Usually the big moves of the NBA offseason don’t start happening until draft night, but dominoes started falling on Tuesday as there were three (THREE!) trades made with fantasy ramifications.
The trade that got the most attention was the San Antonio Spurs acquiring Richard Jefferson in exchange for Fabricio Oberto and the remains of Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas.
Jefferson is the only fantasy-relevant part of this deal and he has been a hard guy to pinpoint the last couple of seasons. Coming off a tremendous 2007-08 campaign with the Nets, Jefferson was sent to the Bucks in a pre-Draft trade last season and was expected to compliment Michael Redd.
But Redd was banged up for most of the season (as was Andrew Bogut) and Jefferson wound up as a chucker on a bad team. He shot only .439 from the floor and averaged 19.6 points per game.
Jefferson once showed flashes of being a versatile fantasy player, but he no longer rebounds, passes or collects steals and blocks as he once did. His value is completely tied into how efficient a scorer he can be, which is why the trade has an odd way of balancing out his value.
It’s true that Jefferson’s scoring average will definitely drop now that he falls behind Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in the pecking order. However, he also won’t have to force shots, which will help his FG% regress to its normal level (about 47 percent).
Jefferson improved one aspect of his game last season, making a career high 1.4 3-pointers per game and shooting a career high 40 percent from the arc. He’ll should have plenty of open looks playing in a talented lineup.
It’s too early to make any projections, but expect Jefferson to put up about 15 points per game with 1.5 3-pointers, .470 FG% and .800 FT%. He still won’t add much in rebounds, assists, blocks or steals, but being the fourth option may make him a more effective player overall.
Plus, there is always the inevitable Ginobili injury and Duncan rest period that will boost Jefferson’s role in the offense.
In a related move, the Bucks took Oberto and shipped him off to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Amir Johnson.
Anyone who was looking for potential centers at the start of last season certainly took a look at Johnson, who has shown tremendous natural ability and rebounding and blocking shots in his four NBA seasons.
Unfortunately, both of those skills pale in comparison to his ability to get into foul trouble.
Over the last two seasons, Johnson is averaging 10.1 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 6.7 fouls per 36 minutes. He basically averages two fouls per quarter, which is unacceptable.
But there is still hope. Johnson is only 22 years old and certainly possesses the athleticism to be a successful big man. The Pistons were trying to halt the collapse of their team and thus gave Johnson short lease.
In Milwaukee, Johnson will hopefully be given a bit more room to grow. To put it bluntly, the Bucks will stink so they’ll be able to live with his transgressions and give him more playing time.
While his previous failures should not be forgotten, Johnson could be a solid late round pick when looking to nail down some potential for rebounds and blocks.
Miller was an epic failure in Minnesota last season, averaging just 9.9 points and 1.2 3-pointers per game – both career lows. He provided 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, but he finished 116th in the Basketball Monster rankings.
This trade isn’t necessarily good news for Miller. The team is in flux and he could be stuck in a crowded situation fighting Caron Butler and Gilbert “ouch, my knee” Arenas.
The Wizards are trying to find pieces to out around the nucleus of Arenas, Butler and Antawn Jamison in order to make a playoff run. Who knows what that means for Miller? He could wind up coming off the bench as a sharpshooter.
Arenas has not been healthy is three seasons and another injury would push Miller into the starting lineup quickly.
Foye’s days in Minnesota seemed to be numbered once Kevin McHale got the boot, which is odd because he is coming off his best season. Foye averaged 16.4 points, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.6 3-pointers and shot 85 percent from the line.
Foyeworked well with franchise player Al Jefferson and led the team in field goal attempts, 3-pointers and FT% and was second in minutes and steals.
Time will tell if Foye is going to get anywhere near the 35 minutes per game he’ll need to approach last season’s numbers. Even if he does, Arenas, Jamison and Butler are unlikely to leave many shots for him.