Over the past couple of years, with the current uncertain status of the league CBA combined with the economic recession facing our country, there’s been a line drawn in the sand between the haves and the have-nots in the NBA.
Never is this gap more evident than at the trading table, specifically the deadline, when top-tier contenders look to essentially buy players off floundering teams hoping just to avoid the dreaded luxury tax as looking to just turn out a profit in a lost season while thinking towards the future (well, sometimes, I think).
Take the Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett trades of two years ago and the Cavaliers acquisitions of Mo Williams last year, Shaq earlier this year, and now Antawn Jamison here at the deadline. That’s not to mention all of the other ridiculous rumors that never came to trade fruition, with teams shopping guys like Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, Chris Bosh, and others, all in the name of saving a few bucks.
All in all, 41 players switched teams. So, without further ado, let us get to this chronological recap of this year’s trade deadline, or as I’ve now deemed it, “Monopoly: The NBA Edition.
Wizards-Mavs Seven Player Deal
Wizards Get Mavericks Get
F Josh Howard G/F Caron Butler
F Drew Gooden C Brendan Haywood
F James Singleton G DeShawn Stevenson
G/F Quinton Ross Cash Considerations
The Wizards, as long speculated, kicked off the week by moving Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood in one massive deal with the Dallas Mavericks that effectively marks the end of an era of underachievement in Washington and sets the table for the Antwan Jamison deal later on.
In Butler and Haywood, the Mavericks get two guys whom they can plug in as starters who should almost secure Dallas as a top-three seed and potential Finals dark horse in the always tight Western Conference playoff race.
In return, the Wizards get a quality swingman who’s been the consistent recipient of sixth man of the year accolades, who will fill a starter’s nicely role in D.C. While Howard is a solid piece to build around in the future, he’s not a spectacular return on what are arguably two all-star caliber talents. In the end this was strictly a cap move on Washington’s part.
*SPOILER* Gooden will be traded in a later deal and probably return to the Mavs in a month after being bought out by this team, while Singleton and Ross represent two expiring contracts that will help to offset the $78 million that the team invested in Gilbert Arenas over the next four years. Haha, you just have to laugh at that one.
Blazers Fill Void at Center
Clippers Get Blazers Get
G Steve Blake C Marcus Camby
F Travis Outlaw
With this deal, Portland, who is clutching onto the eighth spot out West despite seemingly playing with a roster of eight because of a remarkable rash of injuries, was able to get a short-term replacement for their 2008 No. 1 pick, Greg Oden, who will be out for the remainder of this season.
Eventually the Blazers may have to find something to do about the oft-injured Oden, who has only played in 82 games total over the course of his two-year career, but for now, they seem to be hoping that the 36-year-old Camby can be a stop-gap to delay that decision for at least another year and also solidify their frontcourt to help this team sneak into the postseason this year.
I like this move for them because if they can get healthy with Camby doing his thing at center, I believe the Blazers can at the very least hold off Houston, New Orleans, and Memphis for that final spot and even potentially move up past Phoenix and Oklahoma City to grab the sixth or seventh seed. If I were the Blazers I’d be trying to negotiate an extension with Camby after the season just in case Oden’s not ready to go for next year.
As for the Clippers' end this was strictly a cash move, getting two expiring contracts and some cash money because, well, they’re the Clippers, who’ve been rebuilding since 1997.
Wolves Get Darko, Knicks Shed Cap
Knicks Get Timberwolves Get
F Brian Cardinal F/C Darko Milicic Cash Considerations
Yes, that Darko, the one out of Serbia-Montenegro once hailed as the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki that the Detroit Pistons selected back in the 2003 draft, passing on the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. Boy, don’t they wish they could do that one over now. This is his fifth team in seven seasons and has said this will be his last season playing in America, as he plans to return home next year to get back to European ball.
Maybe he can sign with Ricky Rubio’s team and the Wolves can begin establishing an affiliate team overseas. Really, to be honest, this was just trading a bad deal for a bad deal and there’s nothing more I can say, or will say, about it.
Cavaliers Pull Another Heist
Wizards Get Cavs Get Clippers Get
F Al Thornton F Antawn Jamison F D. Gooden
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas G Sebastian Telfair
2010 first Round Pick (Cleveland's)
Rights to 2009 second-rounder Emir Preldzic
Cavs general manager Danny Ferry is now wanted for robbery in three different states. After initially batting eyes at Amare Stoudemire, only to be rebuffed, the Cavaliers finally completed this year’s blockbuster, a trade which was nearly two years in the making.
I compare this move in some ways to the Kevin Garnett move by Boston that I referenced earlier, as the Cavaliers got an aging yet highly motivated, high character all-star for next-to-nothing to enhance a team that currently only boasts the best record in the league.
The main reason why the Cavaliers have coveted Jamison for so long is the fact he’s a stretch forward who can be a go-to guy that the team can turn to other than LeBron James late in games, who can create and hit his own shot. His numbers might go down just slightly, but that will be just due to the fact that he’s not laboring carrying a team on his back anymore.
Besides his contributions won’t only be in the stat-line because he’s a battle-tested pro’s-pro, who knows how to flip the switch come playoff time, as Cavs fans are well aware after the team’s successive playoff battles with the Wizards over the years. He’s 34 and doesn’t have a whole lot of mileage left, but for at least the next year or two he should be a very solid contributor for a team that should play deep on into the postseason.
On the Wizards' end, they get some more cap relief that drops them right onto the luxury tax threshold, as well as a young player in Thornton from the Clippers who could develop into a nice NBA player down the road. They’re expected to let Ilgauskas walk back to the Cavs.
Finally, the Clippers will more than likely cut lies with Gooden to shed salary as I alluded to earlier and allow him to go back to Dallas.
76ers Grab Prospect Meeks
Bucks Get 76ers Get
F Primoz Brezec G Jodie Meeks
G Royal Ivey F/C Francisco Elson
2nd Round Pick
Just a simple trade between two teams in transition. Meeks was buried on the bench in Milwaukee behind rookie sensation Brandon Jennings, so the Bucks moved him for some valuable cap relief in the form of two expiring deals. It’s unclear what the 76ers have planned for Meeks at this point, but one could assume they are bringing the Kentucky standout in for a tryout to perhaps develop into a shooting guard for them considering that Allen Iverson is on his last legs.
Jazz Trade Brewer to Rising Grizzles
Grizzles Get Jazz Get
G Ronnie Brewer Future First-Round Pick
Utah’s Ronnie Brewer got crunched in a numbers game as Utah broke up their logjam at the guard position by dealing the guard to the Memphis Grizzles who are in the midst of a playoff push. I figure you can never have too many young athletic bodies on the roster and Brewer will provide some nice defensive energy in particular off the bench for the Grizzles. Jazz capitalize on their surplus by picking up what should be a mid-first-round pick in the future.
Bobcats Nab Thomas, Bulls Prep For ‘10
Bulls Get Bobcats Get
G Flip Murray F Tyrus Thomas
G Acie Law
Future First Rounder
Chicago cleared some cap space in the form of two expiring contracts as they prepare to try and lure a top-tier free agent to play in the Windy City this summer, as they parted ways with bi-polar forward Tyrus Thomas. However, with this move and the Salmons move (see below), the Bulls may have done these deals at the expense of a postseason berth this season. I guess they won’t be complaining in Chicago, though, if things work out as they plan and they land a big star for next season. In Charlotte, Thomas should be a good fit on the young Bobcats, where they hope his energy and athleticism in their retooled frontcourt will help as they continue to vie for the franchise’s first playoff berth.
Bucks Quietly Prep For Playoff Run
Bulls Get Bucks Get
F Hakim Warrick G John Salmons
G Joe Alexander Conditional Picks
At first glance this deal looks like a contract swap between two underachieving teams. Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick come off the books next year for the Bulls now who ended up freeing quite a bit of room at the deadline, while Salmons' deal also expires at the end of the season. But in Salmons the Bucks get a shooter, who when his shot is on is tough to beat. This move creates for a core of players that could potentially help the Bucks sneak up in the weaker Eastern Conference playoff race where right now they only sit two games behind Charlotte in the eighth seed.
Celtics Big Move: Adding "Mighty Mouse"
Knicks Get Celtics Get
PG Eddie House PG Nate Robinson
SG JR Giddens F Marcus Landry
SG Bill Walker
Some analysts have called this a desperation move, one not unlike what the Celtics did last year with their acquisition of Stephon Marbury. Despite my burning hatred for the Celtics, I am not going to be as harsh.
At just 5’5" I don’t know how much defense he’ll be able to play and he plays more like a zero than a one guard—that is, he’s looking to put the ball in the basket more than be a distributor. Despite these concerns, I think Nate is a solid pickup for them, as he’ll be able to spell Rondo off the bench as well as come in and provide some young competitive energy when he’s in the game, something I’ve felt the Celtics have been lacking.
Personally, as a Cavs fan, I’m glad to see House off the Celtics. He is hot and cold, but when he’s hot he explodes like a Roman candle on the Fourth of July. Like I said, though, the Celtics needed to inject some youth into their lineup and they did accomplish that with this trade.
As for the Knicks, they were able to get some value for a player who stated he was on his way out the door after this season, as well as pick up three more expiring contracts as they continue in their preparation for the 2010 offseason, when they want to lure two superstars to the Big Apple for a renaissance of sorts. Eddie House will be a good ballplayer for them though.
Mega-Deal Gets McGrady to New York
Kings Get Knicks Get Rockets Get
F Carl Landry G Tracy McGrady G Kevin Martin
F Joey Dorsey G Sergio Rodriguez F Jordan Hill
G Larry Hughes Hou Picks in 2011 & 2012 F Jared Jefferies
F/C Hilton Armstrong
For months we heard this speculation about a player the New York Knicks coveted. Not LeBron James, not yet anyways, no: The Knicks wanted Tracy McGrady. They didn’t even necessarily want him for his talent or, to be fair, what’s left of it, they wanted him for his big expiring contract as they made their third deal for cap relief right on the deadline.
See, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, though, as the Rockets and Kings had initially agreed on a deal just between the two of them to swap McGrady for Martin. However, New York just couldn’t let that happen and see their chances to free up maximum cap space sent to Sacramento. So they threw Larry Hughes expiring contract to the Kings and swapped picks with the Rockets to keep their dreams of luring two superstars with max contracts alive. While they were mainly preparing for the 2010 offseason, the Knicks established themselves a solid core in the meantime with their pickup of McGrady, who in addition to their acquisition of Eddie House, should at the very least make Knicks games interesting to watch to close out the season.
As for the Kings, who are bumbling along in the West, they got some decent cap relief back to aid in their rebuilding efforts as well as an emerging young forward in Carl Landry from the Rockets who could develop into a terrific player now that he’s teamed alongside the leading rookie of the year candidate Tyreke Evans.
While all three sides of this deal made out pretty well for themselves relative to their goals, the Rockets I feel got the best deal of the three. When healthy Kevin Martin is a stud capable of going for 20-plus a game. Combine him with Yao Ming and I think they now have everything that they wanted the tandem of McGrady and Yao to be. I also like the potential upside of Jordan Hill and their pickup of New York’s 2011 and 2012 picks because more than likely the Knicks will still suck then and they’ll be able to get some decent players that way.
So overall who were the biggest winners and losers here in the madness at the deadline? Well, here’s my opinion with the biggest winners and losers ranked one through six, with one being the biggest winner/loser and so on down.
1. Cavaliers: Pretty much the runaway winner here. Nabbing a two-time all-star talent for what amounts to essentially no more than a low first-round pick will earn you that status. The onus will now be on Mike Brown to find a rotation to make it all work. While he’s no spring chicken anymore, Jamison still is every bit of the player the Cavs long coveted for years. This move is even a move bigger than just this year, as they hope that Jamison is enough to convince LeBron James to re-sign this offseason. It bears noting that Jamison represents a long-term investment, whereas pulling the trigger on a deal for Stoudemire may have turned out to just have been more or less a one year rental.
2. Mavericks: Got two guys who they can insert into their starting lineup and who can immediately contribute on a team that has all the looks of a darkhorse in the West come playoff time. Haywood addresses their depth issues at the center position. Meanwhile, Butler slides into the spot vacated by Josh Howard and will be able to provide Dallas with more attitude and intensity on both ends of the court, especially defensively, than what they were getting previously out of Howard.
3. Rockets: Not only dumped off Tracy McGrady but also got back a player in Kevin Martin all in the same deal, who when healthy can pour in the points in bunches. Sure, they lost Carl Landry, but in swapping first-round picks with the Knicks over the next two years, I’m sure they’ll be able to draft someone with comparable talent, given the Knicks seem destined to be going nowhere fast, so those should be some valuable picks. It is a good move not only for the future, but as well for the present because at just three games out behind the Suns and Blazers for the final two spots in the West, this Martin acquisition might be enough to boost them into the second season.
4. Bobcats: Acquisition of Tyrus Thomas only solidifies the Bobcats young core as they try to make a push in the Eastern Conference playoff race. While not a deadline pickup, their acquisition of Stephen Jackson earlier in the year also has to come into consideration as he has absolutely been the driving force that’s turned them into a tough team to beat night in and night out.
5. Bucks: Quietly shed some salary as well as picked up some ammunition to challenge the Bobcats for the final spot in the East with their acquisition of a scorer in John Salmons who should fit in well alongside Brandon Jennings. If the Bucks can somehow make the postseason it might just energize what some call a stagnant fan base.
6. Kings: Shed quite a bit of cap off their roster in obtaining the services of Joey Doresy and Larry Hughes as well as found themselves able to pry Carl Landry off the Rockets giving them perhaps their best young player in the frontcourt since they traded away Ron Artest to the Pacers in 2004.
1. Suns: At this deadline, generally you lost if you didn’t play. The Suns needed to move Amare Stoudemire because the way he’s talking I can guarantee he is gone after this season, and now the Suns will have nothing to show for it. This was just a stubborn move on their part in keeping him.
2. Heat : Miami had a chance to perhaps become the favorite to win the East by teaming Stoudemire with Wade in South Beach, but couldn’t risk sacrificing their precious cap space to do so. A move of this nature I can only assume would have convinced Dwyane Wade to stay, but now Heat fans will just have to sit back and pray. Heat also worked overtime for Boozer after the Amare deal fell through, but couldn’t get the Jazz to bust up their red-hot team. I fully expect them to lure either Amare or Carlos this offseason, but they come out as losers here as they fail to make a potential league altering splash.
3. Spurs: Yet another case where not playing hurt a team. The sand in the hourglass is running low for the Spurs and the way they are playing right now, it just seemed like they could have used an infusion of youth and energy here at the deadline. I could be wrong, though, considering they always seem to get a second wind about this time, so we’ll see.
4. Knicks: Sure, they successfully cleared quite a bit of cap space, but when you look at their roster past this season there are only two players with guaranteed contracts on the roster in Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari. Not exactly the type of roster at all that looks at all enticing to any superstar of Bosh, Wade, or Lebron caliber. Sure they might be able to land two second-tier stars in Amare Stoudemire and maybe Joe Johnson this offseason, but will it really have been worth all of this purge?
5. Jazz: Losers for reasons similar to those of the Suns. Boozer is all but gone after this season and they should have realized his trade value here at the deadline, especially after the Suns pulled Amare off of the market. I understand they have been a red-hot team at the moment, but they can’t fool themselves into thinking they’ll get past the Nuggets or Lakers in the postseason. Retooling the roster beginning with a Boozer trade would’ve been the first step in moving up in the ultra-competitive West in the future. The Brewer trade also wasn’t the greatest either.
6. 76ers: Had a chance to get Stoudemire and potentially turn around what has been a lost season, but their refusal to relinquish Andre Iguodala in any deals left them with a long road to relevance ahead of them. Don’t get me wrong, I like Iguodala, but trading him for a talent like Stoudemire should be a no brainer.
© Cover photo courtesy of ESPN.com