Is Rip Hamilton done in Detroit?
I’ve been waiting on a post for awhile because I’m waiting to see the results of the well-publicized mega-trade among the Nets, Nuggets, and Pistons.
The Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Nets. The Nuggets would receive Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Quinton Ross, Ben Uzoh and Steven Graham, along with two first-round picks. The Pistons would send Rip Hamilton to the Nets in exchange for Troy Murphy, Johan Petro, and a second-round pick.
I like this trade for the Nuggets and the Pistons. The Nets seem intent on creating the ultimate Pistons ‘What If’ by teaming Carmelo with Chauncey and Rip. Does this get them into the playoffs? In the East, probably: despite being 10-27, the Nets are only 5 games back of the 8th seed. However, both Chauncey and Rip are on the downsides of their respective careers, and Carmelo, I feel, has leveled off, in that I don’t figure him to improve much, if at all, in the coming seasons. Looking towards the future (hopefully without a lockout involved), how long will the Nets remain competitive with Carmelo? They have Brook Lopez, and…? And Lopez hasn’t been anything special the last few games. I just don’t see this making much basketball sense for the Nets. (Unless they can land Chris Paul. Then it makes perfect sense.)
The Pistons, meanwhile, get out from Rip’s contract and pick up Murphy, who for reasons unknown is warming New Jersey’s bench, and Petro, who for reasons known is warming NJ’s bench. Murphy can play: he hits threes while still rebounding, which is something Charlie Villanueva can only dream about. Petro won’t play, but he won’t be a bad emergency option. The second-round pick is nice, because Joe Dumars has had some success there (Jonas Jerebko, Dejuan Bl…wait…). The main benefits for the Pistons are the cap space and the clearing of the logjam in the backcourt. As I type this, the Pistons started the game against Memphis with Tracy McGrady running the point, and Rodney Stuckey playing off the ball. If this can continue, this allows Ben Gordon to play all the minutes off the bench as a sparkplug, hopefully getting his season back on track. The Pistons are only 3 games out of the 8th seed in the East, and maybe ironing out a rotation will help them get there by the end of the season.
In my view, the Nuggets make out like bandits. Losing a player like Carmelo hurts, and getting rid of hometown hero Billups hurts even more, but the talent the Nuggets get back is incredible. Favors is far from a finished product, but he could become a monster. Devin Harris is a really solid point guard, a good replacement for Billups, and his presence keeps Ty Lawson on the bench, who is not quite ready for prime time. Anthony Morrow is a good replacement for JR Smith, whose contract is up after this season. And the two first-round picks could land them a couple really nice players in the draft, depending on how the picks are protected. If Denver can swing this deal, then they will have gotten excellent value for Anthony.
That’s become the big question: will the deal happen? A couple days ago, this deal was described as being “on the 10-yard line.” Now, it’s a little shakier than that. Carmelo hasn’t committed to an extension with the Nets. Denver wants New Jersey to take Al Harrington, and the Nets don’t want to. A fourth team may be needed to resolve that last issue, and New Jersey hasn’t found one.
I really want this deal to get done. Extending Rip was a mistake, and this is a golden opportunity to move on from that. If he gets traded, I will go to the Palace when he returns and cheer with everyone else for what he brought us the last decade. He deserves that. But the Pistons need to move on.
Around the NBA
–Miami is rolling, having won 21 of 22 after starting 9-8. Experts are warning, however, that the run-and-gun style doesn’t work in the playoffs. They then cite the Phoenix Suns as the prime example. I disagree. The Suns, but for a Robert Horry hip-check and a Steve Nash bloody nose, may have won a title or two this past decade. And remind me, did the Suns have anyone as good as LeBron or Wade running the break? No they did not. Miami has both. The only weakness I see? Miami had LeBron at center for a bit the other night against Portland, rather than any of the centers listed on their roster. That won’t work against Dwight Howard.
–Orlando has run off 9 straight wins with their revamped roster. Hedo never should’ve left to begin with, and he appears to have re-discovered his mojo. Gilbert Arenas is fitting in, Dwight Howard continues to look really good, and the team as a whole is playing much better. Credit GM Otis Smith for making the call and pulling the trigger at the right time.
–Who’s your MVP? With Dirk injured, the race has tightened. Derrick Rose is getting a lot of publicity right now, but is he better than Russell Westbrook or Deron Williams? Amare Stoudamire has revitalized the Knicks (and scored 20 or more points in 22 straight games), but he’s still largely a one-way player. I think you have to look at what Manu Ginobili is doing in San Antonio and, surprisingly, what LaMarcus Aldridge is doing in Portland. Brandon Roy went out for good December 15th. That game, Aldridge had 35 and 10. The next game, he had 36 and 10. Since Roy went out, Aldridge has averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds with around 50% shooting. Is there anyone more valuable to his team than Aldridge right now? I don’t think so.
Next Time–Hopefully a couple new Pistons to root for; Prokhorov convinces Carmelo to sign an extension my making him an offer he…ehh, that joke makes itself.
— Andrew Bolton | Great Lakes Hoops