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July 29, 2008

Okafor in good company

I’ve heard a lot of knocks on Emeka Okafor today. Nothing wrong with a fan questioning whether he’s worth the $72 million he’ll make over the next six seasons.

          However, the trashing of this guy is ridiculous.

          Statistics can lie, but here’s one I’ve always believed is telling: There are only four players in the NBA who averaged a double-double in each of the last four NBA seasons.

          Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Okafor.

          Obviously Okafor is fourth among those four, as far as accomplishment in the NBA. But when you’re in a circle like that, it conveys a player who is doing something right night after night.

          The Bobcats acknowledged that consistency with this new agreement.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 29, 2008 at 06:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (136)

July 27, 2008

Some 'comps' for Okafor?

There’s a concept in real estate called, “comps,’’ as in you can’t appraise something’s value without at least two examples of what comparable properties were worth.

        I would argue that Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut and Golden State’s Andris Biedrins are big men of comparable value to Emeka Okafor. And with both of them signed, they represent comps.

          Please, no overstated statistical analyses (yes, I’m talking to you, Michael Procton). I’m not ranking these three versus each other. I’m simply saying that with different skill sets and teammates, they are roughly comparable players at roughly the same position.

          So consider:

Biedrins has reportedly agreed to a 6-year contract, worth approximately $63 million, with a player opt-out after five seasons. So that’s a $10.5 million average, but with the significant advantage of a player opt-out.

          Bogut reportedly was guaranteed $60 million over five years (a $12 million average) plus incentives that could push total compensation up to $72 million. (Those incentives, such as the Bucks winning the NBA championship, sound pretty challenging.)

         Okafor was once offered over $12 million a season. Now, according to a source I consider credible, the Bobcats offer is much closer to a $10 million-a-season average.

          Bottom line: If the Bobcats were in danger of over-paying Okafor at over $12 million a season, they’re low-balling him now if they’re offering $10 million a season.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 27, 2008 at 08:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

July 25, 2008

Getting fair value for Okafor in sign-and-trade could be difficult

I had an interview with Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins Friday, and the most enlightening thing he said was how difficult it would be to get fair value for Emeka Okafor in a sign-and-trade.

Higgins mentioned how the base-year compensation rule gets in the way (the Bobcats could take back roughly half of what Okafor’s new salary-cap number would be.) Also, it’s never easy to swap a young big man for a comparable part.

Translation: The Bobcats don’t want to be cornered into giving up Okafor in sign-and-trade. So maybe it’s possible they’ll just wait for Okafor to sign the one-year qualifying offer and see how this evolves.

There would still be opportunities to get something for Okafor, whether at the trade deadline in February or next summer. They’d lose some protection once Okafor becomes an unrestricted free agent (as the Clippers did with Elton Brand and the Warriors did with Baron Davis), but working with the Bobcats on a sign-and-trade NEXT summer could still be the best way to maximize what Okafor makes in a long-term deal.

The question becomes how Okafor would respond to being a short-timer in


. He’d be in a contract year, which often brings the best out in players. But he’d also be one season away from being somewhere else.


Posted by Observer Sports on July 25, 2008 at 06:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

July 23, 2008

Rule will complicate any Okafor trade

As if this Emeka Okafor situation won’t get complicated enough already, I’m told by front-office folk from two other NBA franchises that an NBA salary-cap rule – base-year compensation – makes it challenging to trade a restricted free agent for fair value.

    Base-year compensation hasn’t been much of an issue here because both of Charlotte’s NBA franchises – the Hornets, then the Bobcats – tend to be frugal, which means they’re often under the salary cap. That typically reduces the impact of base-year comp.

    Here’s the deal, in as simple a way as I can explain this: When a player signs a contract that dramatically raises his salary (as Okafor seemingly would in any sign-and-trade), he can’t be traded for at least the next six months for a player of comparable salary.

    Essentially a team acquiring Okafor would need the cap room to absorb his entire new salary, while sending back roughly half that to the Bobcats.

    Of course, there are ways around this: Teams can add other players into a trade to balance the salaries. Or Okafor could sign that one-year qualifying offer to facilitate a trade (although that creates other issues).

    Bottom line: Both these front-office guys say base-year comp can only add to the complications of getting fair value, should the Okafor-Bobcats relationship end in a trade.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 23, 2008 at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (88)

July 21, 2008

What next for Okafor?

So now what?

A source with knowledge of the negotiations says Emeka Okafor is ready to move on, rather than accept what the Charlotte Bobcats have offered long-term for his services.

    The Bobcats can hold on to him for next season, but perhaps the best way to preserve value is to arrange a sign-and-trade. The Bobcats aren’t saying what they’d consider but here are five ideas that might be worth considering now or later:

    MIAMI: Does Shawn Marion float your boat? He appears to be available, with a single, $17.8 million season left on his contract. Swapping Okafor (plus another contract) for Marion would make the Bobcats smaller, but more athletic.

     CLEVELAND: Remember when the Bobcats signed Anderson Varejao to that offer sheet last season? Predictably the Cavaliers matched it in an instant. But now Varejao’s agent, Dan Fegan, is interested in moving his client to a team that would prioritize re-signing Varejao.
    The Bobcats need an athletic, energetic big man, but here’s the rub: Under league rules, the Bobcats couldn’t trade for Varejao until a year has passed from the time of the offer sheet. That means after Dec. 5. It’s possible the Bobcats could wait that long to resolve the Okafor issue, but that’s a long time to sit in limbo with an unhappy star.

    GOLDEN STATE: In case you haven’t noticed, the Warriors have some interesting questions regarding their big men. Andris Biedrins is another of those restricted free agents, and Al Harrington ($9.2 million this season, $10 million next season) is very available.

    CHICAGO: I’m not so sure that Okafor’s performances against the Bulls would make that team’s management swoon. However, this is a team with a lot of moving parts, a lot of disenchanted employees and cause to think they’d be open to a deal.
    Luol Deng, another restricted from the class of 2004, would help any team. Would Deng, plus maybe one of three forwards (Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas or Andres Nocioni?) make sense as the basis for a deal?

    DALLAS: I don’t have any ideal match here, but have you ever heard of a sign-and-trade scenario that didn’t involve Mark Cuban?

Posted by Observer staff on July 21, 2008 at 11:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (107)

July 16, 2008

Brown not around for this beauty

Leaving Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Bobcats coach Larry Brown beat me out of town, departing before Tuesday night’s summer-league game against the Golden State Warriors, which led to one of the funnier scoring errors on an NBA box score.

Brown, who I assume was in the Hamptons at the 10:30 EDT tipoff, was charged with a technical foul with a minute left in the third quarter.

How’s that? It was one of those bench technicals, and I guess the official scorer defaulted to the head coach’s name on the roster.

The NBA has a fairly liberal policy, rescinding those Ts. I’m thinking being 3,000 miles away qualifies.

Posted by rbonnell on July 16, 2008 at 11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (61)

Nuggets trade Camby for cap relief

It’s interesting, all the head-scratching among NBA fans about how the Denver Nuggets got so little for Marcus Camby.

    They got plenty; they restored financial sanity.

    The Nuggets dumped at least $10 million, and as much as $11.2 million, in salary-cap obligation next season by moving Camby for a conditional second-round pick. Since the Nuggets were deep into luxury-tax territory, the financial relief is actually a lot more than $10 million.

    The Nuggets had little choice but to make this kind of deal when it became available. They’re paying $14 million or more next season to each of three players (Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin) and they had to find that relief.

    The Los Angeles Clippers were one of the few teams with sufficient cap room to absorb Camby’s salary without discarding a contract to Denver. That’s the only reason the Clippers got a starter-quality center (he’ll technically play power forward, alongside Chris Kaman).

    It’s similar to what the Bobcats did in the Jason Richardson deal. On those few occasions when he spoke with media, managing partner Michael Jordan always reminded us cap room is as valuable in trade as in free-agency; perhaps more so, because it's more reliable than dealing with agents.

    I just wonder if the Bobcats used this strategy once too often last season, when they acquired Nazr Mohammed from the Detroit Pistons, in return for expiring contracts (Walter Herrmann and Primoz Brezec).

    I’m not knocking Mohammed; he’ll continue to be a valuable backup. But I wonder about paying him an average of $6.4 million over the next three seasons.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 16, 2008 at 01:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

July 15, 2008

May still in Brown's plans

    It sounds like the Bobcats’ new coach hasn’t written off Sean May the way so many fans have.

    Following practice Tuesday, Larry Brown talked about the importance of open competition in training camp – the idea that contracts won’t determine who he starts or who he plays.

    As an aside, Brown acknowledged that certain players – incumbent starters Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and (assuming he re-signs) Emeka Okafor – would likely still be the core. Then Brown said May fits in that group "if healthy."

    Of course that’s one of the biggest "ifs" the Bobcats face: Chronic knee problems have limited May to 58 of a possible 246 games with the Bobcats.

    May is perennially optimistic, but believes this micro-fracture surgery has succeeded. And while he’ll never be slim, he looked as lean as I’ve seen him since the Bobcats drafted him the summer of 2005.

    Assuming no trades are on the horizon (and I assume there will be some kind of trade between now and October), May needs to get a shot at starting. He can rebound and score in the post, and what do the Bobcats need more than boards and layups?

    They can’t keep playing Wallace at power forward and Nazr Mohammed and Okafor don’t play as well together as they do subbing for each other.

    That means unless Jermareo Davidson is far more ready than I believe, May gets every chance in camp, pretty much by default.

    The Bobcats are paying May $2.66 million this season before he becomes a restricted free agent. It’s time to settle definitively whether he can help them.


Posted by Observer Sports on July 15, 2008 at 05:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (47)

July 14, 2008

Packer too good to leave his job

Billy Packer is way too good at what he does to leave CBS.

    Packer is as honest and insightful a voice as there is in basketball media. He made people uncomfortable with his candor because you can't say what's really going on without offending some fan of some school in the process.

    But you never had to wonder about his motives: He didn't shill for coaches or pander for college basketball. When someone made a great play, he said so. When someone screwed up or took himself too seriously, he said so.

    Not enough people just tell the truth these days without worrying who they might unintentionally offend. Packer always did that.

    That CBS is losing that voice is sad for the viewer.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 14, 2008 at 01:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (41)

July 11, 2008

Debunking a Sean May rumor

       Bobcats spokesman B.J. Evans, addressing the latest internet rumor, says Sean May was NOT in Salt Lake City recently, getting some pre-trade medical examination or workout with the Jazz.

       And before the next rumor arises, Evans added, Adam Morrison WAS in Salt Lake City recently, but that was to see a diabetes specialist to adjust the insulin pump he uses.

      That alleged trade -- Gerald Wallace and Sean May for Carlos Boozer -- is a close enough match salary-wise to work under NBA rules. But ask yourself a skeptical question: Why would the Jazz trade an All-Star big man, a consistent 20-point/10-rebound guy, for a smaller player (Wallace) and a comparably-sized player coming off a major injury (May)?

       The rule of thumb in the NBA is that quality trumps quantity and bigger (with the exception of point guard) trumps smaller. So I'm sure the Bobcats would jump at that, if available, but I strongly doubt it would make any sense for the Jazz.

Posted by Observer Sports on July 11, 2008 at 01:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (71)