NBA Roundtable

Free Agent: Ime Udoka

In Free Agency on October 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm

The Oregonian reports

“I’ve been through a lot in my career, and after all I’ve been through, I kind of thought these times were behind me,’’ Udoka said. “But I’m not going to sit around and be depressed. I’ve worked this hard and put in the work, and I have to be ready for the next opportunity. All I can do is hope one comes up.’’

Udoka said he is hoping to sign on with another team, and is awaiting word from his agent, Mark Bartelstein, who has been talking to other teams. Udoka said some potential suitors could be Oklahoma City, Denver, Sacramento and Utah.

“I’ve prided myself on being ready,’’ Udoka said of his five-year NBA career, which has included stints with the Lakers, Knicks, Blazers and Spurs. “I felt I played well enough when I did get the minutes this preseason.’’

Udoka was waived in favour of Patty Mills

That left the Blazers with a decision: go with an experienced veteran in center Jarron Collins, go with an experienced player who had earned the trust of coach Nate McMillan three seasons ago in Portland, or go with an inexperienced and injured guard in Mills.

The decision to go with Mills was one that few predicted.

“I was a little surprised … disappointed,’’ Udoka said. “But it’s something I have been thinking about since they signed Mills (on Oct. 16). That was definitely a twist. All of the sudden, it wasn’t about me and Jarron.’’

Paul Allen

The decision was taken out of Coach Nate McMillan’s + GM Kevin Prtichard’s hands and was instead made by the owner Paul Allen. Appearantly, Paul Allen has a fascination with young speedster point guards and loves having them on the roster.

Paul Allen doesn’t interfere in the running of the team generally, but in this case he did. Patrick Mills is the youngest of the three players and is capable of making a long term contribution, which neither Collins or Udoka were able to do. Furthermore, the Blazers wings are stacked and this stops Nate from selection issues. Oh, and, Patrick Mills is the cheapest of the three (all minimum contracts) due to his inexperience.

All in all, it’s a good decision by Allen. A largely unimportant decision but a good decision.

Ime Udoka

Ime Udoka is a good rotation worthy talent in the NBA and he comes at an extremely low price (minimum contract).

Ime Udoka is an above average defender, a good defender, who plays very good man-to-man defense. He is also an outstanding rebounder for a two guard and a good rebounder for a small forward, grabbing a carom roughly every six minutes.

Offensively, Udoka is a stand still shooter. Udoka struggled with his jump shot last season, but was respectable (eFG% of 46%). Where he had his real problems was with his finishing in the paint where he shot only 43.6%, which hurt his field goal percentage in a large way (20% of his total shots).  This was a down season for Udoka’s jump shot too after hitting 49% and 51% of his jumpers in the two previous seasons. He’s a decent passer and ball-handler but I’ve rarely seen him use those skills, so they’re fairly irrelevant.

I’m hopeful that Udoka can recover his shooting touch from season’s past, but even if he can’t he’s still a good rotation talent due to his defensive ability and rebounding.

Summary

Somebody should snap Udoka up quickly. He’s a good talent with a low price tag. Several teams could use him as a rotation player, and many others teams would be happy to have him for insurance purposes.

Also …

In the medium term this may actually be highly beneficial for Udoka.

He risked being out of the NBA this time next season if he sat on the bench for entire year without playing, which he was likely to do in Portland. Now, Udoka can choose another team, hopefully one where he has a shot at a regular rotation job or at least one where he has a chance at earning some minutes over the course of the season, which could boost his chances considerably of sticking in the NBA for next season (2010/11).

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