Every week a group of writers on BADMENBLOG will discuss several topics regarding both the NBA and basketball at large with quick, paragraph-long responses. This week, we’ll be discussing our winners and losers from this season’s trade deadline as well as the historical significance and impact of Jason Collins’ first game. The panel for this initial edition of the Fastbreaks column are Jordan, Andrew G, and Josh.
Question 1: Which team won the trade deadline this year? Why?
Jordan: The Indiana Pacers. There were reports that Danny Granger was “pissed” about getting shipped to Philadelphia and you can’t really blame him. He was, at one time, “the franchise” and stayed patient during Indy’s rebuilding effort. Problem was, that the offer was just too good for GM Kevin Pritchard to pass up. The Pacers acquired Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen in the deal. Allen is mostly a filler/throw in, but Turner is a game-changer. Thanks in large part to injuries, Granger has declined significantly from his All-Star day and Turner is picking up steam heading into the end of the season. He’ll provide a spark off the bench that’s unlike almost anyone else in the league. A hidden benefit from this swap is that, at the end of the season, the Pacers’ phenom Lance Stephenson will hit the open market and likely receive a very lucrative offer. Turner, on the other hand, is a restricted free agent. The Pacers would be able to match any offer he takes. This deal made the Pacers a better team now and into the future.
Andrew G: As I wrote in my piece on the trade deadline, I think the Charlotte Bobcats completed the best trade that was actually done. While Ramon Sesisons was a solid sixth man for Charlotte, Charlotte’s inability to space the floor for Al Jefferson has been a huge problem. Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal are upgrades in that regard. Furthermore, the Bobcats didn’t do a deal based around their “bigger” assets. Ben Gordon’s expiring contract wasn’t traded. One of Charlotte’s potential three draft picks in this upcoming draft wasn’t traded. All in all, Charlotte acquired two players that can definitely be rotation players without sacrificing the team’s future with a massive cap hit or losing out on potential prospects.
Josh: As per usual, there were no standout deals at this year’s deadline. Indiana acquired the best player traded in Evan Turner, a skilled wing who has fallen off the radar this year due to some inconsistent play. The Pacers organization has developed a persona for developing their players. Couple that with the team’s hyper-positive chemistry and you have to believe Turner’s going to develop into a solid scoring option off the bench for Indy.
Also worth mentioning is the sub-plot from this deal: where’s Danny Granger going to sign? After having his contract bought out by Philly, I expect multiple contending teams to have interest. No contending team has the cap to offer Granger a lengthy deal; expect him to sign with a team for the minimum, for the remainder of the season. Could you imagine Granger in Miami? Yikes.
Question 2: Which team was the biggest loser at the trade deadline? Why?
Jordan: The Oklahoma City Thunder not making any moves makes them the definite losers at the deadline. They were armed with trade exceptions and a lot of good young players like Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb that they should have been more willing to move. I think they needed to make the push to go after Arron Afflalo of the Orlando Magic. The Thunder just need a little push, and I think he would have gotten them over the edge in the race for the West title. Now, while we don’t know the specifics of the negotiations, it was believed that a package of some combination of Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, and first round pick(s) would have gotten the deal done. If that’s true, I don’t understand why Sam Presti wouldn’t pull the trigger.
Andrew G: More than just the trade deadline moves, the Houston Rockets have to think they lost in the trading portion of the regular season. This goes back to Daryl Morey’s absurd demands for Omer Asik, both in multiple first round picks and the November deadline for a disgruntled big man owed over $14 million in real checks next season. Omer is still on this team, and Morey has no picks or improvements anywhere on the roster. In fact, the only move Houston did make was to send Aaron Brooks, who was stuck behind Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin at the point, for Jordan Hamilton, who’s going to compete with James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Francisco Garcia, and Omri Casspi for minutes on the wing.
Josh: No deal stands out as particularly bad. I’d rather focus on the inactivity of the Phoenix Suns. With the assets GM Ryan McDonough has accumulated, I expected Phoenix to make some moves. A highly skilled big such as Pau Gasol, or Kevin Love could have fit the system there incredibly well. What should we expect from Phoenix when trades open up in the off-season? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned.
Question 3: What is the impact of the Jason Collins signing on American sports culture?
Jordan: It truly was a momentous and historic event although, obviously, I would like to live in a world where the news that someone is homosexual was just met with an “okay”. That’s not where we are right now, and his decision to come out was incredibly brave this past summer. That decision I think hurt any chance he had at getting a training camp invite at the beginning of this year. It was nice to see that, once ten day contracts came around, the Nets became willing to give him a shot. Now, while the choice of Collins may have been influenced by the good press the Nets would get, he also was an elite post defender back in his prime, and has a good relationship with many of his previous teammates (many of whom are on the Nets now). As for the impact this will have on the sports world, I think it will usher in an era of more acceptance and could potentially give other athletes the courage to come out. He could potentially end up being remembered as a pioneer for homosexual athletes and people everywhere, inspiring them to be open about themselves and also could help make people everywhere more accepting.
Andrew G: Jason Collins’s signing and subsequent playing against the Los Angeles Lakers was a watershed moment in American culture in general, but if we are to compare the reaction from the NBA both when Collins announced his sexual orientation and when he actually stepped on the court versus how the NFL has reacted to Michael Sam’s announcement, it could be an even bigger moment in sporting culture. While I am a bit skeptical that Jason Collins was signed right now, there’s no denying that his on-court time this season is extremely important to showcase that sports are indeed for everyone, both as a spectator and as a career for any children or teens who might be homosexual. My hope is that soon the NFL can ditch the absurd machismo and embrace the fact that a homosexual in football is not a crisis of confidence for the sport.
Josh: I look forward to a culture where stories like this aren’t considered monumental. With that said, it’s absolutely an important step in the initiation, or rather acceptance, of gay athletes in the NBA. Culture is an ever evolving entity, and professional sports are not exempt. There will be a time when a gay athlete is simply another athlete (minus the asterisk), but that will likely take decades to arrive to. Jason Collins coming out is not the first step nor the last, but it is an important step nonetheless.