Thursday, January 3, 2008

Damon's Agent: Trade him or release him

From the Commercial Appeal:

Grizzlies veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire will seek a trade or contract buyout, his agent said Thursday.
Stoudamire was removed from the starting lineup in favor of first-round draft pick Mike Conley. Stoudamire was on the inactive list for the Grizzlies' victory Wednesday over Indiana. Aaron Goodwin, an experienced NBA agent with a star-studded client list, called the decision to relegate Stoudamire to an insurance player at the point unacceptable and disrespectful.
“For the Grizzlies to demote Damon because of his age and because of the team’s record is unacceptable,” Goodwin said. “They’re going to have to do right by Damon — move to get him out of there or restructure his contract so he can be bought out. Mr. Heisley is a good, compassionate man. But we’re not going to sit back and watch Damon’s career rot.”

Sorry I was late with the news -- I was returning a movie to Blockbuster that coincidentally enough had a co-starring role for Damon Stoudamire's agent, Aaron Goodwin.

Yeah, that's what I think of Goodwin at this point. I'm not saying that Damon is innocent in what transpired, but if there is one thing that I do know, it is that agents only care about the bottom line. Most of them barely care about their clients and none of them care about the teams their clients are employed by. So why would Goodwin release this strongly worded statement that surely makes it impossible for the Grizzlies to get anything but trash in return for Damon? In my opinion, it is because he wants them to release Stoudamire, thus paying him for the remainder of his contract (that Goodwin has already collected his 10% for), allowing Damon to sign for the veteran's minimum with a contender (Boston, Cleveland, L.A.), which will pay him another fee, in addition to "proving" that he gets what his clients want when they want it. I despise agents for this reason, as if there aren't already enough other reasons to hate them.

There are plenty of potential deals in which to acquiesce to Damon's preference, either him alone or with another player (Stro or Hakim, perhaps?) to get something worthwhile in return. What I actually find amusing is that in all likelihood, this demand has done little to Damon's value in a trade one way or another. He'll still garner an expiring contract or a player that doesn't fit another team's current or future plans (say...Mickael Pietrus?), so all this has done is made public what everyone already knew. Either way, I appreciate what Damon has done for this franchise as a veteran influence and still marvel at the recovery he has made from a career-threatening knee injury. I'll miss his big shot capability and his refusal to accept the losing culture that had crept back into this franchise. That's all though. I don't echo Heisley's sentiments in "hoping he can win a championship", because the only team I want winning a title is my own. The rest of the NBA can sit on it and rotate for all I care. That goes for "The Boston Three Party", too. Nobody "deserves" a championship. You have to earn one as far as I'm concerned. So in closing, take care Damon and get the hell outta here. Take your scum-sucking agent with you.

Zack's Viewpoint

Updates included below...

Micheal Conley started last night and looked great, while Damon was inactive. Today Damon's agent has went public with a trade and/or buyout demand. Coincidentally, the Griz are in Boston tonight, who happen to need a PG. Linkage:

Grizzlies veteran point guard Damon Stoudamire will seek a trade or contract buyout, his agent said Thursday.

Stoudamire was removed from the starting lineup in favor of first-round draft pick Mike Conley. Stoudamire was on the inactive list for the Grizzlies' victory Wednesday over Indiana. Aaron Goodwin, an experienced NBA agent with a star-studded client list, called the decision to relegate Stoudamire to an insurance player at the point unacceptable and disrespectful.

Unacceptable and disrespectful? Wow! Also in the article, owner Micheal Heisley has some interesting quotes. It might also be a good time to remind readers how Damon was quoted yesterday in the Commercial Appeal:

"It was to be expected," Stoudamire said. "They have to see what Mike can do. He's a very capable player. I'm happy to see him get a chance. It's something everybody's looking forward to -- you know, to see how he plays.

And here comes the odd part. Awesome Memphis radio host, Chris Vernon, reports on his radio show that he called GM Chris Wallace this afternoon after hearing the news. Chris Wallace said the Verno phone call was the first time he has heard about it and has yet to talk to Aaron Goodwin or Damon about it.

Personally, I think we should have done something with Damon in July or August, but I digress.

More details to come later.

Chipc3's Perspective:
I think Damon is probably embarrassed about his agent going public. However he hired the man to represent him and he deserves any backlash caused by that decision. He can't take back what has been done but the idea that his agent would go public with this just shows how self-centered agents are. It's sad to see what could have been a great hire by the Grizz denegrate to this level.

Having said that there is absolutely no way the Grizzlies should buy out his contract. Conley or Lowry could get injured and we would need Damon if that happened. If a trade can be arranged that gave the Grizzlies a 3rd string PG with an expiring contract then the team would be foolish not to pursue it but to buy him out means his salary is still charged against the cap this season and next season. Memphis needs that cap space to re-sign Navarro or pursue other FA's. By buying him out it may save money for Heisley but needlessly hamstrings Wallace and Iavaroni from building the team that they want on the court.

Sorry Damon but the team should not buy out your contract and you should be the adult your age implies you are and do what is best for the team not yourself.

Friday Morning Update (by Zack):

Some more info has been added to the Commercial Appeal article. Heisley says that he has no intention of a buyout:

"It's not my preference," Heisley said. "I'm not going to be constantly buying out people's contract so they can go play somewhere else for nothing. I did that with Eddie Jones and I told everybody that's not going to happen again."

I know Chip made the case above against a buyout, but I disagree and think a buyout is probably the best and easiest solution. But let's not dwell on that right now.

The next bit of interesting news regards Damon saying he believes he will not again be in a Grizzlies uniform. He says all the right things and expresses the right attitude if that is the case:

Stoudamire sounded as though he's conditioned his mind to be in Memphis although he's hopeful something can be worked out by the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

"If something happens, it happens," Stoudamire said. "It'll probably be a lot of people thinking (a trade) will happen, but I don't know. I'm here and I have to do my job and be a soldier around here, and try to help in different ways rather than on the floor.

Even though he seems convinced Dec. 30 at San Antonio was his last appearance in a Grizzly uniform, Stoudamire promised that he won't disrupt the team in the locker room or on the bench.

"I've got to keep working as if I'm playing every day," Stoudamire said. "The wrong thing to do right now is not work. You've got to keep working and stay professional through all of this."

This is a case of good cop, bad cop, where Damon is able to say the right things and then let his agent be the Jackass. Either way, this is an interesting story to watch unfold.

Friday Morning Update II (by Zack):

I have a ton of work to accomplish this morning, but I wanted to include this in this discussion as well before I try to force myself to quit talking Grizzlies and get some real work done.

Ron Tillery has graced us with a Memphis Edge post about Damon. Tillery needed to be objective in his earlier 2 articles and not show favoritism to someone that has clearly been one of his favorite Griz players. But the Memphis Edge post allows him to be more subjective and opinionated. He makes the case that this is a business decision, not a basketball decision.

Not every detail will become public in this saga. But here’s one: I’m told that Stoudamire’s contract calls for him to play in 55 games and average 20 minutes this season. If Stoudamire doesn’t, he’ll receive roughly 50 percent of the $4.65 million he’s due for the 2008-09 season.

So don’t think for a second that this is PURELY a basketball decision.

Tillery also implies that Damon has been TOLD that he is now only the emergency PG. This does not sit well with the great Ron Tillery.

If this was simply a basketball decision, then Conley would start and Lowry would be the third (insurance) point guard instead of Stoudamire at this point and time. Lowry, off the bench, has played the most minutes at point but he’s regressed defensively. Lowry makes the same mistakes (see: turnovers) over and over and his decision-making is poor.

Lowry is an excellent energy guy in an Earl Watson mold. But he’s not starter material. Frankly, Iavaroni lost the majority of those seven games by three points or less in large part by staying with Lowry at the end of games.

Stoudamire is a stabilizing force, a leader and a decorated NBA veteran who doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. The Griz can and should go to a youth movement. But Stoudamire has earned the right not to want to watch.


Is it ridiculous for a 13-year veteran who is serviceable after coming back from a serious knee injury to want to play with another year left on his contract?

I can not state how much I disagree with Ron's stance. We should have went with a Conley-Lowry PG combo starting October 31st, not January 2nd. While Lowry has not shown the improvement many (including me) had wanted to see this year, he is still, in my humble opinion, playing as well or better than Damon. And with the potential to get better that will only come by actually playing, the decision to have Lowry be the primary backup instead of Damon is an easy one.

I find the opinion that the Griz have lost so many close games because Lowry played in the 4th instead of Damon to be laughable. I don't think anyone is saying that Lowry is starter material, rather I am saying that he is a better option than Damon now and in the future to play behind Conley. But really, I think anyone that follows the Griz expected Ron to jump to Damon's defense on this one. And he did.


Neon Leon said...

3SOB's post of the month, Sparty! Well put all around.

Anonymous said...

you guys present 3 different views, none of which i disagree with. I think like you said that damons agent was acting alone in his statement, i dont think damon is the type of guy that would say that to a paper. Not that he would not think it, just not say it to a paper. MH and CW just need to remember they dont HAVE to do anything.