Dare to be Stupid: Your 2012 NBA Trade Deadline

Sadly, this year’s deadline passed with several deals but no real earth shattering ones (well except for maybe one).  Obviously, Dwight Howard’s flights of fancy put a bunch of teams into chaos.  Indeed, Stephen A Smith laughably (any other kind of SAS piece) thought Howard owed the Nets an apology for acting like he has control of his future employment.  Hey, if Danny Ainge would pimp out Paul Pierce without even a hint of a qualm, Howard not being straight when he has some pull should be lauded.  At least he did not shit on an American city on tv.

But then what are we left with – a bunch of midlevel deals that showed that as long as some teams are managed by dummies and others are not hilarity can ensure.  We are also left wondering why the lockout ever took place when some teams still are overpaying schmucks.

Warriors trade Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson

It is instructive to note that the Jazz own the Warriors first rounder unless its a top 7 pick.  What better way to try to save your draft than trading for guys who can’t play.  If this was all the Warriors did it would have been a smart move.  Bogut is an elite defensive C and unless he is like Sam Jackson in Unbreakable (given his luck I can’t rule this out) he will return and help them become a far more professional culture on that side of thr floor.  But Bogut is hurt so the Warriors,  talent starved with the injuries could save their pick with losing.

For the Bucks, they are actually well run, so this move makes sense.  Ellis is overrated but has elite scoring in him.  The Bucks needed that.  Yeah he is an unerringly bad defender, but in GS he will finally be accountable to a coach who does not mail it in on that end.  Also the Bucks have guards like Shawn Livingston and Beno Udrih who can check big guards.  Udoh is a capable defending big and unlike Bogut he is healthy.  Plus this cleans their balance sheet for next season.  Shrewd dealing for a small market.  Yeah, this is not going to win a title – but they got good controllable players – and that is not trivial, and it could get them into the playoffs over the Knicks.

Warriors trade Stephen Jackson to Spurs for Richard Jefferson and the Spurs 1st Rounder in 2012

If the Warriors stuck with their first move, I’d understand.  But alas, they traded instead for a late first round pick and the right to pay Richard Jefferson for a year and 11 million dollars longer than they would have had to pay Stephen Jackson.  Sure, Jefferson is a semicompetent pro, but for a tanking strategy (referenced above), it is probably not that helpful.  It’s like they studied Sam Presti and Kevin Pritchard’s innovations of renting out cap space for future assets, but did not process it fully.  A first rounder is nice, but is the 25th pick worth 11 million bucks?  For the Spurs, it clears their 2013 balance sheet up – and Popovich connected with Stephen Jackson during the 2003 rodeo.  Jackson will just be part of their wing rotation, but he can fit in there – and more cheaply.  There is a reason the Spurs are the Spurs.

Raptors trade Leandro Barbosa to the Pacers for a 2012 2nd round pick; Grizzlies trade Sam Young to the Sixers for the rights to Ricky Sanchez

Two straight salary dumps by teams turn into two decent depth moves for everybody else involved.  I have no idea who Ricky Sanchez is, and I am pretty sure you don’t either.  Basically he is filler so the Grizzlies can say they acquired something instead of just giving Young away.  Young was being blocked in the Memphis rotation  - but he is still a player with some sort of value.  Thus it is a bit weird to have Philly take him for free.  Barbosa represented a salary millstone for Toronto, so the Pacers take him off their hands for the rest of the season.  But once again, it’s a money trail not a basketball one – the Pacers get another solid scorer for their very deep team.  Neither trade is a homerun, but it is hard to knock them either.

Cavaliers trade Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga to the Lakers for Luke Walton and their 2012 1st rounder (from Dallas)

Yippee.  The Cavaliers now have four of the top 40 picks in the upcoming 2012 draft.  But they are paying Luke Walton 2 years for nothing in order to secure one of the picks.  THIS is why the Cavaliers are where they are and the Lakers … well, aren’t.  Ramon Sessions is a fringy starting level PG.  He sucks defensively, is kind of a pick and roll guy who needs the ball – definitely a non-triangle point man.  He is no Derrick Rose.  However, the Lakers at the point did not have Derrick Rose.  They did not have Derrick Rose, they did not even have Jalen Rose – they had Derek Fisher’s corpse.  The Lakers in this move have improved not just a weakness, but one of the worst position situations anybody had in the NBA.  To boot, they got Eyenga, the sort of super athletic lottery ticket throw in that baseball guys like Keith Law (I know, I link to his personal blog but you need to be reading that too) wholeheartedly approve of.  Eyenga has shown in past cups of coffee that there is some there there.  For the Lakers to get a starter, a projectable wing player AND dump Luke Walton’s contract, all for a pick that won’t crack their rotation?  The value of a first rounder is real, but it’s not the price the Cavs paid for it – not for a late 1st.

Nets trade Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur and their 2012 1st Rounder (top 3 protected) to the Blazers for Gerald Wallace

OK.  So Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks, Jordan Farmar.  THIS is what is supposed to keep Deron Williams in town?  Really?  Once Dwight Howard decided to put off the circus for another year, the Nets really needed to rethink this.  Instead, they deal their own pick with very little protection to Portland for Gerald Wallace.  Wallace was excellent in Portland last season and good for a while this year until the lockout minutes started to wear him down.  He is what he is – a solid midlevel starter.  Is this what is supposed to get Deron Williams aroused?  Puh-leeze.  Fake Prokhorov would have done better.

For the Blazers, I have no idea who is driving the ship.  They have struggled in close games, but have clearly tuned out Nate McMillan.  Frankly – I though firing Nate was sufficient – the Blazers’ point differential was too good to not try to bet on.  I didn’t think the reset button needed to be hit.  That said, the Blazers chose this path – and given that, they got a tremendous return for Wallace.  Okur is just a salary match, but Shawne Williams has shown he can be a smallball power forward, and that pick is very juicy.  This makes sense on a lot of levels, once you take the premise that they have raised the flag on this season.

Blazers trade Marcus Camby to Houston for Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet and Minnesota’s 2nd Rounder in 2012

The Blazers weren’t done raising the flag.  In moving Camby, they get a couple of youngsters to test drive.  Yeah, both have been busts in multiple places, but they are still young and their contracts expire at the end of the season – no obligation to purchase.  Moving Camby also potentially moves LaMarcus Aldridge to center, where he plays his best anyway.  For the Rockets, Camby is expiring – their balance sheet stays the same, their cap next season is ok, and Camby is still a quality big man who can defend, rebound and pass.  The Rockets need more toughness inside – Camby fits the bill.  This is the case of two good organizations (Portland in spite of itself) doing something smart together.

Wizards get Nene from the Nuggets, Brian Cook and a future 2nd rounder from the Clippers … Nuggets receive Javale McGee and Ronny Turiaf from the Wizards … the Clippers get Nick Young fron the Wizards

I live outside of Washington, DC.  I totally get why the Wizards wanted to dump these guys.  Young is one of the biggest knuckleheads in the league.  Javale McGee might be THE biggest knucklehead in the league:

Combined their IQ is about 20 and they think that a good game involves chucking 20 shots.  However, there is your enmity towards your guys versus an honest valuation.  As such, Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards front office seriously whiffed here.  These guys are morons – but they are also talented and young, and have real value.  For example, Javale McGee – with the hoops IQ of a dung beetle – is averaging 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 27 minutes a game … and he is 24!  Imagine if he actually knew what he was doing?  The Wizards did not show an ability to separate what he isn’t from what he is.  So instead they deal him for Nene, a good big man, but with limited upside and a long contract.  Is Nene really going to be better than McGee in three years?  Maybe, but I doubt it – and that he is better now offers no solace, not with a team as far away as the Wizards are.

For the Clippers, this is a phenomenal move – getting a floor spacer for free.  Nick Young can’t do much on the basketball court, but he can shoot and score.  That is precisely what the Clippers need – so to rent him for the rest of the season for what amounts to Brian Cook’s corpse and a pick they will not miss?  This is a total no-brainer.

Denver of course, craves depth and athleticism.  Ronny Turiaf provides both as a very willing hustling backup power forward.  But of course Javale McGee is the lottery ticket here.  We know he is 24, and very productive considering he doesn’t know what he is doing and has been basking in a quagmire of a basketball culture which has not challenged him to be better.  George Karl, on the other hand, is a real basketball coach who will push McGee and hold him accountable to his teammates and to his own talent.  I’m not saying Karl and McGee will connect, but McGee is the type of otherworldly talent you watch and wonder what could happen with a real coach, and a culture that demands his best.  Now we’ll get to find out.

Blazers fire Nate McMillan

Look at the stinkers the Blazers have put up lately.  Nate did a great job there in chaotic circumstances, but clearly time for a new voice.

Mike D’Antoni resigns as Knicks coach

Apparently Stephen A Smith’s tour in Philadelphia made him think that a superstar chucking at 40% needs more shots.  But really, Anthony’s ghastly numbers have impacted the Knicks much more than anything D’Antoni has done.  His reputation and track record as a coach speaks for itself.  It is fun to make fun of him and cast those Phoenix teams as akin to Don Nelson’s Warriors but that is a criminal undervaluation.  (60 wins a year vs fringy playoffs!)  The Knicks might improve maybe – but I doubt it.  Not when Melo and Stoudemire have given them so little while being paid like they are worth a lot.