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A Small Forward and a Backup Point Guard

At his press conference Wednesday, Vinny Del Negro said he doesn't like looking in the rear view mirror, that he looks out the front windshield.  I, on the other hand, love looking in the rear view mirror (especially when I'm changing lanes or backing up, but maybe that's just me).

Almost lost in all the free agency flapdoodle was Thursday's announcement that Travis Outlaw would sign with the New Jersey Nets for 5 years, $35M (a smidge over the new, higher mid level exception).  With Outlaw in New Jersey and Steve Blake across the hall with the Lakers, we can now close the books on the Marcus Camby trade to Portland. 

Camby was of course traded at the deadline to the Blazers in exchange for Outlaw and Blake.  All three had expiring contracts, so it amounted to a straight basketball trade.  Oh, and the Clippers also got some cash in the deal.

At the time, I insisted that the Clippers didn't get nearly enough value in return for Camby.  The Clippers front office for their part talked about having the supposedly valuable Bird Rights to Outlaw and Blake.  But since they didn't even end up doing a sign and trade for either of them, that amounted to nothing as well.

It's not news, it's not surprising, and it's what we always expected would happen.  I just thought I'd point out that it has happened.

While we're on the subject, let's also point out that while the Clippers have been congratulating themselves for not gutting the roster to make room for LeBron (and yes, I congratulated them as well), they DID trade away a small forward and a backup point guard at the trade deadline and they did just end up spending more money (for more years) on Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye than it would have cost them to keep Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair.

So I ask you, which duo would you rather have?

  • Travis Outlaw (5/$35) and Steve Blake (4/$16M);
  • Ryan Gomes (3/$12M) and Randy Foye (2/$8M);
  • Al Thornton (1/$2.8M) and Sebastian Telfair (1/$2.7M).

It's not really a fair question of course.  Blake is probably the best point guard of the three, and is not costing any more (per year) than Foye.  But Blake undoubtedly gave the Lakers the standard 'ring' discount (which, in a market that paid Chris Duhon 4/$15M seems to have been significant), and the Clippers could not have signed him for that, if in fact they could have signed him at all.  Outlaw's deal looks like way too much based on what we saw in LA last season,but he was coming off an injury, and perhaps he'll return to his former Portland self (or perhaps he won't). 

Foye would seem to be a better player than Telfair, or at any rate he was more productive at Minnesota.  Foye's not a true point guard, and played most of his minutes for the T-Wolves at the two, but that's actually a good thing for the Clippers, who actually have a point guard of the present (Baron Davis) and hopefully a point guard of the future (Eric Bledsoe) and also need help backing up Eric Gordon.  As for the Gomes / Thornton comparison, they are very different players.  I think it's safe to say that Thornton is the much better athlete and scorer, while Gomes is the better shooter and hopefully the better all around player.

In the end, Gomes and Foye are reasonably effective alternatives at positions of need, that came relatively cheaply (at last compared to many of the other signings in this market).

But I'm still pissed off about the Camby thing.