The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Chris Liss
RotoWire Staff Writers
Subject: Give and Go
Date: February 23, 2009 9:27 AM PDT
For weeks - maybe months - we've been talking about what might happen at the deadline.
Now, we finally get a chance to talk about what did.
Hard not to like what the Knicks did. They've been perilously thin ever since the trades of Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph. They gave up more guys than they got back, but Tim Thomas was the only player they gave up who was actually getting any playing time. Chris Wilcox isn't an ideal Mike D'Antoni big man - he doesn't have the jump shot - but he does have the ability to get up and down the floor and put a body on the Tim Duncans and Kevin Garnetts of the world. Larry Hughes isn't an ideal player - I worry about having a chucker like Hughes on the floor with Al Harrington and Nate Robinson. But if you compare Hughes to Crawford - the guy he's really replacing - it looks a little more palatable. The biggest question here is, if Wilcox and Hughes are in, who's out? (Yesterday it was Danilo Gallinari getting the DNP, but I'm not optimistic about Quentin Richardson's short-term prospects.)
I can't shake the idea that the Bulls had one more trade they were planning to make. Moving Hughes and Thabo Sefolosha would have relieved the logjam on the wing, but then they brought in John Salmons. And to me, Brad Miller would have made a lot more sense for a team that's closer to competing for a title. I guess this positions Chicago to make a deal involving Kirk Hinrich or Ben Gordon - via sign-and-trade - this summer. I still see too many players for not enough minutes here - don't have a good sense of which players to target.
Moving Miller removed any reason not to plug Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson into the starting lineup and see what they can do... on a team as bad as this one, that makes a lot of sense. And they get a free look at Rashad McCants as a potential replacement for Salmons - McCants could be a nice fantasy player in March and April. I don't hate the moves - but I have a nagging feeling that they should have gotten more for Miller.
They got a player they needed in Rafer Alston, which solidifies their position as the third-best team in the East... with an outside shot of moving up to number two if Kevin Garnett's injury turns out to be serious. I imagine "Skip-to-my-Lou" is the Magic point guard to own for the the rest of this year.
As soon as I heard about the Alston trade I put in a claim on Aaron Brooks. The acquisition of Kyle Lowry doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for Brooks - though I like Lowry a lot. I think they'll both be productive players down the stretch, expecially with Tracy McGrady apparently done for the year.
The other big story of the week is the injuries to Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire. I suspect that, when ABC put Celtics/Suns on the prime-time schedule for Sunday, they weren't expecting quite so much of Louis Amundson, Jared Dudley, Brian Scalabrine and Gabe Pruitt. What's your take on Phoenix for the rest of this year? Seems like the coaching change has been very friendly to the Suns' offensive numbers... but the loss of Stoudemire is troubling. (Do you think Gentry is really going to play Grant Hill at the four? I know he's been healthy this season - he's actually the only Phoenix player to appear in every game this season - but that strikes me as asking for trouble.)
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: February 23, 2009 11:01 PM PDT
I think Wilcox might be an interesting pickup down the stretch - he can finish on the break, and the team really doesn't have a player better suited to playing center. Hughes has a bit of upside, too - he was a borderline star in Washington a few years ago, but then he was stuck next to LeBron and has battled injuries and ill-fitting systems since. He's a long shot to be sure, but if he got minutes, he might show some flashes in D'Antoni's scheme. Of course, with the way that both Mo Williams and Delonte West (when he plays) have flourished next to LeBron, it makes you wonder why it was so hard for Hughes. As for who might lose minutes - I don't see what's so important about keeping Jared Jeffries in the lineup.
The Bulls have some extra talent and depth now - getting everyone their minutes will be tough with two point guards and four swingmen (counting Hinrich again as a two). But injuries happen all the time during a long season, and in any event, Miller's contract comes off the books after next year, in time for the big free-agent class. In other words, the Bulls got a little better, and long term, they'll didn't give up anything cap-wise. I think Salmons and Hinrich lose out in the backcourt, and Ben Gordon will continue see most of the minutes at the two. I also expect Joakim Noah to be the big loser in the front court even though he logged big minutes on Sunday.
I agree the Kings did well, but I'm not surprised that's all they got for Miller - after all, their trading partner was the Bulls, not the Spurs or Hornets, which means that there wasn't a huge market for him. The Bulls apparently wanted Miller for some reason, but I can't imagine they wanted him badly enough to give up anyone of serious value, given their status as a marginal playoff contender.
I don't like Alston that much - he shoots a low percentage from the floor and the line and isn't a great defender. In his defense, he can shoot the three, and that's partly why his percentage is so low, but I think he's a downgrade from a healthy Jameer Nelson, and the Rockets improved by starting Aaron Brooks and moving Kyle Lowry into the backup slot. From a fantasy perspective, Brooks is obviously getting a big upgrade, but given how high the Rockets are on Lowry, I don't expect Brooks to play huge minutes - 30-ish at the most.
I'd love to see Phoenix get into the playoffs because it would show how dumb it is to play that ugly defensive ball when you have a team suited to do just the opposite. Terry Porter basically made the NBA less exciting for absolutely no reason. But I don't think they will because Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson and Hill aren't enough firepower in the running game, and Shaq doesn't fit the team's new style. Also, I don't see a weak team among the bunch they're chasing - New Orleans, Utah, Dallas and Houston are all solid, and i don't see Portland or Denver falling apart, either.
You agree, Charlie - any players whose fortunes might have changed that I've missed?
Subject: Give and Go
Date: February 24, 2009 4:29 PM PDT
I think that more or less covers the teams that were active at the trade deadline. But there are several teams that didn't make deals that could have players emerge down the stretch. The Celtics will be very cautious with Kevin Garnett's knee - which could mean heavy minutes for Leon Powe or Big Baby Davis for the next month or so. Same goes for Manu Ginobili - Roger Mason is a player I'd like to have right now. And all the second-stringers on the Rockets - Von Wafer, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes - seem like good buys, given the injury status of Tracy McGrady and histories of Ron Artest, Yao Ming and Shane Battier.
The other potential source of fantasy value down the stretch might be veteran players who land with contenders for depth. Teams like Boston and Cleveland didn't get the help they wanted at the deadline, and now they're going to be fighting over the likes of Mikki Moore and Joe Smith (if he gets a buyout).
The Cavs are even trying to talk Big Shot Rob out of retirement. And the New York Times is reporting that Stephon Marbury is finally getting his release from the Knicks...
You buying a pair of Starburys? Even at a highly discounted rate? (They'll go great with that Keith Van Horn jersey...)
Subject: Re: Give and Go
Date: Febuary 24, 2009 5:48 PM PDT
Starbury and Van Horn didn't mesh very well on the Nets if I remember correctly, so no Starburys for me. Maybe a Rasheed Wallace Blazers jersey would work for me, though. Something that doesn't make me look soft on the court...
I like Mason the best of the guys you list, except for Scola who's going to stay in the starting lineup and produce more often than not (though Carl Landry who's dinged up will cut into his production some). I doubt Wafer will produce consistently because Artest and Battier will occupy the swing positions most of the time, and Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks could be on the floor together occasionally. Chuck Hayes is a solid player, but he won't do anything other than defend and rebound.
Maybe Smith or Moore could help a team in a deep league if either lands in the right situation, but I don't see either being a difference maker unless you're otherwise looking at a zero.
The big key down the stretch is to pick up players we suspect will get minutes on bad teams if and when the stars shut it down. Our NBA Barometer writer - Shannon McKeown mentioned three such players in his column: DeAndre Jordan, Donte Green and Nick Young - all of whom could get extended looks down the stretch.
As for Marbury, he's worth a flyer in a deep league just because of his one-time talent level, but I'd be pretty shocked if he saw meaningful minutes on a contender at this point. And big shot Bob's last clutch shot was the one he gave to Steve Nash that got Amare Stoudemire suspended.
Article first appeared on 2/24/09