Josh Smith

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.

51Q: Did the Hornets lose too much in free agency to continue on upward track?

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 25:  Teammates Courtney Lee #1 and Jeremy Lin #7 of the Charlotte Hornets react after a play against the Miami Heat during game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season.

The Hornets improved from 33 wins in 2014-15 to 48 in 2015-16, a 15-win jump no other team topped. Their 48-34 record was their best since reemerging as the Bobcats in 2004. They won their first three playoff games in this era.

The key?

Buying low on players heading into unrestricted free agency and reaping the rewards before their contracts expired.

Charlotte traded for Nicolas Batum and Courtney Lee on ending deals and signed Jeremy Lin to a contract that allowed him to re-test the market again a year later. Those three joined Marvin Williams and Al Jefferson among Hornets with expiring contracts.

Management and fans can decide whether Charlotte’s fine, though unspectacular, season justified the risk. But the Hornets predictably paid a price this summer.

On the bright side, considering free agency was always going to treat them poorly, they took as small a beating as possible.

Charlotte somehow convinced Batum to re-sign for less than the max and Williams to re-sign through his early Bird Rights. So, though they lost Lin (Nets), Lee (Knicks) and Jefferson (Pacers), the Hornets still had money left to limit their net losses. They signed Ramon Sessions to replace Lin and Roy Hibbert to replace Jefferson. (In a far less inspiring move, they also replaced Lee by trading their first-round pick for Marco Belinelli.)

But the biggest “addition” will come from within: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed nearly all of last season due to injury.

Kidd-Gilchrist is an ace defender whose motor keeps him helpful offensively. He’s a jumper and good health away from stardom, though both have escaped him throughout his career. At just 23, he could still tap into a higher level.

Otherwise, internal improvement could be limited. Frank Kaminsky (23), Cody Zeller (23) and Walker (26) aren’t finished products, but they’re all relatively polished, with their actual production closing on their ceilings fast.

With the new acquisitions, it’s less about improvement and more about limiting lost production. Sessions will attack the rim a little better than Lin, but Session’s lackluster outside shooting will hinder his ability to share the court with Walker – a role that served Lin, and Charlotte, well last season. Hibbert is a defensive upgrade over Jefferson, maybe even a big one depending on Hibbert’s mindset. But the Hornets go from strong to zero in the offensive post. Belinelli, on the wrong side of 30, is trying to rebound from an awful season with the Kings.

Beyond their individual production, it also can’t be understated how well Lin and Lee jelled with their Charlotte teammates. Jefferson, even though his fit devolved during his tenure, still set an example by trying to make it work.

The Hornets were a feel-good team last season, but they built their success on a shaky foundation. When the storms came, they kept their house in as much order as possible, but there was only so much they could do at that point.

They didn’t experience the disaster of losing Batum. They kept another top free agent in Williams. Yes, Lin, Lee and Jefferson got away, but it’s not the end of the world – especially if Kidd-Gilchrist fulfills his potential.

After relying on players with expiring contracts last year, Charlotte is dependent on a new questionable source of production this year: Kidd-Gilchrist. Will he perform as well as those pending free agents did? The Hornets’ opportunity is greater this time around. Locked up for three more years, Kidd-Gilchrist could be a path to sustained success rather than the fleeting version experienced last season.

But first, Kidd-Gilchrist must provide immediate production to keep the good vibes going after the Hornets downgraded elsewhere. They’re putting a lot on his shoulders.

Tyronn Lue hid Cavaliers’ cash in Warriors-arena ceiling after Game 5, returned some of it after Game 7 win – but LeBron says he didn’t get repaid

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the first half in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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There’s always money in the banana stand ceiling of an NBA arena where Doc Rivers or one of his coaching disciples is trying to prove a point.

As Rivers did in Los Angeles with the 2010 Celtics, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue – a Rivers assistant in Boston and with the Clippers – collected cash from his team as a motivational tactic during the NBA Finals.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

After the Cavs’ 112-97 win at Golden State in Game 5, coach Tyronn Lue entered his jovial locker room and asked for $100 from everyone.

Not just from LeBron James, or Kyrie Irving, or Kevin Love — you know, the players who print money. But everyone in the room, from owner Dan Gilbert (also not poor) down to Cavs’ public relations staffers and equipment managers.

Lue took the wad of cash — senior vice president of communications Tad Carper says it was $4,500 — and hid it in the ceiling of the coaches’ dressing room in the corner of the Oracle Arena visitor’s locker room.

“They were like, ‘Where is the money going?'” Lue said Tuesday, following the Cavs’ first practice as defending champs. “I’m like, ‘It’s going to me and I’m going to wrap it up and put it in the ceiling in the coaches locker room and we’re going to come back, get our money and get our trophy for Game 7.'”

Of course, Cleveland overcame its 3-1 deficit and everyone got their money back. Right?

Vardon:

Lue was assessed a $25,000 fine after Game 4 for ripping the officials, and he said some of what he collected after Game 5 went to pay his fine.

“I’m still looking for my money. I didn’t get mine back,” James said.

This is why so many Cavaliers employees deserves a championship ring. Even modestly paid staffers had to front their own money so the coach could prove a point.

This is the perfect example of winning curing all ills. This will be seen as a fun story, but what if Cleveland lost Game 7 – or even Game 6 and never returned to California?

Player or other employee, I’d quickly grow tired of a coach whose motivational tactic is taking my money. He can’t think of anything better?

Even as is – whether Lue was joking or not, whether LeBron is legitimately upset or not – the players association shouldn’t take kindly to a coach taking money from a player to pay the coach’s fine,

Bryan Colangelo: Nerlens Noel’s center comments ‘understandable,’ but he’s too young to dictate terms

CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Nerlens Noel #4 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during media day on September 26, 2016 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Nerlens Noel called the 76ers’ center situation – with himself, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid – “just silly” and said, “It doesn’t make any sense.” Then, he doubled down at media day.

How is management taking the public criticism?

76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo, via Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News:

“It’s not disappointing. I think it’s understandable. I think Nerlens did a pretty good job sizing up what we have. There is a lot of depth and a lot of talent at that position. I want to correct one aspect of it, though. He left out someone who has made great strides and improved significantly over the summer through hard work and his performance in the Summer League, but Richaun Holmes has really emerged as another player we’re excited about in terms of what, potentially, he is going to bring to this team.”

Colangelo, via Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine:

“These are all young players not in a position necessarily to dictate circumstances other than through hard work and effort,” Colangelo continued

In other words: Nerlens, you don’t have leverage.

Colangelo is mostly right. Noel is under contract this season, and if he doesn’t sign a contract extension by Oct. 31, he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. Philadelphia has major control over his future, no matter how much he gripes.

As coach Brett Brown said, Noel’s best path to getting paid – by the 76ers or another team – is playing hard and playing to his strengths. He’ll have to earn minutes in a field that, as Colangelo noted, also includes Richaun Holmes. Colangelo is challenging Noel right back.

Colangelo is also correct that Noel’s complaints are understandable. Noel never asked to be put on a team that cared more about asset accumulation than winning, but he’s paying the price. Because the 76ers have so many centers, they’re unlikely to extend his contract now. That stinks for Noel.

Colangelo certainly has a higher tolerance for roster criticism, because his predecessor, Sam Hinkie, acquired all four centers. That’s Colangelo’s problem now, and he’s seeking a trade. But most understand the pros and cons of what he inherited.

Neither Noel nor Colangelo seems happy about Philadelphia’s center situation. They also seem unhappy with how the other is addressing it – though that could flip on a dime if Colangelo finds a trade and/or Noel provides inspired play.

Justise Winslow wants his own team one day, developing into role with Heat

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 30: Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat drives down court during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on October 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption *** Justise Winslow
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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Justise Winslow‘s position with the Miami Heat has finally been clarified.

He’s their small forward.

That is, unless he’s playing power forward.

Or shooting guard. Or defending the opposition’s point guard. Or playing at center, as he did at times out of necessity in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against Toronto.

In Heat vernacular, the second-year player out of Duke is a Swiss Army knife, a jack-of-all-trades whose role is fast increasing. Not only will Winslow be called upon to play multiple positions, he’s also being asked to take more of a leadership role now for a team that – without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – is rebuilding on the fly this season.

“That’s what I want,” Winslow said Wednesday. “That’s what I’ve been working for my whole life, to make it to the NBA – not only that, but to be a star and have my own team one day. This is the next step in me progressing and getting there, expanding my role and growing as a leader. And I accept whatever the coaching staff throws at me.”

Winslow was one of the last players to leave the court after Wednesday’s morning practice, a full-contact session that had players diving on floors and crashing into one another throughout. And after it was over, Winslow spent a good half-hour working on his shot.

The oldest Heat player is taking notice of the extra work the youngest Heat player is doing.

“He’s going to play a little bit of everything,” said 36-year-old Heat forward Udonis Haslem. “Just be Justise Winslow. Be that Swiss Army knife we need. One night it might be 10 rebounds. Another night it might be seven assists. Another night it might be 15 to 20 points. Just be Justise Winslow. He has the ability to do all those things and he has a high-enough basketball IQ where he knows when he needs to be aggressive, make plays and do other things.”

Winslow, who would be going into his junior year at Duke if he wasn’t in the NBA right now, isn’t just Miami’s youngest player – he holds that distinction by a lot.

He’s 20; next on the Heat age lists are 23-year-olds Briante Weber, Stefan Jankovic and Josh Richardson.

“He was quiet,” Haslem said. “But he fit in right away.”

Winslow was the fifth-youngest player to get time in the NBA last season, older than only Tyus Jones, Stanley Johnson, Rashad Vaughn and Devin Booker. And more than half of the 60 players to get taken in this year’s draft are older than Winslow as well.

“He doesn’t have to listen to anybody else’s expectations,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s so many things out there about who he needs to be or what position he needs to play, how many more points a game he has to score this year. He’s going to get more minutes, more responsibilities. I want him to embrace that in a healthy way and not try to live up to anything coming from the outside.”

That doesn’t mean there aren’t things Winslow wants to emulate.

Wade’s departure over the summer hit Winslow hard. They bonded quickly, forged by Wade realizing that Winslow was willing to learn anything and everything he could from the three-time NBA champion wanted to teach. Winslow would spend time chatting up Bosh about nuances of the big-man game; their lockers were side-by-side last season.

And this summer, Winslow was part of the group invited by USA Basketball the U.S. Olympic team and help them prepare for what became a gold medal at the Rio Games.

“Seeing all those guys come together and not really care about stats before the gold medal, that’s the kind of mindset we have to have as a team,” Winslow said.