By Craig Kwasniewski
As Dallas continues to pile up victory after victory, my frustration grows and grows. How the hell did they gain two starters and a decent guard off the bench for virtually nothing? How did the league allow such a one-sided deal? Is the Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld secretly on Mark Cuban's payroll? Does he get a slice of the Mavs' playoff money? Will DC drop a 2009-10 Southwest Division Champs banner in the Verizon Center? And if, God forbid (Stern calls the refs off, unlike 2006 and), the Mavs actually win the championship, will they hold a parade in DC? I went off on several twitter tirades openly bitching about the deal and got this response:
Ahh touché Brett... touché. Leave it to the guy who started this site with me back in 2005 to call me out with my first official "C'mon, SON" (BTW - one of my favorite isms of 2010, which I will wear with a badge of honor).
Do Lakers fans really have the right to complain about the Mavs-DC deal from a few weeks ago? I mean didn't they get back-to-back NBA Finals appearances and the 2009 championship courtesy of an equally one-sided deal? Wasn't it Gregg Popovich who joked (but not really joked) that the league needs some kind of fantasy-sports like trade review after the Pau Gasol deal? Seriously, can I really complain after shipping Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, some random euro dude, a 2008 1st round draft pick and a 2010 1st round draft pick for three-time all star Pau Gasol? Gasol with the right mix of offensive skill, basketball IQ and humility to blend in perfectly with Kobe Bryant and the Triangle Offense. Gasol who took the Lakers from top-10 contender tight to the top of the list for the next few years. THAT Pau Gasol.
To answer your question... Y-E-S!
First let's look at the trade: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and cash considerations to Dallas for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, reserves Quinton Ross and James Singleton. (BTW - I just saw the cash considerations thing, so not only did Dallas rape Ernie Grunfeld in the deal, HE ACTUALLY PAID FOR THE RAPING!)
Anyway, for years Howard was on Dallas's do not trade list. Deal after deal was offered and the response was always thanks but no thanks. Howard had Scottie Pippen-like potential with the skills but not the durability or the mental toughness to ever become Pippen. Oh and he's not that bright when put in front of a microphone. So DC got a one-time all-star, who's injury prone (he missed an average of 15 games per season before his year), who's party lifestyle rivals Iverson's (minus the amazing next day bounce-back-ability) and has a public perception of always saying the wrong things. Plus they got Drew Gooden and two decent ex-Clippers for Butler (a two-time All-Star), Haywood (a big with the exact same build as Andrew Bynum but who never developed beyond being a potential Bynum) and Stevenson (decent off the bench). CLEARLY Grunfeld was dumping roster to clear cap space... not surprising for today's NBA but still brutal if you're a DC fan.
But here's the difference between both deals: Memphis got 2 first round draft picks and the rights to Marc Gasol, that random euro dude that everyone at the time assumed was just a throw-in to make the salaries match-up. Okay yeah, the two draft picks are more like early second round picks, but they could be packaged for a higher pick or if done right you can always find that diamond in the rough in the late first round (hello DeJuan Blair). Oh and that Marc Gasol guy, he's only going to be their starting center for the next 5 years. Ask any Grizz fan and they'll tell you about Gasol's basketball IQ, passing ability, soft hands and humility on offense (a Gasol trait, meaning he's willing to be that 4th or 5th option on offense). He's the perfect fit with this Grizzlies team and really it's no surprise that they're on the brink of a playoff appearance.
DC dumped salary and got an injury-prone 18 ppg. swingman who's out for the season with... wait for it... a torn ACL. But they didn't get any future considerations. No draft picks, no rights to a developing euro player not even cash. Cap relief and nothing else... hey thank YOU Ernie Grunfeld!
Tough Juice is a perfect mix of athleticism and aggression that fits nicely with Jason Kidd running the break. Reminds me of Richard Jefferson back in New Jersey, you know before he retired this year in San Antonio. And Haywood is quicker and more athletic than Dampier and hit rejuvenation machine big time, flying all over the floor on D and adding just enough offense to be a threat. And you can never have enough size if you hope to get past the Lakers in the playoffs.
So yeah, this trade is more one-sided than the Gasol deal in 2008. At least Memphis was looking at the future in their deal while DC was just looking at their wallet.