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Blogcat's Take, 7/11

Folks, I’ll tell you what: between Jeremy Lin coming and Bismack Biyombo going, I’m about as happy as a leech getting pried out of Wil Wheaton’s crotch.

Let’s start with the Jeremy Lin signing—and I mean literally the signing itself. When I heard Lin signed to be Charlotte’s backup point guard, I quite rightly assumed that it was for the mid-level exception. And that alone was shocking, because the MLE is in the $4-5M range, and it seemed inconceivable that Lin couldn’t get a better deal than that elsewhere. Only yesterday did I realize that it wasn’t even for the MLE but the totally obscure and even cheaper bi-annual exception! If you’re not the type of person who would ever end a sentence about a contract detail with an exclamation point, let me just say that the bi-annual exception has historically been used to sign players who had a better chance of getting strung out on heroin than contributing meaningfully to the team. Lin’s deal is reportedly $2.15M for two years. This deal is so fantastically cheap that it’s actually unsettling. It’s a The Firm situation. I know we’re long past the days of Linsanity, but this is still a high-quality backup point guard we’re talking about; you’re telling me nobody wanted to give him more than that?! I suppose there’s a chance that Lin just really wanted to play for Charlotte, but—wait a minute, no, I don’t. Hornets fans have the collective self-esteem of Ziggy. I don’t care how spiffy our uniforms are, there’s no way that Lin just really wanted to play for Charlotte. I’m just going to accept that this was the best deal Lin could get, and that there are no skeletons in his closet, because if I start thinking about this too much, I will begin to imagine actual skeletons in his actual closet.

Okay, so what are we getting for—still shaking my head in disbelief—$2.15M a year? GM Rich Cho described Lin as offering a “different dimension” to Charlotte’s offense, that dimension being “competence.” If you consider Lin to essentially be a replacement for the combined efforts of Gary Neal and Mo Williams, last year Lin contributed 2.7 win shares to the Lakers, while Neal (0.1) and Williams (1.4) contributed a total of 1.5 (per Basketball-Reference.com). Lin was a more accurate 3-point shooter than Williams (.369 to .337), and he was more judicious about taking them (3-pointers represented just 26.9% of his attempts compared to Mo’s chuck-a-thon 43.1%). Even better, Lin gets to the cup like he’s late for a urinalysis: 27.8% of his attempts were at the rim, and he finished at a delightful 60.4% clip. Even better-better, he can run a pick and roll. Per stats.NBA.com, Lin ranks in the 72nd percentile in pick and roll possessions, actually not far from Kemba Walker’s 73.9. I didn’t even see Mo Williams on the list…until I saw that for some strange reason NBA.com uses his full name “Maurice” (some people call him “Maurice”?), and it turns out he’s at 43.9. Lin even gets to the free-throw line at nearly twice the rate of Williams: 41% of the time, compared to 23% of the time. Are you not entertained yet!?

Okay, so defensively, Lin is certainly not a young Scottie Pippen, and perhaps he’s not even the current 49-year-old Scottie Pippen. Basketball-Reference.com had him at a -1.4 defensive box plus/minus last year, which basically means he allowed 1.4 points per 100 possessions more than an average player would in similar circumstances. But guess who allowed a full point more than that? One Maurice “Mo” Williams (-2.4). It’s a similar story when you just compare them on an individual basis: Lin gave up a pretty ghastly 19.4 opponent PER, according to 82games.com…but I’ll certainly take that over Williams’ 24.3. Lin’s not very fast and he steals less than the Pope, but with two inches and nearly 6 years on Williams, I’m a believer that Lin can still improve defensively, especially under coach Clifford’s guidance.

So all in all, yes, this Jeremy Lin news was enough for me to take my key and stick it in the ignition. But my lust was amplified even more by the confirmation of Bismack Biyombo’s departure. I have to admit that the joy I felt here had more of a personal vindictive slant to it, as a few months ago Mr. Biyombo had the nerve to block me on Twitter! First let me say that I never tweeted anything remotely mean to Biz; I liked to just playfully mess with the staggering array of inspirational quotes and pithy sayings—often with some sort of religious angle—that he tweeted approximately every ten minutes. An example would be: once he tweeted something to the effect of “Give thanks to God for every minute you’re above ground,” to which I responded, “What if you’ve been cremated?” Seriously, it was shit like that—harmless fun. Is there anything worse than a humorless religious person?? Anyway, I can’t tell for sure what the tipping point was, because once you’ve been blocked, Twitter covers up the blocker’s complete history of tweets in your feed, but I think it was when Biz tweeted this quote, seen in dumb inspirational posters in office cubicles the world over: “Respect is earned. Honesty is appreciated. Trust is gained. Loyalty is returned.” To which I responded, well, I’ll just show you…

I was proud of that one—how could you not be!? Well, I guess Biz wasn’t. Anyway, personal feelings aside, I’m really just glad to not have to deal with him anymore. Just think, next time you probably see him bobble a ball and turn it over to another team, it will be our team! I know everyone keeps saying that the Hornets now don’t have any rim protection whatsoever. And sure enough, per nba.stats.com, opponents challenged Biz at the rim 4.5 times a game last season and scored 49.1% of the time, which is admittedly pretty darned good. For Al Jefferson, those numbers were 7.2 and 54.7%. However, Spencer Hawes’ numbers were at least comparable: 3.7 and 50%; and Cody Zeller’s still around, and he gave up the exact same percentage as Biz on just about as many attempts (4.1). And if we’re stronger in the backcourt with Nic Batum and—technically—Lin, then I still feel like this is all a net-positive. This is to say nothing of the addition-by-subtraction of Biyombo’s offense, which produced the least team efficiency of any of the regulars, save Lance Stephenson (97.5 points per 100 possessions), and was less pleasing to watch than a Google image search of severe rectal bleeding. Biyombo and his precious tweets can enjoy Toronto.

In conclusion, it was a great week. I spent the first part of it talking myself into Aaron Harrison as our backup point guard and ended up with Linsanity at a bargain-basement cost. I’ve been relieved of the moral-ethical dilemma of cheering for Biyombo. We still have the MLE to use on a rim protector if needed. Hell, even PJ Hairston limited his latest crimes to mere traffic misdemeanors. Savor these precious moments, Hornets fans, because we all know they won’t last!

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    You deserved to be blocked off his Twitter.