NBA Roundtable

Trade: Gray for Brown

In Trade Talk on January 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Adrian Wojnarowski reports

It appears Chicago has found a bench scorer: Bulls and Hornets are near Aaron Gray for Devin Brown trade, sources say.


Devin Brown has the right to veto any trade and used it earlier in the season when New Orleans were offering him for Jason Hart. So this deal is still not definite and may not go through. I think it has a good chance though.

Update: The deal has gone through. A link to the Bulls press release.

The Money

How could the Bulls afford that?

They weren’t able to sign another player for a minimum earlier in the season. They were too close to the luxury tax threshold and they haven’t made a move since then.


  • Huh, Gray makes $1mil? That’s surprising. It’s only his third year right? Shouldn’t he be closer to $825k?
  • And Devin Brown is at $1.107 million. So only a $100k difference.
  • The Bulls were $125k below the LTT prior to the trade so they’re still just below the threshold.
  • Jeez, they probably can’t even afford a 10 day contract at this stage.
  • The Hornets are still $425k over the LTT. They need to make another move to get below the threshold.


The Bulls pickup a decent reserve wing which is valuable because they had only two true wing players on the roster in Luol Deng and John Salmons. So Devin Brown is a useful bench player who might get some court time and at the very least is a valuable insurance policy. Nice pickup.

New Orleans

Aaron Gray is a good third string center but I doubt he sees the court in New Orleans. They already have Emeka Okafor and David West as their starting bigs, Darius Songaila as their first big off the bench, and Sean Marks as their fourth big off the bench. Three of those bigs see minutes at center. Aaron Gray will be outside of the rotation.


Nice trade for Chicago. They gained a more useful bench player.

Solid trade for New Orleans. They saved another $200k and have a serviceable fifth big.

  1. Hi Dave

    Jeff Bower has handed the starting SG spot to Marcus Thornton and from a report I’ve seen, Bower’s excited with what Thornton can do with his extended minutes.

    What are thoughts on this? Also, how has Thornton met your draft night expectations so far this season?

    Thanks. Your takes on the various NBA topics are insightful and refreshing; keep it up.

  2. Hey G,

    I’m not that high on Marcus Thornton because I think he’s a poor defender + very poor rebounder + poor passer + he takes a large number of shots without being efficient offensively.

    So I think he creates a lot of negative contributions in non-scoring areas (defense + rebounding + passing) and that his positive contributions (scoring) are limited to his scoring efficiency.


    As for my expectations for Thornton, he’s fairly close to them so far. Thornton is very close to where I expected him to be in terms of his defense, his rebounding, his passing and his shot taking + scoring.

    Two surprises. I expected his scoring efficiency to be worse (TS% of around 51-52% versus 53%, still in the ball park but moving away from below average to mediocre) and
    the number of minutes he’s received. I didn’t think he’d be a rotation regular due to his lack of contributions in non-scoring areas + scoring efficiency but the Hornets became so desperate for more production from the wings, and for another scoring presence, that he moved into the lineup quick than I thought.

    The Scoring

    Some statistics for a reference point — the scoring is solid but scoring efficiency is fairly mediocre

    Field goal percentage = 43.3%
    Field goal attempts + makes = Per game: 8.5 attempts + 3.7 makes. Per 36 mins: 16 attempts + 6.9 makes.
    Three point percentage = 36.2%
    Three point attempts + makes = Per game: 3.3 attempts + 1.2 makes. Per 36 mins: 6.3 attempts + 2.3 makes.
    eFG% (adjusted FG%) = 50.5%
    Free throw makes + attempts = Per game: 1.5 attempts + 1.1 makes. Per 36 minutes: 2.8 attempts + 2.1 makes.
    True shooting percentage = 52.9%
    Scoring = 9.7 points in 19.1 minutes. 18.0 points per 36 minutes.

    Marcus Thornton is a good shooter who shoots 46% on jump shots which are roughly two thirds of his shot attempts. He gets to the paint at a good clip (one third) and finishes well (55%). His scoring in terms of field goal attempts is pretty good (average or slightly above average).

    The problem is that never draws fouls (only 2.8 FTAs per 36). That lowers his overall scoring efficiency and puts him into the mediocre to slightly below average group.

    Thornton was excellent at avoiding turnovers in college and he’s been very good in the NBA too. Only 0.7 turnovers per game in 19 minutes a night, or 1.7 per 36, which is very good considering how many shot attempts he takes. This improves his efficiency some and puts him in that mediocre range in terms of scoring efficiency.

    Mediocre is better than I expected. I thought he’d be below average. So I’m happy with what he’s done on that end of the floor this season.

    The efficiency is a slight worry and likely never become a major strength for him due to his shot selection (lack of threes, lack of FTs, lot of midrange Js), but it’s alright. It’s not a strength, it’s not a weakness, so long as he stays in that mediocre range.


    The problem is with the rest of his game. He only pulls down one rebound every 10 minutes which is very poor for a shooting guard and only mediocre for a point guard. He doesn’t create offense with his passing. And his lack of defense hurts his team. Both his team defense and his man-to-man defense (more team D) are poor. It’s those non-scoring contributions that limit his potential. If Thornton was better in those areas we’d be talking about an All-Star caliber prospect.

    Marcus Thornton will get a lot of praise for his high scoring but his lack of all-round game will always hold him back. He’s a role player who scores a lot. Although he needs a lot of touches + shot attempts to be effective. So as a role player, he’ll likely be taking shots/touches away from more effective offensive players if he’s on a high quality offensive team, but could be very valuable on a poor offensive team.

    Marcus Thornton is an excellent second round pick and he’ll become an excellent trade asset for the New Orleans Hornets. However, teams should beware of his low level of impact for a prolific scorer and be aware of his high demands/needs for touches and shot attempts despite this.

    Currently, he hurts you more than he helps you unless you’re truly desperate for scoring.

    In terms of potential, I doubt Thornton ever improves his rebounding or passing but if he can get his defense up to a solid level while also improving that scoring efficiency (55% TS%) then he’ll be a solid rotation player in this league. His size + athleticism + lack of ball-handling ability + poor ability to draw FTs limit his potential both defensively and as a go-to scorer. Due to the nature of his game (scoring), he’ll likely be a long time starter and get more acclaim + money than he actually deserves.

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