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NBA Trade Deadline 2013: How the Day's Action Reshaped the League

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2013

NBA Trade Deadline 2013: How the Day's Action Reshaped the League

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    The 2013 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and while some of the biggest names surprisingly stayed put, there were still a handful of subtler moves that could alter the shape of the league—this year and beyond.

    The Milwaukee Bucks added J.J. Redick to their perimeter attack in a move that, at least theoretically, will improve their playoff chances by shoring up an iffy outside shooting corps.

    Meanwhile, a team not in need of any help in its playoff push, the Oklahoma City Thunder, made a pair of interesting moves. And one of them was clearly done with a potential NBA Finals rematch with the Miami Heat in mind.

    And, of course, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey stayed two steps ahead of everyone else, flipping former mid-first-round picks and bench players for an asset with massive upside.

    Everyone will be talking about Josh Smith remaining in Atlanta and the Brooklyn Nets' failure to deliver on promises to be active market participants, but don't discount the smaller moves that took place in a relatively quiet deadline period.

    Sometimes, the littlest changes end up having the biggest transformative effects.

OKC Eyes a Finals Rematch

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    Ronnie Brewer is a player with very limited utility. So when the Oklahoma City Thunder sent a second-round pick to the New York Knicks for him, it wasn't because they were looking for a guy to log big minutes in their rotation.

    Brewer is nothing but a defensive stopper, and still a very good one at that. But his offensive limitations make him someone that shouldn't be playing more than spot minutes when certain matchups present themselves.

    Like when teams go small against OKC in the playoffs, and Kevin Durant moves to the power forward spot.

    Against the Miami Heat, for example, the Thunder could benefit greatly by having both Thabo Sefolosha and Brewer on the wings together against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. There won't be much offense from those two, but there's not really much more when OKC goes big and plays Kendrick Perkins alongside Sefolosha.

    Make no mistake, the Thunder made this move with an eye on a potential NBA Finals rematch with the Heat. This time around, they'll have two elite wing defenders to throw at Miami.

Phoenix Trims Fat, Acquires Assets

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    The Phoenix Suns have struggled through a rough season thus far, but with a few shrewd deadline moves, they may be pointing themselves in the right direction for the future.

    In a deal that kicked off the action late Wednesday night, the Suns agreed to send a second-round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Marcus Morris. Considering Morris had started 17 games for a team currently in the playoff picture, getting him for a second-round selection is a pretty nice value move.

    Morris can shoot the ball (38 percent from long range) and has the size to perfectly fit into Phoenix's plans as a stretch-4.

    Even better, Morris will be reunited with his twin brother, Markieff, in Phoenix. From a pure entertainment standpoint, you've got to love that. And who knows, maybe there's some kind of weird, cosmic law that says twins have special powers when they play together. (Or maybe I've watched too much TV.)

    In addition to twin reunification, the Suns also sent Sebastian Telfair to the Toronto Raptors for a second-rounder. Telfair had no future in Phoenix, as Kendall Marshall has assumed backup point guard duties, so it shows good foresight to at least get a pick in return.

    Plus, Toronto threw in Hamed Haddadi. So there's that.

Portland Addressed a Massive Need

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    With the Houston Rockets playing terrific ball and the L.A. Lakers showing signs of pulling things together, it had started to look like the Portland Trail Blazers were facing an increasingly difficult path to the playoffs.

    But by acquiring point guard Eric Maynor from the Oklahoma City Thunder for somebody named Giorgos Printezis, the Blazers shored up one of their biggest needs: backup point guard.

    Ronnie Price and Nolan Smith have both been absolutely horrendous this year in relief of rookie Damian Lillard, so even though Maynor hasn't had a banner season himself, he still represents an improvement over Portland's existing backup duo.

    If the rookie wall eventually knocks Lillard—who's averaging 38.5 minutes per game—down a bit, Portland now has a decent fallback option in Maynor.

    The addition of a castoff point guard might not ultimately be enough to help the Blazers secure a No. 8 seed in the West, but it certainly strengthened the team's most glaring weakness.

Boston Gambles on a Wild Card

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    The Boston Celtics may be thriving without Rajon Rondo, but they've been doing it with defense. Given the age of the roster and the increased demands on its stars of late, it stands to reason that the Celtics won't be able to consistently rely on their ability to win games in the 80s forever.

    Which is what makes Boston's acquisition of Jordan Crawford so interesting.

    The former Washington Wizard has earned his reputation as a chucker by shooting just 41.5 percent this year, and he certainly hasn't projected the most professional approach of late. But there's no denying that Crawford possesses offensive talents that simply don't exist elsewhere on Boston's roster.

    Because the veteran presences of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are so strong, there's a good chance that Crawford's worst instincts won't be allowed to surface on the Celtics.

    As a pure one-on-one scorer and decent distributor, the Xavier product might give Boston the offensive jolt it'll need if its defense slips down the stretch.

    And by giving up the injured Leandro Barbosa and seldom-used Jason Collins, Boston didn't risk much in exchange for a player with the potential to reshape its crunch-time lineup.

    Oh, and Boston opened up a roster spot if it wants to bring on any potential buyout players, which could help further address the team's scoring needs in the near future.

    As for the Wizards, well...at least they recognized that Crawford's time was up in Washington.

Miami Opens Up a Roster Spot

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    Speaking of teams clearing space for buyout candidates over the next few weeks, the Miami Heat shipped Dexter Pittman to the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to Argentinian professional Ricky Sanchez.

    In doing so, the Heat cleared room in case they want to bring on a late-season addition from the upcoming buyout market. They've already had success with Chris Andersen, whom they picked up off of the scrap heap, so perhaps the Heat are similarly optimistic about their chances to add another such player.

    Maybe they'll intensify their pursuit of Greg Oden.

    Either way, with an open roster spot, Miami's got options now. Don't discount the value in that.

Milwaukee Rents Redick

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    Well, it certainly looks like the Milwaukee Bucks are committed to a playoff run now. By acquiring J.J. Redick from the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee got a hold of the floor-spacing shooter it lacked. 

    The question is: Will it be enough to matter?

    Following a rough stretch that coincided with the Celtics' resurgence, the Bucks have slipped into the No. 8 spot in the East. In theory, Redick's 39 percent three-point stroke and solid pick-and-roll skills should help the Bucks improve their 25th-ranked offense.

    Fit could be an issue, though, because with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis gobbling up the vast majority of the team's shots, it might be tough for Milwaukee to maximize Redick's perimeter value.

    A free agent this summer, Redick will have more than his share of suitors. So if the Bucks don't manage to hang on to their playoff spot, Redick's likely departure will make this move look pretty shortsighted.

    Overall, this particular trade didn't exactly reshape the face of the league. But as the biggest name to move in a surprisingly quiet deadline period, Redick's relocation is still a relatively significant move.

Daryl Morey Does It Again

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    In a move that has reshaped the Houston Rockets and puts them in a position to haul in a max player this summer, GM Daryl Morey again proved that he's the boldest executive in the league.

    By dealing a package of fringe starters and bench players, Morey managed to extract Thomas Robinson (the fifth pick of the 2012 NBA draft) from the Sacramento Kings. There's some risk here, as Houston's bench is now demonstrably thinner and Robinson has played poorly this year.

    But it's not every day that teams get away with flipping fungible players for guys who were lottery picks just months before.

    Most importantly, the Rockets cut about $1.5 million from their payroll for next year, which, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, gives them just enough cap space to offer a max-salary deal to a free-agent class that will potentially include Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and others.

    Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris are both nice players, but neither has the ceiling of Robinson. And at this point, it's probably a good idea to just assume Morey is always the smartest guy in the room. So if Robinson immediately shakes off his Sacramento-induced slumber and turns into the Rockets' version of Kenneth Faried, nobody should be surprised.

    Once a fringe playoff contender, the Rockets have played well enough lately to firm up their postseason spot. And now they're perfectly positioned to get much better in the near and mid-term.

    Look out Western Conference, a budding powerhouse is taking form in Houston.

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