Last week, publisher Gad Elameh, editor Xiaoli Li, and writers Wesley Cheung and Zach Salzmann sat down to discuss some of the trade moves that happened around the league during the first part of the offseason. This is what they came up with.
DOC RIVERS to LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
PAUL PIERCE, KG JET to BROOKLYN
KRIS HUMPHRIES, GERALD WALLACE, KEITH BOGANS to BOSTON
BROOKLYN’S 2014, 2016 and 2018 FIRST ROUND PICKS to BOSTON
Xiao: No part of this doesn’t look like a rebuild. I mean at this point, Rajon Rondo is the only All-Star left on that team.
Wes: I think Danny Ainge did the best he could in a bad situation. His stars were aging, and their championship window officially closed when Rondo went down with his injury. Doc Rivers was the first to go, and I was very surprised to hear that he had been traded for a first round pick… I didn’t know coaches could be traded. Once Rivers went, I knew Pierce and Garnett were going to be traded as well.
Zach: Yeah, Ainge finally did what he’s been threatening to do for a while…I guess it just took Wiggins waiting in the wings for him to finally pull the trigger. Oh, and a crazy Russian billionaire willing to pay a gagillion dollars in luxury taxes.
I’m not a Celtics fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I am kinda sad that Pierce won’t be finishing his career in Boston. Given the salary-cap era we live in it’s becoming less and less common for star players to stay in one city their entire careers, and that’s kind of sad, but at least he was traded to a contender…well, sort of.
Wes: It’s definitely the end of an era in Boston. It is absolutely sad to see that Paul Pierce will not retire as a Celtic. That man bleeds green and he was one of the few players who have played on his team his whole career. It sort of reminds me of KG being traded from the Timberwolves to join the Celtics. Pierce will have his jersey retired, and in my opinion so should KG. He was the heart and soul of this Celtics team for 6 years and they would not have won a ring without him.
The Celtics will be very bad short term, but Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing and the Celtics will be contenders soon enough after stockpiling enough assets. Ainge and the Celtics were 24-58 in 2006-07 and the next season they were champs. This time around their rebuilding period won’t be so fast, but I can see something similar happening in a few years.
Zach: I love the Brad Stevens move, but yeah, they’re probably going to suck in the short-run, and that’s the idea I guess. I imagine that their starting 5 will be Rondo (when he returns)-Bradley-Green-Bass-Olynyk and that’s far from a playoff team.
Xiao: Olynyk potentially starting for the Celtics is huge. He’s tearing up Orlando, so seeing him for 60+ games a year is gonna be interesting. I don’t think they’re in the race for Wiggins – they’re in that not bad enough, not good enough no man’s land. But everyone is saying the 2014 draft is deep enough that a couple of mid-lottery picks can be enough to rebuild around if you keep Rondo and Olynyk develops. Do you think Ainge will move Rondo though?
Zach: If things don’t go well, by the trade deadline, I can see Ainge entertaining offers for Rondo. He doesn’t seem like he’d be a guy who’d be happy on a losing team, and obviously trading him would aid in the process of tanking.
Xiao: I hear Detroit and Houston might be interested, but neither seem like realistic destinations. Houston tied themselves to Lin and he’s too expensive to bench, and Detroit just picked up Billups to backup Knight.
Zach: I think Ainge will move Rondo if he gets the right kind of deal. He’d want a reasonably established player in return, or a first-round pick from a bad team. I heard the Detroit rumours too, and I think those were amplified when they signed Josh Smith. I think Smith is the only dude Rondo likes to hang with in the off-season, because of their Oak Hill Academy ties. But like you said, the Pistons just picked up Billups, and they still have hopes that Knight will flourish. Rondo on Houston would be interesting, but Rondo needs the ball in his hands and that’s Harden’s forte. .
If I was Ainge I’d try to trade for DeMarcus Cousins. I know that Bill Simmons brings this up all the time but Cousins is so talented, and we just need to see him outside of the toxic atmosphere in Sacramento. I guess ultimately, however, teams are going to wait and see how Rondo looks when he returns. Not too many teams are going to trade away valuable assets for a dude coming off an ACL tear until they see how he’s recovered.
Wes: Brad Stevens is a great move for the Celtics and I think he’s exactly what they needed. I think Rondo needed veteran guys such as KG and Pierce to keep him in check, as he can do almost everything on the court except lead. I can see Rondo being very frustrated and forcing his way out if and when the Celtics start losing.
Xiao: Brooklyn may have made off the best off this. The pieces they offloaded are not ones they’ll miss (nobody misses Kris Humphries), and the talent they added in KG and Pierce make their starting 5 look nasty. KG can still demolish inside the paint as long as he doesn’t have to do it for 30+ minutes. It’s gonna be interesting how they play against NYK. Both have stacked their rosters to win right now.
Wes: On paper, the Nets look like a championship contender with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez as their starting five. But look how well that turned out for the Lakers. No doubt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are old, but they still have plenty in the tank. At 37, KG was averaging 13.7 rebounds through 6 games in the playoffs and Paul Pierce had a great year – 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Time will tell if their success will translate on the court, but if everyone stays healthy, look for a deep playoff run come next season.
Zach: I agree. I really like the move for Pierce and KG, and think that if their minutes are managed correctly, they can still be really productive–especially in big post-season games. They’ve done what they could to improve their roster with the limited cap flexibility that they had. That being said, I really don’t think it alters the landscape of the Eastern Conference too much. I’d be concerned with their bench, especially if JET plays like he did last season, and although they’re probably better than the Knicks, I don’t think the move elevates them past Miami, Indiana, or even Chicago with Derrick Rose back. I’m also intrigued to see how KG interacts with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson–two of the most wishy-washy stars in the league.
Wes: I believe that something will happen with the Nets similar to what happened with Boston in 07-08. When future hall of famers join your team, there is a certain respect that you give them, especially when they’ve won it before.
Although Joe Johnson and Deron Williams have been on playoff teams, they have never made it to the conference finals. Garnett, being such a fierce competitor, he demands the respect and effort of all his teammates and I believe that their whole team will buy into their aspirations of winning a championship ring.
I would argue that talent-wise they are top three in the Eastern conference if only they had a seasoned coach.
Xiao: I think I trust Woodson as a coach more than J Kidd at this point though.
Wes: Kidd has a tremendously high basketball IQ, but yeah, that’s very different from knowing how to coach a team. Kidd is a few months removed from playing with the Knicks and in my opinion he just doesn’t have enough experience. I don’t think there has been anyone who has just jumped to a head coach position.
There’s no doubt Kidd will be a good coach, but it’s just too early and he needs more experience.
Zach: Yeah, Jason Kidd’s experience, or lack of it, is definitely the elephant in the room for the Nets.
Wes: If I’m a superstar playing on the Nets, do I give Kidd my full respect and attention? Yes, as a teammate, Kidd was the ultimate competitor and winner. He turned every franchise he went to into a winner. He was brought back to Team USA because he has never lost there and his experience was invaluable. But as a coach, I wonder if players will give him the same respect, with the knowledge that he’s never done this before.
With seasoned veterans such as KG and Pierce, some of that pressure will be off of Kidd because they’re born leaders and will get everyone on the same page. It’ll be very interesting to follow the Nets throughout the season. Will they be a bust like the Lakers or will they be like the Celtics in 2007-08 and win it all in their first year together?
Zach: Just saw that they signed Andrei Kirilenko to a two-year deal for $3.1 million which blows my mind. He opted out of a second year in Minnesota that would’ve paid him $10 million. Maybe Prokhorov slipped something into his vodka. That’s an absolute steal for the Nets and makes me feel infinitely better about their team, especially the firepower coming off the bench. Kirilenko is a great role player to have on your team–does a bit of everything, and is a fantastic defender.
Xiao: Honestly with the Nets – it feels like a case of win now, or win never. They’ve capped themselves out and even though they’ve got that rich Russian, he’s going to get sick of paying luxury taxes if they don’t get a ring soon.
ANDREA BARGNANI to NEW YORK KNICKS
STEVE NOVAK, MARCUS CAMBY, QUENTIN RICHARDSON, and PICKS to TORONTO RAPTORS
Xiao: Monster trade for both sides. I don’t know if New York thinks that Bargnani can be a 20-and-10 guy or something, but he’s proven that’s a struggle.
Zach: Love the Bargnani trade. It’s funny, for the longest time it seemed as though Bargnani was going to be amnestied. Colangelo was practically begging teams to take him off his hands last season and no one was biting. So here you have a situation where you are potentially going to amnesty a dude, meaning that his salary comes off the books, but MLSE still has to pay that $22 million and are not going to be too happy, and then Ujiri pulls that trade out like a magician.
Camby and Richardson are going to be non-factors, but Novak should spread the floor nicely and the picks are the big bonus for Toronto.
For the Knicks, I’m still shaking my head. I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a classic Knicks move–trading picks for an overpaid player that has serious motivation issues. They made a panic decision when the Nets traded for Pierce and KG. The Knicks need defense and rebounding–that showed against the Pacers–and Bargnani offers neither. Glen Grunwald was saying in his press conference that he can see Bargnani and Amar’e coexisting on the floor. That makes me cringe. Their interior defense will be horrific if those guys are on the floor together.
Xiao: I feel like the Knicks haven’t even looked at Bargnani’s play over the last few years at all. I have no idea what they expect him to do. I mean, unless they’re looking for someone to knock down open jumpers, and refuse to pound the paint. Giving up those picks is insane. Those two picks alone are worth an All-Star player – not a KG or anything, but NY should’ve been able to flip a first rounder and a second rounder for a Tyreke Evans.
Gad: The worst thing that could happen to Raptor fans is the success of Andrea in NY. And it might happen. How? Simple, don’t make him the go to guy. You take him off the bench, a no pressure situation and he spreads the floor, picks and rolls, hits threes and does a couple of post moves. You’ve got a 15-5 guy of the bench. Not bad! That’s what I thought we should do with him. We need someone off the bench who can score (we also need a starter who can score) but I understand that there is a bitter feeling about Andrea in Toronto and he had to go. Once again, don’t be surprised if he succeeds in NY, if used right. Now, if he doesn’t, the NY fans are going to chew him up and spit him out so fast, he’s going to beg for his momma in Naples. I would not want to play in NY.
Xiao: He’s got the added misfortune of following in Danilo Gallinari’s footsteps, who was a far better Italian player. It’s an unfair compassion – they’re different players in different positions. But Gallo was a solid shooter who could rebound well, and that’s what Knick fans are expecting of Bargnani.
Wes: I shouldn’t be surprised that the Knicks gave up so much for Bargnani but I am. I thought the Isaiah Thomas era for the Knicks was over. Considering what the Raps received for VC and Bosh, what we got for Bargnani was a robbery. I’m happy the trade went through before the Knicks GM could change his mind. This is also a testament to how good a GM Ujiri is. I’m hoping he will do for our franchise what he did to Denver’s. The Knicks 2016 first pick for the Raps should also prove to be more valuable as I don’t anticipate the Knicks being a playoff team beyond the near future.
Xiao: Rumour mill for Knick fans is that even though Isiah is officially gone, he still has Dolan’s ear on a lot of things. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.
ANDRE IGUODALA and KEVIN MURPHY to GOLDEN STATE
ANDRIS BIEDRINS, RICHARD JEFFERSON, GS’s 2014 & 2017 FIRST ROUND PICKS, DENVER’s 2018 SECOND ROUND PICK and CASH to UTAH
RANDY FOYE and 2018 SECOND ROUND PICK to DENVER
Xiao: None of these guys are productive players except Andre Iguodala, but it’s definitely saying a lot about the short and long term goals for each of these teams.
Zach: I love the pickup of Iguodala, and I love the fact that Golden State has been so proactive in making moves this summer– their fans deserve it after so many years of mediocrity. Obviously they missed out on Howard, but Iggy is a really nice piece. I’ve seen a lot people wondering how he’s going to fit into the system, but he’s so versatile that they could play him at the 2 or 3, and he’s even comfortable handling the ball when teams are trapping Curry which will happen a lot next year. Last season I felt like their perimeter defense was a little suspect. Curry has a tough time defending and Thompson’s still a work in progress, but Iggy, as we all know, is a top-3 perimeter defender in the league. I hope the move doesn’t limit Harrison Barnes’ minutes because that kid is awesome, but I’m assuming he’ll see time at the 4 in a lot of the Dubs’ small-ball lineups.
Wes: I had hoped Dwight would go to Golden state because their inside-outside game would be deadly. No one would be able to stop them, sort of like when Orlando used the same strategy to get to the NBA finals with Dwight, except this time with a much better Golden State cast. I agree Iguodala is a great piece for them, but it was costly. They essentially gave up 3 players and 4 draft picks for him. They are in win now mode. But a 5 man squad of Steph, Klay, Iggy, Barnes and David Lee would be nasty. They would run-n-gun every team off the court.
Xiao: With Steph Curry blowing up like he is, I thought Golden State might’ve been a good fit for D12 – but Houston has that no media appeal. Yeah GSW have to win now. They have all the right pieces – I know some people have a hate on for David Lee, but through his whole career, he’s given the impression that he’s a reliable 15-and-10 guy, who is alright not getting minutes, and alright not necessarily getting points. When he was in NYC, he looked uncomfortable as an offensive first option, but GSW is such a good fit for him explicitly because he doesn’t need to be the first option. You can’t say any of those things about Dwight – who is basically a guy who wants to be the centre of attention, have a system built around him, but not be blamed if they lose.
Zach: I’m definitely a fan of David Lee’s offensive game, and actually he’s a really good passer, something that gets overlooked. But man, his interior defense really bad. I don’t like his contract either. It’s almost $45 million over the next 3 years, and to be honest, the Warriors had better balance without him in the playoffs. When he’s on the floor it puts a ton of pressure on Bogut to anchor the D and we all know about Bogut’s injury history.
I not so sure that the Warriors have to win now, though. Steph Curry’s on a really reasonable contract for the next 4 years, and with Thompson and Barnes on rookie deals, they’re going to have a good young core for a while. Bogut comes off the books after next season so they should still be flexible in the years ahead. Also, I don’t think they can win in the next two seasons. The West is so stacked, and I think their current ceiling is probably a 4th or 5th seed. But that’s cool, if they build sensibly around Barnes, Curry, and Thompson they’ll be good for long time.
Xiao: But what about Utah?
Zach: The Jazz are obviously in full-on tank mode, letting Big Al and Millsap walk, and taking on those expiring deals. I’m sort of intrigued to see how Favors and Kanter are going to do with more minutes—Kanter has looked really good when he’s been giving extended playing time. I also hope that they give the keys to the rookie, Trey Burke. Physically he might have issues in the NBA, but he’s a great talent and that team has been lacking a proper point-guard since D-Will left. No more Mo Williams, please.
Wes: I had Derrick Favors on my fantasy team last year and in limited minutes the man was going off. With big Al and Millsap gone, look for Favors to put up big numbers.
NERLENS NOEL and 2014 FIRST ROUND PICK to PHILADELPHIA
JRUE HOLIDAY to NEW ORLEANS
Xiao: Nerlens should give Philadelphia a good post presence – though giving up Holiday is a huge gamble. There’s no telling if Noel will develop the way they want.
Zach: When I first saw the Sixers-Pelicans trade I thought Philly was crazy. Holiday was an all-star last year and Noel is unproven, not to mention, is coming off a major injury. But it makes sense for both teams. The Pelicans want to be good next season, and Holiday is a young point-guard with a ton of upside, and they’ll probably be challenging for a playoff position in the West now.
Philly on the other hand, want to be really bad next season, and it makes sense for them to blow it up. They’ll have the Pelicans first round pick, and their own (which should be pretty high) which is great considering the depth of the 2014 draft.
Wes: I had the same reaction as Zach when I first heard about the New Orleans/Philly trade. I thought Philly was crazy trading their all-star point guard. And yes, Holiday is an amazing talent with a lot of upside but I believe he was on the All-Star roster due to a myriad of injuries to other All-Star PGs in the East. Not to say that he didn’t deserve it, but it might have been a little before his time. That said, it is strange to me that New Orleans is in win-now mode. They just aren’t there yet. I think they should’ve just accumulated talent, especially in the deep 2014 draft. The Pelicans will be very entertaining to watch this year but the West is just too good.
Zach: That’s a good point about the Pelicans. They’re going to be decent, but probably not good enough in a super-tough Western Conference. Not sure I like the amount of money they’re spending on Tyreke Evans either.
Wes: Looking at it from Philly’s perspective, they believe they have their point guard of the future in Michael Carter Williams. With the trade they acquire a top prospect in Nerlens Noel and with the 2014 draft pick they will get another top prospect. It works for a team who is clearly trying to rebuild.
Xiao: I can’t believe any team would pick up Bynum at this point, let alone Cleveland, given his attitude and health problems.
Zach: I actually love the Bynum pick-up for the Cavs. It’s just 2 year, with a team option in the 2nd year, and there’s only $6 million in guaranteed money, so if he gets injured again, they don’t have to shell out much. And you’ve got to figure that he’s going to be gunning for a huge contract, so if this doesn’t motivate him to play well, nothing will.
Wes: There weren’t many suitors for Andrew Bynum. I guess this is low risk high reward for Cleveland. Bynum needs to prove to everyone in this league that he is still motivated and can play at a high level. I’m not sure if that happens but Cleveland took a risk and if Bynum can play up to his potential, Cleveland looks like playoff contenders in the weak Eastern conference.
JOSE CALDERON joins DALLAS as a FREE AGENT
Xiao: Seems like a good fit. Collison got dealt, and pass-first PGs are a rarity in the league – and a guy who is okay not taking a lot of shots is a requirement to play with Monta Ellis.
Zach: I really like [Calderon] as a point-guard, but I believe Dallas should be blowing things up, so I don’t like giving him 4 years, and 28 million. That contract makes more sense on for a contending team–maybe the Rockets. But Dallas shouldn’t be signing guys to long term deals right now. And wow, their backcourt is going to be ugly on defense next season with Calderon and Monta Ellis manning it.
METTA WORLD PEACE joins NEW YORK as a LIABILITY
Zach: Xiao, MWP on your Knicks is going to be hilarious. That team could be really entertaining, but for all the wrong reasons.
Xiao: It’s the island of misfit toys.