The 10 Biggest Losers from NBA Trade Deadline Drama

Ben Shapiro@benshapironyc1 Analyst IIIMarch 16, 2012

The 10 Biggest Losers from NBA Trade Deadline Drama

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    Everyone always remembers the "winners" at a trade deadline. 

    The "losers" get remembered also, but sometimes no one even realizes they lost. That old adage, "You can't win if you don't play," doesn't apply at trade deadline time. 

    In fact, sometimes inaction is far worse than action. Even a seemingly bad trade can be better than not making one at all. 

    Who won, who lost and who lost by not even participating in this year's NBA trade deadline? 


10. Dallas Mavericks

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    It's already been a rough year for the Dallas Mavericks. 

    The team lost several key players from their championship squad of last year. They brought in Lamar Odom, but he has yet to have any sort of major impact. 

    Currently the team is 24-20 and in position to claim the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. They'll probably make the playoffs, but the Mavericks didn't do anything to strengthen their unimpressive squad today.

    The team has clear weaknesses in the low post. They miss Tyson Chandler and Brandon Haywood, and Ian Mahimini has not provided enough to make up for Chandler's absence.

    Point guard Jason Kidd is only getting older and backup guard Delonte West is not as reliable as Jose Juan Barea was last year.

    Dallas didn't have enough flexibility as far as expiring contracts and cap space goes to have made an earth-shattering trade, but something might have been better than nothing.  

9. Charlotte Bobcats

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    It's been a bad year in Charlotte.

    There was nothing the Bobcats could do at the deadline to immediately improve their team's fortunes. The team did have a player in Boris Diaw with a cumbersome contract that the Bobcats would have loved to jettison. 

    They couldn't do it, though. Actually, rather than the team not being able to pull off the trade, it appears they were just too cheap to follow through on it.

    Cap room is valuable, but it's far more valuable for teams that are going to be pursuing top free agents. Does anyone think a top free agent is going to sign with Charlotte?

    No, the Bobcats are best served by building through the draft, and it's likely that Diaw may have netted the Bobcats that cumbersome contract, as well as a valuable draft pick.

    Charlotte never went through with it, though. Instead they appear content to merely buy-out Diaw's contract, which will still cost them some money but won't add a draft pick, either.  

8. Utah Jazz

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    The Utah Jazz have a stable of promising young big men and then they also have a collection of players who aren't bad but won't be around long enough to reap the benefits of the eventual development of the younger players. 

    It might have made sense for the Jazz to deal some of their more tradeable assets, such as guards Devin Harris or Raja Bell. 

    Instead the team chose to just stand pat and do nothing. Perhaps they're hoping to hit a hot streak and sneak into the playoffs? That would be a nice story if it happened, but it's not likely. Instead the team passed up what may have been an opportunity to possibly trade for some future draft picks. 

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's the Utah Jazz's trade deadline in a nutshell. 

7. Atlanta Hawks

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    When dawn broke today, the Atlanta Hawks had three players who either wanted out of Atlanta or could have brought value back to Atlanta. 

    As of tonight, they're all still there.

    Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich and Marvin Williams were all spoken of in various trade chatter. All are still on the Hawks, who chose to basically sit on the sidelines for the deadline. 

    The Hawks did hand a second-round pick over to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for monetary considerations. That cash will be used to alleviate some of the luxury tax burden that plagues the team. 

    This season has been a peculiar one in Atlanta. The team lost center Al Horford to a season-ending injury early on. Joe Johnson has also been plagued by injuries. Yet, the team still has amassed a respectable 24-19 record and sits in position to claim the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    The only problem with standing on the sidelines in their current position is that if you're not going to bother with this season, which makes sense due to the injuries, then trying to discard players and improve for next year would seem like a logical move. 

    That's not what happened, though. 

6. Detroit Pistons

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    The Pistons probably aren't going to make the playoffs this season. They've got young talent like Austin Daye and high priced veterans like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

    The Pistons were unable to find the right offer to deal any of these movable parts. Maybe the offers were bad, but then again, something is better than nothing at times.

    A couple of days ago head coach Lawrence Frank alluded to a lack of deadline action in a chat with the Detroit Free Press.

    Apparently, Frank spoke the truth—that's good. Not doing anything to improve your team over the short or long term isn't. 

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers approached the deadline in a good position. After all, they had a valuable and movable asset in point guard Ramon Sessions. 

    Surely the Cavs could turn Sessions into yet another building block on a team that has done a decent job of bouncing back from LeBron James' departure in June of 2010. 

    No, no they could not apparently.

    What they basically did was give Sessions to the Lakers for a player who is both expensive and useless in Luke Walton. Yes, Cleveland got a first-round pick out of the deal, but it will be very late in the first round and that pick will cost the Cavs money to sign as well.

    This trade had only one winner, and they're wearing purple and gold.  

4. New Orleans Hornets

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    The New Orleans Hornets are supposed to be shedding salary. They had a pricey but talented center who they could have gotten rid of, but instead they'd rather entertain buying him out rather than acquiring anything at all for his services. 

    The Hornets had offers—apparently, they wanted a first-round pick for Chris Kaman—but as the deadline drew near, they showed signs of softening their demands. In the end Kaman remained in New Orleans.

    What about Carl Landry? Landry is a solid forward who could have contributed on a contender down the stretch. Apparently, time ran out on the Hornets as they sought to deal Landry.

    The Hornets really needed to, at the very least, jettison salaries at the deadline. They couldn't make it happen, though.  

3. Washington Wizards

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    Maybe the Wizards' management should take the advice of George Costanza and do the opposite of whatever intuition they have.

    The Wizards were concerned that JaVale McGee would demand a ton of money as a restricted free agent this summer and bolt the team. In response to this concern they dealt McGee, who has played with maddening inconsistency this season for the Denver Nuggets.

    In return the Nuggets sent the Wizards an older, more injury prone and expensive center who just happens to also be signed to a long-term contract.

    The team also managed to cast aside a promising young shooting guard in Nick Young in exchange for career bench warmer Brian Cook and a second-round draft pick.

    All in all the Wizards, who are ostensibly building for the future, managed to get older and limit their salary cap room down the road as well. Nice work.  

2. Boston Celtics

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    Depleted front court? Check

    Expiring contracts? Check

    Almost no chance of a run to the NBA Finals? Check

    Sense of urgency to rectify these issues? Not so much. 

    That's the Boston Celtics. 

    The Celtics, who occupy the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, are in the midst of an eight-game road swing. It got off to a rough start when they lost to the Lakers, but since then they've won back-to-back games against the Clippers and Warriors. 

    Maybe that's the problem? The team isn't that bad. They're not that good either, though. With an aging trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and a dynamic young point guard in Rajon Rondo, the Celtics have an odd mix of ingredients for sustained success. 

    Allen and Garnett are both free agents after this season. One would think that a lot of teams would have interest in someone like Ray Allen. Many did and today the team had offers, but they never pulled the trigger on any of them.

    Apparently, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge sees losing Ray Allen outright to free agency as a better move for the Celtics than actually getting something tangible in return for him before he becomes a free agent.

    If that sounds questionable, it's because it is. 

1. New Jersey Nets

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    How many bad things can happen to this franchise? 

    As little as a day ago it looked like there was a real chance that the New Jersey Nets would move to Brooklyn and start their inaugural season there with Dwight Howard at center and Deron Williams as the point guard.

    Then Howard flip-flopped like a fish out of water and stayed in Orlando until the end of next season. New Jersey was apparently so upset about this development that they attempted to compensate for their disappointment by executing a terrible trade with the Portland Trailblazers.

    The Nets got an inconsistent and aging forward in Gerald Wallace from the Blazers and had to part with Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a first-round pick in this summer's draft. The pick is protected, but only top three protected. That means that the Nets may have given up as high as the No. 4 overall pick in one of the deeper drafts in recent memory in exchange for a player who could be gone after this season.

    The only thing this deal accomplished for New Jersey is that it gives them extra motivation to lose games down the stretch so they can actually get a top-three pick in the 2012 draft.

    What a mess.