John Smallwood: Kapono trade gives Sixers a better shot

Posted: June 10, 2009

IN MY SMALL OPINION . . .

Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski just turned the proverbial lemons into lemonade with the trade of forward Reggie Evans to the Toronto Raptors for sharpshooting forward Jason Kapono.

Not to degrade Evans; in his two seasons with the Sixers, he was a high-energy player who provided grit and hard work off the bench.

But skill-wise, Evans didn't bring much to the table.

Averaging 3.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 79 games last season, Evans wasn't exceptional at anything in particular.

He was just a nice guy to have in your rotation - if you are the type of team that can afford the luxury of having a player like that in the rotation.

The Sixers are not that type of team.

They need to get something specific out of every player in the top seven or eight on the depth chart.

Kapono, a two-time winner of the three-point shooting contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend, will give the Sixers something they've lacked since Stefanski traded Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz in 2007 - a proven outside shooter.

In six seasons, Kapono has appeared in 401 games and averaged 7.5 points in 19.2 minutes per game.

But the key for the Sixers is that Kapono is tied with former Chicago Bulls guard Steve Kerr for the highest three-point shooting percentage in NBA history (.454). Last season, he shot 42.8 percent (98 of 229) on three-pointers.

Kapono doesn't solve all of the Sixers' problems, but his proven ability to knock down shots from distance helps address one of this team's key weaknesses.

As a team, the Sixers were last in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (.318) and didn't have a regular player who shot better than 35 percent from beyond the arc.

Obviously, the Sixers will have to bring in more shooters - a draft pick who can knock down long-range jump shots would be nice.

Still, by trading Evans for Kapono, the Sixers added a strength without sacrificing anything vital.

That's called making a good deal, and for Sixers fans looking for this team to move to the next level despite limited avenues, that's the type of creative deal you want to see.

In my Small opinion . . .

Fans and owners may loathe Scott Boras, but if I were an elite baseball player, I'd want him as my agent.

Boras is about to change the financial rules of major league baseball again with San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg, whom some have labeled the best prospect in history.

It's not just a given that Boras will eclipse the record $10.5 million pitcher Mark Prior got for signing with the Chicago Cubs in 2001, the super agent is out to change the entire negotiating structure of the draft.

The way Boras sees it, if the Boston Red Sox gave a $52 million contract to Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had never pitched in the major leagues, why shouldn't Strasburg be viewed in the same way?

In theory, Boras is correct, but he leaves out the free-agency element concerning international players. The price for Matsuzaka was driven up because multiple teams were bidding for him.

The draft is intended to maximize a team's leverage in negotiation by guaranteeing that it is the only one that can sign the player it selected.

The Washington Nationals, who, as expected, took Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick, need only call Philadelphia if they think Boras will be intimidated by the establishment.

As Phillies fans remember with J.D. Drew, Boras is more than willing to have a client sit out a year and enter the next draft if he doesn't get the money he wants.

In my Small opinion . . .

Considering Real Madrid just paid a world-record transfer fee of $92 million for the services of AC Milan striker Kaka, I don't think it's too much for the Brazilian star to honor the club's wishes and wear the number 5 next season.

It seems Kaka, the 2007 FIFA world player of the year who was born Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, is hesitant to accept the number, because it was worn by former Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane, who came to the Spanish club for a then-record transfer fee of $65 million in 2001.

"Wearing the number 5 would be a great responsibility," Kaka said. "Zidane was a great player, both for Real Madrid and France, and I wouldn't like to wear the same number as he did. We're going to wait a bit before deciding which one to use."

I'm sure the high-ups at Real Madrid hope the decision comes sooner rather than later, so they can start selling Kaka jerseys to start recouping some of their money. *

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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