Coach's Corner: The Early Winners and Losers
By Kevin Loughery (As told to Jeff Dengate)


Loughery
Former NBA head coach Kevin Loughery analyzes many of the reported free-agent signings and offseason trades, discussing the winners and losers if the moves play out as suggested.

SCORE ONE FOR THE BULLS

Chicago seems to have made the biggest move signing Ben Wallace – he was the No. 1 guy out there that could be signed -- then they made the trade for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith, and they moved Tyson Chandler.

I’d look at it as an upgrade for Chicago defensively, particularly in the interior with Brown and Wallace and Luol Deng. They should be an outstanding defensive team.

Now, offensively, I’m not so sure, because I think on the offensive end, as proven in the Playoffs in almost every series Miami played, Shaquille O'Neal didn’t have to guard anybody. That was a big advantage when they had to double- and triple-team Shaq. But on the other end he was playing zone – he and Alonzo Mourning. So, I think offensively, Chicago could suffer a little bit, but defensively they’ll be much improved.

I would say Detroit gets hurt the most by losing Wallace because he fit into that team so perfectly. Offensively he doesn’t need the ball, doesn’t want the ball. They have an awful lot of people that can score. You can’t lose a player of that caliber – Nazr Mohammed is just not going to fill the role that Wallace played. So, as of now, at this point, I’d say the Wallace going to Chicago helps (the Bulls) and leaving Detroit really hurts the Pistons.

PACERS LOSE MORE THAN A SHOOTER

Neither Ron Artest nor Peja Stojakovic now wears a Pacers jersey.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images
I think the biggest issue (with the Pacers losing Peja Stojakovic) is it was a gamble on Indiana’s part when they traded Ron Artest for Stojakovic. I assume they felt – I don’t know this for sure – that they were going to be able to sign Stojakovic. But, that was an issue that came about pretty early before the season ended, which meant, in my opinion, Stojakovic was surely going to leave Indiana. And I’m not so sure how much they wanted him back because they didn’t make any tremendous overtures towards him. This came out like a month before the season ended, which really surprised me because that hurts the chemistry of a team. Indiana went through a year in that area, totally.

I think (the split) was a little bit of a mutual agreement there, but I’m not so sure now if Indiana had to do it all over, they would’ve made that trade. They might have tried to move Artest to another area to at least get some return. It’s hard to give up a high quality talent and not receive anything in return.

It will improve the Hornets; there’s no doubt about it. You’ve got Stojakovic. You’ve got Chandler.

Chandler has improved. He’s not the player I think everybody expected him to be when he was traded for Elton Brand. But he has improved.

Stojakovic can fill it up. I think that’s going to help their club in the long run.

The one thing about Brown is he’s getting a little bit older. I think he’ll help Chicago for what they want, but he’s getting a little bit older. And Smith did not fit in there with (Byron Scott). There seemed to be a lot of problems between the coach and Smith.

INDY MAKES THE WINNERS LIST, TOO

Austin Croshere seems, to me, that he hasn’t fulfilled the potential that was anticipated in his career. He’s up and down, injury-wise. Marquis Daniels is a tough player, a good defender. I like Daniels. I think a little edge goes to Indiana in this trade because of the defensive ability of Daniels. I think, given an opportunity, he will produce for Indiana. When he got a chance to play minutes in Dallas, he was very effective. I can’t say the same for Croshere. I think he can really shoot it from the outside but he’s had a very indifferent career. I would give a little edge in this to Indiana.

HAWKS GET THE POINT

I think the Hawks helped themselves by picking up Speedy Claxton. I think they desperately needed a point guard. Claxton had a nice year last year. I think he’s improved as a player since he’s come into the league and he’s a big improvement over the situation Atlanta had.

They have a pretty good, talented club. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Al Harrington, because they’ve got an ownership problem, whether they’ll be able to get anything in return for Harrington because they can only get a player back that has a one-year contract. So, that’s going to be very difficult.

The Hawks have young players and their young players are very good. I think Joe Johnson is even better than people thought. They have Josh Smith. They have the two Williamses – one from North Carolina (Marvin), one from Duke (Shelden). Josh Childress is getting a little bit better. They have enough young players and enough people, but they needed someone to help them improve offensively in the running game. Tyronn Lue is a nice player, but he’s not really what you’d call a point guard. So, they needed (Claxton in) that area.

CLIPS KEEP CASSELL

The Clippers had to re-sign Sam Cassell. He was really the guy that made that team go last year. Elton Brand had a fabulous year and improved every year, but they needed the leadership of Cassell and he did a terrific job for them. They had to sign him. That was a real big plus.

Tim Thomas, I think, was in an ideal situation in Phoenix. Bouncing around the way he’s been bouncing around leads you to believe that most teams are not totally crazy about his willingness to play every single night. I think he’s a talent, but Phoenix was a perfect opportunity for him, with the style of game they played – not physical, just up and down and getting the easy, open shots from Steve Nash. I’m not so sure that Tim Thomas fits in any better with the Clippers. I think the place for him to play was Phoenix.

-- Kevin Loughery appears courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association.