What a crazy end to one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent years!
In the few hours leading to the closure of player trades on March 15 at 3 p.m. ET, the entire league was on fire to make the most effective transactions either for the immediate present or with an eye on the foreseeable future. Dwight Howard was supposed to be the biggest chip on the trading block, yet, instead, it turned out to be an aging point-guard who became the most storied player, when he was traded at the proverbial 11th hour by one of the league’s most glamorous franchises. Chris Kaman, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Michael Beasley, Pau Gasol, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were all supposed to be playing in different jerseys beginning March 16, but have all stayed on to continue playing for their respective ball clubs. Portland had their head coach fired while there are several reports to suggest that Phil Jackson my well be headed to New York to solve the Knicks’ many problems.
With such a frenetic closure then to the trade window, here’s a round-up of events that have changed the league’s landscape in the days to come:
Fisher era ends at Lakers: 13 seasons, five NBA rings and the unofficial leader of the Laker bandwagon, but Derek Fisher’s time was up with LA. The 38-year-old’s numbers were on the decline this season and with LA in desperate need of a quality point-guard to improve on coach Mike Brown’s offense, it was just a matter of time before Fisher was shown the exit door. However, Fisher’s trade is the passing of an era in Los Angeles and his presence shall sorely be missed in the Lakers’ locker-room.
Trade details: Lakers send Derek Fisher and a 2012 first-round pick to Houston in exchange for Jordan Hill.
Other moves made by the Lakers: Los Angeles also acquired young point-guard Ramon Sessions and forward Christian Eyenga from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Luke Walton and a 2012 first –round pick. Sessions is having a solid year with Cleveland and his presence should help the Lakers overcome the void left by the Fisher trade to a large extent.
Portland dismantle roster: This was coming. After a 7-2 start to the season, the Trail Blazers had slumped to 20-23, including a 79-121-blowout loss to the New York Knicks in their last game. So, not only did the Trail Blazers fire head coach Nate McMillan on March 15, they also traded veteran center Marcus Camby to the Rockets for center Hasheem Thabeet and point guard Jonny Flynn and sent versatile forward Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets for forward-center Mehmet Okur and forward Shawne Williams on Thursday. Portland’s moves means that they are looking at the long-term instead of making an extended playoff run in 2012. Team President Larry Miller even endorsed this by saying, “The moves that we made...today really set us up for this summer with the draft and with free agency, to really be able to move in the direction that we want to move in and make this team better.”
Additionally: The Trail Blazers also released former No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden who has had a history of injury problems since joining Portland in 2007.
What’s in it for New Jersey: With the Nets failing to land Dwight Howard, Wallace was a solid acquisition for the franchise. Not only can he score, Wallace will also help the Nets shore up on defense – an area where New Jersey have been woeful this season. A more in-depth analysis of the Wallace trade to New Jersey can be read in John Schuhmann’s assessment of the deal.
Nene no longer a Nugget: Instead he is now a Wizard. Yes, the Washington Wizards now have 2010 No.1 draft pick John Wall to play alongside the 29-year-old Brazilian center in a three-team trade that had the Nuggets receive JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf while the LA Clippers got Nick Young. Washington also had Clippers forward Brian Cook come their way in this deal. Young will give the Clippers a scoring option at the guard position in the absence of Chauncey Billups while the Nuggets will have Nene's 13.4 points and 7.4 boards replaced with the 11.9 points and 8.8 boards from McGee. Mike Wise, columnist at the Washington Post, termed the deal a shift in culture for the Washinton franchise.
Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson were traded to Golden State by the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh. Although Bogut is out injured with a fractured left ankle his presence in the Golden State roster will solidify their interior defense while Milwaukee will get a scoring boost in their backcourt with Monta Ellis playing alongside Brandon Jennings. Stephen Jackson, meanwhile, was dealt by Golden State to San Antonio on March 15 in a deal that will see Jackson reunite with Gregg Popovich from his 2003 championship-winning year with the Spurs. San Antonio have dealt forward Richard Jefferson, whose numbers with the Spurs were disappointing since he joined them in 2009, in return to Golden State.
Fifth placed Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference made a smart move by acquiring guard Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Barbosa is averaging 12.2 PPG this season and will provide quality backup to Pacers’ guards George Hill and AJ Price.
The Philadelphia 76ers acquired 2009 draft pick Sam Young from the Memphis Grizzlies. Young was averaging 3.5 PPG in 11.4 MPG while coming off the bench for Memphis.
Superman stays in Orlando: In the end, Dwight Howard stayed on in Orlando, but, surely, he could have done better with the manner in which he finally opted to stay put. After initially wanting to be traded to three teams of his choice at the start of the season, to then openly wanting out, to next wanting the Magic to role the dice on him till the end of the season to finally signing away his Early Termination Option which will keep in Orlando until the summer of 2013, the ‘Dwama’ was a classic case of the player becoming bigger than the franchise. At a later date, when Howard is in the autumn of his career, expect no franchise to be melancholic towards his plight given his shenanigans right through this season. Also, as NBA.com’s Shaun Powell correctly points out – the Dwama is over – but only for now!
Thank you Mr. Ainge: After that controversial deal last year, which sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma in exchange for Jeff Green, there was much speculation that Boston GM, Danny Ainge, will once again pull the trigger at this trade deadline. To give Boston fans even bigger jitters was the suggestion that Ainge might feel the need to trade All-Star point-guard Rajon Rondo, clearly the Celtics’ best player on current form. However, Ainge stayed clear of the temptation (or was there a lack of good trade options for Rondo?) to deal away his point-guard. Now, if only Ainge can get New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman to play for the Cs via an outright buy-out, it would be a job well done.
Gasol going nowhere: Right since the start of this season Pau Gasol has been the Laker player that seemed most likely to have been traded. Well, Gasol’s staying put in the yellow and purple uniforms, at least for the time being. Gasol, who took a lot of flak for the Lakers’ humiliation in the 0-4 series drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs, wasn’t at his best this season with all the talk of him being traded. Even, Kobe Bryant expressed his displeasure at the Lakers’ management, berating them to come clean on Gasol once and for all. Now, with Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak having instead pulled the strings on Fisher, Gasol has another opportunity to redeem himself in Kobe-land.
For more information on all the winners and losers from Thursday’s trade deadline, tune in here.
All stats are after games played on March 16, 2012 (IST)