How good has the rest of the league become with all the recent wheeling-and-dealing? A quick look at some of the bigger trades and transactions:
Minnesota acquires Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins, Brian Cardinal for O.J. Mayo, Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner (Memphis)
This one's tough to analyze. I think Mayo's overrated and Love underrated; that said, I still think Mayo is the better player with far more upside. It's amazing how many bad contracts Minny managed to unload in this deal- Walker (30 mil), Buckner (12 mil), Jaric (21 mil). Minnesota also got the (current) best player in the deal in Mike Miller. But I question if that's really a positive. The T-Wolves won't be relevant until at least another year or two down the road. Miller's contract only lasts until 2010. What's the point of acquiring a pretty good player who may or may not be around when the team's rebuilding efforts come to fruition? At the end of the day, I would've loved to see a Mayo/Jefferson tandem. However, Minnesota still comes out on top after this deal. By jettisoning those three contracts, they've put themselves in great position to re-build.
Toronto acquires Jermaine O'Neal, Nathan Jawai for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, Roy Hibbert (Indiana)
Brilliant. Move of the off-season (yes, over Elton Brand to Philly). Toronto had an excess at point guard and exchanged that for an All-Star 7 footer. This is one of those rare trades that could end up benefiting both sides. Indy was in desperate need of a PG with Tinsley expected to be bought out. Toronto gets the new age Twin Towers in Chris Bosh and O'Neal. Nathan Jawai is an excellent throw-in to the deal. After sporting one of the worst rebounding teams in the league last year, Toronto could have a three-headed monster in the post in a couple of years. If I'm a Raptor fan, I'm salivating over the prospect of Calderon at point exclusively, Bargnani developing, and the Twin Towers.
Philadelphia acquires Elton Brand
I feel pretty bad for the Clips. I never imagined that Elton Brand was as childish as bolting due to a "perceived slight" from Clippers' brass. Obviously, it's a great move for Philly; Brand addresses the Sixers' issue of getting too tied down to Andre Iguodala's production, offensively speaking. With the draft selection of Mareese Speights, Philly is another team that will sport a terrific front line in the next few years. Say what you will, but the East is definitely getting stronger by the day.
Verdict: Philly, Elton Brand both win
Orlando acquires Mickael Pietrus
The Magic overpaid severely for Rashard Lewis and I think they overpaid for Air France as well. Pietrus is servicable, for sure. But his defensive prowess is overstated; many analysts are acting like he's Orlando's solution to both LBJ and D-Wade. Even though I think 25.1 mil. is too much for MP, you never know what the market situation was and how involved other teams were. More than anything, I respect Orlando for acting decisively to upgrade a soft spot on their roster.
Verdict: Mickael Pietrus
Golden State acquires Corey Maggette
It's sort of stunning to see rumors of Maggette signing for the mid-level in Boston or San Antonio, then turning around to take a 5 year/50 million dollar deal. But I'm not going to fault him for taking money like that. Given Rashard Lewis' contract last year, you could even make the case that Maggette is getting undervalued a little bit. Still, I don't see how this move makes much sense for Golden State. With the loss of Baron Davis, they're back on the verge of slipping into obscurity. Sure, Ellis is a stud and Biedrins is great too. It seems like GM Chris Mullin is eschewing re-building around those two in favor of trying to win now. Why not focus on re-signing Ellis/Biedrins this summer, keeping open a ton of cap space, and then attacking the FA market aggressively in '09 or '10? Landing a big name free agent (Wade, Bosh, Redd, etc.) would definitely be worth a couple years of mediocrity.
Verdict: Corey Maggette, big time
L.A.C. acquires Baron Davis
Ha ha. "Baron Davis bolts for home state" has now turned into "Baron Davis bolts for hometown." What's next, "Baron Davis tries to start NBA franchise in backyard"? Humor aside, this move would've ranked an A+++, had Elton Brand decided against stabbing the Clips in the back. B-Diddy/C-Kamy is a decent tandem, they'll still be irrelevant this year. I question that even Emeka Okafor can change that.
Verdict: Baron Davis