Grade the Trade: Nets, Kings swap Terry, Evans for Thornton
The Sacramento Kings and Brooklyn Nets have completed a deal that sent Marcus Thornton to Brooklyn and Jason Terry to Sacramento with Reggie Evans. We grade it out.
The Kings may have just executed some addition by subtract... and then more addition, I guess. With 13 players on the roster, they had the flexibility to take a two-for-one deal, and managed to do this without taking on any money. In fact, they shedded a little bit of salary. This is key for a team well below .500 because they were up approaching the luxury tax line before this trade. As of right now, the Kings are looking at around $67.3 million commited for next season and that's not even taking into account the restricted free agency demands they might be forced to match for Isaiah Thomas. Any help in getting under the tax for those purposes is a big help.
Perhaps they can pawn off Jason Terry to a contender, who hasn't really paid attention to how bad he's been the last couple years, during the summer or next season. He's slated to make $5.8 million and shedding that without taking on much money would definitely give them the proper wiggle room to circumvent the luxury tax. Terry is unlikely to contribute to this Kings team and unless they can move him, he might be a waiver wire guy before March of 2015.
Evans can possibly provide a nice bit of toughness for DeMarcus Cousins to go up against in practice every day, pushing the young, volatile center toward the brink of losing his cool and then teaching him how to keep his temper in check. If Cousins can deal with Evans' physical play in practice without getting overly annoyed, he'll be able to handle just about anything the league throws at him.
Most importantly for this move, it clears the shooting guard minutes for Ben McLemore. Thornton was getting about 24 minutes per game and had started 26 games this season. He started 20 of his past 22 games for the Kings, as well. The Kings will no longer feel obligated to play an $8 million per year shooting guard over the No. 7 pick in the draft who needs as much experience as possible. That's where the addition by subtraction comes in; the Kings can throw as many minutes as they want at McLemore and really get his development kickstarted.
This isn't a bad trade and it isn't a good trade. It's just something that shuffles some things around and gives them a little bit more cash.
Brooklyn Nets acquire Marcus Thornton
The Nets' part of this deal is pretty interesting. Thornton is a legitimate scorer off the bench, never averaging under 18.9 points per 36 minutes in any season prior to this one. He's a career 35.9 percent 3-point shooter, which definitely took a hit with the career-low 31.8 percent he was gunning with the Kings this season. He's had three seasons of 36.7 percent or better in his five seasons. At the age of 26, it's hard to imagine he's on the downside of his career and probably just didn't fit in on a team that had three very high usage players in Cousins, Thomas, and Rudy Gay.
How do you get Thornton going again in that scorer role and does his complete dismissal of the defensive side of the floor really hurt the Nets considering they were attempting to play Terry at times anyway? Brooklyn already has one of the five most potent benches in the NBA and a revived Thornton could really move it to the absolute top. The key is going to be finding ways to get him his confidence back and getting him out of the mindset he had with the Kings this season that led to such poor production.
There are two ways to do this: 1) get him to be a spot-up shooter again, and 2) get his isolation confidence back. Last season, Thornton was a deadly spot-up shooter. He hit 42.9 percent of his 3-pointers spotting up, and his scoring in spot-up situations was 17th best in the NBA. He's only a 34.2 percent spot-up 3-point shooter and a 32.7 percent spot-up shooter overall. He wasn't a great isolation player, but he was someone that did it enough to keep the defense honest with their help and he hit threes (37.5 percent) during this plays. This season, he's isolating about half the time and seeing horrendous results (22.2 percent from the field, zero made 3-pointers).
The Nets going small and spacing the floor could bring Thornton back and make their second unit really hard to deal with in the playoffs. Considering money is literally Monopoly money to Mikhail Prokhorov, it doesn't even make sense to try to pretend added money to the luxury tax bill is relevant here.
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