GRADING NBA TRADES
By: Paris Felder & Sean Ryan
Mason Plumlee to Denver
Sometimes people focus too much on who won/lost a trade to acknowledge that both sides benefited. This is one of those times. Mason Plumlee, who’s a restricted FA following next season, will receive a substantial amount of money that Portland clearly can’t afford after questionable choices of bringing in Evan Turner (4 years / $70 million) & matching an offer for Allen Crabbe (4 years / $75 million). I’d much rather have Plumlee than Turner and Crabbe, but hindsight's 20/20 so why not snag a mid first round draft pick? In addition, you take a chance on Nurkic, whose career averages of 15.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.2 blocks per-36 minutes will turn any basketball junkie’s head. As for Denver, you get a solid big man with loads of potential to pair up with the quickly emerging Jokic. Also, retain valuable trades pieces in versatile wings Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari while figuring out what to do with Kenneth Faried. Maybe move some people this offseason, bring in a solid point guard (I don’t think Mudiay works out) and continue to flirt with playoff appearances.
Portland - B+
Denver - B
Serge Ibaka to Toronto
Let’s just do the math here for Orlando. These are the last three starting lineups and top rotation players (with their ages) for the Magic going into the trade deadline. You be the judge.
PG- Elfrid Payton(21)
SG- Victor Oladipo(22)
SF- Maurice Harkless(21)
PF- Tobias Harris(22)
C- Nikola Vucevic(24)
*Evan Fournier(22) & Channing Frye(31)
PG- Elfrid Payton(22)
SG- Victor Oladipo(23)
SF- Tobias Harris(23)
PF- Aaron Gordon(21)
C- Nikola Vucevic(25)
*Evan Fournier(23) & Mario Hezonja(19)
PG- C.J. Watson(32)
SG- Evan Fournier(24)
SF- Terrence Ross(26)
PF- Aaron Gordon(22)
C- Nikola Vucevic(26)
*Bismack Biyombo(24) & Elfrid Payton(23)
After processing these lineups, you realize they essentially lost Tobias Harris, Channing Frye and Maurice Harkless for nothing in return. Then, traded Oladipo, Ilyasova and the 11th pick (Dontas Sabonis) for a 4 month trial of Serge Ibaka, now Terrence Ross & a later first round pick. Also, try and digest the three different head coaches during that same amount of time (Jacque Vaughn, Scott Skiles and now Frank Vogel). I will give credit for the Biyombo signing but even that made zero sense at the time already having Vucevic and Ibaka in the front court. I’d like to place all my blame on some of these GM’s making dumb moves; however, the spotlight may need to be turned to owners for keeping these decision makers in the first place.
Boogie to NOLA
I’m shocked Vlade Divac still has a job as an NBA general manager. Seriously. He’s a joke. On paper, it's safe to say that Sacramento got fleeced in this deal giving up a top ten talent while receiving a bunch of “what-if’s” and “maybes,” but the way this trade transpired seems to be the most sickening part.
Never mind the fact that Divac makes millions of dollars to make basketball personnel decisions but I’m not sure if I’ve seen a bigger admittance to failure in the NBA as we did just a day after this blockbuster move. In a press conference the next morning, Divac proceeded to say, “I had a better deal two days ago.” There has been speculation of just about every team trading for Boogie over the last couple years but teams such as Boston, Portland and the LA Lakers really rose to the front of the rumors this season, all with better assets than New Orleans before the trade. It is hard for me to believe Sacramento couldn't find a Marcus Smart/1st rounder(Brooklyn) combination or a Brandon Ingram with various pieces and picks package. And if they did, why on earth would you turn it down? Let's be honest, Boogie should’ve probably been moved two years ago but I think teams would’ve jumped all over Cousins despite his flaws not regarding basketball. Vlade TELL us the “BETTER DEAL” you declined two days before settling for an inconsistent Buddy Hield and the corpse of Tyreke Evans.
Being the VP of basketball operations and the general manager, Vlade obviously has a strong input with player changes in the Kings organization but I wonder how much of a “collaborative” effort these moves are with the co-owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive. This trade may be a perfect example of his influence. Just a week before the trade finalized with New Orleans, Ranadive said, “I believe Buddy Hield has Steph Curry potential.” Now I won't argue his hunch since, who truly knows the context of the quote because GM’s and coaches have opinions like that about players league wide; but I find it funny that Hield became the marquee piece in their trade a week later. If I were to pull ANY positive out of this trade for the Kings, it would be that Tyreke won rookie of the year averaging 20/5/5 in 2008. It remains unknown if he can flirt with those stats again considering the injury bug he's possessed the past couple of seasons but hey… I’m trying here.
Vivek Ranadive’s draft scouting seems flawed as well. This may be a tad bit harsh but I think he throws on a couple of NCAA games on a year and says “Wow. That guy played well. Let's draft him”. For example, Thomas Robinson, Nik Stauskas, Ben Mclemore and Willie Cauley-Stein all had first round potential heading into the draft but I’m starting to notice a trend of “busts” here considering they were all drafted in the top 8 and no one other than Cauley Stein has a foreseeable future. I’m really not trying to give Vlade an out here but I do wonder how much help he is actually receiving. My advice to a Sacramento Kings fan would be to shamelessly convert to a Warriors fan. No one will blame you. As stated above, New Orleans stole the best center in the league for next to nothing. The first twin tower pairing since David Robinson & Tim Duncan; however, BOTH Davis & Cousins just entered their prime. Well done.
NOLA - A++
Sacramento - DNQ
Lou Williams to Houston
Magic Johnson’s first move as the Lakers President of basketball operations made a lot of sense. Shipping the sixth man of the year candidate & former winner Lou Williams to Houston not only adds a late first round pick in this years draft, it also helps the Lakers “tank.” The Lakers, who currently hold the 3rd worst record, retain their first round pick if it lands in the top 3; otherwise, Philadelphia receives it. In addition, they add a versatile lengthy forward in Corey Brewer who only has two years remaining on his current contract. If he doesn’t pan out, the Lake-show lose nada.
As for Houston, Sweet Lou(122) adds another player with over 120 made three pointers this season in addition to Harden(186), Gordon(184), Anderson(152) and Ariza(146). This team chucks up three point bombs at a historic rate and Williams can fit that mold perfectly. Aside from winning sixth man of the year on the Raptors a few seasons ago, this is arguably the best “fit” for Williams. This fast paced, iso heavy guard compliments SG Eric Gordon, a fellow sixth man candidate, and an intimidating second unit who needs someone to run the show. Seriously, how do you guard them?
Bojan Bogdanovic to the Wiz
Bogdanovic provides a very low-risk move for the Wizards that could benefit them in both the short and long term. Bojan Bogdanovic is owed 3.57 million through the end of this season with Washington having a team-option of extending a qualifying offer worth 4.47m through next season. This contract is gold because of the team-option which provides continued flexibility if Bojan turns out to be a bust; however, I assume he’ll be in Washington next year regardless of his play. Basically, the Wizards picked up a potential difference maker off of the bench (14 ppg in 54 games with Brooklyn and even dropped a 44 point game last season) and distance shooter for two players, Marcus Thornton and Andrew Nicolson, who never saw the floor. As for the Nets… where did Jay-Z go? All this does is give them two expiring contracts (most likely won't exercise going into next year) and a late first round draft pick. Seems like they’re still trying to make up for everything they lost in the 2012 Boston deal. Go Nets?
Nerlens Noel to Dallas
I believe the true winner of this trade is Andrew Bogut. Being sent to Philly, where his contract will most likely be bought out, Bogut will have the opportunity to sign with a contender. A team like Cleveland could use his services: 1) adding a great passing big who would accel with LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love, 2) depth to their bench and 3) different looks with defensive lineups. As much sense as this makes for both the Cavs and Bogut, these kind of things where a player joins a team he's had battles with still weirds me out… (David West to San Antonio, Maurice Speights to the Clippers)... But I will get over it.
Not only does Dallas receive the best player out of this deal but it also makes sense for their “Post-Dirk” era to begin. Noel can be an impact player on defense the same way Tyson Chandler did during Dallas’ glory years and possibly even reach a Deandre Jordan level. Only 22 years old, Noel’s below average offensive game (only attempts 3.7 shots per game) requires some work, however, a lot of these athletic bigs just need a formidable point guard for them to break out. Yogi Ferrel??? It will be interesting to see how Dallas approaches the second half of the season only 3 games back from the eighth seed.
Taj Gibson to OKC
I’m not sure if this trade truly benefits either team. For the Thunder, the Doug McDermott-Anthony Morrow swap is essentially a wash if you look beyond their age. With that being said, they get one of the most tenacious glass eaters and hardest worker in the league in Taj Gibson. He adds depth to their front court and experience to this relatively young roster; BUT losing Cameron Payne may make their average second unit's efficiency even worse and log-jam the frontcourt a bit already dishing out big minutes to Adams, Kanter and Sabonis. The Thunder bench sits at 15th in scoring (35.6 ppg) and 27th in assists 5.5 (apg). Not only with the good old fashioned eye test but the numbers also indicate this team struggles to score consistently without Westbrook on the floor and I don't think moving their backup PG Payne helps. If you have never heard of Semaj Christon, you probably will shortly.
In Chicago’s case, they receive nothing out of this trade that legitimately helps in the short or long term, which points to a money deal for the Bulls. With Taj earning just below 9 million annually throughout the remainder of his contract, it seems as if Chicago dumped the nine year vet onto a team with cap flexibility (OKC) to truly carry out the rebuilding stage. Cameron Payne can give them solid minutes, but it may be tough in a crowded backcourt with Rajon Rondo and Michael Carter-Williams.
The worst part of this deal is that we don't get to see Payne and Westbrook go through their pregame dance rituals anymore. I suggest whenever the Thunder and Bulls play in the future they should dance at midcourt anyways just for old times sake.
PJ Tucker to Toronto
Well it seems Toronto’s made it clear they have championship aspirations this season after shipping away both 2017 draft picks for higher quality depth. First, they stole Ibaka for Terrence Ross and a late first round draft pick. Then, right before the deadline (literally), they made another trade to bring in another versatile forward PJ Tucker by sending Jared Sullinger and two second round draft picks (2017 & 2018). I give Toronto credit pushing for a championship as less than a year ago they fell to Cleveland in six games. This added depth and quality play off the bench pushes them in the right direction, but I’m unsure if it gets them over the hump. For me, the key for their postseason run falls in the health of big man Jonas Valanciunas.
As for Phoenix, well done. You have absolutely nothing to play for this season or even the next few so why not load up on draft picks?? I guess somebody decided to cheat off Sam Hinkie’s paper during the test and it paid off. Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker remain corner pieces to a youthful franchise so continue making moves!
Toronto - B+
Phoenix - A