Here's our takeaway on the week's big news: Brook Lopez is healthier than Dwight Howard! Howard hasn't even begun running yet.
That aside, we take this week's Off-Season Report to analyze the Howard trade from a historical perspective. Is it as good, for example, as the Nets trade for Deron Williams, the Knicks trade for Carmelo Anthony or the Clippers trade for Chris Paul. Well, it is for the Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets.
We also translate a fond farewell to Mirza Teletovic from a Bosnia sports writer who thinks the Nets new forward should be the subject of a required course in Bosnian schools; note what we know about the preseason schedule (and add that Bojan Bogdanovic will go up against Paul Pierce in the Celts preseason opener); promise exciting coverage of up to four games a day of FIBA Eurobasket play; wish Team USA well, pointing out what distinguished company Deron Williams will join if they win and update our widgets.
Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs, tweets...plus our own reporting.
From Shaq to D12: Trading Unhappy Superstars
By popular demand, we're bringing back, one more time, our primer on trading unhappy superstars...for the obvious reason. The Dwight Howard trade isn't just bad on its face. It's bad historically. If you look at all the trades on our list, no one comes close to Howard's star quality. No team had as many opportunities over a longer period of time than the Magic under both Otis Smith and Rob Hennigan. And no team got less.
The bottom line in trading an unhappy star or superstar is getting a mix of good young players, preferably on their rookie contracts; good draft picks, preferably lottery picks and preferably soon; cap space through the dumping of bad contracts; cash; and a big trade exception.
The Jazz and Nuggets probably set the standard in the 2011 deadline deals for Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony, the former more in terms of quality, the latter in terms of quantity. The Jazz got a good young player in Derrick Favors, on his rookie contract, plus a lottery pick in the next draft in Enes Kanter and quite possibly another next year if the Warrior pick falls them. They also got a position player in Devin Harris. The Nuggets got three young players on rookie deal in Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov, plus Raymond Felton. They probably won't wind up with a lottery pick but Gallinari is so young he will suffice. Both teams also got $3 million in cash.
The Hornets did extremely well with the Chris Paul trade, getting a great young player on his rookie deal, Eric Gordon, another good young player, Al-Farouq Aminu, plus a lottery pick in the next draft, Austin Rivers; and a position player in Chris Kaman.
Howard is a far better player than Anthony, Williams or Paul. He is a game changer. If healthy, he is one of the top three players in the NBA and younger than those three as well.
Let's go through the checklist...
Did the Magic get a good young player on his rookie deal? Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless are on their rookie deal, but are they as good or have as much potential as Favors, Gallinari or Gordon? No way. Arron Afflalo is a good young player, but he's owed $30 million. Christian Eyenga? He's on his rookie deal, but for the second time in a year, he's trade ballast. Josh McRoberts? He is a nice player but one owed $3.3 million next season! So the answer here is no.
Did the Magic get good picks? They wound up with five picks, including three first rounders, but none of the first rounders are unprotected, and none are available next June. Moreover, the protections on the Nuggets and Lakers picks show that the Magic couldn't even win on the smallest of details. The Nugget pick in 2014 is the less favorable of the two picks the Nuggets will have that June, their own and the Knicks. The 76er pick is lottery protected in 2015 and the Laker pick is protected, 1-5, in 2017, five years from now. So again, the answer is no...and remember, this is what the Magic said they wanted most, draft picks
Did the Magic dump enough salaries to acquire significant cap space? To be fair, Hennigan got stuck with some really bad contracts left over from Otis Smith's days: Hedo Turkoglu; Glen Davis, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon. Hennigan was able to dump two of them, Jason Richardson and Duhon, leaving the biggies, Turkoglu's and Davis untouched. They also acquired Al Harrington who is owed $6.7 million this year and a $7 million buyout of his last two years. The answer here has to be not really
Did the Magic get any cash? No. The Lakers couldn't give them any since they had sent the Suns $3 million in the Steve Nash deal and that's the annual limit. But they were facilitating the trade of all-Stars to the Nuggets and 76ers! Couldn't they have gotten money from them? A finder's fee, so to speak. So, a big F here as well.
Did the Magic get a trade exception? The Magic did wind up with the largest trade exception in recent memory, $17.8 million. It's available for a year and they're quite proud of it. The next largest would be those received in the LeBron James and Chris Bosh phony sign-and-trade deals, the Cavaliers valued at $13.2 million, the Raptors at $14.5 million. The Raptors used a fraction of its TE and the Cavaliers none at all. The secret is that they are hard to move except in small deals. So good luck with that monster TE.
Could the Magic done better? Duh. Is it possible they could come away long term with a result equal to what the Jazz, Nuggets or Hornets got for their superstar? That stretches the imagination. In short, as one opposing GM said Friday, "I think what the trade also validates is….Just because you have worked for SA or OKC it does not make you more qualified than other people in this industry."
In fact, if you want to compare the Magic deal with the most recent superstar trades, going back to 2004, here they are, in reverse order. Draft picks, if exercised, are shown in parentheses. Players marked with an asterisk had expiring deals or an option.
--August 10, 2012: The Los Angeles Lakers acquire Dwight Howard, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon from the Orlando Magic and send Bynum to the 76ers. The Philadelphia 76ers also acquire Jason Richardson from the . The Sixers send to the Denver Nuggets. In return, the Magic acquire Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington from the Nuggets; Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless from the 76ers; and Josh McRoberts and Christian Eyenga from the Lakers
The Magic also acquire three protected first-round draft picks, one each from the Lakers, Nuggets and 76ers, and two second rounders, one each from L.A. and Denver. The Lakers are sending a protected 2017 first rounder and a conditional 2015 second rounder; the Nuggets a protected 2014 first rounder (the less favorable of their own and the Knicks pick they acquired) and a 2013 second-round pick from the Nuggets (by way of Golden State); the Sixers a protected 2013 first rounder.
The Magic also acquire a $17.8 million trade exception, which they will retain for a year. so large it has to be considered a major element in the trade.
--July 11, 2012: The Brooklyn Nets acquire Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks in return for Anthony Morrow*; Jordan Farmar* who will be bought out for a reported $1.5 million at the Hawks' expense; Jordan Williams, Johan Petro and a signed-and-traded DeShawn Stevenson, who gets a three year deal with only the first year guaranteed, plus the Rockets lottery protected 2013 first-round pick and the Nets 2017 second round pick.
--December 15, 2011: The Los Angeles Clippers acquired Chris Paul plus the Hornets and Grizzlies' second round picks in 2015 from the New Orleans Hornets for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman*, Al-Farouq Aminu and the Timberwolves' unprotected 2012 first-round pick (Austin Rivers).
--February 23, 2011: The New Jersey Nets acquired Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two first round picks, their own (Enes Kanter) and the Golden State Warriors in 2012, protected 1-7, and $3 million in cash.
--February 21, 2011: the Denver Nuggets acquired Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick in 2014; the right to swap first rounders in 2016; the Warriors’ 2012 second-round pick (Quincy Miller), the Warriors’ 2013 second-round pick, and $3 million in cash, all from the Knicks and Kosta Koufos from the Timberwolves
The New York Knicks received Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams*, Anthony Carter* and Renaldo Balkman from Denver and Corey Brewer from the Timberwolves…who they then released.
Minnesota got Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry*, who they then released, and $3 million in cash from New York and the Nuggets’ 2015 second round pick.
--November 3, 2008: The Detroit Pistons acquired Allen Iverson from the Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess* and Cheikh Samb*.
--February 18, 2008: The Dallas Mavericks acquired Jason Kidd, Malik Allen*, and Antoine Wright* from the New Jersey Nets for Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop*, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, a signed and traded Keith Van Horn*, two future first round picks (Ryan Anderson and Damion James), and cash considerations believed to be $3 million. The Nets also received a $3.3 million trade exception.
--February 6, 2008: The Phoenix Suns acquired Shaquille O'Neal from the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion* and Marcus Banks.
--February 2, 2008: The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol and a 2010 second round draft pick from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown*, Javaris Crittenton, a signed and traded Aaron McKie*, the draft rights to the #48 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Marc Gasol, and two future first round picks (Donte Greene and Greivis Vasquez).
--July 31, 2007: The Boston Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green*, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff*, Sebastian Telfair, the return to Minnesota of the future first round pick (Jonny Flynn) that was initially traded to Boston on January 26, 2006, and a future first round pick from Boston (Nikola Pekovic). Simultaneous with the trade, Kevin Garnett removed his ability to opt out after the 2007-2008 season and then signed a multi-year contract extension with the Boston Celtics which will begin in the 2009-2010 season.
--June 28, 2007: The Boston Celtics acquired Ray Allen and the draft rights to the #35 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Glen Davis, from the Seattle Supersonics for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, the draft rights to the #5 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Jeff Green, and the better of Boston's own 2008 second round pick and Portland's own 2008 second round pick (Trent Plaisted).
--December 19, 2006: The Denver Nuggets acquired Allen Iverson and Ivan McFarlin* from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andre Miller, Joe Smith*, and two 2007 first round draft picks (Daequan Cook and Petteri Koponen).
-- December 17, 2004: The New Jersey Nets acquired Vince Carter from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round draft picks (Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman).
--July 15, 2004: The New Jersey Nets signed Kenyon Martin to a seven-year, $91 million contract with a $1.5 million signing bonus and a player option after the 6th season, then traded him to Denver for three future first round picks (Joey Graham, Renaldo Balkman and Marcus Williams). The Nets also received a $5.2 million trade exception, which they later used on Marc Jackson.
--July 14, 2004: The Los Angeles Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant*, and a future first round draft pick (Jordan Farmar).
Beyond the Howard deal, there are a lot of lessons to be learned here. If you look at the draft picks (not the draft rights) included in these deals, very, very few of them turned out well. What does work is cap space and good young players...particularly for small market teams like the Magic. The Hawks are somewhat different in that they, like the Nets of the pre-Prokhorov days, are a team for sale. Their owners are trying to shed expensive long-term assets.
The two picks the Lakers received from the Grizzlies in the Gasol trade were not major players in the team's post-trade success. Donte Greene and Greivis Vasquez aren't even with the team any longer. But Marc Gasol, who Memphis had scouted in Spain, turned into a great asset. More importantly, the cap space the Grizzlies freed up helped them acquire and sign Zach Randolph and sign Rudy Gay.
One of the two picks the Nets acquired in the Jason Kidd deal worked out, Ryan Anderson, but not for them. The other, Damion James, is no longer a Net property either. Devin Harris played well for two years, besting his averages in Dallas and making the All-Star team, but then got hurt repeatedly and seeming gave up in the morass that was the Swamp. The cap space the Nets received has been either frittered away on bad deals like Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro or stashed away on one year deals.
Only one of the picks the Timberwolves got from the Celtics in the Garnett deal paid off. Jonny Flynn is a free agent after playing a bit with the Rockets. Nikola Pekovic, while still in Minnesota, came into his own this year. Al Jefferson, who was the key player in that deal, eventually went to Utah for more cap space.
Also, sometimes, it's about who's picking, not the picks. The two picks the Raptors coveted in the Vince Carter trade turned into Joey Graham and Renaldo Balkman. They could have turned into Danny Granger and Rajon Rondo, but they didn't. Those are the two players taken immediately after Graham and Balkman! (Rob Babcock's successor as Raptor GM, Wayne Embry was smart enough to send one of those picks along with Jalen Rose to the Knicks in a salary dump, giving him extra cap space. Isiah Thomas was dumb enough to take Balkman).
As for the Hawks trade of Johnson, Atlanta saved more than $75 million in cap space over the next four years. You can do a lot with that, but who knows who will own the team. It may be the new owners will want to bank those savings.
Bottom line: the Magic would have been wise to take the Nets offer of Brook Lopez, Kris Humprhies (both signed and traded), MarShon Brooks and four draft picks, starting in 2014. They dawdled last year when they could have unloaded Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon or both, then again dawdled on an offer to dump Quentin Richardson and his $5.4 million over two. History should have told them they weren't going to get much better...and they didn't.
One other thing we learned from this trade: it is myth and legend that the Nets lack of a lottery pick in this year's draft screwed them in the Howard talks. Aside from the fact that it's never been proved, how can one continue to suggest that when faced with what the Magic settled for? They didn't want to deal with the Nets. They didn't want to take on Lopez's contract. They didn't want Howard in the East.
Mirza the Mature
After his press conference last month, Net officials raved about how Mirza Teletovic was as mature, as articulate as anyone they've seen come through the PNY Center in a while. Not bad for a guy for whom English is probably a third, fourth or fifth language.
It was the same story this week in Bosnia when a local sports writer bid him, "hvala ti," a fond thank you. We had to rely on a Google Translation and took some license, but not much, in relaying what Emir Imanovic wrote for Radio Sarajevo on Wednesday. It's quite something.
"Mirza, should be subject in school. That's right: a compulsory subject in which children would learn what professionalism is and how to become one of the best.
" 'I do not care about money. I have not even thought about it. I like the city. I just want to play,' said Teletovic after signing the contract with the Nets. That is, if not paramount, then one of two particularly important lessons from the class of Mirza.
"The second thing Mirza's class should teach children who grow up in a kleptomaniacal paradise in which the work is treated as a contagious disease, is that one, at least, is better than the others, that one who pays no mind to those who insist, whatever you do, do not want to be the best in the world.
"Most do not succeed. It is not important: they're trying to rise above average everywhere. As it is, that Mirza was above the 'golden mean' in Jablanica, in Tuzla, and in Belgium and as he will, hopefully, be in America. Where the environment is even higher than elsewhere.
"If he had not worked, worked, and worked only for what it is destined, Mirza Teletovic would have gotten out of bed every day to buy a lottery ticket ... nothing better. He would have not gotten beyond the fear of flying, someone else's language or unfamiliar streets, left to wait for success at home.
"He went out there in the world to measure what he is, actually rose to the NBA. It is ideal for children of the heroes of the nation, of the world, to learn where he went and even became the best four in Europe."
Can't vouch for his jump shot, that's good enough for now.
Preseason Shaping Up
The Nets (nor the Knicks) have officially released their preseason schedules, but we now know three of the (presumed) eight dates. They are:
Tuesday, Oct. 9 vs. the Knicks at Nassau Coliseum.
Tuesday, Oct. 16 vs. the Celtics in Boston; and
Thursday, Oct. 18 vs. the Celtics in Brooklyn, an 8 p.m. start.
As we noted in an item that may have gotten lost in the Dwight Howard trade stories, it appears the Knicks will have no home preseason games, that while Barclays Center will be ready at the beginning of September, the Madison Square Garden "transformation" won't be done this year until the beginning of November. Whether that will mean fewer Knick home games or games in other arenas, like Nassau Coliseum, we don't know.
With the Nets and Sixers now looking little like they did in April, expect a lot of interest in the Turnpike series as well.
The FIBA Eurobasket Qualifying Tournament begins Wednesday with Teletovic's Bosnia facing Latvia in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. We will offer coverage from FIBA Europe of the games played by the two Nets players, Teletovic and Tornike Shengelia of Georgia, and the two draft picks, Bojan Bogdanovic of Croatia and Ilkan Karaman of Turkey. On several occasions, all four will play in a single day and twice Teletovic and Shengelia will face off again each other.
FYI, of the four, the Nets are highest on Teletovic...and Bogdanovic. It will take some time for the Croatian to arrive in the US but know this: he was never included in any of the trade discussions this summer. It's not that he's untouchable. They just think very highly of him in the front office. And although he won't be playing in the NBA this season, in two months, he will face NBA competition. On October 5, his Fenerbahce Ulker squad will face the Celtics in Istanbul. It will be the Celtics preseason opener.
GO TEAM USA!
By our count, if Team USA wins Sunday, Deron Williams, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul will join 10 other Americans who've won two Olympic golds in men's basketball: Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Chis Mullin, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, and Jason Kidd. Robinson also has a Bronze.
We have updated out "widgets", those links on the left hand side of the site. In particular, we've added some new Brooklyn blogs; added and subtracted player (and writer) blogs and Twitter accounts; updated the team's social media--no more MySpace; revised the Nets agent and trade assets entries; added a couple of papers who've started coverage (Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Newsday) and subtracted one who's ended it (The Record).