Once again another breathless trade deadline has passed, and many of our competitors have made several changes which will, in all probability, impact the entire conference. Although Dwight and Deron stayed put, and there weren't any major changes when compared to last season's deadline, several teams in the Western Conference managed to tweak their rosters enough that they should improve. Likewise, a few competitive teams (such as Portland) have all but thrown in the towel. What follows is the first part of an analysis of every trade that has been made in the past week, and their potential impact upon the Memphis Grizzlies.
Golden State (18-22, 13th in the Western Conference) sends Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee (19-24, 8th seed in the Eastern Conference) for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson
A few weeks ago, I went on a rant about the Warriors. Basically, my argument was that they never improve because they keep doing the same stupid things over and over. This trade: case-in-point. In theory, Bogut is the 2nd-best center in the league and gives them a badly needed inside presence both defensively and offensively. In reality, he's been injury-prone for most of his career, and considering the Warriors' injury history, I wouldn't expect their training staff to work Phoenix-like wonders. Bogut is a really good player, but it seems like they gave up quite a bit to get him. Regardless, the Warriors weren't in the playoff competition this season, and seeing as how Andrew Bogut is probably out for the remainder of the season, don't expect them to suddenly enter the playoff picture.
This is a slightly-less risky gamble for the Bucks. Ellis is probably not as productive a player as Bogut, but he's been both durable and able to play massive amounts of minutes for the majority of his career. Ellis struggled playing alongside fellow combo-guard Stephen Curry, but Brandon Jennings is closer to a pure point, meaning that Ellis will hopefully mesh better with his backcourt partner. However, Ellis has been a sieve on the defensive end for his entire career, and he could see his fair share of clashes with coach Scott Skiles. While he's no Bogut, Ekpe Udoh gives the Bucks a promising young defensive-minded bigman. Unless the Ellis-Jennings backcourt is an abject disaster, I'd imagine that Milwaukee will surely solidify their hold on the 8th seed.
Memphis Grizzlies (24-17, 5th Seed in the Western Conference) sends Sam Young to the Philadelphia 76ers (25-18, 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference) for the rights to Ricky Sanchez (2005 Draft)
The Grizzlies were looking to unload Sam Young for strictly financial purposes. Despite starting on last year's playoff squad, Young has been in Coach Hollins' doghouse all season and wasn't getting any playing time. Frankly, I would have rather gotten a 2nd-round pick back as Sanchez will probably never even see a minute of NBA action, but the Grizzlies have been quite adept at acquiring the rights to useful players in the past (see Marc Gasol and Juan Carlos Naverra), and maybe Sanchez falls in that category. More than likely, this is just a salary dump.
With a plethora of solid wings, it's unlikely that Young gets much more PT in Philadelphia, but he's proven that he can be a useful player in the past and is a good insurance policy in case of injury.
See: Liberty Ballers
The Pacers have a solid team, but are looking to improve and make some noise in the Eastern Conference. Former 6th Man of the Year Barbosa (12.2 PPG, 14.3 PER) has lost much of his efficiency over the years, but remains a lightning-quick guard who can score at the rim and from 3 (.360 this season, .390 career average). Further, he's an expiring contract and won't hurt the Pacers' long-term salary. Solid move.
Toronto surprised many at the beginning of the season, but quickly dropped to the bottom once Andrea Bargnani went down with injury. To be honest, the Raptors would be best served by tanking the rest of the season. Barbosa was going to expire at the end of the season anyway, but at least they got something back.
Portland Trailblazers (20-23, 12th place) send Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets (15-29, 12th place) for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a 2012 1st-round pick (Top 3-protected)
The Trailblazers started this season on a tear, but recently found themselves in a slump. The Blazers have been dealt a really bad hand over the past year with superstar Brandon Roy being forced into an early retirement and Greg Oden missing yet another full season. Once management saw that this team wasn't going to make the playoffs they went into full fire-sale mode. Okur and Williams are both expiring contracts and will give them some badly-needed salary cap relief. Further, the Nets' draft pick will surely be quite high in the star-studded 2012 draft class and should give the Blazers another useful player to rebuild around along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, and Wesley Matthews.
New Jersey is desperately trying to convince Deron Williams to resign with them, and are hoping that Wallace will help persuade him.. Wallace is a great player, but he's also 30 and heavily relies on his athleticism. Frankly, I imagine we'll see a Shawn Marion-like drop in his productivity as he ages.
This trade could have serious repercussions for the Grizzlies. The Lakers haven't had a quality point guard since...forever and now they have one. This a great move for the Lakers, but it does come with some questions. Due to the fact that Kobe is the primary ballhandler, LA hasn't had a real point guard (i.e. one who actually dribbles the ball and runs the offense) since...Gary Payton in 2004? The question then becomes this: is Kobe willing to play off the ball? Sessions may be shooting .419 from long range for the season, but that's an outlier; he's a career .293 3-pt shooter. If he's not allowed to run pick-and-rolls and is instead relegated to spot-up duty, he will surely lose his effectiveness. There could be some problems early on, but I think the Lakers can incorporate him into the offense. Memphis has been on a tear lately, and based on their respective schedules, it looked like they had a shot of overtaking the Lakers in the Western Conference. After the Sessions acquisition, that seems unlikely. However, Sessions has been a poor defender throughout his career, and the Grizzlies, specifically Mike Conley, should have no trouble exploiting that match-up.
With a star in Kyrie Irving, Ramon Sessions is no longer necessary for the rebuilding Cavs. The Lakers' 1st-round pick will help their rebuilding process. Luke Walton's contract doesn't expire until next season, but the Cavs are in no hurry and can wait for the cap relief.
Soon to come...Part II!!!