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Offseason Q&A: Tim Kawakami (San Jose Mercury) Part 4 of 4

We saved the best part for last. In this segment we cover the probable extensions for young Warriors Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, their flaws, and Tim's picks for the 2k8 playoffs.

Use your hops!




Golden State of Mind: In your recent handy breakdown of the probable extensions for Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins  you broke down some of the things to expect this offseason in their contract negotiations. Before that in your Warriors next season: A last stand or a whole new beginning? piece you alluded to both young players being "very talented, but obviously flawed..." What are these flaws and do you think they'll ever be able to overcome any of them?

Tim Kawakami (4/23/08): Yep, I figured people would notice that wording on Biedrins and Ellis' future. FLAWS. That word does draw attention. I'm not trying to be mean. But there are obvious things about both players--both very good players, by the way--that affect the way the Warriors can play. I think it's important for management and coaches and fans to recognize it.

-ELLIS: On the plus side, obviously, he can score, just a tremendous finisher. But the flaws: He's small and he plays tiny on defense, yet he's not a point guard and probably always will need help handling the ball in any situation.


So that means the Warriors have to put enormous pressure on their other perimeter defenders--Monta can never guard a tough 1 or any kind of good 2 or else the Warriors are getting torched. That means the Warriors point guard alongside Monta must be able to handle a lot of things defensively. When Baron wasn't able to or didn't want to, the Warriors just got killed by perimeter players this year.


The way Don describes it: Monta is going to need help on defense his whole career, the same way Steve Nash has needed help. That's a big give-up, by the way. Nash is an amazing player on offense (he's a point guard, so there's an advantage he has on Monta--Nash can get defensive help from a 2, which Monta can't get because he is the 2), so Nash more than makes up for it. Will Monta be that good that long? We'll see. And he'll always need a bigger guard beside him, who can initiate offense. That's a tricky puzzle, because you start thinking, well, who is that big guard who can defend and initiate? Not many. That's a limiting thing. 


-BIEDRINS: On the plus side, he's a non-stop worker with great hands and a tremendous sense of spacing and weakside defense. I wanted this guy out the floor when he was a teenager (and when Montgomery wouldn't play him) and all he has done is get better every year. But the flaws: Not a pure shotblocker, gets pushed around by strong offensive players and does not and will not ever hit the medium-range jumper.


So when Biedrins is out there, he's one big man--and if you're playing fast, you can't have another non-shooting big man out there with him. Just can't do it. Yet Biedrins also needs help against strong players (Nellie didn't even really try to put him on Boozer in the playoffs last year). That's a big match-up problem. Like with Ellis, it's limiting: How many really mobile tough big men who can shoot are out there? I've got KG on the list, Boozer... not that many others.


I like Biedrins' game a lot. But having him out there does limit what you can do with everybody else because it's tough to put multiple non-shooters on the floor at any one time, and yet you still need to help him with the rumblers. That's a very thin niche for such a talented guy, yet there it is.

Golden State of Mind: You also wondered in that post:
Are they centerpieces or are they add-ons? Centerpieces get 5 years, $55M, and add-ons get 3 years, $25M.

What's your take on that question?


Tim Kawakami (4/23/08): Excellent question. Tough question. Glad I asked it and tried to avoid answering it, until now. I definitely don't think either Ellis or Biedrins will accept anything close to 3 years, $25M. But I don't know if I'd give both the big, big money.


If I had to do it, and I was guessing along with Mullin at the same time, I'd say the market for Monta is around 6 and $55M to $60M--because he can finish and he might be a 27-point per game guy in a year or two, at a very high FG%. That's special stuff. That translates to any system. But he's not a max guy. He's just not.


And I'd say Biedrins would be less, probably 6 and $48M to $52M, because of the non-shooting thing and the non-rumbler thing. Kaman got large money, but he's a post scorer, even if he's a clumsy one. Dalembert got huge money, but he's a low-post defender. Biedrins isn't quite either thing. He's high %, no question. But there are guys who can do what he does--maybe Brandan Wright, by the way... So I'm not saying Andris is an add-on, but he's not quite a break-the-bank guy, either.

Golden State of Mind: Who are your picks for the NBA's final four this year? How about for the 2008 NBA Finals? 


Tim Kawakami (4/24/08): Lakers vs. Spurs in the West. Boston vs. Detroit in the East. No shocks, but this really doesn't look like a shocking postseason,at least so far. Have you watched any of those Eastern playoffs? Whew. Last year, I was tough on Cleveland--possibly the worst NBA finalist in decades, but I think the Cavs are even worse this Spring, and Detroit looks worse, and all the rest of the East, except Boston, is horrendous.


So obviously I've got Boston coming out of the East. The question: Will the Celtics sweep through the East? Possibly.


And I've got the Lakers coming out of the West. I think the Spurs get worn down in back-to-back long playoff runs and they never win it in consecutive years. I'd be a lot more confident in the Lakers if they had Bynum, but right now you've got to liek Kobe plus Gasol plus Odom plus the rest of the guys who all seem to take turns playing well (hmm, Phil uses his bench! develops them! trust them! what a concept!).


Then I like the Celtics to win it. Didn't think so at mid-season, and I still don't quite trust Rondo at the point. But it just seems like everything is pointing to Garnett getting his title. I don't like Gasol vs. KG and I think Boston can figure out a way to make sure Kobe doesn't kill them--maybe funnel everything to KG and Perkins.


Celtics in 6 over the Lakers.


The entire GSoM Crew can't thank Tim enough for his continued support of this blog. Tim's always up for taking our questions and talking hoops with us. We really appreciate it. Definitely make his blog a regular stop. I can guarantee you that you'll always be entertained and learn something new.


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