Gery Woelfel from The Journal Times of Racine, WI is reporting what we thought we already knew up until yesterday. Sonny Weems and Walter Sharpe will be sent to the Milwaukee Bucks for Malik Allen. Apparently Denver was unable to acquire Bruce Bowen’s non guaranteed contract as part of the deal.
Update: The Nuggets have officially confirmed the trade. Until Bowen is waived by the Bucks I guess anything can happen, but the fact the trade has been officially announced leads me to believe Denver will not be able to work anything out that would allow them to acquire Bowen and his non guaranteed deal (although again their interest in doing so was only speculation on my part).
The Denver Post has confirmed the Denver Nuggets have agreed to send Sonny Weems and the recently acquired Walter Sharpe to the Milwaukee Bucks for Malik Allen. My initial reaction is…why? Allen clearly does not have the upside of Weems, or even Sharpe for that matter. The only real skill Allen has is his ability to hit the open jumper.
Financially this deal will save the Nuggets $172,840 in salary and an equal amount in luxury tax. $345,680 is nothing to sneeze at, trust me I wish I had that much in my bank account right now, but it also is not an amount of money that you would give up a talented player like Sonny Weems for.
Weems has shown that he still has a long ways to go before he fulfills his potential. During the Nuggets fifth summer league game George Karl listed off a bevy of concerns about Weems’ game, plays out of control, does not know a good shot from a bad one, does not commit to defense, but then he also said that Weems and Arron Afflalo would be fighting for the minutes that Dahntay Jones played last season in camp. As a side note, Afflalo is clearly the backup to J.R. Smith now although he always had a big advantage over Weems thanks to his ability to play defense.
Weems did not shoot the ball well in Las Vegas, but he rebounded like a big man and showed some growth on defense even from just a couple of months ago when he played in the D-League finals with the team formerly known as the Colorado 14ers.
Many of us have watched Weems and seen a comparison between him and J.R. Smith. Weems does not have Smith’s range, but he is an explosive athlete, capable of playing good defense and contributing to a good team. So I keep asking myself why.
As I said in my post discussing the original rumor, I do not see Allen getting very many minutes with Denver. Even if Weems and Sharpe did not appear to be contributors for next season, neither does Allen.
One thing we know is that the Nuggets front office has been highly competent over the previous couple of seasons. I think we can conclude that this trade is not as much about the personnel as it is building towards something else. What that is I have no idea.
The Nuggets now have 11 players under contract with Linas Kleiza and Anthony Carter still floating around out there. Assuming they resigned Carter and still have their eye on one more player that would put them at the league minimum of 13 players on the roster. Perhaps the Nuggets wanted to be at 13 players instead of 14. However, that makes little sense because as noted above if players 13 and 14 are Weems and Sharpe, they only cost $345,680 more in salary and tax payments than having Allen as your thirteenth man on the roster.
The only rational explanation I can come up with is the Nuggets are working on something that will bring in more than one player. What that is I have no idea, but this trade is certainly a move with the intention of setting up something else. It has to be, because if it isn’t it makes no sense to me at all.
From the Bucks point of view, I think they did this deal to acquire Weems, not to dump salary as the original rumor postulated. The inclusion of Sharpe in the transaction prevents the Bucks from saving much money by waiving Weems.
In conclusion, for those of you who love reading the Collective Bargaining Agreement you will wonder how Sharpe can be traded with Weems so soon after the Nuggets acquired him. The rule is a player cannot be traded with another player for two months after he is initially acquired via trade or signed off of waivers. The Nuggets and Bucks can get around this by using trade exceptions. Milwaukee apparently has a trade exception of $1.853 million and we all know about the Nuggets trade exceptions. Denver c an easily fit Allen in what remains of the Atkins exception and in return will receive two trade exceptions back from Milwaukee for $736,420, which will both be practically useless.
There were two questions most Denver Nuggets fans probably asked themselves when they heard about the Arron Afflalo trade. What did we give up and who is Walter Sharpe?
So who is Walter Sharpe? He is a 6’9” forward who will be entering his second year out of UAB (Alabama – Birmingham) who was drafted with the thirty-second pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. He did not have an easy route to the NBA, partly through self inflicted injuries (academic issues, being late for things like practices and team flights) and others inflicted by external sources (being shot in the abdomen back in April 2006).
Those issues appear to be behind Sharpe now. I do not recall hearing about any issues during his season in Detroit and after a half hearted scouring of the internet I did not find any record of problems at UAB. Because of that we can focus on what he can do on the court instead of his actions off of it.
I happen to have some vintage footage of a 2008 NBA Summer League game from Las Vegas that featured none other than Walter Sharpe suiting up for the Detroit Pistons. Yes, I actually have several 2008 summer league games on DVD (I say CD on the video below, but do not hold it against me). Let me know if you are hard up for hoops and want a copy of one.
As I point out repeatedly Sharpe played power forward in college, but Detroit was working on transforming him into a small forward. Based on watching him I think it was the correct decision. Even less than a month after he was drafted, he showed the ability to play perimeter defense. His ball handling and passing was also very solid for a guy trying to fit into a new position. Wait until you see him shoot a jumper before you get too excited.
Sharpe will clearly not be contributing to the Nuggets in 2009-10 and honestly, he may never be an NBA rotation player. However, he has shown that he can play one on one perimeter defense. If he can learn to handle pick and roll defense better and iron out his shot, he does have a chance to become a rotation player. Obviously this footage is a year old so it is likely he has made strides in both departments. At this point the Nuggets have not added Sharpe to their summer league roster so we will not get a chance to observe him until training camp in October.
The Denver Nuggets front office has pulled off another spectacular trade as they have acquired Arron Afflalo and Walter Sharpe for a second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. That pick is slated to be the lower of the two second rounders the Nuggets currently own in 2011, their own and Portland’s. Unless both of those teams fall apart over the next two seasons that pick should be in the fifties.
When news broke that this trade was a possibility I figured Denver would have to give up the Clippers second round pick they own an option on in the 2010 draft. The fact they took on not only Afflalo’s salary, but Walter Sharpe’s salary too it lowered the price to what will likely be one of the final picks in the 2011 draft plus Detroit threw in $350,000 in cash. Denver was able to land a replacement for Dahntay Jones and a cheap end of the bench prospect in Sharpe for virtually nothing.
Over the previous three summers the Nuggets have acquired J.R. Smith, Renaldo Balkman and now Afflalo and Sharpe for nothing but second round picks, nonguaranteed contracts and/or trade exceptions. Obviously the Smith trade with Chicago was one of the best trades in recent NBA history. Balkman is a very intriguing player who will possibly fill a greater role in 2009-10 and now Afflalo is another rotation player that Denver has brought in at little to no cost. As much attention as the Chauncey Billups trade received it is smaller deals like these that can round out the roster of a contending team.
Afflalo is not a supremely talented player, but he is very solid. He is a very good defender and in his two seasons with the Pistons has adapted to the NBA three point line very well. His rookie season Afflalo only made 20.8% of his 48 attempts. Last season he more than doubled his three point attempts to 107 and despite taking more shots he nearly doubled his percentage as well to an impressive 40.2%.
The difference between the two seasons was Afflalo’s ability to hit the three from the left corner. In his rookie season of 2007-08 Afflalo was 0-9. In 2008-09 he shot 24-44 which equates to 54.5% (you will have to pick the criteria yourself to see his percentages as the URL does not update when you make your selection). Strangely, he only shot 9-31, 29.0%, from the right corner. The two shots are not exact duplicates of each other, but they are close and over time I suspect his percentage from the left corner will drop a bit while his percentage from the right corner will rise. Nevertheless, it is significant that he was able to show such strong improvement between his first and second seasons. If he can continue to improve, he will be a very good offensive weapon.
As we all know there is much more to offense than just shooting open jumpers. So far Afflalo has not shown much more than an ability to catch and shoot. He has not posted very good assist numbers, but I believe that is more due to his role as a catch and shoot player than an inability to pass. He does not have blazing speed, but is a decent drive a kick player. He can dribble with either hand and I believe can answer the call if asked to fill a more significant role on offense. The good news is with players like Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Billups and Nene, Denver does not need Afflalo to come in and light up the scoreboard.
Defensively Afflalo is not great, but can certainly fill the role of the defensive oriented shooting guard. In Detroit he guarded point guards, shooting guards and even small forwards from time to time. He works hard and is very focused. He fights over screens well and has shown the ability to chase players around screens. The one thing he needs to work on is his strength at the point of contact as he tends to give up too much space when the offensive player bumps him to get a shot off.
Afflalo will never be a star, but he is the kind of highly competent player that championship teams need. He may never drive Chris Paul as nuts as Dahntay Jones did, but he has the ability to be just as good a defender game after game while providing much more punch on the offensive end.
There has been some great discussion the past couple days as to whether or not J.R. Smith or Afflalo should start. The good news is we do not need to have an answer for that question yet. While there is no doubt the Nuggets were much worse with Jones on the floor than J.R., I do not think that is a fair argument for keeping Afflalo out of the starting lineup. Afflalo is a much better all around player than Jones and I do not think he would be as much of a drop off from J.R. as Jones was. Personally I would start J.R., but it would not surprise me, especially if Denver loses Linas Kleiza, if Karl decides he needs Smith’s offense off the bench and Afflalo takes the court to start each half.
One interesting tidbit that was pointed out by reader Ky Davis is according to John Hollinger the player Afflalo is most like is none other than former Nugget stalwart Bryant Stith. I think most Nugget fans would gladly take a player of that caliber.
The one man who may be in trouble with the addition of Afflalo is Anthony Carter. Afflalo can provide that end of game defense that Karl craves, but until the Nuggets know they can count on Ty Lawson, Carter will probably still be in their plans.
In the next day or two look for some video of Afflalo to give you all a better idea of what he is capable of. Plus Afflalo is not the only player involved in the trade. Look for a post on Walter Sharpe, with rarely seen footage from the 2008 summer league, in the near future as well.
By the way thanks to those of you who emailed me news of the trade while I was fighting off rain and near hurricane force winds at Water World with my family.