<
>

Eric Maynor matters

With the economy in shambles over the last year, many had predicted owners would slash payrolls like crazy. If you were willing to spend, the thinking went, you'd have all kinds of premium players available, because most of the league lacked the cash to pay them.

And yet, we have not seen many desperation moves. Plenty of teams carried a player or two fewer than normal. Teams played hardball with a free agent here or there. Some players who would have become free agents in any normal year instead avoided the open market by exercising their rights to stick with their current teams. Players like Jerry Stackhouse got to sit out half a season before somebody decided to employ them.

But if there was one move that was entirely about the money, as Marc Stein explained in December, it was Utah's trading of promising guard Eric Maynor to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Utah saved a ton in luxury tax as part of a bigger, more complex deal, while Oklahoma City got a young player both teams liked.

And watch the highlights above. There's Eric Maynor connecting on a huge fourth-quarter lob to Kevin Durant in a win in Boston Garden. It's not like he's an MVP candidate at this point, but he's a rookie not just getting minutes but also producing at point guard for a really good team that also has blue-chipper Russell Westbrook at that position. Maynor's a young player the Thunder trust, and he shows a ton of promise.

Meanwhile, check the standings, and you'll see something that I'm certain Maynor has noticed, too. It's entirely possible that the Thunder will face the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. If such a series were to occur, Maynor would be eager to make the Jazz ownership look foolish for being frugal, and he'd have a decent chance of doing just that.