NBA Trade Grades: Handing Out Hypothetical Marks For All Of The Deadline Deals

There were a flurry of NBA trades in the past week as the trade deadline approached, and when the dust settled, many key players were suddenly on other teams. Which teams did well and which teams made mistakes? We grade each of the major trades, thinking specifically about each teams' unique situation, in this StoryStream.

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NBA Trades: Carmelo Anthony Deal Grades Well For Knicks

Trade specifics: New York Knicks acquire Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Corey Brewer, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams and Anthony Carter; Denver Nuggets acquire Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, 2014 first-round pick from New York, two second-round picks and $3 million cash; Minnesota Timberwolves acquire Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry and $3 million.

New York Knicks: The Knicks are not title contenders yet, but this trade is a significant step in the right direction and the cost was much less prohibitive that it would seem. Many are saying New York gutted its team, but in terms of future assets, that's a flawed premise. Curry's expiring contract was of no use past this year, and Chandler was an impending restricted free agent that would have eaten into the team's flexibility to keep. The loss of Felton, who parlayed one outstanding month into ridiculous talk that he's an All-Star caliber player (he's fine, but nothing special) is more than offset by the addition of Billups. Mozgov is big, but is already 24, poor defensively, turnover-prone and inefficient offensively, so it's no huge loss.

That leaves Gallinari and the first-round pick. The pick is well into the future, and likely will be low anyway, so it's not worth all that much. Gallinari, meanwhile, is a high-upside 22-year old that has developed every year, is an underrated defender and has plenty of years to grow. But he will never be the kind of player Anthony currently is, and he plays Anthony's position. Losing him is a necessary evil, because his role would be severely diminished otherwise. New York decided they would prefer Landry Fields as a complement to Anthony, and I think they were right.

It's true that the Knicks technically could have signed Anthony for nothing this summer once a new collective bargaining agreement was put in place, but that would have required Anthony to take a significant pay cut. With New Jersey and even Denver willing to also pay Anthony the three-year, $65 million extension before the new CBA, the Knicks needed to act or risk Anthony deciding the money was more important than playing in New York.

The Knicks still have work to do to become contenders, and it's questionable how Anthony fits into Mike D'Antoni's system, but they are closer than they were before. Unless they could have known Deron Williams was also available, this is a great move. Grade: A-

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were going to lose Anthony for nothing anyway, so it's good that they got something back for him. Gallinari is a very good prospect and player already, and if they decide to keep Chandler, he's a helpful piece. But they also didn't really continue the rebuilding process by also dealing Felton, Nene, J.R. Smith and others, even though they could have acquired several assets for each. They seem to want to gun for the playoffs, which may happen, but is only delaying the rebuilding. Grade: B-

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves essentially got a prospect for free in Randolph, surrendering only Brewer, who they were unlikely to keep anyway. That's always nice, and Randolph is still very young and full of potential. However, Randolph has failed at two spots (Golden State and New York) where you'd think he'd thrive, which makes you wonder. Taking on Curry's contract is something Minnesota could do due to its cap space and is largely irrelevant. At some point, Minnesota does need to build a foundation of their own, though, instead of acquiring other teams' problems and cast-offs. Grade: C+


NBA Trades: Deron Williams To Nets Is Win-Win For New Jersey, Utah

Trade specifics: New Jersey Nets acquire Deron Williams; Utah Jazz acquire Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, the Nets' 2011 first-round pick (unprotected), a 2012 first-round pick (top-seven protected) initially from the Golden State Warriors.

New Jersey Nets: Considering that this was the package the Nets were offering for Carmelo Anthony, it's a major coup to then use it to acquire a superior player. Williams has had issues with the Jazz this year, clashing with old coach Jerry Sloan and acting more turnover-prone, but he's still an elite point guard, a tremendous competitor and one of the most efficient high-usage scoring guards in the league. He's also taken his team further than Anthony in the playoffs, and it's a lot easier to find the kind of players to slot around him.

The big question, though, is whether Williams will stay with the Nets long term. He issued a de-facto ultimatum to them at his introductory press conference that the roster needed to be upgraded, and the Nets don't have a ton of assets left to do that thanks to some bad contracts handed out last summer. This would be one thing if the Nets were at .500, like the Knicks, but they're 17-40. A lot of work still needs to be done.

That said, you have to make this trade. The superstar is the foundation, and Williams is more of a superstar than Anthony. Grade: A

Utah Jazz: The Jazz deserve a ton of credit for forseeing a potential problem and getting a lot of value back for their superstar that was likely to leave anyway. You could argue that they didn't do enough to surround Williams with proper talent before this, but that's a different argument altogether. The fact of the matter is that they were barely in the playoffs this year and had little means to improve, so they push the reset button and got a great return.

Favors is young (19), big and full of upside, though he's struggled a bit this year. These are guys teams take chances on whenever they can. Harris is a bit injury-prone, but he's still an above-average point guard only two years removed from an all-star berth. The Nets have been a mess since, which has affected him. In 2009/10, Harris was one of two NBA-caliber players on the roster, and this season, he's clashed with coach Avery Johnson. Playing in Utah should help his production. Both draft picks are likely to be high ones as well.

It's a much better package than the Nuggets got for Anthony, and given that they stood a huge risk of losing Williams anyway for nothing next season, they did well to begin the rebuilding process. The only reason they didn't get an A is that they didn't follow the move up with more trades of their other long-term, high-salary players. Grade: A-


NBA Trades: Kendrick Perkins To Thunder Earns OKC 'A' Grade

Trade specifics: Oklahoma City acquires Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson; Boston acquires Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a 2012 first-round pick via the Clippers (top-10 protected).

Oklahoma City Thunder: Simply a no-brainer. Green wasn't producing for them, and it was past time for the Thunder to do something about it. The Thunder's defense has fallen off considerably, and Green was being exposed playing 37 minutes a game at power forward. Perkins, meanwhile, gives the Thunder a legitimate defensive anchor that they have lacked during their rise. This also allows Serge Ibaka to assume the power forward position, which is good because ibaka is better than Green. They may lose a little offensively, but they make a massive, massive upgrade defensively. If Perkins is still not healthy after his injury in the NBA Finals last season, they can simply let him go after the year and maintain flexibility.

There comes a time when every rising team needs to stop overvaluing their own players and take a shot to win this season. Sam Presti and the Thunder have done just that. Grade: A

Boston Celtics: I can't help but think general manager Danny Ainge overthought this. The Celtics team as they were was the best team in the Eastern Conference, with three wins against second-place Miami. They did a lot of that without Perkins, and thought the whole time that he'd come back and help them in the playoffs. Instead, an injury to backup small forward Marquis Daniels caused Ainge to change his entire plan.

I sort of see the logic, because the Celtics did play well while Perkins recovered from injury, but I still don't like the change. The Celtics do have a need on the wing, and Green provides it. He can play small forward in conventional lineups and power forward in small lineups, giving the Celtics a guy to check LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. But the trade, combined with the salary dump of Semih Erden, removes the Celtics' advantage over the Heat, Knicks and other contenders: size. I'm not sure why Ainge removed that trump card to match what other teams are doing. Sure, having no Daniels is a void, but why not a smaller trade for an Anthony Parker or the like instead? Why tinker at the Celtics' essence?

Maybe they felt Perkins would not be a Celtic past this season (he rejected their extension offer) and wanted to get something for him before he bolted. But the Celtics were one of the best teams in the league and a legitimate title contender, and now they have to make a fairly major change to their rotation. I'm not sure it was worth the risk. Grade: C-


NBA Trades: Hawks, Wizards Both Grade Well In Kirk Hinrick Deal

Trade specifics: Atlanta Hawks receive Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong; Washington Wizards receive Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans and a 2011 first-round pick.

Atlanta Hawks: No, this trade won't tip the scales in the Eastern Conference, but it's an outstanding move by Atlanta to get something they desperately needed for virtually nothing. The Hawks' biggest weakness was point guard defense. They resorted to myriad zones and defensive switches to mask his inability to stay in front of the most important player on the floor, particularly in today's NBA. That's no such problem with Hinrich, who is among the league's elite perimeter defenders, even still. He gets beat by quicker guards sometimes, but better help defenders should help fix that. Offensively, he's having the best shooting year of his career, so the Hawks lose nothing.

All this for a young player they weren't using (Crawford), a backup small forward with a 7.4 PER (Evans) and a late first-round pick that wasn't going to yield anyone significant, if they didn't just sell it anyway. Grade: A-

Washington Wizards: Hinrich will be missed on a young team that is lacking in professionalism right now, but he wasn't moving the needle much. The Wizards were able to parlay him into a prospect and a pick, which follows their strategy of rebuilding. Overall, they have now gotten two picks (No. 17 last year for acquiring him, used on Kevin Seraphin) and a prospect that was a first-round pick in the 2010 draft for five months of Hinrich, which is a nice use of assets. You just wonder if they could have kept Hinrich and spent $3 million to buy a late first-round pick instead. Grade: B


NBA Trades: Hornets, Kings Both Earn 'C' Grade In Carl Landry Deal

Trade specific: New Orleans Hornets acquire Carl Landry; Sacramento Kings acquire Marcus Thornton and cash.

New Orleans Hornets: So this is the finality of Dell Demps' season-long quest to move all his assets for short-term help before Chris Paul becomes a free agent. The Hornets started the summer with two of the league's top 2009 rookies (Darren Collison, Thornton), two 2010 draft picks (Craig Brackens and Quincy Pondexter) and a number of expiring contracts, most notably Peja Stojakovic at around $14 million. Their ultimate return for those assets? Ariza, Jack, Willie Greene and now Landry. That's a bit underwhelming. This specific trade isn't nearly as bad as the Ariza or Jack trades, but it's still not great.

Landry is a good player that was stuck in a legitimately toxic situation in Sacramento, and a trade to a playoff contender should revive him. However, he plays the same position as David West, the team's mainstay at power forward, so it's unclear when he'll play. He played well in small lineups when he was with the Rockets, so he could play a lot with West, but that would require him getting back to focusing on playing in the paint. His shot attempts from 16-23 feet jumped significantly when he was traded to Sacramento, and that has to be curbed if this is going to work. He's also not much of a rebounder, which is problematic on this team. Grade: C-

Sacramento Kings: Thornton is a promising player that just fell out of favor with Hornets coach Monty Williams, but I'm not sure how he fits in with this team. At his best, Thornton is a very high-usage, average-efficiency offensive player that doesn't pass much and plays very poor defense. The Kings' backcourt is already filled with one very high-usage combo guard in Tyreke Evans, and the team as a whole doesn't play defense. Essentially, the Kings have downgraded from Kevin Martin to Thornton in the span of the year (though they have more cap space, I guess). Grade: C+


NBA Trades: Gerald Wallace Heads To Portland, Giving Charlotte High Marks

Trade specifics: Portland Trail Blazers acquire Gerald Wallace and Sean Marks; Charlotte Bobcats acquire Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, 2011 first-round pick initially acquired from New Orleans (top-seven protected) and a 2013 first-round pick (top-12 protected)

Portland Trail Blazers: I may be in the minority here, but I'm not wild about this move for the Blazers. Wallace is a very good player that needed to be on a good team after being lost in Charlotte for so many years. His presence will no doubt improve the Blazers, and they were correct to be buyers instead of sellers.

But I don't think Wallace is a particularly good fit for them. Rob Mahoney captured many of my thoughts here, but I don't see where he plays. He's better as a small forward, but with the presence of Nicolas Batum, he'll have to play a lot at power forward ... which would force LaMarcus Aldridge to center ... which would remove a lot of Marcus Camby's minutes ... which would hurt Portland's interior defense. It's interesting for a fantasy team, but in reality, it's going to be tough to find minutes for all these players. 

The other thing is that Wallace isn't the player he once was, at least this season. His rebounding is down. His shot attempts at the rim are down. His scoring efficiency is way down. Maybe it's a one-year trend, or maybe, after years of throwing his body around and suffering a number of injuries, Wallace is finally starting to decline. If so, the price tag acquired to get him -- a couple mid-first round picks and two important frontcourt reserves -- suddenly looks a lot worse.

I'd like this trade better if Portland got a better fit for what they needed, but I can't help but think Wallace is the wrong guy for them. Grade: C

Charlotte Bobcats: It's about time they finally took steps to rebuild instead of spinning their wheels toward another first-round rout at best. Wallace was a fan favorite, but you have to start somewhere. The two picks are decent assets, and the Bobcats trim salary too. Next step: move Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw. You could argue that those two are more important players to send away in a salary dump, but if there were no offers there, you deal the guy who may at least have some value and go from there. Grade: B+


NBA Trades: Dealing Goran Dragic For Aaron Brooks Earns Suns 'D' Grade

Trade specifics: Phoenix Suns acquire Aaron Brooks; Houston Rockets acquire Goran Dragic and a 2011 first-round pick (lottery-protected, sort of)

Phoenix Suns: Yeah, I don't like this one. Dragic has had a very bad year after breaking out last season, but he's still just 24 and came with a fairly cheap contract. Brooks was decent in 2009/10 (though definitely overrated and not worth winning the Most Improved Player), but he's also been awful this season. His usage is at the same astronomical rate it was last season, but his efficiency has gone from okay to mind-bogglingly terrible. He's also two years older than Dragic, and is an impending free agent. Why the Suns felt the need to also sacrifice a first-round pick in the trade (theirs if they miss the playoffs, the pick they got from Orlando if they make it) is beyond me. Grade: D

Houston Rockets: The Rockets parlayed a player they probably weren't going to keep into a younger player who is basically the same guy, plus a pick. That's pretty nice. As usual, though, Daryl Morey eventually has to do something with these assets instead of turning them into more assets. Grade: B+


NBA Trades: Grizzles Grade Highly In Shane Battier Deal With Rockets

Trade specifics: Memphis Grizzlies acquire Shane Battier and Ishmail Smith; Houston Rockets acquire Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll and a 2013 lottery-protected first-round pick

Memphis Grizzlies: This trade would have made more sense if the deal that would have sent O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers to clear the wing logjam had actually gone through, but it's still an excellent move. As long as the Grizzlies are gunning for the playoffs (they're currently tied for eighth), Battier is a great fit as a solid veteran that plays excellent defense even still. He'll probably start until Rudy Gay gets healthy, then shift to a reserve role. 

The cost was pretty minimal to make this happen. Thabeet was a draft bust that had no value to the team, and the draft pick is far into the future. There's also no future flexibility sacrificed, since Battier has an expiring contract. Grade: B+

Houston Rockets: I don't know about this one. There's really no upside to Thabeet at this point, and the pick is pretty meaningless. Houston had a void at center, but there's very little chance Thabeet really fills it, and any hopes that he will seems like wishful thinking. Battier was a free agent that was likely to leave anyway, but given how many contenders could always use a player like him, the return is a bit disappointing. Grade: C-


NBA Trades: Grades For Cavs-Clippers' Baron Davis Deal Hinges On Value Of 2011 First-Round Pick

There were a flurry of NBA trades in the past week as the trade deadline approached, and when the dust settled, many key players were suddenly on other teams. Which teams did well and which teams made mistakes? We grade each of the major trades, thinking specifically about each teams' unique situation, in this StoryStream. 

TRADE: Cleveland Cavaliers get: Baron Davis, 2011 unprotected first-round pick; Los Angeles Clippers get: Mo Williams and Jamario Moon

For the Cavaliers: I dunno, this is a tough trade to judge in general. My first thought was to say the Cavaliers fleeced the Clippers because the unprotected first-round pick is a major asset. But now, I'm not so sure.

What I think is clear is that Davis is a bad influence and has a big contract. The Cavaliers may be getting that pick, but they are sacrificing $5 million a year in cap room for the next two years while also adding a player that has been a problem for multiple teams because of his attitude. Cavaliers fans will counter that the cap room is negligible anyway because free agents won't want to come to Cleveland, which I suppose is fair, but Davis' presence certainly isn't helping to make Cleveland a free-agent destination.

Then again - that pick could be Cleveland's best shot to get the player they need to build around. It's at worst a mid-lottery pick, and at best a top-three pick. The 2011 Draft is expected to be weak, but you never know. The same was said about the 2008 and 2009 drafts, and both of those have multiple impact players. The Cavaliers could come away with two franchise cornerstones for the future, and if so, the price of taking on Baron Davis is worth it. They just have to nail those picks. Grade: B-

For the Clippers: I guess one's feelings depend on how close the Clippers truly are to contending. They have their two franchise building blocks in Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, so maybe the lottery pick they gave up isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. But they're also nowhere close to the playoffs, and a long-term building block can be found with that pick even in a weak draft. This might be a big risk.

Otherwise, getting rid of Davis is probably a positive. The Clippers were getting somewhere despite him, but his tenure has been so disappointing that having him around is a drain. Williams is a better fit that allows Gordon and Griffin to become better playmakers, and Moon can help them at small forward.

I just wonder whether losing that unprotected pick is going to come back and bite them. Was Davis' presence really that much of a drain? (That's an honest question - I don't think I know enough to judge either way). Grade: B-

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