NBA: Winners and Losers Since the NBA Trade Deadline
It's hard to believe that a little more than a month ago, we were all still obsessing over where Carmelo Anthony would end up.
Would he get his wish and be traded to the New York Knicks? Would the Nuggets make him swallow his pride and accept a trade to the New Jersey Nets? Or would the whole thing fall apart and 'Melo would be faced with a choice to either re-up with Denver or sweat out the new Collective Bargaining Agreement?
We all know how the 'Melo-drama ended, but that deal was just a precursor to what wound up being one of the craziest and most deal-happy deadlines in a while. There were 14 trades in all, involving 48 players, countless draft picks and a whole lot of cash considerations.
Some teams made deals to load up for a playoff run (New York, Oklahoma City and Portland), others to clear cap space (Charlotte and kind of Denver) and still others were just used to facilitate larger deals and pick up talented players in the process (Minnesota and Houston, if you still think Hasheem Thabeet has talent).
But it's been a month now since all these trades went down, and the teams that made them have played actual basketball games during that time.
Some are off to a racing start, some are struggling a bit and others are pretty much doing exactly the same things they did before they made a deadline deal.
I'm here to sort out the winners and losers since the NBA trade deadline. Without further ado...
Winner? (Yes, That's a Question): New York Knicks
I want to declare the Knicks winners. I really, really do. And before I attended last night's Knicks/Bucks game, I was going to. I was going to write this (in bold):
"Eventually, these guys will figure it out, just like the Miami Thrice did. Remember, the Heat started the season just 9-8 before they reeled off a super-impressive 21-1 stretch immediately after. Now, I'm not suggesting the Knicks are about to win 21 of 22 games, but I am suggesting that we all might be overreacting just a bit when declaring this trade a loss for New York.
The Knicks' struggles since the blockbuster trade that brought Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and the since-jettisoned Corey Brewer to New York have been well-documented.
They own a record of just 7-11 since the deal.
They can't seem to play any semblance of defense.
They REALLY struggle to find their offense in the fourth quarter.
Amar'e Stoudemire and Billups have shown little-to-no chemistry on the pick-and-roll, the axis from which all else in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense flows.
But I can't, just CAN'T call a trade in which the Knicks wound up with Anthony, a top 15-20 player in the NBA at worst, and Chauncey Billups, an NBA Finals MVP, a loss. Just can't do it."
But after that game last night, you can't help but think this...
The Knicks roster, as constructed, is certainly flawed. For one, they don't have a true center on the team.
When you're trying to guard Dwight Howard with the combination of Jared Jeffries, Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams, something is seriously wrong. And when you resort to playing Shelden Williams in crunch time, something is even more wrong.
Secondly, they don't really have a backup point guard. Toney Douglas has flashed some serious range a few times since the trade, but his play-making abilities leave a lot to be desired.
It doesn't help that Billups has looked older and slower since getting kneed in the thigh by Howard a few weeks back. He's either just old, done or both.
I legitimately texted my friend who was also at the game, "Chauncey is killing us. He can't guard anyone, so we have to play Douglas or Carter with him when Jennings is in the game. He should just sit down the stretch."
And I meant it. Not a good sign.
At this point, it seems like the Knicks should be past the point of "growing pains" and "we need time to jell." It really does. You can't be making those kinds of excuses when you're losing to the Bucks, Pacers and Cavaliers twice each in a span of 18 games.
Let's remember though, the Knicks do have wins over Miami, Memphis (twice), Atlanta, Utah and New Orleans since the trade.
This deal will ultimately be judged into the future, and who Carmelo and Amar'e are able to recruit to join them in the summer of 2011 or 2012. This trade was as much about getting more guys to join up as it was about getting Carmelo.
Carmelo and Amar'e WILL be on the New York Knicks for the next four years. Only time will tell if they can bring a championship back to Madison Square Garden.
Winner: Denver Nuggets
I know, I know. I just declared both teams from the same trade winners, and it doesn't make sense. But I'm doing it anyway.
Denver's season from October until February was pretty much one long tease. When will they trade Carmelo Anthony and to whom? It took about six months, but they finally, mercifully, gave Anthony his wish and sent him to the New York Knicks.
In return, the Nuggets got Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos (from Minnesota), $3 million in cash, the Knicks' 2014 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2013 and 2014 (one of which is from Golden State).
The immediate returns are definitely better for Denver so far. However, this is the type of trade that will have to be judged into the future also.
Carmelo and Amar'e are going to be on the same team for the next four years; we know that for sure. Is that a guarantee for the new Nuggets?
Nene and J.R. Smith's contracts are up at the end of this season, so is Chandler's. There are already rumors that Felton wants a trade if he's not going to start next season. Mozgov has barely played for Nuggets coach George Karl.
Denver could wind up with just Gallinari out of the deal, and there's no guarantee he sticks around either. Of course, they could all stay. I just wouldn't be so fast to declare it a clear win for Denver yet.
On the other hand, this team does seem to have caught some lightning in a bottle this season. They're scary going into the playoffs, quickly becoming the team that no one wants to play.
Watching Ty Lawson and Felton run the offense at lightning speed has been a pleasant reminder of how good they both were when running a similar offense for Roy Williams at North Carolina. Gallinari has shot 61 free throws in the seven games he has played as a Nugget (he missed some games with a fractured toe). Chandler has been his usual, steadily-efficient self.
Karl remarked that he wants to lock all of these guys up long term right now if possible.
Is it? Who knows. So while the Nuggets have won this trade so far, the true winner won't be determined for at least a couple of years.
Loser: Utah Jazz
On Feb. 11, Jerry Sloan retired.
Rumors circulated that the reason for his retirement was largely due to a contentious relationship with star point guard Deron Williams. So everyone figured, Deron won out. He's staying in Utah. Sloan is gone, he got his wish.
Williams was sent packing just under two weeks later in a deal with the New Jersey Nets. Utah got back Derrick Favors (the second pick in last year's draft), Devin Harris, first-round picks in 2011 and 2012, plus cash considerations.
Pretty nice haul, right? The second pick in the draft, a former All-Star point guard, two draft picks and some cash.
Eh, not so much.
The Jazz are just 5-11 since the trade. Favors is blocked in the lineup by the Jazz's two best remaining players, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Harris isn't nearly the player he was a couple of years ago, and Sloan resigned.
But the Jazz weren't confident that Williams really wanted to be there long term. General manager Kevin O'Connor let the Nuggets set the market price for a superstar with their extensive shopping of Carmelo Anthony, and then he just contacted the loser of that race and offered up Williams for a similar price.
This is another trade where we won't know the true winner until down the road, but the early returns don't look promising for Utah. And unless Favors blossoms into a real star, they don't look too promising for the future either. Even if he does, the Jazz will then likely have to part with Millsap, who they just paid, or Jefferson, who they just traded for after losing Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls.
Winner: Portland Trail Blazers
All the Blazers had to give up to get Gerald Wallace were three backups (Dante Cunningham, Joel Pryzbilla and Sean Marks), the Hornets' 2011 first-round pick obtained in the Jerryd Bayless trade, their own first-round pick in 2013 and some of owner Paul Allen's cash.
That alone is a steal.
Portland is 10-5 since the trade for Wallace, but they've won four of their last five games and are really coming on strong. Since the trade, they have beaten Denver, Orlando, Miami, Dallas and red-hot Philadelphia.
But I think the bigger win for the Blazers was in the moves they declined to make.
They didn't trade Andre Miller, and they didn't trade Marcus Camby.
Those are two playoff-proven veterans who can hopefully help Portland finally make a deep run in the postseason this year.
With Wallace now in tow, the Blazers have the ability to go both big and small, depending on the matchup.
Wallace's ball-hawking defensive prowess will certainly help against players like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, and his ability to hit the glass for rebounds will help LaMarcus Aldridge and Camby handle the load down low.
With this season's emergence of Nicholas Batum, Wesley Mathews and Aldridge, Brandon Roy will no longer being counted on to carry the team as far as he can.
This is now a deep, long, flexible team that can cause some problems for any of the other Western Conference playoff teams.
Loser: Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Jordan is not one to accept mediocrity in any capacity. So I believe him when he says he's not interested in competing for the seventh or eighth spot in the East and that he'd rather suffer through a couple of years of losing in order to get back to the top.
But the man traded the best player in the history of his franchise and got just about nothing of use to the Bobcats in return. Charlotte now has no identity, no personality and no real direction. They're going to be pretty terrible for a couple of years while "His Airness" starts his rebuilding process.
And as good as Mike was on the court, he doesn't exactly have the greatest track record building teams since he's retired (see also: Washington Wizards, Kwame Brown, etc.).
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
I purposely picked a defensive photo of Kendrick Perkins for this slide, because that's what this trade was all about.
Jeff Green is a nice offensive talent, but he routinely got beaten up by Western Conference power forwards to the point that people around the NBA were declaring the Thunder a better team when Serge Ibaka was on the floor.
Swapping Green and Nenad Kristic for Perkins and Nate Robinson allows Ibaka not only to move into the starting lineup, but to also slide over to his more natural position at the 4-spot.
And in Perkins, Sam Presti finally made the move for a veteran presence to stabilize this young, explosive team. Presti bided his time, waiting for exactly the right time to make his move, even when there were some in the media who questioned why he hadn't done it already. THIS was the right move to make.
Since they lost the offense Green provided in the trade, more playing time has opened up for young James Harden, and he's really responded. He's averaging 17.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting in 13 games so far in March.
The Thunder, one of the top defensive teams in the league a year ago, took a step backward a bit this year, and the trade for Perkins really solidifies them on that end of the court. Picking up Nazr Mohammed in a separate deal doesn't hurt, either.
Perkins is unquestionably one of the best low-post defenders in all of the NBA, and in my opinion, he's the most underrated player in the league, period.
He's just about the only guy with a hope of stopping Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum, which should really help the Thunder come playoff time.
OKC is humming along at 11-4 since the trade, and they were even missing Perk for the first few games. This team is really dangerous.
Loser: Boston Celtics
I've been really conflicted about the Boston Celtics the last few years.
It's ingrained in my blood as a New Yorker to hate all things Boston. But I've always been a huge fan of Ray Allen (dating to his Jesus Shuttlesworth days) and KG, and I loved Rajon Rondo at Kentucky and wanted the Knicks to draft him (damn you, Renaldo Balkman!).
But the guy I really started to like and even respect over the last few years, was Kendrick Perkins. Like I said in the previous slide, he's the most underrated player in the NBA. Nobody defends Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol or Bynum better.
And more than anyone else, he's the one who gave this Celtics team a real identity as a brash, tough, in-your-face type of team. Everyone knows all about KG's woofing and hollering because he's KG, but Perk was the one who really set the tone defensively on the interior.
As he's shown since the trade, he's unafraid. He's already called out the Heat and the Lakers since being traded to Oklahoma City, and it's just a matter of time before he moves on to other targets.
It also doesn't help the Celtics that Rondo has really gone into the tank since his best friend was shipped out. Rondo is averaging just 7.6 points on 36 percent shooting from the field, 3.8 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game for the month of March, well below his season averages of 10.2 points on 47.5 percent from the field, 4.4 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game.
And the guy just LOOKS unhappy. When the guy who's job it is to keep the other players on the team happy with wide-open shots isn't happy, that's a big problem.
I mean, the guys on the Celtics WERE CRYING when they heard Perkins got shipped off to OKC. KG, Doc Rivers, Rondo, all of 'em. This team really wanted, and deserved, one last shot at the title together.
They beat the Lakers in the Finals when they were at full strength, and then lost to them in Game 7 last year sans Perkins. This year was supposed to be the rubber match. And now it won't happen. At least not the way it should, with both squads at full strength.
By trading away Perkins, along with the also-underrated Semih Erden and Luke Harangody, the Celtics gave up their big advantage over everyone else in the Eastern Conference: their size.
Do you really want to be depending on Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal as your centers in the playoffs?
Winner: Washington Wizards
Of course, this trade has been dissected from all sorts of different angles, but none of them from the Wizards'.
When one of the players involved in a trade gets waived and then signs with the Miami Heat, that's likely to happen. And when another is sent to the Atlanta Hawks, who have had pretty much the same nucleus of players for the last 4-5 years, it's even more likely to happen.
I, for one, loved this trade for the Wizards. They sent out Kirk Hinrich, who clearly had no future in Washington since they drafted that guy John Wall, and in return, they got back Mike Bibby (who they had no use for and promptly waived), Jordan Crawford (who has the potential to be a big-time scorer) and a first-round pick.
To recap, they traded a guy who had no future with the team, and in return they got some cap space, a former first-rounder with a lot of potential and a future first-rounder. That's a really nice haul.
If Crawford (or Nick Young, who was already on the team) can team with John Wall to form the backcourt of the future, the Wiz will be on their way back.
They have a nice young core moving forward with Wall and Javale McGee, and now they'll have some nice cap room and picks to work with too.
We'll See: New Jersey Nets
This one is pretty simple, and it boils down to this:
If Deron Williams stays in Jersey, and recruits someone else like Dwight Howard or someone like that to play with him, then it's a HUGE win for the Nets.
BUT, if he leaves, then what was the point? They would have given up a guy who many consider to be a future building block and multiple first-round picks for nothing.
Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov took a big risk with this one. But it can reap huge rewards if D-Will decides to stay.
Best-case scenario, a big star finally takes the Russian's money, and the Nets move into the upper echelon of Eastern Conference contenders.
Worst-case scenario, he takes his talents across the Hudson River and dons the orange and blue on Broadway with Carmelo and Amar'e every night.
We'll See: Chicago Bulls
I really can't decide if I think the Bulls, who stood pat at the deadline, were winners or losers.
On the one hand, the Celtics got worse and gave up their significant size advantage over the rest of the East. This has allowed the Bulls to vault into first place in the conference.
On the other hand, this team REALLY needed a shooting guard with some scoring prowess, and they didn't get one. I can't help but think that may come back to bite them in the playoffs.
Derrick Rose really has this team humming along, and he's the presumptive MVP because of it—no matter what Stan Van Gundy has to say. But in the playoffs, I'm not sure he can carry an entire team on his back for four rounds.
Boozer obviously helps shoulder the offensive load, and Noah anchors the defense, but I think this team needs another perimeter threat to really make noise.