In a season that has not very much player movement, yesterday’s trade could translate into something bigger.
The Lakers in turn landed veteran forward Joe Smith and two future second-round picks from New Jersey.
Seems pretty minimal on the surface but it’s the bigger picture that needs to be taken into consideration with this trade.
The Lakers are getting a veteran in Smith who has been in the league for 15 years now. Andrew Bynum is finally back and head coach Phil Jackson finally has the leisure of a big-man rotation. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will get some much needed rest and will see a dramatically smaller amount of playing time.
He is coming in at a time where they can really play with their rotation in what should prove to be a very easy road trip through the East that puts them up against Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto before heading home to host Milwaukee.
In addition, the Lakers are freeing up nearly $5 million in cap space. Right now, they have three contracts worth over $12 million a year and it’s time for teams to save money with an impending lockout on the horizon.
Not all is looking up for the defending champions who aren’t coming out of the gates strong like they did last season. They haven’t beaten a team that made the playoffs last season since November 23 when they beat the Bulls that didn’t have Carlos Boozer at the time. Since then, they have gone 5-5.
The Rockets saw the least in this trade with just their acquisition of Williams. However, the Nets just recalled the second-year player from the D League on December 7 after he averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists a game for the Springfield Armor.
He is only averaging 6 points a game this season but showed promise at the end of last year by averaging over 14 a game in February and March. Houston needs depth right now and he will provide some but how much is still unknown.
New Jersey comes out the best in this trade and without even really acquiring anyone… yet. Overall, they received the Lakers’ 2011 first-round pick and Houston’s 2012 lottery-protected first-rounder. They now have five first-round picks over the next two seasons.
However, it doesn’t seem as though the Nets plan on using those picks. It has been speculated that their main plan is to utilize the picks in a trade offer for Carmelo Anthony who has shown signs that he wishes to leave Denver. Unfortunately, it seems as though the Knicks are the front runners for acquiring the young superstar.
Last season, the Knicks dumped everything to offer LeBron James the big money to come to the Big Apple but he declined so he could join a “loaded” Miami team. Seems as though Anthony would want to do the same and not be the pivotal building block in New Jersey.
As of now, the Knicks are first in the league in scoring with 108 a game and are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. Amar’e Stoudemire is taking more shots and Mike D’Antoni is letting the team run. It just seems like a better fit for Melo who has already proven that he is unable to lead a team.
With New Jersey and their picks, it really comes down to what Denver wants. Right now, they are banged up. Chauncey Billups is out due to ligament damage in his right wrist. In addition, Kenyon Martin is not sure when he will return from his injury. He may be taking his time seeing as he will be a free agent this summer and any sort of re-injury wont help him land big money.
Denver sits at the crossroads of win now or win later. Win with what you have or use a trade to load up on picks and essentially start over. With what they have now, losing Anthony will do nothing but hurt especially when all they will essentially acquire are draft picks.
The Nets are sitting on a lot of picks that will be instrumental to their building over the next two seasons. We have yet to see how they will utilize them but they could have gigantic implications. Stay tuned…