Saturday, February 20, 2010
Assessing the trade deadline madness: How they ALL affect the Lakers
The NBA trade deadline is behind us, with many squads moving and shaking. The Lakers weren't among the franchises turning phone calls into paperwork, but these deals allaffect the purple and gold. Even marginal ones count, if you're willing to peel the metaphorical onion. Thus, I'm donning my purple and gold "analyzing" cap and looking at every deadline deal from a Laker-centric viewpoint.
Here we go.
Cleveland gets: Antawn Jamison, Sebastian Telfair
Washington gets: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a 2010 first-round draft pick from Cleveland, Cleveland's rights to Emir Preldzic, Al Thornton, Brian Skinner.
L.A. Clippers get: Drew Gooden
The consensus "most pressing to the Lakers" transaction. The Cavs have been the NBA's best team all season, but aren't just in it to win it. They're in it to ensure a certain player remains a Cav for life. (Hint: not Boobie Gibson) Thus, a cherry is added to an already-elite sundae, and that Maraschino is Jamison.
And as far as I'm concerned, it's a better Maraschino than equally-pursued ice cream condiment Amar'e Stoudemire.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
His first game was brutal for Cleveland,
but Jamison should be a great fit.
Continuity is an underrated factor in winning. The ability to build on what you have, as opposed to retooling a game plan. Along those lines, this is a terrific deal for Cleveland, who don't need a major addition. There's a reason "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" has gotten more traction than "mess with a good thing for the ^$%# of it." I understand Cleveland hedging bets with additional firepower, but a gun so complicated you can't figure out where to load the bullets does them little good.
Jamison provides a scoring punch (particularly from outside, where he and Shaq/Andy Varejao can work high-low), but in a non-obtrusive way. If all that's needed on a given night is 10-ish points with a heavier dose of rebounding, veteran savvy, and character, he's comfortable offering just that. I doubt Stoudemire would follow suit, between his career as a focal point, new contract potentially in the works, and high maintenance rep. Jamison feels like the perfect balance between pushing a team over the top and not pushing yourself over the edge.
The only wrinkle? Z deciding not to return after an assumed buyout.
Mind you, I imagine he'll be a Cav again, even though this matter surely hasn't been discussed between parties, since that's totally illegal. (Wink!) Conventional wisdom proving incorrect, however, is an issue for Cleveland. Not only would they miss his size against the Lakers, but by all accounts, Z has been an essential locker room presence. Folks like that are needed from time to time during a title quest. But again, this "if" strikes me as unlikely.
|Andy and Brian analyze the shorthanded Lakers, trade deadline deals and Kobe v. LBJ with ESPN.com's John Hollinger.
The other aspects of this trade are fairly innocuous, although if Gooden was bought out by the Clips, might the Lakers feel pressured to sign him for the stretch run? They don't really need him, but Gooden, now on his eighth team in eight seasons, is positioned to become this era's Chris Gatling. It's the man's only shot at NBA immortality (of sorts) and Phil Jackson is nothing if not appreciative of the quirky. I could see him urging Doc Buss to throw Drew a bone.
Houston Rockets get: Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries, the right to swap first round picks in 2011 with the Knicks in 2011 (top-1 protected), as well as their top-5 protected first round pick in 2012
New York gets: Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez
Sacramento gets: Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes
This trade's impact won't really be felt until next season for Sacto and New York. Maybe Houston as well (although they still have an outside chance of making the playoffs). In and of itself, I like the underrated, absurdly tough Landry for the Kings. And while I think New York's "LBJ or Bust" plan will blow up in their faces, to put things in poker jargon, they're well beyond "pot committed." It's full steam ahead towards redemption or the iceberg, with no real middle ground.
As for the Rockets, Martin could pay serious dividends. Houston values efficiency, but could use a little more 'zazz. Martin supplies both with his low volume high scoring. Dude fills it from inside, outside, at the line, playing off ball, running back cuts, etc. And he already has a feel for Rick from their Sacto days. It remains to be seen how he and Aaron Brooks--a much better scorer than pure point-- mesh, but in theory, I like this deal a lot. Landry is a bigger loss than people may realize, but if you can get Martin, the still-developing Hill, and picks for Landry and the burden of one season paying Jeffries (a decent defender), that's a good return.
The most underrated part of this trade? Martin's presence means fewer responsibilities for Trevor Ariza, which could be a fantastic case of less being more. Right now, Ariza's operating well beyond his capabilities and often flailing in horribly inefficient fashion. If/when Yao Ming returns healthy, that's even less on TA's plate, which ultimately makes him a better and more dangerous player.
Ditto a Rockets team with a tendency to cause the Lakers fits as it is.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
The Rockets just become more
Celtics get: Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry
Knicks get: Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker
New York gets three "no strings attached beyond April" players, House gets a chance to salvage a bad season with his "seven seconds or less" coach, and my dad, who lives in St. Louis and loves House, gets robbed of a chance to watch him play, since the Knicks aren't exactly national TV staples. Should Eddie eventually latch on with a crappy team, my dad may never see his favorite role player again. That's the danger of developing fondness for a journeyman.
As for Robinson, there's no doubt the Celts bench needs goosing. 'Sheed's been horrible and Marquis Daniels is still rounding into form after a long injury. Throw in KG and Pierce dealing with their own ailments, and Robinson's explosiveness serves a legit purpose.
But here's the wrinkle. The dude's beyond immature with a need for attention even The Real Wives of Orange County would deem "a little much." And the Celts roster is, shall we say, a mite intense. If Nate can't curb his inner-entertainer, I could see Kendrick Perkins breaking his jaw by mid-March, making Nate's other mission --playing for a new contract-- rather difficult.
Falling in line, Lil' Nate's propensity for instant heat makes Boston a dangerous team, which obviously affects the Lakers in a potential 2008 Finals rematch. But considering an inability to fall in line is exactly why New York (or anybody else) has been unwilling to offer Robinson long-term security, I'm in "see it to believe it" mode. He's as capable of disrupting his own team as an opponent.
Minnesota gets: Darko Milicic
Knicks get: Brian Cardinal
Don Ryan/AP Photo
If Rambis can make this guy useful,
move over Zen Master!
On the surface, this appears to be little more than teams swapping dudes eventually off the books --NY has already waived Cardinal-- the first trade in NBA history where one player inspired a website and the other bears a reasonably strong resemblance to my brother. But look deeper, and Darko in Minny could eventually play mind games with Phil Jackson.
Milicic is a legendary bust. He's also playing under Kurt Rambis in the triangle, famously difficult to pick up, much less on the fly. Rambis was Jackson's long-time assistant and rumored replacement, but that changing of the guard was constantly delayed and the protege had no choice but jumping ship. Rambis has a terrific opportunity in Minnesota, but he's probably a little disappointed the Lakers deemed him expendable in favor of riding out Jackson for as long as possible.
Well, if Darko catches fire under Rambis, that's nothing short of miracle work and a little gamesmanship at the expense of Kurt's mentor and former franchise. How couldn't PJ second-guess his abilities after seeing Kurt declare, "I'll see your semi-productive Kwame Brown, and raise you useful minutes from Darko freakin' Milicic?" How couldn't the Buss family reconsider their decision just a little? This would be Kurt slamming his hand on the table and yelling, "DOMINO!"
As if a Lakers-Wolves matchup doesn't by definition carry intrigue, here's another wrinkle for the two remaining games.
Bobcats get: Theo Ratliff Spurs get: second-round pick.
Bobcats get: Tyrus Thomas
Bulls get: Flip Murray, Acie Law and a protected first-round draft choice
Long term, these Bobcat acquisitions could mean zip to the Lakers, since Ratliff's running on fumes and Thomas isn't a lock to stick around beyond this season. But if these additions push these Eastern Conference upstarts into the 2010 Finals, I'm concerned.
The Lakers's luck against these 'Cats, well, sucks. Only two wins in last seven meetings, and the most recent cost Kobe Bryant his ankle. Brian and I have joked about Charlotte being the Lakers' biggest threat in a seven-game series, but could laugh because Charlotte could never make the playoffs. A Lakers-Bobcats Finals remains a long shot, but additional firepower makes the punchline somewhat less funny now.
However, the union of ridiculously fickle Larry Brown and Tyrus Thomas, who on his best day doesn't strike me as a "Larry Brown player?" Potentially hysterical.
Chicago's haul is mostly just meaningful to my wife, a Texas A&M alum who finds it sad Law is now on this third team in one season and can't get any traction. Thankfully, DeAndre Jordan balances things out.
Griz get: Ronnie Brewer
Jazz get: Protected 2010 first-round pick
I'm a Ronnie Brewer fan. He'll never be an All-Star, but he's a role player quality teams need. I don't know if his presence pushes the Griz three-and-a-half games into a playoff birth,but I'm guessing they make it next season. Assuming Brewer receives an offseason qualifying offer (and I can't imagine he won't, since the deal makes no sense for Memphis otherwise), he could be part of a 2011 eight-seed squad and a potential first round date with L.A. Brewer's not an elite defender, but he's done reasonably well making Kobe work for points.
Bucks get: Jodie Meeks, Francisco Elson
Sixers get: Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec, second-round pick in the 2010 draft
Francis Specker/AP Photo
Von Wafer was an amusing player
with a great name.
From a pure basketball perspective, I have no opinion of this trade whatsoever. Frankly, I had forgotten Brezec was still in the league, much less a Sixer, and he's arguably the most accomplished player involved.
However, the trade does involves a fantastic assortment of names. Stellar. And I love me some names. As someone who fell in love with Von Wafer on 2005 Draft Day purely on the basis of his name resembling "Vanilla Wafer" and actually being "Vakeaton Quamar Wafer" (and this was before the added bonus of Von matching Slava Medvedenko --another GREAT name-- as the Lakers' the most unintentionally entertaining player ever), I can't help but be disappointed as small a sacrifice as Josh Powell prevented "the Royal Ivey era."
Bulls get: Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander
Bucks get: John Salmons
A LOT needs to happen for this trade to truly affect the Lakers. Salmons must transform the Jennings-Bogut Bucks from "pleasant surprise" to "perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse." Chicago's cap space gained from Salmons' departure must be converted into a 2010 free agent stud, and that guy must transform the Bulls from "barely good enough to make the playoffs in the crappy east" to "perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse." Otherwise, this might as well have been a D-League swap.
Sacramento gets: Dominic McGuire, cash
Wizards get: conditional second-round pick.
Remember my statement about every deal counting if you're willing to peel the onion? I lied.
As long as we've gone this far, a look at trades pre-deadline...
Mavericks get: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson
Wizards get: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden (later moved to the Clippers), Quinton Ross, James Singleton
House cleaning for Washington. Dallas, however, is fortifying a playoff push. Like Brian, I don't think Butler and Haywood make Dallas good enough to take out the Lakers. But they're improved. Haywood fills a need down low (particularly with Erick Dampier hurt) and I've loved Butler going back to his UConn days, much less his season with the Lakers. At his best (admittedly not as we speak), he's a massive upgrade over Howard. Even slumping, reliability alone make Butler preferable. And there's a reason his nickname is "Tuff Juice," an elixir Dallas is always in need of sipping.
If that's not enough, Stevenson has an Abe Lincoln neck tat, an insane beard and a penchant for great quotes, meaning you'll know where to find me should the Lakers and Mavericks meet in the W.C. semi-finals: DeShawn's locker.
Granted, I don't see Dallas upsetting the Lakers in said series... or Denver... maybe not even Utah. But they're now a tougher draw, which makes the road to O'Brienville that much harder to travel.
Blazers get: Marcus Camby
Clippers get: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, money
Camby helps the Blazers make a playoff push after injuries ravaged a campaign some felt could include a Western Conference Finals appearance. Blake and Outlaw help the Clippers fool themselves (or more importantly, their fans) into thinking three expiring contracts (including Gooden's) will clear enough cap space to land LeBron James.
Or overpay for Rudy Gay, whichever comes first.