1) New Jersey Nets trade Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.
And the big trades continue. Wow. Orlando acquires an all-star talent for some spare parts. Vinsanity can hit the outside shot and will be a good fit for this squad. Assuming that Orlando can resign Turkoglu they'll have the best starting 5 in the league, hands down. Every player in their starting 5 has the potential to average 20 points per game. That's ridiculous. Of course, it's also possible that the trading of Vince Carter means the Turkoglu will be changing addresses. Vince Carter is set to earn $33.5 million over the next 2 years. So this Orlando franchise will definitely be paying luxury tax. But this is a franchise hungry to win. I like that. Ryan Anderson is just a throw-in player. This trade does hurt the team's depth quite a bit. They'll be forced to rely on Anthony Johnson once again to backup Jameer Nelson. And they lost a good prospect in Courtney Lee. Tony Battie will be an underrated loss. They desperately need to resign Gortat or get another big body to backup Dwight Howard. But they have the pieces to return the NBA Finals again next year, assuming everyone is healthy. For New Jersey, this was a pure salary dump. They'll have a ton of money saved up for the summer of 2010. As all three players that they acquired have expiring contracts this year. Courtney Lee is a nice addition to this team and will be teamed up with Devin Harris in the backcourt. Saving up all of this cap space is only a good idea if they are able to sign someone. If they cannot attract a big-name free agent, their plan will have backfired. Will anyone want to play on a team that traded away all of their talent?
2) Golden State Warriors trade Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for Acie Law and Speedy Claxton.
Apparently Don Nelson wasn't joking when he told Jamal Crawford that if he did not opt out of his contract, he would be traded. It was clear that a backcourt of Crawford and Ellis would not work. So I'm not surprised that the Warriors traded Crawford away. Nelson is looking for a pure PG to run his offense. Crawford was set to earn $20 million over the next 2 years, so the Warriors are saving a bundle in this trade. They also have an excess of backcourt players, so this trade helps alleviate some of that congestion. Even though they traded for 2 PG, I would not be surprised to see them draft a PG. I don't think Monta Ellis is the answer at that position. And trading back for Baron Davis doesn't seem like a good long-term move. I don't foresee Claxton getting any burn, and Acie Law is a backup PG at best. Crawford can score buckets, but I'm not sure where he fits in the Hawks squad.
3) Phoenix Suns trade Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a 2nd Round Pick and $500K.
Cleveland finally pulls the trigger on this move. I like it. And they did not have to give up anything of value. Neither Wallace or Pavlovic played major roles in their rotation. Shaq's contract expires next year, so it's a nice low risk move. They will still have salary flexibility next summer to pursue one of the big name stars to play along Lebron. And in the short-term, they have a legit post scorer who will demand double teams. This also will allow Cleveland to single cover big men like Dwight Howard. The only downside is that he's poor at defending the pick and roll, and can be injury prone. But let's see how motivated Shaq is next year. I'm sure he's eager to 1up Kobe and win his 5th ring. On the other side, the Suns get some salary flexibility. Ben Wallace is considering retirement which would save them a ton of money next year. Pavlovic is only guaranteed $1.5 million next year, and will probably be waived. Amare should be happy now that he is the man in Phoenix, unless they decide to trade him. They can return to a run and gun style without Shaq clogging the middle. Phoenix is in a difficult spot though; are they in rebuilding mode or are they trying to win now? They have a lot of holes in their lineup now. Who will man the C spot now? Will Amare move back over to C? And who will start at the SF position?
4) Minnesota Timberwolves trade Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards for the #5 pick, Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songalia.
This is a great move for both teams. The Wizards stubbornly refuse to go into rebuilding mode, and they want to try to win now. So trading away a draft pick for some solid players benefits this agenda. They were also able to dump some bad salaries off to Minnesota. Thomas is set to make over $7 million next year, and Songalia is owed over $9 million over the next 2 years. Yikes. Meanwhile, both Mike Miller and Foye's contracts expire next summer. So it's a low risk move. I don't think this propels them to contender status, however. But these guys will provide some extra scoring for this Wizards team, who should be near the top of the league in that category. Flip Saunders is a great offensive coach. Both guys can hit the outside shot and should help stretch the offense. Foye is more of a shoot-first PG, so I'm not exactly sure where he'll fit in. I expect Miller to move to the starting lineup, with Foye taking on the 6th man role. I'm not sure where this leaves young developing talents like Nick Young and Javaris Crittenton however. The Wizards are a bit thin in the frontcourt after that trade. They are going to have to depend on Blatche and McGee to step up their games. And hope that Haywood can return back to form. For Minnesota it helps their rebuilding efforts. They now have 4 1st round draft picks and both the #5 and #6 picks. They have a lot of flexibility with what they want to do. I expect them to draft a new backcourt to join Love, Jefferson and Gomes. It should be an exciting time for the Timberwolves franchise.
5) Milwaukee Bucks trade Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto.
Finally. The Big 3 get some help. The Spurs problem has always been a lack of consistent scoring from their role players. RJ will definitely help the Spurs in that regard. He's capable of scoring 20 points per game. And provides them with some much needed athleticism and "youth". And they had to give up very little to acquire him. RJ is owed nearly $30 million over the next 2 years, which hurts their salary flexibility. But with Duncan on the decline and Manu constantly injured, their opportunity to contend for a title is quickly closing. It's a good short-term risk. The trade leaves them with some major holes in the frontcourt, however. As of now, an injury to Duncan would be devastating for this team as of now. They have to hope that Ian Mahinmi can contribute next year, and they can try to resign Gooden or another big man. I've heard Rasheed Wallace's name being thrown around, which would be a perfect fit. A lineup of Parker, Manu, RJ, Rasheed and Duncan would be title contenders. RJ is a big upgrade over Finley or Bowen. He is a capable defender so the Spurs defense should not skip a beat. For the Bucks, it was purely a salary dump. Now they can use some of that money to sign Sessions or Villanueva. They will likely waive Bowen. And Oberto has already been traded to the Pistons for Amir Johnson. A nice PF prospect. Maybe the Bucks could have gotten more for RJ, but trading him off was a great move for their franchise for the future.