The Take: Analyzing The Trade Deadline Dud of 2007
Last Thursday, basketball fans were expecting the rumors to become reality. Blockbuster trades were going to create a new and exciting NBA landscape. Fans were expecting Jason Kidd to be donning the purple-and-gold of Los Angeles. Fans were expecting Mike Bibby to be a prince in King James’ court. Fans were expecting Pau Gasol to finally end up in Chicago. And fans were also expecting Vince Carter to get a one-way ticket home to Orlando.
The day didn’t come close to meeting expectations. The morning produced only two minor trades: Fred Jones for Juan Dixon and Anthony Johnson to the ATL for a second round pick. Then, right before the 3pm deadline, word trickled in about some last minute wheeling-and-dealing. Breaking news: Philadelphia sends Alan Henderson to Utah for the right to exchange second round draft picks.
The trade deadline was a major letdown. There was no mega deal. That all-day ESPN panel-hit never happened. In fact, the biggest deal was no deal-a failed blockbuster between the Nets and Lakers, leaving ‘J-Kidd’ stuck in the swamps of Jersey. Below is my analysis of the deadline dud.
Proposed Deal #1: The New Jersey Nets were trying to trade Jason Kidd to the Los Angeles Lakers for a combination of young players and over-the-hill veterans with expiring contracts.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers.
Analysis: The Nets wanted Andrew Bynum. The Lakers refused. And the deal was dead. It’s that simple.
There was speculation about a mysterious third team jumping into the mix with a last minute offer and ruining things for Los Angeles. This is BS. There was also speculation about New Jersey insisting that Jason Collins’ six million dollar contract be included in any deal for Kidd. This is also BS.
The deal broke down because the Lakers understand what they have in Bynum. They weren’t going to deal their teenage center for a 34 year old point guard-especially one with a wonky knee and some baggage in his personal life. End of story.
Worth Noting: The Nets rebuilding project has been pushed back to the summer. Come July, New Jersey will find Kidd a new home, while Carter will exercise the option on his contract, making him an unrestricted free agent and forcing the club to negotiate a sign-and-trade with either Charlotte or Orlando. In Laker-land, the players have been distracted by the trade rumors and must focus on snapping their current losing streak.
Deal #1: The Toronto Raptors traded swingman Fred Jones to the Portland Trail Blazers for combo-guard Juan Dixon.
Winner: Toronto Raptors.
Analysis: This is an excellent move for Toronto. Last summer, Jones was a free agent and signed with Toronto because he believed there would be an opportunity to contribute. It didn’t happen. After a decent start to the season, Jones found himself chained to the bench and out of the rotation.
Bryan Colangelo, the Raptors’ GM and new ‘T-Dot’ golden boy, achieved two things with this deal. First, he cleared some salary off the books. Jones is slated to earn 10 million dollars over the next three years, while Dixon is under contract for just one more season at 2.5 million dollars. Second, Dixon is the sort of blue-collar, character player that Raptors’ coach Sam Mitchell covets.
But this deal isn’t totally one-sided. Jones hails from Oregon and his athleticism will mesh well with an up-and-coming Portland squad. There’s also talk that Jones agreed to give up the final year of his contract, foregoing close to 3.5 million dollars.
Worth Noting: With this deal, Toronto is in a better position to re-sign Morris Peterson. Over the last month, ‘Mo-Pete’ has shown his true value with some great play, killing speculation he would be dealt at the deadline because of his own expiring contract. With Jones in Portland, the Raptors can offer their veteran swingman more money.
Deal #2: The Dallas Mavericks traded guard Anthony Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2007 second round draft pick.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks.
Analysis: Dallas has done well. By moving Johnson’s contract, the Mavericks will save close to 6 million dollars in luxury tax payments over the next two years. Keep in mind that Johnson wasn’t contributing on-the-court, playing just 14 minutes per game. And Dallas’ scouting staff should be able to do something with that second round pick, too. After all, the Mavericks found a hidden gem in Josh Howard, who they selected with the twenty-ninth pick in the 2003 draft.
The Hawks needed a lead guard because Speedy Claxton hasn’t lived up to the expectations that come with a 25 million dollar contract. But Johnson is nothing more than a band aid solution, brought in to plug Atlanta’s point guard hole until the club can find a long-term answer.
Worth Noting: Dallas is slowly getting under the salary cap. Johnson’s deal is off the books and Austin Croshere’s contract expires in the summer. Eventually, the Mavericks will have some nice money to woo free agents.
Deal #3: The Philadelphia 76ers traded forward/center Alan Henderson to the Utah Jazz for the right to exchange second round draft picks in 2007.
Winner: Utah Jazz, I guess?
Analysis: The Jazz have until next week to decide whether they’ll keep or waive Henderson. Either way, this trade should lead to Utah having a better second round pick.
Worth Noting: There’s nothing too significant about this trade. But the Jazz have one of the NBA’s best records and must be considered legitimate contenders.
Oly Sandor is an NBA analyst, free lance journalist, and author of www.sandoronthenba.blogspot.com. His unique NBA Takes have appeared in the most prominent NBA websites, magazines, and sports radio shows. Keep an eye out for his basketball diaries called Your Morning Coffee, My NBA Thoughts. E-mail Oly at [email protected]