So, the Timberwolves didn't make any deadline trades. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all the years of crazy Kahnsanity, doing nothing is not only somewhat of a relief, it's practically downright inspired. Yes, the Wolves have a blinding weakness at the wing positions (although Webster has been taking some of the glare off of late). But 'fixing' that with a last-second band-aid deal that ships out a stable, highly productive player (Ridnour) to bring in an unstable ballstopper who thinks he's God's gift to the scoreboard is not smart management. Especially when the unicorn is sidelined.
But there were plenty of other teams causing chaos last week, and it was hard to make sense of it all. But with a week gone by, it actually all is making sense now. There was indeed a method to all the madness. Let's take a look at who did what, and why, generate some thoughts on the future of Puppy hoops, and even do the unthinkable: second guess Sam Presti.
The trade that didn't happen:
Orlando trades Dwight Howard to: no one
There are always a lot of proposed deals that don't actually happen at any given trade deadline, but there was, of course, one deal everyone was watching because we were certain it would happen.
I'm still very uncertain (and still in disbelief) that Howard not only choose to stay, but but it in writing. He waived his early termination option (similar to what Chris Paul did when he was dealt to the Clippers), meaning the Magic are guaranteed to hold his rights through 2013. Why would he do this when he was (is?) so intent on leaving? Was it because he really was promised the power to fire Smith/Van Gundy? Was it because he didn't want to be hated like LeBron? Was it because Magic owner DeVos had his grandchildren call him? I don't know, but the Magic won big time with this. They now have a full year to revamp their organization (not just roster...in this case, firing Smith wouldn't be such a bad idea) and a couple other clubs are now left scrambling.
The Nets lost with this...and we'll get to that in a second....but the real loser in this is Dallas. They went 110% in with the idea of lading Dwight Howard and Deron Williams in free agency. Hell, they dismantled a championship squad. They gave up Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea. They tried to give up Shawn Marion. They were convinced that D12 would hit free agency and choose them, and now that's gone. Sure, they could still get Williams and try again in 2013, but....well, it's a hell of a price to pay for guessing wrong.
The trades that did happen
- Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson to Golden State
- Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee
Stephen Jackson stayed with the Warriors for all of 20 minutes, so we'll leave him out for now. What Golden State essentially traded for was a better draft pick....which is exactly what they intended. With Bogut still out, Curry still out, and Ellis now running around like a madman in green instead of gold, the Warriors are in all out tank mode. I hate the tactic, but it's part of the business because it works. GS is banking a ton on Bogut and Curry being healthy (something they both perpetually try to prove as not possible), but should they both come back and the Warriors snag, say, Harrison Barnes in the draft, well....a Curry/Thompson/Barnes/Lee/Bogut starting 5 would be pretty damn good.
As for the Bucks, they got firepower in an undersized, loose cannon kind of way. Scott Skiles is going to have a heart attack. I'm not sure why Milwaukee thinks Ellis/Jennings will get any further than Ellis/Curry, but for a team in desperate need of some scoring punch, trading a constantly injured center for a guy who can straight up get buckets isn't the worst thing in the world. Their playoff chances are certainly a lot stronger now. And Udoh...well, he's got some serious defensive potential in him. Skiles won't have any problems with him.
Sanchez is still overseas, so this basically is to save Memphis some money. Not sure what the Sixers plan to do with Sam Young when they already have his rich man's version in Thaddeus Young, but eh....maybe they're trying to bolster the bench after moving Evan Turner into the starting 5 and waiving Andres Nocioni.
- Leandro Barbosa to Indiana
- Second round pick to Toronto
Having been once beaten by Detroit's '5 equal parts' strategy, the Pacers seem determined to not only duplicate it, but expand it. So far this season, Grander, West, Collison, Hibbert, George, Hill and Hansbrough have made for an effective '7 equal parts' team. Barbosa figures to make that 8. The Pacers are eager to make a statement after what seems like forever in no-man's land, and considering this only cost them a second rounder, it's a pretty good deal for them.
- Second round pick to Golden State
- Cash to Atlanta
Why is this being done now? Can't you just do this on draft night like everyone else? Pshh, whatever Atlanta...
- Ramon Session and Christian Eyenga to Los Angeles (Lakers)
- Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, 2012 first round pick, something something 2013 first round pick to Cleveland
So this deal seemed to generate quite a bit of controversy, as it seems to heavily favor the Lakers. Which...in the short term...it absolutely does. Ramon Sessions is a really good basketball player. Aside from the year where Kurt Rambis somehow managed to cut his PER from 17 down to 13 and his WS/48 from.12 to .03, Sessions has consistently been a quality player on the court. And pick and roll ball works pretty damn well when you've got two 7' towers and Kobe to choose from. And Eyenga is an athletic freak....if he can find a way to play off Kobe and Gasol the way Trevor Ariza did, watch out.
But the deal doesn't actually shortchange the Cavs when you look at the big picture. They're a rebuilding team with two really good, young players in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson (actually, 'really good' undersells Irivng by and enormous amount). They went all out to get two first rounders last year and it paid off big time for them. With this trade, they've got the same scenario again....two first rounders in 2012, and two first rounders in 2013. Six first round picks in three years...that's the way you rebuild a ballclub.
This was another deal that initially generated a lot of controversy, but now with a week of hindsight, it turns out that only is it not crazy, but we pretty much all got the initial read on it wrong.
Portland is now in a tanking competition with Golden State. Good for them, and I mean that. Because it means they've finally let go of the Roy/Oden dream that sadly didn't and never was going to happen. They messed up, and it cost them two years and a really damn good GM (Rich Cho), but they made it in the end. Futhermore, dealing Wallace means they're basically guaranteed to be able to keep Nic Batum (sadness....) They're plan hopefully now is to get rid of Felton and Crawford and rebuild with Aldridge, Batum, and either a really good point guard or really good center.
As for the Nets, Gerald Wallace is a good player, but that's not why they wanted him. They wanted him because Orlando wants him. GForce is their last, desperate attempt to get Dwight Howard by stocking up for next year's trade deadline....their last chance.
More Blazer tanking, although Thabeet could end up being useful if someone dedicates time and patience with him.
The Rockets meanwhile bolster their frontcourt for a playoff run. Camby's old, but he can still rebound and block the hell out of the ball.
- Richard Jefferson and a first round pick to Golden State
- Stephen Jackson to San Antonio
Jefferson never fit in with the Spurs. He had his moments, but he just doesn't play their brand of basketball and his offense has dropped off a cliff since his Nets days. Stephen Jackson can still score the ball (as the Wolves found out first hand last night) and more importantly, has Coach Pop's trust, which is more than Jefferson ever got. San Antonio knows the Tim Duncan era is coming to an end. Good for them for going all in on one last championship run.
Fisher has been waived and signed with the Thunder today, so this is essentially Hill for a first rounder. Not sure how I feel about it. The intent was for the Lakers to save cash and the Rockets to par their rotation down to the veterans, but well...LA needs more help, not less, and the Rockets' veterans are really really veteran. Hill would have been useful when Camby retires or gets hurt (again).
And for those of you wondering why Fish didn't just go back to LA, the answer is he can't. You can't resign with a team that waives you until your current deal expires or a year has passed, whichever comes first.
- Nene and Brian Cook to Washington
- JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver
- Nick Young to Los Angeles (Clippers)
This deal happened last-second and has kind of been forgotten about because of that. But the truth is, this is probably the biggest (and best) deal of the deadline.
Nick Young cannot replace Chauncey Billups. Whereas Billups is an extremely smart, savvy veteran who can play some exceptional defense, Young is basically Gerald Green 2.0 (or Gerald Green 0.5, depending on how you want to frame it...) He has a minimal grasp on the fundamentals and even less discipline, and no defense whatsoever. But he can really really put points on the board. Considering the Clippers don't defend anyway...and that Young is cheap with no long term commitment....getting him for essentially Brian Cook ain't half bad.
For the Nuggets, JaVale McGee is an untapped planet's worth of potential. He's big, has reach, and drops from the sky when he jumps, and has shown signs of being a really productive player and effective defender. Washington was not a good situation for him. He had no chance of developing surrounded by an ineffective coaching staff and airheaded teammates (yes, that includes you John Wall). By dealing Nene for McGee, Denver was not only able to free up the space to sign Wilson Chandler to a long term deal, it also acquired a center who could very well end up being better than Nene anyway.
Washington, meanwhile, gets rid of an unreliable, undisciplined player and gets a reliable, disciplined one. It's not going to fix everything that's wrong with them (or even come close) but it's a step in the right direction. They need stability and quality players who produce, and Nene is both.
So here's where I have to question Sam Presti...
Make no mistake, Presti has done an exception job of building up the Thunder. Yes he was gifted Kevin Durant. But he also made smart (and unexpected) picks in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, was smart enough to clear the deck for Serge Ibaka, and traded up for Kendrick Perkins.
That said, I can't help but wonder if the Thunder could have been even better.
For one, Nene was very interested in joining OKC. Granted there were no guarantees, but the Thunder did cut off that option with the Perkins trade. I'm not at all sold on Perkins/Ibaka. Neither can score. The Thunder are vulnerable to teams with poser scoring on the inside, which includes potential playoff opponents Memphis and Los Angeles (both of them) and the Heat (check LeBron's numbers in the post this year. He's having an unreal season) Nene would have done far more for the Thunder than Perkins, I think. Better floor balance, far better scoring punch, and he's still a good rebounder/defender. Knowing now that Denver was more than willing to part with him, well...
I also still believe the Thunder will ultimately regret not offering Westbrook for Chris Paul. Westbrook is just so hellbent on scoring the ball. He's an unnatural point guard, and that has shown through more than ever this season with Eric Maynor out. Westbrook has to actively remind himself to be a point guard to be a point guard, and that's going to haunt him and the team when the chips are down. Chris Paul is older and more injury-prone, yes. But he's also more balanced, a natural distributor, and....in my opinion at least....just flat out better.
Durant/Harden/Ibaka/Westbrook/Perkins is a hell of a core to work with. But, well....I can't help but shake the feeling it could have easily been Durant/Harden/Ibaka/Nene/Paul. I'd take the latter over the former without even blinking.
As for the Timberwolves....
The problem on the wing is still there, and not going to be solved in a deadline trade. So what now?
There's the draft of course. I've vowed not to do anything in-depth about the draft until when/if the Wolves are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But just as a quick say, it would be worth it for the team to get back into the top half of the first round. There's talent there, led by my personal favorite, Jeremy Lamb.
There's also several possibilities out there for a trade. With Nic Batum effectively off the table, my new focus is Dorell Wright. He was pretty upset he didn't go to Milwaukee with Monta Ellis, and is probably going to take a backseat to Klay Thompson soon. I'm guessing he'll be available this summer, and at a not-outrageous price. Ray Allen is still a possibility, as is OJ Mayo.
I also think the Wolves still need to add elite size to their frontcourt in some fashion. John Henson intrigues me as a draft prospect. I'd personally pay a premium for Pau Gasol or JaVale McGee. Something to match up with the towers like Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. (Hell, even old man Duncan can still throw it down on us...)
What say you?