Friday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. ET
NBA Trade Deadline Analysis
Friday, February 20, 2009; 2:00 PM
Amare Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Vince Carter and the Wizards Antawn Jamison were a few of the big names rumored to be involved in deals by the NBA trade deadline Thursday, ultimately to no avail. Post staff writers Ivan Carter and Michael Lee took your questions about which teams did what, and why.
The transcript follows.
Read more: No Big Deal: NBA's Marquee Names Stay Put
Michael Lee: Hey, everybody. We're back at it again. Let's hope that this chat packs more excitement than the NBA trade deadline which gave us, um, well, no blockbuster deals. What a letdown. Well, no need to delay, let's go. . .
Anonymous: I got a real kick out of the national writers who posted items about Jamison being traded. Anyone who watches Abe knows there was no chance.
I think it was a trade the Wiz should have made. AJ is wasted on a knucklehead team with no winning mojo. As much as I hate to say it, he would be incredible on the Cavs.
Michael Lee: You know, Antawn really would've been a homerun for the Cavaliers, who are desperate to get some sort of inside scoring punch with Ben Wallace (and his new haircut) giving them no scoring and Zydrunas Ilgauskas settling for jumpers and even stepping back for 3s sometimes.
ut I got a kick out of people really pushing for Jamison to go to Cleveland without taking into consideration the obvious: Not only would it have gone against nearly everything Ernie Grunfeld has said about the team in recent years, but how do you think the Wizards organization could've sold season ticket packages to fans after moving Jamison to a hated rival? You talk about losing Gilbert and Brendan to injuries, firing Eddie Jordan, being the worst team in the East, and on top of that giving away one of your two best players - the possible missing piece to a championship - to LeBron's Crabaliers? For a salary dump? There would have been protests and picket signs on F Street, don't you think?
San Francisco: Michael, can you explain to me how something like Corey Maggette's contract with the Warriors happens? I mean, here is a guy who completely redundant to the players you currently have and who messes up the chemistry of your team, plus you can get guys with similar skills for less money who have shorter contracts.
I know the standard explanation is that it's a "panic" move, but it's not like a GM is a pilot with a goose in his engine. (In fact, can we replace the GS front office with Capt. Sully?) Shouldn't spending $50 million and tying up your cap for years require a little more thought?
Michael Lee: Desperation often leads to dumb decisions. The Warriors were shocked when Baron Davis opted out, so they quickly offered a max deal to Gilbert Arenas. When Arenas balked and re-signed with Washington, they went after Brand, who went to Philadelphia. Golden State had all this money and felt like they had to use it on somebody -- and Maggette was the best free agent available. But just think how bad they would look if they spent all that cash on Arenas and had to explain his injury to a fan base that was expecting him to rescue the team. Or if they signed Brand, who is out for the rest of the year. At least Maggette is healthy and playing, all things considered.
But you're right. You don't HAVE TO spend the money.
Woodbridge, Va.: Ivan or Michael:
Please clarify. If the Wizards finish with the worst record in the league, are they guaranteed no worse that the 3 pick in the lottery? Also, have you heard any possible names for a head coach? Thanks..
Michael Lee: The team with the worst record is guaranteed to finish no worse than the FOURTH pick in the draft. The lottery assigns the top three teams with the remaining 11 teams following in line based on record. So, the worst-case scenario if the the Wizards finish with the worst record (which I'm not sure about now that Sacramento has given away its entire team) is that Washington gets the No. 4 pick.
Sorry, no update on a coach. I think a lot hinges on Arenas's health. I've read and heard that Paul Silas would love to get the job.
Springfield, Va.: I guess the Wizards will remain over the luxury tax threshold now. How does that sit with Mr. Pollin?
Ivan Carter: As I suggested in a long blog post last evening (It's titled "Breaking It Down" the impression I get is that while Pollin has never wanted to pay the tax and clearly would prefer not to, he's not going to make Ernie dump a good player at a cut-rate price or trade a good rookie lottery pick that his basketball people like purely for financial reasons. Remember, Abe ate over $8 million to fire Eddie Jordan. And, if was purely motivated by finances, he would've ordered Ernie to move either Butler or Jamison yesterday.
Woodbridge, Va.: I don't think Pollin is going to pay the luxury tax next year...Could the lack of a deal at the deadline be a sign that Pollin is going to sell the team to Leonsis before the tax comes into play for him? With his health, I can't imagine his family wanting to hold on to that asset too much longer....
Michael Lee: That's an interesting theory - although I don't think that this is a situation where 1+1=2. I don't see the correlation between not making trades and selling the team. True, Mr. Pollin isn't in the best health, but as Ivan pointed out in his blog, the Wizards already decided to give Eddie Jordan $8 million not to coach the team anymore and he built Verizon Center on his own dime, so while he doesn't want to pay the tax, it doesn't mean that he won't. I think Ernie will still try to come up with some creative means in the offseason - packaging the pick, perhaps - to get under the tax.
Lexington, Va.: How can the Wizards still get under the luxury tax for next year? If they trade a player they'll have to take back salary, and getting an expiring deal is no longer an option.
Ivan Carter: It's technically possible to sign the lottery pick and try to get under before next season's trade deadline but to do so, they'd have to deal expiring contracts to a team way under the cap. That is going to very, very hard to do. Ernie could package the lottery pick with a contract or twobut it's going to be very hard if not impossible to shave $10 million off that payroll. It looks like they are paying the tax one way or the other.
Crofton, Md.: If the rumors were true that this deal could be done, would you have traded Etan Thomas and Mike James to Chicago for Larry Hughes even when Larry was injured a while back and Thomas was not? I would have and Ernie should have. Finally someone to take ETs bad contract and make up for that mistake that Ernie made years ago!
Ivan Carter: Chicago would not do the deal yesterday. They found a better one by sending Hughes to NY. Why? Because Jerome James might have to retired due to injury and the Bulls can thus pocket $9 million. That won't help their cap or tax situation but it is money in financially hard times. Also, I heard that the Bulls wanted no part of James. You have remember, when the teams almost had a deal in October, the Wiz were going to send Antonio Daniels and Etan to Chicago.
Standish, Maine: How long before OKC becomes an upper-echelon team? Their youth is AMAZING and so much of an upside and not really much of any downside. They may be one of the worst teams in the league, but they are also the one with the biggest upside out of all the teams.
Also, can Orlando compete without Jameer?
Michael Lee: Upper-echelon? I'd have to say three or four years. I think they can be good, but not great in two years. Kevin Durant has been phenomenal and GM Sam Presti has done an excellent job stockpiling draft picks and by selecting Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook. The Durant-Green-Westbrook threesome should be really good -- especially if Presti can use those picks to trade for some veteran help. OKC is sort of like Utah and Sacramento, in that the team will probably have to get veteran talent through trades since most free agents would have trouble getting too excited about moving to that city. That's why the collapsed Tyson Chandler deal is so disappointing for the Thunder. He would've been a great piece for them (if healthy). The first thing they need to do, though, is get some better uniforms. Those D-League rejects have got to go!
Rockville, Md.: What if Cleveland threw in a first-round pick? You think that along with dumping Thomas's deal would have gotten it done? If you're Cleveland, how don't you make the Wiz an offer it can't refuse to get someone like Jamison who could have been a difference maker?
Ivan Carter: I still don't know what Cleveland offered but I heard that they were "desperate" to get a guy like Jamison and probably would've coughed up anything. However, the Thomas trade kicker was an issue for everyone AND I heard that Danny Ferry did not want to give up rookie PF J.J. Hickson such a deal. That could've been the breaking point or, perhaps Abe and Ernie just flat out said: "We're not trading Jamison or Butler to the team that put us out of the playoffs three straight years and watch that team win a title."
Anonymous: The Caps were really bad a couple of years ago, but have stuck with the young guys and are now very good, entertaining and sellout Verizon. Can't that be the Wiz pretty soon?
Michael Lee: If Arenas returns and is healthy again, the Wizards have the potential to be the league's most improved team next season -- especially if they get lucky and land a stud like Blake Griffin with the No. 1 pick. The Wizards were a playoff team before injuries, so you add Griffin or a solid veteran via a trade (using the draft pick as the key piece) and they can be good quick, fast and in a hurry.
Leesburg, Va.: In Wilbon's chat, he commented that the Wizards should consider trading one or both of AJ or CB to Cleveland, and I couldn't believe it.
I commented that while we were at it, we should have the Caps trade Ovechkin and Green to the Penguins and the Redskins could trade CP and London Fletcher to the Cowboys.
Ivan Carter: My thoughts exactly. Even if you thought that sending Jamison or Butler to Cleveland would get you under the tax, why do it if you are going to help LeBron James win a title. Also, think long term. Assuming that Gilbert comes back and Ernie makes a move or two, this team still has to get by Cleveland. Why face Jamison or Butler in the process? That doesn't make sense to me. The funny thing is that Abe Pollin is called "cheap" all of the time but yesterday, by not dumping salary, he did the not cheap thing. He may have to pay the tax and he knew it.
Maryland: Do you think Nick Young ever will be a starter? How many points do you think he would average if he was?
Michael Lee: Young will only be a starter when/if he figures out that there is more to the game that just scoring. He has one skill in this league right now - putting the ball in the basket. Unless you are 7-feet tall, having one skill usually leaves you coming off the bench. You have to be a little more well-rounded or extremely prolific at your one skill. Right now, Young is a good scorer, but too inconsistent.
Hyattsville, Md.: One NBA salary Web site I checked, indicates Mike James's contract expires at the end of this year. Is that incorrect?
Ivan Carter: He has a player option for next season worth $6.4 million. Better beleive he's picking that up. Thank Kevin McHale, who signed James in Minnesota, for that one.
Washington, D.C.: Realistically, when are Gilbert and Brendan going to play?
Ivan Carter: If you put a gun to my head - and I hope you don't - I'd say with 15 or so games to go. That's generally what I'm hearing the team would like to see. As I've reported before, Arenas saw a knee specialist in Miami a few weeks ago and is feeling a lot better than before. He's not full go yet but he's making "steady progress" I'm told. He will play this season barring a setback. Bank on it.
Ashburn, Va.: Ivan, from what I gathered from your earlier post, Abe would actually poney up the money if we got the first pick. Is that an accurate assumption?
Ivan Carter: Put it this way: if Blake Griffin or some other stud is there (and I'm hearing that Griffin is the only legit top-five pick if Ricky Rubio doesn't enter) he is not going to make Ernie trade him just to save money. That's the impression I get.
Bethesda, Md.: For all the talk about big names moving, not much happened. What up with that? Just a function of the economy having everyone spooked, like Mark Cuban suggested?
Ivan Carter: Too many teams sellin' and not enough buyin' It was that simple really.
Anonymous: The NBA took out a loan for 15 teams, what was that about?
washingtonpost.com: NBA securing $175M for clubs (Sports Business Journal)
Michael Lee: Economics was not my strong suit in college, so I won't even front like I can explain this perfectly. All that I can say is several NBA teams are struggling financially, with a good number losing millions each year because of operating losses, poor lease agreements. This money will help some teams who are having difficulty making payroll and other expenses. These are serious times right now and sports is not immune to the devastation. Making matters more complicated is that several small market teams were struggling BEFORE the credit crisis. This is just amplifying the problems.
Arlington, Va.: Does the injury to Stoudemire end the Suns' hopes of reaching the playoffs? Other than Shaq, who has already played more minutes than anticipated, I don't see anyone else on that roster capable of stepping up inside.
Michael Lee: It sure looks like it. They will have to ride out the rest of the season trying to run with Shaq and Louis Amundson? The Suns already had an incredibly thin roster, with no depth whatsoever. Making a two-for-one trade for Jason Richardson has come back to haunt them, especially since they gave up their best backup big man in Boris Diaw. I know the Suns have two former MVPs, but they will get a real good test of life without Stoudemire right now. Unfortunately for them, the Suns won't have Shawn Marion or Diaw to plug in the hole. This has just been a terrible season in Phoenix, no matter what the record says.
Washington, D.C.: Ivan: This morning you wrote, "Other than Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, the scouts I've spoken with do not see a real instant impact guy. Assuming that Arenas and Brendan Haywood come back, wouldn't it be a good move to package any pick below No. 1 with a bad contract and bring a vet in here who can help?"
Putting aside the fact that top 5 picks tend to have an impact in their first season, why is it important in your mind that the pick have an impact NEXT season? Gilbert's 27, Caron is 28, Jamison 32, and Haywood 29. It seems like this team's window is not just one year, but about four years. The young guys -- McGee, Young, Blatche -- are on the upswing. So why is next year so important in your mind? To me, taking a shot at a potentially very good young player who can be a real factor in two or three years is smarter than panicking and trading the pick for a decent veteran who can help next season. This team already has enough mediocre veterans.
Ivan Carter: Good points. My thought is that they may be able to get something more than an average vet. It's looking as though teams will be looking to dump players and salaries at a rapid rate this summer. Owners are losing money and teams are panicking. Perhaps the Wizards could really bring in a real player who could put them over the top. I'm just thinking here. And, I don't know who that player is right now. Put it this way: if it's going to be a buyer's market - and it's shaping up that way - has there ever been a better time to be armed with a relatively low-earning lotto pick AND an owner willing to pay the tax if that's what it takes?
Alexandria, Va.: A few questions...
Tyson Chandler's return to N.O. was a shocker. Does this indicate the Thunder felt he had a long-term problem?
Sounds like the Hornets see big financial trouble ahead. Do you see any possibility the league may downsize in the next couple of years? How secure are player salaries?
Michael Lee: The funny part about that whole situation is that the doctor who performed the initial surgery on Chandler's "turf toe" is now the team doctor for the Thunder. He worked with the Hornets when the team spent two seasons in Oklahoma City. When the Hornets traded Chandler, I wondered if it had more to do with Chandler's healh than simply his contract. He has underperformed all season, so there was obviously some concern.
But no doubt, the Hornets see some financial woes ahead. George Shinn, unlike most other owners, has no other outside business than his team. His team is his life, and there were already rumors that New Orleans couldn't support the Hornets BEFORE Hurricane Katrina. Chris Paul helped generate interest in the team, but it's a tough sell to a city that has seen a significant number of its former residents leave.
In for a penny, in for a pound?: If the Wizards will go into the luxury tax next season, will they go way over? They could get an advantage over the teams that are afraid to touch it.
Ivan Carter: That is exactly the point I just made in a previous answer.
Anonymous: A. I. cut the braids to the old school boy cut. Did he get the memo for men over 30 to not wear braids or what?
Michael Lee: Times they are a-changing. First Dr. J had the fro, then Jordan rocked the bald head, then Iverson brought the cornrows. To see one of the defining images of the past generation gone was a bit of shocker, but I found it interesting that Ben Wallace cut his braids as well. He likes like he did when he was with the Wizards. It had to happen at some point. Taking an hour to get his hair done had to get a little tedious. I didn't want to see Iverson with braids at age 70.
Bowie, Md.: So why is it that the (semi-) big names signed as free agents during the summer are the same names two-years later that are mentioned in all of the salary dump articles at trade deadline time? Seems like management begins to hate a player as soon as he begins cashing a paycheck.
Ivan Carter: Good point. Some GMs are just terrible and constantly make bad deals (Kevin McHale) Other teams succumb to pressure to "do something" from fans and media and wind up giving guys too many years and too much money. Case in point: Golden State giving Corety Maggette $50 million after losing Baron Davis and getting stiffed by Elton Brand. That never made sense to me. Pure panic move. The Wizards ae so much locked into bad money as they are too many years on certain guys. Ernie gave Antonio Daniels five years when he signed him, gave Darius Songaila five years when he signed him and of course, matched that Milwaukee offer for Etan Thomas. At the time, none of those deals appeared to be brutal but collectively, and given the current cap/tax situation, it has put him in a bind.
Rosslyn, Va.: I've often heard one of you guys mention the possibility of trading a pick for "a veteran" if the Wiz can't draft a guy like Griffin or Rubio. Could either of you please speculate as to what kind of "veteran" that may be? How good of a talent, any names, etc?
Michael Lee: It's hard to say who will be made available this summer or what the Wizards' most pressing need will be. What happens if Arenas isn't right and they need a better back up point guard? What if they have to sacrifice one of their core players in order to make a deal happen? What if a superstar player demands a trade after the season? You never know.
Back in 2004, Grunfeld knew all along that he wanted to trade the pick and he had three players in mind - Jamison, Al Harrington and I can't remember who else. He picked up Jamison, dumped Jerry Stackhouse and Christain Laetnner and sent Devin Harris to Dallas. You know the rest. But you sort of have to see how the playoffs play out, where the Wizards end up in the lottery and what teams do in free agency. That might paint a clearer picture.
Rossalyn, Va.: Ivan can you finally shut up all the blog posters who won't shut up about Roger Mason Jr.?
For a number of reasons, he was not coming back here (Abe not willing to go over the luxury tax for a player that wasn't going to push them over the top, a better opportunity in San Antonio). People harping on him like we would be in the playoffs with him now or that Ernie Grunfeld chose to sign Dee Brown over him (He signed Brown because he was willing to come here for the minimum and no other team wanted him, that wasn't the case with Mason).
The years of Wizards players leaving here and becoming stars elsewhere are over (See: Larry Hughes, Jared Jefferies, Kwame Brown, Jeff Blake, Juan Dixon, Jarvis Hayes, Antonio Daniels) and it's probable our system made them look better then they were.
Mason got his opportunity here with minutes and shots and didn't produce like he is in San Antonio; isn't it probable his numbers now are a product of playing with a hall of fame post player in Duncan as well as a veteran latent team, and that he wouldn't be having the season he is having here. SHUT UP ABOUT MASON PEOPLE!!! Be happy a local kid found the perfect spot for him, which wasn't here.
Ivan Carter: I agree on this: Roger is a perfect fit for what San Antonio does and how that team is built and he's taken advantage of it. Nobody is happier for Roger than me. I really like and respect the guy. As for the Wiz, it's a bit of revisionist history to say that they kept DeShawn Stevenson over Mason or should've signed Mason last summer.
At the time, Ernie truly believed that Gilbert would be back, he had no way of knowing that DeShawn woudl go in the tank in part because of a back injury, that Daniels would be so bad so early in the season and, he had to create PT for Nick Young, who was a first-round pick, right? That was the thought.
As for Roger, even the Spurs are suprised at how good he's been. Just the other day Pop had a quote to the effect of: "Sometimes you get lucky."
DC: Ivan, in your column today, you quoted EG where he said he wouldn't let a good player go just because of financial reasons.
Didn't he do that with Roger last season, and Larry, a few seasons before that?
Not only did he let them walk, but he got no compensation for them.
Ivan Carter: I see your point but those were different cases. Grunfeld wanted to sign Hughes but didn't want to overpay him (the way Cleveland did). Larry is making $13 million this year. Is he a $13 million player? Had Ernie done that deal, you would not have Caron Butler on this team right now.
As for Roger, he wasn't going to sign here anyway. No PT. This team was projected to have a batch of guards: Gilbert, DeShawn, Daniels and Nick Young. Roger new that his best shot at playing was elsewhere. Now, you can criticize the Wizards for not recognizing Roger's talents but, it was as much a basketball move as a financial one. No, Ernie was not going to go over the tax just to keep Roger but Roger wasn't signing here.
Arlington, Va.: Ivan/Michael,
How do you see the near future for the Wizards C/PF's? I personally don't think you can ever have too many big men, but does McGee fit with Haywood on the court? And what about those two with Blatche. Do you think Haywood will be traded next year or prior if they are convinced McGee is the real thing?
Ivan Carter: I see them extending Haywood, who will start, while continuing to develope McGee and Blatche. As you said, you can never have too many bigs.
Hyattsville, Md.: Thanks for your great coverage for the Post. I am an NBA salary geek, I can spend hours marveling at some of the ridiculous contracts out there in both $ and years. It's obvious why you would want to lock up the Kobes, Lebrons, Wades for max-money and max years, but why have teams made so many long term deals with interchangeable role players that make it difficult if not impossible to trade them? (Etan Thomas, for example)
Michael Lee: Because teams are usually willing to pay for somebody with the knowledge that somebody will want the contract in the end if things don't work out right. A lot of times players and agents catch teams in desperate situations and they have the leverage to make general managers blink. You guys might recall what happened with Juwan Howard more than a decade ago. The Bullets were in a bad spot and had to sign him to avoid the PR hit. As for Etan, he had a promising season back in 2003-04, and Milwaukee gave him an offer sheet that it hoped the Wizards wouldn't match (including a costly trade kicker that makes him difficult to move now). But no one knew that Thomas's next few seasons would be mired by so many injuries and unfortunate ailments.
San Francisco: Can you help Wizards fans get some perspective here.
In 2011 the Wizards will have Arenas, Butler, McGee, Blatche, Young, McGuire, Songaila, Crittenton, and captain Antawn and an impact lottery pick (fingers crossed on Griffin). The team will still have enough money to resign Haywood at $10M per and still have cap room left over.
Grunfeld is doing masterful work managing the roster and the cap even if the cap looks tight and the roster looks bleak in the short term.
Ivan Carter: They are in better shape for that summer than next summer but, you have to remember that the cap and tax figures may continue to go down.
Southeast, D.C.: Okay, you all have given Crittendon a little publicity lately. I don't happen to see anything "special" about the guy. What's his upside except for decent player?
washingtonpost.com: Wizards' Crittenton Starts to Develop (Post, Feb. 19)
Ivan Carter: It's early and we have to see more obviously but I see signs that he could, at the very least, be very good backup to Arenas while also playing some combo guard with Arenas. The thing that is "special" about him is his speed and instincts in the open floor. He's one of the fastest guys I've seen end-to-end and he seems to be getting better and better at make the right decision as he sees more clock.
Detroit: Is the current Sacramento Kings roster the worst ever assembled in the NBA?
Michael Lee: I would have to say yes. That roster might serve as encouragement for contraction. I cannot think of any team that doesn't have any current or former all-stars. The only former all-star on the Kings payroll is Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and he's currently serving as an assistant coach. It's amazing how far that team has fallen since the Webber-Divac-Bibby-Stojakovic-Christie days. That was a fun team. I don't see why anyone would pay to the see the Kings.
Cleveland: Shaq would have made us the favorites, right?
Michael Lee: The favorites to what? The favorites to provide comic relief as Shaq O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilguaskas race up to cross halfcourt? Or when LeBron collided with O'Neal as he steps into his driving lane? I cannot imagine how a front line of O'Neal and Big Z would work. I don't think the Cavaliers knew, either. No, O'Neal would not have provided much more than some entertaining moments. I think the Cavaliers did the right thing by standing pat, honestly. They need some more scoring in the low block, but the Cavs don't need Shaq.
Washington, DC: Michael: Ernie wanted to trade for Jamison, Al Harrington or ______! This is the first I've heard this list Michael. When you remember the third name, can you post it on the blog? I would love to learn that third name. Thanks.
Michael Lee: It's been written before. There isn't anything new there. But I'll have to go back and look it up at some point.
Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike- Whoa, can you clarify your response the Maggette contract? Do you actually agree with the poster? He actually is a pretty good scorer and efficient too, and the contract is not that bad... could think of much worse examples to protest. Warriors look dangerous next year or the year after.
Michael Lee: Naw. I wasn't bashing signing Maggette. I was really saying that the Maggette-Golden State union was bad, not that Maggette is bad. It wasn't the best move, necessarily, for Golden State. The Warriors had enough shoot-first, play-defense-never players. I ended the statement by adding that it could've been worse.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Guys, thanks for the great coverage. Do you think the vigorous market for expiring contracts leading up to the trade deadline marks the beginning of a deflationary period for NBA salaries or does every team in the NBA really think that if they clear enough cap space that they'll have a shot at signing LeBron, Bosh and Amare? In other words, are teams clearing space to land stars or to lower their overall costs because talent just isn't worth what it use to be?
Michael Lee: I've often wondered what the ceiling was for these ridiculous contracts. The next collective bargaining agreement could yield shorter contract lengths and lower "max deals." I find it interesting that the contract that essentially led to the 1999 lockout -- Kevin Garnett's six-year, $126 million contract extension -- is actually less than the "max deals" that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh could potentially sign in 2010. If owners thought the salaries were getting out hand then, what will they think now, when teams are losing insane sums of money each year.
As for your second point, I find it interesting that so many teams are "clearing cap space" for 2010. That's an easy way to fool fans into thinking that you are trying to build a competitive team "in the future." I think owners are realizing that they the loose money days of the past are over. General Managers will have to make wise investments with their dollars -- or else more coaches will get fired. Ha!
Michael Lee: Whew. I'm exhausted. That was fun folks. I hope you enjoyed yourselves, too. I've got to go. Peace.