Archives For Trades

Despite there not being any Lakers games since Thursday’s game against Boston, their have been a few interesting developments around the league over the past couple of days – especially in regards to some of the guys that changed area codes before the Thursday trade deadline. So, here are a few random thoughts on what we’ve seen in their first games with their new teams…

*How about that T-Mac? He was quite impressive in his debut for the Knicks as he looks completely healed from his knee surgery (I think Doc Brown performed his micro-fracture surgery) and was in better condition than I would have expected for a guy that has only played a handful of games over the past season and a half.  If McGrady can play well down the stretch of this season for the Knicks, some team is going to want him and maybe even a contender.  If money really isn’t an issue for him, I could see scenarios where he stays with the Knicks or moves on to another team that is in contention for a championship.  There are plenty of teams that could use a player with his skill set and if he really can adjust to being a secondary player on a good team, he will surely help out with his ability to score and handle the ball.

*T-Mac wasn’t alone in looking good for the new look Knicks, though.  I was quite impressed with Sergio Rodriguez and his comfort in D’Antoni’s schemes (they are a natural fit) and was also happy to see Eddie House doing his thing for a team that can’t really hurt the Lakers in the post-season.  Like Phil Jackson, I believe House is a dangerous player and I think Boston let go of a player that really can change the game with his shooting.  House is a threat and can change the momentum in a game.  However, coaxing those types of performances out of Eddie is seemingly much easier when he’s upset and playing with chip on his shoulder (as he is after this trade) and while playing in a shooter friendly system that he has history in.

*Lots of other players had good performances for their new teams over the past couple of days.  Hakim Warrick and Flip Murray performed quite well in their debut for the Bulls and fit in like they’d been playing with the team all season.  Ty Thomas stepped in with the Bobcats and played well in his first game under Larry Brown’s coaching as the Cats continued to terrorize the Cavs.  He then followed up that performance with a double double against the Bucks the next night.  Speaking of the Bucks, John Salmons has given them the scoring punch and playmaking they need on the wing.  These are small sample sizes for these players and keeping up the strong play will be something to monitor, but getting a boost from a trade is a always a good thing because it’s not always a smooth first impression for these guys.

*Like Antawn Jamison’s 0-12 debut for the Cavs.  Or Carl Landry’s ten points on eleven shots for the Kings.  Or Ronnie Brewer tearing his hamstring in his first game with the Grizz.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned and players don’t perform well in their debuts, making it easy to think the worst.  However, just as you can’t get too high because of a strong performance from a newcomer, you also can’t get too down on a player because they played poorly.  Jamison and Landry are good players and they’ll be better than they showed in their first games with their new teams.  I thought Matt Moore had a good take over at ProBasketballTalk on Jamison’s debut:

To think that Jamison’s career in Cleveland will be marked with failure because he had difficulty on his first night after lots of traveling, rearranging his life, and trying to integrate into a brand new system is just plain silly, and ignores one significant factor in this outcome: the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Bobcats defense is one of the best in the league, beset by talented, versatile defenders, especially bigs. They operate well in man, man-help, zone, and hybrid schemes, meaning essentially they can affix their approach to any opponent. Throw in their effort and ability and it’s not at all shocking that Jamison struggled. Throw in the other factors and a cold shooting night, and it’s simply one of those things that happens. Let’s wait to see how Jamison responds for the remainder of the season before sounding the panic alarm.

However, even though I agree with everything said, I do think Jamison will need to have a strong performance soon just to relieve the fans of the Cavs.  They’ve lost two straight games (one without ‘Tawn and one with) and that is a rare thing for this years Cavs.  For a team that was coasting along on a 13 game win streak and in possession of the league’s best record, a couple more losses or bad performances from their new acquisition may induce some panic.

How Trades Affect the Lakers

Darius Soriano —  February 19, 2010

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If the playoffs were to start today, the Lakers would face Portland in the first round.  And if the first round held its form with the higher seeds winning the series and advancing to the next round, the Lakers would then face Dallas.  If we extrapolate this same line of thinking to the Conference Finals, the Lakers would face Denver and then in the Finals the Lakers would face the Cavs.  It just so happens that three of those four teams pulled off trades in the past week that were aimed at strenghthening their roster for the stretch run of the regular season and into the playoffs.  So, at this point, I think it’s wise to look at the trades that those three teams made and how they affect their roster (and a matchup with the Lakers).  We’ll start in the first round and then move forward.

Portland:  Portland traded Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw for Marcus Camby.  This was a natural move for the Blazers as it relieved them of players that were crowding their rotations at both PG and SF (Blake at PG and Outlaw at SF) and opened up time for players that they are quite high on in Jerryd Bayless, Martell Webster, and Nic Batum.  When you combine that with the injury status of Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla and the chance to acquire Marcus Camby, this deal becomes a no brainer.  Camby is still a very effective player that rebounds well, plays very good team defense, and is a capable offensive player that does not force shots nor need the ball very often to be effective on that end of the floor.

In a match up with the Lakers, an addition of Camby means that the Blazers have more than Juwan Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge to throw at a front line of Odom/Pau/Bynum.  As you can imagine, slowing down the Lakers frontline is key to any series with the defending champs.  Yes, Kobe is the engine of this team; he is the unquestioned leader and the player that every teams defensive schemes revolve around.  But, as the Lakers showed against Utah, San Antonio, and Orlando, if you can not contain the Lakers frontline you do not have a chance at victory.  Only Denver came close to taking the Lakers bigs out of their game(s), but even they eventually succumb to them as Kobe’ brilliance caused double teams that the Lakers’ bigs exploited again and again with cuts to the middle of the floor where they either got easy buckets or moved the ball to an open shooter on the weakside.  If Portland is going to slow the Lakers big and turn Kobe into a volume scorer with little help from his mates, Camby’s presence is definitely needed as the Blazers stable of big men would not be nearly enough to battle LO, Pau, and ‘Drew over a seven game series.

My prognosis? I don’t think Camby gives them enough over the course of a series.  Though he is a very good defensive center whose rebounding skills would limit the Lakers second chance points, I still think he lacks the girth to battle Bynum underneath and would not have the endurance to go from ‘Drew to Pau as the Lakers work their substitutions over the course of a game and a series.  Plus, Camby does not have the offensive game to put the Lakers bigs in foul trouble and though his 18 foot jumper and high post passing are very strong, bigs that primarily rely on jumpshots rarely help lead playoff upsets against teams with strong post play.  This is not to say that the Blazers don’t have other weapons to take down the Lakers – we all know that Portland is, historically, a very tough match up for the Lakers.  Miller, Aldridge, and especially Roy all cause different issues on offense and both Webster and Batum can give Kobe problems on defense.  But, in the end, I don’t think this trade has improved the Blazers enough to truly contend in the post season and win a series against the Lakers.

Dallas:  You can find my thoughts on the Dallas trade here.  As for how they match up with the Lakers, I think this trade helps them a great deal.  Haywood is a really strong defensive center and I do think he could limit Andrew in a one on one matchup.  Completely stop him?  No, but he could make his life difficult on that end while also providing good help defense on any dribble penetration or post ups from our other players.  I also think Butler is a player that must be respected by Artest and that even though Ron could contain Caron, I also think that Butler is a good enough player to make Artest work hard and burn energy over the course of a game and a series.  You add in Dirk (who is fantastic), Kidd, and notorious Laker killer Jason Terry, and I think you have a team that matches up with the Lakers quite well up front.

That said, they don’t have anyone that can really slow Kobe.  And an effective Kobe compromises everything you want to do on defense as he finds ways to beat you by scoring and then (as shown against Denver last season) he shifts his game to exploit your changing schemes by using his teammates to hammer you into submission.  Then, on the flip side of that superstar coin, you have Pau and (especially) Lamar (and, potentially, even Artest) that have the ability to play Dirk one on one and I think Dallas has an issue with matchups against the Lakers.

My prognosis? I think it would be a hard fought series, but that ultimately Dallas would not have enough on both ends of the court to beat the Lakers.  Dirk may be too good to hold down for an entire series, but I think our array of defenders slow him in enough contests to make the Mavs’ lives difficult on offense.  You add the Lakers front line depth and the lack of depth (behind Haywood and Dirk) that have the size to compete with the Lakers bigs and I think our post presence wears them down over the course of a series.  Throw in the Kobe factor and you have a real advantage for the defending champs.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Dallas is close.  But I don’t think they get enough from Marion (who has traditionally struggled with Phil Jackson’s schemes and Lamar Odom) and I also think their back court is a bit too thin on defensive players to match up with Kobe (or even the quickness of Farmar on the second unit).  I think it would be a great series to watch though.

Cleveland:  Ahh, the Cavs.  If both teams are good (and lucky) enough to make it this far, fans and media alike would be drooling at the prospect of seeing these two teams battle for the championship.  This is only more true with the addition of Jamison.  Antawn gives the Cavs what they’ve sorely been missing the past several seasons – a reliable scorer in the front court that complements Lebron’s game.  Jamison is a player that is just as comfortable as a spot up shooter as he is a slasher as he is a post up player.  A member of the “I don’t really know how his game is that effective” club, Jamison is a guy that keeps plugging along with an arsenal of deep jumpshots, driving runners, and post up flip shots that make old guys at the Y smile.  Jamison is also a good rebounder and a solid defender.  Most important of all, Jamison is a real team player and a pro’s pro that will work hard to fit into the team concept of the Cavs and will not rock the boat.  There is no diva in Antawn.

However, when it comes to matching up with the Lakers, an addition of Jamison is not a slam dunk for the Cavs.  While Jamison may be a guy that has the size and style to match up with Rashard Lewis or even Josh Smith, facing off against Pau Gasol is a different story.  As we saw in the Finals last season, when an undersize PF matches up with Gasol it often leads to a double team that can be exposed by our Spaniard’s slick passing skills.   This is a defensive matchup that is not in the Cavs favor.  Now, Jamison could make up for it on the other end of the court with his versatile offensive game, but as we’ve all seen Pau is an underrated defender whose length and reach often bothers shooters more than they anticipate.  Obviously though, a match up with the Cavs is not only about Jamison.  They have Shaq as well.  Oh, yeah, and that Lebron guy too.  These are players that create match up issues for the Lakers defense.  So far this season, battling Shaq on the block has not worked out too well for Bynum and Gasol.  And even though Artest is an elite defender, Lebron makes even the best of the best look slow footed and lacking in strength.  Throw in the possible return of Z, Andy Varejao’s crafty defense, and the shooting of Mo’ Williams/West/Parker and you have a team with a tremendous amount of talent and diversity to their potential attack.

My prognosis?  This may sound like a cop out, but I really don’t know how this series would turn out.  There are too many variables could break in either direction that lead a victory for either side.  Do the Cavs have enough size and defense in their back court to contain Kobe?  Does Z return to the Cavs to complete their rotations at Center?  Can Artest (and the rest of the Lakers help D) slow Lebron enough that the other Cavs are forced to make the key shots in a game?  Does Lamar play like he has for the last 5 games and the way that he did in last year’s playoffs from the Denver series on?  Do our guards make shots?  Can Bynum outduel Shaq?  Does Mike Brown make the right adjustments to the wrinkles that Phil is bound to incorporate into a gameplan?  I could go on and on.  These are obviously the best two teams in the league and I think we’d all be lucky just to see this matchup occur.

In the end, understand that the countdown is now on to the playoffs.  Rosters are pretty much set (save for a random addition due to a buyout or, tragically, potential injury) and teams will be looking to gel and peak as they enter the second season.  Yes the Lakers stood pat.  And yes some of their chief rivals did everything they could to compete.  Were these moves enough?  How will it turn out?  Let me know what you all think about these moves (or any of the ones not mentioned – Kevin Martin to the Rockets for example) and what they mean in relation to the Lakers.

Before I get into any of the trade links, here are a few links on Kobe’s status as of yesterday after the Lakers’ practice. Kobe was interviewed after practice, and when asked if it were a definite no in playing in tomorrow’s game against the Celtics, he responded saying, “right now it’s a no, but if I wake up tomorrow and feel drastically different, I’ll play – but I doubt it.”

Land O’ Lakers also have post-practice interviews from Phil Jackson, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol on various topics like Kobe, the trade deadline, tonight’s game against the Celtics and the season beyond. Also, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog has some analysis on Kobe’s post game interviews and what his recovery is looking like:

I had earlier maintained that the situations involving his finger and ankle are different. Though having a fractured finger is far from enjoyable, playing through that injury is technically doable. As far as Bryant’s insistence to play through his ankle before and his decision to take a long-term approach now seems pretty straight forward and doesn’t really need much parsing (though I’ve kind of already done that). The strained tendons and muscles in his left leg has added difficult to the recovery process, with Bryant noting “tendons are a little different; they have their own agendas on what they want to heal.” But his outlook on recovering from injuries appears the same.

Yesterday, there were a few moves by teams either trying to improve, or teams trying to clear cap space for this year’s free agency. The most notable of those trades was Washington sending Antwan Jamison to Cleveland in a three way deal that also included the Clippers.

Cleveland gets: Antwan Jamison, Sebastian Telfair
Washington gets: Cavs 2010 1st round draft pick, Draft Rights to Emir Preldzic, Al Thorton
Los Angeles gets: Drew Gooden

The Cleveland Plain Dealer gives all of the details of the trade
Clipper Blog explains what it means for the Clips as far as cap space is concerned
Cavs: The Blog explain how Jamison is going to be able to help the Cavs offensively (yes, help them) with his ability to spread the floor:

Jamison can shoot. He has to be guarded beyond the three-point line, and is comfortable catching and shooting. Even if he’s not on fire, he’ll provide Shaq with space in the post and Andy space to cut. He’s also crafty off the ball, and should be able to find cuts and angles to receive an interior pass from Shaq or Andy when Antawn dives to the rim. When he gets it near the hoop, he has great patience and can finish from a variety of angles. Jamison’s been in the league for a long time. He knows how to score from everywhere on the court. He’ll be able to make it work on offense in ways that pairings of Shaq/Hickson, Shaq/Andy, or Andy/Hickson weren’t able to.

The Kings and Rockets also made a deal yesterday involving Tracy McGrady and Kevin Martin.

Sacramento gets: Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and cash considerations
Houston gets: Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Kenny Thomas, Hilton Armstrong

ESPN gives all the details of the trade
Cowbell Kingdom gives all the details and much, much more:

“And I don’t blame the Kings for doing so, either. Sacramento had to figure out if Evans and Martin could coexist together. The only way to do that was to force the issue and get them to form some chemistry on the court. What happened was the Kings already existing struggles to score inside were amplified because the ball stayed on the perimeter. The Martin-Evans duo needed an inside presence in the post to balance out the attack and open up the perimeter. Unfortunately, they never had that weapon at their disposal and the rest of the team seem to be forgotten too often.
“With Martin’s role becoming less and less defined in the offense over the recent stretch of games, there was some confusion as to what the next step would be. The immediate reaction was to think he’d be traded (especially after the weird sitting out of all but 15 seconds of the fourth quarter on Tuesday night). However, since the Kings were demanding a low post presence and none of the rumored deals seemed to be meeting that criteria, a Kevin Martin deal seemed to be improbable.
“But here we are. Kevin Martin is traded and the Kings received a low post threat that they desperately have been seeking.”

One last notable trade was the Chicago Bulls dumping John Salmons contract on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Chicago gets: Hakim Warrick and Joel Alexander
Milwaukee gets: John Salmons

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives the details of the trade
By The Horns explains that this trade was purely for cap clearing reasons:

“In the meantime, the Bulls are a little worse.

Don’t get me wrong. Salmons hasn’t had a great season by any stretch of the imagination. But he’s still the team’s second-best three-point shooter and its third-leading scorer. Make that was. I guess it’s time for Devin Brown and Jannero Pargo to step up.
Said Derrick Rose: “Man, that’s crazy thinking about John leaving. He just came here [in a trade with the Kings on Feb. 18, 2009]. But, it’s the NBA. If he does get traded we’ll definitely miss him, but [the season] must continue. … It hurts your team a little bit. Like when you have a game right after [a trade]. But that’s just how the NBA goes.”

There was also a trade between Minnesota and the Knicks where Brian Cardinal and Darko Milicic were swapped and it still remains to be seen if Tracy McGrady will end up in New York or if Amare Stoudemire will end up in Miami. Teams have until Noon PST to make their decisions.

Today, I leave you with a post from Eddie Maisonet, the newest member of, who introduced himself by writing a bold piece proclaiming Pau Gasol, not Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ MVP. Here’s a few lines from the post:

“Sure, Kobe’s more dynamic. He’s going to shoot the game-winners. He’s the poster child for the League. We all know this. If we were talking about the Most Outstanding Player for the Lakers and the NBA, of course Bryant wins this award.
“However, the title is “Most Valuable” and from a value perspective it’s extremely tough to say isn’t more valuable. Plus, who’s to say that Gasol doesn’t make players better? Lamar Odom was almost traded roughly 38 times before Pau got there, however Gasol and Odom (and Bynum to a degree) remind some of the Uncles in our family to a Parish/McHale/Walton ’86 Celtics feel of a frontcourt. Other teams in the NBA have strategically reshaped their teams to beat LA, by adding frontcourt depth in particular.”

Check out the article. Thoughts?


Some updates on today’s trades

As many speculated yesterday, Tracy McGrady wasn’t done moving. The Kings were able to come to terms with the Knicks to complete a three-way deal with the Rockets.

New York gets: Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez
Houston gets: Kevin Martin, Jared Jeffries, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill, NYK’s 2011 pick, the right to switch picks with NYK in 2012
Sacramento gets:


– NBA Fanhouse tells how Sacramento was able to helm make this a great trade for Houston:

Houston’s role in all of this is interesting, and it’ll be worth following the next few days of explanations to see exactly how this came together. The Rockets had been working with the Knicks on the non-Martin, non-Landry portions of the deal for weeks. It seems as though Houston got tired of waiting and made the deal for Martin about 12 hours early, perhaps putting pressure on New York to give up those picks. It worked. It looks like Sacramento really helped the Rockets here.

– Ball Don’t Lie explains McGrady’s worth for the teams who dealt him:

The deal? In the latest of many permutations, it appears as if Tracy McGrady is heading to New York. An expiring contract, and nothing more, despite the long term outlook they’ve been trying to sell you through the media. The Knicks will no doubt play Tracy this season, but come July, he’s gone. Come July, thanks to the work of Donnie Walsh, most of these Knicks are gone, and they’ll have a real shot at signing two big free agent contracts.

The Knicks were pretty busy today. Not only did they acquire McGrady, they were also involved in a five player deal that sent Nate Robinson to the Celtics in exchange for Eddie House.

Boston gets: Nate Robinson, one other Knicks player not mentioned yet
New York gets: Eddie House, Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens


ESPN gives the details of the trade.

Celtics Hub on why bringing in Robinson was the only move the Cs made.

A lot of Celtics fans are going to be disappointed that this is the only deal the C’s have made at the deadline, considering the number of other deals that went down around the league. The truth is, Danny Ainge hands were tied, given the team’s salary concerns for next year (63 million committed to just 6 players) making it tough for the team to absorb any bad contract that would be required in return for receiving any “impact” player the C’s were looking for, as seen in the excerpt above.

The C’s had plenty of expiring contracts to deal besides Ray Allen, but all of those guys were either a) lacking talent that would make them appealing to other teams (Giddens, Walker, Scalabrine, Williams) b) important parts of the team’s rotation (Daniels, TA, House)

There were also a few other minor deals made before the deadline:

The Chicago Bulls traded Ty Thomas to the Charlotte Bobcats for Acie Law IV and Flip Murray.

Ronnie Brewer was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for a protected 2011 pick.

The Philadelphia 76ers traded Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey to the Milwaukee Bucks for Jodie Meeks, Francisco Elson and a second round draft pick.


Talking Trades

Darius Soriano —  February 15, 2010

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During the All-Star game coverage, Charles Barkley said something that I think bears repeating when he was talking about all of the trade rumors and (in the case of the Dallas/Washington swap) trades that have already happened.  Chuck said that all of these trades that contenders are making are for one reason – to beat the Lakers.  I mean, the Lakers are the defending champs and are the favorites to win the championship again this season.  The Lakers may not currently have the best record in the league, but I’d argue that they have the best roster, the best coach, and have a level of confidence combined with experience that put them in position to repeat this season.  Obviously, there is no guarantee that the Lakers win – there are other very strong contenders and if the Lakers are good enough to get out of a stacked Western Conference, they’d still end up facing either Cleveland (currently the team with the best record), Orlando (runner up in last years Finals), or Boston (’08 champion and a team with loads of experience and mental toughness).  Essentially, repeating this season will be a tough task even if no other trades are made and no team improves.  But, with the trade deadline looming, one mega-deal has already been made and there are countless other rumors flying around.  Let’s take a look at what’s already gone down, what is rumored to be going down, and even touch on what the Lakers may do as we approach this Thursday.

As we’ve all read, Dallas has improved their team by acquiring Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and Deshawn Stevenson.  As I mentioned yesterday, I think this trade definitely improves Dallas by giving them a more consistent player on the wing (Butler) and also giving them one of the best defensive big men in the league in Haywood.  To me, Haywood (as much as Butler) makes this trade a real upgrade for Dallas because the Mavs have consistently struggled with teams that have strong offensive post play with only Eric Dampier standing in the way of guys like Pau, Bynum, Duncan, Dwight Howard, Shaq, etc having big nights and compromising their team defensive schemes.  Haywood is a player that can guard most of these guys one on one and enabling Dallas’ wings to stay at home on their own men.  Haywood is also a better shot blocker and rebounder than Dampier and that will help Dallas contain explosive wing players as driving lanes will be better cut off and more shots will be contested and altered at the rim.

The only downside I see for Dallas with this trade is the disruption of roles for the players that have already been on their roster.  It’s already been announced that Jason Terry will move back to the bench with Butler sliding into starting lineup at SG.  Yes, this puts Terry back into a familiar role and one that he excelled in last season – winning the 6th man award as the leagues best bench player.  But, Terry had not been performing as well in that role this season and had been playing much better of late as a starter. Does Terry stay in his groove now that he’s back to being the sixth man?  And will Butler play as well as a SG as he has playing SF for the Wizzards?  The stats seem to say that Butler is a lesser player when he plays SG as referenced by his lower PER (14.2) and his higher PER Against (16.2) as a SG rather than his slightly better numbers as a SF (14.6 PER, 14.4 PER Against).  Will those numbers change with the Mavs?  And if those numbers don’t change, what does this mean for the Mavs when games are tight at the end and their coaches must decide on what their best line up should be down the stretch of these games?  Does Butler slide back to SF with Terry playing SG next to Kidd in the backcourt?  What does this mean for Shawn Marion?  Does he now sit at the end of games in favor of a Butler/Dirk/Haywood frontline?  Does Haywood sit so Dirk can play Center and Marion can play PF (where Shawn has a much better PER but also has trouble defending PF’s)?  As I’ve noted in the past, these aren’t huge problems for the Mavs and maybe everything will be worked out with the situation coming up roses.  But, chemistry concerns are real in this league and the most talent on the floor doesn’t always mean the highest level of play.  This is something the coaches for the Mavs will need to sort out by the time the playoffs start.

Speaking of chemistry, the Cavs are looking at disrupting theirs as they explore how they can potentially improve their roster.  Already owners of the best record in the league, one would question if the Cavs even need to make a deal.  Just one week ago, Danny Ferry was saying just that.  But as players that could help Cleveland have become available via trade, the Cavs are looking to get better and have been identifying targets to acquire.  The question is, what player do they want the most and which player will actually help the the most?  The most recent player of high interest to the Cavs is Amare Stoudemire.  Apparently, the Cavs are high on STAT and think that he could be a difference maker this season and also help in retaining Lebron when he’s a free agent next summer.  But, Antawn Jamison is also a player the Cavs have looked to acquire in the past week.  But, if both of those options fail, there’s always Troy Murphy.  Based off this group of players, it’s obvious that the Cavs think their biggest issue is an offensive minded PF that could both space the floor as a shooter, play P&R with Lebron, and also rebound at a level where their team defense is not compromised.  Based off an analysis of the numbers, Amare may be the best choice for the Cavs if any deal can be made. But, again, this conclusion does not take into account any chemistry issues and what a Lebron/Amare/Shaq frontcourt would actually play like when they shared the court.  All three of those players have a usage rate over 25 and all perform best when they create shots for themselves (though Amare is also very good working off the ball in the P&R and as catch and shoot player in the mid-range).  There’s also the question of defense.  Zephid made a salient point in the comments when the Amare to the Cavs story was gaining steam over all-star weekend:

Amare has a PER of 23.4 this season, with an opponent’s PER against of 20.2. According to 82games, the Suns score 1.4 points more when Stoudemire is off the floor, and they also give up 3.4 less points on defense. All in all, Amare has a net production of -4.8 (all per 100 possessions). The Suns all shoot about the same percentage (54.1% on versus 54.2% off) with and without Stoudemire, but allow their opponents to shoot 1.2% better when Stoudemire is in the game.

This is pretty important considering the Cavs are 2nd in offensive efficiency while 5th in defensive efficiency. Is adding Amare really going to make their offense that much more potent? And will it outweigh the points they give up due to Amare’s lack of D?

Right now, Anderson Varejao plays the bulk of the minutes at PF, averaging nearly 30 a game. Varejao is also 3rd in +/- this season, so if Stoudemire cuts Varejao’s minutes from 30 to 15, that takes away a huge element of the Cavs game.

And what about the Lakers?  As I said earlier, almost any trade that a contender makes has a matchup with the Lakers in mind.  But the Lakers are not without their own issues that they may think need upgrading when making their final push towards the playoffs.  Despite the strong showings in recent games, the Lakers do have a weakness at point guard and that is a position that if not addressed this season, will need to be looked at this off-season with both Fisher and Farmar being free agents (Fisher is a UFA and Farmar is a RFA) when this year concludes.  The persistent rumor is that the Lakers are after Kirk Hinrich of the Bulls.  Is Kirk really a good fit?  I have my doubts.  His shooting is down across the board this season and his PER is not much better than Fisher’s and is lower than Farmar’s.  Yes, his defense would be a big upgrade over any of our current PG’s but his contract would be a tough one to swallow just for a defensive stopper.  And, that contract is the real issue.  The Lakers already have the highest payroll in the NBA, and taking on more salary is not the most fiscally prudent plan for a team that already has a fantastic core of (well paid) players.  This would mean any trade that the Lakers make to improve at PG would have to jettison either Sasha and/or Luke and that will not be easy.  I mean, every trade rumor involving the Lakers has Sasha as a player the Lakers give up and in those same stories you hear “sources” saying that Sasha’s contract is one that teams don’t want to swallow.

In the end, I’m not sure what is going to happen with Cleveland or the Lakers as far as trades go.  These are the two best teams in the league and both could win the title just by standing pat.  Just because Dallas made a deal, does that mean that the Lakers or the Cavs have to?  I would think that we’d see a trade from the Spurs or the Celtics or the Hawks before we saw the Lakers make a trade.  Again, the Lakers are the hunted here.  Our team is the current champion – that not only serves as motivation for other teams to try and catch us, but it also serves as disincentive for other teams to help us improve.  And, as Kurt always said, understand that this is the time of year where rumors are put out there for reasons beyond just player acquisition.  There is always a motive from an agent, an opposing GM, or it’s just plain media speculation to create a story in the silly season.  Will a deal happen for any contender?  We’ll know by Thursday, but we might as well discuss what’s out there as we countdown.

Do The Lakers Need To Make A Trade?

Kurt —  January 26, 2010

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When a team is not reaching its potential around the trade deadline, there is a temptation to want to “shake them up” with a trade.

The Lakers are not reaching their potential. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, 1-2 on this road trip. They played better against a Toronto team that plays well at home, but it was still a better overall game from them than we have seen recently. It’s one of those things I notice in baseball (not sure if the stats would back me up) — when a slumping hitter is about to break out of that, they seem to go through a phase where they start hitting the ball hard but still make outs. They drill the ball but right at the shortstop, or the centerfielder robs them of a home run. Is that where the Lakers are?

Or, do the Lakers need to be shaken up?

That is always risky — shaking a team up for the sake of shaking things up rarely works out. It’s about needs, value and fit. For both teams (meaning don’t think that there are teams lining up to get Sasha Vujacic right now).

What if the Pistons called and offered Jason Maxiell for Adam Morrison’s contract. That’s what the guys at Pistons Powered asked me in an email, and I have to say it is tempting. Maxiell is going to make $5 mil a year for four more years. He is playing poorly this season, but is that a question of a bad team and no defined roll, could he return to the quality backup four he was the previous couple seasons? The 2008 Maxiell would be a good deal at $5 mil, this year’s version makes that a long-term problem.

I doubt Buss would do it; he’s not going to take on long-term salary for a role guy like that. But what do you think would work? Know that the Nets said Devin Harris is not on the block (they are not going to trade him until they have John Wall in camp, and with the worst record they would only have a 25% chance of winning the lottery). Nobody in Toronto, nobody with connections there, thinks Bosh is on the market.

What could the Lakers do to shake things up? Or should they?

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Let’s get the details out of the way: Peter Vescey reports that a source told him the Lakers would like to move Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh.

My source believes the Lakers will offer Andrew Bynum for Bosh (if they haven’t done so already) well before the deadline expires. In itself, the one-for-one swap is impossible to make. Bynum’s “base year” essentially allows L.A. to take back but half of his salary this year ($12.5M). Of course, that restriction is lifted when next year’s salary ($13.7M) activates come July 1, at which time a sign-and-trade transaction would be feasible.

The possibility of such a deal makes sense to me. First of all, Bynum is a legit starting center for the defending champions. He also has three years left on his contract after this one.

As for the Raptors, despite the severe offseason roster renovation, they’re not giving any indication of being more than just a one-and-done playoff group this season and in the foreseeable future.

The first of the year always brings with it a flood of trade rumors and as we get closer to the deadline they get more crazy. Know this about Vescey — he throws a lot of rumors out there. A lot. To be fair, some pan out, but many do not. His Lakers sources have been spoty at best. Also, notice his phrasing in that first paragraph: His source “believes” the Lakers will make this offer. Does it sound like he got this directly from a decision maker?

Also, know this about unsourced rumors: Nobody tells a reporter something because they like them. There is a motive. Every time you see a rumor, think: “Who benefits by this being out there?” Did a team plant a rumor to increase trade value or gain leverage in another negotiation? Did an agent plant a rumor to help his client? I don’t know who Vecsey’s contact is, but they are feeding him this big rumor for a reason.

This rumor makes little sense to me in the short term because Bynum is base year player (as mentioned in the piece). To get Bosh at the trade deadline the Lakers would need to send Bynum, Morrison and Farmar — that is a lot of talent to suddenly be missing mid season. Then you have to teach Bosh the triangle offense and see if he can play with Kobe and Gasol — Bosh is a budding superstar, do you think he wants to be option number three?.

And then there is the money issue — the Lakers are already at the top end of what Buss wants to pay. Bosh is a free agent this summer and will get a max (or at least near max) deal. Do you think the Lakers can really add that on to Kobe (who will get extended or opt out and re-up this summer), the new Gasol deal, Odom, Artest, Walton and so on? And you want to get a point guard on top of that?

The rumors are out there. More are to come. I would suggest looking at them with a critical eye. While the fan base may want a big statement move, that is not very likely. These are the defending NBA champions and they have the best record in basketball — do you really blow that up midseason?

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The rumor is out there that the Lakers are going to extend Pau Gasol’s contract soon (Eric Pincus wrote this at Hoopsworld). On one hand the timing seems odd, so I’m taking this with a whole lot of salt, but eventually the Lakers will do just this in one form or another. Nobody is in favor of letting Gasol walk.

The challenge is the Lakers have a lot of pieces that they want to keep, the core of the championship team. And that means making a trade this season or a move this summer to fill in the point guard position becomes a Rubik’s cube. Zephid explains in a recent email.

If we assume we let Ammo and Farmar walk, bringing back Powell, DJ, and Fisher for the minimum, and Brown picks up his player option, we’ll have somewhere around $87 mil in payroll with a 10 man roster, not counting any draft picks whatsoever. Assuming we add 3 players for the minimum, we’ll have around $90 mil in payroll, about $1.3 mil shy of our total this year. Any quality PG we bring in will probably be in the $2-6 mil range, so that would put us somewhere between $92 mil and 96$ mil. With the luxury tax level dropping to $65 mil, which is an upper estimate (it could drop significantly lower), that would be somewhere around $30 mil in luxury tax payments, taking our total salary expenses to around $125 mil. That’s more than $10 mil more than we’re paying this year, and this is the best-case scenario.

This time of year everyone has trade ideas. Plenty of them. That includes GMs, who are calling each other a lot the last week or so (this is a busy time of years as a lot of guys become available next week). The challenges for the Lakers as I see it are multiple, however, and it will be hard to make anything really work.

Clearly, long term point guard is the primary concern. But you can’t just go get any point guard – you need someone who is willing to be offensive option number 5, can defend and hit shots from the outside. Basically, he Lakers don’t need CP3 or Ricky Rubio, they don’t want a guy who needs to have the ball in his hands. Snoopy2006 sent me an email recently saying he was struggling to find someone worth getting.

I started to look at a list of the PGs in the league. There’s so many complaints about Fisher, but what makes this difficult is that better PGs (better overall) aren’t better necessarily for the system we run. When you take that into account, there’s not a lot of good options out there (high potential guys like Beaubois and Maynor aren’t becoming available). I like George Hill a lot for our system, but if we’re being realistic, SA isn’t giving him up. Some people are high on Duhon too; I’m non-committal on him.

But outside of that, there’s no real upgrades out there (and we’re not getting a high draft pick). Fisher isn’t even in the top half of the PGs in the league, but there’s not much better out there with our current system and personnel (meaning we don’t want a high-volume shooter). So I started thinking along some different lines — are there other ways around our PG defense problem? I thought about how Ariza was perfect for guarding the speedier PGs with his length, and that led me to…. Dorrell Wright (sorry if you had a mouthful of food, try the Heimlich). I’ve watched the Heat closely for years, and I’ve seen this guy from the beginning. He’s been, by most standards, a bust. A project that never truly developed. I’ve been as down on him as any critic. But there are several things about him that intrigue me.

I’m not sure if he really is a fit, but at least Snoopy is thinking outside the box. He later makes the point that the Lakers best chance is to unearth a hidden gem for the position. The Lakers don’t need a traditional PG, guys like Harper and Paxson did well as the triangle PG even if they would have been bad fits a lot of places. For the Lakers, you can think differently about the position. Darius was thinking outside the box as well.

One other guy that I’d really want to play for us — and a guy that I think could actually play PG for us — is Anthony Morrow. Living in the Bay, I’ve gotten a close up view of this guy and he can play. He’s already one of the games best shooters, but he’s got a little bit more to his game than just that….he’s got a decent handle and is better off the dribble than you’d expect. Also, because he gets a lot of minutes at SF, he’s shown toughness on the glass and in fighting for position with guys bigger than him that has impressed me. He’s not a FA until the season after next, but if we could get our hands on him I’d be ecstatic.

Whatever happens, the Lakers are going to need to be creative. Go ahead and give us your trade ideas if you want, but remember to be creative and think realistically: The Lakers are not going to take on a big long-term salary. Bynum’s raise kicked in this year, while Kobe, Odom, Gasol and Artest are here for years. Sasha has a year left on his deal and don’t think teams are eager to have him around next year with a shooting slump and a $5 million salary. Darius adds:

The truth is that we will have a hard time making an impactful trade for a PG because (a) we need to cut payroll, (b) at least half the league won’t make a trade with us that improves us, and (c) we have no real assets to offer.

Trade Deadline Thread

Kurt —  February 19, 2009

Rumors are flying around the NBA at a Lindsay Lohan pace. As things become reality I’ll post updates and a few thoughts here, and keep the comments going.

First, thoughts on Tyson Chandler going back to the Hornets. I would say if Chandler is healthy, that makes the Hornets a potential threat again, except that apparently he is not healthy, at least in a way that is going to impact how he pays for the rest of this season (and maybe beyond). The Lakers have really had the Hornets number, they just don’t match up all that well with LA, and the only way to change that was for them to take on more salary. That is not going to happen. I just get the feeling the Hornets are stuck a step behind the Lakers for a little while, which may frustrate Chris Paul to no end.