Friday, February 22, 2013

NBA Trade Deadline Reactions: How Bad was the Thomas Robinson Deal?

Happy trade deadline day, everybody! Your top prizes on the day are...

Hamed Haddadi? Sebastian Telfair??? ANTHONY FREAKING MORROW?!?!?!?

Needless to say, the 2013 NBA trade deadline was more than a bit anti-climactic, especially considering the names and types of deals floated about in the days leading up. At one point, Josh Smith was "100% getting traded," the entire Celtics franchise was being loaded up with 10 tons of dynamite, Eric Bledsoe was getting cashed in for either Garnett or Millsap, and countless other names such as Danny Granger, Eric Gordon, Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Andrea Bargnani, and Evan Turner were being bandied about. None of those players ended up changing addresses. What we ended up with was a trade deadline highlighted by J.J. Redick, Jordan Crawford, and a controversial -- yet ultimately meaningless -- trade by the Kings. Not exactly a Who's Who of NBA royalty.

The latter, a trade in which the Kings and Rockets essentially swapped Thomas Robinson for Patrick Patterson, is easily the most interesting item of this year's deadline. Granted, the reason for this is mostly due to the lack of any other noteworthy deals, but isn't always fun to see the NBA's stupidity laid bare before our very eyes? Nearly everyone, including myself, agrees the Kings decision to go through with this deal does just that. But the actual trade...I'm not understanding what all the fuss is about.

In case you're wondering what "fuss" I'm talking about, I'll kindly refer you to either Bill Simmons' twitter or his email exchange with NBA writer Zach Lowe. Also, I'll refer you to pretty much every other NBA writer out there, as it seems everyone is up in arms over this trade. Simmons, in fact, calls it a "fleecing," and suggests it is "the worst trade anyone's made in years."

Easy there, Bill!

Granted, I'm not a huge fan of the deal. Robinson was the #5 overall pick just eight months ago and hasn't had nearly enough court time to outright label him a bust. Moreover, he has three more years on his rookie deal while Patterson has just one. You can't tell me Sacramento spent any considerable time shopping this around, because I feel 100000000% certain they could have gotten a bit more. Even if they could have, as Simmons and Lowe suggested, unloaded John Salmons terrible contract or landed a first round pick, they would be facing far less criticism today.

That having been said, the fact of the matter is that, in Patrick Patterson, the Kings came away with the best player in the deal. No question! Patterson isn't an All Star by any means, but he's built himself into a player who is a borderline starter at best, and a strong rotation player at minimum. His PER of 15.6 is above league average, his 37% from the three point line is excellent, and his above average WS/48 of .116 shows he's more than capable of regular minutes on a winning squad. Meanwhile, Robinson has been beyond dreadful in his rookie season. He's shooting 42%, turning it over at an absurd rate, and getting blocked on more than 10% of his shots. That's why his PER is 10.8...which is terrible.

Most people, at this point, will point out that Patterson is in his third year, while Robinson is just a rookie. That is correct, and must be taken into account. Another thing that must be taken into account is that Robinson spent three years in college, like Patterson, and should be much more NBA ready than he has proven to be. Patterson was also 21 years old as a rookie, having also spent three years in college, and posted infinitely better numbers (56% shooting, 16.7 PER). That doesn't necessarily mean Robinson will always be worse than Patterson, but it certainly should take some wind out of the "WORST TRADE EVER" sails.

Yes, the Sacramento Kings' decision making as it relates to Thomas Robinson has been horrific, but Wednesday's trade was hardly the most egregious offense. The real travesty came when Geoff Petrie claimed Robinson was #2 on their Big Board, and when they willingly drafted him over Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond, as well as other guys who have shown promise in their rookie year such as Harrison Barnes, Terrence Ross, John Henson, and Jared Sullinger.

Imagine how revitalized the Kings would be with a wizard like Damian Lillard running the point, or with Andre Drummond paired up with DeMarcus Cousins. Sure, it's easy to look back and say "well, they should have drafted this guy," but plenty of people viewed Robinson's issues as obvious back in June. Even dopes such as me saw this coming! Here's what I wrote about Robinson prior to the draft:

Thomas Robinson is a consensus top five pick, and is often viewed as a “perfect fit” for the Kings. Why, I’m not sure. For all his positives, Robinson is always going to be an undersized player that doesn’t have a natural feel on offense. Basically, he’s Jason Thompson…who, coincidentally, the Kings already have. It just doesn’t make sense to use the #5 overall pick on a low-ceiling player like Robinson when the team is so far from contention.

Granted, I had Sacramento taking Perry Jones (pre-injury!!!), but my point was that you can't settle for a role player at #5 with high ceiling guys on the board. That's exactly what I said when talking about Drummond later in that article:

Thomas Robinson, again, is too low-ceiling to take over Drummond...

This isn't to beat my own drum about being right -- again, I took Perry Jones at #5!!! -- it's simply to say that a return of Patrick Patterson isn't all that horrible. As long as they don't do something stupid and give Patterson a 4 year $32M deal (definitely in play for the Kings), this trade will hardly register as a blip on the long term wellness of the franchise. The damage was already done when the draft card was read.


Look, I know Bill Simmons and Morey are buddies, and I know Morey has built up a lot of goodwill with the media, but the back rubbing is really out of hand here. The biggest benefit of the trade is the money saved towards next year's cap, money that, I suppose, will go towards Houston's fanciful quest for Dwight Howard. Short term, though, the Rockets can only be considered a worse team, which makes the Morey Love Fest all the more confusing.

Actually, I misspoke. What makes the Morey Love Fest ultimately confusing, and more than a bit hypocritical, is that, on the same day he acquired a former lottery pick for what was perceived to be nothing, he also dealt away a former lottery pick for what is quite literally nothing. That's right! This happened! Marcus Morris, the 14th overall pick just two years ago, was sent to the Suns for a mere second round pick. Marcus Morris, a 6'8" PF shooting over 38% from the three point line and averaging a solid 14.5 points per 36 minutes was given away for a draft pick that is historically worth as much as the typical "business proposal" from a prince of Gambia.

Please understand, I'm not arguing the merits of Marcus Morris as a future Hall of Famer or anything. At best, he's a slightly worse version of Patterson, and it's doubtful he'll develop much beyond that. It just strikes me as suspicious that one GM, Geoff Petrie, would be crucified for giving up too quick on a lottery talent in the name of saving a couple million bucks, while another, Darryl Morey, does the same thing and is largely ignored. The deal is a footnote at this point. Nobody talks about it other than to briefly mention how brilliant it is to dump Morris' $1.5M cap hit.

Hey, if it turns out that Dwight Howard comes to Houston and that $1.5M was key, then I'll back off the whole thing and personally crown Morey. I highly doubt that happens, though, which would make the Morris trade one of the more brainless moves in recent memory. Again, the Rockets are battling tooth and nail to lock down a playoff spot. Giving up legit rotation talent for no return isn't the best strategy. No, Patterson and Morris weren't the strongest PF duo in the league, but at least they brought a predictable and definable skill set to the table. Now, with Robinson and Terrence Jones as the main guys, Houston will go forward with even less offensive skill at the 4, less predictability, and the potential for outright disaster.

While I do believe Morey is a top ten GM in the league, it just seems disingenuous to skimp over the Marcus Morris charity giveaway while lambasting the Kings handling of Thomas Robinson. At least mention it, people.

I have many more thoughts on the day's (in)action. Check back this weekend for more.


  1. "Give me cancer now, God."


    Sacramento Kings Fan

  2. Yeah, the Kings haven't gotten much right. Also, they probably won't be in Sacramento very long.