Cohen: Evaluating Trade Deadline Deals

By Josh Cohen
February 25, 2011

After an array of trades over the last few days, I decided to evaluate what I think of the five most notable deals that were made.

1) Carmelo Anthony to New York

This was a deal – irrespective of the fact that the Knicks may have relinquished their best talent outside of Amar’e Stoudemire – which New York essentially had to make.

It’s extremely atypical for a superstar caliber player like Carmelo Anthony to be available in a trade, especially when he is virtually begging to be traded to the Knicks.

Some felt New York should have waited until it can sign Carmelo as a free agent this summer, but others recognized that might have been too large of a risk considering there were hints that he would agree to an extension with Denver if he had not been dealt prior to the deadline.

While it remains mysterious if the Knicks can immediately transform into a formidable threat in the East this season, the likelihood is that they will eventually be a championship contender in a couple of years.

Unless it decides to spend some cash this summer on free agents, New York has the opportunity to remain vigilant with its money and stay under the salary cap to go after any of the prized free agents in 2012.

For the Nuggets, on the other hand, this may have been the best deal they can possibly make with what was available to them. Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton, specifically, are legit players to build around for their future.

2) Deron Williams to New Jersey

It’s very apparent that Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov felt some pressure to acquire a superstar after striking out on LeBron James over the summer and Carmelo Anthony in proposed trades over the last few months.

As a result, New Jersey utilized its best assets – Devin Harris and Derrick Favors – to tug Deron Williams out of Utah after reports had circulated that he wasn’t happy with the struggling Jazz.

There is no way of evaluating whether this was a beneficial deal for the Nets because it’s impossible to forecast if Williams will opt to remain with the team when he is a free agent in 2012. It’s also impracticable to predict whether Favors, a highly touted rookie that had been the center of attention in all the Carmelo trade talk, will transform into a dominant power forward.

While New Jersey, by and large, acquired the best player in this deal, it’s not unfeasible to believe that Utah got the better end of the trade. If Deron decides to bolt New Jersey/Brooklyn in a year and a half and Favors does evolve into an All-Star caliber player, this could turn out to be a disastrous deal for the Nets.

3) Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City; Jeff Green to Boston

Eyebrows raised and heads spun in all directions when NBA enthusiasts learned that the Celtics decided to trade their burly, battle-tested center to the Thunder for the more athletic and vibrant forward.

For OKC, on one hand, the deal makes complete sense. With All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook present to provide all the scoring in the world, the Thunder now implement a defensive-oriented big man to help contest their main challengers in the West. The Lakers, for example, have Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol down low; the Spurs possess Tim Duncan and the Mavericks can throw Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood out against you.

The Thunder also acquired Nazr Mohammad in a separate trade from the Bobcats to add even more depth on the interior. Suddenly, a front line of Perkins, Mohammad, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison looks pretty formidable.

For Boston, on the other hand, this deal appears to have been done partly from a financial decision. Perkins will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Celtics figured he would receive mega offers from other teams that, assumingly, would be too steep to exceed.

Rather than potentially lose Perkins this summer, Boston opted to get appropriate value in return at the deadline. Green, who ironically was drafted by the Celtics in 2007 before being a part of a draft day deal for Ray Allen, will provide solid bench production.

Josh Cohen
4) Gerald Wallace to Portland

If I am Gerald Wallace, I, at first, feel somewhat insulted that I am only good enough to be traded for Joel Przybilla’s expiring contract, some insignificant role players and future draft picks.

Wallace is way too good for that.

Stats alone are convincing. He scored in double figures in nine of Charlotte's 10 games in February and was averaging almost 16 points and more than eight rebounds per game this season.

This was a steal for the Blazers and they, in my opinion, did the best job at the trade deadline. A starting lineup of Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews (arguably the most underrated player in the NBA), Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge (quickly becoming a top five power forward) and Marcus Camby with both Brandon Roy (if he is at least somewhat healthy) and Nicolas Batum coming off the bench is very worthy of challenging the best teams in the West.

At the beginning of the season before Roy was plagued by serious knee problems and before it was announced that Greg Oden would miss the entire season, I felt strongly that Portland would challenge L.A. for the right to go to the NBA Finals. After Thursday’s blockbuster trade, I again feel that the Blazers have the potential to be that team as long as Roy can be a solid contributor off the bench.

5) Baron Davis to Cleveland; Mo Williams to L.A. Clippers

Forget the names that were involved in this trade for a second. They are relatively insignificant unless Mo Williams decides to opt out of his contract after this season or at minimum the following season. He has player options worth $8.5 million the next two summers.

The most significant facet of this deal was – not Baron Davis, Williams or even Jamario Moon – but an unprotected 2011 First Round Draft pick that goes from L.A. to Cleveland.

Barring a miracle, the Clippers will be a lottery team in this year’s upcoming draft and if somehow ping-pong balls fall in the Cavaliers’ favor, Cleveland will have two high draft picks in June.

Yes, Davis’ contract will likely disallow the Cavs from going after any prized free agents over the next two summers. But let’s be realistic, stars probably don’t want to play in Cleveland.

As a result, it will be imperative for the Cavaliers to rebuild through the draft and there is no better way to start that quest then by acquiring as many lottery selections as possible.

I love the trade for Cleveland and I also love it for L.A. if it believes it can sign a top-tier free agent at some point to team up with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon.

Which trade did you find the most surprising?
Which trade did you find the most surprising?
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