Trade-deadline reaction around the NBA
The NBA trade deadline is in the books.
The Point Forward’s Ben Golliver offered up his deadline winners and losers, and we graded the Pacers’ trade for Evan Turner, the Cavaliers’ trade for Spencer Hawes, the Bobcats’ trade for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour, the Warriors’ trade for Steve Blake and the Nets’ trade for Marcus Thornton. Click here for the complete list of deadline deals.
Here’s some trade-deadline reaction and fallout from NBA reporters and columnists around the league:
• John Gonzalez, CSNPhilly.com: Forget about [new Sixers Lavoy] Allen and [Danny] Granger. Basically, the Sixers flipped [Evan] Turner for yet another second-round pick. Given where that pick is likely to fall (at the very end of the second round since the Pacers are a top-tier team), that’s basically the absolute minimum the Sixers could have fetched for Turner. Part of that reduced price is because teams probably figured they could make a run at Turner in the offseason and give up only money to land him instead of also surrendering a pick. But part of that is also because the market didn’t value Turner very highly. The idea that Turner could have been flipped for a first-round pick was always a fallacy.
• Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer: When David Griffin approached the trading deadline, the Cavaliers’ acting general manager wanted a legitimate center. He also was looking for another outside shooter. In Spencer Hawes, he added both. … … Hawes will be a real boost to the Cavs, who should be worried about Anderson Varejao missing the last four games with a back problem. … Now, coach Mike Brown has Varejao (when healthy), Hawes and Tyler Zeller. There were rumors about Zeller possibly being traded, but it seems Griffin was mostly checking the market value for the 7-footer. No deal was close.
• Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: For all of the buzz surrounding [Celtics point guard Rajon] Rondo’s name this winter, [Boston GM Danny] Ainge wasn’t going to let his best player – and for now is only all-star – without receiving another significant player in return. He received plenty of nibbles on Brandon Bass and [Kris] Humphries – two power forwards who easily could have helped a playoff team this season. But it became apparent that trading either would have meant taking on additional salary – a forbidden direction for the Celtics if they weren’t going to land a significant player.
• Candace Buckner, Indianapolis Star: The move to deal [Danny] Granger, who has recently had to bounce back from major knee surgery, indicates that conference-leading Indiana is all-in for a championship. But the deal also gives the team some flexibility if it can’t afford to re-sign Lance Stephenson. … Turner is reportedly earning $6.6 million this season. Unlike Stephenson, who will be an unrestricted free agent capable of signing a contract with any team this season, Turner would be a restricted free agent. If the Pacers make a qualifying offer of $8.7 million, they can match any contract Turner is offered. Stephenson has blossomed in his fourth year — his contract year — averaging career highs in points (14.1), assists (5.3) and rebounds (7.1). Stephenson is also the top rebounding guard in the league and has the most triple-doubles (four) in the NBA this season. So if Stephenson becomes too expensive for the Pacers, the team could retain Turner by having the right to match competing offers.
• Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel: Even though the Magic have a meager 16-40 record, the Magic haven’t suffered through one blowout loss after another, the way the 76ers have in recent weeks. Trading away [point guard Jameer] Nelson may have hurt the team’s offense and hurt locker-room morale. A string of blowout losses is challenging for any coach — even a perpetually positive coach like Jacque Vaughn — and team officials were disinclined to subject Vaughn to that challenge. Asked by the Magic’s flagship radio station whether he attempted to initiate any deals, [GM Rob] Hennigan answered, “I would categorize it as, at least from our end, we did a lot more listening than, I think, actively exploring.”
• Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun: The very fact that [pending free agent point guard Kyle] Lowry is still a Raptor suggests that [Toronto GM Masai] Ujiri believes he has a decent chance of re-signing him here. Ujiri is a very nice man who treats everyone he encounters with respect. You will be hard pressed to find many (or even any) who have a negative word to say about him. But when it comes to doing his job, which is to build the Raptors into a winning organization for years to come, Ujiri does not let niceties get in the way. If Ujiri believed there was zero chance of re-signing Lowry, you can bet a fair amount of money he would have found a way to get some return on Lowry before he jumped ship. The fact that he is still here at least suggests not only that Ujiri has in an interest in retaining him, but that he believes he has a fair chance of getting his signature on another contract.
• Ian Begley, ESPNNewYork.com: The Knicks’ biggest hope prior to the deadline was to upgrade at point guard. That didn’t happen. The Knicks talked to Toronto about Kyle Lowry. Those talks fell apart because Toronto was unwilling to part with Lowry because of the team’s success, and the Knicks didn’t want to give up a first-round pick or Tim Hardaway Jr. for Lowry. The Knicks also talked to the Hawks about Jeff Teague. But the Hawks didn’t want to take back Felton in a deal and the Knicks were hesitant to take on Teague’s 4-year, $32 million contract. So the Knicks will continue, for now, to play with Felton and Shumpert in the backcourt.
• Charles F. Gardner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gary Neal never fit with the Milwaukee Bucks. And now he’s gone after playing just 30 games with the franchise. Neal had hoped for a more meaningful role in Milwaukee after signing a two-year, $6.5 million contract as a free agent during the off-season. But it never materialized, and he was traded Thursday to the Charlotte Bobcats in a four-player deadline deal. Neal and veteran point guard Luke Ridnour went to the Bobcats in exchange for veteran guard Ramon Sessions and power forward Jeff Adrien. The Bucks will save approximately $3.8 million in the trade and get off the hook for the second year of Neal’s contract while picking up two expiring deals. Sessions is in the second of a two-year, $10 million deal and Adrien is making $916,000 this season. “I think it just helped clean up our roster a little bit,” Bucks general manager John Hammond said. “From a financial standpoint, we’ve given ourselves a little bit more room.”
• Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel: While the [Roger] Mason deal was the Heat’s lone move at the deadline, it leaves the team the option of picking up a player in advance of the playoffs. Players waived by March 1 remain playoff-eligible elsewhere, provided they are signed by the end of the regular season. … The next question for the Heat is what they will do with the vacated roster spot. Among players who could be in position for impending buyouts are just-dealt Jason Terry, Reggie Evans and Eric Maynor, as well as veterans getting on in years, receiving minimal playing time and stuck in no-win situations, such as Caron Butler, Keith Bogans, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Chris Kaman.
• Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: The Bobcats kept their most important pieces – all their starters and all their first-round draft picks – and still bettered their team. In a 2-for-2 player trade with Milwaukee, the most significant move was that the Bobcats added the floor-spacing, 3-point shooter the team desperately needs in Gary Neal just before the trade deadline. They had to give up Ramon Sessions to do it, and that will have some consequences. Sessions was a consummate professional and a combo guard with a great knack for getting to the free-throw line. But Sessions’ place as backup point guard should be adequately filled by Luke Ridnour, the other new Bobcat. Charlotte also threw in Jeff Adrien to make the deal work. Adrien was Charlotte’s 11th or 12th man and was not going to play meaningful minutes this season. So the Bobcats got two decent veteran guards and gave up one. They also gave up a bit of salary-cap room since Neal is signed for the 2014-15 season, too, at $3.25 million. By NBA standards, though, that is a bargain price if he shoots the ball the way he did in San Antonio last season.
• Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press: It isn’t a news flash that the Pistons would like to unload Smith’s contract. Anyone who watches them on a nightly basis can see that the Pistons probably would have been better served spending their free agency money elsewhere last summer. But the main takeaway from trade deadline 2014 is definitely Greg Monroe. Despite rampant national speculation that Monroe was headed out of town the very moment Smith was brought aboard, it played out like local outlets said it would with Monroe staying with the Pistons. So he heads into an off-season where he will be a restricted free agent. Unless the Pistons can work out a quick deal, Monroe can negotiate a deal with another team, but the Pistons would likely match.
• Jenny Dial Creech, Houston Chronicle: The Rockets traded third-string point guard Aaron Brooks to the Denver Nuggets for forward Jordan Hamilton. Trade speculation had swirled for weeks before the deadline about the Rockets’ moving backup center Omer Asik, who hasn’t been happy about becoming a backup to Dwight Howard. There were other rumors as well, but at the end of the day, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t looking to make a lot of changes. … Morey said the Rockets have had their eyes on Hamilton for awhile because of his athleticism and skill. … “He is really a highly-regarded prospect and hasn’t had a chance to emerge,” Morey said. “That is usually the kind of guy we do really well with, catch him before they get a chance and see them flourish with us.”
• Mike Bresnahan and Eric Pincus, Los Angeles Times: What’s next for a team on pace for its worst season ever? The Lakers are headed for a lottery pick in the June draft, followed by free agency in July. They saved about $4 million in salary and luxury taxes by trading Steve Blake on Wednesday night for two seldom-used Golden State guards. But the Blake deal definitely irked Kobe Bryant, who weighed in on Twitter with a big thumbs down. So it wasn’t surprising to hear Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak talk about the future more than usual when meeting with reporters Thursday. … “It’s reasonable to think that every now and then, or maybe once every 10 years, or maybe once every 15 years, you might have a bad year. And we are not having a good year,” Kupchak said. “Our hope and our desire is that next year is going to be a lot better than this year and we certainly have the tools to begin that process. Next year we’re going to have Kobe when he’s healthy and we will have a good draft choice and we’ll have dollars to spend on free agents. So it depends who we can get in this summer.” Here’s the problem: The Lakers don’t know what they can get this summer.
• Christopher Dempsey, Denver Post: [Nuggets acquisitions Aaron] Brooks and [Jiri] Vesely offer options. There is no future financial impact as both have expiring contracts. The chances of either one returning next season is slim, but nothing can be ruled out. Vesely would be the player to watch most in this scenario. At 23 years old, he was a lottery pick just three years ago, and entered the league with a reputation of being an athletic, if raw, wing. The sample size wouldn’t be huge, but a fresh start might do him some good after he averaged just 3.5 points and 3.4 rebounds with the Wizards. “It’s not often you get a chance to get a 30-game look at the sixth pick in the draft from a couple years ago,” Connelly said. “His versatility kind of fits the mold of player that we’re attracted to. Hopefully he comes here, it’s a fresh slate and we’ll see what he can do.”
• Paul Coro, Arizona Republic: [Suns GM Ryan] McDonough said the Suns were never close on any deal. Part of the concern was how much a new player could even help with 29 games remaining and about eight possible practice dates. He said their research shows that trade deadline moves do not usually have a high impact outside of Rasheed Wallace to Detroit and Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers. “We didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize what we have or our long-term future for a short-term bump,” McDonough said. “We feel like we’ll be a major player in trades or free agency.”
• Joe Freeman, The Oregonian: [T]here was a heavy feeling around Rip City that something needed to be done. The Blazers (36-18) have excelled most of the season, but are in the middle of a rough stretch, having lost seven of their past 10 games. Also, because of injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), Meyers Leonard (left ankle) and Joel Freeland (right knee), the team’s frontcourt is razor-thin. Before the trio of short-term setbacks decimated the roster, the Blazers would have welcomed another frontcourt piece — the injuries only increased the urgency. … But a variety of factors derailed any serious talks — for [Spencer] Hawes, [Chris] Kaman or anyone else. The Blazers do not hold a pick in the 2014 NBA draft. They don’t possess a trade exception. They don’t have any salary cap space. They don’t even feature a valuable Raef LaFrentz-like expiring contract. Add in the fact that they didn’t want to deal a piece of their core, and the Blazers didn’t have the assets to make a deal.
• Jason Jones, Sacramento Bee: Thursday’s trade deadline passed without the Kings further altering their roster. Playing time to close out the season is far from settled, however. The Kings’ coaching staff and front office are in evaluation mode and want to see what they have in the players acquired since the new regime took over in May. … Holdovers such as [Jason] Thompson and [Jimmer] Fredette could see their playing time diminish over the final 28 games of the season as the Kings take extended looks at rookie Ray McCallum, [Carl] Landry and [Derrick] Williams.
• Jerry Zgoda, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Wolves didn’t strike a deal before the 2 p.m. deadline passed, and Love on Thursday refuted an unsourced Twitter report from late Wednesday night that said he told president of basketball operations Flip Saunders before the All-Star break he’ll opt out of his contract in July 2015 so he can play elsewhere. Longtime columnist and commentator Peter Vecsey’s series of tweets also said the Wolves were expected to trade Love by Thursday’s deadline or this coming summer. Saunders quickly responded with a tweet of his own shortly after Love delivered a 42-point, 15-rebound performance in a 104-91 home victory over Indiana on Wednesday and Love said he and Saunders “laughed about it” before Thursday’s partial practice at Target Center. “It’s a media-driven story,” Love said. “For the past couple years, I can’t believe some of the stuff that has come out.” … So, for the record: He never told Saunders he wants to play for a franchise with a winning culture and plans to leave as soon he can, in July 2015? “No, no,” he said.
• Ben Bolch and Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times: The trades involving [Antawn] Jamison and [Byron] Mullens leave the Clippers thin at the power forward and center spots, with only Ryan Hollins as a backup to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Former Atlanta power forward Ivan Johnson recently worked out for the Clippers but did not impress those in attendance, according to a league executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the workout was private. … Other big man options for the Clippers include Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who reportedly [completed] a buyout with the Orlando Magic, and free agent Jason Collins, both of whom previously played for [Doc] Rivers with the Boston Celtics. The Clippers could have competition for Collins from the Brooklyn Nets, who reportedly were considering signing him to a 10-day contract. Collins, the first openly gay player in major professional sports, has been working out in Los Angeles in hopes of signing with a team.
• Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times Picayune: If there was an opportunity on Thursday for the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire a much-needed pick in the first round of the June NBA Draft – considered the deepest in years – the team failed to consummate a deal. … Given the Pelicans’ place in the standings, the team’s playoff hopes on life support with the plug dangling loosely from the wall socket, it’s disappointing the team couldn’t do anything to get back the 2014 first-round pick it sent to Philadelphia.
• Dan McCarney, San Antonio Express-News: [E]ven when fully healthy, the one major hole in the Spurs’ depth was a true backup for [Kawhi] Leonard in the event that [Danny] Green, [Manu] Ginobili and/or Marco Belinelli aren’t suitable for that night’s particular matchup. Sub-par as he’s been so far, [new acquisition Austin] Daye could at least fills a role the Spurs have previously tried to fill with the D-League’s Othyus Jeffers and NBA veteran Shannon Brown, who is nearing the end of his second 10-day contract with the Spurs.