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NBA trade deadline report cards: Portland gets an “A”

Mar 15, 2012, 8:04 PM EDT

LaMarcus Aldridge, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton AP

Dwight Howard didn’t get traded and neither did any of Boston’s big three. But there were plenty of moves at the deadline. Here are our grades for each team.

Atlanta Hawks: They wanted to move one player to get themselves under the luxury tax line (they are $440,000 over it). They couldn’t do it. So they quietly sold a second-round pick to the Warriors for cash considerations to cover that tax bill. Grade: C.

Boston Celtics: They shopped the Big Three around hard, but GM Danny Ainge wasn’t going to give up Ray Allen for just a pick or a young player. He wanted both. Kind of the same thing with Paul Pierce. In the end, we get one more playoff run with the Big Three. Is that so bad? Grade: Inc.

Charlotte Bobcats: They shopped D.J. Augustin, but no move. Grade: Inc.

Chicago Bulls: You don’t mess with a contending roster. No moves. Grade: Inc.

Cleveland Cavaliers: They held out because they wanted a first-round pick for Ramon Sessions, and they got one. A pick very late in the first round (the Lakers’ pick), but that’s about as good as you’re going to do for a nice point guard who can opt out (and one the Cavs don’t really need). Grade: B.

Dallas Mavericks: They didn’t make any moves, but they get a good grade because with Dwight Howard staying in Orlando, the odds of them getting Deron Williams this summer just went way, way up. Grade B.

Denver Nuggets: They have had buyer’s remorse with Nene, who signed a five-year, $67 million deal this year and has been injured for stretch of the season and not effective in other parts. I get the concern about four more seasons with this guy. The bet they made is that George Karl can coach up JaVale McGee. That out of Washington the athletic big man will mature. I don’t like that bet. However, out of that deal (they also got Ronny Turiaf) they got a huge trade exception. They save some cash. But it will be three years before we really know if this deal works. Grade: C

Detroit Pistons: They stood pat. This is not a good team, and they had pieces that should have drawn interest, but the didn’t do anything. Pistons fans are right to be a little frustrated. Grade: Inc.

Golden State Warriors: Two moves I don’t really like. They trade away Monta Ellis and get Andrew Bogut. I get why, because when healthy, Bogut is a very good defensive center and solid on offense. But Bogut hasn’t been healthy in three years and it’s a roll of the dice on his health (and Stephen Curry’s health, because he is the backcourt leader now). Then at the deadline they swap out Stephen Jackson (who they got in the Ellis trade) for Richard Jefferson. Jefferson is a nice player, but he is making $11 million next year. That will make it hard for them to get in the free-agent game this summer. Look, both moves were about changing the culture of the team and bringing in professional, hard-working guys. But they really need pure talent, and I think they have less of it. Grade: D.

Houston Rockets: They didn’t get Howard, but they got Marcus Camby out of Portland and that is a fantastic fit for them — they have needed a defensive-minded center. All they gave up was guys such as Jonny Flynn who were not playing anyway. They take on Derek Fisher and get a first-round pick for it, but that’s not going to mean much more than a little depth. Houston is going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Grade: A-.

Indiana Pacers: They picked up a solid backup point guard in Leandro Barbosa, who might not fit their style but only cost a second-rounder. Good move. Grade: B.

Los Angeles Clippers: There are questions about what kind of player Nick Young will grow up to be in three years — and he does need to group up. But he can put the ball in the basket, shoot the three, run the floor and is very athletic — he fits in great with the Clippers. And all they gave up to get him were Brian Cook and a second-round pick. Grade: B+.

Los Angeles Lakers: They didn’t hit the home run that their fans demand, but their fans underestimate Ramon Sessions. This is a big upgrade at the point guard spot — Sessions is a slasher who looks to dish, not shoot. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will love him. They will miss Derek Fisher in the locker room, but it’s not that big a loss on the court (except in the final 10 seconds of a game). With Sessions, the Lakers may be the biggest threat to the Thunder in the West. The grade falls a little because they shipped out both of their first-round picks this year. Grade: B.

Memphis Grizzlies: They traded Sam Young to the 76ers in a move that gets them under the luxury tax line. That’s what this was about. Grade: C.

Miami Heat: See the Bulls entry. Grade: Inc.

Milwaukee Bucks: They got Monta Ellis a couple days before the trade deadline. Personally, I like the Ellis/Brandon Jennings back court. They can up the tempo and now you have a couple dangerous slashers. My real questions are what kind of team the Bucks are building and can Scott Skiles coach it? However, short term, this might help them make the playoffs. Grade B.

Minnesota Timberwolves: David Kahn didn’t make a deadline day move? Something weird is going on here. Grade: Inc.

New Jersey Nets: They lost out on Dwight Howard, so they got Gerald Wallace. In theory their starting five is not bad — Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. But Williams and Wallace can opt out this summer and become free agents. You really think they can keep it all together? Neither do I. Grade. D.

New Orleans Hornets: They tried to find a partner willing to take on Chris Kaman, but there were reports they were asking too much. So Kaman will leave this summer as a free agent. Grade: Inc.

New York Knicks: Does Mike Woodson for Mike D’Antoni count for a trade? Grade: Inc.

Oklahoma City Thunder: See the Heat and Bulls entries. Grade: Inc.

Orlando Magic: They kept Dwight Howard in town by calling his bluff. That is as big a win as anybody — except that it is a one-year deal, he’s not opting out early but if the Magic don’t make moves to get this team competing with the Heat and Bulls by next trade deadline we will be right back here. That said, today they celebrate. Grade: A-.

Philadelphia 76ers: They get Sam Young from the Grizzlies for basically nothing, they add some depth. That’s nice. Not thrilling but nice. Grade: B.

Phoenix Suns: No moves expected, none made. Steve Nash is still with team. Check back again in July. Grade: Inc.

Portland Trail Blazers: I love what they did today. Love it. This is not a very good team but they have some nice parts such as LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum. So they got rid of the expensive parts and brought back expiring deals. With today’s moves they will be about $25 million under the salary cap this summer (assuming Jamal Crawford opts out as expected) — they can re-sign Batum and still get a max deal free agent. Plus they have the Nets’ first-round pick this draft. That, my friends, is how you rebuild on the fly. The only thing that would have made it better is finding a taker for Raymond Felton. Grade: A.

Sacramento Kings: No moves… but they got a deal for a new arena! Grade: Inc.

San Antonio Spurs: They got the lesser player in the Stephen Jackson/Richard Jefferson swap. That said, they got the less expensive player, and Gregg Popovich and Jackson have a good relationship. Plus it’s the Spurs. You just know this will work out for them. Grade: B.

Toronto Raptors: They were going to lose Leandro Barbosa anyway after the season, so they got a second-round pick out of it. And they play Jerryd Bayless more. Grade: B-.

Utah Jazz: Stood pat. Grade: Inc.

Washington Wizards: I like bringing in Nene for this reason — it’s about changing the culture. Denver fans will tell you that Nene didn’t play through pain and was not tough, but he’s not a headcase like JaVale McGee. They had to make locker room changes and guys like Nick Young are out. They are not a lot better on the court, but they are making changes that can start to take them down that path. Grade: B-.

  1. p1nch3dloaf - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    @Portland – I’d settle for a burrito for Felton.

    • thesixersbench - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:39 PM

      Felton is completely ok with settling for burritos.

  2. thesixersbench - Mar 15, 2012 at 8:38 PM

    Good write-up, Kurt. You hit the nail on the head in your opinions on the Blazers, Bucks and Warriors.

    Can’t believe the Warriors made that deal. I’d be really interested to learn their train of thought. I suppose it went something like this:

    1: Upgrade at center. Make sure he fits with David Lee’s game.

    2: Ellis or Curry? Kept Curry, shipped Monta out. Never would’ve worked. Their games are too similar and Monta doesn’t contribute on D.

    3: Get a wing player who can consistently knock down the 3 (thanks for nothing, Dorrell Wright). Wright may be on way out this summer.

    4: Shut down Curry, rest the ankle, tank the rest of the year and get a Top 5 pick in a historically deep draft.

    If that’s the case….ok. I guess I understand the line of thinking. Just really hate this particular move. I think Udoh really could’ve been something given a bit more time to develop. We’ll see.

    • orbearider66 - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      While I don’t like the Ellis trade, I do understand why they made the trades they made.

      First of all, my understanding is that Ellis had had it in Golden State and was demanding a trade. More importantly, he was about to go public with his demand for a trade. So, he was gone. I hate seeing Udoh go as I think he’s going to be really good for a long time. However, Warriors ownership LOVES Lee. Udoh would have been better off in Lee’s position and ownership was never going to let that happen.

      I don’t think there was ever any intent to keep Jackson and I suspect the W’s already had a deal in place with the Spurs for him (the Ellis trade was basically a three team deal). Not only did SJax burn his bridges on the way out of town (especially hard to do with that fan base who loved him) but that idiotic contract extension Rowell and Cohan gave him was always going to be a reminder of the two decade debacle that was the Cohan ownership years. Then you tack on the fact that he wants *another* extension … not gonna happen.

      Sure they took back salary but they are trying to change that culture around there. But they must be kicking themselves about the Denver – Wizards – Clippers deal because I think they would have jumped all over the chance to get Nene instead of Andrew “Ouch” Bogut.

  3. jbthedon - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Steven Jackson is a better player than Jefferson Golden state got the lesser player.

  4. max20characters - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Without letting go of Kurt Helin, PBT will still stink.
    ProBasketballTalk- Grade: F+

    • mytthor - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      Oh shut up. Start your own blog.

  5. baydude - Mar 16, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    You whiffed on your Warriors analysis. The culture they needed to change was a defenseless team that was the league’s worst in rebounding. Bogut was completely healthy less than 2 years ago when he led the NBA in blocked shots and was All-NBA 3rd team. It’s a roll of the dice on his health insomuch as they hope he doesn’t get another freak injury. He’s a Top 5 center who cost you a young rotation player (Udoh) and a spectacular scorer in Ellis, albeit one who, behind the scenes was asking for a trade and can opt out of his contract after next year and didn’t mesh with Curry.

    What you’re not seeing with the Jackson deal is that the Warriors turned an expensive (1 more year on his deal after this), malcontent role player who’ll be 34 in 2 weeks into a FIRST-ROUND PICK by being willing to take on an extra year of Richard Jefferson. (They potentially didn’t have a 1st in what’s billed as the deepest draft in years and in 2 days they added a late 1st and bought a 2nd-rounder from Atlanta).

    As for taking themselves out of the free-agent market, they gave up roughly $9 million in cap space in taking on Jackson (Jefferson). They made offers of more than $10 million for offensively-flawed, defensive-oriented centers (Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan) and couldn’t get them. Who’s the difference-maker their $9 million was going to bring in? You think that would have netted them someone better than Bogut?

  6. progress2011 - Mar 16, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    I really like Monta Ellis. I think he is one of the best scorers in the league (as his numbers confirm). I think he would be able to really help a team, like Portland, that already has a good core. Ellis combined with Aldridge and Batum, would be scary, in a few years.

    I can never be confused as a laker fan, but I do like D-Fish, as a person. Even though he only has a jumper left (which is pretty accurate), I’d like to see him end his career with a team that was a real contender.
    For all those that think stars or athletes should be role models for your children, because you are not, and you shift the responsibility and blame to others, D-Fish has been a role model for your children. But I’m not sure he has a real opportunity to go out with pride in Houston. I think the lakers should have been compelled to make sure he was traded to a real contender.
    If D-Fish played his last year(s) on a team like the Bulls or the Thunder, his championship wisdom would be priceless for the young, talented players on those respective teams. Lastly, contributing his championship knowledge to those young locker rooms, would have allowed him to go out gracefully.

    • mytthor - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Ellis’ being one of the best scorers in the league depends a bit on which numbers you look at. If you start adjusting his numbers to compensate for pace and minutes played, he gets a lot more ordinary. He’s not a good shooter, he’s a volume guy and it remains to be seen if he can put up any numbers on a contending team. Also, he plays no defense.

      Now I am a Laker fan, and while I absolutely agree that he is a great guy, I disagree that his jumper is pretty accurate. He’s shooting 32% this year from 3, and not much better with 2 pointers. He just doesn’t have the athleticism to get open anymore. But the bigger problem is that his legend makes coaches play him in the clutch when the reality is he’s just not getting it done anymore. I expect and hope for him to rejoin the Lakers in a front office role soon, but it’s a huge blessing that he’s not playing anymore for them. Because he’s “D-Fish,” he of the .04 shot and many other clutch heroics, the Lakers have been giving 25 minutes per game to a shooter who can’t shoot and can’t defend his position. All he does well at this point is take charges.

      • progress2011 - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:02 PM

        mythor (aka another delusional kobe fan ) !

        1. When I stated Ellis is one of the leagues best scorers, the only number to look at is the Field Goals Made vs the Field Goal Attempts. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure that out.

        2. He’s not the biggest ball hawk in the league, so to suggest pace and minutes played matter, is asinine.

        3. His numbers on defense are very similar to the leagues biggest ball hawk, ” the jack up artist ” that wears #24 on your team.

        Let the numbers speak for themselves:

        kobe: Field goal attempts- 1028, Field goals made- 447, Steals- 56, Blocks- 15, Total Points- 1247 on 43% Shooting.

        Ellis: Field goal attempts- 704, Field goals made-307, Steals-56, Blocks-12, Total Points-811 on 43% Shooting.

        So, if Ellis is not a good shooter or defender, neither is kobe.

        Let’s see what excuse you attempt to come up with, since you have the facts glaring you in the face!!! This will be funny ! I cant wait to hear the demented comments.

  7. mytthor - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    First of all, I never said a word about Kobe Bryant or tried to compare him to Monta Ellis. You’re using the total # of steals and blocks to be the be-all end-all of defensive statistics? But my argument was that Ellis isn’t efficient, and your response is to show that statistically he’s very similar to a guy you think is a giant ball hog? So you basically proved my point for me? Thanks.

    And for the last time, you nimrod, it’s “ball hog,” not “ball hawk.” A ball hawk is a great defensive player who gets a lot of steals and is a disruptive force, a ball hog is someone who shoots too much. Like Kobe Bryant. Which I assume you think I disagree with because I said I was a Laker fan, but since I actually know something about basketball, I do think Kobe Bryant takes stupid shots and shoots too much.

    I thought I was going to have to direct you to a John Hollinger article on PER or something to get you to understand what I was talking about, but if you can’t understand how pace and minutes played, would affect how many points you put up, I really can’t help you there.

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