NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Denver Nuggets

Losers: Denver Nuggets

Introducing one the most puzzling teams in the NBA, ladies and gentlemen, the Denver Nuggets!

Puzzling, that’s certainly one way to describe the Nuggets. The team started off with some positive trades, for a rebuilding team (which Denver clearly should be given that they play in the West), then proceeded not to unload a bevy of veterans who could have brought in a return anywhere from decent to sizeable.

First with the good—the Nuggets somehow managed to extract two first-round picks from Cleveland for Timofey Mozgov (the Carmelo Anthony trade, the gift that keeps on giving) earlier in the season.

The Nuggets later traded Aaron Afflalo to Portland for a first-round pick, which is a positive. The team also acquired young players Will Barton, Victor Claver and former fifth overall pick Thomas Robinson in the deal only to waive Claver and Robinson. Essentially, they got Barton and a first-round pick for Afflalo. It’s not outstanding, but it’s not too bad either.

After that, the moves (as well as lack of moves) started to become puzzling.

Denver burned a first-round pick to rid themselves of JaVale McGee’s contract by sending the pick and the center to Philly (one of my trade deadline winners, you can read about that here). For a rebuilding team, ridding themselves of a first-round pick doesn’t make too much sense.

While losing Mozgov, Alonso and McGee would signal a tear-down rebuild in Denver, the team didn’t trade away any of its other veterans who could have fetched some sort of return.

Wilson Chandler’s name was thrown around as a potential trade candidate, but is still on Denver’s roster. Similarly, Ty Lawson could have been moved. While extremely talented, the point guard’s age (27) likely prohibits him from being part of a rebuilding process. Considering the high-returns fellow point guards Reggie Jackson and Michael-Carter Williams fetched in trades, it may have been prudent for Denver to deal the former Tar Heel if they were all-in on rebuilding.

Additionally, over-30 guards Jameer Nelson and Randy Foye could have brought in some kind of return given the pair’s respectively modest salaries.

While Denver could have traded all those players, the team didn’t. It’s as if they have one foot in rebuilding mode with the other firmly planted in the land of contending.

If anything, the fact that Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried are still on the roster, coupled with an attempt to stockpile assets and clear salary means Denver will likely try and reload for next season.

The team’s brass will have its work cut out for them in the offseason. Having major contributors like Lawson, Gallinari, Chandler and Faried in their respective primes signals an intent to win. The presence of veteran role players like Nelson and Foye only reinforce that notion. However, while half of the roster is built for contending, the other half may not be. Younger players like Jusuf Nurkic, Gary Harris and Barton need major minutes to flourish, they likely wouldn’t get major minutes on a contending team.

Check out Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: BostonDetroitMiamiPhiladelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix , Denver and coming soon—Minnesota.

NBA Trade Deadline Winners: Miami Heat

Winner: Miami Heat

The Heat may have just won trade of the century, or at least the deadline. Miami took advantage of the unbalanced point guard situation in Miami and pried Goran Dragic (and his brother Zoran) from the Suns. Why is this the trade of the deadline? Miami gave up Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton, Danny Granger and two future first-round picks (plus a bit of money) to acquire the brothers Dragic.

Put it this way, Goran Dragic was All-NBA Third Team last season, while the players coming in were bench pieces at best. Purely on per-game stats, Dragic has averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Norris Cole was the most accomplished player Miami sent out in terms of stats this season. Cole had the highest per game totals of the foursome in points and assists with 6.7 points per game and 3.5 assists per game. Williams had the highest rebounding totals with 3.2 boards per game.

Let me repeat, Dragic was All-NBA Third Team last season. Miami acquired him for three guys who average 6 points per game, a seldom used center and two first round picks. When are those first round picks? When will Phoenix receive them? 2017 and 2021. The first of those picks is top-seven protected in 2017 while the 2021 pick is unprotected. The Heat will still be good in two years if they can hang on to Dragic, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, meaning the 2017 pick won’t be gold, but rather fool’s gold. It won’t be at the tail end of the draft, but it won’t be in the lottery either. The pick that goes to Phoenix in 2021 is a different story—regardless of current talent, it’s hard to project which NBA teams will be successful in six years. In other words, that may be the first overall pick or the 28th.

Did I mention Miami acquired an All-NBA Third Team point guard for some bench fodder and first round picks that may or may not pan out?

Yeah, Miami won this trade—maybe the deadline.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

The Celtics Plan Without Rajon Rondo

This isn’t the kind of injury that you can replace with a game-manager or fill in/expiring contract to replace a starter. This is Rajon Rondo we are talking about. Rondo probably means more to his team than a lot of other stars mean to theirs. Knowing this, it’s going to take someone special to replace Rondo in the short term, and even then the replacement probably won’t be up to Rondo’s par.

Not many players even have the potential to be on Rondo’s level. This trade I’m going to throw out there might fix the Celtics’ problems short term and long term. Let me explain.

(It’s a four-team trade, so you’re excused if it’s confusing. It’s making my head hurt,and I haven’t even written it yet.)

 

Boston acquires Tyreke Evans from Sacramento and Steve Blake from the Lakers.

Sacramento acquires Courtney Lee and Fab Melo from Boston. Devin Ebanks and Jodie Meeks from LA and Omri Casspi from Cleveland.

Los Angeles acquires Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox from Boston and Tyler Honeycutt from Sacramento.

Cleveland acquires Francisco Garcia from Sacramento and a future second-round pick from Boston and LA.

 

Now we get to the explaining part.

First off is Boston. The Celtics get two point guards to at least do a half-decent job of filling in for Rondo. Obviously no one is going to replace Rondo, but Evans has the potential to be very good. Blake is one of the more consistent backup point guards in the league.

Boston also gets help long term. Not only would Boston have the option to re-sign Evans before anyone else does in free agency (that’s a huge stretch, but the Celtics would have the option,) but if they feel Evans doesn’t work, then they can let him walk and save the money that they owe long term to Lee. Blake gives them value this year, but also next year as a more-than-appealing expiring contract in a trade.

Sacramento. I have a little trouble with this if I’m the Kings Sonics. And the only problem I have is with Lee, more specifically, Lee’s contract. That is a lot of money long term for a starter-on-a-bad-team-bench-guy-on-a-good-team player. Sacramento Seattle gets another look at Casspi, plus Melo, a high upside big. Meeks’ contract is very team friendly in terms of what he can do. Ebanks is another guy on an expiring deal who could pan out given the chance. Sacramento gets rid of Garcia’s and Honeycutt’s contracts going forward.

The Lakers would love this trade if they made it. The one upside of Blake’s recent injury is the emergence of Duhon as more than just a trade throw in. That and the ever looming Darius Morris make Blake expendable. He’s even more expendable due to the fact that LA wants to save money. Dealing Blake would do that. LA also gets a Barbosa-Nash-D’Antoni reunion. (Side note, how many Phoenix fans envisioned that within five years of each leaving the Suns? The answer is one. That one guy who wants to rebuild and trade away anyone who isn’t 22 with big potential. We’ve all met them.) LA also gets more big-man insurance with Wilcox. Plus the fact that (and I’m no salary cap aficionado) Honeycutt’s contract might be non-guaranteed. Thus the team waves him, or buys him out, keeps a roster spot and saves enough money to buy the whole team lunch for a month or two.

Cleveland gets picks going forward, but also gets an interesting piece in Garcia. Yes, he costs them an extra four million, but has the potential to, like Blake, be a very appealing option as an expiring contract next year in terms of trade value.

I think the smartest thing for Boston to do is to go get Evans. You obviously aren’t going to finish with the best record in the conference, but maybe Evans finally figures it out under the tutelage of Doc Rivers, KG, Paul Pierce and a hobbling Rondo. Maybe Evans stays long term and plays well alongside Rondo in the future. Those “maybes” might turn into something better than a regular season conference title.

While You Were Out NBA Headlines- Joel Pryzbilla Signs with Milwaukee, David Stern is Still a Resident Jerk and Dwight Howard was Traded to the Lakers… Wait WHAT?!?!?!?

Let me convey my surprise again: WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!… ?!?

Here’s the skinny, Dwight Howard has changed his address, thanks to the Lakers, Magic as well as Denver and Philly. The league’s best center is going to Tinsletown.

I still can’t get over the fact that LA got Dwight Howard, defensive monster extraordinaire, for the price of Andrew Bynum, Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga. Continue reading

Everything Went Right For The Celtics… In the Regular Season

Boston recently clinched their fifth straight division title with a win over Orlando. If you have lived under a rock for the last few months, then yes, the 76ers are in the midst of tanking.

Boston had a ton of questions going into the season, questions that probably needed to be answered more than adequately for them to be successful.

The first question was probably along the lines of: “Is Jermaine O’Neal enough at center?”

And the answer is a big resounding,”NO”. O’Neal wasn’t enough, and Boston has been playing their best basketball without him. The C’s have been using an altered and/or smaller lineup with Kevin Garnett at center and Brandon Bass at the four. This has worked out beautifully because, as stated, the Celtics are playing their best basketball.

The next question was probably as follows: “Is the Celtics’ bench deep enough to be successful?”

Yes AND no. Greg Stiemsma has been a solid defensive center off the bench, and Avery Bradley has stepped up as of late, but the rest of the bench hasn’t been stellar. Keyon Dooling hasn’t been amazing, JaJuan Johnson has shown flashes but has been inconsistent like most rookies. Brandon Bass doesn’t really count because he’s starting right now. What I’m getting to is that the bench could use some help.

The third question was probably something like: “Can Rondo and the Big 3 stay healthy?”

Injuries are going to be a factor, it’s a part of the game. The Celtics to this point have spread the wealth as far as managing injuries. Because of this, the Celtics could be a dangerous playoff squad.

And lastly: “Can Boston win in the playoffs?”

Again, another yes and no. With Boston’s division title they clinch no worse than a fourth seed. Meaning they get home court advantage in at least the first round. This could be a huge advantage for the Celtics. Hypothetical situation time- let’s say Boston plays Atlanta in the first round. Boston has home court and rides their aforementioned momentum to a win in six. Then they run into a Chicago (presumably, not ruling out Philly, or Milwaukee for that matter) in the next round. If the Celtics can clamp down on Derrick Rose, well let’s just say they might get a shot at the Super Friends Miami Chapter in the Eastern Finals.

Who really knows what the Celtics will do the rest of the season, but one thing’s for sure, they’ll be one scary team in the playoffs.

What Ricky Rubio’s Injury Means for the Timberwolves

Ricky Rubio has torn his ACL and is lost for the campaign, thus ending a highlight filled season for the rookie. Rubio will certainly be missed this season in the Twin Cities for the year. (I make it sound like he got traded to some pro-am team in Winnipeg, but he didn’t. He’s just injured).

Anyways, the T-Wolves as the kids like to say, aren’t in a terrible position because of this. Yes, they lost their starting point guard, but the annual trade deadline is fast approaching, which means the Timberwolves will have time to make a move if they choose to do so.

The Timberwolves also aren’t without viable assets. Michael Beasley is somewhat of a prime trade piece. He’s been “discussed” (which means that there are more rumors than you can shake a stick at about Beasley) in deals to Boston, LA and Orlando. While dealing Beasley might derail Minnesota’s chances at a possible Pau Gasol acquisition  (he might not actually be available), it could also net them a solid replacement point guard, if they need it.

Minnesota currently has Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea on payroll. Those are two very solid options at the one spot. The immediate need might not be there, and the Timberwolves might wait to add a bought out point guard later in the season if the need persists.

Ridnour has not necessarily been used as a shooting guard, but in more of a two point guard set with Rubio. Moving him back to the point could shift Minny’s focus to a shooting guard a la Jamal Crawford or Ray Allen.

The real question that I have been skirting around with trade fodder is what Rubio’s injury really means for the Timberwolves. It means that Minnesota’s playoff chances take a hit. Whether we’re talking big hits a la casualties of the Saints bounty system (You had to think I’d mention it at some point) or whatever hilarity ensuing comment you can think of about a light hit. It’s a hit none the less. Minnesota currently trails Houston in the race for the NBA’s eight seed and would probably welcome a boost.

The injury might derail Minnesota’s season in the sense that they get into a funk afterwards and can’t recover. Or they could rally around the injury and run the gauntlet. All in all the injury will make or break the team this season.

The Lakers Search For a Point Guard

Derek Fisher is a veteran point guard. It’s probably safe to say that he is past his prime. That being said, the Lakers need a boost at the point. Steve Blake is currently nursing an injury and will be out for a while. Here are some trades that the Lakers could make to help themselves at the backcourt position not manned by Kobe Bryant.

The Obvious Choice- Steve Nash

Steve Nash to this day is still one of the better point guards in the league and is an obvious trade candidate.  Here’s how it could go down-

  • Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton, Darius Morris and Fisher. Fisher isn’t the player he once was. The Suns aren’t going to get a player to replace Nash in return. At least here the Suns get two manageable contracts that could very well be bought out (Walton and Fisher) plus a rookie who could have some upside for them (Morris).
  • Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers with Hakim Warrick for Walton, Fisher and Metta World Peace. The Suns get three buy out options as well as getting out of Hakim Warrick’s contract. This saves the Suns some serious money.

The Under-the-Radar Choice- Jarrett Jack

Jarrett Jack is a good point guard despite playing for the lonely Hornets. He is a solid all-around point guard who can score, rebound and dish it.

  • Jarrett Jack to the Los Angeles Lakers for Luke Walton and a future first round pick. Jack makes a whole lot of sense in LA. The Hornets do take on a little money with Walton and lose a lot of production, but they are going to have a down year this year. They basically swap out Jack’s playing time for younger guys with a smidgen of Walton. It should also be noted that Walton and Jack’s  contracts are almost exactly the same. The Hornets (read:   David Stern and his band of team-stealing-buddies) gain another first-round pick to add to their likely growing stash of picks, which, for most GMs of young, bad teams is what you would like. If the Lakers are hell-bent on winning another ring (honestly, what contending team isn’t?) then this first rounder probably will hold as much value as an early second round pick. If not, this might be a pick around number 20 overall. Or if some key players get injured (read Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum) this might be, gasp, a late lottery pick.

The Guy From Cleveland- (Not Kyrie Irving, cool it Cavs fans) Ramon Sessions

  • Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers for Derek Fisher and a second round pick. Sessions also makes sense in LA as does Jarrett Jack. He is a guy who can rebound and dish it. His contract is not obnoxious or ridiculous in any sense of either word. He is a solid player who will help LA a lot. There is also the likelihood that Fisher might be bought out and return to LA. So you have Sessions for a late second round pick, and you give Derek Fisher a week off. Sounds good, lock it up Lakers.