Well, so much for the wisdom of my mock draft notions. However, the trades continue – and almost all of them were driven by money. We saw Chicago and Miami seriously clear the deck to possibly add one of the monster free agents. We also saw a smaller, leaner team like Oklahoma City take advantage of the financial aid. So let’s go through the trades and where we end up. We discussed some of them previously, but now for draft night itself.
Chicago Bulls send Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick (Kevin Serraphin) to the Washington Wizards for a future 2nd round pick: In other words, the Bulls drove Kirk Hinrich to O’Hare in order to get themselves a chance to get 2 of the big kahuna free agents. Obviously if this nets Lebron and Chris Bosh, this is a major win. That said, the Wizards did pretty well. One can quibble on the cash, but the Wizards got a young raw body in Serraphin they could try to develop or stuff overseas – and Hinrich is a very useful 3rd guard to go with Arenas and Wall. The Wizards might suck next year, but there will be hope and interest.
New Orleans Hornets trade the 11th pick (Cole Aldrich) and Morris Peterson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 21st pick (Craig Brackins) and the 26th pick (Quincy Pondexter): The Hornets were up against the luxury tax – and these problems endangered the ability to keep the team together, and perhaps made a previously unfathomable Chris Paul trade even theoretically possible. Fortunately for real NBA fans this might have been averted. Of course count on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sam Presti to pounce on the chance to play the draft game. The Thunder need more bench scoring and more size – Peterson can supply the former. Cole Aldrich is not a star – but he is one of the surest things in the draft. He is a rotation player. The Hornets with Pondexter get an elite athlete and defender, and Craig Brackins has the inside-outside potential to be a good stretch-4 in the league. Considering they did this deal for financial reasons – they got a solid talent haul.
Oklahoma City Thunder send the 18th pick (Eric Bledsoe) to the Los Angeles Clippers for a lottery protected future #1: Bill Belichick would have wept with joy at this trade. The Thunder, seeing limited possibilities in this draft, end up spinning Bledsoe to the Clippers for a protected pick. This keeps them with future draft assets, and if the Clippers make the playoffs it will be as a low seed so what the hell. For the Clippers, they do get a talented guy who can possibly spell Baron Davis.
Dallas Mavericks trade cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 25th pick (Dominique Jones): The Grizzlies had a bunch of picks – they did not want to pay them all, so this made sense – though an international stash might have been better in a stronger international year. Why the Mavericks moved up to get a guy who replicates what Jason Terry and Rodrique Beaubois do? Hey, it’s Cuban’s money.
Dallas Mavericks trade the 50th pick (Solomon Alabi) to the Toronto Raptors for a future 2nd round pick and cash: Another roster spot the Mavs did not want to pay. For the Raptors, who are so size deprived, this was a no brainer. It’s a shot in the dark – but unlike a first rounder there is no onerous contract to worry about.
Atlanta Hawks trade the 24th pick (Damion James) to the New Jersey Nets for the 27th pick (Jordan Crawford) and the 31st pick (Tibor Pleiss) - the Hawks spin the 31st pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash: Damion James is a nice player – one of the most NBA ready guys, though his upside is limited. What is hard to understand is why the Nets dealt a valuable pick (#31) to move up 3 spots in the draft. The marginal value of the move up is nil. Jordan Crawford has much more upside than James does. The Hawks wanted cash more than another player, so of course the Thunder swoop in to clean up the mess and collect another asset to stash overseas.
Minnesota Timberwolves trade the 16th pick (Luke Babbitt) and Ryan Gomes to the Portland TrailBlazers for Martell Webster: This is another curious deal. Gomes is a useful and only partially guaranteed deal. Luke Babbitt has as much upside as any wing in the draft. Martell Webster is a promising young player – but has not really shown that wow. How this is a fair match I don’t know. Given that Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard was doing this after being told he would be canned – this is a much better deal than his employers deserve.
Minnesota Timberwolves trade the 23rd pick (Trevor Booker) and the 56th pick (Hamadi Ndiaye) to the Washington Wizards for the 30th pick (Lazar Hayward) and 35th pick (Nemanja Bjeilca): I have no opinion on this. Booker can play – but I was surprised the Wizards agreed so much.
Indiana Pacers trade the 57th pick (Ryan Reid) and cash to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 51st pick (Magnum Rolle): Rolle is 24, but athletic and tall. Pacers need that. I have no idea who Reid is.
Overall, the Blazers, Thunder and Celtics (who got Avery Bradley – a Monta Ellis talent – with more defense – and Luke Harangody who profiles as the type of player NBA types undervalue) managed the exercise nicely. The Timberwolves were full of sound and fury – but not sure where it took them. And then there are the pants (h/t Esquire):