Home > Uncategorized > The Trade Deadline Created Headlines, But Did it Create a Title Contender…?

The Trade Deadline Created Headlines, But Did it Create a Title Contender…?

Breathe… and… Exhale.  Wow, what a 72 hours of trade deadline zaniness we just experienced.  There were two superstars moved, the surprising deal of a franchise lynchpin, and Mark Cuban finally found his… oh no wait, for the first time in deadline history, the Mavs stayed pat.  Weird.

But, for all the headlines and WOW moments, what really happened over the last 72 hours as it relates to THIS season?  I mean, no doubt that New York and New Jersey helped themselves long term, while Denver and Utah went into rebuild on the fly mode, but even with Williams, the Nets aren’t sniffing the playoffs and Anthony wont help the Knicks win it all this season. So… yeah.  Of the five or six teams capable of winning a title in 2011 (Boston, San Antonio, LA Lakers, Miami Heat, Chicago and maybe – MAYBE – Orlando), only the Celtics made a move and frankly, I’m not convinced it’s a good one.  The others, like Cuban’s Mavs, stayed pat.

Oklahoma made a pair of inspired trades to upgrade their center position.  They shipped the overrated Jeff Green to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and swapped flotsam for the slightly underrated Nazr Mohammed.  I doubt either move makes the Zombies a title contender this year, but I also wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs.  The Zombies now have a defensive force in the middle.  A nuts and bolts, grab rebounds, set screens, guard Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan kind of guy.  It’s the piece they’ve been looking for since Tyson Chandler’s toe torpedoed a 2008 deal.

Personally I love the symmetry of Sam Presti completing this deal with the Celtics, since it was the 2007 trade of Ray Allen that brought the Zombies the Green pick in the first place.  I’ve long maintained that an overlooked mistake of Presti’s generally superb run, was picking Green fifth while Joakim Noah was still on the board, but this move at least addresses that error.  Perkins obviously isn’t as good as Noah, but he’s a fair proximally and should be cheaper.  Between him and Mohammed, the Zombies have a real center rotation that can bang with the bigs in the West.  They also, as John Hollinger pointed out last night, will get a major push simply by replacing Green’s minutes in their front-court with Serge Ibaka.  If Oklahoma can re-sign Perkins, this deal’s a huge win for the Zombies and even if they can’t, Green was miscast as a four and probably wasn’t going to be re-signed anyhow.

Still, Oklahoma remains the closest thing to a contending team upgrading.  Boston thinks they upgraded and maybe they did, but they did so by opening a huge hole in the middle.  By all accounts, they intend to fill Perkins shoes with Troy Murphy and possibly Leon Powe…. Uhm, yeah… lets just say I’m not holding my breath to see how those moves work out.  I’ve never been a Green fan, but he may blossom in Boston’s system.  I just think that the Celtics have put an excessive amount of pressure on the tenuous O’Neil center rotation.  There’s a lot of sentiment out there that Danny Ainge can’t be doubted, but I guess I remember a time not too long ago where he was known for championing the signing of Brian Scalabrine based on his head size…

As for the other contenders, bupkiss… Miami had no pieces to move; the Lakers didn’t have any pieces that they wanted to move,  at least not ones that interested anyone else (Ron Artest, uhm gee, let me think… How ’bout NO!); San Antonio’s never really been a deadline deal kind of team; and Orlando already made their big move.  Chicago obviously desperately needed a two-guard and I’m a little surprised they didn’t acquire Courtney Lee, but they also had no interest in giving up young center Omer Asik, which is perhaps understandable, but left them devoid of any desirable assets.  The Bulls will be happy seeing what this team can achieve this June as is, and then they’ll be aggressive this summer trying to upgrade the black hole at shooting guard.

Other Rapid Fire Thoughts that Don’t Entirely Suck…

– I feel a little sad for Suns fans this morning (of which, I’m nominally one), as the Aaron Brooks trade probably paves the way for a Steve Nash trade this summer.  That in and of itself is fine, because – while he’s the face of the franchise and they love him – Suns fans seem content to see Steve traded because a) it gives the team its best possibility for rebuilding and b) it allows the loyal Nash to pursue the championship Robert Sarver’s incompetence has denied him.  What strikes me as particularly heinous for Suns fans, is the idea that the Suns made this deal because they think Brooks might be a realistic successor… Ugh… Goran Dragic might actually be a better player than Brooks.  At the very least, they’re comparable, but Dragic seems to have a better understanding of his role.  Brooks, who’s a free agent looking for a big deal, will cost the Suns more money and – compounding the mistake – once again, the Sarver-era Suns are throwing away draft picks.

– Sometimes an easy narrative comes along that columnists love to glom onto.  It provides a pre-carved out perch from which they stand on high ground and shout to their hearts content, but really it’s lazy and usually its wrong.  This week’s easy narrative is that superstars are forcing their way to a couple of super teams and because of that, the league is in trouble.  That’s the sort of moralizing that blindly castigates baseball’s steroid users, while idolizing past players, conveniently forgetting that those old timers used amphetamines, drank excessively, were racists, etc.  Superstar players have forced trades before, it wasn’t the end of the world then and it wont be the end of the world now.  As Simmons writes,

What a lazy argument. Over the past six decades, the following players pushed their way from a worse situation to a (seemingly) better one either by trade or free agency: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Rick Barry, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Kevin Garnett, Allen Iverson, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Clyde Drexler … should I keep going? Now this “phenomenon” is endangering the game???

This isn’t a pandemic that’s going to ruin basketball.  It just isn’t.  Plus, as often as players get to control their destiny, far more often they’re Baron Davis, going from LA to Cleveland… so, lets not create mountains out of mole hills here.  Ok?  Good.

– Kirk Hinrich will take the Hawks from being a one and done, to being a… one and done.  Whoop-dee-do!

– Finally, while I think he’s being a bit of a cry baby, I also think that Cuban has a point.  If a team is owned by the league, it basically should go without saying that any moves made by that team should not cost extra money.  Yes, it’s a pittance, and yes, Cuban wouldn’t be complaining if New Orleans was in the Eastern Conference, but it is kind of silly that he’s going to pay money to improve a team that he could face in the playoffs.  Much has been written about how Detroit GM Joe Dumars’ hands are tied right now, because he cannot take on any money while the team is being sold, well, the same should be true of the Hornets.

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