NBA Free agency starts July 1st, but there have already been plenty of trades this summer. Here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting ones.
Ersan Ilyasova to Detroit Pistons, Caron Butler and Shawne Williams to Milwaukee.
One of the first moves of the off-season was a real coup for Detroit, who acquired Ersan Ilyasova for virtually nothing in a salary dump deal from Milwaukee. Although he is not a great defender, Ilyasova is a good rebounder and he can really shoot the ball as a stretch 4, making the 28 year old Turk a perfect fit for head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system. Ilyasova should compliment resident big man Andre Drummond nicely. In light of the expected salary cap increase next year he has a relatively friendly contract too, owed roughly 8 million this season with a team option for 2016-2017. The roster still needs work, but this was a nice get for Detroit.
Spencer Hawes, Matt Barnes to Charlotte Hornets, Lance Stephenson to Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers used their MLE last season on Spencer Hawes, a big good with good size, 3 point range, and the ability to pass the basketball. It was a great move in theory, as Hawes should have been able to be effective as a third big playing with either Blake Griffin or Deandre Jordan. But in reality, where the games are played, it didn’t quite work out, and Hawes never looked comfortable with the Clippers. But if Hawes was somewhat disappointing last season, Lance Stephenson was a complete disaster in Charlotte. After a breakout season with Indiana, the Hornets signed Stephenson in free agency and hoped they had found a 2 way star that could push them into the playoffs, but that was nowhere near the case. Stephenson shot just over 37% from the field in 2014 and found himself struggling to get consistent minutes. The Clippers are hopeful that Doc Rivers and Chris Paul can help Stephenson return to form in 2015-16 and possibly lead the second unit, where he could have a role similar to what he did in Indiana as a primary ballhandler. If nothing else, the Clippers have acquired a $9 million dollar contract that could be flipped before the trade deadline.
Luke Ridnour to Charlotte Hornets, Matt Barnes To Memphis Grizzlies
Luke Ridnour has been a human hot potato this off-season, moving from Orlando to Memphis to Oklahoma City in just over 24 hours. In the 2nd of those 3 deals, Charlotte sent Matt Barnes (acquired from the Clippers in the deal outlined above) to the “Grind-House”in what might be the single most fitting move of the off-season. Barnes is not the most beloved player throughout the league, but he will no doubt be well received in Memphis, where his aggressive style and attitude should blend in seamlessly. Although Barnes is probably best known his high tally of flagrant fouls, fines, and his line of Mother’s Day cards, the truth is that he’s a pretty solid basketball player. He is a tireless worker who never stops running the floor. In three years with the Clippers, he shot 35% from beyond the arc, which is not fantastic but definitely serviceable. With two great post players in Gasol and ZBO, plus Conley and Courtney Lee to space the floor, Barnes should have plenty of room to operate. Tony Allen’s inability to score really hurt Memphis in the postseason, but Barnes might be able to do just enough to make a difference should they run into the Warriors again in 2016.
Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson to the Portland Trailblazers, Nic Batum to Charlotte Hornets.
A year ago, Nicolas Batum looked like he would be a major part of the Portland Trailblazers very promising future. The versatile 6-8′ swingman from France has been a do-it-all guy for Portland, rebounding at a terrific rate for a small forward (7.5 boards per game in 2013-14), stretching the floor with his three point shooting, and has proven to be a very good passer as well. He is also a versatile defender, showing the ability to guard multiple positions, even taking on point guards for stretches in games. But Batum had a very shakey season in 2015. His scoring average dropped below double digits, and he seemed to lose confidence in his shot. It was an unusual drop off for a 26 year old, and there has been speculation that everything from a messy offseason divorce, fatigue from playing for France last summer, or a slew of nagging injuries might have contributed to his poor play. Whatever the case, it was somewhat shocking to see him dealt, particularly for such low value. Gerald Henderson is a solid pro. He is a good defender who finds a way to score, but has never been a good three point shooter. Vonleh is a long, athletic power forward who according to most has quite a bit of potential, but is still very much a prospect at this point in his career. He played just one season at Indiana and only 25 games last season for Charlotte. Batum on the other hand has been a proven entity at the small forward position, which is an incredibly valuable (and rare) commodity in today’s NBA. If Batum can return to form, Charlotte may have landed the steal of the offseason.
Greivis Vasquez to Milwaukee Bucks, 2017 1st rd pick (Via Los Angeles Clippers) and 2015 2nd rd pick (Norman Powell) to Toronto Raptors.
Jason Kidd has done an admirable job with the young Bucks in Milwaukee. With Jabari Parker lost to an injury and only the inexperienced (and awful shooting) Michael Carter Williams at point guard, the Bucks still managed to make the postseason, and even won a pair of games against the Chicago Bulls. With an improving Giannis Antentokounmpo, Kris Middleton, and a presumably healthy Jabari Parker back next season, the Bucks needed a steady hand at point guard to split time with Carter-Williams, and they should get just that in Grievis Vasquez, another long point guard who has been solid in his time with Toronto backing up Kyle Lowry. An improved 3-point shooter these last few seasons, Vasquez should make things easier for the Bucks offense, particularly late in games, when opposing teams often laid off Carter-Williams and dared him to shoot, making it difficult for other players to find room to work. For the Raptors, who drafted 6’5″ pg/sg Delon Wright with their own 2015 first rd pick (essentially replacing Vasquez), getting a first rd draft pick in this deal is a great value. This was a win-win for the 2 clubs.
Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks, 1st Rd Pick (#19) Jerian Grant to New York Knicks.
While Many Knicks fans were less than optomistic about picking 19 year old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis with the # 4 pick, I think most had to agree that GM Phil Jackson made a shrewd move by acquiring point guard Jerian Grant of Notre Dame later in the first rd. On a team of bad defenders, Tim Hardaway Jr. was by far the worst, and he often exhibited a terrible shot selection. Grant on the other hand, is 6’5″ (great size for a pg in the triangle) and a very good athlete. He is unselfish and has a reputation for having a high basketball IQ. His size and athleticism could allow him to play alongside the sharpshooting Jose Calderon in the backcourt. Of course, as with all prospects, it’s possible Grant won’t be any good at the next level, but this was a step in the right direction for a Knicks team that wants (needs) to play smarter on offense and get better athletically. InHardaway, the Hawks are getting a guy who does have real NBA range and a great stroke. It’s likely that coach Mike Budenholzer sees Hardaway Jr. as a piece he can slide right into his system. After all, the general chaos that was the Knicks last season probably did not help Hardaway’s development or shot selection. While he should get better looks in Atlanta’s ball movement heavy offense, he will need to work a lot harder to fit into Atlanta’s team defensive system to earn minutes, and he may very well become a better player as a result.
1st Rd Pick Tyus Jones (#24 Overall) To Minnesota Timberwolves, 2nd Rd pick Cedi Osman, 2nd Rd Pick Rakeem Christmas, 2019 2nd Rd Pick to Cleveland Caveliers.
The Cleveland Caveliers opted to trade their first rd Draft pick this season in the interest of saving money, primarily in the form of cap taxes that would have accompanied it. The deal sent promising Duke pg Tyus Jones to Minnesotta, where he will serve as a backup/insurance policy to the oft-injured Ricky Rubio. Give credit to GM Flip Suanders- a lot of teams would have loved to snag Cleveland’s pick, but he got it done, and in turn got one of the steals of the late lottery, adding to the already impressive array of young talent in Minnesota.
Mason Plumlee, 2nd Rd Draft Pick Pat Connaughton to Portland, 1st Rd Pick (#23 overall) Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake to Brooklyn.
With Lamarcus Aldridge seemingly on the way out and Robin Lopez a free agent, the Blazers were in need of some size, and found it in this deal for Mason Plumlee. Plumlee is 25, big, athletic, and a nice pick n roll player who finished well at the rim. He should be a perfect fit to play alongside Damien Lillard. Best of all, they are getting him on the cheap, as Plumlee is set to make less than $2 million this season with a team option of about $2.5 for next season. 2nd rd pick Pat Connaughton has NBA 3 point range and is by all accounts more athletic than he is given credit for, although he is still projected to struggle guarding NBA shooting guards. Despite his flaws, he is one of the more intriguing 2nd rd picks in the draft. This was a very surprising move by Brooklyn, who are looking to resign the injury prone Brook Lopez with no backup center in sight. Steve Blake is a quality backup pg who can help Brooklyn, but 7 footers who can run the floor and finish at the rim are not easy to find. In Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets are getting a kid who has a reputation as good defender but offensively limited. We rarely know who won trades involving draft picks until a few years down the road, but Portland seems to have gotten the best of this deal.