February 20, 2009

A dead deadline

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

Not much at this year’s NBA trade deadline, but really, we shouldn’t work ourselves up and expect big moves every year. Unlike the NHL’s and MLB’s trade deadlines, where moves are aplenty and it’s a lot easier to trade because of uncomplicated cap situations, the NBA’s deadline always ends up being all sizzle but no steak. When the biggest name dealt is Rafer Alston, a borderline lunatic, well, that just about sums up how much of a dud this deadline was.

Alston was shipped to the PG-desperate Magic in the deal of the day. As a replacement for the injured Jameer Nelson, Rafer is far better than the combination of Tyronn Lue and Anthony Johnson who looked like bums in the opportunities they had to run the point. Even better for Orlando, they didn’t even give up anything good. Arguably, the best piece they gave away was their first round pick this season, but that will end up in the mid-20s and that went to Memphis. The Rockets somehow were able to pry away Kyle Lowry from the Grizzlies, who I guess has become expendable with Mike Conley rising up to his potential. I think the Magic got the best of this one and the Grizzlies got the ass-end.

This deadline was so weak, teams actually undid trades that had already happened. Without any other reason than “he failed our physical,” Tyson Chandler’s deal to Oklahoma City fell through. Now, for the Hornets, this is a good news/bad news scenario. While they’re getting back their only seven-footer, they’ll have to pay him now. The trade with the Thunder was ideal since it cleared out some cap room for next season, when Chris Paul’s huge extension kicks in. At least they can make some money back with a long playoff run this spring.

Chris Wilcox, who was sent back to the Thunder in the Chandler non-trade, hopefully didn’t unpack his bags because he was dealt to the Knicks. It looks like Oklahoma City went from swindling New Orleans to getting taken by New York, Wilcox isn’t great but Malik Rose is a bum.

The Knicks were, amazingly, able to deal away the worst contract in the league too. All it took was taking on another team’s terrible contract. Any trade that involves awful deals like Jerome James’ and Larry Hughes aren’t always interesting because really, it’s almost just trading dead weight. But there’s the fact that Hughes – at Wilcox – fits well into coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Wilcox is a big who can run and Hughes is good spot-up shooter. These deals really help the Knicks while the Bulls were able to get rid a big contract who wasn’t going to play when Kirk Hinrich returns.

The Bulls always addressed their front-court depth problems by landing Brad Miller from the Kings. The “mega-deal” (as ESPN actually called it) sent Drew Gooden, Andres Nocioni and two scrubs west while the Bulls brought in Miller and swingman John Salmons. Chicago is adding a big man who can score, something they lacked while also taking on Salmons, who can play, but is now one of the many swing-man types the Bulls have on the roster.

And last, while certainly least, the Raptors were able to deal away excess guard Will Solomon. Believe me, if you’ve ever seen Will play, it’s a great accomplishment being able to deal. Coming to Toronto, Patrick O’Bryant has been a lottery bust since entering the NBA and the Celtics receive another one of the Kings’ future second-rounders. Boston must have a thing about Sacramento’s future second round picks, that’s the second one they’ve acquired this week.

UPDATE: Maybe this is the reason the Suns didn’t deal Amare. Losing the big man for eight weeks certainly wouldn’t have been too pleasing of a scenario of a contender trading for the talented Stoudemire.

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