With another NBA trade deadline in our rear-view mirror, let's look at all the deals that got done.
Knicks land McGrady in 3-team deal
Knicks get: Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez
Kings get: Carl Landry, Larry Hughes, Joey Dorsey
Rockets get: Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries, draft considerations from Knicks in 2011 and 2012
TRACY McGRADY used to be an explosive leaper and a runner who was at his best in open-court situations. He could drive both ways and always create good shots with his tight spin moves, quick releases, and step-back jumpers. Making quick snap passes was another virtue, and T-Mac was even anxious to crash the offensive boards. He was also a good on-ball defender, who tended to reach and gamble. When his man was on the weak-side, however, McGrady had trouble maintaining his defensive focus. Undoubtedly, he'll be the touchstone of the Knicks' offense.
But he's always been soft and extremely vulnerable to injuries. Given that he only played in 35 games in 2008, and had a mere six meaningless appearances thus far this season, it remains to be seen if A) he's the oldest 30-year-old in the league, B) he has any game left, and C) he's healthy enough to compete.
Indeed, the next two months will comprise an audition that will determine whether or not the Knicks will opt to offer him a long-term contract. Getting McGrady represents a win-win situation for New York, since the price they paid for his services was absolutely minimal.
SERGIO RODRIGUEZ could easily be a sleeper. He has difficulty differentiating between good shots and bad shots, and his accuracy is a sometimes thing, but he's quick, aggressive and extremely athletic. The mistakes Rodriguez makes because he plays too fast will hardly be noticed in Mike D'Antoni's uptempo game plan. Ever since he's been in the league, Rodriguez has been complaining about not getting sufficient opportunities to prove that he's a quality point guard. He has two months to either put up or shut up.
KEVIN MARTIN was the key figure in Houston's calculations. They obviously believe that his remarkable speed and quickness, as well as his reliable shot-making from near and far will make up for his physical weakness, his lack of defense, and his propensity for getting hurt. His arrival signals the Rockets' total commitment to a running game -- having to deal with Aaron Brooks and Martin zipping up and down the court will create headaches all over the league. In half-court sets, Martin requires weak-side screens to create time and space -- and he also needs the ball in his hands to be most effective.
Having to relinquish a young, vital talent like Carl Landry means that Martin is under tremendous pressure to produce.
JARED JEFFRIES is a long and versatile defender who can knock down treys when left alone. Basically, he's a quicker, taller, weaker version of Shane Battier and is therefore mostly superfluous. It's JJ's bloated contract that the Knicks insisted on including in the deal.
JORDAN HILL , the No. 8 pick in the last draft, has yet to demonstrate anything more than fleeting signs that he's an NBA-caliber performer.
For Sacramento, dealing Martin was easy, if only because his lightweight game negatively impacted the team's record when he returned from his latest injury. At the same time, getting CARL LANDRY is a coup.
This guy can hit mid-range shots, post up for profit, rebound like a fiend, work hard on defense, and always compete. In addition, Landry is absolutely fearless when battling with the NBA's biggest bigs. True, his pass-work and his handle need improvement, but look for his numbers to dramatically increase once he's plugged into the starting lineup.
Also, since Spencer Hawes is somewhat wimpish, the Kings could be planning to bench him in favor of Jason Thompson. The pairing of Thompson and Landry would give Sacramento a young, powerhouse frontcourt. Additional benefits would be more shots for Omri Casspi and more time for Beno Udrih, as well as getting Tyreke Evans' development back on the fast track.
JOEY DORSEY and LARRY HUGHES are throw-ins, who might be waived, bought out, or left to expire on the bench along with their contracts.
Cavs add Jamison in three-team swap
Cavs get: Antawn Jamison, Sebastian Telfair
Wizards get: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Al Thornton, Brian Skinner, Cleveland's first-round pick in 2010
Clippers get: Drew Gooden
The Cavaliers greatly increased their chances of winning a championship with this move. My full analysis of the trade was posted Wednesday.
Celtics get dunk champ Robinson
Celtics get: Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry
Knicks get: Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker
NATE ROBINSON gives the Celtics electric scoring, a short-circuited understanding of the game, no defense, foolish decision-making in the clutch, and a profound lack of seriousness -- plus he's also not wired to pass the ball. He's at his best when his team is down by 20+ points and there's no pressure for him to make wise decisions. A risky move for Boston.
EDDIE HOUSE is a long-distance gunner with a quick release who, unlike Robinson, cannot create his own shots. His defense is even worse than Robinson's, although his passing is somewhat better -- which isn't saying much. Since House is unable to run an offense, the Knicks' offense remains basically headless.
Blazers pluck Camby from Clippers
Blazers get: Marcus Camby
Clippers get: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw
MARCUS CAMBY was obviously the key player in this particular deal, as attested to by Portland's kicking in $1.5M upfront and also assuming responsibility for $2M in incentives that he'll earn at season's end.
On offense, Camby is extremely limited. He's an acceptable reversal- and post-entry-passer from the foul line and above, and he scores the vast majority of his points on either tip-ins or mid-range jumpers (which he looks for much too frequently). When he does drive, Camby is comfortable going either way, but looks for reverse-spins to create space for his shots.
Obviously it's on defense that Camby demonstrates his true value. Indeed, he's one of the best shot-blockers coming from the weak-side in the entire league. However, since he's all quickness and finesse, Camby's leansome physique renders his attempts to adequately guard the more powerful post-up scorers highly problematic. The very same long-and-light physical characteristics also make him an effective rebounder who relies almost exclusively on his hops and his timing -- but at the same time limit reduces his production when battling against powerhouse bigs in tight quarters.
All told, he's certainly a huge improvement over Juwan Howard. And the cash outlay proves that the Blazers still believe they can compete with the Nuggets and the Lakers.
TRAVIS OUTLAW can run, jump and score. Too bad he can't/won't rebound, pass, execute a team-oriented offense, or come close to comprehending his duties in a cooperative and disciplined defense. Just give him the ball and let him fire away.
STEVE BLAKE isn't a dependable finisher and shoots best when his feet are set on the money side of the 3-point line. Even so, he takes good care of the ball, sees the floor well, and can run an offense that's stacked with scorers. Despite his athleticism, though, Blake's defense is somewhat shaky. And his fierce intensity sometimes gets him too tightly wound to be a reliable clutch player.
The end result of this transaction is that the Blazers get more of what they need when the lights are switched on than do the Clippers. But the $3.5M that also changes hands will at least have Donald Sterling smiling all the way to the bank.
Knicks ship Milicic to Minnesota
Timberwolves get: Darko Milicic
Knicks get: Brian Cardinal
DARKO MILICIC has one last chance with the T-Wolves to prove that he can (and, if so, wants to) play in the NBA.
The Knicks will waive good-bye to BRIAN CARDINAL ASAP.
Bobcats fill frontcourt need with Thomas
Bobcats get: Tyrus Thomas
Bulls get: Flip Murray, Acie Law, protected first-round pick
How long will Larry Brown put up with the habitual adolescent behavior of TYRUS THOMAS ? For sure, Thomas is incredibly talented in virtually every aspect of the game. Too bad his erratic play and contining foolish decisions make him his own worst enemy. With Thomas on board at the power forward slot, the Bobcats can now give Gerald Wallace more time at his own natural small forward position and use Boris Diaw as a substitute utility player. At least until Brown moves Thomas to the last seat on the bench.
For Chicago, ACIE LAW is a shooting guard in a point guard's body -- a quicker, less defensively intense version of Kirk Hinrich. Too bad Law isn't a very good shooter or passer and also lacks reliable 3-point range. He's a perfect fifth guard in a four-guard rotation.
FLIP MURRAY is an experienced scorer who can't defend and, at age 30, has lost some footspeed.
Bucks snag Salmons from Bulls
Bucks get: John Salmons
Bulls get: Hakim Warrick, Joe Alexander
JOHN SALMON S is a shot-hungry scorer who represents a barely adequate replacement for Michael Redd.
HAKIM WARRICK is a hot-and-cold shooter with only medium range who has little interest in either passing or playing defense. As such, Warrick is capable of occasionally juicing up Chicago's offense.
JOE ALEXANDER is a terrific D-League player.
Both Warrick and Alexander will be left to their own devices once their current contracts pass away next July.