A LOOK BACK AT FEBRUARY

March 1, 2008 – February may be the shortest month of the year, but the NBA sure packed a lot into the last 29 days. From a memorable All-Star weekend complete with thrilling contests capped off by a hard-fought game to long winning streaks and the game’s top rising star reaching another milestone, the month had many highlights. But what February will be remembered for more than anything else is the amount of star players that switched teams, leaving an indelible impact on the league for this season and years to come.

A total of 50 players were traded last month in 11 combined trades. That’s not even counting the 10 draft picks that were involved in those deals. If you missed any of the moves, I’ve prepared a quiz to better acquaint you with some of the players dealt between the first of the month and the Feb. 21 trading deadline. The answers are listed below. I have provided hints on several of the questions. If you feel you don’t need them, feel free to use something to cover them up.

1. Name the three former No. 1 overall draft picks to be traded in February?

2. Which player traded in February won MVP honors at the 2006 FIBA World Championship?
Hint – he was 2001-02 Rookie of the Year and was his previous franchise’s leader in career points.

3. What four-time All-Star had averaged at least 17 points and nine rebounds each of the previous seven seasons?
Hint – he had the longest tenure of any player on his previous team.

4. The second overall pick in the 1998 draft was traded in February. Who is he?
Hint – he played his first three seasons in Canada.

5. Which player traded last month was the first Maverick to start an All-Star Game?
Hint – he is third on the all-time NBA list for career triple-doubles.

6. Just days after attempting to defend his title in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, a player was traded. Name him.

7. The Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 Final Four was traded just before the deadline. Who is he?
Hint – this is the second straight season he was traded on the day of the deadline.

8. Which rookie was the point guard on the last two NCAA championship teams?

9. Which two veteran players traded in February have yet to appear in a game this season?

10. Name the four-time Defensive Player of the Year who was traded last month.

Player Movement 2008 has a complete wrapup of all of the month’s activity, but I’ll break down the five February trades that I expect will have the biggest impact this season.

1. Pau Gasol getting traded to the Lakers – The addition of Gasol has more than made up for the absence of the injured Andrew Bynum. Los Angeles is 11-2 with him in the lineup, including a 10-game winning steak, and the Lakers have charged to the top in the West. Imagine how good they will be when Bynum returns.

2. Jason Kidd getting traded to the Mavericks – Kidd may be a bit older than the elite point guards in the West but he brings a lot to the table and has plenty of playoff experience. Dallas lost valuable big man DeSegana Diop in the package to obtain Kidd, but added size inside by signing Jamaal Magloire.

3. Shaquille O'Neal getting traded to the Suns – By swapping Shawn Marion for the four-time NBA champ, Phoenix gave up a valuable component of it’s run-and-gun offense to obtain a big presence in the post and allow Amare Stoudemire to move to power forward. The experiment can't be judged until the playoffs, but the deal will definitely have a major impact one way or another.

4. Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szczerbiak getting traded to the Cavs – Cleveland remade its roster with a three-team, 11-player trade just before the deadline. The results have been mixed so far as the Cavs try to return to The Finals, but with so many new players it will take time to judge how successful a deal it was.

5. Mike Bibby getting traded to the Hawks – Atlanta was the surprise winner in the Bibby sweepstakes and hopes the arrival of the veteran point guard can guide them to their first playoff appearance since 1998-99.

Let's take a look back at some of the other teams and players making news in February.

Got an opinion on February's trades? Drop me a line and tell me what you think.

The Best of the Rest

All-Star to Remember

Daniel Gibson put on the first show at this year’s All-Star weekend by drilling 11 3-pointers en route to MVP honors in the annual T-Mobile Rookie Challenge. But that was just an appetizer for a healthy diet of superb performances in New Orleans. Deron Williams tore through the Skills Challenge, Jason Kapono successfully defended his Three-Point Shootout title and Dwight Howard broke out a Superman cape and some spectacular dunks to capture the Slam Dunk crown. The main event on Sunday turned into a thriller as well with LeBron James earning MVP honors with a near triple-double in the East’s All-Star Game win over the West. In addition to dazzling on the court, the NBA helped in the community as well with a day of service and other efforts to help the city recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Roller Coaster Month for Rockets

As February entered its final week, things couldn’t have looked much better for the Houston Rockets. They were in the midst of the team’s longest winning steak since starting the 1993-94 season with 15 straight wins on their way to their first NBA title. Veteran guard Bobby Jackson had just arrived in a trade with the Hornets and provided an immediate jolt off the bench. And most importantly, the team’s two stars – Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming – were healthy. But that all took a turn for the worse when Yao was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot and it was announced on Feb. 26 that the All-Star center would miss the rest of the season. The Rockets won their first two games since his injury to extended their winning streak to 14, but will need other players to pick it up if they hope to stay in the playoff hunt.

Another Milestone for the King

Taking home MVP honors at the All-Star Game was not the lone highlight of the month for LeBron James. King James also posted back-to-back triple doubles and made history by becoming the youngest player to 10,000 career points on Feb. 27 against the Celtics. James reached the milestone at the age of 23 years and 59 days, more than a year younger than Kobe Bryant was when he hit the milestone in 2003. It took Cleveland's star 368 games to do it - the ninth-fastest in league history. James, who is on track for his first scoring title with an average of 30.2 points a game, averaged over 30 points, eight assists and nearly nine rebounds a game in February.

Korver Jumpstarts the Jazz

One trade that’s impact has coasted under the radar is the one that brought Kyle Korver to the Jazz on Dec. 29 in exchange for Gordan Giricek and a protected first-round draft pick. Korver has yet to start for Utah and his average of 10 points a game with the Jazz is far from eye-opening, but the results are hard to argue with. Utah is 21-6 with the sharp-shooting forward in the lineup and has used the torrid stretch to take over the top spot in the Northwest. Deron Williams has also picked up his play in the new year and Carlos Boozer has been steady as always, helping the Jazz climb the ladder in the ultra-competitive West.

Answers: 1. Shaquille O’Neal, Joe Smith, Kwame Brown; 2. Pau Gasol; 3. Shawn Marion; 4. Mike Bibby; 5. Jason Kidd; 6. Gerald Green; 7.Juan Dixon; 8. Taurean Green; 9. Aaron McKie, Keith Van Horn; 10. Ben Wallace

Have your own thoughts on the month that was? Disagree with my picks? Send an e-mail and let me know.