Here's how today's 4-team trade breaks down for each team.
New Orleans HornetsSent: Darren Collison, James Posey
Received: Trevor Ariza, sweet, sweet flexibility
Dell Demps wasn't about to sit around with the Hornets roster as-is and hope it was good enough to settle Chris Paul down. He went right to work with building for the future. Today's trade netted the Hornets Trevor Ariza, but surrendered Darren Collison. It's likely Demps will take Heat for giving up on a player that averaged 16.1 and 7.4 per 36 minutes last season in a backup role, as a rookie. But in reality, this was a solid win for New Orleans, because it gave Demps what he needs in order to start turning the Hornets into a real contender. Flexibility.
That flexibility starts in the other player they sent to Indiana in this trade, James Posey. Posey had two years and $13.4 million left on his contract for a soon-to-be-34-year-old player that scored 5.2 points per game and shot 37% from the field last season. Posey and Peja Stojakovic make up the bulk of the remaining albatross contracts on New Orleans, older players with massive contracts. Moving Posey clears not only the money but the roster space.
Acquiring Trevor Ariza locks them into a long-term deal, but it's for a 25-year-old wing that can defend and carries a lot more value. Ariza's production plummeted last season, largely due to trying to take on more than he's capable of handling. But alongside David West and Emeka Okafor as a weapon for Chris Paul, he could regain some measure of the ability that landed him that contract in the first place. And if not, moving Ariza at 24 will be much easier than Posey.
Moving Collison is a risky maneuver, but having your second or third best player at the same position as your best player creates complications. This move gets rid of one of the albatross contracts and gains a talented player. Allowing them to ditch Julian Wright is a perk of the deal.
Demps knows the only way to get the Hornets on the right track is to create flexibility. If you want to make a flexible omelet, you gotta break a few eggs. --M.M.
Indiana PacersSent: Troy Murphy
Received: Darren Collison, James Posey
If there was a clear-cut winner in this deal (and we think each team won), the Pacers are it. Point guard is a vital position in this league. Outside of the Lakers (whose system doesn't require an elite point guard), nearly every serious contender has a legitimate top-flight point guard. And the Pacers' point guard situation has been an outright disaster for years. T.J. Ford was thought to be the answer, and that didn't work out so much. Furthermore, they lived in point-mediocrity while refusing to commit to a true youth movement.
Well a new day is dawning in in Indy.
With the addition of Collison, the Pacers get a scoring-point who can also distribute to the options they've acquired in the draft, along with Danny Granger. Troy Murphy was one of several expirings they have, so they're still looking at a wealth of movable options to upgrade before the deadline. They specifically needed an upgrade at point guard and definitely got it. Even if Collison takes a step back while keeping his turnover ratio as high as it was, he's still a significant upgrade, and one who is only 23.
Posey's contract is a pain, but it's possible a buyout could be arranged, and if not, they're still losing enough salary to make them players in free agency next season. More importantly, a revised CBA with a stricter tact won't hurt them as severely. The Pacers now feature Collison, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, Brandon Rush, Roy Hibbert, and Tyler Hansbrough as significant rotation players they've drafted or acquired. It's a roster with flexibility and upside. It may not be a playoff team, but it's a team headed in the right direction that finally solved its biggest riddle. --M.M .
Houston RocketsSent: Trevor Ariza
Received: Courtney Lee
Yes, swapping Ariza for Lee seems like a downgrade in talent. But when you consider the Rockets' payroll just swelled to around $81 million after the signing of Luis Scola, Brad Miller and Kyle Lowry, it's pretty clear Houston wanted to dump some salary. The Rockets were about to be stamped with a $10 million or more luxury tax hit, so this deal saves them almost $30 million overall and about $10 million this season when you factor in the luxury tax. Houston isn't a franchise that attempts to operate on the cheap, but in this NBA financial climate, any time you can cut major costs all while not hurting the team, it's a pretty good plan.
But don't write it off from a non-basketball standpoint either. This wasn't only a business move. Lee is a player that at his $1.2 million salary, is a pretty good bargain. He can defend three positions, can shoot the 3 and on a good night, put up solid numbers. The Rockets wanted to move around a bit to make more room for Shane Battier and make Kevin Martin the go-to offensive weapon. Now with Ariza gone - a player that liked to shoot - Martin becomes the focus along with Aaron Brooks and the backcourt gets a little deeper. Houston will miss Ariza's hot scoring nights, but with Martin, Brooks, Scola and the return of Yao Ming, they'll likely be able to pick up the slack fine. --R.Y.
New Jersey NetsSent: Courtney Lee
Received: Troy Murphy
Most are going to say the Pacers came out shining in this trade, but the Nets are really the quiet winners. Murphy is a fantastic player that is almost a guaranteed double-double every night. He's a guy that will help make the team competitive, all while the organization grooms the No. 3 overall pick Derrick Favors, who is only 19, to grow into a starting role. Plus, a bonus: Murphy is in the final year of a $12 million deal so New Jersey has a healthy amount of cash coming off the books.
The Nets signed Anthony Morrow in the offseason so Lee immediately became expendable. Yi Jianlian moved to Washington clearing space in the frontcourt. So even with Murphy, Favors still sees ample playing time, Morrow steps in for Lee and the Nets roster just got a little tune-up. A few pieces were shuffled around but in the end, the Nets are a better, more well-structured team. Brook Lopez and Murphy will likely work really well together, Morrow fills the gap left by Lee and Favors isn't rushed into anything. A smart move all around for New Jersey. --R.Y.