Apparently the market for Darren Collison aint what it used to be.
With the signing of George Hill to a large salary over the next five years, it was pretty clear that Collison no longer had a prominent long-term future with the Pacers. He will be a restricted free agent next summer, and while every team needs a viable backup point guard — and few have one as good as DC — I was fully expecting to hear his name start to come up in trade rumors as the Pacers tried to improve in other areas. Danny Granger still has no productive backup, for example, and, depending on how you feel about Tyler Hansbrough, David West might not either. And of course the team has been trying to lock down a scorer off the bench, preferably at the two-guard spot, for a long time. Leandro Barbosa filled that role in the end of last year — and may come back this year yet the way things are going — but he, along with the entire bench, didn’t do much in the playoffs.
In short, it didn’t surprise me at all to hear Jonathan Givony of Draft Express break some news that Darren Collison has been traded to the Mavericks, a team badly in need of, well, players — but especially a point guard. What is very surprising is to see that the Pacers are shipping out Collison, along with serviceable wing Dahntay Jones, just so they can acquire Ian Mahinmi.
Indiana will acquire Ian Mahinmi (4-years, 16 million) in a sign and trade with Dallas. Darren Collison and Danhtay Jones go to Dallas
In some ways, this isn’t as shocking as it might be if done by another franchise.
Mahinmi does fit the description of the typical Indiana acquisition of late: he is rotation-ready, not young (26 in November) and has little upside. On the positive side, he is a strong, 6’11” presence on the interior who helped Dallas win a ring and doesn’t miss — or take — many shots. But he also doesn’t score, rebound or block shots particularly well. Really, he doesn’t rebound at all. In fact, only 12 centers who played at least 15 mpg (and at least appeared in 20 games) had a worse rebound rate than the 14.3 he posted last season, according to HoopData.
Those 12 players? Starting with the worst: Andrea Bargnani, Joel Anthony, Darko Milicic, Chuck Hayes, Byrons Mullens, Channing Frye, Andris Biedrins, Jason Maxiell, Kurt Thomas, Jermaine O’Neal, Johan Petro and Kendrick Perkins. A few of those guys are super-undersized. A few more are centers in classification only. Yet a few others are corpses. One is Darko.
It isn’t just me that is scratching his head about why Collison only netted so little in return. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated noted that he finds it “hard to believe they could not have gotten more for Collison” while the best Mavs writer I know of, Rob Mahoney, tweeted that it “looks weird input/output-wise.”
Still, from everything I know, Mahinmi is well-liked by both his teammates and coaches as well as Mavericks fans and some intelligent NBA scribes. And the contract that they are signing him to is relatively reasonable. While he won’t ever be excellent, he can be a good backup for Hibbert and likely won’t develop into a guy who can’t make a rotation.
This also begins to make a little more sense when you factor in some other news that has broken while I have been writing all this: Indiana is trying to acquire DJ Augustin of the Charlotte Bobcats. They can sign him out right, but according to NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, they want to acquire DJ via trade.
Pacers have considered offer sheet, but prefer to make a trade for Augustine.
Augustin is a near-clone of DC when it comes to his size, his not-exactly-John-Stockton ability to run an offense, and how his game is viewed in alternatively positive or negative terms depending on who you ask. They may be shipping out Tyler Hansbrough, who has been a relatively large disappointment on the court during his Pacers’ career.
But all this trade talk still seems to be up in the air.
Meanwhile, Mike Wells is also reporting that Gerald Green is now the Pacers number-one target for a backup wing. UPDATE: Peter Vecsey has said it’s a done deal, and Wells is saying Indiana offered Green $10 million over 3 years.
So perhaps this is all about moving on from some players who didn’t fit into their roles and replacing them with other guys who, while perhaps no better, are just different. Nothing here sounds like much of an upgrade; rather, it’s just shuffling some chairs around. If Collison wasn’t going to be around more than another year anyway and was going to perhaps be bitter about losing his starting job to injury and never getting a chance to take it back, then perhaps essentially trading him for Augustin on a decent deal is a reasonable move. He also will be up for a big raise at the end of the season, which the Pacers presumably have zero interest in offering. So they are getting out of that and locking in a similar player who the franchise has liked for some time, in DJ, while it is convenient to do so?
And if you’re turning Dahntay Jones and Tyler Hansbrough into Ian Mahinmi, that is probably a slight net-positive.
Then you add Gerald Green? Who has played fewer good games in the NBA than Jeremy Lin, but would be the one guy on the team with some major growth potential other than Paul George and Lance Stephenson?
Who knows, honestly.
If these ancillary deals do come out, it’s certainly no big coup, but it is … something.