GrizzBAG!!!!!!!!!!!!! July 6, 2012.


Two GrizzBags in one week? You’re welcome, Grizz Nation!

We have a shorter submission today, but that’s alright because it’s a Holiday week and I went to work on a big GrizzBag on Monday.

What do you think about the Marreese Speights deal?

I liked how short the deal was and even that the second year is a player option. I think that Speights is the more versatile of the two Memphis bigs with his ability to play power forward or center. He also has the potential to get better over the next few years. Remember, he was buried on the bench for at least a year and a half in Philadelphia and didn’t know any post moves prior to his trade to the Grizzlies. He’s a big body that doesn’t mind rebounding.

The downsides: I thought the money was pretty rich in what amounts to about $4.5 million per year. I know there’s a premium on bigs and I get it, but it seems to me like the Grizzlies were bidding against themselves a little bit with this contract. I felt like they could have let the dust settle a little bit and get him around $3 million per year, but we don’t know what type of discussions they had.

I also thought we would have heard about them dealing with Darrell Arthur first, while his stock is low. Everyone was disappointed about Arthur’s injury last year and while he isn’t an injury risk by any stretch, he hasn’t played in an NBA game in over a year. That’s bound to drive his value down a little bit.



Since Ray Allen seems to be out of the picture, and O.J. Mayo seems to be on the first train out of Memphis, who will the Grizzlies get to score off the bench now?

Bench scoring is making a comeback in today’s NBA . That’s a big reason that guys like Lou Williams and Mayo are such hot commodities.

The problem with that being the case is that bench scorers know what they’re worth now. In the past, it was easy for a team to sign a guy on the cheap to come in and chase shots with the second unit, but that’s not the case anymore. An elite bench scorer is probably worth a team’s Mid-Level Exception, if not more.

As for the Grizzlies, I’ve heard some mention Jerryd Bayless’ name as an efficient shooter and bench scorer, but I like the idea of rolling the dice on a guy like Michael Redd as well. Redd was one of the best players in the league and was even on the 2008 Redeem Team that won the Gold Medal in Sydney.

Injuries have sent his career into a tailspin, but he had a nice bounce-back year in Phoenix last year. If the Grizzlies can’t bring Mayo back, Allen signs with Miami or Boston and can’t agree to terms with a guy like Randy Foye or Bayless, I see if Redd will play for the minimum. I may want to sign him anyway just to go with one of those other guys.

That would have a second unit that sort of looks like this: Pargo, Redd/Foye, Pondexter, Cunningham and Speights.

Now, the Grizzlies have said that they intend on bringing in another point guard, so Pargo likely won’t be part of that squad, but you get the idea. That’s a lot of floor spacing with Foye/Redd and Pondexter out there and Speights and Cunningham can handle the dirty work under the basket. It’s not a sexy line-up, but I think it would be pretty effective.

You’d also have Tony Wroten at the 2 or 3, but you would definitely have to play him with a shooter in that scenario.

How did Joe Johnson’s contract get traded?

It’s pretty remarkable really. The thing I noticed most about Johnson’s contract and trade is that nobody seemed to mention how good Joe Johnson actually is at basketball. Sure, he’s overpaid and when you consider the new salary cap, it’s even more scary to take him on.

That said, he’s still an All-Star caliber player that was one of the first guys you could consider a combo guard and shoots the ball as well as anybody. With his size,  you can even play him at the 3 if you want to.

Considering what the Nets gave up for Johnson, I think it’s the second-best deal of the off-season (behind the Lakers’ heist of Steve Nash.) They gave up some future flexibility to take on one of the four best shooting guards in the game. I think a lot of teams would do that deal.

It appears that money is no object for the Nets’ new owner as he has almost ensured himself of big luxury tax bills for the forseeable future. Still, the Nets are opening a new arena in Brooklyn, people are excited and they’re buying tickets. If they somehow get Dwight Howard on their team, the Nets could arguably be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Even better than Miami. You think Prokhorov would pay a few million dollars to the tax if the Nets become a powerhouse? I think he would.

The biggest problem for the Nets is that they had to make the Johnson deal in the first place. After going all-in by trading for Deron Williams in 2011, they spent a season in transition after the lockout ended. They didn’t add anyone of note and were a pretty bad basketball team for most of it.

Their panic trade for Gerald Wallace was surely a gut punch and seeing a young, athletic shooter like Harrison Barnes fall to what should have been their  pick in the lottery made it worse and for a while, it looked like the Nets were candidates for a rebuild.

But then Wallace agreed to stay, and even if he was grossly overpaid, that was a step in the right direction. Then the Nets remained in the conversation for Howard. Then the Nets got Joe Johnson for a box of rice and now they look like they actually have something coming together.

Was it graceful? Not at all. Would the Nets have been better off keeping Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and their 2011 lottery pick and rebuilding that way? Maybe, but I kind of doubt it. It would have definitely taken longer to go that route for sure.

In a lot of ways, Joe Johnson embodies the problems with the NBA almost to a T. Johnson is one of the best players in the World. He can do almost everything you want a guy to do on the floor. He can shoot, dribble, defend, rebound and pass. Now, Johnson doesn’t do any of those things well enough to justify his contract, so people got mad and forgot about the actual skills that he does have. The reason Johnson got the money that he got was because he was worth way more to Atlanta than he was anywhere else in the league. He was a Hawks cornerstone for what was arguably their best stretch of basketball in their franchise’s history. Atlanta didn’t want to pay him, but they didn’t want to see him go either, so keeping him was their only option.

The same goes for the Nets and their acquisition of him. Nobody wants $90 million worth of Joe Johnson for the next four years, but if you’re a team that’s desperate for talent like Brooklyn is, that price tag doesn’t look quite so bad. When you consider that the Nets have a new building to think about, the price looks better and when you consider that the Nets want to move in and steal some Knicks fans away, it looks like chump change. Johnson has never been worth $120 million, but the Nets thought it was close enough take a look and if they have to pay a few luxury tax bills along the way, so be it. That’s why Prokhorov got involved with this situation anyway. When you consider that Deron Williams probably signs with Dallas if the Nets didn’t get someone on their roster to help him out, Johnson’s worth even more.

It’s like the old “Desert Island” analogy, if you were trapped on a desert island, what would you want there with you? Nobody ever says a giant water bottle or Gatorade, but that’s exactly what I think I’d be after in that scenario. If you were ever on a desert island and you had the chance, how much do you think you’d pay for a 2 liter bottle of water? If it’s been two weeks since you last had some clean water, you’d probably keep going up, wouldn’t you?

The Nets were that guy and still are, to an extent. Teams that are already good and think they can win wouldn’t even consider taking on Johnson’s salary, even though he’s great. Oklahoma City and Miami surely didn’t have any interest. I’m sure the Lakers, Bulls and Spurs were set as well. Only one team valued Johnson that highly and they got him for next-to-nothing other than money.

As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.