Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

September 26, 2008

Rockets Match Landry

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 12:53 pm

A couple of weeks ago, I started on a column looking at the best free agents remaining on the market. Ben Gordon was the biggest name still unsigned, but the value-to-hype ratio favored Houston forward Carl Landry, whose free agency had been very quiet until he signed a three-year offer sheet with the Charlotte Bobcats yesterday. Before the ink was even dry, the Rockets quickly moved to match the deal.

Unless the protracted negotiations have a major long-term effect on Landry’s relationship with the Rockets — and he told the Houston Chronicle, “When I found out Houston matched I was really excited,” so that doesn’t seem to be the case — this all worked out very nicely for GM Daryl Morey and company. Houston gets Landry back at the very reasonable price of about $3 million per year over a three-year team, with an option on the third year.

There was some dissension between the Rockets and Landry’s camp over the concerns Morey aired about Landry’s knee. There’s legitimate reason to be concerned — Landry tore his right ACL in college and missed seven games last year with a sore knee — though surely Morey didn’t mind putting some doubt in the mind of other suitors. While Morey acknowledged some risk yesterday, with only two years guaranteed the Rockets are largely insulated from it.

In my uncompleted column, I suggested that some team ought to do what the Bobcats did in signing Landry to an offer sheet. There’s really no downside. Had Houston not matched out of luxury-tax concerns, Charlotte would have a valuable asset. In this scenario, the Bobcats have lost nothing. While there’s a downside of having an offer sheet out there for a week and having money tied up during the heart of free agency, by this point the Bobcats are probably going to eat their mid-level exception and the Rockets matched quickly anyway. An offer sheet like this can also help curry some favor with an agent that can come in handy somewhere down the line.

September 24, 2008

Arenas Back Under the Knife

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 7:09 pm

It’s been nearly a week since Joe Sheehan introduced Hoops Unfiltered and we’ve yet to have anything up here. Sorry about that — I’ve been busy with the Seattle Storm’s now-concluded playoff run and should have more of a chance to blog and write regularly as NBA training camps open up this weekend.

One topic I haven’t had a chance to address has been Gilbert Arenas’ knee scope conducted last week. When Arenas underwent a microfracture procedure on the knee last November, I teamed up with Prospectus medhead Will Carroll to write about the prognosis for Arenas’ knee and the Wizards without him. This surgery is basically a cleanup of the previous surgery, which in itself was a follow-up to the knee surgery Arenas originally had in the spring of 2007. While Arenas is not expected to return until mid-December at the earliest, this surgery isn’t a huge deal in and of itself. The bigger issue, as Will brought up, is the health of Arenas’ knee in years to come.

“The longer-term concern,” he wrote last November, “is that, absent a complete meniscus on either side, Arenas is more likely to have arthritic changes, continued swelling and a significant negative effect on his skills.”

If that doesn’t sound ideal for a player who just got a new six-year contract, it’s not.

For now, the Wizards will need to fill in for Arenas for another extended period. Last year, they exceeded my relatively pessimistic expectations, which should serve as reassurance this time around. Washington will surely miss backup guard Roger Mason, who signed as a free agent with San Antonio. To replace Mason, the Wizards signed Dee Brown, who played in Utah as a rookie before spending last season overseas, and today brought Juan Dixon back into the fold on a partially-guaranteed contract.

Dixon can play some point and will probably back up Antonio Daniels while Arenas is sidelined. Since he’s naturally a shooting guard and a score-first player, Dixon represents a step down from Mason but should be a decent stopgap, especially with DeShawn Stevenson capable of sharing some of the ballhandling load in Eddie Jordan’s system, which emphasizes interchangable guards.

Ultimately, being without Arenas for the opening part of the season could cost the Wizards a few wins, which might make a difference in terms of playoff positioning but probably ultimately won’t change their fate. The challenge in Washington remains building a team capable of getting back out of the first round of the playoffs, and nothing the Wizards have done this offseason points toward that changing.

September 18, 2008

Basketball Prospectus Unfiltered

Filed under: Uncategorized — jsheehan @ 11:13 am

Starting today, there’ll be one more way for our staff of analysts to bring you their insight into college and pro basketball. As at Baseball Prospectus, we now have a blog, Unfiltered, in which our writers can give you their reactions, their analysis and their information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As we look ahead to NBA camps opening, Midnight Madness and the start of the college hoops season, Unfiltered will provide one more way for us to bring insight about the game to you. Check back often for updates, and for all the great basketball content as we enter our second year!

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