[Editor's Note: Welcome Noam Schiller of Jerusalem Sports to the Both Teams Played Hard crew. Hopefully, you will continue to read more stuff from him going forward.]
The trade deadline has come and gone, and since those merry hours of refreshing every media outlet available have come to an end, every team in the NBA has managed to fit in around three or four games of basketball.
By my count, 13 teams did absolutely nothing this deadline (Hawks, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Heat, Lakers, Nets, Hornets, Magic, Suns, Thunder, Raptors). Six more teams made minor moves: the Celtics upgraded their “back-up point guard who’s not really a point guard but he’s our spark plug and can’t play anywhere else because he’s too small” position from Eddie House to Nate Robinson; the Grizzlies finally got themselves a decent bench player in Ronnie Brewer, only to see him injure himself in his first game for the team; the Jazz gave away the aforementioned Brewer for some money; the Timberwolves have brought us one step closer to seeing Darko Milicic play for all 30 NBA teams without actually doing anything; the 76ers switched scrubs with the Bucks so they could lose a second round pick and take a flier on Jodie Meeks; and the Spurs said goodbye to the always amusing Theo Ratliff.
That leaves us with 11 teams that have made trades that should have noteworthy effects on their seasons. Now, few teams look only at the “now” side of trades anymore. Between cap space, luxury tax, draft positioning and other terms thrown out there by rebuilding teams, almost every trade includes at least one team that is not motivated by the immediate future. However, let’s forget the Summer of 2010, the John Wall draft and the seemingly impending 2011 lockout, and see how these moves affect every team right now — basketball-wise only.
Shipped out: Nothing … umm … Zydrunas Ilgauskas (wink, wink), The Rights to Emir Preldzic, 2010 first round pick (Washington)
Brought in: Antawn Jamison (Washington), Sebastian Telfair (Clippers), A Well-Rested Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Cleveland went all in … and frankly it was a no-brainer. 30 days of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and the 29th or 30th pick in the draft is hardly a large price to pay for a former All-Star who just happens to be a perfect fit for your team. After two games of coming off the bench, Jamison is now the starter for the Cavs at power forward, and will probably remain so until the end of the playoffs. Jamison gives the Cavs their second scorer, their second creator, their stretch 4 and, hopefully for the city of Cleveland, a championship.
The temporary loss of Z does create a lack of depth for the Cavs at center, at least for the time being. Shaq is now the only true 5 on the roster, and his minutes have spiked – after averaging 23 minutes a night for the season, he has been on the floor for 30 minutes a game since the trade before spraining his thumb Thursday night against Boston. If Shaq losses some significant time with his thumb — and it looks like he might — the Cavs are suddenly stuck with no centers and a plethora of power forwards. Anderson Varejao should get major minutes at the 5, with JJ Hickson filling in where necessary. Jamison will get most of the minutes at 4, and whatever is left of Varejao, Hickson and Leon Powe will fill in, but odds are that Mike Brown will have to play Lebron at the 4 much more than he wants to, though the early returns of that experiment suggest that might not be such a bad thing.
Once Z and Shaq come back, however, the front court is suddenly loaded. Hickson and Powe are unlikely to see any time, and even Z will probably see much less of the floor. The Cavs might, however, go with a big lineup against favorable match ups: something to the lines of Shaq-Andy/Z-Jamison-LeBron-Mo. The ability to go both big and small is the sort of versatility that separates this Cleveland squad from last year’s team, and that could be the difference between losing to Orlando and beating LA.
Where Jamison really helps, however, is on offense. LeBron’s pick-and-roll with either Andy or JJ is already quite deadly, even though both are pretty much reduced to just cutting to the basket and hoping Lebron gets them the ball. Jamison opens an entirely new dimension: pick-and-pop.
True, Jamison’s outside shooting is hardly as strong as advertised, but at the very least he needs to be guarded on the perimeter. Also, the LeBron factor can’t be overstated enough; Jamison has already been the beneficiary of some passes he probably hasn’t seen since his one season in Dallas with Steve Nash.
Jamison also finally gives the Cavs another player that can create offense in late game situations, taking the load off of LeBron and making the Cavs less predictable. Mo Williams should also benefit from this move – he will get more open shots with a player who can score in the post and seems much more fit to be a number 3 option on offense.
Finally, Telfair should get no minutes at all. The Cavs’ back court rotation is already loaded with Mo, Delonte West, Boobie Gibson, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon. Also, Telfair’s main weakness – shooting – is especially hurtful in an offense where shooting is so important. Bassy is a throw-in to this deal and should play accordingly. Jawad Williams should also see his minutes more or less disappear – not to mention Danny Green, who is now in the D-League.
Shipped out: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quentin Ross, James Singleton (Washington)
Brought in: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Abraham Lincoln Neck Tattoo (Washington)
Like Cleveland, the Mavs are going all in. Butler and Haywood are significant additions to the payroll and are welcomed under the belief that they could bring the Mavs back to the Finals. Butler could be the X-factor for the entire Western Conference: he’s been playing terribly this season, but if he can get back to his 2007-08 form, this could be the best team in the West. At his best, Butler provides a double threat of a decent mid-range game and a knack for getting to the rim. At his worst, Butler stops the flow of the offense so he can gleefully pump fake until the shot clock expires. The former could be a deadly addition to a Dallas offense where multiple scoring options are already present. The latter is bad.
Butler will get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth, starting at shooting guard, and moving over to his more natural small forward position when Shawn Marion is on the bench or the Mavs play small. Even when playing his worst basketball, he can’t be much worse than the man he’s replacing – Josh Howard looked absolutely lost the past two years, and sometimes seemed utterly incapable of knocking down an outside shot.
However, don’t sleep on Haywood, as he is a huge pick up for the Mavs. Haywood gives Dallas a big man capable of matching up with the Lakers’ huge front line, and an elite rebounder. Haywood is especially important given Erick Dampier’s inability to stay healthy this season. Without Damp, Haywood is the only healthy center on Dallas’ roster. Losing Gooden isn’t ideal for a team with so little depth up front, but Gooden is more of a 4, and isn’t nearly the player Haywood is, so it’s a reasonable price to pay.
DeShawn Stevenson might get some minutes at the suddenly tweener filled 2 spot (Butler is more of a 3, Jason Terry is too short to successfully guard opposing 2s), despite being a terrible basketball player.
Shipped out: Tracy McGrady (New York), Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey (Sacramento Kings)
Brought in: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong (Sacramento), Jordan Hill, Jared Jefferies (New York), Daryl Morey Groupies (The Internetz)
Daryl Morey has done it again, holding the Knicks hostage with their Jared Jefferies contract so he can rob them of all their usable assets. Oh, and on the way, he picked up one of the most efficient scorers in the game.
Martin still isn’t at his best after returning from a broken wrist, and his shot seems to have temporarily left him, but he is still the go-to-scorer this team needs, and there is no reason to believe he can’t return to his regular 60% true shooting form. Losing Landry hurts big time, since he is a Morey favorite and has blossomed into a premier post scorer and 4th quarter option. But the bottom line is that he won’t be nearly as effective with Yao Ming back in the lineup, and you don’t say no to a guy like Kevin Martin just because of Landry.
Martin will complete a very strong wing rotation with Trevor Ariza, Shane Battier and Chase Budinger. Ariza in particular should benefit from this move, since he will no longer be forced into being a first offensive option, instead focusing on the little things that earned him a mid-level contract this summer.
Houston’s frontc ourt blanket is suddenly a bit short now, with Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and David Anderson the only real (and by real, I mean can play at an NBA level) big men on the roster. Scola should get much more fourth quarter action — usually, he would get plenty of touches in the first quarter, while deferring to Landry late in the game. Sheer necessity dictates that Jordan Hill might get some minutes as well, though the abilities he displayed so far in New York don’t really justify it. Whatever the case, he has a much better chance to develop into an NBA level contributor in Houston, as opposed to the cold, critical MSG crowd. I would still bet on Ariza/Battier/Jefferies getting minutes at the 4 over him, though.
Jeffries could turn out to be a steal for the Rockets. In New York, he was a contractual nightmare. In Houston, he’ll be asked to defend and not much else. No reason to believe he can’t do that. Sure, he’ll cost more than one would like, but such is life.
Shipped out: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong (Houston), Sergio Rodriguez (New York)
Brought in: Carl Landry Joey Dorsey, (Houston), 5 Days of Larry Hughes (New York), Dominic McGuire (Washington)
This is now 100% Tyreke Evans’ team. I still think that a Kevin Martin/Tyreke back court could have been amazing, but voices behind the scenes say that Kevin was unhappy. So once Houston was willing to part with Landry, the Kings swooped in. Landry is the sort of low-post scorer that the Kings have sorely lacked, and the pick-and-roll combo of him and Tyreke will be the cornerstone of a healthy offense for years to come. While Landry isn’t the defensive presence the Kings would have liked to receive in a big man (their interior defense has remained atrocious after the trade), his cap-friendly team option (only $3 million next year) was a good enough haul to let Martin go. He’ll probably get the majority of the touches freed by Martin’s departure, an important point for an offense that was so perimeter heavy.
Martin’s minutes at the 2-spot will probably be split between two separate causes: getting Francisco Garcia back in shape as a homeless man’s Vinnie Johnson Microwave role, and the development of Omri Casspi and Donte Greene. Evans might get more minutes at the 2 alongside Beno Udrih, but will still start at point guard, especially after losing depth at that position by moving Rodriguez. McGuire, brought in from Washington in a luxury tax-driven move, might see some time as a defensive specialist — particularly if Casspi continues to show severe flaws on that end — but his horrible offense probably means he won’t have a major role.
Dorsey will have some ferocious rebounding contests with Jon Brockman in practice and could fill in as Sacramento’s main paint banger as long as Brockman is out with injury, but it’s unlikely that they both get major minutes, seeing how they play so similarly and give nothing but rebounding on offense. At the very least, he’s a much better end-of-the-bench big man than Hilton Armstrong.
New York Knicks
Shipped out: Jared Jefferies, Jordan Hill, All Draft Picks Through 2048 (Houston), Larry Hughes (Sacramento), Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry (Boston)
Brought in: Tracy McGrady (Houston), Sergio Rodriguez (Sacramento), Eddie House, Bill Walker, JR Giddens (Boston)
This trade’s focus on the present is pretty much nonexistent: the Knicks mortgaged their future for a chance to sign two max free agents, and there’s not much more to say. However, it will still have quite an impact on the Knicks squad that will take the floor the following two months.
Until this trade, the Knicks starting point guard has been Chris Duhon. Now, Chris Duhon averages a pretty impressive 6.1 assists per game … but he’s terrible. Absolutely terrible. As such, much of the Knicks offense went one of two ways: David Lee creating at the top of the key, using his great passing skills (3.5 assists per game, first amongst centers). In addition, youngsters like Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler had plenty of opportunities to create for themselves and teammates, in an attempt to boost their value in the eyes of potential free agent signees.
With Sergio and Tracy in the mix, however, this seems poised to change. Sergio hasn’t gotten too many chances to prove himself in Portland and Sacramento, but when he played he showed great passing skills as a drive-and-kick guy and especially in the fast break. In short, he was made for the Nash-less Mike D’Antoni. He should bump Duhon out of the rotation entirely and take over play-making duties.
Aiding him in that should be McGrady. In celebration of dumping Jefferies’ contract, the Knicks seem intent to play T-Mac as much as he pleases, mostly at the 2-guard spot with Chandler and Gallo as forwards. Now, while T-Mac is far from the player he once was, his diminished state of being hasn’t taken away his natural feel for the game. Given his two scoring titles, people forget that T-Mac is a great passer — he was LeBron before LeBron, combining an athletic 6’ 9” frame with elite ball-handling and passing skills. And as expected, in his first three games with the Knicks, he has been given the ball at the elbows in order to create for teammates.
Eddie House, brought from Boston for Nate Robinson in a lateral move to get Nate out of town, will get Nate’s shots and Nate’s minutes, but will create much much less and won’t be as efficient a scorer.
All in all, you add two more ball-handlers to the team and a shot-happy point guard, and you’ll probably get more D’Antoni ball movement and fast shots, but less for the Gallos and the Chandlers. Not to mention the defensive end of the floor, which will probably be even worse in adding the defensively inept Sergio and House, and the now-athletically-stripped McGrady. At the very least, David Lee should still get his, as he’s far and away the team’s best player.
Shipped out: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, Money For Sterling’s Scrooge McDuck Money Pit (Clippers)
Brought in: Marcus Camby (Clippers)
Camby’s abilities, combined with his expiring deal, are a solid pickup for any team, and this is a team that played Juwan Howard at center for 30 minutes a game. Camby will bring rebounding and leadership to a squad clinging to it’s playoff life, and that’s really all you can ask.
By moving Blake, the Blazers finally sorted out their point guard conundrum, now fully committing to Andre Miller. Back-up point duties will be split between Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Roy, and while both are more 2 guards, they should hold their ground. Roy is the franchise player regardless, but Bayless can use this chance to show he’s a keeper.
Outlaw’s scoring, clutchness and versatility will be missed, but the Blazers have a logjam at the wings with Roy, Martell Webster, Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum, and with Outlaw’s contract expiring this year, he wasn’t likely to return anyway.
Shipped out: Flip Murray, Acie Law IV (Chicago)
Brought in: Tyrus Thomas (Charlotte), Theo Ratliff (San Antonio), Thankfully (Unless You’re A Pacer Fan) Not TJ Ford
It’s very simple, really: blocking shots. The Bobcats are already one of the best defensive teams in the league, and they are adding two excellent paint protectors – one old (Ratliff), one young (Thomas). Thomas, in particular, is intriguing. Despite being a major headcase, he’s still loaded with talent, and could be just a change of scenery away from being a major contributor. Worst-case scenario, he’s gone in the summer. The sheer prospect of trying to get off a shot against a front court of Gerald Wallace, Tyrus, and (if injuries permit) Tyson Chandler must be quite unpleasant to opposing teams. The recent injury to Nazr Mohammed, combined with Chandler’s lingering issues, are much easier to stomach with the depth provided by Thomas and Ratliff.
However, losing Murray really hurts. This is a team that has a rough time putting the ball in the basket … which is bad, seeing how that’s the objective of the game. Murray was both a capable scorer and a minutes sopper. Now, the Bobcats are left with only Raymond Felton, DJ Augustin and Stephen Jackson in the backcourt. Gerald Wallace might see some time at the 2 with Boris Diaw playing the 3, but Wallace and Jackson will be playing way too many minutes no matter how Larry Brown manages this. Fatigue could end up costing the Bobcats their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Shipped out: Jodie Meeks, Francisco Elson (Philadelphia), Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander Jonas (Chicago)
Brought in: John Salmons (Chicago), Primoz Brezec, Royal Ivey (Philadelphia)
Feel free to ignore the Jodie Meeks trade — the Bucks were all about Salmons this deadline. Milwaukee has yet to replace the back court void created by their former franchise player, Michael Redd, ending yet another season too soon. At 30 years old, good ole Johnny Fish is what he is, but he’ll give them some of that long lost production.
Salmons will start at the 2-spot, sliding to the 3 when the Bucks play both their point guards together, and provide some much-needed shooting for the Bucks. He’s a solid, if unspectacular scorer (he currently has a true shooting percentage of 52.8%, but was at 58% last year and 55% the two years prior to that) who can also chip in on defense, and will sop minutes at a rate that will finally prevent Charlie Bell from being on the floor for extended periods (Bell totaled just 40 minutes in the 5 games since Salmons joined the team – all wins.)
I personally don’t like giving away Warrick, since he can score and is an athletic freak, but with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova on board, the position of combo forward is already filled with better players. With Warrick deep in Scott Skiles’ doghouse, he wasn’t giving them anything even if he was staying.
Los Angeles Clippers
Shipped out: Marcus Camby (Portland), Al Thornton (Washington), Sebastian Telfair (Cleveland)
Brought in: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw (Portland), Drew Gooden (Washington), Money To Spend In Free Agency On A Bench Player That Overperforms In This Year’s Playoffs
The Clippers are another team whose moves have pretty much nothing to do with the present, moving their best defender (Camby) for a little bit of cash (NOT EVEN FOR CAP SPACE!), and getting the disappointing Thornton and Telfair off the books for next year.
Camby’s minutes will be split between developing DeAndre Jordan, giving Craig Smith a platform to rhinocerosize people as he pleases and — for some reason — not buying out Drew Gooden. However, none of them can replace Camby’s efforts on the boards (not a knock on them, Camby is just an elite rebounder), so Chris Kaman will have to increase his rebounding efforts.
Thornton has been teasing Clipper fans (poor old bunch) with his potential for a few years now, but is still an inefficient scorer who doesn’t do much else. The Clippers probably won’t miss him that much. Rasual Butler’s minutes will go up temporarily – he’s been in the 40-minute range since the trade, and at 31 for the season – until Travis Outlaw is healthy, at which point he will get plenty of minutes himself, either as a starter or in a 6th man role. Outlaw will replace Thornton’s scoring, and could prove to be a nice pickup if the Clippers re-sign him this summer.
Blake will finally give the Clippers a legitimate back-up point guard … for 2 months.
Shipped out: Tyrus Thomas (Charlotte), John Salmons (Milwaukee)
Brought in: Flip Murray, Acie Law: Part IV (Charlotte), Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander (Milwuakee), 4 More Months Of Dwyane Wade To Chicago Stories
The Bulls cleared enough cap space to make a run at Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh this summer. And that’s all that matters. For the time being, the Bulls managed to do so without damaging their playoff hopes too much. Salmons, though a better player than Murray, hasn’t been at his best from deep this season, and Murray could give them the instant offense that left with Ben Gordon. He will hurt them on defense, though.
Warrick isn’t as good as a fully committed Tyrus Thomas, but a fully committed Tyrus Thomas was never going to happen in Chicago again. What Warrick can provide, like Murray, is some offense for a team that often struggles to score. As with Murray, he will also be bad on defense, though he is much more likely to piss off Vinny Del Negro in the process.
Joe Alexander will jump a lot in practice.
Shipped out: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson (Dallas), Antawn Jamison (Cleveland), Dominic McGuire (Sacramento)
Brought in: Josh Howard, Quentin Ross, James Singleton, A Few Days Of Getting To Meet Drew Gooden (Dallas), Al Thornton (Clippers), Zydrunas Ilgauskas Buyout, DVDs (Cleveland)
The Wizards finally blew up their expensive yet unsuccessful core, giving their non-Arenas former stars opportunities to win elsewhere. In between talks of voiding Gilbert Arenas’ contract (seems unlikely at the moment), the Wizards will take their time and see if they have anybody on their roster worth keeping. Nick Young, Al Thornton, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee will get plenty of minutes and touches, trying to prove they can be building blocks on a successful team. Blatche, specifically, looks like the go-to-guy for this team so far, averaging a beastly 24.8 points (on 58% shooting) to go with 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 1 block per game since the trades went down.
Earl Boykins, Randy Foye and Mike Miller will still get big minutes in the backcourt before looking for greener pastures in the summer. Ross and Singleton will provide toughness and depth. Howard, sadly, is probably done with the team — he’s out for the season with a torn ACL after looking good in his 4 games with the team, and is unlikely to have his 11 million team option picked up.
Editor’s Note: I can’t BELIEVE Noam forgot about Emir Preldži? joining DC. You can read all about him here. And people say this was just a salary dump for the Wizards. Puh and leaze. Also, Noam’s fired. You had a nice run, kid, but I will not — nay, I cannot — forgive such sloppy oversight. How could you?