Another year, another flurry of megadeals at the NBA trade deadline featuring superstar players, elite draft picks and paradigm-shifting decisions from the league's 30 franchises.
For most of Thursday, the mid-February cutoff date for deals looked like it would come and go with a whimper for the second straight season. Whereas last season J.J. Redick was the biggest name on the move, this year's honorary distinction belonged to Spencer Hawes.
Right until a #WojBomb sent in at the last minute shifted the entire narrative. In a deal that certainly shakes the championship picture, the Philadelphia 76ers sent Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Indiana has traded Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2014
The move obviously throws down a gauntlet at the Miami Heat. Indiana has now acquired Turner, Allen and Andrew Bynum this month alone, creating depth at need spots and giving Frank Vogel multiple bodies to throw at LeBron James and Co. Sam Amico of Fox Sports was one of many to say the Pacers are now in an excellent position in the East:
With the Sixers being the most obvious seller on deadline day, their challenge is to the Milwaukee Bucks for the most ping-pong balls in the lottery. Dan McQuade of Philadelphia Magazine has a good point about Philly's recent history of high lottery selections:
I hope all this tanking gets the Sixers a high pick so they have the opportunity to draft a guy like Evan Turner.— Dan McQuade (@dhm) February 20, 2014
Hawes and Turner, on the trade block almost since the moment the season opened, represent a changing of the guard in Philadelphia. Both are solid, usable players who will help in their new surroundings.
Hawes is a stretch big who can help the Cleveland Cavaliers reach their goal for a back-half playoff spot. Even if Turner's counting stats are overrated because of Philly's high pace and opportunity, he is a big defensive upgrade over Granger.
Overall, don't let this one trade fool you. If anything, the excitement over two slightly above-average wings being traded should epitomize an underwhelming day. There were plenty of deals consummated, but most involved replacement-level bench players—the proverbial "shuffling of the deck chairs" trade.
With so many rumors and so little action, disappointment was bound to come pouring in from all corners. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports noted the media is not blameless in this process:
Epic trade deadline, guys. Never listen to writers who have a vested interest in pumping things up.— Kelly Dwyer (@KDonhoops) February 20, 2014
As executives league-wide were discussing what to do with their rosters, there was also an awfully important game ongoing in Sochi. In a thrilling women's hockey final, Canada came from behind to score a 3-2 overtime victory over the United States to win gold. Tim Cates of Fox Sports noted the NBA may have been overshadowed juuuust a bit:
USAvsCAN Womens Hockey Game > NBA Trade deadline— Tim Cates (@timcates) February 20, 2014
Kevin Lipe of the Memphis Flyer proved that it wasn't only humans who were underwhelmed by the lack of big deals:
The Sixers, as already noted, were busy on deadline day. Beyond dealing Hawes and Turner, they also acquired two second-round picks and point guard Eric Maynor in a three-team deal that sent Andre Miller to the Washington Wizards, per CBS Sports' Ken Berger. If you're adding at home, yes, that's four second-round draft picks acquired in one day.
And that's nothing compared to their 2014 total, as pointed out by J. Michael of CSN Washington:
Still, Philly had some deals it didn't quite get done. Thaddeus Young stayed put despite being linked to numerous deals and certainly being the best of the so-called "Tanking Trio." Many wondered what Young staying in place means—or just offered their condolences that he has to stick with this roster.
Thad Young weeps.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 20, 2014
Thaddeus Young: Draft night trade bait— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 20, 2014
Sixers starting lineup at this very second of uncertainty: MCW/James Anderson/Danny Granger/Thad Young/Arnett Moultrie?— Michael Levin (@Michael_Levin) February 20, 2014
Don't worry. The Sixers found a use for at least one of their second-round choices. Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times reported Philly dropped its nine picks down to eight by landing former Clippers big man Byron Mullens:
Clippers traded Byron Mullens to 76ers. Per source— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 20, 2014
Clippers will get 2nd round pick from Philly for Mullens.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 20, 2014
Let's just say the fans (and dogs) weren't the only ones underwhelmed by the lack of deadline deals. Sam Amick of USA Today spoke with a league executive who used an old adage usually reserved for describing ties to give his thoughts:
Text from a front-office executive: "34 minutes. This trade deadline could be like kissing your sister."— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 20, 2014
Perhaps the biggest name bandied about in trade rumors who stayed put was Pau Gasol. Of course, that's nothing new for the Lakers big man. He's been off and on the table for nearly three years now, starting with the infamous Chris Paul-Lakers deal nixed by the NBA. Grantland contributor Netw3rk rightly points out the funny (sad-funny but still funny) situation:
I love that the only time the Lakers haven't been trying to trade Pau was the 5 or 10 minutes after they won the two titles.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) February 20, 2014
If you've ever been a Minnesota Timberwolves fan or just pay attention to these types of things, you'll understand this tweet from CBS Sports' Zach Harper:
This trade deadline needs life. Quick, someone get me a hammer! http://t.co/zPuKUr7ezF— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 20, 2014
As per usual, the greatest cause of scorn on the Twittersphere was the Knicks. Sitting at 21-33 and struggling in nearly every facet of the game, boundless rumors came in about a shakeup. Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and others were linked to high-profile deals, none of which came to fruition.
You may have guessed there was a bit of disappointment, then. Here's a roundup of some of the best Knicks schadenfreude/expressions of disgust:
And the punishment of Iman Shumpert continues.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 20, 2014
Good. Fire Woodson. RT @WojYahooNBA: No deal for the Clippers and Knicks.— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) February 20, 2014
21-33 with no hope this year, but they were too focused on improving this awful team to get value for anybody. Nice plan, Knicks.— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) February 20, 2014
I find it hard to believe that the Knicks couldn't unload Beno Udrih for a second round pick. Then again, #ThisIsKnicks.— Jonah Kaner (@JonahKaner) February 20, 2014
Looking at the vast expanse of inertia, Knicks fans likely aren't the only ones disappointed.
Perhaps the only folks to walk away totally happy with their day are in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. The Pacers receive a player who can help their championship push. The Sixers receive, well, whatever the polar opposite of that is.
All in all, though, you probably could have hit the fast-forward button to about 3 p.m. and been just fine.
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