This trade deadline got me excited, but then it put me too sleep. Usually around the trade deadline we get a deal that changes the landscape, but the deals that finally went down only were good for the bottom feeders – except for Orlando picking up Rafer Alston to replace Jameer Nelson. Alston should stabilize the team, but his shooting has been inconsistent and that was the strength of Nelson.
The thought of Amare Stoudemire or Shaquille O’Neal playing with LeBron James was terrifying if you are a Boston Celtic or Lakers fan. Tyson Chandler leaving the Hornets for Oklahoma City made teams in the West smile knowing if Chandler got healthy come playoff time he would have been a serious problem setting that high pick-and-roll for Chris Paul.
Those trades did not happen, although Chandler to OKC was rescinded due to a failed physical. I guarantee you Paul smiled and jumped around privately knowing he would have Chandler instead of Chris Wilcox.
The key now for the Hornets is… How will Chandler respond knowing they tried to ship him out to a very bad team?
I thought San Antonio would find a way to get Vince Carter, especially since Manu Ginobili will be out three weeks with a tender ankle, which puts their Southwest Division lead of three games in danger.
I also thought Portland would use some of their assets to find a veteran point guard or acquire Richard Jefferson, but now look for Brandon Roy to handle the ball even more – thus possibly wearing him down come playoff time.
Phoenix and Dallas made the big splash last year by acquiring Shaq and Jason Kidd. I guess the only team that has come close to making us say, “OK, maybe this could work” is the trade of Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion.
Miami is 28-25 and presently 3 ½ games behind Atlanta for the fourth seed with one game left to play against each other this year. O’Neal gives Miami a very good post-up player and a excellent pick-and-pop person to run the two-man game with Dwyane Wade. If O’Neal can stay healthy, Miami becomes extremely dangerous as a first-round opponent.
Toronto gets Shawn Marion and I assume Bryan Colangelo is confident he can sign the Matrix when his contract expires this season, which will pay dividends on both ends of the court. It will not be enough to elevate the Raptors to the postseason, though.
I guess among the bottom feeders Chicago did the best job in picking up John Salmons, Tim Thomas and Brad Miller. Miller will give them a threat to score as well as provide veteran toughness and smarts. Salmons provides the Bulls a player that has size in the backcourt and a unique ability to find lanes to the basket, which with Derrick Rose gives them the best twosome in the league at getting to the basket – other than Ginobili and Parker in San Antonio. Tim Thomas is versatile, but he better hope the Bulls have forgiven him for not giving his all the last time he was in a Bulls uniform. Jerome James will go down as the biggest steal artist in the history of the game. Maybe the Bulls mascot can use him during timeouts as a prop.
I was intrigued by New York’s acquisition of Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox because neither player can make a jumper if you put a string on the ball and tied it to the rim. Hughes thinks he should be a big-time rotation player, but he shoots 41 percent from the field. On the other hand, he has a respectable 39 percent from the three-point line so maybe Mike D’Antoni is hoping that continues with the Knicks. Wilcox will find it to steal minutes away from the extremely consistent David Lee.
Sacramento has gotten worse and I am thinking that’s the intention. They picked up seven players and not one with the exception of Drew Gooden has a proven resume, although Andres Nocioni in my opinion will become a valuable player for the Kings eventually. Rashad McCants has talent, but seems to have no desire to work past 70 percent of his ability, which obviously drove Kevin McHale to rid himself of him. Ike Diogu is just hoping to finally get a chance to prove he can play or can’t play.
I really like the direction of Oklahoma City. They pick up a guard with size in Thabo Sefolosha, who should form a solid defensive backcourt alongside Russell Westbrook.
Minnesota picked up a big body in Shelden Williams to offset the season-ending injury to Al Jefferson. Too bad McHale can’t use Williams’ bride Candace Parker, who will be sitting courtside watching instead. Williams has been a huge disappointment and still haunts the Atlanta Hawks for taking him so high in the draft.
Houston gets Brian Cook and Kyle Lowry, but they are in serious trouble without Tracy McGrady and will not be the factor come playoff time I expected them to be.
Bottom line, as I said not one trade excited me and most definitely not one trade altered the course the season has been traveling to this point in the season.
The Celtics, Lakers, Cavaliers are still the cream of the crop and everyone else will need to go into the playoffs on a serious roll to change that perception.
The Nuggets, who are flying under the radar at 37-17, probably should have tried to find one more shooter, but why rock the boat? They have feasted on sub-.500 teams this year to the tune of 21-2 and are presently the No. 2 seed.
There are teams like the Suns and Dallas that did not make a move, but not doing so might give them the confidence to eventually start living up to expectations. The Mavericks are 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Suns have returned to their running style and averaged 141 points in two victories against the Clippers since the removal of Terry Porter.
Utah is the most dangerous team because they have battled injuries all year long and are just now starting to get healthy, proven by a huge victories against the top two teams in the last week.
In the East, the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks seem to be the only threats to negating a Celtic –Cavalier conference final. The Pistons are fading fast and seem to be backing their way out of the playoffs with five straight losses and four of them at home.
The best time of the year is upon us. My Chicago Cubs are back at work, the NCAA Tournament is a month away and the NBA season has turned the corner for the stretch run.