No, You’re Wrong: Trade Deadline Edition

Photo By @Seth_Bawl on Twitter

Connor Huchton and Scott Leedy like to argue. Instead of shouting at each other on Twitter, they’ve decided to try something more constructive: an actual, semi-coherent email conversation. What you see below are the results. 

Leedy: So this trade deadline…Where do we start? The Portland fire sale? The will he…won’t he..I think he might…no, he won’t….then he does Dwight saga? Daryl Morey striking yet again? NO, WE START WITH DENVER.

Huchton: Yes, let’s start with Denver. What seems pretty clear is this: For Denver, the trade was about unloading a scary contract. After an already disappointing season for Nene, four more years of that contract was probably a frightening proposition. If you can get a good, if Wizards-y, player like Javale McGee while also unloading  that contract, it’s a win. Maybe they won’t be able to keep McGee, and maybe this hurts the team’s playoff chances, but it saves them from a likely bad, weighty contract. With the new CBA, that’s considered a victory by many front offices.

Leedy: Indeed. The more I think about it, the more I like the trade quite a bit. I think McGee has a lot of ability that he’s yet to really fulfill; whether he can actually capitalize on this opportunity remains to be seen. This trade is great for the Nuggets in the long-term and perhaps not as bad in the short term as some might think, provided Karl plays the right people the right amount of minutes. As you know, I’ve long championed the Nuggets as a possible contender in the West. I think that’s pretty much dead now, as my hopes were contingent on Nene being both healthy and playing well. I think the Nuggets realized there was a pretty good chance that might not even happen this year and beyond that, it was likely to get ugly sooner rather than later. Coincidentally, how many general managers are doing a better job than Masai Uriji?

Huchton: A few, but not many. I’m lukewarm about the move, because I think it makes the Nuggets a slightly worse team but saves a ton of money going forward, but I do like when front offices have a sound, logical plan. I’m not sure the Nets can say the same.

Speaking of the Nets, what was the worst deal of the day?

Leedy: It depends on what you mean by that, but I’ll take the team that made the worst move. It’s the Nets, who gave up their lottery pick to get Gerald Wallace. This team likely isn’t going to have a superstar next year, and they needed to be focused on rebuilding rather than making a desperation attempt to convince Deron Williams to stay. Even if that was the logic behind this deal, it still doesn’t make a ton of sense. The Nets failed big time yesterday.

Huchton: Let’s pretend you’re the Nets.

1) You traded several significant assets for a top 10 player with about 1.5 years left on his contract. It’s an acceptable, if risky move. But time is already short. You’re moving to Brooklyn soon, a high-profile change that could be catapulted by the presence of said player, one Deron Williams. Again, time is quickly escaping your grasp.
2) You fail to sign any significant free agents in the rushed 2011 offseason.
3) Your franchise’s second best player, young center Brook Lopez, goes down with a foot injury before the season begins. The team is no longer able to compete at a respectable level with any consistency, and the season begins poorly. On a positive note, late first-round draftee MarShon Brooks is better than expected. You now have another player you can seek to retain upon a move to Brooklyn. On a more negative note, your starting center is now Johan Petro.
4) You reportedly try to trade Lopez throughout the first half of the season in order to acquire Dwight Howard, but ultimately fail.
5) With Howard now unlikely to join the team for at least another year, you’re now grasping for straws. How can you keep soon-to-be free agent Deron Williams in free agency with few good players under contract, and with Howard now unlikely to join the team until 2013?
6) You trade a top-3 protected pick, along with two unimportant (in regards to your team’s long-term future) players, for Gerald Wallace, an aging, but still capable, wing player. You are now within reach of the Eastern Conference 8th seed, if Lopez quickly regains his health.
7) You have now further mortgaged your future for the sake of convincing Deron Williams that all future appearances are positive, in truly stretching fashion.
8) If Deron Williams leaves in free agency, you are left with MarShon Brooks, an unsigned Brook Lopez, and very little else.
9) Welcome to Brooklyn. Hope you like it here.

I understand the Nets’ choice, though it seems rooted in desperation. That necessary desperation is a product of both the franchise’s own choices and unfortunate circumstances, but it’s bound to exist and motivate all the same.

Leedy: I don’t really now how to respond to this other than to say, “YES.” So what about the Lakers? I think this Sessions move makes them more of a threat in the Western Conference. Are they better than the Thunder? Probably not, but it isn’t inconceivable that they could beat them in a series.

Huchton: I’m not a big believer in this Lakers’ team. And they aren’t suddenly as good as the Thunder. But I don’t really know how good they are, or will be. This isn’t something we’ve seen before with the Lakers, at least not for many years: a fully competent, above-average point guard leading the team. How’s Kobe going to react to that?

I have a theory that part of the reason Kobe loved playing with Fisher so much emanated from a wish to play alongside a completely deferential point guard, someone who moved the ball to Kobe without any hesitation at almost any given moment. Sessions isn’t going to do that. The rhythm of the offense, to some extent, is going to change. So I’m interested to see how the team reacts to that, and whether it improves, as it’s rightfully expected to with Sessions and Hill joining the rotation.

Leedy: That would make sense, given Kobe’s attitude and persona, but Fisher is so terrible at this point that they had to do something. I think even Kobe realized that. They aren’t better than the Thunder, but they also can’t be easily dismissed, given how good their front line is. Speaking of Western Conference contenders, do you think Jax helps the Spurs?

Huchton: My first instinct is to say no. Stephen Jackson is 33 years old and played terribly for almost the entirety of his time with the Bucks. He shot under 36% and has a PER below 10. But it’s a forgivable move for the Spurs for three reasons:

1) Richard Jefferson hasn’t been much better than Jackson has this year.
2) They both have unseemly contracts, but Jefferson’s contract has an added year of duration.
3) Jackson didn’t fit in with Milwaukee (at all), but the Spurs’ franchise, including Popovich and Duncan, seem to like him quite a bit.

So I understand the move for the Spurs, and maybe Jax helps them. He’s more generally talented than Richard Jefferson, if nothing else. But this seems more like a replacement based in freeing up cap space, with the added hopes of a possible scoring spark that pushes the Spurs into full-fledged championship contender status, than anything else.

Leedy: I think he could help them a lot, mostly because the Spurs have the necessary players and the perfect coach to allow Jackson to maximize whatever ability he has left. We have to at least talk a little bit about the Blazers fire sale and the firing of McMillan, right? I think both made a lot of sense, and getting a lottery pick for Gerald Wallace was a pretty damn good get. Also, anyone who’s complaining about not moving Crawford and Felton, I don’t really understand. Felton was essentially untradable and getting Blake back on the Blazers would’ve been pretty much the worst thing of all time.

Huchton: I won’t prod at the hyperbole of that last sentence, because I know these are trying times for Blazers’ fans. But I think something poignant and representative of the NBA can be found in what the Blazers did at the deadline. A somewhat competitive team does their absolute best to trade several players and create a new identity, but is unable to deal Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, the two players pegged as most responsible for the team’s gradual demise.

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