Drew Gooden Bric-a-Brac
As our readers know by now, Drew Gooden and Joe Smith received buyouts from their respective clubs. Early reports connect Gooden to San Antonio and Smith to Cleveland. The Nets also paid Stromile Swift to go away, but no one cares.
Coach Popovich took his sweet time before putting Pops Mensah-Bonsu into last night’s embarrassing defeat to the Trailblazers.Â The Spurs were never really in the game.
Mensah-Bonsu might have played 20 minutes or fouled out, whichever came first. Why didn’t Pop play him more than 7 minutes? Insert your conspiracy theory here _______________ .
PMB has established himself as a legit roster possible, despite the skinny burn. His numbers from the last two games–really, the only two games he’s played in as a Spur–amount to 19 minutes, 15 points, 9 boards, 1 steal, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 6 fouls,Â and a positive +/- of 17.Â All things considered, he’s looked more good than bad. Gregg Popovich is shrewd. Or cruel.
I’m being coy. I like Mensah-Bonsu. The Spurs should keep him.
But when push comes to shove, they’ll probably let him go. He’s only on a 10-Day contract. Drew Gooden is an established power forward. Popovich likes veterans. Despite watching his team suffer a rout at the hand’s of Portland, Popovich was slow to put Mensah-Bonsu into the game.
That’s my pessimism rearing its ugly head, gold-capped teeth all glittering amongst the gray decay. Just like Old Beale Street’s carcass.
(I’ve digressed into a pop song. Where was I?)
I like Mensah-Bonsu. I hope the Spurs keep him.
Soon after he checked into last night’s game, PMB knocked down a 19 foot pick and pop from above the key. He made those shots in Austin too. Most of his damage comes around the hoop on athletic, energy baskets, but his game is a little more developed.
Late in the forth he snagged a rebound and led a break that resulted in a turnover. He had the handle and speed to make good on the play, but he waited too long to give up the pass. It was a classic “hmmm…interesting…oh dear…” moment.Â All in the space of 3 seconds.
During his short 7 minutes, he guarded multiple positions, and showed the foot speed to be an asset on that front. Overall, his defense is suspect. But it’s not beyond him. He needs coaching. He needs challenging. And he needs more opportunity.
Mensah-Bonsu provides a unique skill set. I’d like to see the Spurs offer him a multi-year deal, but protect themselves with an non-guaranteed contract for next season.
They need a Mensah-Bonsu escape hatch.
George Hill and Malik Hairston are mediocre offensive players. Both of them can get to the rim, but neither is great at finishing. I’ve written about this before.
Whenever the ball rotates into Hairston’s hand, the offensive set becomes a game of hot potato. Hill is ahead of Hairston, but not by a wide margin. He has a lot of work to do, as well. But here’s the thing: they’re not terrible. By this time next season, they might be pretty good.
By pretty good, I mean more reliable than Ime Udoka. And, assuming they put in the work,Â it’s not inconceivable that each player will motor right into must-respect-them-as-a-threat territory. So far as late first round and mid second round picks go, they’re showing the goods.Â Popovich is making the most of what he’s got.
Defensively, Hill and Hairston are already good. In fact, both players could develop into high-quality agitators.
Hairston played 25 minutes last night.Â That means something, I’m just not sure what.
Malik Hairston is a shooting guard.
Drew Gooden? I want the Spurs to sign him, but they’re already at 15.
I want them to retain Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
I want the Spurs to hold onto Malik Hairston.
Numbers. 16 is too many.
Ime Udoka is the picture of inconsistency, and not just game to game. He’s a different player possession to possession. His shot is erratic. His defense ranges from cagey to not-so-cagey to please-get-him-out-of-the-game. Nevertheless, he provides some value against Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Paul Pierce. He is sometimes effective as a small ball 4.Â He knows the system.
Ime Udoka would be an inexpensive buyout. The Spurs owe him a measly 1 million for the season, which, at this point, is mostly paid.
If the Spurs bought out Ime Udoka, it would be a cold piece of business. Udoka would not be playoff eligible.
Business is business, but that’s a lousy thing to do to a guy, especially one who conducts himself as a professional.
Jacque Vaughn makes more money than Udoka, if only by a smidge. But in this economy, the distance between a smidge and a smudge is short.
JV, if waived, would not be playoff eligible, but I’m not sure who would want him. His main value to this year’s squad is as special assistant to George Hill. JV is a coach-in-waiting. And then there is the question of value.
Ginobili and Mason can each run point in emergency situations. Is there a moment in the future when we say, “Man, I wish the Spurs could bring in JV to ice this thing.”Â I don’t see it.
JV and Ian Mahinmi are locks as playoff inactives.
Drew Gooden is not a good defender; Joe Smith is not much better.
Smith is a finesse player. A big softy. You know that.
Drew Gooden is not a soft defender, he’s just not good. Stinks, in fact.
Both players constitute an offensive addition. And on offense, they’d make an impact.
Defense aside, both players would improve the team.
As my friend Bruno points out, Gooden is Luis Scola with a bad beard.
Gooden: 27 years old, 6’10” PF, averages 13.1/8.7 in 29.5 mpg this year.
Scola: 28 years old, 6’9″ PF, averages 12.5/8.4 in 29.4 mpg this year.
Yes, that Luis Scola.
Tim Duncan is playing with right quad tendonosis.
Drew Gooden has a lame groin.
Manu Ginobili is my favorite Argentinean injury waiting to happen.
If the Spurs sign Mensah-Bonsu, they’ll have to make a decision with him and Hairston.Â Should they finish the season in San Antonio or Austin?
Add a wrinkle if they sign Gooden and Mensah-Bonsu. Who makes the active list?
It’s actually a decision to be made sooner than later. For example, if Popovich plans to dress Mensah-Bonsu later, he needs playing time now. Same for Gooden.
Popovich loves veterans. But maybe this year’s inactive list should look something like Hairston, Mahinmi and Oberto. Or Udoka, Mahinmi, Oberto.
Inactive: Hairston, Mensah-Bonsu, Mahinmi.
I’m not crazy.
Is Ime Udoka really that good? Didn’t LeBron James abuse him two games ago?
Fabricio Oberto is a crafty player.Â He moves the ball. He works himself into open space and plays easy to get. “Hey guys, I’m available. Pass me the ball for an easy lay-in.”Â He runs a nice two man game with Manu Ginobili. His heart was made in Argentina.