Who wins in four-team trade? Collison, Indiana and New Jersey big, but everyone really

7 Comments

dcollison_dunk.jpgIt’s basketball — there is a winner and a loser. That’s the way it works.

Except the four-team trade that went down today every team can claim it won, at least something. But just like on Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others, some trade winners are bigger than others.

Pacers: in Darren Collison, James Posey; out Troy Murphy

Indiana is maybe the biggest winner — as is Collison, who gets to go there. Jim O’Brien was trying to run an up-tempo offense with T.J. Ford running the show. It was ugly. The Pacers desperately needed someone quick who could handle the offense, and Collison is that guy. Collison is going to get the run he deserves (love him, wouldn’t start him over Chris Paul) in a system suited to his talents.

The Pacers take on James Posey, who will give them some solid play at the three. They give up Troy Murphy, which is a hit — the Pacers will run and may go small a lot, with Danny Granger playing a little four. The bulk of Murphy’s minutes will go to either Tyler Hansbrough or Josh McRoberts, whoever plays less bad. But the Pacers would have traded Murphy’s expiring deal for Collison in a heartbeat, so this is a win.

Nets: in Troy Murphy; out Courtney Lee

New Jersey also gets a big win.  Murphy is an upgrade over Derrick Favors at the four right now. Favors could be a loser in the deal if he takes this personally, the key is increasing his minutes as the year goes on and as he starts to get a feel for the NBA game. You don’t want to stunt his growth. But Murphy is in the last year of his deal, so you get to not rush the somewhat raw Favors then next year have $15.5 million in cap space (as the system currently stands, could be very different after the new CBA goes into place).

Another winner is Anthony Morrow, the shooting guard for New Jersey who doesn’t have to battle Courtney Lee for minutes. More Morrow is good for all basketball fans.

Houston: in Courtney Lee; out Trevor Ariza

Houston gets Lee, who they think may be a better fit for them than Trevor Ariza. Doesn’t really matter, Lee will be getting limited minutes behind Kevin Martin and have to earn his burn the hard way. But this works for the Rockets because they save a boatload of cash. Ariza is owed $20 million over the next three years, while Lee has one year left on his rookie deal at $1.35 million, plus a team option for the year after that.

This also helps a little with the logjam the Rockets had at the three. It’s Shane Battier’s job now, and he will get the bulk of the run.

Hornets: in Trevor Ariza; out James Posey, Darren Collison

The Hornets get Ariza, who is a good upgrade for them at the three, over what’s left of Peja. Ariza was not working as a first offensive option in Houston, but he’ll look good running alongside a real first option Chris Paul (providing Monty Williams lets them run as he should). They also get rid of the less desirable contract of James Posey.

Not sure that bringing in Ariza makes Paul say, “Man, no way I leave now,” but it shows the team is trying. But if it is not enough, if CP3 does bolt in two summers (or you have to trade him before he bolts), the Hornets have now traded away a very good replacement.

The question for the Hornets is this: Could they have gotten more for Collison? They essentially used Collison to upgrade the three some and save a little money. Collison was in demand, could they have gotten more? Probably.

But they can still claim a win.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.

Michigan’s D.J. Wilson staying in NBA draft

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michigan bigs D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner declared for the NBA draft in similar situations – coming off breakout seasons, particularly excelling down the stretch, and sitting on the first-round bubble for the NBA draft. Neither hired an agent, leaving their options open.

But this is where their paths diverge.

Michigan releases:

University of Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to remain as an early entrant into the 2017 NBA Draft.

University of Michigan sophomore forward Moritz Wagner announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will return to the Wolverine basketball program after removing his name from consideration for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Wilson and Wagner both said they’d stay in the draft only if they’d be first-round picks. I wonder whether Wilson got a first-round promise or is just confident enough he’ll get picked there. The latter wouldn’t be a bad bet. Even if the 22-year-old Wilson slips into the second round, this might be the peak of his draft value.

At times, it’s easy to forget Wilson is a 6-foot-11 big man. He shoots 3-pointers, dribbles and moves like a wing. He also too often shies from contact, which particularly hurts his rebounding.

But he’s a big. Those perimeter skills wouldn’t shine quite as brightly if he were matched up with opposing wings. Wilson has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and he also protect the rim. However, his shot-blocking relies on a bounciness that’s not as effective when pressed into more physical matchups. He needs some space to launch – but when he has it, it also pays off in quality finishing at the rim.

Wilson has the tools to be a good NBA power forward, but he’s still a work in progress. In other words, he still looks like a borderline first-round pick.

Tyronn Lue imitates LeBron James’ criticism of reporter (video)

Leave a comment

After the Cavaliers Game 3 loss to the Celtics, LeBron James accused reporter Kenny Roda of showing up/asking questions only when Cleveland loses.

Questioned by Roda after the Cavs’ Game 4 win, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue lightheartedly lobbed the same criticism at Roda.

Coaching LeBron can be tricky. Lue must both challenge the greatest player of his generation and handle LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness. Lue can neither let LeBron walk all over him nor bark orders at him.

In this case, it seems Lue is trying to diffuse LeBron’s pettiness before it turns into something bigger. Considering how silly LeBron’s initial comments were, I bet the star is on board.

Tony Bradley becoming North Carolina’s first one-and-done in nearly a decade

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.

Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.

It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.

Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.

Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?

He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.

Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.