The trade deadline has always been something I have followed with enthusiasm. In the years that Oklahoma City has hosted an NBA team, my interest has been at a fever pitch, but usually because my hometown team was a player in the rumor mill. Both seasons the Hornets were here, they were a bubble playoff team looking to make a push, and last season the Thunder were trying to build the team.
This year has been different. With the Thunder as a pretty solid candidate for the playoffs but more concerned with long term development, the team has no interest in making a big splash that could disrupt team chemistry or handcuff them long term. If Oklahoma City is associated with any deadline deals, I suspect they will be after thoughts to the mega trades that have already been consumated.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the trade deadline will not have huge ramifications for our team in OKC. As I outlined in last week’s column, the Western Conference playoffs slots are uber competitive and three contenders are going to be on the outside looking in. What the other competitors do at this juncture could make a big difference in what seed the Thunder have in ,or even if the team makes the playoffs.
That being said, here is my take on what the deals could mean to this market. (note: check back later if more trades come to light after this is posted.)
Trade #1: Dallas receives Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson from Washington for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross
As has become a bit of a custom, Mark Cuban broke the seal on the trade deadline by consummating a deal with a lot of bigger names. With Dallas being slightly ahead of OKC in the standings, this trade could have a major impact.
What kind of impact? That is hard to say. Royce described this as “an absolute grand slam” for Dallas. Dallas is marketing it as a paradigm shifter to the point they refer to themselves as the “new look” Mavericks. Me? I don’t see much of a difference.
Multiple time All-Star Caron Butler is the “big get” for Dallas, but in return they gave up Josh Howard. People like to forget about J-Ho because he admitted to smoking marijuana and was disrespectful during the national anthem at a charity event. Maybe those things make him a bad person. A bad basketball player? Howard was a catalyst in the Mavericks’ finals run from two seasons ago, and as he’s hit his prime, age wise, I see him and Butler being a wash from a talent perspective.
That leaves Brendan Haywood for Drew Gooden as the only part that could really change things for Dallas. And it will. In place of Gooden, who is a pretty decent scorer, they “upgraded” to a center who is really only useful on one side of the floor. Sure, Haywood is a better defender and marginally better rebounder, but mainly he’s a clone of Erick Dampier (except without the post moves). And the Mavericks already have Dampier–who broke his finger the first game Haywood played with him, so I guess Haywood was good for replacing him.
The thing about Haywood is that until this season, he has always had a reputation for being soft. His former coach used to refer to him as “Brenda.” Maybe this contract season is why he has been playing so much harder, or it could just be that playing on the crummy Wizards put no pressure on him. We’ll see.
But, I’m not expecting this trade to have a big impact on the playoffs.
Trade #2: Portland receives Marcus Camby from the L.A. Clippers for Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, and $1.5 million.
This one hurts. Portland has struggled lately without their twin towers of Dirk Diggler Oden and Joel Pryzbilla. In return for spare parts, the Clippers sold them a former Defensive Player of the Year to fill in at center for the rest of the season. The Trail Blazers just got better.
Trade #3: Chicago trades John Salmons to Milwaukee for Kurt Thomas and Francisco Elson Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick
On the surface, this is of no import to the Thunder. Two Eastern Conference teams, neither a potential Finals candidate (something that could only apply to OKC in the glorious possibility that they make the Finals), trading seemingly inconsequential players.
At the point it was made, it seemed like great news. Chicago had been a candidate to take Tracy McGrady’s expiring contract off the hands of the Rockets, but Salmons was going to be part of that deal. This trade took the Bulls out of the running for the league’s biggest expiring contract, and made it look like the Rockets probably wouldn’t get a talent upgrade in return for the unused former superstar.
(edit. – Apparently this one wasn’t as official as I thought. Not that the new guys reported in the deal make any change to the analysis.)
Trade # 4: Cleveland receives Antawn Jamison from Washington and Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers; Washington receives Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Al Thornton, draft rights to some guy, and Clevelands 2010 1st Round Pick; Clippers receive Drew Gooden.
The ramifications of this trade could be felt much later. Cleveland probably solidified their championship hopes, which also improves their chances of getting LeBron to re-sign with them this Summer.
On the other hand, it also frees up enough salary for the Clippers to make a max-offer to LeBron James who would at least have to consider joining a talent laden team with a hole at small forward. If hell freezes over and the Clippers land the league’s best player, their starting line up would be Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, LeBron James, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman. Get a decent coach, and that could be the team the Thunder battles for the next decade for Western Conference supremacy.
The other thing this trade ruins is that the Cavs got Antawn Jamison rather than Amar’e Stoudemire from the Suns, whom they were linked to for the past week. While this trade is probably much better for Cleveland, the Thunder (who possess the Suns 2010 1st round pick and are competing with Phoenix for the playoffs) would have welcomed Phoenix trading their all star center for a “promising” power forward. Now, with the odds suggesting Amar’e remains in Phoenix for the rest of the season, we have to hope that chemistry will be ruined by all the trade rumors if we want them to fall into the lottery.
Trade #5: Knicks trade Darko Milicic to Timberwolves for Brian Cardinal
Whatever. I don’t see this one turning the T-Wolves around.
Trade #6 (reported by ESPN’s Ric Bucher): Charlotte receives Tyrus Thomas from Chicago for Acie Law and Flip Murray
All expiring contracts. All Eastern Conference teams. No effect.
Trade #7 (reported by ESPN’s Chad Ford): 76ers and Bucks trade a bunch of guys no one cares about and a second round pick is involved.
I’m not even interested enough to figure out which team Royal Ivey, Jodie Meeks, and Primoz Brezec play for now so I know who is getting whom. I’m pretty sure Francisco Elson was a Buck since he was unincluded in an insignificant trade I already reported.
Trade #8 (reported by ESPN’s Marc Steing): Houston receives Kevin Martin from Sacramento, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, 2012 1st rounder, and right to swap 2011 1st rounders from New York; New York receives Tracy McGrady from Houston and Sergio Rodriguez from Sacramento; Sacramento receives Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey from Houston and Larry Hughes from New York
Since this is still unofficial, and could still include a third team (supposedly New York), I won’t go into this too much except to say, this make Houston much tougher down the stretch.
Remember how good Houston was overachieving with nothing but role players? We’ll see if they were actually overachieving or if it was their strength to play without superstars. Because now, they actually have a proven go-to scorer in Kevin Martin, and they are now minus their best bench player.
In head-to-head, this might actually work in Oklahoma City’s favor. Carl Landry destroyed the Thunder in match ups against the Rockets. However, against everyone else, I think they benefit from having a guy they can count on to score night in and night out rather than hoping Trevor Ariza has a big night.
I completely understand the Knicks motivation to make this happen, but it still seems a deal Isiah Thomas would have made when he ran the team. They again possess the largest contract in the league and it again belongs to a guy who was awesome three years ago, but is now paid to stay away from the team (just like Stephon Marbury last season). Just like Isiah, they mortgaged the future to acquire him.
Sure, they have the cap space to sign two max free agents next Summer, but I believe they have to renounce David Lee to make it happen, so it would be akin to convincing two of the league’s best players to join forces on a team with the talent of an expansion franchise. There is no way LeBron James agrees to leave Cleveland (who has bent over backwards to make him a contender) for the Knicks rebuilding project. And if he does, I think his stated desire to win championships was drafted by his publicist.
Anyway, back to how this all relates to the Thunder: Houston did better than they would have if they had made the rumored Chicago deal (Kirk Hinrich and Salmons), so the playoff race just tightened. Sacramento’s part isn’t going to vault them into the list of contenders–it really just admitted that Tyreke Evans cannot play point guard.
(edit. Just found out that Jordan Hill was also going to Houston. Crapsticks! That helps Houston even more. Darryl Morey just pulled a Sam Presti on this deal. It helps them majorly long term as well as making them better now, and most of what he gave up was a player who wasn’t even hanging out with the team. Huuuuuuuuuuuuge.)
Trade #9 (sort of reported by ESPN): New York receives Eddie House, Bill Walker, and J.R. Giddens from Boston for Nate Robinson and a mystery player.
Take this one with a grain of salt, because I cannot figure who else the Knicks can be including to make this deal work, and neither can ESPN apparently. Regardless, this is pretty inconsequential to the Western Conference playoffs.
Trade #10 (reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski): Memphis receives Ronnie Brewer from Utah for an unspecified draft pick
I’m just hearing about this, but the more I think about it, the more nervous it makes me. The Grizz have good scoring in the backcourt, but they have sorely lacked a defensive stopper on the perimeter. Brewer could play that role, and theoretically, have the kind of impact that Thabo Sefolosha had for the Thunder last season when they snagged him in the 11th hour of the trade deadline. Obviously, I have no idea if it will be enough to make the Grizzlies serious competitors again, but I see no way this hurts that possibility.
Long term, it probably helps. Wojnarowski hypothesized that this trade signals that Memphis will not back up the Brinks truck for Rudy Gay next Summer. On the other hand, a lot of other teams have made a ton of cap space and when LeBron, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade are off the market, desperate teams are going to want to show something for all those financially based trades that drove their fans crazy. Gay will probably get overpaid by someone else. Now as to what that means for OKC: the Grizz will take a step backwards next year.