DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 03: Nene Hilario #31 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket against Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers at the Pepsi Center on February 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Author's note: The full details of many of these trades have yet to emerge. Once they do, I'll update accordingly.
I originally intended to cover every trade in a single post...then I got to 1,200 words without an end in sight. Here's Part II:
I really like Chris Wallace, and, for the most part, I'm really happy with what he's accomplished in Memphis. However, during the trade deadline, I'd love to have Daryl Morey as my team's GM. Every year without fail, he manages to swindle some poor fool. This isn't an outright theft, but Houston managed to get a great back-up center for basically nothing. In the ultra-competitive West, this is a move that could really go a long way. Combined with a relatively easy remaining schedule, Houston can easily overtake a few teams in the playoff picture. Regardless, as Kurt Helin over at NBC Sports wrote, they're going to be a tough out for whichever unlucky team that faces them in the first round.
The fire-sale in Portland continues with the trade of Camby. There's an off-chance that the perennially-disappointing 2009 lottery picks Thabeet and Flynn actually become solid NBA players; Thabeet is 25 and Flynn is 23, but it's unlikely. Both have team options, so theoretically they could be on the Blazers' roster next year if they can impress in the remainder of the season. More than likely, Portland will use this move to get some cap relief. Portland has a good scouting team and usually finds serviceable players in the 2nd round, so maybe they'll be able to make use of the pick.
Remember how in the first part I said that the Warriors keep making the same stupid moves over and over? Well the Spurs are the anti-Warriors. They did a characteristically un-Spurs thing when they resigned Richard Jefferson to a 4-year contract. Although Jefferson has managed to develop into a solid spot-up shooter (.421 from 3 this season), he doesn't do much else anymore, and he's not a plus defender. It would seem that Stephen Jackson is even worse as he's played very little for Milwaukee (and it's been ugly when he has played) and things have ended badly with his past 4 teams, but remember a few things: he was key member of the 2003 Spurs squad that won the NBA Championship. He was beloved in the lockerroom, and Tim Duncan called him "the best teammate ever." Even if he causes problems, the Spurs have such a strong culture that it will immediately be snuffed out. On the court, he won't be expected to do much--defend and shoot 3's. He's lost a step, but Jax is still a decent defender (better than Jefferson). Also, promising youngster Kawhi Leonard can step in if he doesn't work out. Regardless, Jackson's contract expires after this season. This is what smart teams do: trade away bad contracts.
I mean, I don't even know what I'm supposed to say about this deal from a Warriors' perspective. Jefferson is slightly better and slightly younger (he's 31) than Jackson. Both are overpaid, but at least Jackson comes off the books this season. The only reason that Jefferson might turn down his player option (he won't) is if he decides to ring chase. More likely Golden State will pay $11 million next season for an aging, mediocre wing. At least they get a conditional draft pick. Supposedly, Golden State wants to compete for the playoffs next season; moves like this are only making that more difficult.
If Kevin Pritchard was the master of the Prich-slap, Daryl Morey should be known for the kick to the balls. No GM other than Sam Presti is arguably as good as he is at stealing other teams' draft picks. Jordan Hill has played fairly well this season, but the arrival of Marcus Camby and the presence of Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris on the depth chart allowed Morey to move him. I like Hill, but I have no doubt that the Rockets can replace him without missing a beat.
I was really surprised that the Lakers traded Derek Fisher. Admittedly, he hasn't been even serviceable for the past couple of years, but he's a legend in LA. I assumed that they would let finish his career there. As I said, I really like Hill and have since he was drafted, so it's a shame that he now plays for the Lakers. He can score from inside and is an average rebounder, but is pretty terrible defensively. That being said, he's sure to be a major upgrade over Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts. Between this trade and acquisition of Ramon Sessions, LA has really improved. This does not bode well for the other teams in the West.
Los Angeles Clippers (24-17, 4th seed) get Nick Young, Washington Wizards (9-32, 14th place) get Nene, Denver Nuggets (24-19, 6th seed) get JaVale McGee, Brian Cook, and a 2nd-round draft pick from the Clippers
Last one, bear with me. The Clippers have desperately needed a 2 after Chauncey Billups went down. Young is horrible defensively and his shot selection is...suspect, but when he gets hot he can score as well as anyone. Considering how little they gave up, this is a good deal for the Clips. Unfortunately, they are currently tied with Memphis, but hold the tiebreaker. Their remaining schedule is also easier than the Grizzlies', so don't be surprised if they're able to solidify their lead. In spite of this, assuming full health, I feel confident of our chances if we meet in the first round. In Tony Allen the Grizzlies possess the league's preeminent perimeter defender, and Nick Young isn't good enough that TA can't shut him down.
If there's a real winner today, it's John Wall. He's looked miserable this season, and I can't blame him. Now he has a good, veteran partner. Nene has been injured for part of the season and, overall, his stats are down from last year, but he's worlds better than anyone Wall has played with to date. Unfortunately, Nene is on the wrong side of 30 and could be a salary cap burden in a few years, but for now, he's a massive upgrade. I can't wait to see what Wall is able to do alongside a legitimate NBA player.
I'm fairly positive that Denver will see a drop-off as the result of this trade, but I don't know how big it will be. McGee has so much natural talent, but has yet to consistently harness it. Fortunately, George Karl is one of the best coaches in the league and has a knack for getting the most out of his players, but even he couldn't get J.R. Smith to realize his full potential, and you have to wonder if McGee won't turn out the same. While Dallas and Houston will probably overtake Denver in the playoff picture, I don't see any outside team threatening them now that Portland is in fire-sale mode, so they should make the playoffs. Long-term, this could be a good or bad move depending on how much they offer McGee in restricted free agency.
Check back in a few days for an analysis of trades that didn't happen.