Two-Week Return Policy, Part 2: Who Tanked?Posted on by Robert Seitzinger (rseitzinger)
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Last week I wrote about which NBA teams did well under the recent trade deadline. This time, I'm focusing on the teams that are desperately wishing for a do-over. Here are some teams who may end up regretting their trade decisions.
Teams That Dun Goofed
New Jersey Nets
Deron Williams is one of the top-five active point guards, and he runs a superb offense with Brook Lopez. He also has extreme attitude problems (see Sloan, Jerry) and no reason to buy into Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's dream of the Brooklyn Nets. Sure, the relocation and eventual firming up of a powerful Nets franchise will happen, but not soon enough to convince D-Will to sign an extension, especially when no one else who is up for free agency over the next two years joins him. Much like prostate stimulation, this move was a desperate attempt to excite fans and will result in awkward silence (read: few wins or answers on how to improve) once that excitement wears off.
New Orleans Hornets
Marcus Thornton is a better player overall than Carl Landry. This is especially true now that Chris Paul is out with a concussion. Was the trade bad on its face? Maybe. Is it bad with Paul out? Oh hell yes. The Hornets will feel the sting of this, much like CBS will be kicking themselves when Charlie Sheen becomes the top-rated reality star if Mark Cuban indeed finances a show.
They didn't tank so much because of Deron Williams getting traded. They tanked in the run-up to the deadline with legendary coach Jerry Sloan leaving because of Williams, who was then traded within weeks. Had D-Wil been traded earlier, they might still have a chance at the playoffs. As it is, they now have a henpecked wimp of a coach and will need a few years to rebuild--they hold too strong a record for a decent draft pick this year, and have too many assets to break down completely and start from scratch. Also, maybe it's the Mormons, but why do Devin Harris and Derrick Favors look so out of sync in home games now? Maybe they just need some wins to build confidence (you know, since they didn't experience many in Jersey).
Super-douchey owner Stan Kroenke lost a pair of all-stars and three mid-level guys for a troop of hot-and-cold players who had no interest in leaving the Big Apple for the Rocky Mountains. Don't be fooled by their short-term success; this team is in for some painful restructuring once the Nuggs are bounced in the first round. They'll be calling every other front office in the league during the summer, likely with the panicked air of a teenage boy caught with a bottle of St. Ives and a Hustler.
Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford must feel like parsley on a steak entrée; they were unnecessary garnish to the meat-and-potatoes trade of Mike Bibby for Kirk Hinrich. Bibby was bought out and took his lack of defense to Miami, and all the Wiz got was a lineup that will end with potential rookie of the year John Wall feeling the sadness that follows a 60-loss season. Oh, Hilton Armstrong was involved in the trade too, but he matters in the NBA about as much as I do; he's evidence that sports are recession-proof, given he's making $850k this season for averaging less than two points and three rebounds over nine minutes per game.
Teams Somewhere in the Middle
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors didn't lose much ground, and they freed up some cap space in taking Troy Murphy and then agreeing to a buyout before Murphy left for a contender (the Celtics). The money made sense, especially for two backup bigs (Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric).
Minnesota hasn't seen the lights come on by adding Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph, but they have potential with the new rotation. I'd venture that some creative off-season moves--say, firing coach Kurt Rambis, trading Ricky Rubio's rights for an actual NBA point guard, and flipping Martell Webster and Darko MIlicic for a swingman who doesn't have an injury history--would make the Wolves contenders next year (or at least good enough to make the number in their win column higher than Kevin Love's rebounding average).
The Raptors are in such disarray that James Johnson for a draft pick makes sense. They could be called Small Forwards Anonymous with their eight players (including JJ) that are 6'8'' and neither excel nor suck at shooting, defense, or playmaking. The trade won't help the Raps, but it won't hurt them either.
The Rockets had perhaps the most balanced trade in terms of talent. Goran Dragic is a speedy point guard that can shoot well but has been hit-or-miss playing off the bench. Aaron Brooks is a scary-fast guard whose shot is iffy but can swing a game's momentum in a flash when he's on the second unit. Meanwhile, sending Shane Battier to Memphis for Hasheem Thabeet (with other small players and draft picks involved) has meant some good for Houston, insomuch as they need someone to fill the Yao Ming void. However, Battier has helped the Grizzlies secure a playoff spot the Rockets were hoping for. The Rockets are probably OK with this, because they will be saving some money heading into a potential lockout.
Michael Jordan's Bobcats are making good financial moves, and he's proving to be a frugal business man. That said, they've lost six of seven games since the trade and aren't even sniffing the playoffs anymore. Still, lots of breathing room will benefit Charlotte, so keep an eye on them next season to be a possible threat in the East.
Who's worse off?
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