When you’ve been on the job for less than a week, indecisiveness reigns supreme. Just ask Magic GM Rob Hennigan or newly appointed Atlanta Hawks boss Danny Ferry. Both were named General Managers for their respective teams with little time to prepare for the draft and it is showing.
Both teams have players in Josh Smith and Dwight Howard who have been shopped around for almost a year, but neither is ready to pull the trigger. With Houston trying to send two top-10 picks to Orlando and multiple teams showing strong interest in Smith, now is the time to make a deal. In what is considered one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, Atlanta and Orlando could both bring back young talent for their outgoing stars, but neither Hennigan nor Ferry feel comfortable shaking up a roster they’ve had only a few days to mull over.
And honestly, you can’t blame either one of them for being gun shy.
The mistake here lies with the owners and management in both Orlando and Atlanta. When the Magic decided to part ways with GM Otis Smith on May 21 there should have been a contingency plan in place. Instead, Orlando performed their due diligence and considered every option available, taking over a month to find the right guy to run their basketball operations. Unfortunately for Orlando, time was a luxury they did not have.
It is safe to assume that the fates of both Otis Smith and former head coach Stan Van Gundy had long since been sealed. Therefore, Orlando should have been preparing for their departures long ago. They should have been ready to find a replacement for Smith in 2 weeks or less. By hiring Hennigan days before the draft, they have put him in an awful situation. Now may be the best time to deal Howard, but without giving him ample time to assess the lay of the land, Hennigan is not prepared to trade Howard for what may ultimately be the best package offered to him this offseason. Realistically this would take some creativity on the part of Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but if Houston could offer two top-10 picks, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola for Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu, is that not likely better than any package Brooklyn, Dallas, or Los Angeles is going to offer in the foreseeable future?
Likewise, Atlanta knew that the contract for Rick Sund was set to expire June 30, but instead waited until three days (yes, 3 DAYS) before the draft to bring in Ferry. How could anyone expect him to be prepared to flip Josh Smith for draft picks when the ink on Ferry’s new six-year contract has barely even dried?
None of this is to say that Hennigan and Ferry are not prepared for the draft this evening. No, I expect these two to be among the most prepared in the league. They will surely know the available players backwards and forwards; it is just that their lack of familiarity with the rosters they just inherited is limited and, because of this, so are they. Their respective owners have not put them in a position to wheel and deal on a night when they ought to be most flexible. The draft presents the best time in the year to make a trade as team’s try to set themselves up for long-term success with young talent. Bad timing likely will stop these two new GMs from making much noise tonight.
There are currently fifteen players on the US Men’s Basketball roster that are healthy enough to play for the team this summer. Those players are Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin and Tyson Chandler. With injuries to Derrick Rose, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dwight Howard and the decision that Lamar Odom will not be representing the team at this summer’s Olympics, Jerry Colangelo has stated that the team is likely to add one or two players who will compete for the twelve spots on the active roster.
Here are five players that should warrant some consideration:
5. Greg Monroe
This team is clearly lacking size here and need a player with Monroe’s rebounding and low-post scoring ability. Monroe has something that the other big men on this team do not: a low-post scoring game. He can back down his man and score with an array of low-post moves unlike anyone else on the roster. However, Olympics basketball rarely ever favors big men in the post; therefore, Monroe (and player’s like him, such as Zach Randolph) has an asset that may very well be mitigated. USA Basketball may want to add him into the mix in order to give him the experience and prepare him for the future when he may very well be part of the teams’ plans.
4. DeAndre Jordan
Jordan would bring another dimension to this team as a big man who can run the floor in transition. Surely, with Williams, Paul, or Westbrook running the point and the best wing players in the NBA, this team is going to have the ability to get out on the fast break like no other team in the field. Add a center like Jordan into the fold and USA Basketball could field a lineup that would devastate less athletic teams in transition. Just imagine a limeup of Westbrook, Wade, James, Griffin and Jordan running the break. Just downright frightening.
3. Anthony Davis
Kentucky’s big man is sure to be the first pick in this year’s draft, but why not throw more accolades at this 19-year-old? He may very well be the future of the USA Basketball program, so giving him experience now can only help. His ability to rebound, protect the rim, and knock down open shots are all very attractive to a team whose only true center is Chandler. Have you noticed a theme yet? Yup, this roster is short on size and defensive presence in the paint.
2. James Harden
A scoring wing player certainly is not a need for this team, but as one of the best young players in the league, Harden certainly deserves a look. He has drastically improved his 3-point shot, shooting 39% this year, and has a fantastic all-around offensive game. Considering Gordon represents the US’s biggest 3-point threat and his ongoing health issues, Harden would be a sound investment.
1. Josh Smith
Smith has everything the team could possibly want: athleticism to run the floor, defensive presence and ability to alter shots, and a middling offensive game that won’t require a lot of shots. Of course, Smith has a tendency to take unadvised jumpers, but you would hope that in this environment he would defer to others and the betterment of the team. Smith averaged 1.74 blocks a game to go along with 9.6 rebounds, numbers that should draw the attention of Colangelo. Lastly, Smith is versatile enough to play the 5, 4, or, if necessary, the 3, which would be an asset, especially considering the US will likely have to matchup with Spain’s front court of Serge Ibaka and the Gasol brothers.
Note: Andrew Bynum has said he will not participate this summer. Roy Hibbert is not eligible because he played for Jamaica’s national team in the 2010 Centrobasket tournament.