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Tag:Gerald Wallace
Posted on: March 31, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 11:54 am
 

Lakers wary of Grizzlies, Blazers in playoffs

An informal poll of the Lakers shows they're concerned about the Grizzlies and Blazers. As much as they're going to be concerned about anyone. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Asking NBA players who they want to see in the first round is pointless. Why would you possibly say you want to see one team, giving them material to mount an incomparable emotional challenge based off the oldest of athlete emotions: pride? Why would you possibly indicate that you don't want to see a team in the first round, giving them a mental edge when they recognize that you're "afraid" of them? There's nothing to be won or negotiated with that question. It's better to deflect or give the standard array of non-answers everyone gives. 

But the Lakers, when presented with the opportunity to give an informal poll, their answers unattributed to their name? They bit. 

From the Los Angeles Times
Based on the four players who were willing to trade their honesty in exchange for anonymity, three of them equally expressed concern about Portland and Memphis, while one other believed the Grizzlies would be the toughest opponent. Meanwhile, Lakers executive Magic Johnson spoke pretty frankly before the Lakers' 102-84 victory Sunday over New Orleans about which potential first-round opponent would give the Lakers the most trouble: Portland, because of the "hate factor," he said.

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Johnson said Sunday, walking in a corridor underneath Staples Center. "That would be a very physical and tough series, even though we would win and we're better overall. But they really know how to play us; they're well-coached and they're tenacious."
via Lakers informal poll reveals their belief Portland and Memphis would give them biggest challenge in first round | Lakers Blog | Los Angeles Times.

It's surprising that the Lakers chose to answer the question. It's more surprising that they were honest. It's even more surprising that they were correct. 

The Lakers are rarely if ever beasts in the first round. It takes them a few games to hit the playoff gear. But they're still good enough to overcome obstacles. Still, if you're going to upset L.A., it's going to have to be in that first round. From then on out, they're in that mode they have that that, you know, wins championships. And the only thing they hate more than getting their playoff effort in gear is having to do so against a scrappy, high-effort team, like the Blazers or Grizzlies. 

The Blazers, despite a much longer rivalry and a superior record, actually suffers more in the matchup. Despite LaMarcus Aldridge's superb and All-Star-worthy season, it's Zach Randolph's gritty, ugly, "how did he do that" work down low that is particularly effective against L.A.'s enormous size and length advantage. Marc Gasol is outplayed by his brother in the stats department because Pau Gasol is very good. But it's Marc's bulk and toughness that gives the Lakers issues, along with his ability to pass from the post and high pinch post. Mike Conley slices and dices Derek Fisher, one of the few guards in the league who can't torch Conley on perimeter drives. And the Grizzlies have enough wings to throw at Kobe Bryant to at least have a puncher's chance at slowing him down.

The Blazers on the other hand have Camby and Aldridge, but struggle defensively against the Lakers in matchups, as has been evident this year. But there's no matchup that accounts for the Blazers' ability to rise to the occasion, which they've illustrated time and time again during Nate McMillan's tenure. Either team is simply going to be a major headache that could turn into a legitimate challenge for the Lakers if a few things go their opponents' way. 

But then, the Lakers also know that if they play their best, execute, and focus, they're going to roll. That's what good teams do in the first round, it's really what great teams do in the first round, and it's definitely what championships do in the first round. This doesn't mean that the Lakers are afraid of the Blazers or Grizzlies, just that they recognize the dangers those teams represent. 

Which of course means that the Lakers are not afraid of the New Orleans Hornets. Who they could very well see in the first round. Chances are the Hornets use that as some motivation should the two meet in the first round. 

This is why you don't answer the question.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:53 am
 

Gerald Wallace and the feelings behind trades

Gerald Wallace felt "betrayed" by the Bobcats in being traded to Portland. What's odd is that he's right, despite the Bobcats having done right by him. 
Posted by Matt Moore

From The Charlotte Observer


"Basically, you feel betrayed by somebody you love,’’ Wallace told the Observer before Saturday’s Blazers-Bobcats game. “I totally didn’t see it coming. I’d been there seven long years and then you feel like you’re not wanted anymore. That’s a bad situation to be in, especially for me, who committed so much to the organization."

“I understand the situation – it’s a business and they’re looking to start all over. They wanted cap room, and I guess I was the logical answer for them trying to get draft picks.’’
via Inside the NBA: Wallace: Bobcats betrayed me.

Getting traded has to be a strange feeling. In civilian life outside of professional sports, if your work wants to relocate you, they have to speak with you first. You have the right to simply not go and find employment where you want, in most cases. But in sports, you're traded and all of a sudden everything you've committed to a franchise, to a city, to its fans, is gone. It's all part of history. You're now a completely different player with a completely different uniform in a completely different role in a completely different city. And it happens in a day. Gerald Wallace woke up two weeks ago as a Bobcat and by 4 p.m. he was packing his bags and saying goodbye to his kids, headed for the west coast. As Ken Berger put it, "money is good, but nothing compares to family."

What strikes me in Wallace's hurt here is that Wallace was granted what so many players ask for. A second chance (third, really) on a playoff team. Wallace has been putting in stat-stuffing, All-Star worthy seasons for years, mired in the mediocrity of a franchise that got started on the wrong foot and has continously jumped on that same foot while pounding its other foot into a brick wall. The Bobcats have never gone anywhere. They made the playoffs last season as a result of a masterful coaching job by Larry Brown, then got swept from the playoff beaches by Orlando. Other than that they've been a joke. They've been forced into trading for above-average players with terrible contracts to get any traction at all and now that that plan has had its last ounce of success milked, they're back to rebuilding, this time actually rebuilding. Had Wallace not been traded he would have been miserable as a competitor, watching Stephen Jackson head elsewhere while he struggled to try and find some measure of success among Tyrus Thomas, D.J. Augustin, and Gerald Henderson. Who would want that life? 

Maybe not Wallace, but Wallace still wanted to be told. He wanted to be informed of the decision, for his time in Charlotte to have earned him the right to weigh in on whether he was relocated or not. You may not believe that Wallace has any right to be informed. After all, this is a business, teams have the right to trade players, they needed to trade Wallace and part of his contract allows for this scenario to happen. But it's more that Wallace had felt he'd given enough to the organization to warrant some level of being brought in, so as to not feel blindsided, or "not wanted" as he put it.  That's certainly not the case. In truth, the organization must have loved Wallace to have kept him this long. He was their All-Star, he was the franchise. They moved him because they had no other choice and moving him brought in the best package available. 

That Wallace fetched so little on the market had less to do with his value as a player as it did with the leverage and position of the Bobcats organization. And that same perception is reflected in how they treated Wallace by not informing him. It's the kind of thing that makes players reluctant to consider Charlotte, even with the GOAT at the helm. 

Perhaps the most important element in all this, however, is what it says about Wallace. Wallace was hurt that a franchise going nowhere gave him the opportunity to go be a part of a playoff team in a similarly small market, as a franchise cornerstone next to good, veteran players, and LaMarcus Aldridge.  He was disappointed that a franchise freed their best player to go have a shot at meaningful games on a succesful franchise. He felt unwanted by a team that basically stabbed itself and Stephen Jackson's career in moving towards a true rebuilding phase, and in doing so managed to get Wallace out of the way of the collateral damage. 

Wallace has every right to feel the way he does, but things could have ended so much worse for him. And the Bobcats continue to show that both of the axioms about markets are on point. Small markets suffer because of the insurmountable hill they have to climb in order to be relevant as opposed to the anthill large markets have to overcome, and small markets suffer because of poor management, poor ownership, poor player relations which keep them at the bottom. 

Trades are weird. 
Posted on: March 9, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:41 am
 

Game Changer: Heat lose 5th straight game

The Miami Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, Erik Spoelstra looked even more overwhelmed than usual, LeBron James threw down a sick dunk and Brandon Roy had his best game of the spring. All that, plus plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: DEEPER BLAZERS DROP HEAT

Posted by Matt Moore.

The loss to the Knicks? A bizarre turn based on an offensive flourish from a team playing with emotion in its first week together. The loss to the Magic? A division rival with a furious comeback thanks to hot shooting and some system systemic offensive breakdowns on the other side. The loss to the Spurs? A back-to-back road blowout against the team with the best record in the league. The loss to the Bulls? A fiery, emotional team with a superior defensive effort, a magnificent superstar, and a blown rebound by the other guys. But the loss to the Blazers?
 
That was just the case of a superior team 1-10 beating the Heat. A superior team performance, a superior coaching performance, a superior star performance, a superior overall win for Portland, who have gone from looking at a rebuilding project to right in line for a serious playoff run. They are deep, they are talented, and they close games. Yeah, that's right. Portland with the five knee surgeries and missing Greg Oden and Brandon Roy unable to play full games and the aging point guard and having just acquired their All-Star? They are what the Heat tried to buy.

The game itself was a slow, methodical affair (84 estimated possessions, which is glacial), and favored the Blazers' deliberate style rather than the Heat's up and down attack. There were some exceptional highlights (see below for the Chalmers behind-the-back wizardry), but still a loss for the Heat. Isn't that the formula this year? Amazing highlights, lots of hype, national television appearance... and a loss.

The culprits were who you'd expect. While the Blazers were peeling Gerald Wallace of the bench for 22 points on 14 shots, 9 rebounds, an assist, a block, and two steals, the Heat were pulling the lifeless corpse of Mike Miller off the pine for two points on seven shots. But really, the Heat still could have won this game even with the loserly henchmen pulling a "Die Hard" (fire 2,000 rounds, don't hit anything) and James and Wade combining for 7 turnovers. That's how good James and Wade were. The real problem? Chris Bosh.

Forget the shooting. Some nights you're going to be off from mid-range. It happens, not much you can do to control that. Bosh says he needs more touches in the low-post. Forgetting the fact that this goes against every trend in his career and against the logic of having the kind of perimeter players the Heat have, it also ignores the fact that Bosh needs to try getting some easy buckets. The hard kind. I'm talking about tip-ins. Offensive rebounds and put-backs. Instead, Bosh had four total rebounds, and only one offensive. But hey, at least he played pretty good defense, right?
 
Or, you know, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points. This is where the line between Bosh's incompetence and Spoelstra's mistakes blur. In the second half when Aldridge started to go off after a slow first half, Bosh was showing way too strong on the pick and roll, jumping over to cover Andre Miller (you know, he of the ridiculous explosiveness), and allowing Aldridge all the room in the world to operate. Bosh gave himself nearly no chance at recovering.
 
Meanwhile, Brandon Roy was nailing the kinds of key shots Dwyane Wade is supposed to and the Heat were throwing away opportunity after opportunity. Great teams capitalize on chances they have to destroy their opponent. The Blazers did. The Heat did not.

At this point in the season, these two teams could not be headed in more opposite directions. Judging from how this game went down, it's not hard to see why.

SNAPSHOT:

The Miami Herald quoted Heat coach Erik Spoelstra after the game: "Frankly, we don’t have a lot of answers how to get over this hump. We can just keep grinding and not let go of the rope."

 This picture says about 1,000,000 words.

erik-spoelstra  

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Andrew Bynum: 16 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, three blocks, +17 on 8 of 10 shooting in 35 minutes in a Los Angeles Lakers road win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Gerald Wallace:  22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block, +7 on 8 of 14 shooting in 35 minutes in a Portland Trail Blazers road win over the Miami Heat.

Dwyane Wade:  38 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks on 12 of 21 shooting in 43 minutes in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

LeBron James:  31 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, one steal on 14 of 17 shooting in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

DON'T MISS:

HIGHLIGHT REEL:

The Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but LeBron James threw down a sick tomahawk dunk off of a behind-the-back pass in transition. Small consolation.


WHIMSY:

Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger makes a silly face as he dunks one home during a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

chase-budinger-dunk

FINAL THOUGHT:

Against the Heat, Blazers guard Brandon Roy had his most effective game since his post All-Star break return from arthroscopic knee surgeries. Roy hit all three of his three-pointers en route to 14 points on eight shots in 23 minutes. Often hiding out on the weakside, he is theoretically the ideal spot up shooter to space the floor off of power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Nate McMillan smartly managed Roy's minutes, sitting him for nearly the entire third quarter so that he would be fresh to close the game. The Blazers went small down the stretch and outscored the Heat 12-5 in the final 3:25 of the fourth quarter, including a huge Roy three-pointer. 
Posted on: March 7, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 3:43 pm
 

Lacob says team considered dealing Curry or Ellis

Posted by Royce Young

This isn't exactly new news, as Warriors owner Joe Lacob had talked previously about potentially trading Stephen Curry or Monta Ellis if the right deal presented itself. But in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Lacob again reiterated that point.

"We did consider it," Lacob said. "And poked around. Listened to some offers and in fact in some cases made some offers. Though not final offers, but poking around. We decided that we were not going to get value in return. Those players were just too good for what we were going to get in return. We feel much more comfortable keeping them part of our core positions going forward."

Lacob also said that the Warriors could have acquired Gerald Wallace from Charlotte, but passed on it because the team didn't see it as a good fit.

"We could've gotten Wallace -- he's not somebody we thought would make us better. I really believe that," Lacob said. "He just doesn't fit for us. He's good defensive player, rebounder, certain things that do fit, certain things that don't. I could argue, don't know whether Portland got better or worse."

I like Joe Lacob. He's invested in his team, cares about results and wants to do better for a great fanbase. But is it just me or does he run his mouth a lot? I thought Curry kind of said he wasn't psyched about Lacob dropping his name out there in trade talks? And Lacob even apologized for it, saying that Curry and Ellis would be Warriors "for a very long time."

So I don't really know what to believe with Lacob. I kind of get the feeling that he just likes talking. He likes talking to people about his franchise and what they could do. It's like a fan on sports talk radio, except he's the owner of the team and actually gets to make decisions so people value his comments.

Lacob has been extremely vocal as the owner of the team, deciding to take a very front seat approach. It's different than previous owner Chris Cohan who seemed to hang in the shadows and make curious decisions without explanation.

But Lacob might want to think about some of his statements about personell, because players don't like being talked about simply as property. I thought Lacob had figured that out already.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 9:22 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 9:44 pm
 

Grading the Blazers' Gerald Wallace trade

Looking back at the Portland Trail Blazers' trade deadline. Posted by Ben Golliver. rich-cho

Before last week's trade deadline, I took a lengthy look at whether the Portland Trail Blazers, who have had their championship contending hopes stalled by injuries this season, should blow it up. To quickly recap: I argued that any trade deadline moves would come with an eye towards ensuring that the team made the playoffs, that it would be difficult to see the Blazers parting with point guard Andre Miller, that center Marcus Camby was more expendable than you might think (but still a difficult piece to move because of the team's uncertainty at his position), and that center Joel Przybilla was the team's most obvious trade chip. 

I noted that Przybilla's contract could be dumped in a move to get below the luxury tax line, but that trading any of the team's other core rotation pieces would likely compromise the team's ability to make the playoffs in such a way that management would conclude that the costs would outweigh the benefits. Finally, I noted that Portland's loaded payroll and the flexible nature of Miller's contract, plus the fact that Camby's contract expires next year, would allow the Blazers to defer any rebuilding efforts until draft season if they wanted.

So how did things play out? Well, the Blazers would up making one move: a trade that sent Przybilla, reserve forward Dante Cunningham and end-of-the-bench center Sean Marks plus two future draft picks to the Charlotte Bobcats for forward Gerald Wallace.  

While the construction of Portland's outgoing pieces was entirely expected, Blazers fans have to be pleasantly surprised with the quality of the incoming piece. Wallace was an All-Star and All-Defense in 2009-2010, noteworthy accomplishments considering that he was playing way off the map in Charlotte.

As surprising as the quality that Przybilla plus parts netted was the financial commitment that it required from owner Paul Allen. Allen has never been shy about spending money, but the most under-reported aspect of this Wallace trade is the exact level of financial commitment it required. 

The Blazers not only took on $21 million in future salary to Wallace in the deal, they also upped their payroll this year by nearly $1 milion, a number that could rise to roughly $2 million if they move to fill their two empty roster spots, as expected, prior to the playoffs.  Portland was already a luxury tax payer, so that added payroll will result in an additional dollar-for-dollar luxury tax payment as well. Aside from the New York Knicks' play for Carmelo Anthony, the New Jersey Nets' trade for Deron Williams and the Mo Williams for Baron Davis bad contract swap, Portland's trade for Wallace represents the most expensive move any team made at this year's deadline.  

Remember, though, that we're not just comparing Portland's cap situation to what it would have been if they stood pat. We also need to compare it to what it could have been had they looked to shed salary, an obvious and available alternative heading into the deadline. Had the Blazers managed to dump Przybilla's contract on a team like the Sacramento Kings - which wound up needing to take on Marquis Daniels' contract to meet the NBA's minimum salary threshold - the Blazers would have been able to get under the luxury tax, thereby avoiding the need to write a multi-million dollar luxury tax check this offseason and receiving a multi-million dollar check from the luxury tax payers for being under the tax line this offseason. Even if they sent along cash to cover the remaining money owed to Przybilla, there would have been real cash savings in Allen's pocket in just a few months, and Cunningham and Marks would have come off of the books this summer too. 

But instead of kicking back and taking the financial savings like many owners would have, Allen bit the bullet and allowed GM Rich Cho to execute a classic "buy low, sell high" trade. The Blazers got Wallace, who has seen his numbers fall off a bit this season, for nothing but scrap assets while simultaneously selling Przybilla's expiring contract for a 28-year-old former All-Star. Cho's predecessor, Kevin Pritchard, had allowed similar expiring contracts to go unused in previous years and Cho's activity - not to mention Allen's pocketbook - are currently the toast of the town.  

With that said, this wasn't an undisputed grand slam trade for Portland. The Blazers still have long-term questions at both the point guard and center positions, and Wallace is a good but not perfect complement to franchise power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, while also being a bit redundant with current starting small forward Nicolas Batum. His injury history - particularly the concussions - is well-documented and his lack of shooting range could be a fairly significant shortcoming in Portland's system.

Even with those knocks, though, Wallace arrives in Portland as the team's second best player behind Aldridge, at least until Brandon Roy and Greg Oden return to health. He provides a much needed top-end talent infusion, adds excellent defensive versatility and toughness and is a solid, aggressive option on offense. He also provides a consistency factor for a team seemingly in constant transition, as he's likely locked in through 2012-2013. His statistical dip this season should be taken in context, as the Bobcats struggled out of the gate after losing two key pieces in Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler and underwent some turmoil that eventually led to former coach Larry Brown's forced resignation. Wallace also told reporters upon arriving in Portland that he had battled an ankle injury which had limited his effectiveness. Blazers coach Nate McMillan won't ask Wallace to be a No. 1 or No. 2 scoring option, so that mitigates most of the "Is he aging early?" concern. 

Going forward, Portland must still address issues at the point guard spot and in the middle, but they managed to retain both Miller and Camby (and their contracts) as potential trade chips and have young talent like Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum that could be thrown into larger deals should the right marquee name come along. Really, one might argue that the addition of Wallace serves to improve Portland's longer-term flexibility as his contract number and duration should make him a reasonable trade asset in the future, especially beause the alternative was likely nothing once the Przybilla, Cunningham and Marks trio were allowed to hit the open market this summer.

It's also worth noting that, even if Portland had gotten under the luxury tax before the deadline, it would have been nearly impossible for the Blazers to move under the salary cap. The team has already doled out long-term deals to Roy, Aldridge and Wesley Matthews, plus big dollars will likely be needed to retain center Oden, who is a restricted free agent this summer. In other words, taking the cheap route and passing on Wallace would have been saved some money immediately but it wouldn't have represented a meaningful step towards rebuilding and true flexibility.

Taken together, there's no basketball reason to avoid making this trade. The best argument against this trade comes from the potential for short-term financial savings, but even that argument isn't overwhelming. The various longer-term risks - injury, future dollars, roster fit, current and future luxury tax dollars - are not prohibitive, especially if the owner is in a "pay to play" mentality. 

Given the team's cap situation and playoff position, acquiring Wallace winds up being a fairly expensive bandaid solution. In a best case scenario it could wind up helping salvage a tortured season. But even if the Blazers go one-and-done in the playoffs again this season, this trade doesn't meaningfully impair Portland's future flexibility. If money isn't an object, and it apparently isn't, then why not?

Final Grade: B+
Posted on: February 24, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 11:06 pm
 

Gerald Wallace trade came down to the wire

The Portland Trail Blazers made a last-minute play for Charlotte Bobcats All-Star forward Gerald Wallace. Posted by Ben Golliver.

gerald-wallace-blazers


PORTLAND -- The 2011 NBA trade deadline was as wild as it gets, with seven late trades clogging up the league office, and an eighth - a potential deal that would have sent O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers - that wasn't executed in time. As crazy as it was for fans and media to process shortly after the noon PST deadline, things were even more hectic for the executives in the minutes just before.

According to Portland Trail Blazers GM Rich Cho, his organization did not agree to trade for Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace until just seven minutes before the deadline. "The trade did not get consummated in principle until 11:53 AM this morning," Cho said at a press conference Thursday afternoon in the Rose Garden. "All the variables in the trade, the terms and conditions, we didn't come to an agreement until the very end."

Wallace, an All-Star and NBA All-Defense player in 2010, was finally swapped for Blazers center Joel Przybilla, center Sean Marks, backup forward Dante Cunningham and two future first round picks. Cho said the last-minute exchange wasn't entirely expected. "This morning we thought would stand pat. We were sitting in my office, me and my staff, and thinking 'Well, it doesn't look like anything is going to happen.' All of a sudden we had about five deals we could have done."

The late scramble happened despite the fact the Blazers first broached a Wallace trade as far back as "a few months ago" and the fact that acquiring Wallace "was at the top of the list" of Cho's trade deadline priorities. "He exemplifies everything we are looking for in a player," Cho said. "He plays both ends of the floor, his work ethic is tremendous ... He has a lot of toughness, his nickname is 'Crash' for a reason. He just plays really hard."

As we all know, motivation to deal increases exponentially as the clock ticks. Cho compared his team's trade to the one made by the New Jersey Nets that nabbed Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, noting that the type of assets present in both deals made the late execution possible. "One thing I really believe in is accumulating assets, acquiring picks and young players. It's for this very reason: to acquire better players to improve the team. If you look at some of the deals that were made recently, like the Deron Williams trade that Utah made. One of the big reasons they were able to make that trade is because they had those two picks and that was really attractive to Utah. I really believe in accumulating assets and turning those assets into players to improve the team."

As the deadline neared, the thought of long-term salary cap relief and the hope that two draft picks represent was apparently too much for the Bobcats to pass up. A few more minutes of indecision, however, and Wallace would still be in Charlotte.

The Blazers brass was clearly happy the trade clock didn't run all the way out. "We're thrilled to death to have him," Cho said, cracking a slight smile.
Posted on: February 24, 2011 8:46 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 9:14 pm
 

Trade Deadline: Black Thursday Winners and Losers

With close to a dozen trades before the 2011 NBA Trade Deadline, we break down the winners and losers in each division.
Posted by EOB Staff




Well, that escalated quickly. After an insane week that started with the Carmelo Anthony trade finally coming to fruition, the NBA trade deadline finished with nearly a dozen deals having been completed. Here are the winners and losers from this insane week that was. 

Atlantic Division

Winner: New Jersey Nets

Plenty of good arguments to be had for the New York Knicks snagging Carmelo Anthony and the Boston Celtics nabbing Jeff Green, but no other team in the entire league changed its fortunes like the New Jersey Nets, who acquired the single best player who moved during this year's trading season: point guard Deron Williams. The price New Jersey paid was meaningful but not crippling, and Williams sets them up to win and build far better than rookie big man Derrick Favors would have. We already saw how far point guard Devin Harris could carry them the last two seasons. Williams will hopefully breathe some new life into big man Brook Lopez, help maximize the production from New Jersey's many role players and serve as an attraction to  other marquee names in free agency. Nobody else made a bigger leap into relevancy that the Nets did, and that's worthy of the winner title. -- Ben Golliver


(Tracker )



Loser: Toronto Raptors

Speaking of struggling with relevance, allow me to introduce the Toronto Raptors, who moved a first round pick for James Johnson, a seldom used forward who has failed to deliver on his draft promise during his two years in the NBA. It's not a terrible move but it's one that comes with limited upside, leaving the Raptors to continue to churn below mediocrity. Blowing things up was probably the way to go -- unloading Jose Calderon's contract would have been a great start -- but asset collection would have also inspired some hope among the Raptors diehards. Instead, the cynical wait for Jay Triano's firing marches on. -- BG


(Tracker )

Northwest Division

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

I don't think there could possibly be a bigger winner than the Oklahoma City Thunder. They won a Pulitzer, a Grammy, a Nobel Prize and an Oscar all in one swoop.

Not only did two of the division's very best players in Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony get moved, opening the door for OKC to stay at the top of the Northwest for years to come, the Thunder did a little of their own maneuvering, picking up Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed to fill the biggest gap in the team's depth chart.

Giving up Jeff Green stings as he was one of the original long term pieces that the Thunder was building with. But he was a restricted free agent and indications were that he wasn't going to be re-signed for the price OKC was comfortable with. So the Thunder flips him and Nenad Krstic (an expiring contract) for the Celtics starting center (and Nate Robinson). Perkins is an unrestricted free agent himself this summer, but not only does OKC get him for two months, it also has the cap space and desire to re-sign him over the summer.

So let's recap that real quick: Some of the main competition got worse and the Thunder got better. That's a good haul. -- Royce Young


(Tracker )



Loser: Utah Jazz

Any time you give up a superstar, you aren't going to get equal value. It's just reality. And while the Jazz received a nice return for Deron Williams (Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks) it's really not even close to enough.

The Jazz still had the rest of this season and a whole other year with Williams. They wanted to strike preemptively to avoid any welling Derondrama of taking place next season. But is that really worth just shipping out one of the league's best point guards, just like that?

In the past 30 days, Utah has lost its coach and its face. Those are big blows. The Jazz are moving on and will try and rebuild a winner around younger players while creating cap space and stockpiling picks, but there's no denying that this isn't the same team without Williams.

The Jazz will be lucky to stumble into the postseason this season and will likely be a lottery team next year. And to think, they could've had at least another full season with Williams, but instead they chose to jump at the best offer they might get. I understand the thinking of trading a player that won't re-sign, but still, is what you get back worth the time you're giving up? -- RY


Southeast Division

Winner: Charlotte Bobcats

It took some time for Michael Jordan to realize it, but the best maneuver for the Bobcats was simply to set fire to the roster. The team was never going anywhere with its existing pieces so it just made all the sense in the world to start over.

What the Bobcats received on deadline day was a couple expiring contracts (Joel Przybilla, Morris Peterson) while also finding two first-round drafts picks and not a bad young big man in D.J. White. They lost Gerald Wallace, which hurts, but that's the price for rebuilding .

Going into the summer, the normally financially strapped Bobcats will have some room to look around, while also being able to build around the cheapest talent available -- rookies. The forthcoming draft classes aren't that excellent, but there are good players to be had if you look hard enough.

It's odd to see a team that threw away a chance at the postseason as a winner, but the Bobcats did the right thing. This has been in the cards for months and while they didn't get Stephen Jackson moved, they sent a good chunk of the roster off. -- RY


(Tracker )

Loser: Orlando Magic

Orlando did all of its dealing more than a month ago and didn't really have much left to pursue. The Magic wanted a big man to help inside, but they never did find a suitable deal.

But on top of that, they are now kind of that idle ship in the East. They have the talent to win, but Otis Smith's blockbuster hasn't worked out well at all. Gilbert Arenas isn't scoring, Hedo Turkoglu isn't creating and Jason Richardson is mainly just a shooter. Dwight Howard wanted more help inside and the Magic didn't get it.

(Where they did win was Kendrick Perkins getting moved. Perkins was always one of the best defenders for Dwight Howard and with him out of the picture, the Celtics aren't nearly as formidable inside and will likely struggle guarding Howard. So that's one plus for them.)

Again, not that they really had to pieces to make a big splash, but maybe Smith jumped the gun on a trade. Maybe if he waits for the deadline, he's a player for some of the bigger fish like Gerald Wallace or even Deron Williams. That's speculation, but if Orlando's not going anywhere, it would've been worth it, right? -- RY


Southwest Division

Winner: Houston Rockets

The Rockets needed to do something, and it's hard to criticize what they came up with. Turning Shane Battier's expiring contract into a decent high-risk, maybe-reward project in bust-to-date center Hasheem Thabeet was solid. Moving point guard Aaron Brooks, who the Rockets clearly weren't willing to commit big dollars to long-term, for productive and cheap point guard Goran Dragic of the Suns, bought the Rockets a year to sort out their long-term point guard situation. Together, the trades serve as value plays for a franchise that has spun its wheels since Yao Ming's abrupt decline into the injury abyss. There wasn't much competition for the "winner" tag in this division, as it was fairly quiet and devoid of major division-altering moves. While playoff contention might get tabled until next year, the Rockets plunge ahead with their smarter-than-average, flexibility-oriented approach. -- BG


(Tracker )

Loser: Memphis Grizzlies

Any time you try valiantly but can't complete a trade of a player who has started a fight on your team plane and been suspended for violating the league's performance enhancing drugs policy, you are the automatic loser. That's just a default rule of the NBA. When the Grizzlies failed to complete a deal that would have shipped O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers for Josh McRoberts, they added another dramatic chapter to an already difficult situation, sending a message to a troubled player that he isn't really wanted but, hey, he is still welcome to show up for practice tomorrow. Awkward. Mayo still has tons of promise, but this disaster area clearly isn't the right location for him to realize it. -- BG


(Tracker )



Central Division

Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers

It wasn't a huge win. It wasn't even a considerable win.  But the Cavaliers needed to make efforts to go young, and they have done so.  The Cavs sent off Mo Williams and Jamario Moon's expiring contract for Baron Davis and a first round pick from the Clippers. The initial reaction is revulsion, because they were forced to acquire Baron Davis' massive contract, knee problems, and laziness. But two things. One, Davis has shown with Blake Griffin that he can be a not-terrible player. The Cavs aren't looking for a guy to be a difference maker next year. Davis will have considerably more value next season at the deadline with a 2013 expiring contract (if he doesn't opt-out). It's a large chunk of change with nearly $29 million left on his deal, but if they're able to flip him at some point, buy him out, or get some level of production, it's worth it. Why? Because two, that draft pick is the gold mine, here. The Clippers are not going to make the playoffs this year, will be in the lottery, and can end up with a valuable draft pick. As a result, the Cavs get what they need most. A high draft pick. That's what they needed to do.

In a second deal, the Cavaliers picked up Semih Erden and Luke Harangody from the Celtics. Neither are going to set the world on fire, but both have shown flashes of talent for the Celtics, and can be valuable role players or added to offseason trades. For the price of a second round pick, that's a near-steal. The Cavaliers missed out on a big opportunity when a deal with Golden State fell through, but in the end, they at least moved forward with rebuilding instead of standing pat. It wasn't a great deadline, but it wasn't a disaster. That's what this season is. --Matt Moore


(Tracker )

Loser: Indiana Pacers

Drat! Foiled! The Pacers were this  close to landing O.J. Mayo in a trade sending Josh McRoberts and a draft pick to Memphis. It's a bigger loss for the Grizzlies who now have to deal with the fallout, but a lost opportunity for Indiana. Brandon Rush has vanished in the rotation and the Pacers need a true 2-guard to make them a better scoring team on the perimeter. Mayo would have fit that bill perfectly. But as always should be the lesson with the Grizzlies, if you give them an opportunit to screw something up, that's what they'll do. This time it backfired on the Pacers and they're stuck, despite McRoberts being a more-than-serviceable forward, without Mayo. Plus it looks embarassing to have agreed to a deal and have the deadline pass. But perhaps the biggest reason they lost was their insistance on not trading their expiring contracts. They had Mike Dunleavey Jr. and Jeff Foster both available and both expendable and failed to get on the market. They could have brought in a legitimate addition to push them into a solid middle-playoff-seed team. Instead, they're left with the same squad, playing well, but contending cores are not built on three-week win streaks. If they can't do anything with the money they'll clear, they may regret having been so quiet on this very loud day. -- MM


Pacific Division

Winner: Sacramento Kings

Marcus Thornton's career is probably going one of two ways. He is likely not going to end up as just an average NBA player. He's either going to blow up and be a household name where he plays in terms of scoring capacity, or he's going to flame out horribly and be an inefficient malcontent. Odds are much more on the former. I'm not saying he'll be a star in this league, but he can be very good and part of a core that helps the Kings contend, if they keep him. Moving Landry clears space, clears someone who was unhappy, clears money the team can't afford to spend. Thornton is a young asset, and one that can fill the bucket up. That's especially important for them this season with Tyreke Evans on the bench due to injury. But when he gets back, Evans-Thornton-Cousins? That's a phenomenal balance of talent. Just because this season has been a disaster doesn't mean next year has to be. Great move for the Kings. I'm not going to dignify the Marquis Daniels trade with a response. -- MM


(Tracker )

Loser: Phoenix Suns

Bear in mind, Aaron Brooks is a good player. He really is. The Rockets hardballed him because they understand his limitations and never overcommit to a player who's not truly great . That's just not what they do. And Brooks is not a great player. Furthermore, Brooks fits with the Suns only to the degree that it's nice to have nitro-boost on the fastest car in the world. You're already fast. Why are you spending more to get faster? Brooks will struggle to get time behind Steve Nash, who's kept himself in such good condition he won't be going anywhere any time soon. Brooks was acquired for a talented guard in Goran Dragic and a first round pick. That pick wasn't going to be super-valuable and the Suns bleed first-rounders like they're nothing, but still, for a team that's struggling to find an identity after the loss of Stoudemire, this move seemed at best superfluous and at worst a step backwards. Brooks kind of fits the role of the departed Leandro Barbosa, but was that really what the Suns needed? This was a strange trade, and not one that helped them. -- MM


(Tracker )
Posted on: February 24, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 5:54 pm
 

Trade Deadline: Bobcats trade Wallace to Blazers

The Charlotte Bobcats have traded forward Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers. Posted by Ben Golliver and Royce Young.
gerald-wallace-blazers

Portland Trail Blazers receive Gerald Wallace from the Charlotte Bobcats

by Ben Golliver

Years of rumored interest culminated on Thursday when the Portland Trail Blazers acquired Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace for reserve center Joel Przybilla, reserve forward Dante Cunningham, reserve center Sean Marks and two first round picks.

Wallace, famously nicknamed “Crash”, is a prototype for the type of basketball Blazers coach Nate McMillan likes to play: hard-nosed, aggressive, versatile, two-way and old school. He will find himself in like company alongside Blazers guard Wesley Matthews and forward Nicolas Batum, who both share his enthusiam for defense and high-intensity play.

This trade does not push the Blazers over the top into the realm of championship contention, but the fact that it didn’t require Portland to give up any of its major assets makes it a trade more than worth doing. None of the pieces sacrificed were critical or irreplaceable, and allowing Przybilla’s contract to expire this summer wouldn’t have helped the Blazers financially, as they are almost certainly committed to being over the cap for the foreseeable future thanks to long-term contracts already given to Aldridge and Roy, as well as big money that will need to be committed to center Greg Oden. As for the picks, the Blazers can always purchase draft picks in the future as they often have in the past. This trade comes down to cashing in multiple smaller assets into one big chip, a move the Blazers have been hesitant to make in previous years, much to their fans’ collective disappointment.

Pulling the trigger on this trade simply boiled down to whether Wallace was worth adding to the roster at his salary price of $10.5 million. Given his all-NBA defensive pedigree and the fact that two major division rivals – the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets – lost their franchise players this week, that question feels like a no-brainer. The Blazers get better, without a doubt, while the competition got worse. Portland is now poised to compete for the Northwest Division title and has improved its chances of winning a playoff series, something that would mean a lot to Allen and his management team given how injuries to Roy and Oden seemingly derailed the team’s carefully-constructed championship blueprints. 

The trade leaves Portland thin in the frontcourt, but the Blazers have found success playing small ball lineups because of a string of injuries this season, and Wallace should fit nicely into that plan. When the Blazers move LaMarcus Aldridge to center, McMillan will be able to use Matthews, Batum and Wallace nearly interchangeably on the perimeter.  The rotation could get tight, though, when guard Brandon Roy continues to make his comeback from knee surgery but the Blazers could opt for a big lineup with Roy playing the point guard spot on offense and defending off the ball on defense.

A few questions remain: Are there enough minutes for both Batum and Wallace, how will Portland address the age of key players like Andre Miller and Marcus Camby and where will Portland turn to address its lack of frontcourt depth? But this trade made the Blazers better this season and it didn’t meaningfully compromise their future flexibility. That adds up to a strong start for first year GM Rich Cho.

Charlotte Bobcats receive Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks and two first round picks from the Portland Trail Blazers

By Royce Young

It had been something on the table this entire season. It was whispered by many, but it didn't appear that the Bobcats were going to get serious about truly blowing up the roster and starting anew. 

Wednesday, there was a lot of chatter that Charlotte was in active talks with Portland about sending former All-Star Gerald Wallace to the Blazers. And after a good amount of back and forth with one report saying Michael Jordan was getting cold feet, it finally happened. 

Wallace is headed to Portland for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks and two first-round picks. The Bobcats decided to set fire to the roster and it was about time. 

The price of this trade is the two first rounders, but also Przybilla, whose contract is up after this season. Charlotte is now setting itself up to actually rebuild, instead of just treading water. 

They are still in the Eastern playoff hunt and they'll likely slip from there, but it's worth it. That just means they get another lottery pick this season. At some point, hanging on to mediocrity just isn't worth it. If you're actually going to contend and make a dent in the tough top tier of the East, you've got to do better than what Charlotte was putting out. 

Yes, losing Wallace hurts. He was under contract through next season and had a player option in 2013. He was making almost $10 million which isn't a ton, but it was painfully clear that he wasn't the type of player that really was going to be a true building block. He's a great player, a great rebounder and a good scorer. But the Bobcats need to find a new identity and the best way to do that is by creating financial flexibility and stockpiling picks. 

In this NBA atmosphere, you're either trying to contend now or build for later. The Bobcats had caught themselves in a Bermuda Triangle in between of being good enough to win sometimes, but never with a vision to actually be a true contender. The step to blow up and is rebuild isn't easy and that's why Jordan probably hesitated, but this was the right move. 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com