Today brings the news that the Lakers’ point guard of the last half of the season, Ramon Sessions, plans to opt out of his deal with Los Angeles and test his worth in free agency. L.A. got one of the best deals of the trading deadline when they got him from Cleveland for Luke Walton, Jason Kapono and a draft pick. It was expected he’d test the water after he’d played such a strong 23 games with the Lakers.
He turned into one of the steals of the deadline who, until a poor Western Conference Finals series, seemed to grasp Mike Brown‘s plans in L.A. quicker than some of the Lakers had. Would you pay more than the $4.5 million that would have been owed to Sessions had he opted in? We’ll see on July 1. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.2 assists per game once he bolted Cleveland and his best asset was clearly his shooting: 48.6 percent from three and 47.9 from the field. But who were the other best pick-ups of the trade deadline? Here’s the top five in our 20/20 hindsight.
5. JAVALE MCGEE
In all that’s happened since the Lakers beat Denver in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, McGee’s monster Game 5 (21 points, 14 rebounds) has almost fallen through the cracks. He averaged 8.6 points and 9.6 boards per game in seven playoff games and also averaged 8.6 points per in 20 regular-season games in the Mile High. Will McGee’s talent ever take precedent over his antics? We’re not really sure, but that game in Los Angeles put people on notice about he stands out even in a league of incredible athletes. His offensive rebounding in particular stood out in the series, with 23 of his 44 boards against LA coming on offense. We’ll soon see how his ratio of length/antics equates to a worth for possible suitors in the offseason.
4. DEREK FISHER
The trade that sent Fisher to the Rockets was terrible for the Rockets. They not only didn’t get Fisher, who asked to be released from his contract, but gave up Jordan Hill. Hill, as can happen in trades, had given Houston 12.4 points and 11.9 boards per 36 minutes in 32 games but turned it up once he left to 14.5 and 13.2 in the Lakers’ last seven games. When the playoffs hit, he averaged 4.8 points and 6.3 boards in spot duty behind both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. But this isn’t about Hill. It’s about Fisher’s contribution in Oklahoma City as the team has made the Finals. Mostly you can see Fisher’s influence come in a coaching role against San Antonio and Miami, a role that supercedes the pedestrian numbers (6.0 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists per game) he’s averaged in the playoffs.
3. NEW JERSEY’S DRAFT PICK
Gerald Wallace was the centerpiece of the Trail Blazers’ trade with New Jersey. The deal sent Crash, a fan favorite and the most flexible, versatile player on the Blazers’ roster away but garnered a pick that became No. 6 in next week’s draft. That gives Portland the Nos. 6 and 11 picks and a chance to begin anew under new GM Neil Olshey.
Wallace, for his part, had a solid finish in forgettable New Jersey, the season that will be remembered for what it preceded (the move to Brooklyn). He his a buzzer-beater in his debut game, however, and averaged 15.2 and 6.8 rebounds per game in NJ, both better than in Portland, while shooting a whopping 12 (38 percent) percentage points better from three.
2. STEPHEN JACKSON
Captain Jack‘s return to San Antonio was a remix of the glory years together. This time he helped them get to the Western Conference Finals and even drilled a three to force OT in Game 5 of their series. He became a much more efficient scorer in 23 minutes per game, down four minutes from Milwaukee, and his scoring went down with his shot attempts while his shooting percentage increased from 36 percent to 40 percent in 21 games with the Spurs.
And because no good deed goes unequalized with Jackson, he had this great moment from the playoffs, as well, when he taunted the Thunder bench on the verge of elimination.
1. LEANDRO BARBOSA
Traded to Indiana from Toronto, Barbosa became another cog in the Pacers’ machine that almost shocked the Heat in the second round. Barbosa’s an annoying defender who gave Frank Vogel an option to put on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at times in their East Semifinals series to allow George Hill and Paul George to use more energy on offense. While his scoring dropped from 12.2 to 8.9 per game, (his three-point shooting increased by six percentage points to 42 percent) he gave Indiana more options that helped them in the playoffs and played a larger role relative to Jackson on a playoff team.
What was the best trade?
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