As the NBA's trade deadline on Thursday came to pass, it seemed like teams took their excitement cues from the 2013 slam-dunk contest—there were none.
Big names such as Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, Paul Millsap and others were bandied about for weeks and months prior to Thursday, only for all to stay put in their respective cities. Garnett's noted love of Boston made that lack of movement understandable. But Smith and Millsap (or Al Jefferson) seemed like perfect headliners to a thrilling day of deals.
But as many have pointed out on Twitter and other mediums, perhaps we should have expected this lack of activity. The new collective bargaining agreement makes teams deathly afraid of taking on money, and the Rudy Gay and James Harden deals were pre-deadline blockbusters in their own right.
What's more, it's become rare that huge names actually wind up moving in February. Carmelo Anthony deals happen every once in a great while. The midseason holiday is historically mundane for the most part.
Fans may be disappointed that J.J. Redick was the "star" of the deadline, but it's almost always the J.J. Redicks of the world who actually wind up being moved. And historically speaking, those are oftentimes the players most surprising down the stretch.
With that in mind, here is a breakdown of how the biggest (relatively speaking) names moved close to the deadline will do in their new surroundings.
J.J. Redick (SG, Milwaukee Bucks)
Though Redick was quite easily the biggest name moved at the deadline, don't expect his role to suddenly expand in Milwaukee. In fact, with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings still taking up the Bucks' guard spots, one could even presume Redick's stats will take a dip down the stretch.
That being said, for what they gave up—Doron Lamb, Beno Udrih and Tobias Harris—the Bucks got an absolute steal.
Because of his time at Duke, Redick's mainstream reputation has seemingly pigeonholed him as a guy who can "only shoot." While Redick is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA—he's a shade under a 40-percent three-point shooter for his career—that is actually a misconception.
Initially a deficient ball-handler, Redick has morphed into a solid shot creator who gets to the rim and finishes at an above-average rate. He's shooting 62.3 percent from within eight feet of the basket and takes more shots there than anywhere else on the floor, per NBA.com. The Magic also scored nearly 11 points more per 100 possessions with Redick in the game.
Though Orlando also took a bit of a hit defensively with Redick in the game, he has evolved into a solid, but not great, defender. He's smart, always tries hard and rarely makes bad gambles. That's way more than you can say about Jennings or Ellis, both minus defenders who cheat way too often into the passing lanes.
But with Ellis and Jennings entrenched into the starting lineup, it's likely that Redick will stay in a backup role for now.The long-term effects of the Redick deal won't happen until this offseason.
Redick, Jennings and (in all likelihood) Ellis will all be free agents this summer. The three are relatively similar in basketball value, but Redick will certainly come cheapest. Ellis and Jennings will command eight figures on the open market, and it seems acquiring Redick was a move made with the assumption that one of the two incumbents will leave.
The Bucks were assessing their chances of keeping Redick past this season before making the trade, so they must have been encouraged with the result. That means Bucks fans may want to take a good look anytime Jennings and Redick are on the court together, as that will likely be the starting backcourt duo come 2013-14.
Thomas Robinson (PF, Houston Rockets)
Ask anyone across the league about the deadline's most inexplicable deal, and they will likely blurt out "Thomas Robinson" before you can even finish the word "inexplicable." The fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Robinson was essentially traded for a couple bags of airport peanuts.
That's meant as no disrespect toward Patrick Patterson or Toney Douglas, the two principals being sent Sacramento's way. They are both perfectly viable NBA talents, and Patterson has a developed midrange game that could help unclog the paint for DeMarcus Cousins.
But you have to wonder whether the Kings even made a second call around the league. Patterson will be due a raise after next season and Douglas may be the very definition of a replacement-level backup guard. The deal will save about $3.6 million for the Kings this season, but that's short-term money, especially with Robinson in the first year of his rookie contract.
The nicest adjective I've heard anyone use when describing this trade for Sacramento is confusing. That being said, the opposite is true for Houston. Robinson is a potential star, gifted with elite athleticism and power down low, who at the very worst will develop into a very good defensive specialist.
However, adding Robinson may actually hurt the Rockets' playoff chances this season. While the word potential gets thrown around a lot when scouts talk about Robinson, we only saw flashes of that in Sacramento. He's shooting just 42.4 percent from the floor, including an abhorrent 45.4 percent within eight feet of the basket, per NBA.com. For a player that athletic to be shooting that poorly from in close is indicative of the real work Robinson needs to do offensively.
Even more disconcerting is what the Rockets gave up spacing-wise. Patrick Patterson was a tough loss, but an ultimately understandable one when a player of Robinson's talent was available. But the Rockets' sister trade, sending Marcus Morris to the Suns for a second-round pick, could prove critical to their playoff chances.
Both Patterson and Morris fit perfectly into what Houston does offensively. They space the floor well because defenses have to respect their ability to hit shots from the mid-range and beyond the arc. For a closer look at the changes Houston will undergo from making a change from Morris and Patterson to Robinson, here is each player's shot distribution this year, via NBA.com.
While Robinson won't be sucking up both Morris and Patterson's playing time down the stretch, the numbers show the clear difference in their games. Houston will be substituting two players who hang around the basket an exceedingly low percentage of the time for their position for a player who takes over three quarters of his shots within eight feet of the basket.
Keep in mind that the Rockets get an inordinate number of their points from dribble-drives. James Harden and Jeremy Lin thrive on spacing and being able to get into the paint, and Robinson getting those minutes instead of the incumbents could temporarily force an adjustment period.
It's possible that Terrence Jones or Donatas Motiejunas will step into expanded roles and help avoid those spacing issues, but that's far from a guarantee. The Rockets had to acquire Robinson for their future plans. They just may have knocked themselves out of the playoffs in the process.
Jordan Crawford (SG, Boston Celtics)
There are two and only two camps when it comes to evaluating Crawford: You either loathe his basketball existence or think he's a salvageable talent in the right situation. There is no in-between position to take if you actually have watched him play over the past couple seasons.
The problems with Crawford's game are well-documented and very real. He has absolutely no conscious on where or when to take shots. He makes his surname relative, Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, look almost conservative in comparison. (Note: Jamal and Jordan Crawford share no actual relation.)
Though it's hard to deny his talent, Crawford is a player who makes coaches succumb to male-pattern baldness. He's shooting 40 percent for his career, a figure that could move up at least five percent if he stopped taking low-percentage looks. And let's not even bring up his defensive prowess. It just doesn't exist.
However, it's impossible to claim he doesn't try—at least offensively. When John Wall was injured this season, Crawford tried to take on a heavier distributing role and was assisting at a career-high level. But the Wizards' offense also took a long walk off a short cliff whenever he was playing point guard.
The Celtics won't need Crawford to be the main ball-handler. They have enough combo guards to staff an entire Dunkin' Donuts franchise. But they will rely on him for bench-scoring pop.
He will essentially be playing the role of 2009-10 Nate Robinson. Doc Rivers will put him in the game, likely in the second quarter, see whether the shots are falling and respond accordingly. If they're falling, you may see Crawford for 30 minutes. If not, he may jack up three shots in four minutes and never be seen again.
It's not an ideal way to run a team. But considering the Celtics gave up quite literally nothing of substance in return, this is a low-risk, medium-reward move for Boston.
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