Friday, February 20, 2009
Trade spin: Ranking the teams
By Chad Ford
The NBA trade deadline couldn't live up to last year's epic February.
Last year, we saw two future Hall of Famers (Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd) plus four former All-Stars (Shawn Marion, Pau Gasol, Wally Szczerbiak and Ben Wallace) traded.
In all, 43 players changed uniforms in February 2008, with an amazing 19 teams involved in trades.
This year, there were fewer trades, and few that seemed very significant in terms of on-court performance.
The Raptors-Heat trade of Jermaine O'Neal for Marion was probably the most significant. Brad Miller might make a difference in his return to Chicago. Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox should help Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun Knicks keep up the pace.
But overall, this trade deadline will be known for what didn't happen more than what did.
The acquisition of Tyson Chandler made a big splash in Oklahoma City, only to be rescinded the next day because of concerns over the condition of Chandler's toe.
Amare Stoudemire looked as good as gone two weeks ago. So did Vince Carter. A last-minute Shaq-to-the-Cavs rumor almost made the day memorable, but in the end, neither side could find a way to make it happen.
Who helped themselves? Who stumbled? And what about the teams that couldn't get something done?
We've evaluated each team's execution at the trade deadline, providing the pros and cons for all 30 teams:
The Movers And Shakers
From best to worst, in terms of moves made in the last week
1. MIAMI HEAT
Positive Spin: The team finally gets the help in the middle it desperately needs. Jermaine O'Neal is past his prime and fragile, but light-years ahead of Joel Anthony and Mark Blount. The Heat also found a way to dump Marcus Banks in the deal. And don't forget that Miami retained all its cap flexibility in 2010.
Negative Spin: They have to pay O'Neal a lot of money next year. Will he be worth it? Can he fit in with Dwyane Wade? It was a reasonable gamble, but a gamble nonetheless.
2. NEW YORK KNICKS
Positive Spin: New York traded away three paperweights for two guys who should be terrific fits in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system -- Chris Wilcox and
Larry Hughes. And to top it off, the Knicks got both players without having to take back extra money. It looks as if they could be serious contenders for the playoffs a season after winning 23 games.
Negative Spin: Donnie Walsh didn't tackle his bigger problem concerning cap room in 2010. He turned down multiple offers for Jared Jeffries and did nothing to hedge against the potential loss of David Lee and Nate Robinson to restricted free agency this summer. If the Knicks lose those guys for nothing, then don't find a home for Eddy Curry or Jeffries next year, things won't be looking so bright in New York.
3. CHICAGO BULLS
Positive Spin: Bulls finally addressed their gaping hole in the middle
with Brad Miller, added a productive swingman in John Salmons, got
rid of Andres Nocioni's huge contract and found someone willing to
give them a first-round pick for Thabo Sefolosha. And they found a
home for Larry Hughes' bad attitude.
Negative Spin: Did John Paxson play it safe again? These moves make
Chicago better, but how much better? With names such as Amare
Stoudemire being floated around, this haul from the Bulls feels a bit
underwhelming. Fans are going to have to be patient. This year,
and even next year, the Bulls won't be contenders. But if Paxson can find
a home for Kirk Hinrich this summer, the Bulls could be well
positioned to make a run at Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010.
4. TORONTO RAPTORS
Positive Spin: The Raptors dumped the final year of Jermaine O'Neal's
contract, saving them roughly $23 million next season. Shawn Marion is
a better fit on the team anyway, and he fills a pretty big hole at the 3. His defense should help, too. Plus, Toronto has the inside
track toward signing Marion (cheaply) this summer.
Negative Spin: The Raptors still aren't a contender, even with Marion. Chris Bosh looks as if he's already packing his bags for the summer of
2010. Toronto had to take back Marcus Banks' ugly contract.
What's the plan for the future? It's pretty cloudy at this point.
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS
Positive Spin: The Kings saved about $13 million in salaries next season.
Nocioni is a warrior and should add some much-needed toughness to a
team known for its softness. And Sacramento is the front-runner to win the No. 1 pick
in the NBA draft lottery.
Negative Spin: The Kings are awful. Adding Nocioni isn't going to
change that. The future is bright only if young players Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes and Donte Greene develop
the team wins the draft lottery
if Kevin Martin stays healthy
and if Beno Udrih somehow finds his mojo again. That's a lot of ifs for one team.
From best to worst, in terms of moves made this month
1. ORLANDO MAGIC
Positive Spin: The combination of Tyronn Lue and Anthony Johnson just
wasn't going to cut it. Rafer Alston gives Orlando a legit point guard to
handle the team while Jameer Nelson sits out the rest of the season after shoulder surgery. Alston's contract is guaranteed for only $2.5 million next year.
Negative Spin: The Magic had to give up a first-round pick, which hurts. It's still highly doubtful that -- even with Alston --
this team can beat the Celtics and/or Cavs in a seven-game series. And I'm told they passed on a deal for a better point guard: Jamaal Tinsley.
2. HOUSTON ROCKETS
Positive Spin: I really like Kyle Lowry. He's tough and full of
energy. That should give the Rockets a fiercer presence in their backcourt.
Negative Spin: In just days, they got rid of their starting point guard, Rafer Alston,
and lost their starting 2-guard, Tracy McGrady, for the season.
So how, exactly, are they competing for the Western Conference crown?
Houston should've made the Vince Carter move while it had the chance
or, at the very least, made a play for Marquis Daniels.
3. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Positive Spin: They pick up a first-round pick from Orlando. On a
team that's young and trying to play on the cheap, that's solid gold.
Negative Spin: They'd better be pretty sure about point guard Mike Conley. Now that
Kyle Lowry and Javaris Crittenton are gone, it's all on him.
4. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
Positive Spin: Larry Brown has remade this team into a more balanced
squad. Vladimir Radmanovic gives the Cats a sharpshooter to help
stretch the defense. And they banish disappointing Adam Morrison (who was supposed to
fill the Radmanovic role).
Negative Spin: The Bobcats might be more balanced, but they still don't
look like a playoff team. They are paying Radmanovic an awful lot of
money to be a backup on a mediocre team.
5. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Positive Spin: Bobby Brown has some potential, and Shelden Williams, a
recent top-5 pick in the draft, adds a big body to a team still
reeling from the loss of Al Jefferson.
Negative Spin: Will it really matter? With Jefferson out for the
season, the Wolves once again are playing to improve their lottery odds. The more losses they rack up, the better their chances of landing a franchise point
guard or center.
6. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Positive Spin: The team has needed some help at 2-guard,
and Sefolosha, at the very least, is a capable defender. Given his youth and upside, this deal could pay off in a pretty big way. If Tyson Chandler does have a chronic health issue, at least OKC didn't get stuck with it for the next two years.
Negative Spin: Where do we begin? The Thunder blew up their Tyson Chandler acquisition because of concerns about turf toe. Really? They'd better be right. If
Chandler is healthy and playing well in New Orleans the next two
years, they'll look pretty bad. Trading Chris Wilcox for Malik Rose
might be the most disproportionate talent swap of the week. Wilcox is young, athletic and better than some think. Rose is done.
7. LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Positive Spin: They got Vladimir Radmanovic's contract off the books. They saved $2.5 million in luxury taxes by moving Chris Mihm.
Negative Spin: Adam Morrison will swipe another $7 million from the Lakers before he's finally off the books.
8. BOSTON CELTICS
Positive Spin: Not sure how to spin a heavily protected second-round
pick. They did save a little money and clear a roster spot.
Negative Spin: The team might have had the chance to get Andres Nocioni from the Kings. There are different stories about who's to blame for the trade's
falling through, but that no-go could haunt Boston later. Nocioni
would've been a good fit for a team in desperate need of help on the wings. Now, the Celtics have to hope they can pick
up some talent (such as Joe Smith) on the waiver wire in the next few
• Insider: To see Ford's analysis of the other 17 teams, click here.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.