February 22, 2008

What’s this? A deadline deal?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

In case you couldn’t recall, last year’s NBA trade deadline was a complete and udder dud. In fact, the headline on this site was “DEADline”, because, quite frankly, three deals involving a total of four players (the biggest name being moved was Juan Dixon). This year was quite a contrast.

Cleveland made the biggest move of the day, completing a three-team, 11-player deal at the buzzer to haul in some help for LeBron — and in this writer’s opinion, made them the favourite to come out of the East. The Cavs shipped out, namely, Larry Hughes (who’s been hugely disappointing for his big money deal), Donyell Marshall and Drew Gooden, the most talented of the group. In return, they acquire Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Seattle and Ben Wallace and Joe Smith from the Bulls. The Sonics were willing to jetison anyone who doesn’t fit into their plan for Oklahoma City (their assumed future home) while the Bulls didn’t want Wallace’s financial burden any more.

Big Ben is the huge question mark in this blockbuster. He’s never been great on offence but is a former defensive player of the year. I wouldn’t doubt for a second that LeBron can’t motivate Wallace to a return to his past self. If you were to pair up Big Z and Big Ben, they could have a decent match up with some of the twin towers out west when finals time comes around.

They other deals made were comparatively minor:
—Bonzi Wells and Mike James were shipped to New Orleans for Bobby Jackson. This deal gives the Hornets some more depth on their already fine bench and a lot better chance to hold onto their surprising Western Conference lead.

—The Rockets also dealt for Gerald “G-Money” Green. It’s too bad that dunkoff success doesn’t translate to NBA game success.

—The Raptors, looking for rebounding help, acquired a big man who can’t rebound (Primoz Brezec) for a back up guard who is merely a spot-player for Detroit now (Juan Dixon).

—And if you’ve ever heard of Von Wafer (yes, that’s a real guy’s name) well you’re on the same level as Portland who dealt Taureen Green for him.

So, sure, you could argue that no big deals were made last year at the deadline because there was some moves made weeks beforehand, but the same happened this year with all-star players like Pau Gasol, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Shaquille O’Neal. Let’s hope that the years to come have the excitement that led up to and took place this time of year.

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