Boring. Uneventful. Anti-climactic. All appropriate adjectives for Thursday’s NBA trade deadline. Despite all the hype surrounding the big names, not much actually happened, and that leaves it difficult to pick a real winner among the teams that did make a move. That said, some teams fared better than others down the stretch Thursday, which mandates a look at who made the right moves, and who didn’t. Now that most players have had the chance to play with their new teams, it’s time to analyze:
The Boston Celtics:
Winners. These days, Jason Collins (a 12-year veteran who’s an expert at hard fouls) and a player with a torn ACL will net you a 13.4 PPG scorer. Sounds like robbery? That’s because it is. Unfortunately for Washington, Jordan Crawford fell out of favor with the coaching staff which led to his demands for a trade. Equally unfortunate for Washington, the market for an alleged head-case who shoots first and asks questions later (and who also thinks he could be better than the other Jordan one day) is really small. That said, the Boston Celtics, desperate for guard-help following ACL injuries to Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa, capitalized on the tension between the Wizards and Crawford. Despite the fact that the Celtics were already depleted on the interior, they made the tough decision to part with Jason Collins along with Barbosa’s contract to make the deal work.
Now that they have Crawford, how will they fare for the rest of the season? Really well. As mentioned above, they shed the contract of a player who’s out for the season and a little bit of size (that can be replaced with a minimum contract) for a player who’s scoring 13 PPG this season and who can light it up on any given night. While his attitude is questionable, his skill is not. Speaking of his attitude, that shouldn’t be a problem. Based on his answers to the media’s questions, Crawford has humbled himself, and he seems happy to be in Beantown. If the Celtics can keep his head in check, he’ll turn out to be one of their most valuable assets moving forward. As Paul Pierce declines, it was imperative that Boston acquires another player besides Rondo who can create their own shot. They’ve found that player in Crawford. His contract is favorable for the next two seasons, so this project may work out long-term as well. For now, though, Crawford just needs to learn defense and he’ll help the team immensely as they push towards the playoffs.
The Atlanta Hawks:
Losers. Josh Smith. Why he isn’t on another team is baffling. Due to Atlanta’s excruciating picky-ness at the deadline, Smith will likely walk away in the summer, and the Hawks won’t get anything in return. The best-case scenario would be that they swing a sign-and-trade for him wherever he decides to go. One thing is for sure though: the odds of Smith re-signing in Atlanta are astronomically low. Of course, if things end up going well for Atlanta in the off-season and they get a good haul in return for a sign-and-trade deal, this bashing will seem superfluous. That said, with the Rockets, in particular, having the cap space to outright sign him, Atlanta might have to face the reality of getting nothing for the borderline All-Star. This possibility alone should have pushed them to be less picky in the trade deadline process, but that didn’t happen. Their move to bring in Dahntay Jones was a minor deal that will help short-term, but it will not fix their biggest problem. These factors all culminate to Atlanta being deadline losers. They should have done something with J-Smoove. Something.
The Sacramento Kings:
Losers. Welp. The Sacramento Kings added another point guard without giving up one. Do they actually have a plan or what? Also, they got rid of a top-5 pick in last June’s draft a mere 4 months into the season. Thomas Robinson joins the list of 6 players who were drafted in the top-5 to be traded in the same season (like Chauncy Billups). Even though the move might be more financial than anything (they also shed Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt), it’s hard to see why they’d give up a player with Robinson’s upside just like that. Then again, when was the last time the Kings franchise made a move that made sense? Yeah, it’s been a while. That said, maybe they have some sort of elaborate plan that just takes time to execute like Daryl Morey? Doubtful. For the time being, they’ll need to learn how to play with 5 point guards on the same team.
The Houston Rockets:
Winners: Remember around 8 months ago when no one knew what Houston was doing when they stockpiled draft picks to try to land Dwight Howard? Remember when they signed Jeremy Lin and everyone laughed? Remember when eyes were starting to open when they traded for James Harden? What started out as an elaborate plan of nothing has now turned into a playoff team. Everyone questioned Houston’s roster moves, but as time went on, things have started making more sense. With the pure robbery of a top-5 talent in Thomas Robinson while only giving up pennies, Houston’s plan is now finally clear. General manager, Daryl Morey, has put together a remarkable roster filled with young guys who are skilled and who haven’t even reached their full potential yet. Add in the fact that they have a great, experienced coach in Kevin McHale, and you’ve got a solid team.
Houston has done a stellar job in building a roster that can push towards the Playoffs, and they could potentially create some noise while there. After just missing the postseason last year after the team fizzled late, Morey took that to heart and reconstructed the team to compete. One comparison that one could make is that this team is like OKC from 2010. A nice compilation of young guys who are great players and who haven’t even reached their full potential yet. Watch out for Houston. They’ll be around for a few seasons, and they can only get better because of Harden, Robinson, and the talent that they could add this summer with the extra cap space that they have (Josh Smith). You can look back at this trade deadline (and also the Harden trade) to see where Houston began its resurgence. Clear winners this year.
The Milwaukee Bucks did well to add J.J. Redick, and that was unfortunately the biggest trade of the day on Thursday. Redick helps them short-term (and potentially long-term), but as a team, their entire dynamic most likely won’t change with the addition of an efficient. That will help the team’s overall shooting percentage and shot-selection, so the move is good. It doesn’t completely change the team, though, which still leaves them around the .500 mark and an 7-8 seed.
Not much happened at this year’s deadline, but teams like Boston and Houston will be able to start the unofficial second half of the season with a renewed focus behind their new additions. For teams like Atlanta and Sacramento (among others), we’re still left scratching our heads. Stay tuned.