Winners and Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline 1 Month Later

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2012

Winners and Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline 1 Month Later

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    The NBA trade deadline is gone, but it is not forgotten.

    It has been nearly a month since the NBA feeding frenzy subsided, and the aftermath of completed deals are now beginning to materialize.

    Some triggers were pulled to preserve hope for the future, while others went off with the expectation that dividends would be paid immediately.

    Regardless of intentions, not everything goes according to plan, and even if it does, there's no guarantee it works out for the best.

    Subsequently, now is a time for teams to reflect, evaluate and most importantly, accept the fact that for better or worse, this is their post-deadline reality.

Winner: Indiana Pacers

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    The Pacers pulled the trigger on the most understated deal of the deadline, sending a second-round draft pick the Raptors' way in exchange for Leandro Barbosa.

    Since arriving in Indiana, Barbosa has averaged a respectable 8.1 points and shot nearly 36 percent from behind the rainbow. 

    In Barbosa, the Pacers received a savvy veteran who puts up points in bunches, wears opposing defenses thin and provides a safety net should Paul George or George Hill get into foul trouble.

    While he is no superstar, Barbosa has added capable depth to a team that hopes to parlay a strong finish into a deep playoff push.  

Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers

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    In a deep draft class, the Cavaliers are sure to be content with the first-round draft pick they received in exchange for the odd man out in Ramon Sessions.

    That said, a talented draft class doesn't guarantee anything.

    It's great that Kyrie Irving has taken Cleveland by storm, and it's great that Luke Walton is as utilized as he will ever be, but it's inexcusable that there wasn't a proper place for Sessions in the rotation.

    In Sessions, you had a proven performer that could give you 14 points and five assists off the bench consistently, provided he received adequate playing time.

    Now, the Cavaliers have an obnoxiously overpriced veteran in Walton and crapshoot in the Lakers' first-round pick.

Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

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    Let's face it, Nick Young hasn't done much of anything since joining the Clippers, but the team is a deadline-day winner nonetheless. 

    Young is averaging just 10.8 points on 37.3 percent shooting since making the jump to Los Angeles. Despite his offensive shortcomings, though, the Clippers are 10-6 since the deadline.

    The shooting guard has not provided the level of instant offense Los Angeles had hoped he would, but he cost next to nothing, and his presence has stretched opposing defenses further, creating more opportunities for Chris Paul to penetrate.

    Young's addition has also provided Randy Foye—16.1 points per contest with Young in the lineup—with more open looks and opportunities to score.

    So, while Young may not be rolling, the Clippers are.

Loser: Portland Trail Blazers

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    The Blazers are only 7-8 since the trade deadline, and continue to look like a talented team without a direction.

    Jonny Flynn has received some minutes and, at times, distributed the ball effectively, but he was not worth the price of Marcus Camby's interior defense and rebounding.

    And while the draft pick the Blazers received in exchange for Gerald Wallace is likely to be high, it's unclear how a top-10 or top-five pick will help a team that was supposedly built to win now.

    Portland was supposed to contend for a title this season, but instead, find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff race.

    That's more than disappointing.

    For a team that has underachieved as much as the Blazers have, any splash made at the trade deadline should have been with the intent to immediately improve or provide hope for the future.

    Portland's activity did neither.

Winner: Houston Rockets

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    The Rockets are 8-5 since the deadline and are a clear winner.

    Acquiring Marcus Camby has not only shored up the middle, but also given them a gritty veteran with ties to the Houston area, which may inspire him to sign at a steep discount this summer.

    Let's also not neglect to mention the Rockets were able to rid themselves of two inactive headaches in Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet in the process.

    No, Camby did note propel the Rockets to new heights, but he did help keep them in the playoff picture as they anxiously awaited the return of Kyle Lowry.

Winner: Denver Nuggets

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    Yes, the Nuggets took a huge gamble when they gave up Nene and got back JaVale McGee in return, and yes, they are just 7-7 since the trade. However, they are still a winner.

    McGee is a roller-coaster ride of a player, but Denver has the opportunity to let him walk after this season. Considering buyers remorse had become prevalent after the Nuggets inked Nene to a five-year, $67 million deal over the offseason, taking on McGee presents much less of a risk.

    Denver can also not be ridiculed for its recent run of mediocrity. Injuries have plagued the team all season, and that was true even with Nene.

    Should the Nuggets continue to latch on to a playoff spot, they will be a dangerous team with both a healthy Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler in the mix come postseason.

    So, while the Nuggets' immediate success hinges on a number of "ifs,"  their future looks a lot brighter without Nene's contract in the fold. 

Loser: Orlando Magic

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    The Magic made no trades and they ensured that Dwight Howard would at least finish this season in Orlando, but they still lost.

    Not only are the Magic 6-7 since the deadline, but they have dropped from the third seed in the Eastern Conference to the sixth. Factor in the drama between the star center and head coach Stan Van Gundy, and you have a team no closer to staving off implosion.

    This is not to say Orlando should have dealt Howard, nor is it to say it should have been amenable to him voiding his early termination option. It's just to say, now that the dust has settled, it seems the team was poised to lose at the deadline, regardless of what they decided to do with Howard.

    In other words, the Magic were damned if they did and damned if they didn't. 

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Lakers added a vibrant and youthful point guard in Ramon Sessions just before the trade deadline, and did so without dealing Andrew Bynum or Paul Gasol.

    For that, they are winners. 

    Los Angeles is just 9-6 since the trade, but the team has shown signs of turning a corner with Sessions at the helm.

    Thus far, Sessions has averaged 13.5 points, 7.4 assists and four rebounds per game in purple and gold. He has provided the Lakers with a crisp passer, efficient scorer, understated perimeter defender and willing playmaker, all for the bargain price of Luke Walton and a top-14 protected draft pick.

    Kobe Bryant's shin injury has hindered the Lakers' progress in the interim, but make no mistake that Sessions' presence will prove vital to any playoff push Los Angeles attempts to make.  

Loser: Golden State Warriors

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    The Warriors didn't just drop the ball at the deadline, they gave it away.

    Golden State's blunders go beyond the fact that the club is 5-13 since dealing away Monta Ellis. Losses were expected to pile up, with this trade being for the future and all.

    But what type of future is in store for the Warriors now?

    Sure, guys like David Lee, Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson have stepped up, but Golden State's blueprint for success hinges on the health of two oft-injured players in Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut. And let's not even dignify the motive behind dealing Stephen Jackson for Richard Jefferson.

    This is all far from settling.

    Bogut has battled injuries his entire career, and Curry is building a not-so-impressive resume in that department himself. After nearly two decades of uncertainty, what the Warriors needed most from the trade deadline was a little stability and piece of mind.

    Mission not accomplished.

Winner: Washington Wizards

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    The three-team accord that was struck between the Clippers, Nuggets and Wizards was one that benefited all parties involved.

    Washington is 4-12 since the deal and Nene is overpaid, but his veteran leadership will prove invaluable in the Wizards' inexperienced locker room down the road.

    More importantly, though, JaVale McGee had simply worn out his welcome in Washington. He became more of a perpetual headache than anything else and while Nene is an injury risk, his production when healthy is guaranteed.

    For now, the Wizards look just as ugly as they did prior to March 15, but unlike the Warriors, there are better days on the horizon. 

Loser: New Orleans Hornets

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    Leading up to the trade deadline, Chris Kaman's stock was surging, but the Hornets failed to capitalize on it.

    While Kaman is still putting up solid numbers—14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks over the last 10 games—he is not going to be in New Orleans next season.

    The center is 29 going on 30, and not only does he not fit into the Hornets' youth movement, but there will be contenders lining up for his services this summer.

    The Hornets had the opportunity to extract some value out of Kaman's departure, but instead, they will watch him walk away for nothing in free agency.

Winner: San Antonio Spurs

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    As if it were even possible, the Spurs found another way to shock the basketball world when they acquired Stephen Jackson in exchange for Richard Jefferson.

    Since the trade, San Antonio is 12-2 and locked into a tight battle with the Thunder for the Western Conference's top playoff seed.

    Jackson is averaging 9.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, and has given the Spurs added defense on the perimeter and financial flexibility in the near future, all without sacrificing any offense.

    If that's not a productive trade deadline, then what exactly is?

Loser: New Jersey Nets

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    Gerald Wallace is an underrated player, but he was an overrated acquisition on the Nets' part.

    Wallace has put up stellar numbers since joining Deron Williams. He's averaging 14.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He's also shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.

    That said, New Jersey gave up far too much for a player approaching 30 who isn't the type of athlete that will convince Deron Williams to stay long term. The Nets are just 6-8 (6-7 with Wallace in the lineup) since pulling the trigger on this deal.

    Mehmet Okur hasn't done much of anything over the past few seasons, but his expiring contract provided more offseason flexibility. And while Wallace has the right to become a free agent at season's end, it's unlikely he passes up the $11.4 million-plus he is slated to make.

    Let's also not forget that 2012 first-round draft pick the Nets relinquished is only top-three protected.

    With Howard off the market, it was nearly impossible for the Nets to come out winners. Still, standing pat would have made them less of a loser.

Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Bucks are 9-5 since trading away two players who had become non-factors for their future blueprint in Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson.

    Milwaukee's take for relinquishing their seldom-used assets? Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.

    While Brown is not a part of the picture and Udoh continues to look extremely raw, the Bucks landed an underrated star in Ellis.

    The combo-guard has not been as potent on offense since joining the Bucks, but has added an extra 16.6 points and 5.5 assists to the mix.

    And although Brandon Jennings and Ellis clearly need time to establish chemistry, there is plenty of potential there.

    Milwaukee currently sits 1.5 games outside the Eastern Conference postseason picture, but with the new level of depth that has been achieved, the team seems poised to erase the deficit and clinch a playoff berth.