Trade grades: Teams in spotlight
Grading five teams at the center of trade speculation heading into the deadline
The trade deadline has come and gone. How did some of the teams at the center of all the trade rumors do? Our crew hands out the grades.
1. What grade would you give the Milwaukee Bucks at the trade deadline?
Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: B+. Well, Milwaukee brought in the best player of deadline day without giving up much of consequence. I just don't know where J.J. Redick fits in with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. I can't imagine there will be a lot of shots available.
Brian Robb, Celtics Hub: B. The Bucks fell short of completing a blockbuster, but acquiring J.J. Redick, arguably the best player dealt at the deadline, will make Milwaukee a more dangerous team come playoff time. By joining forces with Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova, that's a crunch-time lineup that will be tough for most teams to defend.
Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: C+. Even though they didn't give up much and got back a very fine player in Redick, it's hard for Bucks fans to feel great. Monta Ellis is still going to get his share of minutes and shots, and the Bucks don't seem much closer to winning a playoff series.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: B. It's hard to knock the Bucks when they didn't have to part with a future first-round pick to get one of this trade season's most coveted players in J.J. Redick. And Milwaukee was doing everything it could to liven up the deadline by trading for Josh Smith, only for Atlanta to pull out at virtually the last minute. So it's an A for ambition. The Bucks' lust for Redick, though, doesn't fully compute when shots and minutes are going to be hard to come by for Redick, who has to slot into a backcourt rotation dominated by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. And if they're going to go small and play Redick with those two ... let's just say Larry Sanders' list of defensive responsibilities isn't getting any shorter.
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: B-. Acquiring J.J Redick isn't anything groundbreaking, but it certainly makes them better in the short term. The Bucks appear to be strengthening their position as a playoff team in the East, and while they aren't likely to go any further than the first round, they have a better chance of it today than they did yesterday.
2. What grade would you give the Atlanta Hawks at the trade deadline?
McNeill: C+. I think the urge to get something in return before a guy walks is overblown. I'm fine with a team simply letting a guy leave in free agency and taking the cap space. It would've been nice for the Hawks to get a nice haul of picks for Smith, but it's better to do nothing than take a bad offer for the sake of getting something.
Robb: C-. After passing on some underwhelming Josh Smith offers, Atlanta appeared to be interested in just cutting costs by dealing sharpshooter Anthony Morrow for Dahntay Jones. Jones is a tough defender, but struggles with his shooting and is redundant with DeShawn Stevenson on the roster already.
Schmidt: D. Hard to figure out what the Hawks will do with Josh Smith now. Do they keep him even though he's as sure a bet to get overpaid as anyone? Will they let him work out a sign and trade of some sort? I get the feeling the Hawks blew their shot to get something worthwhile back for him.
Stein: C. Gotta acknowledge that the Hawks were in a tough spot. Josh Smith's forthcoming free agency and presumed high-money demands really limited Atlanta's options. You can understand, in the end, why the Hawks didn't want to do the deal with Milwaukee, because they would have been required to absorb Luc Mbah a Moute's $4.6 million for next season, needlessly cutting into their summer-of-2013 cap space.
If that was the only deal on the table at the deadline buzzer, it really is better to just ride out this season with J-Smoove and hope either (A) they can get something for him in a sign-and-trade when he leaves or (B) he ends up helping out with the recruitment of Dwight Howard. (You wonder, of course, how much Smith can really help there if the Hawks were so willing to trade him in the first place.)
Young: F. Unless there's a master plan in place to keep Josh Smith -- which probably includes overpaying for him -- the Hawks held on to him for really no reason at all. They aren't a threat to contend for anything in the East, and Smith will likely walk in the summer with no return headed Atlanta's way for it.
3. What grade would you give the Boston Celtics at the trade deadline?
McNeill: C. Boston might have been in the toughest position of any team at the trade deadline, having to balance player loyalty with the need to rebuild. Danny Ainge apparently sided with loyalty, and it's hard to fault him. That said, I don't see the Celtics contending for a title this season or next.
Robb: A-. Making something out of nothing is the term that applies here. While Jordan Crawford comes to town with plenty of baggage, the C's still managed to land a dangerous scorer. If Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce can keep Crawford on his best behavior, Boston may have landed the steal of the deadline.
Schmidt: B. Boston gave up very little to get an occasional difference maker in Jordan Crawford. He's by no means a perfect fit, but when you look at the wager against the potential reward, it's hard to find a team in the East that came out of this deadline better.
Stein: B. A solid B. Jordan Crawford is a better player than I thought they'd end up with once they chose the correct (and only suitable) path by keeping Celtics lifer Paul Pierce, as opposed to just coldly sending Pierce somewhere he didn't want to be. When the Celts do decide to blow it up, Rajon Rondo is the one to trade. With Rondo out for the rest of the season, Boston made the right play. Crawford has been branded hard to coach, but Doc Rivers will fare far better than most.
Young: C+. The Celtics really only had two options: (1) Do something incredibly drastic with their core, or (2) stick with it and ride out one more season. As Danny Ainge has opted to do the past few seasons, the Celtics will see where the group can go. Adding Crawford doesn't do a lot other than clog an already full combo guard backcourt, but he can at least fill it up from time to time.
4. What grade would you give the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline?
McNeill: A. The Rockets turned some players who would be fringe rotation players at best on a contender into a top-five pick from last summer. Thomas Robinson has a ways to go in his development but has the potential to be a good fit alongside Omer Asik, whether or not the Rockets make a run at Josh Smith this summer.
Robb: B. Another wise gamble here by Daryl Morey to bring in Thomas Robinson. I don't think it's an automatic home run move for Houston, since I am a big fan of Patrick Patterson's game, but if the power forward wasn't a part of Houston's long-term plans, Robinson is as promising of a return as you could hope for.
Schmidt: B+. We're less than a year removed from Thomas Robinson being a nearly unquestioned top-five pick. Trading Patterson, who is coming close to both his ceiling and the end of his rookie contract, for a prospect like Robinson is a no-brainer and a big win.
Stein: A. When you make a deal that has the whole league envious, as the Rockets just did by not only stealing Thomas Robinson, but creating a little more cap space for the summer, you've had a good trade deadline. Yet the focus here should really stay on Sacramento's shameful surrender of a top-five pick just eight months after drafting Robinson. That adds up to yet another punch to the gut for the Kings' loyal (and justifiably heartbroken) subjects in Sacramento, who were already dealing with the shame of Robinson being drafted ahead of Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond. Not that any of us should be surprised in the least that the Maloofs saw an opportunity to make a few million extra bucks and grabbed it.
Young: A. In the short view, the Rockets might've actually taken a slight step back. They gave away a very quality rotation player in Patterson (along with Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich) to get back Thomas Robinson (and Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt). It's doubtful Robinson can fill Patterson's production right away, but this is a legit top-five lottery talent the Rockets got for pennies.
5. What grade would you give the L.A. Clippers at the trade deadline?
McNeill: A. It feels strange to give a team a good grade for standing pat, but moving Eric Bledose and DeAndre Jordan for the wrong price would have been a major mistake. Retaining those two for the rest of the season, and giving themselves the summer to make decisions was the right play.
Robb: C. Color me disappointed they didn't try to make one more major upgrade with all of their depth. I'm still not sold on their ability to match up well with the top contenders in the West, and they had the attractive trade pieces to address that.
Schmidt: B. If when putting together a roster you think about what's needed and what would be nice to have, the Clippers come out looking pretty well. Superstars? Those are needed, and the Clips have a couple. KG? He would have been nice to have, but they can live without him.
Stein: C. I'm already on record as saying that the Clips needed to make a move. Thursday night's proceedings against the Spurs slammed that point home in Lob City. But the trade they needed to make, as much as we all talked about it, really wasn't available. Kevin Garnett wasn't waiving his no-trade clause to come to the Clippers, so there was no way for L.A. to get KG even if they were prepared to part with Eric Bledsoe. That makes it a lot harder to criticize. (Dare I say that Bledsoe's underwhelming play when Chris Paul was out recently didn't help the Clips' cause?)
Young: B+. Sometimes not doing anything is doing something. The Clippers are in a very select group of teams set to contend, and while something drastic might have put them in a class of their own, it also could've upset the terrific rhythm and chemistry they've currently built. They already have tremendous depth and, outside of a risky big move, there wasn't a whole lot to target.
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