Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game and every trade, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Tonight, we focus completely on the three team trade that broke on Monday night….
J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert. Free at last, free at last. These two guys go from the worst team in the NBA — literally, with the Knicks loss and Sixers win on Monday night New York fell behind Philadelphia in the standings — to a team that will make the playoffs and could even do some damage. The Cavaliers had a few holes and Smith certainly can help with one — bench scoring. He’s used to being a sixth man and having to come in and light it up, and while he can be erratic this should be an upgrade for the Cavaliers. The Knicks had been trying to trade him for a while now. For Shumpert, he gets the chance to prove he really can be a “3-and-D” guy, and do that consistently (he has shown tantalizing stretches of play but has not sustained them). Once he gets heathy from his shoulder injury he will be in the mix to start (right now Mike Miller starts at the two and Shawn Marion gets run there). The Thunder certainly could use Shumpert’s defense. If he does the job he’ll earn himself a nice payday this summer as a restricted free agent.
The Cleveland Cavaliers. I don’t love this move for them, in that it’s not a trade that addresses their biggest need — a defensive minded, shot blocking big man — but the bottom line is they are a little better with this trade than before they started. J.R. Smith may not be a great fit, but he has played in big games and at a higher level than Dion Waiters ever had. Shumpert might give them some defense. This is not a home run for Cleveland, but it’s a solid single. That’s a win. The Cavaliers are still chasing Timofey Mozgov and other bigs, that would be a bigger get.
Dion Waiters. You’ve seen the video, we’ve run it here at PBT — Dion Waiters waving his arms as LeBron James has the basketball, trying to get noticed, then becoming exasperated when the ball doesn’t come his way. And that is with LeBron, one of the best, most willing passers in the league. What is going to happen when Waiters has to try to get Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to give up the rock? Waiters is an odd fit in Oklahoma City in that he is a volume shooter, and they Thunder don’t need that. And OKC is already loaded on the wing. Maybe they feel it’s worth a flier on a former No. 4 pick, maybe they believe their culture can make him feel wanted and get him to take better shots, but I don’t see it. Or how this really helps OKC. But at least the Thunder didn’t give up much.
New York Knicks. Winners… I guess. I mean, this trade was a salary dump for them (they will waive Lou Amundson and Alex Kirkand, and likely Lance Thomas) and they have saved a ton of cash — with the luxury tax more than $20 million. Now next year they don’t have J.R. Smith $6.4 million. That is more money to throw at free agents, maybe to bring in some role players who better fit the triangle system. And what did they give up? The inconsistent Shumpert and arguably the worst fit for the triangle among all players in the NBA, J.R. Smith. That said, the Knicks need to acquire assets in the rebuilding process and they didn’t get any of that. The Knicks with this move are showing they are embracing tanking.