January 18, 2006

Mildly Intriguing Rumor of the Week

ESPN.com's "Rumor Central" had an interesting note about the Wolves yesterday:

According to two league sources, a deal that would send Mark Blount to Minnesota or Memphis could be completed soon, reports the Boston Globe. One source described a deal as "imminent." The most likely scenario would have the Celtics shipping Blount to Minnesota for Michael Olowokandi.

I'm all for getting rid of Michael Olowokandi as soon as possible, but I'm not sure that this deal really solves much of anything. The Wolves have struggled to put together a talented supporting cast for Kevin Garnett for several reasons, one of which is that they've handed out long-term deals to mediocre players like Trenton Hassell, Troy Hudson, Joe Smith, and Mark Madsen. The team has also wasted a lot of money on Olowokandi, but at least he comes off the books this offseason.

According to ESPN.com, "Blount's contract, which includes a 15% trade kicker, has four years and $28 million remaining after this year." In other words, if the Wolves trade for him they will owe $33 million over four seasons to a guy who is averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 rebounds this year. Here's a little of what my favorite basketball writer, John Hollinger, said about Blount prior to the season:

Blount had a career year just in time for his contract to expire in 2003-04, and unfortunately the Celtics decided to pay for it. ... Blount came crashing back to earth in 2004-05 and now the Celtics are feeling they wasted their money.

The most disturbing aspect of Blount's season was the degree to which his energy level diminished. Blount looked especially sluggish at the defensive end, and his "effort" stats confirm that impression. His Rebound Rate suddenly declined to one of the worst at his position.

Great. Amazingly, Blount's rebounding skills have gotten even worse this season, as he's averaging an anemic 6.1 rebounds per 40 minutes despite being seven feet tall and 250 pounds. He'd be a big improvement over Olowokandi, but so would a lot of guys who aren't scheduled to make $33 million over the next four years.

2005-06     TS%     REB     PER     2004-05     TS%     REB     PER
Blount 55.8 9.2 12.1 Blount 55.9 10.4 12.5
Kandi 46.2 14.2 9.1 Kandi 48.0 15.7 10.3

*TS% is a shooting percentage that accounts for free throws and three-pointers.
*REB is the percentage of missed shots that a player rebounds.
*PER is Hollinger's overall rating of per-minute statistical production.

As you can see, from a purely on-court standpoint swapping Olowokandi for Blount is a home run. While Olowokandi is a much better rebounder, Blount is a significantly more efficient scorer and a much better all-around player. However, from a team-building standpoint, it would be yet another example of the team clogging up the roster with a mediocrity who takes up far too much cap room.

Of course, thanks to Garnett's massive salary and the long-term money being paid to the likes of Wally Szczerbiak, Marko Jaric, Hudson, Hassell, and Madsen, the Wolves weren't going to have much cap room to play around with anyway. That means that upgrading from Olowokandi to Blount is probably worth the ridiculous cost, although it also likely means that it won't matter much in the grand scheme of things.

* * * * * * * * * *

On an unrelated note ...

For me, one of the nicest things about having this blog is that it serves as a sort of timeline of my life. I've been writing here nearly every day since August 1, 2002, and while I generally try not to fill too much space with boring personal stuff there is certainly enough of it in the archives for me to relive some memories. It's like keeping a diary that everyone you know has access to.

I was searching for something interesting to write about last night, and ended up looking back through the archives to see what topic I covered a year ago today. Turns out, on January 18, 2005 I wrote about moving back into my dorm room at the University of Minnesota after spending winter vacation at home. Here's a little excerpt:

I moved back into my dorm room yesterday afternoon. Those of you who are long-time readers of this blog know my move-ins and move-outs tend to go horribly, but this one went remarkably well, with no real problems or incidents. Well, aside from the fact that my internet connection still isn't working. I'm told it is a "network-wide problem," but all I know is that I have yet to move in here, whether at the start of the year or after a vacation, and have both the cable and internet hookups working simultaneously.

Ah, the good old days.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Mapping the Strike Zone (by David Appelman)
- Business of Baseball Report (by Brian Borawski)

Pick of the Day (165-152, +$965):
Pittsburgh -2 (-110) over Rutgers

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