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Why the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline Was Such a Dud

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterFebruary 21, 2013

The drum roll started on Monday as we eagerly anticipated what would happen between then and Thursday's trade deadline. And the drum roll kept on going. And going. 

It's still going, even though the deadline has passed.

Nothing of major substance happened, save for the Sacramento Kings again demonstrating that they're majorly dysfunctional. Sacramento gave up on Thomas Robinson for cash and fringe players, a half-season after it drafted him No. 5 overall. 

That was actually the apogee of excitement this deadline.

Perhaps you prefer Josh Smith not getting traded as your major deadline deal.

Perhaps you prefer J.J. Redick going to the Bucks, to play the middle in a keep-away game between Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.

Regardless of what you term the best part of deadline season, you can admit that nothing happened in the grand scheme. This much-ballyhooed trade deadline was near-literally all talk without the action.

The question then is, why? Why was there such a drum roll to a non-event?

The answer probably lies in the new collective bargaining agreement, but less in its restrictions than in the lag time between the implementation of those restrictions and when GMs have mastered them. 

The punitive "repeater tax" for teams that go over the salary cap doesn't go into effect until 2014-2015, but general managers are making current moves with that tax in mind. They're also being mindful of the future restrictions that will be in place.

For instance, sign-and-trades will be phased out in this brave new CBA world.

The sign-and-trade was the NBA's deus ex machina, allowing teams that were at or over the salary cap to magically add another hefty salary, provided they trade for the guy (think Steve Nash to the Lakers or LeBron James to the Heat). 

It's a more restricted NBA, and for now, a more stagnant NBA. Again, I don't believe this is a permanent problem. It's likely a paralysis born out of grappling with new rules, rather than one wrought by new rules. 

That's not the only factor in why this deadline was such a dud. The other explanation is that the NBA already underwent its seismic shifts in the preseason.

Dwight Howard forced his way out of Orlando and onto the Lakers in a move that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia and Andre Iguodala to Denver. The aforementioned Steve Nash trade preceded that bombshell. 

After all the Laker drama, James Harden was dealt to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin and picks.

These moves collectively went a long way toward shaping the Western Conference playoff picture. 

There's a finite amount of activity, perhaps, that can be crammed into a season. The NBA burned it all up before the year started. 

That preseason activity, combined with fear of new rules, added up to a sleepy trading season. Here's hoping that we're at least awakened by the action on the court that follows.

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