The first volleys of trading and free agency have swept across the NBA battlefield.
Let’s examine the first trades fired and what they’ll mean to their prospective teams. Only trades involving two teams swapping players who weren’t subsequently cut will be analyzed.
New York acquires Anthony Randolph, Ronnie Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike from Golden State for David Lee
David Lee would be superfluous with Amar'e Stoudemire in tow, so the Knicks shipped him off for solid depth and a potentially high reward in Randolph.
Randolph is a long, lean forward who runs like a gazelle, falls in love with his inconsistent jumper, plays zero defense, and has a limited understanding of the game. However, if he can gain some upper body strength and put things together, he could become a big-time player in an uptempo offense somewhere down the road.
Turiaf will always play hard on defense, even if his undersized frame mitigates the success of his efforts. He’ll block shots, rebound, and make plays simply on his competitive spirit.
Azubuike can defend a little, shoot a little, handle a little, and run the floor. He’s not a bad backup wing, especially in an uptempo offense.
Still, the pickups do little to plug the gaping holes that the Knicks have at the guard and power forward/center position.
Golden State acquires David Lee from New York for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubuike.
Lee has terrific rebounding instincts and an extraordinarily quick second jump which allows him to dominate the glass. Aside from Dwight Howard, Lee probably has the most rebounding range in the NBA. His ability to rebound, make quick outlet passes, and run the floor will add another dimension to Golden State’s fast break.
He doesn’t need the ball offensively, but he’s an excellent screen-slipper and finisher with both hands around the rim, particularly his left. He’s also improved his game to the point where he has a dangerous midrange jumper. He’s far too quick off the dribble for centers to handle, forcing them to give up space for him to shoot 18-footers at will.
Of course, his defense is deplorable, but in Golden State that’s hardly a footnote. With Golden State’s get-up-and-go gameplan, expect him to put up even bigger numbers than the gargantuan totals he produced under Mike D’Antoni.
Getting him for fillers is the basketball equivalent of highway robbery.
Milwaukee acquires Corey Maggette from Golden State for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric.
Maggette fills a major hole in Milwaukee’s lineup.
He’s a ferocious baseline player with a penchant for ducking in, sealing weaker defenders, and finishing or drawing fouls at the hoop. Looking at the Bucks roster, you’ll see a team devoid of interior finishers.
Andrew Bogut is solid up front, but John Salmons takes too many dribbles to get to the hoop, Brandon Jennings is a pathetic finisher, Luke Ridnour is soft, Michael Redd’s career is in limbo, Jerry Stackhouse is running on fumes, Kurt Thomas is strictly a jump shooter, and Ersan Illyasova has trouble finishing among the trees.
Acquiring Maggette gives Milwaukee’s offense much needed muscle power to go with the team’s heart and scrappiness.
Sure, Maggette’s as ball-hungry as they come, but he hasn’t played for a coach with a strong personality in years. He’ll always play hard on offense if he gets his touches, and looking at Milwaukee’s roster, he’ll be a primary option down low. Plus, if he overdribbles or takes too many quick jumpers, he’ll have to deal with Scott Skiles and a number of well-respected veterans who will make sure he falls in line.
Defensively is a different story as Maggette has never been a good defender. The hope is that he improves by osmosis and provides enough offensive production to offset his lack of defense.
Golden State acquires Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric from Milwaukee for Corey Maggette.
Taking on players is the secondary aspect of this deal. Golden State is more than happy to shed Maggette and free up more ball time for Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
Bell is a defense-oriented guard who is too small to defend shooting guards, and too slow to defend point guards. He’s a respectable shooter and playmaker but is hampered by lack of size. Gadzuric can run the floor and is active on the offensive glass, but he has no offensive game to speak of and gets pushed around defensively. He’s strictly a third center.
Each will be lucky to see more than spot duty. The Warriors are perfectly fine with that.
Sacramento acquires Samuel Dalembert from Philadelphia for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes.
Dalembert is a terrific weak side shot blocker and springy rebounder who will clean up some of the mistakes of Sacramento’s novice perimeter defenders. He also displays poor judgment and will take two or three jump shots per game that are beyond his range. Still, his clean-up defense will help Sacramento’s offense stay in games, and he’ll feed off the cookies provided by Tyreke Evans’s penetrations.
He’s a short term upgrade over Spencer Hawes, with Hawes lacking the potential to become anything more than a journeyman center. Nocioni had no future in Sacramento’s plans, and had fallen out of favor by clashing with Tyreke Evans.
Philadelphia acquires Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes from Sacramento for Samuel Dalembert.
With Dalembert set free, the Sixers will have more playing time available for Elton Brand, Marreese Speights, and Thaddeus Young. While no player in that trio is a center, the Sixers will be able to split Brand and Speights at the center position, while having the other split time with Young at the four. If the lack of size is an issue, Spencer Hawes won’t embarrass himself by playing major minutes at center.
Nocioni used to be a plus defender and a versatile scorer but he’s lost a step. His defense is no longer exemplary, and he has trouble finishing in a crowd. He can still shoot the three, and still plays hard, giving the Sixers’ bench more teeth than it had with Jason Kapono.
New Jersey acquires Quinton Ross from Washington for Yi Jianlian.
Defense is Ross’ stock-in-trade—he offers virtually nothing on the offensive end of the floor. At worst, he’s an upgrade over Trent Hassel, and an indicator of what the Nets think of Yi after two seasons.
Washington acquires Yi Jianlian from New Jersey for Quinton Ross.
Softer than a sponge, Jianlian is little more than an oversized shooting guard. Yi offers little without the ball so it’s a wonder why the Wizards traded for him when they have so many players who’ll need the ball to be effective next season.