Saturday, February 23, 2013

Final NBA Trade Deadline Questions

Here are a few final questions from the NBA trade deadline:

Should the Hawks have traded Josh Smith?

In an ideal world, yes, the Hawks should have moved Josh Smith. He'll be a free agent after the season and the team has given every indication they're tired of his antics and unwilling to give him the max contract he desires. But if reports are correct and the best offer on the table was Ekpe Udoh, Beno Udrih, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and a protected first round pick? Well, it's tough to blame Atlanta for passing that up. That's the type of offer you toss at the new guy in your fantasy league to see how dumb he is.

Assuming nothing better was on the table, Atlanta was wise to keep Smith on board. Not only do they remain a playoff team, but they'll likely get something of value in the offseason via sign-and-trade. In the end, they're better off with a late first round pick and the cap space over a mid/late first round pick and a pile of spare parts.

Should the Celtics have blown it up?

As a Celtics fan, my answer is full of bias and blind love, but I say no. The team has rallied after losing Rondo, and depending on the matchups, could feasibly get back to the Eastern Conference Finals again. Doubtful, but possible. Either way, the Celtics are going back to the playoffs, and that has to mean something. Besides, what sweetheart deal could they have gotten? The best offer for Pierce included Marshon Brooks and Kris Humphries (NO!), and the market for an injured Rondo had to be excruciatingly thin.

The only potential deal worth considering was the oft rumored Bledsoe/Jordan for Garnett trade. No way in a million years do I do that deal. Jordan is owed more than $22M the next two years and Bledsoe is a duplicate of Rondo. Unless you felt certain you could spin off either Rondo or Bledsoe for a strong young asset like Klay Thompson or a really high first round pick (both unlikely scenarios), then that deal does little to further a rebuild.

Boston did pull one deal, landing Jordan Crawford for Leandro Barbosa and his one knee. Call me crazy, but I'm in love with this trade. Crawford's gift for creating offense will be invaluable to the second unit, and there's potential there for even more. He's an absolute gunner, a tough teammate, a selfish player...this I know. But he was on the Wizards. This cannot be forgotten. His coaches were awful and his teammates were worse. Is it any shock he played like the only guy on the floor capable of making a bucket? Heck, most of the time, he probably was!

For him, going from the Wizards to the Celtics will be like trading in your old Ford Escort for an Audi. He's got immense potential and this could be the perfect situation for him to start realizing it. And if it doesn't work out...hey, you've given up nothing for him! Great deal.

What is Utah doing?

In short, I have no clue. The team invested significant assets to acquire Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter as their frontcourt of the future, but have always had Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap blocking their path. No big deal last season since both Favors and Kanter needed time to develop, but the time to start the transition has long since come. Utah is clearly not a contender, Favors and Kanter have improved significantly, and both Millsap and Jefferson are on expiring contracts. Getting assets for one or both veteran big men was a must.

Yet, despite rumored deals, the team stood pat. Perhaps the market for Jefferson was thin, but given the Bledsoe for Millsap rumors circulating, I'm guessing the Millsap market was at least somewhat solid. Regardless of how much they like him, Paul Millsap is not part of the team's future, and the team missed a major chance to get a significant piece for the future.

Did the Bulls blow it by not making a deal?

Derrick Rose's brother certainly thinks so, and I'm sure plenty of people in Chicago feel the same way, but reality is that the Bulls were severely limited in what they could do. Cap-wise, the team is already paying the luxury tax and is so close to the hard cap limit that matching up salaries in a deal is about as easy as balancing the country's budget. Go play with the Trade Machine for half an hour and you'll see.

Things go beyond the inherit monetary difficulties of pulling off an impact trade, though. Nobody knows what Derrick Rose's timetable is at this point, including his own team. If the team believes he's not coming back this season, or even if they believe he won't be close to 100% this season, why do anything? Why give up that future Charlotte first round pick -- an enormously valuable pick -- to bolster an already lost season? The team is better off going into the summer with a better idea of Rose's health. Also, if they finally pull the trigger and amnesty Boozer, Chicago will have much more flexibility to complete a major trade.

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