NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers
by Trevor Whenham - 3/21/2012
The NBA trade deadline has passed and the dust has settled a bit. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as it could have been. That’s mainly because Dwight Howard didn’t move, and Pau Gasol or even Steve Nash could have made it interesting but stayed put.
Despite the lack of fireworks, though, there were several moves made. Some teams stood out as winners, and others just should have quit before they started. Here are the two biggest winners and losers:
Portland Trail Blazers
A couple of years ago Portland looked like the team of the future. Since then, though, nothing has gone right. Brandon Roy’s knees gave out and he retired far too young. Greg Oden turned into one of the biggest flops in NBA Draft history. They have some nice players, but things have just not gone like they were supposed to.
Their moves on this active trade deadline aren’t going to make them into serious contenders, but it shakes things up and certainly makes them better.
The biggest thing they did was get rid of some dead weight that just wasn’t helping them out. Gerald Wallace was going to cost $10 million next year, and he’s not worth it — at least not to the Blazers. Not only did the Nets take him for reasons that aren’t completely clear, but they overpaid badly for him.
Portland got back two role players and a first-round pick this year that is only protected for the top three. That could be a very nice player. They also shipped out Marcus Camby, who just didn’t look like he cared this year. From Houston they got back two high-upside, cheap young talents in Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet. They also cut Greg Oden, and fired Coach Nate McMillan since no one was listening to him anyway.
All in all, the team opened up some cap space, got much younger, landed a lottery pick, and made a positive coaching change. It was a good day for the future.
Los Angeles Lakers
The way the Derek Fisher deal happened — the team reportedly didn’t really let Fisher or Kobe know that it was in the works until it happened — wasn’t great, and probably hasn’t helped morale in the short-term.
You can’t really argue with the deal itself, though. Fisher was getting older, wasn’t eating nearly the minutes he used to, and wasn’t nearly as productive as he needed to be if this team is going to go deep. They got Jordan Hill back — a very talented young guy who hasn’t yet found his stride in the pros.
Fisher was replaced by Ramon Sessions from Cleveland. That’s a massive upgrade on the point, and made even better because they essentially stole him. They managed to ship Luke Walton and his over-inflated contract to Cleveland in the deal.
The Lakers did lose two first-round picks in the deal — theirs and one from Dallas — but neither were likely to be elite players, and the team has not done well at developing youngsters in recent times, anyway.
It wasn’t a perfect day, but they are better now than they were before the deadline.
Washington has a great young point guard to build around in John Wall. Unfortunately, they have been incredibly bad at building a team that is even remotely respectable.
You only have to watch the team play for about two minutes to realize that they have a serious attitude issue — built largely because they can’t really compete with anyone.
Nick Young and JaVale McGee were targeted as being two of the biggest attitude problems — despite being two of the four highest scorers. They sent Young to the Clippers for basically nothing and sent McGee to Denver for Nene. At his best Nene is a great player, but since signing his new contract last year he has been sleepwalking through his games, and his success is far from certain.
Before the deadline Washington was a bad team with attitude problems that was hard to get behind. Now they are a bad team with slightly fewer attitude issues that are hard to get behind.
They had better hope that the change of faces helps them out, because they certainly didn’t any better on the court.
Going from big to small is always a risky idea in the NBA, so it’s hard to really like the trade of Andrew Bogut for Golden State’s Monta Ellis.
Bogut is hurt for the rest of the year, but it’s not like the team is going to do anything this year, anyway. When he is playing, though, he’s a Top 5 center, and centers of any quality are in short supply in this league.
In return they get a guard who was expendable in Golden State because he couldn’t play with Stephen Curry effectively, and because he has little defensive discipline. Now he has to figure out how to play with Brandon Jennings, and he’s playing for a coach in Scott Skiles who has little patience for guys without defensive discipline.
Ellis can score like crazy, but I still don’t believe it’s going to work out in the long-term. The one positive is that they also got Ekpe Udoh — a youngster with decent upside.
All in all, though, I don’t think the Bucks got better in the long term at all.
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