We’re taking a break in our Laker coverage to talk about the trades that were just announced. We’ll be back talking Lakers tomorrow morning…
Never let it be said again that a player is un-tradeable.
Because it’s just not true.
Not when Gilbert Arenas, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu are all traded on the same day. And when you throw in Vince Carter, Jason Richardson, and Marcin Gortat – as is being reported – all being part of the two separate deals between the Magic, Suns, and Wizards, what we have is a good old fashioned blockbuster NBA trade.
And we didn’t even have to wait until February. Christmas has come early for fans as we now get to debate who won, who lost, and who’s craziest for agreeing to these deals.
Here’s my quick and dirty breakdown for each team based off who they’ve lost and acquired and how it will affect their team:
The Suns give up Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Earl Clark while bringing in Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, and Mickael Pietrus. In my eyes, this is an overall upgrade for Phoenix. They pretty much get an even swap in Vince and JR – though I much prefer JR today due to his age, durability, and toughness as a player. But in dumping Hedo and reserve big man Clark, they’ve removed highly paid dead weight on their roster and replaced them with guys that can really play. I’ve always been a fan of Pietrus and think Gortat may be the biggest individual winner of all as he’ll finally get the minutes he savors and will get to play with Steve Nash in the process. He instantly becomes the Suns best big man (no disrespect meant to Robin Lopez) and should be a strong contributor in the Suns’ P&R game on offense while protecting the paint on defense. As for Pietrus, he’s a solid defensive wing that excels in what the Suns like to do on offense (he’s a good 3 point shooter that can also finish on the break) and he too should see some minutes at both SG and SF for the Suns. Again, overall, this is a win for the Suns though one has to wonder how Nash is going to take this news as he’s now seen the Suns let Amar’e walk while also trading Richardson with only Josh Childress and the newly acquired Magic trio to show for it.
A straight up swap of Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis is straight forward and probably a wash for the Wizards. While Arenas was starting to show that he could play next to John Wall without stunting his growth as a player, the two are a bit redundant as ball dominating guards. So swapping him out for a player whose game compliments Wall’s better (a stretch four) was a defendable move. And in a way, I give them credit that they were able to get out from under Arenas’ contract at all considering the baggage he carries and the massive amount of money he was still owed. And then you realize they traded for Rashard Lewis and start to want to take that credit back. If there’s one contract that’s as bad or even worse than GA’s it’s Lewis’ massive deal. And when you throw in the fact that Rashard’s production has dipped severely since the Magic went to the Finals in 2009 and you wonder if there was anything better that could have been accomplished in the deal. At best, a change of scenery for Lewis means a rediscovery of his sweet jumper which will then create a nice pick and pop combination for the Wiz when Wall is back in the lineup healthy. At worst, Lewis doesn’t regain his stroke and he’s a $20 million bench player behind Blatche or a guy that’s (gasp) fighting for SF minutes with Al Thornton and Josh Howard whenever he returns from injury. The actual results will probably be somewhere in the middle, but it will be interesting to see what happens with this team now that Wall is the unquestioned foundation of the team without Arenas there to muddy the leadership waters.
I won’t necessarily call this a panic move, but it is a massive shake up to a team that many thought could compete with Boston and Miami for a chance at a Finals berth when the season started. But when watching this team of late, it seemed obvious that something needed to be done to change up the roster and spark them for another deep playoff run because it wasn’t happening with the group that they had. By dumping Lewis, Pietrus, and Gortat they’ve reduced their front court depth and lost a wing defender that could, theoretically at least, be someone that helped slow the Wade/Lebron/Pierce/Allen’s of the world that this team will face in the playoffs. That said, they’ve added some intriguing pieces that *could* really help. At this moment, Richardson is an upgrade over Carter. All of his per-game numbers are better and his 3 point shooting is nearly 10% points higher. As for Turkoglu, he (and his brutal contract) returns for another stint and if we’ve learned anything about him over the past three seasons it’s that he was at his best as a ball handler in the P&R with Dwight Howard. I admit it seems very doubtful that he’ll come close to returning to that level of play, but if you’re the Magic rolling the dice that you can coax a better performance out of him than Phoenix and Toronto isn’t the biggest leap (he can’t be worse, right?). As for Arenas, he’s the wild card. He’s been injured and his reputation has been beyond tarnished. But as a combo scoring guard that can create his own shot, won’t shrink from the moment, and still has a higher ceiling than any player traded, he may be worth the gamble. Maybe a new team sparks him. Maybe playing with Howard gets him the type of open shots that he hasn’t had since he, Butler, and Jamison were all playing peak level basketball. There are obvious contract issues with Gilbert and his shift in demeanor in the past season has been as stark as any player I’ve seen in recent memory. But, again, there’s potential there and for the Magic and for a team looking to shake up it’s roster, they could have done a lot worse than getting the three players they did – three guys that don’t ever seem to let pressure get to them, I might add.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Let me know in the comments who you think got the best out of these deals.