Ferry’s Learning From Mistakes

18 09 2008
Seeing red

Seeing red

Last year, the ol’ Cleveland Cavaliers GM let his restricted free agents hold out well past training camp.  Those free agents, Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic, came back and struggled getting back into game shape.

I don’t fault Danny Ferry for holding out because Varejao and Pavlovic are vastly overrated players.  However, contract issues have a way of permeating a locker room with a vile stench.  It’s pretty basic human resources management; if an employee feels like he’s producing at a higher level than he’s being reimbursed for, the employee will either (a.) ask for more compensation or (b.) lower his productivity level to where he perceives he’s being reimbursed.

This off-season, Ferry only offered Delonte West two guaranteed seasons.  Clearly, everything in Cavalier-land is geared towards signing LeBron James as a 2010 unrestricted free agent. 

West averaged 10.3 points, 4.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds in 26 games for the Cavs.  He said to himself, “you know what?  I’m second in assists and minutes for this team.  I’ve tied the gunning Boobie Gibson in scoring without breaking plays.  I should get a pretty good deal here.”

Unlike Pavlovic and Varejao, who averaged 20 minutes a game and only showed up in the first few rounds of the playoffs before renewing their contract, West is a starter and a cog in the Cavalier machine.  Ferry was smart enough to concede a third contract year to him.  The deal is reportedly a cool $12.6 million spanning three years.

West’s primary responsibility will be to back up Mo Williams at the point.  West is 6’4″ which gives the team some size and a potent defender when they realize Daniel Gibson is nothing more than Ben Gordon on welfare. 

West has also started to develop a 15-to-20-foot jumper on the baseline.  This is always money when LeBron charges towards the basket.  It’ll be just as valuable with the shoot-first Williams running Mike Brown’s offensive sets.  West will be able to bail his new point guard out of some pretty bad decisions.

For the most part, I think this is a good move.  It also shows that Ferry is learning from his off-season mistakes.


The Man Who Played

5 09 2008

During the NBA playoffs, the 6’5″ guard injured his ankle during his San Antonio Spurs’ loss to the Phoenix Suns.  The nagging injury hampered the normally dynamic player, limiting his effectiveness as the Spurs X-factor.    His game visibly flattened and San Antonio’s playoffs hopes floated down the river.

Manu took his bum ankle and flew across the world to represent his country.

Scorning his NBA coach, Manu Ginobili went to Beijing this summer and played for Argentinian Men’s Basketball Team.  Manu was their captain, their leading scorer and their flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies.

So coming off a first-round loss and a troubling injury, he felt well enough to strap up the sneakers and test the Chinese hardwood.  Unfortunately, he re-injured that left ankle during an elimination game against the US team.

A few days ago, Manu went to Los Angeles and had surgery on his left heel and ankle.  The guy’s going to be on crutches for three weeks plus two or three months of rehab. 

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs have delayed negotiations to extend Manu’s contract.  Manu’s agent says that “[they] want to see how [Manu] recovers from the surgery.” 

I wasn’t surprised to come across anger towards Manu for playing in the Olympics.  But I was surprised to see him being called selfish.  Manu Ginobili?  Selfish?

I suppose he takes his fair share of shots but really?  Selfish?  I’ll need that explained to me further.

The guy left Europe where he was making bank to join the Spurs, where he was the seventh or eighth guy on the roster.  Keep in mind that Manu was getting bites from other NBA teams where he could start and get a bigger slice of cheese.

He’s one of the most productive guards in the league and he’s ceded his starter status to Mike Finley for the good of the Spurs organization.  The man has the skills to demand the ball on every possession but he plays the team game.  And he’s being called selfish?

Manu is coming off a disappointing NBA finish where he could have taken it easy, rested his old body and lined up a good contract (see: Steve Nash).  Instead, he goes and plays hard for his country.  Selfish?  Really?

Manu doesn’t strike me as a stupid man.  If he were, he’d probably parlay his basketball clout into a maximum contract for a bad team.  So you have to think that his participation in the Olympics was highly calculated.

On one hand, he can play it safe and stay home.  He effectively chooses the San Antonio Spurs over Argentina’s national team.  It also puts him in good shape, contractually, as he is lowering his risk of aggravating his ankle.

On the other hand, he can play in the Olympics.  He effectively chooses the Argentinian team over the Spurs.  He has an opportunity to win a gold medal and gets to represent his country.

In terms of gain, the first option benefits his income while the second option benefits his nationalistic feelings.  So he can be seen as selfish that way.  He is chooses one constituency (Argentina) over another (Spurs fans).  Naturally, Spurs fans are miffed and confused by his measured gamble.

Another point to note is that most European teams hold the FIBA World Championships in higher regard than the Olympic gold medal.  This thought is paralleled by futbol’s World Cup having precedence over the Olympic soccer championship.  So why would Manu trade his NBA clout for a lesser tournament’s championship?

What do you think?  What would you have done and why did Manu do it?  Is it selfishness?