As you have likely heard by now, a fairly substantial NBA trade went down earlier today:
The New Orleans Hornets acquired Trevor Ariza(notes) Wednesday in a four-team, five-player trade that also sends point guard Darren Collison(notes) to the Indiana Pacers, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The deal also sends Pacers forward Troy Murphy(notes) to the New Jersey Nets and Nets guard Courtney Lee(notes) to the Houston Rockets. In addition to landing Collison – the young point guard they’ve been searching for all offseason – the Pacers also have to take on forward James Posey(notes), who has two years and $13.5 million remaining on his contract.
Collison made a lot of fans within the fantasy community and around the NBA last season while he filled in for an injured Chris Paul(notes). In his 37 starts, Collison averaged 18.8 points on 49-percent shooting, 1 three, 85-percent foul shooting, 9.1 assists, 4.1 turnovers, and 1.4 steals in 40 minutes. He immediately becomes the point guard for the Pacers and makes a leap into fantasy's top 10 at the position – he was a top-40 player after Paul's injury and warrants being drafted ahead of his significantly hyped peers Derrick Rose(notes) and Russell Westbrook(notes). That is, if it's the nine-category numbers that you are looking at. Here's how the Pacers' post-trade depth chart breaks down:
PG: Darren Collison, T.J. Ford(notes), A.J. Price(notes), Lance Stephenson(notes)
SG: Brandon Rush(notes), Mike Dunleavy, James Posey
SF: Danny Granger(notes), Dahntay Jones(notes), Paul George(notes)
PF: Tyler Hansbrough(notes), Josh McRoberts(notes), Magnum Rolle(notes)
C: Roy Hibbert(notes), Solomon Jones(notes), Jeff Foster(notes)
The Pacers will try to buy out the final season of Ford's contract and certainly have no interest in giving him minutes of any significance. Price is recovering from a fractured kneecap but should assume the backup role when he's healthy. Danny Granger's fantasy impact should be largely unaffected by this deal, and running alongside Collison certainly doesn't call for a downgrade – he's a pick in the middle of the first round, regardless, and it will be his health that dictates his final season rank. Roy Hibbert becomes a bit more of a desireable late-round target at center with Murphy out of the picture. His third season should be something of a breakout if he can keep his fouls in check. Shooting guard and power forward are question marks for the Pacers. If Dunleavy is finally past his knee problems, he could supplant Rush in the starting five. McRoberts could end up as the starter by default if Hansbrough can't get past his issues with vertigo, but we aren't likely to get answers before camp begins either way.
Ariza had trouble adjusting to his significant offensive responsibilities with the Rockets last season, shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three before the All-Star break. Things changed significantly after Kevin Martin(notes) showed up (44% FG, 41% 3PT), and less was definitely more for Ariza from a fantasy perspective. He'll be the fourth option on offense in New Orleans and should benefit tremendously from an efficiency standpoint, albeit with less volume, and will still provide those excellent defensive stats (1.8 steals, 0.6 blocks in 09-10). I've got him pegged as a solid Round 7 pick, and he's an even better head-to-head target when you are ignoring free-throw percentage. Here's a look at the Hornets' new depth chart:
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Marcus Thornton(notes), Marco Belinelli(notes)
SF: Trevor Ariza, Peja Stojakovic(notes), Quincy Pondexter(notes)
PF: David West(notes), Darius Songaila(notes), Craig Brackins(notes)
C: Emeka Okafor(notes), Aaron Gray(notes)
The team's next move should involve brining in a backup for Paul, who should be a bit happier now that Ariza will replace the one-dimensional Stojakovic at small forward. West, Thornton, and Okafor are largely unaffected here, but Ariza's game should be nothing but a positive in general for this roster. Belinelli arrived via trade shortly after the four-team trade was finalized.
Now on to New Jersey:
PG: Devin Harris(notes), Jordan Farmar(notes)
SG: Terrence Williams(notes), Anthony Morrow(notes)
SF: Travis Outlaw(notes), Damion James(notes)
PF: Troy Murphy, Derrick Favors(notes), Kris Humphries(notes), Sean May(notes)
C: Brook Lopez(notes), Johan Petro(notes)
Murphy will hold down the fort at power forward until the exceedingly raw Favors is ready for significant minutes. It'd be silly to play him against other teams' starting units from the outset, and there's no guarantee that he'll be truly ready at any point this season, although Murphy's expiring contract does represent a valuable trade piece. The Lopez/Murphy tandem will be an effective one – Murphy's 3-point range is an excellent complement to Lopez's post game; and Murphy dominates the defensive boards, while almost 40 percent of Lopez's boards came on the offensive glass last season. Things are a bit unsettled at the two and three, but Williams' dynamism and Outlaw's two-way potential make them the odds-on favorites to start right now. I know there will be plenty of you calling for Morrow to immediately start and shoot non-stop threes, but he's looking like a better fit as a main cog in the second unit. As for Harris, well … he still could go either way in his first season back with Avery Johnson, but this should certainly be a more interesting team than it was last year.
And, finally, the Rockets:
PG: Aaron Brooks(notes), Kyle Lowry(notes)
SG: Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, Jermaine Taylor(notes)
SF: Shane Battier(notes), Chase Budinger(notes), Mike Harris(notes)
PF: Luis Scola(notes), Jordan Hill(notes), Patrick Patterson(notes), Jared Jeffries(notes), Alexander Johnson(notes)
C: Yao Ming(notes), Brad Miller(notes), Chuck Hayes(notes)
Not much changes from a fantasy perspective, because everything here still hinges on the availability of a certain perpetually-injured center. This move frees up long-term cap room for the Rockets, and they'll still get defense (Battier) and offense (Budinger) when they want from the small forward spot. Battier could regain some of his roto "glue guy" glory, depending on how many minutes he can carve out. Lee is a solid two-way player but is looking at a reserve role as long as Martin can stay healthy.