[Tomorrow morning I will analyze the Knicks’ two trades completed this afternoon.]
Anytime a trade includes only one big name, the immediate opinion is the team receiving that player is getting the better of the deal. It’s because in most sports the best players are most likely to turn a team into a winner. Just ask the L.A. Lakers or the Toronto Raptors. So when Philadelphia received mega-star Matt Barnes in a trade yesterday, the quick opinion was the Sixers made out on the deal. In a Yahoo poll, 75% of the readers selected “The Kings Blew it” (and yes that was an actual option).
Upon further inspection of the deal, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as everyone has made it out to be. The crux of the deal is of course Chris Webber (21.4, 19.9, -4.5 what do these numbers mean?). Although C-Webb was one of the best in the league at the beginning of the millennium, he’s no longer among the cream of the crop. Check out his numbers since 2001
Year PER. .eFG PTS/40
2001 24.7 48.1 26.8
2002 24.4 49.7 25.5
2003 20.9 46.3 23.5
2004 17.2 41.4 20.7
2005 21.4 45.5 23.5
All of his stats are down since 2001, and his PER puts him outside of the elite range but still in the very good category. In addition to his declining production, Webber hasn’t been very healthy. The Former Fab Five has averaged only 57 games per year (strike year excluded) over his entire career. The last three years have been even worse, as Webber has missed a total of 99 games. He’s only topped 75 games twice in his career, the last time back in 2000. With that in mind, take a look at his contract:
.2005 .2006 .2007 .2008
$17.5 $19.1 $20.7 $22.3
[Numbers in millions]
Having that much money tied into a single player with deteriorating numbers and a bad history of missing games isn’t a good place to be in. Just ask Knick fans how they feel about Allan Houston, who coincidentally had the same microfracture surgery as Chris Webber.
Now you why the Kings wanted something a little more stable. In the deal, Sacramento obviously lost on talent, but they got a younger more resilient crew. Webber makes the least healthy of the players they received, Brian Skinner, look like A.C. Green. In the same span that Webber played in 144 games (2002-2004), the trio sent to the West Coast averaged 217 games. While it’s hard to argue that any combination of the three are as good as Webber when they’re on the court, 73 games of no production is easy to beat.
On the other hand, Kenny Thomas (13.5, 17.2, -3.1), Brian Skinner (6.1, 11.9, -7.0), and Corliss Williamson (14.5, 14.4, -0.0) aren’t going to catapult Sacramento over the Suns, Sonics, or Spurs. What’s more baffling is that the Kings didn’t take the opportunity to make a major dent in their cap space.
Player... Age .2005 .2006 .2007 .2008 .2009 .2010
Thomas.... 27 $ 4.8 $ 5.3 $ 5.8 $ 6.4 $ 6.9 $ 7.4
Skinner... 28 $ 4.5 $ 5.0 $ 5.4 $ 5.9* ---- -----
Williamson 31 $ 5.5 $ 6.0 $ 6.5 ----- ----- -----
Webber.... 31 $17.5 $19.1 $20.7 $22.3 ----- -----
Barnes.... 23 $ 6.2 ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
The Kings opted to get under the cap just a year earlier. The knock on their end of the trade is not who they got, but rather who they didn’t get. Glenn Robinson’s $12.1M expiring contract would have been a good move if they wanted to clear the cap quickly. Or Sacramento could have gone with a youth movement by asking for Iguodala, Dalembert, or Ashton Korver.
Judging by who they got in return, it’s clear that Sacramento decided instead to stay competitive now with their core of Bibby, Peja, Miller, and Jackson. The Kings helped their poor offensive rebounding (22nd) because Thomas, Williamson, and Skinner average nearly 3 per 40 minutes. According to 82games.com, opposing power forwards and centers have hurt the Kings the most. It’s likely that they’ll see an improvement with the combination of Darius Songaila (14.2, 15.7, +4.3) and the trio they received.
To sum it up, this is a trade where each team saw the grass greener on the other side. Sacramento got tired of Webber’s on-again-off-again act and longed for some stability. On the other hand Iverson has never played with a person of C-Webb’s offensive ability. Sacramento is an offensive team that could some defenders (20th), while Philly was struggling to put points on the board (22nd). Quite honestly I think both teams have the possibility to benefit from the transaction. The East is wide open, and a healthy Webber gives the Sixers a formidable starting 5 of Iverson, Iguodala, Korver, Webber, and Jackson/Dalembert. While the Kings still have plenty of firepower and they’ve improved their defense enough to go a few rounds in the playoffs.
I use three stats to get a general overall value of a player, PER, oPER, and Roland Rating. If you have any doubts that PER is a good measure of offensive ability, the last two years the top 5 PER belonged to Garnett, Duncan, Shaq, Kobe and McGrady, which passes my litmus test. oPER (opposition PER) is less accurate because of how defense is played in the NBA (switched defensive assignments, help defense, zone defense, double teams, etc.), but can still be valuable up to a point. According to 82games.com, Roland Rating “represents a player’s value to a particular team and are not intended to be an accurate gauge of the ability and talent of the player away from the specific team.” To make it easier to read, I’m going to use it with these colors: (offensive PER, defensive PER, +/-Roland Rating).