To the casual NBA fan, there’s no denying this year’s trade deadline was a yawner, but hey, neither I nor the executives crafting up these scintillating deals are anywhere near as sane as the casual fan. Let’s rank the top five deals in order of impact.
5. Nets receive G Marcus Thornton; Kings receive G Jason Terry and F/C Reggie Evans.
Bench scoring! Spacing! Those are some of the fine buzzwords that apply to this low-risk, medium-reward deal for the Nets. Marcus Thornton has been so frigid this year that people have forgotten his previous ability to put points up in bunches. For the last three years, he had quietly been the J.R. Smith of the Western Conference, chucking up threes at insane rates and making a fairly good amount of them, two per game, while playing suspect defense. While the Nets have some of the best depth in the league at the wing, both their frontcourt and backcourt depth were weak. The former was somewhat addressed with the high-profile signing of Jason Collins, but the Nets are gambling that Thornton can regain his stroke from deep, which at 32 percent this year is well below his 36 percent career average. It’s unlikely that Thornton becomes a major contributor, but it won’t take much for him to put up better production than Terry, who, at 36, took a nosedive in performance this year. I figure Thornton slides into Terry’s 16 minutes a night and provides an occasional spark here and there. He could swing a playoff game.
4. Cavaliers receive C Spencer Hawes; Sixers receive F Earl Clark, C Henry Sims, two second-round draft picks.
In a vacuum, this is a completely defensible move for the Cavs who, fresh off a six-game winning streak, were looking to make an upgrade while sacrificing relatively little. Hawes, a notoriously streaky player, got off to a hot start to the season but has progressively cooled over the last few months as the Sixers have been playing more like the Delaware 87ers. At his essence, Hawes is a tick above average, but still a valuable commodity as teams must respect his ability to shoot from the perimeter. His skill set fits in nicely with the Cavs’ big men, who generally play closer to the hoop.
The harsh reality is that Cavaliers may realistically need to put up a record of about 16-8 the rest of the way to make the eighth spot. If you want to fairly criticize this deal, it’s that Hawes might produce a win or two the rest of the way, but if the Cavs make the playoffs, it won’t be due to this move, but because two or three of the four teams ahead of them imploded. In the East, that’s a real possibility, albeit a small one. It’s more likely that this trade adds insult to injury after the panicked Luol Deng trade that was the final nail in Chris Grant’s coffin.
3.Wizards receive G Andre Miller, protected 2014 second-round draft pick; Nuggets receive F Jan Vesely; Sixers receive G Eric Maynor, 2015 second-round draft pick, future second-round draft pick.
2.Warriors receive G Steve Blake; Lakers receive G Kent Bazemore, G MarShon Brooks.
Who doesn’t get excited about playoff teams – knock on wood on both accounts – making backup PG upgrades? Both teams clearly felt a lot of teams breathing down their necks and made moves to sure things up in an area of need. Miller and Blake rate as among the best backups in the league and will both be playing meaningful minutes for their new teams.
For Golden State, this move signals that they lacked serious confidence in recently acquired Jordan Crawford, who’s been decent but not an impact player in 16 games with the Warriors. How they manage his role will be interesting to watch, as he can’t be happy watching his minutes gradually dwindle from starting in Boston, to being the primary backup PG in Golden State, to moving down the bench.
The Wizards’ backup PG spot was one of the sorriest in the entire league. Maynor was so ineffective they only relied on him for nine minutes a game, providing little relief for John Wall. Though much was made of Miller’s spat with Denver coach Brian Shaw, he’s a respected veteran presence and may also provide value in mentoring Wall and Beal down the stretch, as the young duo tries to captain the Wiz into the playoffs for the first time in years. Even without that added benefit, it’s a huge move because the upgrade from Maynor to Miller is a fine one and should not only cement the Wizard’s playoff candidacy but help them make a push for the three seed.
1. Pacers receive F/C Lavoy Allen, G/F Evan Turner, 76ers receive F Danny Granger, second-round draft pick.
For the two big names involved in this deal, it’s a sneakily lateral move on both ends, but is still notable because the title-or-bust Pacers are involved. The Sixers are essentially renting out Turner to the Pacers for a second-round pick – presuming they buy out Granger – because it was no secret they had no intention in matching any sort of real offer on Turner in restricted free agency this offseason. Teams clearly weren’t fooled by his decent numbers on paper, but saw his stats as highly inflated from being the second option on a team lacking in talent and running at an insane pace. While the finality of this being the haul for Turner is undoubtedly a disappointment for Sixers fans, this just reveals there never really was a compelling market for him all along, with no fringe-playoff contenders willing to make a desperation move for him.
The more compelling angle is surely with the Pacers, where the move is a bit of head scratcher for a team so centered around its defensive identity, which Turner doesn’t really bring much. The Pacers must have thought they’d seen enough of Granger to see that he truly was a shell of his former self following prolonged knee and calf injuries. Like the Thornton for Terry swap, it won’t take much for Turner to be an upgrade over Granger when he slides into a bench role, where expectations will be low. Turner will help Lance Stephenson and Luis Scola with shouldering the bench scoring burden. While Indiana’s bench hasn’t lit the world on fire this year, it’s been far better than last year’s putrid squad that produced scoring droughts that were heavily responsible for their exit against Miami in last year’s playoffs.
If Turner can give them 20-25 good minutes a night and help prevent such scoring droughts, especially come playoff time, this will be a meaningful move. Still, for the relative star-power of the names involved with this deal, the actual impact will be far less.
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