Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ex-Celtics swapped just for fun

Well, I'm sure it wasn't just for fun, but I'm still not sure what advantage both teams were looking for in the deal.

In case you haven't heard (and if you don't check basketball related websites religiously like I do, you probably haven't), the Miami Heat traded Ex-Celtic Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac, and some potato chips (potato chips = Wayne Simien and a conditional first round draft pick) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Mark Blount and Ricky Davis.

When I first heard about the trade, my initial thought was that Kevin McHale was trying get as many former Celtics on his roster as he possibly could. Sort of like a scavenger hunt, but with real NBA players as the items you were supposed to collect.

Then I realized that both Ricky Davis and Mark Blount were also ex-Celtics, so McHale was actually lowering his number of former Celtics by making this trade. At this point, I decided it'd be impossible to figure out what the point of this trade was for either team (which doesn't mean I won't try).

As near as I can tell, this trade was done entirely for personality reasons. It's been all over the (basketball) news the last few days that Riley was unhappy with Walker for not being in condition to start training camp (I guess Shaq has a special dispensation to play his way into shape over the course of the season. Role players--and that's what Walker is these days--don't get that same luxury.) There were also reports earlier this summer (after the big trade for Garnett) that Al Jefferson hadn't really gotten along with Blount when they'd been in Boston together. If true (I have no idea), that would explain Minnesota's desire to make the trade.

In terms of playing ability, Michael Doleac and Mark Blount are basically the same player, and I don't buy the argument that Ricky Davis is a better offensive player than Walker--they're both high volume, low percentage shooters.

[brief pause as I go and actually look up Walker's and Davis' stats from last year...]

Well, it turns out Davis is a better offensive player, but not by that much. Last year Walker shot 39.5% from the filed, taking .37 shots/minute. Davis shot 46.3% from the field, taking .36 shots/minute. I was going to say that I thought Minnesota got both the better players and the better contracts (Walker's contract goes for two more years, but Blount's goes for three more years), but I guess I'll just need to say that Minnesota got the better contracts.

I guess for the first few weeks while Wade is out Davis will be an important player for the Heat, but I'm not sure I see him playing a major role once Wade returns. (And if Wade doesn't return, it really doesn't matter who the Heat have on their roster.) He can play pretty good perimeter defense, so maybe they can play him at the small forward position and have him guard the better perimeter players so Wade can rest on the defensive end. Still, I don't see this trade really doing much for the Heat's chances this year.

I'm also unclear what role Walker will have with the Timberwolves. Jefferson is clearly the centerpiece of the revamped team, and he and Walker both play the power forward spot. The Wolves could go small and play Jefferson at the center position, but if they were going to do that then I'd think they'd want Craig Smith to play the power forward position (a defensive and rebounding presence to complement Jefferson's offensive presence). The article I linked to indicated that McHale might have some other trades in the works, so my best guess is that Walker's stay in Minnesota will be a brief one.

And yes, I know that this trade doesn't impact the Sixers in any way.

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