by Will Overton
You have to love coming home from a long day at work and finding that a fairly large three team trade went down in the NBA. We aren’t in full blown trade season just yet, but we’re close enough now that we will see these kind of random trades pop up every so often now.
Last night’s deal was a three team deal in which the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder were trying to shore up their shooting guard position for a playoff run and the New York Knicks just wanted to shed some cap space.
Here are the details of the big deal from last night:
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Dion Waiters
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: J.R. Smith & Iman Shumpert
New York Knicks Receive: Lance Thomas, Lou Amundson & Alex Kirk
Also not involved in the deal, but worth noting, the Knicks waived Samuel Dalembert after the deal was made final.
Since we brought up the Knicks, let’s start there. This was definitely a cost cutting move for them and at this point there is still a chance that any or all of the players they got in this trade could be waived. What the trade does do is opens things up a great deal in the backcourt for the Knicks.
With J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert headed out of town that means Tim Hardaway Jr is in line to start and play the large share of the minutes at the shooting guard position. Hardaway hasn’t been as good as hoped this season, but the Knicks are still committed to seeing what they have long term in him and the next four months of basketball will go a long way in answering that. Hardaway should definitely be added to fantasy teams at this point and he’s likely going to average close to or better than two three-pointers per game from here on out.
The other two big benefactors in my opinion are Shane Larkin and Cole Aldrich. With Larkin the Knicks have seemed to be looking for more ways to get him on the floor more and this should do the trick as he’ll be the primary backup for both guard positions most likely. He’s not a standard league add, but he’s worth a flier in deep leagues. As for Aldrich he has been getting extra minutes lately due to injuries and is averaging 11 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG and 1.1 SPG over his last ten. He should continue to see a lot of minutes with Dalembert cut and the Knicks clearly focused on the future. Aldrich is a standard league add.
For Dion Waiters this is fresh start for him in Oklahoma City. We knew it was only a matter of time before he was dealt after he failed to connect with LeBron and here it is. The Thunder have a defensive presence at shooting guard with Andre Roberson, but Waiters gives them some offense and some shooting. Clearly the Thunder are all but done waiting on Jeremy Lamb which is a little surprising, but this feels like the nail in his fantasy coffin, at least for this season. It may very well cut into the fantasy value of Anthony Morrow as well who has been filling the three-point shooting offensive guard role.
Waiters has talent, he’s probably the most purely talented player in this trade with J.R. Smith, still he’s going to play a secondary role in OKC just like he did in Cleveland. Waiters will hit some threes and get some steals, but I wouldn’t expect a big increase in his production because I don’t think you’ll see a big increase in his minutes or his shot total. If he can get better looks at the hoop he will improve some, but right now he’s just a guy to watch, I’d rather have Hardaway Jr personally.
Taking Waiters place in Cleveland will be the combination of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. When he gets healthy Shumpert is most likely going to be in a role player kind of spot in Cleveland, serving as a defensive minded guard and a depth option at guard. I don’t think he’ll play enough to have fantasy significance.
The big question is whether or not J.R. Smith can coexist with the big three in Cleveland any better than Waiters. Like Waiters I assume Smith is going to want to get his share of the shots on offense and I don’t know how well that will sit with the others. Still though, he is a strong shooter, probably better than Waiters, and he can fill it up in spurts when the big guys are on the bench or he’s really feeling it on a given night. Smith could get some good looks on the outside just as long as someone is getting him the ball there.
I do think Smith is a standard league add just to see what happens, but I wouldn’t get too excited about this just yet.