To sum up this trade:
- I'm pretty sure we're not going to miss Wilkins or Atkins
- This wasn't a rip off blockbuster move -- it's a salary dump move
- This won't end our search for another interior-inclined PF or C -- in fact, Thomas just isn't very good
Etan Thomas is a pretty solid pickup -- and much more useful for the OKC Thunder than for the Timberwolves. For the Wolves, they get a nice salary dump and pick up a useful piece of their own in Atkins and a useless piece in Wilkins. Of course, I'm pretty sure that Wilkins is equally useless (a can't shoot, not-so-great defending, ball-handling deficient guard) for all the other teams out there so it's probably more of a "take our junk if you want us to take on Etan's salary" move and Atkins, while useful, was basically going to be stuck behind our much better options already riding the bench. With Westbrook and Livingston (and whomever else) manning the point, and Harden, Thabo, and Weaver at the 2-guard, Atkins wasn't going to see the light of day. Did I mention that Wilkins can't shoot?
In return we helped to add somewhat useful (I use this word quite loosely here), cheap (in terms of long-term impact -- his current salary is ridiculous) depth in an area of greater need. The 2008 DraftExpress scouting report for our new PF/C (emphasis/bold is mine):
Overview: Thomas is a very efficient two-way player with the versatility to play both power forward and center. Though undersized, he is extremely aggressive and uses his powerful frame to back his man down, throw his elbows and shoulders around, and create space to get his shot off. Defensively, Thomas uses the same type of physical, frenetic, style to intimidate his opposition. He’s an excellent rebounder on both ends of the floor. Was forced to sit out the 07-08 season with a heart problem, but is scheduled to return in 08-09.
Offense: Thomas is effective in the post, using simple hook shots to score around the basket most often. He doesn’t have incredible footwork and is almost completely lacking any use of a jump-shot, but he is extremely effective at using his body to create space and has good finishing ability once he’s free for the score. Thomas is a strong player in the team offense as well. He uses basket cuts, pick-and-rolls, and offensive rebounds to get his points. Very intelligent on the court, usually makes the right read and understands his role, even if he’s a bit turnover prone. He gets to the free throw line at a decent rate, but shoots a very poor percentage once there.
Defense: Thomas is a harassing style of defender, a long, strong and athletic big man who aggressively bodies up on his man in the post or presses up on him when facing up. He’s not afraid to give the hard foul and he keeps active with his help defense. Thomas is a pretty solid weak-side shot-blocker and is solid on the defensive glass. Isn’t as comfortable when pulled out onto the perimeter, but gets away with a lot of body contact on drives, so he’s good at keeping face-up forwards shooting instead of driving. He’s slightly undersized for an NBA center.
Wow that sounds great -- it's too bad that it's a tad outdated. Take a quick look around and you'll realize that, as noted earlier, our brand new PF/C just isn't very good anymore (and he was only just a servicable backup before ... so what does that make him now?). The fact that the Wizards didn't get the point and continued running Etan out there ahead of their little stable of centers (most notably JaVale McGee) is not the point. The point is that he's always played like a backup C but was getting paid like a starter -- which was okay when he was a high-energy defender and a good attitude, team oriented guy on and off the court. And then he had an operation, got injured, and somehow ended up as a lot worse of a player. I bid you go over to Bullets Forever and read the pretty sound writeup of said Etan Thomas, vastly overpaid PF/C. In particular, I point out this succinct summary of just exactly what we're picking up here:
The measurables in Etan’s season are staggeringly bad. Once an excellent rebounder, Etan’s rebound percentage was over three percentage points below his career average. The Wizards were 12 points worse with him on the court—eight on offense and four on defense. His true shooting percentage fell six percentage points off his last healthy season’s mark. He turned the ball over on nearly 20 of his possessions. I can go on.
But it was more than just measurables here. Watching him, the guy just looked done and overmatched. It wasn’t for a lack of effort; he was as "active" as ever on the glass and certainly fought hard to finish putbacks. He just couldn’t do it anymore. It became common in that first month of the season for the other team to go on huge runs when he was in the game. The buzz for JaVale McGee was only eclipsed on this site by the frustration of Eddie Jordan running Etan out there again and again, desperately hoping he still had something to give. Unfortunately, he didn’t.
And, reiterating what's been mentioned above, if you were worried about Chandler's toe problems ... Etan Thomas isn't exactly in tip-top physical shape. He had open-heart surgery and followed that up with a torn knee ligament last year. The good thing is, we don't have a JaVale McGee sitting around ready to come off the bench and get some real action in. Nor do we have Brendan Haywood or Andray Blatche. We have a Krstic. And Collison. Given our alternative options, Etan isn't such a bad stopgap. It helps that the $7.35 million he's owed is limited in that this is the final year of his contract -- leaving us NOT on the hook for continued payment of that ridiculous salary after this year. Mind you, Etan was supposedly starting to improve again slightly near the end of the season, but given how little anyone saw of him it means very little. If nothing else, we get 2 more second round picks to fiddle with in the draft next year and go out and find another replacement for the backup C role. Or find a real center.
Now, if this makes a Collison move more possible, then that's yet another piece to consider (with regard to trade fallout/impact). So, what are your thoughts on the matter?