Thursday, February 24, 2011

NBA Trade Deadline 2011: Instant Analysis

NBA Trade Deadline 2011 was full of twists, turns, surprises, and lots of shock value. Here's a list of all of the trades, and here now are the highlights (or lowlights depending on your perspective):

Trade I can Hardly Understand:
Celtics trade Center Kendrick Perkins (and PG Nate Robinson) to Ok City for Forward Jeff Green and Center Kristic - Well, I can't understand this trade. ESPN reports the trade just involves the player. Sports Illustrated reports, via the Boston Globe, that the Celtics also get the 2012 Clippers 1st round pick (that Ok City owned). If this is true, then I could believe the theory that the Celtics thought: a) Perkins is not going to be 100%, b) he's leaving in free agency, c) Jeff Green, a stretch PF on OKCity, but is really a SF, can backup Pierce since Marquis Daniels is injured for the season, and d) they get a top-10 pick. The other possible conspiracy theory is that the Celtics really don't respect Dwight Howard and the Magic, and believe they don't need a center to beat the Bulls, Heat, Magic, or the Lakers. Yes, I hope the Celtics get the 1st round pick, because otherwise, this makes no sense and they should have just gone for the championship this season.

Second trade I can Hardly Understand:
Blazers get Gerald Wallace's poisonous contract in exchange for two 1st round picks and Dante Cunningham
I can understand the Blazers wanting to continue to amass assets... but I don't understand why they acquired Gerald Wallace. He plays PF/SF... but the Blazers already have PF Aldridge and SF Batum (who is quite good). I just don't get where everyone will play. I also don't understand why they gave up two 1st round picks. Eesh. Hope it works out, especially since it would be silly to believe Brandon Roy is ever going to be 100%, since he's had too many knee surgeries between high school, college, and now.

GM that has Mad Skills: Houston GM:
Houston trades Aaron Brooks for Goran Dragic AND a 1st round pick; Houston trades Shane Battier for Hasheem Thabeet AND a 1st round pick
Look, it was known that Houston was shopping Battier, and that Brooks had somehow fallen out of favor. But, to somehow pick up two 1st round picks, as well as two young players who could still pan out? That's pretty impressive, I must say. Granted, I think Thabeet sucks, but there are so few 7-footers out there, you mine as well give it a try. Darko has finally embraced the role of defensive center (albeit 8 years after he was drafted). Dragic is still an unknown commodity. He exploded in last year's playoffs in a crucial playoff game... and then he has been awful this year. Not sure what's up with him. Perhaps the more important aspect of this trade is the fact that Steve Nash may be leaving, soon. Maybe next summer? We shall see.

Trade that Only Makes Sense if You Have a Rich Owner
Cavs trade Mo Williams for Baron Davis and Unprotected 1st round pick
Well... Baron Davis blows, but this trade is not about Baron Davis. It's about the fact that each contract is for the same length. So, essentially, the Cavs owner is paying about $12 million to get a top-10 draft pick in 2011! Sounds awesome, until you remember that the NBA's labor problems could result in many players not going out to the draft this year. Cavs fans, keep your fingers crossed.

Trade that Shook Everyone to the Core
Nets trade PG Devin Harris, PF Derrick Favors, two 1st round picks, for PG Deron Williams
I think what was shocking at first about this was that no one had any idea Deron Williams was going to be available, especially after Utah's coach had suddenly retired in response to Deron's antics. As it turns out, this is a great move for Utah. They did it because it was clear to them that Deron wasn't re-signing with the team in 2012. So, instead they have a highly regarded player (Favors), two 1st round picks (which should be high picks), and an above-average, former All-Star PG, albeit one with an attitude problem. That was a pretty good take! This trade gets into a lot of other issues, i.e. how you don't want to end up like Cleveland/Toronto and go for it all, only to have your superstar leave you high and dry with nothing but a sign-and-trade and some 2nd round picks. The NBA may have different rules after the strike, but as of right now, its become apparent that NBA stars will force their way onto whatever team they want (and they tend to be large cities). So... small/mid-size cities need to do things like Utah, or Denver (getting PG Felton, SF Gallinari, SG Chandler, C Mozgov) to keep their teams competitive.

Trade that is based on a High Level of Confidence
Cavs get C Erden, F Harangody, in exchange for a 2013 2nd-round draft pick
Apparently, the Celtics traded two players in exchange for a 2013 2nd-round draft pick. I originally thought they did it in exchange for SG Anthony Parker. Nope. Just a draft pick! SI believes they did this so that the Celtics can then pick up a couple of players who get bought out (I'm guessing F Troy Murphy and SG Anthony Parker?). Granted, I find it funny how the rumor all week is that the Cavs demanded Erden for Parker, and both sides wouldn't budge... until Parker wasn't included in the trade! The Celtics must be pretty confident of some players becoming available. Either that, or this Turkish center is not as good as he was hyped to be!


MJ said...

I agree with everything but the talk of Houston's GM being a good GM. I know he's a stats genius and was the darling of the NBA two seasons ago but, to date, he's built mediocre teams comprised exclusively of role players.

I realize that part of Houston's problem is that they were saddled with the dead money of Yao's and McGrady's contracts but they still made moves that I just don't understand (such as overpaying for Trevor Ariza two years ago or trying to build a team around Kevin Martin when Carl Landry had a cheaper contract and had more value).

Daryl Morey isn't a total disaster as an NBA GM but it wouldn't hurt if someone explained to him he won't ever be the GM of an NBA champion with a bunch of efficient, advanced stat-friendly players who don't have the ability to beat their man one-on-one once in a while or get calls from refs in a league that clearly values star power. It's an experiment doomed to fail (or plateau in the first round of the playoffs).

Thabeet sucks, by the way. Everyone knows it at this point.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

I think the team is built to plateau in the 1st round of the playoffs. Scola and Kevin Martin are very good. I'd say they are all-star capable players. Beyond that, there's not much on this team. Rolling the dice on Thabeet in exchange for Battier is fine simply because the Rockets are desperate for a center, and Battier was leaving anyway.

Yes, signing Ariza was a terrible, knee-jerk reaction. Morey gets negative points for that. I actually liked getting Kevin Martin in exchange for Carl Landry. I also liked getting C. Lee in exchange for Ariza.

MJ said...

So if you agree that the team is built to lose in the first round of the playoffs -- and currently they're not even in the playoffs, 11th in the Western Conference and four games out -- then how does Daryl Morey get kudos for being a good GM?

In most cases, a team that is built to max out as a first-round playoff loser isn't thought of as a very good thing.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

I think he's done well with the assets that he's had. I wasn't trying to say "morey's team can never get past the 1st round"... I was just trying to say "this team, as currently constructed, could only get to the 1st round then lose". in the future, things could change and get better. but, right now, just the 1st round.

MJ said...

I agree, things could get better for the Rockets. The question, for me, isn't about the future but about whether or not Morey is the right person to trust. Thus far I think he's been grossly overrated as a talent evaluator and GM.

If you ask me, he's the perfect candidate to be an assistant GM: he is on the cutting edge of advanced basketball statistics and understands why salary cap values matter but isn't good enough at the obvious moves or big-picture things. I think he genuinely believes that the best way to run a team is to have a bunch of role players and stat-friendly guys. 65 years of NBA history tells us that you actually do need a star player or two.

Gutsy Goldberg said...

MJ - that's a very good point. As opposed to continually getting guys who are great at the little things, why doesn't he have a superstar?

However, you have to remember, he had Yao (and T-Mac) who he had inherited. It was a pretty big move last year to somehow turn Carl Landry into Kevin Martin. Gratned... Kevin Martin is not a superstar who can push you over the top. He also acquired Scola in a very amazing move, by simply trading a 2nd round pick and the rights to a PG (V-Span from Greece... I looked that up). So, he amazingly acquired two borderline all-stars for not much. That's pretty impressive. Granted, Scola was an unknown when he was acquired.

You are right though... at some point he needs a super-star caliber player if the Rockets are going to actually really succeed.

MJ said...

@Gutsy: I agree that he inherited two giant financial dead-weights with Yao and T-Mac and that he needed to maneuver around those contracts for the past few years.

I suppose once this season ends we'll see what kind of GM Morey really is. Yao will be off the books and the Rockets might have a little bit of cap space to sign a free agent (or pull off a sign-and-trade). They have several first round picks to use as trade bait also.

It'll be interesting to see if Morey continues down the path of NBA specialists that can't carry a franchise or if he finally starts going after some true all-star talent.