It’s trade deadline day for the NBA, and with all the flurry of activity happening, I figured I’d compile all the moves done today, and an analysis of how they will impact both teams. With the huge amount of trades that happened today and to make it easier to digest, I figured it would be best to break it down into three separate articles.
Wizards’ Andre Millers traded to Kings for Ramon Sessions
This is what I’d like to call a ‘nostolgia trade’. With George Karl as the new coach of the Kings, it’s almost guaranteed that he was the major preponant behind this trade happening.
In basketball terms, this trade really makes no sense for the Kings, but is a solid move for the Wizards. With Miller’s age and lack of ability to stay in front of some of the more athletic guards in the league, the Wizards now have serviceable players in Sessions, one who shouldn’t be as much of a defensive liability as Miller has been. This might not be a blockbuster move, but it definitely improves the Wizards playoff odds.
The Kings don’t get better on-court directly through this trade, but he could be important in helping the players gel with new coach George Karl. He will be Karl’s go-to guy for squashing any dissent in the locker room. Not a minor thing considering all the rumors about DeMarcus Cousins and his supposed push against Karl getting hired. With their post-season dreams this year being nothing but that, a dream, this doesn’t seem like the worst thing they could do. Sessions may be a decent guard in the league, but acquiring someone of his skill level next year if needed shouldn’t be difficult.
Wizards: B+; they were able to upgrade where they needed without giving up anything extra.
Kings: C-; This would be ranked lower, except it’s not like they are messing with a winning formula. If this helps the George Karl transition go more smoothly behind-the-scenes, then it’s solid trade.
Nuggets trade Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Blazers for Thomas Robinson, Victor Clavar, Will Barton, protected first-round pick, and second-round pick
It came with a high price, but ultimately the Blazers made what I think is a great trade for them. It always hurts to trade a first-round pick for someone who isn’t top-tier, but Afflalo isn’t far down on the list of top shooting guards in the league right now. Really, after Harden, Klay, DeRozen, and Wade, there aren’t many SG’s that are highly value other than Wesly Mathews and Kyle Korver.
The Blazers did need depth at the SG and SF slots; behind Wes Matthews they were playing Barton and CJ McCollum, and behind Nicolas Batum they had Allen Crabbe, Victor Claver, and Dorell Wright. Having Afflalo come off the bench for them is a tremendous luxury, on par with Golden State having Iguodala coming off the bench for the SF spot.
Alonzo Gee is a bit more of a wild-card, but I personally like him as a player. He can bring the Blazers energy off the bench, and help Steve Blake get some easy assists with his amazing dunking ability.
I’ve never been a fan of Victor Claver, so I have absolutely no qualms about him being included. I will admit I have an affinity for Thomas Robinson and Will Barton, for Aaron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee? That’s a solid upgrade for the bench, giving them a real go-to scorer, and line-up flexibility for when Batum is struggling.
Nuggets: A-; With where the team is now, they have the flexibility to give T-Rob and Barton some serious minutes, in order to either boost their trade value come summer, or to integrate them as rotational players. And with the Blazers looking to be a perennial playoff contender for the next couple years, it’s likely they cash in on the protected first rounder next year.
Blazers: B+; It’s a solid move to upgrade the bench and make them more lethal overall. While it’s always painful to see a first-rounder be traded for someone who could walk come summertime, I fully expect Afflalo to opt-in to his player option in order to chase the free agency dollars of 2016.
Knicks trade Pablo Prigioni to Rockets for two second-round picks, Alexey Shved
I’ve always had faith in Phil Jackson as someone who could turn the Knicks around, and this is a step in the right direction. People are quick to deride him for the horrible season this year, but he will freely admit that he actually thought the roster they had could compete. But once he saw that they couldn’t, he made the drastic trades needed to bring a franchise out of turmoil, first with the J.R. Smith/Iman Shumpert trade, now with this.
I love how everyone questions Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili about their age, and if they can still bring it, but not one person every talks about how old Prigioni is! He’s 37, turning 38 before the end of the season; yes he’s a decent PG, but do you seriously think it’s going to be the most difficult task in the world to find a replacement for him in the second-round? Or even use those picks in a future trade for a better replacement?
With teams like the Celtics and 76ers valuing second rounders like never before, I guarantee you that Jackson can flip them into quality players. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Hinkie would take those two picks for Tony Wroten straight up this summer if Jackson offered it.
I’m not the biggest fan of Shved; and when I say not the biggest fan, I mean I don’t know if he’s really NBA-quality. I haven’t watched enough footage of him to get a real opinion, but I do know he’s a horrible shooter, averaging 29% from 3-point land and 75% from the free throw line over his career. However, with how the Knicks are playing, I’d much rather take the expiring contract of Shved, and just see how the dice rolls.
Knicks: A-; The Knicks were without any second round picks for the next three years before this deal was done. The Nets are looking over to Manhattan from Brooklyn, and wishing they could get some picks on the cheap like this. Getting rid of an aging player for an expiring contract and two picks? Sounds like a great way to build up assets, allowing Phil Jackson a bit more wiggle room in terms of trade offers in the future.
Rockets: B-; As much as I want to rip on Prigioni for his age, he really is a good fit for this team this year. After Patrick Beaverly, their PG’s are a couple of second round picks they are trying to develop. This will give them a leader for the second unit, who can control the tempo and run the offense when James Harden sits. I would grade them lower because they gave up two second-rounders instead of just one, but Daryl Morey has a treasure chest of picks, and at some point you need to cash them in.
Nets trade Kevin Garnett to Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young
Some people ridicule the Timberwolves for this trade, but I love it. Garnett only allowed himself to be traded to the Nets last season because he was going with Paul Pierce; once Pierce left for the Wizards, it felt like Garnett didn’t have the same ‘umph’ in him. I feel like being around the young, talented players the Timberwolves have will reinvigorate him. Instead of feeling like a hired gun for a Russian billionaire who wanted to buy himself to a championship, now he gets to help teach successful habits to young men who look up to him, and help establish a winning mentality among the team.
With Jalen Rose stating multiple times on his podcast, Jalen & Jacoby Pop the Truck, that KG is going to have a minority stake in the franchise once his basketball career is over, this makes perfect sense. He gets to help right the ship that is the Timberwolves, that way when he transitions to an ownership role, he will have something to be proud to be apart of.
I promise that by the end of the year, we will be hearing from Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine about how much of a positive influence KG has been in the locker room, how he helped them really approach the game professionally, and how seeing an older guy who they watched growing up still put in hard work in the gym and practice got them motivated to work just as hard. Mark my words: This is a landmark move for the Timberwolves as a franchise, and this is going to be the year we look back and say that is where they finally got their stuff together.
For the Nets, this is an amazing come-up. They majorly lucked out in the fact that the Timberwolves are so bad that giving up Thad doesn’t really hurt them all that much, short or long-term, and the fact they, unlike many NBA teams nowadays, value how much KG means to them to the teams history. Thad is a quality young big-man, who can help the team on the court, as well as give them flexibility in future trades.
Nets: A+; What else can I say; they turned an aging vet whose locker room presence was diminished by the fact that their roster had few young players, into a quality player who can immediately give them a boost. This was probably one of, if not the only way that Garnett was going to waive his no-trade clause. Bravo.
Timberwolves: B+; If I were rating this strictly based on on-court improvement, then this would be much, much lower. However, KG means about as much to the Timberwolves history as Kobe to the Lakers, Duncan to the Spurs, or Wade to the Heat. Of course he will be remembered by some for his time at the Celtics and their championship, but he became the player he is in the cold land of Minnesota. With the superb young talent they’ve collected, they really do need someone that they can respect who can get in their face, tell them how things are going to be done, and make sure they put in the work. Flip Saunders can only do so much; an NBA player, especially a young one, isn’t going to really take everything you say at face-value unless you have the credentials to back it up. We all know KG has that in spades.