Transaction Analysis (7/30 - 8/2)By Kevin Pelton
Aug. 3, 2002
Iím not sure how many News@Hoopsworld members are baseball fans and, of that group, if any read BaseballProspectus.com. I happen to think that BaseballProspectus, a statistical and analytical site, is one of the finest things on the internet (along with this site, of course), and my favorite feature is the ďTransaction AnalysisĒ. I canít possibly keep up with all the various transactions in MLB and their implications, so TA is a perfect solution for me. I hope to do the same thing for the NBA on a regular basis for News@Hoopsworld. Iím thinking of writing once a week during the off-season and every other week during the regular season, when transactions are limited. If you enjoy this (or hate it) please e-mail me so I know whether thereís any point to writing it besides for my own enjoyment.
If this deal tells us anything, itís this -- the Hawks are as aggressive a team as there is out there in the NBA in terms of trading. In the last year, theyíve dealt for a starting frontcourt (and a good one) in Robinson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, not to mention Dan Dickau in the backcourt. When you consider that reportedly, this deal included another first-rounder and guard Dion Glover before Robinsonís legal troubles, this is a great deal.
But out of that context, this deal ultimately comes down to the Hawksí success this season. If the Hawks struggle and this is a lottery pick, they have given up a future starter and a certain degree of future salary flexibility for a player who is probably on the downside of his career. But I donít think thatís going to happen, depending on Atlantaís fortune with injuries. In Theo Ratliff, Abdur-Rahim, and Robinson, the Hawksí frontcourt compares favorably to any other in the Eastern Conference. And with Jason Terry and a host of other youngsters in the backcourt and off the bench, Atlanta is potentially loaded. In the East, that means they could legitimately be a team with home-court advantage in the first round this year. That, in the end, is why I like this deal. In the current East, I think itís worth doing whatever you can to have a chance to get to the NBA Finals -- and the Hawks now have to be included in that group, as potentially next seasonís New Jersey Nets.
With Scott Williams going to Phoenix, the Bulls were forced to settle for another member of their championship teams, Blount, to return as their veteran presence up front. Blount got the Bullsí million-dollar exception, and heís not a bad deal there. Blount really played poorly last season in Philadelphia, but has some skills and will definitely be a better mentor for Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry than Charles Oakley.
So, the Cavaliers have cashed in their best trade chip, and theyíve returned Miles. Two years ago, this would have been looked at as a very good deal for the Cavs. But clearly, in that time, Milesí value has diminished. After a strong rookie season, Miles showed virtually zero improvement. In fact, some of his numbers (notably field goal percentage, down to 48% from 51%) actually declined. Thatís not the typical career development path for a player who will turn 21 early in training camp.
Miles clearly possesses a world of potential, as demonstrated most convincingly by his spell on the ball during the All-Star rookie game, but he is seriously lacking in terms of skills. Weíre talking about a player in Miles that has absolutely no jump-shooting ability. In two years, Miles had made only four three-pointers. And last year, I saw him airball two jumpers in one quarter. As a result, Miles would need a lot of improvement to play small forward on a regular basis. And at power forward, the 210-pound Miles has a tough time defending much bigger players. So perhaps even at best, Miles will end up a tweener along the lines of Golden Stateís Antawn Jamison. Sure, Miles has a chance to be a star . . . but Miller is already there.
Of course, weíve heard the usual comments about how Miles will sell more tickets. I donít know of any way to statistically quantify these claims about Miles and, last year, Jason Williams in Memphis, but itís clear to me that the single best way to pack fannies in the seats is to win. Trying to sell flash is a shortcut at best.
In some of the least exciting news of the summer, the Mavericks have re-signed their own free agent. Raise a hand if youíre even surprised. Whatís more interesting is the contract LaFrentz got. At $69 million over seven years, Mark Cuban showed surprising financial restraint with LaFrentz, who some speculated (even when he signed his deal) would get around $84 million. That $69 million will somewhat help other teams trying to re-sign top free agents, at least relative to the possibility of $84 million. And at $69M, LaFrentz isnít a bad deal.
ďFuture draft considerationsĒ, in the case, means a first-round pick originally from the Clippers. With the pick top-21 protected for next yearís Draft, odds are the Nuggets wonít get this pick until 2004, which is also when the second-round pick they give up will be. In that case, my guess is the Nuggets will be moving up about 10 slots, which isnít so bad considering that all they have to do is swallow Reidís salary (not very high; somewhere around $1.2 million) next season, after which he will be a free agent. Nice move by the Nuggets to take advantage of another teamís needs.
Los Angeles Clippers
Signed forward Chris Wilcox, the first of their two first-round picks in the 2002 draft, to a multi-year contract. (8/1)
Please tell me other GMs are\ taking notes on this. The Clippers have given up in Miles a player who projects as a backup in the near future because of Los Angelesí glut of forwards, and in exchange received an All-Star-caliber player at the one position they werenít strong at. You can scarcely do better trading with the AI in NBA Live.
How much a loss is Miles? In the long-term, possibly significant, but the Clippers might not have had room to re-sign him anyway. And in the short-term, thereís little that Miles gives the Clips that Wilcox cannot. The main downside I can find to this trade is that the Clippers are going to be hard-pressed to find luxury tax room with all their young players up for extensions soon. I can think of worse problems.
At first blush, this is a pretty good value deal for Milwaukee. It was all too apparent a change had to be made amongst the big three, and Robinson -- the oldest and, likely, worst -- made the most sense. By elevating Tim Thomas to the starting lineup, the Bucks wonít lose much in any facet of the game, though there will be a slight drop-off, to be sure. And that first-round pick . . . it could be a lottery selection.
But thinking about this more, it makes less sense. Why, for example, would the Bucks return Kukoc? Like Thomas, Robinson, and most anyone on the Milwaukee roster, the vast majority of Kukocís value is offensive. It seems like the Bucks would have been much better off getting a defensive-minded small forward in exchange for Robinson. And the first-rounder, how valuable is that anyway? In Seattle, George Karlís hesitance to play any young players is legendary. Iím not really sold on this deal, but odds are it was the best the Bucks could have made with Robinsonís value slip-sliding away.
New Jersey Nets
Signed free agent guard Chris Childs, who had been with the Toronto Raptors. (8/1)
It was more than apparent to anyone who watched the Nets use journeyman Anthony Johnson in the NBA Finals that they needed a better backup to Jason Kidd. Childs fits the bill. He can at least hold down the point guard position if, heaven forbid, something happens to Kidd. And Childs is about as good a playmaker as you can find off the bench, even if his shooting is atrocious. Hereís a thought? Does it make sense for a team with as dominant a point guard personality as Kidd to have a similar style from their backup point? It would seem to improve continuity, and Childs is rather similar to Kidd.
New Orleans Hornets
After a lot of noise about how Davis wanted to be traded to Los Angeles and wasnít interested in going to New Orleans, the two sides have gotten together on an extension, which is good to see unless you are a fan of a team which had hoped to eventually pry Davis away from the Hornets. Davis is probably one of the top five point guards in the NBA and only 23 years of age. He deserves whatever he can get under the CBA.
From Orlandoís end, this is a case of trying to clear slightly more room under the luxury tax. This deal likely allows them to add a better free agent. Reidís value to the Magic is limited at best with the addition of Olumide Oyedeji. As far as moving down in the Draft, it actually might be better for the Magic, since they wonít be saddled with a guaranteed contract for a pick that will likely be in the 20s. Score this a win-win deal.
Last year, the Jazz had depth galore at the small forward position. But with Donyell Marshall and Bryon Russell seemingly on the way out, theyíre down to Andrei Kirilenko and another free agent, Scott Padgett. Thatís not an awful pair by any stretch of the imagination, but Cheaney provides some veteran insurance at both the two and the three positions.
Kevin Pelton is a support editor covering the Pacific Division for News@Hoopsworld.com. He thinks that Andre Miller and Elton Brand will lead the Clippers to multiple championships. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.