With a plethora of NBA teams in the postseason mix, there were not many sellers at the trade deadline outside of obvious tankers—sorry, "rebuilders"—like the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Many teams stood pat and waited for the offseason, but some deals very nearly went through. We are now learning about some inner workings of the trade deadline and how it shook out. Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki and Iman Shumpert all stayed put with their respective teams, but some surprising suitors came calling, according to recent reports.
Kyle Lowry enjoyed a career-best season with the Houston Rockets in 2010-11, averaging 13.5 points and 6.7 assists per game under head coach Rick Adelman. That offseason, Adelman took a position with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Rockets brought in Kevin McHale as coach.
That's right about when things fell apart for Lowry.
As assistant coach Kelvin Sampson told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
(Lowry) never gave the coaching staff a chance. He wouldn't let Kevin coach him. Kyle's greatest strength is the bulldog in him, and when that bulldog is channeled [in the] right direction, he's tough to handle on the floor. And when it isn't, he's tough to handle everywhere else.
Lowry was eventually traded to the Toronto Raptors due to his petulant tendencies outweighing his on-court skills.
That's why it's so surprising that the Rockets tried to bring him back at the 2014 trade deadline. While nothing Daryl Morey does should surprise us—he is, after all, one of the savviest front-office minds in the league—trying to acquire a player who was run out of town just two years prior is an unusual about-face.
According to Wojnarowski: "Morey and McHale still felt strongly about Lowry and his talent, and made a bid at the trade deadline to bring him back to the Rockets, league sources said."
If you listen to Lowry reflect on how his time in Houston ended, it's not all that surprising that the Rockets considered bringing him back. As Lowry phrased it: "I had to look at myself in the mirror...But I want to win. I want to grow. And to grow, you've got to be able accept coaching."
Lowry sounds like he gained experience and maturity from the rocky 2011-12 season, and that growth has helped elevate him as a player. Lowry is enjoying the finest season of his career and averaging 17.3 points and 7.8 assists per game through 67 games.
Perhaps the trade back to Houston would have gone through if Toronto was not having such a fine season atop the Atlantic Division.
This is a trade rumors article, and there is negative news about Dirk Nowitzki.
Don't worry, Dallas Mavericks fans, the negative part is the confirmation that Dirk will not be traded, according to Mark Cuban, and the owner sounds pretty positive about that.
Speaking on CBS Radio's "The Doug Gottlieb Show" on Monday, Cuban was unequivocal about future trade scenarios for the highest-scoring foreign-born player of all time (via CBS' Matt Moore): "Never going to happen. One reason is that culture is a critical component to any successful team. There are teams with less talent than us making the playoffs. There are teams with more talent than us who aren't making the playoffs."
The Mavs without Dirk is like a bratwurst without mustard and sauerkraut, but it emerged in late February that Morey and the Rockets had made a play to land Nowitzki in 2013.
Daryl Morey says he called Mark Cuban last summer asking to trade for Dirk Nowitzki http://t.co/sxZAfo9h7i— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) March 1, 2014
Cuban rebuffed his in-state rivals with Texas-sized prejudice.
Iman Shumpert's name has been bandied about in trade rumors since he was a rookie. Now in his third season, Shumpert had his name tied to a possible swap for Kenneth Faried, but he came much closer to being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Darren Collison and Matt Barnes.
As reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post on Sunday, the Knicks had originally planned to sit Shumpert in the game before the trade deadline, because that framework of a deal with the Clippers was in place.
The Knicks came into the Feb. 19 contest at 20-33 and having lost six of the previous seven games. They scraped with a 98-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, but Shumpert scored only two points and sprained his MCL in the process. The worry was that he had a torn ligament, but he was only out for a couple of weeks.
Still, that injury dashed the Clippers deal, and the Knicks proceeded to lose the next five games as well.
Shumpert's contract is set to expire after next season, and he would bear some trade value next winter. However, with Phil Jackson now a member of the front office, Shumpert's prospects to remain with the team look brighter.
Berman reported that a league source told him Jackson is a fan of Shumpert. Shumpert grew up in Oak Park, Ill., and he is an enormous fan of Jackson's from the glory days with the Chicago Bulls.
As Shump gushed: "I love Phil Jackson. Just being a child, seeing him, how he conducted the Bulls. I just love him."
Shumpert has moved from the starting 3 back to the bench, and his role as the Knicks' new sixth man may suit him better. Per Berman, the Post reported "after the trade deadline Shumpert felt uncomfortable as starting small forward in Mike Woodson’s smallball lineup."
Given Jackson's love for the triangle offense and the potent effect that big guards can have in the Zen Master's system, Shumpert could remain with the Knicks for years to come.