It’s hard to determine who (if anyone) won this trade, It is more likely that almost every team involved in this bizarre scenario lost some sort of advantage. At the same time, there are intriguing movements of players and cap space happening. So let’s see.
The Deal:Cleveland traded SG Dion Waiters to the Oklahoma City Thunder, acquire J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks. The Cavs also receive OKC’s Protected 2015 first round pick. Cavs also send Lou Admunson, Alex Kirk, and their 2019 second round pick to the Knicks. New York also receives PF Lance Thomas from OKC.
Serge: It would be easy to just say that Cleveland wins just by virtue of getting J.R. I mean, I love J.R., and he will make this train wreck infinitely more entertaining. What I don’t get is, why swap Dion Waiters for the original, older version of himself (Dion merely adopted the pipe, J.R. was raised in it, moulded by it). It’s the same volume scoring at an inefficient clip they were getting with Waiters, except now it’s coming from a slightly more loveable goofball. They do also get Iman Shumpert, but I threw so chicken bones on the floor exactly at midnight last night and still couldn’t predict what kind of player he will be post injury. In his rookie year, Shump showed flashes of being the perimeter defender Cleveland needs, and some offensive acumen, but that was a long time ago. It’s hard to tell what he offers now, without seeing him play and stay healthy. Overall, I fail to see why the Cavs gave up pretty much the only trade piece they had of any value and NOT address the one glaring post-Varejao hole on their team.
There are very few fan bases in the NBA that would be able to look at this deal and see it as a win for their team, well honestly there are only two, Cavaliers and Lakers and the Cavs fans haven’t disappointed on this front. David Griffin just traded their top trade piece in Dion Waiters for not only the man who first practitioned
being Dion Waiters in JR Smith, but he also came back without a rim protector or even a serviceable big man, a glaring need for a Cavs team with the 8th worst defensive rating in the league, they’re also 4th worst in the league in Opponent’s Effective field goal percentage at 51.7%. The Cavs dealing Waiters was thought to be a foregone conclusion as early as last season, hes had clashes with teammates from Tristan Thompson to Kyrie Irving
and has balked at his role as a catch and shoot or pump and drive floor spacer. Despite the addition of often injured and never fully realized Iman Shumpert whom is an upgrade to almost every perimeter player on the Cavs roster, as a ball stopper defensively, this team’s interior defense will continue to be ” would you like to finish on the left or right side today?”. The addition of J.R. Smith as a floor spacer to the Cavs offense does hold some superficial appeal, but his destructive potential is just as high if not higher than that of Dion Waiters, on the court and off it. I am for my part planning a road trip to Ohio because the prospect of JR Smith and Johnny Manziel in the same city is the greatest (some say destructive, i say greatest) potential since Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco
. For a team that came into the season with championship aspirations this deal does little if anything at all to put them over the top but merely marginally improves them but leaves them less (if any) trade pieces to address their concerns ( giving up 64% opponent field goal percentage within 5 feet). They are now effectively relegated to trying to pry Timofey Mosgov off of Denver as they have been attempting all season ( Denver is extremely reluctant and the Cavs have few pieces to offer) or taking a flyer on an aging non factor such as Samuel Dalembert. I suppose this does remove the guard combination of Joe Harris and Matthew Dellydova from the rotation which is worth of high fives in the David Griffin war room since Smith and Shumpert will help their interior defense if only marginally, by doing a better job than the aforementioned duo perimeter defending. As a wise Dion Waiters once said
” Men lie, women lie, buckets do not”, unfortunately opposing offenses are still going to get all the buckets they want as the defensively inept Cavs and a pissed off Lebron James look on.
Serge: On the one hand they get a young guy with upside and scoring talent who might just be in need of a change of scenery and a less complicated system. On the other hand they get Dion Waiters. I think the negatives here outweigh the positives by a landslide. This is the Thunder addressing their lack of scoring outside of Russ and KD the only way the Thunder can. By finding a bargain risk deal on a rookie contract. Still, Waiters is intriguing and might just need a good coach to reinvent himself. However, I do not think Scott Brooks is that coach. He lacks the authority and the acumen to utilize Waiters the right way (although Scott Brooks is mainly an iso coach, and Waiters is nothing if not an iso player, even when the iso isn’t originally for him). The main detriment here is Waiters’ influence off the court. Everyone in the Cavs organization has confirmed him to be a toxic presence. Why would you introduce that into a tight knit OKC squad. Then again, Perk might just knock him out.
Alex: Ahh, so the James Harden cheap skate trickle down continues… The Thunder have been looking for a dynamic bench scorer since they chose to quick ship The Beard in 2012. They had hoped that Jeremy Lamb could be that piece for them off the bench but in his third season with averages of merely 8.6 ppg that ship has sailed. Even Lamb’s per 36 averages of 15ppg 6.5 boards and 3 assists come with the caveat of 40% FG shooting. With such a tremendous amount of money invested in their 3 stars of Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka and an ownership that isn’t willing to go into the luxury tax Oklahoma City still needs a player to fill that role and they’re unlikely to find one. With Lamb looking likely to be salary dumped over the summer and PG Reggie Jackson likely to be moderately expensive FA , the Thunder are praying that Waiters helps fill the void of bench production they so sorely need. Despite Waiters being uninterested in the thought of being a catch and shoot threat for the Cavaliers one issue lost has been his total ineffectiveness as such a player. Waiters has shot 26.7% on catch and shoot jumpers this season which puts him on par with brick laying Sixers PG Michael Carter Williams. Dion waiters is nothing like James Harden and OKC knows it but they are hoping for his shot creation when coupled with Reggie Jackson to be enough to buoy a subpar bench output and pray to god that the antics off the court are halted. Either by divine providence, or by Kendrick Perkins chaining Dion to a radiator in a crawlspace. In fairness to Oklahoma City they did give up practically nothing so the flyer on Waiters has as minimal risk as they could possibly hope for it.By the looks of it, Coach Scott Brooks may not be the most excited for trying to incorporate Waiters into his squad:
Serge: Dare I say the Knicks won the trade? Phil has deconstructed this disaster that was the Knickerbockers with Zen like patience this year, and unlike Stan Van Gundy who lacks the patience to wait for his kettle to boil before making tea, Jackson is getting things in return (even if it’s cap relief). No one was fooled enough to think that this Knicks team can be coached into the playoffs, even if Phil stepped in. The only coach that could get this team to the playoffs would be the devil, with close mentoring my Gregg Popovich. So instead, Phil took a hard pivot in his first year as GM and looked for the future. Melo is likely to get a reduced load now, the Knicks have the green light to blow as many games as they can (not like they haven’t been doing that already) to hopefully get and keep a top 3 lottery pick, something like 30 mil in cap space (a concept unheard of in New York before) becomes available next year to try to build a competent team around one of all-time great scorers. Let the Phil Jackson Spanish Inquisition Age begin.
This deal probably marks the first major decision made during the Phil Jackson era that I’ve agreed with beyond encouraging Carmelo Anthony to sit out the rest of the season and get the necessary surgery on his knee. By trading J.R. Smith the Knicks have stripped away a bad contract, attached to a bad locker room presence, on a bad (surgically repaired) knee. Is JR Smith the malicious destructive monster that he may seem? Absolutely not, but he is a perpetual man-child who cant seem to get a grip on what needs to be done on and off the court to consistently get even 60% out his tremendous abilities. His Sixth Man of the Year season in 2013 was the last in which he was truly productive and since hes had surgery to repair a torn a patellar tendon, meniscus and currently has a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Add in a litany of suspensions and fines ranging from drugs to untying opponents shoes
his time in New York was expired. By making this deal and shedding Smith’s 6 million in salary the Knicks have put themselves in a position to have a great chance at the Jahill Okafor sweepstakes and recruit a veteran running mate for Carmelo Anthony in free agency this summer. Well played captain Zen
Here’s to hoping we see this man again sometime soon