Rip City: Everything Must Go

It was only a few months ago when the Portland Trail Blazers were in good shape. They still had Brandon Roy. Greg Oden’s return was still a possibility. Nate McMillan’s job wasn’t in jeopardy. Fans believed that Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace could turn the team around and help the Blazers make a deep playoff run. After all, they gave the Dallas Mavericks everything they wanted and more last year in the first round of the playoffs, and the Mavs went on to win the championship. Rip City was still in good shape.

But then everything seemed to fall down around the city of Portland. Brandon Roy was done. Greg Oden would need another surgery. But even with those two losses, the Blazers would still be just fine, right? Unfortunately not. Today has been an emotionally-challenging day for Portland Trail Blazers fans. First, Gerald Wallace is dealt to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a future first-round pick. Then Marcus Camby is shipped off to Houston for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and and a future second-round pick. And if that wasn’t enough, it was announced that head coach Nate McMillan had been fired.

Head coach Nate McMillan was fired in a day of Blazer upheaval

McMillan coached the Blazers to a 54-28 record in 2008-09, but for the past three years, Portland has been knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. The Blazers have struggled heavily this year, losing seven of their last 10, which puts them at 20-23 on the year. Many of these losses have been abysmal, including blowout losses to the Lakers, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers and Knicks. Gerald Wallace and Raymond Felton failed to live up to expectations this season and the Blazers have struggled through a number of underwhelming performances. So it appears on day of cleaning house for the Portland Trail Blazers, McMillan had to go as well. Assistant coach Caleb Kanales will take over as interim head coach.

To finish things off, Portland waived Greg Oden, who has had injury problems since he was first drafted in 2007. In that time, Oden has only played 82 games and has undergone five knee surgeries. The Blazers selected Oden ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 draft. While I feel sorry for Oden, I can understand Portland waiving him with his history of injuries.

It seems that Portland basketball is pulling an Indianapolis Colts-type move, starting over from scratch. LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum are going to be the core going forward, but Portland basically went for a clean slate, from Gerald Wallace to their head coach. And all of this without a GM! It will be interesting to see how Rip City regroups moving into the future, but one thing is for certain for now: Blazers basketball might be tough to watch for awhile.

Greg Oden was waived, finishing off a depressing day for Portland Trail Blazer fans

Trade Impact: Three-way Trade

The Nuggets sent Nene to Washington, the Wizards sent JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver and the Clippers got Nick Young after sending Brian Cook and a future second-round pick to the Wizards. This three-way trade largely benefits the Wizards, but the Clippers also got a solid acquisition in Young.

This move is a little questionable for Denver. After recently committing to Nene with a $67 million deal for the next five years, trading him does free up cap space but the Nuggets could have gotten more for a quality big man like Nene than JaVale McGee. McGee is averaging a respectable 11.9 ppg and 8.8 rpg, but is not quite the same caliber as Nene. The only explanation is that the Nuggets will rotate McGee and the improving Kenneth Faried as a 1-2 punch in the post. Faried should get that start now and will be given the opportunity to develop into quite the player.

The Wizards had to give up Young, who’s averaging 16.6 ppg, as well as McGee but got a much-needed improvement down in the post. At this point, change is necessary for the Wizards, so although they gave up two pieces of their offense to get Nene, anything might be better for Washington.

The Clippers might be the big winners in the deal, giving up virtually nothing for a solid scorer at shooting guard. After Billups went down, Lob City has struggled, and although Young is no Billups, he should be able to pick up their game a little bit.

Bye bye Nene

76ers Acquire Sam Young from Grizzlies

The Grizzlies traded the versatile Sam Young to the 76ers for the rights to Ricky Sanchez, the Puerto Rican point guard who is currently playing in Argentina.

This is a decent move for the 76ers, who didn’t really give anything up to acquire a solid bench player. Young is averaging 6.9 ppg this season but will add even more to Philly’s depth.

For the Grizzlies, this isn’t a big loss, but trading for a player taken in the second round in 2005 that is currently playing in another country doesn’t seem like a fantastic idea. There’s no word that Sanchez will be coming stateside anytime soon, so Memphis basically gave Young away.

The Sixers picked up Sam Young from the Grizzlies for the rights to Ricky Sanchez

Happy Trails, Derek Fisher

It seems the question of whether or not Ramon Sessions would be starting for the Lakers has been answered. After 12 full seasons in Los Angeles and five championships, the Lakers are trading Derek Fisher to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill and a future first-round pick.

Fisher is averaging 5.9 ppg on 38% shooting this season. The Lakers traded for Ramon Sessions earlier today, needing an upgrade at the point guard position, but I don’t think anyone saw a Derek Fisher trade coming. Fisher provided the Lakers with many memorable playoff moments, including his incredible buzzer-beater with 0.4 seconds left that lifted the Lakers over the Spurs in Game 5 of the Western Conference semis in 2004. His heart, determination and highly competitive play was a huge reason for the Lakers’ recent championships over Orlando  and Boston, hitting big-time shots down the stretch and providing leadership throughout the postseason. Although LA fans will agree that Fisher has been a liability this season with poor 3-point shooting and lackluster defense on younger and quicker guards, they should also never forget how much he gave the city of Los Angeles.

Although the Lakers don’t really need Fisher with the acquisition of Sessions, it seems almost unnecessary to send him away. However, the addition of Jordan Hill will make the Lakers a better team as his production off the bench can only be a step up from what the LA has been getting from its bench players up to this point. Hill is averaging 5 ppg and 4.9 rpg this season. If the Lakers can get their hands on Beasley, LA will be a powerhouse in the West.

On the other side of the coin, the Rockets’ moves have been questionable so far today. They have acquired two washed up veterans (Fisher and Marcus Camby). I’m assuming they hope these veterans will provide leadership for a team currently in the playoff picture and although they had to give up very little to get them, these moves are not particularly impressive. The injured Kyle Lowry must have had something to do with the Derek Fisher trade, needing a backup for Goran Dragic. Houston may have slightly upgraded, but not as much as they should have if they really want to contend.

Derek Fisher has been traded to the Rockets for Jordan Hill

Trade Impact: Marcus Camby to Rockets

The Rockets and Blazers have agreed to a deal that will send Marcus Camby to Houston for Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a future second-round pick.

This move is an okay one for the Rockets picking up a veteran like Camby, even though he is definitely a little washed up at this point. Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet rarely play, making them easy to give up. However, Camby is averaging 3.8 ppg and 8.8 rpg in 22 minutes per game this season. Flynn and Thabeet are averaging a combined 16.7 minutes per game this season for the Rockets.

For the Blazers, this trade does very little. Portland sent Gerald Wallace to the Nets earlier today for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a future first-round pick. Aside from the two picks, Portland’s acquisitions today have been questionable at best, bringing in a slew of bench players and minimal contributors. The only explanation is that they are looking to free up cap space and upgrade their picks for 2012’s loaded draft in order to build young talent around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

The Blazers have dealt Marcus Camby to the Rockets

Trade Impact: Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets

The Nets and Trailblazers negotiated a deal that will send Gerald Wallace to New Jersey in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round pick. The deal seems to have been made for the Nets to convince Deron Williams to stay while the Blazers look to build next year around LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

The deal is a bit of a head-scratcher for the Nets, who just traded a possible future franchise player away for the 29-year-old Wallace, whose numbers have seen a steady decline over the past four seasons. Wallace is currently averaging 13.3 ppg for a struggling Blazers squad, coming nowhere near living up to the city’s expectations. However, you can see the potential for this year. A starting line up of Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez is a pretty sound starting five. Unfortunately, Lopez is not expected to return for at least three weeks and the team has considered shutting him down for the rest of the season. Perhaps Wallace playing with a quality point guard in New Jersey will help revitalize his career, but for now, this move may have hurt the Nets in the long run.

On the other side of the coin, the Blazers seem to have accepted their failures this season and are ready to look to the future by building around Aldridge and Batum. A first-round pick in a loaded 2012 draft will allow them to get a solid contributor to fill whatever role they deem most important (there are quite a few holes to fill for the Blazers at the moment). The future looks wide open for Portland, so long as they finally draft someone who won’t be injured for his entire career.

Gerald Wallace has been traded to the New Jersey Nets

Trade Impact: Leandro Barbosa to Indiana

The Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa and Anthony Carter from the Toronto Raptors for a 2012 second-round draft pick.

This deal seems to favor the Pacers, who have gained a valuable reserve player now who can come in and score while their starters take a break. Barbosa has averaged 12.2 ppg for the Raptors coming off the bench this season. The Pacers are currently in the fifth spot in the East and will welcome the addition of more points off the bench.

The Raptors only got a second-round pick, but based on their record this season, they could be stacking up a number of picks for 2012’s deep draft class. A second-round pick for Barbosa is not ideal, but if your a Raptors fan, you know that “ideal” is not a word to describe your team. What the Raptors are able to do with their picks next season will be the big question.

The Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors