by, 07-30-2012 at 05:17 AM (57071 Views)
It seems I am one of the only Hornets fans with a very low expectation of Robin Lopez. I have seen many people say "Dell does it again", "The missing piece to our starting lineup", and "last part of our championship". If the last one wasn't a joke then I am so disappointed in basketball fans awareness. I don't think I should have to explain why the chances of us not winning a championship are incredibly low for the next few years but thinking that Robin Lopez is even an above average player hurts my head.
I live in Phoenix Arizona. Many of my friends are Suns fans and throughout the years I've had to endure a load of criticism to be a Hornets fan. I'm very aware of the Suns and go to many games (though my dream is to one day go to a game at the Hive).
I'm sure some of you saw the response from the Suns fans. If you weren't priorly aware, they were elated. They (for the most part) hated Robin Lopez. And Warrick is a joke. The suns gave up those two players for a first round draft pick and a player who probably won't see more than 15 minutes a game on a rookie salary. Seriously. I wish that was my team that made that deal. Instead we took on Warrick's contract (I hope he doesn't step onto the court) and Lopez for a combined $9 Million this year.
When examining a player in the simplest of terms I think about how they compare per their position (although I agree that positions are dying, I don't think positions are totally dead, just relative). If Lopez is a starter, then I can't think of a team with a worse starting center right now. A lot of people look at Lopez' stats and proclaim "If he can have a year like his 09-10 year then we're good". Name me the last time a player had a breakout year with a low usg%, slumped for years after with a significantly higher usg%, and then transformed into the missing piece of a title contender.
What's strange about all this is that I was pushing for us to get him. As I said, positions are relative, but I really wanted us to have a big who could try and match up with the bigger, bulkier centers (of now and the future). I wanted a big, one on one defensive big. Remember how OKC had Collison and Perkins interchanging depending on the lineup? I think Perkins is a mistake because his skill set isn't required as much the way the NBA is going, but if we could have a less skilled person to play that roll on our team, we'd be in good shape. Instead we got a more offensive minded player.
I can't find the contract details for Greg Stiemsma (my Google-Fu is failing me right now). But he, Ian Mahimi, Luis Scola, Elton Brand, Brandon Haywood, Ryan Hollins, Andries Biedrens, and Byron Mullins are all players who I would rather have on my team than Lopez and would be cheaper (besides Biedrens and Mullins who are viewed as negative assets on their teams who would gladly give us picks or take on bad contracts in a three team if necessary).
My biggest gripe is against the fact that Elton Brand is going to be paid one year at $2.1 Million. He is the perfect placeholder for not tying up your team with huge salary for a single year of a veteran presence. Imagine if we had bid $3 million for his single year of service. Haywood was won at just over $2 million as well. Haywood is locked up for another 3 seasons (I don't know if there are team or player options in there) but at worst he is your 5th big. Not bad for the price. Combined we could have won both players for $6 Million this season and had Haywood + whoever we could get next season when we have a ton of cap space and after we've proven that NOLA is a great free agent destination (sorry for the spoiler alert but thats coming this season).
Instead of doing any of that we wrapped up $5 million a year ($9 million the first year(Warrick is good for 4-5 games a year and otherwise will just give up points))into a guy who is a below average backup. Seriously, Phoenix fans hate him. He has the worst attitude on the court. That clip of him hitting Blake? That wasn't a statement that he wouldn't let anyone in the paint, that was frustration foul. Watching Lopez live he gets discouraged and angry. He has no faculty of his emotions and frequently gets technicals and flagrants. On ESPN's list of most flagrant fouls he is tied for 34th. Not too bad until you look at his minutes per game. There is only one other player on the list with fewer minutes per game than him. He leads the league in last years flagrants all season long (tied with 15 others) but once again, is has fewer minutes than any but two. He is 9th in the league in fouls per minute. His on court demeanor is angry and he often gives up on plays and yells at teammates.
Look at his shooting charts on basketball-reference. He keeps drifting farther away from the basket and his rebounding keeps declining. He is well known for his bone headed turnovers and hard hands. This is a guy who has given up on the NBA. I wanted a player of his size on the team but not on a multi year deal that can hurt our flexibility next off season. Maybe by some miracle he turns everything around and does become a 9 and 8 guy again but he will still be overpaid for his production and when we finally get him out of here I will be surprised if people look back on this as a good trade. I know hindsight is 20/20 but if we had Brand and Haywood for a combined $6 Million and used the other 3 for taking Wes Johnson and gotten a pick out of it we would be in better shape 2 years down the line. I think I'll be the first in the Robin Lopez hate club and I have a feeling I'll be seeing many of you there shortly.
The Suns won this trade hands down. Its the first move they've made that makes sense in a while. The Wolves didn't really lose either. If they're in a win now mentality and needed the salary dump for AK47 then it may have been worth it. We'll see how far they go this season.
For those of you who read my mini novel thank you and please let me know your thoughts, talk me down from the ledge etc.