Deadline Day: What Makes a Good or Bad Trade?

For a basketball fan, there are few more fun days than today, the NBA trade deadline.  If your team wants to add a piece better than a 10th man, it has to be done today by 3:00.  Twitter will likely be abuzz with rumored deals, completed deals, and rapid developments.  Amidst the craze, fans tend to want their team to be involved in the rumors – to do SOMETHING to get better.  Human instinct kicks in, and fans want to be apart of the craze.   Nevertheless, what fans – and sometimes teams – forget, is that when the dust settles after a transaction done under the pressure of time, you are left with are the assets or players you traded for, and lack those which you dealt away.  And if what you dealt is better to have around than what you acquired, you ultimately have hurt your organization.   Do teams need to try to get better at the deadline?  Without a doubt.  Outside of June 23-July 15 (or thereabouts), the deadline is the only time to make significant roster moves.  However, teams also need to be prudent, and avoid making moves that can be harmful down the line – no matter how tempting they may be.   So, looking back at deals past, what are some hallmarks of good and bad transactions?     1: Teams Make Bad Decisions When They Feel That They “HAVE TO” Do Something:   Example: 2015 Suns   The 2015 Suns put together an awesome trio of point guards in Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, and Eric Bledsoe, in a league where point...
New Season, New Trends: What Have We Learned?

New Season, New Trends: What Have We Learned?

We are now over 1.5 months into the NBA season, and it has been an incredible one  Each team in the league is between 24 and 29 games into their season.  Now, 29 games do not allow for definitive conclusions.  Some teams take longer to come together, others fizzle, and a few more make roster changes that affect performance.  Nevertheless, we have seen enough of the NBA this year to make some observations that will likely hold.  Here are three observations in the earlygoing   Kevin Durant made the right decision We seem to go through this every time a superstar makes a big free agency decision to leave the team that drafted him.  The player is judged, lambasted, and accused of making a bad decision for his legacy.  Nevertheless, LeBron James’ career outcome should be reinforcement that when push comes to shove, players will be judged not for unpopular free agency choices, but by a combination of hardware and stellar individual play: the more of each, the merrier. With an stellar 113.5 offensive rating, and a top seven defense, the Warriors start has been excellent; the adjustment period to integrate Durant was short.  The new death lineup has an unconscious 123.2 offensive rating and 96.3 defensive rating, and is just crushing opposing teams. To anyone who understands how and why the Warriors rose before Durant, his successful integration is no surprise.  After surging to become a mid tier playoff team in 2013 at 47 wins and a second round exit, the Warriors, stifled by Mark Jackson’s limited ceiling isolation offense, plateaud in 2014 at 51 wins and a...
The Plight of the Magic: Do Some Teams Stay With Their Young Core For Too Long?

The Plight of the Magic: Do Some Teams Stay With Their Young Core For Too Long?

August 11, 2012.  That was a long time ago, right? That was the day the Orlando Magic, after upwards of one year of drama, traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The take at the time: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Al Harrington, and Christian Eyenga.  The Magic also received a first round pick that ultimately became Elfrid Payton, a second round pick that became Romero Osby, and a $17.8 trade exception that expired, unused.  Fast forward from there: Afflalo was traded for Evan Fournier and Devyn Marble, and McRoberts, Harrington, Eyenga, and Osby were shuffled off the roster for various reasons, leaving Vucevic, Fournier, Harkless, Payton, and Marble the take from the trade, essentially. From there, the Magic did what we say every franchise is supposed to do to build a winner: they patiently worked through the draft, trade market, and scrap heap market to build a young core.  Over the years, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, and Andrew Nicholson were added through the draft; JJ Redick was shipped to import a young Tobias Harris; and Dewayne Dedmon was a free agent find on the cheap. The Magic were not impulsive, and always kept the future vision in mind as opposed to gunning for the short term (until the 2016 deadline: more on that later).  They did not seek the big “ticket sale” move in lieu of patient building.  And, it is easy to forget now, but the Magic core was one many were found of, in multiple circles.  Rob Hennigan, particularly after the Dwight trade, was praised as a shrewd planner who...
Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

We are nearly two weeks into the NBA season, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining one.  Everyone but the Sixers, Mavericks, and Pelicans has put one win in the books, while the Cavs are the only team to not yet feel the agony of defeat. In a word of caution about all 30 teams, it is simply too early in the year to form drastic conclusions that any team will be substantially better or worse than everyone thought during the preseason.  Strong or weak starts may be blips on the radar.  First, teams play through hot and cold streaks throughout the year, and the beginning of the season is no different.  A team that started better or worse than expected may simply be on a hot or cold streak.  Second, as teams play more games, differences in strength of schedule inevitably become less significant.  Some teams are benefiting at this stage, more than others, from a soft opening schedule. Third, multiple teams will be better or worse than we thought to enter the season.  That is simply inevitable.  As a result, it is difficult, at this juncture, to assess the quality of teams’ wins, or how bad their losses are. Nevertheless, the young season has provided some trends to monitor, and allows for appropriate evaluation of several teams as they compete for a championship, or a playoff berth. Three teams to keep an eye on: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves. Prediction: The Thunder will not be the contender their 5-1 start would have you believe             Everyone wants the Thunder to succeed in 2016-2017.  Whenever superstars...
The NBA does not have a big market problem

The NBA does not have a big market problem

It was July 2011. NBA fans were anxious. Will we see any basketball next year? Will we get to enjoy this beautiful sport, this sport that we all wait for every summer. The answer was obviously no, at least not until Christmas. The NBA locked out, as the owners and players failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The league, fresh off LeBron James joining the Miami Heat, sold to fans two primary reasons for which the lockout — and all the resulting lost jobs and lost economic benefits basketball teams provide — was necessary. Reason #1: the league was not making enough money, and did need players to give a chunk of basketball related income back to rectify this. Reason #2: the league needed to restore competitive balance so that all 30 teams could compete if well managed. The reality: reason #2 was nothing more than spin, to convince fans and those whose jobs were lost that the lockout was worth it to them. All the NBA truly cared about was reason #1: the lockout’s purpose was to make more money. Sadly for NBA fans, the NBA is publicly sewing the seeds to repeat history and justify another lockout to its fans. Except, the NBA is too smart to come out and say, in light of the billions it is receiving in the new TV deal, that a lockout is a financial necessity. So instead, the NBA wants to pitch a need for “competitive balance,” by getting people to play into their fears that their teams cannot compete due to flaws in the system. And so Adam Silver spoke...
Problem With Free Agent Contracts? Blame the CBA.

Problem With Free Agent Contracts? Blame the CBA.

Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior.  He is there on a $26.5 million salary in 2016-2017.  Think about this: with all due respect to their fantastic play, that is the same number at which the Celtics and Grizzlies inked Al Horford and Mike Conley. The NBA has a max contract problem. Regarding salaries themselves, one common theme has emerged early in free agency.  Player salaries, due to the substantial rise in the salary cap, are correspondingly larger than ever before.  Many casual NBA fans, unaware of the reason for these salary increases, have been outraged at the amount of money players have gotten.  Members of the media have taken to respond to fans on the subject, clarifying the reason for the increases and explaining why salaries should not cause fan frustration with players. On the subject, it must be said: unlike many businesses, where the bosses are the brains behind the operation producing revenue, the NBA is unique in that its employees, or players, are its supreme revenue generators . . . and there is an abundance of revenue right now.  With that revenue existing, nobody should have a problem with NBA players being rewarded for that which they generate, through their salaries. Another point justifying what players make is obvious.  If we assumed, hypothetically, that at this moment, NBA owners could cut all player salaries in half, they would.  They would then place the recovered money in their pockets.  The money would not go back to fans, to charities, the homeless, or any other noble cause.  Should more money be skimmed from basketball related revenue, away from...
NBA Playoffs: Ten Player Story-lines To Watch

NBA Playoffs: Ten Player Story-lines To Watch

            The 205-2016 season was one for the ages.  The Golden State Warriors won 73 games.  Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his last game ever.  The San Antonio Spurs nearly went step for step with the Warriors in their pursuit of history.  And LeBron James quietly finished the year as good as ever. With the playoffs upon us, there are storylines abound.  Who will deliver home the NBA championship?  Who may see their team broken apart if they fail to meet that goal?  Who is a must watch on a night in, night out basis? Here are the 10 – well, 14 – players to watch Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan             In some respects, the idea of this iteration of the Toronto Raptors having a history of playoff failures is overblown.  In 2014, the Raptors lost to the Brooklyn Nets, but most predicted that result.  So, in actuality, the “history” of Raptors playoff struggles behind their Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan core is based on the loss of one playoff series – last year’s first round to Washington.  That was an awful loss – but only one loss. Still, what the metrics say is often not what resides in our own psyche, and the Raptors surely will have recent playoff outcomes on their mind as they take on the Indiana Pacers. The Raptors are an extremely good team and all the ingredients to make playoff noise are in place.  Lowry and DeRozan form a great backcourt.  Jonas Valanciunas is a good big.  Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson fit extremely well.  Cory Joseph has been a great spark off the...
Offseason Outlook: Brooklyn Nets

Offseason Outlook: Brooklyn Nets

In less than three weeks, the NBA playoffs will begin in earnest.  When they do, the focus, deservingly so, will be on the league’s playoff teams. However, up to five of those teams will be newcomers to the playoff scene who watched from the lottery last season.  And all playoff teams were once lottery teams themselves. So before we reach the playoffs, where do the league’s lottery teams stand, and what may they look to do this offseason to approach the playoff precipice?  Here’s a look at one of those lottery teams: the Nets. Brooklyn Nets Players Under Contract: Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Sean Kilpatrick, Chris McCullough Free Agents: Shane Larkin (Player Option), Markel Brown (Restricted), Sergey Karasev, Henry Sims, Willie Reed (Restricted), Donald Sloan, Thomas Robinson (Player Option), Jarrett Jack (Team Option), Wayne Ellington (Player Option) A look at the Nets’ offseason outlook requires an evaluation of the worst draft pick situation the NBA has seen in recent memory.  The Nets’ 2016 and 2018 first round picks go to Boston, their 2017 second round pick goes to Atlanta, and their 2018 second round pick goes to Charlotte or Philadelphia.  The Clippers get to swap second rounders in 2016 unless it falls from 56-60, which is unlikely.   And the Nets and Celtics swap 2017 first rounders if the Celtics are better than the Nets, which is likely, although that allows the Nets to swap second rounders with the Celtics, unless the second rounder falls between 31-45 (which appears unlikely). In short, the most likely scenario is over the next three drafts the Nets will have a...