Deal or No Deal?
With yet another NBA trade deadline coming and going, a lot of excitement and hope was generated among the fans and media. Some teams were looking for that final piece that makes them championship material. Others simply were looking for a player that helps them get into the postseason. Lastly, there were a few who look at this time of the year as the highlight of the season as their team struggles to even be competitive on a nightly basis so might as well position themselves for the upcoming lottery. Whatever the reasons, all fans hoped their team would have made a trade or two that improved future prospects. Question is, how often can these deadline deals really be coined successful?
To attempt to evaluate success, we’ll limit our scope to significant trades involving pertinent rotation players or involving first round draft picks from a year ago. Primarily, we’ll examine a few things :
1) Team Win % (pre/post trade)
2) 2009-10 year success (positives/negatives stemming from original deal such as cap space, draft picks or other beneficial trades)
2008-9 Deadline Trades
February 14: (TOR) Jermaine O’Neal/Jamario Moon for (MIA) Shawn Marion/Marcus Banks
Pre-Trade: TOR: 21-34 (.381) MIA: 28-24 (.538)
Post-Trade: TOR: 12-15 (.444) MIA: 15-15 (.500)
Although each team improved upon their weakest positions, it’s apparent there was nothing to get excited about here. None of the players appeared to make a dent in their new team’s records. Miami went ahead and exited the playoffs with a first round loss to the Hawks while Toronto finished as one of the worst Eastern Conference teams.
Miami Heat Perspective
This season, the Heat are pretty much in the same position they were last season (floating around a .500 win percentage). However, looking closer, it’s noticeable Jermaine O’Neal’s numbers are better across the board (perhaps motivated by this being a contract year). He’s currently on pace to set a personal high True Shooting Percentage and his rebounding is more akin to what he did 5+ years ago. It’s unfortunate he hasn’t gotten more press as I’d argue he’s been a major reason as to why the Heat are still in the thick of the playoff race despite having down years from a number of key players like Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook.
Also, coming into the year, their were few available options at center: Rasheed Wallace, Drew Gooden and Chris Wilcox. Think Wade or fans would have been happier with one of these guys? Yikes, doubt it! I know Jermaine is getting paid a ridiculous sum this season; however, the alternatives look scarier when you factor in that resigning Dwyane Wade could have been exponentially made 100 times worse. Call: Thumbs Up
Toronto Raptors Perspective
On the flip side, Toronto decided not to resign Shawn Marion and instead use their available cap space this past off season to sign Hedo Turkoglu to a 5 year deal. On the surface, it appears to be a decent deal as a) Toronto looks to be a lock to make the playoffs and b) Turk is producing numbers akin to Orlando last season. However, many Raptors’ fans will tell you it was a mistake. Although Hedo is having his best month in Canada, his overall numbers seem to support their belief as his win shares are easily among the lowest of his career. Many would agree he just doesn’t seem like a good fit for now or the future as his style demands a ton of offensive touches.
However, as with the Heat, one has to factor more than just the individual numbers. Toronto is fighting to keep another one of the league’s best young players: Chris Bosh. I’d almost guarantee that if the Raptors had to have endured another losing season including missing the playoffs, CB4 would have packed his bags. Consequently, we won’t know the true success of the Hedo signing until sometime this offseason. Call: Incomplete
February 17: (SAC) Brad Miller/John Salmons for (CHI) Andres Nocioni/Drew Gooden/Michael Ruffin/Cedric Simmons
Pre-Trade: SAC: 11-44 (.200) CHI: 24-30 (.444)
Post-Trade: SAC: 6-21 (.222) CHI: 17-11 (.607)
This deal was made by Sacramento for purely financial reasons as the Kings saved roughly 10 million dollars for the 2009-10 season. On the other hand, Chicago added some much needed depth for a potential playoff run. It turned out to be a fantastic move as Luol Deng’s season ended a week after the draft. Meanwhile, Brad Miller added some much needed experience to the Bull’s young front court. Although the Bulls were eliminated in the first round by Boston, it reinvigorated the city with what many call the best playoff series ever.
Sacramento Kings Perspective
This season the Kings decided not to spend any of their cap space and instead allow the youngsters to grow on the job. Although they’ve shown some improvement under Paul Westphal, the team is currently a woeful 20-40 . The new additions of Tyreke Evans and Omri Casspi have helped, but the rest of their roster has underachieved. Francisco Garcia and Kevin Martin missed the majority of the season while the young back court of Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes have failed to further their development (almost the same 36 minute per numbers between last year and now).
In addition, the Kings are still stuck with Andres Nocioni until 2012. I can’t help but think Salmons and Miller should have paid more dividends. Miller would have been an attractive expiring contract this season as many teams have needed big man help. Meanwhile Salmons’ contract and play are exponentially more valuable than Nocioni. Call: Thumbs Down
Chicago Bulls Perspective
Although Salmons hadn’t worked out as hoped in Chicago, they were able to move him to Milwaukee right before this year’s NBA trading deadline. Consequently, they added some depth in the front court with Hakim Warrick, but more importantly, they now have assured themselves of enough cap space to be able to sign a large free agent this off season.
Although Miller has slowed some more, he’s been an invaluable backup. Joakim Noah has been dealing with the dreaded plantar fasciitis and currently there is no timetable for when he’ll be good to go again. Lastly, as I mentioned, his contract wraps up this season. Call: Thumbs up
February 18: (OKC) 1st round pick for (CHI) Thabo Sefolosha
Pre-Trade: OKC: 13-41 (.241) CHI: 24-30 (.444)
Post-Trade: OKC: 10-18 (.357) CHI: 17-11 (.607)
At the time this deal was made, the Bulls were stacked at the wings with Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Deng and the recently acquired Salmons so Sefolosha was expendable. Meanwhile, the Thunder had a hole at shooting guard and were looking to pair up a defensive wingman alongside Kevin Durant.
OKC Thunder Perspective
This season, the Thunder are one of the most improved teams. While Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green get the most attention, Sefolosha has perhaps been just as important to the team’s success. On a nightly basis, he has to guard the opposing team’s best wingman and is considered to be an excellent help defender. However, don’t take my word for it, just look it up. For instance, Thabo’s counterpart’s PER are dismal: @SG – 14.3 and @SF – 12.9. Every championship contender needs an unselfish player to do other things besides scoring and the Thunder undoubtedly have it in Sefolosha. Call: Thumbs Up
Chicago Bulls Perspective
At the start of this season, many in Chicago thought get ridding of Thabo for a late first round draft pick was probably foolish. They parlayed that pick for Taj Gibson a solid college player but considered to have somewhat mediocre upside. Well, all Taj has done in his rookie campaign is cement himself as the team’s starting power forward. The Bulls are so confident in him that they went ahead and traded freakishly talented Tyrus Thomas. Many fans also believe he should be in the running for this year’s rookie of the year. More importantly, the Bulls now feel confident they aren’t confined to pursuing a big man as their big FA acquisition this coming offseason. Call: Thumbs Up
February 18: 3 team trade involving - (ORL) Brian Cook, unprotected First Round Draft Pick, Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks for (HOU) Rafer Alston for (MEM) Kyle Lowry
Pre-Trade: HOU: 33-21 (.611) MEM: 15-39 (.278) ORL: 39-14 (.736)
Post-Trade: HOU: 20-8 (.714) MEM: 9-19 (.321) ORL: 20-9 (.690)
This deal was initiated mostly by Orlando’s glaring need for a serviceable big minute point guard after Jameer Nelson had to undergo supposed season-ending shoulder surgery. For a team looking to go deep into the playoffs, Anthony Johnson and then recent acquition Tyronn Lue were not going to cut it. Houston wasn’t all that enamored with Alston plus Tracy McGrady’s season ending with the microfracture surgery dashed all legitmate championship hopes. Besides, the Rockets had speedster Aaron Brooks waiting in the wings. Memphis was yet again just happy to assist other teams in improving their rosters. Haha – seriously, at the time, they already had Mike Conley and were hoping to hit a home run with an additional first round draft pick.
Orlando Magic Perspective
This season, Orlando is largely unaffected by the deal. This win now team lost an insignificant 2009 first round draft pick and only have 1.3 million Adonal Foyle on the books. Meanwhile they lost Brian Cook’s 3.5 million dollar contract and were able to reach last year’s NBA Finals. Call: Thumbs Up
Houston Rockets Perspective
Last year’s deal allowed Aaron to gain invaluable experience that has translated to a successful 2009-10 campaign. It’s been so good that many are shocked but excited about his future potential Also, Houston now has a valuable backup PG in Kyle Lowry. The two guards have complimented each other very well as one is a pure scorer while the other is a solid defender and facillitator. Call: Thumbs Up
Memphis Grizzlies Perspective
Unfortunately, there really aren’t any positives stemming out of this deal for Memphis. First, that Orlando first round pick was used to select Demarre Carroll. While it’s unfair to grade the rest of his career, I feel safe in saying Carroll has no hope of being anything more than 20 minute a night reserve. Second, Memphis gave up Kyle, a PG who I feel was much more of a suitable fit than Conley. It seems Memphis might agree as once again there were rumors flying around that Conley was up on the trade block before the deadline. Call: Thumbs Down
It would appear that general managers usually make the right moves as that’s 6 thumb’s up, 2 thumb’s down and 1 incomplete. I guess something needs to be said that the two thumb’s down teams aren’t that surprising. Sacramento made a host of poor business decisions during the last decade that seems to have followed them up through this year. Perhaps nothing was more detrimental than signing Chris Webber to a 7 year deal in 2001 when it was noticeable his career was already in decline. It wasn’t until the Kings waived Kenny Thomas that they finally relieved themselves of that mistake.
On the other hand, Memphis has made a number of stunning moves in the last several years. Surprisingly, half of them have worked out such as the Pau Gasol trade for his then unproven brother and this year’s Zach Randolph signing. However, the reason I believe they are more likely products of good fortune rather than excellent scouting are due some of their other poor decisions including the Allen Iverson signing, the aforementioned Kyle Lowry trade and the Hasheem Thabeet draft selection.
Looking forward, it would appear many of the deadline trades that took place this season will also benefit most of the active teams. At this time, it also probably has to include the Wizards. Washington was going absolutely no where and the recent Arenas debacle sealed their fate for this year. What at first looked like teams simply pillaging them for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Antwan Jamison appears to now be a blessing. The team was really looking good winning ballgames until the recent Josh Howard injury. However, Andray Blatche has been an absolute revelation. In addition, it would appear that JaVale McGee, Al Thornton and even James Singleton have decent prospects. Lastly, this team freed itself from some serious long term contracts. Not bad, huh? Going from overpaid players on a cellar dweller to promising prospects with plenty of cap space.