First of all, I'm curious if any player has been traded more times in a shorter time period that Quentin Richardson this summer. He has gone from New York to Memphis for Darko Milicic on 6/25, from Memphis to the Clippers for Zach Randolph on 7/17 and now from the Clippers to Minnesota for Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and Mark Madsen - traded three times in less than a month. It must be some sort of record. Oh, and about 10 days of that was waiting on another transaction, or this whole thing might have happened even faster. Given the fact that there are restrictions on trading a traded player (specifically, he has to be traded alone, not packaged with anyone else, for two months), there probably aren't too many cases like this, if indeed there are any. Anyone got another example?
As for the trade itself, I'm a little mixed. One of the traditional ways to evaluate a trade is to ask who got the single best player in the deal. I don't think there's any question that Craig Smith is the best player in this deal. He's 25 and has a career PER of 16.4 and a career true shooting percentage close to 60%. He's younger and much more efficient than Q. The simple fact is that I wasn't expecting the Clippers to get much out of Richardson this season, so it's not like they're giving anything up.
But on the other hand, if Smith is the best player on paper, the reality is he doesn't fit very well on the court. He's an undersized four, and the Clippers are already more than a little crowded in the front court. Can he play the three? Well, he's never made a three-pointer in the NBA (in 16 attempts over three seasons), so that tells you a little about his range. He's certainly not going to be spreading the floor, which is the one thing Q could have provided. This trade may be an indication that the Clippers coaching staff left Las Vegas more convinced than ever that Blake Griffin can play the three. But it leaves the Clippers even thinner at their thinnest position.
There's also a little danger that the Clippers (and Clips Nation for that matter) overvalue Smith because of what he has done to LA as a pro. He's had some HUGE games against the LAC in his career - 9 of 11 for 21 points, 9 of 14 for 20, 7 of 13 for 16. But he's only been over 20 a dozen times in three seasons, so the fact that two of them came against us is more than a little skewed - he's a Fairfax High product, so maybe he just likes playing against the Clippers. Then again, the Clippers have struggled against this type of undersized PF the last few years too.
Telfair is a former lottery pick who has struggled to find a home in the NBA. I have to say, I've never been a fan of Bassie. If he stays with the Clippers (no guarantees, just look at what happened to Q) it will be his fourth NBA team in his 6th season. At all of his previous stops (Portland, Boston and Minnesota), he's been given the chance to be the starter - and been underwhelming in each case. In five NBA seasons, he's started 26, 30, 30, 51 and 43 games and in fact more than half of his career games have been with the first unit (180 of 349). And yet, you'd be hard-pressed to find an NBA person who considers him a 'starter'. Always a good passer, his assist to turnover ration the last couple of seasons in Minny was actually pretty respectable - but his 38% shooting only looks good when compared to Baron's 37%, and even then it doesn't look good. He's also undersized at 6'0". Is he an upgrade at backup point guard over Mike Taylor? Based on what we saw in Las Vegas, yes, he should be. It's not a major improvement, but he should at least be a more consistent floor leader.
Madsen is in the last year of a $10M contract the Wolves gave him a while back - which is $10M more than he should have made playing basketball. By all indications he's a great 'locker room guy', but hopefully the Clippers have bigger plans for that roster spot than the final stop for Dancin' Mark.
So like I say, I have mixed feelings. The Clippers aren't giving up much losing Q. Telfair has a player option for $2.7M in 2010, so that is a definite downside to doing this trade. Smith is a good player who happens to play a spot where they're pretty loaded. Does it mean that another big (maybe Chris Kaman) is destined to be moved?