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Point Guard Roulette

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I can't really decide what analogy works best for the Free Agent point guards on the market this summer.  Are we talking about Dominoes?  (Chauncey has to fall first, and then all the others will fall in order.)  Really, it's more like a shell game.  A bunch of mediocre point guards will get moved around, and the only way to win the game is not to play.  I mean, c'mon:  Steve Blake or Jason Hart?  Does it really matter?  After Billups and MAYBE Mo Williams, aren't you just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic?  Or is it Russian Roulette?  Isn't ending up with Smush Parker as your starter a little like a bullet to the temple?

Just look at Chris Sheridan's free agent rankings (the table on the right).  According to Sheridan, Blake is the third best free agent point guard (and ninth best free agent overall, yikes!)  But does half a season of starting in Denver really prove anything?  And let's face facts, 8 points on 43% shooting and 6.6 assists in 33 minutes a game for half a season is not exactly lighting it up.  Compare that to Jason Hart's 04-05 numbers when he was a starter in Charlotte (9.5 points, 45% shooting, 5 assists in 25 minutes per).  Compare it to Dan friggin' Dickau in New Orleans in 04-05 (13 points and 5 assists).  Dickau is not a free agent, by the way, but a great example of a point guard who put up some numbers the one and only time he got a chance to play.  Also, don't be surprised if he is waived by the Knicks - once the Portland trade goes through, New York will be carrying 15 guaranteed contracts, and that's not including first round pick Wilson Chandler.  With a crowded backcourt, Dickau could well be the odd man out, unless Isiah figures out a way to dump Malik Rose and his $15M.  

My point is, it's bleak out there.  The Lakers are supposedly very interested in Blake, but is he a significant upgrade over Smush?  (OK bad example.)  The simple fact is, point guard by committee doesn't actually work.  The Lakers seem to think that Javaris Crittendon's size plus Jordan Farmar's quickness plus Steve Blake's passing plus Sasha Vujacic's (OK, Sasha brings nothing) can add up to one complete point guard.  But of course it just means they'd have four roster spots tied up in guys who aren't NBA starter caliber.  

According to Art Thompson in the OC Register, Hart is getting interest from Indy, Miami, Denver and the Lakers.  (Time for another analogy - musical chairs!  Denver loses Blake to LAL, LAC loses Hart to Denver, Parker lands somewhere, round and round we go.)  

From the Clippers perspective, they're not waiting on a Billups signing but rather on a declaration from the league office making the Zach Randolph trade official.  Until that happens, the Blazers can't release Steve Francis, the Clippers number one target.  Of course the risk is that Hart will become impatient and / or insulted and sign somewhere else in the meantime.  But other than familiarity, I'm not sure that Hart brings anything more to the team than any number of other free agents could.  Francis, while risky, is clearly more talented than any of the point guards on the market after Billups, and yes, I'm including Mo Williams.  Isn't Mo Williams just this year's version of Mike James?

Here is the (crowded) list of free agent point guards after Billups, Williams and Francis.  Tell me one of these guys is significantly better than the rest:  

Brevin Knight, Steve Blake, Earl Boykins, Keith McLeod, Jason Hart, Smush Parker, Chucky Atkins, Gary Payton, Jacque Vaughan, Junior Harrington, Shammond Williams, Jannero Pargo, Mike Wilks.  

There are also a handful of restricted free agents like Travis Diener, Ronnie Price and Dee Brown.