We are just over a day away from the 2009 NBA Draft and already we’ve seen moves around the league — some big and some not so big. The interesting thing is, the ones that appear to be the most insignificant, often turn out to be they keys to much bigger moves as NBA GMs steer themselves towards outdoing their peers on Draft night.
Let’s take a look at what transactions we’ve seen so far and what is rumoured to come in the next 48 hours.
TRADE: Richard Jefferson (to San Antonio Spurs) for Kurt Thomas, Fabricio Oberto and Bruce Bowen (to Milwaukee Bucks).
The immediate reaction from most people when this hit was, “Woah! Nice work San Antonio, you just re-made yourselves into a prime contender!” There’s no doubt that the Spurs got themselves just what they were lacking: a scoring punch at the swingman position and some added athleticism to what had become an aged, slow team. Relying on the likes of Roger Mason Jr to be that punch is not going to win anyone a title, so the addition of this former Team USA member is a huge one that makes the Spurs relevant again.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee cleared some cap room as they rebuild with a young group, punctuated by big Aussie, Andrew Bogut. Bowen will reportedly retire and won’t be a part of the Bucks roster — his recent performances indicated that he’s ready to go out to pasture anyway. Oberto has already found himself shipped off again (see below) and Thomas may well be cut and re-signed by the Spurs.
TRADE: Fabricio Oberto (to Detroit Pistons) for Amir Johnson (to Milwaukee Bucks).
If you believe what has been said around Detroit in times, Amir Johnson may be talented, but he sure isn’t motivated. The young big man has a tonne of game (any fantasy sports aficionado trawling the waiver wires will attest to this) but just hasn’t felt like putting that on the court every night (those same fantasy experts will say the same).
However, you put that young talent in Milwaukee under Scott Skiles and you may have a talent worth starting night-in-night-out. Sounds like the perfect plan for a rebuilding project.
TRADE: Randy Foye and Mike Miller (to Washington Wizards) for 4th Pick in Draft, Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila and Oleksiy Pecherov (to Minnesota Timberwolves).
This move works well for both teams. Washington is hoping to make a resurgance from the horrors of 2008-09 and with a healthy Gilbert Arenas supported by young talent Foye who can play both guard slots, along with Miller at the 2/3, they are looking strengthened. The last thing this team needed was a rookie, with enough immaturity coming from the likes of DeShawn Stevenson and Nick Young. Caron Butler’s name constantly comes up in trade talk, but if the talk is just that, talk, then this team could do quite well next season assuming Antawn Jamison is also along for the ride.
Meanwhile in Minnesota, rebuilding is the name of the game… and with both the 4th and 5th picks in the draft to add to their young team which features big Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, they’re going to be young alright. The catch of course is that they also had to take on the sizeable contract of Etan Thomas in the deal. New GM David Kahn is certainly making ripples already after replacing incumbent, Kevin McHale.
TRADE: 22nd Pick in Draft (to Portland Trail Blazers) for 24th Pick in Draft, 56th Pick in Draft and 2010 2nd Round Pick (to Dallas Mavericks).
Portland GM Kevin Pritchard is known for his Draft day shenanigans, with no team being safe from being Pritch-slapped, as the Blazers’ faithful have dubbed his trading/drafting antics. The big question on this trade is, did the Blazers make this trade to snare someone who they think the Sacramento Kings were going to grab at pick #23 or is this move part of a bigger deal. With Pritchard you never know, but I have a feeling it is the latter. Perhaps another team has requested that pick or maybe the Blazers are just trying to acquire as many quality assets as possible to move up even higher in the draft (as many have guessed). That said, Blazers coach Nate McMillan has made it clear that he would “have to be put behind bars” if KP brings another rookie into the rotation (after dealing with four last season), so it is more likely that the Blazers are going to try and trade for a quality veteran. Many have suggested Kirk Hinrich as a good fit at point.
Dallas’ motivations on this trade? Well, they get more picks, right?
RUMOUR: Jamal Crawford (to Atlanta Hawks) for Acie Law IV and Speedy Claxton (to Golden State Warriors).
ESPN has this one as a done deal. For the Warriors, clear and simple, this would be a salary ditch. Insurance covers part of Speedy’s contract, whilst Law (who I almost wrote as “Acie Earl”!) has potential that may be further unlocked with a change of scenery.
Jamal Crawford is a quality scorer who hasn’t been able to hang on anywhere for too long as the main man, but should fit in nicely to the pace that the Hawks play.
RUMOUR: Every team in the league to trade up for Ricky Rubio.
A lot has been said about the young Spanish sensation. I’ve lost track of how many teams are supposedly going to trade up to get a shot at drafted him. This comes on the back of numerous reports that the top five teams are going to steer clear of him for reasons including, but not limited to, his lack of desire to work out for Memphis, his poor showing in one-on-none workouts (Really? He’s point guard — he passes!), his lack of English skills, his lack of computer-hacking skills and his hair.
Rubio is going to be a solid, solid player in the NBA. He is still very young and has unimaginable talent and poise for a point guard of his years. This much must be made clear: he will be a player and any team that avoids drafting him will one day regret it.
For what it’s worth, the NBADraft.net mock lottery has Rubio at #2 to Memphis, where he seems to belong.
Draft day is like Christmas — I can’t wait.