, Chicago’s priority now is clearing cap space to make a run at D-Wade, Chris Bosh or other summer free agent options.

Note: backup center Elson is on injured reserve and is expected to stay there for a few more weeks.

UPDATE: Seems Thomas and Elson may stick … it to the Bulls. What a terrible trade for Chicago – Elson is on the injured reserve and Kurt Thomas has very little game left. Again, the latest is that the trade is expanding but that Thomas may or may not be involved.

It came from Cleveland. “It” in this case is a monster built to win the NBA championship. Somehow, someway, the team with the best record in the league, running away with the top seed in the East, got better before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Just an hour or so ago, the Cavs announced that they had traded center Big Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), a first round pick and draft rights to a guy named Emil to the Wiz for former All-Star Antawn Jamison, a big forward with a scoring game who should fit right in with Lebron and the rest of his beastly Cavs.

Big Z was in the final year of his contract, paying him $11 mil. this season. With Anderson Varejao continuing to improve and with Shaquille O’Neal in the fold, Z became expendable. If healthy in the playoffs, Shaq and Andy will get the big man minutes. Jamison isn’t the outside shooter that Big Z is but he’s got a more versatile offensive game and younger legs.

The Clippers are involved in this deal, too, and the Cavs will pick up backup point guard Sebastian Telfair. The Wizards get former Buck Brian Skinner and Al Thornton, a couple of rugged big men to play with Big Z and Brendan Haywood. Drew Gooden, another rugged, veteran big forward, will go to the Clippers.

The Wiz just might have improved with this trade as well, particularly in the paint, where center Haywood this season has already given Andrew Bogut some problems. The Bucks are 0-2 against the Wiz with two left to play (both in early March).

The Bucks have two to play against the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Bulls left shooting guard John Salmons at the hotel this evening in New York, a good sign that the Bulls GM John Paxson has another trade deadline deal good to go. This will be the third straight season the Bulls have hooked one up in the 24 hours before the deadline. Last season Paxson acquired Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings.

Salmons hasn’t had a good season. The Bulls have Luol Deng healthy and highly effective this year at small forward, and Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose running the show from the guard spots. Salmons was the odd man out.

The Bulls have been mentioned as a team involved with the Rockets efforts to dump Tracy McGrady and $23 million contract in New York. Brewhoop runs down some of the T-Mac possibilities.

Now it seems that Salmons is headed for Milwaukee!

Ray Allen is still a Celtic, despite all the rumors this week. I could never see the Celtics capitulating to the Cavs and Magic and Hawks by giving up their title hopes. Trading Ray Allen would be the white flag waving from Boston.

As for the Bucks, I’d really love to see them figure out a way to bring Ray back, of course. I suppose the Bucks could send to the Celtics Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hak Warrick, Kurt Thomas and Stackhouse. A Ray Allen-Brandon Jennings backcourt would send Bucks fans to the ticket office in droves, precisely what the franchise needs now that Scott Skiles and Bogut and Jennings, Mbah a Moute and Ilyasova have this thing headed in the right direction.

But I can’t see the Celtics trading Ray, and am pretty sure the rumors to that effect were those of the made-up ESPN sort.  The Celtics do appear about to trade Eddie House to the Knicks for Nate Robinson in a deal that will be announced sometime THursday.

Ranking Bogut and his contract – The top ten (or 13) NBA centers and their money

MILWAUKEE - APRIL 08: Andrew Bogut #6 of the Milwaukee Bucks wears a mask over a broken nose suffered earlier in the season during a game against the Boston Celtics on April 8, 2008 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Celtics defeated the Bucks 107-104 in overtime. From Getty Images.Is Andrew Bogut the best center named Andrew drafted in the 2005 lottery? Is Bogut a Top 10 NBA center? What does Mehmet Okur, the center for the Utah Jazz, get paid?

These are things Bucks fans need to know as Bogut last week inked the five-year contract extension he more or less demanded from the Bucks. The agreement reportedly guarantees $60 million to Bogut over five years. Add Bogut’s $6.3 million salary, which is not part of the extension, and Bogut will be under contract for a guaranteed $66.3 million over six years, through the 2013-14 season. 

As projected back in April on the BBJ (almost to the dollar) that’s a fairly good deal for the Bucks, in line with the contracts of Sixers center Sam Dalembert, New Orleans’ Tyson Chandler and the Cavs’ Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

But what about these “incentives” that could add $12.5 million to the guaranteed money, bringing the potential worth of the extension up to $72.5 million? That’s nearly the “Yao money” that the Bucks, as a lottery team, needed avoid paying a 23-year-old center with a lot left to prove. Sure, he can “prove it” earning those incentives, but why not just make all-star getting $12 mill a year? What more incentive is needed?” The incentives are “team-based and individual” according to Journal Sentinel, which didn’t cite a source for those details. Bogut’s agent later told Brewhoop that the incentives were along the lines of “play like Dwight Howard get paid like Dwight Howard.” Or, All-NBA pay.

But enough about the contract. Without further ado, meet the inaugural Bob Boozer Jinx 2008 NBA center rankings.

Dwight Howard can touch his chin to the rim1) Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic. First team All-Pro; 2nd team All-Defensive; leading rebounder in the NBA three years running (14.2 avg. last season); 4th in blocked shots. Only 22-years-old and has not missed a game in his four-year career since being the 1st pick overall in the 2004 draft. Shot 60% from the floor last season (3rd in the NBA), but only 59% from the line, which hurt the Magic as Howard led the league in free throw attempts. “Hack-a-Dwight” is the new “Hack-a-Shaq” defense. Howard was 6-15 from the stripe against the Pistons in decisive game five against Detroit in the playoffs, which the Magic lost by five. Coulda made the difference.

Howard this season starts year one of his five-year $85 million extension ($17mill avg), the max extension (CP3 got a similar max extension). He’ll earn $13.76 mill 2008-09.

Duncan slams on Richard Jefferson2) Tim Duncan and his Spurs were tough enough in the paint to beat the Suns, and there’s nothing like Duncan magically transforming into Dirk Nowitzki to hit a game-tying three to demoralize the Suns in Game 1 of that series. Is Duncan a center? If Pau Gasol, who was pushed around all over the NBA Finals, is a center, so is Duncan, who plays the 5 much of the time in the Spurs dangerous small lineups, and is usually guarded by the opponents’ centers, such as Shaq. Duncan anchors the Spurs D in the paint and was first-team All-Defensive 2007 and 2008. Sounds like a center to me. At 7′ 0″ 248 lbs, Duncan is one of the best big men in NBA history. Averaged 19.3 pts and 11.3 rbs per game last season, 1.9 blocks, 7th in the league. Four championships. 31-years-old and plenty of gas left in the tank.

Duncan’s salary is $20.6 mill this season. He’s set to make $62.2 mill over the following three years.

Stoudemire vs. Duncan3) Amare Stoudemire/Shaquille O’Neal  Stoudemire is no longer the Phoenix center now that Shaq is in the paint, but he’ll be called on to play the low post during the stretches of the season that Shaq is bound to miss. Phoenix acquired Shaq and fired coach Mike D’Antoni partly because of the lack of defensive toughness from Stoudemire and others (two straight playoff losses to Duncan Spurs didn’t help). Amare’s still one of the best scorers in the NBA around the basket.  Averaged 26.7 points and  9.7 rebounds last season, earning 2nd-team All-NBA alongside Duncan as Yao slipped due to injuries.

Soudemire’s contract extension was 5 years $72.6 million, $14.5 million per year avg. He’ll be only 28 years-old when he’s done playing out the remaining three years. Bogut can earn current “Amare money” if he makes the incentives in his contract. By the time Bogut’s extension is in effect, however, Stoudemire will be in the backloaded years of his contract, at $15-16 mill per.

ShaqShaq at age 36, is a part time player unless he comes roaring back next season to his 2006 form, which didn’t seem likely at the outset of 2008-09 but is beginning to occur now that he has days off. Shaq utterly dominated Bogut in a Nov. 8 Suns win in Milwaukee. doesn’t seem likely. Combining Shaq and Stoudemire at #3 may be cheating, but it’s as though Phoenix has a center-and-a-half. Few teams in the West are tough enough to compete with the Suns in the paint (Spurs, Rockets, Jazz). Shaq has lost a step but he’s still Shaq. No center who follows Shaq on this list has proven that he is indeed better than a well-rested 36-year-old Shaq.

Shaq’s salary is $21 million per year through 2009-10.

Yao4) Yao Ming. 3rd-team All-NBA last season despite missing 27 games. Six-time All-Star and 4-time All-NBA selection. Yao’s a 22 pts, 10 rbs per game center who is, however, at 7′ 6″, 310lbs, not proving very durable. He’s missed 86 games over the last three years. Best free throw shooter among the centers at nearly 86% over the last three seasons. Not a shotblocker or a charge-taker, and could rebound more than he does for a 7′ 6″ guy. His Rocket teams win — 107 wins over the last two seasons — but his Rocket teams win just as much without him.

Yao, 27 or so, starts year three of a 5-year $75 million deal – $15 million avg. per year. I hope that if the Bucks are willing to pay Bogut near-Yao money with these reported incentives that one of them is based on improved free throw shooting. Bogut shoots better than Shaq from the line but even Howard outshoots the Bucks center from the stripe. (I take that back – no one in the NBA should be offered a contract incentive to make free throws.)

Pau Gasol traveling5) Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum* Gasol is a gifted offensive player, but you’d almost have to put Kendrick Perkins on the list ahead of him after the Lakers were shoved around all over the NBA Finals by the Celtics. Still the Lakers went on a tear after acquiring Gasol last year and Gasol (18 pts, 7.8 rbs) will have Bynum to help him out in the paint next season. But really, Gasol is a lot more like big forward Dirk Nowitzki than he is like center Tim Duncan.

*Andrew BynumBynum averaged 13.1 pts and 10.2 rbs until he hurt his knee (before the Gasol trade). After surgery this summer, he’s is a bit of a question mark (hence the asterisk and the double entry here at #5). Still, the Lakers should have few worries about the inside game next season. Bynum, the 10th pick in the 2005 draft, played strong against Bogut in their head-to-heads last season, with Bynum coming out on top. He’s considered by many around the league to be the best center from the 2005 draft.

*Bynum has reportedly asked for a five-year $85 million extension, which would put him in the Howard $17 mill per year level. Good luck with that Andrew, as it looks like Chris Paul is the only player from the 2005 draft who’ll get Howard money. The Lakers will look to keep Bynum as close to Bogut’s $12 mill deal as possible, though Bynum still hasn’t proven that he can stay as healthy as Bogut. With the season underway, Bynum does not yet have his extension and will earn $2.8 mill 2008-09.

Gasol’s contract is a guaranteed 6 years $86 million, a max contract that puts him in Stoudemire’s neighborhood. Like the Bucks max Redd contract, Gasol’s is backloaded – three years and $49.3 mill left to play out, a situation Bucks GM John Hammond was wise to avoid by keeping Bogut’s annual increases relatively flat.

Marcus Camby about to swat one6) Marcus Camby has never had much of an offensive game but has been one of those rare players who thrives on the defensive end. The Nuggets center last season led the league in blocked shots, was 2nd in rebounding to Howard and made 1st team All-NBA Defensive. Trouble is that after the playoffs, it’s difficult to tell where the Nuggets and Camby are at, or where coach George Karl’s head is at. Camby, for one, has been upbeat about next season. The oft-injured center outplayed his contract incentives for the first time, earning his full $11.2 million salary, with career highs in games played, minutes, assists, blocks and rebounds at age 33. I’d rank him ahead of Gasol but for that sweep business in the playoffs.

Camby was traded to the LA Clippers last July. Camby’s guaranteed $19.65 million this season and next.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas7) Zydrunas Ilgauskas. A tough spot to pick, as a combination of a good offensive-defensive game becomes a rare find in NBA centerville, which brings us to Cleveland, the best rebounding team in the NBA for a few seasons. The Cavs’ toughness starts with their 7′ 3″ center. After missing the better part of two seasons early in his career with injuries, Z has been a remarkably consistent scorer, rebounder and defender in the paint for Lebron James’ entire career-and-one. Ilgauskas can score 15 in his sleep off his rainbow set shot, still the most effective offensive weapon the Cavs have outside of Lebron. The James-Z offensive combo was probably not used as much as it should have been in the Cavs-Celtics series, but the Cavs showed that a championship is much more within their reach than many NBA wags had thought. (C’mon, the NBA wags had all but handed the title to the Lakers).

At age 33, Z may only have a good year or two left, but experience counts. Bogut and many other younger centers haven’t distinguished themselves enough (or in Bogut’s case, have not outplayed Z head-to-head) to be ranked ahead of him.

Ilgauskas took a pay cut in 2005 to stay in Cleveland, and this season enters year four of a five year $50.6 million contract. The final two years pay $22.3 mill.

Mehmet Okur8) Mehmet Okur began his career in Detroit but the Pistons couldn’t afford to keep him after winning the 2004 championship. No skin off then-coach Larry Brown’s nose as Brown often left 24-year-old Okur on the bench to keep Darko Milicic company during the Pistons playoff run. In Utah, Okur replaced big Greg Ostertag, still around from the Stockton-Malone years, and teamed with power forward Carlos Boozer — also acquired that offseason — to give the Jazz toughness inside to build around. By 2006 Okur was averaging 18 pts, 9 rbs per game. By 2007 the Jazz were back to the 50-win level and Okur was in the All-Star game.

Okur and his incredibly hot wife, Yelez OkurThe knock on Okur is that he’s no shot blocker or great athlete; and who wants a center who shoots threes even if he is the best three-point shooting center in the league? (.388% last season, better than any Buck.) Utah coach Jerry Sloan, however, has played to Okur’s strengths — and there’s no denying Okur and Boozer’s toughness inside. Over the last two regular seasons, the duo has averaged about 20 rebounds per game. In the playoffs this year against the Rockets and the Lakers, they cleaned an average of 24.1 boards off the glass (Okur had 11.8 per game). They’re tough and it’s put the Jazz right on the Lakers’ heels in the West.

Okur, 29, is a bargain in the center market with a 6-year $50 million contract. He’s set to make an average of $8.75 per year in the final two years of the contract, but the final year 2009-10 is a player option. With the Boguts, Dalemberts and Chandlers of the NBA making $11 million-plus by then, expect Okur to look for a nice raise.

Sam the man9) Sam Dalembert was drafted by Philly in 2001, at the height of the Allen Iverson/Larry Brown era, when the Sixers beat the Big Three Bucks in the East Finals and went on to play the Lakers for the title. After not playing much behind Dikembe Mutumbo his first year, he missed his entire second year with injuries, then came back to join the Sixers decline after Brown jumped to Detroit. He has yet to develop much of an offensive game to go with his sometimes dominating defense, yet it’s the defense and rebounding that has been pivotal in the Sixers turnaround, which was in the rest of the NBA’s face in the second half of last season. As a team, the Sixers can be defensive demons. Dalembert, 27, is entering his prime and hasn’t missed a start in two years, averaging 10.5 pts and 10.4 rbs (7th in total rebounds) last season. He was 3rd in the league in total blocked shots (2.3 per game).

Dalembert’s D can be stifling. He handed Bogut his two most humiliating games last season, outplaying him in three of the four Bucks-Sixers matchups. The game logs ain’t pretty. Dalembert had 22 pts, 8 rbs, 3 blks in the first matchup, a Sixers win in Milwaukee (Bogut had 6 points). The Bucks took game two, with Bogut playing well, though Dalembert had 16 pts, 16 rbs. The third matchup was a Sixers blowout with Bogut held to 5 pts, 4 rbs, turning the ball over five times. Game four was another wipeout of the Bucks, with Dalembert getting 18 and 10, while Bogut failed to score a hoop, got just two rebounds and called it “the worst game of my career.”

Dalembert has three years left on a backloaded six-year $64 million deal, and will be paid $36.4 mill in those years. This avg. $12 mill pay keeps him about $1 mill ahead of Bogut’s pay, though that narrows 2009-10 season. That might seem like a lot for centers who have never been all-stars and whose teams have not won a playoff series. But that’s the inflated market value that is the NBA. Sam hasn’t been the most popular player in Philly, and neither has his contract. Now that the Sixers have Elton Brand and could be contenders in the East, however, don’t expect many complaints about the center.

Tyson Chandler10) Tyson Chandler (Tie) came into the league out of high school and spent the first two years of his career looking absolutely lost on the court in Chicago, which had obtained his rights in a trade for Elton Brand. This was bad mojo in the post-Jordan Bulls era. Along came coach Scott Skiles and Chandler often found himself on the bench, counting his millions and taking on criticism that athleticism had been wasted on him. The Bulls signed declining veteran free agent Big Ben Wallace in 2006 and sent Chandler packing to the Hornets. In New Orleans, Chandler’s found a home and a role — dunking the ball off Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic passes and tearing it up on the offensive boards. Chandler led the NBA in offensive rebounding the last two seasons; 2nd only to Howard last season in field goal percentage and 3rd behind Howard and Camby in overall rebounding (11.6 per game).

So why is the ultra-athletic Chandler ranked behind Dalembert, Okur and Ilgauksus?  First, he’s nowhere near the defensive presence Dalembert is, nor is he as mean in the paint as Sam; and he’s no shotblocker. Second, Ty’s got no offensive game to speak of, other than the aforementioned dunking. To his credit, Chandler is a hustle player who kills lazy rebounding teams and has thrived playing with CP3 in the West. But Hornets coach Baron Davis runs little or no offense for Chandler — no coach would. Against the Bucks last year Chandler averaged 17.5 pts, 15.5 rebounds in two Hornets wins. In a stretch last March, however, playing against the better teams in the East (plus Chicago and Indiana) Chandler averaged 11.6 pts (on his season avg of 11.8) but his rebounding was down three boards a game to 8.6. Still, the Hornets went 6-2 and split with the Celtics.

Chandler, 26 next season, has a 6-year $63 million deal that he signed with the Bulls; it pays him $34.6 mill over the next three years just above Bogut’s guaranteed avg. salary over the next six. 

Andrew Bogut 200610) Andrew Bogut (Tie). Bucks coach Scott Skiles would likely object to having his 23-year-old center in the same club with a guy who spent years in and out of his doghouse in Chicago. But that was then, this is now. Other NBA fans might whistle homerism and question whether Bogut should be ranked this high — his 14.3 pts, 9.8 rbs averages last season are no better than those of Kings center Brad Miller or Bobcats center Emeka Okafor, and short of Clippers center Chris Kaman’s; and Kaman blocked more shots than Bogut despite playing in only 55 games.

But here’s where Bogut gets credit for toiling away on Michael Redd’s hapless Bucks; respect vs. West players for playing in the increasingly clogged paints of the slower-paced East; and where his passing skills earn some props. Tim Duncan and Paul Gasol may be the only centers on this list who pass as well as Bogut — Dalembert and Chandler certainly don’t. Bogut is tough to rate because his development and production have been hurt playing with uncoachable ballhogs his entire career. What he’s done is focus on one-on-one matchups with other centers, and worked to take care of business in the paint regardless of all the wrong play going on around him. (Look out Sam Dalembert — Bogut’s looking for a few rematches.) Skiles, of course, is out to fix the wrong that has been the Milwaukee Bucks. The team has only won 94 games since drafting Bogut #1 in 2005.

“I’ve got to tell you,” Skiles said Friday at Bogut’s contract-signing press conference, “In watching almost every minute of every game (on film), I got a little tired of seeing when Andrew did run the floor and seal his man under the basket, a three-point shot going up. It’s not brain surgery. If you have big guys that run the floor and cover their man up right by the basket, they oughta get the ball.”

Unlike Kaman, Dalembert, Okur and Chandler, players older than Bogut, there’s still plenty of upside left to Bogut’s game. Last season he finally had a head coach, Larry Krystkowiak, in his corner and made the biggest strides of his career, showing that the Bucks could run low post offense through him and win games (hence the tie with Chandler of whom the same cannot be said). In fact, the Bucks often struggled most when Bogut’s teammates freelanced away from the low post game plan. Defensively, Bogut made his biggest strides and a concerted effort to block shots (9th in the NBA); and was 3rd in offensive charges taken. The new “no flopping” rule shouldn’t effect Bogut because he doesn’t flop. He has taken a beating from opponents driving at will against the Bucks weak perimeter defenders. A big flaw in Bogut’s game has been his Shaq-like free throw shooting and lack of an outside shot – but then those are Howard’s big flaws too.

Howard, Bogut, Bynum, Atlanta’s Al Horford and Portland’s Greg Oden (yet to play an NBA game) are the young centers to watch in the NBA next season. I’d keep an eye on Shaq in Phoenix, too.

*Bogut’s guaranteed extension is 5 years $60 million, bringing his six-year total to $66.3 million. It seems that both sides in the Bogut negotiations came to the table understanding that Chandler and Dalembert money — $12 million in 2009-10 — was the fair and equitable base for Bogut. The $12.5m in incentives? It’s still not clear what those are but Bogut’s agent David Bauman mentioned Dwight Howard in saying that the incentives are, in part, based on all-star achievement. That’s misleading because the incentives don’t reach “Howard money.” They make Bogut’s possible avg. earnings $14.5 million per year — currently Yao-Gasol-Stoudemire money. Howard’s avg salary, $17 million, is the All-NBA standard for an extension these days. Should Bogut make 1st, 2nd or 3rd Team All-NBA in the next few years, that would mean the Bucks are winning a lot — and that the contract is indeed a very good deal for Milwaukee.

Overall, I like the contract — it’s right in line with the market, including the incentives. In fact, I predicted the figures back in April. Then why does it still feel that the Bucks paid too much for their young center, steadily improving as he is, but with so much left to prove in the NBA?

Redd to Cleveland? It’s the deal of the month

Lebron James DunkingCan you picture Michael Redd in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform? I did a few times during game four of the Cavs-Wizards series Sunday afternoon, especially on the Cavs final offensive possession.

When Lebron James drove to his left in the final 10 seconds, game tied at 97, drew the Wizards double-team and fired the ball into the corner to an open Delonte West, I saw what the Cavaliers envisioned in the summer of 2005 when they bid on the free agent services of Michael Redd. The Cavs imagined Michael Redd as their shooting guard, set up in three-point territory on the baseline, taking the pass from Lebron and draining the shot. They could not possibly have figured on Delonte West, a point guard picked up this year from Seattle just a few minutes before the trading deadline. 

Fortunately for the Cavs, on Sunday that is, they fell $20 million short in their bid for Redd. West hit the three for the 100-97 game-winner. Maybe Redd hits it, maybe he doesn’t. Who knows? After the game, James talked about how important the shot was for the playoff confidence of his young point guard, West — who looks as though he’d be more at home on a Sunday tagging the side of a train in Philadelphia than playing in the NBA playoffs.

Confidence-builder? Lebron, baby, you can’t win a title if you’re still working on your teammates’ confidence in the playoffs. No wonder the Wizards and that Stevenson thug think they can win the series by roughing things up. This is the playoffs!!!

I started to feel so badly for my buddy Lebron, who I’ve known since his college ball days, that I gave him a call. He picked up his cell on the first ring, because, well, I’m pretty sure I still owe him money. Can’t rightly recall at the moment.

“Hey ‘Bron – great pass. You looked like Oscar Robertson on that play – textbook.”

“J-Mo, you never saw Oscar play.”

“All right, Larry Bird then.”

“Look man, don’t make me hang up on you! I know what you’re calling about, anyway. How many times do I have to tell you I don’t run this team?”

“But I don’t believe you. … So how about it? Delonte’s probably a great guy but … c’mon, Michael Redd?

“How come you’re always trying to get me to take Michael? I tried before and it didn’t work.”

“We gotta new GM. Smart guy from Detroit. And the new coach is buddies with the coach Redd threw under the proverbial bus all year. Redd can’t stay here.”

“But why me? I already got one guy on my team that makes more money than I do (Big Ben Wallace). What makes you think I want two?”

“He gives a bunch of his salary to charity, ‘Bron. It’ll be good for Cleveland. And he’s from Columbus, isn’t he? Think of Ohio. Look, what I’m really trying to do here is save the guy’s career. If he stays here, Scott Skiles’ll kill him, one way or another. If he goes to a lousy team, he’ll just keep playing the way he’s playing and he’ll never be on a winner. With you, he CAN’T play his way because YOU’VE got the ball. I’m doing this for his own good. Think of the assists!”

“I do like the dimes.”

“Dimes are the thing. He was fine in the FIBA qualifying games, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah, that worked out good.”

“All you gotta do is figure out which one of the young guys you want to part with.”

“You’re killing me, J-Mo. I can’t separate Delonte and Danny (Gibson). They’re like two puppies from the same litter, finally reunited when Delonte got here. I gotta look at Wallace and Ilgauskas every day – I need those little guys. They’re funny. Plus they’re free agents.”

 “Yeah but they’re too small – you can’t keep ’em both. You only get one. You knew this day was coming. Sign and trade, baby.”

“Alright, alright. Well, after today, I guess you gotta take Danny. West sure has got some grit in him. Needs a course in public speaking, tho.”

“Like yesterday.”

“What else are you fans in Milwaukee going to do for me?”

“Brace yourself.”

“I’m sitting down.”

“We’ll take Wally.”

(Loud crashing noise on Lebron’s end).

“You’ll WHAT? Did I hear that right? Wally’s only got one year left on his contract. You get a player for one year.”

“We’ll take him, bad ankles, $12 million contract for a year and all. We need him. We’ve just lost a coach with a silent “K” of all things in his name, and we can’t ball in Milwaukee without a guy who’s name you can’t spell. Right now, I’m just gonna keep calling him Wally ‘cuz I’m not ready to spell S-c-z-c-e-r-b-i-a-k right. Was that close?”

“Man, I think you got it!”

“Really? First try!”

“Wait a minute, how many zee’s you got?

“I got one. I got two cee’s and one zee.”

“There’s two zee’s, that much I know. I don’t know where they go. He’s only been on my team a coupla months. Sorry bro.”

“You okay? I heard a loud crash over there.”

“Yeah, I’m fine. That was just Ilgauskus and Wallace again, tearing apart the visitors’ locker room.”

“You guys just won – how can they be fighting?”

“Who says they’re fighting? They do that for kicks. Man, you know I played with Z for years and he never talked, not once to anybody, just went about his business with the same stone expression on his face, never even cracked a smile.”

“Nev — (Another loud crash). ‘Bron, what’s going on over there?” 

“I told y– HEY Z WATCH IT!!!! Not even once. Then one day, Big Ben walks onto our practice floor, first time, I look over at Z and his face lights up and he’s got this big grin on and I look over at Big Ben and he’s laughin’. Can you picture that, Big Ben laughin’? Crazy. They’ve been thick ever since. It’s like living with two bears, J-mo!!!

(Another loud crash) WALLACE, that’s MY MOM!!!  Sorry man, I GOTTA go …”

“What about Wally?”

“Done deal!!! You don’t even have to tell me the real reason why. I gotta g-..”

“Well, we need the salary cap flexibility more than we need a -“



Done. Bucks get Daniel Gibson, a 21-year-old guard who, as a rookie out of Texas played the point 20 games in the playoffs last year and this season shot 44 percent from three-point land. Wally couldn’t get in the game in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Wizards because the kids, Gibson and West, were playing too well to take out. This season, Gibson makes about $500,000 and will be a free agent, but shouldn’t be very expensive (he was hurt part of the season). Plus the Bucks get a smart, great-shooting veteran in Wally Szczcerbiak for a year, then his $12 million clears out for 2009-10 when the team starts paying Bogut the $10-plus million or so.

Cavs get Michael Redd, the shooting guard they wanted three years ago and the $51 million remaining on the last three years of the contract Redd  Slickless Larry Harris. The Cavs can hope to contend now before their aging big men expire as NBAers.

Meanwhile, Bucks GM John Hammond gets some much-needed salary cap flexibility 2009-11 to grow the Bucks in Bogut’s prime — and by then it will be more clear what “pieces” could make the Bucks contenders. Right now, that picture is too fuzzy and distorted.

Lebron’s down with it. What do Bucks fans think? Deal or no deal?

Long-term deal for Bogut: What’s it worth?

Bucks center Andrew Bogut wants a long-term contract extension, up to five more years, and his agent this week said the Bucks and new GM John Hammond seem positive about getting a deal done. Bogut’s improved play and 38 double-double games being the bright spot in another dismal season, this qualifies as good news.

So what is the 23-year-old Bogut — the 12th leading rebounder in the NBA, and an improved post player both offensively and defensively (9th in the league in blocked shots; 3rd in offensive charges drawn)  — worth after three seasons? How much can the Bucks afford?

The latter question is hardly complicated: the Bucks can’t afford much in the next two years given the salaries on the current roster. The Bucks have already picked up the fourth year options of Bogut’s and Charlie Villanueva’s 2005 rookie contracts. Paying them both will bring the Bucks right up to next year’s salary cap, with about $9 million or so to play with before hitting the league’s luxury tax limit, likely to be about $70 million. The tax is $1 dollar tax for every $1 dollar over the limit.

Slickless Larry Harris had this all worked out. The Bucks were supposed to win this year and next year with the current roster, and Larry didn’t schedule in any of that “salary cap flexibility” GM’s desire. This means that there’s very little chance the Bucks will tear up the $6.3 million agreement for next season (they could). There will be no cap room in July to pay him more — unless Bobby Simmons suddenly quits to go play in Albania, which would free up $10 million. Or if Hammond trades Michael Redd for Miami’s lottery balls which would free up $15 million or so.

Now to the question: What’s Bogut worth?

Let’s start by looking at the top salaries in the NBA this season.

As you can see, the All-Star, All-NBA centers and big forward/center types (Amare Stoudamire, Yao Ming, Paul Gasol, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Bosh) are grouped 20th-30th on the list, making between $13.1 (Bosh) and $13.8 million (Stoudamire). (Yes, they will all make less money this year than Michael Redd, believe it or not).

Veteran champions like Shaq, Tim Duncan and Ben Wallace have much more lucrative deals, but their contracts won’t tell us much about Bogut. A center not on the list who will be next season: Dwight Howard of Orlando, the league’s leading rebounder for three years running and a near sure-thing 1st Team All-NBA selection. Howard made $6 million this year in his fourth year. Before this season, he was in Bogut’s contract situation, and the Magic extended his contract five years beyond this one for an additional $85 million.

Howard, the #1 pick in the 2004 draft, creates a long shadow for Bogut (#1 in 2005) in this extension game. So does Yao Ming, who signed an extension with Houston for 5 years and $75 million in 2005.

Howard at an average of $17 million per year for five years,

Yao at $15 million per year for five set the standard for young NBA centers in the extension era. Bogut doesn’t play at their All-NBA heights (among centers, only Stoudamire does and he’s moved to power forward on the Suns), nor to the level of the big men currently in the $13-$14 million range (Stoudamire again), nor can the Bucks assume he will be playing like a $13 million dollar star even in two years. As well as Bogut has played at times, would you want to bring the Bucks 54-110 record over the last two years to the bargaining table?

Bogut’s agent can point to a bad contract, like the one center Eric Dampier signed with Dallas ($10.5 million this year) and say, “Andrew should be paid more than Dampier now.”

The Bucks can look at New Orleans’ Tyson Chandler’s $10.5 million in 2008 and say, “Chandler’s the 3rd-leading rebounder in the league, and the Hornets are winning in the playoffs.” It’s arguable whether Bogut is underpaid.

Where does the league’s 12th leading rebounder on a losing team fit in? Because of his young age, Somewhere in line with Chandler’s six-year $63 million deal, which, only two years ago was considered a glorious waste of money in Chicago.

Cleveland Center Zydrunus Ilgauskus will make $10.1 million this year. At 32, Ilgauskus may be on the down side in his career, but he outplayed Bogut two of three games this year (the game logs at basketball-reference.com ain’t pretty). Bogut should surpass Ilgauskus soon, but next year? Or the year after?

Philadelphia’s Sam Dalembert, who dominated Bogut defensively in three of four games this year, has a six-year $64 million deal. At $10.25 million this year Dalembert’s right where he should be in the Ilgauskus-Chandler range — though many in Philly view him as overpaid. And Dalembert’s a much better defender than Bogut.

Bogut has improved each year, true, but he’s only recently moved up among  the Top Ten centers’ in the league, and he’s much closer to #10 than to Howard at #1. Like it or not, Dalembert and Ilgauskus are Bogut’s peers in the Eastern Conference paint. If the Bucks can keep the first three years of the contract extension in the $10-12 million per range, they’ve got a good deal. Over five years — what Bogut wants — the Bucks should look to keep it around $60 million.

At five years, $65 million, a Bogut contract begins to look too lavish for what he’s accomplished. Sure, if Bogut’s a mutliple-time All-Star by 2011 and 2012 when Bogut is 26-27, in his prime — and the Bucks are winning — $13-14 million a year won’t look so gaudy. But that’s a big “if.”  Sign Bogut at $70 million for five years now and fans will ask why he’s getting a contract in Yao’s neighborhood.

With next year scheduled to be $6.3 million, adding 5 years and $60-63 million to it would bring Bogut’s six-year terms into the $66-69 million range, which is where the Bucks should keep it. (The more I think about it, six years – $68 million sounds more than fair, but why do I have this feeling it will be more? Just a feeling.)

There’s no reason for Hammond to break the bank, not now with a player who still has much to prove on a team that is still so incomplete. The Bucks will need plenty of salary cap space to grow in the years-to-come; it’s a good time to find out how serious our 23-year-old center is when he says his goal is to win in Milwaukee.


Some unabashed hype is needed in these not-so-private negotiations, and that’s what agents are for. This is what they’re saying in Melbourne, Australia, verbatim from the text of the press release put out by Bogut’s supremely confident agent, David Bauman:

“In 226 career NBA games, the Melbourne, Australia native has improved
in each season and demonstrated that he is one of the top young Centers in
the NBA. In fact, Bogut’s improvement has made it a near certainty that the
Milwaukee Bucks will seek to sign the center to a long-term extension
, on
July 1, in order to secure one of the key foundations of their team for the
next six years. Bogut, along with Chris Paul and Deron Williams, are the
star players from the 2005 NBA Draft class.”

Leave it to the sports agent to start an argument, especially with CP3’s MVP-like season, Deron’s All-NBA year and Laker fans talking up injured Andrew Bynum as the best center of the 2005 draft (and worried whether he’ll ask for a $75 million-plus extension this offseason). It’ll be interesting to see how Bynum and Bogut’s contract extensions pan out.

And leave it Foxsports-australia to ramp up Bogut’s contact numbers. In its coverage of this story, fox-aussie pegged Bogut’s new contract “in the region of $63-79 million.” The headline? “Bogut to earn the Big Bucks” … Fox does realize Larry Harris was fired, don’t they?