Monday, December 12, 2011

NBA Transaction Round-Up: 12/12

This isn't every NBA transaction that's happened this past weekend, but just some that I found notable.  After getting burned by the Chris Paul non-trade, I've decided not to analyze a transaction until it's posted on the transactions page, which I assume means it's officially gone through the league office.  So, as of this writing, there won't be any thoughts on the David West signing, since it is not listed on the transaction page.

Toronto signs Jamaal Magloire, Aaron Gray, and Rasual Butler

None of these guys are going to make a huge difference, but Gray should at least provide replace some of the big man dirty work the departed Reggie Evans did, sans nut grabs.  That Gray is only getting a one-year deal is a testament to the fact that the NBA owners may finally be showing some restraint, since a seven-footer who showed the flashes of productivity Gray did in the playoffs last year used to be rewarded with 6-year, $30 million deals.  Magloire and Butler are fringe NBA players at this point, although Magloire does provide a little PR bump by becoming the first Canadian to play for the Raptors.

Atlanta signs Vladimir Radmanovic and sign Tracy McGrady to a one-year contract

If you're like me, you assumed Radmanovic's career was over following his trade from the Lakers to the Bobcats in 2009, and for his first season post-LA, we'd both be right.  In 2009-10, Vlad posted an amazing 7.9 PER in 41 games between Charlotte and Golden State, shooting an amazing 27.8% from three.  He bounced back somewhat last year in Oakland, although I obviously had no idea.  Terms of this deal weren't disclosed, but something close to the league minimum may actually turn out to be a bargain for the Hawks, who can use someone to spread the floor.  Hopefully, it's the 38% three-point shooter Radmanovic has been for his entire career, and not the 2009-10 version.

As for McGrady, he kind of reinvented himself last year as a point forward in Detroit, posting a respectable 14.85 PER in 72 games.  With limited minutes coming off the bench, if the former scoring champ's knee can stay intact and his heart can beat with a little fire, the Hawks may have found a low-cost replacement for much of the production that will likely be leaving with Jamal Crawford.

Sacramento signs Chuck Hayes for 4 years, $21.3 million and re-signs Marcus Thornton for 4 years, $33 million

I like both of these players a lot, and think they both are very capable of earning their money (especially Hayes, who is a steal at just over $5 million per season).  However, I don't necessarily see how crucial each of these signings are to the Kings.  Prior to the lockout, the Kings traded Omri Casspi to the Cavs for J.J. Hickson, a young power forward to go along with incumbent young power forwards Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins.  Presumably, Hickson could have slid into the starting four spot, sliding Cousins to the five and Thompson to the bench, where he's capable of backing up either player.  With Hayes on board, though, Cousins will remain at power forward, Hayes will start at center (despite his 6-6 height, the former Rocket is one of the best post defenders in the league), and Hickson will be pushed to the bench alongside Thompson.  I actually think this does make the Kings better, as Hayes's demands zero touches on offense--which will be perfect on a starting five that will include Cousins, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, and either Thornton or The Jimmer--and Hickson is a bit of a clueless knucklehead who gets a little too impressed with himself when he's starting.  However, the signing of yet another big following the Hickson trade is a little puzzling, especially considering that Hickson will be a restricted free agent following the season and the Kings need to see exactly what they have in the former Cav.

Similarly, I question the motivation behind giving Thornton over $8 million a year after the Kings presumably drafted his replacement in the form Jimmer Fredette.  Yes, Thornton positively lit it up following his trade to Sacramento from New Orleans (21.3 points per game in 27 games with the Kings), but 19 of those games were without Tyreke Evans in the lineup, so it is unknown if Thornton can keep up the same production alongside the Kings' "franchise" player.  Kevin Martin was traded because Evans needed more of a playmaker than a scorer next to him; now he's going to be paired with either Thornton, one of the most notorious gunners in the NBA (not that that's a bad thing), or The Jimmer, perhaps the most notorious gunner in recent college basketball history.  While the quality of player the Kings are bringing in is much higher than what David Kahn has been amassing in Minnesota, the same positional stockpiling that Kahn is ridiculed for is happening under-the-proverbial-radar in Sacramento.  Good luck balancing all those minutes, Paul Westphal.

Philadelphia re-signs Thaddeus Young for 5 years, $43 million

I love Thaddeus Young, despite his lack of a definitive position.  He lacks the handle or shooting ability to be a small forward, but also lacks ideal size to be a four.  Fortunately in today's NBA, position matters less than ability, and the 23-year old Young has that in scores.  Considering the money Caron Butler got, I think this deal is a steal for the Sixers, and will only improve in value if Young sees his minutes increase following an Andre Iguoldala trade.  An Elton Brand move would be even better, but I don't see that contract getting moved anytime soon.  Still, it's fun to imagine a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Iguodala, Evan Turner, Young, and Mareese Speights (who may be out of Philly any day now) running the floor.  I have been critical of most of the moves this off-season, but this is a signing I can get behind.

Orlando releases Gilbert Arenas under the Amnesty Clause and sign Larry Hughes

Gilbert Arenas should have this current amnesty clause named after him, since there was little doubt he was one of the main targets the owners had in mind when they cooked it up.  Gil has already passed through the under-the-cap waivers unclaimed, which can't be too great for his confidence.  I miss the old Agent Zero, but unfortunately, I think he's gone forever.  As for Hughes, I mention him only to point out that Larry Hughes is still somehow finding work despite not being even an average NBA player since 2004-05, the year before he signed as a free agent with Cleveland.

Dallas signs Brandan Wright and trades a 1st round pick and an $8.9 million trade exception to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lamar Odom

Apparently Odom took the trade/non-trade to New Orleans hard, reportedly demanding a trade following the Chris Paul non-swap.  That the Lakers could only get what is likely to be a late 1st round pick and trade flexibility for Odom seems to hint that there is another move down the road for LA.  As for the Mavs, Odom provides elite depth behind Dirk and Shawn Marion, and it will be interesting to see if Odom returns to his ball-handling, play-making early days in Clippersland and Miami now that he won't be playing alongside a ball-dominator like Kobe.  Considering what they had to give up, the Mavericks may have stolen the off-season's best value.

Brandan Wright was supposed to be a lesser version of Odom, a do-it-all big man highly touted coming out of UNC.  Injuries have prevented Wright from ever finding his NBA niche, but he will be afforded plenty of time to try and finally find his NBA self.  

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