Some quick NBA thoughts on a Friday. I have the Spurs at +1075 to win the NBA title despite their loss in Utah last night.
Harpring continues to deal with the effects of a devastating infection that followed ankle surgery in 2008 as well as the effects of multiple knee surgeries throughout his career. Harpring did not join the Jazz for training camp or the preseason, remaining at home with his family in Atlanta.
Harpring was one of my favorite players as a fellow white person, and he basically carried some mediocre Georgia Tech teams through the ACC before turning pro and was a favorite of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. He had a solid career there after being drafted by Orlando in 1998. With Kyle Korver also out, the Jazz are currently without any white Americans for the first time in franchise history.
Cleveland’s roster is, in many ways, an odd mismatch of talent. Perhaps more than any of the teams we expect to contend for a title, the Cavaliers’ depth chart features some very versatile pieces (James, Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas), who are expected to mesh with some very single-dimensional specialists (O’Neal, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and Jamario Moon). Creating a system that caters to this kind of lineup is not easy, and it takes a considerable amount of time for a group as eclectic and diverse as this to come together.
The major issue is finding ways for these players to truly complement one another without cannibalizing each other’s opportunities. Integrating O’Neal to this mix has only made this harder, as his unique size and agility (even at his current age and weight) force the Cavaliers to use him in specific ways. One way to take advantage of the varied talents on Cleveland’s roster is to create squads based on specific game situations and team needs. This would allow Mike Brown to plan entire rotations in based on the game situation. Do you want low post scoring? Make sure O’Neal is in the game. Are they clogging the paint with their big, preventing dribble-drive action? Use a lineup that features Ilgauskas. Is the other team getting into the paint too easily while we are on defense? Get your long athletes and strap up and guard someone. These kinds of squad changes are common in high school basketball, where rosters are more piecemeal, and they may make sense for Cleveland.
I wonder how long it will be until an NBA team hires a coach or a GM from Europe. Truehoop had this bit today from Real Madrid’s basketball coach Ettore Messina:
I consider myself a tailor whose job is to create the best possible suit for the team. I’m not a prêt-à-porter guy; I don’t produce those “ready to wear” clothes. I’m like a man who makes a suit that’s supposed to fit its owner perfectly. That means it takes time for me to understand what’s best for the team both defensively and offensively. Like, we can defend a pick-and-roll in many different ways. And the way we defended it with CSKA could be ill-suited for a team that’s not as powerful and at the same time is much quicker than CSKA. We have to adjust our pick-and-roll defense, adjust principles of defensive rotations, etc. It’s my job to define through experiment what we should do….
Figuring all this out takes a while and in the meantime we’re not playing consistently and sometimes lose games.
We had some discussions with him [Iverson], but basically it’s like it is with all players. You come in, lets see what you can do, let’s see how it fits in, maybe its starting, maybe its coming off the bench, let the coach determine how he feels like he can best exploit your talents and we’ll go from there.
Well that’s great, Chris. You’re the GM of an NBA team, meaning your roster is only 15 players deep. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have this conversation with your coach and Iverson before you signed him? Maybe your marquee free agent wouldn’t be in the press saying things like this after the 5th game:
Q. Do you understand what Hollins is trying to do by gradually bringing you along?
Iverson: I understand what he’s doing. But he’s seen the things I’ve done. He knows I’ve never come off the bench in my whole career. He knows that’s not something I’m accustomed to. He knows that’s not something I would want to do. …Everybody knows that’s not something I want to do.
Q. Did Griz brass tell you the franchise was rebuilding?
Iverson: No. Nobody ever said anything about rebuilding. You know I wouldn’t have come to a team, at 34 years old, that was in a rebuilding process. I’m trying to win a championship. I thought I would have won a championship by now. I didn’t come here for no money. I didn’t come here for another scoring title or an All-Star game. I’ve done all that stuff. I want to win. If we are not trying to win, I have a problem. I’m assuming we are trying to win.”
Now admittedly, Iverson’s an idiot for thinking that the Grizzlies had a chance to win anything besides the NBA lottery or the 8th seed in the playoffs this season, but that’s not his job. If Chris Wallace really thought his team had a chance to be good this season, he’s somehow a worse GM than I thought, and if not why did he sign Iverson in the first place?