On Wednesday afternoon, four teams- Houston, New Orleans, Indiana and New Jersey cooperated to form a blockbuster trade that resulted in better situations all around for all four franchises. Whether it was better talent, or cap relief and flexibility, each team walked away a winner with this deal.
Addition: Courtney Lee
Loss: Trevor Ariza
Houston unloaded Trevor Ariza's monstrous five-year, $33.5 million deal that was signed just last summer not long after the Lakers and Ron Artest agreed on a contract. In exchange, the Rockets acquired Nets guard Courtney Lee, a young wing (24 years old) who will only make $1.35 million next season. Houston needed some cap relief and flexibility after investing $86 million this summer in Luis Scola (five-years, $47 million), Kyle Lowry (three-years, $24 million) and Brad Miller (three-years, $15 million). While Lee may not be the defensive stopped Ariza has grown to be, given ample opportunity, he could replace the wing's offensive numbers; Ariza averaged 14.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists in 36.5 minutes per game, while Lee, the second-year guard averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 33.5 minutes per night.
New Orleans Hornets
Addition: Trevor Ariza
Losses: Darren Collison and James Posey
New Orleans perhaps gave up the most promising player in this deal in Darren Collison, a rookie guard who averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists in 76 appearances, but did even better when Chris Paul went down with an injury. In 37 games as a starter, Collison averaged 18.8 points and 9.1 assists. Yet, he is just 22 years old and will only make $1.3 million this season. Replacing his roster spot will be the Rockets' Trevor Ariza, a defensive stopper and developing offensive threat on the wing. He may be one of the more underrated perimeter players in the league, especially to Chris Paul who has played with some sub-par wings in his six-year Hornet career, including Desmond Mason, Rasual Butler, J.R. Smith, Marcus Fizer, Devin Brown and Bostjan Nachbar.
Bringing in Ariza is easily an upgrade on the wing over the aging and over-paid James Posey, but will it be enough to keep Chris Paul in town when his contract expires after the 2011-12 season? If not, the Hornets will be left without their star guard and his capable backcourt who was shipped out in this deal.
Additions: Darren Collison and James Posey
Loss: Troy Murphy
Just as the Hornets haven't been able to find a wing since Jamal Mashburn played, the Pacers biggest weakness has been as point guard. They have tried a revolving door of prospects including T.J. Ford, Jamal Tinsley, Jarrett Jack, Earl Watson, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Anthony Johnson, A.J. Price, Darrell Armstrong and Orien Greene. Finally, the franchise has landed Darren Collison, who has shown the ability and promise to be a franchise guard, but New Orleans needed to upgrade at the wing and it cost them their backup point guard.
Troy Murphy has quietly been on of the league's better players, averaging a double-double the past two seasons, serving as a reliable rebounder, but also a serviceable perimeter threat, making nearly two 3s per game. The 6'11" forward became expendable not only when Collison was on the trade offer table, but even earlier when the team picked up Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. What's scary is how good wing Danny Granger could be with the addition of a true point guard like Collison. He'll no longer have to create as much for himself and should get a few more open shots with the defenses collapsing on Collison's drives.
New Jersey Nets
Addition: Troy Murphy
Loss: Courtney Lee
Forward Troy Murphy arrives as guard Courtney Lee departs in what could be the perfect deal for the Nets. Yes, the franchise drafted Derrick Favors with the third overall pick, but at 19 years old, Favors is not ready for a starting gig just yet, especially as the Nets look to move out of the Eastern Conference's cellar. Murphy gives the Nets an expiring contract, but a complementary frontcourt player to play next to Brook Lopez. Murphy can stretch the floor with Lopez in the low-post, but also crash the defensive glass. Favors will have time to develop and mature coming off of the bench behind Murphy for his first year in the league.
Sending the young and talented Lee down to Houston frees up a spot in the starting lineup for uber-athletic wing, Terrence Williams, who can not only throw down some highlight reel dunks, but fill the stat sheet as well. He made leaps and bounds at the end of last season and in the 2010 summer league, giving Nets' ownership enough confidence to trade Lee and move Williams into the lineup. With transition-minded coach Avery Johnson on board with speedster Devin Harris at the point, Williams and Lopez should develop nicely, while Murphy adds a veteran and skilled presence on the floor.