In case you have soundproof walls and haven't heard the raging parties in the street in which the police are doing keg stands, the Sixers have made a trade with the Hornets that sends Willie Green and Jason Smith to New Orleans in exchange for Darius Songaila and Craig Brackins. Before we get into reactions, a quick blurb about each player.
On the books to make just under four million dollars this season, Willie's expiring contract was a sight for sore eyes after seven years of watching him play. While he did set a career high in win shares per 48 minutes last season with a sparkling 0.067, his career average of 0.030 and a 23% usage rate make him one of the least effective players in the game. How he duped Maurice Cheeks, Tony DiLeo, and Eddie Jordan into playing him 20+ minutes per game for years and years, I'll never know. I think he's a great person (met him at Cheesecake Factory one time, we shared a lemon raspberry slice - delish), but I could not be any more happy he is out of here.
Traded for Daequan Cook in the mid-first round of the 2007 draft, Smith showed little promise as a rookie and after an injury sidelined him for the entire '08 campaign, 2009 demonstrated his lack of true NBA skill. He's not tough enough to rebound (12.1 total rebound percentage) or score down low and his jumper isn't consistent to the point where he could Mehmet Okur his way through a career. Most often associated with the word "doughy," he had a qualifying offer next season worth over $3 million, so I am happy to see him go as well.
For whatever reason, Big D is making just shy of $5 million dollars this season to ride the pine wherever he goes. I wouldn't be surprised if the Sixers buy him out now or by the trade deadline because he really shouldn't be serving any purpose on this team. He's worth a few defensive win shares and has a decent Kenny Thomas-like mid-range jump shot, but he's nothing more than a warm body that will free up some cap space eventually.
Ah, Craig. First, some self pats on the back. He was my second round candidate for this year's Pimp Your Prospect. I also talked about him here before the draft and with Tanner here, during the Orlando Summer League. This is what I said:
If he left last year he's a lottery pick, but he decided to hang around until his junior year to work on some things. It didn't pan out as well as he would've hoped, and is now a late first, early second round option. He started to play under teammates Marquis Gilstrap and Diante Garrett and shot a very poor percentage from the field as a big man (42%). But he's got a boatload of talent and could provide great value later on if we can scoop him up. Plus he's got a fohawk sometimes.
The fohawk is key. Keep in mind he is very raw and would need a ton of work before he can contribute on both sides of the ball.
Trading Green and Smith
Before we can assess the new guys coming in, I'd like to touch on what we stand to gain from the losses of Smith and Green. I don't think Smith was going to get any time this season. Any sort of mop up role of tough guy was going to be played by everyone's favorite veteran's minimum, Tony Battie. He didn't indicate any possibility of future improvements and seems destined for a career overseas in a year or two.
Willie, we all know, has stolen minutes away from younger, higher-upside guys for years. This season, as Jordan mentioned in his minutes distribution piece, Willie would have had to share what little minutes were left at the 2 spot with Jodie Meeks. And while Meeks's game resembles Willie's on the surface, he's a better shooter and defender with a smaller contract and a small possibility to become a dependable guy off the bench. Trading Willie opens up time for Collins to experiment with Meeks in different roles, as well as solidify Evan Turner as the starting shooting guard and Louis Williams as the first guard off the bench.
Definitely a case of addition by subtraction.
Receiving Brackins and Songaila
If Songaila gets any minutes at all, it will be because there's an injury or we're down 57 points. He's a relatively capable player in limited time, worthy of 10 minutes a night as the 9th man on a contender, but there is realistically no benefit to playing him at all. My hope is they eat up his contract and let him sign somewhere else, giving us cap space next year anyway and not having to waste his time. A small part of me worries that he'll take minutes away from Marreese Speights, but that's just the negativity talking.
Craig Brackins, as I mentioned, is a guy I'm very intrigued with. Watching him play three years at ISU, I envisioned a less athletic but potentially stronger Chris Bosh. He has to get in better shape and work on his help defense down low, but with some discipline by Doug Collins, I'd add him to the list of high-ish upside big men on our roster. Out of him, Spencer Hawes and Speights, one of them is bound to figure out how to play defense and turn into a serviceable starting four or five.
One possibility that has been doodling around in my head is that the Sixers could send Brackins to the D-League for seasoning. At Iowa State, he really didn't play with much talent and going to the D-League could open up some doors to him before he comes off the bench in Philadelphia. I'm not sure how Thorn feels about using the D-League, but as a rookie with potential, I'd send Brackins there for a month or two, then see how things are going and give him a few minutes off the bench in the Association. He's signed for a very cheap rookie contract, so taking advantage of that over the next few seasons is crucial to saving up to score a bigger free agent in 2013.
Does this make us better now? No. It really has a very minimal effect on this season with the exception of seeing what Meeks has to offer as the backup two-guard. It's certainly a step in the right direction for the team of Thorn and Stefanski -- getting younger and shedding useless players. Songaila's expiring could come in handy this offseason as well. I'm looking forward to seeing how they handle the Brackins-Speights-Hawes threesome, because there's a bunch of upside in there and hopefully one of those lottery tickets pays off.
Check out our SB Nation Hornets site At The Hive for their reaction. But don't hate, because Rohan is our boy.
For now, join me in celebrating the departure of Willie Green. Pop bottles.