Archives For February 2008

Preview & Chat: The New Jersey Nets

Kurt —  February 5, 2008

Records: Lakers 30-16 (5 seed); Nets 20-27 (8 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (5th); Nets 103.6 (25th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.5 (8th); Nets 109.6 (22nd)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Nets: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, Josh Boone, Sean Williams

Lakers Notes: It’s Super Tuesday — Pau Gasol will start his first game as a Laker. Reports out of practice yesterday were that Pau picked up the offense quickly, but we’ll see how much burn he gets (sore back and all). Whatever happens, I’m just happy to see him in that #16 jersey.

There’s been a real bounce in the Lakers step the last two games, since the trade was announced, but that has been more on the offensive end than on defense. It helped that the Lakers played two teams that played questionable defense, particularly against Kobe. (Did you notice the last couple games that Kobe would get the ball in a threatening position, the hard double team would come, Kobe would dribble out of pressure to a non-threatening spot, and the guy doing the double would retreat to his man, leaving Kobe back in one-on-one defense. Then he would blow by his guy for a lay-up with almost no defensive rotation. Odd defensive choice, once you double Kobe don’t you want to keep up the pressure and make him pass? The Raptors got burned on that a lot and the Wizards a couple times.)

In the last 10 games, without Bynum, the Lakers have a defensive rating of 111.7 — basically five points more per 100 possessions than they give up for the season. Look at it this way, those are worse than last season’s numbers and would be 25th in the league this season. While the last two games were blowout wins, the defensive ratings were 108.3 (Washington) and 116.1 (Toronto). What won the Lakers those games was crazy offensive efficiency (offensive ratings of 139 against Washington, 122 against Toronto). But if the Lakers are going to keep winning they need to get the defense back on track.

Hopefully, Pau in the lineup will help as he can provide some D in the paint. Ronny and Mbenga provide some, but the Lakers still clearly miss Bynum’s presence on defense.

Speaking of that little bump of energy the Lakers have had, doesn’t it seem Vladamir Radmanovic was second to Kobe on that? Radman was driving the lane against the Wiz like he thought he was Chris Paul. But Radman and Walton have to start making their case for minutes right now — they see the landscape of the Pau trade, likely pushing Lamar to start at the three, and they see their minutes cut. (I know there are some calling for bringing Odom off the bench, but I think we can safely say that even if Phil is going to come to that decision he’s not going to do it for a while.) Then someday Ariza is going to come back, and suddenly there are more quality players then there are minutes at the three and four. It gives Phil a lot of luxury in terms of matchups and an ability to go with the hot hand, but the players they may not be as thrilled. We’ll see who steps up and earns the burn.

More Aaron McKies: Aaron McKie, trying to break into coaching as an unpaid assistant with the Philadelphia 76ers this season, became part of the trade with the Memphis Grizzlies to help make the salaries work out.

But don’t worry, according to an interesting post (and great bit of reporting) by Henry at True Hoop, the Lakers also still have the rights to Ron Harper, Karl Malone, Shammond Williams, Horace Grant, Mitch Richmond, John Salley and, Brian Shaw to use in any future trade. As we said at the time of the trade, a lot of teams keep the rights to retired guys for just this type of situation, click the link and check out the entire list.

The Nets Coming In: Well, I guess we won’t be hearing as much “Jason Kidd to the Lakers” talk as we would have before Pau came to town.

As bad as they Nets record is, it really should be worse. They have 20 wins but their Pythagorean record (based on points scored and given up) is that of a 15 win team. As a team they have been getting good play from the big three of Kidd, Carter and Jefferson, but not the great play you expect from those three. All three are shooting just about 48% (eFG%) (in fact the only person playing a significant role who is shooting better than 50% if rookie Sean Williams). And with that supporting cast you need great play from the big three. Kidd, who looked great last summer with Team USA, now looks tired and by all reports his mind is in the Bahamas, or maybe Dallas. I’m not sure having a happy and pumped Kobe come to town is going to help that any.

The Nets have their own new player from a trade expected to suit up tonight, Stromile Swift should play his first game for the Nets. He helps make them more athletic, and I would have moved him for Jason Collins in a heartbeat (this season Swift has a PER of 16, while Collins has one of 2. That’s right, 2. For comparison, the league average is 15 and Kwame Brown had a PER of 9.9). Swift is just 28, plus the Nets have two draft picks from the last couple of years (Josh Boone and Sean Williams) who may be something to start rebuilding around. Once they move Kidd and Carter. Good luck with that.

Keys To The Game: With Nenad Krstic having played just 13 games this season, the Nets used to have Collins as their center. Which meant all their offense came from the perimeter. Now Sean Williams and Josh Boone along the front line they are at least getting some offense — Boone has averaged 12 points10 boards in the last 10 games. The Lakers, especially with Gasol, have the length to limit some of his points and turn the Nets back into a perimeter team, where they struggle.

According to the scouting report at Lakers.com, the Nets want to get easy baskets in transition (which makes sense with Kidd passing and guys like Carter and Williams who can finish) but if you take those away from them they bog down some in the half-court offense. Transition defense will be a big key.

On offense, the Lakers just need to be aggressive — and hit their free throws. The Nets foul a lot, 27th in the league in free throws to field goals — so if the Lakers attack as they have the last couple of games they will get to the line. They just have to hit them.

A fast start also would be a big help. For as bad as the Nets have played (2-8 in their last 10) they have a lot of talent, and guys that have won big games and hit big shots. If the Lakers can jump out to a fast lead it may demoralize the Nets, and the Lakers can get another easy win on the road. But let them hang around and you have to worry about Kidd making a great play with the game on the line, and he can still do that.

Where you can watch: Game time is 4:30 Pacific and that is what time you can catch the game on NBA TV. However, out in LA it is KCAL (channel 9) and that means, a 5:30 pm television time.

Pau and Defense

Kurt —  February 4, 2008

More than anything else — even more than Andrew Bynum’s emergence as a low-post scorer — it is the Lakers defense that has turned the team around this season.

Last season the Lakers have up 110.5 points per 100 opponent possessions, 24th in the NBA, and opposing teams shot 50% (eFG%). This season other teams are shooting 48% and that is the key reason the Lakers are giving up just 106.5 points per 100, eighth best in the league.

Not that everyone has been happy — the often cranky but almost always right Tex Winter made these comments to Roland Lazenby in a must-read Pau Gasol piece at Sports Hub LA:

(Winter) has fussed all season that the Lakers need to change the way they play the screen and roll, especially how they choose to bring help from the wings, where opponents have their three-point shooters waiting. He says the Lakers too readily leave shooters open, and he favors getting the help on penetrating guards from the big man in the post.

That would mean the Lakers would have to help the helper, the common basketball phrase, but that would force the extra pass from the offense. He was fussing in particular about Odom helping and leaving his man open late in the loss to Detroit.

This has been a particular problem since Bynum went down — Kwame Brown is a solid man-on-man in the block defender, but his rotations have always been slow.

While Pau Gasol has picked up a reputation as “soft” he plays good defense within the team system, but in Memphis he was not getting near the help along the baseline that he will once Bynum is back (and even now with Ronny and Odom).

Commenter Reed had a great breakdown of what Pau can mean to the Lakers defense the rest of this year and for the next few years:

This really transforms our potential on defense. While Gasol is not a great defender by himself, his size will allow us to play a different type of defense — one that has a much higher ceiling for shutting down teams, forcing low percentage shots, and creating turnovers. The transformation began with the addition of Bynum’s shotblocking, length, and rebounding, but adding another 7 footer completes the process.

Last year, Kwame was a strong one on one interior defender, but things fell apart against the pick and roll or penetration. Because we had no shotblocker, we had to switch on the pick and roll, leading to Kwame covering a guard and our point guard scrambling to pick up a big down low (which in turn led to too much help from others down low, leading to open shooters at the 3 pt line). When guards penetrated into the defense (which happened most possessions with Smush up top…), our bigs either gave up layups or fouled, leading to early penalties and too many minutes for our (weak) bench.

Before his injury, Bynum and Fisher really improved the defense. Bynum’s presence made it much harder for penetrating guards to get those easy scores, especially once he learned to alter shots without fouling. Fisher and Farmar were better (but still average) at preventing penetration. They also were more dogged in fighting through the pick and roll, though still also admittedly mediocre there. But, we still had a relatively low ceiling defensively (compared to the best teams) as Bynum really did nothing more than avoid fouling on the pick and roll (allowing guards to turn the corner or take the midrange shot), and there was no secondary shotblocker to attack the ball if it came inside when Bynum was elsewhere (Turiaf is getting better at this, but he still fouls too much and is a little undersized). Too often, Bynum was out of position or just unable to cover all the ground by himself as the ball moved inside, and the team either gave up easy baskets inside or had to overhelp and leave shooters open at the 3 pt line.

Now, with Gasol’s added size, we can employ the Spurs defensive model. While some teams try to pack it in and force teams to shoot outside, San Antonio has traditionally used their strong perimeter defenders to pressure the ball on the perimeter and feed action into their twin towers. They have always tried to pair Duncan with a strong, long, secondary big — from Robinson to Nesterovic to Oberto and Elson today. Having two interior defenders really opens up the defense: there is always one 7 footer positioned to pick up penetration (especially helpful when one gets dragged outside in a pick and roll); one big can usually roam and alter shots from the weak side, as most teams only have one strong low post scorer; the two bigs can switch inside without causing real problems; there is always one 7 footer positioned to battle for rebounds (crucial in preventing offensive rebounds when the shotblocker runs out to alter a shot); etc, etc.

While Gasol isn’t recognized as a brilliant defender, his sheer size will allow the Lakers to really attack the ball on the perimeter and inside. Kobe and Ariza can roam around with a little more freedom to try and cause havoc with strong double teams and in the passing lanes (a la Jordan and Pippen). Add in Odom’s size at small forward and the Lakers should be able to be able to attack the ball, rotate without causing matchup problems down low, create turnovers, and generally force bad shots and control the boards. There just aren’t a lot of teams that throw out two mobile 7 footers, a 6′10″ small forward, and an all-defensive shooting guard. Once Bynum is healthy and Gasol is integrated, I expect them to be one of the top 2-3 teams in FG% allowed — a key stat for any contender. Combine that with the fact that NO ONE can matchup on the other end with our size and Kobe’s all around offensive dominance, and we should be just overpowering.

Records: Lakers 29-16 (5 seed); Wizards 24-21 (6 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.4 (5th); Wizards 109.2 (12th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (8th); Wizards 109.0 (20th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladamir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf
Wizards: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Antawn Jamison, Andray Blatche, Brendan Haywood

My Prediction: I think the Patriots win by 20, that they have another gear the Giant’s don’t. And I think I’ll drink a lot of Stella.

Lakers Notes: I don’t know about you, I can’t get enough Pau Gasol talk. He probably will not play today (although the Lakers could use him), remember he missed three of the last for Griz games because of a sore back. Still, he’s what’s on Lakers fans minds.

Long-time readers here know Xavier, a basketball player and coach (and blogger) from Spain who has seen Pau up close for years. Here are his thoughts:

Like most of you, I was shocked by the Pau Gasol deal but I might be a special case. Although my favorite player is Kobe Bryant, Gasol has always been a hometown hero here in Spain and having him dressed in purple & gold is something I can’t explain in words.

Leaving personal feelings about this deal apart, the Lakers have accomplished (thanks to our beloved Kupchak) an all-star caliber player without giving up any of our 3 core starters (Kobe, Bynum and Odom) and even managed to sign the trade leaving our bench mob almost intact. The only thing I regret a little is giving up Crittenton (although having Farmar makes him an expendable piece) and draft rights to Marc Gasol (It might look like I’m prejudice but this guy is really good and is competing with Rudy Fernández for ACB MVP).
But what are the Lakers really getting with Gasol on their team?

Gasol is a 7-footer who can put up 20-10 per night with a higher basketball IQ than most of you think. He’s been taught European basketball where movement without the ball is far more important than playing the isolation and offensive triangle is about moving without the ball and feeding the open men situation that generates the offense.
In Memphis most of his game has been playing face to the basket as he has a nice dribble for a 7-footer and sweet J , but he’s also a proven post player with a well rounded offensive game, hook shots and even a shy fade away has been seen in some games (which I liked a lot). He has a very fast first step that he likes to use it when playing on the high post or far in the base lane (click that link and you can also watch the classic Gasol-KG highlight). As a Grizzly he was the only man down there under the basket so he had to do it all and never played with a real C (uh, Darko Milicic aka the next Kwame Brown?), hopefully we’ll see him pairing with Bynum sooner rather than later and that will help him shine because they complement each other very well.

Pau has been labeled as a soft player. I’d actually say that he’s not as tough as the other All-star PF/C in the league. He get’s rebounds but mostly because of his size and good positioning not because of his strength. He has a career 1.8 blocks per game, not bad for a “soft” player. I won’t make much of an issue about his toughness because as a whole, the Lakers team has the pieces to cover that and he has shown that he knows how to play team defense.

While Bynum’s not with the team, Gasol will fit the C position and will fill it very well. Let’s see how Phil combines the team when Bynum and Ariza returns with our Forward loaded rotation (Odom, Ariza, Walton, Gasol, Turiaf, Radmanovic). What a great headache to have!

The Wizards Coming In: All Star forward (and a guy Lakers fans still remember fondly) Caron Butler has missed the last four games and likely will not play today. Gilbert Arenas definitely is out. Despite that the Wizards are a solid 5-5 in their last 10.

The guy carrying the load is Antwan Jamison, who is averaging nearly 22 and 9 over the last 10 games. He’s shooting 35% from beyond the arc in that time but a pretty average 49.4% (eFG%) overall in that time.

This Wizards team is Gansta — Andray Blatche is apparently a Crip Blood. He’s also a guy with a lot of potential on the basketball court, I remember him most from the Summer Pro League two years ago where he really impressed. There are questions about his decision making but he is capable of a big night.

For more insight on the Wizards, head on over to the good Bullets Forever blog.

One Thing That Is Bringing Me Down: In case you didn’t see it, friend-of-this-site Kelly Dwyer, one of the very best bloggers on the NBA, is not going to be doing much at the Yahoo NBA blog any more. Frankly, True Hoop has long been my first NBA read in the morning, but KD had made that Yahoo blog #2 with a bullet.

I know the guy taking over as lead blogger and he is good and certainly knows the game, but Yahoo has clearly decided on a style change for that blog. And it disappoints me, because to me there are moving away from the sports fan style to more entertainment-style. Nobody was doing quite what KD was doing or as well, and I can’t wait until some smart exec snaps him up and gives him another spot where he can thrive again.

Keys To The Game: I watched a chunk of the Wizards/Jazz game on Friday night and the Wiz frustrated the structured Jazz offense with a match-up zone (at least for the first quarter, Utah eventually figured it out). I expect that the Lakers will see the same thing for stretches — that means Kobe, Fisher, Sasha and Radman should get some chances to shoot over the top of it a little. Also, this is where Gasol can really help in his first game if he gets on the floor – if the defense extends out to get to those shooters, he should get one-on-one coverage in deep and Gasol is instantly the best interior scorer on this team. If not him, somebody (Ronny) needs to take advantage.

My feeling is Ronny remains a very key cog until Bynum returns — he is the only guy who provides energetic interior defense. He blocks shots and intimidates some. Gasol will bring a little of this but not much. Defense is still what drives this Laker squad and Ronny is a key part of that right now and his minutes should reflect that.

With the injuries two two of their three key players, the Wizards bench has been weakened — the Lakers bench should shine this morning and be a key part of a win.

The Wizards are not a great defensive team, but they are improved and have been playing better of late so the Lakers need to bring the same energy they had in Toronto to the nation’s capital.

Where you can watch: Breakfast with the Lakers. Game time is 9 am (Pacific) on KCAL (9).

How often have we looked at one of those seemingly lopsided trades — ones that would be protested in any fantasy league — and say, “Why can’t our GM pull one of those off?”

Well, now he has, and Mitch Kupchak deserves a lot of credit. He’s taken an unworldly amount of heat from fans and media, but note what commenter kwame a. pointed out:

every player on this team except Kobe has been acquired or drafted by Mitch.

And that is a very deep and very versatile roster. That’s what Gasol brings that will fit so well on this team and in this offense — the Lakers can be a matchup problem for just about anyone. I’ll let Reed break it down:

We also have the most flexible team in the league, with so many possible combinations.

Pure talent: Farmar, Kobe, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Passing and intelligence: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Odom, Gasol; or: Fisher, Kobe, Walton, Gasol, Bynum

Speed/energy: Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, Odom, Turiaf; or: Farmar, Sasha, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf

Defense: Fisher, Kobe, Ariza, Turiaf/Odom, Bynum

Shooting: Fisher, Sasha, Kobe, Radmanovic, Turiaf

Big: Kobe, Ariza, Odom, Gasol, Bynum

Small: Fisher, Farmar, Kobe, Ariza/Walton, Odom

The possibilities go on and on. This smells like a title team.

I asked the guys from the very good Three Shades of Blue blog that covers the Grizzlies for some insights into Pau. Chip sent in this:

Pau Gasol is one of the most talented big men in the game. He can score with either hand and is nearly unstoppable when aggressive against single coverage. He is also unselfish with the ball and when outnumbered is extremely good at finding the open man. His passes are usually on target which can lead to a lot of open shots for teammates. His range is almost out to the three-point line but he is most effective when his back is to the basket within a few feet of the paint. He has a quick first step that can beat most bigs to the hoop as well.

The problem for Memphis has been not having that second scorer that can keep Gasol from being constantly double teamed. Gasol is extremely weak. He is a turnover waiting to happen when holding the ball as it is easily slapped out of his hand and can easily be knocked off the post by stronger players. Most teams defend Gasol with their center because Pau wears out quickly from being leaned on and that has made him ineffective late in games. His free throw shooting has dramatically improved this season but not unlike Shaq, you don’t want him on the line when the game is in doubt.

Pau’s weaknesses on defense are well known but also somewhat exaggerated. He is adequate defending big men but struggles denying drives into the lane. In Memphis this often made him look out of place defensively since he struggled denying lay-ups from slashers in the lane and when he was able to stop the drive it was rare that someone rotated to cover his man. Gasol’s blocks usually are off the ball helping out teammates instead of in someone’s face. This gives him the reputation of being a poor defender. He isn’t great but he is better than it appeared in Memphis.

Rebounds come to Gasol because of his size but he struggles when forced to muscle a board in a crowd. His numbers usually come from long rebounds and situations when the defense is retreating on defense. He is not someone to count on getting the important boards in crunch time.

What I (and many commenters here) have noted is that the things that are weaknesses in Pau’s game are things he will not be asked to do a ton of in LA, once Bynum returns. It is Bynum that blocks shots in the paint, Bynum that grabs all those boards, Bynum that can body the big center on the other team. What I’ve seen of him, particularly in international ball where he is surrounded by good talent, is that he understands the team game. He’s got a great basketball IQ. And those things will help him thrive in Phil Jackson’s system.

Josh from Three Shades of Blue added a few quirky things to look for:

Checking for blood. He hasn’t done it much this season, but it is a Gasol staple move after getting smacked in the face and not receiving a call.

The Jersey Pop. He busted that one out this year and often does it at seemingly strange moments, like he’s not entirely sure when to use it. It is high comedy.

The way he offsets his lower jaw while shooting free throws.

On the flip side of this trade, I really hope for the best for Javaris Crittenton, I think he is very talented and when he learns to get his game under control he is going to be very good. I hope Kwame is happy wherever he ends up.

And I hope, for the sake of the fans in Memphis, that their ownership (whoever it might be by next year) and their GM really do have a good plan. As regular readers here know, I believe that organizations win – there’s a reason the Lakers win so much under Buss, that the Spurs have been so good for so long, that Detroit has done what it has done. These are organizations with a top-down plan. Memphis, if it really has one of those, is in a position with some smart drafts and signings to do what Portland had done in recent years. This kind of rebuilding chance is somewhat rare. We’ll see what they do with it.

As for me, I’m going to open some really good scotch and soak this all in for a little while longer. It’s a good day to be a Lakers fan.

Pau Gasol Traded To Lakers

Kurt —  February 1, 2008

The Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that Pau Gasol has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and first round picks in 2008 and 2010. If this is true, this is a huge win for the Lakers. Updates will be flowing as they come in.

UPDATE# 1: The LA Times now confirms it.

UPDATE — Pau Gasol Scouting Report.

I’m doing this on the fly and there likely will be more updates as the day goes on, but here is your first blush.

He is 7-0, 260 and has that beard made famous by Serpico.

On offense, Gasol has the kind of well-rounded game that seems to come out of Europe. He is shooting 50.4% (eFG%) overall — 55% of his shots are classified as “Jumpers” and his shooting 40% on those, very respectable for someone his size. In close his shooting percentage jumps to 66.3%. He can pass the ball well — 13.7% of his possessions used end in assist for someone else. He doesn’t turn the ball over much (just 9.4% of possessions). He moves well without the ball.

So far this season he as asked to defend opposing centers almost exclusively, according to 82games.com. Those centers are shooting just 48.5%, with a slightly above average PER of 16.8. Gasol is not a great rebounder, but he doesn’t need to be when the Lakers have Bynum and Odom on the floor.

Here’s how Henry at TrueHoop saw it this morning:

As Kurt Rambis explained the other day, a key element of the triangle is that, thanks to spacing, movement, and observation, every Laker should be eligible to receive a pass at all times.

That lets the offense quickly identify and attack weak spots in the defense, wherever they may be. And a mobile seven-footer who can turn just about any defensive mistake into a bucket would be an attractive option to mix in with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum. As the ball moves around that offense there are an infinite number of ways the Lakers might end up with a good shot.

While Andrew Bynum is out, Gasol becomes the go-to big man, who might keep the team afloat in the tough Western standings. When Bynum returns, the triangle and all the attention defenses pay to Kobe Bryant just might keep the Lakers from the Zach Randolph/Eddy Curry double post conundrum. One of them would have a makeable shot every time down the floor. A system with actual ball movement (as distinct from New York) might help the scorers actually get the ball when and where they can use it.

UPDATE #2: According to ESPN.com, Aaron McKie is part of this deal to make the salaries match, and will be bought out. Man, I need his retirement plan. Also part of the deal is Marc Gasol, the younger brother of Pau, making it the very rare trade of brothers.

UPDATE #3: I’ll be throwing up links all day, here’s the thoughts from personal favorite KD at Yahoo:

My initial thought? The Lakers are going to win a championship.

My second thought? The Lakers are going to win a championship.

Why can’t I break away from that thought? They probably won’t win a championship, but it’s an argument I’m having a tough time talking myself out of right now.

Gasol can play. He can really, really play. He’ll be perfect in the apex of Los Angeles’ Triangle Offense, hitting cutters with passes and making it easier on himself to score in the low or high post as opposing defenses try desperately to keep up with all the off-ball movement.

Gasol can’t defend much, but in a long-armed lineup with Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, and Derek Fisher; this won’t matter.

Another favorite TZ (Tom Ziller) has great stuff up over at Fanhouse.

The front court lineup now in Memphis: Kwame Brown, Darko, Jason Collins. Wow that’s a lot of guys who can’t score. And poor Crittenton is now on the back of a bench of a team with too many guards. That roster is going to see a lot of shakeup.

UPDATE #4: Damn, it’s a good day to be a Lakers fan. Just enjoy this. Moments like this are what make being a fan so much fun.

Just wanted to say that.

UPDATE #5: First, John Hollinger weighs in, says this is better than any Kidd deal, and call the Lakers the favorites in the West when healthy. It’s an insider piece, so pay for it, but here are the two key graphs for me:

Yes, he’s a little soft. He’s also one of the quickest 7-footers in the league and can shoot, handle and pass. That last item is important — he’ll share the ball and play nice with Kobe, and he’ll be very effective from the high post in the triangle while Andrew Bynum takes the low block.

As for the soft part, that should be a lot less of an issue now that he’s finally surrounded by big guys who can handle the dirty work. His softness was a much bigger problem on a Memphis team laden with other softies than it will be if Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf have his back

And now a quick thought from commenter James Hastings:

“When was the last time a team’s worst player was traded for another team’s best player?”