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.

Masai Ujiri ‘confident’ Kawhi Leonard will return to Toronto Raptors

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TORONTO (AP) Still absorbing the magnitude of his team’s accomplishment, Raptors President Masai Ujiri is confident Kawhi Leonard and the rest of Toronto’s core will reunite next season in a bid for another title.

“We’re on to the next issue, which for us is coming back and being champions again,” Ujiri said Tuesday in his first news conference since Toronto won its first title nearly two weeks ago. “We want to experience this moment here again and again and again.”

Retaining Leonard is the most pressing issue. The two-time finals MVP is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Toronto can offer a five-year deal worth about $190 million – one year and some $50 million more than any other team.

“I know what we’ve built here,” Ujiri said. “I’m confident, and you see how these things go.”

Ujiri stressed the main selling points of his pitch to Leonard: health, trust, success.

“I said we have to be ourselves, and we were ourselves for the whole year,” Ujiri said. “I think he saw that. I think we built a trust there.

“I believe winning a championship, him seeing who we are, working with his medical staff combined with our medical staff and getting him to where he wanted to be,” Ujiri added.

Injured for all but nine games in his final season with San Antonio, Leonard played 60 games this season and another 24 in the playoffs. After averaging career bests of 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in the regular season, Leonard raised his averages to 30.5 and 9.1 in the playoffs.

Ujiri says he and Leonard have had multiple talks the past several days, discussions he called “positive.”

The Raptors will stay in touch and meet formally once free agency begins Sunday. After that, Ujiri is not worried about how long Leonard takes to decide.

“I texted Kawhi last night, I talked to his uncle this morning,” Ujiri said. “For us, there’s that trust regardless of wherever it goes, and there’ll be constant communication.”

Center Marc Gasol also has a player option for next season, and guard Danny Green is a free agent.

“I think they know what the effect of Kawhi’s decision is, but we’re really approaching it like we want to bring everybody back on this team,” Ujiri said. “That’s a priority for us.”

Less urgent is a potential extension for forward Pascal Siakam, a runaway winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. The parties plan to meet during the summer league.

“Pascal has gotten to a place where he’s definitely a priority for us and it’s definitely going to be a conversation that we’ll have,” Ujiri said.

Ujiri said little about his confrontation with a deputy following the Game 6 clincher. The deputy’s lawyer, David Mastagni, says his client is on medical leave with a concussion and jaw injury and is considering a lawsuit.

Ujiri says his lawyers are updating him about the investigation.

“I am confident about who I am as a person, my character and as a human being,” Ujiri said. “For now, I’ll just respect their process there and wait for the next steps.”

Asked to address reports linking him to NBA job offers, Ujiri stresses that his family loves Toronto.

“My kids are Canadians,” he said. “For me, the blessing is being wanted here and finding a place that makes you happy and finding challenges that really make you grow as a person.”

As for celebrating the NBA title with political leaders, Ujiri says the team has yet to decide on a White House visit if invited. He adds that seeing Canada’s prime minister would be a “priority.”

Ujiri did have one regret Tuesday – not bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy with him. But minutes before the news conference ended, the golden trophy arrived and was placed on the table next to him. Ujiri carried it out as he left.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

PJ Tucker says Chris Paul-James Harden rift is ‘fake news’

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There have been reports out of the Houston Rockets organization that both James Harden and Chris Paul are upset with each other. The situation has reportedly become untenable, with Harden as the franchise cornerstone apparently hoping that general manager Daryl Morey will be able to ship Paul off somewhere else.

It was already expected that Morey would be trying to move Paul’s contract this summer. Paul has fallen off, and the rift between the two players was noticable. Still, it’s a tall task to move CP3’s deal — it’s enormous, and his skills are clearly in decline.

But at least one player things that all of this talk is just… talk.

According to Rockets swingman PJ Tucker, there aren’t big issues between Paul and Harden. In fact, speaking to The Athletic Sam Amick this week, Tucker called the supposed conflict “fake news” and that the tension after the team’s Game 6 loss to the Golden State Warriors wasn’t anything out of the ordinary given the circumstances.

Via The Athletic:

“I’m sick of the fake news man. It’s fake. Everybody – I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue.

“It was what it was. Everybody’s mad. Everybody’s pissed. You can’t – I’m sick of all the highlight of whoever this person is trying to come up with all this crap, like I argue with Chris and James more than Chris and James argue with each other. Like, I’m the center, focal (point) of the argument because I’m always yelling at somebody and they’re yelling at me. So for me, it’s like ‘If you’re not arguing…’ You don’t think Kobe and Shaq argued?”

The problem here is that reports have said that Harden is sick of Paul trying to coach the team. Meanwhile, Paul has found that Harden’s ability to generate offense for himself isn’t necessarily what he thinks is best for the squad. It’s an impasse.

And of course, Kobe and Shaq hated each other so much they broke up a dynasty. Paul and Harden don’t compare to that tandem in their prime right now, and Tucker’s example is ignoring the fact that Shaq got shipped off to the Miami Heat.

It’s possible that Tucker is giving out the information he knows to be true. It’s also possible that he’s simply being a good teammate for the Rockets. And, begrudgingly, I will admit it’s also possible that the discourse between Paul and Harden is par for the course for stars of their stature and competitive nature.

Still, I won’t hold my breath for things to get smoothed over in Houston.

Report: Klay Thompson could be interested in Clippers if Warriors don’t max him

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Most everyone has expected that Klay Thompson will return to the Golden State Warriors next season. That seemed even more of a lock after Thompson tore his ACL, which might scare off outside teams.

Thompson is certainly a max-level player, and the Warriors will need to decide whether they are going to offer him that contract this summer. It’s not clear whether Thompson would be willing to take a discount, or if he’s finally ready to cash out in a big way.

Golden State will have a hard time keeping their core intact as everyone continues to get more expensive. Finding some leeway with Thompson’s contract has been seen as one way for the Warriors to at least limit their luxury tax bill.

But according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there are other teams interested in giving Thompson a hefty sum if the Warriors decline to offer him a max deal.

Via ESPN’s “Woj & Lowe” special:

“The one team that I think — my information is — he would be very open to going down to sit down with are the Clippers. And if they have a chance to sell Kawhi Leonard with Klay Thompson, certainly that’s an appealing sell for any free agent.”

It seems unreasonable that the Warriors would not try to max both Thompson and Kevin Durant. Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe said as much during their special.

But we have seen made promises to spend in the past, and often that decision has been reversed. Golden State might end up choosing a handful of their core players to keep, and either Durant or Thompson could be left looking elsewhere.

There will be plenty of suitors for either of these guys, and both are still max-level players despite their catastrophic injuries. Whether both, one, or neither will be in San Francisco next year is the question heading into July 1.

Danny Green on fans trying to delegitimize Raptors title in light of Warriors injuries: ‘We don’t care’

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The Toronto Raptors are your 2019 NBA champions. For some folks, this title comes with a caveat thanks to injuries suffered by Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Many fans feel as though there should be some kind of asterisk next to their championship in the record books.

This is, frankly, is sour grapes at best and patently insane at worst.

What-ifs are some of the more fun things to contemplate in a league like the NBA, but reality is inescapable. What has come to pass is the truth, and in front of our very eyes we saw the Golden State Warriors go down in six games to Toronto. And should have been five.

Raptors guard at Danny Green shares the same sentiment, saying is much too the New York Times Marc Stein in his newsletter this week. When asked about the prospect of adding an asterisk to the Raptors championship in light of Golden State’s injuries, Green disagreed.

Via NYT:

In a phone interview Monday night, Toronto’s Danny Green forcefully scoffed at the asterisk question before I could even finish the sentence. “We don’t care,” Green said. “Doesn’t matter to us.”

Should I be surprised that this is an actual conversation happening between NBA fans in 2019? Probably not. I’ve been around for too long. But here I am, and the incessant idiocy of excuses remains ever-present.

Now, if only we knew with this kind of certainty where Kawhi Leonard was going to sign this summer.