Ariza/Collison trade reaction

February 24, 2010 Milwaukee, WI. Bradley Center..New Orleans Hornets Darren Collison had 22 points and 9 assists against the Bucks tonight..Milwaukee Buck won over the New Orleans Hornets 115-95. Mike McGinnis/CSM.

Bob Kravitz, Indianapolis Star: If coach Jim O’Brien can’t work with Collison, if he has the same issues with him that he did with Tinsley and Ford, then we can fairly say it’s an O’Brien problem and not a player problem. My sense is, that won’t happen. What this does is put more pressure on O’Brien to produce in the final year of his contract, although it’s the kind of pressure he surely will welcome. Until now, he has been asked to win with lousy players. Now he has some horses. Let’s just say, if the Pacers can’t make a run at .500 with Collison, management’s decision regarding O’Brien’s future will be an easy one. As for Bird and Morway, this one might have been a job-saver. As the weeks wore on without any Pacers news, and news of Donnie Walsh’s imminent departure from New York, it struck me that Walsh might land back here in Indy to replace Bird. But give Bird and Morway credit: They stuck to their guns, refused to take on big contracts for short-term gain, and kept their eyes on the ball. Finally, we’re seeing the dividends.

John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune: One, he got veteran help in Ariza, a 25-year-old, former NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 who’s coming off his best statistical season. Yes, there’s a risk involved. Collison was one of the league’s best rookies last season and viewed as the ideal backup to Chris Paul at point guard. He could become an All-Star, but the key word is could — 40 or 50 standout games as a rookie don’t constitute a career. Meanwhile, Ariza is a six-year pro whose career has arched upward. Two, he got rid of a declining player with a bad contract (Posey) and an unproductive one (Wright) who assured his departure by refusing to play in summer league after new coach Monty Williams asked him to. It doesn’t matter much whether Belinelli can play, though he’s 6-foot-5 and a career 39 percent shooter from 3-point range, compared to Wright, who was as likely as not to airball a foul shot. A Wright-for-anyone trade falls in the addition by subtraction file. As nice as Wright was, no one accused him of actually “getting” it.

Dave D’Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: The deal is low-risk and high-reward for Nets GM Billy King, because it’s rare to land a productive power forward in the prime of his career with an expiring contract, one who is willing to hold a job until rookie Derrick Favors is ready to snatch it from him. The 6-10 Murphy is one of the league’s most unique players, a power forward who can be a game-buster from the arc but can also throw his weight around. Two seasons ago, he became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top five among the league’s rebounders (11.8 rpg) and 3-point shooters (.450).

Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: The Rockets tried to trade to get Courtney Lee in the 2008 NBA Draft. They tried to trade to get him last year before the Orlando Magic traded him to the New Jersey Nets. They tried to trade to get him after he went to the Nets. Finally Wednesday, the Rockets landed Lee, sending forward Trevor Ariza to the New Orleans Hornets after just one season in Houston to complete a four-team, five-player deal.In two seasons, the 6-5 Lee has averaged 10.3 points on 44.2 percent shooting. He averaged 12.5 points with the Nets. The Rockets, however, were particularly drawn to his defense, citing his ability to defend at three positions. “He’s very intriguing defensively,” Rockets vice president for player personnel Gersson Rosas said. “He’s going to follow the game plan to a T. He eats up direction and guidance from coaches. “He can defend big ‘ones’ like Deron Williams, Rodney Stuckey, Jason Kidd. He gives us a direction we did not have before. He’s cut from the same cloth as Shane Battier. He really values the details, has a great approach. He really takes it personal.”

Note: You can read my take here.

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Ariza, Collison involved in four-team trade

Mar. 09, 2010 - Washington, China - (100310) -- WASHINGTON, March 10, 2010 (Xinhua) -- Trevor Ariza (C) of Houston Rockets shoots during the NBA game between Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards in Washington, the United States, on March 9, 2010. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun.

I wouldn’t call this a ‘mega-trade’ but it’s a pretty significant in terms of the players involved and its impact on the potential departure of Chris Paul.

Chad Ford has the (brief) details:

In the proposed deal, the Houston Rockets will send Trevor Ariza to the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets will send Darren Collison and James Posey to the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers will send Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets. And the Nets will send Courtney Lee to the Rockets.

Ford is now reporting that this trade is official.

Here is the deal in the ESPN Trade Machine. Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

Let’s look at the Hornets first since they’re the ones trying to satisfy Chris Paul. They are essentially trading away a good up-and-coming point guard in Darren Collison along with James Posey and the two years remaining on his contract. In return, they’re getting Trevor Ariza, who averaged 15-6-4 while shooting under 40% from the field last season for the Rockets.

I thought they might be able to get a little more for Collison, but Ariza is valuable because he’s an athletic wing who can score a little, but can really defend. He’ll fit in nicely alongside Paul, Marcus Thornton and David West in the Hornets’ starting lineup (assuming Monty Williams starts him). They were also able to shed Posey’s contract, which makes the Ariza acquisition a financial wash for the next two seasons. For the Hornets’ sake, I do wish he could shoot the three a little better, but maybe his 3PT accuracy will rise from its 2009-10 levels (33%) with Paul setting him up for better looks.

Meanwhile, the Pacers get their point guard of the future (Collison) by trading away Murphy, who is in the last year of his deal. Financially, Collison and Posey will cost them an extra $4.2 million because most of their salaries are offset by the loss of Murphy’s salary ($12.0 million) this season. This is really a great move by the Pacers. Collison is going to be a very good point guard in the NBA for a very long time.

As for the Rockets and the Nets — well, the Rockets will shed Ariza’s salary, giving them an additional $4.6 million of cap space heading into the summer of 2011. That should be more than enough to sign a max free agent. Conversely, the Nets add Murphy at the expense of Lee, but his deal is expiring, so it looks like he’ll serve as a stopgap at power forward while the franchise waits for Derrick Favors to develop.

In the end, is this a game-changer for Paul and the Hornets? No, but it’s a step in the right direction. After a summer of treading water (or even losing ground by trading away the #11 pick), the franchise has fully committed to Paul by trading away their backup plan (Collison) for someone who can help him win now.

Given this move, it looks like those who had written off the possibility that Paul would stay in New Orleans were wrong. I don’t think the Hornets would have swung this deal had they thought that Paul was serious about forcing a trade. Either that, or the Hornets have completely misread Paul’s intentions.

2009 NBA Preview: 10 Breakout Candidates

What constitutes a “breakout” season? To me, it’s a talented player who has been in the league at least one year who is about to see a big increase in minutes. Here is a list of 10 players (in no particular order) who I think will have career seasons in 2009-10.

1. Tyrus Thomas, Bulls
The 23 year-old is entering his fourth season and will probably be the Bulls’ starter at power forward. He averaged 10.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 27.5 minutes last season, and an increase in minutes would enhance those numbers. Now that he has an effective mid-range jump shot, he can use that and his athleticism to get to the basket.

2. Anthony Randolph, Warriors
Randolph is a popular breakout pick this season after a great summer league and flashes of brilliance in his rookie year. He only played about 18 minutes per game last season, and is playing almost 28 minutes in the preseason, starting every game in which he’s appeared. Don Nelson may not start him during the regular season since he’s been battling some injuries, but expect him to get plenty of run this year.

3. Anthony Morrow, Warriors
Let’s stay in Oakland, shall we? Not to read too much into preseason stats, but through eight games, the second-year Morrow is averaging 22.0 points on 58% shooting (52% from 3PT). He’s going to come off the bench, but that might not last for long if Stephen Jackson eventually gets traded. Morrow is one of the league’s best shooters, nailing almost 47% of his threes a year ago.

4. Aaron Brooks, Rockets
With Yao Ming out and Tracy McGrady hobbled, the Rockets don’t have a whole lot of offensive options and Brooks is one of the best shooters the team has. He averaged 11.2 points in 25 minutes per game last season. If he gets 32-35 minutes per game, he should average somewhere in the 14-16 ppg range.

5. Louis Williams, 76ers
He’s a very different player than Andre Miller, the guy he’s being asked to replace. He isn’t going to drop a lot of dimes, but the guy can score, and if he gets starter’s minutes his averages are going to jump. In the preseason, he’s averaging 14.9 ppg in 27 minutes of PT.

6. Courtney Lee / Chris Douglas-Roberts, Nets
I’m listing them both because it’s not clear which will be the Nets’ starting shooting guard on opening day. It may not matter because the other might be the starting small forward. In the preseason, CDM and Lee are averaging 18.5 ppg and 17.0 ppg, respectively. While Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are likely to lead the Nets in scoring, Lee and Douglas-Roberts could both average 12-14 ppg.

7. J.R. Smith, Nuggets
Smith has already had a breakout year (in his first season with the Nuggets), but the departure of Dahntay Jones gives Smith the chance to start. George Karl started Jones last season because of his commitment to defense, so it’s just as likely that he finds another defensive-oriented off guard to fill that vacated role. Smith has the talent to start, but can he keep his head on straight and play enough defense to keep Karl happy? (By the way, he’s suspended for the first seven games.)

8. Channing Frye, Suns
After a nice rookie season (12p/6r) in New York, Frye wasn’t as good in his second season and landed in Portland where he didn’t get much run. Now he’s the starting center in Phoenix and is averaging 12.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in 26.8 minutes of playing time. The Suns are awfully thin on the front line, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Frye ends up playing 30-35 minutes a game.

9. Julian Wright, Hornets
While he isn’t shooting particularly well (41%) in the preseason, it appears that Byron Scott has finally given up on Peja Stojakovic and is ready to hand over the keys to Wright, who has started all six preseason games in which he has appeared. He’s a great athlete and versatile player, but the big mystery with Wright is his three-point shooting. He hit 10-24 attempts in his rookie season, but just 2-21 in his second year. The Hornets need shooters for Chris Paul to pass to, so if Wright doesn’t start knocking down shots, Scott might go back to Peja.

10. Hakim Warrick, Bucks
Warrick is leading the Bucks in preseason scoring with 14.4 ppg. He’ll battle with Luc Mbah a Moute, Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Joe Alexander for minutes. Scott Skiles will likely start Mbah a Moute at one forward spot because he’s a great defender, but the other is up for grabs. Regardless, Warrick should get plenty of minutes and is on a one-year contract, so he’s very motivated.

NBA News & Rumors: Nets’ SG, Curry, Delonte and more

Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts fighting to be Nets’ starting shooting guard. Courtney Lee is a player. He can shoot, score and defend, and he’s still troubled by Orlando’s decision to trade him away. That layup he missed in the Finals was no gimme. By the time he was in position to release the ball, his entire torso was behind the backboard. It’s a shame that’s what people remember of Lee from last season. This battle may go deeper into camp, but Lee has more talent and should be starting for the Nets this season.

Replacement refs aren’t up to snuff. Last night in the Rockets-Celtics game, 75 fouls were called and 102 free throws were shot. This is astounding. NBA refs get a bad rap. Basketball is a tough game to officiate because there is so much contact on any given possession. Refs have quite a bit of leeway, which can lead to inconsistency from game to game and from crew to crew.

HC Don Nelson plans to use Stephen Curry as a starter…at times. He says it’s going to be a matchup thing because Curry is so good. So look for Curry to start when the opponent also has a couple of smallish guards in the starting lineup. But wouldn’t a Monta Ellis/Stephen Curry backcourt create huge matchup problems on the other end of the court? I think most off guards would have a tough time getting back in transition to cover Curry on the wing.

When will the Milwaukee Bucks get a new arena? I grew up outside of Milwaukee and remember when the Bradley Center was state of the art. Needless to say, that was a while ago. The Bucks are in a tough spot because with the recession, they’re going to have a tough time making money this season unless the team is playoff-caliber. Given the environment, neither the city nor the franchise are going to want to pay for an arena, so there’s a real chance that the Bucks’ owner — Senator Herb Kohl — sells the team in the next few years. It would be a shame, because Bucks fans are great when the team is good (or at least mediocre).

Delonte West leaves the team…again. Other than maybe the Lakers, the Cavs are probably the best equipped to handle this kind of drama during training camp. With the whole LeBron/Shaq honeymoon, eyes are elsewhere, but West has the potential to become a distraction as the season wears on. He’s too good to cut loose, but not so good that he deserves special treatment. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cavs handle West if he continues to miss time.

Report: Magic to acquire Vince Carter

Whoa! I thought Vince Carter might be on the move, but I wasn’t expecting this.

The New Jersey Nets have agreed to a trade in principle with the Magic that will send Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee, two league sources told ESPN.com.

As for the Nets, the move is a cost-cutting measure. Both Alston and Battie are in the last year of their contracts, and trading for them would shave $16.5 million off New Jersey’s roster in the summer of 2010 and put the Nets well below the salary cap.

Now this is a trade that helps both teams, unlike the Suns’ Shaq giveaway and the Bucks’ donation of Richard Jefferson to the Spurs’ championship fund. Not only do the Nets get loads of salary cap relief — Carter has three years and $52 million remaining on his contract — they get a nice prospect to replace him in Courtney Lee, who averaged better than 11 points per game and 43% 3PT shooting in February and March. The Nets project to go into the summer of 2010 with almost $30 million in cap space.

For the Magic, Carter adds a boost of athleticism to lineup of spot up shooters. But how will this affect the team’s ability to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu? If they can get him to re-up, they’d have a lineup of Jameer Nelson, Carter, Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard that looks deadly on paper. I think they’re planning on retaining him, but the Magic are looking at a pretty hefty payroll over the next few years with Carter on the roster.

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