Friday, February 25, 2005

Grading the trading

Lots of moves today, some big names, a lot of big contracts. For the full roundup, go over to NBAFanBlog, and keep scrolling.

Like I mentioned in the comments of the previous post, I thought a lot of these deals were win-win for both teams involved, with the exception of the Knicks (and to a lesser extent the Celtics).

I continue to giggle with glee to see Isiah fumble his way into being so bad as a GM it has made everyone forget how bad a coach he was. And the fact that he's doing it to the Knicks makes it even better. Actually though, my Knick hate is tempered since I really don't want Knickerblogger to jump off the Chrysler building or something. Maybe more minutes for his pet project Michael Sweetney at Center will help his pain.

Big Winners: Sixers, Warriors, Mavericks, Spurs, Kings. For the first 4, they are teams they got more talent than they gave up, which for teams hopelessly over the cap like these is really all that matters. The Kings take back less talent, but not as much as you'd think. I'm really down on Chris Webber now, and his contract will only rise as his leg will only continue to fall off in the next few years. Plus it will be easier for the Kings to move whoever they got back separately than it would be with Weber. Most importantly, whatever problems Peja Stojakovic had with the Kings probably left with Webber. Remember at the beginning of last season when Peja was an MVP candidate? It seemed like once Webber came back later in the year the offense revolved around him and Peja got lost. Now with Webber gone and replaced with the more athletic Thomas, the Kings should be able to run more than they used to, with a still-potent core of Bibby, Miller, Mobley, and Peja.

Slight Winners: Cavs, Rockets. Both got rotation players for nearly nothing. I'm especially high on the Rockets' acquisition of Mike James. After trying out Tyron Lue, Charlie Ward, Reece Gaines, Rod Strickland and Bob Sura (now injured), James is the best pure point they've had all year. Maybe Moochie Norris can be a serviceable backup again, and all of a sudden the PG spot isn't as big of a weakness for the Rockets as it has been.

Hording cap space: Bucks, Hornets. Sure it seems that teams like the Hawks and Clippers always have cap space and never get to use it, but I figure if you're bad: 'tis better to be with cap room than without it. The Hornets have been really impressive in dealing away veterans for cap space and prospects this season. Baron Davis is a top-flight point guard when healthy, but do you ever see him being fully healthy again? If he isn't he'll still be paid like he is, and while Davis has shown little problem playing hurt, the injuries still limit his game. For the Warriors this is a gamble they can make since they're capped out regardless, but the Hornets didn't need that on their payroll. With Claxton coming from Golden State and backed up by the improbably productive Dan Dickau (another recent acquisition), they will not lose much from the point guard spot, and all at a fraction of the cost Davis was. Add that with Jamaal Magloire, JR Smith, David West, Macej Lampe, and a top5 pick in this year's draft, the Hornets' future looks at least interesting, which was better than what a Magloire/Davis/Mashburn future could bring.  The Bucks will definitely miss Mike James if TJ Ford never returns, but they were going nowhere fast and cap space this summer at least provides some hope of being a player in the free agent market while convincing Michael Redd to stay. Look for the Bucks and Hornets (to go along with the perennial Hawks and Clips) to be players for Tyson and Eddy this summer.

Undecided: Celtics, Raptors. I am not an Antoine Walker fan at all, and like Webber seems to me like the type of overrated high-volume player whose stats mask their true contribution. And the fact that Jiri Welsch was the main piece of the deal that sent Walker away, and that same Jiri Welsch was traded to facilitate bringing Walker back, its a head-scratcher at best. My main problem is that they had to deal Gary Payton to get Walker, leaving them with no established point guard. The guys at Celticsblog think that Delonte West is ready right away, and they'd better be right because we've all seen the Marcus Banks experience and left wanting our money back. I hope that the Celtics got some sort of approval from Payton before this was done, since there is no way he will report to the Hawks. On the one hand Payton should be happy now that he can sign with any team (after a buyout), including perhaps the Celtics again. But this will mean a paycut, and the second time his 'title discount' contract with the Lakers was used to deal him to a place he didn't want to be. The Raptors, meanwhile, made no moves, but I won't rush to declare it a loss because as much as one would like to think that they should've gotten anything possible for Donyell Marshall, its not for lack of trying. In some ways it's better to just let the contract expire off of your own books. It's certainly better than packaging it for Malik Rose.