NBA PM: Top Five Deadline Trades Not Made
The NBA trade deadline is now officially behind us, and while there were some interesting moves made, the most interesting trades turned out to be the ones that weren’t made. Here’s a look at the top five trades that were discussed but didn’t happen before yesterday’s deadline.
1) The Los Angeles Lakers don’t trade Dwight Howard – Dwight Howard has not exactly endeared himself to Lakers fans in his first season with the team, but then you’ll recall that Pau Gasol has similar troubles when he was first made a Laker. It took Pau a while to realize that Kobe Bryant was being so hard on him because he wanted to make him a better player, and once Gasol started taking Bryant’s words to heart he found himself with some flashy hardware to show for his efforts. The best hope for the Lakers going forward is that Howard will have a similar Come-To-Kobe moment. If Howard can raise the level of his game to Kobe’s, the Lakers could once again be the NBA’s most dominant team, and it’s too early to give up on that possibility.
2) The Atlanta Hawks don’t trade Josh Smith - As convinced as we all were that the Hawks were going to deal Josh Smith before the deadline, Smith will be in an Atlanta uniform as the Hawks play host to the Sacramento Kings tonight. The problem with letting the word slip out that you’re anxious to deal a player is that the rest of the league then knows you’re in a hurry and they tend to lowball their offers hoping to take advantage of the situation. The Hawks had conversations with quite a few teams, and in the waning hours before the deadline they were said to be down to Milwaukee, Phoenix and Boston as their short list of trade partners. At the end of the day, however, there wasn’t a move available to the Hawks that GM Danny Ferry felt made them a better team. They still very much have the upper hand in negotiations this summer if they want to keep Smith, and they can also offer the best financial terms in the event of a sign-and-trade. Better to wait and make sure the best deal available is the one struck than to allow the anxiety of the trade deadline to cost you dearly in the long term.
3) The Boston Celtics don’t blow up the team - When Celtics president Danny Ainge assembled his roster for the 2012-13 NBA season it was with the idea that the older core group deserved once more chance before they rode off into the sunset. That didn’t look like such a solid plan before Rajon Rondo was lost for the season, but the vastly improved Celtics that have taken the court for head coach Doc Rivers since then look very much like a team that could make some noise in postseason play. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce may have one more surprise in store for the Eastern Conference, and rather than blow the team up and look to the future it made a lot of sense for Ainge to give his future Hall of Famers that chance.
4) The Los Angeles Clippers don’t trade Eric Bledsoe - A quick look at the Los Angeles Clippers’ roster might inspire the casual fan to believe that backup point guard Eric Bledsoe is expendable. After all, he plays behind All-Star Chris Paul, and also splits time with playoff-tested veteran Chauncey Billups and even the explosive Jamal Crawford. It seems like the Clippers could afford to unload Bledsoe in an effort to land one of Utah’s big men or even, perhaps, Boston’s Kevin Garnett. A deeper look, however, makes it pretty easy to see why the Clippers opted to hold onto Bledsoe. It is widely assumed that Chris Paul will re-sign with the Clippers this summer, but what if he doesn’t? It’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket, and Paul does have a history of changing his mind. Paul also misses his share of games due to injuries, making Bledsoe all the more valuable. Billups is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning and is essentially one injury away from retirement, and Crawford is a good point guard in spot action, but not so much long-term. Bledsoe is starting to show what kind of NBA player he’s going to be, and the Clippers would hate for him to emerge as a star on someone else’s team.
5) The New York Knicks don’t trade Iman Shumpert – With a nod of the head to the Rockets for not sending Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons to Atlanta for Josh Smith and also to the Bulls for not swapping Carlos Boozer for Andrea Bargnani, the New York Knicks appear to have made the right move by not selling their only real trade asset at a bargain basement price. Shumpert has not been able to carve out a role for himself with the Knicks yet this season after missing the first half due to an ACL tear, but rest assured that there are plenty of teams around the league who would love to take a chance that he can build on his impressive rookie campaign.
Klay Thompson Talks Warriors
Another player who was almost traded, according to the rumor mill, is Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson. The Warriors and the New Orleans Hornets supposedly discussed a trade that would have sent Thompson to the Big Easy and landed the oft-injured Eric Gordon in Oakland. Thompson talks with HOOPSWORLD about his expanded role in the wake of Brandon Rush’s injury, what the Warriors need to do to snap out of their funk and more in this exclusive interview:
The Most Anticipated Post-Trade Debut?
If you check out the HOOPSWORLD Main Page you’ll see that we have asked our readers to grade the teams who made trades yesterday in terms of which team helped their playoff chances the most. As of this writing, the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks are running away with the vote, with Houston holding a solid lead on Milwaukee. With that in mind, tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the visiting Rockets should prove to be a very interesting situation to watch.
The Nets will be without Joe Johnson, who is nursing a sore heel, so the Rockets have a decent chance of scoring a double-digit lead, which would lend itself to newcomer Thomas Robinson, acquired in a deal that sent Patrick Patterson to Sacramento, getting some meaningful minutes. Robinson, of course, was the fifth pick in last summer’s NBA draft, and he wasted no time letting the media gathered for the NBA draft combine know that he felt he was the best player in the class. Unfortunately, his time in Sacramento didn’t bear out his prediction.
Robinson got minutes in Sacramento, to be sure, but his time on the court was steadily dwindling as the season moved along. In 51 games he averaged just 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, hardly the kinds of number that get him even noticed in the Rookie Of The Year discussion.
It’s too late for Robinson to garner top rookie honors, but fans in Houston are understandably excited to see what the fifth pick in the draft might be able to do in a new environment. The Rockets do still have plenty of options at power forward, but Patterson’s departure means there are 25.9 minutes per game waiting to be redistributed. If Robinson plays well right from the start, the lion’s share of those minutes could be his.
The Rockets and Nets will tip off at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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