February 27, 2005

The Nothing-But-Net Results of the Antoine Walker Deals

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

THE RECENT NBA TRADING DEADLINE saw a rash of deals but none were as interesting as Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics trading for the guy they so publicly traded away last year - Antoine Walker.

I'm not so much interested in whether this was a good move or a bad move by the Celtics. I am interested in the simple math this trade represents and what that math says about Danny Ainge as a General Manager.

Since taking over as Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge has had three major trades and one minor trade that I want to examine.

First he traded Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsh and Chris Mills plus a first round draft pick in 2004.

Secondly, he traded Chucky Atkins, Marcus Banks and Chris Mihm plus a second round pick to the Lakers for Gary Payton and Rick Fox.

Thirdly, Ainge traded Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart and a first round draft pick to Atlanta for Antoine Walker.

Finally, Ainge traded Jiri Welsh to Cleveland for a first round pick.

Now Rick Fox decided to retire instead of moving to Boston, so the Lakers sent back Marcus Banks - so that cancels out. They traded Walker away and then back - so that cancels out. They traded for Payton, then traded him away - so that cancels out. They trade for Jiri Welsch and traded him away - so that cancels out.

In addition, Gugliotta didn't really cost anything to sign and they didn't really get anything in return - so he cancels out. Chris Mills is out of the NBA - so he's flotsam. Most people agree that Michael Stewart won't amount to much in the NBA - so he's jetsam.

That means that the basic math of Danny Ainge's deals come down to trading away Tony Delk, Chucky Atkins, and Chris Mihm for Raef LaFrentz. Here's how those four players are doing this year.

Tony Delk is averaging 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game for the Mavericks.

Chuck Atkins is averaging 13.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for the Lakers.

Chris Mihm is averaging 10.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game for the Lakers.

Raef LaFrentz is averaging 11.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game for the Celtics.

That's three guys averaging better than 10 points per game traded away and one guy averaging better than 10 points per game gotten in return. That's not good. (Please note that before doing this simple math - I was a staunch Danny Ainge supporter but even I can admit that this doesn't look so good.)

The only saving grace for Ainge is the fact that with the first round pick he got from Dallas, he drafted Delonte West who is only averaging 3.8 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists this year but who gives some promise of developing into a solid NBA starter.

Looking at things objectively, you would have to say that Ainge has done a sub-par job as GM so far. His draft work has been good (in addition to West - Ainge also drafted Al Jefferson who looks like a real keeper and Tony Allen who looks like he may develop into a starting point guard). I don't think it is a stretch to say that Ainge needs to get someone good with Walker's salary cap slot (Antoine Walker's contract expires this season) and will have to do well in the 2005 draft in order to get above .500 as the General Manager of the Boston Celtics.

At least according to the simple math.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular, and contributes to SportsPages.com. Lynch can be reached at chris.lynch@gmail.com

Posted by Vanderleun at February 27, 2005 9:53 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I'm curious about what you think it will take for the Sacto Kings to step into the Finals. There was a period of two years when they were, arguably, the best team in the NBA but one round of bad officiating, and the year a crippling injury kept them out.

Since then, they've been at the cusp between top tier and second tier. The trades this year are good for the team, but I doubt it will get them over the hump. Without much improvement in defense (rebounding is really the key, their defense if pretty good when it needs to be, but you need rebounding all game, every game), how can they claim the top?

Teams without a Shaq are basically lucky (more breaks for them), uninjured at the right times, great defenders if they win a title. You don't usually see them there the next year, either.

I just think the KIngs are going to have to get all their players back and playing well (Jackson, Peja) and get very lucky to even get close to a title.

Posted by: mark butterworth at February 28, 2005 12:30 PM