If you missed Part 1 of the Simmons-Lowe Trade Deadline E-mail Exchange Fiesta (we’re still working on the title), CLICK HERE. For Part 2, we picked things up in real time with time stamps and everything.
Simmons (2:07 p.m. EST): Hey Zach — less than an hour before the deadline and our three biggest Thursday trades have been headlined by Dexter Pittman, Jordan Crawford and Bassy Telfair. Right now, I’m refreshing Twitter every 20 seconds while trying to decipher from Sekou Smith’s NBA TV interview with Josh Smith whether Josh wants to get traded or not. (My final verdict: Sort of.) Oh, and I’m trying to figure out how Boston landed Crawford for Leandro Barbosa when Barbosa’s left knee currently doesn’t have an attached ACL. I feel like my eyeballs are going to come flying out of my head. Too much going on, only nothing’s going on. Is this why people start taking Adderall?
Lowe (2:13 p.m.): Well, Atlanta and Milwaukee might take us to the deadline on Smith, and we’ll probably get at least a couple of little deals that trickle in before the deadline … right? The Pittman and Telfair deals are essentially irrelevant — insurance policies for teams that don’t really need them. The Heat cut some money from their tax bill, and the Grizz — out a first-rounder to Cleveland, and another to Minnesota — get a second-round pick for their troubles. I’m sure the Grizz had higher hopes for their trade exceptions, especially the $7 million-plus one they got via the Rudy Gay deal, but here we are.
Simmons (2:15 p.m.): Can’t say I love what Memphis did (assuming they’re done). They spent a future first-rounder to give away two decent bench guys (Ellington and Speights, both of whom play for Cleveland) to save money, then they traded Rudy Gay to save money … um … why did they have to make BOTH trades? Confusing. (Note: I also would have kept Jose Calderon over dealing for Prince’s contract; I just think he’s a better player and would have made them more interesting. They could have always found a stopgap swingman closer to the deadline. That’s what Prince is at this point — at least the Prince I’ve been watching these last two to three years. Maybe it’s just my TV.) But wait … you don’t think Bassy Telfair is a good backup?
Lowe (2:20 p.m.): Before getting to Bassy, you’re right that the scrutiny of the Rudy Gay deal should start with the pick Memphis gave the Cavaliers, and not really the Rudy trade itself. But I’ve covered that at length here, and the finances aren’t so simple.
Back to Bassy: I don’t really get the rush to give up anything of value, even just a second-rounder and player you’ll never use (Hamed Haddadi), for a third point guard. John Lucas III is a shoot-first, shoot-second, shoot-third backup point guard, which can drive coaches crazy — especially a staff that wanted Jose Calderon over the more aggressive Kyle Lowry. But third point guards are like bullpen catchers: Why give up anything to get one, since you’re screwed either way if your team reaches a point at which it actually has to use that player?
Simmons (2:22 p.m.): I’m biased toward Bassy; I may have seen the three best games he’s played over the past two years in person (all against the Clippers). He loves going against Chris Paul. Plays him as well as anyone. I wish I could delete the part of my brain that knows things like this.
Lowe (2:23 p.m.): What do you make of the Jordan Crawford deal? Will KG murder him this week or next week? Do you care at all?
Simmons (2:25 p.m.): I didn’t mind it … they gave up someone who currently can’t walk for him. My rule with these things is that, if the contracts are equal, you always want the guy who can walk over the guy who can’t walk. Crawford belongs in that Nick Young/John Lucas/Nate Robinson group of Irrationally Irrational Confidence Guys, which is a level below the true Irrational Confidence Guys (Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, etc.). When he’s hot, you ride him. When he’s not, you sit him. Of course, Doc couldn’t stand coaching Robinson. So this will be interesting. I’ve always had a soft spot for Crawford dating back to his Xavier days — there’s always room in a 10-man rotation for someone who can catch fire NBA Jam–style, and he’s one of the ultimate “no-no-no-YES!” shooters. Did you like the deal for Boston?
Lowe (2:29 p.m.): Funny you mention Young — one league exec made this exact comparison to me just a couple of hours ago. Young was a crucial player in one pivotal playoff game last season — Game 1 in Memphis, the Clippers’ massive comeback — and Crawford, for all his warts, may do something similar for Boston this season. His shot selection is egregious, he’ll struggle to guard wing players, and the Wizards’ offense has basically died when he’s played the point this season. Point guard in Boston is a shared duty now, so hopefully the Celtics will never lean too heavily on Crawford in this way.
Simmons (2:33 p.m.): According to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Lundblad, Jordan Crawford is one of seven players averaging an 18-5-4 per 36 minutes, joining LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Harden, Westbrook, and Manu. You know what’s the most amazing thing about that stat? Jordan Crawford is averaging five assists per 36 minutes????? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him pass. By the way, David Aldridge’s ability to do a live studio show while tweeting and gathering info at the exact same time is amazing. I’m so impressed.
Lowe (2:36 p.m.): In Crawford’s defense …
1. He played limited minutes with John Wall and Nene, meaning Crawford has gotten little opportunity this season to play alongside Washington’s best offensive players — a trend that makes his on-court/off-court splits look terrible. But they are terrible, and they were last year, too.
2. He’s nearly a league-average 3-point shooter this season, a big step up, and he can create a 40 percent shot off the bounce against anyone. That’s valuable when the shot clock is running down. He really only takes 40 percent shots, but that’s a different story. Boston could use his creativity and long-range shooting, but they have a ton of weird combo-style guards now in Crawford, Jason Terry, Avery Bradley, and Courtney Lee. At least one should be elsewhere by next year’s tipoff.
3. He did make a real effort to pass more this season when the Wiz used him as a de facto point guard, but those lineups failed so miserably they almost broke the NBA.com stats database. He’s putting up a career-high assist rate, as you mention. He might win a playoff game — or, more accurately, a playoff quarter — but he’s not a player I’d really want on my team for the long haul. Washington just gave him away for nothing after benching him almost upon Wall’s return, which feels a bit spiteful on the Wizards’ part. Very little harm, very little foul for Boston. But don’t expect much.
Simmons (2:40 p.m.): Good work, Zach. Between you and Jeremy Lundblad, I’ve totally talked myself into this trade and now believe it’s the steal of the century. I won’t even dwell on the part that Washington was soooooo desperate to get rid of him, they traded him for an expiring contract who cannot walk and won’t be able to run at full speed until after his contract ends. Bring on the Crawford era! Meanwhile, we’re suddenly 20 minutes away from the deadline! Where are the moves? What is happening to Josh Smith???
Lowe (2:42 p.m.): It looks like Milwaukee or nowhere. I have to admit, Milwaukee’s emergence here caught me off guard.
Simmons (2:44 p.m.): And you’ve always been overprotective of Milwaukee because of your unabashed love for LARRY SANDERS! Serious question — if SANDERS! got engaged to Swin Cash and they didn’t invite you to the wedding, would you try to crash it anyway and risk a trespassing fine and possible jail time?
Lowe (2:45 p.m.): That would be difficult for me. I think Swin already has a restraining order after All-Star weekend.
Simmons (2:46 p.m.): If Milwaukee can land Josh Smith without giving up Jennings or SANDERS!, that would be pretty intriguing. I might not be the biggest Josh Smith fan on the planet (he’s one of those guys who scares you when he’s on the other team but scares you even more when he’s on your own team), but I’m still one of the few who agrees with Smith that he’s a max player. I had him as a second-team All-NBA forward last year. He stumbled a little this season, mainly because they didn’t take care of him and he’s a mild headache (and you have to take care of mild headaches before they become pounding migraines). But if you’re looking at this from his point of view, the following guys are “max” players right now (or damned close): Deron Williams, Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, Eric Gordon, Roy Hibbert, Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire, David Lee, Paul Pierce, Andrew Bynum, Carlos Boozer, Andre Iguodala.
Look at that list again. He’s not a max player? JaVale McGee got $11 million a year to be someone’s backup center last summer. Gerald Wallace gets $10 million a year to imitate Marvin Williams in Brooklyn. (Not a compliment.) Josh Smith can’t get $16-$18 million a year? I mean … I wouldn’t pay him max money, but somebody will. That’s a fact. Nobody should make fun of Josh Smith for thinking he’s a max player … in a goofy, twisted way, he TOTALLY is. Just about every good-to-great NBA starter is overpaid by 25 to 30 percent except for LeBron, who’s underpaid by 400 percent.
Lowe (2:50 p.m.): Somebody is going to pay Smith the max, or very close to it, but you have to remember not all “maxes” are created equal. Harden’s “max” starts about $4 million per year below Smith’s potential max, though Harden’s would go up if he wins the MVP this year. That obviously won’t happen, but it would be hilarious, since it would trigger a cap rule upping Harden’s value significantly.
Simmons (2:52 p.m.): He needs to play 20 more straight games like the one he played last night against Oklahoma City and the MVP is within reach. Just 20 straight 46-point games in which he misses six shots per game total and makes every big play down the stretch, that’s all.
Lowe (2:54 p.m.): I’m a Smith optimist, though I recognize his flaws — very bad shot selection at times, lazy boxing out, moodiness, etc. He’s not an “A” player, but he might be a “B-plus” player in nearly every phase of the game — passing, defense, rebounding, scoring from the block, etc. — and that’s rare. He’s only 27. If you’re never going to get a star free agent to sign outright — and the Bucks aren’t — this is the kind of gamble you have to make sometimes. The Raptors just made the same gamble with Rudy Gay, and Smith is a better player than Gay.
Simmons (2:56 p.m.): I wholeheartedly agree. And also, Smith was excellent last season. Gay hasn’t been excellent for a couple of seasons, and maybe ever. Coincidentally, both of them have been first-teamers on the Tantalizing Potential All-Stars since, like, 2007.
Lowe (2:57 p.m.): Two Josh quibbles, though …
1. I’m surprised the Bucks were so interested in this move with both SANDERS! and Ersan Ilyasova onboard. I heard from multiple people they sniffed around a Thad Young/Monta Ellis swap, but might have gotten cold feet — presumably because of positional overcrowding issues.
2. I’m worried Smith will age poorly. He’s a “do your work late” kind of player on defense, and especially on the glass. By that I mean: His fundamentals are sometimes poor, in terms of sliding or boxing out, because he thinks he can use his speed/leaping at the end of a play to make up for any lost ground. That ability vanishes as a player ages. But he’s actually a very smart player, and he might learn to adjust.
In any case, Atlanta has about three minutes to make up its mind between the Bucks, Nets, and whoever else is out there. Also: Eric Maynor just got dealt to Portland, apparently. Woohoo!!!
Simmons (3 p.m.): Things are heating up! We’re on a run of third-string point guards getting dealt — look out, Willie Green, you might be next. Uh-oh, I just checked my Twitter feed and about 20 NBA guys reported at the same time that (a) the Bucks were out of the Josh Smith Sweepstakes, and (b) J.J. Redick was probably headed to Milwaukee. But for what??? My best guess — Monta Ellis and a conditional pick to Orlando, Redick and Josh McRoberts’s Expiring Contract to Milwaukee. I’m just worried that two white guys might not go over well in Milwaukee.
In other news … THE DEADLINE HAS PASSED. We made it.
Lowe (3:07 p.m.): It’s over. Whew. Sifting through all these last-minute deals — Anthony Morrow to Dallas, Eric Maynor to Portland, where he’ll actually be a major upgrade to the league’s worst bench — the headliner of the day is J.J. Redick to Milwaukee in what appears to be an eight-player, three-team deal, with the Bobcats also involved.
Simmons (3:09 p.m.): In other words, we won’t be bouncing our grandkids on our laps someday and telling them about Trade Deadline 2013. I’m glad Presti finally dealt Maynor … that means our long national nightmare of Presti trying to pull a Jedi Mind Trick on the media and pretend Maynor was good at basketball and had genuine trade value is finally over. That totally would have worked if writers and other GMs didn’t have League Pass and NBA Broadband.
Lowe (3:13 p.m.): I liked the Thunder snagging Ronnie Brewer from the Knicks for a second-round pick. I’m not sure what happened to Brewer in New York. He started off defending well in killer small lineups, getting baskets on cuts, and even making corner 3s. The 3s weren’t going to last, and he did suffer a couple of bumps and bruises, but he could still do that other stuff for a team that could use some healthy, stout wing guys. The Knicks are now counting very heavily on Iman Shumpert and a slumping Jason Kidd — on both ends — and need all the wing depth they can get to play heavy minutes with Melo at power forward. So that bears watching.
Simmons (3:16 p.m.): Jason Kidd isn’t slumping … he’s old. He’s like four years younger than me, and I have to rub elk semen on my knees just to play pickup hoops once a week. Remind me to buy deer antler spray; I keep forgetting. Anyway, keep going.
Lowe (3:17 p.m.): The Thunder have never really had a full-time backup small forward for Kevin Durant. Thabo Sefolosha has basically assumed that role in the playoffs, and he wasn’t big enough to guard LeBron James in the Finals. DeAndre Liggins and Perry Jones aren’t going to be ready in June. Brewer may not impact the Thunder at all, but he’s worth a shot as a backup defense-first wing and potential extra ingredient in small lineups with Durant at power forward.
Simmons (3:19 p.m.): And the Zombies certainly could have used Brewer last night against Harden. Hey, it’s just dawning on me that the Celtics kept Rondo/Garnett/Pierce together at least through next June. What a strange run it’s been … for three of the last four Februarys, we were thinking to ourselves, They’re gonna blow it up, they’re gonna blow it up, and it never happened. But during the fourth February, we weren’t thinking anything because they had the best record, and THAT was the month they blew it up (Perkins for Green).
Anyway, I’m OK with standing pat this month. Garnett didn’t want a trade. That Clippers deal (KG for Bledsoe and Jordan) was sitting there; he didn’t want it. (Deny it all you want, Clippers. Your general manager Chris Paul wanted to make that deal.) But Garnett wants to retire as a Celtic. My question is … when? This summer? Next summer? Or is the plan, “As soon as we’re positive that Rondo is healthy, we’re dealing him for whatever we can get?”
You never want to be in NBA No-Man’s-Land, and right now, the Celtics are in NBA No-Man’s-Land. That’s why I would have considered a Rondo/Bass for Smith/Pachulia/no. 1 pick deal, as mentioned in this SportsCenter clip …
… when I successfully (and improbably) used ESPN’s touchscreen Trade Machine. Could the Celtics have made the Eastern Finals with Smith? Would it have been worth dealing Rondo? Can they do better with a Rondo trade next summer? Should they deal him at all? Can you write about the Celtics without including eight question marks per paragraph?
Lowe (3:24 p.m.): Something is going to change in Boston soon. The Celtics as of now wouldn’t have significant cap flexibility until the summer of 2015, though they could get there a year earlier if KG retires before his deal expires. Rondo only has two more years on his (probably below-market) contract, and he’ll miss a chunk of one of them. Smith was an enticing target in theory, and he’s close with Rondo, but even an injured Rondo was clearly way above the market price for Smith on an expiring deal. The front office has tried to move on, and they’ll keep trying. You can bet they’re watching the rest of this season for what it might tell them about Rondo’s value; his free agency isn’t all that far off, and he may demand something like a max deal.
Simmons (3:27 p.m.): Let’s talk about the trades that did happen. What did you think of the Redick deal? I liked it for Milwaukee obviously. But I like all deals for Team X when Team X gets J.J. Redick. I’m a Redickite. Redickphile? Redickan?
Lowe (3:28 p.m.): Milwaukee paid a price for what might end up being a short-term rental, though one that will help them clinch a playoff berth they are 100 percent committed to cinching. They gave up Doron Lamb and Tobias Harris, along with Beno Udrih’s expiring deal. Harris’s departure is a particularly sad marker. The Bucks need a two-way wing player going forward, and there was great optimism around the league — both within the Bucks and elsewhere — that Harris, a bruiser with limited range and unproven defensive ability, might be that player. Guess not — or at least not in Milwaukee. Lamb is interesting, but he’s shooting 35 percent in limited minutes. The Bucks get back Ish Smith, a deep reserve, and Gustavo Ayon, whom the Magic and Hornets both liked before dealing him. Ayon is a useful player who may struggle to get minutes in Milwaukee’s crowded frontcourt. He’s a smart passer and cutter on offense, and he’s a decent defender.
Simmons (3:32 p.m.): Translation: This Redick trade was for NBA nerds only, a.k.a. the people who watch four games at once on a Monday night and know who any of these guys are. And for the record, I am a HUGE Gustavo Ayon fan. I may or may not have been involved in an “I think Orlando has been misusing Gustavo Ayon” conversation within the last few weeks. So I don’t love this trade for Orlando because I like the two guys they gave up. Redick is a proven playoff guy. And a good teammate. The Bucks are better, I think.
Lowe (3:36 p.m.): Redick is obviously the highlight of the deal. He’s a very, very good player, and Orlando is now officially in full Tank Mode. He’ll have to play some small forward, but any time he takes from Ellis is a plus for Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s offense features a lot of fast-paced cutting for pick-and-rolls around the elbows, and Redick has been thriving in that kind of action for years in Orlando.
And he can shoot. Milwaukee needs that, badly. The Bucks are shooting 34.8 percent from deep, 21st in the league, and Ellis is shooting 22.8 percent on a totally irresponsible 3.5 attempts per game. That is borderline sabotage. Here is the total list of players in league history to attempt more than three 3-pointers per game in a season while hitting fewer than 25 percent of them.
Simmons (3:39 p.m.): There’s a good chance that he decided to spend the season trolling the advanced-metrics community with his shot selection. Don’t rule this out. Maybe he’s trying to drive Kirk Goldsberry to hardcore drug use.
Lowe (3:40 p.m.): It may be that Ellis, as good as he can look on majestic highlight layups, is just a poisonous player. He does some things well — driving, slashing, and finding teammates for productive looks at the rim. But he does more Bad Monta things — taking long jumpers, basically — than Good Monta things on offense, and on defense, there is only Bad Monta. He gambles for steals, stands upright so that even “blah” opponents can blow by him off the dribble, he’s undersized, and he’s an inattentive help defender.
Basically: I’m beginning to believe a team would be better off just not playing Monta, unless he’s going to shoot 50-plus percent, which last happened in 2007-08. Shifting some of his minutes to Redick will help by itself, and Jim Boylan should be able to fit Redick in the small forward rotation, alongside Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (all defense, no spacing) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (all spacing/passing, no defense).
Simmons (3:44 p.m.): I’m suddenly terrified of Bad Monta sharing Boston’s backcourt next season with Basic Cable Rondo. You’re looking at Monta’s career the wrong way, though — the way I see it, we’re just inching closer and closer to Monta reaching his ultimate destiny as an Irrational Confidence Bench Scorer on a contender, like a cross between Vernon Maxwell Circa 1994, Jason Terry Circa 2011 and even Eddie House Circa 2008. Maybe that’s what he was always meant to be.
Lowe: (3:46 p.m.): Last point on the Redick deal: It’s basically a wash financially for the Bucks in terms of cap room this summer, and it gives them the option of just letting Ellis go — assuming he opts out — and re-signing Redick to replace him. But Redick wants to win. Is this the right place for him to do that?
Simmons (3:47 p.m.): If “win” means “winning slightly more games than you’re losing,” then yes, it’s the right place for him to do that. If you’re talking about winning multiple playoff series, then no. I’d say that he’s more focused on the second point. I was hoping he’d land in Indiana; he could have made a nice splash for the Pacers (they needed another shooter, as you know). If the Bucks land the no. 7 seed, could they bother Indiana or New York in the first round with Jennings, Redick, Ilyasova, SANDERS! and Mbah a Moute or Dunleavy at crunch time? I mean … maybe? But I think that’s where it ends.
Lowe (3:50 p.m.): As for Orlando: It seems they couldn’t get a first-round pick, so this return is fine. That’s the story of the trade deadline: Only one first-round pick changed hands after January 1 — the pick Memphis sent to Cleveland in their pre-Rudy trade. About four or five future first-rounders changed hands on average in the last few trade deadlines.
Simmons (3:52 p.m.): So either the new tax rules (and the shrinking cap) changed the trade landscape going forward, or it’s a massive aberration that means nothing. Hmmmmmm. Last Bucks thought: Why not deal Monta Ellis as the second part of that Redick move?
Lowe (3:53 p.m.): Perhaps they couldn’t find a taker for Monta, though it’s unclear if he was in the offer to Atlanta for Smith (apparently not). The Bucks have the talent to bother anyone, but they’re still a step below the East’s second-tier teams. “Why didn’t Indiana trade a late first-round pick for Redick?” will be a popular question in the wake of this deadline. Ditto for “Where the heck was Utah?” Teams were very cautious with first-rounders, even late ones that typically produce very little. This is a question for tomorrow, though. But a bunch of teams chose “do nothing” over all other options, and that includes the Hawks with Smith. They had offers on the table and chose none of them.
Simmons (3:56 p.m.): For the record, I fully support the Hawks keeping Smith over dealing him for 40 cents on the dollar. Nobody made them a decent offer. Sorry, I’m not dealing someone who was the fourth-best forward in the NBA last season for a crappy Nets first-rounder, MarShon “I’m 24 + Can’t Even Play On My Current Team” Brooks and the right to pay Kris Humphries $12 million next season; I’m not dealing him for Brandon Bass, Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger; and I’m not doing it for Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley’s Semi-Albatross Contract.
Also, they’re 29-23 and have no chance of dropping into the lottery because the East has been so dreadful. Why not keep Smith, then hope you go on a spring run and he plays up his value for sign-and-trade purposes this summer? Don’t you owe it to your fans to (a) make an attempt at a playoff run or (b) give them the Illusion of Hope that he might stay and play with Dwight (or get sign and traded)?
Don’t ever forget about the Illusion of Hope, Zach Lowe. You’re always better off misleading your fans for as long as possible over just doing something dumb immediately. Why not prolong the agony?
Lowe (4:02 p.m.): They could also use Smith as a lure to chase Dwight Howard in the offseason, assuming the Lakers haven’t yet erected a statue of Howard outside Staples Center. (Side note: Atlanta would have to free up some cap room to offer Howard his true max, which starts at about $20 million in Year 1, since both Smith and Jeff Teague will carry pricey cap holds.) They may also just view losing Smith for nothing, and remaining lean, as a viable alternative. Taking that course with Joe Johnson might have ultimately been healthier for the franchise.
I’ve heard from two sources in the know that the Nets final offer was: Brooks, Humphries, an unprotected first-round pick and the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, though Brooklyn officials would not confirm. That’s not a terrible offer, and it comes with little locked-in long-term cost. But Atlanta is fully within its rights to hold its nose and say “no.” The Nets will continue the Humphries drama over the summer, and potentially into next season; flipping an expensive contract for another expensive contract is really the only means they have of improving the roster, beyond nailing a late first-round draft pick.
Simmons (4:08 p.m.): That’s a horrible offer. Even Geoff Petrie turns down that offer. (Thinking.) You’re right, he probably grabs it. Hold on, I asked Rembert Browne (die-hard Atlanta fan, die-hard Beyoncé fan, die-hard Joe Johnson hater) for his take on the Hawks keeping Josh — partly because he’s our Grantland buddy, and partly because he might be the only living Atlanta Hawks fan. The Hawks’ fan base is the United States in I Am Legend and he’s Will Smith. Anyway, here’s what Rem e-mailed back.
Rembert (4:09 p.m.): The Hawks did the right thing for the 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks. Who knows if that’s a great thing for the future, but I happen to believe they still have a lot to prove, this season, as a team that dealt a premier talent just a year ago. All season, they’ve seemed to pride themselves as a superstar-less team that works hard enough and believes in one another enough to find ways to win. While I’ve loved that approach to the game (the exact opposite of the Lakers’ “too many cooks in the kitchen” debacle), you can’t just deal the one thing on this slightly scrubby team that, at times, shows glimmers of superstardom. (I love you, Al, but no.)
Not this season, at least.
I LOVE YOU, JOSH, EVEN IF YOUR THREES ARE LIKE BLINDFOLDED DRONE STRIKES.
Simmons (4:10 p.m.): So there you go. Somebody should make a coffee table book of e-mails/tweets that Hawks fans share with each other after an atrocious Josh Smith 3. I would totally buy that. Hey, Zach, let’s quickly hit the teams that disappointed us because they didn’t do anything. I have five.
Let’s start with Utah. You mentioned them already, but I’m now operating under the premise that Kevin O’Connor was kidnapped and replaced by one of Sam Presti’s spies. First of all, the Kevin O’Connor I knew never would have given up Devin Harris’s expiring deal last summer for two years of Marvin Williams, a.k.a. The Worst Starting Small Forward Alive. And second, they have $26 million in expirings with Jefferson, Millsap and Raja Bell, as well as a logjam at forward … I mean … what’s the long-term plan here? Re-sign everyone? Start over with the young dudes? I’m just confused.
Lowe (4:15 p.m.): Stay tuned. They have a ton of flexibility over the summer. The “doing nothing” course will anger fans who dreamed of Eric Bledsoe, but it’s unclear if Bledsoe was ever really available to them, and they can always sign-and-trade Paul Millsap this summer. Keeping Al Jefferson over Millsap would be a shaky decision, but let’s give them some time. Maybe they couldn’t find an offer that brought in long-term money attached to a player they actually wanted to pay.
Simmons (4:18 p.m.): My second team … Phoenix. We covered this in Part 1, but their trade-deadline strategy was to grab a bullhorn and scream, “TWINS! NOW WE HAVE TWINS!!!!!!!”
Batting third for me … Toronto. They dragged Andrea Bargnani through the mud for four weeks … then they kept him? Huh?
Lowe (4:21 p.m.): They’ll continue to look at Bargnani deals later, and see if he can do anything for them in the meantime. He has been really bad, even by his standards, in the last week or so. Again: Teams were very stingy with first-round picks. Had Toronto been able to snag one without taking on a poison deal that runs longer than Bargnani’s, I bet they’d have moved.
Simmons (4:25 p.m.): My fourth team … the Lakers. If you’re keeping Howard and D’Antoni, you can’t NOT deal Gasol. Inane. Nonsensical. I don’t get it.
And last but not least … Chicago. They punted on competing for a title this season à la Cuban punting on last season. They have some trade assets, too. What if Rose is operating at 100 percent capacity in four or five weeks? Couldn’t they have at least made a run at Redick with Rip Hamilton and that Charlotte pick? Could they have given Miami a real run with Redick and a healthy Rose? I say yes. That makes me wonder if they’re sitting out Rose until next season.
Lowe (4:30 p.m.): On the Lakers and Bulls, that struck me as semi-wishful thinking. Gasol might miss most of the regular season, he’s still a good player, and he’s an expiring next season. Deng is emblematic of Chicago’s identity, and though he’s the most movable (from the perspectives of both the Bulls and the other 29 teams) of Chicago’s big-money players, I’m not really sure how movable he is right now. He’s got a big-money contract that would make teams pause, and the Bulls view him as a core piece of a title contender next season. Also: The Bulls didn’t dump Rip Hamilton! They are actually set to pay the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history!
Simmons (4:40 p.m.): As we were swapping this last batch of e-mails, Derrick Rose’s brother came out and ripped the Bulls for not improving before the deadline, then made it clear that Derrick shouldn’t have rushed back if the Bulls weren’t committed to contending this season anyway. Now, the history of Loose Cannon Siblings coming out in defense of their famous athlete brothers is basically a disaster, and he DEFINITELY shouldn’t have said anything — there’s just no upside. But I agree with Derrick Rose’s Loose Cannon Bro in this respect: Why should Rose rush back if the Bulls aren’t in any rush to contend for the title? They have legitimate trade assets like the rights to Charlotte’s future no. 1 pick, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, and even Luol Deng (whom Butler made semi-expendable recently). They could have moved on Redick pretty easily, or maybe even Pau Gasol (using Deng as the bait). They didn’t do anything, which reinforces the fact that …
A. They were never serious about winning the title this season, which is why they built the team they did.
B. Everything that happened (a.k.a. the winning) was an unexpected surprise.
C. They didn’t let their success steer them from building a long-term contender around Rose and allowing him enough time to get healthy, even if it meant punting on the title this season.
I agree with the strategy. I think. Just know that, if Rose comes back in April and he’s flying around by May, and they’re trading body blows with Miami in the Eastern Finals, they’re going to wish they had J.J. Redick on their team. (And he’s going to wish he was a Bull.) Alas.