With plenty of rumors swirling in the hours leading up to the NBA trade deadline, one trade went down on Wednesday night that few could have expected.
Shortly before the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors took the court for their respective home games, the Pacific Division squads agreed to swap veteran point guard Steve Blake for shooting guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks.
The Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan first reported the news, while the Lakers Twitter account confirmed that the deal was done:
Blake may not be the biggest name to change homes before this year's deadline, but he's a nice pickup for the Warriors nonetheless. Although he hasn't shot the ball particularly well from inside the arc this season (37.8 percent from the field), he is knocking down nearly two three-pointers per game at a 39.7 percent clip, has good court vision (7.6 assists per contest) and knows how to run an offense.
With recently acquired combo guard Jordan Crawford best suited to play a scorer's role off the bench, the Warriors needed a true floor general to back up All-Star Stephen Curry, and Blake fits the bill.
Yahoo Sports' Marc. J. Spears applauded the move for Golden State:
Big move by Golden State to get a real veteran point guard in Steve Blake who can spell Stephen Curry, make big 3-pointers and is a leader.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) February 20, 2014
It's somewhat of a bittersweet moment for Blake. Though he is going to a potential playoff team, he has been with the Lakers for nearly four seasons, and as he told Bresnahan, there are implications that go beyond the game of basketball:
Blake: "Real mixed emotions. The hardest thing really is my family. Now I'm going to have to spend four months probably away from them."— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 20, 2014
Lakers fans can take solace in the fact that Blake is likely nothing more than a rental for the Warriors, who are currently in seventh place in the West and looking to improve for the postseason. The former University of Maryland star hits free agency this summer, and didn't rule out a return to Los Angeles:
Steve Blake just acknowledged he's been traded, says he'll miss L.A. Didn't rule out returning to Lakers in free agency in July.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 20, 2014
For the Lakers, this move is all about shedding salary. Bazemore and Brooks won't likely make notable contributions, but as CBS Sports' Ken Berger noted, this deal will help L.A. inch closer to the luxury tax threshold:
Trading Blake saves the Lakers about $3.5 million on their luxury tax bill, with more savings on the way if Jordan Hill is moved.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 20, 2014
If/when Lakers dump Jordan Hill, they'll be only $2M over luxury tax. Blake and Hill moves alone would shave tax bill from $11.9M to $3M.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) February 20, 2014
Again, while this isn't the type of blockbuster move fans go crazy for at the deadline, it's a smart, simple trade that gives both franchises exactly what they need.