By Craig Kwasniewski
Can we replace the dunk contest with a live feed into the board rooms of the 30 GM's at trading deadline? Seriously, how much more entertaining would it be to see a desparate Donnie Walsh nervously work his poker face with Daryl Morey, who holds all the Mac's I mean cards.
Anyway, trading deadline is still hours away yet the last 24-hours have been very crazy as several title contenders and not-even-pretenders hoped to improve their chances at dethroning the Lakers. Here are my thoughts on the recent trades (including the crazy T-Mac to Sacramento??? trade that happened in the early hours, which by the way interrupted my Olympic Curling viewing in HD.):
The Cleveland Cavaliers acquire Antawn Jamison. In a three team deal Jamison and Sebastian Telfair go to Cleveland; Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs 2010 first-round draft pick, the rights to Emir Preldzic and Al Thornton go to Washington; and Drew Gooden goes to the Clippers.
First thoughts? Whew! The Cavs could have had a younger more athletic Amar'e Stoudemire filling the lane and reigning terror a-la Shawn Kemp from 1992 to 1997. They could have gotten bigger, younger and more athletic and completely whiffed because they didn't want to part with JJ Hickson?!? Whew! LeBron would have been hoisting a trophy for the next FIVE years.... WHEW!
Lemme get this straight, the Cavs have been rolling over every opponent (including the defending champs) with size and defense so they trade size and defense away for smaller and offense (who's also a little long in the tooth at 33 years old). I attended the Lakers-Cavs game on Xmas Day and the Lakers had no answer when Mike Brown put both Shaq and Ilgauskas on the floor at the same time. Gasol and Bynum never had to face a frontline bigger and stronger than them and they backed off as Cleveland blew out the Lakers. Weeks later the same thing happened in Cleveland as the Cavs size especially threw Gasol off his game.
How is a smaller mid-range guy with no defensive skills going to help? He's only made it out of the first round once in the playoffs, he struggled when on a contending team (2003-04 Dallas Mavericks) and he can't play a lick of defense. I can't stress this enough, Mike Brown made his bones as a defensive coach, he's quite possibly the least creative offensive coach in the history of the NBA yet he's still LeBron's coach because he calls a hell of a defensie game. How is a guy who played his entire career on offense-first ZERO-defense teams going to blend with the Cavs? Yeah maybe he'll be a 20 and 8 guy every night, but everyone who plays with LeBron is capable of that. Why? Because freakin' LeBron James is there and he'll create more easy baskets than you can imagine. But really, offensive stats aside the Cavs got worse in this deal on the most important end of their floor: defense and size.
BTW - oh and what about Shaq? Is he capable of splitting Z's minutes with Varajao? Does he have the energy to play out the season with the extra minutes? He's no longer with the chemical brothers (Phoenix's training staff) to help squeeze every last bit of energy out of him. I'm real curious to see how the Cavs front line reacts on the floor now that Z is gone.
The Clippers found a way to dump salary and are expected to buy out Gooden right away, leaving them a major player in the summer... well except that their owner hates black people, which may chase away like every single free agent.
The Wizards... I haven't seen a team blown up this fast since the Lakers in the summer of 2004 when they traded away Shaq, Rick Fox and Gary Payton and let Karl Malone, Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson go. I feel for ya D.C.! I'm just curious how Ernie Grunfeld still has a job.
The Rockets send Tracy McGrady to Sacramento for Kevin Martin. The full deal has the Rockets sending McGrady, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Kings for Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and Kenny Thomas.
Okay this trade went down late last night and completely took me by surprise. All week we were hearing T-Mac to the Knicks is imminent, it's happening, the Knicks will be serious players this summer now that they can shed T-Mac's huge expiring contract.... (insert crashing car noise here)... BAM!
Daryl Morey got tired of negotiating over draft protections with Donnie Walsh and found a better deal in Sacto. When healthy Kevin Martin is a very good shooting guard that knows how to get to the freethrow line. (He once scored 20 points while going 1 of 8 from the field!) It doesn't hurt to have a guy who can get to the freethow line anytime, especially in the postseason.
But what DOES hurt is that he's injury-prone (he missed 84 games the past three seasons) and of any team in the NBA, the Rockets are the last franchise that needs yet another injury-prone player. But given a choice between the stink that the Knicks were offering and this deal, it's safe to say Morey came out ahead... and Donnie Walsh is left staring at his phone hoping someone, anyone will take Jared Jeffries contract. I'm starting to understand why the blogosphere loves Morey.
The Kings get a hockey player trapped in the body of an NBA player, Carl Landry. I love pairing him up with Nocioni, a pair of balls-out grinders who don't give a damn about stats. Good guys to have on your team. Oh and they get massive cap relief in T-Mac's expiring contract. The downside is that they lose Martin, but he wasn't working out well with Tyreke so something had to be done and this deal ain't all that bad for Sacto.
Will they give T-Mac some minutes to prove that he's worthy of a contract this summer... who knows?
Celtics trade Eddie House to the Knicks for Nate Robinson. The Celtics need to throw in another player to complete the deal, possibly J.R. Giddens. As of last night this was a done deal.
Like Cleveland, the Celtics needed size and defense. So they go out and grab 5'-9" Nate Robinson for instant offense off the bench. Yeah I get it that the C's go though these excruciatingly long scoring droughts late in games and Robinson seems to be the right type of energy off the bench. HOWEVER... does this deal make a difference against the Lakers, Magic or Cavs? The C's need more big bodies to deal with those three teams. But maybe the worry is more about getting a top three seed than actually competing for a title.
The Knicks... they're reeling bigtime after failing to get T-Mac. D'Antoni supposedly wanted Eddie House, so there you go Mike. Enjoy getting a decent three point shooter who talks serious smack while the Knicks lose 65 games and lose any chance of getting LeBron, Wade, Bosh or Joe Johnson because of the failed T-Mac deal.
As a Lakers fan, the two deals by Cleveland and Boston don't worry me at all. Both teams got smaller and worse on defense. But most importantly of all, A'mare does not go to Cleveland where he would have been a monster for the next 5 to 6 years. WHEW!