NBA Basketball Column: Jump Ball with Matt McCloskey
NBA Trade Deadline Recap
It wasn't even close to the trade deadline excitement most of us expected, but there were a handful of interesting deals made that were of some small significance.
PHOENIX SUNS: PF Marcus Morris
When I saw this, my jaw dropped. At the 2012 draft, I didn't really like the selection of Robinson because Harrison Barnes had fallen into their laps and the bigger void in talent on the roster was at the small forward position. Having said that, he is a talented forward that also has a high motor and was considered one of the most NBA ready prospects in the draft. The Kings opted to only give Robinson 16 minutes a night, stifling his growth on a team that is not going anywhere.
Now the Kings decide to send out one of the few players they build around for a solid role player in Patterson and career back ups Douglas and Aldrich. The reason for the trade was so the Kings could save $3 million.. are you $#@*ing kidding me? You mortgage your 5th overall pick just so you can save some money? That's what you do to end of the bench guys like what the Warriors did to get under the cap, not one of your cornerstones! The Maloofs have no place in sports and have dealt another crippling blow to an already talent deprived roster. Patterson was DeMarcus Cousins teammate while they were in Kentucky and the duo won a national championship together, but if Kings think Patterson is an upgrade over what Robinson brought, they are sadly mistaken. Patterson can stretch the floor, but he's a weak rebounder for the power forward position. He has the skills to start, but he has a lower ceiling than Robinson.
The Rockets, on the other hand, they cleared out two of their power forwards in Patterson and Morris to make the path way clear for Robinson to be the starter and get loads of playing time. A front court duo of Robinson and Omer Asik isn't the most offensively talented duo, but they will get the job done. On the defensive end however, this duo will be tough, and good luck trying to get an offensive rebound against these two. Robinson joins a young core that is on the rise with James Harden leading the way and Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Asik supporting their budding star. As of now, Harden doesn't have a true partner offensively as Lin is learning to be more of a pass first player than a scorer. Whether Robinson can become that guy is unknown, but he will be given every opportunity to succeed.
Garcia is a solid shooter from beyond the arc and can contribute to any team in the scoring department, and can even start when injuries hit. Honeycomb is a project, but he has a smooth jump shot, is a solid athlete and is good at fighting through screens to get open and use his jumper. His ball handling is poor, and until he can get that part of his game fixed, he'll be limited as a spot shooter.
For the Suns, they reunite the Morris twins Marcus and Markieff. The brothers were a dynamic duo for the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Suns hope the brothers will bring out the best in each other. They were the 13th and 14th picks in the 2011 draft and both have had their share of ups and downs. Marcus more so because he had to learn to be a small forward and adjust to life on the wing. The Suns can also use the duo in the paint while playing small. All it cost Phoenix was a second round pick for a talented forward that has his whole career in front of him. His ceiling is something close to Al Harrington, who is a well above average player in the NBA, but now he might get a bit more of a boost playing with his brother again. Same can be said for Markieff.
Redick was finally dealt after years of rumours swirling around the Duke prodigy. Redick is in the midst of a career year, and it's not just on the stats sheet that he has improved. Redick's defense has drastically improved over time, especially his team defense and reading rotations. He isn't likely to make an All-Defensive team but he is certainly an above average defender now, a drastic improvement over what the Bucks currently have in the back court. Rumors were that the Bucks would deal Monta Ellis and then go after Redick, but they either refused to accept what was offered or there wasn't a market for the talented guard and the team felt they needed to make a splash so they elected to go after Redick anyways. The problem is that to play all three players at the same time means the Bucks would go from having a small back court to an undersized line up from all three perimeter spots. Redick is 6'4 which is big at the point but a tad small at the shooting guard spot. Ellis is only 6'3 and point guard Brandon Jennings is 6'1 and a scrawny 170 pounds. The skill and ball movement should drastically improve as Redick can either use his lethal jump shot to spread the floor or be the facilitator for Ellis and Jennings. Between the three of them, someone will have to take a cut in touches and be the passer, so why not the new guy? Redick is a free agent this summer, and so is Jennings and many expect Ellis to opt out of his current contract so if this experiment fails, there's no long term commitment to it. At the end of the day, the most likely scenario is this. Brandon Jennings, who is unhappy in Milwaukee, will seek a deal elsewhere and hopes that the Bucks won't match. The Bucks, who have no choice but to match, will do so, and let Ellis walk, leaving room to give Redick the contract he desires. Coming into the 2013/14 season the duo of Jennings and Redick will be the starters and the Bucks will then focus on the small forward position going forward. Redick is their desired shooting guard for the future and while letting go of Harris might come back to bite them if Redick ends up walking, it's probably worth the risk.
Ish Smith is a throw in, just a depth guy to play the third string role, but the addition of Ayon is pretty solid. He's 6'10, 250lbs but he can run the floor very well and has a soft touch around the rim. He's long and alters shots very well just like Larry Sanders and Samuel Dalembert, but he can also slide over to the power forward spot and team up with one of the teams trees and clog up the paint. He's all hustle and what he lacks in athleticism and skill, he more than makes up for it in his work ethic. He'll never be an all star, but he can definitely be an effective role player and even starter in time. He may not get much playing time this season due to to log jam in the paint, but roster spots and playing time should clear up in the off season so next season Ayon will make more of an impact.
The Magic were offered several first round picks but being able to net two intriguing prospects in Harris and Lamb for their soon to be free agent. Harris has all the tools to be an effective scorer in the NBA. He has great size for the small forward position and can be that tweener that slides to the power forward position in small ball scenarios. He has good athleticism, ball handing skills and an effective jump shot that extends to the 3-point line. He's raw, but the potential is definitely there to be at least a third scoring option. Lamb is a well rounded player better known for being a terrific 3-point shooter, but he has under-rated play-making skills and makes very few mistakes with the ball in his hands. Ideally he will become that combo guard off the bench that can slot in at either position and contribute in what ever role he's needed for. In essence, he's the teams new Redick. Will he develop into what Redick became? One can only hope. If he does, then the Magic did very well in this trade. Udrih is a season veteran that can distribute the ball and hit 3-pointers, but his best days are slipping away from him. He's a solid back up to Jameer Nelson and can slide to the shooting guard slot.
The Magic were ideally looking for a first round pick but got the next best thing, a former first rounder in his second year and second rounder in his rookie season, so they're a bit more seasoned than what ever rookie would of come in and the salary commitment to both players is miniscule. The Magic got fleeced in the Dwight Howard trade but that didn't happen again in this deal.
BOSTON CELTICS GET: PG/SHG Jordan Crawford
A very strange trade, but one that makes the Celtics better now and possibly the future. The Celtics needed another ball handler with both Barbosa and Rajon Rondo out for the season, and Crawford is more than capable of that. He's best known for his jump shot and scoring ability, but he can handle the ball too. The Celtics system without Rondo in the line-up consists of the offence running through Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett so no pure point guard is needed, just ones that can hit open shots like Crawford and Avery Bradley. If Crawford can tone down his bad attitude that got him jettisoned from Washington, then the Celtics may have found their new starting shooting guard.
From Boston's perspective this trade makes sense. They give away Barbosa who is done for the year and is an expiring contract, and Jason Collins who is an end of the bench veteran for a player with a ton of potential. For Washington, it makes zero sense. Yes he flipped out after the game against Toronto, throwing his jersey into the crowd in disgust because he wasn't played, but to give him away and not get any picks, cash considerations, even a trade exception back just seems senseless. But then again, this is the Washington Wizards we're talking about, so not a lot of what they do makes much sense. At least they didn't give away the fifth overall pick like Sacramento.
The rest of the NBA trade deadline were small moves of little consequence. The real story of this deadline aside from the Kings failing big time and the Bucks acquiring Redick, was that no big names were traded. In particular, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. All three forwards are going to be unrestricted free agents this summer and instead of getting some value back, they elected to stand pat, see if maybe they can squeak by a playoff round with what they have and possibly get some small value in a sign and trade in the summer. Trading these two big men was a must for the Jazz because they aren't going to bring them back with the team needing a rebuild and with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter patiently waiting for their turn to shine. Utah should of committed to the rebuild last summer and traded them last off-season or in the early stages of the season like what Oklahoma City did with James Harden, but instead they get nothing for their time and effort of developing Millsap and what they gave up to get Jefferson. Atlanta can be forgiven a little bit because they are trying to attract Dwight Howard and Smith is his best friend and both are local talents. Still, this is the same lesson that Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors had to learn the hard way when they lost LeBron James and Chris Bosh and every GM should of taken note, but clearly some have to learn this lesson the hard way.
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