The 7 Most Surprising Moves and Non-Moves of the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline
The 2014 NBA trade deadline lacked the mystique that both fans and analysts crave. But thanks to the Indiana Pacers, who swapped Danny Granger for Evan Turner, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, there's at least one big deal for everyone to chew on.
Despite a lack of major moves, there were still a few surprises. The Feb. 20 deadline—emphasis on "dead"—won't be considered monumental in the eyes of most observers, but there were a few key acquisitions we didn't see coming.
What was even more surprising than who was dealt was who wasn't. For better or for worse, most organizations opted to hang onto their assets.
Nothing is guaranteed in this league, but while most people expected a few key figures to switch jerseys, there was something left to be desired when the day was all said and done.
*All salary information is courtesy of HoopsHype.com.
Omer Asik Stays in Houston
Omer Asik's inclusion on this list is more to say that it's a shame he wasn't traded—not necessarily a surprise.
In late January, general manager Daryl Morey told Ben DuBose of ClutchFans.net that the window had passed to trade the big man. "At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract," the GM said. "Teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future."
Morey did his best to make us believe that there was no fire despite all the smoke, but as of Feb. 19, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders was reporting that the Houston Rockets were still shopping the 7-footer.
Consider Asik an honorable mention here, as Morey is right when he says the best time to trade him was early in the season. Then again, the fact that Asik will be on Houston's playoff roster is shocking when you think about how his first trade request came back in July—a request that should have been honored for the betterment of both parties.
Charlotte Trades Ramon Sessions—Not Ben Gordon
The Charlotte Bobcats were considered by many to be one of the biggest buyers at the deadline. B/R's own D.J. Foster echoed that thought when he said:
It does make sense that the Bobcats will look to buy, though, as this is the first time in quite a while that they've been in the playoff chase. Signing Al Jefferson was the first indication that Charlotte was serious about this season, and we may see the continuation of that at the deadline with a trade.
Charlotte did end up swinging a deal, sending Ramon Sessions away for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour, per ESPN's Marc Stein, but the surprise is that the team pulled off a move while leaving arguably its best asset on the table.
Times haven't always been easy for Ben Gordon with the Bobcats, and it looked like Feb. 20 could end up being his escape. His contract, worth $13.2 million and in its final year, was considered gold to sellers around the league, and he was an excellent candidate to be moved, as Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy categorized him as being shopped the night before the deadline.
As it turns out, he'll have to stick out the year with his current organization, which isn't horrible news for him, as he's in the mix for the playoffs and in his final few months before free agency.
Pau Gasol Stays in L.A.
In reality, this shouldn't surprise anybody. Year after year, the Los Angeles Lakers tease us with Pau Gasol rumors, and year after year, the deadline passes with no news to be shared.
The surprise comes from the fact that L.A. had found a seemingly perfect trade partner in the Phoenix Suns, and yet the two sides couldn't come to an agreement.
Approaching the deadline, Gasol recognized that a deal was a possibility. "Things are kind of quiet right now," Gasol said, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. "But I think there’s something potential."
Unfortunately for L.A., its asking price was simply too steep, per Bresnahan's report, and Gasol's recent injury didn't help the team's cause—even with the 7-footer's resurgence after the New Year.
Lakers Trade Steve Blake (and Only Steve Blake)
Out of everybody on the Los Angeles Lakers, who really saw Steve Blake being the only player traded?
When you consider the current makeup of the rotation, trading a point guard makes sense. The team has predictably gone from having an undermanned backcourt to a surplus of floor generals, and ridding the roster of Blake helps bring balance (and minutes) to the rest of the team's playmakers.
The surprising part is that he was the sole victim of the deadline. This is a franchise that has been surrounded by rumors, and while you might have expected Pau Gasol to be the one traded, or even Jordan Hill or Chris Kaman, Blake is the only one to leave, much to the chagrin of Kobe Bryant.
From the Golden State Warriors' perspective, who picked up Blake, as reported by CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, the deal makes sense. They get a legitimate backup point guard, and they got it without sacrificing too much in return.
But while the deal seems simple on the surface, Mark Deeks of SB Nation has broken down just how complicated it was because of the collective bargaining agreement, making this deal surprising to a level most people didn't even realize.
Greg Monroe Stays in Detroit
The Detroit Pistons entered the 2013-14 campaign as dark horses to make a run out East. Reasonable basketball minds understood that they were still a step behind the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, but the hope was that the flurry of offseason acquisitions would be enough to help them compete in such a star-driven league.
As it turns out, the experiment has been a complete failure, and fair or not, Greg Monroe looked like he was going to be the odd man out at the Feb. 20 deadline.
The organization would have loved to trade Josh Smith, as evidenced by the fact that they shopped him the morning of the deadline, according to Zach Lowe of Grantland. He's playing out of position, he's shooting a horrible percentage from downtown and more importantly, the logjam up front is likely stunting the growth of superstar-to-be Andre Drummond.
Monroe hasn't done anything wrong in all of this, but swapping him for a perimeter player would have been ideal, balancing the roster and sending Smith back to his natural spot at power forward.
Phoenix Keeps Emeka Okafor's Contract (and Draft Picks)
The Phoenix Suns missed a golden opportunity to improve their roster at the deadline without making any significant sacrifices to their current roster.
According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, GM Ryan McDonough (pictured above) said early in the 2013-14 campaign that he was looking to trade his team's plethora of first-round draft picks if it meant bringing back a star.
That didn't happen.
Then it was reported by ESPN's Marc Stein that Phoenix had engaged in discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers surrounding Pau Gasol and the incredibly desirable expiring contract of Emeka Okafor.
Again, no news to share there.
Phoenix, arguably the biggest surprise team in the Association, is preparing for a run at the playoffs, and had it brought back a star, its odds of making the second round would have at least increased. Now the team must await the return of Eric Bledsoe for its only "acquisition" while trying not to slip out of the top eight in an incredibly deep Western Conference.
Indiana Trades Danny Granger, Receives Evan Turner
The fact that Evan Turner was traded is far from astonishing. The Philadelphia 76ers are rebuilding, and with no hope of making the postseason, selling high on the 25-year-old made complete sense if they hope to start over in 2014-15.
What is surprising is the fact that the Indiana Pacers are the ones who made the deal happen, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and the fact that it came at the proverbial buzzer is what caught everyone off guard.
Not only was this deal reported 36 minutes after the deadline passed (per Wojnarowski's post on Twitter), but it involved long-time Pacer Danny Granger. The 30-year-old's future had been questioned all season, but with the team hoping to re-sign Lance Stephenson in the summer, it wasn't unreasonable to assume Indy would let him walk on his own terms as a free agent.
Swapping Turner for Granger will be looked at with different opinions depending on your biases, but one thing that can't be argued is the fact that the Pacers now have a contingency plan if Stephenson leaves. The Pacers are in great shape to compete with the Miami Heat this season, and with this move, they'll be in equally great shape moving forward.