Thursday, July 2, 2009

Trade Center: NBA

The Deal: The Memphis Grizzlies acquire F/C Zach Randolph from the Los Angeles Clippers for SG Quentin Richardson.

Grizzlies: This was an interesting deal for the Grizzlies. They rebuilt their front court with a strong draft. And were already two deep at each position. Rookie Hasheem Thabeet will team up with 2nd year man, Marc Gasol to handle the center position. Gasol may also get some time at the 4 if Thabeet shows he can handle the starting job. At power forward the Grizzlies have 2nd year man Darrell Arthur, who ended up being a steal for the Grizzlies last season. He has shown that he deserves serious minutes, and should have a bright future. In addition the Grizzlies have a pair of rookies in DeMarre Carroll and Sam Young (who can play the 2-4) to help Arthur out. This doesn't even include restricted free agent PF Hakim Warrick or SF Rudy Gay. Warrick, has been a top scorer off the bench, and will likely be on the move.

Now this is not to say the Grizzlies didn't get a good (yet overpaid) player in Zach Randolph. Randolph has averaged at least 17.5 points and 8 rebounds in every season since 2003-2004. He should present an upgrade to the front court, but he does weaken their back court depth. Richardson (who was just acquired draft night) was the Grizzlies top back up guard.

The Grizzlies also tied up some salary cap money with this deal as well. Which leaves me to wonder if a trade is in the works for the Grizzlies. Warrick is now likely to be part of a sign and trade deal. But even without Warrick that leaves the Grizzlies with 7 players for 3 positions. Randolph, Gay, Gasol and Thabeet seem safe. Arthur or one of the rookies could get moved to add back court depth.

Clippers: Los Angeles made a smart trade here. While they'll miss Randolph's production, his departure opens the way for rookie Blake Griffin. The Clippers still have Marcus Camby to back up the 4 and 5 positions. Los Angeles got a solid wing player back in Quentin Richardson. Richardson will be a back-up, but should provide a threat from the 3-point line. The Clippers also gained some much needed salary cap relief in the deal as well.

Winner: Overall both teams did well in this deal, but the Clippers came out ahead. Randolph can be a volatile personality, and him having to share time with Griffin could have only led to problems. The cap relief for the Clippers is a big factor as well. They can now be active in the free agent market next off season. The Grizzlies weren't a true loser in this deal. They added a quality front court man, and still have extra cap room. If the Grizzlies can add a young SG, by trading one of their excess forwards, they could be in the play-off hunt next season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NBA Draft grades: Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks: 1st round: Rodrigue Beaubois-PG, 2nd round: Nick Calathes-PG, 2nd round: Ahmad Nivins-PF

I'm not a big fan of this draft. There is some future potential there, but for a play-off caliber team they should have looked for a more immediate return. Beaubois is an extremely raw player. Players like Douglas, or Blair would have been a better fit in round one. I like Calathes as a good value for a 2nd round pick, but the Mavs won't see him for a year or two. Nivins is another guy with upside. He should offer solid depth for the front court.

Grade: C+

Denver Nuggets: 1st round: Ty Lawson-PG (traded a future first round pick for Lawson)

The Nuggets didn't have any picks of their own, but still managed to have a solid draft. While the Nuggets had to give up a future first rounder, I think they got their money's worth in Lawson. Lawson is a great value pick in the middle of the first round. He should add some youth and energy to the Nuggets back court.

Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors: 1st round: Stephen Curry-PG

The Warriors got a great player with the 7th pick in the draft. Curry should be an elite scorer, from either the 1 or the 2 position. He will team up with Monta Ellis to form an elite offensive back court. There are some rumors that Curry may be part of a trade, but for the Warriors sake I hope they keep him. I think Curry will have a bright future with the Warriors if they keep him.

Grade: A- (if they don't trade him)

Houston Rockets: 2nd round: Jermaine Taylor-PG (traded from the Wizards), 2nd round: Sergio Llull-PG (traded from the Nuggets, 2nd round: Chase Budinger-G/F (traded from the Pistons)

The Rockets literally bought their draft class. Using cash considerations and a future 2nd round pick to get three players. Llull is a solid future player with some upside. Taylor and Budinger both have good chances of making the club in reserve roles. Overall there probably won't be much production from this draft class, but it should benefit the Rockets cap situation for the next couple of years.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers: 1st round: Blake Griffin-PF

The Clippers have had a grade 'A+' since the lottery results were announced back in May. Griffin was easily the consensus number 1 player in this draft class. He should immediately help the Clippers front court. Overall I think Griffin will be a star in this league. Maybe he won't be a savior like Tim Duncan, but I think he will be a solid piece for the Clippers to build around.

Grade: A+

Los Angeles Lakers: 2nd round: Chinemelu Elonu-PF

The Lakers traded away/ sold their top two picks, with the idea that no rookie would get playing time for the Champs. The problem with that idea is, what happens if the Lakers can't resign/replace Lamar Odom or Trevor Ariza. What happens if the team has a major injury or two? The Lakers could have had cheap cost controlled depth, but instead took the extra cash from the trades. While the Lakers have some youth already it wouldn't have been a bad idea to add another young guy for the future.

Grade: D

Memphis Grizzlies: 1st round: Hasheem Thabeet-C, 1st round: DeMarre Carroll-PF, 2nd round: Sam Young-F

Thabeet wasn't the 2nd best player in the draft, but he's the best center. He should give the Grizzlies a defensive upgrade and a man in the middle to pair with Gasol. Carroll was a very good late round pick. He's athletic and brings toughness to the floor. Sam Young is one of my favorite players in this draft, and could end up being the best player from this group. He will push Rudy Gay for playing time, and give Memphis a tough, athletic forward off the bench. These three players, give the Grizzlies one of the most talented front court's in the NBA. The Grizzlies put together an impressive draft night. In addition to these three players, they traded Darko Milicic for SG Quentin Richardson.

Grade: A+

Minnesota Timberwolves: 1st round: Ricky Rubio-PG, 1st round: Jonny Flynn-PG, 1st round: Wayne Ellington-SG, 2nd round: Henk Norel-PF

This was a strange draft for the T-wolves. The player they wanted to trade up for fell to their newly acquired 5th pick. Then a problem arose for Minnesota, with Harden, Thabeet and Evans off the board, point guards were the best players available. Leaving the T-wolves to have to take PG's back to back. While that's a problem to begin with, Minnesota compounded it by taking two true point guards. Had they grabbed Stephen Curry or Jrue Holiday, they could have played them at the 2 guard. Instead they took Flynn, who while a great guard, doesn't make much sense to play alongside Rubio. Minnesota didn't seem to have a grand strategy with their 4 first round picks.

Grade: C-

New Orleans Hornets: 1st round: Darren Collison-PG, 2nd round: Marcus Thorton-SG

I'm not sure what the Hornets were thinking in round one. Collison is a nice player and I think he'll be a good NBA player. But he is a horrible pick for the Hornets. New Orleans has the best young point guard in the league in Chris Paul. Collison doesn't seem to have a role on this team. He isn't a good fit to play alongside Paul, and won't likely play more than 10 minutes a game.

Grade: C-

O.K. City Thunder: 1st round: James Harden-SG, 1st round: B.J. Mullens-C, 2nd round: Robert Vaden-SG

The Thunder got a lot of talent and potential with their two first round picks. Harden is the perfect scoring option to go along with Russell Westbrook in the back court. Mullens has a ton of upside, but he is still very raw. If Mullens lives up to his full potential the Thunder will have the last piece to their roster.

Grade: B+

Phoenix Suns: 1st round: Earl Clark-G/F, 2nd round: Taylor Griffin

The Suns added a great player with a lot of upside in Clark. He can do anything on the basketball court, and fits the Sun's style of play perfectly. The Suns got solid value in the 2nd round as well. Griffin isn't the all-star talent of his brother, but he should be a solid bench player for the Suns.

Grade: A-

Portland Trail Blazers: 1st round: Victor Claver-SF, 2nd round: Jeff Pendergraph-F, Dante Cunningham-F, Patty Mills-PG

This was a depth draft for the Trail Blazers and nothing more. Claver has upside, but he probably won't be helping Portland any time soon. None of their 2nd rounders figure to be more than role players in the future. Portland passed up a number of players in the 1st round, who could have helped their play-off run next season.

Grade: C+

Sacramento Kings: 1st round: Tyreke Evans-G, Omri Casspi-SF, 2nd round: Jon Brockman-PF/C

The Kings passed up PG's Rubio, Flynn and Curry, and went with the upside of Evans. He is missed cast as a true PG but will help the Kings back court. Casspi is an intriguing international option, he could be a starter within two years. Brockman is a good depth player and could be a solid back-up for them.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs: 2nd round: DeJuan Blair-PF, Jack McClinton-G, Nando De Colo-PG

The Spurs got away with highway robbery when they got Blair in the 2nd round. Blair will give the Spurs a top-15 talent, and one of the best big men in the draft. McClinton has some upside as well and could be a valuable guy off the bench.

Grade: A+

Utah Jazz: 1st round: Eric Maynor-PG, 2nd round: Goran Suton-C

Maynor is an extremely underrated PG. He is fairly refined and should make for a good compliment to Williams. While the Jazz could have used some more help in the front court, Maynor made sense for the Jazz. Suton has a little upside and could play in Europe for a year or two. He may never be much of a player, but I could see him coming back and being a decent back-up.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trade Center: MLB

A couple of modest trades have been made over the last few days. Here is a quick look at them.

The Deal: The St. Louis Cardinals acquire UTL Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians for RP Chris Perez and a Player To Be Named Later (PTBNL).

Indians: In the off season the Indians acquired DeRosa from the Chicago Cubs for three minor leaguers, in the hopes that he could help propel the Indians to the playoffs. They didn't give up any top prospects so it was a good deal for Cleveland. Unfortunately the Indians have the worst record in the A.L., and are 12 games out of the Central division. Now was a good time for the Indians to start selling, and rebuilding for next year. By trading DeRosa, Cleveland frees up over $2.75 million from their payroll, and acquires a top reliever prospect in Perez. Though PTBNL's are usually marginal prospects, it seems like there are a few quality guys that could end up coming back to the Indians.

Cardinals: St. Louis is battling for the N.L. Central division, that is truly up for grabs. Only 6 games separate the top and bottom of the six team division. The Cardinals need another hitter in the line-up to go along with Albert Pujols. DeRosa, who can play all over the diamond, will slide in at third base for the injured Troy Glaus. DeRosa isn't an impact bat, but he does everything well in addition to being a good club house guy.

Winner: Its hard to declare a winner until we know who the PTBNL is. Until then this looks like a good deal for both sides. The Cards add a good player, who isn't a drag on the payroll. The Indians receive one good prospect, likely another solid one, and financial relief.

The Deal: The New York Yankees acquire UTL Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF/C Eric Fryer (High-A) and RP Casey Erickson (Low-A).

Pirates: For Pittsburgh they traded away a bench player, for some salary relief, a couple of fringe prospects, and a roster spot. Overall that is not a bad deal. The Pirates had to kick in part of Hinske's salary, but it sounds like they were able to save over $400K in the deal. That money can be used to sign draft picks or international players. Neither Fryer or Erickson are top prospects, but both offer organizational depth and a little upside. The Pirates also free up a roster spot to promote 1B/OF Garret Jones. Though Jones isn't a top prospect, he has some big time power, and should be given a chance to stick with the big league club.

Yankees: New York has needed a UTL player all season. Hinske can back up first, third and both corner outfield spots. Given Alex Rodriguez's injury concerns having a quality back-up is a must for the Yankees. The Yankees didn't give up any major prospects in the deal, and got a solid big leaguer in return. Hinske won't be the answer if A-Rod is out for a significant time, but he should fill in nicely for spot duty.

Winner: Both teams won here as they satisfied their biggest goals. The Yankees filled a glaring hole on their bench, without selling the farm or adding a bloated contract. And the Pirates moved a redundant player for some financial relief and a little upside.