Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Warrior-Pacers Trade

Many of you who read this site regularly know that I have a small, inexplicable affinity for both the Warriors and the Pacers. Well as luck may have it, those two teams struck a blockbuster deal today, swapping eight players. Here's the goods, followed by a brief analysis.
To Golden State: Al Harrington, Crazy Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius, Josh Powell
To Indiana: Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu, Keith McCloud
What a bizarre, bizarre trade. Here is how each team has changed.

I like this trade from the Warriors' perspective. Even if you ignore the fact that they saved a HUGE amount of money (about $80 million over the life of all of these deals), Golden State gets rid of an underachieving player whom the fans had begun to detest (Dunleavy was getting booed at home on a regular basis), upgrade their athleticism at the four, and adds a backup shooting guard. Their starting lineup has gotten more athletic, with Harrington replacing Murphy as the team's starting power forward, and Stephen Jackson replacing Pietrus, who moves to the bench. This is a bettr fit for the style of basketball that Don Nelson likes to play. As for the bench, Pietrus goes from an average starter to an above-average 7th man, and Jasekivicious upgrades the backup 2. Add those two guys to Monta Ellis (currently breaking out this season despite nobody outside the bay area noticing) and Adonal Foyle, and you've got yourself some very good depth.

Another benefit of this deal, and what may turn out to be the biggest for Golden State, is that Harrington can also play the center much more effectively than Murphy could. So when Don Nelson wants to go small, he can bench Andres Biedrins, move Harrington to the 5, move Pietrus to the 4, and slot in Jackson to the starting small forward spot. Keep an eye on 82 games.com's lineup rankings, as this could turn out to be the Warriors' most effective lineup.

As for the Pacers, the benefits aren't quite as clear. On top of taking on a huge amount of salary, they've downgraded in talent from Harrington to Murphy, downgraded in heart and defense in Jackson to Dunleavy, but also gotten rid of another tie to the Detroit brawl (Jackson) and added a very nice young piece (Diogu) for the future. Add Diogu and Dunleavy to Tinsley, Danny Granger, and Marquis Daniels, and they've got four interesting pieces moving forward. A big part of this trade, and possibly the end result of how it's judged, will be how much more production Rick Carlisle can get out of Dunleavy's versatility. Indiana has taken on two contracts that many thought would be tough to move.

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