Grading the NBA Trade Deadline Deals

Lou CappettaAnalyst IIFebruary 22, 2009

The NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. For the most part, it was a day filled with minor deals and trades made for financial reasons.

Now that the dust has cleared, he is a final grade for some of the teams that made trades prior to the deadline.

Orlando Magic: A

The Orlando Magic are the only team to make a move at the deadline that filled a glaring need. With all-star guard Jameer Nelson likely out for the season with a shoulder injury, the Magic were in desperate need of a point guard.

Realizing that the combination of Tyronn Lue and Anthony Johnson was not cutting it, Orlando acquired point guard Rafer Alston from Houston in a trade that also involved the Memphis Grizzlies.

This move is huge for the Magic. Alston is an excellent ball handler and passer, and brings good defense and toughness.

His shot can be erratic sometimes, especially from three, but he has been known to get hot and score in bunches. This move puts Orlando right behind Boston and Cleveland as the best teams in the East.

New York Knicks: B+

The Knicks have made no secret about trying to make moves that will give them plenty of salary cap space to pursue free agents in 2010, so it was a bit surprising that they made any moves at all, let alone two.

First the Knicks acquired guard Larry Hughes from the Bulls for Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson and Jerome James. The Knicks have desperately needed help at the two guard position since they traded Jamal Crawford earlier this season.

By getting Hughes, a quality defender and scorer, New York fills a need for the remainder of this season and next while still having cap space in 2010 (Hughes has one year left on his contract at $13.9 million). The best part of this deal, however, may be finally get somebody to take Jerome James.

In the second deal, New York acquired Chris Wilcox from Oklahoma City in exchange for Malik Rose. The Knicks felt they desperately needed a big man to play alongside David Lee, and Wilcox fits that role.

He can score a little, rebound, and is more athletic than Eddy Curry. He's no superstar, but he's serviceable and has a contract that expires after this season.

The Knicks may have put themselves in position to seriously challenge for the East's final playoff spot.

Chicago Bulls: B

The Chicago Bulls were another team that was pretty busy at the trade deadline. The Bulls had a logjam at the guard position, and used those pieces to make a series of moves.

The Bulls traded Larry Hughes to the Knicks for Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson and Jerome James. James is a worthless asset, Roberson is a bench player who will probably see limited playing time and Thomas is an athletic player who can play uptempo at either of the two forward slots.

All three players' contracts expire after next season (why else would anyone take Jerome James).

Chicago also sent Drew Gooden and Andres Nocioni to Sacramento for Brad Miller and John Salmons. This trade adds scoring for the Bulls. Brad Miller will team with Joakim Noah at center.

They complement each other well, Noah being an athletic, defensive yet offensively challenged player, and Miller being an excellent scoring and passing big man who is an average defensive player at best.

Salmons is also a key addition at forward, having averaged over 18 points per game this season as the Kings second-leading scorer.

In a third minor deal, Chicago sent disappointing guard Thebo Shefolosha to Oklahoma City for a first-round draft pick.

All three deals help Chicago with their scoring deficiencies and clears up space at the guard spot, leaving a three man guard rotation: Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and Derek Rose.

Toronto Raptors: B

The Raptors made a deal during the All-Star break, sending Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon and a future lottery-protected first-round pick to Miami for Shawn Marion, Marcus Banks and cash considerations.

They also received center Patrick O'Bryant from the Celtics in a three-team trade also involving Sacramento.

Toronto has been one of the most disappointing teams thus far this season, and it became evident that O'Neal and Chris Bosh, both low post players, couldn't play together.

By getting Marion, a player who has the size and rebounding ability of a four and the athleticism and perimeter shot of a three, the offense is more spread out and should begin to flourish.

The trade also frees up cap space after this season for Toronto. That's money they can use to sign a free agent this off=season in order to show Bosh they are trying to compete before he's a free agent in 2010.

The deal for Patrick O'Bryant gives the Raptors another big man to come off the bench and replace O'Neal on the roster.

Miami Heat: C+

Once the Miami Heat felt that their power forward of the future, Michael Beasley, was more suited to play small forward, Marion and his expiring contract became expendable.

Miami traded for Marion and Marcus Banks for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamarion Moon, feeling that O'Neal could provide much needed low post offense the team hasn't had since Shaq was sent to the Suns.

O'Neal, once considered one of the premier front court players in the Eastern Conference, has been steadily on the decline since returning from his suspension for his part in the "Malice at the Palace."

The deal isn't a complete gamble for Miami, however, since O'Neal's contract expires after next season, giving Miami cap space for the much anticipated free agent class of 2010.

Minnesota Timberwolves: C

The Timberwolves only move was a curious one. They sent their under-performing former first round draft pick for another team's under-performing former first round draft pick.

Rashad McCants had fallen out of favor in Minnesota since Kevin McHale took over as coach, and hasn't played more than 15 minutes in a game since Dec. 27.

He was set to become a restricted free agent at season's end and the T-Wolves had no intention of signing him. Calvin Booth, the rarely used center, will also go to Sacramento with McCants.

In return for Booth and McCants, Minnesota will get rookie Bobby Brown and forward Sheldon Williams, the fifth pick in the 2006 draft.

Williams has underachieved in the NBA, not coming anywhere near what scouts thought he would be coming out of Duke. He will give Minnesota financial flexibility after this season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Brown has played well in a backup point guard role in his rookie season, averaging 5.2 points and 1.9 assists per game.

Sacramento Kings, Grade: C-

The Kings made moves with the intent of cutting salary and saving money. They did, however, get some guys who can play.

They received Andres Nocioni and Drew Gooden from Chicago, and finally got out from under Brad Miller's huge contract. Gooden is a good defender and rebounder while Nocioni is a good shooting guard/forward who will have to replace the 18+ points per game that Salmons was putting up.

They also got rid of underachieving Sheldon Williams. Receiving guard Rashad McCants is somewhat of a lateral move, but he can provide scoring off the bench, and Calvin Booth is nothing special, but at least he's a big body to replace some of the minutes that Brad Miller was playing. McCants is a restricted free agent after this season.

Finally, the Kings sent a conditional second round draft choice in 2015 to Boston for guard Sam Cassell. Cassell hasn't played this season for the Celtics, and it isn't clear if the Kings will have Cassell suit up or release him.

He is 39, so even if he plays, Sacramento shouldn't expect a whole lot out of him.

Oklahoma City Thunder: D+

The Thunder tried to improve upon their young team, and almost came away with the steal of the deadline when they sent forward/center Chris Wilcox and forward Joe Smith to New Orleans for center Tyson Chandler.

That deal was rescinded, however, when Chandler failed his physical due to a bout with turf toe. So, in a last-minute deal with the Knicks, Wilcox was sent to NY for forward Malik Rose.

Rose was a bench player for the Knicks. He won't provide much on the court for the Thunder, but he is a great locker room presence and will provide leadership for the Thunder's young talented players. Still, getting Rose is a big letdown from getting Chandler.

Houston Rockets: D-

The Rockets traded their starting point guard, Rafer Alston, to Orlando and received guard Kyle Lowry and forward/center Brian Cook, easily a lopsided deal.

The Rockets did deal from strength, figuring second-year point guard Aaron Brooks is the point guard of the future, and Luther Head is a solid back-up.

The problem is that the Rockets were desperate to make a deal, any deal. They feverishly shopped Ron Artest with no success, and were in seriously talks with the Nets to trade Tracy McGrady for Vince Carter until McGrady informed the world that he needs micro-fracture surgery on his knee.

With both McGrady and Artest untradeable, Houston seemed determined to move either Alston or Luther Head even if they got little in return.

New Orleans Hornets: F

The Hornets were saved from making one of the worst trades in history when Tyson Chandler failed his physical with Sacramento. Still, Chris Paul and Chandler developed a great chemistry together, and the trade was made strictly for financial reasons.

That sends a message to the fans and your star players that the team is not putting winning first. Now that Chandler will remain with the team, will there be any resentment from any of the parties involved? It's a total mess.

Some teams made moves to better there team, others for financial reasons. Some teams were able to accomplish both. It will be interesting to see if any of these moves will have an impact on the playoff race.


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