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Running Draft Commentary From The WaMu

Stay tuned throughout the night as Andrew Perna and Jason M. Williams comment on the 2009 NBA Draft. Andrew is stationed in the upper deck of the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, while Jason is taking it all in from the West Coast.

6:30PM Andrew Finishes Setting Up

I've finally finished setting up on the left balcony at the WaMu Theater. In honor of Jason, I have set up an empty chair with a candle on it.

6:42PM Jason "Arrives"

Thanks Andrew, I'm starting to feel a serious case of what my better half refers to as "FOMO" - Fear Of Missing Out. I can't even believe all of these marquee trades that have already taken place - Shaq, Vince, RJ, Jamal, Mike Miller, and even Amir are moving on to bigger and better things.  Let's hope to see a few more big deals as the night progresses.

6:50PM Jennings is M.I.A.

Agent Bill Duffy has advised that Brandon Jennings watch the draft in private. I don't think he's going to slip too far, but perhaps out of the top ten. Wow.

6:51PM Jason

Okay, Andrew, I realize you have a few hours before it's Go Time for Indiana, but I want you to go on the record with your Official Pacers Top 5 Draft Board, sponsored by EA Sports.

6:64PM Andrew

That's a loaded question, but taking into account who "could" be available, this would be my top five if I were making decisions in Indiana: DeJuan Blair, Terrence Williams, Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague and Gerald Henderson. I'd like to have more bigs on that list, but the draft is so short on them. I'm Blair all the way.

6:58PM Breaking Pop Culture News

Sad news out of Los Angeles. It appears that Michael Jackson has died after being taken to the UCLA Medical Center today, suffering cardiac arrest after collapsing earlier in his west Los Angeles home.

7:03PM ESPN Goes Live

ESPN's coverage has gone live on television. Jeff Van Gundy gets a huge ovation from the crowd, which appears active. But we already knew they would be. As far as the crowd is concerned, the Knicks are the only team in the league.

7:06PM Andrew Sights A Pacer

Yet again, my eyes have spotted a Pacer at the WaMu. Roy Hibbert is walking around, which isn't surprising since he's from Queens.

7:15PM Andrew

Tyler Hansbrough is safe! He won't be the final player waiting at the WaMu to get drafted. Taylor Griffin is here supporting his young, much more talented brother.

7:23PM Jason

ESPN is reporting that the Suns are discussing a trade with Golden State that would send Amare Stoudemire to the Warriors for Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli, and the 7th overall pick. The Suns would have to be hammered not to accept that deal.

7:25PM Andrew

I'd agree Jason. A few Golden State fans that I know are rolling around foaming at the mouth. Is there any direction in that front office?

7:32PM Jason

Update in Chad Ford's latest mock. For some reason he has Blake Griffin going to the Clippers at number 1 at 99.9 percent confidence level, but has Stephen Curry to the Knicks at 8 at 100 percent. He must know something we don't know.

7:34PM Crowd Reaction

A rowdy "Lakers Suck" chant is going strong.

7:38PM Andrew

Imagine if they didn't take Griffin.

7:38PM Jason

They are going to accidentally draft Taylor.

--Clippers take Blake Griffin with 1st pick

7:41PM Andrew

Griffin is gone. In other news, it's Thursday.

--Grizzlies take Hasheem Thabeet with 2nd pick

7:47PM Andrew

Jason, you think Thabeet's smile is fake?

7:49PM Jason

Yeah, it's gotta be. I wonder how his communication will be down low with Marc Gasol clogging the paint next to him. Or will Hasheem pair with Hamed Haddadi to form the most dangerous duo down low from overseas in NBA history?

--Thunder take James Harden with 3rd pick

7:53PM Crowd Reaction

Somewhere between Shock and Awe.

7:54PM Andrew

Jason, how does your top-five look for the Knicks?

7:55PM Jason

1. Rubio, 2. Jennings, 3. Curry, 4. Tyreke, 5. Hill. And yes, I realize Rubio is probably going to be gone within the next 15 minutes.

7:56PM Andrew

This has to be Rubio, he'll get his wish of playing in a big market. Perhaps Oklahoma City got a little scared.

--Kings take Tyreke Evans with 4th pick

7:59PM Jason

Who does Minny go after? Rubio and Curry makes the most sense to me. If they do, New York is going to fold into itself. It's going to get rowdy there pretty soon. I'm glad I'm safe under the sun.

--Timberwolves take Ricky Rubio with 5th pick

8:04PM Andrew

Crowd starts a "U-S-A!" I've never been a fan of that.

8:08PM Jason

My heart is shattered knowing that I'm going to have to settle on Jrue Holiday since Sactown refused to comply and select Rubio. I pray Rubio drops a 20-20 on Sacramento each time Minny matches up with the Kings.

--Timberwolves take Jonny Flynn with 6th pick

8:11PM Andrew

Wow. Most surprisingly draft in a very long time.

8:12PM Jason

Best possible scenario: Knicks walk out of here with either Curry or Jordan Hill.

--Warriors take Stephen Curry with 7th pick

8:17PM Andrew

My head is spinning, but I love it. Curry is stolen right out from underneath the nose of New York, and the crowd is pissed. No matter who the Knicks take, NYC will be tough on him.

8:20PM Report

ESPN claims that Minnesota is keeping both Rubio and Flynn. Are you kidding me?

--Knicks take Jordan Hill with 8th pick

8:22PM Jason

The selection of Hill is good on a few levels. One, Hill is a big body who can actually block shots and play the run and gun game. Two, this allows the Knicks to shop David Lee around the league and upgrade their shooting guard position. Three, with the newly acquired 29th pick, they can grab a sharp shooting guard like Toney Douglas, Patty Mills, or Jack McClinton. PLUS! Don't rule out a potential Kahn/Walsh swap of David Lee for Ricky Rubio down the line this summer.

8:26PM Andrew

I just spotted someone in the crowd with a #23 New York jersey, and the name on the back is James. It looks authentic too. I sure hope he didn't waste $160...

--Raptors take Demar DeRozan with 9th pick

8:30PM Jason

This has got to be Holiday, but then again I have no clue.

--Bucks take Brandon Jennings with 10th pick

8:34PM Andrew

OK, the No. 3 player on my Indiana "Draft Board" is gone. Just please, don't let them take Hansbrough.

--Nets take Terrence Williams with 11th pick

8:39PM Jason

Wow, what a great day for the Nets. They save 40M over the long haul by shedding Vince Carter, they save 16.5M for the Summer of 2010, they pair Devin Harris with Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee. Now they add a versatile 2/3 in Terrence Williams, and they already have Sean Williams, Josh Boone, and Brook Lopez in the paint. Basically, they cleared a ton of cap space, added a ton of young athletic promising players, and conveniently left the small forward position noticeably weak. Can you say that they are in 100% LeBron mode?

--Bobcats take Gerald Henderson with 12th pick

8:45PM Andrew

Three of the five guys I had on my Indiana "Draft Board" are gone, but my No. 1 remains...

--Pacers take with Tyler Hansbrough 13th pick

8:50PM Jason

I just got word that Andrew is being rushed to a New York City hospital. He'll be back shortly, I hope.

--Suns take Earl Clark with 14th pick

8:57PM Andrew

The smelling salts are out, and I'm back. Jennings makes an appearance from back stage, what is this WWE?

8:59PM Jason

Matt Cheesebro, the greatest Piston fan in history, is depressed that Earl is off the board. From the heart of Detroit comes a bold statement: PLEASE don't take BJ Mullens from the HATED Ohio State.

--Pistons take Austin Daye with 15th pick

9:02PM Jason

And Cheesebro almost blacks out in relief...

Tayshaun Prince is now the second gangliest player in the NBA, and now also the second gangliest player on the Pistons...thanks to the 6-11 190 lb Austin Daye.

--Bulls take James Johnson with 16th pick

--76ers take Jrue Holiday with 17th pick


9:14PM Jason

The Sixers are the luckiest team in recent draft history.  Here they get another steal with Holiday dropping to 17.  They have the best "fallers" - Iguodala fell to them, Thaddeus fell to them, and even Speights fell to them last year...unfair.

--Timberwolves take Ty Lawson with 18th pick

9:22PM Jason

Another point guard for the Wolves!  Wow, can you say Ricky Rubio to New York!? Stu Scott has the best quote of the night, "Well, they'll pass the ball a lot."  Hysterical.  Stu is redeemed for the night.

9:24PM Report

Nevermind, it appears Ty Lawson is headed to Denver for a future pick...

--Hawks take Jeff Teague with 19th pick

9:28PM Jason

And Reina's man is off the board with the 19th pick as Jeff Teague heads to Atlanta. I guess this means farewell to Mike Bibby with the addition of Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague. Can you say Mike Bibby to Portland?

--Jazz take Eric Maynor with 20th pick

9:33PM Jason

Retro fact:  In a TV interview with Bobcats coach Larry Brown, I noticed that Charlotte point guards will look to their right and see a Gerald...look to their left...another Gerald.  Wallace and newly-selected Henderson will form the most dynamic Gerald Tandem in league history.

--Hornets take Darren Collison with 21st pick

--Trail Blazers take Victor Claver with 22nd pick

9:45PM Andrew

I'm back. Just made a quick radio appearance. Thanks for holding down the fort Jason.

--Kings take Omir Casspi with 23rd pick

--Mavericks take B.J. Mullens with 24th pick

--Thunder take Rodrigue Beaubois with 25th pick

9:54PM Andrew

Oklahoma City is going to trade Beauboius to Dallas for Mullens.

9:59PM Jason

Oklahoma City is piecing this team together. First they solidify the shooting guard position with James Harden. Now, they swap picks with Dallas and get their hands on a high ceiling big man out of Ohio State, B.J. Mullens. Add that to their core of Russ Westbrook, Jeff Green, and Kevin Durant. Finally, they add a capable big who can play the pick and roll with Westbrook and be an immediate upgrade over Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic.

--Bulls take Taj Gibson with 26th pick

10:04PM Jason

It appears that the Knicks are tag teaming with Ricky Rubio's agent, trying desperately to get the enigmatic point guard on his way to New York. Stay tuned for more as David Kahn tries to resist the calls from his former mentor.

--Grizzlies take DeMarre Carroll with 27th pick

10:07PM Andrew

T'Wolves on the clock...another point guard? I'm thinking Nick Calathes.

--Timberwolves take Wayne Ellington with 28th pick

10:15PM Jason

I love the Ellington pick for Minnesota. Talk about an immediate improvement. Kevin McHale was a terrible GM. Now Kahn steps in and within a month he grabs the fifth pick for Mike Miller and Randy Foye - nothing special. And now he grabs perhaps the best point guard in the draft in Ricky Rubio, their new starting point in Jonny Flynn, and now their new starting shooting guard in Ellington.

10:17PM Report

Ladies and gentlemen, Darko is a Knick.

--Lakers take Toney Douglas with 29th pick

10:17PM Report

The 29th pick is going to New York.

10:15PM Jason

This is a great minute for Knicks fans. First, they unload the only player on the roster that I still hate in Q, who has become a non-rotation player. They add another shotblocker in Darko. They add a solid defensive sharpshooter in Toney Douglas. Wow. A great minute for the Knicks. While it may seem hilarious/terrible that the Knicks got Darko, he's only a one-year project and Mike D'Antoni might be the only coach in the NBA to get the most out of Darko. Darko can hit shots, run the floor, play solid interior D and he JUST turned 24 last Saturday. Great low risk, high reward deal for New York.

--Cavaliers take Christian Eyenga with 30th pick

10:24PM Andrew

And the first round is over. Bring on Adam Silver! Or not, the crowd is filling out at the WaMu Theater.

--Kings take Jeff Pendergraph with 31st pick

--Wizards take Jermaine Taylor with 32nd pick

--Trail Blazers take Dante Cunningham with 33rd pick

--Nuggets take Sergio Llull with 34th pick

--Pistons take DaJuan Summers with 35th pick

--Grizzlies take Sam Young with 36th pick

--Spurs take DeJuan Blair with 37th pick

10:51PM Andrew

Something serious had to come out of Blair's physical. He's better than a 37th pick, and he'll be great in San Antonio.

10:54PM Jason

This pick smells of pure savvy opportunistic Spurish nature, and will be similar to how Boston got Glen Davis, another smallish big man who was successful in college, and will surround the Pitt big man with a strong foundation of veteran leadership. Look for Blair to follow in Big Baby's footsteps and be a very successful role player at the power forward for San Antonio.

--Blazers take Jon Brockman with 38th pick

--Pistons take Jonas Jerebko with 39th pick

11:00PM Jason

Shocker. Another Swede in Detroit. They seem to have a Swedish fetish, since the majority of the Swedish national hockey team are Red Wings, and now Jonas Jerebko is a Piston.

--Bobcats take Derrick Brown with 40th pick

--Bucks take Jodie Meeks with 41st pick

--Lakers take Patrick Beverley with 42nd pick

11:10PM Andrew

The crowd is dead, and most of the media are falling asleep. I still have quite the travel home, but I wouldn't trade covering this thing for anything. Oh, and Dick Vitale is like a record. And a broken one at that.

--Pistons take Chase Budinger with 43rd pick

--Timberwolves take Nick Calathes with 44th pick

--Cavaliers take Nick Green with 45th pick

11:21PM Andrew

Jason has left the building, and I'm packing up. It's been fun guys, thanks for reading along tonight. Enjoy the remainder of the draft and follow along on our Draft Cast.


Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com and co-host of RealGM's Radio Show. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com

A Trade Deadline Of Spenders And Savers

The 2009 NBA trade deadline will forever be remembered as yet another missed opportunity.  For the second straight year, there were plenty of big names on the block and too many frugal GMs unwilling to make the big score.  The deadline was somewhat uneventful and was more of a forum of penny pinchers more focused on the bottom line than the hearts of the fans.  

One year ago, I wrote an uptempo piece critiquing my First Impressions of The Deadline Deals that denounced certain teams for hiding away from the phones while other deals that were made have now set their teams up for ultimate success this season ? see Cleveland Cavaliers.  This year, I decided to sleep on the handful of trades to provide a fresher look, with clearer perspective on each side of the deal, and now these reflections are coming at you starting with the Shawn Marion/Jermaine O?Neal swap that got things kicked off just in time for Valentine?s Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Toronto Raptors acquired forward Shawn Marion, guard Marcus Banks and cash considerations from the Miami Heat for forwards Jermaine O?Neal, Jamario Moon, and a conditional first-round pick.

This was a deal that was discussed for weeks, put on hold by both of these teams trying desperately to put together a package for then-disgruntled Phoenix Suns power forward, Amare Stoudemire.  Now that a week has passed and Amare appears out for the season, I bet both parties are somewhat happier that this deal was made instead.

After having a week to reflect, I still can?t convince myself that the Raps weren?t taken out back by Pat Riley on this one.  As much as I will regret saying so because of the heat I will feel ? no pun intended ? every time I enter the Air Canada Centre, Shawn Marion is just not the answer for Toronto in the short term or the long term.

Miami is a team that is better suited for a structured system where everyone on the roster has a specific role.  Prior to this trade, Marion was just a stopgap for the team that was standing in the way of number-two overall pick, Michael Beasley.  Now that Marion and his similar skill set has been sent packing to Canada, Beasley fits perfectly into his role at small forward.  Desperately needing a step up from Joel Anthony at the center position, Jermaine comes in and fills this role perfectly.  Now a starting five of Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Beasley, Udonis Haslem, and JO looks intimidating.  

But what about 30-year old JO?s health?  Isn?t he a shell of his former self?  While that was the case while he was playing in frigid Indiana or Toronto on losing teams, he will surely be rejuvenated now that he is heading to South Beach on a fresh young team poised to break out.  Look at what the Miami beaches did for Shaq when he headed to the Heat at an even older age (32).

Plus, the Heat also grabbed a young athletic defender on the wing in Jamario Moon, and hilariously even got a conditional first round pick out of this?  And for what?  To jettison a guy they didn?t even want in the first place, all while dumping Marcus Banks? absurd contract.  This deal even saved the Heat nearly $5M for the Summer of 2010, now that they don?t have to waste that money on a guy who can?t hold Blake Ahearn?s jock strap.

True, the Raps get to trim $17.1M off the books by letting Marion walk after the season, but how will that look in the eyes of franchise cornerstone, Chris Bosh?  Do you think he will say, ?Sweet, I get to play with Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani in hopes of reaching the first round of the playoffs.?  No.  He will now almost definitely bolt for Chicago, New York, or anywhere else in the United States now that his team is not equipped to be a legitimate contender to play meaningful basketball in April.  They might as well have packaged Bosh this week while they were at it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Los Angeles Clippers acquired guard Alex Acker and a 2011 second-round pick from the Detroit Pistons for a 2013 second-round pick.

In yet another deal made with the sole intention of dumping salary and having absolutely no effect on the NBA season, the Pistons sent little used guard Alex Acker to Los Angeles so they could avoid paying the luxury tax for a guy that has no future on the team.  Acker must have been fired up because 1) he gets to move from Detroit to Los Angeles, and 2) might actually get to play now since the Clips are pitiful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

1) Sacramento Kings acquired guard Sam Cassell from the Boston Celtics for a conditional 2015 second-round pick.

Yes, that says 2015.  This deal was done only so that the Celtics can save a bit of dough on the luxury tax bill and clear a roster spot for the now-inevitable Rich Get Richer For Absolutely Nothing move where they will inevitably get to sign Stephon Marbury, Joe Smith, or Mikki Moore for a salary equivalent of a bellboy.  Yea, that?s fair.  Instead of having situations where Cuttino Mobley will count on the Knicks cap figure this year and next year despite the fact that he said "Yes, I have retired from the NBA," why not amend the Collective Bargaining Agreement to eliminate that absurd truth while creating some way of preventing contending teams from signing former All-Stars for chicken scratch.  It just doesn?t seem fair to the competitive balance of the league if the Celtics get to add a big man to the roster for nothing every year, while teams just fighting to reach the playoffs ? like New Jersey and Chicago ? get to choose from Chris Hunter and Courtney Sims of the NBDL All Stars.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder acquired center Tyson Chandler from the New Orleans Hornets for Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, and the draft rights to Devon Hardin.

Note: Trade was rescinded by Oklahoma City on Wednesday, February 18, 2009.

Never before have we had a deal collapse where two entire fan bases swayed like a pendulum so violently over the course of two days.  Every fan in New Orleans was prepared to burn down the house of Jeff Bower after they gave away Tyson Chandler for expiring contracts.  On the flip side, the Thunder had immediately made themselves into one of the scariest young teams we have seen in quite a few years.  Imagine if the Thunder had kept Chandler and then won the draft lottery and selected Blake Griffin first overall.  They?d have a young wildly athletic core of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Griffin, and Chandler.  Wow.  Just wow.  And now, they may be on the reverse end of lottery fortune, tumble toward the ninth pick and stupidly take a guy like B.J. Mullens out of Ohio State.  What I just described is basically a worst case scenario for OKC.  

Instead, the deal was pulled back because of one infamous missing doctor?s note, and now the city of New Orleans is alive again, while the followers in Oklahoma are stunned.  Fans blacking out from post-trade celebration were forced to once again blackout the next night due to depression.  It was the evilest tease in the history of pro sports, and the rookie fan base was given its first real dose of what its like to be a fan of the now-defunct Seattle Supersonics.  

Even worse for the Thunder, they immediately turned into Who Cares Whatsoever About This Season mode when they sent Wilcox to New York for negative value ? yes, that?s possible when you see who they got in return, and are likely on the brink of cutting Joe Smith so he can go fight for a title in Boston on the Thunder?s dime.  Is ?Thunder?s? actually legal English?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

1) Chicago Bulls acquire guard/forward John Salmons and center Brad Miller from the Sacramento Kings for forwards Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, and Michael Ruffin.  Sacramento then trades Ruffin to the Portland Trail Blazers for Ike Diogu.

While this was the first trade for both the Bulls and the Kings, it surely was not the last move that these two teams would make over the 2009 trade season.  Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis of those two teams in the upcoming text.  But on the surface, this looks like a rather ho-hum deal for both teams.  Let?s break it down and see what each team got out of it and try to see who came out on top.

First of all, I won?t even consider discussing the Portland aspect of this deal.  They traded a guy who never plays for another guy who will never play. I hate that I even had to type in that last sentence explaining the Ruffin-Diogu link that no one cares about outside of the Ruffin and Diogu households.

Moving along, the Bulls got rid of an under-appreciated and under-utilized Argentinean role player and an underachieving guy with damaging hair insecurities.  In return they got a wing scoring machine and an aging big man who has not only already made the rounds in The Chi, but also cried on the podium while saying goodbye to his former team and city.  Whenever a guy gets traded from an awful team to a playoff contending team and ends up crying about it publicly, it can?t possibly be a good sign.  That?s about all I will say about the Bulls at this time.

As for the Kings, we know why they did this.  They get rid of a whiny ball-hog and finally hand over playing time over from The Real Brad Miller to Brad Miller Jr. (Spencer Hawes).  Plus, they get back Gooden?s $7.2M expiring deal and a tough dirty workhorse that the fans will grow to love at the small forward position with a reasonable deescalating contract that ends at $6.6M in 2012.

2) Memphis Grizzlies acquire center Chris Mihm from the Los Angeles Lakers for a conditional second-round pick in 2013.

For some reason, the Lakers are cutting costs too.  But was this deal made just for money?  Or was it because of the fight between the lanky Mihm and the refugee escapee DJ Mbenga?  Or perhaps it was because the Lakers thought it would be hilarious to send Mihm and his lack of sound basketball talents and abilities to Memphis to form one of the most unusually comedic front lines in the history of the game with Mihm, Marc Gasol, Darko Milicic, and D-Leaguer Hamed Haddadi.    

Thursday, February 19, 2009 ? Trade Deadline 3PM EST

1) Minnesota Timberwolves acquire forward Shelden Williams and guard Bobby Brown from the Sacramento Kings for guard Rashad McCants and forward Calvin Booth.  

Obviously the main story here is that both teams got rid of guys who didn?t fit at all and maybe a change of scenery will do both guys some good.  McCants has shown flashes of brilliance and will now be able to immediately fill the void left by the departed John Salmons.  Shelden gives the Wolves another big body to fill the void left by the injured Al Jefferson.  But the most important thing to keep note of will be this:  Will Shelden get season tickets to the Minnesota Lynx this season?  Is the WNBA?s biggest fan currently making calls to see if the Lynx can set up a deal that would send Candace Parker up to Minnesota to be by his side during these final months of the cold Minnesota winter?  An otherwise ho-hum deal while excluding the impact on the Shelden/Parker pregnancy.

2) New York Knicks acquire forward Chris Wilcox from the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Malik Rose and cash considerations.

Any human being that has ever watched a game involving Malik Rose knows that the Knicks won this deal in an absolute landslide, to the point of comic proportions.  The Knicks somehow turned one of the league?s absolute definitions of overpaid wasted roster spot into a 26-year old power forward who is a beast on the block with toughness in the paint.  I am having difficulty containing myself here because I am convinced the Sam Presti was severely intoxicated after his doctor refused to ?okay? the Tyson Chandler trade, and instead made this exchange with the Knicks as a move to spite the Thunder franchise for crushing his dream core.  More on the Knicks in a bit.

3) New York Knicks acquire guard Larry Hughes from the Chicago Bulls for forward Tim Thomas, center Jerome James, and guard Anthony Roberson.

When reading the sentence that defines the terms of this trade, one cannot help but take a double-take and re-read.  Did the Knicks just really pull this off?  What are the Bulls thinking?  Now that we have the terms of the Knicks and Bulls deal, let?s evaluate how they each did overall.

When taking a step back and looking at the deals of the day, not only was Donnie ?God? Walsh able to get rid of Malik ?Absolutely bad at basketball? Rose along with Jerome ?Thank You Isiah? James, but he also brought home Chris ?The Knicks wouldn?t have made only one playoff appearance in the past decade if they would have picked me instead of packaging Nene with Mark Jackson and a then-26 year old Marcus Camby for one month of preseason Antonio McDyess and a now-bagging groceries Frank Williams? Wilcox to go along with Larry ?I was created for Mike D?Antoni? Hughes.  

Wilcox and Hughes both fit the system perfectly.  Hughes gets teary-eyed when he doesn?t get to shoot and play big minutes.  Since the Knicks only have two real guards in Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson, he will get plenty of time on the floor and D?Antoni loves it when his players shoot.  Loves it.  While Wilcox doesn?t have a strong jump shot, big deal.  His big tough body in the paint is just what the team is missing and his transition game and ability to finish at the rim will go perfectly on the pick-and-roll with Duhon.  

What?s funny is that if you ask any Knicks fan who they hate the most on the roster (besides Marbury), all of them will say Jerome James, Malik Rose, and probably now Eddy Curry.  All of them have made piles of money and, besides a year or two of Curry, done absolutely nothing during their time in New York.  All of them are fat slobs who have constantly infuriated a knowledgeable fan base.  But what?s weird is the fact that James and Rose both possess the surnames of the two most sought after names that Knick fans crave ? LeBron James and Derrick Rose.  How weird is that?  

All in all, Walsh was able to get rid of two hated slobs, their worst rotation player in ?Whiny Tim,? and a guard who shouldn?t even be in the league for two guys who can come in, fit D?Antoni?s system perfectly, and eventually be starting for the Knicks in this year?s postseason.  And, they did all of this without adding salary to the Summer of 2010, and they opened up two roster spots to add NBDLers like Patrick Ewing Jr. or Blake Ahearn, waiver wire cuts like Quincy Douby, or maybe even the potential return of Jason Williams to the NBA.

As for the Bulls, sure, they got rid of a redundant cancer in Hughes, but they actually didn?t get anything at all in return.  They?ve already paid Thomas $15M to leave the team once before, will they do it again?  James and Roberson won?t ever play for them and they are still going to be on the hook for the same $12+M next year that they would have been paying Hughes.  So they save absolutely no money next year on their cap (unless James retires for medical reasons, insurance will foot most of the bill), and they get nothing in return.  Weird strategy.  But it gets even funnier from a Bulls perspective?

4) Oklahoma City Thunder acquires forward Thabo Sefolosha from the Chicago Bulls the worst of Denver?s and San Antonio?s 2009 first-round picks.

So let?s recap the moves made by the Bulls:

Incoming: John Salmons, Brad Miller, Tim Thomas, Jerome James, Anthony Roberson

Outgoing: Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Thabo Sefolosha, Michael Ruffin

So they basically replaced a timid rebounding big man who falls in love with shooting from 18 feet (Gooden) with a timid rebounding big man who falls in love with shooting from 18 feet (Miller), replaced a shoot-first whiny egotistical shooting guard (Hughes) with a shoot-first whiny egotistical shooting guard (Salmons), replaced a hard-nosed big shot-hitting workhorse (Nocioni) with a guy who either hits five of six three?s in a game or goes invisible for a month (Thomas), and swapped an athletic wingman who can provide a spark (Sefolosha) for a fat slob who will never play (James) and a D-Leaguer who will never play (Roberson).  And why is John Hollinger ready to move to Chicago to propose to John Paxson?  I don?t get it.

5) Toronto Raptors acquire Patrick O?Bryant from the Boston Celtics.  Sacramento Kings acquire Will Solomon from Toronto and cash from Boston.  Boston receives a conditional second-round pick from Sacramento.

This deal is made all the more interesting following my recent Midseason Reports: Atlantic Division where I cited Will Solomon as the biggest surprise of the lingering Raptors.  Much to my surprise, I received piles of emails from loyal fans in Toronto calling me out for giving this ?award? to the little-used point guard.  That was more of a statement of how poorly their other moves turned out.  Was I correct?  Jermaine O?Neal was shipped out and now Marcus Banks will fill the role of backup point guard.  So the Marion trade made my boy Solomon expendable.

Whether that means dealing him for Patrick ?Thank you to scouts that showed up to watch me inexplicably play out of my mind against Kansas and Pittsburgh in the 2006 NCAA Tournament that enabled me to get paid more than I ever deserved? O?Bryant is a good idea or not, remains to be seen.  More likely, O?Bryant will ride the pine and possibly get some valuable minutes in April when the Raptors are desperately pitching PowerPoint charts to Chris Bosh?s agent on why he should stay in Toronto.

6) Orlando Magic acquires Rafer Alston from the Houston Rockets.  Houston acquires Kyle Lowry from the Memphis Grizzlies and Brian Cook from Orlando.  Memphis acquires Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks, a first-round pick and cash from Orlando.

Great trade by the Magic.  They lose Jameer Nelson for the season and replace him with another talented point guard.  While this makes great sense for the Magic, I?m having trouble trying to figure out why the Rockets pulled this off.  Kyle Lowry helps them if they are trying to pair him with Aaron Brooks for the speediest, smallest point guard tandems in league history, but if they want to think about winning games with their aging starting lineup, I just don?t get it.  Memphis does it because it gets NBA writers to stop saying that all they have are point guards plus it gives them a couple million dollars in expiring deals ? not to mention the late first round pick.  

But with the Rockets ?core? of Yao Ming, Shane Battier, and Ron Artest, how can dealing Alston for Lowry make any sense for them?  It?s not like he makes them any better.  They should have been true to themselves and realized this team was never going to make it to the Finals (aka the second round to them), and just started shipping out pieces like Yao and Artest to try to rebuild now while T-Mac appears headed for a career-ending injury.  Instead, they are going to hope that their stellar bench can carry them into the playoffs and watch as Yao goes down in the second week of March with a season-ending knee injury.  Watch.

As for the teams that should have made moves and didn?t, let?s look at two big losers of the deadline in particular ? the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Once the Blazers were back on the hook for Darius Miles on their cap next year, they knew that they would no longer have the massive cap space that they coveted.  So at this point, they had Raef LaFrentz?s Expiring Contact to dangle to make a strong push for challenging the Lake Show in the West Finals.  They are weak (Blake/Rodriguez) and young (Bayless) at the point and very weak at small forward.  Why not make a trade for a guy like Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson, or Gerald Wallace?  Because they were unwilling to give any of the players they like too much and held onto RLEC too long and now he will walk away at the end of the season for absolutely nothing.

And Cleveland?  Wow.  They had Wally Szczerbiak?s $13.2M and Eric Snow?s $7.3M expiring deals and had to think that this was the time to make a push past the Celtics.  But they sat on their hands and now will enter the postseason the same old tired team down low (Zydrunas Ilgauskus is 33, Ben Wallace is 34) and will look to LeBron to Michael Jordan them to the Finals.  Sure, Shaq is old too, but Shaq is having a great season and the spectacle of LeBron and Shaq together would have been absolutely incredible going up against Boston?s Big Three.   And Shaq?s contract runs out after next season, so they?d still clear the money to (attempt to) retain LeBron and pair him with a guy like Amare or Bosh.

But they didn?t.  I guess they think Wally is a better option than Shaq.  Or anyone else.

While most of the deadline was focused on saving money, there were some deals that could alter the playoffs in the East.  Watch how Orlando, Miami, New York, and Chicago fare with their new mates and get ready for the final stretch of this great NBA season.  


Feel free to contact Jason M. Williams with your thoughts.  He can be reached at Jason.Williams@RealGM.com for comments or questions.  You can also read Jason?s Online Basketball Blog if you want to read more of his work.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Atlantic Division

The sixth and final part of this six-piece Midseason Report Card series spotlights the Atlantic Division.  The Atlantic is currently home to the defending champion Celtics and a crew of underachievers currently resting below the .500 line.  While the Knicks and Nets have shown progress this season, the Sixers and Raptors have taken a step back.

Click here to read Part One of the series on the Northwest Division

Click here to read Part Two of the series on the Pacific Division

Click here to read Part Three of the series on the Southwest Division

Click here to read Part Four of the series on the Southeast Division

Click here to read Part Five of the series on the Central Division


Boston Celtics

Coming off their remarkable championship run that saw them overcome two Game 7?s and a dominant title-capping rout of the Lakers, Boston came into this season focused on a repeat.  And it sure looks extremely possible so far.

Team MVP: Paul Pierce

As PP fearlessly admitted this offseason, he is one of the world?s greatest players.  His emotion and competitiveness have led this team when others haven?t been able to produce.  The Celtic franchise stuck with The Truth all these years and now that he has capable teammates (see: not Antoine Walker), they are finally starting to reap the rewards.

Needs Improvement:  Bill Walker

Entering the Draft, Walker was one of those first round talents with injury written all over him.  The Celtics made a nifty trade getting him for nothing in the second round and I fully expected KG and Co. to mold him into a dynamic force for this team.  However, he?s only played in 7 games thus far and has more fans in the NBDL than he does in Beantown.

Best Move: Freeing more time for Scalabrine

There?s nothing better in life than seeing Brian Scalabrine rain three?s from the corner.  Nothing.  Big Red only played in 48 games last season and has already played in 36 this year.  His Will Ferrell-like body is a joy to watch come crunch time, and his 37% from downtown always seems to come at crucial junctions of each game he graces.

Biggest Surprise:  Ability to sustain long winning streaks

The Celtics are a deep team, and that has lead to their ability to sustain the long streak.  But it?s not often a defending champion has the same desire to put together such impressive win streaks, as some of the will to perform in the regular season diminishes.  Last season, their longest win streak was 10, which only happened once.  This season, they earlier won 19-straight and are currently working on a 12-game streak.

First Half Grade: A+

They?ve won it before.  And they can win it again.  They are that good.

New Jersey

The Nets entered this season as one of the teams nobody expected to do anything.  But a rejuvenated Vince, a flourishing Brook, and a breakout from Devin have this team thinking playoffs at the All-Star Break.

Team MVP: Devin Harris

Basically the trade that sent Jason Kidd to Dallas for Devin Harris and scraps last year was a huge coup for the Nets.  Wow.  Harris leads the team in scoring (21.5), assists (6.4), and steals (1.64) and has been invaluable leading this team of youngsters (and VC).

Needs Improvement:  Sean Williams

After seeing the skill set of this talented big man in person, I once wrote that ?The 2007 NBA Draft could eventually be known as The Sean Williams Draft.?  Obviously, he must be trying to shatter my reputation.  

Best Move: Not being stupid like 5-8 teams and taking Brook Lopez

As one of the best big men in the nation, it should have been obvious to teams that he would be a good selection.  Instead, he dropped into the Nets lap and they gladly picked him to be their center of the future.  Already, he?s averaging 11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.92 blocks with 9 double-doubles.

Biggest Surprise: The fact Vince Carter hasn?t mailed it in yet

Vince is notorious for not giving his all in the tail end of his Toronto days.  So naturally, everyone and their mother expected Vince to put up a stout 12.3 point, 1.1 rebound, 0.7 assist season until they traded him to the Cavs for Wally?s expiring deal at the deadline, which of course would prompt him to a 28.9 point, 6.5 rebound, 5.9 assist month of April and potentially a Finals MVP.  But no, Vince has maintained his numbers from last season and helped this team fight into the race for the eighth seed.

First Half Grade: B-

Let?s be honest, you expected the Nets to be terrible.  A rotation featuring Bobby Simmons, Yi, Ryan Anderson, Keyon Dooling, Jarvis Hayes, Eduardo Najera, Trenton Hassell, and Mo Ager on the outskirts couldn?t possible win many games.  But they have won some.

New York

The Knicks have been a disgrace ever since the turn of the millennium.  They have suffered through the Isiah Era, but seemed confident that they could turn it around under the new Mafioso leadership of Donnie Walsh and Mike D?Antoni.  So far, things are definitely better than anticipated.

Team MVP:  Chris Duhon

While many pundits like to claim that Duhon is only succeeding because he is in D?Antoni?s speedball offense, they obviously have not been watching much Knick basketball on MSG network.  Duhon is more of a fit in the mold of Chauncey Billups (+ defense) than he is fit to be a Nash heir-apparent.  Duhon gets his teammates involved first and then looks to shoot in big spots.  Duhon is a defender in its truest form and can be counted on to deliver the clutch bucket driving to the hoop as he has done all season.

Needs Improvement:  Management handling of roster spots

While Donnie Walsh will forever (until July 1, 2010) be given a standing ovation for turning Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph into Al Harrington, Tim Thomas, and $27M in cap space for LeBron and friends, he must be somewhat scolded for his stubborn handling of key roster spots.  Entering the season he chose to keep Anthony Roberson over Patrick Ewing Jr.  Roberson has been an afterthought this season, while Ewing would have provided energy.  What is more shocking is the number of spots being taken up by absolutely no value:  Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Malik Rose, and Roberson.  Even worse, he still has Cuttino Mobley on the roster and refuses to drop any of these guys to fill the spot with Ewing or a better shooter (see: Gerry McNamara) despite their being a major glaring hole at 2-guard.

Best Move: Getting Al Harrington with the cap room

This could have been taking a flier on Danilo Gallinari (he looks like the real deal) or signing Duhon, but the truth is that Al Harrington was born to be a Knick.  He grew up in New Jersey loving the Knicks, and is the perfect fit for their new system.  Harrington has led the team in scoring since his acquisition and has no qualms whether he?s starting or coming off the bench.  

Biggest Surprise: Jared Jeffries

While it would be easy to say Wilson Chandler here, anyone who saw glimpses of him last season knew he was on the path to stardom.  But under Isiah, Jeffries was often grouped into the worthless category.  This season, D?Antoni has stuck with him in the starting five and Jeffries has played his best ball probably since his days as a Hoosier.  He can defend point guards (like when he shut down Rajon Rondo in New York), gets countless hands on offensive rebounds and tip-outs to the guards, and has even learned how to hit the 18-footer (kinda).  

First Half Grade:  B-

The fact that the Knicks are in the playoff chase is good enough for the fans.  They recently won 8 of 11 to catapult themselves back into the hunt for eighth and already look like they are coming together toward a potential postseason date with the Celtics.  Boy, would that be fun.

Philadelphia

After stealing Elton Brand from the Clippers, many penciled the Sixers into the Conference Finals.  Maybe that was the flavor of the month amidst the Philly euphoria after the Phillies won the World Series  But things haven?t gone as smoothly as they had planned.

Team MVP: AI2

Do you think it?s good or bad that Andre Iguodala has become the face of the Philly franchise and has the same initials as his predecessor Allen Iverson?  I doubt I?d like it.  But Iggy has been a force this season, leading the team with 17.8 points and 1.75 steals per game to go along with his 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

Needs Improvement:  Samuel Dalembert

It seems like Uncle Sam is taking a step backwards this season.  His numbers are down across the board (only 5.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks after 10.5, 10.3, and 2.3 last year.

Best Move: Letting Thaddeus roam

Thaddeus Young might be one of the best picks from a year ago, and this season Philly has let him run wild on the floor much like he did in last season?s strong first round against Detroit.  Young has come into his own with 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Biggest Surprise:  Marreese Speights

One of Chris Reina?s favorite draftees, Speights has been a pleasant surprise for Philly with the 16th pick in the first round.  He?s added 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

First Half Grade:  C+

The Sixers expected to be in the Top 4 with Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando.  Instead, they are below .500 trying to outlast the Knicks.

Toronto

The Raps have been steadily declining over the past couple of seasons.  Two years ago, they won their first ever Atlantic division title.  Last year, they forced their way into the playoffs.  This season, they are mired in last place in the weakest division out East.

Team MVP: Chris Bosh

CB4 loved life in Toronto when they were winning divisions, now there are rumors that he?s got a one-way ticket out of Canada come Summer 2010.  Bosh has been animalistic this season, putting up 23.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 0.92 blocks per game following his shining Olympic performance that had many wondering if he was better than Dwight Howard.

Needs Improvement:  Rebounding

The Raps don?t have many rebounders.  Only Bosh and Jermaine O?Neal have averaged more than 5.1 rebounds per game and JO can only be counted on for half of the games.  They?ve been outrebounded 11.3 to 8.9 on the offensive glass and 41.7 to 38.9 overall.

Best Move: Finding The Fish in Turkey

You know things are going South in Toronto when the best move they made over the past year is sending somebody out to pluck Will Solomon from the Fenerbahce Ulker Euroleague team.  Nicknamed The Fish in Israel, Solomon has returned to the NBA for the first time since 2001-02 and provided a spark off the bench behind Jose Calderon at the point.  The Fish has averaged a strong 17.0 points and 10.9 assists per 48 minutes.

Biggest Surprise: Andrea Bargnani

Its funny how you can go from number-one pick overall, to bust, and then back to promising young star.  Let?s not forget that Bargnani is only 23-years old and he?s been thriving when given the starter?s role in place of the hobbled and ancient-looking Jermaine O?Neal.

First Half Grade:  C-

The Calderon over Ford argument can finally be put to rest, and the JO/Bosh Experience has not lived up to its billing.

Feel free to contact Jason M. Williams with your thoughts. He can be reached at Jason.Williams@RealGM.com for comments or questions.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Central Division

The Central division has had at least one representative in the Eastern Conference Finals for each of the past six years and Cleveland looks like the pick this season.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Southeast Division

The Southeast is the only Eastern Conference division containing three teams over .500 at the midway point of the season.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Southwest Division

The Texas Trio is having its usual expected success, the Hornets continue their ascent to the top of the league, and the Grizzlies have fared far better than anticipated.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Pacific Division

The Pacific is quickly sinking to the bottom of the West despite being home to the most recent Conference Champion Lakers.

2008-09 Midseason Report Cards: Northwest Division

The Northwest should send three teams to the playoffs while things are looking suddenly more promising for the Wolves and Thunder.

More Than A Salary Dump

For most of the NBA, the Knicks' trades last Friday were about 2010. But this trade can also help the club this season.

2008-09 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

The Celtics were the first NBA champion from the Atlantic since they won it all back in 1986. Can they repeat?

2008-09 Season Preview: Central Division

Do the Pistons have a good enough blend to once again go deep into the playoffs, or will the additions of Cleveland bolster LeBron's chances?

2008-09 Season Preview: Southeast Division

Between Beasley, Howard and Horford there are no shortage of talented big men, but what kind of seasons will Wade, Gilbert, Johnson, and Rashard have?

2008-09 Season Preview: Southwest Division

No division in basketball is deeper than the Southwest. The Hornets, Rockets, Mavericks and Spurs all made the postseason in 2008 and have the personnel to do it again this season.

2008-09 Season Preview: Pacific Division

Shaq will be in Phoenix an entire season, Baron Davis has joined the Clippers, Maggette is with the Warriors and Artest is gone but the Pacific still belongs to Kobe and the Lakers.

2008-09 Season Preview: Northwest Division

As Utah stayed pay and Denver regressed, the Blazers, Thunder, and Wolves are all rebuilding and significantly improving their rosters. Is this the year Portland can usurp the Jazz?

Final Thoughts On The 2008 NBA Draft

This year's draft was decidedly more calm and casual than the Oden/Durant showdown, which made for a more candid and personal experience.

Running Draft Commentary From NYC

Stay tuned throughout the night as Andrew Perna and Jason M. Williams comment live from the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

A Calm Uneasiness To Media Day

With mock drafts around the internet placing lottery players anywhere from the third to the eighteenth pick, there was more of a ?Let?s wait and see? attitude permeating the room.

30 Teams, 30 Days: Boston Draft Preview

The Celtics need depth at both guard positions and could take a talented wing with the 30th overall selection.

30 Teams, 30 Days: Detroit Draft Preview

The Pistons can use a big man who can really score down low, as Sheed and McDyess rely so heavily on the mid-range jumper.

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