Well, the trade deadline has come and gone. The teams in the league have used their last chance to gain long-term assets or make one last move for the Playoff push. Sure there will be some buyout mercenaries on the way too. It is not their last chance.
This trade deadline though had some promise for some as there were rumors flying around about Carmelo Anthony and his future in New York and the look-ahead to Kevin Love's free agency.
When the dust settled, it was a lot of minor moves and the Evan Turner trade to Indiana dotting the NBA's transaction list.
What gives? There are certainly several factors, which Magic general manager Rob Hennigan admitted Friday.
"I think it's relative," Hennigan said. "I think it's relative to the marketplace at any point and given time. It's more a function of what's available in the context of that certain deadline.
"I think the [collective bargaining] agreement having been in place now for just a couple years, it's relatively in its infancy. There are still dynamics at work, some are subtle, some are not so subtle, but I do think it is playing a role in how teams strategize and how teams look to make moves and look to build their teams."
Namely, teams tried to hold onto their first round picks entering this year's talent-filled Draft and keeping cap room for big free agent summers in the coming years. A lack of big-name free agents this summer -- many of the big names are probably going to opt-in to their final years or stay where they are at.
So, it was relatively quiet. That does not mean teams did not take advantage, or fail to take advantage of the deadline. Here are our winners and losers:
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers did not need to do a lot to stay in the championship conversation. They are the Pacers. But they had one piece they could possibly move and get some value for that was not contributing a whole lot to the team.
Danny Granger is quite clearly not the same player he used to be. He was struggling in his smaller role coming off the bench. And the Pacers had a very real issue coming up this summer with Lance Stephenson's impending free agency. Stephenson is sure to attract a lot of money in the open market.
So the Pacers flipped their former franchise player who was not giving them a whole lot but memories and the potential to return to that form for Evan Turner, a solid player who is capable of filling any role and could play as insurance if Stephenson gets out of their price range. Turner does not tilt the tables or change a whole lot, but he provides the Pacers a more reliable option off the bench for the postseason and that insurance for the summer. Good job by Larry Bird.
Golden State Warriors: The Warriors have been up and down all season and fans are lamenting the step back Harrison Barnes has taken. More alarmingly though is how much Golden State misses Jarrett Jack and his playmaking ability off the bench -- along with his ability to be a solid point guard to play alongside Stephen Curry to move Curry off the ball.
This Warriors team has struggled to build off last year's successes. It felt like they needed a shakeup. They tried to do that in acquiring Jordan Crawford a few months ago. That has not helped so much. And so Golden State went out searching for a point guard.
They found one in Steve Blake, a solid veteran who can make plays and hit 3-pointers. He is someone that should fill this role and keep the floor spread for the Warriors. If your departure can make Kobe Bryant upset, you have to be doing something right. And he should be able to help Golden State right the ship in the final month and a half of the season.
Washington Wizards: Acquiring Andre Miller, assuming he is in shape after his long sabbatical from the Nuggets. Washington needed a veteran presence and to cast off some dead weight. Acquiring Miller and trading away Jan Vesely among others certainly should provide that for the Wizards.
Washington is staring its first Playoff trip in quite some time and the organization is going to make the most of it with the group it has. The Wizards appear to be a team on the up-tick and they are trying to make sure this upcoming Playoff experience is well worth the wait for them.
New York Knicks: The Knicks have been a bit of a joke this season. They are currently outside the Playoff picture and spent the second day after the trade deadline trying to reshape their roster some. Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih are expected to be waived and there still appears to be some discord with the New York roster. This year was not the rise to greatness last year seemed to promise.
"For me, it is kind of hard to look at," Carmelo Anthony said after the Knicks' 129-121 loss to the Magic on Friday. "We didn't make any moves. Should we have made moves or not . . . that is not up to me to say. So we have to move on. We have the same team, and we have to move on from that."
The Knicks did not seem to have a lot of things going on the rumor mill. The biggest rumor was Iman Shumpert for Darren Collison. Then Shumpert delivered a nasty blow when he got injured and was forced to miss time. So the Knicks came out of the trade deadilne not only without improving their roster in any way but losing a key piece. Those 4.5 games between New York and Atlanta look much bigger.
Los Angeles Clippers: Similarly the Clippers have had a strong season, but something about this team does not quite scream title contender. Not yet, at least. Injuries have hampered this group throughout the whole season -- J.J. Redick's injury is only the latest setback.
The Clippers bench is guard heavy, they are fine there. But after Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, there is not a lot of front court depth. There could be problems for the Clippers if they see a team with some major height on them. Ryan Hollins is the only post player on the roster right now. Los Angeles will certainly be scouring the mercenary market for a backup big -- Glen Davis and Jason Collins already have been rumored to be in play.
The Clippers did not make any move to remedy this problem. And this roster feels very incomplete.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns have been the surprise team of the season and were poised to make a deal for Pau Gasol. Would this make them championship contenders? Not really. But it would have almost assured them of a Playoff spot. The Suns are sixth in the Western Conference and hold only a two-game lead over the Grizzlies to stay in the postseason.
Phoenix might have a long-term plan, but the surprise play from this group might accelerate the timetable. Goran Dragic has played great and Eric Bledose, when he gets healthy again, has been strong. The Suns could very easily fall out of the Playoff picture. And it might be better to invest in this group.
Trading off some of the young pieces to get a star and some cap room could keep the Suns in contention for a few years moving forward. They have their young potential star in Bledsoe and a solid point guard in Dragic. Who knows? Gasol or some other piece, might have made them dangerous in the Playoffs.
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