Assessing winners and losers in February’s flurry of trades
By David Aldridge
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The NBA rarely has experienced a month like February 2008. During those four weeks, successive star players were traded from East to West, and West to East, realigning the league’s power teams — and a couple of also-rans. Who got the better of the deals, and who got a raw deal?
Allowing for the caveat that draft picks can turn into other picks, be used in trades, or be used to select players in the future who may shift the current balance of these deals, let’s give credit and blame where they are due:
Feb. 1: The Los Angeles Lakers acquire F-C Pau Gasol and a 2010 second-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies for F-C Kwame Brown, G Javaris Crittenton, G Aaron McKie, the rights to C Marc Gasol, and first-round picks in 2008 and 2010.
The big winner: We’d have to say this one turned out OK for Lakers owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak, who were savaged by Kobe Bryant last summer for not getting him more help.
Loser: Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni, whose team was terrible before the deal and has fallen through the floor since, making him likely to be fired by the weekend.
Feb. 6: The Phoenix Suns acquire C Shaquille O’Neal from the Miami Heat for F Shawn Marion and G Marcus Banks
The big winner: Amare Stoudemire, freed from having to play center against the West’s biggest men, has been on an MVP-like tear at power forward since the 325-pound O’Neal arrived to play in the middle.
Loser: Dwyane Wade, who wants the Heat to take guard Derrick Rose if they get the top pick in the draft. But it will shock if coach Pat Riley, Mr. Power Basketball, doesn’t go for big man Michael Beasley to replace Shaq.
Feb. 16: The Atlanta Hawks acquire G Mike Bibby from the Sacramento Kings for F Sheldon Williams, G Tyronn Lue, G Anthony Johnson, F-C Lorenzen Wright, and a second-round pick in 2008.
The big winner: Larry Brown, who’s a better than even bet to become the Hawks’ next coach, and who will have a solid point guard in Bibby to scream at for the next couple of seasons.
Loser: Kings coach Reggie Theus, who may be stuck with Ron Artest for another year now that Bibby — who didn’t get along with Artest — was traded first.
Feb. 19: The Dallas Mavericks acquire G Jason Kidd, F Malik Allen, and G Antoine Wright from the New Jersey Nets for G Devin Harris, G-F Trenton Hassell, G Maurice Ager, C DeSagana Diop, F Keith Van Horn, and first-round picks in 2008 and 2010.
The big winner: David Falk, Van Horn’s agent, who gets a cool percentage of the $4 million paid to Van Horn by New Jersey, although Van Horn didn’t play a single second after being acquired.
Loser: Nets C Nenad Krstic, who will have to fend for himself now that Kidd isn’t there to give him easy baskets.
Feb. 20: The San Antonio Spurs acquire F-C Kurt Thomas from the Seattle SuperSonics for C Francisco Elson, G Brent Barry, and a first-round pick in 2009.
The big winner: Barry, who was waived by Seattle immediately after the deal, got his full year’s salary ($5.5 million), waited 30 days, then re-signed with the Spurs for an additional $179,000 this season and $1.2 million next season.
Loser: The fans of Seattle, who continued to come out in more than respectable numbers despite ownership’s transparent greasing of the skids to move the team to Oklahoma City next season.
Feb. 21: The Cleveland Cavaliers acquire F-C Ben Wallace, F-C Joe Smith, and a second-round pick in 2009 from Chicago, and G Delonte West and F Wally Szczerbiak from Seattle; Chicago acquires G Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown, and Fs Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons, from Cleveland; Seattle acquires F Adrian Griffin from Chicago, and Fs Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall from Cleveland.
The big winner: Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry, who moved Hughes’ huge contract but still has flexibility to clear cap room this summer (Szczerbiak’s deal has a year left, and West’s and Smith’s deals are up after the playoffs).
Loser: Gooden, who’s gone from the lows of Memphis to the highs of contending for a championship with LeBron James — and back to the lows.