I think it’s impossible to gauge the importance or significance of any trade just a day after it happened, but analysts will analyze (or lose their job, I mean they get paid to do mostly pointless stuff like that). And since we are in the culture of sports know-how, here is my two cents on how I see each team performed at the deadline. This is not a team-by-team whole league review, just teams that made moves (or in one case, the team that didn’t).
Let’s start with this: out of all the big names on the block, the biggest that got traded was that of J.J. Redick. That should tell you off bat how eventful this day was. Even so, some teams improved, other stagnated, and some flat out fascinated with the lack of activity when everyone expected some. As a fact, let’s just start with that team.
It was really weird to not see Utah move either Big Al or Milsap. They have sufficient depth in the post to not suffer A LOT from losing either of those two. What’s more importantly, this was a chance to strengthen their guard depth at the expense of someone who is sure to walk this summer.
It’s difficult to say how the Atlanta Hawks situation will pan out right now, but for the time being, I have to chalk them up in this column. The Josh Smith saga petered out with a whimper and it’s hard to see the man motivated to keep going for a team that was so eager to ship him out. Still, let’s assume J-Smoove is a professional and gives Atlanta his best until the season’s end. Danny Ferry made it pretty clear his star forward is not getting a max deal and should Smith walk, Atlanta will have enough cap flexibility to plug the hole left by him. I’m not a fan of taking any deal just because you want to ship someone out, but to judge this trade we’d need to see how they use the cap after Smith is gone. On the other hand, they brought in a terrific defender in Dahntay Jones. While that doesn’t make them Finals contenders, it will definitely improve the ability to stop perimeter offenses.
It was a weird moment for the Knicks, so much so I’d put them in neutral. Shipping Brewer away is a little bit weird, considering his defensive value to the team come playoffs. Add a signing of an aging Kenyon Martin to an already Paleozoic roster and you have even more confusion.
The Orlando Magic quickly accepted their “we’re rebuilding role” and shipped a few pieces away, including the teams arguably best player this year in J.J. Redick. They didn’t get much in value in return, even when you consider the McRoberts for Warrick swap. This is just a move to free up cap space, and leave more playing time for the rookies the rest of the season. Seeing how I grew up with Andrew Nicholson, I’m happy they’re giving him a bit more freedom to play. As a team though, Magic are out of contention for anything but the lottery win this year.
Dallas Mavericks adding Anthony Morrow is kind of a good move, but kind of pointless at this stage. They already have enough deep threats and one would think you’d want a defensive player like Jones when it comes to pushing for the playoff spot in the West. I guess Cuban dug up the press releases for this gem, planning for the future and all.
The Houston Rockets‘ GM Daryl Morey is quietly positioning himself into the best executive of the year. First he brought over Lin and Asik to anchor the team. Then he won the James Harden sweepstakes to secure his franchise player, and now he solved his PF log jam and brought in a bright prospect that will have a chance to prove himself. Thomas Robinson was stuck in rotation behind way too many people over in Sacramento, so the man who was once considered for 2nd overall pick by experts didn’t exactly live up to the hefty expectations. Look for his minutes to increase and for all of that potential to finally shine through. Morey is the quiet mastermind behind this season.
We’ve heard Garnett, Rondo and Pierce mentioned way too often this month for the Celtics trade considerations, but it was Barbosa and Collins that left. Let’s consider this, Danny Ainge got himself a score-first guard to improve the depth where the team needed it most and in only gave up a player who won’t play another game this season and a garbage minute person. Some savvy dealing.
This is the first Raptors move that I actually approve off. After shipping Jose Calderon out of town, the Raps were in trouble to back up Lowry. They gave up a big man who has no future in this league for a relatively in his prime PG who was once much touted to be one of the best. Maybe Telfair can relive some of his better days in the Toronto system.
OKC and Portland both did moves that surprised a few people, but nothing major. OKC finally brought extra relief for Thabo Sefolosha in defensive minded Brewer, definitely in an effort to gear up for the playoffs. Portland on the other hand finally got a capable point guard to back up Lillard. Maynor will not be asked to do a lot, nor will they look to him in the clutch, but the all he needs to be is serviceable for this trade to be a smart move for the Blazers.
Finally, Milwaukee nailed it this year. They came away with the biggest prize of the dealings on the 21st (which isn’t saying much) in J.J. Redick without having to give up a lot in return. Redick will have a reduced role with the Bucks, but that just means he’ll get to do what he does best, hit threes off Monta and Jennings creating space. Better yet, Milwaukee is betting on J.J. to put his name to another contract once Monta opts out of his player option. If Ellis doesn’t, look for them to try and move him this summer for someone who complements their new direction.