It's going to be hard to watch Corey Maggette in a new uniform next year (Getty Images)
Two of the NBA's biggest disappointments, as is often the case, have been traded for each other. Not coincidentally, the two teams involved in the deal are amongst the most disappointing teams in the NBA. And, because things are going according to script, this happens the week of the NBA's draft. And, because you've already guessed as much, of course Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news of the deal that is sending Ben Gordon to the Charlotte Bobcats for Corey Maggette. A lottery protected 2013 first-round selection will also head to Charlotte, from Detroit. Also, Detroit will be in the lottery next year. The pick's protection slowly dims in the years following -- from eighth overall in 2014 to No. 1 in 2015 to unprotected in 2016.
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The only surprising part about all of this? I kind of dig this trade. For either side.
Both Maggette and Gordon are shoot-first gunners who have massively fallen off of late. Once considered a cornerstone in both Chicago and upon his 2009 signing in Detroit, Gordon has completely fallen off the NBA map. And Maggette would have fallen off the NBA's map even if he put up All-Star numbers in Charlotte last season. Instead, the usually efficient (at least in scoring terms) swingman shot 37 percent from the floor, 30 ticks higher than the amount of games his Bobcats won. All this from the man laughably relied on entering training camp to act as the team's go-to player.
Different outlooks, however, have to change the fortunes for either player. Though we quickly concede that this isn't the point behind this deal, for either team.
Running up against possibly having to quickly add players to make it over the NBA's minimum payroll limits for 2013-14 (the Bobcats are on the hook for a SINGLE DIGIT payroll in the millions with the assets they have on the roster now, pre-draft, assuming the team smartly uses its amnesty option and waives Tyrus Thomas), the team would have been up against to fill both a roster and a payroll setting even while acting mindful of the team's slow rebuilding process, and financial woes.
At first glance, even for a player with Gordon's limitations, this actually seems like a needed move for Bobcats GM Rich Cho.
He's not giving up on the rebuilding, dealing for a player in his ostensible physical prime making eight figures a year to play with the youngsters on rookie deals. He understands that even a well-researched and steady rebuilding plan still needs to feature players using up those cap holds, and that it's never a good idea to try and desperately add these players on the fly — especially heading into the last year of a deal when the asset price might be too much (for a player on an expiring contract) and with the players' head likely elsewhere.
Gordon's fallen off, let there be no mistake, but the drop happened immediately after he left Chicago. And though he played for two different coaches in Detroit, the environment on the Pistons may have been a factor. Great shooters don't suddenly turn into crummy ones just by happenstance (though Gordon did rebound to make 42 percent of his 3-pointers last year), so maybe Gordon simply needs a fresh start or a reworked focus. Maybe the Pistons franchise was so unappealing to him, for whatever reason, that even the Bobcats will act as a warming mechanism. To say little of the fact that he won't be amongst the 29 undersized shooting guards that dotted Detroit's roster.
The first-round pick, even if the payoff isn't huge, gives the Bobcats flexibility moving forward to deal first-round picks in consecutive years, as the team owes the Chicago Bulls a first-round pick that gradually loses more and more of its protection until ranking as full unprotected in the 2016 draft.
Maggette's trip to Detroit will be briefer.
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Unlike Gordon's massive deal ($12.4 million next season, a player option he'll almost certainly pick up for 2013-14, guaranteeing him $13.2 million), Maggette is only on the books for $10.9 million in 2012-13 before becoming a free agent. The Pistons will appreciate Maggette brawn and scoring instincts on a team that struggles to score — geez, how many times have we said that about Corey? — but he's mainly there to finally give the Pistons a scorer with height, and relieve the Pistons of $14.7 million worth of salary over the next two years. As a result, while they won't be major players, the Pistons will still have double figures worth of cap space in the 2013 offseason, after determining what they'll do with the disappointing (in his second season, at least) Austin Daye's restricted free agency next summer.
Maggette is likely to move on. And counting Seattle, which drafted him, and whatever team that signs him next summer? He'll have played 12 career playoff games to eight career teams. Never the happiest stat.
But for all the frustration that has gone hand in hand with watching Gordon and Maggette (and the dreariness inherent with watching Detroit and Charlotte — easily the two hardest to watch clubs in the NBA over the last few years), this is a solid enough move for both front offices. Detroit was never going to use its still-available amnesty provision on Gordon (Tayshaun Prince, with nearly $22 million left spread out over three years, steps to the plate here), and the pick is protected. And Charlotte did what it had to do in desperate times.
Considering the names and logos involved? A fair deal.
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