SECAUCUS, Feb. 27, 2008 -- Shaq, J-Kidd and Pau dominated the conversations being had, articles being written and new jerseys being purchased after last Thursday's trade deadline, but there were another group of players that were swapped like Topps cards in recent weeks:
While no big-name rooks were involved in any deadline deals, quite a few first-year players were sent packing. Let's take a look at the winners and losers from the trades from the perspective of the rookies, and whether they ended up in better situations:
Taurean Green is traded from Portland to Denver for Von Wafer -- On the plus side, Green wasn't getting any burn in Portland and went from the team with the 10th best record in the West to the team with the ninth best. On the flip side, Denver had no rookies on its team this year so Green should be in store for his fair share of bag carrying and doughnut buying. Overall: Winner
Javaris Crittenton is sent from the Lakers to the Grizzlies in the Gasol deal -- Critt goes from a team that was a lock for the playoffs where he could learn from the best guard to enter the league in the last decade to a team that already has two point guards and the second-worst record in the conference. Yikes. Overall: Loser
Adam Haluska is traded from New Orleans to Houston in the Bonzi Wells deal -- Haluska hadn't played at all this year for the Hornets and didn't get a chance to with the Rockets, as he was waived after the trade. Overall: Loser
Nick Fazekas is waived to make room on the Mavericks roster to accomodate the Jason Kidd trade -- Let's just say Fazekas won't be rooting for J-Kidd to make like Michael Finley did last year and finally win his first ring. Overall: Loser
Fazekas is signed to a 10-day contract by the Clippers eight days later -- This story has a happy ending. Overall: Winner.
That makes two winners and three losers for those of you scoring at home. As I've been saying all year, the life of a rookie isn't all glitz and glamour.
Last Week: 1 | Drafted: 3
Atlanta is 2-8 over its last 10 games, falling into ninth place in the race (actually it's not a race, more like a collective Conference stumble) for the eight playoff spots in the East. This is where Horford can make or break his case for Rookie of the Year. If he keeps putting up double-doubles like he has (three in the last six games) and the Hawks can catch Philadelphia for a postseason berth, he could hold off Kevin Durant and Al Thornton. If he just gets nine and 10 per game on an also-ran, then he's in the same boat as Durant putting up 19 a game on a cellar dwellar.
Last Week: 4 | Drafted: 14
Back in Week 14, I wrote that if the Rookie of the Year trophy was a table at a restaurant, it would be occupied by a party of two in Durant and Horford. Well, guess who pulled up a chair to the table and sat on it backwards, A.C. Slater style? Al Thornton, averaging 17.8 points and 6.0 rebounds over his last five games, is officially in the hunt.
Last Week: 3 | Drafted: 56 by San Antonio in 2002
Scola has already outperformed all expectations put upon him as a 27-year old rookie that took five years to make it to the league after being drafted in 2002. Now he'll be asked to do even more with Yao Ming set to miss the rest of the season.
Last Week: 5 | Drafted: Undrafted
The Rookie Rankings has nothing but love for Moon after spending some time with the friendly high-flyer down in New Orleans over All-Star weekend. I got to ask him how he's dealt with his "overnight" success this season: "Hey man, with a coach like Sam Mitchell, man, you will stay in line. Sam lets me know every day that no one is supposed to be here, you got to earn the spot to be here, he always points that out to me. Then I got teammates who give me things to help me out throughout the season. With my teammates and my coaches all on my side, it's easy to stay grounded."
Last Week: 7 | Drafted: 40 by Washington in 2002
With all of the trade rumors swirling around the Grizzlies like paparazzi surrounding Britney Spears arriving for another night of debauchery at Chateau Marmont, it's telling that Navarro's name never came up. Even in a fire sale, you want to hold on to a rookie with international experience who is tied for 14th in the league with 111 3-pointers made.
Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 4
When Conley's been healthy this season, he's been a top-five rookie. The problem is the diminuative 6-1, 180-pound guard is apt to take his bumps and bruises and hasn't been healthy all that often. The rookie has scored in double digits his last four games for Memphis, including an impressive 15-point, 11-assist performance matched up against Steve Nash on Tuesday.
Last Week: 8 | Drafted: 12
Young had his best game as a pro last week, netting a season-high 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go with eight rebounds in a 40-point victory (forty!!!) over the Knicks. Like Thornton, Young seems to be getting only better as the season wears on.
Last Week: The Next 10 | Drafted: 5
Green assured his stay in The Next 10 would be brief by upping his production to a solid 12.7 points and 7.7 boards over his last six games. Down in New Orleans I got a chance to tell him about about his name doppleganger, Jeff Greene from Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the Sonics rookie said he'd never heard of the show and sounded dissappointed when I told him that Greene was Larry David's sidekick instead of the central figure of the program. "Oh ... I thought I was the main character for a minute."
Last Week: 6 | Drafted: 17
A reader named Bar from Beijing wrote an angry e-mail saying, "I hate how Lawrance Frank not only destroyed New Jersey's chances of doing anything good with its "Big Three", but how right now he's stopping Sean William's development. What did he do that he deserves to play less than 5 minutes a game?" Bar, the answer isn't that Coach Frank has anything against Williams, but rather than SWAT can't get consistent PT because he's fouling too much. He has played 68 minutes in his last five games and picked up 14 fouls, equal to a fouls-per-48-minutes rate of 9.9, which is a disqualification and a half.
Dominic McGuire (WAS) has yet to score more than six points in any of the 46 games he's played in, but reached double-digits rebounds for the second time with 12 boards in 24 minutes against the Clippers. Daequan Cook (MIA) who is 11th in rookie scoring with a 7.2 points per game average, was assigned to the D-League along with rookie teammate Joel Anthony. Glen Davis (BOS) has not taken more than two field goal attempts or grabbed more than four rebounds in any of his last six games, a far cry from the player who dropped 20 on the Pistons. The good news is, the "Why isn't Big Baby in the top 10?" e-mails sent from places like Somerville and Worcester have quieted down. The HNPAMY (Have Not Played A Minute Yet) Club:Herbert Hill** (PHI), Greg Oden** (POR), Ramon Sessions** (MIL), Marcin Gortat* (ORL), JamesOn Curry* (CHI)
* = assigned to the D-League
** = injured