NBA Trade Deadline: A Rare Win-Win-Win Trade

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIFebruary 18, 2010

WASHINGTON - MARCH 15:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Washington Wizards reacts after scoring during the first half of the game against the Charlotte Bobcats on March 15, 2006 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

When he stepped down as coach of the Clippers, Mike Dunleavy made it very clear the club would be active this trading deadline and in the free agent period this offseason. If there was any doubt then, there is none now.  We believe you, Mike.

The Los Angeles Clippers pulled the trigger on another trade just a day after sending Marcus Camby to Portland.  This time the Clippers send Sebastian Telfair to the Cavaliers and struggling forward Al Thornton to the Wizards in exchange for Drew Gooden.  The three team trade has Antawn Jamison going to the Cavs and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Wizards.

Clippers
Out: Al Thornton, Sebastian Telfair
In: Drew Gooden

Wizards
Out: Drew Gooden, Antawn Jamison
In: Al Thornton, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cavaliers first round draft pick

Cavaliers
Out:   Zydrunas Ilgauskas
In:  Antawn Jamison, Sebastian Telfair

Those are the actual moving parts, but the reality of this trade is what happens in the next 30 days.  Here is what we can expect once the dust settles.

Clippers
Out: Al Thornton, Sebastian Telfair
In: Cap Space

Wizards
Out: Drew Gooden, Antawn Jamison
In: Al Thornton, Cavaliers first round draft pick

Cavaliers
Out:  
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
In:  
Antawn Jamison, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Sebastian Telfair

Now, we can start to dissect this monster trade and pick some winners and losers.

Cavaliers

Sure, they wanted Amare Stoudmire, but instead of moving with plan A without a plan B, they pulled the trigger on plan B when plan A looked bleak.  When plan B is a veteran leader who brings 20.5 PPG and 8.8 RPG to the team, the sting of losing out on plan A is muffled.  The trick now is going to be how Jamison fits in with this squad who has won 13 straight.   That's where Jamison's experience and passion to win a championship come into play.  I doubt he will do anything but improve chemistry on a team that seems to thrive on it.

How does Big Z end up back in Cleveland?  Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post is speculating that the Wizards will buy out Ilgauskas's contract, freeing him to rejoin the Cavs in time for the playoffs.  The real reason he has to be in Cleveland, of course, is because his puppet is in that commercial with LeBron James.

The Cavaliers smell a championship.  They are going all in with this effort to not only bring Cleveland a championship, but to retain arguably the best player in the game today.  As good as J.J. Hickson has looked, this is clearly a huge upgrade for the Cavs at the PF position.  They come out as winners in this deal even before Jamison ever puts on the uniform.  It sends a clear message to the team, the fans, every club in the NBA, and LeBron James that this team is serious about winning this year.

Wizards

The Wizards are where the Portland Trailblazers were a few years back.  Remember the "Jailblazer" days?  The Wizards are working hard to move away from the gun incident, and this can only help.  Not to say Jamison was in any way involved, but he was there, so he got the stink on him.  Guilty by association.

In Al Thornton the Wizards are getting a player with upside.  He is young and seemed to have lost his place in L.A.  A change of scenery, a new coach, and teammates should work in his favor.  Thornton doesn't strike me as a future All Star but a solid contributor for years to come, yes.

Finally, the Wizards win goodwill points for giving Jamison a chance at a championship. It wouldn't have looked as good for the Wiz if they sent good-guy Jamison to the Clippers.

Clippers

I admit my first reaction to this trade was, what are the Clippers doing?!  When I saw how the pieces fall into place, however, it makes sense.  I wrote after the Camby trade that the Clippers were positioning themselves for a run at LeBron James or at least a quality free agent this offseason.  This trade simply puts the exclamation mark on that theory.

Be trading away Thornton and Telfair, they eliminate both contracts next year worth $5.51 million.  It leaves the Clippers with commitments to only four players next year: Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, and Baron Davis.  Before shedding those contracts, the Clippers had about $11 million in cap space.  Now they come in at around $15.5 million.  Is that enough to lure James, Wade, or Bosh?  We will see, but it's exciting to see the Clippers aggressively positioning themselves as buyers this offseason.

What happens to Drew Gooden?  Like Ilgauskas, Gooden will likely be bought out. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Gooden will never wear a Clipper jersey and will become a free agent after his contract is bought out.

Every franchise who has ever participated in a trade hopes for a win. Maybe the win is getting younger. Maybe it's bringing in a veteran missing piece.  For others a win is freeing up cap space.  This has the feel of a rare win-win-win trade where each team got exactly what they needed.  The Wizards got younger and moved a step away from "gun-gate".  The Cavs got the piece they hope completes them, while the Clippers positioned themselves for a run at the much anticipated free agent class of 2010.

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