Trade Deadline: Your Post-Madness Roundtable

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No, Pau Gasol and Rajon Rondo didn’t move, and we don’t get to enjoy yet another franchise sinking under Michael Beasley’s contested 21 footers, but there was still plenty to be shocked about in yesterday’s trading frenzy. Sean, Amin, Jared, Steve and Scott are here to walk you through the crazy in true Rountable fashion.

1)  Shocking as it is that a team would intentionally acquire JaVale McGee, could the McNuggets actually be a good idea?

Sean: Getting rid of Nene’s contract was the smart thing to do, given their concerns about his health. Taking on the prohibitive leader in John Hollinger’s GIF Efficiency Rating power rankings is a high-risk/high-reward move. Whether he’ll be more focused playing for a playoff team than he was for the hapless Wizards remains to be seen, but he has a $14 million-a-year contract to strive for next year. If nothing else, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried have surpassed Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis as the most entertaining creation of this year’s trade deadline.

Amin: I’m not sure if it’s going to be a good idea, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea by any stretch. Denver didn’t want to commit (after it wanted to commit) to 4 more years of NeNe when it didn’t think it was going to contend. JaVale is risk free for them. If he plays well: great, he’ll be an RFA and Ujiri will assess his worth and either pay or not pay for him. If he plays poorly: great, you’ve got Faried ready to go. And if you feel like playing Turiaf a few minutes here and there when he’s fully recovered.

Jared: Honestly, no. I can’t in good conscience say that having JaVale McGee on your basketball team is a good idea. But that doesn’t mean this is a bad trade. Basically, I’m down with this move as long as they’re not actually planning on bringing JaVale back. The Nuggets had a bit of buyer’s remorse when it came to the big contract they gave Nene last summer, and they get themselves out from under the weight of it. McGee and Turiaf both fit into the Nuggets’ trade exception, so sending Nene to Washington actually netted Denver an additional $13 million TPE, one they can put to good use some time in the next year. That, plus the cap space they’ve carved out by shedding Nene’s contract should be enough to enable them to add some good pieces to a young and improving core of Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov and, presumably, Wilson Chandler.

Steve: After having seen that picture circulating around Facebook of the pink goo they make McNuggets out of, I’m hard-pressed to think McNuggets are ever a good idea. That said, I don’t think this is a terrible move. As has been pointed out, McGee’s weird, but he’s not a knucklehead. Yes he has a French alter-ego, but he isn’t carrying around a past that involves rehab, car accidents, lewd Twitter photos or any of that. If Karl can make him into the something that everyone thinks he can be, this move will look like genius. And if it turns out that McGee is actually an Andy Kaufman character and this is all an elaborate ruse, they can just choose to not sign him.

Scott: It’s a good idea in terms of the long term future for the Nuggets. In fact, Masai Uriji has quietly become one of the best general managers in the league; he’s stockpiled talent and kept a ton of flexibility, things that are tough to do simultaneously. The Nene contract had a good chance to become pretty awful and un-tradable down the road (coincidentally this is why I have no problem with any star “not showing loyalty”, Nene signed his contract with the team he wanted to play for and then like 3 months later Nuggets are like “hey you don’t look so good. SEE YA”. This thing goes both ways, and yet no one is up in arms killing the Nuggets for being unloyal. Oh well.)

Back to this trade specifically, Mcgee will provide much needed rim protection and the thought of him and Faried out there at the same time is a pretty scary prospect for opposing teams. However, this is contingent on Karl giving Faried the appropriate amount of minutes which I in no way trust him to do. The Nuggets will miss Nene’s offense but McGee has a chance to be a pretty big upgrade defensively and actually not as big a downgrade offensively as some might think . Suffice to say I thought the Nuggets had a outside chance at making a run in the playoffs; this move probably limits those odds but it does set them up very nicely for the future.

The future of the NBA is now in Denver

2) The Portland TrailBlazers teardown – good, bad, smart but too drastic, smart but not drastic enough, smart but why did they keep Felton and Crawford, WHY THABEET WHY?

Sean: I have no complaints about anything the Blazers did today. There’s no better way to start a rebuilding effort than to by turning two aging, expensive veterans you’re not going to re-sign anyway into more cap space and a possible high lottery pick. They didn’t trade Felton because they literally couldn’t convince anyone to take him for nothing, and they didn’t trade Crawford because the only deal on the table was for Steve Blake, and taking on another two years and $8 million of a thoroughly mediocre point guard is antithetical to a rebuild. Thabeet and Flynn are expiring, so it’s whatever.

Amin: Smart. But is the plan to build around Aldridge? He’s clearly the best player on the team, but all these rumblings of “he may want to return to Texas to be near his family” have me thinking that no one on this roster is going to be there in a few years. I can see keeping Felton, since he’s an expiring deal. If he plays out the deal, he’s cap space. If they buy him out, he’s cap space. If they flip him during the offseason but before July 1, he’s assets. JamCraw (a name I just made up and love) has a player option for next year, but will he take it? I don’t think he will, based on how many people seemed to imply they wanted him this year. He could make the playoffs in Minny next year, or he can go deeper on another team. And Thabeet because WHY NOT?

Jared: Smart but not drastic enough because they kept Felton and Crawford. I wrote about this in detail yesterday, but long story short I love the move to blow up what was likely a fringe playoff team for the next few years. This group wasn’t contending for the championship any time soon and the ship was sinking fast. Burning it all down and starting over was absolutely the right move. Bravo to the GM-less Blazers for having the guts to do it, though I would have liked to see them ship out Felton and Crawford and really commit to it, even if it meant getting little to no value for them.

Steve: I’ve long been a fan of teams simply calling it when it’s clear a roster’s going nowhere. When I lived in New York, I always heard, “This is New York—we don’t rebuild.” Witness those appealing Knicks teams of the early 2000s. You know, the ones with Allan Houston dangling around their neck. And who can forget Lavor Postell and Othella Harrington? They couldn’t unload Felton and Crawford, but Crawford is most likely gone next year anyways. And Thabeet? Probably just so they could sing, “We got Thabeet / we got Thabeet, we got Thabeeeeet / Yeah! We got Thabeet!”

Scott: I think this was really smart in a lot of ways, though it will be interesting to see how LaMarcus Aldridge reacts to having the rest of the season thrown away. Portland wasn’t a true contender and while their season took a lot of unfortunate turns, even at their best they were probably stuck in NBA purgatory: not good enough actually contend but too good to get good prospects in the draft. This leaves them with two very good young players in Aldridge and Batum, cap flexibility, and possibly two lottery picks in what is supposed to be a strong draft (though given the difficulty that comes with predicting draft class strength and Portland’s poor drafting performance the last few years my expectations are seriously tempered). Sure you can be upset about not being able to get rid of Crawford and Felton but in reality they were essentially un-tradable. I’m just glad we didn’t end up with Steve Blake.

3) Is there any possible way that what the Nets are doing doesn’t implode in their faces? How good is this newest transitional version of the team, anyway?

Sean: Sure, if they sneak into the playoffs, pull off upsets of Miami and Chicago, win a title, convince Deron Williams to stay, and get Brook Lopez to re-sign for less than he’d get on the open market. If all that happens, this will work out great. Theoretically, a DWill/MarShon Brooks/Crash/Kris Humphries/Lopez lineup is pretty good. But Wallace has been hit-or-miss, and Williams and Lopez have continued to deal with injuries. I guess on the other end of the spectrum, the entire team could get hurt, finish with a record comparable to the Wizards or Bobcats, and win the draft lottery, thus keeping the pick they traded to Portland. They’d lose Deron but end up with Anthony Davis. But barring one of those two scenarios happening, Wallace will make them slightly better, they still won’t make the playoffs, they’ll lose their lottery pick, and then they’ll lose their superstar.

Amin: I have no idea what’s going to happen to the Nets. I’m fairly certain if this weren’t happening and if they weren’t a New York area team, they’d have been contracted by now. This doesn’t look like it’ll get better for a while. Too much doubling down on FAs with geography as the only draw. I’m sorry, Nets fans.

Jared: This will definitely blow up in their faces. The Nets have now struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard within the last year and a half or so (h/t Matt). They mortgaged most of their future to bet on teaming up Deron Williams with Dwight and when that didn’t go exactly as planned they mortgaged the rest of it for Gerald Wallace. Bringing him in may not even be enough to get Deron to stick around beyond this year. A nucleus of Williams, MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez is decent, but it’s not a roster that’s going to make any significant noise in – or even definitely an appearance in – the playoffs. If Deron walks, things are going to be ugly in Brooklyn next year. And with his hometown Dallas Mavericks (who have a far better roster than New Jersey) calling, I think he might.

Steve: As opposed to the old transitional version of the team? If the Knicks refuse to rebuild, it’s like the Nets can’t stop. I mean, does anyone remember this? Todd MacCulloch is in that picture! The good news for them is none of it will much matter when they get to Brooklyn, at least for the first few years. I still won’t be surprised if Howard ends up there, but he might be playing with a team of tiny giraffes by then.

Scott: I mean, a team that likely isn’t going to have a star next year and needs to rebuild just traded away their lottery pick for Gerald Wallace (who is good but c’mon not THAT good). I’ll let Bill take this one:

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4) Favorite no-cost rental: Camby to the Rockets, Sessions to the Lakers, Barbosa to the Pacers, or Nick Young to the Clippers?

Sean: I can’t decide whether Sessions is overrated because the Lakers haven’t had a competent point guard this year or underrated because he hasn’t been given a team of his own in so long. But if that trade pans out (and I think it will), the Lakers are suddenly very much in the mix to win the west.

Amin: I’m partial to the Sessions trade, because my Cavs just got a first-round pick out of it. After that I’d have to say Nick Young to the Clippers because my other team is the Wizards and this signals a positive shift in organizational attitude. Everyone from Arenas-Butler-Jamison years needs to be gone for this team to start over properly. That also includes Grunfeld. Also, I really like Nick as a personality, and him going home to LA makes me happy. I hope Donald Sterling doesn’t treat him like crap.

Jared: I guess Sessions to the Lakers? Ramon’s not a world-beater or anything, but he’s a solid starting point guard and a big upgrade over what they had at that spot previously. The only problem is he probably won’t be able to do most of the things he’s good at because he’ll be sharing the floor with Kobe Bryant a lot of the time. Sessions needs the ball in his hands a lot so he can slash to the hoop and make plays for himself and others. Playing with Bryant… well, let’s just say he won’t be the one controlling the offense. I could see Sessions being much more effective when he plays with the second unit than when he’s out there with LA’s starters because that will allow him to run a whole lot of pick-and-rolls, the true strength of his game.

Steve: Based strictly on NBA2K12, I like Nick Young to the Clippers. He’s one of those guys who’s always available in a Fantasy Draft after you’ve taken your star, your main support guy, and your defensive anchor. He’s that thing that everyone wants (a two-guard who can get his own shot) and he only costs $3.7 million right now. If he blossoms on a team that’s not a trainwreck with a plane that’s on fire crashing into it over a cliff, you keep him. And if not? He’s just another guy you call “honey” because you can’t remember his name.

Scott: I say it’s a toss up between Sessions to the Lakers and Camby to the Rockets. Despite all the negativity surrounding the Lakers, they have the 3rd best record in the Western Conference and are pretty much unbeatable at home. In fact, had the whole Lamar Odom saga/trade not happened and he was playing at a focused Lamar level, this team might’ve been the best in the West. As is they desperately needed an upgrade at point guard, and while Sessions isn’t spectacular he doesn’t have to do that much to significantly improve upon the production the Lakers were previously getting from that position. As for Camby, it will all hinge on his health; when he is active, flying around blocking shots and grabbing rebounds, he can still have a big impact on games. The problem is these games seem to occurring less and less often now days. Still, if he can get healthy for the playoffs, he can make this Rockets team a pretty tough out.

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5) The Spurs, smartest team in the league for over a decade, willingly took on the flaming pile of feces that is Stephen Jackson. Is Gregg Popovich really good enough to make this work?

Sean: Sure, why not? At the very least, they got rid of Richard Jefferson’s contract.

Amin: Pop did it before with Jax, and I feel like he’s the only one who could do it again. Plus, Jax grew on me a lot after I read that Abrams piece on the Malice at the Palace.

Jared: Yes. He’s Gregg Popovich and I know better than to question him at this point.

Steve: Even if Popovich can put that fire out, it’s still a pile of feces.

Scott: Am I wrong or didn’t this sort of work before? I’m a little to young to remember how Jax played for this team years ago, but I put all my faith in Gregg Popovich. He’s literally smarter than all of us combined; plus, I think Jackson still has a decent amount to offer. But he’s also, you know, a crazy person, so in the words of Kevin Garnett: ANYTHING IS POSSIIIIIBLLLEEE!!

Noam Schiller

Noam Schiller lives in Jerusalem, where he sifts through League Pass Broadband delay and insomnia in a misguided effort to watch as much basketball as possible. He usually fails miserably, but is entertained nonetheless. He prefers passing big men to rebounding guards but sees no reason why he should have to compromise on any of them.