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J-Rich to J-Chill : Dunking, Dough... Nuts.

I know…  It’s a corny title but hear me out. Our Shooting Guards are BONAFIDE studs. 

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  • For one, they both have hyphenated nick-names.  You can’t tell me that’s not nuts.
  • Second, both have sick ability above and around the rim – nuts. 
  • And last, to our fanatical-arm-chair-GM-collective-conscience they both have ‘dough’ as in contract issues.  Nuts again.

More nuts after the jump. Pause.

FREE AGENCY.  NUTS.

Tell me you and I aren’t alike:

  • I raised an eyebrow at Frye’s contract – but shrugged and let out a sigh of relief.
  • I cried one or two tears when I heard the Suns were offering Sweet Lou a dirt contract…  but I know he’ll be taken care of somewhere else.  The more I think about it the more it feels like a parent watching their 18 year old load up his truck and drive away to college
  • My feelings were conflicted as I saw Stoudemire’s hour long special on HGTV announcing his move to NY…  but then I was totally over it when I fully realized it was the NY Knicks and Mike D. he was ditching us for.  Good luck.  (maybe I’m confused a bit with this one…)
  • I think I’ve watched every Hakim Warrick highlight video – that boy can dunk, we’ll miss STAT’s violent dunks but I think we’ll like Warrick’s arsenal. 
  • I’ve been watching the Summer League and I’m impressed with Lawal and Reynolds, even Janning is growing on me.  Clark… eh… not so much… yet.
  • I’ve seen the Hedo-party-time video… 20 times!  In fact it’s still playing as I type.

But I hadn’t heard much about Childress – in fact I’ve heard conflicting opinions from the two main sources from which I get my Suns fix, BSotS and Sports 620 KTAR.  Here at BSotS it seems there’s a collective ‘good feeling’ about J-Chill and a more tentative attitude towards Hedo – where Sports 620 kind of suggests the opposite, that Hedo is the great catch and J-Chill is the question mark.

So I decided to dig around and check a few things out for myself. 

FLASHBACK.  (A Video Game Cover!? That's some nutz with a z)

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In High School Josh maintained a GPA of 3.5 and scored a 1110 on the SAT.  With that and his Basketball skills he was recruited by Stanford and he accepted.  From the Suns press release today - 07/14/10:

Originally selected by the Hawks with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, Childress was a three-year performer at Stanford where he became the first Pac-10 Player of the Year in school history in 2003-04. Childress led the school to three NCAA tournament appearances and the 2003-04 Pac-10 title.

J-Chill even made the cover of College Hoops 2K5 - I thought that was noteworthy...

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Then once drafted by the Hawks in 04' - he was a huge player off the bench for the Hawks.  Over four years he averaged around 11 points and 5.6 rebounds on good shooting percentages. During his last year in the NBA in 2008 "he was the top reserve on an upstart Atlanta Hawks team that ended an eight-year playoff drought and pushed the eventual NBA Champion Boston Celtics to seven games in their opening round series." (Also taken from the Suns presser)

THE SUMMER OF 2008 (Atlanta is Nuts)

So what happened?  Well here's my summarized version of what happened to J-Chill. 

In the summer of 08' Josh became a restricted free agent...   but the other Josh on the team (Josh Smith) was also due for some contract work.  From what I've read, the Atlanta Hawks organization isn't regarded as one of the better front offices in the league. And what happened with Josh Childress was only another example of their inability to effectively keep things rolling. A year earlier when Josh was up for a contract extension, the Atlanta Hawks sat on their hands and did nothing.  Didn't even attempt to bring it up.   So free agency hits in 08' and J-Chill begins to receive offers that he deemed fair and reasonable - even lucrative and desirable contracts from championship caliber teams in his eyes, but as a restricted free agent the Hawks kept squashing and turning down every opportunity and contract that J-Chill felt was the best for him. 

The worst part about it is that their offer to Josh wasn't even as good as the offers that were coming in.  They were offering something barely above the mid-level exception, something around 5 years 33M (remember this number). This is when Josh turned to his agent at the time - Lon Babby.  Does that name sound familiar?  It should - he's the dude that's about to take over basketball operations and find us a new GM - and it sounds like he's the guy who has made this sign and trade for Childress and the trade for Hedo possible.

Babby knows the ins and outs of the NBA very well.  He is a very respected basketball agent and even as recently as yesterday I heard the big JC himself give a positive shout-out and words of support to the Suns in their decision to bring him into management. (It was Jerry Colangelo on Sports XTRA 910, not the other JC)

Babby figured out a way for Josh to evade restricted free-agency - it was to play in Europe.   The Hawks could kick deals from other NBA teams since Josh was a restricted free-agent, but they couldn't kick or match any offer from an international team.

Now I'm going to include the words of somebody who has a little more credibility than I do, here is John Hollinger basically saying the same thing in an article back in 2008:

The departure of Josh Childress to Greek squad Olympiacos Piraeus, first reported by Sekou Smith in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is a crushing blow to the franchise on multiple levels. First and foremost, obviously, it deprives the Hawks of one of the best sixth men in the game, a guy who could make a huge impact without needing any plays run for him because of his ability to attack the glass, score in transition and play off the ball...

But the real damage here isn't immediately visible. Nothing could do more to perpetuate the Hawks' standing as one of the league's worst-run organizations than to have a player they desperately wanted to keep bolt for another continent. The stink from that will linger long into the future -- affecting other free agents' decisions to join the Hawks and/or remain with them -- until there comes a time when the organization can prove it has its act together.

That day seems a long way off. Look, good organizations just don't screw up like this. They stay in touch with free agents: They make sure the player knows he's wanted and it's just a question of finding the price, and they lay the groundwork far ahead of time by operating in a first-class manner.

On that level, the fact that Childress didn't think twice about leaving -- and that Josh Smith seemingly would gladly pack his bags too -- speaks volumes about the management. So does the fact that Atlanta is among NBA players' favorite cities to visit, yet nobody wants to play there...

Atlanta essentially overplayed its hand, thinking that Childress, as a restricted free agent, didn't have any other options but to take the Hawks' offer for a bit above the midlevel exception.

 

Needless to say - Josh was not too enthused about the way Atlanta handled his situation - so he indeed left to Greece to play for Olympiacos.   He struck the gold mine with the deal he signed.  He signed a groundbreaking 3 years at 20M dollar contract with the Greek squad and a powerhouse in the Euro League.  But it wasn't just 3 years at 20M,  it was 3 years at 20M AFTER TAXES WITH AN OPT OUT CLAUSE AVAILABLE AFTER EACH OF THE FIRST TWO YEARS which would allow him to return to the NBA if he so desired - plus he was provided a car - plus he was provided a 3 story pimp pad to live in - plus he was provided maid service - plus he was treated like a movie star in Greece - plus he was basically granted a Nike shoe contract given that Olympiacos is a Nike Sponsorship club.  His deal at 3 years and 20M in the Euro League with all its perks is valued as the same as a contract for 3 years at 32.5M dollars in the NBA.  For Josh I can only imagine that it was a dream deal... kind of.   

To understand the rest of my post you'll need to watch the following interview with Josh on OTL back in 08'. 

THE SPIN AND AND THE NUT EUTYCHUS FILTER

The Media spun Childress' contract situation as some kind of move towards the globalization of basketball and I think in some regards Josh and his agents rolled with the spin.  In fact - There is no doubt in my mind that Josh went to Greece because of the cash and perks like he says he did in the OTL interview... but I believe there is more to it.  Maybe not that much more - but still.  I will note that in 08' a lot of NBA free-agents went overseas to play 

I think he wanted to stick it to Atlanta.  He wanted out - and he and his agents found a weak link in his restricted free-agency chain.  Check out this interview only a week after he announced his decision to leave ATL for Olympiacos.

 

"I kind of shifted the power back to the player a little bit"  Says Childress.   He wanted out of the ATL. It wasn't so much about the money and making a lucrative deal even though everyone points out that he was the then highest paid American athlete in Euro Ball.   Plain and simple - J-Chill wanted out of ATL.  Did money factor into the decision at all?  No doubt it did - but ultimately I think it was his desire to leave ATL that drove him out of the league he grew up watching and dreaming about playing in.

So what did he do - he left and he waited.  With a yearly opt-out option with his new club he could test the waters each year - if he could find a deal that would land him on another team and ATL wouldn't match he would have succeeded at making money and avoiding the headaches of the ATL front-office.    Sounds smart to me - avoid a bad working environment and make more money doing it.

To me this makes sense.  Especially since J-Chill signs with the suns right after the Hawks throw down ridiculous wads of cash at the feet of Joe Johnson in an attempt to prove to the basketball world that they are not a bad front office and won't make the same mistakes 17 times in a row...   They weren't going to match anything for Josh Childress after that.

Why Phoenix?  That's the question I ask.

I think he wants to play for a winning team - but more I think he wants to show ATL that he didn't want to play for them.

Why else would he come back to the NBA and sign a deal with Phoenix for 5 years at 33M?!  ESPECIALLY in the ridiculous market we are witnessing now where players like Darko, Amir, and Travis Outlaw are basically being showered with money.  That's the same kind of money the Hawks offered him back in 08'. 

Now maybe I'm just partially correct - maybe it's a combination of a lot of different reasons.  I believe that's probably the case.   Maybe he wants to play with Steve nash - maybe he wants to play with Stanford Alum RoLo - Maybe he wants to play with Euro friend Frosty - maybe he wants to play for Alvin Gentry in Phoenix's up-tempo style - maybe he and his agent knew Lon Babby would be running the show shortly and wanted to work for the same organization - maybe he just wants to get the heck out of Greece and listen to something other than Yanni - I don't know. 

Regardless of his real reasons for choosing the Phoenix Suns over other teams with possibly higher offers - I'm glad he's a member of the Suns.  I'm happy he has chosen to stick with the number 1  - we need a new one.   I'm happy he hasn't cut his hair - I like it.   Most of all, I'm excited for the upcoming season and I have no doubt A.G. will find a way to make things work with the athletic talent we have been able to bring in even without a formal General manager. 

SUNS FOR LIFE.  FANATICOS LOCOS... FOREVER.

Here is the last nut I'll send your way -  a better highlight cut than the one the Suns uploaded.  This is his work over the last two years.  Check it.

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