Court Vision: Trade deadline roundup

Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard was one of several big-name players not dealt at the deadline. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

By Ben Golliver

The NBA’s trade deadline passed on Thursday. Here’s The Point Forward’s roundup of all the moves and a rundown of the winners and losers.

Now, for the trade deadline reaction from around the Web.

•  Ken Berger of CBSSports.com offers an explanation for the quiet trade deadline.

There has been a cosmic shift among the parties who negotiated the new labor deal that ruined Thursday’s trade deadline. David Stern is retiring next February, long before the next deal will be negotiated in 2017, long before the next inevitable work stoppage. His bargaining adversary, Billy Hunter, has been ousted by the players and finds himself ensnared in a serious criminal investigation on three fronts.

In their wake, they left a completely different model for how players will change teams in the NBA, one that shrewd owners like Mark Cuban and general managers like Sam Presti anticipated months or even years ago. Everyone laughed when Cuban broke up a championship team by letting Tyson Chandler go to the Knicks. Everyone’s jaw dropped when Presti traded James Harden to the Rockets. But now Cuban’s team is one of a handful in the catbird’s seat, unconstrained by the tax penalties and other restrictions that will mercilessly be placed on teams who continue to do it the old way. Presti keeps gaming the system, like he did Thursday in acquiring a trade exception from Portland for Eric Maynor — a $2.4 million placeholder that effectively extends Maynor’s usefulness to the team long beyond his days in a Thunder uniform.

This is how business is done now in the NBA. No blockbuster trades in February.

•  The reaction of Yahoo! Sports’ Kelly Dwyer to the various minor trades is essential reading.

What we’re left with, in the absence of stars and with the crush of the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement sending the fear of the luxury tax into most team’s front offices, is a whole lot of tinkering. In all, the biggest name to be moved in the trade deadline was a backup shooting guard that has started 11 games this season for a 15-win team. That’s an unduly harsh description of Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick, who is a fantastic player and worth all the attention he’s received from prospective trading partners, but Redick alone doesn’t provide the superstar cachet that other trade deadline movers have given us through the years.

It wasn’t an Anthony Johnson-styled Thursday, but it wasn’t far off.

The NBA, after trouncing the Players Association in the last round of labor talks, wants a league with fewer trades and fewer terrible contracts. They did well to protect the owners from themselves with the last collective bargaining agreement, and trade deadline Thursdays like these are going to become more and more commonplace. Roll over Anthony Johnson, tell John Crotty the news.

•  Tom Ziller of SB Nation has winners and losers, with J.J. Redick as a winner.

Redick goes from a team that was going to challenge for the NBA’s worst record to a team that looks increasingly like a playoff lock. (The only thing that can derail the Bucks now would be a triumphant Andrew Bynum return.) So J.J. will be able to pad his resumé with another playoff series, possibly one against a damaged team if Milwaukee lands the No. 7 spot. In addition to that, he goes to a team much more likely to use his Bird rights to sign him to a deal. The Magic are rebuilding, the Bucks are not. If this goes well, Redick could stick around as a free agent. He’s eligible for bigger raises and more years if he stays with his incumbent team.

•  Grantland’s Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe go back-and-forth in a two-part trade deadline reaction manifesto (part one is here; part two is here). Needless to say, they didn’t like Sacramento’s trade of Thomas Robinson to Houston.

Simmons: Here’s what NBA history has shown us — you always want to target a high lottery pick who’s available because he’s either underachieving or playing for a team that doesn’t know what it’s doing. It’s the best way to luck out with a potential All-Star if you never actually have the chance to pick high in the lottery. If you get them when they’re young, even better. Some of my favorite examples: Chris Webber, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Mike Bibby, Rip Hamilton, Joe Johnson, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby … it’s just happened too many times. That’s why I would be targeting Minnesota’s Derrick Williams today. He’s available for 50 cents on the dollar, he’s playing out of position for a lottery team, and there’s a good chance that he might thrive in the right spot. Always bet on lottery talent. Well, unless it’s Jonny Flynn or Wesley Johnson.

Lowe: To be fair, the Rockets did give up a decent rotation guy in [Patrick] Patterson. But that’s all Patterson is. Houston watched him for three years and hoped at various times he’d augment his game by developing some low-post skills or morphing into a mobile defensive force. Neither happened. Patterson did develop a 3-point shot — he’s at a very nice 36.5 percent from deep this season — but he’s a liability on the glass, he gets to the line but once per game, and he’s not much of a passer. He’s a decent defender, but that’s it, and sometimes he’s not even that; he has a bad habit of biting on pump fakes. You don’t sell low on a potential talent like Robinson in order to get a nice player on the back end of his rookie deal, and you certainly don’t do it just because he’s college buddies with your out-of-control center.

•  Mark Haubner of The Painted Area writes that the Kings might have done all right trading Robinson for Patterson, despite all the criticism.

Patterson, meanwhile, has a career PER of 14.2, including 15.6 this season. Robinson is a far better rebounder, but Patterson is a far better shooter, and has been more productive overall. He’ll likely fit better next to DeMarcus Cousins on offense (though Patterson doesn’t help SAC’s dismal rebounding), and also certainly fit far better next to Omer Asik in Houston than Robinson will.

I’m not suggesting Patrick Patterson’s an All-Star, but I think he’s a better player than Robinson. I’ve seen some sentiment that Patterson may be better today, but Robinson surely has greater upside. I mean, first of all, Patterson’s only 23, just two years older than Robinson; he’s not necessarily a finished product in his own right. And again, I just don’t see the evidence of great Robinson upside. Just because he was the no. 5 pick in last year’s draft doesn’t make it so.

•  Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider) has trade grades, seeing the Sixers as a team that had a quietly successful Thursday.

The 76ers have shuffled through backup point guards all season long, trying out Maalik Wayns, Shelvin Mack and most recently Jeremy Pargo. Jenkins has somewhat more upside than those players. Powerfully built and quick, Jenkins showed the ability to get to the basket off the dribble when he started at point guard during Golden State’s Tankapalooza last spring. If he can develop his playmaking, Jenkins has a future in the league.

•  Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com (Insider) has winners and losers with the Jazz in the latter category.

The Jazz didn’t upgrade their woeful backcourt and instead decided to keep [Paul] Millsap and [Al] Jefferson even though Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter deserve a shot. This gets us to an inevitable shortcoming of trade analysis: We’ll never know all the offers a team turned down. So perhaps Utah’s front office was smart to hold onto its overcrowded frontcourt rather than trade them for 40 cents on the dollar. But I’m skeptical. One thing we do know is that front offices tend to subjectively overvalue their own players, so I have a feeling that the Jazz may have received objectively fair offers for Millsap and Jefferson. We’ll never know. But don’t be stunned if they try to justify standing pat at the deadline by overpaying Millsap and/or Jefferson this summer.

•  D.J. Foster of Pro Basketball Talk has his winners and losers, with the Nets in the failure bin.

Not surprisingly, no team bit on the Kris Humphries/MarShon Brooks package. For a team clearly in win-now mode, accomplishing nothing at the deadline to try and shorten the gap hurts. Humphries was signed to that big 2-year, $24 million dollar contract to match salaries for a big move, but now it just looks kind of silly.

•A great concept post: Yahoo! Sports’ Eric Freeman ranks the dullest trade deadlines.

1987: 1. The Cleveland Cavaliers trade big man Ben Poquette to the Chicago Bulls for a future second-round draft pick.

Over 10 NBA seasons, Poquette developed a career as a capable shot blocker and interior defender. After this trade, he played only 21 games for the Bulls, averaging 8.0 minutes per game and contributing absolutely nothing in the team’s first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Poquette left for Italy the next offseason, thereby confirming the essential irrelevance of 1987′s lone deadline deal.

•  SB Nation’s Paul Flannery looks at Boston’s quiet deadline.

In the end, [Danny] Ainge did nothing more than replace [Leandro] Barbosa with Jordan Crawford, a younger, healthier, wilder version of the Brazilian Blur. Crawford doesn’t have Barbosa’s command or experience. He was squeezed out of the rotation in Washington and his shooting percentage hovers around 40 percent, which is a problem in that he shoots a lot. But he’s young, affordable and healthy, and that in and of itself is a minor upgrade over where they were the day before the deadline.

There were no big trades and no franchise-altering moves that would set the course for the next era of Celtics basketball. There was just Crawford, vagabond Terrence Williams on a 10-day contract and two open roster spots to sign whatever is left off the veteran scrapheap. It’s not that Ainge didn’t try but, as he always says, he values his own players more than other teams do and he wasn’t going to give them up cheap.

•  Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk gives three reasons for the lack of big-time trades.

The Lakers were never going to trade Dwight Howard. Some people seemed to think the Lakers should trade Howard — from fans at the bar to breakdowns on SportsCenter. But if you asked the Lakers, or anyone around the Lakers, or any other team’s personnel that called the Lakers, the answer was always it was never going to happen. The Lakers did not waiver. Expectations always were way ahead of reality here.

It was the same with trading Kevin Garnett — he couldn’t have been more clear about not waiving his no trade clause. But nobody seemed to listen. And so it went on and on. Fans wanted to see the Bulls add talent when they would never take on more salary. We expected Josh Smith to get moved but Hawks GM Danny Ferry said all along he would hold on to Smith if no offer he really liked came along. And one didn’t.

We as basketball fans talked up expectations that got out of line with the reality of those trades happening.

•  Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on why Hawks forward Josh Smith wasn’t traded.

Because for general manager Danny Ferry, this season realistically isn’t about winning a championship, it’s about preserving the wonderful landscape without another volcanic eruption of red ink.

There were potential trade partners willing to send the Hawks players for Smith, possibly even name players. But after ridding the franchise of one debilitating financial virus (Joe Johnson’s contract), the last thing Ferry was willing to do was take on, say, Amar’e Stoudemire and an economic Bubonic plague (about $54 million for the next 2½ years).

It’s easy to understand the logic. Ferry is managing for July, when only three Hawks players will still have guaranteed contracts. He is embracing flexibility. It doesn’t matter that salary-cap space comes without guarantees. Cap space can’t pass, can’t shoot, can’t rebound. It can’t be slapped on an advertisement (“Come watch our cap space take on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder!”). But it comes with hope.

•  Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel gets J.J. Redick’s reaction to his trade from the Magic to the Bucks.

“I think you can prepare yourself as much as you think you can,” Redick told the Orlando Sentinel in a phone interview after he received the news. “But when the moment comes, there’s certainly an initial shock, and I was shocked. The most difficult part was definitely saying bye to everybody, people that I’ve spent a lot of time with over the last seven years and built relationships with and built friendships with. That was difficult.

“There’s no really easy way to handle it,” he added later. “Trading is tough, tough. It’s my first time experiencing it: It’s tough.”

•  The Boston Herald reports that Clippers guard Chris Paul unsuccessfully recruited Celtics forward/center Kevin Garnett.

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