Winners and Losers from the Trade Deadline

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A good chunk of trades went down before the trade deadline, but it’s the deals that didn’t get made that loom large. Josh Smith is still an Atlanta Hawk, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still Boston Celtics, Dwight Howard is still a Laker, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are still on the Jazz…you get the idea. Let’s look at the winners and losers from the trade deadline.

Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

Acquiring J.J. Redick from Orlando will help Milwaukee’s 24th ranked offensive efficiency and should lock up a playoff spot. That’s a pretty good deal considering Milwaukee didn’t have to part with any future draft picks. Acquiring Redick is a win-now move that has a slight chance of paying off later, especially if Monta Ellis opts out and Redick likes what he sees from Milwaukee these next few months.

Loser: J.J. Redick

Of course, Redick probably won’t like what he sees — primarily because he won’t see the ball. Redick has posted career highs in points per game and assists this season in an offense designed around him, but that won’t happen with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis chucking up shots all game. Going to a potential playoff team is a good thing, but there were so many other contenders (Chicago, Memphis, Denver) that likely could have boosted his value (and stats) much more.

Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

Sacrificing a good chunk of the future by trading Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan could have been disastrous. Simply by welcoming back Chauncey Billups and getting healthy, the Clippers improved as much as any of the contenders did at the deadline. Not making a panic trade was the right move.

Loser: Chicago Bulls

They didn’t improve, and they didn’t get under the tax. Accomplishing neither of those tasks is a pretty big failure — the Bulls couldn’t afford to do nothing in either regard.

Winner: New York Knicks

Freeing up a roster spot to sign Kenyon Martin to a 10-day contract and getting a future second rounder for Ronnie Brewer was a nice move, so long as it doesn’t mean Amar’e Stoudemire finds his way into the starting lineup. Martin, a noted coach killer, can also cause some problems, but we’ll give this a tentative win.

Loser: Brooklyn Nets

Not surprisingly, no team bit on the Kris Humphries/MarShon Brooks package. For a team clearly in win-now mode, accomplishing nothing at the deadline to try and shorten the gap hurts. Humphries was signed to that big 2-year, $24 million dollar contract to match salaries for a big move, but now it just looks kind of silly.

Winner: Portland Trailblazers

Acquiring Eric Maynor from Oklahoma City for a trade exception and the rights to Giorgio Printezis is a smart buy-low move for Portland. Even if Maynor never fully recovers from his knee injuries, he’s still a much better backup point guard option than Ronnie Price, who has been absolutely brutal this year. It’s a low risk, high reward move.

Loser: Sacramento Kings

Giving up on a top-5 draft pick after 800 minutes just to save a few bucks is painfully shortsighted, but that’s the issue of having lame duck decision makers in the organization. Patrick Patterson is a nice player, but Thomas Robinson will likely make this trade look very stupid for a very long time.

Winners: Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt

Congrats, gentlemen. You were lucky enough to land a spot on the first lifeboat.

Losers: Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas

No one likes going from being a rotation player on a potential playoff team to a cellar dweller where the on-court product literally matters to no one.

Winner: Houston Rockets

They got the best asset in the trade in Robinson, a guy multiple teams apparently like. They also managed to shed salary off next year’s books, which could free up the money needed for Dwight Howard or another big free agent. It might not translate to the floor right away since Robinson is young and developing, but it’s an incredibly strong front office play.

Loser: Washington Wizards

It’s pretty hard to believe that the best assets Washington could get for Jordan Crawford was ancient center Jason Collins and out for the season guard Leandro Barbosa. Unless Crawford was awful in the locker room and was peer pressuring Bradley Beal into doing terrible things, it’s hard to commend the Wizards for this one.

Winner: Tobias Harris

Harris should get playing time on a young Orlando team that will be much more patient with him than Scott Skiles or Jim Boylan was. At just 20 years old, Harris has the potential to be a very solid rotation player in the future.

Losers: Josh McRoberts and Hakim Warrick

Agent: “Good news, you’ve been traded!”

Player: “That’s great! Ha — see ya suckers! I’m tired of being on this crappy team. So where am I headed?”

Agent: “Um…well…

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

Ronnie Brewer has been awful this year for the Knicks (he’s shooting 36.6 percent from the field), but Brewer has been a useful defender in the past. Sam Presti essentially swapped third string point guard Eric Maynor for Ronnie Brewer, and Brewer could prove useful in offense/defense substitutions with Kevin Martin. In a very limited role, he could be useful.

Loser: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks ended up with nothing but a burned bridge for all this trouble (and Dahntay Jones, but whatever), and now they face the very real possibility of losing Josh Smith for nothing but cap room this offseason. You’d like to think that Milwaukee’s bevy of expiring contracts could have at least landed Atlanta a useful young prospect or future draft pick, but apparently Atlanta got cold feet. There are worse things than having a boat load of cap space, but Smith is too good of a player to just let walk away. Atlanta screwed this one up.

Winner: Anthony Morrow

One of the greatest shooters ever (I’m not exaggerating, look at the numbers) should get a chance at regular playing time again with the Dallas Mavericks. I’m irrationally excited about this.

Loser: Utah Jazz

How the Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap is absolutely baffling. They clearly have a logjam in the frontcourt with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter needing more playing time, and Jefferson and Millsap are both on expiring deals. Does Utah really think they’re a free agent destination? Do they really think they have a shot at a championship this year as is? What a waste.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

I have no real opinion on acquiring Warriors guard Charles Jenkins, but I’m listing them as a winner for allowing us weekly looks at Andrew Bynum’s hairstyles.

Loser: Boston Celtics

I’m as sentimental as the next guy, and I realize trading franchise legend Paul Pierce is not easy. Don’t the Celtics have to get on with it eventually, though? I suppose they could get really lucky if Miami suffers injuries, but every year they let Pierce and Garnett get a little older, their trade value goes down. Getting Jordan Crawford for nothing was a nice move, though, given the direction they chose.

Winner: Mr. and Mrs. Morris

Having twins in the NBA must be a hassle. You have to pick your favorite child on a nightly basis and rack of a lot of airplane miles. No more! Phoenix has always loved getting the other brother (Robin Lopez, Taylor Griffin), but putting Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris together makes everyone a winner, so long as Rockets GM Daryl Morey airballs on the second round pick they had to give up.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

I think everyone expected some Mitch Kupchak magic at the deadline, even if it was acquiring a useful, smaller piece. Nope. For better or worse, the Lakers are going to ride this season out. I’ll guess worse.

Report: Mikhail Prokhorov ‘warmed’ to selling controlling stake of Nets

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Mikhail Prokhorov bought 80% of the Nets in 2010. A couple years ago, he tried to sell his stake, but decided to keep it. Then, he bought 100% of the franchise and its arena. After last season, he said he was selling 49% of the team.

Now?

Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post:

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, while focused on selling a minority stake in the franchise, has warmed recently to the possibility of offering a controlling slice of the team, sources close to the situation said.

The change of heart comes after the initial reaction to the minority stake sale was weak — and with interest in the Houston Rockets sale heating up, one source said.

The Rockets’ sale could shake out potential Nets buyers, and Prokhorov selling a controlling stake could also help. It’d cost more money than the 49% he’s offering now, but people with the money to buy an NBA team tend to value control.

This might be a good time to sell for Prokhorov, who lost a ton of money as the team paid major luxury tax for an all-in championship pursuit that flopped spectacularly. The NBA’s popularity is rising, and the league is reaping huge revenue from its national-TV contracts.

However, he shouldn’t assume the Rockets’ sale price will predict the Nets’. Buyers might prefer a good team with James Harden and Chris Paul to a bad one short on young talent after years of mismanagement. At least Brooklyn’s payroll is now tolerably low.

The big loser here: Leslie Alexander, who’s trying to sell the Rockets. The supply of NBA teams now available might have just doubled, and unless there’s no overlap in demand for those franchises, that can only drive down Alexander’s eventual sale price.

Report: Clippers paid $3.2 million – second-most ever – for draft pick (Jawun Evans)

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The Warriors set a record by paying $3.5 million for a draft pick, buying the Bulls’ No. 38 pick and using it on Jordan Bell this year.

That eclipsed the $3 million spent by each the Thunder in 2010 (to the Hawks for the No. 31 pick, Tibor Pleiss) and Nets in 2016 (to move up 13 spots for Isaiah Whiteside).

So did the Clippers’ purchase of the No. 39 pick (Jawun Evans) from the 76ers this year.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

The Clippers also paid the Bucks $2 million for the No. 48 pick (Sindarius Thornwell).

I rated Evans a low first-rounder due to his speed and drive-and-kick game, so getting him in the second round is good value. I’m not as keen on Thornwell, who’s already 22 and built so much of his success at South Carolina on being more physical than younger opponents.

But the more swings the Clippers take on young players, the more likely they are to find long-term contributors. More power to owner Steve Ballmer for greenlighting this expenditure.

Importantly, as players acquired through the draft, Evans and Thornwell will count for the luxury tax at their actual salaries. Players signed otherwise, even if their actual salaries are lower, count at at least the two-years-experience minimum.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can spend $5.1 million in cash this season. That amount will increase (or decrease) in proportion with the salary cap in coming years. So, expect the previous record for draft-pick purchase price – $3 million – to fall again and again.

There’s just more leeway now for the NBA’s haves to separate themselves from the have-nots.

Jeannie Buss says she didn’t understand why Lakers signed Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov

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Last summer, the Lakers signed Luol Deng (four years, $72 million) and Timofey Mozgov (four years, $64 million) to contracts that immediately looked like liabilities.

At worst, Deng and Mozgov would help the Lakers win just enough to lose their top-three protected 2017 first-round pick – which would have triggered also sending out an unprotected 2019 first-rounder – then settle in as huge overpays. At best, Deng and Mozgov would provide a little veteran leadership while the team still loses enough to keep its pick… then settle in as huge overpays.

The Lakers got the best-case scenario, which was still pretty awful.

They had to attach D'Angelo Russell just to dump Mozgov’s deal on the Nets. Even if he no longer fit long-term with Lonzo Ball, Russell could’ve fit another asset if he weren’t necessary as a sweetener in a Mozgov trade. Deng remains on the books as impediment to adding free agents (like Paul George and LeBron James) next summer.

Who’s to blame?

Jeanie Buss was the Lakers’ president and owner. Jim Buss, another owner, ran the front office with Mitch Kupchak.

Bill Oram of The Orange County Register:

Within the walls of the Lakers headquarters, Jeanie’s grand corner office had begun to feel like a cell. She could not make sense of the strategy employed by her brother and Kupchak. They had cycled through four coaches in five seasons and under their watch the Lakers won a combined 63 games in three full seasons. Last summer, they spent $136 million of precious cap space on veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, who made little sense for the direction of the team.

“I just didn’t understand what the thought process was,” she said, “whether our philosophies were so far apart that I couldn’t recognize what they were doing, or they couldn’t explain it well.”

No. Nope, nope, nope. I don’t want to hear it.

Jeanie empowered Jim and his silly timeline, which made it inevitable he place self-preservation over the Lakers’ best long-term interests. That’s why he looked for a quick fix with Mozgov and Deng, who’s still hanging over the Lakers’ plans.

She deserves scrutiny for allowing such a toxic environment that yielded predictably bad results (even if family ties clouded her judgment).

That said, she also deserves credit for learning from her mistake. She fired Jim and Kupchak – admittedly too late, but she still did it – and hired Magic Johnson. There’s no guarantee Johnson will direct the Lakers back to prominence, but he clearly has a better working relationship with Jeanie than Jim did and, so far (in a small sample), looks more competent in the job.

Reports: Heat pessimistic about/uninterested in trading for Kyrie Irving

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Kyrie Irving, in requesting a trade from the Cavaliers, reportedly listed the Heat among his preferred destinations. Though Irving – without a no-trade clause and locked up for two more years – holds only minimal sway, teams would logically offer more for him if they believe he’d re-sign.

Will Miami trade for Irving?

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Tim Reynolds, the reputable Associated Press Heat and NBA writer, said on Steve Shapiro’s Sports Xtra on WSVN-7 that he does not believe Miami is interested in acquiring Irving.

Like the Kings, though to a far lesser extent, the Heat might not be interested because they know they stand no little of landing Irving.

Goran Dragic would almost certainly have to go to Cleveland in a deal, supplanted by Irving in Miami. Dragic would upgrade the Cavs at point guard over Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon, but at 31, Dragic would also significantly shorten Cleveland’s window.

The Heat would have to send much more. It’s just not clear what.

The Cavaliers, with Tristan Thompson, might not have much interest in centers Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo. Justise Winslow‘s weak 3-point shooting makes him a tough fit with LeBron James, and Winslow’s shoulder injury last season damages his stock anywhere. Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson are helpful contributors, but Johnson’s salary skyrockets north of $19 million each of the following two seasons, and Richardson will hit free agency (and get a raise) after this season. James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk – who all signed this summer – can’t be traded until Dec. 15. (I’m not sure which prospect is funnier, Waiters returning to Cleveland or playing with Irving in Miami.) The Heat also owe the Suns two future first-round picks – one top-seven protected in 2018 and unprotected in 2019, the other unprotected in 2021.

It’s difficult, maybe impossible, for Miami to assemble a suitable trade package given those constraints.

At least the Heat would keep open the possibility of LeBron returning if they don’t trade for Irving.