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Aftermath of the Darren Collison, Troy Murphy, and Trevor Ariza Trade

August 12, 2010

A wild pack of family dogs came runnin' through the yard
As my little sister played, the dogs took her away
And I guess she was eaten up okay....
--Modest Mouse, "Wild Pack of Family Dogs"

If I were one to speak in cliches, and maybe I am, I would respond to the four team, five player trade that went down yesterday as a sign of the times, that in moments of economic uncertainty fortunes are made and fortunes are lost.  Of course, that would all come off as hyperbole, seeing as how the biggest names in the trade were all essentially role players and second tier players, at best, and the fact that the teams involved were Indiana, New Orleans, Houston, and New Jersey would only add to the embellishment of what is essentially a story born out of the dog days of summer.  And perhaps it is in that phrase, dog days, that the heart of this story lies.


darren-collison2jpg-401743606d8cbc78_mediumIt's not the size of the dog that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog. The biggest player in yesterday's trade was 6'11," 245 pound Troy Murphy, who averaged 14.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg for the Indiana Pacers last season.  Murphy is also a career 39% shooter from behind the arc; in other words, he is the perfect power forward for any pick and roll offense or to partner with another big who has to operate on the block because he can stretch the defense.

In yesterday's trade, the Pacers acquired New Orleans point guard Darren Collison from the New Orleans Hornets.  Collison is the perfect point to run a pick and roll with Murphy, while Roy Hibbert rests down low on the block, except Murphy is headed to New Jersey, likely leaving Tyler Hansbrough, who is slightly undersized, as the Pacers' starting power forward.  Collison is about six feet flat and one hundred and sixty pounds.  Larry Bird is obviously hedging his bets that the fight in his new point guard and last year's first round pick, Hansbrough, is worth more than the man who out rebounded every other Pacer last year by five rebounds a game.  The Pacers may have picked up a fighter in Collison, but does size really not matter?

A dog is man's best friend. In the new NBA, it's unclear who is the master and who is on the leash.  LeBron flipped the script on us, and we're still trying to figure out all the new plot devices; but in the swarm of Chris Paul's rumored disloyalties and coveting of his neighbor's wife, it his own wife who is giving in, shutting up, and taking the disrespect.  In an effort to appease Paul, the Hornets traded for Trevor Ariza, a man whose career  becomes more and more like The Lion King, if Simba had ignored his destiny and never returned to the Pride land, upon finding Timone and Pumba in Houston.

vrtxt8While Ariza is full of athleticism and maybe even potential still, he is also a player who is now joining his fifth team, going into his seventh NBA season.  Not say he is anything remotely like a bad locker room guy, but he does appear to be a player whose perception of himself is eschew from his physical self.  His 14.9 ppg--a career best--on 39% shooting are not exactly the stuff that Chris Paul's dreams are made of.

Chris Paul wants to be a member of Voltron, maybe even the Power Rangers, but Chris Paul plus Ariza, David West, and Emeka Okafor is more likely to shape up into some VR Trooper shit.  Unless Paul specifically listed Ariza as someone he wants to play with, then long term this still does not help the Hornets keep Paul, and while the Hornets are trying to remain loyal to their star, he may have just bluffed them into trading their biggest insurance policy, Darren Collison, away, in case Paul does leave this offseason.  The best option for the Hornets was probably to trade Paul, except that the rest of the League's knowledge of his summer of discontent would have made it hard to get back equal value.  In New Orleans, the tail is clearly wagging the dog.

Every dog just needs a good home. Courtney Lee will turn twenty-five this October.  He's about to enter his third year in the NBA.  He's also about to suit up for his third team in as many years.  The only reason we know him is because he played about 26 mpg for the Orlando Magic during their 2009 run to the NBA Finals, in which he hounded every perimeter scorer in the League from Kobe to LeBron.  The kid's got heart.  He's also got  some of that potential that everyone says belongs solely to Trevor Ariza; he put up 12.8 ppg last year, on 44% shooting, and if he'd played for anyone other than the New Jersey Nets, we might still remember him.  Houston should be happy to have him; he comes cheaper than Ariza.

Timberwolves Pacers BasketballYou're my dog. A dog left alone grows idle and fades into the sunset just like an IM screen name.  Danny Granger has been in the League for five years.  The last two seasons he's averaged 25.8 ppg and 24.1 ppg.  He's also missed thirty-five games in the last two seasons.  The only time he's been to the Playoffs Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest, and Stephen Jackson were still on the Pacers' roster, and  since then, Granger's never won more than thirty-six games, never been back to that place where guys like Joe Johnson remind us why we should remember to forget them.  Danny Granger is at a point in his career where he stands a good chance of not even being able to remind us that he could matter, if he ever did.  He's a dog in need of a pack, and one wonders if he were to find one, then what instincts would come alive inside him?  What's buried inside of Danny Granger's canine soul?  Is it something?  Or is it nothing?  The addition of Darren Collison might tell us.  Troy Murphy could have helped.

This really is quite interesting.  Indiana finished tenth in the Eastern Conference last season, nine games out of the Playoffs.  Two of the teams ahead of them have hard winters ahead of them: Cleveland and Toronto--their fall will sound like a howl through the Indiana corn stalks.  Jack London novels are born of this stuff.

Every dog has its day. The Irish never were lucky, but stating it plainly takes out all the irony and the beauty.  All the Notre Dame magic must have truly been spent on buying out Charlie Weiss' contract because if there was any left, Troy Murphy would still be just a short drive from South Bend, wearing Pacer blue and gold; instead, he's heading to the New Jersey Nets, who made headlines last season for three reasons: starting the season 0-18, getting bought by a Russian playboy, and losing out on LeBron.   Oh, and I almost forgot, they gave Travis Outlaw a huge contract.  His name must be some sort of clever Robin Hood joke, except the Nets have never been rich on anything other than promises.

blopezAnd the promises, albeit in Russian, are here again.  While I'm pretty sure if the Pacers had somehow kept Murphy and still gotten Collison they would have made the Playoffs this season, Murphy may not have to wait as long as some in Jersey might think to taste the Playoffs for the first time in his decade long career.

The Nets have pieces.  There's Devin Harris' speed and the shimmer of his 2009 season stats.  There's a bevy of perimeter pieces in Anthony Morrow, Terrence Williams, and Quinton Ross, but most of all there's the potential of a twin towers in Brook Lopez and rookie Derrick Favors, both of whom can pair with Murphy in the frontcourt; and if it doesn't work out, Murphy will probably find himself on a Playoff contender by the trade deadline, maybe it just takes time to become a lucky dog.  


This post was written by Bryan Harvey and originally appeared at The Faster Times.  

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