As the season progresses and the trade deadline looks more and more like a distant dot in the rear-view mirror, it looks like the long-term big winners of the trade deadline could be the Portland Trail Blazers.
They turned two players who were going to leave, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, into a lottery pick. They freed up a ton of money in salary by getting back a pair of players: Shawne Williams and Mehmet Okur, whom they have already waived.
Couple that with the fact that they freed up another chunk of change by waiving Greg Oden. They have only $35 million committed. That leaves them $25 million that they can spend in free agency.
Depending on whether Shawne Williams and Jamal Crawford exercise their player options, they could have even more money.
If you're looking at where a team was before looking toward the future before and after the trade deadline, the Trail Blazers have to be big winners.
Prior to the deadline they were a team mired in an imploding scene, and now they suddenly have a very optimistic outlook for next year.
They could be sitting on the fourth or fifth draft pick in one of the deepest drafts in years, and they have a lot of money to shop for free agents.
A lot can be said for rebuilding a team through free agency, just look at the Bulls. The Trail Blazers can do something similar. They'll have the money to re-sign Nicholas Batum. Coupled together with Wes Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge that's a good young core.
With the money they have to spend they can make a run for senior point guard Steve Nash, or even All-Star Deron Williams.
They can also add a number of role players, which is what this team really needs. They can look at the individual pieces and consider how well they fit together.
When you look at that, the team has a promising outlook next year, which is a lot better than they were looking at six weeks ago. Two years down the line, this trade deadline could be the hallmark of when things finally turned around for the Portland Trail Blazers.