The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Huge Three-Team, Eleven-Player Deal

Posted by Blake Murphy on February 21, 2008

So a quiet and calm trade deadline ends with a blockbuster three team, eleven player deal. To avoid complicated things like words and sentences, here is how it breaks down:

Incoming: Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Joe Smith
Outgoing: Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons, Shannon Brown, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble

Incoming: Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Cedric Simmons, Shannon Brown
Outgoing: Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Adrian Griffin

Incoming: Ira Newble, Adrian Griffin, Donyell Marshall
Outgoing: Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West

So, to keep this easy I’ll give my thoughts on the deal from the perspective of each team.

Obviously Danny Ferry worked his ass off to make this deal happen to appease LeBron James, who had become upset with his poor supporting cast and other good players being dealt to contenders. This deal better make LeBron happy, because it’s a doozy and definitely increases Cleveland’s chances of making a deep run.

Delonte West is a great point guard to bring in to this team. While his numbers are a modest 6.8 points and 3.2 dimes, he rebounds well for a guard and has an engaging balls-out style of play. Most importantly, he is a safer option in the starting line-up than Daniel Gibson, who can now come off the bench and just fill it up as a 6th man. This deal makes Boobie Gibson much more valuable as he is now free to play his own game with a weak second unit. West is the type of point guard that goes well with a superstar wing man, as he doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Finally, he is a scrappy defender and a big upgrade on the perimeter over the previous regime.

Wally Szczerbiak is likewise a great fit with LeBron. Wally World is a career 49.1% shooter and a career 40.7% long range shooter, and he has been one of the most consistent scorers in the NBA in the past decade. While he isn’t flashy, he is a clutch scorer and a safe bet to score 15+ points a night. He becomes Cleveland’s second option and finally gives LeBron a dangerous weapon to kick the ball to on dribble penetrations. Wally is also an unselfish player and his defensive deficiencies can be covered up by having LeBron and Sasha Pavlovic guard better opponents. Great move to score him.

To keep the trend going, Joe Smith is also a good fit. He essentially replicates Drew Gooden’s production, though with a little less toughness and defense. He can score as well as Smith and is a decent rebounder, so he should be useful as a back-up power forward (and a starter until Andy Varejao returns).

So far, so good, right?

Enter Ben Wallace. I understand that LeBron wanted a star-studded supporting cast, but I have to question whether Wallace is the right choice. While the price was certainly right, Wallace gives the Cavs two rather immobile centers, neither of whom can really play power forward. While their skill sets are complementary (The Il Na Na is an offensive juggernaut [as far as slow 7-footers go] while Wallace is a defensive monster with no offensive game), they can’t play together and should both command more than 24 minutes a game. Playing these two together will significantly slow down the offense and clog the lane. Good luck scoring on the Cavs down low now, but with both of these players making a lot of money (Wallace has two more years for $28.5M and Ilgauskas has two more at $22M), Danny Ferry better hope they can co-exist without limiting LeBron’s driving capability.

The price was right here, for sure. Drew Gooden was a nice fit, but you have to give something to get something. They also managed to unload Larry Hughes’ contract (two more years, $26M). Other than that, they only lost four non-rotation players, so essentially the Cavs got four good players, chemistry pending, for Drew Gooden and financial scraps (they weren’t going to have cap room until 2009-10 anyways). In fact, Cleveland made their financial future a lot easier to manage, turning six players into four, only one of which will be around past next season.

Hey, Raptor fans, think this is a good deal for Cleveland? It looks like it makes them a much bigger playoff threat. Well, it’s looking pretty likely that we’ll match up with Cleveland in round one (Toronto and Cleveland are currently seeded 4-5 and are way ahead of the 6th seed), so one of us needs to pass Orlando by April. I’d much rather face Orlando now than Cleveland.

Well, the Ben Wallace experiment didn’t last long. Obviously the Bulls wanted to move his monster contract to try and get some low post scoring, and they managed to do just that. They lost Joe Smith, but got Gooden in return, who is an upgrade, so really Chicago dumped Wallace’s salary.

Unfortunately, they had to take Hughes’ in return, saving just $2.5M over the next two years. Hughes probably won’t play much on Chicago with their guard depth, but he may find a role as a long-range threat off the bench. Hughes is a likable player and it’s not his fault he’s overpaid. Maybe he’ll come in handy as a tradable contract in two years time.

The Bulls got their low-post scoring need filled with Drew Gooden. While he’s no Gasol or KG, he is a scrappy hustle player who can thrive in a half court or run-and-gun system, able to play both the 4 and the 5. Gooden is capable of numbers close to 20-and-10 and should get significantly more touches on Chicago than he did in Cleveland. Gooden is also affordable with just one year left on his deal at $7.1M. The Smith and Wallace for Gooden swap in the post also opens up more playing time for Jo-No, Terrible Ty Thomas, and yes Stu, Aaron Gray. Developing these younger guys should be a priority for the rest of the year in Chi-town.

Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown are salary-matching fodder and probably won’t play, so the Bulls’ end of the deal breaks down to Wallace and Smith (Adrian Griffin isn’t even an expiring deal) for Gooden and Hughes, a trade that looks pretty fair on paper. Hughes and Gooden are both better fits in Chicago than Cleveland, and this trade cost the Bulls nothing in terms of long-term cap flexibility, so it should improve their chances of making a late run in the East. Oh, and I can’t believe they got rid of Wallace without losing Duhon, Deng, or Nocioni, but I guess when you’re willing to take on Larry Hughes people get a little more friendly.

I’m very disappointed they couldn’t even squeeze a draft pick out of this deal, but they came away alright regardless. They got out from Wally’s contract (one more year at $13M) and picked up an expiring deal in Newble ($3.4M versus West’s $1.8M). Griffin and Marshall both come off the books next year (at a combined $7.7M), so financially this makes a good deal of sense for the Sonics. If you include all of the salaries involved (ignoring this season), they sent out $15.7M and took back just $7.7, saving $8M total. Obviously, this was strictly a financial deal from the Sonics’ point of view. Note that different websites have conflicting reports on whether or not Griffin’s contract is expiring, so they may save an additional $1-2M next year if it is, in fact, expiring.

Maybe…you could use that money towards a stadium, you selfish billionaire punk.

Well, there is your deadline blockbuster. I guess we were greedy to ask for a heavy trade deadline after the past three weeks provided us with five trades, four of them involving legitimate stars. If you don’t consider this a huge trade, hey, at least they made it confusing!

One Response to “Huge Three-Team, Eleven-Player Deal”

  1. Blake Murphy Says:

    Daniel Gibson went down 4-6 weeks last night with a severe ankle sprain, so that Delonte pick up is HUGE now.

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