Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Got The Better End Of The Key NBA Deals?

Thanks to the trade deadline, the NBA has a new theme with a line borrowed from “The Jefferson’s”:

“Movin’ on up, to the eastside…”

Carmelo Anthony is now a New York Knick, playing in the city that he grew up in and has been dying to play for since the Lakers ended the 2009-10 season. Not to be shown up with that move, the New Jersey Nets pulled off a stunning swap and nabbed Utah Jazz franchise star, Deron Williams.

These changes illustrates both teams need to improve quickly and become a squad that must be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference.

Yet, did both teams come out their deals smelling like roses or could these transactions make them wilt in a year or two?

Here’s the complete breakdown of the Anthony trade (this was a three team trade involving the Minnesota Timberwolves):

Knicks Get:

F Carmelo Anthony
G Chauncey Billups
F Corey Brewer
F/G Renaldo Balkman
F/C Shelden Williams
G Anthony Carter

Nuggets Get:

F Danilo Gallinari
G Raymond Felton
C Timofey Mozgov
F//G Wilson Chandler
Knicks 2014 1st Rounder
Two Second Round Picks
$3 Million Cash

Timberwolves Get:

C Eddy Curry
F/C Anthony Randolph
$3 Million Cash

For now, the Timberwolves will be excluded from this discussion (along with the fact that they receive little to nothing in the trade except money, an underdeveloped, big man in Randolph and the expiring contract of Curry).

The Knicks gave up most of their youth to get proven commodities. Anthony is a top ten player in the league who believes nothing can stop him from putting the ball in the hoop. He accomplishes this in multiple ways on the offensive end, a unique ability that no one on the New York team has. The attention he garners from the opposition will give Amar’e Stoudemire more space in the middle to flush dunks.

Billups is a battle-tested point guard who thrives off late game situations. While Felton will have more upside and continue to improve with more years in the league (he’s 26), he will never reach the merits that Billups has gotten throughout his career. With Anthony and Stoudemire monopolizing all the attention, the 34-year-old point guard won’t have to work hard to get open shots in Madison Square Garden.

Where the Knicks will hurt more is with their role players and their bench. Brewer will be a spark off the bench, but after him the options are thin. Balkman, Williams, and Carter are all averaging less than 17 minutes per game this season and will be asked to do more in New York.

The Nuggets will lose a cornerstone piece and his sidekick in Anthony and Billups, but now have a nice foundation to reconstruct their future. Felton (26), Mozgov (24), Chandler (23), and Gallinari (22) will be key components within that outlook. They will team up with many of their current young prospects (Aaron Afflalo and J.R. Smith are both 25 and Ty Lawson is 23) and their established stars (Nene Hilario, Kenyon Martin), making this one of the deepest teams in the West.

Despite that, nine role players will not win you a championship. Not to mention that having a player of Anthony’s caliber comes around once every ten to fifteen years, that’s if you are lucky (google the Nuggets history and check their star players). New York has been praying for redemption of historic greatness, and now have that in Stoudemire and Anthony.

Advantage: New York

Here’s the deal between the Nets and the Jazz:

New Jersey Gets:

G Deron Williams
F Brandan Wright
C Dan Gadzuric

Utah Gets:

G Devin Harris
PF Derrick Favors
Nets 2011 1st Rounder
Warriors 2012 1st Rounder

Golden State Gets:

F Troy Murphy

(Similar to the Anthony trade, this discussion will not include the Golden State Warriors.)

Williams joins a situation that is different from Anthony; he is now on a team that is nine games out of the playoff hunt. He does have a potent weapon in C Brook Lopez, who is only 22 and could develop into a counterpart that resembles the old Utah years with Carlos Boozer for a post option.

The Nets get a superstar who is third in the category of best all-around point guards (behind Chris Paul and Derrick Rose). They also finally acquire that centerpiece to build a team around in Williams. Since their last appearance in the 2003 NBA Finals with their Jason Kidd-led team, the Nets have been in need of a first tier player to return to greatness.

If Wright can ever stay healthy, get consistent playing time and regain the supreme talent that made him a top prospect at North Carolina, he could be the steal of this trade for the Nets. The Warriors were skeptical about keeping a player on board with so much promise in F Ekpe Udoh, but their loss is the Nets gain. Gadzuric is picked up because of his expiring contract.

Utah understood that when Jerry Sloan left, their franchise would have to detour in a new direction. Getting rid of Williams was in their future scheme, but premature in its timing.

Harris is a speedy point guard who can zip around the court, as if he’s built with light speed. Utah will most likely pattern their offense into an uptempo, up-and-down style team that fits the way their new point guard plays. While he doesn’t have the size or the range that Williams is armed with, he does have a great feel for the game and can distribute the ball just as well as the top point guards in the league.

Like Wright, Favors could end up being the jackpot of this move for the Jazz. At the age of nineteen, this forward has the body type and raw talent that could make him an impact big man within the next five years. Surrounding him with the likes of Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, and Andrei Kirilenko will help him fine tune his game steadily instead of stunting his growth by playing him big minutes as an under-developed post player.

The other possible big payoff down the road may be the two first round picks. New Jersey’s will most likely remain a lottery pick in the 2011 Draft. They will also have their pick, which could possibly also get lottery draw, giving them a chance to land two top ten picks this year. They may have that same situation in 2012, with the Warriors pick in hand with their own next season.

New Jersey will love having Williams be the face of the team, but with the length of his tenure in doubt(he could become a free agent after next season), it’s hard to imagine a player of that caliber sticking around if he doesn’t have the right parts around him. The promise of Favors and the two picks in the next two years is too appetizing to not like if you are the Jazz, but getting Harris in the deal is the cherry that tops the cake.

Advantage: Utah Jazz

Despite the contradiction of who won and lost in these moves, the Nets and the Knicks are as happy as Kenny Smith when Blake Griffin won the NBA Slam Dunk contest. Both teams get a significant star that are icons in the NBA.

Owners James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov have got to be dancing like George Jefferson with their new acquisitions and singing a new tune in their mind…

“We’re movin’ on up…”

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