This year was one of the more interesting deadline weeks in recent years. Sure, there's usually one or two that makes the NBA interesting, but this year, the last three days seemed to change the landscape of the NBA. The East supposedly became stronger than the West, and many key deals happened that surprised a lot of fans. The Lakers were not active this year, even though many fans called for change, but there was enough elsewhere for us to like our chances for a three-peat. This post will detail every team who officially got a trade through the noon deadline. (NOTE: I started this before I saw Andy Kamenetsky's post on ESPNLA.com, so any similarities between his and mine are completely coincidental. I would have posted this earlier, but I'm stuck doing this while doing homework.)
1) The Nuggets
The Nuggets just two seasons ago were Western Conference finalists, losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. That team was led by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and that playoff run included a 58 point demolition of the New Orleans Hornets. Well, back then, no one expected the Nuggets to fall apart in a year and a half, but that is exactly what happened. After "The Decision," which saw LeBron James leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat, and 7 months of "Melodrama," Carmelo was traded along with Chauncey Billups and three other players to the New York Knicks. The Nuggets are now in rebuilding mode, but with nice pieces moving forward.
For the Lakers, this is one less contending team that they have to deal with. Denver simply went from one step away from perennial contenders to perennial 8th seeds, at best. They got some nice pieces from the trade with the Knicks, but Ty Lawson is no superstar yet, and everyone else is a role player in a sense. They may just become the new Houston Rockets, a bunch of role players and almost star players surprising the league. But otherwise, the Lakers don't have much to worry about the new Nuggets. They also had their path to the Finals smoothened by eliminating one name from the list of West team who can beat them in a seven game series.
2) The Knicks
The Knicks, with all due respect to Billups, Anthony, and Amare Stoudemire, pretty much traded 3 starters and their 6th man for 2 starters, 2 role players (Corey Brewer and Anthony Carter) and two benchwarmers. They may be a work in progress, but they are like the Nuggets of old now. Almost elite, but just not yet. I want to think this trade is going to benefit the Knicks, but Stoudemire has never played with a ball demander like Anthony, and the Billups-Stoudemire pick and roll will take time like how Felton took time.
For LA, this is a threat in the future, but not necessarily right now. If anything is evident about LA, it's that their time is now, and the future is going to be dictated by Mitch Kupchak's moves in the near future. Until that point, we may not have to worry much about LA's title being challenged by New York this year.
3) The Jazz
The Jazz are officially rebuilding. It slowly started when Boozer left through free agency, started to stir a little when Sloan resigned, and now they are fully rebuilding when Williams was traded. Devin Harris is a great point guard, but he has ways to go before he hits Deron Williams status. Derrick Favors may not be Boozer, but they have two similar players in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Three power forwards on a team that practically do the same thing may not be the smartest thing to have. More trade bait, yes, but as for the team now, they are practically screwed. This team was built around Deron Williams, and now that he's gone, the Jazz will have a tough time rebuilding.
The Lakers shouldn't be too worked up with this trade because the Lakers simply have mastered the Jazz in the playoffs in each of the past three years. The Lakers have won 12 games in those three series, whereas the Jazz won 3 games in total in the playoffs. The Lakers have gone on to the Finals in each of those seasons. Now that the Jazz seem like a team destined for a 9th or 10th position of the West standings, LA is not really sweating much over the Jazz anymore.
4) The Nets
The Nets almost pulled off the trade of '11 that most surprised the league. However, Oklahoma City stole the Nets' thunder in the 11th hour with their trades. By acquiring Deron Williams, the Nets benefitted themselves by speeding up their rebuilding process from last year's 12-70. They also found a decent backup center in Dan Gadzuric, and a young talent almost as promising as Derrick Favors in Brandan Wright in a separate deal with the Warriors.
Like the Knicks, LA does not have to worry about the Nets standing in the way of the Larry O'Brien trophy in June, but the Net have a bright future ahead of them. Of course, Deron Williams could prove to be a lease, but seeing how Mikhail Phokorov does his business, Williams could end up happy and stay with the Nets.
5) The Warriors
They were not exactly major players in this year's deadline. I'm just placing them here because of their trade with the Nets. They got Troy Murphy, which simply means saving money.
The Lakers won't see the Warriors any different, but knowing that the Warriors are going to buy out Troy Murphy, it'll be interesting to see where he'll end up going. Boston rumors are flying off the radar, but personally, I don't see how Murphy will fit there.
6) The Cavs
The Cavs basically traded away their point guard who was dealing with depression for a point guard who dealing with weight loss problems. The Cavs are rebuilding, but Baron Davis isn't getting younger. However, the Cavs also had another trade with the Celtics, bringing in Semih Erden and Luke Harangody. The upside for the Cavaliers is that this year, they will have two lottery picks, with one being a top-4 pick. They also got two young players who have high potential. In addition, Ramon Sessions can be the unquestioned starter, which can only benefit the Cavs. The only downside is Baron Davis's age, but they have a counter with Ramon Sessions. In a sense, it was a successful trading day for Cleveland, even if the trades don't seem monumental.
LA's level of concern about this trade on a scale of 1 to 10? -15. The Cavs got a great win on us before the All-Star break, but until we see the Cavs in the playoffs, the Lakers aren't sweating.
7) The Clippers
Everyone's new favorite up-and-coming team, the Los Angeles Clippers. What's wrong with the trade they made, receiving Jamario Moon and Mo Williams? Mo Williams isn't exactly a distributing point guard like Baron Davis. Jamario Moon is a great role player who could help the Clippers, but losing Baron Davis may outweigh getting Williams and Moon. Sure, I just said Baron Davis isn't exactly hot stuff on the court, with his weight issues, but he's the compliment player to Blake Griffin. A take-it-to-the-hole point guard who's always willing to pass, with some creativity involved. Mo Williams will always be known for his shooting, which is not going to help the Clippers.
To the other LA team? The only thing the Clippers could not trade for is time, which is what they'll need to get Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to be integrated in Del Negro's system. For this year, it seems the Blake and Eric show will have to pave way for the Pau and Kobe show, but in a few years, there's no doubt that the table could flip in the Clippers' favor.
8) The Bobcats
The Bobcats had an interesting trading week. They sent away Nazr Mohammed, and more importantly, Gerald Wallace. The team that usually always beats us, gave away the one player who seems to have our number. Interestingly, the Bobcats looked to cut some salary, so they pulled a Memphis Grizzly move by trading their arguably best player for a washed-up center, an unproven young player, and draft picks.
The Lakers don't see much reason to worry about the Bobcats. On the other hand, the Lakers do need to start worrying about the team who Gerald Wallace got traded to.
9) The Trail Blazers
Gerald Wallace and the Portland Trail Blazers. A perfect marriage when it comes to wanting to beat down the Lakers. Otherwise, the Blazers' trade only solidifies the team's starting lineup. Miller, (insert shooting guard), Wallace, LA, and Camby. That's one scary lineup that also has a pretty deep bench. The Blazers were always a playoff team, but I think this makes them one go-to scorer away from perennial championship winners.
Lakers need to be afraid? If they meet the Blazers in the playoffs, then yes. Otherwise, the future is the future. We may not need to worry about the Blazers until next year.
10) The Suns
The Suns have had an interesting year. They've begun to rebuild once Stoudemire left, and they picked up a great point guard in Aaron Brooks. Brooks may not have been the same since his injury early this year, but he had a case to be in the upper echelon of point guards in the NBA.
To LA, this simply means that the Suns have a former Laker killer. Well, then again, any point guard with quickness is a Laker killer. But the Clippers still seem like the most powerful team out of all the Pacific Division.
11) The Rockets
The Rockets acquired Goran Dragic and Hasheem Thabeet. Thabeet was promising, but maybe he could resurrect his career at Houston and be the true center backing up Chuck Hayes. Dragic is a backup point guard who is used to playing behind a force in Steve Nash, so playing behind Kyle Lowry won't be a big problem.
Thankfully though, Los Angeles does not have to worry too much about the Rockets. They traded away Shane Battier, so Kobe-stopper no more in Houston, and Kevin Martin will be defending Bryant most of the time. Anyone say 30 points per game for the Black Mamba against the Rockets?
12) The Grizzlies
Well, the Grizzlies now have two former Kobe stoppers, and are slowly rebuilding their team without losing major pieces. Battier and Tony Allen are interesting, and once Rudy Gay comes back, this Grizzly team is not one that is an afterthought anymore.
The Lakers may have reason to worry here, because currently, the Grizzlies are sitting 2 games behind the 5th seed, the Hornets. The Grizzlies are beginning to play a great brand of basketball, and we could possibly see a 1st or 2nd round meeting with them. Sure, beating us 4 out of 7 times is probably something the Grizzlies can't do, but it could be the 2009 playoffs with the Rockets all over again. A wake up call before a Spurs/Thunder series would be nice.
I was thinking about making them all separate, but to be honest, nothing exciting happened for these teams. We saw Kirk Hinrich become the unquestioned point guard of the Hawks, while the two point guards making up Atlanta's depth chart last week now back up the next big point guard. The Kings were the recipient of an injured Marquis Daniels and Marcus Thornton. The Hornets got Carl Landry, almost a ghost of the most demanded man just last year. And the Raptors got James Johnson from the Bulls. A nice young guy, but it's the Raptors. Nothing more needs to be said.
In terms of LA's worries, this is at the very bottom. None of these trades changed LA's path to the Finals, but missing out on Kirk Hinrich may have disappointed a few Laker hopefuls.
17) The Celtics
After 16 teams, here I am. The Boston Celtics. Quiet team, until I check on the NBA after school. Kendrick Perkins, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody, Nate Robinson, and Marquis Daniels all changed their addresses, while Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and two future players are making their way to Boston. In a sense, the Celtics traded away their one legitimate center, two great prospects, an up-and-down point guard who pretty much won a game in the finals last year for the C's, and a solid backup guard. In return, they added Jeff Green, a promising talent who's pretty good now, but not the definition of a Celtics player. Not a great defense, takes more threes than necessary, and lacks toughness. They also added their third center in less than a year who would've been coveted in 2001 in Nenad Krstic.
For LA, what can this possibly mean? If we make the Finals, we could possibly see a third team to beat down for three championships. The Celtics traded away its future, its now, and pretty much just added the past. Krstic and the O'Neals are pretty much 15-20% of their former selves, and they don't bring the intensity Perkins did. However, as much as I have downplayed the present, a Rondo-Green future could be quite scary once the Celtics sort out their future plans. For this year though, as I said, the Finals may showcase a new East team (and if the Lakers continue to play pre-All-Star break basketball, it could showcase a new West team too!), and that can only benefit the Lakers.
18) The Thunder
The winners of this year's trade deadline. Perkins-Ibaka-Durant-Sefolosha/Harden-Westbrook. Someone tell me they aren't afraid of that lineup against the Lakers, because that person needs to be slapped. Everyone there can matchup with the Lakers' starting lineup. The Lakers have the advantage at SG and PF, whereas the Thunder have the advantage at SF and PG. Tell me which Lakers show up to play the Thunder this Sunday to choose who wins between Bynum and Perkins. The bench play isn't even that much better, as its Brown/Odom/Barnes/Blake against than Robinson/Harden/Collison/Maynor. But this trade by the Thunder has to legitimately scare Laker hopefuls because that now means they have to face the Thunder and the Spurs, both of whom can easily take us out of the playoffs. I would not like to think so, but they have a likelier chance of knocking us out than any team out East.
Most trades benefitted the Lakers this deadline, mostly because our former foes got weaker. The future shows that the Eastern Conference has a bright future, but as a Lakers fan, we're worried more about the now than the future. The Knicks and Nets got their stars, but all Laker eyes should be on Oklahoma City. It could mean three consecutive tough series, and potentially all being on the road. The Lakers saw their worst rivals get weaker, but overall, one team geared itself for the Lakers. Everyone else seemed to cut salary or find a way to make their teams worse. It was an eventful deadline week after an entertaining All-Star Game, but now it's time for the stretch run and the playoffs. To put my twocents in, I can't wait until LA goes through this tough path to the championship, winning it all. It'll give Phil Jackson a storied final ring that'll cement his legacy as one of the greatest coaches of all-time, Kobe Bryant a final reason to shut everyone up, and a period where the Lakers can begin to rebuild as a lockout looms.