Tag Archives: Sacramento Kings

The Trade Machine Diaries, Part 1

The ESPN Trade Machine has been a great innovation for avid basketball fans like us. If only real trades were able to go down so easily and without everyone’s consent like in your 2K franchise. I tried my best to come up with 15 realistic trades with all 30 teams involved. So when I say “go” everybody grab a dance partner and make a trade…go!

(Disclaimer #1: because you can’t swap draft picks in the trade machine, I ad-libbed and traded picks based on what I thought was fair value. Disclaimer #2: You may or may not be aware that I’m not a real NBA GM, so what I thought was fair value is subjective. Enjoy.)

Atlanta Hawks/Phoenix Suns

Atlanta sends Pero Antic and a future second round pick to Phoenix for Gerald Green

Right now Atlanta has a decent squad, I think ownership’s main focus is just getting into the playoffs and trying to generate some extra revenue as honest as that sounds. (Editor’s note: the Atlanta Hawks are likely to change owners in the near future after this summer’s very weird scandal). Paul Millsap and Al Horford are a great frontcourt and Jeff Teague is really good at times. They could use another scorer out on the wing though. Kyle Korver can fill it up, but it’s hard to get any consistency out of him; DeMarre Carroll is also a really nice role player. But Gerald Green can be asked to score 15-20 points a night for the Hawks, which is something they lack out of the two or three spot. The reality of this trade is that both Green and Antic are expiring deals, and the Suns might have a real concern about trying to resign Green, if they actually want to keep him. The Suns also just gave PJ Tucker and a new deal and drafted TJ Warren in the 1st round this year. Green is definitely expendable.

Boston Celtics/Sacramento Kings

Boston sends Rajon Rondo to Sacramento for Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, and a future top three protected first round pick

This would be a perfect move for both teams. Danny Ainge should really be on the phone 23 hours out of the day trying to get rid of Rondo before he becomes a free agent. If the Celtics get absolutely nothing for Rondo, they are insanely stupid. We know Sacramento is willing to make a splash, and this move might actually make them a contender to get into the playoffs. Celtics would get young assets and a future pick. The Kings would get a true facilitator and someone who could make DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins even better (that’s a scary thought for the Western Conference).

Brooklyn Nets/Indiana Pacers

Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett and a second round pick to Indiana for David West

It’s crazy to think that last year we thought the Brooklyn Nets would be able to compete with Miami for the Eastern Conference title. Oh, how quickly things can change in the NBA. I don’t think anyone still believes they can compete, but the reality is that the Nets are still probably bound for the playoffs. Deron Williams has been playing much better than last year, and Joe Johnson is still a very gifted scorer. If Brook Lopez can stay healthy they still may have a slim shot at making the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers could easily be sellers come the deadline and David West could be the first guy they relieve themselves of. The Nets could really use an upgrade from the walking dead that is Kevin Garnett. West is a proven guy come the postseason and could really complete this Nets squad and make them a headache for other teams in the playoffs. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and David West is a pretty formidable foursome. Pacers meanwhile acquire Garnett’s expiring, and could use the extra cash to put more pieces around Paul George upon his return. Also, losing West will clearly help the Pacers lose more games and yield them a higher lottery choice.

Charlotte Hornets/Detroit Pistons

Charlotte sends Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and PJ Hairston to Detroit for Josh Smith

This trade I admit is a little bit of a stretch, but it also makes sense for both teams. It’s not a secret the Pistons and Stan Van Gundy have become very disenchanted with Josh Smith. It’s also obvious watching Josh Smith play that he is simply not a small forward. This trade would send Smith to the Hornets where he could play power forward for them and stretch the floor creating space for Al Jefferson. The Hornets have invested a lot in Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker this offseason, if Charlotte doesn’t make the playoffs it would be a huge disappointment for the front office. Adding Josh Smith would really create an offensive juggernaut, if they can become a cohesive unit before season’s end they would have a real shot at a playoff series victory. In return Detroit gets a few young assets including MKG and Cody Zeller. Kidd-Gilchrist might benefit from a change of scenery and Zeller is a fundamentally sound scorer who could develop under great tutelage from Stan Van Gundy. Detroit also sheds Smith’s bounty of a contract. It may be a long shot, but this deal has me pining for a Josh Smith/Al Jefferson frontcourt.

(Editor’s note: If SVG pulled this off, I would move to Detroit and join a Van Gundy cult. Josh Smith’s contract, style and attitude are terrible. I would rather have MKG or Noah Vonleh than him on my team).

Center swap? Highly unlikely, but Portland would love it.
Center swap? Highly unlikely, but Portland would love it.

Chicago Bulls/Portland Trail Blazers

Chicago sends Joakim Noah to Portland for Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright and a future first round pick (lottery protected)

I realize this move may be unpopular with the (D)Roses and Thorns faithful, but just hear my explanation before you excommunicate me. Derrick Rose’s and Pau Gasol’s health is a real concern, it doesn’t really seem like the Bulls are going to be able to make a real run at the title as is. Noah is almost 30 and has been banged up himself; if a willing suitor comes along looking for a center the Bulls would really have to consider. Noah has a costly contract, and the looming Jimmy Butler deal is not going to weigh favorably on the Bulls salary cap. This trade enables the Bulls to take on three expiring deals and a future first rounder. Even if you swap Robin Lopez for Noah, I don’t think this necessarily takes the Bulls out of playoff contention if they’re close to getting a spot at the deadline. Thibs will for sure get the most out of his players, this includes Robin Lopez. The Trail Blazers will get a legitimate defensive stopper to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. Noah will help the Blazers get past the first round in the playoffs once again, and potentially win another round. Noah’s passing ability will also make Aldridge and Dame Lillard better as well. The Bulls have certainly gotten the best years out of Noah; the Blazers are hoping for a couple more.

(Editor’s note: NOOOOOO STOP IT)

Cleveland Cavaliers/Minnesota Timberwolves

Cleveland sends Dion Waiters to Minnesota for Corey Brewer and a second round pick

The displeasure that LeBron James shows for Dion Waiters is painfully obvious, and as we all know, LeBron is the real GM of the Cavs. So GM LeBron decides he’s had enough of Dion and sends him to a city that’s even colder than Cleveland. It’s a disappointment for the Cleveland front office that this is all they’re receiving for the former #4 overall pick Dion Waiters. But they’re clearly “all in” this season, and if swapping Corey Brewer for Dion Waiters will make them a better team and more formidable in the playoffs, this a deal they have to do. The Timberwolves on the other hand get another young Cleveland asset, and they are hopeful they can squeeze any remaining potential Waiters has out of him–but with Flip Saunders calling the shots that’s pretty doubtful. Eventually Waiters will hook on somewhere that utilizes him properly. He can really be a spark off someone’s bench where they ask him to be a pure scorer when he’s in the game. It won’t be in Cleveland and it certainly won’t be in Minnesota, but the kid has talent.

Miami Heat/Houston Rockets

Miami sends Norris Cole to Houston for Clint Capela and Nick Johnson

This trade is really simple for both teams. Listen, I can’t be expected to produce blockbusters every time. Houston isn’t necessarily desperate for a PG, but they could really use an upgrade for their second unit. That is something Norris Cole has proven he can do for the last three seasons. Isiah Canaan has been a good surprise for Houston, but he can’t be expected to deliver in the playoffs. Norris Cole could really be a valuable piece for Houston come April. Miami has really gotten a steal in Shabazz Napier. Between Napier and Mario Chalmers, the Heat are pretty much set at PG. Trading Cole for some young assets like Clint Capela and Nick Johnson isn’t too shabby of a deal.

PART 2 OF THE TRADE MACHINE DIARIES

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Stavi’s Teaser of the Day: January 22nd

Hey Guys,

I hope your afternoon/early evening is going just as splendid as mine.  Luckily for you guys, I don’t have a lot of class this semester.  Some would argue this is no different from previous semesters.  Laughs aside, let’s get this show on the road and analyze some gut-wrenching Wednesday Night hoops action.

While there are certainly some interesting games this evening, Wednesday’s slew of games doesn’t seem that enticing for investment purposes.  Tough calls include Indy @ Phoenix, Dallas @ Toronto and OKC @ San Antonio.  Nevertheless, I’ll find something for you to degenerates to salivate over.  It’s time to make lemonade out of lemons.

Start squeezing.

joakim-noah-chicago-bulls

Chicago Bulls (+4.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers: If any of you have had the pleasure of watching a Bulls game with me this season, you’d know that I root for the Bulls to lose every single night.  In a league where being middle-of-the-pack is the ultimate nightmare, it behooves the Bulls to be as bad as possible.  In a feeble Eastern Conference, my hope is not exactly coming to fruition.  Unfortunately, tonight should be no different.  Led by a spirited Joakim Noah, there’s no way the Bulls lose by 12 in Cleveland. Book it.  If I were a gambling man, I’d probably pounce on the +165 Chicago money line.  But, we know this isn’t the case.

USP NBA: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS S BKN USA DC

Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards (-9): While the Whiz have certainly not lit the world on fire with their .500 record, Washington should have no problem handing the Celtics this evening.  In my estimation, this pick has more to do with Boston’s situation rather than Washington’s. After losing in a nail biter in Miami last evening, the Celts will be without Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley this evening.  If you think Phil Pressey can lead the Celtics to an upset, think again.  John Wall and Bradley Beal should put up big numbers tonight.

rudyblog

Sacramento Kings (+10) at Houston Rockets: If you guys have read my prior pieces, you probably know that it isn’t necessarily my style to take big “dogs” on the road.  And that’s why I’m not.  I’m under the impression that Sacramento isn’t the dog they used to be.  And I think Vegas hasn’t incorporated this belief into their algorithm just yet.  Ever since Rudy Gay has suited up for the black and purple, the Kings have played with more gusto.  With the Boogie Man, DeMarcus Cousins, playing his best ball of his career, the Kings are actually pretty fun to watch.  I’m guessing that this affair will be very high scoring and a surprising nail biter down the stretch.

Recap: CHI +11.5, WAS -2, SAC +17

Season Teaser Record: 9-2

Game Record: 30-2-1

Deng Trade A Victory For Chicago

luol-deng-trade-target

Lets begin the breakdown of this big trade by quickly looking at the actual components of the trade, which are tricky in their own right to understand for a casual fan.

Cavaliers receive Luol Deng

(That’s the easy part)

Bulls receive Andrew Bynum, the right to swap picks with the Cavaliers in 2015, unless the Cavs pick is 1-14 (lottery protected),the Kings’ first round pick, which is top 12 protected this year and top 10 protected the next three years, and two future second round picks from the Trail Blazers

Allow me to give a little detail on these assets. First, the Bulls are expected to waive Bynum immediately. The troubled big man is on a unique contract where only $6 million is guaranteed, but if he is still on the roster after January 7th he receives an additional $6 million. The Bulls have no intention of dealing out that type of cash for a guy who doesn’t seem interested in playing professional basketball at a high level.

I predict that the Bulls will exercise the option to swap picks with Cleveland next year. I know this is probably bad luck to say, but next season with a healthy Rose and a solid supporting cast (which I will address later on here), the Bulls should have a better record than the Cavs. But at the same time, the East is still likely to be pathetic next season and the Cavaliers have a good shot of making a run into the postseason in 2015.

That Kings pick will likely not be utilized in this loaded 2014 draft as the Kings, currently 10-22, will probably not climb out of the bottom 12 in the standings this season. But this is a franchise that has come under new ownership and has already shown a willingness to be aggressive. With Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins, this Kings team may find itself outside of the top 10 next season, which would give the Bulls an extra first rounder.

Those 2015 and 2016 second rounders from Portland may seem insignificant, and they probably are, but as I talked about over the summer, stockpiling second round picks can have a potentially huge benefit for a team in terms of cap flexibility and having valuable trade assets.

So what does this all mean for the Bulls?

Well for one thing this trade must be considered a massive win for the franchise. This was a team that, even with Deng, was headed for the lottery. The best case scenario for the Bulls this season would have been a first round slaughtering at the hands of either Miami or Indiana. Trading Deng officially signals the waving of the white flag for this 2013-14 squad. Bring on the tanking.

People who may be confused by the Bulls’ unwillingness to take a flyer on Bynum need to understand that this was purely a cost-cutting move by the Bulls. By trading Deng and waving Bynum, the Bulls are saving themselves about $15 million dollars this year. They are able to get under the luxury tax threshold, a big deal for Jerry Reinsdorf. Had the Bulls paid the tax this year, it would have started the clock on them for the incredibly horrible repeater tax penalty. If you are curious what that last sentence means, click here because I don’t feel like explaining it but trust me this move is big time for the Bulls financially.

The real reason this deal was a victory for the Bulls is that Deng simply was not going to resign here this summer. According to sources inside the team, the Bulls and Deng had been quietly negotiating a contract extension. Deng’s camp reportedly turned down a 3 year/$30 million dollar deal. Deng and his representatives reportedly were asking for $14-15 million a year, a justifiable price for a two time All-Star who is only 28 years old.

But the Bulls know better than anyone that Deng’s best days are likely behind him. Having spent the last few years being treated like the Energizer Bunny by Tom Thibodeau, Deng is just not worth that kind of extension. All those minutes will eventually catch up with Deng. For all the cries of Luol being a true warrior, there’s only so many NBA minutes a body can handle and Deng is likely approaching his limit.

The bottom line is that instead of Luol Deng walking away this summer for nothing in return, the Bulls were able to clean up their cap sheet while acquiring valuable assets in draft picks.

I’ve seen on Twitter that some people are concerned that this trade will alienate coach Thibs and Derrick Rose, two relentless competitors who will wonder why the team just shipped off its starting small forward for no immediate on court help. Rose has been very open and honest about his feelings on rebuilding, but it should not be too hard for the pair to see the long term benefits of this move. The Deng trade foreshadows some future personnel moves that this team is going to make.

First, with Carlos Boozer heading into the last year of his contract next year, the Bulls will probably amnesty the power forward. With only one year left on the deal the dollar figure is finally something that Reinsdorf can swallow.  With both Deng and Boozer off the books, the Bulls will be able to pursue a free agent in what is going to be an absolutely loaded class of guys.

The trade also means that the Bulls, who sucked already, are now going to REALLY suck. They’re going to suck their way into a lottery pick of what is being called the best draft since 2003.

The 2014-15 Bulls will potentially consist of Rose-Noah-Gibson-Butler-Mirotic-Lottery Pick X-Free Agent X, a core that is good enough to challenge anyone in the East let alone the whole NBA. Rose and Thibs love Deng, as all true Bulls fans do, but they will understand that this trade does not mean the team is taking on a rebuilding project the size of the ones going on in Utah and Philly.

The Bulls can also use this trade to further develop the young assets that are already on the roster. Jimmy Butler can move back to small forward, his natural position. Tony Snell, who has showed brief flashes of potential, will get the chance to play a lot of minutes for this now shorthanded Bulls wing. And maybe even Marquis Teague will rejoin the team as he hasn’t even been getting big minutes over in the D-League.

So what’s left to root for this NBA season? There’s a couple of things.

First, root for the Kings. It’s completely unlikely, but if they can somehow right the sinking ship over in Sacto to the point of being mildly respectable, the Bulls would pick up another pick in this incredibly loaded draft.

Second, root for the Bobcats. Remember Tyrus Thomas? Well in case you forgot, when the Bulls traded him to the Bobcats they received a future first round pick which is top ten protected this season. That means that if the Bobcats pick falls anywhere between 11-30 it belongs to the Bulls.

Finally, root for Deng and the Cavs. Luol gave this franchise everything he had over the last nine years and I wish him nothing but the best in Cleveland this year and where ever he may be in the future. I hope he proves to be the missing ingredient for a promising-yet-disappointing Cavs team that has lacked both consistent play from the small forward spot and a positive veteran presence in the locker room.

2013-14 NBA Preview: Pacific Division

If you missed Jake’s earlier previews, you can get to them here.

As the season rapidly approaches (I had my first fantasy draft last night!), let’s keep on moving through the West. The Clippers are the cream of the crop here, and while Black Mamba and the Lakers would love to change that, it’s not happening. Golden State is primed for another solid year, but the addition of Doc should keep the Clips on top.

Doc Clips

1. Los Angeles Clippers (Last year: 1st)- The Clippers are counting on Doc Rivers’ leadership and defensive system (props to Thibs) to take them to the promised land. They completed the wing rotation nicely by moving jack-of-all-trades Eric Bledsoe for veterans JJ Redick and Jared Dudley. There’s not much depth past Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan down low, and those two are not great defensively. All in all, the Clips have more than enough to win the division with but might find themselves coming up short once again when the going gets tough. At least this year they’ll probably make it out of the first round.

steph shooting

2. Golden State Warriors (Last year: 2nd)- The Dubs had a wild offseason, pushing its chips all in to win now. When free agency began, the Warriors moved quickly locking up Andre Iguodala and dumping the well-paid corpses of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins. In doing so they gave up a lot of draft picks, but with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes coming together to form an epic young rotation, it’s hard to blame them. A healthy Andrew Bogut season would go a long in way in making Golden State legit, but it’s kinda concerning that they excelled as a unit when David Lee went down late in the season. A midseason trade of Lee could push this team into serious contention.

Kobe achilles

3. Los Angeles Lakers (Last year: 3rd)- The Lakers will almost definitely finish here again, but don’t be fooled; this is a much worse team. The Lakers have been playing up an early return for Kobe Bryant (sounds familiar), but he’s realistically several weeks from returning at least. Furthermore, a return to form this season would be unheard of following an Achilles tear. Finally, Dwight is now a Rocket and while Pau Gasol might benefit from his departure, the team won’t. Summer acquisitions like Nick Young aren’t going to stop this sinking ship. The Lakers will miss the playoffs.

boogieeee

4. Sacramento Kings (Last year: 4th)- It’s going to be another a long season in California’s capital. The good news here is that the horrific Maloof brothers are finally gone as owners and smart people seem to be in charge on a personnel and X and Os level. Boogie Cousins’ extension was a risk, but a necessary one. It was time for Tyreke Evans to try again somewhere else, so it was smart for the Kings to grab a capable point guard in Grievis Vasquez in return. The Kings aren’t exactly tanking, but they’ll certainly be snagging another solid lottery pick after drafting Ben McLemore this year.

bledsoe suns

5. Phoenix Suns (Last year: 5th)- Phoenix will finish in last once again but this time with a much better plan. Along with acquiring Eric Bledsoe on the cheap, the Suns took a gamble on a franchise center by drafting Alex Len. Aside from those two, the Suns don’t have any good players after Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat (another likely midseason trade candidate). Bledsoe and Len should see plenty of floor time and the Suns will know what they have. Add that with a likely top five pick, and Phoenix should be in a much better position in the future.

Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins got PAID

The two biggest pieces of news around the association this week involve contract extensions for two of the games’ bright young stars. Paul George, of the Indiana Pacers, inked a five year extension worth at least $80 million. On the other side of the country, the Sacramento Kings and their new ownership group pulled the trigger and extended the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins to a four year, $62 million deal. Both players just got paiiiiiid. Should they have?

Pgdunk

Paul George

The kid is worth every penny. The number one thing to keep in mind about George is that his defense is, at least for now, significantly better than his offense. Fans tend to be wowed by offensive spectacles, but defense is half the game and teams and contracts are only just now starting to represent how valuable it is. For example, in the past, a guy like Monta Ellis would have had no issue snagging an enormous payday because he’s a great scorer. However, because Ellis is very inefficient and plays poor defense, most teams now were hesitant to give him anything more than $7-8 million per season.

This effects PG because now people are really starting to recognize the value of defensive players. George is an elite perimeter defender with insane length; he’s literally grown two inches since entering the league. For a shooting guard, he’s an above average rebounder and possibly the best dunker at his position. Going into last season, George was asked to take on a much bigger role in the offense with Danny Granger out. He responded well, upping his PPG by over 5.0 to 17.4 and his RPG by 2.0. While he struggled at times, George proved he was somewhat capable of carrying an offense and definitely qualified to be the second best scorer on a championship team. As a defender, I would only rank LeBron James and Andre Iguodala above him on the perimeter. Luol Deng is great, but George is much younger and longer.

Add all that together and you get a max contract player. He may not look like your standard superstar, but I think it’s pretty clear that George’s emerging offensive game combined with his tough defense makes him more valuable than a mostly one-way player like Carmelo Anthony. Indiana made a great move getting this done, and they’ll reap the rewards for years.

DMC pissed

DeMarcus Cousins

This is one is a little trickier. Until a recent cleaning of the house in Sacramento (or should I say Shaqamento?), it was widely assumed that the Kings would shop the difficult DeMarcus Cousins. This may sound brash, but the man has been suspended more games than he’s missed due to injury. I’m glad he’s been healthy, but that’s a huge red flag. However, with a smart new front office and coach in place, the Kings decided it would be foolish to lose their asset and extended Cousins for a hefty $13 million per season. That contract doesn’t include an opt-out, so he’ll be locked in for four more years like Barry O.

On the surface, I think this is the right call. When you watch Cousins play, it’s impossible not to see an extremely talented, physically gifted big man. He explodes to the hoop, occasionally hits a sweet J, and sometimes lets off a surprisingly nice pass. Yet when you look closely at the numbers, the results are kind of alarming. By any defensive measure, Cousins is considered somewhere between bad and abysmal. Many will point out that a lot of this is due to a lack of effort, but that’s no excuse. Even if Cousins is in better hands now that the Kings have cleaned out their organization, players develop habits and after a few seasons you have to start to assume that a player is who he is (see Gibson, Taj). Cousins plays defense with the intensity of Carlos Boozer, which is not a good thing for a healthy, young, athletic center.

Still, if Cousins was an elite offensive player, he’d be worth his contract regardless of his defense. Except he’s not. Last year DeMarcus shot 46.5%, which is just ok. He improved his FT% to a career high 73.8%, which is actually pretty solid for a big. Cousins spends way too much time on the perimeter looking for jumpers (he’s attempted 54 three pointers in his short career) and ruins his efficiency in the process. While his FG% last season was near average, it was a career high, and he barely topped 52% for his True Shooting*. Add that all together and what you get is a very solid rebounder who scores around a league average rate.

*-I feel like me or Bicky has explained this a million times, but True Shooting Percentage takes into account all shooting types (two point FG, three point FG, free throw) and weighs them accordingly.

For these reasons, I just don’t know if Sacramento made the right move. I do think it was probably the only move, though. The new management group needed to show they are committed to building a winning team, and the best way to do that is to commit to the player they’ve invested the most in over the last few years (especially after moving stalwart Tyreke Evans). At the end of the day, I just don’t think DMC will justify the $62 million he’s going to make in the next four years. Time will tell.