Return To Sender: 10 NBA Player Moves Which Have Yet To Pan Out
With the NBA trade deadline fast approaching, teams would do well to heed the lessons from the offseason of 2009 when various players bolted from their teams for the assumed greener pastures of others.
The majority of these moves were seen as major upgrades for the teams receiving the player's services, but as the season has progressed, most of these moves have resulted in mixed results.
In fact, none of the big-name players who switched teams in the offseason have impacted their teams in the manner which was imagined, while others have been outright failures.
I have compiled a list of the 10 players who I feel have been the biggest disappointments in the predicted impact on their respective teams.
While the statistics for some are similar to their previous numbers, they have failed in specific areas which were perceived to be their strengths, and their failures have coincided with reduced expectations for their teams.
I'm sure there are more players who deserve to populate this list, and my opinion on the players here is by no means the final word, so I welcome other opinions on the subject.
Let me know if you agree with this list, and also inform me of who you would include instead, but please do it in a respectful manner. Enjoy.
No. 10: Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are not currently suffering in Ron Artest's failure to realize the vision which the team had for him, because they are still the first place team in the Western Conference.
Nor do the Lakers need the 17 points Artest averaged in Houston, but a more consistent effort in the strongest area of Artest's game would be a major boon for Los Angeles.
Artest was brought in to be the defensive stopper the Lakers lacked and to instill an edge in the toughness department, which L.A. desperately needed, and he has succeeded to a point.
Artest was brilliant in a recent game against Boston, especially when defending Paul Pierce, but that type of performance must become the norm instead of an exception.
In order for the Lakers to be dominant, Artest must continue to compete in the same manner in which he finished the Lakers' eight-game road trip, then maybe the repeat dreams of the Lakers will materialize.
No. 9: Vince Carter, Orlando Magic
When Vince Carter was acquired from the New Jersey Nets, it was widely thought the Orlando Magic wouldn't miss a beat in their quest to return to the NBA Finals.
Not only have the Magic missed a beat, but a fundamental difference in the value of the departed Hedo Turkoglu and Carter has been exposed.
Turkoglu's size caused match-up problems when paired with Rashard Lewis because it gave the Magic two players with length who were comfortable on the perimeter.
Carter is easily guarded with players of a more traditional size, and he is nowhere near the game manager or ball-handler that Turkoglu was.
More importantly, Turkoglu could be counted on to handle the ball in late-game situations, and he usually got good shots for himself or teammates.
Carter gets shots, too, but most of them are from the perimeter, and few of them are good looks or involve teammates, which may come back to haunt the Magic.
Orlando has been playing better, and their postseason is secure, but the ability of Carter to perform with intelligence in the heat of battle could be a concern in the future.
No. 8: Andre Miller, Portland Trail Blazers
Andre Miller has performed admirably in his stint as a Portland Trail Blazer, and he is more a victim of circumstance than anything else.
It seems that the Blazers have performed at their best when Steve Blake and Brandon Roy have been able to share time in the backcourt, leaving Miller the odd man out.
Miller can still play, and the Blazers will need his leadership and experience in their bid to secure a postseason spot, so some sort of compromise must be reached.
To his credit, Miller has accepted this with the grace of a professional and is more interested in finding a stable medium for his team rather than personal success.
Still, coupled with injuries which have plagued Portland, Miller's impact on the team has meant relatively little when compared with the franchise's record in the standings.
No. 7: Ramon Sessions, Minnesota Timberwolves
Take a good look at Ramon Sessions in his Milwaukee Bucks' uniform because that's probably the last time you witnessed him involved in a NBA contest.
Sessions caused some noise when he departed the Bucks for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but you wouldn't know it by the lack of action he has seen.
He went from starting 39 games in 2009, to backing up rookie Johnny Flynn, and seeing his scoring average dip from 12.4 points per game to 7.6 points per game.
Quite a decline for a player who left for a free-agent payday, but instead finds himself on the outside looking in, unable to crack the lineup of a team filled with inexperienced players.
No. 6: Ben Gordon, Detroit Pistons
It's not like the acquisition of Ben Gordon from the Chicago Bulls was going to lead to great postseason success for the Detroit Pistons because they were flawed anyway, but did they really expect this?
The Pistons remain in the hunt for a playoff spot due to the mediocrity of the Eastern Conference, but Detroit could use a replication of Gordon's 20.7-point scoring average of 2009.
His scoring average has dropped to 16 points per game, and he's not hitting the timely shots which he became known for last season.
Detroit is not as competitive in close games as Gordon's Bulls were, and that may be part of the problem, but you have to think Detroit was assuming that Gordon would be the recipe for that issue.
No. 5: Mike Miller, Washington Wizards
The problem with Washington Wizards' player Mike Miller has not been his performance on the court but rather his ability to actually stay on it.
Miller has been extremely productive when seeing action, scoring 10 points per game, shooting 55 percent from the field, and 50 percent from three-point range.
But, due to injury, his action has been limited to 19 games, and his inability to stay healthy has been lost amidst the current Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon incident.
Miller has the talent to serve as a bridge during these troubled times for the Wizards, but he has to stay healthy in order for that to happen, and so far it seems unlikely.
The playoffs may be a dream for the Wizards, but if Miller can ever manage to string together some consistent playing time he could be instrumental in softening the blow.
No. 4: Allen Iverson, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers
Allen Iverson was supposed to make his grand return to the NBA's center stage when he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, but instead he was jettisoned within a month due to differences with the franchise.
He was then signed by Philadelphia to rescue the 76ers from the potential season-ending impact of an injury to guard Lou Williams.
His impact with the 76ers has done a lot more for ticket sales than it has for the fortunes of the team, because Philadelphia is nowhere close to securing a postseason bid.
Iverson has had his moments, but they have been few and far between, and the success of the Grizzlies sans Iverson may speak more to the blessing which was his departure.
At least Iverson was able to garner a spot on the Eastern Conference's All-Star team as a starter, something which surely wouldn't have happened if Iverson remained in the West.
No. 3: Hedo Turkoglu, Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have been playing pretty well lately, climbing as high as fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, around the area which was predicted for them before the season started.
But how much credit should be placed on the shoulders of Hedo Turkoglu, a player who was thought to be the missing piece in the Raptors' ascension to the NBA hierarchy?
If the numbers are any indication, then not much, because Turkoglu is down in every offensive category across the board, and his presence has not had the same effect on the Raptors as it did with the Magic.
This is all for naught if Turkoglu can play a pivotal part in helping the Raptors achieve the heights of his Magic team of 2009, but judging on the journey to this point, it's doubtful.
No. 2: Rasheed Wallace, Boston Celtics
Rasheed Wallace seems to have aged before our very eyes, becoming just a shell of the player whose versatility brought terror to the minds of opponents.
The scowl and the passion remain, but the skills have regressed to the point where Wallace has been limited to launching long-distance bombs from the perimeter.
He was signed by the Celtics to be a capable back-up to Kevin Garnett, but his regression has been among a number of issues which Boston has faced recently.
It could be Wallace is saving himself for the playoffs, and although this is plausible, his body language and the lack of impact he has had with the Celtics tell a different story.
No. 1: Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs
The signing of Richard Jefferson was seen as a coup for the San Antonio Spurs, a player who would finally act as a counter to Kobe Bryant on both ends of the floor.
The Spurs felt they leveled the field with Jefferson because he had the athleticism and ability to provide competent defense in addition to being a capable scorer.
He was coming off a season in which he averaged 20 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks, and his ability to get his own shot and shoot for distance was coveted by the Spurs.
But the usual injury issues coupled with an inability of Jefferson to assimilate to the San Antonio scheme has left the Spurs in the middle of a jumbled Western Conference.
Jefferson has been average on defense, and his scoring numbers have dropped to 12.4 points per game, hardly the numbers that the Spurs envisioned.
There is still time left for Jefferson to improve and help the Spurs affirm their predictions, but as competitive as the Western Conference has been, that time is growing short.