Trans. Jul 8 4:21 ET (Jul 8 4:21 ET ) Feeling appreciated goes a long way with Marcin Gortat. Though one of the most coveted big men available, he barely spent a day mulling offers before he agreed to sign a five-year, $60 million deal on July 1 to remain with the Washington Wizards. I knew I had a really good result with the team being successful and I knew everything was going to be fine.'' Gortat was looking forward to exploring offers from suitors around the league, but got a surprise visit in Poland from a delegation of Wizards executives and coaches that included head coach Randy Wittman just prior to the start of free agency. He was traded from Phoenix to Washington prior to the start of this past season in a deal that sent Emeka Okafor and a first round draft pick.
If Jeff Bower feels like a re-tread, it’s because that’s what he is. Oftentimes, when it comes to hiring a general manager to run the communications end of your basketball team, that’s exactly what you want. They know where all the good auto parts stores are, so to speak.
Of course, Detroit Pistons boss Stan Van Gundy is also a re-tread, coaching his third NBA team in less than a decade, but that didn’t stop him from being perhaps the hottest name on the market during this offseason’s coaching carousal. The former Heat and Magic coach was given absolute personnel carte blanche by Pistons owner Tom Gores recently, and while SVG may have final say in basketball matters, he still needs a general manager with experience to handle the day to day duties of keeping up with the league from up top.
This is why Van Gundy’s first hire will likely be Jeff Bower as general manager, as first reported by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski . Bower is best known in NBA circles as the GM and eventual coach of the Hornets franchise, a stint that saw him pair great moves with so-so action, all while working under less than ideal conditions – namely having to re-locate to Oklahoma City for a season after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, all while dealing with a parsimonious yet meddling owner in George Shinn.
Bower created a winner in New Orleans behind Chris Paul and David West, two draft acquisitions. New Orleans even made the second round of the playoffs in 2009, rare air for a franchise (pick one, Charlotte, New Orleans, whomever) that has struggled to stay relevant of late, before age and injuries caught up with the team in the years that followed.
He did well to secure Paul and (especially) West after several teams passed over on those eventual All-Stars, but on the flip side of that Bower also went deep in on acquiring the rights to free agents who were already working past their primes. Peja Stojakovic and James Posey were signed to contribute spacing and guidance around the team’s young core, in moves that were (in the most extreme case with Posey) criticized at the time. Bower did well to secure Tyson Chandler from the skinflint Chicago Bulls franchise for an expiring contract and players (J.R. Smith, Howard Eisley) Chicago later dumped, but Chandler’s bad back and toes eventually forced New Orleans to send him to Charlotte for a solid-if-unspectacular Emeka Okafor.
By the time Paul missed 37 games in 2009-10, Bower was forced into coaching his team, which missed the playoffs. The Hornets returned to give the Los Angeles Lakers a competitive first round in 2011 with Monty Williams as coach, but Bower was let go after that season.
He and Van Gundy will inherit a nasty situation in Detroit, but one that isn’t without upside. It’s true that in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons have two players who seemed to have tailed off years ago despite their age, working with borderline untradeable contracts (three years and $40.5 million left for Smith, two years and $16.3 million for Jennings). It does only takes one sucker to talk themselves into dealing for someone like Smith or Jennings over a summer, but those sorts of NBA GMs are becoming harder and harder to find.
The Pistons also wasted 2013-14 without a lottery pick as reward, thanks to a 2012 deal that was pitched to acquire cap space for 2013 (used on Smith and Jennings), and the team still has to figure out what to do with scoring forward Greg Monroe once the market sets its claws into his potential. Monroe has his faults as a defender and isn’t a great fit with some frontcourts, but plenty of teams will have cap space to throw at the restricted free agent this summer, and the Pistons may decline to get into a bidding war for his services. With a new front office in charge, it might be easier to make such dispassionate choices.
The bright side comes in the form of expiring contracts – Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey – and what could be over $20 million in cap room if the team decides to completely pass on making Monroe and Stuckey Pistons again. The team has Andre Drummond’s expected maximum contract extension to consider next summer, and with so many teams attempting to flail away in hopes of landing what they can pass off as a big fish when all the notable free agents stay home this summer, the Pistons could do well to do what former GM Joe Dumars did in his first few years running the show – take advantage of other teams’ financial frustrations in order to help others make deals, while accruing assets as a reward.
Dumars was a relative novice back then, and he had longtime NBA executive John Hammond’s rolodex to work with. Jeff Bower may have been out of the NBA for a few years, working as head basketball coach (with a bent toward analytics) at Marist, but his cell phone is still loaded with names. He’s still in touch.
That’s a brainy outfit, with Van Gundy and Bower running things. The only issue is, in a league that is getting smarter and smarter, will the duo be able to pounce at the right times and opportunities needed to turn these Pistons around?
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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Flash back to March 25, the night that John Wall solidified himself as a max player. He put up a career-high 47 points against the Memphis Grizzlies, a defensive-minded bunch who would make a run to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Wizards won 107-94, but it came at Verizon Center. He played with four starters -- Garrett Temple, Chris Singleton, Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor -- who are no longer starters.
The Scoop:Okafor may not see the court this season, but his contract could play a large part in the Suns acquiring Pau Gasol. In the rumored swap, the Lakers would take on Okafor's expiring $14.5 million contract in exchange for Gasol as they attempt to gain some salary relief. Fantasy owners don't need to concern themselves with what happens to Okafor, but he could still play a part in what might be the biggest trade before the deadline.
COMMENTARY | A potential deal that would send Pau Gasol to the Phoenix Suns is in the works. If the deal can indeed be made, it would be a match made in heaven for the Suns on a number of different levels. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported the potential deal, which is based around the Suns sending Emeka Okafor's expiring contract to the Los Angeles Lakers for Gasol. Although Gasol makes more, the Suns have the room to pick up the extra salary this season.
COMMENTARY | If you know anything about general manager Ryan McDonough, you know he's got his line wide open to listen for any trade possibilities in order to improve the Phoenix Suns. While they've already got a glut of draft picks, they also have some valuable expiring contracts to work with. Let's take a look at some trades the Suns could consider: Suns acquire Kevin Love, Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved from Minnesota Timberwolves for Goran Dragic, Emeka Okafor and three first-round draft picks
Just how good is Kendall Marshall, and did the Wizards make a mistake in not finding a way to retain the point guard when they orchestrated a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat? Marshall, who was released along with Shannon Brown and Malcolm Lee, signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.The Lakers are in dire need of help with injuries to guards Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake. The Wizards wanted another center because Emeka Okafor had a disk injury in his neck and was out indefinitely.
Marcin Gortat is rightfully looked upon as a season-saver for the 2013-14 Washington Wizards. With Emeka Okafor going down for an indefinite amount of time during training camp with a herniated disc, the Wizards badly needed someone to plug the middle for a team that was hoping to go all in for a playoff berth. For the price of a first round pick, the team was able to send Okafor’s expiring contract to a rebuilding Phoenix Suns squad for Gortat’s services.
Yes, the “rebuilding” Suns currently have a better record than Washington – BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that Gortat has been playing terrific basketball for the Wizards after a bit of a let-down 2012-13 campaign. The big man is averaging 13.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, alongside 1.6 blocks in 34 minutes a contest. This is only the beginning, too, as Gortat and point guard John Wall develop their pick and dive game after missing out on a full training camp and exhibition season together.
Actually, the real point is that Gortat and his father Janusz have kind of a weird chemistry of their own. The elder Gortat was a bronze medalist light-heavyweight boxer for Poland during the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, which is part of the reason why Marcin has a bit of a pugnacious spirit. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise documented their back and forth recently :
Our friends over at Bullets Forever posed this question on Thursday: What should the Wizards do with Trevor Ariza? The premise is simply whether the Wizards should take advantage of the small forward's rising value following his strong start by dealing him and his expiring contract. BF provided the details, including that Ariza is draining 3-pointers (a staggering 57 percent from the corners), that the Wizards defense is statistically better when the lengthy forward is on the court, but that he also plays the same position as Otto Porter and essentially Martell Webster. The simple answer is no. For now and likely for good, that window has closed, though I admit to thinking Ariza could have been dealt during the offseason, preseason or when Emeka Okafor went down. If the Wizards were out of the playoff mix or fighting just for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, then we could talk.
The Scoop: None.
Dec 5 9:31 ET
News (various sources)
NBA Week in Review (Rotoworld) (1 Day Ago | courtesy: Rotoworld) Mike Gallagher goes over some of the news from the past seven days and revisits the NBA Trade Deadline. More...