Utah: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, 2011 first-round draft pick, 2012 first-round draft pick from Golden State, and cash considerations
New Jersey: Deron Williams
New Jersey needed to gamble. They came up empty in free agency, and could not convince Carmelo Anthony to commit to a long-term extension. What is interesting is that Deron Williams is a better player than Carmelo Anthony, and plays a more important position. Deron Williams makes the players around him better, and while Carmelo Anthony is a tremendous scorer, possibly the best true scorer in the league, he does not get his teammates the easy buckets in the way Williams does. They now have a year and a half to convince Deron Williams that New Jersey/Brooklyn is the place to be, and a place where he can win a title. With only $41 million committed to the payroll in 2011-12, the presence of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez makes the Nets a more attractive option. The team has the two most difficult to fill positions filled. The team will still have the Lakers first round pick as well as a high second rounder, so there will be a multitude of options for adding pieces. While there is no guarantee of this plan working, it is a worthy gamble given the potential return should Deron Williams stay. This trade is no different from a team drafting a young player for his upside. Even in the worst case scenario, even if the Nets are still as mediocre next February, there are still going to be a market for Williams. Teams will still want to acquire him, and that will allow the Nets to recover some of the assets they gave up.
Utah is a totally different situation, and it reeks of an inexperienced owner who is still learning on the job. Larry Miller owned the Jazz for twenty-five years, and for that time they were as stable an organization as there was in professional sports. Since his passing, Greg Miller has overseen a time with tremendous amount of roster turnover and a coaching change. One cannot help but contrast that to the reign of his father. Last Wednesday, Greg Miller said that he decided to deal Deron Williams on a “feeling.” Feelings are subject to the moment, and the most recent moment saw Carmelo Anthony leave Denver for a bigger market. Would that feeling be different had the most recent moment been Manu Ginobili re-signing with San Antonio or Tony Parker signing an extension? Would that feeling had been different had the most recent been Kevin Durant committing to Oklahoma City through 2015-16? As Greg Miller said, Deron Williams never indicated he was going to leave, just that there was no indicator he was definitely staying. Now, off that feeling, the Jazz are in possession of Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, and two first round picks. Favors is still in his basketball infancy and needs time, but is the equivalent of having the top pick in this summer’s draft in that he is 19 years old and the same age as most college freshmen. The two picks should be interesting. While the Jazz have an excellent reputation for talent evaluation and development, their most recent picks have been less than impressive. The past four first round picks have been Gordon Hayward, Eric Maynor, Kosta Koufos, and Morris Almond. To merit giving up a top ten talent like Deron Williams, they need to come away someone who will become a star. In the NBA, three rotation-caliber players do not equal one star. True stars like Deron Williams can make two fringe players look like solid rotation players. The Jazz gave up a star, and now have to search for another.
New York: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Corey Brewer, Anthony Carter, and Renaldo Balkman
Denver: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, a future first-round draft selection, two future second-round draft selections originally acquired from Golden State, the right to exchange 2016 first-round draft selections and cash considerations
Minnesota: Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry, and cash considerations
It is really amazing how this trade has been so poorly understood. The Knicks received the two best players in the trade. The only two stars in this deal went in their direction. They gave up the lesser pieces to a team clinging to a .500 record in the Eastern Conference, but to hear initial reviews it would seem as if Denver hoodwinked New York. That simply did not happen. Danilo Gallinari is valued for his shooting ability, but is a career 42 percent from the field. He is not going to guard anyone, and when his shot is not falling is a liability on the floor. Felton is an average starting point guard. Wilson Chandler plays hard and has some skills, but he doesn’t do anything at an elite level. Anthony Randolph entered the NBA as a potential-filled prospect, and three years later is no better. He is only more traveled as both Golden State and New York quickly moved him while he was still young enough, and possessing enough intrigue, to pass for a project. Timofey Mozgov is an undrafted rookie whose best trait is being 7’1. He will run the floor and play hard, but is not very good. Shelden Williams will run the floor, play hard, and be not be particularly good as well. That was the cost to get the two best players on the consistently 50-win Nuggets. The trade did not elevate the Knicks to an elite status in the East, but it makes them better than they were.
Denver did not rid itself of the troublesome Al Harrington or Chris Anderson contracts, but do now have three main pieces from the memorable 2010 Knicks team that won 29 games in a year dedicated to buying time before free agency. In the short-term, they might be able to be reasonably competitive so long as Nene and Kenyon Martin stay healthy, but why would Nene re-sign with Denver after the season? Will unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith and restricted free agent Arron Afflalo want to stick around? Are they going to want to overpay to keep Wilson Chandler when he possesses inflated D’Antoni-system numbers? The true fallout on Denver’s end will not hit them until after this season.
As for Minnesota, the acquisition of Anthony Randolph is just fitting. They can change the names and distribution of who gets what numbers, but the ineptitude of that franchise remains the same. Just because Minnesota will play Anthony Randolph, it does not mean he is getting better or more deserving of time. David Kahn has announced that the rebuilding of Minnesota is complete, and that he likes the players that they have. The next general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves will probably feel differently.
Boston: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic
Oklahoma City: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, and a protected 2012 first-round pick from the Clippers
Has there ever been a player who was so supposedly integral to what a team did that when he was injured the team proceeded to go 33-10? Kendrick Perkins was the starting center on a championship Celtics team, and with that comes a great deal of appreciation and fanfare. There is absolutely nothing wrong with appreciating a hard-nosed, blue collar big man, but Perkins is not irreplaceable. With the contracts handed out to Garnett, Pierce, Allen, and Rondo, Boston simply could not afford to overpay Perkins to the degree to which he wants to be overpaid next summer. The Celtics dealt Perkins, and in return got a backup forward in Jeff Green who will give them a forward that will keep Paul Pierce from having to play 48 minutes in the playoffs. The Celtics were going to burn out Pierce if they did not bring in another small forward. They face the real proposition of facing either Stephen Jackson or Danny Granger in the first round, Joe Johnson in the second round, and LeBron James in the conference finals. Not having a backup is as problematic as the supposed lack of size. In reality, they are replacing the paper starter of Perkins, whose knee injury will keep him out another 2-3 weeks, with Shaquille O’Neal, Nenad Krstic, and Jermaine O’Neal. With the roster spots opened up from their other deals, they could bring in Troy Murphy or Leon Powe. The idea of Rasheed Wallace returning has been floated. They have not gone from LeBron James to Christian Eyenga. It is a surprising swap in that teams who are among the favorites to win a championship typically do not move contributors, but it was a necessary move that likely will pay dividends in May and June.
As for Oklahoma City, the deal helps them on paper. When healthy, Kendrick Perkins is a solid starting center who offers old-school toughness inside. The problem is that he is in the final year of his contract, and has played all of twelve games this season. It is understandable as to why the Thunder made the move they did, but it only has the possibility of helping them if Perkins is healthy enough to get on the floor and in good enough shape to stay there. The other aspect of this deal for the Thunder is the moving of Serge Ibaka into the starting lineup. Ibaka intrigues many, but might be an NBA Leroy Hoard. If you needed three yards, Hoard would get you three yards. If a team needs Serge Ibaka to just be big and athletic without regard to fouling or knowing where to be, he can be big and athletic. If he is asked to be a meaningful player in the playoffs, he might just be big and athletic. The addition of Nate Robinson into the deal just twists the knife further into Seattle. Not only did they lose their team just after getting a franchise-altering player like Kevin Durant, but the relocated franchise also brings in the best athlete to come out of Seattle in the past decade.
Los Angeles Clippers: Mo Williams and Jamario Moon
Cleveland: Baron Davis and the Clippers’ 2011 first-round draft pick
The Los Angeles Clippers really seem confident for a team that is 21-39. Going from Baron Davis to Mo Williams is mostly a negligible swap. Even with Baron Davis having a semi-productive season, he still is not the same player he was in 2007 and 2008 when he earned his current contract. While for much of his career, Davis was as good as his motivation, he is now only respectable when he plays motivated. When healthy, Mo Williams is a respectable point guard, hence the fairness. As part of the deal, Mo Williams extinguished his player option for next season as part of the agreement in his trade to the Clippers meaning that he will be around for at least the 2011-12 season with an opt out after that year. If Williams opts in to the final year of his deal the Clippers sold a lottery pick for $8.5 million in savings, and a player in Jamario Moon who plays the same position and is stylistically similar to their backup small forward Al-Farouq Aminu. It is difficult to understand why a team would pay that high a price to rid itself of an occasionally diva-like point guard when for as great as Blake Griffin could be there is still a lack of overall talent on the roster. The goal of the organization should be higher than to simply be pleased with entertaining mediocrity. For Cleveland, the deal is a no-brainer. They need a talent infusion, and it is not going to come from free agency. Two top ten picks can go a long way. In as much as the 2011 draft class is panned for lack of star power, there are still prospects who can be solid players.
Phoenix: Aaron Brooks
Houston: Goran Dragic, protected 2011 first-round draft pick (their pick if they do not make the playoffs, otherwise Orlando’s)
Houston: Hasheem Thabeet, protected 2013 first-round pick, and cash considerations
Memphis: Shane Battier
In 2009, the Rockets took the Lakers to game seven with a rotation of Aaron Brooks, Ron Artest, Shane Battier, Yao Ming, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Von Wafer, Kyle Lowry, and Chuck Hayes. Less than two years later, they only have three players left and then also Yao who has played in five games since that series. So much for up-and-coming team, so much for genius GM, and so much for the playoffs. The Rockets are now a team that appears to have no direction. It is a collection of retreads. They have a few young scorers who do not guard anyone, and a massive collection one-dimensional big men who unfortunately have to play on both ends of the court. Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson, and Chase Budinger are the only players who have not been given up on by another team. While the talent level of the team as a whole is not that bad, it is an undeniably flawed group. Granted, first-round picks are never without value. Goran Dragic might not add anything Houston was missing, but he is a capable player in his own right. With Brooks being in the dumps, Dragic will represent a situational upgrade. Even Hasheem Thabeet has value because he is 7’3. His stage of development in his second season is not that different from Andris Biedrins, so it is not as if it is without precedent that a big man has overcome being that bad in his first couple years. It is just that the Rockets, a far-cry from a hard-nosed defensive team that played so great together just two years ago, are running so quickly from that identity making these moves seem foolish.
Phoenix finally acquired a real backup point guard, and probable successor, to Steve Nash. The breakup of Brooks and Houston was complicated. Brooks had become increasingly unhappy with his diminished role this season, and was suspended this month for leaving the bench during a game. It was not a professional response to the problem, but once Brooks recovered from his early ankle injury, he should not have been relegated to a limited role. It has greatly impacted his play. A change was best for both sides, and Phoenix could be the beneficiary. The San Antonio Spurs have released the blueprint for how to handle veteran stars, and the Suns should adapt it. They can limit Steve Nash to 30 minutes per game with Aaron Brooks on the roster while not sacrificing regular season wins. To get Brooks extra time, they could go small and let Brooks play off the ball for short bursts as well. With the extra pick they got from Orlando earlier in the year, it was not an especially steep cost for them to get a better fit for their team.
With Rudy Gay out for what will probably be the season, Memphis needed to add a veteran to help them make a playoff push. It is a short-term move that comes at a steep cost. The team has now dealt two future first-round picks, and that is risky behavior when the team is not a title contender. The contracts of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph are expiring after this year. The Grizzlies are going to have a difficult time keeping their team together, and they have traded their most cost-effective means of replacing players.
Portland: Gerald Wallace
Charlotte: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks, protected 2011 first-round pick, protected 2013 first-round pick, and cash considerations
Oklahoma City: Nazr Mohammed
Charlotte: D.J. White, Morris Peterson
Portland’s injury-plagued roster has been playing too hard and too good for the organization to either stand pat or break it up. To their credit, they went out and gave up assets and took on money to bring in Gerald Wallace. The deal does not elevate them to the level of a title contender, but they are going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Wallace gives the Blazers another guy who goes 100 miles an hour at all times. He has not made an All-Star team and had the success he has had in his career because he is especially skilled. He is as blue-collar as small forwards come, and he might be finding his perfect fit on a team that has other guys to share the scoring load. He is going to be an incredibly versatile piece that will allow Portland to go with a number of different looks.
In giving up Nenad Krstic for an injured Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder needed to also add a rental to their frontcourt. Mohammed is not a great center, but he is capable of giving them a Nenad Krstic-type contributor at the starting spot for the time being. If Kendric Perkins does not return to full health this season, Mohammed will not save them. If Perkins does come back, Mohammed is a solid backup.
The moves accomplished three things for the Bobcats. First, since Larry Brown walked away, the team has started to give Gerald Henderson some minutes. Of late, he has been playing well. This will allow him more minutes and more shots. Second, dealing Wallace allows the Bobcats to move Stephen Jackson to the small forward position full-time. Three, it gives them more flexibility with both draft picks and cap room going forward. Gerald Wallace was the face of the team, but that does not make him the star. It has been debatable as to whether Stephen Jackson was the team’s best player. The Bobcats were a tough-minded defensive team before this deal. Their style has allowed them to compete with more talented teams, especially when at home. They are still that team after the deal, but their long-term outlook is not as bleak with the additional assets they received.
Golden State: Troy Murphy and a second-round pick in 2012
New Jersey: Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright
This was very much a zero-sum deal. Avery Johnson had little interest in Troy Murphy not playing defense, and banished him to the farthest reach of the bench. If they did not deal him, they were going to buy him out. Brandan Wright was in a similar spot with Golden State where the organization was ready to move on. The Warriors have a habit of running players values into the dirt before trading them, and that is what happened with Wright. Injuries have played a role in his lack of development, and he remains the same project with upside that he was when he entered the league. He has ability with length and shooting touch but was never able to gain the playing time and confidence to bring it out. The Nets get a trial run to see whether they can get more out of Wright than the Warriors did, and Golden State gets a second round pick and a roster spot with which they have used to bring back Jeff Adrien.
Atlanta: Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong
Washington: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first-round draft pick.
Atlanta is paying a high price to try to get into the second round in the East. Mike Bibby has taken major declines over the past few seasons, and has basically been relegated to being a three-point shooter. With Jeff Teague being slow to develop, a trade was the best option. Hinrich has always been better as an undersized two-guard than a point, but Atlanta would not be asking him to be a traditional point. With Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford often operating as pseudo-points, Hinrich will be able to play off the ball on offense much of the time while giving the Hawks someone who can defend the point effectively. The Wizards just continue to acquire assets in the hopes of finding keepers to surround John Wall. They now have five rookies on their roster, four of whom were taken in the first round, and possess three picks next summer that will all be in the top forty.
New Orleans: Carl Landry
Sacramento: Marcus Thornton and cash considerations.
With a return to relevance this season, the Hornets needed help up front. In as much as David West and Emeka Okafor are a quality starting frontcourt pairing, they simply did not have the depth necessary to compete in the playoffs. Jason Smith, Aaron Gray, D.J. Mbenga, and David Andersen were not going to allow the Hornets to win in May. Carl Landry is a thick 6’9 power forward who has experience playing as an undersized center from his time with the 2009 Rockets. His addition will go a long way when the Hornets are staring down a first round date with the likes of the Thunder, Spurs Mavericks, or Lakers. The Kings get a young scoring guard in Thornton who struggled early on to transition from Jeff Bower to Monty Williams, but still has been a very productive player in his first year and a half in the league. With Tyreke Evans being out for three weeks, they should be able to get a good look at Thornton to see whether he is worth keeping long term.
Cleveland: Luke Harangody and Semih Erden
Boston: 2013 second-round draft pick
Sacramento: Marquis Daniels
Boston: 2017 second-round draft pick and cash considerations
The Celtics wanted to open up a roster spots. Sacramento was under the salary floor, so they were either going to add salary or disperse the money to their current players at the end of the year. Cleveland took the young 7-foot Erden and Luke Harangody in their search for keepers. The Cleveland-Boston deal also resulted in the waiving of Leon Powe, who is a candidate to sign with his old team.
Toronto: James Johnson
Chicago: 2012 first-round draft pick from Miami
It is another zero sum trade. The Raptors got a young forward with athleticism and potential. James Johnson just turned 24, so it is not as if he is much older than whoever it is they would draft this summer at the end of the first round. James Johnson is an interesting player after losing all that weight in the offseason. He was a college 4 who was not big enough to play that spot in the NBA, and needed to transition. The weight loss was an important part of that, but was not a polished enough player to get time behind Luol Deng with new acquisitions Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver also vying for those wing minutes. The Bulls were not going to use him. Dealing him is going to get him an opportunity elsewhere, and get the team received a mulligan on the pick.