Despite numerous, emphatic reports that this year's trade deadline would go by quietly, it did nothing of the sort. In fact, the trades came in fast and furious in the hour immediately before the 3 PM EST deadline and then even more so in the hour immediately after. And each one seemed to make even less sense than the last.
But before we get into that, let's talk about the Bulls. This is a Bulls-themed website, after all. As expected, Gar Forman and John Paxson deemed inaction the best course of action and presumably watched amusedly as the chaos unfolded. Reports had the Bulls making a run at the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, although it was never clear what they would have gotten him for, given that the Lakers had absolutely no interest whatsoever in Carlos Boozer. Presumably they called the Orlando Magic at some point to inquire about Dwight Howard, but those talks certainly didn't go anywhere even as Dwight went bi-polar on everyone and changed his mind about where he wanted to go approximately every two seconds. (He eventually waived his Early Termination Option, or ETO, that could have made him a free agent this summer, choosing to spend this year and at least the beginning of next year in Orlando. Which basically means we'll get to do all of this over again next year.)
So, while things were quiet in Chicago (I wanted to say things were quiet here in Chicago before I remembered I live in East Lansing, MI), they were not particularly quiet as a whole. The media as a whole has apparently spent too much time obsessing over Dwight to cover the rest of the league, as we were repeatedly blindsided by deals that nobody saw coming in any way, shape or form.
First off, we had a couple of players acquired basically for nothing. The Memphis Grizzlies sent Sam Young, who played a big role in last year's run before being crowded out this year, to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Ricky Sanchez, who I (and I assume I'm not alone here) had never heard of in my life. The Grizzlies were worried about the luxury tax and had no real use for Young, so they sent him packing.
The other deal sent Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors to the Indiana Pacers for a second round pick this year. The Raptors aren't going anywhere and are presumably going to tank down the stretch, while the Pacers need scoring off the bench, which is the role Barbosa played once upon a time for the Phoenix Suns. The deal makes a lot of sense for all involved.
Now things start to get interesting. The Portland Trail Blazers, who have become increasingly dysfunctional since a very hot start and also happen to be the Bulls' next opponent, put together something of a fire sale. After two of their players orchestrated a mutiny against their coach (no, seriously, it happened), they dumped Marcus Camby on the Houston Rockets for Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn (yes, you can laugh now) and sent Gerald Wallace to the New Jersey Nets for the expiring contracts of Memo Okur and Shawne Williams and…the Nets' first round pick this year.
Yep. You read that correctly. Oh, and the pick is only top-3 protected. In one of the deepest drafts in years.
This is how desperate the Nets are in their quest to keep Deron Williams. And let's be honest, the writing is on the wall at this point, with Dwight off the board: Deron is going home to the Dallas Mavericks. And given that players on the Nets not named Deron Williams pretty much suck, and that even the 10th or 11th pick in this year's draft is pretty damned valuable, you have to wonder what the hell is going on in Newark. This team is going to be like the Charlotte Bobcats next year, except without any hope whatsoever. I mean, I guess they'll be in Brooklyn, but their team is gonna suck, so…yeah.
Anyway, kudos to the currently GM-less Blazers for pulling that off and setting themselves up for a comparatively easy rebuilding project as they go into full-fledged tanking mode. They'll probably get two lottery picks and at the very least two top-20 picks in a loaded draft and all four players acquired are expiring after this year. Oh, and they parted ways with coach Nate McMillan and promoted Kaleb Canales to interim head coach. Which I approve of. You can never have too many people named Caleb (or in this case Kaleb) around. Well, unless they're Caleb Hanie.
The other big player was the Lakers, oddly enough. No, Pau didn't go anywhere, but the people who did may surprise you. First, Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchak snagged Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga from the Cleveland Cavaliers for…Jason Kapono and Luke Walton. Either Kupchak has blackmail-worthy dirt on someone in authority for Cleveland or…actually I'm not really sure why else you make this deal. It probably should have been a red flag when those two couldn't even crack the Lakers' rotation, given that LA has exactly three players who are even above-average. The Lakers also sent a first rounder to Cleveland, but that pick will almost certainly be in the mid-to-late twenties. The draft is deep, but I don't know about that deep.
Then again, I have heard it argued that Sessions was both taking minutes from Kyrie Irving and helping the Cavs win enough that their own draft pick was going to be too low, so this would be a straight tank job augmented with the aforementioned first rounder. Still, given Dan Gilbert's reaction to the original Chris Paul trade (the one with the Lakers), this is kind of a weird move.
The Lakers also acquired Jordan Hill from the Rockets for the first rounder they got from Dallas when they traded Lamar Odom. The Rockets also got Derek Fisher. This was amusing mostly because the trade was initially reported incorrectly, with the Lakers receiving the pick, resulting in everyone's brains melting because the Rockets had apparently given up a first round pick in a loaded draft for Derek freaking Fisher and thrown in a former top-10 pick for good measure. The actual deal makes somewhat more sense for everyone, but still seemed weird for a couple of reasons.
First, everyone had just kind of assumed Fisher would retire as a Laker. I mean, he was a key player on seven teams that reached the Finals, five of them winning championships. It just sort of seemed weird to think otherwise. Second, if you're keeping score at home, the Lakers successfully turned Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher into Jordan Hill. That's it. But the two deals are still a net positive for LA, since they massively upgraded their point guard and picked up another couple of athletes at the forward spots. And only gave up three corpses and a low draft pick for the privilege.
Also, the Golden State Warriors flipped newly re-acquired Stephen Jackson to the San Antonio Spurs for Richard Jefferson and a future first rounder. I really don't know what the hell to make of this, so we're just going to move on. But know that the Spurs have a habit of winning any and all trades they make. It doesn't even seem to matter if they make sense.
OK. So we've covered the fairly routine, the slightly perplexing but ultimately understandable, the ones that make you go 'huh' before you lose interest entirely, and the 'uhhh…are they stupid?' so far. But wait, there's more.
About an hour after the deadline, just when we were starting to think nothing else would happen, this did.
You would be forgiven if your brain spontaneously combusted when you read that.
For those who (somehow) haven't already heard and are too lazy to click on the link, I'll give you an overview. In a move that literally NOBODY saw coming until it was actually reported, the Washington Wizards ditched Nick Young to the desperate-for-a-shooting-guard-who-isn't-Randy-Foye Los Angeles Clippers for a future pick and Brian Cook, who pretty much sucks, and sent professional knucklehead JaVale McGee packing to the Denver Nuggets along with Ronny Turiaf for Nene.
Even after processing it for six hours, I'm not really sure what the hell happened here. We knew the Clippers wanted a shooting guard and we knew Young was available, so that part makes a fair amount of sense, even if nobody actually thought it might happen. But what nobody realized was that the Wizards would actually trade McGee (even though we knew he was an idiot and his coach couldn't stand him) and, this is the big one, that a guy who signed a five year, $67 million contract this offseason and was one of the most coveted free agents at the time would be traded less than three months into his new deal.
The trade makes a certain amount of sense, I guess, in a crazy sort of way. McGee has clearly fallen out of favor in Washington and Nene's been hurt a lot, so…nope. Still confused. If anyone figures out what went on here, let me know.
Bottom line: The Bulls are riding with what they've got, the Lakers got better, lots of teams are tanking, the Nets are desperate, and god only knows what's up with the Wizards and what got into the Nuggets.
You've gotta give the NBA some credit, though. This season has most certainly not been boring.
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