After all the build up, the constant drama, the endless amount of newspaper & Internet articles, and the never-ending TV coverage, the deadline for NBA teams to make trades has passed.
In the end, there weren't as many moves as most people (at least myself) had predicted. Specifically, the amount of relevant, big name players that were on the move was exceptionally small; Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Kevin Martin were the only stars that swapped teams (Tracy McGrady hasn't been important or significant in three years, and you can't tell me otherwise).
But after all the moves, things did unfold the way most of us probably thought it would: The championship contenders bolstered their lineups, the cellar-dwellers stockpiled for the future, and the "tweeners" freed up cap space for a push at the 2010 free agent crop.
So who were the big winners and losers in the last week or so? Let's take a look (in no particular order)...
Dallas Mavericks (Acquired: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson; Traded: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, James Singleton)
Despite taking on the worst player in the NBA (DeShawn Stevenson, and again, you can't convince me he's not), the Mavs made out pretty well before the deadline.
In the Josh Howard-Caron Butler swap, the Mavs essentially got a small upgrade at the small forward position. While Howard has the ability to score in bunches and defend well, he was incredibly inconsistent and a fought nagging, recurring injuries this year.
Butler is overall a more reliable player, and at $9.8 million for the next two years, he's one of the better bargains in a league full of overpaid players. He is a bit of a volume scorer, but having played on a team with Gilbert Arenas for the last four years, he knows how to make the most of his scoring opportunities.
Haywood gives the Mavs another big body inside to go along with Erick Dampier. While these two are hardly go-to offensive options, they cover a lot of ground defensively and clog the middle.
Whether or not this is enough to beat Los Angeles or Denver in the playoffs is another story. But it definitely puts them in the conversation.
Portland Trail Blazers (Acquired: Marcus Camby; Traded: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw)
The Blazers quietly got significantly better with this move, even though a center combo of Juwan Howard and Marcus Camby sounds a lot better if it was 1997.
Still, this deal was great for Portland because they gave up so little—Travis Outlaw, who has played in just 11 games this year, and Steve Blake, a backup point guard who has been losing quality playing time to Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless.
Camby takes a lot of pressure off of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is more of a finesse post player and shouldn't be relied on as a team's No. 1 rebounder.
However, Camby isn't really a polished scorer in the paint, as he gets most of his points off set up passes and putbacks near the rim. In turn, he doesn't really help the Blazers' main weakness, which is that they are a team primarily consisting of jump shooters.
Still, for what they had to give up, it's hard to say that Portland isn't anything but a winner this year.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Acquired: Antawn Jamison, Sebastian Telfair; Traded: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 2010 Second Round Pick, 2011 First Round Pick)
I touched base on this trade yesterday , so I won't go into too much detail now.
Jamison provides the Cavs with a power forward who can stretch the floor with his jump shot, something they've desperately coveted since last year's loss to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In turn, the Wizards will probably buy out Zydrunas Ilgauskas' $11.5 million contract, meaning that he could re-sign with the Cavs for about $2 million in 30 days, if that's the wish of the 7'0" Lithuanian.
If that happens, and the Cavs essentially give up two draft picks for the services of Jamison, it has to be considered a smashing success.
Houston Rockets (Acquired: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, NY Knicks 2012 First Round Pick; Traded: Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey)
The Rockets were one of the NBA's big, big winners this year.
Aside from acquiring an elite scoring shooting guard, the Rockets received a promising young forward in Jordan Hill. It's hard to gage anything from Hill's time in New York because his minutes were yanked around so frequently and it was unclear how he even fit into their long-term picture (oh who are we kidding, the Knicks don't have a long-term plan that's not named LeBron James).
The Rockets also have the right to swap first round picks with New York in 2011, unless the Knicks come away with the No. 1 pick.
Look at the Rockets' roster now: With Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza, and Jared Jeffries, the Rockets arguably have three of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Each of these guys can guard multiple positions and since they almost assuredly won't see the court at the same time, Rick Adelman can constantly throw fresh bodies at the Western Conference's premier scorers (i.e. Kobe Bryant).
And the Rockets finally have an athletic scorer on the perimeter to complement up-and-coming point guard Aaron Brooks. No offense to Trevor Ariza, but he shouldn't have to be relied on as a consistent 15 to 20 point scorer a night; he's a volume shooter and not exactly a good No. 2 option on offense.
But with Kevin Martin, Houston has a guy who can score in a variety of ways, whether it's off the dribble, catching-and-shooting, or getting to the free throw line.
Despite giving up Carl Landry, the Rockets still have a good amount of production in the paint in Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, and now Hilton Armstrong and Jordan Hill. Oh and there's some guy named Yao Ming that should be back next season as well.
Charlotte Bobcats (Acquired: Tyrus Thomas; Traded: Acie Law, Flip Murray)
The Bobcats lose their most reliable bench scorer in Flip Murray, but gaining more size in the middle was a risk they needed to take.
Thomas, who has had an up-and-down season to say the least, should finally see some stability in his role and his minutes with Larry Brown.
With minor injuries to Nazr Muhammad and Tyson Chandler, two players that have been injury-prone in the past, it was important for Charlotte to add depth.
And we've seen this type of situation before; sometimes all a player needs is a change of scenery to blossom and revert to his old form. Thomas has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career; if he can harness that in Charlotte, this could quietly be a solid move for an already dangerous team.
Chicago Bulls (Acquired: Acie Law, Flip Murray, Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick; Traded: Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons)
The Bulls did exactly what they wanted to do at the deadline: Maintain their current core that's fighting for playoff position while freeing up cap space to make a run at a marquee free agent in the summer.
Ideally, Chicago needed to move either Kirk Hinrich or John Salmons to guarantee enough cap space for the end of the year.
In acquiring Hakim Warrick, the Bulls get a cheaper version of Tyrus Thomas (even production-wise, as Thomas wasn't contributing much in his final days as a Bull) whose contract is up at the end of the season. Same goes for Joe Alexander.
The Bulls also added second round picks from Milwaukee in 2011 and 2012, and a future first round pick from Charlotte.
Los Angeles Clippers (Acquired: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, Drew Gooden; Traded: Marcus Camby, Al Thornton, Sebastian Telfair)
For the longest time, the Clippers were steadfast in their stance that they weren't going to trade Marcus Camby, especially not just as a salary dump.
So naturally, they turn around and give him away for backup point guard and cash.
They were a little sneaky in getting rid of Sebastian Telfair, who does have a $2.7 player option for next season, and one would think he is going to pick it up. This does free up a bit more of cap space for the summer.
But still, it's the Clippers; Until one of their moves actually pays off, it's probably safe to assume it was the wrong move.
Washington Wizards (Acquired: Josh Howard, James Singleton, Quinton Ross, Al Thornton, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 2010 Second Round Pick (Cle), 2011 First Round Pick (Cle); Traded: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Antawn Jamison, Drew Gooden, Dominic McGuire)
This might seem a bit strange to some. I mean, the Wizards were going nowhere, so they turned the long-term deals of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison into the cap friendly expiring contracts of Josh Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, while picking up a few draft picks along the way.
Sounds nice, right?
The problem is, even with cap space, it's not like free agents are going to be lining up at the door for the opportunity to play with Gilbert Arenas and be part of the rebuilding process for the next two to three years.
And if they wind up giving a max contract to a player that probably doesn't deserve it (i.e. Amar'e Stoudemire), they could be in mediocrity for another few years.
Washington did improve their situation, but they were so deep in trouble that no matter what, they were probably going to walk away losers at the deadline.
Sacramento Kings (Acquired: Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes, Dominic McGuire; Traded: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Sergio Rodriguez)
I flip-flopped on this one about 20 times. I had Sacto in the losers, then put them in the winners, back to losers, then to winners, wrote something down and decided it didn't look good, so I moved them back to the losers.
It's tough to tell with Sacramento, and they probably should get an incomplete. I think they made the right move in dealing Kevin Martin; his stock was pretty high, and he plays the same position as Tyreke Evans (Evans is not a point guard, let's be clear on that).
I just thought they could have gotten more. Maybe a future draft pick or a solid first or second year player, or something besides Larry Hughes' corpse. Carl Landry is a solid player acquisition, however, but probably shouldn't be enough to part with Martin.
But if Sacto gets a top five pick in this year's draft and nabs someone like Derrick Favors, or even my boy Evan Turner, and signs either a marquee free agent or a couple of small role players, then their future is looking solid (I really like the Evans-Casspi-Brockman trio).
Boston Celtics (Acquired: Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry; Traded: Eddie House, Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens)
Granted, there wasn't a lot that Boston could do before the deadline. You probably heard names floating around in rumors, but who knows how much truth were in those rumors in the first place.
But essentially swapping Eddie House for Nate Robinson isn't much of an upgrade; in fact, it basically does nothing. You trade an undersized shooting guard that's a three-point threat for another undersized shooting guard that's a three-point threat.
Nate Robinson is at his best offensively when the ball is in his hands. But where does that leave someone like Marquis Daniels, who has been playing backup point guard? He's a better distributor, but if Robinson has the ball, it renders Daniels ineffective.
Boston had a lot of questions and ways to improve in order to catch Orlando and Cleveland, and I don't think they did enough to get on their level.
Phoenix Suns (Did Not Make a Trade)
The Suns were inches away from moving Amar'e Stoudemire to Cleveland, but they wanted to wait to see if offers from other teams (specifically Miami) would mature.
But instead, the Cavs went another route and grabbed Antawn Jamison instead. The Suns were left with their pants down and couldn't find a suitable suitor for Stoudemire.
It's not like a deal of J.J. Hickson and Zydrunas Ilguaskas would have been a fantastic deal for the Suns. But it's better than nothing.
And since extension talks with Stoudemire are at a stand-still and he's likely to bail at the end of the season, the Suns could be hung out to dry (pun definitely intended).
Miami Heat (Did Not Make a Trade)
Like Phoenix, the Heat didn't make a move before the deadline. They initially tried to bolster their offer for Amar'e Stoudemire by adding a third team, but couldn't get anything done.
They then turned their attention to Carlos Boozer, but by then it was too late.
In the end, this could all turn out well for Miami; they still can offer two max contracts at the season's end, so if they lure someone like Chris Bosh to come and play with Dwyane Wade, then all is good.
But they missed a golden opportunity to try and sweeten the deal for Wade. And Wade will only want to carry .500 teams in a half-full arena in his prime for so long before maybe deciding to move elsewhere.
New York Knicks (Acquired: Brian Cardinal, Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez, Eddie House, Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens; Traded: Darko Milicic, Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry, 2012 First Round Pick (Hou))
The success of this trade will be determined in July 2010.
However, the Knicks did free up enough cap space to go after two free agents in the offseason, which almost assuredly will help them lure a big name.
Knicks fans can dream of LeBron James, but a more realistic scenario would be inking someone like Wade or Chris Bosh. With Wade, they can promise a team built around his strengths and give him an arena that will be filled to capacity every night.
If they don't get James or Wade, however, they could be in a world of hurt. They already don't have a 2010 first round pick; swapping picks with Houston in 2011 will probably drop them down the board, and they lose their first round selection for 2012. They'll be stuck in mediocrity for another five to ten years.
Only time will tell. Check back in July for a grade.
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