Tuesday, March 01, 2005

E-mail Conversation with John Nash

I've been exchanging emails with what appears to be John Nash over the past couple of days and thought I'd let you take a peek.

Do you think Nash really responds to his own emails, or that he delegates it? I've heard from other bloggers that he spends some time every day answering emails from fans, and he's claimed to do that in interviews.

Anyhow, without furter ado ...

My first email to JN:

I've never been so disappointed with the front office of a sports

I grew up in Portland, went to school in Oregon, spent a few years in Portland post-college, and since then have lived in Seattle and now San Francisco. I'm a die-hard Blazer fan, live and die with the team,and have purchased the NBA Season Pass package every season since I left Portland, exclusively for the purpose of watching the Blazers.

This year has been a disaster. You know it as well as the fans do. I'll keep my personal thoughts on Maurice Cheeks' coaching skills tomyself for now, but the way that most of us got through the season to this point was to tell ourselves "management is showcasing veterans toupgrade their trade value... we'll see something special come thetrade deadline."

Nothing! Nothing at all. Heartbreaking. I understand that one team from the Eastern Confernence may have backed out of a potential deal involving a shooting guard ... was there no backup plan? How could you not have made a single trade? We had coveted assets,expiring contracts and an extremely imbalanced roster.

The message to the fans is clear: you care more about the bottom line than
you do wins and losses.

You've lost our faith. I think you owe us an explanation.

A very sad and disappointed lifelong blazer fan.

Matt XXXXXXXX (name)

Nash's Response:

I don't think the expiring contracts of Damon Stoudamire and Shareef Abdur Rahim were not as coveted as you suggest. What shooting guard was available?? As I explained to the media, the shooting guards that we liked were not traded by their respective teams. The injury and subsequent surgery to Shareef Abdur Rahim may have caused teams to be reluctant to trade for him.
We would hope to be able to trade Nick Van exel's contract for that type of player in the offseason or perhaps we will draft that position but Denver and Houston were also in the market for a shooting guard and could not land one.
In fact none were traded.
Sometimes it is prudent to pass rather than make a foolish trade. We are both disappointed that a good trade didn't happen.

My response back:

Thanks for your response. I appreciate it.

Do you think that the unsureness of the CBA situation affected yourability to deal expiring contracts? Or do most GM's have a very goodidea of what the new agreement will look like?

I do not know what kind of value the contracts of Damon and Shareef had in the open market. I think the reason that most fans are so disappointed is that it's been a long time since the team had such aglaring hole, and your predecessor was very aggressive and creativewhen it came to trading. The sentiment out there -- I say this bothfrom my own personal impression and from the e-mails I'm getting frommy readers -- is that although a Michael Redd or Ray Allen deal maynot have jumped up and been immediately evident, there *must* havebeen some way that the team could have brought in a shooting guard. The assets were there to trade. It's tough to believe that there wasn't something that could have been done -- be it even for a second-tier shooting guard.

It's very tough to watch the team let the expiring contracts walk away(the most likely scenario) and see the team get nothing in return other than save some dollars while the fans reap no benefits of that. Like I said, it's been a long time since the team was this bad, and for the front office to sit back and make no moves sends the wrong message.

Nash's Second Reply:

I do think the uncertainty related to the CBA may have played a part

Whenever people suggest we need this or that, I then try to get folks to be specific. What player do you want and is it realistic to get him? That exercise although tedious is what we do. We then after identifying a player, try to figure out how best we can match his salary and talent with our proposal to the other team. When those two hurdles are cleared we make an offer.

In the case of shooting guards that we liked, we couldn't clear the first two hurdles because of contracts on some but got creative in adding other contracts to the mix in order to acquire the player we wanted. To no avail ....we were unsuccessful.

The three players most coveted by the authors of the emails that I received were Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Michael Redd in no special order. The bottom line is that those three players were not traded because their teams wanted to keep them. Is that hard to accept? For some it seems so....Earlier in the season, Vince Carter was available and we made what I believed to be a better offer than what Toronto accepted from NJ.That was Toronto's prerogative. There were other teams pursuing Carter as well. Memphis offered two rotation players. Like ourselves they were not successful.

The reality is that after you eliminate Carter, Pierce, Red and Allen from the pool of available players, who did the fans want?? Certainly there are real quality shooting guards throughout the league but what does the team trading the shooting guard do to replace him???The other top shooting guards stayed home too because their teams couldn't replace them. Even a team like Seattle, with Ronald Murray in the wings, is keeping him as an insurance policy against injury to Ray Allen.

It may be hard for the fans to accept but reality is what it is.

***** *****

The rest of the conversation:

My third email to JN:

Thanks again for the response(s). I have to ask, is this really JohnNash, or do you delegate this to other people in your office?

I understand your wanting us to be specific. Are you asking me,specifically, what trades I would have proposed if I were GM? I had assumed that you would grow tired of fans suggesting un-researched trades (one of my personal pet peeves of local talk radio). The way I look at our roster, any quality shooting guard would have been an upgrade. Once you look past the Allen's, Redd's, and Vince's of the league, I believe there are plenty of shooting guards out there that the fans would have been excited to see join the Blazers.

Wally Szcerbiak, Mikael Pietrus, Michael Finley, Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford, Doug Christie, Joe Johnso, Kyle Korver, Gordon Giricek, Mike Miller.

Any of these would be an upgrade for Portland. There are a few guys on that list who would appear to be very available, largely because their GM's are known for making many deals (Crawford, Finley) or because their teams may not
necessarily be interested in keeping them long-term (Maggette, Johnson, Christie, Pietrus). I don't think it's unrealistic to think that a few of these guys could have been had in the right deal.

I'm certainly not trying to do your job, but part two of your questionis "is it feasible to acquire this player". Examples of deals that would be feasible, that haven't been as publicized mainstream:

1. Ruben Patterson and Travis Outlaw for Corey Maggette. LA gets out of Maggette's contract, gets a replacement swingman and avery nice young PF prospect. Portland gets their SG of the future. If the Clippers want more, add a second-round draft pick.

2. Jamal Crawford, Tim Thomas and Kurt Thomas for Damon Stoudamire and Theo
Ratliff. New York gets the legitimate center that Isaiah can't seem to ever find, rids itself of Tim Thomas. Portland gains a very talented shooting guard and more frontcourt help. The caveat here is that you've got to sign Pryzbilla to an extension.

Again, I'm not trying to be a blowhard fan and do your job for you –these are just examples of shells of deals, things that work under the cap that can be explored, the type of creative thinking that fans are expecting. It doesn't matter what other teams did or didn't do, as our general manager, we fans expect that you'll find a way to help the team.

Nash's response:

This is John Nash and I will have difficulty answering you regularly. I don't like every guard on your list in some cases because of ability and in others because of age or contract remaining but it is safe to say that we pursued a number of them unsuccessfully. Korver and Pietrus are really small forwards while Christie is more of a defender rather than a shooter.
Nevertheless a few of them were attractive to us but equally attractive to their
current teams.

My fourth email to JN:

Yes, Korver and Pietrus are really small forwards. But look at our starting lineup. Stoudamire starts out of position at the SG, or VanExel does, considering how you look at it. Ruben Patterson starts out of position at the SG. Theo Ratliff starts out of position at PF. Shareef Abdur Rahim plays a bulk of his minutes out of position at SF.

I understand that you can't be carrying on consistent conversationswith fans and I appreciate your response. The point of my email was not to say "these are some players you should have tried to get andhere are trades you should have offered" -- that's your job and you certainly don't need my help.

The point more is that regardless of particular flaws, anyone on that list would still be a significant upgrade than anything that the Blazers have had for the past season and a half. And to see the front office do nothing to address a glaring hole is difficult for fans to take. The expiring contracts especially, because the team doesn't have to spend as much but teh fans reap no reward. Surely you understand this frustration.

Do you think that you'll be able to acquire a starting shooting guard for Nick Van Exel's contract? How does his contract work, does the fact that there is an option have the same value as a one-year deal in terms of what you can acquire in return? Or does he have to activate that option in order for it to have trade value?

JN's Fourth (and final) response:

Matt, You have me confused as you have Damon Stoudamire and Ruben Patterson.
Starting at SG. Trust me that Patterson has played SF as a starter, the same position that he has played throughout his career. Damon, Derek Anderson, Nick Van Exel and Richie Frahm have played shooting guard. I am afraid this will have to be my final email on the subject as much as I would like to answer all emails, I just can't.

Finally, I would hope to draft, trade for or sign a free agent shooting guard in the off season. Perhaps Nick's contract will be involved.

***** *****

Very interesting. Obviously he got a little caught up on my email regarding who starts where -- I was referring to a lineup of Stoudamire, Patterson, Miles, Zbo, and Pryzbilla, where Ruben appears to be the starting SG. But nonetheless there are some interesting points to be gleamed from what he said, including:

  1. It definitely appears to be John Nash. Call me naive, but I believe it's him.
  2. It appears that the expiring contracts of Damon and Shareef were not very valuable. He doesn't mention Nick Van Exel's, though, which makes me think that of all three expiring deals, his had the most value. Becacuse of the option for next year perhaps? I'm guessing, and Nash partially confirms this, that teams were scared off because of Shareef's injury. Although he could be using that as an excuse.
  3. Nash comes off as a little bit defensive ... it's clear he's been getting his fair share of emails from fans such as myself, and it also appears he's had enough of it -- shown by his challenge of me to ask which shooting guards were available. Am I the only one who takes this as a little bit whiney? John, it's your job to figure that out, not ours.
  4. He justifies the team not acquiring a shooting guard by citing that Allen, Redd, and Pierce were not traded by their teams. He doesn't, however, address the subsequent list of 10 players provided that would also be a major upgrade.
  5. What does it matter what Houston and Denver did? Houston's got one of teh best swingmen in the game in Tmac, and what the other clubs did was irrelevant.
  6. He also directly acknowledges Ronald Murray in Seattle, citing that they kept him as an insurance policy to Ray Allen. They must have inquired about Murray, which is interesting. What do you think their offer was?
  7. This statement is very interesting: "...I would hope to draft, trade for or sign a free agent shooting guard in the off season. Perhaps Nick's contract will be involved." I guess it's clear what they view as their main bargaining chip this offseason.

Personally, I still feel that Nash completely dropped the ball in not getting something done for us. Nowhere in his emails did he provide adequate justification for not helping out the team. Will they really be able to find a starting, NBA caliber, 35-minute per night shooting guard in the draft or as trade for NVE's contract? I doubt it.


WWB said...

Cool. Very cool. My bet is that it's him. If it was an assistant, I would think they'd be careful not to use double-question marks or casually forget to capitalize "Exel." And he does seem to take it slightly personally.

-- Bill,
Oregon Sports Fan

Dr Michael Mansini said...

Somehow I doubt that they will be able to use the "chip" that is Van Exel's contract. His main bargaining chip for the past 12 months just expired last week (Shareef).

Xericx said...

Very nice. Congrats! I give Props to Nash for actually taking the time to answer his email.