If there was a graduate level class on the NBA this trade would be a great case study. The New York Knicks are in the largest media market, are always in 'win now' mode, and have a ton of over paid players -- all the while they are headed back to the lotto. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a medium market squad that wants to be a contender now, as they've made recent coups in both the draft and free agency. Their on court results have left something to be desired. And the Oklahoma City Thunder, a very small market team, had unfortunate injuries this year is trying hard to be good enough to make the playoffs -- despite being a legit contender when healthy.
So they made a trade, which I've partially summarized here.
But beyond breaking twitter, did the teams actually accomplish anything?
- OKC has been auditioning a shooting guard to mix with their core group of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and others, for years now. They had James Harden, but we all know how that ended up. Dion Waiters surely thinks that he is all that and a bag of chips, and as a #4 draft pick he may feel like he deserves to be up there. He didn't really mesh well with LeBron James or Kyrie Irving -- an injured and desperate Thunder team could be perfect for him, or a perfect storm of failure.
- CLE knows that their window of opportunity isn't four seasons like the Heat had, Kevin Love and LeBron James can both leave much sooner. So they need to at least make the East Finals this season if they want to look legit. They don't look legit right now, so they picked up a Top 18 protected lotto pick and two mercurial guards in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Both guys can hit threes and play a little defense. But they're not reliable like vintage Mike Miller or Shane Battier. Still, and interesting move for a team that has to do risky things now that there's a sense of urgency.
- NYK, man, they picked up three guys who went undrafted (Alex Kirk, Lou Amundson, and Lance Thomas), and will probably cut them all because their contracts are small. And they secured a 2019 2nd round pick. This is so Knicks I can't even finish this sentence. Well, I guess I made it to the end. So I'm better than the Knicks. The big winner here, beyond Carmelo Anthony 's FGA, will be Tim Hardaway Jr. He won the Knicks shooting guard war of succession. That's like being the king of the Iron Isles in Game of Thrones. Congrats. You can't even grow food there.
Personally, I think OKC comes out the best here. They didn't give up much, and Waiters has a lot of potential still as he's the youngest. Being paired up with Westbrook is crazy enough to work. And in an increasingly volatile West, sometimes you need a little crazy to get through. There may be too much crazy in Cleveland right now. They needed to add talent fast, they have done so. It remains to be seen how David Blatt can make all of this work with the clock ticking. I didn't even mention the money for any of these players -- but the Knicks shed salary which seems like an afterthought at times for that franchise. I do not believe that the Knicks got better now or in the future.
Traditionally the team that gets the best player is dubbed the winner of the trade. So I guess CLE wins? Out of the three guards I favor J.R. Smith, but that doesn't mean I like him. I just don't have a very high regard for Waiters or Shumpert. Also, it is interesting to see three shooting guards involved in a trade like this, while the Utah Jazz are in the market for one. Clearly teams saw the injuries to Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and Patrick Christopher -- and rang up Dennis Lindsey. I'm fine with the Utah Jazz GM not getting involved with these three knuckleheads.
But that's what I think. What do YOU think?