Yesterday was that time of the year again when NBA GMs either try to improve their respective teams for a playoff run or acquire young talent, draft picks, and expiring contracts in preparation for next season. So who did well? Who failed? Of course it will take some time to assess the true value and impact of these trades but here are my initial reactions:
The Spurs acquired Stephen Jackson from the Warriors for Richard Jefferson and a 1st round pick. Seems like it’s counter-productive for the Spurs to add older players to an already aging roster but this move makes a lot of sense. Jackson will fit in to the team right away. Don’t forget that he was an NBA champion in 2003 with the Spurs and Popovich loves him. The Spurs immediately get a veteran leader, and a tough all-around player to replace the softer, more finesse Jefferson. His desire for another championship will be a great asset to this Spurs team who may be on their last legs.
Although it hurts for die-hard Lakers fans to see Derek Fisher leave, acquiring Ramon Sessions was a necessity. Fisher, age 37, only has 1 or 2 years left in the tank thus the Lakers desperately needed a solid young point guard to add to the roster. Session fills that need immediately. In his time in Cleveland, Sessions has shown that he can run the court fairly well, has decent handles, is big enough to defend both guard positions, and has plenty of potential to grow. One area that he must improve on quickly is his 3pt shooting. The Lakers also added Jordan Hill to add some depth to their front court and Christian Eyenga to fill the bench.
Golden State finally landed a big man that they desired in Andrew Bogut. Sure they had to trade away Monta Ellis, one of the best pure scorers in the league, but with rookie Klay Thompson emerging and Stephen Curry already on deck, it was the right thing to do. Assuming he can stay healthy, Bogut’s post-up skills and ability to play the pick & roll should free up space for the Warriors perimeter players and also take some pressure off of David Lee. His presence on the defensive end and on the boards should also not be overlooked.
The Rockets added a couple of proven veteran players to add to their already solid squad. Although lacking a superstar player, the Rockets are still holding onto a winning record and a playoff spot due to their hard work and fundamental play. Fisher will be a great backup to the young Kyle Lowry, and act as a mentor for the less experienced guard. Camby can still block shots and rebound the ball well at his old age. He will form a strong front-court trio with Luis Scola and Samuel Dalembert.
Orlando wins because they managed to hold on to Dwight Howard. Superstar franchise players such as Howard come few and far between. Holding on to him will give the Magic a chance for a deep playoff run. If players like JJ Redick and Ryan Anderson continue to play at a high level, they may have a (slim) chance of beating the Heat and/or the Bulls.
Even though they managed to keep Howard, not trading him is also problematic. Next year, the same situation could occur again where Howard demands another trade. Letting him go might have been more productive so that the organization can move forward with players that actually desire to play there.
The Blazers had an excellent start to the season but have faded just as fast. I think it was a little premature to dismantle such a young talented team despite their recent struggles. First of all, they fired head coach Nate McMillan who is well respected around the league. Few coaches are as intelligent as him. Then they lost Camby for two busts (Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet) and a 2nd round pick. In addition, they also gave away Gerald Wallace for two injured players (Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams), and a future 1st round pick. Sure Williams, Flynn, and Thabeet could still fulfill their potential, Okur’s expiring contract gives them cap room, and the future 1st rounder could be a superstar. Nevertheless, it’s all still a big gamble. Few players are as well-rounded as Gerald Wallace and he will be missed. The Blazers might have been better off showing some patience.
Getting Ekpe Udoh was nice but can Ellis and Jennings play well together? The Bucks did need another perimeter threat aside from Jennings but one ball may not be enough for these two volume shooters.
The Nets really wanted to land Dwight Howard but could not make it happen. Because of this, Deron Williams may not want to stay with the team when his contract expires. Unless they can pull something off in the offseason, the future of this Brooklyn-bound team is bleak.