MANILA, Philippines – Whenever the NBA trade deadline draws near, rumors abound involving some of the big names on teams that are floundering, rebuilding or simply trying to cut their losses, and this year was no exception.
These rumors, however, almost always end up as just that: rumors that are deliberately spread by media out to make a scoop from these unconfirmed reports or GMs out to inflate their players’ value, or entice some team into negotiating and, who knows, taking unwanted or expendable baggage on their roster or payroll in exchange for a commodity, a draft pick or cap space that would have infinitely more value to their franchise.
This year’s trade deadline last February 20 offered more such deals. While it may not have been as dreary as last year’s cutoff, where then-Orlando guard J.J. Redick’s trade to Milwaukee for Beno Udrih and change was the only trade of any significance that went down, this year’s deadline also saw trades that lacked any big-name stars that can make a splash, or at least make a deal seem monumental in the eyes of expectant hoops junkies.
But there are a few deals that can make a difference for some teams who may be aiming to fill a need that could bring them to the next level, or get them on their way to improving their fortunes in the coming seasons, if not this year.
One such deal is the trade that sent Philadelphia’s Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to Indiana for Danny Granger. The Pacers, the leading team in the East, saw the need to upgrade their roster, and decided to ship their longest-tenured player to Philly in exchange for a young, versatile swingman who can generate some offense off the bench.
Ten other trades were completed at or near the trade deadline as teams made moves that would put them in the position to either get into the playoffs or simply ensure a lottery spot.
Here are the trades, along with our take on which teams won or lost in the exchange:
Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen traded from Philadelphia to Indiana for Danny Granger and a second-round pick
This trade could make or break the Pacers, never mind the 76ers, who are in the blowup mode with the other deals they pulled off with other teams. Turner simply makes the Pacers more potent on offense, despite a rather pedestrian .438 and .288 shooting percentages from the floor and three-point range, respectively, as he led the Sixers with a 17.4-point scoring average. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder, who was picked no. 2 overall pick in 2010 behind only John Wall of Washington, is also versatile enough to play the “three” and “two” spots and should provide Indiana’s 19th-ranked offense a boost, something the 6-foot-9 Granger has simply been unable to do since having been hampered by knee and leg injuries the past two years. Granger, who once averaged 25.8 points as an All-Star with Indiana in 2009, has struggled after returning from injury this season, norming just 8.3 points while shooting .359 from the floor in 29 games.
There are, however, some skeptics who think Turner might also struggle now that he won’t be the focal point of his team’s offense as he was in Philly and won’t have the same number of shots that he took there to get his numbers.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Allen, a four-year veteran, has averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds mostly as a reserve and provides more muscle for the Pacers.
“We felt we needed to make this trade to strengthen the core unit and our bench,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said. “In Evan and Lavoy, we think we got two really good players that can help us and we look forward to what they can bring.”
Of course, both Turner and Allen can also bring salary-cap relief to the Pacers as both will become restricted free agents in the offseason, and, depending on their performance, may not be given a qualifying offer by their new team. The trade of Granger also frees up $13 million in cap space from the former Indiana top gun’s expiring contract.
Andre Miller traded from Denver to Washington for Jan Vesely, and Eric Maynor and two second-round picks traded from Washington and Denver to Philadelphia
This is an example of a team acquiring a player and picks by giving up nothing, as the 76ers did by simply assuming Eric Maynor’s contract from the Wizards, valued at $2.1 million.
But this is about the Wizards acquiring Andre Miller, the Nuggets’ disgruntled point guard who hadn’t played a single game since being suspended by the team on January 2 for a sideline altercation with coach Brian Shaw. Miller, a 15-year veteran who has averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 assists in 30 games this season, provides the Wizards a much-needed backup to John Wall at the “one” spot as they bid to improve their playoff position.
The seven-foot, 242-pound Vesely, the No. 6 pick in the 2011 draft who has not lived up to expectations, averaged just 3.3 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Wizards this season and will audition in Denver as he becomes a free agent after this season.
The 6-3 Maynor, who could just norm 2.3 points and 1.7 assists after signing as a free agent in the summer, has a player option next season and, for two second-round picks that the Sixers received from the Wizards and the Nuggets, will likely exercise that option in Philadelphia.
Aaron Brooks traded from Houston to Denver for Jordan Hamilton
Related to the Andre Miller conundrum is the trade that brought Aaron Brooks from Houston to Denver as the Nuggets, desperate for a backup to Ty Lawson after Nate Robinson’s season-ending tear in his left ACL and perhaps trying to revive their sagging playoff hopes, sent 6-7 forward Jordan Hamilton to the Rockets for the six-year veteran point guard.
The six-foot Brooks gives the Nuggets a reliable, albeit smallish backcourt corps, having averaged 7.0 scores and 1.9 handoffs in 16.7 minutes of relief duty for the Rockets. His replacement in Houston, Hamilton, brings with him norms of 6.8 points and 3.4 boards in 17.2 minutes of action in Denver. Both come off the books at the end of the season.
Although this deal may not really be a difference maker as difference makers go, it can’t be denied that the Nuggets would have had absolutely no need for it had Miller been in good graces with the club’s top brass.
Aaron Daye traded from Toronto to Houston for Nando de Colo
This trade is just a bleep in the radar, with the Spurs basically exchanging a 6-5 point guard, Nando de Colo, who averaged 4.3 points and 1.2 feeds in 11.6 minutes of spot duty, for a 6-11 forward, Austin Daye, whose stock has plummeted since being drafted in the first round by Detroit in 2009. The reed-thin Daye had just played eight games for the Raptors this season but could provide some help off the bench for the aging Spurs given the opportunity. Don’t bet against coach Gregg Popovich finding that role for him.
Antawn Jamison traded from the LA Clippers to Atlanta for rights to Cenk Akyol
This is a fate that befalls a former standout on a veteran-laden club too often, as Antawn Jamison, a 15-year pro, saw for himself: get traded for a nondescript compensation by his playoff-ambitious team. Jamison, a two-time All-Star with Washington with a career scoring average of 18.5 points, was shipped to the Hawks to clear cap space for the Clippers, and will now try to help steady a floundering Hawks ship that has lost Al Horford for the season and a huge part of its early-season momentum after losing eight straight games to fall under .500.
His replacement, Cenk Akyol, a 6-6 Turkish swingman who was drafted by Atlanta in the second round in 2005, hasn’t even played a single game in the NBA but could a merit a look by the Clippers down the road once he’s played out his contract in the Turkish league.
Byron Mullens traded from the LA Clippers to Philadelphia for a conditional second-round pick
Apparently, the Clippers think enough of its current center corps of DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins to ship the seven-foot, 275-pound Byron Mullens to the Sixers for just a conditional second-round pick. Mullens averaged career highs of 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds with Charlotte last year but just 2.5 points and 1.2 caroms in 27 games of spot duty with the Clips this season.
Drafted No. 24 by Dallas in 2009, Mullens will replace the departed Spencer Hawes at center on the lottery-bound Sixers while the Clips try to navigate their way to the hoped-for promised land.
Roger Mason Jr. traded from Miami to Sacramento for a protected second-round pick
Another roster-clearing move was made by the Heat in this one as Roger Mason Jr., along with some cash, is sent to Sacramento for a piddlin’ second-rounder that may eventually not even accrue to Miami. The 6-5 Mason averaged 3.0 points in 10.4 minutes of relief work for the Heat, and his loss wouldn’t be felt much by LeBron James and company, which hope to sign a high-impact veteran from the waivers list in the coming weeks while Mason is likely waived by the Kings.
Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour traded from Milwaukee to Charlotte for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien
In terms of impact, this trade may be the most significant next to the Evan Turner-Danny Granger exchange, at least to the Bobcats who’re hoping Gary Neal’s addition alongside Luke Ridnour’s will make the difference between making the postseason and getting into the lottery. While the merits of Michael Jordan’s ballclub going into either territory is debatable, it does seem that the deal, which also saw Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien go to Milwaukee in return, will benefit the Bobcats in the near term.
In Neal, they got a steady 6-4 guard who may have a down year (39 percent floor shooting) but whose pedigree as one of the previous years’ regular rotation players in San Antonio is precisely what the young ‘Cats need. Coupled with the 6-2 Ridnour’s smarts, Charlotte adds two battle-tested players to a roster of Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.
The woeful Bucks, meanwhile, save more than $5 million in cap relief over the next two years and get two players – Sessions (10.4 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Adrien (2.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg) – who could also be part of their rebuilding.
Spencer Hawes traded from Philadelphia to Cleveland for Henry Sims, Earl Clark and two second-round picks
While the Sixers continue to rebuild, almost gutting their entire frontline, the Cavaliers try to end a three-year playoff drought by adding pieces that they think will get them into the postseason. Both objectives were met, they hope, with the trade that sent Sixers starting center Spencer Hawes to the Cavs and brought to Philly two second-round picks, forward Earl Clark and center Henry Sims.
The 7-1, 245-pound Hawes provides insurance for an ailing (back) Anderson Varejao at the Cavs’ center spot. Hawes averaged 12.9 points, 8.6 caroms, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks this year for the Sixers and will certainly give a big boost to the Cavs’ frontline, which now also has Luol Deng whom Cleveland earlier acquired from Chicago for one first-rounder and two second-rounders.
The 6-10 Clark, a first-round pick in 2009 by Phoenix, normed 5.2 points and 2.8 boards in 52 games for Cleveland this season while the 6-10 Sims, a sophomore out of Georgetown, averaged 2.2 tallies and 2.8 boards in limited duty. Both will try to hold the fort as the Sixers tank their way into the lottery.
Steve Blake traded from the LA Lakers to Golden State for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks
This is another example of two teams making a deal as they head in different directions, with the Lakers continuing to rebuild by saving some $4 million in salary and luxury tax consequences and the Warriors addressing a need as they head into the playoffs. The Lakers sent point guard Steve Blake to Oakland for backup guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, in the process giving away an 11-year veteran who now takes his place as chief backup to All-Star Stephen Curry and leaving him disheartened despite going to a playoff squad because of the trade’s domestic ramifications.
But the Warriors, long in search of a reliever to Curry after Jarrett Jack signed as a free agent with Cleveland last offseason, will be getting someone who averaged 9.5 points and career bests of 7.5 dimes and 3.8 rebounds this year for LA, albeit in just 27 games because of various physical maladies. Bazemore (2.3 pg) and Brooks (1.9 ppg) are nothing more than fillers, but they serve their purpose for now, unless they suddenly turn into world-beaters to become part of what the Lakers hope will be a new model for a championship contender.
Winner: Golden State.
Marcus Thornton traded from Brooklyn to Sacramento for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans
It’s hard to make anything of this trade, except that the Nets are prepared to spend more in tax penalties as Marcus Thornton, whom they acquired from Sacramento for guard Jason Terry and forward Reggie Evans, has more than $8 million in salary payment in each of the next two years and will thus drive Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s luxury tax bill up to some $89 million.
Other than that, the trade to our mind is a wash, despite Nets GM Billy King’s pronouncement that the 6-4 Thornton is “a proven scorer in this league… who will help us in the backcourt.” Thornton has had a down year, averaging just 8.3 points on .381 floor shooting with the Kings, a far cry from his 2011 and 2012 norms of 21.3 (.450 FG pct.) and 18.7 (.438 FG pct.) points, respectively.
On the other hand, Evans and Terry may be longer in the tooth with 27 years of experience between them and are averaging just a combined 7.2 points a game but they bring to the table many intangibles plus Evans’ rebounding moxie (5.0 rpg in just 13.3 minutes). How the two teams – or these players – perform over the next two or three months may provide a more definitive answer to who made off better in this deal.
SHORTSHOTS: The Brooklyn Nets just signed self-proclaimed gay Jason Collins to a 10-day contract. The seven-foot Collins, who has an identical twin brother, Jarron, who also played in the NBA, is the first openly-gay athlete to play in any of America’s four major professional sports leagues… Glen “Big Baby” Davis, who was bought out by Orlando, has said he’ll sign with the LA Clippers. If he does, he’ll be reuniting with his former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers… Also nearing buyout deals with their respective teams are Ben Gordon (Charlotte) and Metta World Peace (New York). – Rappler.com
Bert A. Ramirez has been a freelance sportswriter/columnist since the ’80s, writing mostly about the NBA and once serving as consultant and editor for Tower Sports Magazine, the longest-running locally published NBA magazine, from 1999 to 2008. He has also written columns and articles for such publications as Malaya, Sports Digest, Winners Sports Weekly, Pro Guide, Sports Weekly, Sports Flash, Sports World, Basketball Weekly and the FIBA’s International Basketball, and currently writes a fortnightly column for QC Life and a weekly blog for BostonSports Desk. A former corporate manager, Bert has breathed, drunk and slept sports most of his life.