Posted February 22, 2013

Deadline wrap: Jazz, Kings confound

Al Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA trade deadline, Orlando Magic, Paul Millsap, Rob Mahoney, Sacramento Kings, Thomas Robinson, Utah Jazz
Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson (left) is set to become a free agent after the season. (Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Rob Mahoney

Four thoughts on what did and didn’t happen at the NBA trade deadline:

• Atlanta’s choice to retain Josh Smith might be the biggest story of the deadline, but Utah’s decision to keep both of its soon-to-be free-agent frontcourt starters is by far the bigger transgression.

Power forward Paul Millsap and center Al Jefferson work together reasonably well, but only well enough for Utah — which has positioned itself for a likely (and doomed) playoff berth — to vaguely justify standing pat. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey can’t reasonably consider bringing back both players on new deals to reenact the same middling performance, lest the team continue to slow the development of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter due to its veteran-heavy bent. Like it or not, those two prospects both figure to play prominent roles in the Jazz’s future, a new era that could have been facilitated by clearing up the logjam now. Doing so wouldn’t just clean the slate, but also add supplementary assets to a roster that’s very much incomplete. Jefferson would have been valuable to another playoff team. The same goes for Millsap, albeit with the caveat that he’d be the more sensible player for Utah to re-sign for the long term.

In fairness to Lindsey, we’ll likely never know the details of deals the Jazz may have declined, and Utah has the flexibility to still try for a sign-and-trade this summer. But this was Utah’s last best shot at dealing from a position with leverage, and yet the Jazz came away from the deadline empty-handed.

• Even after having some time to dwell on the Kings’ decision to trade No. 5 pick Thomas Robinson to the Rockets for scraps, I’m struggling to find even the most outlandish justification for it. I get that finances played a part, as things do for all NBA teams and especially for the Maloof-run Kings, who are set to be sold. But this doesn’t amount to much of a salary dump: In addition to receiving $1 million from Houston in the six-player trade, the Kings are saving only about $1.2 million in salary for the rest of the season.

Beyond that, where is the benefit for the Kings? Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt, the other two players who were dealt to Houston, have team options for next seasons that Sacramento could have declined. Patrick Patterson, solid though he may be as the main piece coming from Houston, has both a lower ceiling as a player and two fewer years remaining on his rookie contract than Robinson. Over a four-season stretch, it’s very easy to see the Kings actually adding salary through this deal, as Patterson’s restricted free agency in 2014 could well force them to overpay to retain him. It’s a mess of a move from top to bottom, in which Sacramento surrendered the most valuable piece (and potentially, best player) without shedding any lengthier contract (I’m looking at you, John Salmons) for the sake of some shameless savings and an unexceptional big man.

• The Bucks acquired the best player moved at the deadline in J.J. Redick, but in trading for him they sold out — and sold low — on two pretty solid prospects in second-year forward Tobias Harris and rookie guard Doron Lamb.

Harris, 20, had a decent start to his sophomore season, but he fell out of Scott Skiles’ good graces and proceeded to rack up DNP-CDs under interim coach Jim Boylan. Some of that resulted from Milwaukee’s veteran depth at forward, but Harris can still help a team and should go on to have a successful career. Harris may not have any go-to NBA skill yet, but he has a knack for the timing and flow of the game that allows him to get opportunistic baskets and show flashes of defensive aptitude. His game is a bit plain, but Harris is further along the learning curve than many projected he might be at this point in his career.

Lamb isn’t quite as viable in the present, but his scoring potential and respectable on-ball defense make him a decent prospect on a bargain of a deal. The Magic will now have this season and the ensuing two (if they so choose; the last year of Lamb’s deal isn’t guaranteed) to gauge and develop Lamb as they see fit, all while paying him a total of just $2.4 million for those three seasons.

Orlando GM Rob Hennigan may not have scored the first-round pick that he desired in a deal for Redick, but he did well in adding an interesting pair to the Magic’s growing core of prospects.

• A few deals managed to trickle in right at the deadline buzzer, including two cost-cutting measures designed to get the Warriors under the luxury tax line. In one move, the Warriors shipped project big man Jeremy Tyler to the Hawks for a second-round pick. In another, Golden State sent seldom-used point guard Charles Jenkins to Philadelphia for another second-round pick. Both trades make sense, given how close the Warriors were to the tax line and how dispensable the two players were in the context of the current roster.

Still, don’t sleep on this trade for Philadelphia, which made a nice value add by peddling a marginal asset. Jenkins is just 23 and already a decent pro — far better than the Sixers’ Jeremy Pargo and Royal Ivey. He’ll provide some much-needed help off the bench for a team that’s struggled to create shots all season.

12 comments
andrewamorgan
andrewamorgan

How is it a blunder? Why trade for something you don't need? I think the Jazz would rather have financial flexibility in the summer than be bogged down because the media insisted they needed to make a move. Leave the big decisions to the grown-ups, kids.

psuedohoax
psuedohoax

Remember Carlos Boozer? The Jazz let him become a free agent. But he didn't just sign with Chicago, he re-signed with Utah and was TRADED to Chicago - for a 10 million dollar trade exception - which Utah used to acquire Al Jefferson. It was a brilliant move.

jsteppling
jsteppling

It was an absolute blunder by utah. Truth is they need parts, they have at best an 8 seed this year, so what are you doing keeping both guys? You cant sign both and sign and trades are tougher than ever. It was just bad management.............believe me, there were offers, maybe not what you wanted, but still. .......something beats nothing. Same with atlanta. Its weird. I would add anything sacramento does is dumb, BUT, patterson is being wildly under-valued right now. He can play. But i agree totally that Tobias harris was a steal. Thats going to be the biggest story of this trade deadline................that the bucks lost a kid with huge upside who will thrive in orlando.

joshcannwrites
joshcannwrites

Here's the truth, It is senseless to keep Milsap. I agree with matthewo about how there is a logjam and that we should just re-sign Jefferson this offseason, which allow Favors to start, and Kanter to be in the 3-big rotation.

 

And that's what makes this the BIGGEST transgression. The Jazz could have gotten SOMETHING for Millsap, instead of NOTHING for him. Now we will let him go and let him sign with who he pleases. The Jazz could have received a backup PG, anybody that's better or younger than Watson and Tinsley. They could have received a 1st round or 2 1st round draft picks for Millsap. They could have received something. 

 

It makes NO SENSE that the Jazz didn't deal Millsap for at least something, anything really. Money, Trade exception, draft pick, a scrap guy that's not worth as much as MIllsap. The point is, get SOMETHING for SOMETHING while you still can. But now Millsap walks, which opens up favors and kanters develpment. Wahoo. But why not get something, someone, anyone for Millsap is beyond me. It's baffling really. 

andrewamorgan
andrewamorgan

 @joshcannwrites How do you know this? Obviously the deals weren't good enough or they would have pulled the trigger. The obvious reality here is the Jazz prefer the financial flexibility of having NINE free agents than trading for crap. 

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

 @joshcannwrites read ian thomson's piece on the deadline and it may make more sense to you. I feel similar, I'm a Hawks fan and felt we should have gotten something for Josh Smith, then I saw how bad the proposal was and am glad they just kept him. CBA really did change the course of team building, and now teams are hoarding draft picks and young prospects similar to the way its done in NFL. Most of the stuff moved on the deadline from here on out will be salary dumps (Grizzlies/Raptors/Detroit deal, Warriors/Hawks, Warriors/Philly), expiring contracts, and the occasional move for a team that has a stud young player, but is simply tapped out (James Harden deal)

matthewo
matthewo like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm unclear how one can come to the conclusion that the Jazz keeping Millsap and Jefferson is "by far the bigger transgression" when one does not know what offers the Jazz received. Considering JJ Redick was the best player to change teams yesterday, I'm guessing the offers were pretty grim. You contradict yourself when you say it makes more sense to keep Millsap while also suggesting one or both of the Jazz vets should be moved "lest the team continue to slow the development of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter." Guess what? Favors is much farther along in his development than Kanter, and Millsap, who sees himself as a starter, plays the same position. Signing Millsap just extends the logjam. Signing Jefferson buys time for Kanter to develop further. So the Jazz, with lots of flexibility and cash to spend this offseason, may in fact wait to see what the market is for their two vets. If it's soft for Jefferson and they can re-sign him for $12-$15million/year for 4 years, why not do that, instead of potentially overpaying Millsap to be a backup and/or taking minutes from what you probably consider to be the franchise player (Favors)? Jefferson just turned 28. It's not like you're not going to be able to trade him in a year or two.

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

 @matthewo why not dump both and play with the salary flexibility. Don't really get to see Kanter play enough to determine if he is good enough to make this a real feasibility, I know Favors is good enough to start, but I think if both go Utak has like only $26 million in committed salary for next season, and would have many key pieces already in place (For what I see, they would need to get younger and better at the point, but you would have two competent bigs, and young wings in Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward, plus anything gotten from the draft. Picking up Eric Maynor this offseason should be cheap, and a few other players could round out a nice young roster for Utah with the flexibility to add veteran talent through the acquisition of another team's bloated contract situations in a trade (Raptors), or save the money and continue to invest in the draft (Cavs)

matthewo
matthewo

 @BryanCustardThey are still in a position to do all of those things. Keep in mind they have five players 22 or younger and two first round draft picks next year.

jsteppling
jsteppling

 @BryanCustard  @matthewo also, jefferson limits the development of the offense under the rather clueless corbin. He slows the ball down, and is a terrible defender. Maybe kanter isnt ready, but the best way to get him ready is to play him.

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

 @matthewo but, Jefferson might not cost as much as you think. New CBA trample the trade deadline, will be interested to see how it effects salaries this offseason during free agency. Jefferson may not get the huge deal, and may settle back into Utah's rotation at an affordable price

BryanCustard
BryanCustard

 @matthewo Thats what I was thinking, let the to vets go and maybe get a sign-and-trade for them with the possibility of large trade exceptions.