Transactions: 2/3-2/26 Part 2

Memphis Grizzlies 

2/19    Traded a protected first-round pick to Utah for Ronnie Brewer 

The Grizz were able to nab Brewer for little because of the Jazz’s luxury tax situation.  Unfortunately, Brewer won’t help much for the playoff run since he has promptly tore his hamstring.  Going forward, however, he is a nice defender but might have the ugliest jumper for a shooting guard/small forward I’ve seen in recent years.  On Memphis, he can surely help because they don’t need scorers and they do need defenders.  There is some implication that he is the fallback position if Memphis decide not to pay Rudy Gay as a free agent this summer.  Long term, Brewer’s lack of scoring will probably relegate him to role player status but for now he is not a bad hedge. 

Milwaukee Bucks 

2/18    Traded Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander to Chicago for John Salmons and 2011 and 2012 second-round picks

2/19    Traded Jodie Meeks and Francisco Elson to Philadelphia for Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec, and a 2010 second-round pick 

The Salmons deal helps because the Bucks have struggled offensively between Brandon Jennings shooting slump and the general lack of scorers on the roster.  Salmons is not a great scorer but he has his moments.  The Bucks hope to catch Salmons on one of his hot streaks to propel them back into the playoffs.  It has worked so far, as Salmons has over 20 ppg since coming to Milwaukee.  The Bucks do add salary in the move (Salmons has one more year at $5.8 million while Warrick and Alexander are free agents) and the payroll for 2010-11 is currently near the cap ($55 million according to but the commitment is not terrible and the Bucks aren’t usually players in free agency anyway. 

The Meeks/Elson for Ivey/Brezec deal doesn’t do much for the Bucks but save the $760,000 in salary guaranteed to Meeks in 2010-11 (all others will be free agents).  Ivey can help certain teams on defense but Milwaukee is precisely the team where is not needed, as he duplicates all their strengths (defense) and weaknesses (offense), though Scott Skiles will probably love to have him around at practice time. 

Minnesota Timberwolves 

2/17    Traded Brian Cardinal to New York for Darko Milicic and cash 

The Wolves apparently want to give Darko a lchance to play for the rest of the season.  Milicic had been sent away from the Knicks and announced his intention to return to Europe next season but the chance to play in the NBA has lured Darko back from exile.  For all the jokes that Darko has been subjected to, he can block shots and the Wolves are lacking in this area.  It is clear, however, that his decent boards/blocks numbers overstate his impact.  But Milicic might be effective in small doses on a team like this.  This is fine for a no risk/low reward play for the Wolves and for Milicic.  Unless, he plays great, however, it won’t change Darko’s plan to go back to Europe. 

New York Knicks 

2/17    Traded Darko Milicic and cash to Minnesota for Brian Cardinal

2/19    Traded Larry Hughes to Sacramento for Sergio Rodriguez; Waived Brian Cardinal

2/19    Traded Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, a protected 2012 first-round pick, and the right to exchange first-round picks in 2011 to Houston for Tracy McGrady

2/19    Traded Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry to Boston for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and a future conditional second-round pick 

Part of the problem with admitting you want out of cap hell is that the present really doesn’t matter.  Even when the Knicks are competing hard, the transitory sense of the roster the last two years definitely has worn on the fan base.  But the purge is still very necessary and these bad Donnie Walsh Knicks are infinitely more watchable and have a much more positive aura than the awful Isiah Thomas Knicks.  Even so, the overall goal of financial freedom for the future has and will continue to undermine the present.  In this case, that means dumping a recent lottery pick and another pick to dump Jeffries.  Jeffries would be a useful player in the right circumstances put paying the luxury tax for his services on a bad team is vomit-inducing.  

The question was really whether the Knicks had to give up so many potential assets (Hill and two first-rounders) to dump Jeffries.  We don’t really know the answer to internal directives but we do know that the Knicks were assuming some big payments to T-Mac, who was a dead roster spot.  Walsh is a veteran GM with many great moves in his pocket in Indana, so we have to give him some benefit of the doubt.  Yet, I have to think that the Rockets extracted a bit more than was necessary to get the deal done.  On some level, trading Hill isn’t too big a deal because the Knicks seemed convinced that he wasn’t a good fit.  One would have to think that the Knicks are convinced that they can sign a big free agent this summer and thus trading Hill was worth that chance.  I guess we’ll see but the price is steeper than I expected.  Incidentally, the last time a top eight pick was traded by his team before the end of his first season (not including draft day deals) was Drew Gooden back in 2002-03 when he was traded to Memphis for Mike Miller. 

Finally, please ignore all the talk about how T-Mac can help the Knicks.  If he was anywhere close to his pre-knee surgery ability the Rockets wouldn’t have banished him to begin with.  It’s still worth taking a look just in case he can play but McGrady’s primary purpose is to make Jeffries’ contract go bye-bye. 

Oklahoma City Thunder  

2/22    Signed Antonio Anderson and waived Matt Harpring 

It’s fair to say that Harpring’s career is probably over, as most players do not start their careers as studio commentators if they are physically able to play AND still under contract with an NBA team.  Harpring deserves to be remembered for the useful player he was.  I expected him to be a bust in the NBA but he turned in a workman like career.  Let’s take a look at his career in a nutshell: Harpring was drafted in the middle of the first-round of the 1998 Draft.  He earned significant minutes with the Magic as a rookie in 1998-99 and he helped the Chuck Daly-led squad tie Miami and Indiana for the best record in the East.  Harping then missed most of 1999-00 with injuries and was traded to Cleveland for Andrew DeClercq.  After a decent return in 2000-01, the Cavs flipped Harpring to Philly for Tyrone Hill.  Harpring continued to pay well in Philly in the 2001-02 season, starting 81 games and putting up 12 ppg and 7 rpg.  Harpring signed with the Jazz  that summer to fill in the small forward role to go with aging John Stockton and Karl Malone.  Harpring had his career year in 2002-03 for Utah (17.6 ppg, .511 FG%, 6.6 rpg, 19.3 PER) and the Jazz went 47-35 before losing to Sacramento in the first round of the playoffs. 

In 2003-04, Stockton retired, Malone signed with the Lakers, and Harpring was injured and missed 51 games.  When he returned in 2004-05, Harping was able to put up solid rate stats but his minutes gradually retreated with injuries and Utah’s growing front court depth.  Despite these facts, Harpring was able to be a solid reserve from 2004-05 to 2007-08 (averaging about 75 games per year and having 16 pts and 6 rebs per-36 most of the time).  In 2008-09, Harpring still could do all right per minute but the minutes had dwindled to 11 per game (though he did get in 63 games).  This takes us to 2009-10, where Harpring’s knee wouldn’t let him out of training camp and he went to the NBA-TV channel to become a talking head.  He has since been traded as a salary slot to Oklahoma City and will likely call it a nice but too short NBA career at age-33. 

Philadelphia 76ers 

2/19    Traded Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec, and a 2010 second-round pick to Milwaukee for Jodie Meeks and Francisco Elson 

A negligible trade for the 76ers.  They assume a little more salary in Meeks for 2010-11 but gain the chance that he might develop into a useful cheap reserve.  Early returns are not encouraging, as Meeks, who was a scorer in college, can’t shoot in the pros yet. 

Portland Trailblazers 

2/16    Traded Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, and cash to L.A. Clippers for Marcus Camby and Ricky Davis; Waived Ricky Davis 

A great trade for the Blazers.  Camby is still a very effective player even approaching 36.  So far, he has struggled to fit in offensively but this is not a big deal because defense is Portland’s real problem right now.  Both Blake and Outlaw are decent players but Portland has plenty of depth (a logjam even) at these positions.  In short, a total win trade for Portland.

Sacramento Kings 

2/19    Traded a future second-round pick and cash to Washington for Dominic McGuire

2/19    Traded Sergio Rodriguez to New York for Larry Hughes

2/19    Traded Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong to Houston for Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey; Waived Kenny Thomas

2/23    Waived Larry Hughes 

The Kings are in rebuild mode and obviously thought that Kevin Martin wasn’t worth keeping around and playing with Tyreke Evans.  Some commentators felt that the Kings could’ve extracted more value for Martin than Landry but I like the deal.  As mentioned in our evaluation of the Rocket side of the deal, Martin has not exactly been the picture of health the last three years.  The Kings are going nowhere in the short term and have reportedly have cash problems.  Why not trade  in Martin a little early rather than risk injury later?  As for the return, Landry is pretty good but probably won’t be part of the next good Kings team.  Still, he is cheap salary-wise and only 26. 

San Antonio Spurs 

2/19    Traded Theo Ratliff to Charlotte for a protected 2016 second-round pick 

When you look at draft prospects, you’ll speculate who will be good and who will be a bust.  We never guess who will last in the NBA forever.  When I watched the 1995 Draft, there was talk of Ratliff’s worth but did you think one day he’d be traded for a 2016 pick?  As for his present value, he doesn’t have much other than as a 5-10 minutes defense guy.  The Spurs don’t really need him so they saved a few bucks and sent Ratliff to his old foil Larry Brown (who amazingly is playing Ratliff 20 mpg and starting him!). 

Utah Jazz 

2/19    Traded Ronnie Brewer to Memphis for a protected future first-round pick

As noted, the Jazz are looking to save money.  You hate to give up decent young players for nothing but if trading Brewer (and Eric Maynor) mean the Jazz will keep Carlos Boozer for the stretch drive, it’s not as bad as it seems at first blush. 

Washington Wizards 

2/13    Traded DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and cash to Dallas for Quinton Ross, Josh Howard, James Singleton, and Drew Gooden

2/18    In a three-team trade, the L.A. Clippers traded Sebastian Telfair to Cleveland and Al Thornton to Washington for Drew Gooden

2/18    Traded Antawn Jamison to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, and a first-round pick

2/19    Traded Dominic McGuire to Sacramento for a future second-round pick and cash

2/24    Signed Mike Harris to a 10-day contract

2/25    Waived Zydrunas Ilgauskas 

Shouldn’t they have been doing this last summer?  Long before we knew that Gilbert Arenas brought guns into locker rooms or reportedly crapped in people’s shoes, we were still mystified why the Wiz felt the need to lock in the aging core of a team that was, at best, mediocre.  It took a total debacle to get the Wiz on board but they are now in full dump mode (no pun intended).  Jamison, Butler, and Haywood were all traded for virtually nothing and Arenas should be next at some point.  On the bright side, the Wiz were bad enough before that the young guys (Andray Blatche, Javale McGee) have looked solid since the trade.  Combine this fact with the huge money off the cap on 2010-11 and a good draft pick and Washington could be on express rebuild mode.  I’m sure Wiz fans may have a little less faith in the tea’s ability to choose/sign the right players based upon its utter failure to recognize that they needed to rebuild earlier but at least they are now in the right frame of mind.  Better to rectify a mistake quickly than keeping to double down on a flawed plan.

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