2012 NBA Trade Deadline Losers
When it comes to covering the National Basketball Association, you’d be hard pressed to find another topic which moves the needle more than the frenzy known as the trade deadline.
Every season, fans across the league dust off their general manager caps and hypothetically propose various scenarios which land their squads the talent which pushes the club over the proverbial hump or the assets to aid in their respective team’s rebuilding projects.
After the dust of the trade deadline settles, some franchises emerge as clear winners while others end up in worse shape than they were in to begin with after making deals.
Let’s take a look at some of this season’s trade deadline losers … in no particular order.
New Orleans Hornets
It has been a brutal three month stretch for the Hornets, but the years ahead for the franchise might be worse since the club might end up not having anything to show for trading All-Star Chris Paul.
Prior to the season the team had a deal in place to send Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. The trade would have netted the club veterans Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola and a developing young guard in Goran Dragic.
The league nixed the deal for business reasons, which in translation meant the team was unwilling to take on the long term debt associated with the veterans while the franchise was in the process of finding a new ownership group.
So the Hornets eventually dealt Paul for center Chris Kaman, high scoring guard Eric Gordon, a 2012 first round pick and prospect Al-Farouq Aminu.
Almost immediately the team began shopping Kaman looking to flip the former All-Star for additional talent and draft assets.
Unfortunately, the club was unable to find a taker willing to bite on the price tag before the deadline expired and now the veteran is poised to leave in free agency netting the Hornets zero value.
The inability to move Kaman, a talented big man in an era where there are few, who doesn’t fit into the team’s long term plans, was a huge blow to their rebuilding efforts.
Also, the 2012 draft pick acquired in the Paul trade isn’t expected to be in the lottery range this year and Gordon will likely hit free agency (restricted) this summer after rejecting the Hornets’ contract extension offer back in January. Talented forward Carl Landry will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the team couldn’t get a buyer on the line for him as well.
It’s clear the Hornets had to make some progress at the deadline and couldn’t make it happen.
New Jersey Nets
Before Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard shocked nearly everyone in the basketball world by announcing his intent on playing out his contract with the team, the New Jersey Nets were thought to be the frontrunners for his services either at the trade deadline or via free agency this summer.
Now the club is undoubtedly scrambling since All-Star point guard Deron Williams can opt out the final year of his deal after the season and bolt in free agency.
Putting even more pressure on the Nets is the fact the Dallas Mavericks will have the necessary cap space to make a strong run at the guard this summer.
Williams grew up in Texas.
Also, keep in mind the Mavericks already have an elite talent on their roster in Dirk Nowitzki and have a proven championship pedigree – winning a NBA title in 2011.
The Nets, quite simply, bet the entire farm that they would be able to secure another elite talent to pair next to Williams in the lineup and eliminate any worries of him exercising his ETO.
But over the past year the club has whiffed on numerous big name talents. They were hoping the bright lights of New York would entice Howard to play with fellow his Team USA member and leave the comfy confines of Orlando.
The team did manage to acquire former All-Star Gerald Wallace from Portland who is still a decent talent.
But make no mistake; Wallace is nowhere close to the elite category of guys who could ultimately sway Williams’ decision to remain with the Nets long term.
Add in the first round pick given up to acquire Wallace, which has a strong chance to land in the lottery in a very talented draft class, and the team just might be entering desperation mode.
Dorell Wright, Golden State Warriors
In 2011, Dorell Wright was in the discussion to take home the league’s Most Improved Player award under the tutelage of head coach Keith Smart.
But one man’s treasure is another man’s trinket.
For most of this season Wright has struggled getting into a consistent groove in new coach Mark Jackson’s system.
Wright’s minutes are down, field goal percentage has also decreased while teetering on the brink of falling below 40 percent and his scoring has plummeted over six points compared to last season. (16.4 to 10.1).
Don’t expect a return to 2011 levels for Wright anytime soon. In fact, think the opposite.
The Warriors acquired veteran small forward Richard Jefferson from the San Antonio Spurs at the deadline and this puts Wright’s future role on the team in question.
Since Jefferson is owed more than $21 million over the next two seasons it’s extremely hard to envision the Warriors acquiring him via trade to ride the behind the struggling Wright.
In essence, Wright could find himself going from a rags-to-riches story and back to the end of the bench in very short order.
Portland Trail Blazers
Goodbye Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace, Greg Oden and coach Nate McMillan.
Hello Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn, Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams.
The Blazers were thought by many to be contenders in the Western Conference but decided to blow up the roster and begin a challenging rebuilding project.
The failure to flip guards Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford at the deadline for assets to aid in the rebuilding project is a huge blow especially since both players can leave at season’s end netting Portland zero for the investment.
The Blazers’ moves were understandable given the desire to want to start over, but going from a playoff contender to a lottery squad in a matter of days is too tough to classify as a winning formula in the short term.
The only saving grace for the team is the potential lottery pick landed in the Wallace trade with New Jersey.
The Nuggets are in the midst of another postseason push, so naturally trading away an established force in the post (Nene) for a player with a reputation of being immature (JaVale McGee), who has never consistently won at the pro level, will raise some eyebrows.
But the Nuggets believe wholeheartedly that Nene had reached his ceiling as a player and the thought around Denver is head coach George Karl believes he can channel McGee’s talent and eventually develop him into an All-Star caliber performer.
Time will tell if Karl can work his mojo with McGee, but for now until we get some games under the belt to analyze it appears Denver took a huge gamble by banking on an unproven youngster in a winning environment.
As we head down the stretch, the talk around Minnesota has turned toward the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season – from ownership, to the players all the way to the fans.
Unfortunately, losing talented rookie point guard Ricky Rubio for the remainder of the season has put a cloud on the team’s chances.
Sources close to the situation believed the T’Wolves would be active participants in the guard market during the trade deadline festivities in order to shore up their depth and help give their young guys a taste of the playoffs.
But Minnesota remained astonishingly quiet.
The team was linked to Portland, who was in the midst of a roster clearance sale of their own, for shooting guard Jamal Crawford but ultimately didn’t pull the trigger.
The team also failed to move talented forward Michael Beasley, who generated plenty of interest around the league, for future assets.
The T’Wolves currently sit two games behind Denver and Houston for the last playoff spot in the competitive Western Conference.
But it’s important to note that both teams ahead of them in the standings made moves at the deadline to help them down the stretch.
Minnesota’s decision to stand pat may cost them when the final buzzer of the regular season sounds.