July 18, 2008

NBA Musical Chairs - Part 3 of 3

In this final installment of my series on the NBA offseason, I'm going to discuss some of the biggest trades of the offseason so far:

Bucks trade Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons to Nets for Richard Jefferson:
This trade appears to be decent for both teams, as New Jersey signals it is clearly in rebuilding mode by trading one of their remaining assets (Vince Carter giving a crap half the time being the other) for a young talent with lots of potential (and a demonstrable ability to take on a team of folding chairs all by himself). Milwaukee picks up a good scorer with okay rebounding and assist numbers and adds another piece to a team looking to make a playoff run this year. However, this deal raises questions on both sides. Bobby Simmons signed an absolutely ludicrous contract and the Nets will be stuck paying for it to get a mediocre player at best. Yi Jianlian, though he'll obviously be happier to play in northern New Jersey (and Brooklyn soon, presumably) than he was in the frozen tundra of Milwaukee, has a lot left to prove that he was worth the high selection the Bucks used on him in last year's draft. Jefferson has a big ego, and Milwaukee will have to find a way to share the wall between a PG who likes to shoot (Mo Williams), an elite gunner in Michael Redd and the post presence of Andrew Bogut along with Jefferson. It will be interesting to see how this trade pans out for both teams in a couple of years.

Raptors trade T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and rights to Roy Hibbert to Pacers for Jermaine O'Neal and rights to Nathan Jawai:
Both teams were jettisoning players who no longer fit into their plans in this trade and hoping the central player they received would be able to deliver for them this year. Jermaine O'Neal still has the potential to be a top post player at his best, but he's beginning to get older and is always an injury risk. However, pairing him with Chris Bosh down low will make for a dangerous tandem for Toronto and if O'Neal pans out will be a great pickup for them. The Pacers were in the market for a point guard as Jamaal Tinsley, between his off-the-court issues and his failure to live up to his billing, has not been the player the Pacers were hoping for. Ford is a decent, if unimpressive PG, and, like O'Neal, is a constant threat to be injured. I'm not really sure what the Pacers are trying to do, between the pickups of Ford (who, although decent, is a bit pricey) and Hibbert (an NBA-ready player, but much more suited to a supporting role on a contender) and the trading away of Jerryd Bayless (who has looked very impressive in summer league play - yes I know they mean as much as the NFL preseason, if not less). I don't see this trade helping the Pacers much, but it does take O'Neal's big contract off the books, leaving them free to make bigger and better acquisitions down the line.

Nuggets trade Marcus Camby to the Clippers for the right to swap second-round picks and cash considerations:
This is the type of trade that makes me absolutely hate the financial structure of the NBA. Despite all the rules about trades having to be an even value and whatnot, the Nuggets managed to give away Camby, a fantastic defensive center and a guy who can put up absolutely ridiculous stat lines (seriously, my friends and I sometimes play this game where one person will read off all his numbers of the line and we have to try and guess what stat corresponds with which number- look up his game logs sometime!) simply to free up cap space. I like the move for the Clips, who responded to losing Elton Brand and Corey Maggette quickly by shoring up their frontcourt with a proven defender and low-post presence, which gives the Clippers a surprisingly solid starting line-up (assuming Eric Gordon pans out and can make a good impact this year), albeit little depth behind that lineup. I originally was angry at how cheaply the Nuggets gave away such a strong big man, but after reading Jim Armstrong's article on the subject, I have to say I agree. The Nuggets aren't a contender despite their star-studded lineup and won't be with this group of players. It's best to throw in the towel and start rebuilding sooner rather than later by dumping some of these big contracts so they can work with a new group of guys who will hopefully complement one another better than the chaos and chemistry problems of the past couple seasons.

Blazers trade Jarrett Jack and Brandon Rush to the Pacers for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu:
Due to the fact that most of the players involved in this trade haven't logged time in the NBA, I really don't know if I can comment effectively on the ramifications of this trade, though I will say that I like Bayless a lot and if his performance in the summer league is any indication (I realize relying on summer league play is dubious- after all even Donte' Greene is doing well) he'll be a very good NBA player if he can find a role that suits him. Given that the Pacers appear to be rebuilding, I can't help but feel they're the losers of this trade. Brandon Rush had a great year at Kansas and recovered well from a major injury prior to that, but I can't see him as more than a role player in the Association. Jarrett Jack has put up some decent numbers, but he also seems like a role player, and now with the Ford trade, the Pacers have a rather crowded backcourt situation. I don't know a goddamned thing about Ike Diogu, so I'm not commenting on him.

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