Grading the Rockets-Pacers-Hornets-Nets Trade

| by Give Me The Rock

While this deal is not chock-full marquee names, it does send ripples across this little pond we all know as “Fantasy Basketball.”

Here’s a quick look at who went where:

Trevor Ariza (SF), Houston –> New Orleans

Darren Collison (PG) and James Posey (SF), New Orleans –> Indiana

Troy Murphy (PF), Indiana –> New Jersey

Courtney Lee (G/F), New Jersey –> Houston

Houston Rockets – They get Courtney Lee, who as far as the stat sheets are concerned, is a current downgrade from what they had going with Ariza. IF Yao Ming recovers fully, and that is a big “IF,” they will want to re-sign him for good. They (Houston) realized that Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry fetched a pretty penny this off-season and wanted to shed some cash off their books. While Lee was known as a reasonably solid defender back in WKU, he still has to break out in the NBA.

Nonetheless, his potential is there and his cheaper contract and accompanying trade exemption was something the Rockets did not want to pass up. We know he can play at the three, but whether or not Coach Rick Adelman will utilize him as the starting small forward or as a back-up to Kevin Martin (SG), will determine his fantasy value. If he will not start, expect Shane Battier to reprise his role as the team’s primary defender on the wings. I’ll be slightly optimistic on this one and count more on Lee’s potential (and Battier’s age) and expect him to at least be penciled in as a starter.

Trade Grade: B-

New Orleans Hornets – For them, this just the first step in “Chris Paul courtship” process. They shed James Posey’s bloated deal and  trade away Paul’s only true competition as the team’s Almighty Point Guard in Collison. They’re trying to send their star a message that “We are committed to build a good team around you! So please stay… pretty please?” But isn’t this just a remixed version of a Cleveland-inspired song and dance that was in vouge just a couple of years ago? If Paul indeed granted the team a clean slate to fulfill its promises, this is a start. As they say, “it takes two to tango,” Chris Paul better keep himself healthy this 2010 (at least as best as he can), if he wants his value and corresponding demand to stay at its current levels. With Darren Collison, or Chris-Paul-lite, gone; it would be a huge kick in the nuts for the Hornets if Paul decides to do a “The Decision v.3.1 Beta” a couple of years down the road.

Trevor Ariza is a nice addition to the team. He will likely start ahead of Peja Stojakovic and his ailing back. This definitely downgrades what little fantasy value Peja has left, as he’s now truly just a three-point shooting specialist off the bench. At his age and health history, it comes as no surprise that his role is now a little more Kyle Korver and less Danilo Gallinari. I originally pegged Ariza as a sixth to seventh round fantasy draft target while he was still a Rocket. Well if you ascribe to the thinking that players benefit from playing alongside great, passing point guards; then we should see some improvement in Ariza’s numbers in 2010. I see him now as pick-worthy somewhere between the fifth and sixth rounds, which should roughly translate into a 10-spot rank bump. That’s already generous, considering I was already high on his fantasy prospects as a Rocket. With Paul and David West commanding most of the scoring responsibilities, I foresee Trev being able to continue being a solid counting stat contributor while CP3’s passing improves his FG%. His FT% will still leave a lot to be desired, but I don’t see him heading to the line that often anyway, so it (ideally) shouldn’t hurt your fantasy team’s overall average (too much).

Trade Grade: A- (if they ended up securing Paul in the long term); B- (if they lose Paul anyway)

New Jersey Nets - Admittedly, I was a bit bewildered and befuddled at their move, to say the least. I did not see this one coming. Why take Murphy, a power forward, when they just drafted Derrick Favors (third overall and also a PF)? Are they trying to piss off recently signed Sean May, whose shoes will hardly taste the hardwood after this deal? Why let go of Courtney Lee, who showed brief flashes of improvement last season?

It took awhile and a cup of coffee later, but I see how this move makes sense for the Nets. Anthony Morrow will likely step in as a starter in Lee’s stead. Sleeper Alert! - There, he isn’t one anymore.

Murphy not only improves the team’s front court rotation, but adds even more firepower from downtown. Improved three-point shooting is clearly a dimension Coach Avery Johnson wants to develop. This is apparent by the team’s signings of Morrow, Farmar, and Outlaw this off season. We might see him ask Brook Lopez assert himself more down in the post, to attract double teams, and leave a lot of teammates free to take open threes. Call it Orlando-esque all you want, but I think it’s a sound game plan given the pieces the team currently has. In a nutshell, we should see Murphy do more of pretty much the same old thing he was doing in Indiana, grab rebounds and lob threes. I see his boards taking a slight hit, but he should average a hair below a double-double still. Once again, as it has been for many seasons now, the issue with Troy is his ability stay healthy.

This deal also means that second-year player, Terrence Williams, will now ever so slightly (whether you want him to or not) creep into your draft radar. Kind of like crack whore who’s so blasted, that she’s wandered into your home by mistake. Not in a bad way, but in a “it’s something you did not expect” kind of way. Unless of course that would be your kind of thing, but that’s on a whole other boat of wierd that’s probably already sailed. Anyway, T-Will should now be on your late-round radars, at least in 14-man leagues or deeper. For 12-man, he should at least be on your watch lists.

Trade Grade: B to B+ (depending on how many games Troy ends up playing for the Nets)

Indiana Pacers - They, and Darren Collison fantasy fans, are the big winners in all of this. The Pacers have long been pining for a point-guard-not-named-Ford. Collison, who showed us all, that he’s a more than serviceable PG, fits that bill to a tee. It was kind of nice to see how well Murphy and Danny Granger worked well together last season, so it was kind of sad to see him go. But alas, Indiana really has should have room for ONE injury prone guy, and it looks like Danny Granger’s got dibs on that slot. So, goodbye Troy… and helloooo Darren!

I would taper expectations for Collison this season. He’s not playing in the same system anymore and is still just a sophomore in the league. He WILL do well, but he may or may not explode/break-out depending on how well he fits in his new team. If he’s got an awesome learning curve, then that’s a bonus. Without any real and serious competition for minutes, he should on our Top 10 PG bubble, if not on the list straight away. Seeing him average a 16 PPG and 7 APG this season, would be sweet. Larry Bird lucked out on this acquisition. Word!

With Troy gone, Roy Hibbert will now be more important to Pacers’ front court as ever. We’re not questioning his defensive zeal (much), just his ability to ONLY hit the ball when going for those blocks – and stay out of early foul trouble. Watch list material or late-round flier categorization will all depend on how much you think he and his game has matured during the Summer.

Trade Grade: A-

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