Portland, Ore. -- I've been asked by a reader for my take on the big Warriors-Pacers trade that just went down. There were eight players dealt, the principals being Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson for Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy. So here it is.
These are two teams that are sort of back in the pack trying to make a move up with a shake up. I don't see either as having "won" the trade at this point. The Pacers got two guys who have been under-performing with massive contracts. Although Ike Diogu has lots of upside and a year ago was considered untouchable in Golden State. It has been interesting that Don Nelson has been ripping Dunleavy and Murphy recently, which goes against NBA 101, which is you don't publicly devalue your assets. The Warriors were getting better play from younger and cheaper guys, so it made sense they'd try to figure a way to move the expensive ones. I'm sure Harrington and Jackson are somewhat happy because it is fun to play the way they play at Golden State, I'll get a first-hand look on Saturday night.
For the Pacers, I think this deal hurts their athleticism a bit. Murphy is a quality big man and those are tough to find. His contract isn't crazy out of whack, but it is longer than Harrington's. I believe the Pacers probably knew when they were signing Harrington they were buying an asset just as much as a player. They had that trade exception they stole from the Hornets, which everybody in the league feels was a favor to the Pacers owners from Hornets owner George Shinn for future help when he tries to extract his team from New Orleans, and he was the best player they could get for it. That's why they were pleased when they got him to sign a three-year deal, it made him more tradeable. Although I don't think they thought they'd do it this soon. They also wanted to be rid of Jackson ever since he went Yosemite Sam in the preseason. The problem, as I see it, is that Dunleavy is probably going to be their starting shooting guard unless they are going with average Marquis Daniels.
Two years ago I picked the Pacers to reach the NBA Finals before the melee in Detroit, when they were about to get a huge early statement victory in the Palace, if you remember. Now, they've pretty much dumped the whole team save for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley.
As for the Cavs, I would say it is a challenge to them that the Central teams are trying to improve themselves around them. I'm on the record saying I will not consider them a serious contender until they get a offensive point guard. Now, I'm getting questions about Saraunas Jasikevicius, who was just moved to the Warriors. Is he the guy? I'm not sure, but he'd probably help and he'd be an upgrade. We know that Danny Ferry likes him and he fits the profile of what they want, an experienced character guy. But he's questionable on defense and he's aging, I'm not sure if he makes a huge impact. What I am sure of is his regret over picking the Pacers over the Cavs two summers ago.
I will have to evaluate the Warriors roster and maybe see them play for a little bit before I can decide whether there's a trade that would make sense. The exceptions won't get it done, although the Warriors may be looking to dump salary. It is possible, especially in a few weeks time if he's not able to stay in Nelson's rotation.
I am all for not making a move just to make a move, but I believe the Cavs will be under pressure to do something before the trading deadline.