Thursday, June 28, 2007

Belkinkampf: the Quagmire that Keeps on Giving

I should have known that the idea of Amare Stoudemire coming to the Hawks was too good to be true. What possible use would the Hawks have for Stoudemire, a player coming off a season in which he averaged 20/10 and shot 57.5% from the field. A player who is just now entering his prime. A player who absolutely pwned Tim Duncan in the 2005 playoffs. A player who meets a major need for the Hawks (and just about every other NBA team): a quality interior scorer. A player who would immediately make the Hawks a playoff team in the East and possibly the favorite in the Southeast Division.

Why isn't Amare coming? Because cheap-ass Steve Belkin doesn't want to spend the money on a legitimate NBA star. It boggles the mind that Belkin would buy into an NBA team and then refuse to spend the money that it takes to put a good product on the court. Did he really think that he would never be called upon to pay for a max-contract player? He can't possibly think that Stoudemire isn't worth the money, can he? Abd how is he not realizing that the Hawks have a "show us wins" fan base and thus, putting a good product on the court is more important for Atlanta than it is for teams that will draw well regardless of how good they are? Stoudemire would mean so much for the team, so naturally, Belkin doesn't want to pay for him.

Here's the real stupidity of Belkin's purported opposition: the genesis of his fall-out with the remaining owners of Atlanta Spirit was his claim that Knight was going to overpay for Joe Johnson by giving up Boris Diaw and a #1 pick. If the Hawks make the Stoudemire deal, then the final bill for Johnson will end up being Diaw (who, regardless of his success in Phoenix, was useless for the Hawks) and roughly the #18 pick in the 2008 Draft (assuming that the Hawks are about a #6 seed in the East next year). By torpedoing the Stoudemire deal, Belkin makes his criticism of the Johnson deal a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm normally reticent to believe every rumor that gets printed, but Ian Thomsen at SI is saying the same thing, albeit without naming the owner who is ruining everything. If I only had the Thomsen article and not the Ford article, I still would have assumed that Belkin was the problem because he opposed the Joe Johnson acquisition because he didn't want to pay Johnson's salary (or at least that was what his co-owners said). Naturally, the AJC, consistent with their apparent policy of never printing any rumors for fear of angering the local sports collectives, have nothing on the squabbling, although Sekou Smith does have a good summary of the trade rumors floating around. Mark Bradley also has a good piece on the confidence that he feels in Billy Knight this morning. He closes with this thought:

And if the night ends with Amare Stoudemire coming here, we’ll be calling Billy Knight a magician.

If Billy Knight's rebuilding process ends with a starting lineup that includes Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Amare Stoudemire, then a whole lot of people are going to owe him a major apology. (Add in the rumored Childress for Jose Calderon trade and you have a dynamite starting five, although depth would be a question. I like that proposed trade a lot more than the #11 for Luke Ridnour offer because Ridnour is a dreadful defender and would merely perpetuate the Hawks' inability to keep opposing guards out of the lane.) There will certainly have been a little luck involved, namely keeping the Hawks' first round pick this year, but Knight will have achieved exactly what he was supposed to do when he blew the team up after the 2003-4 season. But coming back to the first two paragraphs of this post, Knight is going to have to get past a pile of internal squabbling to get to that point.

(And I'm not even going to mention the possibility of Michael Gearon pushing Knight to take Yi because of interests in the Chinese market. That would be a classic "Real Madrid taking Beckham over Ronaldinho because Becks would sell more shirts in Thailand" move. Yi is an enormous unknown; taking him with the #3 pick when Horford and Conley are both sitting out there having proven themselves in college basketball would be insane.)


Grandy said...

Devil's Advocate for a moment, but Stoudamire has missed considerably time due to injury. Isn't there a reasonable opposition to that move for that reason?

Not, mind you, that I am defending Belkin. He's an assbag. And an idiot. Also a slut. The Joe Johnson trade is already a win, even if we fail to properly capitalize on it.

I really loathe Belkin. I don't know if he's concerned about Amare's health. I'd still loathe him if he was.

LD said...

Everytime Steve Belkin's name comes up, I think one thing:

David Stern helped kill one of his best markets for his product by foisting his douchebag friend/business partner on us.

And now he does nothing to intervene and fix it.

Drafting Yi to sell more jerseys makes me sick. I don't think the Chinese are gullible enough to buy jerseys for a team that's 18-64.


Anonymous said...

That's truly depressing news.

The only thing that makes me feel better is knowing that Bill Simmons is not our GM. His stupidity on the ESPN interactive draft with Chad Ford is unbearable.

Ryno said...

Oh please. You can't possibly think that Billy Knight had/has the foresight to plan accordingly 3 years prior and ever so delicately move the pieces into place for Stoudamire. What it would likely be would be the largest example of dumb luck since Dwayne Wade fell to Miami a couple years back.

Regardless, this is a year that will truly determine if Coach Woodson can handle being a #1 decision maker.

Grandy said...

Who is arguing that Knight had the forsight to maneuver for Stoudamire 3 years ago? The argument would be absurd, but nobody is advancing it.

What's clear is that the landscape has shifted, and a Stoudamire deal is *now* possible. It just so happens that if one views this and the Johnson deal in tandem, it looks like a great price to pay.

As I said in the other post - I think the Johnson deal has already worked for the Hawks.

Michael said...

No, Knight didn't specifically acquire pieces to get Stoudemire, but he did acquire pieces (such as the #11 pick from Indiana for Al Harrington) that make this deal possible. He's also assembled a great supporting cast such that Stoudemire: (a) wouldn't piss and moan about being traded here; and (b) can get this team to the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Amare dream is all but squashed at this point.

Most likely, Horford/Yi and Law.

Although I have to think Billy would love to move 11 pick for one of Ellis/Calderon/Ridnour because this team can't afford to have a rookie PG learn on the job.

Jerry Hinnen said...

Another reason to possibly take Conley: with Portland now set on Oden, they'll need to jettison either Aldridge or Randolph. Think the #11 and one of the Hawks' 3's (which the Blazers could use) could get Atlanta Randolph? A starting 5 of Conley, JJ, Childress/Williams, Smith, and Randolph ... assuming Randolph kept his head, that could win the East in two years.

Of course, this would require BOTH some creativity on the part of Knight and the rubber stamp from the whole of the Spirit, so it has a %0.00000001 chance of happeneing.

Anonymous said...

So nobody thinks that Joe Johnson is overpaid and that Amare is injury-prone?

Nobody thinks Steve Belkin knows what he is doing???

but Billy Knight does!?

Michael said...

No and no. (Stoudemire has been injured once. Michael Jordan broke his leg and missed most of his second season in the NBA. Was he injury-prone?)

No, save for Peter Vescey.

A qualified yes. Knight has put together a fairly talented, albeit young roster.