Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Trade of Ruben

As the radio promos say..... "you heard it first on The Fan" and that was the case again today. It is official. Despite what you may have read on the various web sites, as we first told you on Sports Radio 1080 The Fan just after 11:00 AM today, the Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets and Seattle Sonics have completed a four team trade. The greatest thing about radio is it is immediate. We get something, you hear it right away. That was the case today, that was the case the night Nate was hired, and that is the case anytime something breaks in the world of sports that you want to hear more about or discuss. Also, check out my friend David Locke's blog at www.lockedonsports.blogspot.com. He and I worked hard to get this story first for our listeners, and we did. Now, what really matters.....

Here is the official release from Blazers.com:
Portland Trail Blazers General Manager John Nash announced today that the club has acquired G Voshon Lenard from the Denver Nuggets and C Brian Skinner from the Sacramento Kings.The Nuggets received F Ruben Patterson and G Charles Smith in a four-team deal that includes the Trail Blazers sending G Sergei Monia to the Kings. In addition to Patterson and Smith, the Nuggets obtained F Reggie Evans from Seattle. The Sonics also acquired G Earl Watson, G Bryon Russell and Denver’s second round draft pick in 2008 while sending F/C Vitaly Potapenko to Sacramento.“These moves provide our organization some salary cap flexibility,” said Nash. “While helping balance the roster, today’s trade adds another big man and gives us a player who is a proven shooter in this league.” Lenard, in his 11th NBA season, has played in 12 games this season with six starts for the Nuggets, averaging 8.3 ppg and 2.3 rpg with a season-high 17 points versus the Trail Blazers on November 4. For his career, the 32-year-old Lenard has averaged 12.1 ppg and shot 39% from three-point range. Skinner has played in 38 games this season with the Kings and has averaged 2.3 ppg and 2.7 rpg in 11.3 minutes. During his career the 29-year old Skinner has played in 340 games, averaging 5.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. His best NBA season was 2003-04 with Milwaukee when the 6-9, 265-pounder averaged 10.5 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Patterson played in 44 games this season for Portland, averaging 11.2 ppg and 3.0 rpg. Signed by the Trail Blazers as a free agent on August 2, 2001, Patterson has career averages of 10.2 ppg and 4.0 rpg over eight seasons with the Lakers, Seattle and Portland. Smith was signed by the Trail Blazers on August 5, 2005, his second stint with the club – he was traded to Portland from San Antonio along with Antonio Daniels and Amir McCaskill on August 5, 2002 in exchange for Erick Barkley and Steve Kerr. Smith, a Ft. Worth, Texas, native, played in 22 games this season with four starts, averaging 3.8 ppg.Monia played in 23 games for Portland this season with 15 starts, averaging 3.3 ppg, and 2.2 rpg. Originally drafted by the Trail Blazers with the 23rd pick of the 2004 draft, the 22- year-old Monia is in his first NBA season. Before joining Portland, the Russian native played for CSKA Moscow the past three seasons.

What does it mean? The company line.
This is pretty simple. As the quote from Nash in the release says, it helps balance the roster with another big man who can play the power forward or center position. Skinner gives them depth there with a proven backup which they were desperate for.
Lenard gives them a proven outside threat, a better than average shooter in a half court offense. The concerns are his health and the fact he hasn't played this year. Those should not be concerns here though. The Nuggets have been at or around the league lead throughout the year in fast break points, that isn't his game, he isn't a George Karl kind of guy, and his success came under the previous coaching staff. Those things don't mean he can't play. The concern should come from the fact that he will probably take minutes from Martell Webster, who has been mich improved lately. But Lenard is in the last year of his deal, and probably won't be re-signed, so he is more than likley a guy who will be here for the next two months and that is it anyway. In my opinion, the Blazers are slightly better today than they were yesterday. If nothing else, Lenard shoots 79% in his career from the free throw line, which makes him an instant upgrade for the team in an area they needed it badly. It does balance out though, since Skinner is a horrible free throw shooter, although maybe not any worse than Ruben.

What does it mean-What the Blazers won't say publicly:
Steve Patterson and John Nash have wanted to rid themselves of Ruben since the summer of 2003, when they both first arrived in Portland. The fact he received a 1.3 million dollar raise in his contract if he were to be traded, and he is Ruben, made it difficult. But the new CBA, with more room to work around matching salary dollars, made it easier this year. But they HAD to move him, he was a horrible influence in the locker room on the young guys, an "Eyore" sort for you parents who are familiar with Winnie the Pooh, who was always negative. Those of us in the media loved him because he was a good quote. But he has had multiple clashes with the organization, and moving him was a priority. Addition by subtraction? That is used far too often in sports, but in this case, it probably is true.

The Downside
The end result of Bonzi Wells being traded to Memphis ends up being Brian Skinner. So Bonzi was traded for the pick that ended up being Monia who ended up being your backup power forward. Not good enough for your starting two guard at the time.