February 20, 2010

Deadline dealings

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

A lot went down at the NBA’s trade deadline this season, a far cry from when Fred Jones to moving was the biggest shakeup of the day. But with the world focussing on the Spring Olympics and Tiger Woods’ impression of a robot, it wasn’t surprising to see it pushed back in some sports sections. A few teams turned into legit contenders, but in different races. Confused? Well here’s how it played out.

The Knicks felt the need to trade away their most recent first round pick, Jordan Hill, combined with a bad salary for an utter wash-up with a bad knee and a monster expiring contract. Yes, New York sold the farm for Tracy McGrady with the intention to get his $21-million deal off the table after this season so that they’ll be contenders for not just one of the premier free agents, but for two.

Houston turned themselves into contenders for the playoffs this season and for the future by picking up talented shooter Kevin Martin for Sacramento, where he was weighing down the team by taking touches away from their future superstar, Tyreke Evans.

It was amazing how little the Rockets actually gave up to get a bonafide player like Martin. I guess that’s just what happens when teams are willing to make trades for fiscal sense rather than basketball sense.

Chicago were also able to turn themselves into big contenders for one of 2010 max free agents by trading away John Salmons and his hindering deal. If you don’t think that Dwyane Wade saw this deal and thought about playing in his home city 41 times a season, then you’re crazy.

The Bulls also dealt the slacker Tyrus Thomas, who never really lived up to his potential. Charlotte will have their hands full with him, but I expect Larry Brown to light a fire under him.

The night before the deadline, Cleveland made a big splash in their pitch to keep LeBron in town by trading virtually nothing for Antawn Jamison. It might not have been the smartest move though since Jamison stunk up the joint in his debut last night. 0-for-12 from the field is no way to make a good impression on a teammate like LeBron, who is essentially out the door if Jamison continues to reek.

Dallas was also became an interesting contender for the Western Conference title by getting rid of clubhouse goof/cancer Josh Howard and landing two of Washington’s starters, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. Butler was one of the biggest names to be dealt at the deadline, but Haywood is the more interesting piece to the deal. He’ll instantly be an upgrade over incumbent starting centre Eric Dampier and was actually one of the better 5s in the East.

Finally, the Celtics were able to deal an expiring contract for a third guard. It wasn’t the third guard that they would have liked to have landed (Kirk Hinrich) but at least they’ll have a contender in dunk offs with Nate Robinson.

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