Friday, March 16, 2012

Who won at the trade deadline?

Despite all the big names that were said to be moving to new locations, no significant moves were made. The Lakers held on to both Bynum and Gasol. Orlando, most significantly, was able to get Howard to stick around for one more season. Michael Beasley will still be coming off the Minnesota bench. All four top players in Boston will be around for the remainder of the season. After all the talk and rumors, the deadline moves were rather conservative with major players staying put. But I will still take a look at every trade and give my take on who wins, and loses.

Golden State and Milwaukee

Warriors receive: Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson
Bucks receive: Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown

Analysis: In a deal done a couple of days before the deadline, the Warriors traded for size. Mark Jackson is trying to institute a defensive mindset for the Warriors and was able to obtain a very good defensive center in Andrew Bogut. If he can remain healthy he should be a good player in the paint for the Warriors. He will fit well in the front court/post with David Lee, who plays best in the pick and roll and from mid-range. The Warriors also got decent value for what they gave up. Ellis has been struggling this season, and it is still not clear how good Udoh will be despite being a high pick in the previous year's draft.

For the Bucks, the value of the trade will depend on how Ellis integrates in the offense and how Udoh develops. The Jennings-Ellis backcourt along with their collection of shooters including Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Delfino, and Ersan Ilyasova should make the Bucks a dangerous three point team. But with the trade of Bogut, the Bucks don't have any strong inside presence which may hurt Scott Skiles defense-first strategy. However the team has been functioning without Bogut for most of the season anyways, so it might not make a huge difference on the teams play. They will gain some cap space with Kwame Brown's expiring contract.

San Antonio and Golden State

Warriors receive: Richard Jefferson, T.J. Ford, and a potential first round pick
Spurs receive: Stephen Jackson 

Analysis: The Warriors acquired Jackson on Tuesday, said they would keep him on Wednesday and then sent him to San Antonio on Thursday. The trade is a perhaps a lateral move in talent for both teams. Spurs sacrificing some defense for a shooter that can be a solid scorer. The Warriors getting a solid perimeter shooter (42% 3 point shooting) that is good on the boards and defense. Jefferson's is a better fit in Mark Jackson's defensive Warriors than Jackson would have been. T.J. Ford was also acquired by the Warriors, but has already declared his intent on retiring due to injuries. The draft pick is also valuable for the Warriors who will likely not have a pick in this years' draft (the pick is protected and the Spurs will retain it if it turns out to be a lottery pick).

For the Spurs, they add a struggling player who was unhappy and perhaps a bad fit in Milwaukee and never got a chance in Golden State (where he has also played in the past). It is also a return for Jackson to the team he played with during the early stages of his NBA career. He since been a journeyman in the league playing for five different teams in seven different stints. He potentially could be an impact player for San Antonio as a scorer if he can return to form. Last season he averaged almost 19 points a game and was a good scorer in the mediocre Charlotte Bobcats. But in Milwaukee he didn't seem to be a good fit in Scott Skiles system which is based around defense. But if not, his contract is a year shorter than Jefferson's and will expire at the end of next season. Potentially clearing up the roster as the aging Spurs start to head into rebuilding mode in the next couple of seasons.

Los Angeles and Cleveland

Cavaliers receive: Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, and a first round pick 
Lakers receive: Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga

Analysis: This is a good move for the Lakers who were lacking both depth and a solid point guard. Sessions is a strong ball handler who is a great distributor and decent shooter. But Sessions is more productive with the ball then playing without the ball. That might be a problem on the Lakers where Kobe Bryant likes to handle the ball in the offense. It will be interesting to see how Sessions fits into the roster, and is able to adapt to playing if he is asked to play off the ball and shoot more often. Eyenga is a prospect who has solid shooting range but hasn't seen many minutes this season on the weak Cavaliers. He likely will not be a big minute player on the Lakers, but he may have a future or place as sometype of role player.

The Cavaliers get rid of Sessions' contract, which, while not big money, went through the next season. Sessions was a player who really didn't have a place on roster since the addition of Kyrie Irving. The Cavs don't get much out of this trade outside of the Lakers likely late first round pick in the upcoming year's draft. Not a bad trade for Cleveland who is still trying to build a team around Irving and move on in the post-LeBron era.

Los Angeles and Houston

Rockets recieve: Derek Fisher and the Mavs' first round draft pick
Lakers recieve: Jordan Hill

Analysis: The Lakers continue to add depth to their team that is sorely lacking in the high paced short season. L.A. didn't add any big names but they made themselves a better, more dangerous playoff team by adding talented players and giving up minimum talent. Hill isn't a huge name, but he is a good role player that can fill out the Lakers weak front court. Hill provides defense, and is a good rebounder off the bench. The Lakers current reserve big men are less effective when it comes to Hill's strengths. In both this trade, and the previous trade, the Lakers added two players that can provide minutes to their rotation. While they didn't give up much talent, they did trade Derek Fisher who had been with the organization for the majority of his long career. Fisher was a key member of the Lakers' championships during this time period but is now way past his prime and a liability on defense.

Houston doesn't get a lot out of this trade, but they are able to move Hill, who hasn't played much in their loaded front court, for a valuable draft pick.

Portland and New Jersey

Nets recieve: Gerald Wallace
Blazers recieve: Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a protected first round draft pick

This is a smart trade for Portland, who is looking towards the future of the organization. Portland gets New Jersey's first round pick in next year's draft (which is protected if it turns out to be a top three pick). This, depending how the Nets finish the season, could possibly be a top ten, and if the Blazers are lucky, maybe even a top five pick. This will be a great asset to the rebuilding Blazers that lost Brandon Roy and cut the continually injured Greg Oden, whom the Blazers took over Kevin Durant as the top overall pick in the 2007 draft. The Blazers also will likely finish with their own lottery pick to pair with the extra pick from the Nets.

New Jersey, on the other hand, gets another talented player to pair with Deron Williams. Williams has a player option for the next season, and will likely opt out after the Nets were unable to obtain Dwight Howard from the Magic. The Nets made a desperation trade to do anything to persuade Williams to stay but it might now be enough. They could also lose Gerald Wallace at the end of season, as he also has a player option for next season. The Nets could potentially arrive in Brooklyn next season in bad shape. Without either elite player and a top draft pick from the draft.

Portland and Houston

Rockets receive: Marcus Camby
Blazers receive: Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, and a second round pick (from Minnesota)

Analysis: Houston adds the veteran Camby who is still a solid big man on the defensive end of the court. Even in his 15th season Camby still is a strong rebounder and shot blocker. Camby's contract will also expire at the end of the season allowing the Rockets to have some room to make some moves to improve their roster. But Camby will continue to crowd the already talented Houston front court featuring Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, rookie Marcus Morris, and veteran Samuel Dalembert. Houston was reportedly trying to make some bigger moves. The Rockets were allegedly trying to deal for either Pau Gasol or potentially even Dwight Howard. The Rockets were also rumored to be shopping Kevin Martin, who has struggled and had minor injuries problems this season. Martin is also in the second to last year of his contract and hasn't worked out any possible extension or deal with the Rockets. But the Rockets did not make any of these rumored moves.

The Trailblazers were also looking to move Jamal Crawford, and he was even scratched at the last second from the Blazers' line-up in their previous game against the Knicks. But no deal materialized for Crawford and he will remain with the Blazers. But, outside of this failure to move Crawford, the Blazers have done well to rocket themselves into rebuilding mode including the firing of coach Nate McMillan. They have obtained draft picks from struggling teams and have added young players that have replaced veterans. In this trade, the Blazers added two young players that have failed to live up to expectations. Guard Jonny Flynn--who was taken with the six overall pick in the 2009 draft--looked early on like he was going to be a great player in the league. But since, Flynn has struggled in his first three seasons out of Syracuse. He has had problems fitting with the Rocket's backcourt that included Kyle Lowry. He may find himself in a similar position in Portland with veteran point guard Raymond Felton. Flynn was believed to have a ton of potential and was thought that he would turn out to be a great scoring point guard. But hasn't been able to grow into this potential.

Hasheem Thabeet also suffers from the similar career trajectory as Flynn. A top prospect, taken second overall in the same draft as Flynn but by Memphis. Thabeet has, like Flynn, struggled since he entered the league and been unable to live up to his high draft stock. In his first season, Thabeet was even sent down to the D-League for a short time period, becoming the highest draft pick to be demoted to the developmental league. Thabeet, who, Memphis saw a project player with tons of potential, has struggled to find time in the NBA with Memphis and Houston. Thabeet's game relies on his defense but he struggles athletically in the NBA and has problems with fouls. Portland has potential to work with both players but it remains to be seen if they can develop either one into a viable rotation player.

Toronto and Indiana

Pacers receive: Leandro Barbosa 
Raptors receive: Pacers' second round pick

Analysis: A solid trade for the Pacers as they give up little and gain a great scorer to help bolster their already talented backcourt containing containing Darren Collison and Paul George. Pacers were rumored to be trying to get Jamal Crawford from the Trailblazers but the two teams were unable to make a deal. Barbosa, however, is not a bad second option for the Pacers. A great shooter and scorer that has provided the Raptors with 12 points per game in just 22.5 minutes per game. He will strengthen the Pacers backcourt bench that is currently led by George Hill. But the Barbosa addition might hurt Collison's playing time more than Hill's, at least according to head coach Frank Vogel. Vogel said, after the trade was completed, that he hopes to work in more of Hill in the line-up.

The Raptors on the other hand don't really gain anything from this trade. They get a mid to late second round pick from the Pacers and lose a guard who contract was expiring at the end of the season. But the Raptors could have tried to get something more for a player of Barbosa caliber than a likely worthless pick.

Memphis and Philadelphia

Sixers receive: Sam Young
Grizzlies receive: Future considerations and Ricky Sanchez

Analysis: In yet another trade where one teams gives up on talented player for just about nothing, the Grizzlies sent talented swingman, Sam Young, to Philly for a potential pick and a perennial D-League player that hasn't played in an NBA game. Young, though not as talented as other players that were moved for little to no compensation, like Barbosa and Sessions, is a capable player that will help fill out the rotation. Philly has often been forced to play small because of their lack of big men. Young won't help with the size, but will give another player in the lineup that will be able to play defense and around the rim in a small role.

Washington, Los Angeles, and Denver

Wizards receive: Nene (Nuggets) Brian Cook, a future second round pick (Clippers)
Clippers receive: Nick Young (Wizards)
Nuggets receive: JaVale McGee, and Ronny Turiaf (Wizards)

Analysis: The Wizards obtain veteran big man Nene, who just signed a large contract earlier this season with the Nuggets. Nene offers the Wizards a veteran big man who is a smart defender, and a viable scorer around the rim. But with his talents, the Wizards also have to worry about possible injuries with Nene heading into his thirties. He has been injury prone in the past, but in the previous three season, has been relatively reliable. Nene missed only twelve games in the three seasons since 2008. However, this season Nene has missed 16 of the Nugget's 44 games. This is definitely a concern considering the Wizards will being paying Nene to the tune of 13 million every year through the 2015-2016 season. Nene can be a reliable, smart, impact player in the Wizards' front court but injuries have to be a concern of the Wizards and the Washington fans. But his mental ability may make up for any minor injuries. Especially considering he will replace athletically gifted but mentally weak JaVale McGee. McGee has become notorious for his lack of awareness and mental mistakes. On the other side of the trade, the Wizards don't gain anything from their deal with with Los Angeles obtaining veteran bench warmer Brian Cook and a meaningless second round pick for Nick Young.

Young will be a valuable player in the Clippers backcourt with Chris Paul which has been lacking depth since Chauncey Billups was lost to a season ending injury. Young will also provide the Clippers with a natural shooting guard in their back court that is mostly filled with point guards trying to play out of position. In the past two seasons, Young has show great development improving as both a scorer and shooter in Washington. This season, Young is averaging 16 points and almost 2 three pointers per game. Young's range will help with spacing for the “Lob City” pick and roll game between Paul and Griffin/Jordan. He may also become a strong third scorer for the Clippers, supplanting struggling forward Caron Butler, who is averaging only 40% from the field this year.

The benefits of the Nuggets portion of the trade is questionable. They gave up a talented veteran, in Nene, for a developing 4th year player JaVale McGee. McGee has shown great progress throughout his career. When he entered the league he was an incredibly athletic big man, with raw skills and tons of potential. He has been able to develop some of this talent and has become a strong shot blocker (averaging 2.5 blocks in less than 30 minutes per game) and rebounder. However he is plagued with bad court awareness and mental mistakes. These mistakes are often the topic of conversation on blog sites like Deadspin, where McGee now has his own topic know as “That's So JaVale.” He is also a weak post player and a terrible shooter especially from the free throw line. But under a smart coach, like George Karl, McGee could develop into a dominating big man like many believe he has the potential to be. But either way, McGee is likely an upgrade over Denver's current collection of centers, which includes former Knick Timofey Mozgof.

The Big Winner: There really isn't any clear single winner in this year's deadline trades. Perhaps the best results came from Orlando, where the Magic were able to hold Dwight Howard for at least one more year. This gives them another 365 days to juggle cap room and try to sign Deron Williams or another star to pair with Howard. The NBA's new amnesty rule (which allows teams to cut one player each season without cap implications) will help the Magic clear space. But based on the rosters situation, the Magic best option might be trying to make a deal using expiring contracts of guards Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Redick.

The Lakers also made some great moves to add depth, but they didn't really add any extremely talented players. Sessions and Hill will be good role players that will help fill out the Lakers rotation but likely won't make any huge impact. It also not clear how well Sessions will fit in with the Bryant-led Lakers. The Warriors also made some smart moves to try to become a stronger defensive team. The addition of adding Bogut was a great step in this direction for the team that has been known over the past decade for it's hyper offense and weak defense. Portland also made some good moves that will help with their rebuilding process but nothing that will change their chances for making the playoffs this season.

The Big Loser: Again, they're weren't any big trades that make a huge impact on one team or another. The moves that didn't get made might turn out to be the biggest mistakes for teams. The Nets, in that case, ended up with the short straw. They are now moving to Brooklyn next year and are going to have a tough time holding onto star point guard Deron Williams following the end of the season. They made a patch move by adding Gerald Wallace, but he probably won't be enough to satisfy Williams, who by most accounts, is interested in playing with another superstar like Dwight Howard. The Nets could lose newly acquired Gerald Wallace too, who also has a player option for next season. This would leave the Nets in very rough shape going into their first year in the big city. 

Another team that did fair well includes Toronto which made a one sided trade, sending Leandro Barbosa to Philadelphia for just about nothing in return. This won't kill the already troubled Raptors, but wasn't a great move for the team.

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