by Kent Sterling
Former all-star Danny Granger and his expiring contract head to Philly and former #2 overall pick Evan Turner and back-up power forward Lavoy Allen report to Indianapolis to try to push the Pacers over the top to the franchise’s first NBA Championship.
Some see the trade as prescient for Bird – an aging veteran with balky knees for a 25 year-old with length who can play some point forward and bring some defensive versatility. Others fear Bird might have tinkered with a good thing, and the chemistry of the team will suffer with the departure of some veteran leadership.
Speculation without knowledge seems to be what the media seems to enjoy, so they guess at what effect the deal will have upon the Pacers ability to compete. Instead, let’s assume past is prologue and take a look at the deals Bird has closed during the periods where he was truly the architect of the team.
Bird has been wheeling and dealing on his own since Donnie Walsh originally left the team in April, 2008. A year long sabbatical began after the 2011-2012 season, and then Bird returned on June 27, 2013. Yesterday, he dealt Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers. The jury will be out on that deal until the end of the season, but lets look at the rest of the trades Bird has made to evaluate what might be expected from this swap.
Here are the deals and trades over which Bird has presided (some have been simplified if the complexities have little to do with the result of the deal, and one involving the draft rights for Magnum Rolle has been discarded entirely):
- July 27, 2013 – Pacers send Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee to the Phoenix Suns for Luis Scola.
- June 28, 2012 – Pacers draft Miles Plumlee and acquire the draft rights to Orlando Johnson for cash.
- March 15, 2012 – Leandro Barbosa acquired from the Toronto Raptors for a second round pick (Tomislav Zubcic).
- December 19, 2011 – Pacers send Brandon Rush to Golden State for Lou Amundson.
- June 23, 2011 – Pacers send draft rights to Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertrans to Spurs for George Hill.
- June 23, 2011 – Pacers draft Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertrans.
- August 11, 2010 – Pacers send Troy Murphy to Nets in four-way trade and net Darren Collison and James Posey
- June 24, 2010 – Pacers draft Paul George, Lance Stephenson, and Ryan Reid.
- June 25, 2009 – Pacers draft Tyler Hansbrough and A.J. Price
- October 10, 2008 – Pacers acquire Eddie Jones for Shawne Williams in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks
- July 9, 2008 – Pacers acquire Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and draft rights to Brandon Rush for Ike Diogu and draft rights to Jerryd Bayless.
- July 9, 2008 – Pacers acquire T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and draft rights to Roy Hibbert for Jermaine O’Neal
- June 26, 2008 – Pacers draft Jerryd Bayless and Nathal Jawal.
The keys to the development of the current team were jettisoning O’Neal for Hibbert, and the spectacular 2010 draft that brought George and Stephenson to the team. Hill for Leonard may be questioned for years, but right now it’s advantage Pacers.
Through his career as an executive, Bird has shown a willingness to trade pieces that do not fit for pieces that might. How many of the players he has sent away would an educated observer believe should return?
Scola for Green and Plumlee looked like a steal when it was made, and if the Pacers win the NBA Championship it will be validated, but it will be interesting to see what happens with Scola at the end of this season. Scola has a contract worth $4.5 million next year, and if the Pacers want to keep Stephenson or Turner, money will need to come from somewhere or someone.
The deal I really didn’t like much was the Bayless for Rush, Jack, and McRoberts. Turns out the trade was a mess for both the Pacers and Blazers. Bayless is on his fifth team in six years and Rush has not lived up to his silky smooth promise either.
The smart money is that Bird knew exactly what he was doing yesterday, and that any chemistry concerns about Granger’s absence are overblown. He’s all in for 2013-2014, and the Pacers got a still young player who has a chance to do some things that Granger simply cannot.
Championship teams behave like winners, and winners get better when they can. The Pacers aren’t some club team that has earned the right to stay intact for a championship run. Bird has an obligation to owner Herb Simon to pursue every avenue possible to improve the quality of the roster, and that work resulted in him pulling the trigger on a deal that may pay big dividends this year, and provides some coverage for next year if Stephenson decides he would be happier elsewhere when he becomes a free agent.