Lakers get top grades; Nuggets not so much
The trade deadline has come and gone, which means one thing: It’s time to hand out grades.
Each team’s trades since the start of the season are judged on their own merit. So if you happened to pass on Deron Williams or Chris Paul (or both) in the 2005 draft, or shipped Luis Scola to one of your division rivals during the summer, you’re not penalized here. If you didn’t make a trade this season? No grade.
What they got: Mike Bibby.
Analysis: Who knows how much Bibby has left in the tank, but the Hawks at least tried, which is more than they’ve done in the past. And they didn’t give up much to get him.
What they gave up: Primoz Brezec, Walter Herrmann.
What they got: Nazr Mohammed.
Analysis: Mohammed has been solid for the Bobcats, but he still has three years and $19 million left on his contract after this season. That’s a hefty price to pay for a team that appears headed for the lottery. The next move Charlotte makes? Find a new coach.
Analysis: Wallace’s unhappiness, according to sources, had spread too far into the Bulls’ locker room, bringing the whole team down. He also was eating up minutes that should have gone to rookie Joakim Noah. Hughes basically substitutes one cap headache for another, but Gooden should somewhat fill the inside offensive presence the Bulls have long lacked. For the Bulls, this trade was all about addition by subtraction. It doesn’t compensate for GM John Paxson’s earlier mistakes: signing Wallace instead of keeping Tyson Chandler, trading LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas, not finding a way to acquire Pau Gasol. But getting rid of Wallace, headband and all, is at least a start in cleaning up the mess.
Analysis: Just when it looked like the deadline would pass without the Cavs making a move, GM Danny Ferry put together this season’s largest deal. He shipped out half his roster to get LeBron James a new supporting cast. An upgrade? For the short-term, at least. Which is all James has signed on for. This smacks of a win-now edict because owner Dan Gilbert is shouldering a hefty financial commitment. Regardless, the Cavs won’t need Wallace to give them much more than a sturdy 20-to-25 minutes a night, and the combination of he and Smith should more than make up for the loss of Gooden. Hughes was only a drain on the Cavs’ cap while Szczerbiak and West should help space the floor for James with their shooting. Brown, once a promising prospect, had already worn out his welcome. Szczerbiak will eventually grate on his teammates. He almost always does. And this deal doesn’t completely relieve Ferry’s frustration in not landing Andre Miller, Jason Kidd or Mike Bibby. Coach Mike Brown also doesn’t have an easy job ahead of him in trying to work in so many new players with only two months left in the season. But this much is true: If James wanted help, he just got it.
Analysis: The Mavericks went all-in, shortening their championship window by swapping Harris for Kidd. They also lost Diop, whose length had bothered Tim Duncan in the past. They did need Kidd’s toughness and playmaking, but he’s not going to get many off nights in the West. That’s a lot to ask of a soon-to-be 35-year-old point guard, no matter how good he is. If Kidd plays at a high level and the Mavs mesh with him, it’ll go down as a terrific gamble. If not? A massive blunder. Until then, however, the jury’s out. The unquestioned winner in this trade? Van Horn. He gets $4 million for getting on an airplane.
What they gave up: Von Wafer.
What they got:Taurean Green.
Analysis: No team needed to do more to improve its chances of getting past the first round and yet did next to nothing. The Nuggets had little to lose by taking on Ron Artest, but they evidently didn’t want to give up Linas Kleiza. GM Mark Warkentin usually isn’t afraid to gamble, so this decision must have been made by ownership or coach. Kleiza is a promising player, but he isn’t going to make a difference in the Nuggets contending for a championship. He’s also a friend of Josh Kroenke, the owner’s son. Good. They’ll have plenty of time to golf once the conference finals start.
What they gave up: Nazr Mohammed, Primoz Brezec, cash.
What they got: Juan Dixon, Walter Herrmann.
Analysis: Give Pistons GM Joe Dumars credit. Even on the rare occasion he makes a mistake, he usually doesn’t need long to correct it. Rival executives were amazed to see him dump Mohammed’s contract. On Thursday, he turned Brezec into Dixon, giving the Pistons another scoring option off the bench. Detroit might now buy out Flip Murray’s contract.
Analysis: The Rockets corrected a mistake by unloading James, a savings of about $6 million from the commitment they inherit with Jackson. Jackson’s production obviously has declined, but he has plenty of playoff experience from his days with the Kings. At his best, Wells was a Spurs’ killer, something that could have come in handy should the teams meet in the playoffs. But rookie Carl Landry, a heady draft pick by Houston, has already developed enough to make Wells expendable. The Rockets also swapped Snyder for Green. Should they need someone to blow out a candle in a cupcake while dunking during the playoffs, they’re set.
What they got: Pau Gasol, Trevor Ariza and Memphis’ 2010 second-round pick.
Analysis: Roundly criticized by Lakers fans for his inability to get Kobe Bryant any help last season, GM Mitch Kupchak made the move of the season by landing Pau Gasol for Brown’s expiring contract, two first-round picks (both of which figure to be among the final five or so selections) and Crittenton. The only person who might unseat Kupchak for Executive of the Year honors, according to conspiracy theorists, is former Lakers and Grizzlies GM Jerry West. Regardless of who helped or didn’t help broker the trade (Memphis claims West had no role), there’s no denying the impact: The Lakers are 8-1 since Gasol joined them, are looking more dangerous by the day and figure to get even stronger if Andrew Bynum returns in decent health. If Kupchak doesn’t make this trade – or catch another life preserver – there’s a chance the Lakers could have slipped out of playoff contention while waiting on Bynum. Ariza also was a nice pickup prior to breaking his foot. The best part of the Lakers’ dealings this summer? Unlike their West competitors, they’re also set up for the future.
What they gave up: Shaquille O’Neal.
Analysis: If Marion becomes one of the team’s cornerstones, great. If not? Still great. This was all about unloading the $40 million on the back end of O’Neal’s contract. For that alone, Pat Riley delivered the Heat a brighter future. Even if he wasn’t able to do anything with the expiring contracts of Jason Williams and Ricky Davis.
What they gave up: Pau Gasol, Stromile Swift, draft rights to Sergei Lishouk, 2010 second-round draft pick.
Analysis: If Brown’s expiring contract, Crittenton and two likely late first-round picks were all the Grizzlies could get for Gasol that would be one thing, but they made this move three weeks before the trade deadline. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to wait to see if the Lakers (or someone else) would have gotten a little more desperate? That no other team seemed to see this trade coming is another sign the Grizzlies probably didn’t shop the Lakers’ offer. And if all you want is cap room and draft picks then why not go all-in and also ship off Mike Miller? Some of Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace’s peers say he was shaken by the subsequent criticism and likely became gun-shy about moving Miller. Memphis owner Michael Heisley, who has previously tried to sell the team, probably deserves as much or more blame. In their other dealings, the Grizzlies swapped Swift for Collins, eliminating a headache for coach Marc Iavaroni. Memphis also picked up Vinicius and the draft rights to Badiane for cooperating in the Rockets-Hornets trade. Why not? The Grizzlies probably aren’t going to be winning anytime soon.
What they gave up: Gerald Green.
What they got: Kirk Snyder, Rockets’ 2010 second-round pick, cash.
Analysis: Like the Celtics before them, the Timberwolves decided Green wasn’t going to be a part of their future. In return, they picked up two things every rebuilding team wants: a draft pick and cash. Snyder’s contract expires at the end of the season.
What they gave up: Jason Kidd, Malik Allen, Antoine Wright, Jason Collins.
What they got: Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn, Stromile Swift, 2008 and 2010 first-round draft picks, $3 million.
Analysis: As soon Kidd quit on his teammates last month, the Nets had to move him. Considering everyone in the league knew that, they still received a nice package in return: a talented young player in Harris, expiring contracts and draft picks. Not bad.
What they gave up: Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska, Marcus Vinicius, 2008 second-round pick.
What they got: Bonzi Wells, Mike James.
Analysis: Coach Byron Scott wanted the Hornets to strengthen his bench, and they did that. Possibly. James will help spell Chris Paul, but he’ll chuck up a lot of shots while doing so. Wells needed a change of scenery – and minutes. If he’s in decent enough shape, he’ll help. Give Hornets owner George Shinn credit for this: He’s still spending money.
What they gave up: Trevor Ariza.
What they got: Maurice Evans, Brian Cook.
Analysis: Evans has become an effective starter while Cook’s contributions have grown this month as his minutes have increased. The big disappointment? The Magic hoped to add some beef to their roster by offering Pat Garrity, Carlos Arroyo and a 2010 first-round pick to Seattle for Kurt Thomas. The Sonics, however, wanted a pick in 2009, which the Spurs provided.
What they gave up: Taurean Green.
What they got: Von Wafer.
Analysis: The Blazers are struggling to stay afloat in the playoff race and have plenty of tradable assets, yet didn’t do much. GM Kevin Pritchard said Wafer “can provide us with some offensive firepower.” In 38 career games, he’s averaging 1.2 points. In truth, Wafer might not get much of a chance to play if James Jones returns next week. Given Portland’s glut of point guards, Green wasn’t going to get much of an opportunity anytime soon. The Blazers best days are ahead of them. That they didn’t trade on their future also says something about what they think of this season’s playoff chances.
What they gave up: Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks.
What they got: Shaquille O’Neal.
Analysis: Biggest gamble of the season. The Suns had the best record in the West the way they were presently constructed. Now they’re hinging their hopes on an aging center who, at first glance, seems a poor fit for their go-go offense. Still, it’s too early to write off O’Neal just yet. It’s clear the Suns had lost some of their passion, and the Big Cactus has already restored that. Now he just needs to stay on the floor. Phoenix also thinks it has a better-than-even shot at convincing Brent Barry to sign on. If healthy, he’s a good ball-handler and shooter who thrives in the open floor.
What they gave up: Kyle Korver.
What they got: Gordan Giricek, protected future first-round pick from Jazz.
Analysis: The Sixers cleared cap room by moving the remaining two years and $10 million on Korver’s contract and picked up a future first-round pick. Perhaps even more important, they hung onto point guard Andre Miller, who has the team thinking playoffs. New GM Ed Stefanski has the Sixers looking forward to a brighter future.
What they gave up: Mike Bibby.
What they got: Sheldon Williams, Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Lorenzen Wright, Hawks’ 2008 second-round pick.
Analysis: A few rivals think the Kings should have gotten more, but as one West GM said of Bibby: “This just shows how the mighty have fallen.” Kings GM Geoff Petrie cleared salary off the books and he’ll know what to do with the cap room when he gets it. The trade also frees up time for Beno Udrih, allowing Sacramento a better opportunity to evaluate how much it should invest in him this summer. Williams wasn’t worthy of the No. 5 pick Atlanta used on him, but his book hasn’t been completely written, either. As for keeping Ron Artest, the Kings didn’t cave for a lesser offer. If he opts out of his contract, they can always try to work a sign-and-trade deal for him.
What they gave up: Brent Barry, Francisco Elson, 2009 first-round draft pick.
What they got: Kurt Thomas.
Analysis: With Pau Gasol going to the Lakers and Shaquille O’Neal landing in Phoenix, the Spurs suddenly became one of the West’s smaller teams. Thomas is a rugged defender and a precise midrange shooter, skills that should fit well with the Spurs.
Elson had already fallen out of the rotation and the Spurs came to value Ime Udoka’s toughness and defense while Barry was sidelined with his calf injury. But giving up Barry doesn’t come without risk. Provided he sufficiently recovers from his injury, he would have still been one of the best shooters and ball-handlers on a team that has struggled at times to score. The Spurs would like to re-sign Barry should he sit out the required 30 days, but that’s far from a certain thing with Phoenix and possibly Golden State in hot pursuit. The trade also temporarily moves the Spurs under the luxury-tax threshold, possibly netting them a rebate check of close to $2 million. That’s always important for the franchise’s budget-conscious owners.
What they gave up: Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West.
What they got: Brent Barry, Francisco Elson, Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall, Adrian Griffin, Spurs’ 2009 first-round draft pick.
Analysis: The Sonics’ two trades were all about building for the future, wherever that may be. Thomas was a valued member of the team’s locker room, but he was going to walk after the season. Sonics GM Sam Presti, in one of the season’s more unheralded moves, has now parlayed Rashard Lewis’ sign-and-trade deal into three first-round draft choices. Lewis was going to leave the Sonics with nothing until Presti helped get him a larger contract via the sign-and-trade. Seattle then sent the $8 million trade exception it received from Orlando to Phoenix for Thomas and two first-round picks. Trading Thomas to the Spurs netted another first-rounder. Szczerbiak was an addition-by-subtraction move. He didn’t want to be on a rebuilding team and there aren’t many people in the organization who will miss him. By trading him, the Sonics save about $6 million and, more importantly, free up minutes for rookie Jeff Green. West also was frustrated because he couldn’t carve out a role in coach P.J. Carlesimo’s rotation. None of the players Seattle received in either trade figures into the team’s future; Barry has already been cut. But as is often the case in today’s NBA, the Sonics’ weren’t looking for short-term help. They want a better future. Even if that’s in Oklahoma City.
What they gave up: Juan Dixon.
What they got: Primoz Brezec, cash.
Analysis: The Raptors had fielded offers for Jason Kapono in an effort to clear cap room to help them re-sign Jose Calderon and Carlos Delfino this summer. Here’s all you need to know why Toronto made the move: “It’s important we have players that want to be here,” Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said. “Dixon and his representatives made it clear that he didn’t.”
What they got: Kyle Korver.
What they gave up: Gordan Giricek, protected future first-round pick.
Analysis: Outside of the Lakers landing Gasol, no trade has had a bigger immediate impact that this. Utah has gone 19-3 since acquiring Korver, one of the league’s top three-point threats. The Jazz were headed for a divorce with Giricek anyway given his feud with coach Jerry Sloan. The pick they gave up is protected and will come anywhere from 2009-2014.