Despite the lack of movement for the NBA’s top stars, a select few teams were able to make some key moves that either put themselves in a good position to make a run for the playoffs, or at the very least, brought in some insurance for the future.
As always, when there are deadline winners, there are bound to be a few deadline losers, and this year, more teams ended up on wrong side.
Top 5 Deadline Winners
1. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have had possibly the worst luck out of any NBA team over the past decade. This is a team that hasn’t even made it past the opening round of the playoffs since 2000 and their only two bright spots over that period have been Brandon Roy (suddenly retired at the start of the season) and former first overall pick Greg Oden who was just recently dropped due to injuries. However, Portland may have turned their luck around after Thursday’s deadline, acquiring a great mix of talented young athletes including Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet while also adding some verteran depth with Mehmet Okur. The Trailblazers also added a future first-round draft pick from the Nets, as well as a future second-rounder from Houston.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Unfortunately for Celtics fans, the Lakers got themselves some great value with two deadline-day deals. The first of which came when L.A. got rid of small forward Luke Walton and his outrageous contract ($5.7 million for averaging less than two points per game) by sending Walton, Jason Kapono and a 2012 first-round pick for a solid young point guard in Ramon Sessions. Sessions is averaging 10 points per game but with Kyrie Irving running the show in Cleveland, Session time was limited. The Lakers also parted ways with long-time point guard Derek Fisher in return for 24-year old center Jordan Hill.
3. Leandro Barbosa
More commonly known as “The Brazilian Blur,” Barbosa was lucky enough to be traded from one of the worst teams in the NBA – The Toronto Raptors — to a team that is currently sitting pretty at fifth place in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers.
4. Marcus Camby
Very similiar to Barbosa’s situation, the 37-year old journeyman will now be playing for his sixth NBA team in 17 years. The defensive-minded center has spent the majority of his career on the outside of the playoffs. Camby may finally get his chance for a deep playoff run now that he is a member of the Houston Rockets who are sitting just a game and a half out of fourth place in the West.
5. Nick Young
Young indeed. At 6-foot-7, the 26-year old shooting guard is currently playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging over 17 points per contest for one of the worst record-wise and market-wise in the NBA, the Washington Wizards. Young is now a member of “Lob-City,” aka the Los Angeles Clippers, who needed to add an outside scorer after losing Chauncey Billups for the season. Young will get a chance to play along some of the leagues most hyped superstars, in front of a packed house of celebrities night-in and night-out. Nick Young, you are a winner.
And now on to the not-so-lucky teams and players, who just couldn’t get it done at this years deadline.
Top 5 Deadline Losers
1. New Jersey Nets
The Nets missed out on one of the biggest free agent since LeBron James, when they failed to sign Superman, Dwight Howard. Without Howard, the Nets will struggle to keep superstar point guard Deron Williams after this season which makes this deadline dud sting all the more for all 15 Nets fans out there.
2. Gerald Wallace
The 29-year old small forward will now be playing for his third team in two seasons. Wallace is a jack-of-all-trades, averaging over 15 points and six rebounds, but for some reason Wallace continues to live out of his suitcase as he bounces around from team, to team, to team.
3. Celtics GM Danny Ainge
If you were to tell me that the Boston Celtics would go through the 2012 NBA trade deadline without making a move, I would have called you a bold-faced liar. But after it was all said and done, I’m still twiddling my thumbs waiting to see what the Celts are doing. With the recent injury to power forward Chris Wilcox, it was almost a sure thing that the Celtics would add some depth to their already weak front court in hopes for one last playoff push. With the way things are going now, only time will tell if Danny made the right call.
4. Mike D’Antoni
Another surprise loser. Two weeks ago, D’Antoni was considered a basketball god after creating “Linsanity,” and now he is without a job. Since going 10-3 without All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks went on a six-game losing streak and clearly have some serious locker-room issues to deal with now that D’Antoni has resigned.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
I had this spot penciled in for the Orlando Magic before Howard decided to return for next year. So now it is the Memphis Grizzlies who have the misfortune of making the losers segment. The Grizzlies are actually in a pretty good spot right now coming out of the trade deadline, tied with the L.A. Clippers for fourth place in the West. The Grizzlies only real need was just to add some depth to their team instead of having to play guys like Jeremy Pargo and Quincy Pondexter in the playoffs. Instead, the Grizzlies were hampered by their Cap Space and ended up sending small forward Sam Young to the 76ers for practically nothing.