According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Nets have “had discussions” with the Charlotte Bobcats concerning a Humphries for Ben Gordon swap. The trade makes sense for the Nets in the short and long tem, and says a lot about the Nets as an organization.
I. The deal makes sense in the Short Term
As Broussard’s article states, the Nets rank 21st in the NBA in shooting the 3. Spacing has been a problem all season as a result. Opposing defenses are not worried about the 3, so they pack the paint on the Nets and make the middle more congested for Deron Joe and Brook.
Shooting 41.7% from 3 for his career, and 40.6% for his career, Gordon would space the floor for the Nets, and open up the lane for the Nets’ big three. No Humphries leaves the Nets thin at the 4, but he’s played just 15 minutes per game under PJ. The Nets can easily make up for those mnutes by giving them to a combination of Evans, Teletovic, and Wallace at the 4.
Per 82games.com, the 2 most optimal Nets lineups are Deron-Bogans-Joe-Wallace-Lopez, and Deron-Brooks-Joe-Wallace-Lopez. Getting weak production at the 4 and little spacing from Humphries or Evans, it makes sense that going small has worked for the Nets. Dealing Humphries for Gordon makes the Nets smaller, and if it forces the Nets to play smaller, that could be a blessing for the Nets.
It’s finally worth nothing the Nets are 6-2 without Humphries this season, 5-0 under PJ. The 2 losses were the Celtics game on Christmas and the Milwaukee game the following night. Given the team’s plunge into get the coach fired mode, it’s likely he would not have changed those results for the better.
As for the issue that Gordon does not play defense, Humphries is not exactly Joakim Noah on that end right now.
II. The deal makes sense in the Long Term
Going forward, no long term drawbacks offset the short term gaints Gordon brings. Provided the Nets hoard their other assets, Humphries and Gordon both make $12-13 million per season and expire next year. Humphries would have become a trade chip in February 2014 as an expiring contract: a role Gordon would now play. Given the lukewarm interest in Humphries during the Dwight saga, and now, the Nets are not hurting their prospects of acquiring an impact piece at the 2014 deadline with this deal. Clearly, Humphries for Millsap, Boozer, or other big names has not interested teams, or this deal would not be what the Nets were targeting.
III. This deal could be driven by Deron Williams
There were rumors last season Deron was not a fan of Humphries; Humphries presence in Utah did not exactly make Deron want to stay there either. NBA players tend to love scorers and shooters moreso than the media does. While many members of the media believe Gordon is overrated and overpaid, players think highly of his game and believe he can play. Players love scorers, and see him as a guy that can score. Deron could very well have his footprints all over this potential deal.
Deron also has noted that he loves Gerald Wallace because he knows HOW to play. Humphries on the other hand has a reputation as a low IQ basketball player.
IV. A Change of Scenery for Ben Gordon
Sadly, some players in the NBA see their intensity slip when in losing situations. We saw this with Deron last year. Tayshaun Prince’s reputation as a vaunted defender: once the Pistons slipped, he stopped defending. Gordon has been on losing teams since 2009, when he signed with the Pistons. In 2009, he was instrumental in pushing the Celtics to 7 games, and was fantastic for the Bulls. Derrick Rose was very upset to see him go that offseason, and with good reason. Maybe a deal to Brooklyn could be a good thing for Gordon’s career.