28 March 2008

NBA Trade Grading

This article originally ran in the March 25th edition of the Scroll.

At last year’s NBA trade deadline, nothing happened. The weeks leading up to the deadline were full of rumors and speculation about Jason Kidd possibly going to the Lakers or Shawn Marion swapping places with Andrei Kirilenko. But when all was said and done, the vast majority of NBA squads sat and twiddled their thumbs as the clock struck midnight.


Fast-forward to 2008. The NBA season was kicked off by the Celtics’ acquisition of superstar Kevin Garnett in the off-season. General managers started to realize that maybe changing things up was a smart decision and not just a scary one.


Things started out slow. On Nov. 20, the Lakers traded Brian Cook and Maurice Evans to the Magic for Trevor Ariza. On Dec. 29, the Jazz acquired Kyle Korver from the Sixers in exchange for Gordan Giricek and a first-round draft pick.


Then, with the Feb. 22 trade deadline looming, general managers went crazy. The spark that lit a fire under teams across the league was the Grizzlies giving Pau Gasol to the Lakers for Javaris Crittenton and the spare change under Memphis’ couch.


Suddenly, every team in the West knew they’d have to make a trade or two to keep up with the Lakers, who went from being a decent team to a favorite to win the championship.


How did these teams do? Who panicked? Who made horrible decisions? Who was cool under fire and set their teams up for a possible championship? Who crippled their teams for the next decade? Let’s take a look.


Lakers-Memphis


The Lakers gave up Kwame Brown, Crittenton, Marc Gasol and three draft picks for a solid 20-and-10 power forward. Memphis gave away their franchise player for Crittenton (a solid young player, but who knows where he’ll be in five years?) and a cheeseburger. Kwame is worthless, especially with his $9-million-per-year contract. I never even knew Pau’s little brother was in the league before this trade, so in all, I’d say the Lakers got the better end of this deal. Since Feb. 1, the date of the trade, Kobe’s team is 20-6. Four of those losses came without Gasol.


Lakers: A

Grizzlies: D-

Suns-Heat


Five days after the Lakers trade, the Suns sent Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami for Shaq. I didn’t understand the trade at the time, but lately it's started to look a little better.


The Suns were built to run. Five years ago, Phoenix started gathering players who could get up and down the court and shoot the 3. Then they brought Steve Nash in to run the show. Only a few months after a playoff run where one bogus suspension kept them from reaching the Western Conference Finals, they abandoned the “run at all costs” mentality and brought in a 36-year-old Shaq, the player who epitomizes half-court play, especially at this stage in his career. Since the trade, the Suns have gone 13-7, and six of those wins were against teams under or near .500.


On the other side of the table, Miami is 3-18 since shipping Shaq. To be fair, the Heat lost Dwayne Wade for the season on March 10, and they weren’t exactly tearing it up before the trade, so the result here is more of a wash than a negative for the Heat.


Suns: C-

Heat: C


Jazz-Sixers


The Jazz got a much-needed 3-point threat. Philadelphia removes some cap space and picks up a first-round draft pick. Utah is 30-9 with Korver, who is spreading the floor on offense and giving Carlos Boozer more room to work. The Sixers are in a better position to rebuild their team as a result of the trade.


Jazz: A

Sixers: B

Mavs-Nets


The Mavericks essentially moved their only inside defensive presence, their point guard of the future, two future first-round draft picks and two other players in exchange for Jason Kidd.


I believe Kidd is one of the top-10 point guards ever, maybe top-5, but he's 35 years old and only has a small window before he leaves that elite status. The Mavericks mortgaged their future for a chance to win it all now, or at least within the next two or three years. I don't see it happening, to be honest. Dallas is 9-8 with Kidd, so at least for now, it doesn't look like a great trade.


And with the recent leg injury to Dirk Nowitzki, it looks like Dallas will fall even father. In a year where a 50-win team is likely to miss the playoffs, this doesn't look good for Mavs fans.


The Nets moved a player that was on his way out in exchange for a good young point guard and future draft picks. Good decision, in my opinion.


Mavericks: C-

Nets: B+


There were many more trades made before the February 22 deadline, and I can't cover them all here. But overall, I believe trades are good for the league. They shake things up and renew fan interest in their teams. Here's hoping NBA general managers don't abandon this newfound courage in favor of the do-nothing approach of last year.

1 comment:

Filbert Karo said...

I think New Jersey should have gotten only a C+ or something. They aren't so great this season.