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Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Gay’

A Preliminary Look at the Upcoming Miami Heat Free Agency

May 9th, 2017 3 comments
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The Miami Heat pulled off perhaps the greatest turnaround in NBA history this past season, under perhaps the most challenging of circumstances. After losing Dwyane Wade to free agency and Chris Bosh to a possible career-ending medical condition, it was always going to be an uphill battle. Persistent injuries along the way only increased that burden.

And yet, despite an exasperating 11-30 start to the season, the Heat pulled off an unprecedented reversal in its final 41 games, posting a 30-11 mark that was good for second-best in the league and made it the first team to ever fall more than 12 games under .500 and climb all the way back to even.

During those final 41 games, despite the lack of a (current or former) All-Star anywhere in the rotation, despite losing more games to injury than any other team, despite being forced to count a comically-undersized undrafted rookie and a pair of discarded free agent retreads among its starters, the Heat posted an astounding offensive efficiency (109.7 points per 100 possessions) that would, projected over the course of a full season, have ranked second best in its history.

They did it by employing the most fundamental of basketball principles: drive, and kick.

The Heat drove to the basket more than any other team in the NBA this season (35.1 times per game), and no single pair of teammates did it more frequently than Goran Dragic (11.9 per game) and Dion Waiters (11.0 per game). Only two players in the league averaged more drives per game than Dragic (Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schroder) and only two others more than Waiters (John Wall and Russell Westbrook).

What made the philosophy work so well for the Heat was not that they were lethal scorers at the rim. They weren’t. Waiters, in fact, shot a rather awful 42.8% when driving this season. What made it work so well is that they both passed so much. When they drove, they passed the ball a combined 44% of the time.

Dragic and Waiters each became exceptionally proficient at collapsing the defense to stop their penetration, then passing back out to create open looks for teammates — which for the Heat led to numerous easy chances at the rim for Hassan Whiteside, and tons of open 3-pointers for its well-spaced perimeter shooters.

So, with such a strategy, it would make sense that the Heat’s 3-point shooting success would correlate strongly with its overall success. Miami shot what would be an NBA-best 41.0% on 3-pointers in its 41 wins, and what would be an NBA-worst 31.7% in its 41 losses.  Read more…

Rudy Gay Off the Market

July 1st, 2010 3 comments
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Rudy Gay is off the market, having accepted to a 5-year, $80 million contract to remain a Memphis Grizzly (is that the singular?). Gay was a Plan B target for many South Floridians, despite the cold reality that such a union was simply not realistic. I couldn’t seem to stress this enough times and have my reader base actually believe me, but it was nonetheless a virtual certainty.

The manner in which the offer came about, however, is quite interesting (and perhaps foolish). We knew coming in that Gay would be a beneficiary of a bloated free agent contract, piggy-backing off more heralded max players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but few could predict his max contract would have come from his incumbent team on the first day of free agency. The strategy when dealing with your own restricted free agents is to stall and threaten to match any contract any team offers in the hopes of scaring them away, which handcuffs the player and his agent. It is a strategy that worked for the Knicks, to the dismay of David Lee, last season.

The NBA and its players are on a collision course with a potential extended lockout, and when loss-making, small-market teams are signing marginally above average players like Rudy Gay to maximum contracts without batting an eye, it is extremely confounding. Particularly when they don’t need to. But hey, owner Michael Heisley was staunchly committed to the developing small forward, and he got his man.

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Grizzlies’ lottery selection Xavier Henry intriguing

June 26th, 2010 20 comments
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With the twelve pick in the 2010 draft, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Kansas swingman Xavier Henry. The pick is certainly intriguing, in that it engenders further questions about the length of restricted free agent Rudy Gay’s stay in Memphis. The common perception is that Henry was selected solely because of the Rudy Gay situation. Is it a prelude to a potential trade of the explosive 6’8″ small forward?

Despite the rumors that have flailed about for several months now, Memphis owner Michael Heisley has remained steadfast in his commitment to retaining the budding forward. At least his comments have been. His actions, however, would suggest otherwise.

Heisley said his team was going to make a big move in the draft. They did. Only this time they again moved to the ATM machine to make a deposit. The Grizzlies’ 25th overall pick, Dominique Jones, was dealt to the Mavericks for cash considerations. Instead of getting an experienced junior ready to contribute right away, a player who can score, rebound and pass (the only player in college to average 21 ppg, 6 rpg and 4 apg last season), the Grizzlies got three-million dollars to put in Michael’s back pocket.

You can read into this in one of two ways. You can say that Heisley would rather deflect the loss-making enterprise that is the Grizzlies organization than spend big dollars to build a winner. The folks in Tennessee sure feel slighted, particularly when you consider the team has a solid core in place that is not too far away from being legitimately competitive in a difficult Western Conference. Or, perhaps Heisley is stashing the cash in order to offset the impact of the hugely overvalued contract his highly sought after free agent is certain to command.

The first seems more likely, but consider the second. Read more…

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Interesting Developments in Grizzlie-land

May 16th, 2010 No comments
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In what is perhaps some small measure of vindication for Heat president Pat Riley, Memphis has invited undersized 6’4″ shooting guard O.J. Mayo to participate in their summer league. The goal for Mayo would be to improve his point guard skills. Mayo’s shaky ball handling and poor decision-making have been major deficiencies throughout his first N.B.A. two seasons.

If you recall, Riley gave serious consideration to drafting Mayo with the second overall pick in the 2008 N.B.A. draft, before ultimately selecting Michael Beasley.

Draft analysts automatically assumed Beasley and Derrick Rose would go with the first and second picks in the draft. Many even considered Beasley to be the more talented. Mayo was therefore viewed as being a reach with the second overall pick at the time. Riley, however, had visions of turning Mayo into a point guard, in order to create a dynamic backcourt pairing with Dwyane Wade. The Heat needed (and continue to need) outside shooting, and using the second pick on Mayo could have added a ton of it. It was felt that Mayo could tee off from deep while Wade drove hard to the basket. Mayo also had the ability to create his own shot at will. Ultimately, Riley did not see enough to upend the more popular selection.

Mayo was then drafted with the third overall pick by the Memphis Grizzlies.

While Riley’s assessment of Mayo’s point guard skills appears to have been proven correct thus far into his N.B.A. career, the unexpected gem at the position appears to have come in the fourth spot in the draft, where the Seattle Supersonics – the Oklahoma City Thunder predecessor – selected Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has yet to develop a reliable outside shot, but his contributions in all other phases of the game have him as a sure-fire perennial all-star. However, without the ability to space the floor, even Westbrook may not have produced a quality backcourt pairing for Wade. In fact, no other 2008 draftee has shown the backcourt skills that would cause one to second guess Riley’s decision to draft in the frontcourt. While the frontcourt selection can certainly be second guessed, namely due to the superb play of 7’0″ center Brook Lopez, Beasley was widely considered the wise choice at the time.

Now just two years later, questions abound as to whether the Heat should, or even could, abandon its attempts to further develop Beasley and trade him.

Ironically, the answer to Beasley’s fate could once again be tied to the Grizzlies. Read more…

Restricted Tag To Narrow Riley’s Focus

May 8th, 2010 No comments
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Rudy Gay is this offseason's best, and most expensive, free agent small forward money can buy. But he's restricted.

Rudy Gay.

By all accounts, he’s far and away the best true small forward available in free agency. He will command a starting salary of $10 million or more.

It may surprise you (but if you read my CapRoom tab it shouldn’t) to know the Heat can actually sign a max contract power forward and still have the leftover shekels to give it to him. Awesome, right?

But he’s restricted.

That means the Grizzlies would have seven days to match any potential Heat offer and steal him away.

Whatever proposal the Miami makes Memphis has the right to match. Don’t believe they will? Don’t believe they can afford it?

Who cares! That’s not the point! The point is that those $10 million are now tied up and unavailable for seven whole days. An offer to a restricted free agent cannot be rescinded. So Pat Riley will need to sit on his hands for an entire week while the Grizzlies decide on the fate of Rudy Gay… and the Miami Heat.

Pat can’t go shopping for alternatives just in case. Which top tier free agent is going to be willing to sit idly by and wait for the Heat to discover whether it can – or cannot – even make him an offer? Free agency spans a long, long time – many months in fact from its start on July 8 to the start to the regular season in late October. But it could be over in less time than it takes for you to utter the words, what the heck just happened. The best free agents could be gone in days… minutes…

If you were Pat Riley, would you be willing to gamble your organization’s entire future by making an offer to a restricted free agent, giving his existing team the unbridled incentive to shop around for alternatives for the better part of a week? Read more…