I checked Twitter for 36 hours straight. I kept a line on my e-mail, waiting for gchat boxes to change color. My phone sat next to my computer on vibrate. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Josh Smith stayed put. So did Monta Ellis. No one got sent in or out of STAPLES Center. The Jazz defied expectations and stayed pat. A few Celtics got dealt, but none of the ones anyone thought. Not even Fab Melo.
It was probably the least eventful five hours leading up to the trade deadline ever. The “big” trades, including guys like Thomas Robinson, Rudy Gay and Jose Calderon–zero All-Star berths between all of them–had already been made in the previous two weeks.
Still, there was some activity on deadline day. Let’s round ’em up and tell you what you didn’t miss.
Milwaukee Bucks get: SG JJ Redick, C Gustavo Ayon, PG Ishmael smith
Orlando Magic get: SG Doron Lamb, SF Tobias Harris, PG Beno Udrih
Unsurprisingly, the Bucks made the “big” trade of the day, but surprisingly, it didn’t involve J-Smoove, Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis. The team acquired JJ Redick in a last minute deal, the one player that any NBA GM or scout was positive that would be moved.
The prizes for Orlando here are (I suppose) rookie Doron Lamb and second year man Tobias Harris. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen either player very much, seeing as they’re both bench warmers, but more accurately they’re keeping said bench temperature high for the Milwaukee Bucks. However, Lamb slipped to the second round of this past year’s draft when most thought he could be a first round pick, whereas the 20 year-old Harris was the 20th pick in 2011. They’re prospects mostly in name and pedigree, but they’re also both 20 and 21, respectively. The thought here is that Orlando GM Rob Hennigan had been fishing for a first rounder in return for Redick, who’s having a career year at 15.1 ppg with 39% 3P shooting and showing previously unproven court vision, with a staggering 4.4 apg. Obviously those picks just weren’t available for Redick, so Hennigan did what he could and got two young players in return. Not exactly a mint for one of the most sought after players at the deadline. However, losing JJ means that Moe Harkless will get more time to play and develop, which is important on it’s own.
Orlando also reeled in Beno Udrih, a fine but overpaid ($8 million dollars in an expiring deal! Bad NBA Contract of the Week alert!) back-up point guard, if nothing else but to make the salaries match. The Magic already have coach Jacque Vaughn and Jameer Nelson to help develop young PG E’Twaun Moore, so if Udrih isn’t needed in that capacity or coming off the bench on a playoff-bound team, his value will be minimal.
For once, it’s pretty hard to criticize the Bucks. They’re settled in as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers, who may or may not get Andrew Bynum back before the end of the season. Even still, Milwaukee desperately needed an efficient ball-sharing guard to spell either Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings when they become the players they’ve been since the beginning of time. Redick makes them a better team, though he’ll surely leave in free agency this summer when someone overpays the 30 year-old by about $6 to $10 million dollars. Even if JJ leaves this summer, the Bucks acquired him for the price of two fringe prospects, saved about $1 million and got a solid back-up in Ayon.
More to the point the Bucks–the league’s least valuable team–need the revenue boost the playoffs can bring. Fortifying their sometimes conscienceless gunning line-up with a much needed source of stability and playmaking should help keep them above a Philly team that’s another Andrew Bynum setback away from staying well under .500.
Boston Celtics get: SG Jordan Crawford
Washington Wizards get: SG Leandro Barbosa, C Jason Collins
The Celtics finally made a trade to shore up their injury-wracked squad, but it certainly wasn’t the blockbuster that anyone projected. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Courtney Lee stayed put, while probably two of the players least likely to get dealt (because of their irrelevance) were the ones to go.
SG Jordan Crawford gets sent to a winning team that badly needs a productive bodies. The three man back court of Lee, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry had their advantages, specifically defensively, but were visibly missing the offensive firepower that Barbosa could give on occasion. Crawford certainly isn’t the most efficient player (41% from the field, 35% from three, only 2.5 free throw attempts a game), but there isn’t a shot he was afraid to take regardless of the situation. For all their defensive prowess, Lee and Bradley aren’t the gunners such an offensively limited team needs. Crawford is more or less the polar opposite of those two, whose streak shooting and lack of defensive chops should complement his new lock-down teammates.
For the Zardos, it doesn’t appear that they got much in return. Leandro Barbosa is done for the season with a torn ACL and Jason Collins has been done for his career as soon as he became a NBA professional. I wouldn’t expect that the latter contributes much of anything to the Wizards, especially seeing as Chris Singleton, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Nene and even Jan Vesely are better off playing in the District. It’s pretty clear that this was a salary dump, plain and simple. With Bradley Beal rapidly becoming one of the league’s best long range bombers, keeping Jordan Crawford on to sap minutes and shots was just a waste in every conceivable way.
The Celtics gave up very little here—they’re already over the cap for next season, so adding Crawford’s $2.1 million dollar salary shouldn’t be much of a concern. This may have been one of the most lopsided trades of the day.
Portland Trailblazers get: PG Eric Maynor
Oklahoma City Thunder get: $2.5 million dollar trade exception
What seems like a minor deal could be a significant one for the Blazers. As we’ve looked at a couple weeks ago, Portland is extremely thin on their bench—they’ve arguably got the worst substitutes in the entire NBA. The starting five has been carrying the team all year, and as the season gets into games 60+, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, J.J. Hickson and Damian Lillard could wear down.
Eric Maynor hasn’t been the same player since he tore his ACL at the beginning of the 2011 season and his lack of mobility helped him to settle in as a regular DNP-CD. Proud Boston College Eagle Reggie Jackson is now OKC’s primary back-up point guard, able to defend and explode in a way that Maynor’s surgically repaired knee won’t quite allow him.
However, even with his knee still recovering, the VCU grad is far better than Nolan Smith or whoever else the Blazers can throw out there. PDX has no adequate playmakers coming off the bench right now, as exhibited in their Friday night loss to the Lakers when the subs totaled exactly 1 assist. Portland badly needs their role players to perform well in order to get them into the playoffs and getting Eric Maynor for the price of a prorated salary is a solid gamble.
In the Thunder’s case, this was a salary dump for a player that won’t help them win a title this year. It was surely a heart-wrenching decision, especially since the team traded James Harden with some thought regarding the salary cap in that they’d have to pay Maynor this offseason. He’ll most likely improve as he gets further away from knee surgery, but he most likely wouldn’t have been in OKC when that happens–Maynor will likely fetch a larger deal than Oklahoma City was willing to offer him this summer. Dealing him for a modest but perhaps useful trade exception is just slightly better watching him leave for absolutely nothing.
As for the rest of the deals, nothing of consequence happened. The Magic swapped Josh McRoberts for Hakim Warrick of the Bobcats in a cost-cutting move, while the Mavericks got shooter Anthony Morrow from the Hawks to shore up their second unit. Other than that, it was a very tame deadline day with little moves of consequence and players that could contribute in the postseason.
But, if you’re really bored, go ahead and continue to criticize the Sacramento Kings for trading Thomas Robinson. Three days later and it’s still vexing.