Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trade Center: NBA

A couple of big NBA trades were made yesterday. Both could have playoff implications for next season, and one shakes up tomorrow's draft. Here's a quick recap on the deals, and the future impact.

The Deal: The Milwaukee Bucks send Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs for Bruce Bowen, and Kurt Thomas. The Spurs also sent Fabrico Oberto to the Pistons for Amir Johnson, who was then moved to the Bucks.

Bucks: Milwaukee mainly made this deal for salary cap relief. They now have the money to re-sign restricted free agent Charlie Villanuvea and perhaps another moderate free agent. The Bucks will also have some money to play with in 2010 when Johnson's, and Thomas's deals are up (Bowen may get waived to save additional money now).

Pistons: Detroit's reason for this deal was similar to Milwaukee's - money. The Pistons can save almost $2 million by waiving Oberto, since his contract isn't fully guaranteed. Detroit is looking to build up as much cap space as possible to make a run at a couple of top free agents.

Spurs: The Spurs are the big winner in this deal. They get a top flight SF, who gives them an electric scorer on the perimeter. He gives them a third scoring option behind Parker and Duncan and moves Michael Finley to a better suited reserve role (if he resigns). Making this deal even more impressive is the fact that all the Spurs had to give up was cap relief. Bowen and Thomas were solid role players, but their games were on the downside. The Spurs have reloaded and are now one of the top 3 contenders in the Western Conference.

Winner: Its got to be the Spurs, they gave up nothing and received a real scoring threat. They will make a strong title push next season. The Bucks and Pistons get some cap relief, but they aren't any better teams for making this deal.

The Deal: The Minnesota Timberwolves send G Randy Foye and G/F Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards for the 5th overall pick, C Etan Thomas, PF Darius Songaila, C/F Oleksiy Pecherov.

Timberwolves: The real prize for Minnesota is the 5th pick. Already owning the 6th, 18th and 28 picks in the first round, the T-wolves now hold the keys to the draft. They will likely try to trade up to the 2nd or 3rd spot to select Ricky Rubio (Hasheem Thabeet is an option at 3 if Rubio is off the board), giving up the 5th pick, 18th and maybe another player or draft pick. If Minnesota can't move up they will hope that they can snag, James Harden and Stephen Curry at the 5 and 6. Other players likely in the mix at 5 or 6 are Tyreke Evans and DeMar DeRozan. Things could get tricky for the T-Wolves, as they will likely have to reach for front court help with their latter picks. Though Minnesota will miss the scoring of Foye and Miller in their back court, they should have no trouble replacing them with their lottery picks. Thomas, Songaila and Pecherov are really just roster filler, but could give the Wolves some solid minutes in their weak front court.

Wizards: Washington is going for broke here. They showed that they are not in a rebuilding mode and feel that they feel their 19 win season was a fluke. The Wizards added two perimeter scorers, that can be excellent complimentary players to Washington's big three (Arenas, Butler, and Jamison). Also if Arenas and Butler miss any significant time, like they have in recent years, Foye and Miller can be solid starters. Foye could be the real prize in this deal. He's a restricted free agent in 2010 so he gives Washington some options. Overall I think he's an underrated player and could be a breakout candidate. If he does take his game to the next level then this could be a big win for the Wizards. If not, then I question the move somewhat. The Wizards could have added a prolific scorer in Harden or Curry to help their front court. One that is under team control for longer and with the potential to be a star. Washington also had deals on the table to potentially trade back and add a veteran, which may have made more sense. I think not prying either the 18th or 28th picks away from Minnesota was a mistake. No, you weren't likely to add a star player in that spot, but you could have added someone with upside. I think if the Wizards would have waited until tomorrow's draft they would have been able to get a better deal.

As it stands now The Wizards are 'all in' in 2009. While this deal puts them back in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference, Washington will need a lot of luck to be a serious contender. They will need Arenas and Butler to stay healthy, and continue to play at an all-star level. Also, Brendan Haywood, the Wizards only true center, will need to get healthy and step up his game. They will need the rest of their young front court to develop fast (McGuire, Blatche, McGee). The Wizards will need to trade some of their front court depth to add another big man. Until they do though they are very thin in the paint.

Winner: I think the Timberwolves are a small winner here. By keeping all four draft picks Minnesota has practically limitless options in tomorrow's draft. The T-wolves can now add some pieces to a young core that includes Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. The Wizards did get rid of some bad contracts which, should give them some flexibility in the future, but they paid a high price.

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