In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at [email protected] or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:
“What a deadline!! I don’t think I can ever remember a trade deadline that crazy! Anyway, my question was about the Suns’ day. It makes sense that they got rid of Goran Dragic, but they also got rid of two others [point guards] in Tyler Ennis and Isaiah Thomas. Getting Brandon Knight back was a good haul, but they also didn’t address their frontcourt (even weakened it some). What kind of message do you think this is sending? Are they giving up on the season while keeping the core for the future or are they gearing for a run and trying to improve the chemistry?” — Matt E.
The Suns deadline moves told me two things. The first was that Dragic more than likely gave Phoenix the distinct impression that he wasn’t going to re-sign with them this summer. I don’t believe the team wanted to trade Dragic, but only did so to recoup something of value for him. The second message was that the multi-headed point guard experiment wasn’t working out as well on the court, or in the locker room, as the franchise had hoped.
If GM Ryan McDonough didn’t believe that Phoenix had a good shot to retain Dragic beyond this season, which I don’t think it did, flipping him for Knight was an excellent tradeoff. But I’m not as thrilled with the team parting with Ennis, who is a player with quite a bit of upside. I get the Suns wanting to move Dragic and Thomas, but the team dealing away three point guards seems like overkill to me. Keeping Ennis, who is on a team-friendly rookie contract, would have been a wise move for a rebuilding franchise like Phoenix. I also agree that the Suns’ moves failed to improve their frontcourt. This was one of the things McDonough had reportedly wanted to address heading into the deadline, and Knight does nothing to change the team’s needs. This is an area that Phoenix will absolutely need to address this offseason if it hopes to contend in 2015/16.
To be realistic, Phoenix wasn’t likely headed to the conference finals this season, so blowing up its nucleus isn’t necessarily a bad move. The trade will give the Suns a bit more cap flexibility this summer with Thomas’ deal off the books, and now the team doesn’t have to sweat out Dragic’s free agency decision. Knight isn’t going to be cheap to re-sign, but the Suns will be able to match any offer sheet that the guard is offered, which gives the team some more stability. I also really like Knight as a player, and he and Eric Bledsoe should form a dynamic tandem, though defense is going to be a persistent issue for the pair.
Well, seeing how Monroe declined to work out a long-term deal with the team and has given a number of indications that he intends to depart this summer as a free agent, picking Jackson is the easy answer for who is more likely to remain in Motown. Jackson wasn’t acquired to be just a rental, so the team will likely match any offer sheet the point guard receives as a restricted free agent after the season. Monroe is an unrestricted free agent, so there is no safety net for Detroit in regards to re-signing him. My crystal ball sees Monroe wearing a Knicks jersey next season and Jackson still sporting Detroit’s in 2015/16.
As for who the team should push harder to keep, I would still say Jackson. That isn’t meant to diminish Monroe’s value, it’s about which player is the best fit for them right now. Monroe and Andre Drummond don’t mesh together very well offensively, and the Pistons need to improve their backcourt production, something Jackson’s presence will certainly help. Having Jackson and Brandon Jennings sharing a backcourt next season isn’t an ideal situation for anyone involved, but with Jennings set to become a free agent after next season, the problem should be short-lived. Jennings’ injury will complicate matters, but look for Detroit to try and deal him this summer. Drummond and Jackson are a nice foundation for Stan Van Gundy to work with, and if the team is able to retain Jackson this summer, this was an excellent trade by the executive.
“Which team won the trade deadline?” — Parker
This one is a tough question since the success of many of the trades can’t be gauged until the playoffs are complete. But with that caveat in place, I’ll say that the Thunder won the deadline this season. Sure, the franchise gave up Reggie Jackson in the deal, but to add Enes Kanter, D.J. Augustin, and Kyle Singler for a player whose role had diminished significantly since the arrival of Dion Waiters was a strong move for GM Sam Presti. OKC added some needed frontcourt scoring in Kanter, and two solid rotation players in Singler and Augustin. I really like what the team accomplished at the deadline. This is a much better trade for the franchise than swapping for Brook Lopez would have been. Now if the Thunder could only remain healthy…
I would also like to give Heat president Pat Riley credit for making the second best deal of the trade deadline, acquiring Dragic was a solid move by the executive. But it is also one that will unfortunately be tarnished a bit by Chris Bosh being lost for the season. With Bosh and Dragic on the court, the Heat would have had a very real shot to go deep into the playoffs in the East and this deal looks like a master stroke as a result. Without Bosh, Miami will play out the string and hope to make a favorable enough impression on Dragic, with the hope that he’ll re-sign with Miami this summer.
“With the issues Rajon Rondo is having with [coach] Rick Carlisle, does this mean Rondo’s gone at the end of the season?” — Clyde S.
The recent difficulties between Rondo and Carlisle won’t be the determining factor in Rondo’s free agent decision. They certainly don’t help, but Rondo should be used to having clashes with coaches by now, and the one game suspension he received as a result shouldn’t drive an irreparable wedge between Rondo and the team.
What Dallas should be more concerned about is how poorly Rondo has fit in with the team thus far. The Mavs seem to play more effectively as a squad when Rondo has been seated, which shouldn’t be the case when talking about an elite point guard like him. There will likely be more than a few teams that will pursue Rondo when he becomes a free agent this summer, and the point guard may find a fit he prefers to the one he has in Dallas. In the end, I think Rondo will end up leaving Dallas this summer, but for a multitude of reasons beyond a simple tiff with his coach.
“Which trade was the worst one of the season?” — Roberto N.
I’m going to cheat a bit on this one and pick a deal that happened prior to the season beginning — the Knicks’ trade of Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavs for Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington, and two second rounders. It’s an understatement to say that this deal didn’t work out on the court, with the Knicks currently owning the worst overall record in the league. But the bigger loss is what New York potentially missed out on at the trade deadline as a result of this previous transaction.
If the Knicks had held onto Chandler last offseason, it’s quite possible that Reggie Jackson would be wearing a Knicks jersey right now instead of a Pistons one, and New York would have the inside track on re-signing him this summer. With the Thunder’s reported pursuit of Brook Lopez, it’s more than likely that OKC would have had some level of interest in acquiring Chandler at the trade deadline. At the very least, the Knicks would have had a better than average shot at flipping Chandler for a major upgrade at the point, instead of having to watch helplessly on the sidelines thanks to a lack of assets. Knicks fans had to settle for the Zen Master unloading Pablo Prigioni to the Rockets as the team’s biggest splash of the trade deadline.
The Knicks also managed to make this trade look even worse by declining Shane Larkin’s team option. As a result, New York is unable to offer Larkin more than the $1,675,320 value of his option if they wish to re-sign him, which could prove problematic in retaining his services if the team so desires. The young point guard hasn’t set the world on fire this season, but Larkin does have the potential to develop into a valuable role-player, and that’s something the Knicks could certainly use more of.
That’s all the space I have for this week. Thanks for all of the submissions. Keep sending in your questions, and I’ll see you back here next Saturday with more responses.