By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer
Admitting a mistake is one of the toughest things for a person to do in general. For an executive running a sports franchise whose mistakes typically cost millions of dollars, and who faces a constant barrage of second-guessing from sportswriters, fans, and the blogosphere giving a real mea culpa is near impossible.
As such, we respect the executives who are willing to switch gears, admit mistakes and make changes to their teams even if those admissions put a spotlight on past mistakes. The big trades by the Hawks and (potentially) the Mavs and Nets are excellent examples of moves that make prior moves look particularly bad. But in making the past look worse, they're making the future a bit brighter. Let's review:
Hawks trade Shelden Williams, Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue and Lorenzen Wright to Sacramento for Mike Bibby.
The impact: The Hawks currently sit in ninth place in an Eastern Conference that has approximately three teams that really merit "contender" status. The team's first visit to the postseason since 1999 is easily within reach. But the Hawks have been held back by shaky point guard play.
The four-headed point guard of Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Speedy Claxton and rookie Acie Law isn't scaring anyone, and has proven unable to take any pressure off of Joe Johnson or spread the floor for Atlanta's talented frontcourt. Bibby, with his quick release and three-point shooting, should help the Hawks space the floor a lot better and make them much less susceptible to zones and junk defenses that target Johnson.
What's more, Billy Knight was able to add Bibby without losing any core players. Atlanta's post-trade top six of Bibby, Johnson, Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, Al Horford and sixth man Josh Childress will stack up very favorably with just about every team in the East, and could make the Hawks a very tough first-round opponent for someone.
The mistakes this covers: I almost hate to mention it, because it's so obvious but if the Hawks had drafted Chris Paul or Deron Williams instead of Marvin Williams, they probably wouldn't have been in the market for a point guard. This trade also puts some more recent lottery selections Sheldon Williams with the fifth overall pick in '06 and Acie Law at eleven last year in a less-than-favorable light.
Mavericks trade Devin Harris and a whole lot of contract flotsam and jetsam to New Jersey for Jason Kidd.
The impact: It seems this deal is on again, with Trenton Hassell and Keith Van Horn replacing Devean George who blocked the initial deal with an obscure no-trade provision in his contract and Jerry Stackhouse who wound up out of the deal thanks to his own big mouth.
An aside: Keith Van Horn is being dragged out of retirement to serve as contract ballast in this trade. Though he hasn't played in years, the NBA is expected to insist that he actually report to New Jersey, suit up and practice. For his part in this farce, KVH is expected to net something on the order of $4 million.
The NBA: where ludicrous happens.
But I digress.
J-Kidd should make an already potent attack in Dallas near-unstoppable and will allow Jason Terry to move back to the off-guard spot where he's clearly more comfortable. Meanwhile, Harris becomes one of the key players in what is rapidly becoming a fairly impressive young core of Nets, along with Sean Williams, Josh Boone, DeSagana Diop (if he's re-signed in the offseason) and Marcus Williams.
The mistakes this covers: Maybe the Mavs should have paid Steve Nash, eh?
On the New Jersey side, we won't call the draft of Williams a mistake he still has a ton of potential and may be able to co-exist in the backcourt with Harris over time. Besides, he was a late first-round pick who probably shouldn't have fallen into Rod Thorn's lap in the first place. But the fact that the Nets now seem to be retooling around younger players certainly makes Carter's four-year extension look like a bad move. (Of course, we won't be at all surprised if Thorn swings another deal to divest himself of that contract that's how he rolls.)
Around the League:
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Shelden Williams (SAC): Williams didn't do enough as a Hawk to dissuade Atlanta from drafting Al Horford. He'll get another chance to show the potential that made him the fifth overall pick in 2006 with Sacramento, where his only real competition for minutes is journeyman Mikki Moore.
John Salmons (SAC): The departure of Bibby is good for Salmons' fantasy outlook. A trade of Ron Artest (see below) would be even better.
Beno Udrih (SAC): None of the guards coming in the Mike Bibby trade are signed beyond this year; they don't figure to take many minutes from Udrih, who played very well when Bibby was sidelined earlier this season.
Kevin Garnett (BOS): KG will reportedly return to the lineup on Tuesday for Boston's first game after the break.
Gilbert Arenas (WAS): Agent Zero has announced that he's planning on returning March 2nd. That's a significant improvement not long ago there were doubts that he'd return this season at all.
Luis Scola (HOU): Scola seems to be pulling ahead of his competition Chuck Hayes and Carl Landry at the four spot for Houston. In his last eight games all starts Scola has averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 22.6 minutes and shot 62 percent from the floor.
Kirk Hinrich (CHI): Hinrich is expected to reclaim his starting spot when the Bulls tip off the second half of their season.
Jerry Stackhouse (DAL): Looks like Stack won't be getting that in-season 30-day vacation after all. You can continue to play Stackhouse as you would normally.
Ron Artest (SAC): Artest remains our pick for "most likely to be traded" before the deadline Denver seems to be the hot destination in the latest round of rumors.
Brad Miller (SAC): Miller's name has also surfaced in a number of trade rumors, with one potential destination being Indiana. It's hard to say whether that would represent any major change in his fantasy value the Pacers' up-tempo attack might actually suit Miller pretty well which is why he's listed here in the "Check Status" (a.k.a "Cop Out") section.
Zach Randolph (NYK): Randolph's name has been involved in a number of trade rumors of late the most intriguing being a potential deal with the Nuggets. Obviously, playing alongside a defensive monster like Marcus Camby would be a much better fit for Randolph than the current time-share he's in with Eddy Curry.
Kobe Bryant (LAL): Kobe is planning on avoiding surgery and playing with ligament damage and an avulsion fracture in the pinky of his shooting hand. Seems awfully risky. I'll be absolutely shocked if he doesn't miss at least a little time down the stretch.
Chris Webber (GS): Webber was inactive for the Warriors' first half finale against the Suns; coach Don Nelson reportedly didn't like the matchup, and the more athletic Al Harrington started in C-Webb's place. Like just about every member of the Warriors, roles and minutes are a game-by-game thing for Webber so plan accordingly.
Luol Deng (CHI): Deng still has "no idea" when he'll be back on the court. Even when he's healthy, he won't get his starting spot back right away, as interim coach Jim Boylan's policy is to work players back to their normal minutes gradually.
Thanks to Dalton Del Don for filling in while I was on a my own personal rodeo road trip last week. Excellent work by triple-D as always.
Article first appeared on 2/18/08