Las Vegas Scorpions - Annual Report to Ownership
- By Bedouin, Day 1, 2020
45-11 Record (1st in East Division, 1st in EW Conf, 1st in JBL)
JBL Champions (4-3 win vs New York Renegades)
First, I’d like to congratulate everyone within the organization for the role they played in the 2019 JBL Championship. From ownership down to our support staff everyone in the organization played a vital role in our success. Personally, I’d like to say thank you for the support I’ve received over the past 3 seasons. You were both exceptionally patient as I dismantled an almost .500 team in 2017 and exceptionally generous when the time came to open up the cheque book in free agency. I hope you feel that this championship is a worthy return on your investment.
After the organization fell to the Rockets in last year’s EW conference finals I outlined in my report that I expected that the organization would return to the playoffs in 2019. However, I also noted that due to our fiscal position changes would be necessary for us to avoid significant penalties that would hamstring the organization moving forwards. I suggested that it was the outcome of these changes that would dictate whether we ultimately moved forwards.
The 2019 offseason was a busy one that saw mixed results for the organization. We successfully re-signed Dontay Sowder to a team friendly contract extension whilst moving on from Christian Vickery in a sign and trade that saw us ultimately select versatile wing Antonio Vega with the 3rd pick in the draft. We also traded Drayton Banks for Omar Grant in a move to upgrade our PF slot. However due to our cap position were did not have an MLE available and without this we were unable to come to terms with Rowan Jamison who retired.
We started the season strongly but my concerns about our salary cap position and its long term impact had not abetted. We were 14-2 when we decided to trade Leon Bowen, Ashley Winters and Antonio Vega and our 2022 1st round pick in exchange for Orien Young, Derrick Griffin and Kendall Nash.
The rotation that formed after this trade continued to play winning basketball, going 12-7, but it was clear that we were not playing at the same level. Going into the season my goal had been to achieve home court up to and including the finals. I felt this would be necessary to achieve success against our strongest competitors; Oakland, New York and Austin. I identified 2 key issues with this version of the team.
Firstly, Griffin and Nash were still younger players and required additional development. I did not feel we had the ability to sufficiently develop both long term and that their inexperience would inevitably cost us come playoff time this year. Secondly, I believed that our backup point guard position needed to be upgraded. This would allow me to utilize HP at shooting guard if required.
I believed that our best option at the wing positions would be pursuing an experienced swingman who could start alongside Dontay Sowder and serve as his backup, consolidating the minutes of two younger players into one veteran. My search quickly narrowed to Lorenzen Eyles, who had played on successful teams with Dontay previously. We ultimately traded both Griffin and Nash in exchange for Eyles and a 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft. I then utilized this draft asset along with our own 2022 2nd round pick to acquire Lucious Barclay to address our backup point guard slot.
This third and final version of the team came together quickly, likely assisted by Lorenzen’s prior relationship with Dontay and a better distribution of minutes. They would finish the season 19-2 and sweep the first 2 rounds of the playoffs before taking 7 games to clinch the championship against the Renegades.
Heading into this offseason we have only 6 players under contract. We have no draft picks, so our offseason energies will be focused entirely on free agency. Our first priority will be to resign Lorenzen Eyles and Orien Young to preferably 3-year deals, which would tie them to the team till the conclusion of Dontay’s contract. We will match any offers to retain these players, however should the price become too steep we may need to move one of them long term to maintain our salary position.
Our second priority will be to resign core rotation players Janev Ciszkiwicx and Lorenzo Charles to long term deals that will provide the team with cap stability moving forwards. We are confident that we will resign these players.
Our third priority will be to find a rotation big to replace Ivan Cage who has retired after the championship. Due to the trades made last season to address our cap position we have the MLE available to us, so we feel we can make a competitive offer to upgrade at this position if it is appropriate. In the worst case I am confident that we will be able to locate a satisfactory replacement with a veteran minimum contract.
With limited players under contract it is unlikely that I will pursue any trades during the offseason period. Should I identify opportunities to improve the team via trade these discussions would more likely take place when free agents become trade eligible. However the goal is to retain as closely as possible the 2019 team to give them the opportunity to defend their championship.
In closing I am confident that should our offseason unfold as expected that we remain the cream of the East West conference. This provides us an excellent opportunity to once again secure home court advantage up to and including the finals. Should this occur I feel the organization has an excellent opportunity to become the first to go back to back since the Phoenix Vultures in 2011 and 2012.