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Review Why Top NBA Stars Left Their Teams

19 Dec

Have you heard recently about Top NBA Stars which left their hard-working and poor teams?
OK, that was a joke, if you follow NBA in any capacity you couldn’t have missed that memo ;-)
But there was always one thing which bothered me about this topic: reason for their actions.
Was it big market glamour? Was it a chase for fame or rings? Was it money/greed? Is it some kind of a trend? A lot of articles were written about this so I finally sat down and spent far too many hours to figure out why… but I think I found an satisfying answer [at least for me].

There were some rules for this exercise, thanks to prosportstransactions.com I reviewed every team’s move from the time franchise player was drafted or signed huge extension to the dreaded day given star was out with following assumptions:

  • All decisions are in a chronological order,
  • I included every contract worth more than 5 million dollars [total],
  • I ignored every minimum contracts and all other small ones unless they were important in some way,
  • I included every significant trade – meaning either good or expensive players were involved,
  • I ignored every trade with marginal assets involved like 2nd round draft pick for future 2nd rounder or bench guy for bench guy with low salaries etc unless they were important in some way,
  • I tried very hard NOT to use hindsight in my judgements but obviously in some cases [especially with rookies and injuries] it was inevitable,
  • Obviously some if not all grades are subjective and probably arguable but I doubt you can move them up or down significantly,
  • I measured predictability of each outcome in a very simple way: “what if said GM had used advanced boxscore statistics like Win Shares, PER, Wins Produced to support his decisions?”,
  • It was a quite long list so if I missed anything important please let me know in the comments,
  • If you are not interested in gory details, just scroll down to the end of this post for conclusions.

Let’s start with a case which not only couldn’t be more clearer but also had some impact on others…

Move, Decision, Trade Verdict Predictable? Notes
Kevin Garnett resigned for 5yrs - - -
Trenton Hassell resigned for 6yrs Huge FAIL YES never above avg, 6 yrs?!
Troy Hudson resigned for 6yrs Huge FAIL YES once above avg by PER, 6 yrs?!
Rashad McCants drafted at #14 FAIL YES Old and Inefficient scorer in college
Mark Madsen resigned for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES Not productive in limited minutes, 5 yrs?!
Marko Jaric, Lionel Chalmers acquired for Sam Cassell, first round pick (protected top 10 through 2011, unprotected in 2012) Huge FAIL MAYBE Jaric way younger, Cassell wanted out? Pick became top asset
Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, Mark Blount acquired for Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones, first round pick (2009 #6) FAIL NO Toss up with players, pick delayed and became top asset
rights to Randy Foye acquired for rights to Brandon Roy Huge FAIL YES Roy 1 yr older but way more productive in college
Mike James signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL MAYBE Had couple above avg seasons but signed at 31
Juwan Howard acquired for Mike James WIN MAYBE Dumped bad contract for expiring
Corey Brewer drafted at #7 FAIL MAYBE Avg in college though with defender rep
Kevin Garnett traded to Celtics - - -

As far as I remember NOBODY blamed Garnett for his desire to leave Timberwolves and it most certainly wasn’t because of a market size or money – if GM’s best move in 4 years is a salary dump of contract which he has signed… well, you can only feel sorry for the player and ask 100 times per day WHY MCHALE WAS A GM FOR SO LONG?!?!?!

Next case…

Move, Decision, Trade Verdict Predictable? Notes
LeBron James drafted at #1 - - -
Ira Newble signed for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES never above avg, 5 yrs?!
Kevin Ollie signed for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES never above avg, 5 yrs?!
Eric Williams, Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown acquired for Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm, Michael Stewart WASH MAYBE Dumped Ricky Davis’ contract a year after he was signed
Sasha Pavlovic acquired for protected pick FAIL MAYBE At his best Sasha was below avg, pick ended up being #22 and Dudley
Luke Jackson drafted at #10 Huge FAIL YES Old, bad, out of the league in 3 years
Carlos Boozer team declined to exercise contract option for 2004-05, making player a restricted free agent – lost restricted free agent (did not match offer sheet from Jazz) Huge FAIL MAYBE Allegedly Boozer’s fault but they declined an option
Eric Snow acquired for Kevin Ollie, Kedrick Brown WASH MAYBE Snow had some above avg seasons in the past but acquired at 31 and overpaid
Drew Gooden, Steven Hunter, rights to Anderson Varejao acquired for Tony Battie, picks Huge WIN MAYBE Gooden and Varejao better and cheaper than Battie
Jiri Welsch acquired for pick Huge FAIL YES Welsh was bad and quickly out of the league, pick turned out to be #24 and Rudy Fernandez
Dan Gilbert bought a team - - -
Zydrunas Ilgauskas resigned for 5yrs WASH MAYBE Big Z had above avg seasons but he earned over 11M$/y
Donyell Marshall resigned for 4yrs FAIL MAYBE 2 avg-ish seasons, 2 below, productive past but signed at 32
Larry Hughes resigned for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES Rewarded for a career year, never above avg after that
Damon Jones signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL YES Rewarded for a career year, never above avg after that
Daniel Gibson drafted at #42 WIN NO Rotation player in 2nd round
LeBron James resigned for 3yrs - - -
Gooden resigned for 3yrs WIN YES Productivity at or above his salary
Sasha Pavlovic resigned for 3yrs FAIL YES below avg with avg salary though he was young
Anderson Varejao resigned for 3yrs WIN YES Productivity at or above his salary
Ben Wallace & Delonte West acquired for Hughes & Gooden WASH MAYBE Bad contract for bad contract, solid player for solid player
J.J. Hickson drafted at #19 WIN MAYBE Solid & cheap rotation player
Daniel Gibson resigned for 5yrs FAIL YES solid young rotation player, too long & expensive
Mo Williams acquired for Damon Jones, Joe Smith WIN YES Mo was the best player but he was a salary dump for other team
Delonte West resigned for 2yrs WASH MAYBE Solid player for solid salary, missed games though
Christian Eyenga drafted at #30 FAIL* MAYBE * at least so far
Shaq acquired for Ben Wallace WASH YES Win in talent, loss in payroll
Anderson Varejao resigned for 6yrs WIN* YES * at least so far
Anthony Parker signed for 2yrs WIN YES Productivity at or above his salary
Jamison acquired for BigZ FAIL NO Productive but expensive and old
LeBron James traded to Heat - - -

By my count during LeBron’s career in Cavs uniform they had more Huge FAILs than WINs…
with overall batting average for their decisions around 0.300.
What’s more shocking is how predictable those huge fails were and how many wins were basically about one player – Varejao. Interesting question is… when LeBron had decided to leave?
My guess would be “Ben Wallace for Hughes trade” which started a spiral of short-term moves which downgraded long-term picture.

If you are reading this by now you probably know where am I going with this but to complete this journey…

Move, Decision, Trade Verdict Predictable? Notes
Chris Bosh drafted at #4 - - -
Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall acquired for Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams, Chris Jefferies Huge FAIL YES Acquired players were old, worse and more expensive
Rafael Araujo drafted at #8 Huge FAIL MAYBE Productive in college but old when drafted
Morris Peterson resigned for 3yrs WASH YES Average player for 5M$/y
Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, #16, #20 acquired for Vince Carter Huge FAIL YES Vince wanted to be traded so Raptors didn’t have any leverage
Joey Graham drafted at #16 FAIL YES Rotation player for a few years then out of the league
Charlie Villanueva drafted at #7 WASH NO Rotation player, quickly traded
Jose Calderon signed for 3yrs WIN MAYBE Productivity at or above his salary
Mike James acquired for Rafer Alston WASH YES Swap of old and bad veterans
Antonio Davis acquired for Jalen Rose, 2006 first round pick WASH YES Basically a salary dump paid with a draft pick
Kris Humphries acquired for Rafael Araujo WIN YES Productive but… in very limited minutes
Rasho Nesterovic acquired for Matt Bonner WASH YES Solid veteran for solid veteran
Andrea Bargnani drafted at #1 Huge FAIL NO So far expensive and unproductive
T.J. Ford acquired for Charlie Villanueva WASH MAYBE Win in terms of talent but created a strange mix at PG
Jorge Garbajosa signed for 3yrs FAIL MAYBE Only one solid season, out after that
Anthony Parker signed for 3yrs WIN MAYBE Productivity at or above his salary
Chris Bosh resigned for 3yrs - - -
Fred Jones signed for 3yrs Huge FAIL YES Rewarded for a career year, never above avg after that, quickly traded
T.J. Ford resigned for 4yrs FAIL YES Salary higher than his production, traded after 2yrs
Carlos Delfino acquired for 2 second-rounders WIN YES Productivity at or above his salary
Jamario Moon signed for 2yrs WIN NO Productivity at or above his salary plus feel good story
Jason Kapono signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL YES Rewarded for a career year, never above avg after that
Kris Humphries resigned for 3yrs WASH YES Productive but… in very limited minutes
Jermaine O’Neal acquired for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic WASH YES Swap of overpaid players
Jose Calderon resigned for 5yrs WASH MAYBE Started as a huge win, became underused, injury-prone with too much focus on his weaknesses
Shawn Marion acquired for Jermaine O’Neal, Jamario Moon WASH MAYBE Swap of overpaid players
Reggie Evans acquired for Jason Kapono Huge WIN YES Way more productive player and better fit for same salary
Andrea Bargnani resigned for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES So far expensive and unproductive
DeMar DeRozan drafted at #9 FAIL YES Two weak seasons though still young so he can improve
Hedo Turkoglu acquired for Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries & signed for 5 yrs Huge FAIL YES Just a spectacular fail talent-wise and financially
Jarrett Jack signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL MAYBE Avg player with avg salary but a) they didn’t need him, b) “Bosh’s friend”, c) quickly traded
Marco Belinelli acquired for Devean George WASH YES Swap of unproductive role-players
Amir Johnson acquired for Carlos Delfino WIN* YES * at least so far, too late for Bosh though and in his place
Ed Davis drafted at #13 WIN* YES * at least so far, too late for Bosh though and in his place
Amir Johnson signed for 5yrs WIN* YES * at least so far, too late for Bosh though and in his place
Chris Bosh traded to Heat - - -

Again more Huge FAILs than WINs for an overall batting average around 0.272.
Raptors are an interesting case because on one hand they found a way to add productive and cheap foreign players to their roster but on the other hand that fetish led them to Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani which signed for over 100 millions dollars and would be my best guess on why Bosh left.
Ironically the best moves in that period were as a replacement for Bosh ;-)

Here’s the latest victim…

Move, Decision, Trade Verdict Predictable? Notes
Chris Paul drafted at #4 - - -
Brandon Bass drafted at #33 WASH NO Future rotation player in 2nd round [win] but on a different team as a UFA [fail]
Desmond Mason, #15 in 2006 acquired for Jamaal Magloire WASH YES Swap of unproductive role-players
Marc Jackson, Linton Johnson III acquired for Bostjan Nachbar WASH YES Swap of unproductive role-players
Cedric Simmons drafted at #15 FAIL YES Quickly out of the league
Hilton Armstrong drafted at #12 Huge FAIL YES Old, unproductive in college, played few minutes and was bad in them
Peja Stojakovic signed for 5yrs Huge FAIL YES 28-yrs old scorer on the downside for 65M$/5y? He was really good in Sac but really?
Tyson Chandler acquired for P.J. Brown, J.R. Smith WIN MAYBE Small for big & need but JR Smith also benefited from change of team and played well
Rasual Butler resigned for 4yrs FAIL YES Cheap but bad, 4yrs?!
David West resigned for 5yrs WIN MAYBE Productivity close to his salary
Julian Wright drafted at #13 FAIL NO Promising 1st season, limited minutes
Morris Peterson signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL YES Bad & outside of rotation after 1st season, 4 yrs?!
Bonzi Wells, Mike James acquired for Bobby Jackson WASH YES Swap of unproductive veterans
Darrell Arthur drafted at #27 & traded for cash WASH NO Future rotation player late in draft [win] but on a different team for cash [fail]
James Posey signed for 4yrs Huge FAIL YES 32 yrs old when signed, rewarded for a championship presence on Celtics? 4 yrs?!
Chris Paul resigned for 3yrs - - -
Antonio Daniels acquired for Mike James WASH YES Swap of unproductive veterans
Darren Collison drafted at #21 WIN NO Good & cheap backup
rights to Marcus Thornton acquired for 2 future 2nd rounders WIN NO Good & cheap backup
Emeka Okafor acquired for Tyson Chandler WASH YES Similiar talent, worse contract vs worse injury history
Darius Songaila, Bobby Brown acquired for Antonio Daniels, 2014 second round pick WASH YES Swap of unproductive veterans
#11 traded to dump salary Huge FAIL YES Literally gave away asset to erase old mistake
Marco Belinelli acquired for Julian Wright WASH YES Swap of unproductive youngsters
Trevor Ariza acquired for Darren Collison, James Posey FAIL YES Gave away asset to erase old mistake, Ariza useful but overpaid
Willie Green, Jason Smith acquired for Craig Brackins, Darius Songaila WASH YES Swap of unproductive veterans
Jerryd Bayless acquired for #19 in 2011 WIN MAYBE Promising known youngster for unknown youngster
David Andersen, Marcus Banks, Jarrett Jack acquired for Jerryd Bayless, Peja Stojakovic FAIL YES Older & more expensive backup PG with junk to erase old mistake
Carl Landry acquired for Marcus Thornton WASH YES Swap of productive youngsters who got paid next offseason
Chris Paul traded to Clippers - - -

By my count their batting average for significant roster decisions was at a whooping 0.192!
IMHO their love for old and overpriced spot-up shooters killed their chances to resign Paul.

Finally, a very good candidate for a future move…

Move, Decision, Trade Verdict Predictable? Notes
Dwight Howard drafted at #1 - - -
rights to Jameer Nelson acquired for future late 1st rounder Huge WIN MAYBE avg starter at #20
Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Kelvin Cato acquired for Tracy McGrady, Tyronn Lue, Reece Gaines, Juwan Howard Huge FAIL YES TMac the best player – demanded a trade? – swapped for 2 avg-ish & expensive
Tony Battie acquired for Drew Gooden, Steven Hunter, rights to Anderson Varejao Huge FAIL YES Two good youngsters for “proven veteran”
Hedo Turkoglu signed for 6yrs WIN MAYBE Productivity at or above his salary
Doug Christie acquired for Cuttino Mobley WASH YES Swap of unproductive role-players
Fran Vazquez drafted at #11 Huge FAIL MAYBE Still in Spain
rights to Marcin Gortat acquired for cash considerations Huge WIN NO In hindsight amazing steal
Keyon Dooling signed for 3yrs FAIL YES Cheap but unproductive
Darko Milicic, Carlos Arroyo acquired for Kelvin Cato, #15 pick in 2007 FAIL YES Wash in talent, surprisingly pick became top asset involved
Trevor Ariza, Penny Hardaway acquired for Steve Francis Huge WIN MAYBE Salary dump which netted them solid youngster
J.J. Redick drafted at #11 WASH MAYBE Solid & cheap rotation player
Rashard Lewis acquired for 2nd rounder & signed for 6yrs Huge FAIL YES Never at level of his salary before and after, way too long contract
Dwight Howard resigned for 5yrs - - -
Jameer Nelson resigned for 5yrs FAIL YES average player with limitations od D on rookie deal is a win, for 8-9M$/y it’s a fail
Brian Cook, Maurice Evans acquired for Trevor Ariza Huge FAIL YES Cook, Evans were better fit because of shooting but Ariza far better player
Courtney Lee drafted at #22 WIN MAYBE Solid & cheap rotation player
Mickael Pietrus signed for 4yrs FAIL YES Roller-coaster in previous team and with Magic
Rafer Alston acquired for Brian Cook, Adonal Foyle, 2009 late first round pick WASH YES Win in terms of short-tem talent, loss in payroll and future assets
Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson acquired for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Courtney Lee WIN YES Vince dissapointed but still better than players traded, Ryan more than a throw-in
Brandon Bass signed for 4yrs WASH YES Avg Player for avg salary, contract probably too long
Marcin Gortat resigned for 5yrs WIN YES There were right to match his offer
Chris Duhon signed for 4yrs FAIL NO Solid history but productivity crashed after he joined Magic, 4yrs for a backup?
Quentin Richardson signed for 4yrs WASH MAYBE Solid history and cheap but contract simply too long
J.J. Redick resigned for 3yrs FAIL YES average player with limitations od D on rookie deal is a win, for 7-8M$/y + tax it’s a fail
Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu acquired for Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat Huge FAIL YES Spectacular fail on many levels
Dwight Howard requested a trade - - -

By my count batting average around 0.291. BTW, without any hesitation I could have added Glen Davis’ contract as a Huge FAIL though this time in my opinion terrible trades will be to blame…

To sum up this topic, here’s a cheat sheet
“what GM shouldn’t do to loose his franchise player”:

1) Never, ever, under any circumstances offer a contract with 4 or more years in it to an average-ish role-player – if he is also old just threw that money out of the window so at least your salary cap will be in a better shape,

2) Don’t draft players without any upside who weren’t good in college – if they are also old, just trade this pick for a future pick or a cash,

3) Don’t make moves to keep franchise player, do them only to improve team!

3a) Don’t make trades just to make trades, they doesn’t help but often they just waste space in your payroll,

4) For the love of the fans or your job, please at least check a couple advanced stats for veteran players before making an offer – seriously, only few seconds on wagesofwins.com, basketball-reference.com or many others will help you avoiding many, many mistakes.

Simple, right? And to answer the most fundamental question…

TOP NBA STARS LEAVE BECAUSE OF AN INCOMPETENT MANAGEMENT!

To bring this point home I wrote about Franchise Players who Stayed with their original NBA Team.

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6 Comments

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Unanswered Questions

 

Tags: , , , ,

6 responses to “Review Why Top NBA Stars Left Their Teams

  1. wiLQ

    December 23, 2011 at 15:30

    It’s quiet here but on forum http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3454117&pagenumber=54 a couple of users made some points I’d like to comment on:

    Rick wrote “Yeah, the Cavs batted .30 since he was drafted, but they only failed 30% of the time after resigning him”.
    That’s true but a) their payroll was in terrible shape going forward from various past mistakes and b) team was really old so overall it wasn’t a very desirable team for a young superstar.

    vegaji wrote “The writer didn’t include Nuggets/Jazz breakdowns, because they had fairly solid moves/drafting.”
    No, all aforementioned franchise players specifically requested a trade or signed as free agents.
    Deron was traded not because of his wish but because of Jazz’s decision to move on from him [he also had a fight with coach which probably didn’t help].
    Carmelo did request a trade but a) he is NOT a franchise player [for proof check Nuggets last season or in this one], b) he clearly cared about other things than winning [seriously, he left better team!] so in his case I think there’s no mystery why he wanted to leave. He just wanted to play with his buddy in NY, case closed.

    Power of Pecota wrote: “Regarding the Bosh timeline:
    * I think the verdict on the TJ Ford extension is a little harsh given how much his injuries flared up afterwards and Calderon not looking like a real starting option yet, same with the Ford/Villanueva swap.
    * Garbajosa only had one good year because of a freak injury and him ignoring team doctor orders about recovering from said injury, writing it off as one solid year and gone is oversimplifying a little bit.
    * The trade for Marion is way worse than portrayed. O’Neal’s contract was larger and expired a year before Marion’s, and Moon was an effective rotation guy. It was basically a trading chip and a rotation player for a worse trading chip.
    * I can’t believe Amir Johnson’s contract is considered a win, especially now that he’s blocking Ed Davis”
    Re Garbajosa, TJ Ford – so injuries shouldn’t count?
    Also they quickly moved on from them, doesn’t it tell us something?
    Re Marion – there was also Marcus Banks involved!
    Re Amir – IMHO Davis and Amir should take minutes from Andrea but Raptors would have to admit he was a mistake.

    DeimosRising wrote: “Holy poo poo is this dude a bad writer though. There are some syntactical hints he’s not a native english speaker, which makes it more forgivable, but a lot of that site is really painful to read.”
    English is my second language but could you be more specific about those mistakes?

     
  2. Goran's #1 Fan

    December 27, 2011 at 18:39

    Thanks for the article, it’s informative and thorough.

    You’ve done a good job breaking down teams that lost stars, but what about teams that kept them?

    Could you do a breakdown of the Thunder since they drafted Durant? That seems to be a test case for how to build a team so that the superstar re-signs.

    Thanks!

     

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