Transactions: 6/4-6/30

Atlanta Hawks

6/25       Named Danny Ferry general manager

Ferry’s first go around in Cleveland was a mixed bag.   He was perfectly competent in bringing in pieces to fill holes around LeBron James but struggled in making the big deal to push the Cavs over the top.   Ferry’s biggest free agent signing was Larry Hughes, who looked pretty good in D.C. but couldn’t shoot well enough to mesh with LBJ.  The other big move was getting Antawn Jamison for LeBron’s last run.  Jamison was perfectly good scorer but some wondered if Ferry could’ve nabbed Amare Stoudemire and gone all in for a title shot.  Ferry rarely had a shot to draft in Cleveland but found a few decent late picks in J.J. Hickson, Daniel Gibson, and Shannon Brown.  But Atlanta will be a very different situation for Ferry.  He has to turn over a good but stagnant core.  If he is able to trade Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams as has been report, he’s off to a very good start.

Charlotte Bobcats

6/20       Named Mike Dunlap head coach

6/26       Traded a Corey Maggette to Detroit for Ben Gordon and a future first-round pick

6/30       Waived Jamario Moon

Despite the losses and dysfunction of the 2011-12 season, I am less down on the Bobcats then some.  The Bobcats’ situation is not great but Rich Cho appears competent so far and the cap room is there if Charlotte ever decides to spend.  Still, the process by which Dunlap was hired was weird.  The Bobcats interviewed everyone and decided that the assistant coach at a mid-major college was the best guy for the job.  This sounds much more like the Bobcats didn’t want to pay a big name coach and/or couldn’t convince one to take their job.  In addition, Michael Jordan has a history of hiring rookie coaches and bailing on them very quickly (see Leonard Hamilton and Sam Vincent).  This doesn’t mean Dunlap can’t coach but the questions remain.

Has there ever been a more unlikely coaching hire in the NBA than Dunalp?  I can’t thnk of one.  There have been some random college coaches hired before (Leonard Hamilton, Lon Kruger, P.J. Carlesimo, Mike Montgomery,  Jerry Tarkanian, and Tim Floyd) and a random broadcaster (Quinn Buckner) but never someone so low on the radar as Dunlap.

The Maggette trade is only interesting in the sense that the Bobcats have switched tactics and actually made a trade where they take on money.  The yearly money is pretty even but Maggette’s contract ends after 2012-13, while Gordon has a player option for $13.2 million for 2013-14 that will certainly be exercised.  On talent, Gordon is younger but both players were not great last year.  Gordon, at age-28, would seem to have more of a chance to bounce back but he’s been ineffective for three years now and the Cats are likely looking at a shooting specialist and not a pure scorer he used to be.  Swallowing $13.2 million won’t actually hurt the Cats either, as they are so far under the cap that they can live with one more year of Gordon.  The real value is the first-rounder that is lottery protected next year but becomes more valuable if rolled over (top 8 protected if used in 2014, top 1 protected if used in 2015, and no protection at all 2016).  The hope is that Detroit doesn’t rebuild and, in a few years, Charlotte has a great pick.  It’s not clear if Detroit will be good in a year or two (they could go either way), so you have to applaud Cho for getting a potentially valuable piece for absorbing the back end of Gordon’s deal.

Dallas Mavericks

6/29       In a four-team trade, L.A. Clippers traded Maurice Williams to Utah and Furkan Aldemir to Houston for Lamar Odom from Dallas, who traded Shan Foster to Utah for Tadija Dragicevic and cash from Houston

The Odom acquisition seemed sound enough on paper but it worked out really badly.  Sometimes you can make a move that seems logical on every level and you still carp out.  Best to just turn the page on this one…

Detroit Pistons

6/26       Traded Ben Gordon and a future first-round pick to Charlotte for Corey Maggette

As noted above, the Pistons wanted to free up cash and were willing to send over a potentially valuable pick in a few years for that right.  I guess Joe Dumars figured that if the team is still terrible in 2015 or 2016, he won’t be around to worry about the problem of losing a high draft pick.  Putting aside Dumars’ situation in Detroit, I would not have forfeited a potentially good player to get rid of Gordon a year early.  The reward seems low for the risk that they are forfeiting a valuable pick in the future (the one caveat to this critique is that saving big money could have been a management edict).

Houston Rockets

6/26       Traded Chase Budinger and the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu to Minnesota for the 18th overall pick (Marquis Teague)

6/27       Traded Samuel Dalembert, the 14th overall pick (John Henson), a future second-round pick and cash to Milwaukee for Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer, and Jon Brockman, and the 12th overall pick (Jeremy Lamb)

6/29       In a four-team traded, L.A. Clippers traded Maurice Williams to Utah and Furkan Aldemir to Houston for Lamar Odom from Dallas, who traded Shan Foster to Utah for Tadija Dragicevic and cash from Houston

The Rockets continue their strategy of grabbing cheap assets in hopes of packaging the lot for a star at some point.   They shuffled out some decent players here (Budinger and Dalembert) but take back some decent and cheap prospects (Teague Jones and the right to jump up and draft Lamb).  It’s hard to tell if these trades netted any benefit at this point.  This is a roster very much in transition and is sure to be a player in free agency and trades.  After that all shakes out, we’ll see if the rookies were worth more than the known commodities that were traded away.

Indiana Pacers

6/27       Named Donnie Walsh president and Kevin Pritchard general manager

It’s been weird in Indiana.  Walsh groomed Larry Bird to run the show a decade ago and now Walsh appears to want to come back while Bird is walking away again.  Was Bird a good GM?  Certainly he leaves the team better than when he arrived.  Bird has been with the Pacers since 2003 but he’s only been the boss since Walsh first left in 2007.  Since that time, the major moves he has made have been as follows:

-2007:  No draft pick.  Quiet year.

-2008:  Traded 11th pick (Jerryd Bayless) for Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts.   Acquired Roy Hibbert (17th pick) and vets for Jermaine O’Neal.   Bayless for Jack was not really anything special but getting Hibbert for what was left of O’Neal was a great trade.

-2009:  Took Tyler Hansbrough at 13th pick.  Hansbrough has been a solid pro but Bird missed a bunch of good points at that spot (Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Darren Collison).

-2010:  Took Paul George at 10th pick.  Nice pick and the clear best player available at that slot.

-2011:  Traded 15th pick (Kawhi Leonard) for George Hill.  Probably overpaid for Hill, since we now know that Leonard was at least as good, younger, and cheaper.

In short, Bird’s been pretty darn solid in Indiana turning the team back into an interesting playoff team.  But challenges still remain.  Walsh and Pritchard will have to decide whether to keep or replace Hibbert and the rest of the team is nice but not incredible.  The hope will be that George develops into a star and Danny Granger could be flipped for a ball handling guard.  This will affect whether the Pacers are a playoff threat again or whether they return to first-round fodder status.

Los Angeles Clippers

6/29       In a four-team traded, L.A. Clippers traded Maurice Williams to Utah and Furkan Aldemir to Houston for Lamar Odom from Dallas, whot traded Shan Foster to Utah for Tadija Dragicevic and cash from Houston

Odom’s return to the Clippers makes all kinds of sense, as they had a glut of guards and really needed a forward who could defend.  The real worry is that 2011-12 wasn’t a fluke and Odom really can’t play anymore.  While Odom isn’t young (32), athletic forwards usually age well unless they have a traumatic injury.  I tend to think Odom’s emotional adjustment was the reason for the poor play and not anything else.  A player like Odom doesn’t usually get this bad this quickly.  Odom should be a key component for a good Clipper team.

Milwaukee Bucks

6/27       Traded Shaun Livingston, Jon Leuer, and Jon Brockman, and the 12th overall pick (Jeremy Lamb) to Houston for Samuel Dalembert, the 14th overall pick (John Henson), a future second-round pick and cash

With no Andrew Bogut, the Bucks needed some size.  Henson and Dalembert can fit this bill and the cost was minimal (the Bucks were never going to take Lamb when they already have Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis).  Dalembert and Henson won’t equal Bogut but they will provide some help in that area.

Minnesota Timberwolves

6/26       Traded the 18th overall pick (Marquis Teague) to Houston for Chase Budinger and the draft rights to Lior Eliyahu

Budinger is locked in as a solid bench player, which isn’t exciting but has its uses.

New Orleans Hornets

6/20       Traded Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor to Washington for Rashard Lewis and the 46th overall pick

6/30       Waived Rashard Lewis

In a matter of a few months, the Hornets have gone from dead end franchise to one that is now on the rise.  How they cleared the contracts of Ariza and Okafor so easily we will never know.  No matter, they have now saved $21 million in 2013-14.  Moreover, on pure ability, neither player had much use.  Okafor is a solid average center with injury problems who was not nearly as good as rookie Anthony Davis and Ariza has shown that he definitively cannot score.  The Hornets are now so far under the cap that they will be able to be a major player in trades/free agency.

Orlando Magic

6/20       Named Rob Hennigan general manager

Welcome aboard Ron (pause for one second)…Now, what do you want to do with this Howard guy?

Hennigan’s presence buys the Magic a little more time on the Howard front.  Whereas Otis Smith couldn’t survive another day with Howard, Hennigan’s newness will allow him to hold off Howard’s complaints a little bit and wait out a trade until later in the summer or even, if he has the stomach for it, during the season.

Utah Jazz

6/29       In a four-team traded, L.A. Clippers traded Maurice Williams to Utah and Furkan Aldemir to Houston for Lamar Odom from Dallas, who traded Shan Foster to Utah for Tadija Dragicevic and cash from Houston

Williams is a perfectly average point guard but the price was right (basically nothing).  Williams, at 30, might not be better than Devin Harris but Utah seemed to have enough of Harris (who is reportedly headed to Atlanta).  He is a much better shooter than Harris but slower (and a worse defender).  Overall, though, Williams won’t be a net loss because he is a very good three-point shooter on a team that was among the worst in the NBA last year (.323%, 27th in the NBA) and Williams’ shooting will space the potent low post offense better.

Washington Wizards

6/4         Signed head coach Randy Wittman to a contract extension

6/20       Traded Rashard Lewis and the 46th overall pick to New Orleans for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor

Yes, we have no idea what is going on here either.  Ernie Grunfeld had an itch for veterans again.  There is disturbing trend here where Grunfeld seems totally out of step with his team’s needs.  Here is the laundry list of the last few years: re-signing Gilbert Arenas to a huge deal coming off of several major knee injuries, locking up the core of a mediocre team with huge contracts for no apparent reason, thinking that getting mediocre vets Randy Foye and Mike Miller was worth a lottery pick, and now losing the ability to amnesty Lewis for two overpaid mediocre vets.  Grunfeld seems like a nice enough guy and he has made some nice moves over the years but this trade makes no sense.  I know Okafor and Ariza are decent vets but equivalent players were available in the open market for much lower cost.  The Wiz should be improved this year but you can’t help but think they have no idea what the end game is here.

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