NBA Trade Rumors: Most Intriguing Deals That Fell Apart on Deadline Day

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 25, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 20:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots over Norris Cole #30 of the Miami Heat at Philips Arena on February 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA trading deadline didn't come in with a bang, and it left with something far meeker than a whimper. All in all, Thursday was extremely boring.

With a new CBA in place, I suppose that was to be expected. However, even the one player everyone was convinced would be traded—Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks—ended up staying put. 

It was so dull, we're reduced to discussing a few intriguing deals that might have been to fill in the spaces. Here are three trades that might have shaken up the league a bit had they actually happened.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

By now, if you're an NBA fan, you know the story. The Los Angeles Clippers and star point guard Chris Paul coveted Kevin Garnett. The Boston Celtics were intrigued by several players on the Clippers but Garnett didn't want to leave Boston or waive his no-trade clause.

That didn't stop the talks from proceeding. Had Garnett waived that clause, a deal almost assuredly would have gone through.

From Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

According to a league source, Paul called Garnett and said that if he was open to joining the Clippers, then Paul would make it happen. Garnett, though, declined, expressing a desire to remain a Celtic.

Ainge's wish list had been topped by the Clippers' young duo of guard Eric Bledsoe and center DeAndre Jordan. The Clips, with an eye on trading part of the future for a deep playoff run now, focused their attention on Garnett.

But Garnett reportedly said no, to the relief of an entire Celtics locker room.

I appreciate Garnett's loyalty. However, if the Celtics could have gotten Bledsoe and Jordan in exchange, that loyalty has arguably hurt the Celtics in the long term. That would have been a pretty nice haul for a player nearing the end of his career. 

If nothing else, it was certainly the most intriguing "deal that might have been" from a deadline bereft of interesting trades.

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

On Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was a guest on the Mut & Merloni show in Boston, and discussed the Celtics' talks and proposed deals at the deadline. One particularly interesting segment included a rumored trade of Paul Pierce:

Reports of another proposed Celtics deal, which would have sent Pierce to Brooklyn for Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and the Nets' first-round draft pick, also surfaced. That didn't happen, and Wojnarowski said he doesn't think it was urgent for the Celtics to make a deal like that.

I think all of Boston will agree with Wojnarowski on that front. Brooks is intriguing enough and probably would be better given a different role—and Humphries is a nice, if unspectacular, player—but the combination of the two isn't enough to offset Pierce's value to the team.

If Pierce's long and storied career in Boston came to a close with that trade, let's just say the Boston Red Sox would be looking a whole lot more appealing to the locals.

After the last two dreadful seasons for the Red Sox, that's saying something.

Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks

The one player that was constantly talked about leading up to the trade deadline was Smith. In the end, the Hawks never received a deal worth making.

The closest they likely came was a shoddy offer from the Milwaukee Bucks. From Ken Berger of CBS:

But as the deadline bore down on Ferry Thursday, the decision not to trade Smith ended up being a pretty easy one.

There was no haul of multiple first-round picks or a wealth of young players ready to land in [Danny] Ferry's lap. Actually, sources said the Bucks' offer for Smith wasn't much different from the offer that landed them [J.J.] Redick from Orlando. Milwaukee was willing to sweeten the deal with Ekpe Udoh and a first-round pick, but none of the Bucks' key players was included, according to a person briefed on the talks.

Redick, along with Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith, was traded to the Bucks for Doron Lamb, Beno Udrih and Tobias Harris. Even if you added Udoh and a first-round pick to that group, is that really the return you want to get for Smith?

No, of course not. Ultimately, this rumored deal is intriguing mostly because it represents the complete lack of a market for Smith. It would appear most teams would rather take their chances with him as a restricted free agent this summer than trade assets for him.

Smart business, I suppose, and almost certainly a result of the new CBA. In the end, the rumors suggesting Smith would be leaving the Atlanta Hawks turned out to be nothing more than a lot of hot air.

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