In case you haven’t been paying attention, Twitter has pretty much become the ultimate place to find breaking NBA news stories, and it seems like these days it’s hard to post a story about the Cavaliers without crediting something we saw on Twitter. First, we had Brian Windhorst breaking the news about Anthony Parker:
Cavs have come to terms on a contract with guard Anthony Parker, the deal should be completed in the next couple days.
And then today we had Ric Bucher giving us the details of the signing:
Cavs fans, you got your athletic wingman. They’re close to a deal w/Anthony Parker. Two yrs, under $6 mill.
Now that we know the Cavaliers have agreed to terms with Parker and we know a rough framework for how much the deal is worth, we can begin to examine Parker’s fit and his role in Cleveland this season.
First and foremost, this is a really good signing by Danny Ferry. No, Parker is not the kind of stretch power forward the Cavaliers still need, but Anthony Parker can flat out play and he will be able to help this team a lot next season. At 6’6”, Parker is a long SG who has the athleticism and quickness to defend multiple positions. At 34 years old, he is a little bit older than the Cavaliers were looking for and he has indeed lost a step over the last couple years, but he’s still a swingman with a very good outside shot that can help spread the floor for the Cavaliers while not hurting them at all on the defensive side of the ball.
By signing him to just a 2 year deal, Ferry is trying to limit the age affect, and I think it’s a good move. After dominating the EuroLeague for years, Parker came back to the NBA in 2006 and he immediately made a strong impact for the Toronto Raptors, averaging 12.4 ppg and shooting 44.1% from three. Now as he enters the final stages of his career, Parker will look to help the Cavaliers in whatever way is needed. A starter for the Raptors at the 2, it’s probably a safe bet he will come off the bench in Cleveland behind Delonte West. One of the keys to keeping him fresh will be reducing his minutes a bit. In every season in Toronto he played over 32 minutes per game. In Cleveland, he will ideally have the luxury of seeing those minutes cut down with the goal of maintaining his legs all season long. In Toronto’s final 20 games last year, Parker shot 36.54% from three, down from the 39.68% he shot over the first 62 games. Hopefully by not having to be relied on so heavily in Cleveland, Parker will be able to stay fresh and keep knocking down outside shots all season long.
Defensively, Parker should be able to fit right in. As much as Mike Brown liked using Sasha Pavlovic last season due to his length at the 2, Parker not only gives Coach Brown that same length, but he gives superior defensive ability along with a more consistent and less turnover prone offensive attack as well. Whereas teams scored 5.3 more points per 100 possessions with Sasha on the court as opposed to on the bench, teams actually scored 0.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Parker on the court less season. That 0.9 points doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s pretty impressive when you remember how pathetic Toronto was defensively as a team last year. The Raptors were 20th in the NBA in points against and 21st in the NBA in opponents’ FG% last year. In fact, Parker’s –0.9 Net Defensive Points rating was 2nd best on Toronto last year behind only Joey Graham, this despite Parker being 4th on the team in minutes per game. This shows you that despite his age, Parker was still a very good defender last year and he should be a nice asset for Mike Brown’s system in Cleveland this year.
Overall, Parker’s Net On/Off Rating of +3.5 was 2nd to only Chris Bosh on the Raptors last year. To give you a frame of reference on that rating, the 5 guys ahead of him in the NBA last year in that category were Paul Pierce, Beno Udrih, Al Jefferson, Chauncey Billups, and Ronny Turiaf. The 5 guys directly below him were Samuel Dalembert, Kevin Martin, Andray Blatche, Kyle Korver, and Joe Johnson. All of those guys can play, and lest anyone write off Anthony Parker because of his age, they should realize that Parker can still play and contribute as well.
This signing is not a mere consolation prize. Sure, there are question marks. You have to at least consider his age, and you have to consider the fact his 3P% has declined every year since he’s been back in the NBA, and his PER fell from 14.69 in 2007-08 to 12.16 in 2008-09. Worse than that decline in PER, though, is that the decline was actually projected by ESPN’s John Hollinger, who predicted a 12.64 PER for Parker last year. Beyond just the falling numbers, some people will feel this pickup lacks the sexy name appeal that a Charlie Villanueva, Ron Artest, or Trevor Ariza might have. But remember that Ariza’s Net On/Off Rating was –0.3 last year and Villanueva’s was –1.4 last year. Parker shoots better from outside than Ariza and averaged more points per game than Ariza. Even as much as people credit Ariza’s defense, his defensive On/Off rating was –0.6 last year, and that was on a good defensive team. The biggest thing Ariza has going for him over Parker is his size, youth, and potential for further improvement.
Sure, a guy like Ariza might be a slightly more efficient player overall, but is that difference big enough to warrant the cost difference? When you consider the fact that Ariza would have used up all of the Cavaliers’ Mid-Level Exception, it’s also a bonus for the Cavs that they were able to get Parker for just under $3 million per season average, if the reports are true. As Chad Ford reported on ESPN.com today, the Cavaliers now hope to use the remainder of their MLE to sign Channing Frye. A move like this would be huge for the Cavaliers. Not only is Frye a young stretch power forward with a good ability to operate in the pick and pop scheme and who can knock down mid range jumpers. Beyond that, though, it would still leave the Cavaliers with their Bi-Annual Exception to use on someone like Matt Barnes or maybe even a guy like Joe Smith if he would be willing to take that kind of pay cut.
For the Cavaliers, the Parker signing leaves them still with plenty of options and flexibility to maneuver. With both Jawad Williams and Tarence Kinsey carrying fully unguaranteed contracts, the Cavaliers can simply buy out either one at any time if they need the roster spot. They can also use their Bird Rights to re-sign Wally Szczerbiak and then trade him as an expiring contract, as is rumored in the Gerald Wallace scenario (Wally Szczerbiak would have to consent to any trade under this scenario, according to the CBA). The point is, unlike the Anderson Varejao signing, where Ferry left the Cavaliers with few options (as that is a pretty untradeable contract at this point) and little flexibility (if the cap in 2010 is $52 million, Varejao’s contract could potentially take up as much as 15% of it by itself), the Anthony Parker signing actually still leaves the Cavaliers with plenty of options and flexibility moving forward.
In the past couple seasons, Cavs fans have had to suffer through guys getting meaningful minutes who didn’t deserve them. Bringing in a guy like Anthony Parker is a very substantial upgrade for Cleveland, especially for how little the cost to the team. Parker can play meaningful, significant minutes if they need him to, and when he is on the court, he is a guy who can play and contribute and do some of the things the Cavaliers need in order to become a better team. Again, he doesn’t carry the name recognition of a guy like Ron Artest, but Anthony Parker is a very solid basketball player and the Cavaliers made a very nice acquisition in picking him up.