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NBA Trade Deadline: Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Bucks and the 10 Biggest Winners

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NBA Trade Deadline:  Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Bucks and the 10 Biggest Winners
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 2012 NBA trade deadline is behind us, and it certainly provided fans with memorable, last minute trades that will undoubtedly shape the outcome of the 2011-12 NBA season.

While a majority of big-name moves didn't happen, like Dwight Howard leaving Orlando or Pau Gasol getting moved from Los Angeles, there were a number of under-the-radar moves that could certainly impact the 2012 playoff picture.

Here is a link for all the trades that went down before the March 15th NBA trade deadline.

Which teams were the real winners of the trade deadline?  Let's start with a team that didn't make a move -- the Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics

While Danny Ainge denied trade rumors (via ESPN) regarding moving Rajon Rondo, there's no doubt the Celtics made the right move by not letting him, or any other member of their team out of their sight.

The Boston Celtics certainly don't have the brightest future, with a majority of their franchise talent nearing the ends of their illustrious careers, but that doesn't mean they needed to make a move right now.

If the season ended right now, the Celtics would find themselves in a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat, which isn't a bad place to be for such an inconsistent team.

By not moving anyone by the trade deadline, the Celtics put the focus on their present situation, which is just what they needed.

Elsa/Getty Images

New Jersey Nets

In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the New Jersey Nets made a deadline move to get Gerald Wallace from the Portland Trail Blazers.

While at first glance that move might not look like anything all that special, it gives the Nets an impressive rotation with MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Deron Williams in the same lineup.

What's most impressive about this trade, is the fact that they were able to get Wallace without giving away much of anything in return, with the Nets only having to give up Mehmet Okur, Shawn Williams and a future first-round pick.

Gerald Wallace isn't going to make the Nets a contender, but he's a nice piece for the Nets moving forward into the next season or two, especially if Deron Williams stays in New Jersey.

Houston Rockets

At first glance it might appear that the Rockets lost out by not making a move for Pau Gasol, which was heavily rumored heading into the trade deadline, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN. But when you stop and look at what Houston got, it's clear that Houston still made some nice moves.

The Rockets managed to hold onto Kyle Lowry while improving at the center position and bringing in the veteran leadership they've needed at the point guard position for players like Lowry and Goran Dragic.

Houston is currently a playoff contender in the Western Conference, and they certainly didn't need to make a blockbuster move that would have blown up their roster. Instead, the Rockets got a few pieces they needed in Camby and Fisher (as reported by Ric Bucher of ESPN) without losing real talent.

Elsa/Getty Images

Miami Heat

While the Miami Heat haven't been playing the dominant kind of basketball that they were before the 2012 NBA All-Star break, they still have one of the best teams in the league, and the last thing they needed to do was to make a change to their eight-man rotation.

In February, Chris Tomasson of FoxSports reported that the Heat were interested in acquiring New Orleans Hornets' center, Chris Kaman.  While that was a tempting thought, the Heat made the right decision by not trading for him.

Trading for Kaman would've meant major upheaval of the Heat's current roster, and that would have all but ended their hopes of being the best team in the Eastern Conference, and making a run at the 2012 NBA title.

The Heat made the right move by staying put as the NBA trade deadline came and went, which makes them a winner.

Philadelphia 76ers

In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the Philadelphia 76ers made a move that sent Ricky Sanchez, a prospect who's never played an NBA game, to the Grizzlies for an athletic small forward in Sam Young.

While I'd argue that Philadelphia didn't need to make a move by the trade deadline to be competitive in the Eastern Conference, they certainly found a way to make a smart move.

Philadelphia was able to get an athletic defender and a solid rebounder in Young, while giving away a player who has never actually seen minutes in an NBA jersey.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This is the kind of under-the-radar move that can really be a difference-maker heading in the second half of the 2011-12 NBA season.

Oklahoma City Thunder 

While there weren't any real rumors regarding the Thunder making a move before the trade deadline, they were on the list of "teams that absolutely needed to make zero trades", and they did just that.

The Thunder are arguably the best team in the NBA, and they are certainly the best team in the Western Conference, and a major reason for that success is the chemistry that exists between all the players on their depth chart.

The last thing the Thunder needed was to get themselves involved in a trade situation, and they avoided that, which earns them a spot on this list of the 2012 trade deadline winners.    

Washington Wizards

This last-second trade was certainly one of the biggest shocks of the day.

The Washington Wizards are absolutely not going anywhere with the roster they currently have. It's clear that the play of JaVale McGee held them back more than it helped them, which is why it was smart to send him away.

The Wizards absolutely stole Nene Hilario away from the Denver Nuggets, which is a great move for them. It gives them veteran leadership that they need, while also allowing them to keep pieces like John Wall in place.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While the Wizards will still certainly finish under .500 at the end of this season, having Nene moving forward is a solid move for a young, inconsistent team.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers really didn't make any wild surprises before the trade deadline, aside from trading away their veteran point guard Derek Fisher. That doesn't mean they weren't one of the winners of this trade period.

The Lakers got the point guard they needed in Ramon Sessions, and they also managed to improve their production off the bench by getting Jordan Hill from the Houston Rockets. When Jordan Hill is healthy, he can be a solid producer on offense, and that's something the Lakers will undoubtedly benefit from.

The only reason why Los Angeles isn't higher on this list is because they lost both of their 2012 first-round draft picks, which might hurt them moving forward. Either way, the Lakers came out of the trade deadline as one of the clear winners by adding Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill.

Milwaukee Bucks

If the Los Angeles Clippers hadn't got Nick Young right at the trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks would have earned the highest grade on this list, but they come in second with a high A.

Milwaukee was able to get rid of their oft-inured center in Andrew Bogut, and their horribly inconsistent shooting guard in Stephen Jackson. This was absolutely a perfect move for them to make going forward.

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

Getting Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh are major upgrades for them at both major positions, and the creation of the backcourt of Ellis and Brandon Jennings is absolutely great for the future of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise.

Los Angeles Clippers

The clear winners of the trade deadline were the Los Angeles Clippers, who swooped in right at the end and got the shooting guard they needed in Nick Young.

Nick Young is the kind of player who not only can help the Clippers this season, but is also a solid building block for the future. They were able to get him by sending away Brian Cook, who's a below-average power forward, and a possible draft pick.

Young's average of 16.6 points per game is going to make the Clippers a very difficult team to beat, and with him joining Chris Paul, he's going to help form one of the most dynamic back-courts in the entire game.

Were the Clippers the clear winners of the 2012 NBA trade deadline?  Are there teams that should've been on this list that weren't?  Let your thoughts be known in the comment section below. 

Thanks for checking out the article, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @peteremerick

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