By: Rob Botts
National Basketball Association general managers all around the league at the trading deadline are like actors walking onto an audition room. They all have to make a STRONG choice. Strength can come in a couple forms. Being resolute in what you have…have the strength to do NOTHING and stand pat. The second option comes in the form of picking up that phone and making a deal or being part of a larger, greater good for everybody, multiple team deal. Both options in different ways can help your team. Let’s breakdown these deals….
The Phoenix Suns traded Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat. The Godfather of South Beach, Mr. Pat Riley, seems not to really care much about the draft and what it apparently WON’T have to offer. They have been serial draft dumpers over the years, while choosing to go after experienced veterans and talented “youngish” players to infuse with them. Getting Dragic is a massive upgrade at point guard because well, he is really a two for one guard. He can be your scoring guard when things tighten up and can be that dishing, fast break leader as well when needed. The Heat gained a really, really good player. Now, let’s take a look at the other end of this deal…The valley of the sun had three bright shiny orbs lighting up that city. The three headed monster on the perimeter. They had good chemistry as well. I know, I know…Dragic was gonna be gone anyway after the owner had drawn his finger through the Arizona desert sand that left the Sun’s front office pretty much helpless. Gotta get something for him right? Did they though? Well, not going to give a spoiler away that will appear later in this article, but for now…in this particular deal….NO!! They got just a guy and Danny Granger..or a player that has the name Danny Granger but doesn’t resemble the game of one Danny Granger. This guy once had a “Bat Cave” built under his mansion while balling in Indiana for the Pacers. The problem here for the Suns is, they just traded for Bruce Wayne…not Batman.
And now, a going home story…Awe….Picture it…The old former Timberwolf heads back to Minnesota to become the new, old Timberwolf again..Wait, what? Yes…Kevin Garnett is heading back to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he began his career via a trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately Kevin is no longer “KG” or “The Kid” anymore…He’s on his last NBA legs and is gonna get some sentimental run alongside youngster Andrew Wiggins and old pal Flip Saunders. Doesn’t it seem like yesterday that KG was in Minnesota….destroying dudes upfront that led him to the MVP award in 2004…. Passing out of double teams to an open Wally Szczerbiak….hitting a cutting Sam “I Am” Cassell with a drop down dish….or out letting to a streaking Latrell Sprewell on the break…Those were the days for Timberwolves fans…These days, Kevin can still set a good illegal moving screen. But the elbow isn’t as raised or as sharp. The loud mouthed roar has turned into a muted bark that players just don’t respond or react to anymore. The trade makes sense for the Nets who just went into midseason tank attempt mode….It makes sense for the Wolves as well. It’s a nice image…Letting the young pups lead the pack while the old wolf takes a well deserved seat on the “retirement tour” sleigh for one last ride….
Isiah Thomas arrived to the Boston Celtics via trade from those wheeling and dealing Phoenix Suns. The Suns must have some inside information that Eric Bledsoe is actually Superman and the only thing that would need them to have a deep bench is if somehow….someway, Lex Luther shows up with some of that green rock. The Celtics finally have partially filled in the large hole left from the departure of Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks. It’s tough to figure out general manager Danny Ainge’s plan other than to guess that it is a long, long, long, long term one. But, maybe, just maybe, he’s starting to feel the heat of the not so distant flame of ownership that is starting to get impatient and wants a deviation from the 20 year plan. The Celts are trying to build a winner….not a nation. Thomas will provide a young, veteran, stabilizing force that will be a driving scorer and distributer to the likes of Bradley and rookie Smart on the perimeter. Will it make them THAT much better? No…But closer.
There is only so much of that ball in OKC boss….Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook finally got what they secretly wanted…Well, maybe not that secretly….Reggie Jackson is gone. Jackson filled in nicely as far as the scoring load was concerned when Westbrook was out and at times was very efficient in his shotmaking…BUT, he liked to take challenged, difficult shots at times and that didn’t go over well. His teammates actually freezed him out in one game. Really, they did. That’s playground type of treatment. He’ll get plenty of shots for the Detroit Pistons with Brandon Jennings out for an extended period of time. His fiery, rough and tumble style while be a nice backcourt compliment to it’s frontcourt. The Thunder also picked up the human sledgehammer from the Utah Jazz that is Enes Cantor. This guy gets rebounds and scores inside. This made smiley Kendrick Perkins obsolete. Cantor doesn’t have the prettiest moves or the smoothest touch, but he is crafty around the hoop, can really bang and is strong like a bull. The forgotten former Duke Star Kyle Singler will open up the lanes for Westbrook and the Durantula with his consistent three-point shooting. His length and occasional slashing will add depth to OKC.
I don’t know if everybody this year is FEARING the deer in Milwaukee, but they assure are AWARE of the deer around the league. Jason Kidd is on the short list of candidates for coach of the year and he just acquired from those fire sale, “if you have any talent at all, we want you gone, let’s set a record for trips to the lottery”, Philadelphia 76ers, the kid with three names…Michael Carter-Williams. He has superb athletic ability… a nose for the ball and some “plastic man” ability on the defensive end. But, he is young. BUT, this the PERFECT destination for a young point guard looking for guidance. His head coach just happens be an NBA champion…an every year all-star…serious competitor….future hall of famer and one of the shrewdest sideline operators we seen in a long time. Carter-Williams will push the tempo along with that long armed dude, who nobody can pronounce, let alone spell his last name and OJ Mayo…..Ahhhh….Those pesky Suns are popping up again..(Spoiler delivered)They now have Brendan Knight, who is actually having a career year so far and will be nice backup to Bledsoe….
Then there is the Mile high city of Denver and the city of Roses, Portland getting together….With a little bit of those 76ers thrown in as well… “Shaqtin’ A Fool” mainstay, Mr. JaVale McGee is going to the city of brotherly love….Denver just got less funny while his future fan base has no actual want or need for anything humorous, other than their basketball team’s win / loss record this year. Denver Nuggets head coach, Brian Shaw,(The first part of that old “Shaw-Shaq” redemption that used to play in Los Angeles years ago) lost a fantastic all-round player in Arron Afflalo to the Portland Trailblazers. The city of Roses gave up what amounts to “some dudes” for an excellent NBA player that will provide leadership as well. He will fit in nicely with LaMarcus Aldridge and the crew up there.
Whether the general managers had it already made or they went for a trade…they went strong…That’s all you can ask for…and a championship.