Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Before vacation can begin.... some thoughts on Przybilla

Today's news from the Oregonian's (and 1080 The Fan Insider) Jason Quick that Joel Przybilla has agreed to a five year, $32 million contract is suprising, interesting, and hopefully a good thing all rolled into one. It is also a big risk, for BOTH the team and the player. And is Kevin Pritchard really Mark Cuban?

Suprise! He is staying.
Despite what he said in December to Quick, there seemd to be a thought among many that Przybilla would take some bigger guaranteed money and go to a team under the cap who could offer him more money. But when you look at it closely, the only appealing team that could do that was Chicago, and Ben Wallace ended that shot yesterday. So then Przybilla was left to either take the mid-level in Portland, or take that same money elsewhere with a better chance to win or challenge for a title. He chose to stay here which is good for Portland, and probably good for Przybilla since he has enjoyed far and away his two best seasons here where he has averaged 6.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, and 2.2 blocked shots per game in his two seasons. San Antonio was reportedly an option, but if you are a center and you like playing quality minutes, San Antonio probably isn't for you since the centers there seem to be used for the opening tip, and that is about it. Duncan is a power forward since he starts at the four, but for all intents and purposes, he is a five.

The Risk
By agreeing to the long term deal, both the player and the team take a chance. For the team, you are locked into a player for the next five years to the tune of $32 million who has played in 70 or more games just twice in six years. His overall numbers of 4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 19.5 minutes per game are not something you get too excited about. But Przybilla has had significantly better success here in Portland, as stated with the numbers above. But his presence in the locker room, his personality, and the fact he is an adequate center in the league certainly justify the contract in today's NBA. While Blazer fans don't want to admit it, it is similar to Zach Randolph. The Blazers paid him market value for a player in his early 20's who was coming off a 20-10 year. Centers get paid in the NBA, whether the numbers are there or not. But Przybilla was 26th in scoring and 17th in rebounding among players who are considered centers in the NBA (according the the NBA.com statistical data base). Worthy of a long term deal?

For the player, the risk is simple. Przybilla has agreed to a long term deal and the security that goes with it, but in return he gave up a chance to play a full, healthy season, and get an even bigger contract next offseason-with whoever would have had his Bird rights. Imagine if Przybilla was healthy all season and didn't have to share time with a proven player like Theo Ratliff. Assume he averaged 8 or 9 points and 10 rebounds. In today's NBA, that is worth a HUGE deal. With that assumption, he left money on the table. Of course if he had another Greg Ostertag-like 6ppg, 7rpg, 2bs season, he did ok for himself.

In the end, this is a good deal for everyone, despite the risks. Przybilla isn't as good offensively as say Okur, Mihm or Miller, but he is better overall than many of the guys who play the same position. His ability to block and alter shots is also very important. One other thing comes into play: the charade that Lamarcus Aldridge was a center can be laid to rest. According to three different NBA basketball people I have spoken to, LA is a power forward today, and will be in the future. Now he can develop at the four without getting beat up at the five.

Another good day for Portland, and probably Kevin Pritchard. The "mini-mullett" from Kansas still reminds me a lot of the GM version of Mark Cuban-he always seems like he is going a thousand-miles an hour and willing to make a move or a change at the drop of a hat. But like Cuban, he has sold everyone on his "plan" and he probably sold Przybilla. I always thought Cuban was the best owner in the NBA, even though his strengths are his weaknesses. Maybe the same is true for Pritchard. His greatest strength is his enthusiasm and willingness to do ANYTHING, which also seemed to be a weakness on draft night when he did do EVERYTHING including paying Phoenix three million for a pick, trading up to number two when he didn't have to, and taking the contract of Lafrentz back from Boston.

But Pritchard's agressive philosophy sure beats what happened two years ago when Patterson/Nash backed off the Vince Carter deal!

Vacation the rest of the week-so thank you and goodbye!