February 19, 2010

When the (Deadline) dust settled...

For some fans, the Trade Deadline the most exciting time of the NBA calender - more than the NBA draft, the All Star Game, even the Finals. The deadline passed yesterday (afternoon or late night, depending on your time zone), sending many old faces to new places. Here is my (not so humble) analysis of all the teams involved in deals leading up to the deadline...

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs were easily winners this past week, roping in Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and Deshawn "Souljah Boi" Stevenson to Dallas in exchange for injury-hampered Josh Howard (and his stash of herbs), Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross. I'm a huge Butler fan and believe that he is one of the most underrated players in the league, capable of producing big on both sides of the floor. Playing in Washingon, several times in the shadow of both Hibachi and Jamison, often masked his true talents. A Dallas lineup of Kidd, Butler, Marion, Dirk, Dampier, with Terry, Haywood, Stevenson, and Najera off the bench makes them up to par with the Nuggets as the second best team in the West.

Washington Wizards

You've got to feel sorry for the Bullets, oh I mean, the Wizards. After losing their most talented and most retarded player Gilbert "Hibachi/Bang-Bang" Arenas to a season long suspension, they are in full rebuilding mode. They gave away their two remaining best players in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison (to the Cavs), and are left with a core of Randy Foye, Zydrunas "Big Z" Ilgauskas, Mike Miller, Josh Howard, Fabricio Oberto, and the great upside of Al Thorton (from the Clippers). Don't expect the team to win many more games for the rest of the season, although the development of Foye and Thorton should be interesting. Hibachi isn't lasting past the offseason, either. Along with Howard, the Wiz also received Gooden, Ross, and Singleton from the Mavericks, although Gooden was later sent to the Clippers.
Wizards also got a protected second round pick from the Kings in exchange for Dominic McGuire.

Los Angeles Clippers

The ill-fated, bullied younger brother of the Lakers haven't done much to improve their reputation as what Sports Illustrated magazine called "Worst Franchise in Sports History" ten years ago. Call it luck or call it bad management, the Clippers can't stop sucking. In the last few years alone, they get Baron Davis but lost Elton Brand. They choose gifted Blake Griffin with the first pick in the draft, but lose him to season ending injuries.

This week, the Clippers received Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, and cash from the Blazers, in exchange for their best defender Marcus Camby. They also waived Ricky Davis (he's still alive and jacking), and were involved in a three-way trade that sent away Al Thorton (Wizards) and Sebastian Telfair (Cavs) and received Drew Gooden. Now, I know Blake is a great backup for B-Diddy, and Outlaw is an improving player, but the Clippers keep on their lifelong plan of HEADING NOWWHERE. Like 45 other NBA teams, they are also clearing cap space for LeBron, Wade, Bosh, etc. Not gonna happen - not in Clipperland. Cross your fingers that Griffin isn't the next Olawakandi.

Portland Trailblazers

I like what the Blazers are up to. They have a great young core in Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldrige, Jerryd Bayless, Rudy Fernandez, and the injured (but potentially brilliant) Greg Oden. With vets Andre Miller and Juwan Howard, they are heading towards a good playoff run. The Blazers brought in Marcus Camby from the Clips in exchange for Outlaw and Blake - a good trade, given Camby's leadership and defensive qualities - although an injury prone team bringing in an injury prone player is usually a recipe for disaster. I have high hopes for this team, though...

Minnesota Timberwolves

Another sob story - the T-Wolves have been in rebuilding mode ever since that historic Garnett trade more than two years ago. Their only involvement in the trade deadline was sending Brian Cardinal (soon to be waived) to the Knicks for the 2nd pick of the illustious 2003 Draft Class. That pick happens to be Darko Milicic, one of the biggest busts in NBA history, and who will definately not last past this season. I don't know why I even wrote a paragraph on this news.

New York Knicks

I have never pretended to disguise my Knick bias on this blog. Ignoring scoffs and mocks, I've stuck with what SLAM Online have called the Decade's worst NBA team.
Just as predicted, the Knicks made headlines on the deadline's 11th hour by picking up none other than Tracy McGrady. T-MAC is a Knick. Oh boy...
But this is a good trade, I swear it. Knicks got to keep their best 6th man in Al Harrington, and only lost the rarely used rookie Jordan Hill, and the contractual headaches of overdramatic (and mostly useless) Larry Hughes and of the somewhat-defensive-specialist Jared Jefferies. Hill and Jefferies ended up with the Rockets and Hughes will be in Sacramento.
Recovering from his injuries, McGrady has only featured in six games for the Rockets, averaging 3.2 ppg and even 1 assist per game. To new NBA fans, those numbers are laughable, but McGrady has the potential to be a much-more useful player, maybe not on the same All-NBA level as he was six or seven years ago, but still useful.
Speaking of All-NBA level, here is a blast from the past. Watch as McGrady completes the most amazing half a minute in NBA history.

Knicks also received Sergio Rodriguez in this trade from the Kings, and considering that the team has had to live with retard Chris Duhon at the point, I'm actually excited about Rodriguez taking the starting spot.
The Knicks will now have cleared enough cap space to sign two superstars on huge contracts this offseason. I know LeBron isn't leaving his winning ways, but the possibility of Wade, Bosh, Amar"""e, or even Joe Johnson coming to New York now look excellent.
In other news, Knicks gave an inconsistent-point-guard-by-trade-but-not-talent Nate Robinson in return for an inconsitent-point-guard-by-trade-but-not-talent Eddie House from the Celtics. Knicks also received JR Giddens and Bill Walker (who has some upside) and lost Marcus Landry. Three-time slam dunk champion Nate's personality, courage, and scoring spurts will be missed in New York, and the only positive I can think here is that House's exceptional shooting skills and quick play will fit D'Antoni's system.
Darko's gone to Minnesota, and Knicks lose nothing more than their possible Serbian fanbase. They get Brian Cardinal in return, but he won't last long.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Ah... the rich get richer! Cavs, who already hold the NBA's best record and were on a 13 game winning streak (until losing to the Nuggets earlier today), bolster their frontcourt by aquiring solid big man Antawn Jamison from the Wizards in exchange for Big Z. The Cavs spent a long time flirting with the Suns for Amar"""e, but finally decided to 'settle' for Jamison.
Settle? I honestly believe that this was the best move for them. Instead of a system-changing, primadonna player like Amar"""e, they get the services of Jamison who can fit into an already established system without spoiling team chemistry. After the Lakers, I believe that this move makes the Cavs the definate second best team in the league. LeBron, Jamison, Shaq, Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, Daniel Gibson, Anderson Varejao, and a deep, deep bench have the Cavs looking scary.

The trade deadline also marks the reunion of LeBron and Sebastian Telfair (since their 2002 High-School SLAM cover), who came to the Cavs from the Clippers. The two have since gone opposite directions in their careers, but Bassy will make a good backup.

Milwaukee Bucks

Bucks traded Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick to the Bulls for streaky scorer John Salmons and future picks. They also gave up Primoz Brezek, Royal Ivey, and a pick to the 76ers in return for Francisco Elson and Jodie Meeks.
I have nothing else to say.

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls are another team in the sweepstakes 2010 free agent bonanza, hoping to provide help for the very talented Derrick Rose. Their 'big' trade was giving up unsettled Tyrus Thomas to the Bobcats in return for Flip Murray, Acie Law, and a first round draft pick. Bulls wanted T-Mac too, but the deal didn't work out. They aquired Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick from the Bucks in exchange for John Salmons.

Philadephia 76ers

Sixers get Franciso Elson and Jodie Meeks from the Bucks in exchange for Primoz Brezek, Royal Ivey, and a pick. Whatever.

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies only lost a future first round pick to get defensive specialist Ronnie Brewer from the Jazz. Brewer is a great player who will complement a talented but offensive-minded roster of OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, etc. This is a team with great upside - good trade for the Grizz.

Utah Jazz

The excuse for the Jazz to give up Brewer to the Grizzlies is that his position is already filled with players such as Korver, CJ Miles, and Wesley Matthews. But I think they traded away the wrong player. I've watched Brewer play and he's one of the best/under-appreciated perimeter defenders in the league, who could've made a big difference in any long playoff series.

Charlotte Bobcats

I think Bobcats made a good move in strenghtening their frontcourt with Tyrus Thomas from the Bulls, in exchange for Flip Murray, Acie Law and future first-round draft pick. They also got the still alive Theo Ratliff from the Spurs for a second-round draft pick, who is slow but will fit well in Larry Brown's system at Charlotte.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs gave up Theo Ratliff for a second round draft pick from Charlotte. With Ratliff gone, rookie DeJuan Blair should see more playing time in San Antonio.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings were busy on deadline day, being part of the big move of sending T-Mac to the Knicks (from Houstan) and sending Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong to the Rockets and Sergio Rodriguez to the Knicks. Kings got improving big man Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey from the Rockets and the contract of Larry Hughes from the Knicks.
Not much to say for the Kings here. Martin, a near all-star in the past, has been recovering from injuries, and by the time he did return, he never quite fit in with the team that is now based around Rookie of the Year favourite Tyreke Evans. He's a great player, but for financial reasons, I see why they had to let him go. Talent-wise, they got the short end of the stick though.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets made amongst the best moves the past week. The Rockets gave up Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, and McGrady to receive Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong from Kings and Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries from Knicks.
The main story here is the loss of T-Mac and the gain of K-Mart, aka Kevin Martin. The Rockets have already over-achieved this season (28-25 record, 9th in the West) with a no-star blue-collar team like the '04 Pistons. K-Mart will be their biggest 'star', but his humble personality and hard working reputation should fit in well with the Rockets' winning team chemistry. His talents will surely help propel them to a place in the playoffs. In return, they lost the valuable contract (and useless production) of McGrady. Great move.

I wanna reiterate how much I love the Rockets soster and philosophy. In an interview given to SLAMOnline recently, Rockets owner Daryl Morey joked that their whole team should be given a SLAM cover. Although said in jest, it's a valid request. The team comprising of otherwise "average" players like Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Trevor Ariza, David Anderson, Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry, and now Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jefferies will only add to their winning ways. Much credit goes to coach Rick Adelman too for making this team work without the services of Yao Ming and T-Mac (mostly) all season.

Boston Celtics

A late, late trade for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry from New York in exchange for Eddie House, JR Giddens, and Bill Walker. "KryptoNate" will provide the offensive energy off the bench that Boston has been severly lacking, but I don't think he's the ideal fit to the puzzle for a team that is one of the top five in the league contending for a title.
He can dunk, though, if given enough chances.

The Trades that Weren't

- After all the hoopla, Amar"""e Stoudemire is still a Sun.
- Ray Allen is still a Celtic

Now that the trade deadline is over, stay tuned for my predictions for the rest of the season - Champions, MVP, Playoff Stories, all...

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