Although this year’s trade deadline was qui-eter than usual, several surprising and successful trades – and failed ones – occurred. There weren’t any ground-shattering, game-changing moves that would have happened had Deron Williams or Dwight Howard been traded, but several sur-prising moves have slightly changed the playoff race and could give a few teams an edge.
The first trade deadline deal was one of the most polarizing; it sent Andrew Bogut and Ste-phen Jackson from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Golden State Warriors for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown. Analyzing this deal, it’s pretty clear that in the immediate future, the Bucks got a great deal. Bogut is hurt and Jack-son was in a conflict with Scott Skiles, so they turned deadweight into an overrated but solid scorer in Ellis and a decent ceiling and quality PF/C in Ekpe Udoh. The Warriors made this deal, it would seem, to get a better draft pick this year. If the pick lands outside of the top seven, Utah receives that pick via New Jersey from a Warriors/Nets deal years ago.
Bogut could add a solid defensive presence to the Warriors if and when he gets healthy, but that is a big if. This trade will definitely make them worse in the near future, and likely fur-ther, especially when it is noted that they moved Stephen Jackson for Richard Jefferson and a Spurs first-rounder, which was a poor move because Richard Jefferson has a worse contract for longer than Jackson. Furthermore, the team now has no cap flexibility for at least the next two years. All in all, the Bucks and Spurs won these deals at Golden State’s expense.
Next, the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets were also very active this deadline. The Lakers managed to give a first-round pick to Cleveland to unload Luke Walton’s contract, and still get a quality point man in Ramon Ses-sions back. They then flipped Derek Fisher and a first rounder to Houston for Jordan Hill, a backup center. This was a move to save money, but it was certainly a surprise to see the man who has been by Kobe’s side for every champi-onship he has won tossed out in a salary dump. The Rockets also moved Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second-rounder to the Portland Trail Blazers for Marcus Camby, an expiring contract that also doubles as a serviceable backup for Sam Dalembert. Houston and the Lakers clearly made their teams better with these moves, as the Lakers got a younger backcourt, and Hous-ton added a solid veteran to their roster, while not taking a major cap hit. The Blazers are also taking a shot on two players that appear to be busts while dumping a contract. The Cleveland move is puzzling, however, because it seems that taking Luke Walton’s contract would be worth that first-round pick alone, and that they could have received much better for Ramon Sessions. This trade really didn’t make sense, as Sessions had a good value and one would think he would receive a better return than what is essentially nothing.
The most surprising trades happened at almost the last minute of the trade deadline. The Blazers moved Gerald Wallace to the Nets for a top-three protected first-rounder Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams. This trade, in my opinion, is absolutely terrible for New Jersey. They are most likely not going to make the playoffs, and this trade makes them good enough to avoid a top-three pick, meaning they’re headed for the lottery. Gerald Wallace is far past his prime and will not bring that team a championship. The Nets just panic-traded one of their biggest assets for an old, overpaid veteran and now will likely lose Deron Williams to free agency. This is the story of the Nets lately, especially if the point guard leaves. A team has to be built from the ground up, and now the Nets are mortgaging their future to try to convince Williams to stay, when he could eas-ily leave the Nets high and dry, now with past-their-prime veterans and no draft picks. On the flipside, the Blazers can now flash-rebuild and pair two lottery picks with LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wes Matthews and Nolan Smith, if he pans out.
The Nuggets traded Nene to the Wizards in return for Ronny Turiaf and Javale McGee, and the LA Clippers sent Brian Cook and a second-rounder to the Washington Wizards for Nick Young. This was the most surprising trade of the day, as Nene was just signed to a five-year deal. The trade can be justified by all three teams, as the Clippers get a solid shooting guard to pair with Chris Paul for almost no cost, the Wizards unloaded two poor-attitude players for a veteran center and the Nuggets got to dump salary to sign Wilson Chandler and landed a freakishly talented but mentally weak center in Javale Mc-Gee. The Wizards are taking a risk with Nene’s albatross of a contract, and I can say that after seeing Nene play in person last week, he has lost a step and is not playing up to that value. If he can regain his athleticism, he could do well with John Wall, and he has always been a high character professional. It’s a risk that may pay off for the Wizards.
Finally, there were several small trades that will not have a major effect on the NBA landscape. Sam Young was traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Ricky San-chez in a salary dump, and Leandro Barbosa was traded to the Indiana Pacers for a second-round pick. The Pacers added a decent scorer off the bench and the Toronto Raptors are obviously try-ing to lose to get a better pick at this point, so it’s a win-win situation.
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