Transactions 4/15-7/13 Part 3

Milwaukee Bucks

6/22    Traded Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric to Golden State for Corey Maggette and the 44th pick in the 2010 draft

6/25    Traded a 2012 second-round pick to New Jersey for Chris Douglas-Roberts

7/8      Re-signed John Salmons and signed Drew Gooden

Unquestionably, the Bucks have won the talent exchanges here.  Maggette is still a pretty good player but is owed about $30 million over the next three years, while Bell and Gadzuric will be pretty much gone after 2010-11 (Bell is owed $4 million in 2011-12).  So, Maggette is essentially a free agent pick up for the Bucks, giving them the extra scorer they need.  The only downsides with Maggette are injury concerns and his lack of defense, a weakness that does not always work with Scott Skiles teams.  Douglas-Roberts could also help in the scoring department but between Maggette and Salmons there isn’t much playing time left over for a lower budget scoring type.

The Gooden signing is also a nice talent move, though the contract terms appear a little long (five years and $32 million).  Like Maggette and CDR, Gooden will also scoring as his primary ability, challenging Skiles to assimilate a different kind of talent base to his core.  The addition of more scorers correctly identifies the right problems with the Bucks.  Even so, I don’t see the Bucks making a big jump forward.  At best, this will be a consolidation year to make sure the gains of 2009-10 carry forward.  It should be noted that consolidation is worthy goal since Skiles last three winning season were followed by struggles the following year:

-2000-01 Suns, 51-31:  Slipped to 25-26 the next season and Skiles was fired.

-2004-05 Bulls, 47-35:  Fell to 41-41 the next season

-2006-07 Bulls, 49-33:  Started out 9-16 the next season and was fired.

So, history indicates that Skiles is due for some regression.

Finally, this will be Gooden’s ninth NBA team already, putting him on a nice pace to eventually catch Tony Massenburg and Chucky Brown for playing for the most franchises.

Minnesota Timberwolves

6/24    Traded Ryan Gomes and the draft rights to Luke Babbit to Portland for Martell Webster

7/12    Traded 2011 and 2014 second-round picks to Miami for Michael Beasley; Re-signed Darko Milicic

The Darko signing is mystifying.  I know that the Wolves are excited about rehabbing Darko into a serviceable backup center but fundamentally he’s still not that good and it’s not clear there was a market for him in the NBA anyway.  Even if Darko outperforms the deal (four years and $20 million) this was a waste of salary space.  The Beasley acquisition, on the other hand, was a worthwhile move, since he was essentially dumped for nothing.  He’s only 21 and reminds me very much of Glenn Robinson, another big man guy who was really a perimeter scorer.  A front line of Beasley, Kevin Love, and Darko doesn’t exactly strike fear in anyone’s hearts but is not valueless.  While Love and Al Jefferson struggled to defend together, this front line also seems pretty soft.  In short, the Wolves will look different but will still be bad.

New Jersey Nets

6/25    Traded Chris Douglas-Roberts to Milwaukee for a 2012 second-round pick

6/28    Waived Keyon Dooling

6/29    Traded Yi Jianlian and cash to Washington for Quinton Ross

7/10    Signed Johan Petro and signed Anthony Morrow to an offer sheet; Traded a conditional second-round pick in 2011 and a player exception to Golden State to complete a sign-and-trade for Anthony Morrow

So this is what happens when you whiff on the big free agent signings…you get some seriously unfun consolation prizes.  Petro will defend but can’t do much else.   Morrow fills a serious shooting need for the Nets, who were terrible from the perimeter. Outlaw is a wild card, who may add some scoring but the terms of the deal (five years and $7 million) are ridiculous for a guy who missed over half the season last year.  In all, this is not a great haul but acceptable given the lack of depth the Nets suffered last year.  Still, there is no quicker path to mediocrity than overpaying for guys like Outlaw or Petro and Billy King made similar mistakes in Philly that were killers (Willie Green, Kenny Thomas, or Greg Buckner).  Hopefully, the Nets are careful with the rest of their cap room.

New Orleans Hornets

6/7    Named Monty Williams head coach

6/24  Traded Morris Peterson and the rights to Cole Aldrich to Oklahoma City for the rights Craig Brackins and Quincy Poindexter

I will always remember Williams as a rookie for the Knicks.  He didn’t do much but he had moments whenever I was around.  He played particularly well one game at the Garden I happened to go to in 1994-95.  Then in 1995-96, when I happened to be shooting around at the Suny Purchase basketball court, Williams (nicely) kicked me off the court so that he could practice his free throws. I hadn’t thought much of him since that time but he apparently made a strong enough impression to that he will get the chance to try to turn around the Hornets.  This will be a tough start with Chris Paul looking to be traded and only a few other assets around N.O..

The Hornets have been smart so far with Paul and tried to defuse the tension here.  They seem to understand that they hold all the cards for right now.  Paul can’t force a trade unless he refuses to play (won’t happen) or he whines so loudly that they have to get him off the roster (probably won’t happen because of the collateral damage it might do to his reputation).  On the other hand, as time elapses, the Hornets will lose their leverage.  The key here, if Paul really wants out, is to actively shop him without being under the gun to maximize return.  So, a deal should be made but only under the right circumstances.

New York Knicks

7/8    Acquired Amare Stoudemire from Phoenix for a trade exception and a draft pick

7/9    Signed and traded David Lee to Golden State for Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and a 2010 second-round pick

7/10  Signed Raymond Felton

7/13  Signed Timofey Mozgov

The LeBron James Plan ended up fizzling out but the Knicks, for the first time in a long time, are on the right track.  Nor should the last few bad years where management pared payroll and gave up on winning be considered a failure without signing LeBron.  The fact is that the Knicks had to get rid of all the crappy overpaid players accrued under Isiah Thomas regardless of whether LeBron was coming to town.  Amare is not a riskless player (he is a poor defender and has had some significant injuries) but he is better than Lee and a nice first building block.  Some have noted that Lee isn’t that much worse than Amare.  Let’s put their per-36 minute stats side-by-side:

Stoudemire 27 34.6 8.9 16.0 0.557 6.2 8.0 0.771 9.3 1.0 0.7 1.1 2.7 3.6 24.1 22.6
Lee 26 37.3 8.2 15.0 0.545 3.2 3.9 0.812 11.3 3.5 1.0 0.5 2.3 3.1 19.6 22.2

There is a pretty good argument that Lee is as effective as Amare.  The key difference, however, is that fact that Stoudemire gets to the line a ton, while Lee does not.  Sure the Knicks will lose boards but they were the third worst free throw drawing team and Amare fills a more dire need and has a more unique skill-set.

Donnie Walsh also did a nice job of getting back some real talent for Lee in Randolph, a good young forward.  Suddenly, the Knicks are pretty big and athletic at forward for the first time in years.  As for Felton, he is a pretty average point guard but is an improvement over Chris Duhon.  It’s clear that the Knicks really need one more good player to be a decent playoff team but should be in the running for a low rung playoff position.  It’ll be up to Walsh to get that one more player to make New York interesting.

Oklahoma City Thunder

6/23    Traded the 32nd overall pick to Miami for Daequan Cook and the 18th overall pick in the 2010 draft

6/24    Traded the rights Craig Brackins and Quincy Poindexter to New Orleans for Morris Peterson and the rights to Cole Aldrich

OKC has always done a nice job of getting draft picks as a bonus for taking other teams bad contracts.  Cook isn’t a bad contract but Miami needed to clear all iffy players to sign the Big Three and get veteran role players.  OKC also got Eric Bledsoe who they later traded to the Clippers for a future first-rounder, which could turn out well since any future Clipper draft pick has some potential value.  As for the New Orleans trade, Mo Pete looks pretty done but the Thunder were able to get a potentially good center in Aldrich just for assuming Peterson’s $6 million salary this year.  Neither trade may matter long term but there is only upside to these deals for the Thunder and eventually at least one of them should pay off well.

Orlando Magic

7/8    Signed Chris Duhon

7/13  Signed Quentin Richardson

Orlando is just rounding out its bench with Duhon and Q-Rich.  Duhon is being used in place of Jason Williams.  Duhon is a better defender but not necessarily a better shooter or passer.  Duhon is not as good a player, though Williams, at 35, does run a risk of collapse that Duhon should not.  Despite this risk,the Duhon deal is a bit long (four years and $15 million) so Orlando was probably better off taking Williams year-to-year than holding onto Duhon until 2014.  Overall, the players are close enough, though, that the Magic are net flat on the trade in the short term.

Q-Rich comes in place of Matt Barnes, who apparently wanted a big contract.  Richardson showed new life with Miami, though I get a sense that the improvement came mostly from flukey shooting from three (.397% last year when he is a career 360% three-point shooter).  Richardson doesn’t get to the line at all anymore either (1.2 free throws per 36 minutes, a career low).  Orlando apparently wanted Barnes but he had demanded a big deal and, instead, gave Richardson three years and $7.5 million.  Ironically, Barnes ended up signing for much cheaper (two years and $3.6 million).  As with Duhon, the Magic slightly downgrade and overpay a little.  It shouldn’t affect the team too much either way in 2010-11 but both deals are mild losers.

Philadelphia 76ers

4/15    Fired Eddie Jordan

5/21    Named Doug Collins head coach

6/18    Traded Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni

I thought Jordan was a bad fit for the 76ers style but was surprised to see him canned so quickly.  Unhappiness with coaches in Philly seems to be a running theme.  It’s not clear if this is because they have testy players, a management that worries too much about making players happy, or they really have hired poor coaches.  Certainly it seems that the answer seems to be all three to some extent.  In any case, the cost of constantly firing coaches is having to constantly start rebuilding from scratch.  Now, the 76ers are going with Collins, a coach who is quite competent and a defensive coach but is also known for flaming out because he is not exactly a cool customer.

Here are Collins’ offensive, defensive, and pace rankings as an NBA coach:

Year Team W-L Off. Rank Def. Rank Pace Rank
1986-87 Bulls 40-42 12 of 23 11 of 23 23 of 23
1987-88 Bulls 50-32 9 of 23 3 of 23 23 of 23
1988-89 Bulls 47-35 12 of 25 11 of 25 23 of 25
1995-96 Pistons 46-36 15 of 29 7 of 29 28 of 29
1996-97 Pistons 54-28 5 of 29 11 of 29 28 of 29
1997-98 Pistons 21-24 13 of 29 9 of 29 25 of 29
2001-02 Wizards 37-45 13 of 29 21 of 29 27 of 29
2002-03 Wizards 37-45 21 of 29 18 of 29 26 of 29

There you have it.  Collins wants it slow, slow, slow, and, ideally, defensive too.  The funny thing is that Collins engenders such strong sentiment from people.  Some think he is a total spaz and others love his passion.  His coaching career has been quite eventful too.  Here’s the rundown in case you’ve forgotten:

Chicago Bulls: Collins started out with the Bulls as an up-and-coming 35-year old coach, whose star playing career ended early because of injuries.  He helped the Michael Jordan Bulls gradually improve from fringe playoff team to solid contender.  After taking the heavily favored Pistons to six games in the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals, however, Collins was canned by management.  There were all sort of rumors about the motivation for Collins’ firing.  Some said there were personal life issues, others thought MJ didn’t like him, Jerry Resindorf claimed that they needed a new voice to get to title contention level, and Jerry Krause claimed that Collins was fired not for personal reasons but because his style of play didn’t fit the team.  Sam Smith provides a very credible explanation in “The Jordan Rules”:  “[Resindorf}  had seen [GM Jerry] Krause and Collins battle desperately over trade possibilities, with Collins going over Krause’s head to Resindorf and even trying to get Krause fired.  This proved fatal in the long run to Collins, for Reinsdorf hadn’t wanted Collins as coach in the first place, and only agreed to hire him after a desperate appeal from Krause.”

As for Collins emotional side, Smith noted that Jordan didn’t hate him but that “Collins became desperately controlling, calling every play and privately blaming Jordan for his inability to get the team to play a fast-breaking transition offense.”  Smith also told this amusing story: “Once at a charity exhibition, Jordan sat with players from around the league, swapping stories, when the subject turned to coaches.  Everyone had something to add, from Dominique Wilkins telling about Mike Fratello’s demonic rages to Isiah Thomas telling about willful exchanges with Chuck Daly.  So everyone had a good laugh, but there was silence after Jordan said, ‘You may think you’ve got problems with your coaches, but, well, mine cries every day.'”

It’s clear that Collins’ style wore on the Bulls but would the Bulls have won with Collins eventually?  The Bulls went on to dynastic heights within a season after Collins was let go.  Had Collins stayed put, they definitely would’ve won something, as they were peaking at the time.  You do wonder, however, if Collins had the calming hand that the Bulls needed when faced with the bruising Knicks teams in 1992 and 1993, let alone getting through the tough mental grind of winning the last three titles while the team was older and heavily scrutinized world-wide.  I think it’s fair to unscientifically estimate that a Collins coached Bulls team probably would’ve won maybe three titles versus the six that Phil Jackson racked up.

-Detroit Pistons: Collins took off six years to broadcast (very successfully) before returning to try to rebuild the Pistons in 1995-96.  Collins had nice building blocks in young Grant Hill and Allan Houston but not much else.  Collins improved a 28-win team to 46-36 and improved the league’s worst defense to the 7th best in the NBA.  The Pistons lost Houston to free agency after the season but improved even more in 1996-97 to 54-28.  Just as it looked like Collins was going to lead the Pistons to contention, the team slumped to 21-24 the next season and he was fired again. In February 1998, Jackie MacMullan wrote an article for Sports Illustrated that reported that Hill had turned on Collins: “At the center of Detroit’s storm was Collins, the fanatical coach who demanded perfection and was relentless in his pursuit of it. No one questioned Collins’s exceptional knowledge of the game, but players found it difficult, and in some cases impossible, to respond to his frenetic style. Sources told SI that in at least two meetings with owner Bill Davidson, Hill recommended a coaching change.”

Despite the reporting of Collins as a bit overbearing, “Money Players”, a book written by Armen Keteyian, Harvey Araton, and Martin F. Dardis about the 1995-96 NBA season, painted Collins as a bit high strung but a guy who was too caring and was being unfairly hurt by the self-centered world of the NBA: “In many ways, it had been a season of absolution, a chance for a passionate coach to cleanse himself personally and professionally, to break away only to come back full circle.  Back to the game, and the people he loved the most….As he prepared to walk out the door that night [after the final game of the Pistons’ season], Collins was a man at peace.  His wife and his sense of team, his belief in process, were back….’I got one tonight,’ he said.  ‘I got one.’  He was talking about Allan Houston, and what he meant was that he’d gotten another star he could count on, build with.  He had himself another Money Player, or so he thought.  Soon it would be time for Houston to get paid.  And in the New NBA that Collins didn’t always understand, or accept, wads of cash were much, much thicker than the loyalty a coach wanted too much to think he deserved.  Than blood that was shared.”  Houston, of course, left that summer for New York and the implication was that Collins, who cared too much, was hurt by this betrayal for cash.

Washington Wizards: Collins returned to broadcasting before being called back into coaching by his old foil Jordan, who was making his second comeback in 2001-02.  At the time, I was surprised that MJ was going with Collins because the entire rebuilding plan was built around high schooler Kwame Brown and I wasn’t sure that Collins had the temperament or patience to coach an 18-year old.  Also, I wasn’t under the impression that MJ particularly like Collins since he probably could’ve saved Collins in Chicago if he truly wanted him as a coach.  Still, Michael Leahy wrote in “When Nothing Else Matters” that MJ liked the fact that Collins turned the Pistons around so quickly and Jordan believed he could keep Collins from going off the deep end like he seemed to have in Detroit.  Collins had his combative moments but, for the most part, he had to let Jordan (his boss, superstar, and global icon) make most of the major decisions.  Jordan was only a good player by 2002 and the roster wasn’t great.  Both MJ and Collins were canned after the 2002-03 season by Abe Pollin.  In the end, the Wiz adventure for Collins didn’t add much to his coaching legacy or take anything away, he was just Jordan’s proxy.  Though some blamed Collins for failing to develop Kwame Brown, this is not fair.  Identifying Brown as a star and developing him were both Jordan’s jobs.  MJ was wrong about Brown the player and didn’t exactly help Brown develop either and the failure to develop should rest at MJ’s doorstep and not with Collins.

Going forward, Collins’ resume indicates that we should be seeing a slow-paced squad and improved defense with 76ers.  It will be interesting to see how Philly handles Collins’ inevitable tantrums, since management and players seemed pretty sensitive in the past (they dumped Tony DiLeo despite his success in 2008-09).  On the bright side, Collins has done a pretty good job developing young players and improving teams overall. It is pretty clear, however, that Collins won’t last more than two or three years here.  I probably would’ve looked for a younger coach than Collins who won’t burnout so quickly but Collins is not a bad solution short term.

Phoenix Suns

7/8    Re-signed Channing Frye

7/8    Signed Amare Stoudemire and traded him to New York for a trade exception and a future draft pick

7/8    Traded a 2011 second-round pick to Chicago Hakim Warrick

Frye received a perfectly fair contract for a pretty average center (five years and $30 million).  Frye remade his game in Phoenix, focusing on the perimeter but was basically as effective as he was in Portland two years ago.  The difference now is that Frye has lost some rebounds but traded them for a little more passing and blocking.  Though his shooting has migrated to the three-point line, Frye is scoring at the same rate as he was in 2007-08 too.  At 27, he is a fairly good bet to remain adequate through the life of the deal.

The Suns are also hoping that the athletic Warrick will replace a fraction of Amare’s production.  On a general level, Warrick might work.  He’s fast and athletic and can finish, which is a good fit for Phoenix’s run-and-gun.  Warrick probably won’t be a star but he should be getting a bump in touches and minutes in Phoenix.

Portland Trailblazers

6/24    Traded Martell Webster to Minnesota for Ryan Gomez and the right to Luke Babbit

6/25    Fired Kevin Pritchard

6/29    Waived Ryan Gomes

7/10    Signed Wesley Matthews to an offer sheet

I’m not sure what I can add to the Pritchard situation that wasn’t already said better by Kevin Pelton over at Basketball Prospectus.  In a nutshell, Pritchard’s reputation may have surpassed his actual results but he looked to be a very good GM.  2009-10 was a bit of a lost year for Portland because of injuries but they are well-positioned to contend for the next five years and I do not believing in changing management in such a situation unless there is something going on that we are not privy to.

Sacramento Kings

6/17    Traded Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni to Philadelphia for Samuel Dalembert

The price of dumping the unhappy Nocioni was giving Philly Hawes, a young player with some potential.  In terms of salary, Dalembert will be off the books after 2010-11, while Philly will still owe Nocioni almost $7 million 2011-12.  Clearly, the Kings have decided that Hawes is not going to develop into a very good player, otherwise, it would be inane to trade him just to lose Nocioni.  In looking at Hawes’ stats, we see that he has some potential but shown very little improvement, as his rate stats have stayed pretty even in three years in the NBA.  I don’t see Hawes as a star either but he is quite young (still only 22) and does enough that he could develop into a Raef LaFrentz-type of big.  The Kings had a glut of forwards but dumping a decent young player isn’t the best way to go about fixing it, when Carl Landry had more value and probably won’t be here long term anyway.

San Antonio Spurs

7/10    Re-signed Matt Bonner

7/12    Signed Tiago Splitter

The Spurs have been waiting a while for Splitter, who was once a very hot international prospect.  Splitter is a fun player to watch, a bruising and active forward, who can board and get to the line.  Splitter is still only 22 and had nice stats last year (13.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 5.5 free throws per game all in only 26.7 mpg).  If there is a negative with Splitter, it is the fact that he doesn’t block shots, which limits his defense presence.  Still, he gives the Spurs some more depth up front after Tim Duncan (they already have DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess).  So the Spurs have quietly improved here.

Toronto Raptors

7/8    Re-signed Amir Johnson and signed Linas Kleiza to an offer sheet

7/9    Signed Chris Bosh and traded him to Miami for two first-round picks in 2011 and a trade exception

As with Dan Gilbert in Cleveland, Bryan Colangelo’s sour grapes about losing his franchise player seem a bit unbecoming.  Bosh may have left but he didn’t really quit on the Raptors.  With Toronto floundering badly, what point was there to bringing him back to play out the last few weeks of the season to get slaughtered as an eight seed?  Nor does signing Johnson for too much make Raptor fans feel any better.  In short, the Raptors are starting over again and there isn’t much talent in the stable.  If any one mishandled the free agency grind it was Toronto.  If it was that clear that Bosh was bolting, they really should’ve traded him and replenished its stable of assets.  As they stand now, the Raps are built around Andrea Bargnani and DeMar Derozan, which is not an inspiring thought.

Utah Jazz

7/8    Signed and traded Carlos Boozer and a second-round pick to Chicago for a player exception

As we’ll talk about next time, the Jazz did a great job of getting some value for Boozer and also finding a reasonable replacement for almost nothing.  They are the only team ithis summer to lose an All-Star-type player and come out of it basically intact.

Washington Wizards

6/29    Traded Quinton Ross to New Jersey for Yi Jianlian and cash

7/8      Traded the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko to Chicago for Kirk Hinrich, the draft rights to Kevin Seraphin and cash

7/13    Signed Hilton Armstrong

The transactions aren’t great but Hinrich has value and can probably play with and tutor John Wall if need be.  Yi isn’t really any good but is not a horrible end of the bench guy and I’m sure Andray Blatche will enjoy torching him in practice.

4 comments for “Transactions 4/15-7/13 Part 3

  1. August 3, 2010 at 1:31 am

    Great analysis!

    But I the following item was an eyebrow raiser:

    “With Toronto floundering badly, what point was there to bringing him back to play out the last few weeks of the season to get slaughtered as an eight seed?”

    I hope you are just kidding about that…

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