Saturday, December 16, 2006

Flipping on Flip

Whatever happened to Flip Murray?

You remember, Cavalier fans from sea to shining sea threw a collective hissy fit when the Cavs didn't keep him this summer. When he signed for relative peanuts with the Pistons as Cavs GM Danny Ferry courted 36-year-old David Wesley, we wondered what psychotropic, judgment-hindering substance Ferry was smoking.

Murray was going to give the Pistons microwave-instant, Vinnie Johnson offense off the bench. Wesley was going to come with an oil gun and manual, "How To Maintain Your 36-year-old Combo Guard."

Sure enough, Wesley hasn't found a home here. With the emergence of Dan Gibson, it's likely that Wesley will never find his place in the Cavs rotation. But that dirt-cheap 13 points per game the Pistons were supposed to get in Murray hasn't really materialized either.

ESPN's Chris Sheridan places Wesley eighth in his "Liberation Day Top 10," the free agents from this past offseason most likely to be moved before the trade deadline. But, shockingly, Murray and his team-friendly contract are even higher up the list:

"4. Flip Murray, Pistons. … for someone who might actually help Detroit. LeBron's backcourt mate in Cleveland last postseason has done almost nothing since the first 10 days of the season, making only three 3-pointers over the past 15 games. We might just start referring to Detroit's other Flip as Tony Delk Jr."

In a word: Ouch.

But then again, maybe it was another smart move by Ferry that has largely gone unheralded.

Looking at Murray's career stats, you can assume the Cavs caught lightning in a bottle last spring. The 13.5 points per game he averaged in a little more than three months with Cleveland is well above his career average of 9.8 points per game. The only time he has come close to approaching his Cleveland scoring average was in 2003-04, when he averaged 12.4 points for the Sonics.

His .448 field goal percentage with the Cavs was an abberation, way up from his career average of .412.

This season, his scoring average is down to 6.7 points. His three-point field goal percentage, the big surprise last year when he averaged .308 and buried some clutch late-game shots, is actually up. It stands at .385 this season.

It's better, but consider that Murray averaged 2.3 three-point attempts per game for the Cavs. He's averaging 1.2 attempts for the Pistons.

Assists, rebounds, minutes, points, it's all down for Murray this year. And that's on a Pistons team that is well-versed in efficient offense, not a Cavs team still feeling their way around.

When you look at just how much Murray's numbers with the Cavs stick out like a sore thumb against his career averages, you realize that the odds of him coming close to replicating what he did for the Cavs last spring are slim and none.

If he were here, he'd be another David Wesley lead weight, except, based on what he did last spring, coach Mike Brown would probably still be force-feeding Murray into the rotation at the expense of minutes for Gibson and Shannon Brown.

Murray was the right find at the right time for Ferry last February. He played a huge role in fending off another late-season collapse. But that's all Murray was.

Trading for him was the right move. Letting him go was also the right move. If you don't want to thank Ferry, Gibson will thank him for you. With every assist and basket he makes.


Joel said...

I don't blame if you don't check my blog, but here's the latest.

AS for Murray, I'm one of those chastising the move. ... And hadn't realized he was playing so poorly.

Good points.

Joel said...

Disregard that blog. Damnit.

Anonymous said...

Flip is also playing about 25 minutes less with the pistons. Like Nate McMillian said he plays better with more minutes,s so dont let his numbers fool you there very misleading