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Friday, February 25th, 2011 at 2:45 pm  |  21 responses

Who Came Out on Top?

Full breakdown and analysis of the 2011 Trade Deadline.

6. Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have had a core group together for a while. It was tough for Mike Bibby’s teammates to see him go. Like John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, they’d become close as brothers.

From a personnel standpoint, though, Bibby had to go.

He was weak defensively and he’d lost a few steps on the offensive end. Other than hitting the occasional three, he was an absolute liability.

In Kirk Hinrich, the Hawks have a legitimate point guard for the first time in years. Also, a guy who can contribute on the defensive end.

I think this trade solidifies them as the No. 5 team in the East — ahead of the Knicks, behind the Magic – and gives them a much better chance to advance in the Playoffs than they had with Bibby, Jordan Crawford and Mo Evans on the roster.

5. Utah Jazz

It’s been a Lindsay Lohan-like month for the Jazz. Brutal.

First, Jerry Sloan retired unexpectedly. Now, fans have to deal with the reality of a future without Deron Williams.

That’s a one-two combination no team wants to face, but the Jazz are making the best of it. They moved D-Will in a buyer’s market, before he had the stigma of an expiring contract hanging around his neck like a Kanye West Jesus piece, and got a really good return.

I’m not that high on Devin Harris. He’s an above average point guard with an unexpected knack for getting to the free-throw line (which I like). But he wasn’t the centerpiece of this trade, even though his name is always the first one brought up after Williams’. Derrick Favors was.

Favors has Superman potential. At 19, he’s already a very good rebounder, and he has the potential to be a force in the paint on both ends of the floor. New Jersey was quick to part with him, but I think that was a product of Mikhail Prokhorov being star crazed rather than Avery Johnson and Co. not believing in Favors’ talent. Couple him with the first round picks the Jazz scooped up in 2011 (New Jersey) and 2012 (Golden State) and the future looks bright in Utah.

Well, brighter than Lohan’s at least.

4. Portland Trail Blazers

Yeah, I know. The Blazers are loaded at small forward now. And not loaded in a good way. Loaded like a boat that can barely leave the dock.

But any time you can get a player of Gerald Wallace’s caliber for a vanilla gorilla, Dante Cunningham and draft picks, it’s an easy decision.

Not only is Wallace a perfect fit for Portland’s system – defense first, thriving on energy, never backing down from a fight – he’s also at a stage in his career where he can contribute at a high level.

This isn’t a 34-year-old has-been the Blazers picked up. Wallace is still just 28, and he has plenty left in the tank (anyone who’s seen a Bobcats game this season knows what I’m talking about).

“Crash” isn’t going to light the world on fire offensively (he’s primarily a clean-up specialist), but he isn’t a liability either. He takes high percentage looks. He’ll fit in well alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Andre Miller.

At best, Wallace makes the Blazers a serious candidate to upset the Lakers, Spurs and Mavs. At worst, he slows Nicolas Batum’s development by a year or two.

I think he’s worth the risk, especially considering the low price Portland paid for him.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

You don’t have to be House to figure this one out. The Thunder ranked 11th in points allowed per game last season. This season? Twentieth. They badly needed help with defense and rebounding.

Kendrick Perkins is an immediate fix in both areas.

Nenad Krstic averaged 4.4 rebounds per game and allowed 110 points per 100 possessions. Perkins: 6.2 rebounds, 99 points per 100 possessions.

Not exactly brain surgery, right?

Jeff Green was a well-liked player, a good soldier. He filled in admirably at power forward even though it obviously wasn’t the best fit for him. I’m sure his teammates will miss him.

Honestly, though, a lineup of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins gives OKC a much, much better chance of knocking off the Lakers than Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green and Krstic. They can handle Andrew Bynum better, rebound better – physically it’s more of an even match now.

That, to me, is the reason this trade elevated the Thunder past everyone other than the Nets and Knicks when it came to deadline deals. With one move, they went from being a fringe contender to a legitimate contender.

I can’t decide what I’m more excited about now: a potential Lakers-Thunder Playoff series or the Wolfpack riding again.

2. New York Knicks

J.A. Adande has a theory called the Headline Rule. “In the NBA, the team that gets the player whose name is in the headline normally wins the trade.”

I can’t think of a better application of that theory than the Carmelo Anthony trade.

The moment the trade was announced, New York went wild for Melo. Sensational headlines, rap anthems, Carnegie Deli sandwiches as big as your head. No expense was spared in welcoming Anthony to the Big Apple.

He lived up to the hype, too, scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 boards in his first game as a Knick – a 114-108 win over the Bucks. There’s more where that came from.

Forget Frank White, Melo and Amar’e Stoudemire are the new Kings of New York.

Yeah, they’ll be susceptible on the defensive end. Yeah, they need more depth in the front court. Yeah, it’ll be a few seasons before they can be considered a bona fide contender. But the Knicks are on the right path. Don’t believe me? Check out this statistical breakdown at HoopData; then we can talk.

It’s hard enough to score one superstar on a team, let alone two. Yet New York was able to do just that in the span of a little under eight months.

They’ll finish no better than fifth in the East, but what Donnie Walsh (or Isiah Thomas, depending on whose report you believe) and James Dolan were able to accomplish with this trade is impressive nonetheless.

The Knicks are relevant again. They’re winning the Battle of the Headlines, and that’s good for the NBA.

1. New Jersey Nets

Headlines, schmeadlines. Let the Knicks wind the hype machine till they’re sore in the arms. In Deron Williams, the Nets got the best player at the deadline. (Like that WWE-style reversal?)

Melo’s cool (and his jersey will sell out like Ice Cube), but the numbers don’t lie. D-Will is more of an impact player.

Not only is Williams better at getting his teammates involved (9.7 assists per game, third best in the NBA), he’s also better on the defensive end and has a better track record in terms of win shares (a statistical calculation of how valuable a player is to his team in terms of wins).

Williams has topped double digits in win shares twice (11.3 in ‘07-08 and 10.3 last season), something Melo has never done – the closest he got was 9.4 in ’05-06. And he’s on pace to do it again this season too. Williams has 6.9 win shares through 53 games.

Anthony’s an elite scorer. Williams is an elite player.

Everything from 3-point shooting to PER says so.

On top of that, Williams is more affordable. He’s making $14.9 million this season to Anthony’s $17.1 million. $16.4 million next season to Anthony’s $18.5 million.

As excited as the Knicks were to bring Melo to New York, I’ll bet they were scratching their heads when they found out the Nets pulled Williams. D-Will was available for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two picks? Shit, we could’ve put that together.

That isn’t to say the Knicks would have taken Williams over Anthony. There were other considerations involved – chief among them, marketing and ticket sales. As good of an all-around player as he is, Williams is probably a better fit for New Jersey than New York. He lacks Melo’s mega-watt smile.

But for New Jersey Williams is a great fit.

He’s a piece the Nets can build a future around (considering he signs an extension when his player option comes up in 2012-13); a star who will sell tickets when they move to Brooklyn.

Think about it. When was the last time the Nets were relevant? When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team? When they lost out on LeBron and Melo? When they lost a record number of games last season?

As good as Melo is, the Nets needed Williams more than the Knicks needed Anthony. This trade legitimizes them, especially Prokhorov (who was quickly becoming a laughingstock thanks to the Nets’ weak offseason and the Melo-drama).

They’re no longer the Knicks’ little brother. They’re a serious challenger, and Deron Williams is the main reason why.

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  • http://google c_cantrell

    the thunder, of course, came out with the best of this years trade season

  • http://google c_cantrell

    ^not the best players, but they are obviously the top winner in trades this year

  • dsleepy

    i was mad at danny ainge for making that trade, they WILL miss perk, believe it. at the same time, okc vs lakers is going to that much better now. that okc lineup you mentioned is defensively SOLID

  • http://slamonline.com Enigmatic

    Who came outon top? Well, certainly not me. I’m totally a bottom ;) . Smooches!

  • http://www.twitter.com/xpotatotitsx mersh

    in short, i think the thunder came out on top, the knicks came out in a closer 2nd, followed by the nuggets at 3, and all the other stuff blends into nothing for me…but the celtics definitely came out at the bottom of the heap after all of this. as a celtics fan myself, i just hope danny ainge has a good veteran or 2 to buy out in the works!

  • Patrick

    Trading Daniels, Erdah and Harangody opens up a few roster spots for Boston. Looks like Troy Murphy is headed their way. Maybe Leon Powe too (he was waived by the Cavs). I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some playing time for Avery Bradley as well. May turn out to be a positive.

  • http://www.walshsportsblog.com Darren

    Remains to be seen how the Nets work out, all depends on whether Willaims signs up and who they bring in to help him. He can only average 9 assists a game if his teammates put the ball in the basket.

  • pwbrookyln

    THE CARMELO TO THE KNICKS SONG
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S2sLe8VuMo
    HELLO MELO
    played on espn radio

  • http://slamonline.com AlbertBarr

    Terrible Analysis. You seriously think the Hawks trades were better than 14 other teams? that is ridiculous. They traded the corpse of Mike Bibby for Kirk Heinrich who is limited in every way except defense. That alone make your recap worthless. And Carl Landry was the Kings best player? You have to be joking right. Cousins may be crazy but he can be just as effective of a player and Tyreke is definitely better and beyond that, do you really think Landry was going to resign with the Kings when he beomes a FA this summer. You are also sleeping on Thorton as a good 2 guard who can score without the ball. We also got quis. SMH

  • MikeC.

    “When Curry comes to town, everybody wins.” Except limo drivers.

  • MikeC.

    In that pic at the top, Williams’ mouth is smiling but his eyes look like he’s dead inside.

  • Patrick

    Haha. C’mon man. That limo driver was asking for it…

  • Groves

    undervaluing marcus thornton

  • paul

    I think you gave the Celtics too much credit. Danny Ainge seems to have gotten drunk with trade fever. The only way what he did could possibly make any sense would be if Shaq comes back and plays strong, motivated basketball for the rest of the season and playoffs. Does anyone really think that is going to happen?

    If it does, Ainge will look like a genius. If not, he will have made one of the worst moves in basketball history, ripping the defensive heart out of a team that might have been on the verge of a championship.

  • http://bassbesteck.wordpress.com Bassbesteck

    [in comic sans]I guarantee you that the cavs will win a title before that self-proclaimed King does[/in comic sans] ahahahahahaha

    and btw: i think the spurs should just give TD to the Celtics as a present, you know, so thatthey have the record for oldest centers/froncourt in the game… seriously, if Sheed comes back now, they should move to florida, you know, for the early bird specials and such… (terrible stereotyping)

  • RT Firefly

    The Nuggets came out the best. The Knicks will come out the worst in the NBA. The Nugs now have 10 hungry young guys who can start on any team.
    When the Knicks are six games under .500 and playing no D, and the Nuggets are rolling over folks, people in NY will want to hang Dolan. The Knicks have traded themselves into another salary cap problem with a losing team. Watch Stoudemire lose it as the season wears on. He’ll wish he had Gallo, Wes and Felton back.

  • Lazarus

    wow u nothing but a hater.

  • RT Firefly

    You spell that “you”.

  • Jono

    @RT Completely agree. Amar’e isn’t gonna lose it though, they’ll just play great offensive basketball, be a fun team to use on video games, sell-jerseys and get slaughtered by Antawn Jamison on defence every night. Gallinari might actually play like a borderline all-star!

  • Patrick

    Even with their age concerns I think the Celtics are still championship bound. They were mowing teams down even when Perkins was out (good teams like Miami, Orlando, LA). They’re better with Perkins but they’re not dead without him.

  • T Bone

    i have only read the 1st page of this so far… but this analysis is terrible! honestly, have you no idea about the value of expiring contracts, or opening up starting spots for players, or the idea of getting under the cap with the uncertainty of what will happen with the new cba????
    i hope the next 2 pages are better….

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