Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fast-Breaking It Down

I scrapped my TNB on TNT piece this week to bring to you some quick thoughts on the trade deadline biz going on today (I'm going to try and chime in on some thoughts throughout the day)...

-I'm not as down on the CWebb trade for the Kings as everyone else. Doesn't anyone else remember that the Kings had the best record last year heading into the All-Star Break without Webber playing a single game? Peja is clearly a better player without Webber and the two were reportedly butting heads both on and off the floor. When it comes down to it, Peja is a much better long-term investment for the Kings than Webber and while the team may have taken a step back in the short-term, they were not going to win a championship anyways and they didn't take as big a step back as people seem to believe. Kenny Thomas I've never been huge on, but he's solid, definitely a serviceable power forward that can give you 14 and 8 consistently. Corliss Williamson has proven himself to be a very solid bench commodity for any team, and anyone that has actually seen Brian Skinner play know that he's severely underrated. I'm a little curious as to why the Kings brought in only frontcourt players: an undersized power forward (Thomas), an undersized center (Skinner), and a tweener (Williamson). I'm guessing Billy King wasn't willing to include Willie Green in the deal, and that just tells you that Geoff Petrie must have been pretty desperate to rid himself of Webber. People can talk all they want about how the Sixers ripped off the Kings, and in the short-term that may ring true. But just remember that Webber's knees are shot, he can barely even elevate off the floor anymore, and he's seriously lacking the toughness that Allen Iverson brings to the table. I give Webber this year and next year to perform at an All-Star level, but then I'm predicting a serious decline. So if I'm a Sixers fan (which I partially am), I'm wishing Billy King could have gotten more for the Big Dog and that he makes the right moves this summer to ensure that the Sixers contend for a title next season. I just don't think they have quite enough talent or experience to be considered real threats this year--in the East or the entire NBA for that matter.

-Toronto GM Rob Babcock has called a press conference for 3pm today indicating that the Raptors have likely made a deal involving Donyell Marshall. Chad Ford reported at about 1:00 that he had heard the Cavs and Raptors were discussing a deal that would send Marshall to Cleveland for Dajuan Wagner, Desagana Diop, and Sasha Pavlovic. I really don't think the Cavs even need Donyell, but to get him for this?! Who wouldn't?! Wagner and Diop have already proven to be arguably--no there's no argument whatsoever, Wagner and Diop are two of the biggest busts of the past 5 years, and while I do like Pavlovic, he's worth the price if it means adding Marshall. I would guess Marshall would slide in and play a lot of 3, and with his sweet stroke from downtown, could be a nice addition for a team that appears poised to make a push in the playoffs.

-Houston's acquistion of Mike James was just a timely, brash move by Rockets GM Carroll Dawson. I had the luxury of watching Rod Strickland give it a go as the Rocket's point guard last night with Bob Sura sidelines, and to be blunt--it was almost painful to watch. ESPN play-by-play man Jim Durham, who's about as generous an announcer as there is, even took to poking fun at Strickland for wheezing during his 5-minute run to start the game. James showed in Boston and Miami that he can capably play the 1 with a playmaker's mentality, he proved last year in Detroit that he can be relied on heavily for defense, and this season he's shined as a legitimate scoring threat off Milwaukee's bench as more of a combo guard. James will settle in right away as Houston's point guard until Sura returns, and then create a niche for himself off the bench that should really help this club come playoff time.

-I talked with Anthony before about the Celtics' trade of Jiri Welsch for a first round pick two years down the road from a team that will likely be drafting in the mid to upper 20's for years to come. If you'll all remember, Welsch was the kicker in that LaFraentz for Walker deal a couple years ago and some thought he had a chance to settle in as a fixture in the Celts' future. Both Jim O'Brien and Doc Rivers gave this guy plenty of chances to prove himself, but all he's shown is that he's nothing more than a 15-20 mpg backup, and right now the Celtics don't really need that. So Ainge went out and got a little something for what was essentially nothing to the team. Kudos. Most GMs have too much pride to trade away a guy that they themselves acquired in a deal, often fearing the backlash they might receive from the media for essentially admitting the mistake they made.

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